Nuclear Throne’s Vlambeer: “If The Customer Was Always Right I Wouldn’t Have A Job”

By Alec Meer on July 23rd, 2015.

When I meet Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail, it’s in the middle of the annual Develop conference in Brighton. He’s a striking figure in a sea that’s half middle-aged businessmen and half wide-eyed, unshaven young developers in t-shirts: improbably tall, wearing a leather jacket on a hot summer’s day, hair everywhere, and a mile-a-minute patter that conveys extreme confidence without evident arrogance. He’s nearing the end of Ramadan, which means he hasn’t eaten during the day for several weeks, but has the energy and enthusiasm of someone about to climb Everest. Like his company’s offbeat action games and his often highly outspoken social media style or not, it is little surprise that this guy became so successful – though of course the raw, joyful appeal of games including Nuclear Throne, Super Crate Box, Luftrausers and Ridiculous Fishing went a long way towards that.

But would the confidence and conviction that he has when he wades headlong into the gaming issues of the day or, as he does in his keynote Develop speech the next day, declare that listening to one’s customers is not necessarily the best policy, be there if he didn’t already have the safety net of that success? In the unedited transcript below, we talk about that, about his feelings towards his own customers, indie ‘luck’, why games want rockstars, Ubisoft’s women characters controversy and why he doesn’t feel he can tell anyone else how to be successful.
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Have You Played… Mafia: The City Of Lost Heaven?

By John Walker on July 23rd, 2015.

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Gosh, I don’t like to think that you might not have played Mafia. Oh no, what if you played the horrible Mafia II, and not the first one? Oh gosh, dear me, no.

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Let Me Skip

By Alec Meer on July 23rd, 2015.

Let me skip.

I know you worked hard on those words, those animations, that music. I know it was distressingly expensive. I know you think it’s extremely important that I understand the context of my impending actions, or that you have my full attention while you introduce an unusual mechanic. I know I wouldn’t skip a chapter in a book or forward wind a film by ten minutes to get to the explosions. I know it’s disrespectful, I know it can be lazy, I know it ruin my own experience, I know it can even be actively anti-intellectual, but please, let me skip. Let me skip anything that isn’t me playing the game, no matter how detrimental it might be to your concept of your own game.
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Dote Night: Which Role Should You Play In Dota 2?

By Philippa Warr on July 22nd, 2015.

Pip is here to help. Probably. Sort of.

Part of a miscellany of serious thoughts, animal gifs, and anecdotage from the realm of MOBAs/hero brawlers/lane-pushers/ARTS/tactical wizard-em-ups. One day Pip might even tell you the story of how she bumped into Na’Vi’s Dendi at a dessert buffet cart.

Today Twitter had a meltdown over the existence of a magazine about YouTubers called Oh My Vlog. You can pretty much guess at the reactions. The reason that I bring it up is that it prompted me to take my first internet quiz in about ten years.

Suddenly I was seized by curiosity. Were there Dota 2 quizzes? There must be! This is the internet, there’s a quiz for everything.

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How Thinking Like A Historian Can Help You Understand Games, From The Witcher 3 To Assassin’s Creed

By Robert Whitaker on July 22nd, 2015.

There has been a lot of discussion recently in games about historical accuracy. We’ve seen a number of articles debating the absence of people of color in The Witcher 3 as well as essays criticizing Apple’s decision to remove games featuring the Confederate battle flag from the App Store. Most of this discussion treats historical accuracy as something close to gospel, beyond reproach or change. “There were never people of color in the medieval, Eastern European milieu from which The Witcher is drawn.” “There were always Confederate battle flags in the American Civil War.” For most people, using “never” and “always” with regard to history seems natural. If any field of knowledge can offer such certainty, it must be history, right?

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City Of Heroes Reborn

By Alec Meer on July 22nd, 2015.

Three years ago, I wrote an epitaph for NCSoft’s axed superhero MMO City of Heroes, and for my beloved character within it.

“The City of Heroes has been closed down forever, and so The Entomologist is dead. Does he still exist on some dusty server, or have the bytes that made him been wiped forever? It doesn’t matter. There’ll be no Jean Gray resurrection for him.”

I was wrong.

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Have You Played… Realms of the Haunting?

By Richard Cobbett on July 22nd, 2015.


Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Realms of the Haunting [Steam / GOG] should be better known. It’s one of my favourite horror games ever to sell about four copies and be forgotten. Hurrah for digital second chances.

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Wot I Think: Sorcerer King

By Adam Smith on July 22nd, 2015.

Stardock’s latest finds the sweet spot between boardgame-inspired strategy design and the Elemental series’ traditional 4X roots, and it mostly manages to stay within that sweet spot during its post-conquest play sessions. “Post-conquest?” you might be thinking. It’s unusual for a strategy game to start anywhere but the beginning – be that the beginning of a war, of history or of a new age of exploration – and Sorcerer King’s [official site] unusual setting is integral to an understanding of how and why it works.

Like Firaxis’ upcoming XCOM 2, Sorcerer King is the sequel to a game that you lost. Here’s wot I think.

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Cardboard Children – Return to Port Blacksand

By Robert Florence on July 21st, 2015.

Hello youse.

My ma died on Friday night just past, but instead of curling up into a ball and rolling into a hole at the bottom of my garden I’m going to talk to you all a little bit about games, because I love to do that. The death of a parent is a difficult thing to process, but I find that it helps to keep talking and reminiscing. And we’ve done a lot of reminiscing in this column over the years, so I’d like to do a little bit more of that today, while I’m among friends. I appreciate your patience.

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There’s Beautiful Art Even In The Darkest Dungeon

By Aleksander Gilyadov on July 21st, 2015.

Developer Red Hook Studios’ Darkest Dungeon [official site] — a brooding, and sadistic take on roguelike RPGs — wouldn’t work without its gorgeous art design. Actually, it would fail miserably at everything it attempts to do otherwise, from the storytelling to the mechanics. I spoke to Darkest Dungeon’s creative director Chris Bourassa to find out how they created an art style that would unify the entire game.

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The Asylum Horror Game That Isn’t A Horror Game

By Alec Meer on July 21st, 2015.

I took a look at the trailers for this Italian-made ‘psychological’ thriller a couple of weeks ago, and worried aloud about whether they’d be able to achieve their stated aim of helping people understand “the true meaning of mental illness” given that The Town Of Light seemed to include many ‘spooky asylum’ tropes.

I played a small section of the game and spoke (via translator) to the Italian team behind The Town Of Light at last week’s Develop conference, and now at least have a clearer idea of what it is.

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Have You Played… Clive Barker’s Undying?

By Adam Smith on July 21st, 2015.

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Liverpudlian author Clive Barker is probably best known as the creator of good old Pinhead and the Hellraiser series. If you want to see the extent of his talents, you’re best off looking at the Books of Blood short story collections though. Or Undying [GOG page], a first-person horror game for which Barker acted as both consultant and voice actor.

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I Have Played Clicker Heroes For 106 Hours And Counting

By Graham Smith on July 21st, 2015.

I’ve been playing Clicker Heroes [official site]. In fact, I’m writing this on a train after two days away from home and technically I’m playing Clicker Heroes even now. It’s an idle game initially released last year and which, since its arrival on Steam in May, has been sat firmly in the top ten of the most played Steam games.

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