Posts Tagged ‘interview’

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

“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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Read the rest of this entry »

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…

Read the rest of this entry »

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.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

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!

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Design And Politics Of Deus Ex Mankind Divided

At Gamescom 2015, I had the opportunity to talk to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided gameplay director Patrick Fortier. We talked about feeling a sense of ownership over Deus Ex at last, expanding the language of its level design beyond vents, and the politics of a “mechanical apartheid.” Before I asked him about the game’s ceilings.

Read the rest of this entry »

Galaxies, Wrenches And Disclosures: Gunpoint Creator Tom Francis’ Heat Signature

Heat Signature [official site] is an action/stealth game in which you can go inside the spaceships, from the team behind Gunpoint. I played a recent build last week and spoke to its lead designer Tom Francis about how how it’s grown into a game of factional war, if it can ever be finished, comedy wrench KOs and the awkwardness of journalists covering ex-journalists’ games. By which I mean: disclaimer – I used to work at the same magazine company as Tom, and we socialised on occasion.

Heat Signature’s pratfalls-in-space concepts were a giggle already, but the scope has expanded dramatically since the first time I saw it, less than a year ago. It’s becoming Galactic Civilizations as well as this sort of high-speed, outer space heist game. Gunpoint’s use of physics as both freeform puzzle and source of Three Stooges comedy ethos is very clearly in there, as is a shared determination to ensure the player is doing their own thing in any given second of the game, but as well as stealing procedurally-generated spaceships you now get to play galactic factions against each other in a persistent universe. This wasn’t the original plan.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nuclear Throne’s Vlambeer: “If The Customer Was Always Right I Wouldn’t Have A Job”

When I meet Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail, it’s in the middle of the annual Develop conference in Brighton. He’s a striking figure in a sea that’s half middle-aged businessmen and half wide-eyed, unshaven young developers in t-shirts: improbably tall, wearing a leather jacket on a hot summer’s day, hair everywhere, and a mile-a-minute patter that conveys extreme confidence without evident arrogance. He’s nearing the end of Ramadan, which means he hasn’t eaten during the day for several weeks, but has the energy and enthusiasm of someone about to climb Everest. Like his company’s offbeat action games and his often highly outspoken social media style or not, it is little surprise that this guy became so successful – though of course the raw, joyful appeal of games including Nuclear Throne, Super Crate Box, Luftrausers and Ridiculous Fishing went a long way towards that.

But would the confidence and conviction that he has when he wades headlong into the gaming issues of the day or, as he does in his keynote Develop speech the next day, declare that listening to one’s customers is not necessarily the best policy, be there if he didn’t already have the safety net of that success? In the unedited transcript below, we talk about that, about his feelings towards his own customers, indie ‘luck’, why games want rockstars, Ubisoft’s women characters controversy and why he doesn’t feel he can tell anyone else how to be successful.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Asylum Horror Game That Isn’t A Horror Game

I took a look at the trailers for this Italian-made ‘psychological’ thriller a couple of weeks ago, and worried aloud about whether they’d be able to achieve their stated aim of helping people understand “the true meaning of mental illness” given that The Town Of Light seemed to include many ‘spooky asylum’ tropes.

I played a small section of the game and spoke (via translator) to the Italian team behind The Town Of Light at last week’s Develop conference, and now at least have a clearer idea of what it is.

Read the rest of this entry »