"This isn't Captain Planet"
Last week, I sat down with Martin Ericsson, lead storyteller at White Wolf, publishers of the World of Darkness RPG systems and interwoven storylines. It’s a strange and exciting time for the company, who are about to step back into the spotlight after a decade-plus drought of digital games since 2004’s much-loved Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. For much of that time Ericsson and colleagues were locked into a licensing deal with CCP, working on the ill-fated and never released World of Darkness MMORPG, but now they’re ready to begin a new generation of stories.
We talked about the recently announced Werewolf: The Apocalypse game and how its werewolves act as nature’s remedy to mankind’s ills, as well as that MMO and the broader shape of White Wolf’s future. Along the way we discussed punching Nazis, why now is the perfect time to get angry, and how World of Darkness is about the here and now as much as its own mythology. This isn’t just one game, it’s the rebirth of a world.
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Can a new option in your OS really improve performance?
Just last week (and yet somehow an eternity ago, in terms of world events), Microsoft announced that they’d soon be adding something called ‘Game Mode’ to Windows 10 with the aim of improving games’ performance, but gave away few details about what this might involve. Are we talking real framerate gains, suppressing potentially bothersome background tasks or just freeing up a wee bit of RAM?
With the first iteration of Game Mode due to arrive as part of Windows 10’s optional early Insider builds due today, I had a chat with Kevin Gammill, Partner Group Program Manager, Xbox Platform, spokesperson for the group building Game Mode, to find out what this thing actually does, which games it will support and what kind of control users will have over it. Read the rest of this entry »
Hi-Rez's god-based card game
Smite Rivals [official site] is the latest game from Hi-Rez Studios. It’s being championed at the Hi-Rez Expo which is the company’s annual esports-and-miscellaneous celebration of its games and community. People in baby pink, Rivals-branded tshirts wait by kiosks as curious attendees come over to play.
The game itself looks very familiar if you’ve ever played the mobile game, Clash Royale. It’s a lane-pushing card game so you create a deck of eight cards to represent particular actions or units which will be available to you over the course of a few minutes and play those cards onto the three lanes of the arena as a pared-down real time strategy affair. The rate at which you can play cards is controlled by their mana cost which you pay from the mana bar on the left hand side which fills over time.
In terms of the game board, it’s actually pretty similar to Smite’s main competitive mode. There are three lanes in which you can spawn the units, each guarded by a phoenix. The ultimate objective – the titan – sits behind the phoenixes. You win by destroying more of these structures than your opponent. If you topple their titan that’s an insta-win, otherwise the score is tallied once the time runs out.
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The idea that simulations are consolation prizes – digital sops for people that lack the skill or dedication to make it as real pilots, race car drivers, tankies or whatever – is depressingly widespread. The linked notion that sims are something you abandon once you get your hands on the ‘real McCoy’, crops up almost as often in games criticism and forum exchanges, and annoys me just as much. While it’s certainly true that many of my brethren and sistren are aspirants who recreate in facsimiles because they can’t recreate in originals, the hobby is dotted with individuals who use and see simulations quite differently. Over the coming weeks I’d like to introduce you to some of these fascinating individuals. Read the rest of this entry »
An adorable evolution playground
Birthdays The Beginning [official site] is a new project, releasing 7 March (that’s the NA release, EU will be 10 March), by Harvest Moon creator Yasuhiro Wada. It has been nagging at the edges of my gaming radar for a little while now, simply by dint of game images showing off adorable-looking dinosaurs and pictures of the game as a real-life miniature scene but it was only in the last few days that I learned what the game actually is. It’s an environment nurturing sim where you try to spawn and evolve different lifeforms in order to capture them.
Somewhere between Pokemon and Viva Pinata is how I’m thinking of it right now, partly for the gameplay elements, but also for the emotion and the aesthetic of the latter particularly. But to find out more I sat down with Wada-san (and an incredibly helpful translator) as well as tuning in to a Twitch broadcast showing off the main game loops. Read the rest of this entry »
With Dishonored 2‘s [official site] release hovering on the gaming horizon, I wanted to take a closer look at Arkane’s sequel and its distinctive aesthetic with art director, Sébastien Mitton. Our conversation touched on fashion influences, how you approach the art of a sequel, the role of tech advangements and why it’s important that Dishonored 2 went with Victorian city-building instead of a modern grid. As ever with these art-focused features, you can click on the images to see a larger version. Read the rest of this entry »