Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Kickstarter’s Head Of Games: “Kickstarter Fatigue Only Lasts Until Someone Sees Their Favourite Game Pop Up”

At this year’s Develop conference in Brighton, I grabbed an hour with keynote speaker Luke Crane, Head of Games at Kickstarter, to talk about the state of play of videogames on the crowdfunding platform in 2016. Discussed: what makes a good project now, the odds of making it, ‘Kickstarter fatigue’ and the question of glory days, Kickstarter’s reaction to funded projects that are not then released, the importance of community, how the press can be unhelpful and whether or not famous names are dominating the ecosystem at the expense of smaller developers.
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Interview: How The Esports Integrity Commission Hopes To Crack Down On Cheating

Organisations aiming to regulate esports seem to be sprouting on an almost daily basis. The latest of the bunch is ESIC, the Esports Integrity Commission, a not-for-profit who want to “take responsibility for disruption, prevention, investigation and prosecution of all forms of cheating,” including both match manipulating and doping. Match manipulation seems a particularly large focus and the organisation is being supported by the UK Gambling Commission among others, with the ESL and Dreamhack counted among its members.

We spoke to Ian Smith, ESIC’s ‘integrity commissioner’, via email about what prompted the move towards regulation, his own leap from cricket to esports, and how enforcement of regulations will work.

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Interview: Fireproof Games On The Room, And The Journey From Mobile To PC

With The Room Two [official site] released on PC today, we grabbed the chance to speak to developers Fireproof about how they succeeded in a tough mobile market, and then succeeded yet again when converting those games to PC.

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The Great Outdoors: Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney And Scans Of Scot-Zealand

In the furnished upper floor of the Epic booth at this year’s GDC I sat down with company founder, Tim Sweeney. We were there – indoors and down a flight of stairs – to discuss the great outdoors. I wanted to know more about the challenges of producing outdoor environments using a game engine, how Epic themselves approach the challenge, and what the big areas of research will be next. But to look at something concrete we started with the Unreal Engine demo whose cinematic follows a boy as he chases his kite through an area modelled on Scottish terrain but populated with flora scanned from New Zealand…

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Why Duelyst’s Developers Think Going Free-To-Play Was The Right Move

Despite a growing wealth of awesome free-to-play games, the term itself remains a dirty word for a lot of people. But free-to-play isn’t as black and white as some would like to believe. We’ve all paid top dollar for a game only to feel disappointed, and likewise, free-to-play doesn’t have to mean being drip-fed bits of game in between rigorous bouts of patting you down to find where your wallet is. And that’s exactly what Keith Lee and Emil Anticevic, head honchos over at Counterplay Games, the developer of Duelyst [official site], have been trying to prove.

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Fantastic Contraption: Why A Cat Is 100 Times Better

While at GDC I had the opportunity to sit down with Colin Northway, one of the creators behind the excellent VR remake (and the 2D original) Fantastic Contraption [official site]. We talked about how VR worked differently compared with traditional game design or, to put it less mundanely, why a walking cat dispensing sticks is better than a menu system. While at GDC Adam really loved Fantastic Contraption and, I think Graham was having a similarly good time with it back in the UK. We also made it one of our Games Of The Half Year so it’s high time we put this interview up!

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League Of Legends: Whalen Rozelle On How To Build A Fandom’s Connective Tissue

While in China for the League of Legends [official site] Mid-Season Invitational, I spent some time talking to Whalen Rozelle. He’s Director of Esports over at Riot and a lot of the conversation ended up being about creating connections. That’s a focal point for League of Legends at the moment – finding ways to forge personal connections between the professional scene and the viewers and the non-professional players.

Before I get into the Q&A itself I just wanted to say that I think this is one of those peculiar by-products of the way intellectual property and esports collide. There are multiple MOBAs which involve a lane-pushing element but they’re divided up into separate sports because they have different characters, engines, map elements, balancing and so on. Their complexity and their proprietary nature means you need to buy into a particular company to participate, either investing money or time or both.

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The Great Outdoors: The Flame In The Flood

The Flame in the Flood’s [official site] lead designer, Forrest Dowling seemed like an ideal candidate for my ongoing investigation of outdoor worlds in videogames both because of his name and because of his survival game. The Flame And The Flood sees you play as Scout, a woman trying to stay alive as she navigates her way along a fiercely flowing river. It manages to be a strangely cosy version of the outdoors with a wonderful, evocative colour palette and soundtrack. Here’s how it works:

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Overwatch’s Michael Chu On Lore And Storytelling

With Blizzard’s first-person shooter, Overwatch’s [official site] launch a few hours away, senior game designer, Michael Chu, has come to London as part of the game’s global release activities. I assume it’s been a very similar experience for him to playing the game’s UK map, King’s Row, although he tells me there have been “fewer hover-buses”. I was about to explain about the joys of “driving” the Docklands Light Railway but thought I should probably ask Overwatch-related questions instead. Maybe he will drive the DLR tomorrow.

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Twelve Minutes: A Groundhog Day-Style Mystery From The Witness Artist, Luis Antonio

Earlier this year I had the chance to play a prototype of Luis Antonio’s Twelve Minutes [official site]. If you like going into puzzle games as a total blank slate, stop reading here and just know that I was absolutely intrigued, wishing I could take the build away with me to play more. If you want to know more about the game and what Antonio has been working on in snatched hours of the evening in addition to his work as an artist on Jonathan Blow’s The Witness, read on (I’ll try to keep it light on specifics for puzzle fans):

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No Bullshit: The Culture & Creativity Of Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key Productions

When we received an invite to visit the studios of Boss Key Productions, Cliff Bleszinski’s new studio, we asked Rob Zacny to represent us. He was there to play Lawbreakers [official site], a game that he approached with some trepidation but the tense multiplayer action won him over. Given that Boss Key is an entire new creative venture for Bleszinski and his team, we wanted to know more. How does the studio work? What is it like to work with the man behind Gears of War, Unreal and Jazz Jackrabbit? And how do you make a salmon with legs?

Right at the front of the Boss Key Production employee handbook is the instruction: no bullshit.

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A Living World: Mount & Blade II – Bannerlord Interview

Mount & Blade: Warband is one of my favourite games but I haven’t played it for a long time. In part, that’s because I’ve been waiting for the sequel, Bannerlord [official site], since it was announced four years ago. After over half a decade of development, details about the game have started to emerge and I spoke to Armagan Yavuz, CEO and Founder of developers TaleWorlds, to find out how the team are aiming to improve on the dynamic world of the original. We talked combat, historical influence, settlement management, co-operative possibilities, modding and AI.

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League Of Legends’ Greg ‘Ghostcrawler’ Street Talks Balance – Is It Even Possible?

League Of Legends boasts a huge roster of playable characters which bring the potential for vast numbers of potential compositions, ability interactions. It also has a player base quick to seek out what’s strong at any given time in the game’s ongoing development. So how do you approach that as a designer? Is the idea of perfect balance even possible or do you tweak characters so that batches rise and fall in relative popularity? Michael got in touch with Riot Games’ design director Greg ‘Ghostcrawler’ Street to get a clearer feel for the studio’s philosophy when it come to their champions:

One of the criticisms often levelled at League of Legends is that it’s not a balanced game, that the design team and the Champion creation team seem focused on creating a rotating meta instead of working towards an end-game of perfect equilibrium. This opinion largely stems from Riot’s new policy of patches that focus on a specific set of champions, adding new mechanics and giving them targeted buffs that can upset or heavily impact the meta of the game.

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Prison Architect’s Chris Delay On Introversion’s TWO New Prototypes

While at Rezzed the Prison Architect devs Introversion casually plonked not one but TWO new game prototypes onto the show floor – one a bomb defusal idea with echoes of the studio’s erstwhile project, Subversion, and the other an exploratory mood piece where scanning a pitch black cave system gradually picks out shapes with a speckled spectrum.

Scanner Sombre is the latter and the weird and wonderful aesthetic is what drew me into the room in the first place. Introversion’s lead designer, Chris Delay, was there, helping man the room and listening to reactions from the steady stream of players. We headed to one side to discuss the new projects and how they came into being – it turns out they were a kind of busman’s holiday…

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Mirage: Arcane Warfare Devs On Magic – “We Want It To Feel Like You’re Throwing Bricks At People’s Heads”

While over at GDC a preview opportunity for Mirage: Arcane Warfare [official site] gave me a chance to check out Chivalry’s spiritual successor while ALSO enjoying respite from the Californian warmth (I’m ginger and pale and British – we wilt). The game offers up a very different colour palette and setting than Chivalry’s keep-n-countryside but once Torn Banner’s president, Steven Piggott, and senior brand manager, Alex Hayter, start showing me what’s happening in a pre-recorded match, Mirage’s Chivalric roots are obvious.

I didn’t get a hands-on with the game so I can’t tell you how it *feels* and whether the thunk and the heft of Chiv are maintained BUT I can tell you how it looks, how the modes work and where the team are aiming with the project:

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After The Rapture: The Chinese Room’s Next Game, Total Dark, Is An Isometric RPG

screenshot of Dear Esther in which it is quite dark

The next game from the creators of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs and Dear Esther will be a systems-driven isometric adventure, inspired by tabletop RPGs and wargames. I spoke to The Chinese Room’s studio director Dan Pinchbeck about the game, Total Dark, and he explained that he’s wanted to make a game driven by RPG-style mechanics for a long time.

As well as providing us with some of the first details about Total Dark, he discussed the continuing influence of Esther, and the ways in which ‘walking simulators’ are returning to their first-person adventure roots.

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The Flare Path: Hoods

If your favourite hood is sim developer Steve Hood or Royal Navy battlecruiser HMS Hood, today’s Flare Path should engage (Over yonder html horizon is an interview with the man tasked with ensuring Dovetail Games Flight School and Dovetail Games Flight Simulator soar like demoiselles on release, and early analysis of the easy-to-recommend Atlantic Fleet, a wargame that feels like a segmented, overhead Silent Hunter III at times). If you prefer hoods of the Robin, Admiral or clitoral variety, brace yourself for disappointment.

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Interview: Firaxis’ Jake Solomon On What Went Right And Wrong With XCOM 2

In which Adam and I sit down with XCOM 2 lead designer Jake Solomon to dissect the strategy sequel. We discuss what it does well and some of the complaints levelled at it, hear about ideas tried and discarded during development, why story had more of a focus this time around and the continued importance of the original X-COM games.

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XCOM 2 Was Made More Difficult Late In Development: “There Were Definitely Moments Of ‘Is This Too Much?'”

XCOM 2 was made significantly more difficult late in its development cycle after playtesting suggested it was too easy, says the game’s lead designer. “I remember saying ‘you know what, we’re going to make the game a lot harder. We’re going to go back and make the game a lot harder on every level, because this game is not engaging people the way it should,'” Firaxis’ Jake Solomon told RPS. “Of course it triggered a fairly mad rush to balance things out, but I think when the game got more difficult then you started to see people engaging, you felt that spark of life.”

However, he acknowledged that some players might be struggling with the game as a result. “There were definitely moments of ‘is this too much?’ and how do we cater to people that maybe don’t want that experience?”

Solomon also felt that the presentation of the game’s difficulty settings might be to blame for this frustration. “I made a mistake, I think, by calling the lowest difficulty Rookie”.

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Paragon Interview: Why Epic Are Making A MOBA & More

You can read about Paragon, Epic’s new MOBA, over here, but there were parts I had to cut out of the feature for flow and length. If you’re wondering about the game’s replay system, crossplay with consoles, approach to chat toxicity, and why Epic are making a MOBA in the first place, read on for some bonus materials from my conversation with creative director Steve Superville.

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