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Alex Wiltshire

1 week ago

Feature: Pipemania

How Satisfactory’s developers lied to their players, and why the players loved it

Satisfactory’s Update 3 is one of gaming’s great bait and switches. For months, developer Coffee Stain had been denying that its first-person factory-building game would ever have pipes. Why would they? You could already transport liquids on conveyors, so what was the point? And then in February, the studio presented a magnificently overblown trailer which confirmed the opposite of what they’d been claiming for all…

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3 weeks ago

Feature: Train in vain

How upgrading cards fuels Monster Train’s wild ride

Monster Train is a game about chuffing through the hills and vales of Hell while mincing up angels with your demonic fiends, angry plants and waxen gentry folk. As Matt has declared, it’s extremely good, and one of the things that I love about it is the way it escalates. That train ride you’re on is a wild, careening one into multiplying attack and defence.The…

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Feature: Exclusive info

Magic: The Gathering Jumpstart packs revealed: Minions and Rainbow

Next month, Wizards of the Coast will release a new way to play Magic: The Gathering in the form of Jumpstart. Available physically and also in Arena, its PC-based incarnation. We previewed Jumpstart yesterday in conversation with Magic’s principal product designer, Mark Heggen. Today we’re exclusively revealing two of its 46 different themes, and discovering the incredible calculus Wizards of the Coast apply to their…

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Feature: Goodbye to deck-building

You might finally have time for Magic: The Gathering thanks to Jumpstart

Like many CCG-curious people, I can’t even think about playing Magic: The Gathering properly. Building a deck from a library of thousands of cards and mechanics makes impossible demands on my time and – frankly – ability. But that’s about to change with Jumpstart, a new format that’s due to launch July 17 on paper in the US and also in Magic: The Gathering Arena,…

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1 month ago

Feature: A game about struggle

The difficulty with Pathologic 2’s difficulty

“Nikolay, right now, what do you think about Pathologic 2? Was it a successful experiment?”“Oh yes, of course! Certainly it was! Moreover, due to the conditions in which we constructed this game, it was a miracle that we released it. But I wouldn’t say it’s the game we wanted to release.”Even now, over a year after Pathologic 2’s release, Nikolay Dybowski and Ivan Slovtsov have…

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2 months ago

Feature: Some games are made to be watched

How I Wanna Run The Marathon riffed on Mario to draw a crowd

Some games are made to be watched. Games like I Wanna Run The Marathon. This hardcore platformer was designed to be played by four streamers for the first time at Fangame Marathon 2016, presenting a succession of eyewatering challenges intended to please the crowd. And no wonder: it’s a supremely entertaining and pacey gauntlet of cruel traps, wry references and intricate level design, set across…

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Feature: Sometimes that shark looks right at ya

How Raft’s shark feeds its survival game

I have a real issue with the sea. That enormous blue conceals awful primal horrors which I can’t help but be fascinated by. So you can understand why I admire Raft, the survival game in which you try to stay alive on a rickety wooden craft constantly circled by a giant shark.That shark is Raft’s principal antagonist and it sits at the centre of many…

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3 months ago

Feature: From tulips to teapots

How Untitled Goose Game made a game out of everyday items

Untitled Goose Game is a game about being a horrible goose, about making a mess and watching hapless Brits try to clear it up again. But under all that, it’s a game about things. Apples, hair brushes, keys, mallets, toy planes, tulips, teapots. After all, it takes things to mess things up.“Items are the language of the game,” co-designer Nico Disseldorp tells me. “They’re both…

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Feature: Raindrops on kittens and whiskers on roses

Developers of your favourite games share what they’re most proud of making

Times are strange and frightening. But one point of great solace for me has been hearing people celebrating things in their lives. It feels especially important right now to hold on to what makes us all proud about what we do and who we are. And what I really love is people showing off things they’re proud of making.So I’ve been asking a bunch of…

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Feature: See through the dimensions

How animation powers Ori And The Will Of The Wisps

Ori And The Will Of The Wisps feels so good to play. The fluidity of Ori’s movement; his quickness and agility; the sense of his weight and presence in the world – he’s a product of both traditional animation and leading graphics technology which developer Moon Studios has built up over years to make a sequel that surpasses the already beautiful Ori And The Blind…

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4 months ago

Feature: Keep on truckin'

How American Truck Simulator recreates the grand American west

Oh, to visit Spokane on a bright summer morning. Bakersfield, Albuquerque, Reno and Salem. The evening sun shining across the surface of the I-10. In these locked-down times, American Truck Simulator is a chance to tour America, or at least its western edge, running from Washington in the north down to California in the south, and over to Utah and New Mexico in the east.…

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Feature: Wascally wabbit

How Hunt: Showdown creates hot, dripping tension

There’s a lot to be frightened by in Hunt: Showdown. Bee ladies, dying horses, a scuttering spider-beast. Slavering hounds, alarms made of clattering hanging bones, zombies. Ducks. It’s like this whole bayou hates you. But the swamp and its horrible denizens aren’t Hunt: Showdown’s antagonists. The real source of tension is other players. Every detail of this shooter’s design is about engineering a sense of…

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Feature: 334 hours played, do not recommend

How Generation Zero was fixed

Just before Generation Zero released nearly a year ago, things looked great for the game. Its trailers and screenshots promised a dynamic and expansive open-world cooperative shooter, with robots to fight and a beautiful and detailed 1980s Sweden to explore. And it was made by Avalanche Studios, a developer long-known for its open-world action games. Aside from a little controversy when artist Simon Stålenhag pointed…

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5 months ago

Feature: Hell to pay

How Hades plays with Greek myths

When Supergiant Games started to make Hades, their Rogue-like action-RPG, they had plenty of experience making narrative games. Across Bastion, Transistor and Pyre, they’d found they were pretty good at telling stories. But in a Rogue-like? And what’s that? They intended to put Hades in Early Access? Could they ever fit with the kind of rich characterisation and storytelling that made Supergiant’s name?“We were really…

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Feature: Dig up, stupid

How Shovel Knight’s last boss was designed four times

When Yacht Club Games decided to style Shovel Knight after the NES games that inspired it, they took that project seriously. Shovel Knight can’t fill the screen with 1000 bullets or radically switch up how it plays. It has to stay true to its inheritance, else, as programmer and co-designer David D’Angelo tells me, “It’d stand out as bizarre.”So its bosses naturally follow classic rules,…

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6 months ago

Feature: Turns out that standing still is pretty hard

The unknowable chaos of physics in Totally Accurate Battle Simulator

“A lot of fun stuff happens when you try to do stuff with physics,” says Wilhelm Nylund, head of Landfall Games, and the intelligent god behind Totally Accurate Battle Simulator’s legions of gangling warriors.And yet physics has given him an enormous amount of grief over the course of TABS’ development - as well as all the other games he’s made at Landfall. Physics, after all,…

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Exclusive: two new Magic: The Gathering cards revealed – including punchy goats

Next week, on January 16, the latest card set will hit Magic: The Gathering Arena ahead of its physical release on January 24. It turns out that developers Wizards Of The Coast weren’t joking when they said their PC-based online game would stand right alongside the traditional game.Theros Beyond Death is a new set in a series of four based on the Greek mythology-inspired plane…

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Feature: Where abstraction meets accuracy

How Unity Of Command 2 balances game design with military history

The first Unity Of Command was designed for the open steppes of the Eastern Front. There, the major battles were about manoeuvre, with tank units chasing and covering miles of ground for their objectives, and lines of infantry moving to counter and support. The steppes were perfect for UoC’s unique focus on maintaining your army’s supply lines. So, when designer Tomislav Uzelac began thinking about…

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7 months ago

Feature: Lonely at the block

Portraits of Roblox: The view from the platform

After having spoken to four of Roblox’s leading developers, I wanted to understand how Roblox sees itself, how its been changing, and how the company aims to continue developing it. So I got to talk with Craig Donato, Roblox’s chief business officer. In charge of developer relations, he’s directly responsible for managing the world in which Roblox’s creators build. “When we think about our platform,…

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Feature: I'll have you know they make very good pets

How A Plague Tale: Innocence’s rat hordes were made

Oh, the rats. The rats and the rats. If you don’t like rats, it’s best you don’t read on, because in A Plague Tale: Innocence there are thousands of them. They’re the stars of its grim medieval show, swarming around you, chittering and lunging and responding to your every movement. And they presented their creators at developer Asobo Studio all kinds of problems to make.…

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