How F.E.A.R. and No One Lives Forever are shaping Betrayer

Evan Lahti at

Earlier this week we announced Betrayer, a self-funded indie FPS from veteran ex-Monolith personnel who have formed their own studio, Blackpowder Games. Betrayer is unique—a 15th-century atmospheric shooter set in colonial Virginia—but I wanted to hear firsthand how Blackpowder's collective decades of experience on other, more action-focused franchises is informing its work on the game.

What APB got right, and why it initially failed

Evan Lahti at

The action-MMO first known as APB lives on as APB Reloaded. But if your memory serves, you'll recall that the urban, massively-multiplayer shooter had a quick death: APB shut down just months after launching at the end of June 2010, coinciding with the dissolution of developer Realtime Worlds.

The prolific Dave Jones (Grand Theft Auto, Lemmings, Crackdown) was creative director on APB, and while talking with him about his new project—ChronoBlade—I asked Jones to reflect on what he thought APB did well, and what went wrong with its MMOification of cars, cops, and robbers.

Arma 3 interview: Bohemia explains the Arma 3 campaign

Evan Lahti at

Late last week we learned that Arma 3 won’t initially release with any campaign content (something that should make it an interesting challenge to review, for one thing). Instead, Arma 3 will launch with 12 single-player showcases, nine multiplayer scenarios, eight firing drills, and its mission editor, while campaign episodes will parachute in shortly after release. This should allow the military sim to emerge from beta sooner at the cost of staggering its content.

I got in touch with Joris-Jan van't Land (Project Lead) and Jay Crowe (Creative Director) to learn more about about this decision as well as what we should expect from the content of the campaign.

Total War: Rome II Gameplay Demo

PC Gamer at

Evan and T.J. recently sat down with Creative Assembly's Al Bickham for a guided tour through the battlefields of the 4th century B.C. in Total War: Rome II. We explore the campaign map with its new mechanics, and jump into a real-time battle to defend a key road to Rome. All the while, we bombard our gracious host with questions about the new face of Total War.

Why the creator of GTA and the lead designer of Diablo II are making a Facebook game together

Evan Lahti at

The enormous careers of Dave Jones (Lemmings, Grand Theft Auto, Crackdown, APB) and Stieg Hedlund (Diablo, Diablo II, Ghost Recon), are intersecting in ChronoBlade, an action-RPG published on Facebook. I visited Jones and Hedlund at their studio in San Francisco to talk about what brought them together, their thoughts on the value of independence, and the changing role of publishers in the game industry.

How Paradox's Crusader Kings II to Europa Universalis IV save converter will work

T.J. Hafer at

Paradox Development Studio has announced ambitious DLC for Crusader Kings II which will convert your saves from the medieval, Eurocentric sandbox into a playable mod for the upcoming, globe-spanning Renaissance simulator, Europa Universalis IV. Yes, this means that you could potentially play the same faction through over 950 years of alternate history, from CK2: The Old Gods' start date in 867 A.D. to the end point of EU4 in 1821 A.D. I had a chance to grill Henrik Hansson, a programmer who worked on the DLC, on the specifics.

Denis Dyack on restarting Shadow of the Eternals

Jake Godin at

Shadow of the Eternals has had a bit of a rough time getting started. The spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness had a rocky debut on Kickstarter earlier this year, being withdrawn from crowdfunding in June after reaching only 10 percent of its goal with 15 days remaining.

But Precursor Games has re-emerged with a new Kickstarter for Eternals, asking for a lower funding goal and promising the gruff baritone of David Hayter a place in the game. We had the opportunity to speak with Precursor’s Denis Dyack for a brief overview on why Precursor pulled the plug on the original funding effort and what plans the studio has for Eternals on the PC.

Interview: Diablo and Diablo II's lead designer on Diablo III

Evan Lahti at

Stieg Hedlund’s list of credits are varied. He’s had a hand in Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, an Oddworld sequel, the original StarCraft and beloved cult games like Comix Zone. Prominently, Hedlund was lead designer on Diablo and Diablo II, so when I had the opportunity to speak with him recently I had to ask what he thought about Diablo III.

Lately Hedlund is working with Grand Theft Auto creator Dave Jones on ChronoBlade, an action-RPG available on Facebook. Look for more interview excerpts from Hedlund and Jones in the coming days.

Tribes: Ascend interview - map-making, eSports, and the argument for Tribes: Ascend 2

Tyler Wilde at

Recently, Hi-Rez Co-founder and COO Todd Harris announced that Tribes: Ascend—one of our favorite shooters—will not receive major updates for at least six months, with development almost entirely shifting to in-beta MOBA Smite. Harris later added the news that Hi-Rez is looking into releasing map-making tools for the community, a long-requested feature.

Interview: Dean Hall on his next game, and when he'll stop working on DayZ

Evan Lahti at

We learned during E3 that Dean “Rocket” Hall wants to make a game about mountaineering. The DayZ creator, who climbed Mount Everest in May, tells me it’s a concept he’s wanted to pursue for years, and one he somehow found time to iterate on while ascending Earth’s hat.

Dean Hall: "I would love to make a DayZ turn-based Jagged Alliance game."

Evan Lahti at

DayZ creator Dean Hall is full of ideas. On the heels of his successful Mount Everest climb, he's already talking about the next game he wants to make: a mountaineering game. But speaking with him at E3, that isn't the only game concept gestating in the New Zealander's brain: Hall has an interest in making a turn-based version of DayZ, too.

In this first segment of our conversation, Hall details what a Jagged Alliance-ified DayZ might look like. Come back tomorrow for a continuation of our interview that focuses on DayZ standalone and Hall's mountaineering game.

Candy Box creator on surprise success, sequel plans and "Lolligators"

Tom Senior at

Have you played Candy Box yet? It's a deceptively simple little ASCII browser game that's hooked more than 450,000 players during its brief lifespan. It starts with a candy counter that increases every second. You can hoard them or you can throw them on the floor. Shortly a trader shows up and offers you a sword in exchange for candies. Before you know it you're questing through dungeons, acquiring potions, meeting swawmp frogs, growing your own candy using Lollipops and going on sugar-crazed adventures.

Candy Box is creator aniwey's first publicly released game. He's a first year computer science student based in Caen, France who enjoys building little experimental games as a way of flexing his coding muscles. He had no idea that his little web game would get so big so fast, but he's already planning a sequel. I caught up with aniwey (who'd rather keep his real name private) on IM earlier to find out more about his sequel plans and try and solve Candy Box's biggest mystery - what happens when you keep throwing your candies on the floor?

Crusader Kings 2: The Old Gods in-depth Q&A

T.J. Hafer at

It's less than a month until the longships land to bring us The Old Gods, the pagan-focused expansion for Crusader Kings II. We've been keeping close tabs on new details at our Viking Analysis Desk, and today, we've got some extra meaty details for you. Inside you'll find our massive Q&A with project lead Henrik Fåhraeus, covering everything from concubines to pagan sacred kings.

X-COM creator Julian Gollop on "brute force" blockbuster game development and the lost promise of intelligent AI

Dan Griliopoulos at

In a genial interview, strategy-game elder statesman and creator of the original X-COM: UFO Defense Julian Gollop talked to us about his imagined alternate history of gaming, his preference for procedural systems, and how he feels modern games have abandoned the promise of advanced AI in favour of shinier visuals and reward mechanics designed to massage players' egos.

Gollop first came to GDC in 1995, to discuss AI, when turn-based strategy games like UFO / X-COM were the cutting edge, just as RTS was taking over. “In those days, I believed firmly that the future of computer games was all about AI. That in twenty years time we'd be interacting with NPC characters in computer games that actually had real intelligence and could respond to you in really intelligent ways. Boy, I was wrong. So wrong!”

Civilization V designer Jon Shafer's criticisms were "a little harsh," says current designer

Tyler Wilde at

Earlier this week I spoke to Ed Beach, Lead Designer on the Civilization V: Gods & Kings expansion, as well as the upcoming Brave New World expansion. I asked Beach for his thoughts on Civ V designer Jon Shafer's recent self-criticisms regarding Civilization V's one unit per tile system and leader AI quirks. "He was a little harsh on it," said Beach. "And I won't try to guess as to exactly what his frame of mind was, where he's coming from."

Star Citizen interview with Chris Roberts - new concept art and in-engine screenshots

Tyler Wilde at

Star Citizen is one of the most ambitious games in development—a massive, high-fidelity, multiplayer space combat sim headed by Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts. Back at GDC I interviewed Roberts about how he plans to realize Star Citizen's prodigious goals, the latest development update—which details modular ship customization—and how the universe as a whole will be simulated. You probably also want to scroll down for the first in-engine screenshots since the prototype reveal.

Clockwork Empires video interview: "Things going spectacularly wrong makes a great story."

Evan Lahti at

Last August we revealed Clockwork Empires, a steampunk city-builder inspired by Dwarf Fortress (and Lovecraftian doom) from the creators of Dungeons of Dredmor, our favorite indie game of 2011. Since then we've followed Gaslamp's weekly blog updates with interest as the Vancouver-based indie assembles the systems that'll drive the game.

I caught up with Gaslamp's founders at GDC to get an update on the game's progress, its release date, and to ask Gaslamp to explain how features like combat, modding, and megaprojects will operate in Clockwork Empires.

Victoria II: Heart of Darkness interview

T.J. Hafer at

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 on making games moddable: "It's a lot of work. But I think that it's worth it."

Evan Lahti at

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 video interview

Evan Lahti at

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.