Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
RPS Feature Still fun
RPS Feature Pretty pictures
You might have noticed all your friends’ avatars and profile pictures turning into comic book drawings or impressionistic paintings over the last few weeks. That’s because of Prisma, a photo editing app for iOS and Android that let’s you apply a couple of dozen filters to images you feed it. The app goes further than simply messing with the hue like Instagram does, using a process similar to Google Deep Dream to warp and twist photographs – without shoving fucked up dogs in every corner.
I spent last night feeding it game screenshots, to find out what No Man’s Sky, Half-Life 2, SimCity and more would look like if their artists abandoned realism.
Oh man, this is a sad day. Former staff today reported – later confirmed by EA – that the heart of Maxis, the studio behind The Sims & Sim City, is to be ripped out. While satellite studios in Redwood Shores, Salt Lake City, Helsinki and Melbourne remain, the Emeryville headquarters was Maxis as we knew it. It’s had a chequered recent history, particularly with regard to the most recent SimCity, but without a doubt this was a legendary developer.
I dream of a city: dense, apartment blocks and tight terraces, lots of parks, even more trees, great public transport, by a river or lake with forest nearby. I skipped last year’s SimCity for obvious reasons but would like to build this dream in it, coo and aah as it bursts into an unconvincing simulation of life, then probably stop after, say, four hours.
Well gosh golly, as luck would have it that’s exactly how long the newly-released demo offers.
In a final [humiliating capitulation]/[act of goodwill and community empowerment] Maxis will today release SimCity’s offline mode, freeing city builders everywhere from the terrifying fear that a cleaner at the Origin data center will accidentally unplug the servers as he hoovers up the hopes and dreams of the developers. At the time of writing (lunchtime on Tuesday the 18th), the servers are down as the game prepares for the update that will mean the next time the servers are down, you’ll be able to play.
Beneath a mess of half-baked systems and massively detrimental online requirements, SimCity actually had some pretty cool ideas. Simulation of individual people and entities? Community options for those who want them? Curved roads? All interesting stuff on paper. Unfortunately, the reality of Maxis’ latest city builder failed (rather miserably) to live up to those promises, and Maxis has been struggling to build something workable from the pieces ever since. Enter Citybound. Its goal? To construct a city sim from the ground-up with a focus on single-player, out-of-the-not-a-box moddability, and simulating a truly sizable geographical region – not an itsy bitsy ant hill town. Also curved roads. Always curved roads.
RPS Feature Not Exactly What We Wanted To Hear
I recently attended the D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas (which is not related to game developer DICE, actually), and there I interviewed the entire gaming industry. OK, that’s not entirely true, largely because many D.I.C.E. attendees spontaneously break out into hives if anybody so much as mentions the word “indie.” But still, I talked to a whole mess of people. I encountered EA chief creative officer Rich Hilleman on an award show red carpet, so time for chit-chat was brief. Given recent events, however, I had to ask: what’s the deal with EA and hideously botched launches on games like Battlefield 4 and SimCity? And while Hilleman (very vaguely) promised change, I found his response more than a little upsetting. Read on and see what you think.