Posts Tagged ‘interview’

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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Firaxis “Working Furiously” On XCOM 2 Fixes: “We Didn’t Know It Would Be This Way At Launch”

XCOM 2 [official site]’s technical problems are “the first thing we talk about about when we come in in the morning”, claims lead designer Jake Solomon. “We take it incredibly seriously. Me and all the leads, that’s what we work on all day and that’s what we’re committed to right now.”

While very well-received critically, XCOM 2 has run poorly for a significant number of players, this correspondent included (though it ran well for our reviewer Adam). Speaking to RPS yesterday, project lead Solomon stated that Firaxis were unaware this would be the case when they shipped the game. “I can honestly say that we didn’t know it would be this way at launch.”

While a small hotfix, released yesterday, did not address the major framerate issues, larger fixes are “coming soon”. Solomon also revealed that the post-animation pauses some have criticised XCOM 2 for are being worked on.
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The Flare Path: Debriefs Dan Dimitrescu

Interesting chap, Dan Dimitrescu. Spoken of in reverent tones in the roughest bars in virtual Kiel, Wilhelmshaven and Pearl Harbour, he started his working life reviewing simulations rather than designing them. Below the break, he talks about the games he’s shaped and the games he’s scored. Influences are star-shelled, career sea-changes discussed. If you’ve ever stalked a Silent Hunter convoy or dithered outside a Door Kickers door, read on. Read on!  Read the rest of this entry »

Paragon: What You Need To Know About Epic’s MOBA

A couple of weeks back Epic’s Paragon [official site] team brought their third-person MOBA – still in its alpha state – to London for a hands-on preview event. I managed to get several games in (two crushings and one tense victory) as well as spending some time with creative director, Steve Superville.

Superville says that Epic’s question of themselves when setting out to make Paragon was “can we bring action to the MOBA genre?” My own big question of Paragon is this: I play a lot of Dota, and if I want something shorter I head into Overwatch or Smite’s Joust or Arena modes, so what’s the thing that Paragon offers which would get me to carve out a wedge of time for that game?

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StarCraft: Building A Brilliant Brood War Bot

The Student StarCraft AI Tournament is an AI vs AI tournament which pits bots programmed to play StarCraft: Brood War against one another. SSCAIT started in 2011 and is one of three major Brood War AI tournaments. Last year’s student division title went to Martin Rooijackers and his creation, LetaBot. They also won the 2014 student and mixed division. This year Martin and LetaBot made it through to the quarter-finals.

While the bots continue to battle I’ve been asking Martin to tell me more about how they work. Are some of Starcraft’s races easier to build bots for than others? What’s the hardest thing to get bots to do? And is LetaBot built to dominate a bot meta or could it take on humans too?

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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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How Do Infested Planet’s Mutations Work?

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.

Infested Planet [official site] is an RTS that channels Starship Troopers. You control a small squad of soldiers fighting their way through caverns of hives that endlessly churn out insectoid bugs. The body count reaches tens of thousands as you capture the hives, steadily gaining and conceding ground to make best use of your limited resources. It’s an intensely dynamic game of observing and controlling flows of bugs and continually respec-ing your forces, because you’re always up against:

THE MECHANIC: Mutation

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How Do Alien Isolation’s Lockers Work?

This is the first entry in a new column called 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.

Alien: Isolation is an AI-driven science-fiction horror game featuring, for the most part, a single, unstoppable opponent. It’s pretty much a game version of the first Alien film: confined to a space, all you can do about the xenomorph that’s hunting you down is to distract, avoid or briefly scare it. And all around you lies terrible temptation. They feel like they’ll solve all your problems. They feel like safety. They feel like places you should stay inside. But they won’t; they aren’t; you shouldn’t. They are:

THE MECHANIC: Lockers

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RiotLyte Asks: What Is League Of Legends’ End Game?

While out at Riot HQ in Los Angeles, I was able to grab a bit of time with Jeffrey Lin, Lead Game Designer of Social Systems. He’s probably most famous for his work on the player behaviour side of League of Legends [official site] but his job encompasses pretty much everything outside the core game experience – anything from the new champion select experience to helping work out what the League of Legends “end game” should be. Read on as we talk about end games, inspirations and how a non-existent nerf sent a champion’s win-rate plummeting…

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EVE Valkyrie Wants To Be “Top Gun In Space”

I’m at a press preview event for EVE Valkyrie [official site]. It’s CCP’s multiplayer dogfighting VR game which they’ve just announced will come bundled with every Oculus Rift headset at launch. As lead game designer Andrew Willans explains the project: “The goal from day one was always to make you feel like a badass space pilot – Tom Cruise in Top Gun in space.”

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The Flare Path: Decisive Campaigns Debrief

Can you spare ten minutes? I’d like you to meet the two men behind Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa, the Ostfront office politics sim that’s causing quite a stir in Grognardia at the moment. Cameron Harris (left) is the Young Turk whose passion for personality-driven strategy gaming gave rise to DCB’s cast of self-interested, squabble-happy military NPCs. Victor Reijkersz (right) is the veteran hex hewer responsible for the game’s vital code superstructure and for keeping Cameron’s wilder design impulses in check. Read the rest of this entry »

Paladins: When A Shooter And A CCG Have A Baby…

“It’s a card game but it’s a shooter but it’s a MOBA but it’s kinda not and there’s characters… JUST MAKE IT WORK!”

Rory “Drybear” Newbrough is laughing as he talks to me about the process of creating Paladins: Champions of the Realm [official site], Hi-Rez’s shooter where in-game progression comes comes via a collectible card system. I’ve been trying out the closed beta and had a whole heap of questions about where the game came from and where it’s going. Lead designer Newbrough (and studio president Stew Chisam) were on hand to answer:

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Virtual Planes, Virtual Airports And Absolutely No Rogering: Inside The Fascinating World Of VATSIM

The last time I tried my hand at flying a plane on my PC was while exploring multiplayer Grand Theft Auto V. I couldn’t master the craft at all and crashed and burned my way through a wind farm as friends expressed horror and mirth. I suspect that my own utter incompetence in the face of flight versus the skill of others is part of what fascinates me about VATSIM.

VATSIM is short for Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network. It’s a system which populates a flight sim by connecting enthusiasts who each take on piloting or air traffic controller roles. I found out about it through Graham who had spent time on one of the VATSIM forums picking through people’s stories and relaying them to me over Gchat (as in Google Chat – Graham doesn’t have his own chat client yet).

Obviously I was concerned about gaining access myself (the ruined wind farm still loomed large as a relatively recent trauma despite GTA V not being in any way a flight sim). That’s why I got in touch with Justin Friedland. He’s the Vice President of Communications and Marketing at VATSIM and has been flying simulated aircraft since Microsoft Flight Simulator, which was released in 1982.

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White Wolf Interview: “There Have Not Been Enough Video Games Set In The World Of Darkness”

The news that Paradox Interactive had purchased World of Darkness creator and publisher White Wolf a couple of weeks ago came as something of a surprise. It also raised a lot of questions: what would become of existing third-party relationships? What are the plans for digital spin-offs of White Wolf properties? Can we expect another Vampire: The Masquerade CRPG at any point in the near future?

We contacted new White Wolf CEO Tobias Sjögren to discover the answers to those questions and many more.

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Predicting Tomorrow: The Art, Architecture And Fashion Of Deux Ex Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided [official site] is already looking like a worthy follow-up to Human Revolution as well as an inventive prequel to Ion Storm’s original cyberpunk classic. When we visited the studio to play the game earlier this month, we also spent time talking to two of the brains behind the game about the inspirations and processes that go into this bleak vision of the future.

First up, here’s Jonathan Jacques-Belletête, executive art director at the studio. We spoke to him about collaborative storytelling, fashion, architecture and graphic design. Along the way we learned about content cut from Human Revolution, the places that Deus Ex is going next and why Jacques-Belletête believes that India could be a perfect cyberpunk setting.

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How 80 Days Adapted The Modernist Spirit Of Verne

80 Days [official site] has finished its journey around mobile platforms and finally arrived at its ultimate destination, the PC. If you read our review earlier this week, you might know I like it.

Back in March, long in advance of the PC version’s announcement or release, I met Inkle founders Jon Ingold and Joseph Humfrey alongside 80 Days writer Meg Jayanth. They told me about adapting the spirit of Jules Verne, their responsibility to be progressive, the importance of writing games with people and dialogue, how to make players trust that their choices matter, what Phileas Fogg has in common with James T. Kirk, and what Verne might have thought had he played the game.

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Interview: Overwatch Game Designer On Blizzard’s FPS

Overwatch [official site] was rather a highlight of the recent European Road to Blizzcon event for me. It’s Blizzard’s foray into first person shooters and has provoked a lot of TF2 chat and comparison from colleagues. A build of the game was playable in two demo zones so I had hands-on time with a clutch of characters. I found it to be an intriguing proposition despite having been lukewarm at best about the trailer videos. Progressing on the two maps available felt like problems to solve using heroes and their abilities as well as an exercise in shooting characters successfully.

It’s still very much a work in progress and there were elements I was less sure of so game designer Geoff Goodman stepped up to answer my resultant questions. Questions like “Is it hard to make tanks?”, “How do you even start designing matchmaking?”, “When’s the beta?” and “Can’t you just cheat in your office Overwatch tournament?”

Read on for his replies:

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Heroes Of The Storm: Grubby On How To Watch Pro Matches

The finals of the Heroes of the Storm [official site] European Championships were mere hours away as I huddled on a sofa with match caster Manuel ‘Grubby’ Schenkhuizen. He’s a former Warcraft 3 World Champion and StarCraft 2 pro player but this weekend he was dispensing wisdom on the subject of Blizzard’s all-star hero brawler. Meanwhile I was stealing his expertise and putting it in my game journalist pouch so I could feed it to you later.

What I wanted to know was this: how to make the jump from playing HotS with more enthusiasm than expertise in a pool of friends and strangers to watching a competitive HotS match and knowing what on earth is going on.

You need to be more like an anxious parent at a music recital. Read on to find out why!

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The Future Plans & Popular Grind Of Ark: Survival Evolved

Ark: Survival Evolved [official site] is currently the fifth most played game on Steam. It’s not the first early access survival game to reach such heights, but so far it’s one of the few to have maintained it. At this year’s Gamescom 2015 I spoke to co-creative director Jesse Rapczak about what he feels Ark is doing different, their release and expansion plans, how you foster a less sociopathic survival game playerbase, and why his game is so grindy.

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