Wot I Think: War For The Overworld

By Alec Meer on April 7th, 2015.

Let's give 'em a big hand

Dungeon Keeper has always felt important to me, and I’ve rarely analysed why, for the same reason I don’t question why I like cheddar cheese or very tall buildings. For my young sensibilities, it was the right game the right time, and as such it feels like it’s almost always been there: “I like Dungeon Keeper” is simply something I’ve always been able to say. Unfortunately, this also means I recognise when a game isn’t Dungeon Keeper, and it’s very hard to draw a distinct dividing line between adroitly noticing that something feels off and a deep-set resistance to any aspect of it changing even slightly.

That was my disclaimer of sorts: please keep it in mind for the rest of this piece. War For The Overworld is an unofficial sequel to the late-90s Dungeon Keeper games, although perhaps that’s going too far. It might be more accurate to say it’s a remake of Dungeon Keeper II, tweaked to have a less rigid structure, a mild graphics boost and with every unit and building replaced with a close analogue that should keep Dungeon Keeper keepers EA at bay.
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Premature Evaluation: Nosgoth

By Marsh Davies on April 6th, 2015.

It’s curious how far back the idea of drinking blood to replenish youth goes, given that we are only just now beginning to understand the benefits of transfusion. Recent research on mice has shown that a transfusion of young blood into an old body can indeed stimulate stem cells and invigorate ailing neurons. But experiments with transferring blood date back centuries, based on the most dubious understandings of science and mostly with disastrous and macabre results.

Each week Marsh Davies sinks his teeth into the hot, pumping artery of Early Access and drains its sweet lifegiving essence, leaving only a ragged skein of flesh when he’s done. This week he’s played (or free-to-played) Nosgoth, a team-based multiplayer game in which heavily-armed non-consenting blood-donors clash with the fanged forces of unlife.

The general mood has been less than charitable towards this project. It’s a multiplayer spin-off of Legacy of Kain, traditionally an action RPG series, a demo of which I think I brushed past on a PC Format coverdisk once, back in the days before games had invented a way to render the male nipple. But, I’m told, it had really good storytelling for the time, and how dare anyone decide to use this important and sophisticated fiction for something so trivial as a thirdperson asymmetric multiplayer game? Yet dare they have. And it seems they’ve made quite a well-considered one, in which deft movement and exact coordination trump headshots and button mashing, and the two teams of which, vampires and humans, offer very different play but surprising parity.

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The RPG Scrollbars: How Long Is Too Long?

By Richard Cobbett on April 6th, 2015.

Ha! I completed your game faster than you! Prick!

Please welcome Richard Cobbett to our roster of weekly columnists. Every Monday at 1pm, Richard will be donning his +8 cap of writing to present a ragbag of news and reflections on role-playing games.

It’s been a great year for epic, old-school RPGs. A good tax-year anyway, since that conveniently scopes in everything from Divinity: Original Sin to Wasteland 2 to the other week’s Pillars of Eternity, to say nothing of several smaller titles. As we all know, part of the joy of a good RPG is slipping into a world – when everything works out, the long playtime feels like an epic journey rather than a commitment. Or at least it should. In the wake of The Witcher 3 promising 200 hours or so to see everything it’s got though, I’ve been thinking – at what point do the scales start to tip?

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Grand Theft Avatar: GTA As Immersive Sim

By Adam Smith on April 4th, 2015.

Grand Theft Auto is many things to many people but I’ve usually found a way to enjoy each new entry as a sedate urban exploration game. I like stopping at red lights and honking my horn at dangerous drivers. I like listening to people talking on their mobile phones and I love that accidents occasionally happen while I’m trundling by. With its brand new first-person perspective option, GTA V may be one of the great immersive sims, packed with emergent moments both mundane and magnificent.

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The RPS Bargain Bucket: Fluffy Thoughts

By Cassandra Khaw on April 4th, 2015.

One of the sad realities of hitting your 30s is understanding that you’ll be talking your friends through some genuinely complicated situations, ranging from divorces to parental deaths. I’m sorting out the emotional ramifications of this epiphany right now, and it’s not a pleasant one. At least you can be there for the people you care about. Something something. This throwback plushie is from MadKatrina. Someone send me more!

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File System Aging 5 – Something Comes From Space

By Robert Florence on April 3rd, 2015.

Hey come watch Rab Florence’s new weekly video series, made just for us. Part one, part two, part three, part four.

In the fifth part of this series about games, time and loss, Rab remembers Wing Commander 3.

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EVE Online’s Andie Nordgren: “When People Are Talking A Lot About CCP That Usually Means Something Is Wrong”

By Philippa Warr on April 3rd, 2015.

Andie Nordgren (she's the one on the right)

During FanFest 2015 I sat down to talk with EVE Online’s executive producer Andie Nordgren about communication and EVE Online. It’s a game with a reputation for being hardcore. As Nordgren puts it herself later in our chat, “You have this idea that people who play EVE are some weird spreadsheet masochists, right?” So, with that in mind, how do you go about attracting and keeping players? How do you teach them to play in a way that’s actually useful and doesn’t involve a wall-o-text? And who do potential players listen to anyway?

As a starting point I asked about a recent talk she had given called Remembering To Get Over Yourself. It was inspired by a blog post from Kathy Sierra who advised that instead of caring what users think about YOU, you should care what they think about themselves after interacting with whatever it is you’ve created. Success is when “users will talk about themselves, instead of talking about you”. It’s a philosophy which underpins how Nordgren is approaching the growth of EVE Online and informs the company’s interactions with its playerbase.

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Mods, Maxis And Forward Motion: Cities Skylines Interview

By Adam Smith on April 3rd, 2015.

In an attempt to learn everything there is to know about our Game of the Month, Cities: Skylines [official site], I spoke to Colossal Order’s CEO Mariina Hallikainen until we both ran out of words. We talked about the game’s extraordinary success and what it means for the future of the 13-person company, the importance of mods, the fate of Cities in Motion, and the influence of dear departed Maxis. Along the way, there are discussions about simulations as educational tools, Colossal Order’s next project, and the importance of a good working environment and the avoidance of crunch.

Most important of all? The origin story of Chirper.

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The Flare Path: Extravehicular Activity

By Tim Stone on April 3rd, 2015.

The world of simulation would be a much drearier place without TML Studios. Over the last decade this small team of Erfurt eccentrics has released around a dozen standalone vehicle sims. Often odd, occasionally downright unhinged or hilariously broken, weak physics and unchecked ambition mean you’re unlikely to find any of their games in ‘Top 10 Sims’ lists. Those who admire TML – and lately I’ve realised I’m one of these curious creatures – tend to admire the studio for its mercurial talent for atmosphere evocation, and its endearing belief in drama and player freedom, rather than its quality control or respect for realism. Read the rest of this entry »

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Everything I’d Forgotten About Half-Life 2

By John Walker on April 2nd, 2015.

It’s over ten years since Half-Life 2 was released. The other day I found myself arguing that there still hadn’t been a first-person shooter released that was better. Then wondered if I was talking out of my hat. In an effort to learn whether Half-Life 2 is as great – nay, as perfect – as the version in my head, I’ve replayed it, and realised there’s so much I’d forgotten.

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COGWATCH – 2. Chariot

By Quintin Smith on April 2nd, 2015.

Hey! It’s a new weekly video series from Quinns talking about one mechanic in one game. Part one was on rhythm in Crypt of the Necrodancer. Part two is about co-op in Chariot [official site], a platformer in which you and a friend use ropes to push, pull, catch and carry an object through the game world.

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Wot I Think: Infinite Crisis

By Brendan Caldwell on April 2nd, 2015.

My first few hours with Infinite Crisis [official site] convince me it is a terrible game. But I persevere, thinking that part of my dislike may have to do with my lack of skill. Following a particularly bad defeat a teammate collars me in the post-match chat window. “Bredy,” they say, using the username I had misspelled on signing up. “Uninstall this game.”

It was the worst (best) post-game put-down I have ever received. “Uninstall this game.” No anger, no frustration. Just a resigned sigh of a comment, communicating nothing but the undeniable fact of my awfulness. “Uninstall this game.” Sadly, the poo-slinger disappeared shortly afterwards. I had no time to reply and tell them that I already dreadfully, desperately wanted to.

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The Definitive Guide To The RPG Inn

By Alec Meer on April 2nd, 2015.

plenty of room at the inn

Pillars of Eternity is out. You might have noticed. I’m not terribly far into it myself yet, but in between a spot of bear-bashing and wolf-wounding, I was struck by how very RPG Inn the first inn I visited was. Truly, the Black Hound Inn in the town of Gilded Vale is the archetypal RPG inn. I knew, the second I stepped foot in it, what it was, what I could do in it, what every part of it signified. There would be no surprises and no menace, but it would be as comfortable as cotton wool slippers. It felt like every RPG inn ever, because it is every RPG inn ever. Let me show you around the place.
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