Whatever Happened To X-COM’s Julian Gollop?

By Alec Meer on December 10th, 2014.

Well, he eventually rebooted and remade war of wizards Spectrum classic Chaos Reborn, which I’ve had a lot of fun with over the last few days, and which took to Steam Early Access yesterday. You can read more about that here. But what happened to the co-creator of X-COM, Laser Squad, Magic and Mayhem, Rebelstar and more over the last ten years or so? While so many long-standing developers have seen their stars rise and rise, Julian Gollop seemed to fall out of sight. In this concluding part of my big interview with him, we talk about where he’s been, why he turned to Kickstarter for his comeback, how he was doing Early Access long before it ever existed, his thoughts on latter-day X-COMlikes such as Xenonauts, Invisible Inc and Mordheim, and the pressing question of whether we’ll ever see a new X-COM or Laser Squad=style game with him at the helm.
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Dote Night: The Problem With YouPorn Sponsorship

By Philippa Warr on December 10th, 2014.

Team YP

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.

Last week YouPorn finally announced the name of the Dota 2 team they’re sponsoring. It’s Team YP now but was formerly known as Play2Win. I had never heard of them.

YouPorn have been snuffling about the Dota 2 scene for a while now and there has been a whole bunch of speculation as to who might add the YP logo to their branded jerseys. I want to run through why I think this is a bad move for pro-gaming, regardless of who ended up with the deal.

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The Bestest Best Adventure Of 2014: The Wolf Among Us

By RPS on December 10th, 2014.

Adventure games have been experiencing a resurgence this past year, but our favourite was by a developer that’s hit a creative peak of their own after grinding away at the genre persistently for years. It’s The Wolf Among Us.

Adam: Wolf-a-Mongoose, as my computer just autocorrected, pips a couple of other contenders to the post in this category thanks to its new-noir style. If the quality of Tales From the Borderlands keeps up after a surprisingly strong start, it might be Telltale’s best series since the first Walking Dead, but in the battle of Clem and Bigby, the wolf is king.

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Wot I Think: The Talos Principle

By Philippa Warr on December 10th, 2014.

Croteam’s The Talos Principle has a combination of neatly designed puzzles and philosophical pondering. It tickled my brainbuds and got inside my head in that way which sees you drawing diagrams of levels while on the tube or puzzling them out as you lie in bed pretending sleep might turn up at any moment. It’s one of my favourite games from 2014.

The game breaks neatly into two parts: there’s the Portal-esque first person puzzle element where you figure out how to reach and collect tetromino puzzle pieces which are used to advance you through the world; there’s also a philosophical/existential aspect which gradually feeds you scraps of text from a corrupted archive and asks you to consider things like the nature of consciousness and what it means to be human.

I’ll talk about the puzzles first.

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Have You Played… Sepulchre?

By Philippa Warr on December 10th, 2014.

A puppy, you say?

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

Point and click tale Sepulchre is a tiny slip of a thing, but that doesn’t stop it from being a curious and creepy story at the same time.

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Cardboard Children – DOBBLE

By Robert Florence on December 9th, 2014.

Dobble comes in a little tin. It’s the kind of little tin that you imagine soldiers might have used during one of the great wars to keep things dry. Like cigarettes and love letters. It’s the kind of tin they’d use to house an expensive pate in a French delicatessen. It would easily fit in a bedside drawer or sit on a mantelpiece. It would fit anywhere, in any home, and it really should.

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Alice’s Evening… Stare? Blade Runner Blues

By Alice O'Connor on December 9th, 2014.

The end of a long day.

“What is walking and do walking simulators simulate it?” sounds like the sort of toss I’d open a post with. “And if a walking simulator isn’t simulating walking, can a game simulate a walking simulator without walking at all?” Good. Great job, Alice.

Alternatively, I could say that if you click on through, you can watch a peaceful and pleasant video with nine minutes of Ray McCoy standing on his balcony listening to a chill Vangelis cover in Westwood’s old Blade Runner game. On this night of nights, I think you might like it.

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The Bestest Best Exploration Of 2014: Salt

By RPS on December 9th, 2014.

Salt has been a real treat this year – a real alternative. Where survival games have (rightly) mostly focused on intense difficulty, Salt put its emphasis on just idling about. And that’s a fantastic thing to have in the mix. Even in its early alpha form, with minimal goings-on, it’s still the most pleasant exploration I’ve had this year, and that makes it Bestest.

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Darklands Retrospective: What RPGs Are Supposed To Be

By Sin Vega on December 9th, 2014.

A lesson that often eludes the games industry is how much names matter. Though it’s hardly the worst offender, Darklands is about as generic as a name gets, and its cover image (which mattered once) is even worse.

Even discounting that, it faced an uphill struggle, as its original 1992 release was marked by a plague of bugs, which Microprose’s patching never entirely expunged. It can still fritz during longer, complex sections – the ones you’ll save at most – and its occasional glitches compound cumbersome controls and an interface that’s awkward and often repetitive. Its sounds are few and its animations simplistic, with minimal feedback. On paper, it’s a bit of a mess.

It’s one of the best RPGs ever made anyway.

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Have You Played… Dragon Age: Origins?

By John Walker on December 9th, 2014.

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

Have you heard of it? Dragon Age: Origins was this little RPG put out by an indie studio in Canada called BioWare. Aha, my little joke. But it’s a question well worth asking, as with the release of Inquisition I’ve spoken to lots of people who’ve never played the original, and would absolutely love it. Including my dad. Dad – play this for goodness sake.

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Interview: X-COM’s Julian Gollop On Remaking Chaos

By Alec Meer on December 9th, 2014.

After some time out of sight, X-COM creator Julian Gollop returned earlier this year, with a successful Kickstarter for a remake of/spiritual sequel to his beloved Spectrum strategy game, Chaos. (That being the one where wizards battle each other to death, with the help of various summoned beasties). An early, multiplayer-only version of Chaos Reborn takes to Steam Early Access today, so ahead of that I had a chat with the Laser Squad dev about how it all happened, what’s changed, how much of a purist he is about his old work, his thoughts on Kickstarter and what’s planned for the forthcoming singleplayer mode.
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Premature Evaluation: The Masterplan

By Marsh Davies on December 8th, 2014.

At least I’m good at the “execute” part of “execute the plan”

Each week Marsh Davies saunters nonchalantly into the forbidden vault that is Early Access and then, after a few muffled shrieks and thuds, saunters back out again with any stories and/or incautiously guarded diamond tiaras he can find. This week he steeples his fingers and prepares to execute The Masterplan – a top-down realtime heist-em-up.

Remember Subversion? It was the project that almost brought down Introversion Software: a five-year dev-slog that resulted in a whole load of cool systems and breathless column inches, but, by Introversion’s own estimation, only a void where the core game was meant to be. Subversion was reluctantly put on ice while Introversion pulled money-hats from the jaws of financial oblivion with Prison Architect – pioneering Early Access in the process. So it’s oddly fitting that Early Access should now birth a project that is notionally similar to Subversion, wherein you assemble a crew of specialised goons, case a joint and then rip it off, all in top-down real-time.

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The Bestest Best 4X Of 2014: Endless Legend

By RPS on December 8th, 2014.

Amplitude have released two games this year and either one would be deserving of a place in this bestest best December round-up. Dungeon of the Endless can slumber on in cryosleep for now though because it’s time to sing the praises of Endless Legend, the finest 4X game of recent times.

Adam: Science fiction, fantastic factions.

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