Interviews

Show Us Your Rig: Civ V designer Jon Shafer

Cory Banks at

Welcome to Show Us Your Rig, a new feature where the PC gaming industry's best and brightest show us the systems they use to work and play. 

Conifer Games' Jon Shafer requires a lot of information. As the lead designer on Civilization V, he's understandably used to having a lot of data to process—his civ's economic details or battle data from the front lines, perhaps. Lately, most of that information is the thousands of lines of code for his newest project, the upcoming 4X At The Gates. Still, we were surprised when Shafer told us that his setup for both programming and gaming requires four separate screens. For most people, that'd be information overload. For Shafer, it's just another work day.

Smite interview: Hi-Rez COO Todd Harris on competing MOBAs, F2P economics, and religious sensitivity

Wes Fenlon at

During the three-day launch tournament for Smite, Hi-Rez Studios' actiony third-person MOBA, I met Hi-Rez COO Todd Harris in the crowded halls of Atlanta's Center Stage Theater. When I found him, Harris was busy corralling a group of popular Youtubers into teams to face off in a just-for-fun showmatch before Sunday's grand finals. As Harris and I headed out of the hallway to find a quiet place to chat, fans kept stopping him, shaking his hand and asking for a card with an exclusive launch tournament skin. I thought it was a little odd, at first, that a COO would be so well-recognized. But Harris is a regular fixture of Hi-Rez's YouTube comedy series. He seems happy to make himself look silly on camera. After the grand finals, he'll get up on stage and proudly proclaim that while Smite isn't the number one MOBA, it is the third biggest. He grins as he briefly chants "Number three!" into the microphone.


Batman: Arkham Knight interview - on story, combat and "civil war on the streets of Gotham"

Samuel Roberts at

Batman: Arkham Knight is set in an even larger version of Gotham City than its predecessors managed. It's so big, they've had to include the Batmobile so you can get around quicker. How else are Rocksteady leveraging the muscle of modern PCs? Will we face another rogues' gallery, a la Arkham City? How will the combat system change from the first games? I sat down with Rocksteady's marketing producer Dax Ginn to find out.


Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India interview: new religions, tiger hunting, and war elephants

T.J. Hafer at

Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India releases this Tuesday, expanding the map of Paradox's medieval strategy sandbox to central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Not one to venture into strange, new lands unprepared, I met with CK2 lead designer Henrik Fåhraeus to learn everything there was to know about what lies in wait with this expansion. We talked about historical accuracy, India's religions and castes, and more. If you promise not to plot my untimely death, you can share in my findings below.


Palmer Luckey on DK2 and the future of Oculus Rift

Samuel Roberts at

It was a big GDC for Oculus VR, announcing the Dev Kit 2 for pre-order at a very reasonable $350. Shortly before the announcement, we caught up with creator Palmer Luckey about the consumer version of the Oculus Rift, what DK2 represents in terms of technical capabilities and how the hardware suits different types of games beyond first-person experiences.


CCP: Virtual reality is "where things are going," could change "the human condition overall"

Tyler Wilde at

CCP's "audacious vision," CMO David Reid tells me, is to "create virtual worlds more meaningful than real life." The greatest expression of that vision is EVE Online, CCP's infamous space MMO and a game I already consider to be a sort of virtual reality. During our chat today at GDC, I nodded my head as Reid talked about the real emotions players experience in EVE. But CCP isn't at the conference to show off EVE Online—it's demonstrating the latest build of EVE Valkyrie, a VR space combat game that will launch with the Oculus Rift headset. It's clear, however, that CCP's ultimate goal is to combine Valkyrie's use of VR technology with the EVE Online sandbox.


Oculus CEO: Intel, Nvidia, and AMD need virtual reality, fixed console hardware won't keep up

Tyler Wilde at

Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe believes virtual reality should ignite a new race to increase computing power, much like the rapid iteration of CPUs in the '90s. Speaking to me a few hours before yesterday's announcement of a VR headset from Sony code named Project Morpheus, Iribe expressed positive feelings about the then-rumored announcement, but was predictably concerned that the consoles' fixed hardware can't match virtual reality's rapid rate of advancement.


Grey Goo: How Weta Workshop is helping Petroglyph build "a world worth fighting for"

PC Gamer at

Petroglyph's upcoming Grey Goo is not just a sci-fi RTS, but a launch-pad for additional games that will take place in the same universe. With so much on the line, it's crucial for Petroglyph to create a setting that won't just provide a good backdrop for RTS combat, but become a world that will fascinate players for years to come.


Diablo III Interview: Lead designers reflect on their mistakes, look ahead to Reaper of Souls

PC Gamer at

As the lead content designer on Diablo III, Kevin Martens has learned a lot over the past two years. He’s learned about disastrous online launches and failed real-money auction houses and what gamers really love about Diablo. He admits that the team made more than a few miscalculations leading up to the 2012 launch. Upcoming expansion Reaper of Souls, releasing on March 25, takes big steps to fix those miscalculations. I talked to Martens and senior level designer Larra Paolilli for their thoughts on the auction house, the internet connection requirement, and PvP, as well as the Loot 2.0 patch and Reaper of Souls’ new Adventure Mode.


Just Cause 2 Multiplayer's best server is Build World, and it's full of amazing creations

Wes Fenlon at

On the Just Cause 2 Multiplayer server Jman100's Freeroam Construction Sandbox, players can build cities, obstacle courses, and incredibly creepy statues. Jman100 scripted a custom server instance that he calls Build World. Build World includes an expansive build menu listing hundreds of objects from Just Cause 2. After only a couple weeks, players are building weird and hilarious things. Jman showed us around his server and told us how he built it.

Today we're sharing a gallery of our favorite sights from around Build World and an interview with Jman100. On Friday, we'll be back with video touring some of Build World's most impressive creations and showing off the hilarious physics of Just Cause 2 multiplayer. There will be buses. And stunt jumps.


Evolve interview: on making monsters in Turtle Rock's new co-op shooter

PC Gamer at

Who's the real monster? The huge vicious creature that can consume nearby wildlife to become huger and more vicious, or the four well-equipped hunters that want to bring it down. The creature, obviously, but how did developers, Turtle Rock, come up with the idea for this unusual co-op vs. lone wolf game mode? How do the classes work? How has working with Valve on Left 4 Dead informed the development process? We caught up with Turtle Rock founder and art director, Phil Robb to get some answers.


Dark Souls 2 interview: on covenants, curses, co-op, storytelling and more

PC Gamer at

Dark Souls 2 will be arriving on consoles in March, with a PC version scheduled for an as-yet-unappointed time shortly thereafter. How will the sequel build on the moody, punishing and beloved first game, itself an extension of From Software's RPG tough nut, Demon's Souls? What will the new covenants be like? Will there be a way to easily team up with specific pals? Will DS2's storytelling retain the light touch of its forebears? Who better to ask than DS2 co-director Yui Tanimura, who also answered questions about PvP, voice chat, the PC port and more in our recent email exchange, presented for you below.

The perfect XCOM run: How Zemalf beat Impossible Ironman with zero deaths

Wes Fenlon at

Youtuber Antti Kokkonen, who uploads Let's Plays to Youtube under the username Zemalf, is one of the best XCOM players in the world. On January 11, he finished a 50 hour run of XCOM: Enemy Within on Impossible Ironman difficulty without losing a single country. Or Interceptor. Or mission. Or soldier.

It was a perfect run on the game's hardest difficulty (and his first time through the game). On Ironman, XCOM is limited to a single save file. No do-overs. Beating the game on Impossible Ironman is a rare feat, but beating it without losing a single soldier? That really does sound impossible. But Zemalf did it, and he recorded it all across 58 Let's Play videos.

"I consider myself an okay player, but the run did go really well," he told PC Gamer. With Zemalf's help, we've broken down this achievement in XCOM mastery, dissecting his 58 part series into the key moments that defined the run.


Interview: Mark Morgan, composer on Wasteland 2, Fallout, and Planescape: Torment

PC Gamer at

Mark Morgan may not be as "instantly recognizable" as composers like Jeremy Soule, Jack Wall or Jesper Kyd, to name just a few, but to a certain subset of gamer nerd-dom he's easily the equal of any of them. He has more than a dozen titles to his credit in a career that began in 1995 with Dark Seed II, but there are three in particular--Fallout, Fallout 2 and Planescape: Torment--that established him as one of the most unique and memorable talents in the business.

Palmer Luckey interview: The new Oculus Rift prototype and the future of VR

Cory Banks at

It's safe to say that Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey was exhausted when we sat down at last week's International CES to chat. He'd been in town for eight days, talking to the press and showing the newest Oculus Rift prototype, dubbed "Crystal Cove." The newest headset uses 360 degree positional tracking and low persistence motion blur tech to essentially keep wimps like me from vomiting during use. But even though he was wiped, Luckey still took a few moments to talk to me about the promise of VR for videogames and beyond, the rumors of John Carmack making an Oculus Rift game, and his thoughts PC gaming moving to the living room.


Garry Newman interview: on Rust and player freedom "we give them the tools, they make the world"

Andy Kelly at

Rust has been causing a bit of a stir on Steam Early Access this week. The open world, player-driven survival game is made by Facepunch Studios, which includes the designer behind Garry's mod, Garry Newman. Players are free to hunt, gather and craft their own structures, choosing their own alliances and enemies in a bleak post apocalyptic environment. How is everyone getting along? What are the best player builds Facepunch have seen so far? We asked Garry, and you'll find his answers below.

Sid Meier interview: Ace Patrol, Civ's evolution, and the future of strategy games

Cory Banks at

Sid Meier is a game design legend. He co-founded MicroProse in 1982 and created Civilization, one of the longest-running and most loved series in gaming. Now the creative director at Firaxis—and overseer for both the Civ and XCOM franchises, Meier can be choosy about what he works on. His choice: Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies, a WWI-era turn-based strategy game that's small in price but big on strategy, and even influenced by tabletop games.

PC Gamer spoke to Meier about his interest in smaller game design, and how it let his team take some risks. He also shared his view of the changing strategy game market, and how he thinks all gamers are strategy gamers at heart.


SOMA interview: Frictional's creative director discusses disturbing new sci-fi horror

Andy Kelly at

Frictional Games earned several slots in our round up of the best horror games on PC, and deservedly so with games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent under their belt. But what of their next venture, SOMA? This sinister sci-fi horror was teased with a series of live-action videos before being revealed to be another exploratory first-person horror game, this time set in a Giger-esque world of dark, undulating cables and exposed brains. Time for a chat with Frictional Games creative director Thomas Grip to discover the thinking behind his latest horror.


Pillars of Eternity interview: on combat, companions and character building

Phil Savage at

It's been over a year since Pillars of Eternity - formerly Project Eternity - raised nearly $4 million through its Kickstarter campaign. Despite being set in a brand new fiction and using a redesigned combat system, Obsidian's isometric RPG is heavily and unashamedly inspired by Dungeons & Dragons based Infinity Engine games like Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment.

With production now well underway, I spoke to the game's project director Josh Sawyer, formerly the lead designer of Icewind Dale 2, about Pillars of Eternity's combat, characters and setting, and how the team are moving beyond D&D.


The Walking Dead: Season Two interview — What it's like to be Clementine

PC Gamer at

The Walking Dead Season Two is almost here. Telltale’s Dennis Lenart, director of the Season Two premiere, and writer/season designer Mark Darin recently spoke to us about the series and its new pre-teen protagonist, fan-favorite Clementine.