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.

Torment: Tides of Numenera interview with Colin McComb and Patrick Rothfuss

T.J. Hafer at

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's StarCraft 2 WCS 2013 explained by company CEO Mike Morhaime

Rich McCormick at

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.

Brian Fargo interview: Torment, the RPG renaissance, and the ongoing clown war

T.J. Hafer at

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.

Chris Avellone interview: Torment, Project Eternity, New Vegas, and beyond

T.J. Hafer at

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

Evan Lahti at

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.

GDC 2013: Frozen Endzone video interview

Evan Lahti at

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.

Guild Wars 2 World vs. World interview: World Ranks, server balance, cheating and more

Chris Thursten at

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.

StarCraft 2: Art of the Swarm - an interview with Senior Art Director Sam Didier

T.J. Hafer at

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!

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

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

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

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.