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.
It’s easy to imagine Borderlands 2’s trail of DLC ending with an adventure in Tiny Tina’s schizophrenic mind, but CEO and President of Gearbox Software Randy Pitchford has different plans.
The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us aren’t Telltale Games’ only projects, we learned today at E3. Following a demo of The Walking Dead: 400 Days, Telltale Founder and President Kevin Bruner told me that more than one new license announcement will be coming from the studio later this year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Among all the remakes, sequels, and spiritual reboots behind us in 2012 and ahead of us in 2013, SimCity's seems to stand out. I think it's because in order to rework SimCity—and do so authentically—you can't simply rewrite a lead character to make them more edgy, or add multiplayer, or append a few new features. You have to fundamentally rethink the way city builders should operate in the decade to come, and what people want in them.
I've been encouraged by SimCity's direction so far. With Glassbox, Maxis seems to have a tool that lets the art do much more of the heavy lifting in terms of expressing feedback, while stowing the numbery details beneath the skin of the game for data-minded mayors. It's an always-online game, but the collaborative nature of its multiplayer seems like the primary way I'll want to play. To get a better sense of how the project is going, I spoke with Lead Designer Stone Librande.
When GODUS, the god game Kickstarter project from Peter Molyneux's 22cans studio, launched in November its promise to reinvent the genre made headlines. But behind Molyneux's characteristically bombastic rhetoric we caught sight of a curiously beautiful game world - part playground, part architecture model and entirely the responsibility of Paul McLaughlin. I caught up with the 22cans self-styled "Dictator of Art" to talk GODUS, 50 metre-high walls of wet death, and the gaming holy trinity.
I shared Tom’s fascination with Gone Home when I had a chance to play it earlier this month. It’s relatable, contemporary, comfortable like your dad’s sweatshirt, and you get to sift through the drawers and closets of your in-game family to unravel the question “Why is no one home?”
During that demo, I spoke with The Fullbright Company co-founders Steve Gaynor and Johnnemann Nordhagen about how they approach designing a game driven by player curiosity, and where clues and story elements can be found achronologically.
Nitronic Rush was one of last year’s hidden gems - a slick arcade racer set in a glittering digital city and starring a flipping, flying, rocket-boosting car. It was the final year project for a group of students at DigiPen, the Washington-based game development university, and picked up awards from multiple indie competitions - including the IGF, Indie Game Challenge, and indiePub. We liked it alot, and featured it in last year’s New Years free games round-up.
Three members of the original Nitronic Rush team - Kyle Holdwick, Jordan Hemenway, and Jason Nollan - are now going indie full-time as Refract Studios. Their first game is Distance, a spiritual successor to Nitronic Rush that is currently entering the final week of its Kickstarter campaign.
I spoke to the guys about their plans for the new game, the benefits of getting a second shot at a good idea, and their experience of graduating from university into a maturing indie scene.
The way Planetside 2’s Galaxy dropships work is set to change in coming patches - just one of a large number of improvements born of beta feedback, detailed below. As you’ll know if you’ve been listening to the PCG UK podcast, there are doubters among our ranks, who cite the way Galaxies can be used as mobile spawn-points as a major game breaking bugbear.
And though I personally think PlanetSide 2 is the most exciting MMOFPS to be found this side of Barnard’s Star, the beta’s certainly not without flaws: it can feel a bit incoherent, neither clarifying how all its systems interrelate nor placing your actions in the context of a meaningful global strategy. But we have good news! Our chat with hirsute lead dev Matt Higby addresses all of these exact issues.
Rome 2 lead designer talks ancient warfare, modding, DLC, and the importance of working with the community
While at The Creative Assembly to see Rome 2 for the first time, I sat down with Total War lead designer James Russell to talk about the studio’s reasons for returning to the ancient world, what new features players should expect from their second expedition to Rome, and whether the game will receive the same mod support that has just been rolled out for Total War: Shogun 2.
CCP's E3 interview room quietly overlooked the show floor like a command center, which felt like an appropriate setting for a conversation with guys who call themselves "custodians of a virtual world." At the table with me were EVE Online Senior Producer Jon Lander and Creative Director Torfi Frans Olafsson, there to discuss EVE Online, its latest expansion, and its integration with F2P shooter Dust 514.
In this portion of our conversation, however, the topic turned to player-made stories, including a tale of bribery and betrayal at Fanfest's Dust 514 competition, the Burn Jita attacks, and Hulkageddon. We'll have more from our conversations with CCP later this week.
We talk to XCOM: Enemy Unknown associate producer Pete Murray about what it takes to make a modern XCOM game and the importance of providing consequences for player decisions. We also take a look at a few of the game's classes and watch a man with a jetpack rain death down on aliens from on high. Check out the full video below.
Last week we spoke to Relic Entertainment's Jacen Torres about upcoming RTS Company of Heroes 2, which we're more than a little bit excited about.
Torres told us about the tactical depth that comes from focusing on small-scale infantry combat, the new 'truesight' dynamic line-of-sight system that they've created for Company of Heroes 2, and the historical importance - yet relative under-representation - of World War 2's Eastern Front. Check out the full interview below.