The rumor that Microsoft may acquire Minecraft creator Mojang (now upgraded to a maybe), is an uncomfortable possibility. If the deal materializes, it would put a game whose spirit and mechanics are rooted in openness and tinkering in the hands of a closed, proprietary platform holder. It will put the best-selling individual PC game ever in the hands of PC gaming’s most obstructive opponent—a company responsible for timed exclusives, the closure of studios like Ensemble, and the mutant DRM known as Games For Windows Live (which continues to be purged).
According to The Atlantic, Mountain “invites you to experience the chasm between your own subjectivity and the unfathomable experience of something else.” It “hypnotized” the Los Angeles Times, and The Verge called it "the only experience that has ever made me feel sad about a geological phenomenon." Meanwhile, on Steam, user reviewers are gushing: Mountain is “worthless,” “just a screensaver,” and “a fucking joke.”
Former Microsoft Corporate VP and current EA Chief Technology Officer Rajat Taneja has claimed in a LinkedIn post (thanks, GamesIndustry) that the Xbox One and PS4's architectures are "a generation ahead of the highest end PC on the market."
Not zombies. Not terrorists. Not bandits, pirates, helicopters, or mutant helicopters. After dedicating my life to research, I’ve determined that mechs are the most fun thing to shoot in a video game. MechWarrior’s mechs, specifically.
What makes mechs special? They’re voodoo dolls. And piñatas.
The word "repetitive" commonly has a negative connotation, and it's especially used negatively (all the time, every time, forever and ever) when talking about games. And often it's followed by a bunch of no elaboration at all. That doesn't make sense. I'm sure I've done it before, but criticizing a game for being "too repetitive" and leaving it at that is—strictly speaking—meaningless. A game might lack variety, but every game is repetitive. We repeat some pattern of input—running and shooting, stacking blocks, bouncing balls off blue dots—over and over, and expect uniform feedback. Then the problem changes slightly, and we tweak our input pattern. And then again. And yet "too repetitive" is lobbed at games all the time.
Diablo 3 is a conflicted beast, like a zebra that thinks it's a unicorn. I love it. I hate it. I've been playing it a lot recently to try and find out why. Is it an action RPG, is it an MMO? What does this stripy horned horse want to be?
It's an action RPG, of course. One burdened with the inconveniences of an MMO and blessed with few of the advantages. It requires a permanent internet connection to play, public matchmaking and an auction house that lets the whole world share their wares. In spite of all that, there's no wider society to Diablo 3. Each session is an insular carnival of violence. There are no guilds. There is no sense of community beyond the cold "buyout" button on the auction house.
I'm okay with that. I don't need that social hit from Diablo 3. At heart it's a very excellent game about hitting things in strange and spectacular ways. Sometimes with a few friends. For sixty levels and three difficulty tiers it delivered, but suddenly its character changed entirely. After a rush of new skills, more powerful enemies and ever more devious randomly generated boss mobs I hit a wall. Progress became difficult and tedious and those long-promised legendary weapons moved further and further out of reach. I felt like Charlie Brown taking a swipe at Lucy's football, only in this strip she didn't just pick the ball up and laugh in my face, she moved it to the top of a mountain and shouted "come and get it!"
The first player-controlled action in Medal of Honor: Warfighter is to shoot a guard in the back of the head with a suppressed pistol. I can’t move the pistol away from his head. An icon indicates that I should press the left-mouse button to fire. I don't want to.
After a few missions, I don't want to keep playing Warfighter's campaign at all. It isn't fun. It isn't lonely, either: along with Battlefield 3 and the last couple Call of Dutys, I don't think I like military FPS campaigns anymore. They've changed, but my taste hasn't changed with them.
As someone who has sunk a lot of hours and energy cursing elite mobs and their entire lineages in Diablo 3, I've had a lot of time to contemplate the game taken as a whole. Despite being the fastest-selling PC game of all time, backlash about the game's design has seemed to persist. The community's core criticism was that Diablo's endgame wore out like old gum—it wasn't as fun or sustainable as Diablo II's. For the most part, I agreed with that. Patch 1.04 launched last week: Blizzard's medicine for addressing some of these ongoing concerns. I've spent some time with 1.04 to try and evaluate how it's changed Diablo III.
The games industry is usually pretty good at taking a very good idea, and beating the fun out of it until we’re all sick to death of it. We take it as read that success will breed copycats. So here’s a question for you. Minecraft is easily the most successful new idea in gaming in near memory. It was our 2010 game of the year. Mojang have raked in 4 million sales of their brick building game, and it’s still selling. These are numbers that would should make any industry suit sit up and take notice. Why hasn't the mainstream industry jumped in with their own version?
I love e-sports. I mean, I really, really love e-sports. I love e-sports so much that when IMNestea played the then-named BoxeR in the Global StarCraft II League's season 2 final, I woke my girlfriend up at some unearthly hour in the morning and crowed at her about marine splitting until she had to physically leave the room. I've organised parties based solely around the activity of watching other people play games, many thousands of miles away. I say it here, on this wide internet, and I don't care who knows – I love e-sports.
But I didn't always love e-sports. If I went back in time to exactly one year ago, found myself, and said “YOU WILL LOVE E-SPORTS IN A YEAR'S TIME!”, year-younger me would've scoffed in my face. I've been aware of e-sports for as long as I've been a PC gamer: I lived through the false dawns of the early 21st Century, the Sujoy Roys and the Jonathan Wendels coming so close to pushing the activity of pro-gaming into the spotlight, then falling short at some intangible hurdle. Time and again I was promised the rise of Quake, or Counter-Strike, or some other competitive game in the televised market; time and time again they failed to ignite among the wider gaming community.
I could well have reacted like Kotaku's Jen Schiller did, when she repurposed an interview between Team Dignitas' David 'Zaccubus' Treacy, and top-end PC hardware types Alienware. Her post treats e-sports as weird and unnatural: a vestigial limb on the wider gaming animal that we'd all do better to hide under a coat. She makes her feelings about pro-gaming clear:
“Don't get me wrong, I love watching people who are better than me at video games play them for money, especially when I don't know those people.
Oh wait. No I don't.”
Jen penned another response, after seeing the reaction her original post dredged up from the e-sports community. Jen defends herself by claiming ignorance of the scene. A year ago, I could've claimed the same.
Last week I wrote an editorial called How mainstream games butchered themselves and why it’s my fault, about the way games seem increasingly keen to dictate the exact experience every player should have.
I named Bulletstorm as one that nearly put me off with its overbearing opening, but which I later came to like. The game's creative director, Adrian Chmielarz of People Can Fly Studios, read it and was nice enough to take the time to respond. With his permission I'm publishing his response in full here, and since he asks a few questions I'll respond below.
Every Monday, PCGamer.com will be featuring editorials and opinion pieces from PC Gamer's core of magazine and online writers. To kickstart that process, here's UK mag editor Tim Edwards on the developing Bulletstorm skillshot controversy.
“I do believe this industry will only be considered mature only once it stops being ashamed of itself,” says Adrian Chmielarz, the lead designer of Bulletstorm. His comment is in response to Richard Clark, a Gamasutra contributor who questioned whether those who write about Bulletstorm should bring their personal values to the table when reviewing it.