XCOM Enemy Unknown: The Final Chatdown

After something in the region of 30,000 words across four interviews, the odyssey that is my series of chats with XCOM: Enemy Unknown lead designer Jake Solomon finally comes to an end. While my battered transcribing fingers are inordinately relieved about this, I’m strangely sad otherwise – it’s been fascinating, and no matter how the finished game actually turns out, one thing I have no doubt of is that Solomon is yer bona fide X-COM superfan with only the best of intentions for the remake he’s heading up at Firaxis.

In this last part, we talk about the Guile haircut, how the alien AI works, which obscure aspects of the game he’s most proud of, soldier/armour customisation and bagpipes.

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The Poetry Of Squeaky Sneakers: NBA 2K13

the feared headless shooting guard, his positional awareness is incredible considering his lack of eyes and indeed the rest of the cranial region

The billow of their shorts makes it seem as if I could reach out and touch the fabric. For a long time I thought basketball games were part of my childhood, never to be visited again. I hadn’t enjoyed a bout of ball-to-basket since the days when a particularly impressive dunk would cause the backboard to shatter into a thousand glittering celebrations and scoring streaks would cause my player to wear a halo of flames. One of 2K’s recent NBA releases rekindled some of my appreciation for the courtly conflict though, mainly due to its exceptional My Player Mode. With all that said, NBA 2K13 looks spectacular as you can see below.

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Spare A Thought For The IndieFort Bundle

The new IndieFort bundle over at Gamersgate is like a pick and mix stand, allowing purchasers to select three, six or nine games from a selection of 24. Three for £2.49, six for £4.49 or nine for £6.49. There are a few obvious savings, with Telepath RPG: Servants of God and Air Buccaneers valued at £17.95 and £24.95 respectively. There are deals to be had then and some decent games in the selection, including the two aforementioned, Dark Scavenger, Cardinal Quest, and Tiny and Big. The deal runs for three weeks and starting from the 21st it’ll be possible to vote for your favourite three games. The winners will be sold in a $3 pack. There’s a trailer below that shows all the games in action

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Kickstarter ♥ Games: $50 Million Raised In Six Months

I want to make $50 million in six months. No fair.

I suppose we all knew this deep down, but it’s startling to see it laid out in pretty graphs: 2012 has seen a massive, massive increase on games funding through Kickstarter. Eye wateringly huge. In six short months they have exploded from the eighth most-funded category in Kickstarter history to the second most-funded, and the first-most funded category of the year, having raised a staggering $50,330,275 in 2012 alone. I mean, just look at that graph. JUST LOOK AT IT.

And I do mean in 2012 alone. Look at 2011! Nothing! Pittance! Pennies compared to this year.

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Decisions, Decisions: Borderlands 2 Skill Trees In Full

I could put points into things all day long.

At first glance, you wouldn’t expect a big loud shooty bang bang game such as Borderlands 2 to be the type who wears a pocket protector and hangs around for the after school mathlete competitions, and yet here it is, polishing up its statistics term paper. The Borderlands 2 character class skill tree is available online for your perusal, allowing you first to see exactly which class gets what abilities, and secondly to get down to the all-important task of minmaxing stats and specialisations.

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Command and Conquer Single Player Hinted At

Construction Possibly Under Completion

The forthcoming Frostbite-powered free to play Command and Conquer sequel will be enjoying a single player campaign after all, as an interview by Polygon with Frank Gibeau, president of EA Labels announces, going back on the previous No-Single Player reveal. Or will it? It’s not actually that clear. Gibeau sounded perhaps a little defensive in his statement, talking more about fan reaction than detailing the actual game development. The relevant quote: “Does that mean it’s not going to have single-player? No, that’s something we’ve obviously heard loud and clear that is important to people.”

Is that official confirmation of a big story-driven campaign mode? No, that’s a confusingly worded, ambiguous double-negative.

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Wot I Think: Closure

How many lives must be expended to put in a lightbulb? If a tree falls in a forest but there is no light to show its final position, can it bridge the gap across a chasm? These and other philosophical quandaries are answered in Tyler Galiel’s Closure, a platform-puzzler that constitutes a sinister journey comprised of a thousand tricks of the light. Here’s wot I think.

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Powering Up: Black Mesa Screenshots

Gordon should really look harder for alternate routes.

Black Mesa is coming this Friday. THIS FRIDAY. Can you believe it? I still can’t believe it. And yet, so it has been written. To whet your appetite for all things Lambda, the Black Mesa Modification Team (really guys? That’s your name? You’ll be writing yourself into a corner after you finish Xen) have released seven new fancy pants-sized screenshots of iconic moments and locales from throughout the fan-made reboot of Gordon Freeman’s original adventure, including a glimpse of both a Gargantua and a distinctively creepy looking Bullsquid. Those tentacles…

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Hard choices: Gaming laptops, Part One

It’s time to talk portable gaming. Not idiotic Angry-Birds-on-your-iPhone action, addictive as that may be, but proper performance laptops. Portable gaming PCs for real RPSers. Why? Some of you have asked for it. More importantly, it’s got to be the trickiest PC-related purchase and one where there’s little going back if you get it wrong. You’re stuck with an ill-specified, largely non-upgradeable brick.

In fact, the whole thing is so very befuddling, we’re going to split it into two parts. So, here’s part one of everything you need to know about buying a gaming laptop.

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Boss Wave: Defender’s Quest Gold, Steam Release

Oh no! The zombies are coming in easily defineable channels of right-angled marching!

It’s time for my regularly scheduled Defender’s Quest plug: Defender’s Quest is a disarmingly low-fi tower defense/rpg hybrid adventure released last year which immediately excelled due to its easy charm and unending efforts to make the player happy. Speaking of, the previously announced free-for-existing-customers Gold Edition has just released, and boy oh boy is it a doozy. The chaps at Fortress of Doors just love to spoil their fans, and if you haven’t yet tried it, now’s the perfect time because it’s just become bigger and better than ever.

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Casting The Couch: Steam’s Big Picture Beta Out Today

some kind of tomorrow

Tendrils of Steam are preparing to spread throughout homes across the world. With all the talk and rumours of wearable computers, a Steam OS and anything with a ‘3’ in the title, it’s been easy to forget about The Big Picture. With an interface designed for television screens, Big Picture will transfer the Steam library to your living room, “or anywhere there’s a big screen”, so you can finally play Left 4 Dead on that fifty inch Plasma screen in the bathroom while soaking in the tub. A New York Times feature on Valve drops the information that Big Picture will enter public beta today, although quite how and when specifically is not mentioned. I’m keen to test this out, even though my big screen isn’t all that much bigger than my small one.

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War On Geometry: Super Hexagon Coming To PC

Hate. Let me tell you how much I've come to hate you since I began to live. There are 387.44 million sides of circling hexagons in wafer thin layers that fill my thoughts. If the word 'hate' was engraved on each nanoangstrom of those hundreds of miles it would not equal one one-billionth of the hate I feel for Terry Cavanagh at this micro-instant. For you. Hate. Hate.

With his new iOS game, Super Hexagon, I’ve just realised that Terry “VVVVVV” Cavanagh has a plan, and it’s to achieve immortality through drinking the tears of broken souls, bent over electronic torture devices screaming his name in fear and fury. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. Super Hexagon will be coming out on PC. You will hate him too. Hate. There’s a trailer after the jump. Hate.

How’s your Monday morning going?

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Snake In The Glass: qrth-phyl Out Now

does the title mean something obvious that I'm not picking up on or is it like most of the song titles on Drukqs. Wait, they don't mean things do they?

Hotline Miami may have been our game of the show at Rezzed, the galaxy’s foremost PC festival, but I recently found my personal top ten scrawled on the back of a beermat that was secured in the pocket of a faded corduroy jacket. qrth-phyl was on the list and as the game has now been release, I thought I’d share wot the beermat told me: “serpents dance, coil, vibrate and effervesce on every possible plane of psychotropia but it is unclear if they are the same snakes we once knew, now liberated from the sharp angles of dotty digestion; a bass line shudders, tangled tail becomes gobstopper, the rainbow evaporates and the sky turns in on itself”. It was a massive beermat. Launch trailer below.

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Live Free, Play Hard: The Week In Free Indie Games

It’s time for Porpentine of Free Indie Games to usher in the indie games we might otherwise have missed. Take it away:

Torn apart by your own heartbeat. You are the armada. Detonation aspirations. Evolutionary platformer. Shattered automaton affection. Aesthetic ant farm.

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Cardboard Children: Life

Hello youse.

There is a real craft to writing a good board game rulebook. A great rulebook gives you the information you need in an elegant and simple way, and excites you about the game you’re about to play. A bad rulebook hides the information within clutter, intimidates the reader, and makes them put the game away and pull out King of Tokyo instead. Rulebooks fascinate me, and so I’d like to take a little step away from our usual coverage this week so that you can read some rules.

The rules for Life itself.
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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for basking in early morning sun with a cup of tea. Sundays are for basking in the afternoon sun with a cup of tea. Sundays are for basking in the evening sun with a cup of tea. And also, for reading.

  • This is a fascinating comment on Thirty Flights Of Loving (a game which some have dismissed because of its cinematic approach): “Usually, videogames inhabit spaces. They set them up to be populated, they create functioning, navigable environments that in some way or another have an unbroken connection to a previous space, even if it is only by virtue of the player’s memory. There is usually no cut. Like a long take from A Touch of Evil or Children of Men, the player wanders throughout a space at leisure, bearing witness to spatial connections unable to be hidden or emphasised through montage. But not always. Thirty Flights of Loving is a very unusual videogame. Thirty Flights of Loving is a videogame that cuts space up.”
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Foreverquest: EverQuest Will Never Stop Expanding

There's not enough skeleton imagery in this picture.

I remember when I first played Everquest. I was younger then – naive, optimistic, and completely unable to grasp the concept that a PVP server meant idly tapping the attack button around other people could cause an international incident. Still though, it was my first MMO, and what a magical experience it was. I’ll never forget my first death by Sand Giant or related, nearly naked corpse run through Terror Country. I tried it out again recently, though, and it’s, uh, really different. But I suppose that makes sense, seeing as there have been 18 expansion sets. And now it’s about to get even more different with a 19th. Also, EverQuest II’s hitting number nine, because… jeez, really? Nine? Where did the time go, everyone? What were we doing?

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The RPS Bargain Bucket: Pushed Back

It’s bargain bucket time. This Saturday, like any other, there’s some special offers on games for your Personal Computation Terminals, and I’m here to help you navigate the best offers. I also go off on a rant about nuSonic. Sorry about that. For a regular dose of gaming discounts, delivered straight to your browser at your convenience, pop along to SavyGamer.co.uk. Read the rest of this entry »

Story Time With Valve’s Erik Wolpaw, Pt 2

Yesterday, you probably read the first part of my chat with Valve’s Erik Wolpaw and Double Fine’s Anna Kipnis. If not, it’s right here– but FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY. By which I mean until the Internet ceases to exist, which, you know, could happen someday. Anyway, in today’s installment, we branch out a bit from yesterday’s story-centric beat. Valve’s newfound love of wearable computing, virtual reality, heaps behind-the-scenes info on Portal, crowd-sourcing, and more are all on the docket. OK, there wasn’t actually any sort of docket involved. I’m not entirely sure why I said that.

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Wait, Why’s Pirate Bay Promoting An Indie Game?

If you’re a frequent RPS reader (or an infrequent RPS reader with uncannily good timing), the image on the front page of ubiquitous, recently-banned-in-the-UK-under-extremely-dubious-circumstances torrenting site The Pirate Bay might strike you as a bit familiar. If not, you may have still been able to guess that it heralds from Sos Sosowski’s McPixel because, well, the first four words on the page will tell you all of that. This, however, is the first time a game has ever been featured as part of Pirate Bay’s “Promo Bay” program – wherein, a creator gets to leverage the site’s incredible reach for exposure. But how’d this come about? And what does it say about the ever-evolving role of piracy in the gaming industry? Plus, given that many file swaps on Pirate Bay are technically illegal, does anyone really deserve a pat on the back in this situation? I spoke with both McPixel’s Sos and an organizer from The Pirate Bay to find out more.

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