Interviews

The Elder Scrolls Online video interview: Matt Firor and Nick Konkle on not making 'Skyrim 2'

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Chris Thursten at

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.


Interview with Funcom's Joel Bylos: One content team, three games

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T.J. Hafer at

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.


Frozen Endzone interview

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Evan Lahti at

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.


BioShock Infinite's composer Garry Schyman on making music for the Songbird

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PC Gamer at

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.


Call of Duty "has almost ruined a generation of shooter players," says Tripwire Interactive

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Evan Lahti at

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.


Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons - director Josef Fares talks up Starbreeze's gorgeous fable

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Marsh Davies at

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.


At the Gates over 200% funded, Jon Shafer discusses the road ahead

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T.J. Hafer at

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.


Arma 3 interview - AI, map design, mods, and a response to "Will Arma 3 break my PC?"

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Evan Lahti at

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.


An explanation of Arma 3's ballistics modeling: everything that happens when you fire a gun

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Evan Lahti at

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."

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Kim Richards at

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.


Interview: StarCraft II casters Axslav and Axeltoss

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T.J. Hafer at

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[9] 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.


Interview: Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore on the cultural acceptance of games

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Tom Francis at

At the Gates interview with Civilization V designer Jon Shafer

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T.J. Hafer at

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 interview - everything we know so far

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T.J. Hafer at

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.


Fighting for The Crown: SOE talks about PlanetSide 2's most well-known base

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Omri Petitte at

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.


Acronym alert! Heroes & Generals developer explains how to blend FPS, RTS, WW2 and F2P

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Andy Hartup at

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: draw your weapon - literally - in this 2D co-op monster hunting RPG

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Marsh Davies at

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.

Hawken co-founder talks eSports, missing server browsers, clan support and big Beta fixes

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Andy Hartup at

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.


The music of FTL: Faster Than Light - an interview with composer Ben Prunty

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Tyler Wilde at

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 interview: choice and introspection in the magic realist adventure

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PC Gamer at

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.