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Alex Wiltshire

2 weeks ago

Feature: How to build a world where anything can happen

Hollow Knight and the art of consistency

"One of my favourite things in the whole game is that when you slash your little weapon against the cave wall you actually get an impact, with a little recoil and rocks come out,” says Ari Gibson, animator, artist and co-creator of Hollow Knight. “It’s such a small thing, but it changes you from being just a few animations to being a present actor inside…

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4 weeks ago

Feature: A pinball platformer

How a cup of coffee saved Yoku’s Island Express

It wasn’t as if the tester was having a bad time. He was a pinball fan, after all. It’s just that every time he tried to reach for his coffee, the intensity of the game he was testing kept pulling his hand back to the controller. Half an hour later, he finished playing, picked up his cold coffee, and said he’d enjoyed the game. As…

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1 month ago

Feature: From Despicable Me to indie dev

How one person created the lushly organic world of Ghost Of A Tale

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they’ve taken to make their games. This time, Ghost Of A Tale [official site]. Every time I see Ghost Of A Tale I’m taken aback by its beauty. Its world of cracked flagstones, knurled furniture, twisting passages, haphazard towers and lush vegetation looks like it’s truly lived in by its population…

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2 months ago

Feature: Pilot a giant land boat

How Far: Lone Sails puts you on a journey through sound

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they’ve taken to make their games. This time, Far: Lone Sails [official site]. It’s there when you first start the engine, in the hiss of steam as you press the ignition button and the rumble as the great wheels begin to turn. Then the music swells and you know the journey…

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Feature: Matchmaking magic

How Destiny 2 works

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they’ve taken to make their games. This time, Destiny 2 [official site]. When you go down to Destiny 2’s European Dead Zone, you’ll blast your way through crowds of the Fallen and run past other players. Perhaps you’ll also have a friend by your side as you stumble across Public Events…

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3 months ago

Feature: Defend your sense of self

Play a messy brain in The Quiet Sleep

Brains are squishy, veiny gobbets of flesh filled with squabbling ideas, desires and feelings. They aren’t pretty. And nor is The Quiet Sleep, to be frank. But look past this strategic-narrative game’s programmer-art visuals and you’ll find a life playing out among its icons. And within that life lies a story told through the systems of a game that somehow successfully blends The Settlers with…

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Feature: Little rats and burly men

Why it feels great to hit things in Vermintide 2

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they’ve taken to make their games. This time, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 [official site]. In designing Vermintide II’s melee combat, Mats Andersson ran through the same preset level 50 times a day for two years. This hodgepodge of the game’s most distinctive areas, enemies and swarms makes no sense and it looks…

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Feature: No limit on complexity

How to take SpyParty from a 1000-hour to a 5000-hour game

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they’ve taken to make their games. This time, SpyParty [official site]. If Chris Hecker was going to make a mistake with SpyParty, he wanted it to be the opposite mistake to the one Spore made. The way Hecker sees it, Spore’s problem was that it was all accessibility and no depth.…

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4 months ago

Feature: Game dev is hell

The problem with building a car in Jalopy

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they’ve taken to make their games. This time, Jalopy [official site]. ”A lot of people have made the correlation between game development being a janky mess and the car in the game being a janky mess,” says Greg Pryjmachuk, the sole developer of Jalopy, a game about driving a Laika 601…

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Feature: Dash it all

Why Celeste’s dash feels great

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they underwent to make the best bits of their games. This time, mountain-climbing platformer Celeste and the importance of timing in its movements and kindness in its code. Early last month, the makers of Celeste released the source code behind the game’s star, Madeline. Across 5472 lines and in variables like…

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5 months ago

Feature: Freedom, at a price

Far Cry 5 review

Ah, a new Far Cry has appeared! Having torn up the Himalayas, Polynesia, Central Africa and The Past, in Far Cry 5 Ubisoft’s lidlessly searing eye for endless open-world violence has turned to the USA. Specifically, we're in Montana, where Ubisoft have conjured a new set of colourfully monologuing nemeses who toy with you as they enact their Bad Plans while you try to ignore…

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Feature: Fun combat, empty story

Far Cry 5 review in progress

Having been supplied code for Far Cry 5 late, I haven’t yet had time to play enough to write the full Wot I Think, but since it’s out today, I thought I’d give you a whiff of its flavour so far. (tl;dr: It’s mostly pine needles and burning flesh.) After 9 hours and 15 minutes of Far Cry 5, I’ve killed 912 enemies. That’s 1.6…

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Feature: Mining the light fantastic

How Deep Rock Galactic mines fun from absolute darkness

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they underwent to make the best bits of their games. This time, Deep Rock Galactic [official site]. The moment Deep Rock Galactic took my imagination was when I saw its dwarf miners throwing flares into the inky blackness of a cave in its E3 trailer. Few games do darkness, and here…

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Feature: The UI is your greatest weapon

Into the Breach’s interface was a nightmare to make and the key to its greatness

This is The Mechanic, in which Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they underwent to make the best bits of their games. This time, Into the Breach [official site]. “I think we were resolved to having a UI nightmare from the beginning,” says Matthew Davis, co-designer and programmer of Into the Breach. “When we decided we had to show what every enemy…

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6 months ago

Feature: Blending Rogue-likes with CCGs

Why revealing all is the secret of Slay The Spire’s success

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they underwent to make the best bits of their games. This time, Slay the Spire [official site]. Slay the Spire is a deck-building card game about careful attack and defence. And poisoning. And letting your own blood to amplify your damage, and hitting each enemy every time you lose a card,…

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Feature: Kinetic engineering

How Iconoclasts makes platforming flow

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they underwent to make the best bits of their games. This time, Iconoclasts [official site]. Iconoclasts is a platformer that feels great to play. As Robin, a daring mechanic armed with a wrench and a stun gun, you’ll run, jump and shoot your way through sprawling multi-level areas, enjoying precise movements…

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7 months ago

Feature: Land of Tiles

How Gorogoa is a game about fitting things together

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they underwent to make the best bits of their games. This time, Gorogoa [official site]. Gorogoa is a game about fitting things together. Fitting a detail in one image with a detail in another and see how it produces something new. And in making it, developer Jason Roberts found that making…

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Feature: Turbulent tales

How killing permadeath in Darkwood led deeper into the forest

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they underwent to make the best bits of their games. This time, Darkwood [official site]. “All roads lead deeper into the woods,” says one of the twisted characters in Darkwood, an excellent and haunting game of survival in a nightmarish forest. There are horrors in its tangles of subsuming wood, things…

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8 months ago

Feature: Bayek will remember that

The importance of going home in Assassin’s Creed Origins

Sometimes it’s good to go back to where you came from in open world games. When the content is the world, travelling through it can often feel like you’re gobbling it up, every virtual kilometre a chunk of media you’ve greedily consumed rather than occupied. But they rarely give you much reason for retracing your steps. Levelled rewards are rarely worth the journey; storylines and…

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Feature: Kill your darlings

How an amputation saved Quadrilateral Cowboy’s life

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they underwent to make the best bits of their games. This time, Quadrilateral Cowboy [official site]. Quadrilateral Cowboy is a firstperson puzzle game about a group of hacker friends who stage heists across a set of increasingly challenging missions. Together they tell a surprising and affecting story of professionalism, friendship and…

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