The second expansion for Paradox's 19th/20th Century global grand strategy sandbox, Victoria II, is set to release in just a couple weeks. It's bringing improvements to just about all of the game's rabbit-hole-deep systems, from naval combat to colonization to the complex, dynamic economy and politics. We had our secret police round up Game Designer Chris King to ask about all of these changes, which you can read more about in the official developer diaries.
Tripwire Interactive is one of the handful of studios that have made the jump from modest modding origins to professional, full-time, make-your-mom-proud game development. Until last year, the studio operated out of the bottom floor of a Georgia church. And through releasing Red Orchestra 2 and the 1.7-million-selling Killing Floor (originally a mod), Tripwire has encouraged and regularly rewarded modders and map-makers.
As Red Orchestra 2 was being developed, Tripwire committed to creating an SDK during development, allowing modders to get cracking before the game's release. With modding support for modern games less ubiquitous than we'd like it to be, I asked Tripwire President John Gibson how hard it was for Tripwire to build mod support while they were developing the game itself.
MechWarrior Online will stomp out of beta by the end of this summer, and the game's Vancouverian creators at Piranha Games are illuminating further what the free-to-play multiplayer game will look like when it hits its version 1.0 milestone. I spoke with Piranha President Russ Bullock and Creative Director Bryan Ekman last week in San Francisco to get more details about MWO's ambitious territory-control metagame, Community Warfare, ask about the status of this thing, and check up on other upcoming features.
Torment: Tides of Numenera is about 24 hours from being Kickstarted. To round out our previous chats with inXile's Brian Fargo and Obsidian's Chris Avellone about their roles on the project, we snagged a tag-team interview with two of the principle writers. Colin McComb is the creative lead on the project, having helped develop Planescape: Torment, and the Planescape campaign setting itself. Patrick Rothfuss is a New York Times best-selling author, known for the Kingkiller Chronicle novels (The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man's Fear), making his game writing debut with Torment.
Blizzard announced their ambitious plans for the StarCraft 2 World Championship Series yesterday. The scheme involves pulling the world's biggest StarCraft 2 tournaments and leagues into an overarching structure where players are given a global ranking, and compete against each other to be crowned super-mega-planetary-ultra champion. It's an exciting plan - aiming to unify the myriad StarCraft 2 leagues and pull them into a central storyline easy to follow for fans and enticing to new viewers - but it's also a bit confusing. I had the chance to speak to Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime and Executive VP of Global Publishing, Itzik Ben-Bassat to answer a few questions. Click on for WCS 2013 clarifications, and the Blizzard boss's projections for the eSporting future.
inXile's "Leader in Exile," Brian Fargo, is doing pretty well lately. Wasteland 2 represented one of the first successes for Kickstarter games, and the studio's second such foray, Torment: Tides of Numenera, has pulled in $3.3 million, with a few days left to go. I caught up with him at GDC in a hotel named after a pirate to discuss the new Torment, the PC RPG renaissance, and why projects like this can be so successful, yet still get the upturned nose from big publishers.
On my last day to explore GDC, I received a real-life quest via e-mail. "Meet me at Metreon Park, by the bronze statue with 3 hands." My quest-giver was none other than Obsidian's Chris Avellone, of Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale fame, currently working on Project Eternity. He also holds the distinction of being a stretch goal in the Kickstarter for inXile's Torment: Tides of Numenera.
GDC 2013: Clementine was almost cut from The Walking Dead, Telltale on the dangers of branching a story too much
At Telltale's panel "Saving Doug: Empathy, Character, and Choice in The Walking Dead" today at GDC 2013, co-creative leads Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman outlined the ideas that guided their design of one of last year's most acclaimed games. A few of the presentation's topics overlapped a little with DayZ creator Dean Hall's comments yesterday at GDC about the value of context in storytelling and of player-generated meaning. But maybe most notably, the pair of designers admitted that they were concerned "every day" about how the game's story would suffer if players didn't care about Clementine, Lee's companion throughout the series.
Earlier this month we revealed Frozen Endzone, a game that lays turn-based strategy atop robotic football. Following up on my initial interview with Ian Hardingham and the rest of Mode 7 Games (who won our Strategy Game of the Year in 2011), I invited Ian to our office to continue our conversation about Frozen Endzone and to share his thoughts on the state of indie development.
Tomorrow, Guild Wars 2's World vs. World PvP is set to receive the first major update since the game launched in August last year. I spoke to designers Mike Ferguson and Matt Witter about the upcoming changes and you'll find our full interview below. Read on for an overview of the changes themselves.
We caught up with Level 85 Elite Tauren Chieftain frontman (oh, and he's also Senior Art Director at Blizzard) at the Heart of the Swarm launch last week to discuss the visual design of the expansion. What inspired the new campaign's aesthetic? How do you create Zerg characters that are both "zergy" and relatable to players? Between the two of us, is there enough hair in this room to knit a sweater? Listen in and find out!
While I was in the USA to see The Elder Scrolls Online I chatted to game director Matt Firor and lead gameplay designer Nick Konkle about their experience making the game, the thinking behind the class and combat systems, and why they've kept first-person mode under wraps for so long.
You can also check out my hands-on from earlier today for a detailed breakdown of all the game's biggest features.
The last time I talked to Funcom's Joel Bylos, he was Game Director for The Secret World, overseeing its business model transition. In the wake of some staffing changes at the MMO developer, he has now been put in charge of content development for all three of Funcom's active products: The Secret World, Age of Conan, and the venerable Anarchy Online. We recently had a chance to ask Bylos a few questions over e-mail about his new role, the challenges of one team working on three game simultaneously, and what the future might look like for each of them.
Coinciding with the announcement of Frozen Endzone by Mode 7 Games, I’ve had an unusually detailed, information-packed talk with the Ian Hardingham (Lead Designer, Lead Programmer, Joint Managing Director) and Paul Taylor (Joint Managing Director, Writer, Musician), with comments sprinkled in from Endzone’s lead animator and lead artist.
Read on for a comprehensive look at what to expect from this curious combination of futuristic football, turn-based strategy, and robot violence.
Garry Schyman's career has spanned film and television but it's his work in and with videogames that has brought him his widest acclaim, delivering complex, rich soundscapes in a body of work as remarkable for its variety as its pedigree. From Front Mission Evolved to Destroy All Humans and, not least, the original BioShock and its sequel, his work is adaptable but unique and always recognisable. I asked Schyman, ahead of BioShock Infinite's release and amidst the hype-fever spreading web-wide, how he's seen his specific corner of the industry mature and why working with Irrational is the best gig in game music.
Earlier this month I visited Killing Floor and Red Orchestra 2 creator Tripwire Interactive to play Rising Storm, the upcoming standalone expansion to RO2 (look for a preview on Monday). After the demo, Tripwire President John Gibson and I got talking about the state of first-person shooters, and Gibson laid out a detailed criticism about the way Call of Duty "takes individual skill out of the equation." Gibson also expressed frustration over how difficult it had been trying to design a mode for Red Orchestra 2 that appealed to Call of Duty players.
Starbreeze used to be the AAA market’s guns for hire - now they’re making games for themselves. Curious, charming and mechanically novel games, in fact, like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. For a Starbreeze game, there’s a notable lack of shivving involved, as you steer two brothers on a quest to retrieve medicine for their dying father. You control each brother simultaneously using the thumbsticks of a control pad, and each reacts to the world in a different way, with the game asking you to navigate its obstacles through a peculiar and innovative form of asymmetrical self-cooperation. But it’s more than a puzzler; every interaction describes the touching co-dependence of the siblings and their individual personalities with surprising power and elegance.
It’s a project conceived and helmed by Josef Fares: a Swedish-Lebanese film director of some repute. He’s also a self-professed hardcore gamer and a hyper-charismatic cocksure loudmouth - I mean that in the nicest possible sense. On publisher interference: “It's gonna be on my terms or it's not going to happen.” Kinect and Move: “Bullshit.” David Cage’s games: “Films are films and games are games. We need to find our own way of making story in games.” Max Payne: “After one hour you've played it already.” His own game: “If you don’t feel what I’m talking about and the uniqueness of it, you can kick me in the face.” He’s a man not short of opinions - but, hey, they’re all the right ones.
As of the writing of this article, there is just over a day and a half left in the Kickstarter for At the Gates, the upcoming, Dark Ages 4X game from Civ V designer Jon Shafer. The team at Shafer's new studio, Conifer Games, has already demolished the original, $40,000 goal. Notable stretch goals already met include full mod support and two new factions. We caught up with Jon in a follow-up to our announcement interview to get his thoughts on how the campaign went, and what we can expect from At the Gates after it's funded.
In advance of the Arma 3 alpha dropping on Tuesday for Steam pre-orderers, I launched a salvo of questions at Project Lead Joris-Jan van ‘t Land and Co-Creative Director Jay Crowe. We'll have in-depth coverage of the alpha when the embargo lifts on Tuesday, March 5.
Authentic ballistics modeling continues to be a distinguishing aspect of Arma. But even though I've dumped hundreds of hours into the game, I realized I couldn't identify all the things that the system simulates. To alleviate me (and you) of this ignorance, I asked two of Bohemia's leads to break down what variables go to work when you pull the trigger in Arma 3.