Videogame Veteran Louis Castle Weighs in on NVIDIA Technology

January 20, 2011

By John Gaudiosi

LAS VEGAS – Louis Castle, the man behind some of the most influential PC games of all time, including Command & Conquer, Lands of Lore and Blade Runner, was at CES 2011 to promote his latest venture. Castle launched Westwood Studios (along with Brett Sperry) from his Las Vegas garage in 1985 and has been creating videogames ever since. These days, Castle is on the board of directors of Xiha, a new company aimed at connecting online videogame communities through a single voice. Castle talked about CES 2011 and the impact new NVIDIA technology like Tegra will have on game developers in this exclusive interview.

What are your thoughts on the new Tegra technology that brings PC processing power to everything from smartphones to tablet devices?

I think it is a big step to the right direction, which is blending the mobile experience more seamlessly with laptops. Pretty soon, we'll be able to use the same apps everywhere, which will be great.

What impact do you think these new super phones and tablets will have on game developers like yourself moving forward?

They will make it possible to create just about any game on mobile platforms. We used to be restricted to pretty limited game designs on mobiles, but this is not the case anymore.

These Tegra devices also support cross-platform gaming from PC to mobile devices and even consoles. How do you see that opening things up in terms of gameplay?

Two main things, really...first, you'll start seeing games that are ported from PC and mobile devices or vice versa. The other interesting possibility is that games will get a mobile dimension--you'll have a PC or console game you can connect to when you are on the road.

What are your thoughts on the new push for 3D gaming that we see out there from NVIDIA with 3D Vision on PCs and even in autostereo with new tablets and smart phones?

I feel that is a little gimmicky for the time being. I can see why NVIDIA is pushing it, but I cannot see myself getting too excited about it just yet.

What do you think 3D opens up creatively to game developers?

We'll need quite a big market penetration before it opens up creative possibilities to game developers. You can't really base the game design on 3D vision as long as most of the market will be using regular displays.

What excites you when you walk through CES and see all of this new technology?

It's amazing to see how fast everything is evolving. We didn't even have iPad a year ago and now there are new tablet models from everyone.

Why do you think gaming is such a big part of so many big CES press conferences and new technology?

Gaming is something that always finds ways to use the latest technology, and on the other hand, gaming is interesting everywhere in the world.

What impact do you see this new mass market consumption of gaming having on the games business moving forward?

Well, I think mass market has been consuming games for years, just the shape keeps changing. We've had game consoles, then PC casual games, then Facebook social games that are played by hundreds of millions. Now that the mobile devices are powerful enough to create games that look and play just like PC or console games, you can have great games on the go, too. The new touch controlled devices make mobile gaming more natural and will allow new types of games.

We've seen Facebook introduce new gamers to the mix, along with new mobile devices -- how does that play into what you're doing with your new company, Xiha?

We're excited about gamers because games are so global these days. We provide tools for game developers to stay connected with their fans who speak different languages, and that has never been more important than it is now.

How important is staying socially connected in today's game space?

It is very important and that is something that has not been fully utilized yet. Even the social games in Facebook are still mostly solitaire, so expect to see improvements in the social connectivity going forward.

Can you talk about Angry Birds, which was featured during the NVIDIA press conference running on an LG super phone, and how Xiha is working with Rovio?

We are launching later this month with Angry Birds. Based on the Xiha multilingual social media platform, Angry Birds fans from all across the globe can go onto the fan page, leave comments, read comments, have conversations, read blogs ... all in their native tongue. So, someone in Finland can leave and make comments in Finnish, then someone else in Japan will read those comments and leave comments back in Japanese. We're truly connecting people from all over the world.

How do you see this impact game developers, especially start-ups like your Westwood Studios once was?

Just give us two weeks and we can build a customized site on any domain. Using a hybrid of both a translation mechanism and human translation, Xiha can take a brand from a local/regional level to an international one.