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Alex Wiltshire

3 days ago

Feature: Another block in the wall

Portraits of Roblox’s leading makers: the scale breakers

Roblox first launched just over 13 years ago. That’s 13 years of slapdash user-made trash populated by nine year-old trolls, right? Not quite. Roblox is also one of videogames’ most underestimated communities; it’s a huge and vibrant place of play and creation where fortunes and talent are being forged.

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5 days ago

Feature: Worth a thousand words

How Katana Zero brought action into cutscenes

When a game’s cutscene begins and the dialogue starts spooling, I can’t help it. My phone comes out and I’m scrolling. From being active I’ve suddenly become passive, and rather than stay engaged, my brain impulsively turns to Twitter, Reddit, anything, to feed its pathetic desire for reward through light interaction. But I don’t during Katana Zero’s cutscenes. When this action game halts its razor-fine…

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3 weeks ago

Feature: Who wouldn't want to

Why you can anger the gods in Noita

In Noita, you can destroy every pixel. Walls, lakes of blood, rock mass, bodies, piles of gold, wooden piles, minecarts - if it’s there, you can mess it up. But there’s one place where you probably shouldn’t do that. The Holy Mountain is a moment of respite on your journey downwards in this very physical take on the dungeon-delver. It’s somewhere where you can recoup…

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1 month ago

Feature: If you go down to the woods today...

How Magic: The Gathering card sets are designed

“It’s hungry mother. It’s trip to the fair. It’s bad trade. Magic beans. Jack’s cow, angry mother. It’s surprise beanstalk. It’s climbing the beanstalk, giant’s castle, giant’s wife, golden goose, self-playing harp, escape with the goose, chop down the beanstalk.” Mark Rosewater has been head designer on Magic: The Gathering since 2003, overseeing the creation of thousands of new cards in the collectible card game…

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2 months ago

Feature: Beasts of burden

How Guild Wars 2’s mounts were made

Every MMO has to have a mount. Mounts are a reward, a step in the endgame that helps you feel like you’ve finally mastered an MMO’s world. Finally you can get around quickly. No more of that plebeian walking. And with the game feeling like it’s in your grasp at last, you even get to show off your achievement with the flamboyance of your steed.…

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Feature: *screaming dial-up noise*

How Hypnospace Outlaw’s 1990s internet was made

Hypnospace Outlaw is a game about surfing a fictional 1999 internet, a web of GeoCities-like pages made by a community of weirdo artists, rock stars, scammers, edgy teens, pastors, hackers and spiritualists. It’s funny, bizarre, poignant, and sometimes dumb, just like the early internet that it spoofs. But it’s also a game, so its wild thickets of pages, all written by distinct personalities, are also…

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Feature: Moon's still haunted.

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep review

To be a Destiny player is to consume. To voraciously devour great wads of Content, like one of its giant inter-dimensional space worm gods gorging on a planetoid, and then, never sated, moving on to the next. The newest feast is Shadowkeep. It’s as beautifully crafted as ever. We get to eat the Moon! It looks stunning and it’s fun and weird and I love…

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Feature: Hard right to my heart

The Joy of Phil Mills in Dirt Rally 2.0

If there’s anything that can bring a dose of certainty to a dark night in the Polish countryside, it’s that voice. “Flat left over jump, extra extra long keep middle 170,” it says as we speed by trees and hedgerows and fields and barns. I can’t see the world outside the glare of my headlights, but that voice knows everything. “Into six right, opens over…

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Feature: DEV is HARD

A dictionary of Baba Is You’s most difficult words

Baba Is You is a push-block puzzler in which words change the rules of the game. Push a baba block next to an is, and then push a you on the end, and now you’re controlling a four-legged, long-eared critter. Add another rule, flag is win, and you can beat the level by moving Baba on to the flag. Baba Is You is therefore a…

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3 months ago

Feature: 22 minutes to go

How Outer Wilds built a planet which falls apart

Brittle Hollow is a doomed planet. For a start, in about 22 minutes’ time, it’s going to be destroyed, along with the rest of Outer Wilds’ solar system. And also, up until that apocalypse, Brittle Hollow will also endure constant bombardment by meteors, which will smash away great crystalline chunks of its frigid surface, so that they fall away into the black hole at the…

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10 months ago

Feature: Feature creep

Why Creeper World’s decade-long evolution keeps getting harder

“The whole history of the Creeper World series is serendipitous and unintentional,” says its creator, Virgil Wall, in his Texan lilt. “You know how it goes with these things, one thing led to another.” Creeper World is a singular take on the realtime strategy that Wall has spent the past decade making. Former man of the cloth Kieron Gillen once described the original as “the…

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11 months ago

Feature:

How 40K: Mechanicus reinvented tactics for Warhammer’s cyber-monks

The Adeptus Mechanicus are one heck of a Warhammer 40K faction. These shadowy racist warrior monks are more machine than human and worship a trinity of machine gods. They say stuff like, “From the moment I understood the weakness of my flesh, it disgusted me. I prayed for the strength and certainty of steel. I aspired to the purity of the blessed machine.” Those words…

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12 months ago

Feature: How many people did we ask to do this?! Answer: many

Alex Wiltshire’s 5 best games of 2018

I’ve spent 2018 particularly distracted, flitting between games and feeling guilty that I haven’t quite finished them or spent the time they deserved. Maybe it’s because there have been so many good games? Or maybe I’m just awful. Either way, I resolve to take better care next year. Now I look back, I realise that I’ve particularly enjoyed a series of games which gave me…

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Feature: Tough love

How Kenshi’s world is designed not to care about you

You’re not the hero in Kenshi. You’re not the chosen one. There’s nothing out there for you to save - other than your own skin. You’re just another inhabitant of a huge open world that doesn’t care about you. That’s its magic, and it takes design to create a world so exquisitely uncaring. Merry Christmas, everybody!

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1 year ago

Feature: Live free, pike hard

How Bad North makes humans out of little soldiers

“The units should feel like humans,” says Oskar Stålberg, co-creator of Bad North, a strategy game about little soldiers defending their islands against bad Vikings. “They’re quite stylised; they don’t have faces and barely have arms, but they should feel human in their behaviour and what they’re capable of doing. They should feel fragile and it should look like fighting is a courageous effort.” You…

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Feature: Standing together

How multiplayer fell into Human: Fall Flat

Obviously, obviously, Human: Fall Flat is primed for multiplayer. It’s a knockabout physics game in which you play as a wobbly non-Newtonian man. He’s ungainly and awkward to control and, for heck’s sake, Gang Beasts showed how funny that combination is when several players get together. Yet developer Tomas Sakalauskas never really saw his game like that. Human Fall Flat was meant to be a…

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Feature: Finished business

Void Bastards is System Shock 2 meets XCOM and it looks great

I’m really excited about Void Bastards. I mean, it’s a new deeply systems-driven FPS made by some of the people behind System Shock 2, Neptune’s Pride and Captain Forever. Of course I’m excited. You play as a desperate crim boarding extremely hostile derelict spaceships to loot stuff. It’s got cool guns and a striking comic book art style, and it’s the result of some extremely…

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Feature: Page turner

How a book binds the Return of the Obra Dinn

Towards the end of Return of the Obra Dinn’s four-and-a-half years in development, Lucas Pope had a friend come over to playtest it. He sat him down, explained how it’s a firstperson mystery game in which you discover the fate of the Obra Dinn, a merchant ship lost on its voyage into the Orient. Then he gave him the controls. “He played for a bit…

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Feature: Delve a little deeper

The pain of designing Path of Exile’s exquisite balance of restriction and reward

Every three months, Grinding Gear Games adds a new league to its excellent action RPG, Path of Exile. Each league adds a new spin on its core monster-slaying action for a few weeks until the next is added, and the latest is Delve, which launched at the end of August. Delve presents you with an infinite and pitch-dark mine to dig into, a sprint into…

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Feature: The game's real stars are its animators

How theHunter: Call of the Wild simulates wild animals

You’ve been tracking the herd for fifteen minutes, and now, finally, you’re close enough to see your first deer. You raise your binoculars and edge closer, but a branch scrapes your jacket. The deer’s ear twitches and it turns and trots away. You freeze. The deer stops and turns its head to look back in your direction. You crouch but the deer barks, alerting the…

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