How Do You Solve A Problem Like Geralt?

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites a developer to help him put their game up on blocks and take a wrench to hack out its best feature, just to see how it works. It’s about the sweat, grease and genius behind the little things that make games special.

Here’s a question: How do you solve a problem like Geralt? There he is, stern and stalwart, everyone’s favourite low fantasy drifter. A man of rank bogs, blasted no man’s lands and rugged islands. A man who isn’t much of a laugh, or awfully fun to have a drink with.

But what if you want to extend his world, and expose him to new adventures? That’s what last October’s expansion to The Witcher 3 [official site], Hearts of Stone, aimed to achieve, but it had to get Geralt doing things he’d never normally do. So how did CD Projekt manage to get him drunk and dancing at a wedding, robbing a bank, and appraising fine art? Their solution was deft.

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Nine Observations About American Truck Simulator

American Truck Simulator [official site] has quietly been one of RPS’ most-anticipated games of 2016. Its predecessor, Euro Truck Simulator 2, has been an office favourite for a while – what, at a passing glance, might seem to be incomprehensible HGV nerdery is instead a therapeutic indulgence. The open road. The refreshing lack of urgency. The sky. Choosing only the jobs that take you where you wanna go. The tranquil click-click-click of the indicators. Freedom.

Transpose that to California and Nevada – small towns, big cities, bigger deserts and even bigger skies – and the promise is irresistible. The quintessential truck driver fantasy. Can it be true? I spent a few hours on the freeway to find out.
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Goodbye-O-Ware: Writer David Gaider Leaves BioWare

After seventeen years in the scribbler’s hotseat, writer and designer David Gaider has left BioWare. Gaider joined the RPG-builders back in 1999, putting in some time on Baldur’s Gate 2 before moving onto Knights of the Old Republic. His contributions to the Star Wars universe include snarky murderous human-hating droid HK-47 (a terrifying vision of our machine-doomed future presented as comic relief) and Carth Onasi, a sad space-man. Gaider’s greatest contribution to CRPGs came as lead writer on Dragon Age: Origins, the beginning of the series that, along with Mass Effect, has come to define modern BioWare.

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Endless Legend: Shifters Expansion Announced

Fine 4X strategy game Endless Legend [official] has another expansion coming, developers Amplitude Studios announced last night. More of the official RPS Bestest Best Game of 2014? Fab! Named Shifters, you say? It’ll add a new faction who “will be able to ‘shift’ during long winters”, you say? Aye, a bit of shifting will help pass a long winter all right. Warms you up nicely, getting the shift does.

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“A Matter Of Pride” – Massive Talk PC Development, And The Setting And Structure Of The Division

Last week, I spent a few hours playing The Division [official site] in Malmö, hometown of developers Ubisoft Massive. After the play session, I sat down with Creative Director Magnus Jansén to talk about the game’s mechanics and setting, but we also discussed the studio’s history as a PC developer. The latter topic came up because The Division has one of the finest PC-specific version I’ve seen in recent times.

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Have You Played… BioShock Infinite?

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

It’s not all we hoped it would be, but I liked BioShock Infinite [official site]. Am I wrong?

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League Of Legends: UK Teams And The Path To LCS

Riot is increasing support of regional amateur League of Legends [official site] teams and will be giving a UK squad a chance at joining the EU pro scene’s Challenger Series. That’s the one which carries with it a chance of promotion into the top tier of play – the LCS.

By now I suspect RPS readers are familiar with the existence of seasons of top level League of Legends play taking place around the world. I’m less sure how many of you know about how LoL works for the lower level teams so I’ll go into a bit more detail about how that works and also why this particular move is interesting, because it’s not just the UK getting a dedicated regional spot. Germany, Spain, France, Poland and the Nordic regions all have them too.

(FYI: Germany, Poland and Spain are in the mix for this spring split while the other three arrive in Summer)

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The Flare Path: Whatever Happened To…

Remember that flight sim that was going to do for the WW2 Regia Aeronautica what IL-2 Sturmovik did for the Voyenno Vozdushnye Sily? Recall that imminent Napoleonic roguelike – the one that was going to let you desert, rustle chickens, and scavenge on corpse-littered battlefields? The Dorset outfit that was looking to raise £250,000 to fund an Eighteenth Century smuggling sim? In today’s column I point the Flare Path PBY at patches of ocean where promising work-in-progress sims and wargames were last seen. I find out why titles like Lifeboat Simulator 1875, La Decima, and General Winter are years late. Read the rest of this entry »

Boo! Five Nights At Freddy’s World Jumps Out Early

Five Nights at Freddy’s World [official site] may be taking the animatronic cast of the smash-hit jumpscare ’em up into a retro-style JRPG, but creator Scott Cawthon still likes to throw a surprise a two out. For example, BOO! It’s out right now!

FNaF World was due on February 19th but it’s out a month early, right here right now right up in your face please could you step back I don’t want to ruin your beautiful smile but I will tear your teeth clean out and set them in rings.

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No Man’s Survival: The Solus Project’s Looking Good

It’s probably not fair to either game to invoke No Man’s Sky when talking about upcoming sci-fi survival offering The Solus Project [official site], but both the reddish-pink colour palette and the heavy use of tricorders (let’s not kid ourselves, eh?) does put me in mind of Hello Games’ newbie. The Solus Project is billed as a survival game, but more in the classical sense than the newer DayZ, Rust etc one. Devs Teotl Studios – who you may know from The Ball – and Grip – of Unmechanical fame – are at pains to point out it’s not a sandbox jobbie. It’s a singleplayer, linear game in which you will be attacked not by creatures, but by a hostile environment, as well has having to deal with hunger and thirst. Man, that’s easy: eat fingers, drink wee. Survivalists these days, honestly – no backbone, that’s their problem.

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Shadowrun Devs’ Roguelike Necropolis Out In March

Harebrained Schemes don’t only create remakes of olden meatspace games, you know. They only do that when they want to raise millions of dollars on Kickstarter. In between last year’s Shadowrun: Hong Kong and next year’s Battletech do-over, they’re realising a ‘procedural death labyrinth’ (a roguelike, then) called Necropolis [official site], to which they’ve just announced the addition of four-player co-op. The thing’s also due out in March, and some of you may be relieved to hear that it’s skipping the whole early access thing.

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Sandbox Seas: Naval Action Boards Steam Early Access

Boats have fallen out of vogue. Once upon a time, we had a boat in every bathtub and children would flock to boating ponds after school to sail their schooners. Now they simply throw their iPhones in the pond and look disappointed. Even Queen Elizabeth II, the glorious floating cyborgpalace formed by the fusion of our wizened monarch and the life support systems sustaining her remains for millennia to come, is only visited by pensioners.

The makers of Naval Action [official site] remember boats, and they’ve now spread that love to a wider audience by releasing the sandbox MMO on Steam Early Access.

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Heroes Of The Storm: How Spring Esports Is Shaping Up

Blizzard has announced the full details of its Heroes of the Storm [official site] Spring Global Championship with eight regional shindigs culminating in a Global Championship event in April. The various prize pools for all of this top $1m and the company will be rinsing and repeating for a Summer and Fall season as well.

I’ll put their more detailed breakdown below with prizes and regional partners and dates and things. I suspect that when the full details for the Spring Global Championship are announced it’ll explain more about how this all feeds into the next World Championship.

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Wot I Think – Homeworld: Deserts Of Kharak

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak [official site] is a prequel to the legendary Homeworld space real-time strategy games, but this time – heresy! – set on land, as the Kushan race battle angry clans to reclaim ancient technologies found on the sandy planet they currently call home. While some of its developers (including studio boss and former Relic art lead Rob Cunningham) worked on the original games, this first began life as the unrelated ‘Hardware: Shipbreakers’, before morphing into the free to play multiplayer ‘Homeworld: Shipbreakers’ and then finally to the traditionally-sold, singleplayer and multiplayer package it is now. Deserts of Kharak has some bloody big boots to fill – can it possibly manage it?

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Best Fallout 4 Mods

Fallout 4 has been out for a few months now, which means a few months for the community to produce hundreds of excellent, essential and silly mods to enhance the game. We’ve sifted through all of them to select the current best mods for Fallout 4.

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