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.
FFXIV: A Realm Reborn interview: "We took our fanbase for granted. We lacked the knowledge of other titles. We didn't have the passion."
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a complete overhaul of Square Enix's much maligned MMO, FFXIV - and, by crikey, it needed it. No one is more convinced of this than A Realm Reborn game director Naoki Yoshida, who I've conveniently just interviewed using a box which captures changes in light and sound across time, as you will see after the jump. He doesn't pull his punches: "We took our fanbase for granted," he says. "We lacked the knowledge of the global standard for MMOs, the knowledge of other titles. We didn't have the heart, the spirit or the passion to challenge the market."
Oof. He then goes on to check off a list of the game's gigantic errors - an unpalatable progress structure, inadequate server architecture, a woeful interface - none of which, we can presume, Square Enix will be making in its ground-up renovation. Certainly, Yoshida knows his MMO onions - he's played pretty much all of them, is currently smacked up on Guild Wars 2 and harbours a long-time love of Dark Ages of Camelot's PvP. These are good things by which to be inspired and it all suggests that A Realm Reborn is definitely not to be written off.
Maybe even more so than the players, casters are the public faces of eSports. Their engagement with the audience and the community has been a big part of growing and shaping the scene—even someone who couldn't name a single StarCraft II pro might recognize icons like Day and TotalBiscuit.
We recently had the chance to pose some questions to two of the veteran StarCraft II casters who will be bringing you the play-by-plays at MLG's Winter Championship next month: Alex "Axeltoss" Rodriguez and Nick "Axslav" Ranish. Read on to learn how they got into the scene, which players are the hardest to cast, and where they'd like to see eSports in the not-so-distant future.
Civilization V designer Jon Shafer has come down from the mountains, into our frozen world, to reveal At the Gates. To develop it, Shafer's new studio, Conifer Games, is asking for $40,000 in funding on Kickstarter. Check out the video inside for an overview of the game, then dive into some finer details in our interview with Shafer.
Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods has just been announced, and will add playable pagans and Zoroastrians to Paradox's grand medieval strategy sandbox. It's fair to say I was just a tiny bit out of my mind excited. Some notable new features include an extension of the timeline back to 867 A.D., and (sadly unplayable) landless adventurers who set out with their bands of warriors to found new kingdoms in true Viking fashion. I got to raid the brain-villages of Chris King, one of the expansion's designers. Read on to share in the knowledge I plundered.
Three unspoken bylaws lie at the heart of PlanetSide 2's army-against-army battles: Always wear arctic camo for added coolness. Thou shalt watch where you drive that thing. And lastly, whoever controls The Crown controls the fate of the universe.
Perched atop a rocky outcropping square in the middle of the arid canyons and blasted deserts of Indar, The Crown is Auraxis' version of a quintessential fortress. It's prime fodder for last stands, blazes of glory, and intense stalemates lasting weeks at a time. Many avoid it for its costly price of victory. But despite a pursuit that inevitably involves funneling into a rocky rampway for vehicles or a precarious switchback path snaking along the base's rear, many more flock to The Crown for the advantageous position it bestows upon its victors, who are able to then strike outwards in every direction.
We wanted to find out more about The Crown's genesis and future, so we got in touch with SOE Facilities Designer Corey Navage and Creative Director Matt Higby for some answers.
Choice is a wonderful thing. Coke or Pepsi, Ant or Dec, terrorist or counter-terrorist (er, in Counter-Strike, obviously). So we’re chuffed to see Square Enix’s latest free-to-play shooter offering the choice to fight WW2 as either a Hero, or – and this may surprise you - a General. It’s in closed Beta for now, but we’re giving away 1000 keys to give you a taste before the public Beta arrives. What’s the game all about? Well, the hero part is pretty self-explanatory. You’re on the ground as either an allied or axis soldier, fighting battles for the pen-pushers back in Berlin / London / Washington. As a General, you are the pen-pusher; managing troops and vehicles in a bloody RTS war for Europe.
Artizens is a Kickstarter-hopeful co-op game in which you roam 2D landscapes, murder gigantic creatures in elaborate boss-battles, and use their grisly gubbins to craft new items and weapons. And to ensure that your loot retains a suitably heroic individuality, players can draw every bit of it themselves. As someone who moonlights as an illustrator, this excites me a great deal. As someone who has seen how user-generated content usually manifests in games, I am also a little scared. Oh god, the penises. So many penises. I talked to Kai Skye, co-founder and programmer, about the shape of this online adventure, their ambitions for item trading and how best to fend off the potential wangalanche.
Chunky free-to-play mech-shooter Hawken went into open Beta last month. You can spend money on its marketplace, so we reviewed the available version and rather liked it. We even made a video, and crammed some of our thoughts into it. However, as with any Beta, Hawken is evolving week by week – it could be a very different beast three months from now, after developer Adhesive decides what does and doesn’t work in the wake of player testing and feedback.
We caught up with studio co-founder and lead animator Chris Lalli to chat about melee weapons, server browsers, counter-measures, and whether or not the community has been behaving itself.
It goes blip and bloop and ding-ing-ing with reverberating voices, wrapping hazy nebulae and fierce space battles with warm melodies that sing "Oh my God, we're in spaaaaaace!" It's the soundtrack to indie sleeper hit FTL: Faster Than Light, and it's some of the finest game music of 2012.
The 29-track album ($5 on Bandcamp), composed by San Francisco Bay Area-based musician Ben Prunty, combines existing sci-fi motifs such as lonely, echoing synth bells with a unique space adventure sound. Tracks like MilkyWay and Civil are a skirmish between eerie tension and soothing, stargazing melodies, and their sparse chord progressions, warm synth melodies, and chiptunes-like blips have been stuck between my ears since they became my spaceship command companions last year.
Kentucky Route Zero is a poetic point-and-click adventure featuring dreamscapes, predatory debt and, a few episodes down the line, a gigantic eagle. It's a delicately balanced title whose Kickstarter roots serve to echo two of the game's key themes - financial limitations and connecting with others. After reviewing the game, I got in touch with developer Jake Elliott (with whose previous title, A House In California, you may already be familiar) and artist Tamas Kemenczy to discuss pointing, clicking, and channelling the power of bluegrass for an introspective exploration of people living on the margins of society.
When GSC Game World went nuclear last year, it was feared that the Stalker series would be buried in the irradiated rubble. Instead, the ensuing months have seen no shortage of scavengers attempt to lay claim to the ownership of the gloomy open-world shooter. Meanwhile, the actual developers responsible for building its aborted sequel have dusted themselves off and set up on their own. Though their new project doesn't have the Stalker name, it shares a lot of its DNA - albeit mutated into a new free-to-play MMO form. Alexei Sytyanov, lead designer at the newly minted Vostok Games, tells us all about survival in their online wilderness.
Following my look at the Steam Workshop’s biggest sellers earlier this week, I got a chance to put some questions to Valve's Robin Walker. He was one of the original developers of Team Fortress, back in 1996, and joined Valve soon after. His work as a modder informed his work at Valve, leading, in a roundabout way, to Team Fortress 2's current use as a platform to pay modders for their in-game work. In this pretty wide-ranging interview, I talk to him about the big numbers the modding scene generates, what makes a good item, virtual ownership, the future of free-to-play and Valve’s evolving relationship with its community.
On Monday, zombie survival shooter-MMO The War Z became available on Steam as a "Foundation Release." The same day, complaints began to arise that the game's page in the Steam store misrepresented and exaggerated its content by mentioning features that weren't yet integrated. This morning, Valve took the game off sale, admitting that a mistake was made in "prematurely" making The War Z available for purchase. Valve has extended an invitation to refund purchases through Steam Support, an exception to Valve's usually-rigid refund rules. Those who bought the game through Steam are still able to play it, and The War Z remains for sale on its website.
Following these events, I contacted executive producer Sergey Titov via email to ask about The War Z's troubled release on Steam, if he agrees with Valve's decision to take the game off sale, and what he expects the game's immediate future to be.
Interview: Ken Levine on player movement, Disneyland, and how BioShock Infinite's villain compares to Andrew Ryan
In part one of my interview with Ken Levine, we talked about BioShock's expression of racism and American history. In today's excerpt, I ask Levine about BioShock's unique, theme-parky presentation of narrative elements, player movement, and about Infinite's villain, Father Comstock.
John Smedley is unusual among videogame executives for his outspoken Twitter presence and friendly, direct engagement with gamers. Maybe other suits should take note: the SOE president comes across as someone who understands and loves the games SOE makes and his responsiveness to players instils some considerable trust. If PlanetSide 2 wasn't perfect when it launched, gamers may feel reassured that with John Smedley at the helm SOE will continue to work towards that goal. Last night I got to speak to the big man about the future of PlanetSide 2, fighting in-game crime, free-to-play and the recent internally-revealed Everquest Next.
Interview: Ken Levine on American history, racism in BioShock Infinite: "I've always believed that gamers were underestimated."
In between gathering good and ungood impressions of BioShock Infinite during my hands-on last week, I had a chance to talk with creative director Ken Levine about the game's interesting expression of American history and social issues like racism.
This week we had a chance to chat with Sundance DiGiovanni, CEO of MLG, on the past, present, and future of eSports. Read on to learn who he likes to watch, what he sees as being the biggest games for eSports in 2013, and where eSports could go in the next five years.