Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Four developers of scary games explain how to make scary games very scary indeed

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The inspiration for Alien: Isolation came from a simple thought experiment: what if somebody let a lion loose in developer Creative Assembly’s office? “I’d get behind my desk and make sure it wouldn’t see me,” says the game’s creative director Alistair Hope. “Then, you’d need to get to the fire escape. Maybe I’d move desk to desk and distract it. If you are confronted by it, what do you do? What do you know about it? What do you know about what it knows about you? That felt pretty cool, and it wasn’t relying on scripted events.”

Most of us know the feelings of dread that accompany playing a horror game. But how do developers create those feelings from scratch? What are the tricks that developers use to scare us, and create a sense of atmosphere? How do they go from imagining a lion in a studio, or an empty bathroom, to moments that will scare the pants off us? I spoke to four of the top minds in the industry to find out. Read the rest of this entry »

A chat with CD Projekt Red about the romances, flying cars and hacking of Cyberpunk 2077

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The demo for Cyberpunk 2077 shown to press at E3 was pretty neat. It displayed CD Projekt Red’s upcoming first-person neo-noir RPG as a promising city of cybernetically enhanced mercenaries, dodgy information brokers, and corporate maniacs. Without a doubt, that demo will be shown to the rest of the public soon. For now, you can read my impressions or come with me right now, for a chat with one of the developers.

Maciej Pietras is the game’s lead cinematic animator. He was fairly tight-lipped about certain things, but did speak to me about Night City’s cars, the game’s romantic entanglements, and the hacking abilities of main character, V. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: This and That

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The mighty Tirpitz spent most of her short life skulking in Norwegian fjords. Fuel shortages and Kriegsmarine caution meant she never braved the Denmark Strait or traded shells with a truly worthy opponent. To get a feel for what the Bismarck’s sister ship might have achieved had she been employed more aggressively, you need a game like Command of the Sea. Read the rest of this entry »

BattleTech devs talk slowness, mods and what to expect from the next update

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I’ve been on something of an emotional journey with Harebrained Schemes’ turn-based mech combat game, BattleTech. I was turned off by its unusually slow animation speeds and drawn-out wars of attrition during my first dozen-odd hours of play, but a combination of speed-up mods and deepening understanding of rules the game itself did not take the time to explain saw me fall ever-deeper in love with it. Many people, especially fans of its tabletop source material, adored BattleTech from the get-go, but others expressed similar concerns to me about its pacing – and soon enough the developers announced that their forthcoming first major update would offer new, official speed-tweaking options.

So, I bounced a few questions off BattleTech game director Mike McCain and ended up with some candid answers about exactly what we can expect from those options, the original design intentions behind the game’s languid pace, how the team feel about it being altered by mods and why they’d “love to improve on” how BattleTech currently explains how to best take down a giant killing machine.
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“We accommodate for every stupid thing that you wanna do” – how Disco Elysium makes detective games work

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Disco Elysium (formerly known as No Truce With The Furies) is shaping up to be ridiculously good. It’s an upcoming RPG that slips you into the shoes of a detective in a hardboiled urban fantasy world, where combat happens through dialogue and your internal monologue can be both a hindrance and a help. Your skills have their own personalities and sometimes wrestle control away from you, while you can choose to internalise certain thoughts, thus changing who your character is and what they can do.

It’s absolutely fascinating, and I mean it when I say the hour or so I’ve played also contains the best writing I’ve ever seen in a video game (several other RPSers are thrilled by it too, as discussed on our recent podcast). To find out more about Disco Elsyium’s special sauce, I sat down with design and writing lead Robert Kurvitz at Rezzed to chat about its pen and paper origins, encouraging tenacious behaviour, rewarding players who want to fail and why most other RPGs do quests wrong.
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Battlefield V interview: dodging the lootbox question, and why battle royale “would really fit the universe”

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I came away from my Battlefield V first look surprisingly ready for another tour of the Western front – prosthetic-armed Cockneys and all – but with a number of nagging questions. Firstly, how exactly is EA DICE approaching monetisation right now, in the wake of the uproar over Star Wars: Battlefront 2’s rubbish launch-day microtransactions? I was treated to an hour-long presentation on the game’s service elements, but the in-game purchases this service will facilitate were conspicuously absent from discussion – it felt a bit like the part in the bombing run before the sky lights up with flak. And secondly, does the developer have any plans for a battle royale mode, given Call of Duty’s recent jump upon that bandwagon? Because if any existing shooter is built for Fortnitey/Plunkbatty shenanigans, it is surely Battlefield, with its giant maps and headcounts.

Burdened by such thoughts, I sought out senior producer Lars Gustavsson and tried to get a clear answer out of him. The results, which include a discussion of what I suspect will prove a controversial squad focus, are below. Read the rest of this entry »

An art gallery MMO – we spoke to the creators of Occupy White Walls about the AI that guesses which art you like

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When I went exploring in Occupy White Walls last month, I stumbled into something special. OWW is an upcoming MMO (see what they did there?) where every player can create their own architecturally ambitious gallery, fill it with art of their choosing, and open it up to other players. Every mug who walks into your gallery earns you money, which you can use to make it bigger and better. It’s currently in free public alpha.

I had a few questions for developers StikiPixels about balancing money with creative freedom, whether OWW might become something that real world artists can use to support themselves, and how their fancy AI manages to suss out people’s artistic tastes. So CEO Yarden Yaroshevski collaborated with his team to give me some answers.

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Interview: Campo Santo talk to us about moving to Valve

Campo Santo, creators of Firewatch and the forthcoming In The Valley Of Gods, announced last month that all twelve members of their studio were packing their bags and moving to Valve. The team are all currently in the process of relocating to Seattle, where Valley Of The Gods will be finished in Valve’s Bellevue tower as a Valve game. So we caught up with studio heads Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin to find out much more. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Asks Oskari

Crafted with care and marketed without hyperbole, Diesel Railcar Simulator is that rare thing, a transport sim that transports without crucifying your wallet, cooking your GPU, and burying you under an avalanche of key commands. A conglomeration of incredibly sensible design decisions, it’s been winning friends and gaining content steadily since appearing, seemingly from nowhere, late last summer. In today’s FP I talk to Oskari, the man behind all those sensible design decisions. Read the rest of this entry »

RPS interviews Into The Breach’s developer about hurting our feelings

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The folks at Subset Games are responsible for the games FTL and its follow-up Into The Breach, which means that they are also responsible for some of the most frustrating yells I’ve done alone on an airplane. I’m sorry to those around me, but I thought I was going to finally complete a run and then everyone I loved exploded or died from lack of oxygen or fell into the ocean. I assume Subset Games has been responsible for similar micro-aggressions against many of you. Which is why Adam Smith from RPS held them to the fire (a pleasant conversation) at Rezzed yesterday.

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Chris Avellone sheds light on Into The Breach’s time-travel mysteries

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If there’s one thing that grips me more about Into The Breach than the razor-sharp tactics of its death-chess scenarios, it’s trying to wrap my flabby brain about the dark possibilities and implications of its terse but tantalising plot. I’ve already espoused one possible and particularly fatalistic reading of what’s going on – the idea that every time your team of time-travelling Mechs wins, loses or otherwise begins a new campaign, they spawn a new timeline full of human suffering – but without definitive answers from the game itself, that’s little more than a guilt-stricken guess.

Time to go the source, then, that being Into The Breach writer – and writer, designer or both on a long list of revered games including Planescape: Torment, Fallout: New Vegas, KOTOR 2, Pillars of Eternity, Prey and ITB predecessor FTL – Chris Avellone. Though Into The Breach very much considers brevity to be a virtue when it comes to dialogue, its short lines drip with implication about the rules of time travel, parallel realities and the motivations and peccadilloes of its pilots. It was pretty clear to me that there was a vast spider-web of careful fiction behind the minimalist facade, and Avellone’s expansive answers about where and when the Mechs come from and exactly what happens when they breach only confirm that.

But, for every question they answer, they open up a dozen more. As is only right.
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What 1.0 means for World of Tanks

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World of Tanks launched in Russia in 2010, then in Europe and the US the next year. It’s been around the block, pitting war machines and players against each other in war-torn cities and pastoral paradises, but today it’s only just hit version 1.0. Eight years after launch. For a long-running, living game like World of Tanks, that 1.0 label doesn’t mean what it normally does.

“It means a new game,” says development director Milos Jerabek. But if it is a new game, it’s one with old guts.

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We spoke to Shiro Games about the future of Northgard

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Northgard is a splendid RTS about rearing a clan of vikings in a punishing climate that makes every decision matter. But you’ve read my review, and you already know all that. Northgard is a fantastic game in the present, but what does its future hold? I spoke to CEO of Shiro Games and Northgard dev Sebastien Vidal about what we’ll see in the next update, competitive play, and expansion plans for further down the line.

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We spoke to the co-director of Ready Up, a documentary showcasing competitive TF2

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Ready Up opens with a shot of the CS:GO grand finals at ESL One. The size of the stadium dwarfs the players on the stage, who all wear deadly serious expressions. There are thousands of people in the audience, many of them frantically waving inflatable tubes covered in sponsorship scrawls. A member of one team makes a clutch pistol play, and the room erupts in a roar of screaming and thunderous chanting. The player solemnly acknowledges the applause with a showboating chef kiss, but he doesn’t look like he’s having much fun.

Then, we change rooms. A few dozen people are sitting in front of a screen, watching their friends compete at a Team Fortress 2 LAN event. The players seem focused, yet relaxed. “Ah, I’m dead” says one of them, half-grinning at his misfortune. At the heart of the competitive TF2 scene, it transpires, is a community with bonds that transcend the tribalism you might see in other esports. I spoke to Alex “Dashner” Pylyshyn over email, who co-directed Ready Up alongside Ness “Uberchain” Delacroix, about the past, present and future of competitive TF2.

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Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition: all your PC port questions answered

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The royal boyband roadtrip adventure that is Final Fantasy XV is almost here. In just under two weeks, Square Enix’s ginormous JRPG will finally arrive on PC, a little over a year after it first came out on console. Yes, it gets a little bit bogged down by its wonky story beats, but to dismiss it because of that would be to ignore all the brilliant things it does right, like chronicling your journey with amazing photographs. It also helps that the PC version looks properly brilliant. Yes, you’ll need an Iron Giant-sized PC in order to run it, but more thoughts on that are coming separately soon.

Here, I have a talk with the game’s technical director and lead programmer Takeshi Aramaki and game design and development manager Kenichi Shida (and their translator) about all things XV on PC. We cover just about everything but if you’re after hot mod chat that’s over here. There was also a surprise gatecrashing by the game’s director, Hajime Tabata, about ten minutes in, so I got to hear what the big boss had to say about the PC version as well. Let the battle music commence. Read the rest of this entry »

Mod support was “essential” for Final Fantasy XV’s PC outing

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Last August, Square Enix finally confirmed that the upcoming PC version of royal roadtrip Final Fantasy XV would indeed come with full mod support when it launches on March 6. At the time, though, the developers kept schtum about exactly what that might entail. Indeed, it was only over the weekend that we got our first glimpse of what a potential Final Fantasy XV mod might look like. Fancy the idea of turning everyone in party town Lestallum into adorable cactuars? Then you’re in luck.

Cactuar skins are all well and good, of course, but what else does the team have in store for budding modders? To find out, I sat down with director Hajime Tabata, technical director and lead programmer Takeshi Aramaki and game design and development manager Kenichi Shida and quizzed them (and their translator) about exactly that.

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Meet the man who runs the Origin Museum, collecting the history of Wing Commander and Ultima

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In the basement of an unassuming suburban home just outside Washington, D.C., you’ll find one of the largest collections of documents, data, images and props from Origin Systems, the company behind the Ultima and Wing Commander game series of the 80s and 90s.

The Origin Museum is owned and curated by Joe Garrity, and has been running since 1999, when Garrity lived in Virginia. Over the past 18 years, former Origin staff have donated entire offices worth of documents and even source code to the museum. Read the rest of this entry »

Rust’s designer on casting off the early access ‘crutch’

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In Rust, everything comes from a single rock. From rifles to radiation suits, it’s all thanks to a naked caveman hitting things with a big stone. Today, if you were to examine a family tree of the survival genre, you’d see Subnautica and No Man’s Sky sitting on the same level. Distant cousins who can’t stand to be in the same room as each other. Whether they like it or not, Rust is their common ancestor, their rock. Of course, you can trace Rust’s lineage back further into DayZ, Minecraft and eternity. I just wanted a flowery intro metaphor so you’d come and read an interview with its chief creator.

Today, Rust leaves early access. So we spoke to Garry Newman, head of Facepunch, about survival, Plunkbat and whether leaving early access even means anything anymore. Read the rest of this entry »

The creator of the Civilization V superintelligence mod on AI safety

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Last month, the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk released a mod for Civ V that introduced superintelligent AI to the game – not in the form of AI opponents, but as a technology that can end the game for every player if it’s left unchecked. It’s a novel overhaul to the science system, as well as an attempt to teach people about AI safety.

While I had some problems with the mod, I also thought it was a fascinating idea. Keen to learn more, I spoke to project director Shahar Avin about how the mod came about, the issues that it presents both poorly and well, and how people can get involved with AI safety themselves.

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How Human: Fall Flat has kept its head held high

A strange thing has happened in the Steam charts since the start of the New Year. A minor indie release from summer 2016, the rather lovely Human: Fall Flat, appeared in the top ten grossing games of the week. And then stayed there. It’s been top ten for four weeks in a row now, twice peaking at #3. And I couldn’t work out why. So I tracked down the game’s one-man development team, Tomas Sakalauskas of No Brakes Games, to solve the mystery.

The answer, it seems, is multifarious, but contains lessons that might help other developers who want to see their games live on. Though, as Sakalauskas says, there are no magic bullets. Read the rest of this entry »