Posts Tagged ‘GDC 2017’

Crashlands’ postmortem is an extraordinary, emotional ride

Well I’m completely exhausted after an hour’s crying, and utterly invigorated for it. I just watched Samuel Coster’s postmortem of Crashlands [official site] from GDC this year, and goodness me, I’ve never felt so simultaneously sad and inspired. I implore you to give this a watch. Read the rest of this entry »

Assessing frustration in Cosmic Express playtests

Cosmic Express

While out at GDC I spent a bit of time chatting to Alan Hazelden about Cosmic Express [official site], his train-themed logic puzzler. I was playing the preview build of the game at the time and was curious to know a bit more about how you go about sorting the levels for a difficulty curve and how you interpret good and bad kinds of frustration when playtesting a puzzle game.

It was an interesting chat, punctuated by the arrival of a little dog partway through, so I’m going to just pull out a few of the observations which inform the difficulty curve discussion. It’s nice to have it as an accompaniment to yesterday’s the review. Read the rest of this entry »

Heat Signature is a comic cosmic playground

I’m not sure if Heat Signature [official site] will be labelled as a comedy game when it goes on sale, but I haven’y played a funnier game in recent years. Your role in each brief life that you lead is to earn money by completing missions that involve kidnapping, assassination and theft, so that you can use the money to buy information regarding an end-game mission that is personal to your character. Get that job done and your character can retire happy. Fail and you’re most likely a popsicle drifting through the void.

Here’s how it all works, and how my most recent character died.

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Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days is smarter than you’d think

I’m very wary of licensed games. It’s not just that I’ve played a lot of bad tie-ins over the decades, it’s that the license itself often seems to be used as a veil to disguise tired design, or as the only actual hook. Let’s be honest – ‘Reservoir Dogs top-down shooter’ isn’t a tantalising pitch in and of itself, is it?

What a shame it’d be if the license did act as a veil in this case, though, because behind that dubious pitch there’s a much more interesting one: single-player cooperative tactical shooter, with time-mangling mechanic. Much more tantalising.

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Dishonored 2’s AI form crews as Lonely Hearts for guards

Dishonored 2

One of the talks I went to at GDC was about AI in Dishonored 2 [official site]. I’m not sure what I was expecting because my encounters with the AI are mostly terrifying. As someone who doesn’t play much stealth gaming and isn’t great at combat from a first person perspective the AI is primed to deal with strategies I’m nowhere near perfecting and thus it tends to rule the roost. I think I was hoping that attending a talk might open up the AI in a way that meant I understood how to bludgeon it into submission, or at least do something other than kill a guard, drag them back to my safe spot and repeat until I’d cleared a path to an objective. That didn’t happen, but I did learn that the AI has a crew system that sounded like a kind of maths-based Lonely Hearts column. Read the rest of this entry »

Alt.Ctrl.GDC: a joyful celebration of brilliant controllers

Alt.Ctrl.GDC - vinylOS

One of the best, most joyful parts of GDC is Alt.Ctrl.GDC – the section of the show floor dedicated to alternative control methods for games. This year was no exception and I played games using a laser lyre, a box of sand and a bookshelf to name but a few. I think my personal favourite might have been the Calvin and Hobbes-inspired Spacebox [official site] where the player clambers into a massive cardboard box and treats it like a spaceship, leaning to and fro, hitting a tinfoil button to fire and wearing a metal colander with pipe cleaners on it as a space helmet in order to enjoy the human PEWPEW noises coming from the headphones hidden inside.

I feel like that one was my favourite because it did an absolutely amazing job of yanking childish glee out of all the players I saw using it as well as the people watching. I would happily have spent the whole morning in that box and was not-very-secretly disappointed when my time was up. If I hadn’t had an appointment to get to I would probably have asked whether I could do some helpful colouring in on the sides of the box or help make backup spaceships from their stash of emergency replacement boxes and duct tape.

TL;DR? Graham, this is my resignation – I’m going to go and become a cardboard spaceship captain forever now. Read the rest of this entry »

Tacoma’s demo is a tantalising collection of Easter eggs

Tacoma

Tacoma [official site] is a game I’d been avoiding until there was something to play – I loved Fullbright’s first game, Gone Home, and part of that was the sense of discovering the world and story as I played the game in its completed state. I wanted to do the same with Tacoma so was largely avoiding “news”. GDC brought with it a snippet of the space station-set story which I was happy to play, though, as the game feels close enough that this was a teaser I could think on rather than seeing the game in its metaphorical underwear and not being able to forget that.

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The Gentleman wants to lead you a merry dance

The Gentleman

Potentially a difficult one to search for online thanks to flash games of the same name, The Gentleman [official site] was a delightful rhythm-action game I bumped into while squeezing through the crowd at the MIX event at GDC. From the prototype I played it’s about following the onscreen cues so that your character Fred will caper along the street performing a Golden Age of Hollywood dance routine, waltzing with passers-by, swishing through fallen leaves and vaulting trash cans.

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Inkle’s Heaven’s Vault: a stunning sci-fi archaeology adventure

With 80 Days and Sorcery, Inkle have made some of our favourite games of recent years, but Heaven’s Vault [official site] might just be their greatest achievement yet. It’s early days, of course, but a half hour play session at GDC has already convinced me that this science fiction adventure is a very exciting thing indeed. It’s a game about exploring the past, in the future, through archaeology and translation, and it has a remarkable sense of wonder.

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Future gangs of New York: Huntdown comes out to play

Rockstar’s adaptation of The Warriors is one of my favourite licensed games. That’s probably at least in part because The Warriors is the perfect film for a game adaptation, seeing as it’s full of minibosses, action sequences and a basic level structure.

When I played Huntdown [official site] at GDC last week, a stack of decades-old games came to mind, but it was The Warriors that leaped to the front of the queue, in an explosion of denim, spraycans and chains. Huntdown is a side-scrolling beat and shoot ’em up for one or two players, and it does good gangs.

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Steel Division brings fresh tactical ideas to the battlefield

I can appreciate a carefully crafted digital tank rolling into combat as much as the next war game fan, but there are few things I enjoy more than a visible front line. Not the actual troops huddling beneath hedgerows as explosions tear up the dirt, but an actual line, drawn onto the map, bendling, flexing and breaking as the battle plays out.

Steel Division [official site] has authentically modeled units and detailed rules of engagement controlling their clashes, but it’s the front line that got me all excited when I saw a demo last week at GDC.

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Gearbox show off a little new Borderlands technology

Gearbox Software have opened up a little more about the next Borderlands, after yonks of mutters and murmurs. Well, about some of its technology. Potentially. Gearbox head honch Randy Pitchford showed off some of the Unreal Engine 4 tech “that will power the next Borderlands game” during Epic’s ‘State of Unreal’ presentation at the Game Developers Conference yesterday. Gearbox have been working on lighting with black outlines, cross-hatched shadows, all that jazz. He showed a few scenes but did stress it “is not a video game, it’s a technology demonstration”. You can watch it online. Read the rest of this entry »

Quadrilateral Cowboy scoops IGF Grand Prize

Hacking heist ’em up Quadrilateral Cowboy has won the Grand Prize at the 2017 Independent Games Festival awards, taking home $30,000 (and another $3,000 for winning the Excellence in Design award). The ceremony went down last at the Game Developers Conference, with other winners including Ladykiller in a Bind and Hyper Light Drifter. The IGFs may no longer turn up many huge surprises but they are a handy pointer for some good games you might have missed. As luck would have it, Brendan’s first IGF episode of the RPS Electronic Wireless Show went up only last night, chatting with Quadlatcowbo creator Brendon Chung.

The Game Developers Choice Awards were also last night, right after the IGFs, but tch! you don’t need them to tell you about the existence of games like Overwatch, Firewatch, and presumably other things suffixed ‘watch’. Pokéwatch Go etc. Read the rest of this entry »

Into The Breach: FTL follow-up is smart, tense and surprising

Within a couple of minutes of sitting down with Justin Ma and a build of his new game, Into the Breach [official site], preconceptions are torn to shreds. Ma is one half of the team behind FTL and when Into the Breach was announced, I wasn’t alone in thinking it looked like tactical skirmisher Advance Wars, with added monsters. It is that game, to an extent, but its most notable feature isn’t tied to the setting at all – it’s that this is a tactical combat game in which the enemy is entirely predictable. Everything is explained below, but in short, this might be the smartest turn-based design I’ve seen since Invisible, Inc.

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Eugen team with Paradox for tactical RTS Steel Division

Paradox have announced a new strategy game, Steel Division: Normandy 44. Created by Eugen Systems, the studio behind clever clogs WWII game R.U.S.E. and the Wargame series, it contains “400 different real-world vehicles and units designed with careful historical detail and accuracy” and maps based on aerial recon photos of 1944 Normandy. Mmmmm. Lovely authenticity. It’s the tactical tricks that make it sound so appealing though.

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IGF finalists include Stardew Valley, Inside and Event[0]

And so this cosmic dance begins anew. The finalists for the Independent Games Festival awards 2017 have been announced. Out of 650 games examined by the giant gang of 340 judges, a final 30 have been selected for a bunch of categories. There’s plenty of familiar names among them, including Inside, Stardew Valley, Virginia, Hyper Light Drifter and Event[0]. But also some other boyos worth giving some attention. Come on over here and let’s take a look at them all.
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