3D puzzle platformers are ten-a-penny, so stand out from the crowd a new one needs to have a gimmick, something to grasp the interest and throttle it into submission. Cardboard Box Assembler's trick is that you're running around on a 2D plane but it's mapped onto a rotating 3D cube.
The overall goal is merely to escape through the exit portal and getting there is the tricky part (obviously). As you move from one side of the cube to the next, your orientation to previously passed objects might change. So, for example, on the second level you climb a ladder, which crosses one going sideways.
At the top of the first ladder, you go right off the screen then head down another ladder, which is the one you went past before, the orientation of your character having changed over the course of two more cube movements.
The early puzzles are merely a taster of the mindbending efforts to come and the whole thing works very well indeed, especially as some many of the games posted on Adult Swim are rubbish. There's a story about a guy who goes crazy while constructing cardboard boxes off an assembly line too, though of course it's irrelevant.Click here to read the rest of Dave's roundup...
I've been playing a lot of Dragon Age II recently and, although I'm only about 20 hours in, I'm already bored of all of the characters. It's not a good state of affairs. Craving a writing hit that matched up to my shimmering nostalgia, I fired up Knights of the Old Republic once again, as I often do when I fear I'm losing the faith, and was instantly reminded why I fell so enormously in love with the game in the first place.
One of my favourite characters of all time - a misanthropic, borderline-psychotic robot - HK-47 is one of those characters that you love to see in any story-driven medium. Polite, urbane, informative, he has all of the stylistic trappings that suggest a protocol droid...until you ask for his advice on how to complete any particular mission and you begin to realise that mass murder is pretty much his one and only modus operandi.
HK-47 is not just an assassin, though. He's a philosopher too. Asked to ruminate upon the nature of love, he'll reply that love is 'making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope'. He'll wax lyrical on determinism and the absolution of responsibility for the crimes he has committed, while displaying an unhealthy glee for the work that he does.Click here for more, meatbags!
15 years is a long time. In that time, over 15 billion Pokémon cards have been produced, each new iteration of the game naturally spawning a plethora of new shiny cards that now punch just as high as the offerings of Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh. There are now 649 different kinds of Pokémon thanks to the Black and White reboot. It used to be a matter of pride that I knew exactly which critters kicked ass...now I'm completely adrift! On top of that, the TV show is well into its fourteenth season, there have been thirteen movies (a fourteenth is out this year). Pokémon is bigger than The Simpsons. It's official.
But why? Why has cartoonish cockfighting captured the imagination of so many people - young and old - the world over? As the Black and White versions of the game pass a million sales this week, we go hunting for some answers.
Let's start with the game. Over the years Game Freak have done their very best to try and milk all that they can form the series with a never-ending production line of games that tweak little things here and there but are essentially identical. And, in fairness, the enormous Pokémon katamari that has trundled across the years picking up everything in its path has irritated a lot of people. But one of the most enduring aspects of the game is that there's room for everyone.
In a world where we're constantly (mis)using terms such as hardcore and casual, Pokémon has neatly sidestepped such debates by offering something to part-timers and marathon gamers at the same time. The game's structure, when compared to other RPGs, can seem rather simplistic. You don't have to worry about dialogue options or huge amounts of resource micro-management or character customisation. In many ways it's a perfect entry point in to the genre for first-timers, something that has no doubt helped to contribute to the series' childlsh persona.
It sounds strange, but running your own steam-powered trade empire turned out to be the perfect recipe for a violently addictive game. Of course, it takes a special kind of game designer to create a gem out of such a seemingly soul-destroyingly dull concept, but then when we're talking about Sid Meier and Railroad Tycoon, a remarkable game from a remarkable developer.
Released in 1990, when games didn't necessarily need to be blood-splattered and have billions of polygons in the breasts of the lead female character alone, Railroad Tycoon sought to simulate the exciting world of trade via the medium of locomotives. From a tiny one line route ferrying passengers and mail back and forth to sprawling multi-goods networks encompassing hundreds of miles of track, it never once became less than compelling entertainment.
Even venturing into the stock market wasn't dull, although for those of us who were less business-minded, it was probably the most difficult thing to get our heads around. Nevertheless, buying and selling stock was never so thrilling.Read on for more teary-eyed nostalgic bliss...
DnD is back. Rezlus and his Zhentarim are hell-bent on invading and conquering the Dalelands and someone's got to stop them. We caught up with Zendro Chan, Creative Director at developer Bedlam Studios, to have a chat about Daggerdale.
Matt Gardner (Dealspwn): How did the game come about?
Zandro Chan: We had been talking to our publishing partner, Atari, for a while about projects. Then the opportunity came around to work with Wizards of the Coast and the Dungeons and Dragons franchise, and as long time fans, we just had to jump on it.
MG: The action-RPG nature of the game might seem a bit incongruous to some, particularly D&D traditionalists, but where did the inspiration come from for this particular choice?
ZC: Our team has had a lot of experience developing action titles, and to be able to introduce white knuckle intensity to the combat, and layer that great moment-to-moment gameplay on a robust network of RPG systems was an awesome challenge for us. With an action RPG, we can place you right into the frontlines of battle, but still deliver the diversity of role playing elements for prolonged play.
We live in the world of the sequel, the remake, the annual release, the safe bet, the lazy rehash. Occasionally a new name might emerge, a new IP (Intellectual Property) that hopes to become the next big franchise, but they're generally seen to be too risky in the world of the multi-million pound costs of developing and marketing a game.
Some sequels are essential though and 2011 will be no different with Uncharted 3, Mass Effect 3 and Batman: Arkham City already driving us nuts with the wait. Sometimes though, when we see an announcement for a sequel, our hearts sink, we question the sanity of developers/publishers and usually have a bit of a fight around the office to see which poor sod will have to review it.
So here's a look at the sequels that haven't been announced yet, but in all probability will be in the near future. Albeit with slightly more marketable titles.
Last year Io Interactive took the unusual approach of making an ugly game even uglier for the sequel and fixing almost nothing. You have to admire their work ethic of 'f**k the public, they'll buy anything, so why bother?' Handheld camera angles, super-blocky lo-res images (yay it's like YouTube said my PS3 in disgust), childish controversy and bullets that still seemed miserably slow. What's the point of well-conceived multiplayer modes when shooting a gun is such a broken experience? A tie-in movie might just work instead, as the story had a sharp pace to it and we've all enjoyed the Michael Mann-inspired moments, but in all honesty we wish this pair of old dogs had died tied to those chairs in Shanghai.Click here to read the what other unannounced games have got Brendan all worked up.
Time-wasting is an art and we like art here at Dealspwn. Not the modern kind with the blank canvas with a line cut into it being sold for millions of pounds. That's not art, that's a slip with a scalpel and then someone with too much money trying to look clever. We like the proper art, with pencils, drawing, oil paint and nudes being caressed by cherubs.
We also like not doing very much and avoiding work at all costs. Plus the internet, being that we're manning one of its multitudinous outposts here. Why not combine both of those things then? By jingo, that's just what gaming trio Alex Leone, David Nufer and David Truong have done in Katamari Hack.
If you've ever played the utterly insane PlayStation games where you use a ball to roll up all the items in an area, this is the same thing, just using your browser's contents instead of tables and chairs. You could, of course, go to Ikea's website and roll up all the furniture there for an authentic Katamari experience, though.Click here for more Free Play fun...
These days, game engines are all about flashy graphics and eyepopping, shallow feature sets. GDC was a fine example of this in phenomenon in action, with Epic, Crytek and DICE facing off to see who could deliver the most ridiculously shiny trailers imaginable. That's great, we said...but in our humble opinion, the best engines allow their developers to create entire worlds with relative ease whilst allowing them to concentrate on massive scope, exceptional writing and truly memorable character design.
Style over substance is also becoming the unwritten rule for roleplaying games. BioWare, once the undisputed kings of the Western RPG, are now churning out shallow, lazy experiences that are worlds apart from their earlier masterpieces. More and more corners end up being cut with every release - and part of that is down to the smaller levels and restrictions forced upon them by modern game engines.
No, this isn't going to be an article about Gamebryo. In fact, we hate Bethesda's buggy glitch-o-rama with the passion of a thousand borked save files. Instead we're going to talk about an engine that delivered arguably the best RPGs of all time and what ultimately made it so iconic.
BioWare created the Infinity Engine back in the late nineties as part of a prototype project that soon blossomed into a little game called Baldur's Gate. It's a quirky isometric affair that runs on the wonderfully obtuse D&D second edition ruleset, but its simplicity allowed both Black Isle and BioWare to create enormous sprawling worlds that were only limited by their imagination. Sumptuous hand-drawn artwork provided the background to the action, and stellar writing made its characters seem more real than any modern collection of polygons.
We'll get onto the mechanics later on, but for now, just look at these games. Look at them!
Click here to continue our tribute to the Infinity Engine... and see the games in question!
If you’ve read any of my previous musings (and a virtual high-five to you if you have) you will know how I value computer gaming as an artform, specifically as a platform for interactive storytelling. Much like a fine wine these creative ideas require time to mature, to blossom into the experiences we revere so much. Of course, while most developers would love all the time in the world to finish a game (just ask 3D Realms) it is a reality that this is not possible as the ones who finance these projects are looking for a cash return, preferably a big one, and even more ideally they want that cashflow as soon as possible.
Yesterday’s reports of Dragon Age II’s rushed development have once again brought this issue to attention, and while the topic has been discussed many a time over the years, it did get me thinking; will the need to make money as quickly as possible eventually reduce franchises we love to uninspired yearly outings? Perhaps it is not the development time that is the issue, but the weight of expectation the media or we as consumers place upon a franchise that causes it to buckle? I decided to delve a little into the topic to see for myself.Click here to read the rest of the article...
There's one thing you should never really do if you're a video game bad guy. You don't kidnap women. You see, chances are that there's a disgruntled boyfriend, soulmate or, in some cases, blue collar worker, who's willing to fight through waves and waves of enemies to get them back.
Street Gangs, or River City Ransom as it was known in the States, is one such game. Launched in 1989 on the NES in Japan, it found its way to European shores two years later, boasting a mash-up of classic side-scrolling, Double Dragon-style beat-em-up action and a previously untapped depth via some neat RPG elements.
Titled Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (ダウンタウン熱血物語 Dauntaun Nekketsu Monogatari) in Japan - the title literally means 'Downtown Hot-Blooded Story' - the game that would become Street Gangs arrived in the East as the third game in the Famicom's Kunio-kun series. It's localisation, involved a pretty thorough overhaul, mind, as a whole bunch of sprites were redrawn, the story, dialogue and character costumes revamped to make the game more palatable for a Western audience, and the saving mechanism was replaced with a slightly convoluted password system.
The demolition minigames from the previous Red Faction game have been reworked into a stand-alone Ruin mode. Rather than being more of the same though, it's set to be a big improvement thanks to the addition of the Magnet Gun, which if you read my recent preview of the single player game, you'd know is the new toy that every big kid should want.
The object of Raid is to destroy as much as possible in the time limit and score big by destroying structures in combo chains. Beat the par score to unlock the next stage, or keep hitting retry to climb the online leaderboards.
I got to demolish just the one stage during my hands-on with this mode. Unlike what I played of the story mode, this took place outside, on the surface of Mars at what looked like some sort of power station. Lots of chimney stacks, buildings, bridges, car-sized gas canisters and pylon-like steel towers are all used to grind the stage into dust.
Mastering the magnet gun is the key to success. Use this mad terrorist version of the gun from Portal to fire an anchor at one target then an attractor at a second to send the first object crashing towards the second point. If the object is heavy enough, it'll destroy anything in its path. Destroying multiple structures in brief periods of time is the way to really rack up those combo points. Some objects, like the gas canisters are really sensitive, so make sure they won't clip a fence on their way to a targeted building, unless you want a premature explosion in no man's land.
Following on from the first part of our controversial FortressCraft interview, we sat back down with ProjectorGames lead DJArcas to discuss the development process, Microsoft's lack of support and the myriad pitfalls of following the Indie calling.
Jonathan Lester: Welcome back. As we reported earlier, you're developing FortressCraft on an incredibly intensive timeframe. What's it like to develop a whole game in a matter of weeks? What extra challenges does it entail?
DJArcas: To be honest, this is how I'm used to working. I have to rely very heavily on doing things right the first time, you know, bar the lighting. I've written custom movement systems and animations before so I know where the pitfalls are. If someone was approaching it fresh, they'd likely do the wrong thing. Some of the stuff I'm doing is beginning to push the Xbox 360 to its limits! Last night I ran out of RAM and had to optimise for its horrible 512 MB.
Jonathan: Has the increased publicity put you under any extra pressure? Were you ever expecting such a media storm?
DJArcas: When I started developing FortessCraft, I wanted people to know about it. But I expected ten people to talk to me and I was expecting that level of community involvement. You know, just twenty people on twitter! At this point I have 1179 twitter followers. I have 2500 youtube subscribers. It scares me. I recently put up a video and I was the seventh person to watch it!
This scares the shit out of me! If it crashes, if it fails... that scares me too. I don't like fame, I like obscurity, as only a couple of people will hate my game. FortressCraft has been posted on some really big channels, which is brilliant... but scary. As far as I'm aware, FortressCraft is the most anticipated Xbox Indie game of all time. Even I MAED A GAM3 came out of nowhere. No pressure!
Jonathan: Do you think that your publicity will actually help raise awareness of the Indie scene in general?
DJArcas: Actually, I sometimes lie awake at night and wonder if my game will be the death of the indie scene. If this flops, if FortressCraft fails, we've had so much publicity. I couldn't buy this publicity. My forums spin over, my inbox overflows with emails. If this fails, who's going to bother starting from scratch?Click here to see what Microsoft - and us journalists - should be doing to help Indie development...
FortressCraft has become a bona fide Indie sensation that managed to set the scene on fire over the last few weeks. ProjectorGames' brave new project has attracted a huge amount of media attention ever since we first unveiled it... though much of the response has been extremely hostile to say the least thanks to its overt similarity to Minecraft.
To this end, I recently sat down with ProjectorGames' project lead to discuss what FortressCraft will be bringing to the table... and how he's dealing with the unexpected media furore. Oh, and the hundreds of death threats and poorly-worded hate mail that pours into his inbox on a daily basis.
Jonathan Lester: Many thanks for talking to us. First things first: could you please introduce yourselves to our readers?
DJArcas: Sure. I go by the name of DJArcas online, and I'm the lead designer, coder and gameplay guy at Projector Games. I'm thirty five years old and have written over 30 commercial games. I've also had the honour of working on the 7th best rated Xbox 360 game of all time. I have a couple of friends helping out with the code and sounds effects, but primarily, I'm behind 99% of FortressCraft's code.
Jonathan: Right, now let's get down to brass tacks. FortressCraft is quickly becoming one of the most publicised and controversial XBLI titles to have ever been slated for the service. Could you give us an introduction to what FortressCraft is all about?
DJArcas: I can do better than that. I'll explain what inspired it. Everyone thinks they know and almost no-one is correct.
In my opinion, Dwarf fortress is best game ever made... but it also had the worst user interface and the worst graphics as well. About eighteen months ago, I decided to have a go at rewriting it. I started but couldn't quite manage it, had issues with the graphics and lighting. I ended up shelving it four months before MineCraft came along.
A few months later, I got involved in an argument on the Minecraft forums about whether it could run on consoles. I knew it was possible, so naturally I took offence to people saying “lol noob, you know nothing." I set out to prove them wrong! Three months later I posted a basic prototype, but it was blamed for being fake- and even badly photoshopped! I wasn't going to buy a high-def capture card just to prove him wrong, but my next video caused him to shut up and proved me right.
I've been developing for 7 weeks and 3 days all told, which is very rapid even by Indie standards. The game I've had in my head for six months is not MineCraft. I have no interest in cloning Minecraft. Because it already exists. It's there. There's no point in cloning it.
Jonathan: So what about the core gameplay?
DJArcas: Okay. Now remember that this is only Chapter 1. Future chapters will have more things; different things. The primary part of Chapter 1 is the MineCraft classic experience. Just log onto a server and build stuff! There's no monsters, no progression, it's just great fun. It's a bit like Playstation Home, but with something to do.
Click here for more FortressCraft details... and a controversial troll challenge!
As well as being a day where you stuff your face with flour and milk, today is also International Women's Day - a day for celebrating women's rights and lauding some of the revolutionary achievements of the fairer sex. For the games industry, it should provide an obvious moment of reflection. This is, after all, an industry that has been borne out of obscurity on a wave of guns, graphics, and girls. But we've come a long way from T and A. Although it's clear that the mantra 'sex sells' still holds true on so many levels, there are some fantastic female characters to be found in amongst the faceless swathes of the abnormally proportioned.
A little disclaimer before I begin. I've tried to avoid the blatantly obvious ones here. You won't find Lara or Samus or Chun-Li or Zelda on this list. Whilst important figures, all of them, there are far better examples of strong-willed, deeply drawn characters out there. This isn't about importance in terms of video gaming's legacy, this is about well-written, well-crafted characterisation. Have a look and see what you think. Agree? Disagree? Feel I've missed someone out? Hit the comments box below. You know what to do...
NB. I've tried not to, but there might be a few SPOILERS for those yet to play any of the games involved. If you haven't, you really, really should get that sorted out...
BioWare are often just as unsubtle with character tropes as their Japanese cousins when it comes to fleshing out party members, but Kreia provided something a little different. She assumes the mentor archetype, but her motivations are deeply complex. If there is a criticism to be made it is that she represents a nihilist philosophy borne out of several betrayals, but it's her somewhat maternal connection to the Exile which humanises her and makes her such a fascinating character.
A course at uni taught me that all kids' literature is fundamentally f*cked up and systematically ruined my favourite childhood stories from thence on. But American McGee embraces this darkness. His Alice is about as screwed up as you can get - parents dead, life literally burned to ashes, institutionalised and abandoned with only her thoughts for company. If Lewis Caroll's original provided childish metaphors of the shift into adolescence, McGee's Alice and her adventures take the frame of Wonderland and apply it magnificently to more mature themes, with the whole game a reflection on her character.
Release date: May/June 2011
The level begins with the game's star, Darius Mason (grandson to Alec Mason of Red Faction: Guerilla), fleeing for his life. He's just been duped into unleashing an alien horde from a mysterious underground shaft in a Marauder temple, deep underground on (in?) Mars. We never see any people, but we can hear them cursing Mason in the tunnels ahead as they flee from what he's let loose from the planet's depths.
The aim of this mission is to reach the surface in one piece. Even though Mason's only just popped the cork on the alien nest, they've managed to get everywhere ahead of him and made a good start at destroying everything and wasting miners.
The aliens might have a bit of a Dead Space look to them, as does the darker, claustrophobic setting, but seeing as they generally go down easily the comparisons don't last long. Red Faction: Armageddon is maintaining a heavy action vibe in place of any leanings towards survival horror. Your weapons will cut through most aliens so easily they're not scaring anyone to be honest.
Early on, a fine variety of monsters can be seen gnashing their way towards you in the dark. Standard greenish ones scuttle towards you (leaving them open to a context-sensitive melee strike), red ones like to hang off walls and spit fire at you, while another will teleport around you and charge up an attack with red lasers warning you of its imminent intent.
It's strange to think of a game like Smackdown vs Raw as being a 'simulation' when you've got in-game cut-scenes involving an overgrown man holding a mysterious urn that has the captured spirits of the Undertaker's Wrestlemania 'victims' inside. So yes, that's a simulation, allegedly.
WWE All-Stars is an arcade game to SvR's apparently realistic approach and you can tell it is because all the characters are caricatures and sometimes people leap from the top turnbuckle all the way across the ring to do moves. It's basically going to be a wrestling game on steroids. Kind of like how most of the wrestlers it depicts were/are (allegedly).
There'll be a relatively extensive selection of muscle-bound brutes to choose from, ranging from the likes of Hulk Hogan and Jake the Snake to the faceless, pant-wearing nobodies of the current WWE roster.
Way back in 2007 when I was lounging around during a lazy summer day between uni terms, I took a trip to the shops to pick up a game I knew very little about but had been recommended to purchase by a friend who was a massive fan of the comic books on which it was based; that game was The Darkness. I quickly fell in love with everything the game had to offer, from its engrossing plot and intriguing characters, to the gameplay which combined stealth elements, supernatural powers, and a bucket load of blood once you got your teeth, or should I say The Darkness' teeth, firmly set into the enemy.
The sequel is now well on its way and should be with us later in the year, so for all of you out there who have been waiting to cloak yourselves in the shadows once more I thought I'd share with you what we know about this instalment so far!
The game's set two years after the original and Jackie Estacado has moved up the ranks of the mafia from a low level hitman to the don of the family. Luckily the title comes with a number of benefits including his very own driver, which means that you won't have to get lost crawling around the subway anymore or have to wait for a long, boring cutscene to take place as you travel from station to station. Sheldon Carter, Digital Extremes project director, justified it like this:
He's [Jackie] not a low-level thug any more who has to pick his way through New York. He knows where he has to go, and he can go there whenever he wants.
Of course this'd just be another run of the mill mafia game if it was just about Jackie, so let's move onto his fiendish friend . . .
Since we last stepped into his shoes Jackie's bonded a little bit more with the Darkness, which has paid off dividends in terms of the ways in which you can now give into your darker side when dispatching enemies. You'll now have two darkness tendrils at your beck and call, the left can quickly grab an enemy or an object whilst the right can be used for slicing.
We'll start with slicing! This new action allows you to embrace your imagination, seeing as you can choose how much damage your going to inflict on a terrified enemy, by holding the right trigger down and flicking away with the right thumbstick. Killing blows range from cutting the enemy in two, horizontally or vertically, but you can take your time and remove limbs one by one beforehand if you're suddenly struck with a sadistic urge, and I'm also hoping you can opt to decapitate an enemy or two before casting their bodies aside or allowing the Darkness to feast on their hearts.
Grabbing a single enemy when your sneaking around is a fairly easy way to remain undetected, but what can you do when you're surrounded by a hit squad? Well your options open up once more, you either quite simply grab something that's pretty hefty and hurl it at the gormless goons, or repeat the same action with something explosive, or you use what I think will become one of my favourite tactics in the game and hold something for cover in front of you, like a subway car door for instance, whilst shooting away to your hearts content.
There are no reports yet about how the creeping darkness, darkness guns, black hole, or the mischievous and also hilarious darklings are going to aid you this time around, but we'll keep you posted as to what's going on with them as soon as we know more. Finally, Mike Patton has once again stepped behind the microphone to voice the Darkness.
It looks like The Darkness II will be a lot more focused on action this time around with larger groups of enemies for Jackie to deal with, but I've got my fingers crossed that there'll still be an ample amount of stealth thrown into the mix because I think it'll take something away from the game if it's been scrapped all together in favour of running into a situation guns and tendrils blazing!
In a recent demonstration of the demo, Jackie can quite clearly be seen dual wielding a couple of Colt pistols and later a pistol in combination with an SMG, as well as sending out both darkness tendrils, which to me seems like overkill in the best possible way but I can't help holding back the feeling that it could possibly get a bit confusing to control in a tense situation.
The Darkness II will hopefully be with us during the fourth quarter of 2011, and I hope this preview has whetted your appetite for some dark destruction! I for one will be keeping my eyes peeled for more news concerning this one. [joystiq]
Decades of videogames have brought us a veritable cornucopia of beautiful and bizarre firepower. We've seen it all: from Turok 2's nasty Cerebral Bore to the improbable homing shark launcher from Armed & Dangerous. However, when you desperately need an enemy to die in the quickest and most gratuitous way possible, there's only one boomstick that can possibly do the trick.
Gaming's most ubiquitous weapon is also its most useful. With your trusty shotty clenched firmly in hand, the forces of hell, nazis, alien armadas and your online opponents are reduced to greasy piles of meat in short order. We'd love to pick a single shotgun to illustrate our love affair with the beautiful and brutal equaliser... but there are just too many to count. To this end, let's take a look at some of gaming's most memorable shotguns- and why we love them.
Doom started it all. The original fully-featured FPS packed a lot of fun firepower, but its shotgun stands tall as the connoisseur's weapon of choice. A single shot is enough to shred a possessed hell-zombie where he stands, and to pop an imp like a hairy over-ripe kiwi fruit. As any id Software veteran knows, a few shells are an infinitely more useful pickup than any amount of armour or health- and worth wading into the fray with fists flying just to snatch.
Most shotguns are useless at anything but point-blank range, but Doom's legendary offering sweetens the deal with ridiculously tight buckshot scatter. Smug enemies on the other side of large arenas won't be laughing so hard when their internal organs leave their bodies at breathtaking velocity.
Put simply, Doom's shotgun makes hell your bitch. What's not to love about that?Click here for more great gaming shotguns!
At his Games Developers Conference speech yesterday, Cliff Bleszinski - who I shall from now on refer to as Cliff, like he's an old friend - denied reports that big-budget, so-called 'triple A' games were coming to an end. "AAA is not dying, I am tired of hearing that", sighed Cliff, amid recent news of Tim Schafer's Double Fine resorting to smaller titles like Trenched and Sesame Street to lower overheads, John Romero supposedly abandoning the hardcore, and Microsoft seemingly realigning their focus from big-budget blockbusters to cost-effective Kinect titles.
So is the triple A game coming to an end? In the next five years, will we no longer see the likes of Uncharted, Gears of War and Killzone? Or is Cliff Bleszinski right? Does the triple A game still have some life in it yet?
Remember John Romero? He helped create Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake, before Daikatana flopped like a fish on dry land and Romero made the fatal mistake of insulting gamers in adverts. He's since turned his attentions to more casual titles such as Facebook's Ravenwood Fair, which averages eleven million players each month. Speaking to Venture Beat, Romero remarked "we have satisfied hardcore gamers for decades. Now it's time for the rest of the world".
Romero doesn't wield the clout or respect he once had, but it's arguably pretty worrying when someone of his stature - you can't overlook the man who helped usher the FPS genre to where it is now - believes hardcore games are becoming far less important. Romero believes "the game industry is dropping down on top of the social", eventually culminating a mass merger of the two.
I'm not so sure such an event will happen, and Romero himself stated on Twitter - in the wake of some rather laughable (or disturbingly short-sighted) backlash over his comments - that he wasn't necessarily done with hardcore games forever. Core titles are still profitable, what with Black Ops only this week becoming the best selling game on the PS3 ever, with over seven million copies sold. Combine that with the tens of millions sold on the PC, Xbox 360 and Wii and we're talking a hell of a lot of money publishers like Activision won't simply ignore. But banking on success is dangerous. Unless you're an established brand, you have no guarantee on a profitable return, and even big names can flop. Rest in peace Guitar Hero.Click here to read the rest of Felix's article...
Recently Dave caught up with Codemasters' Adam Parsons to talk about Operation Flashpoint: Red River, and how the studio are hoping to improve on their formula to shake up the FPS genre in 2011...
David Brown: I'll start with mentioning issues from the first game, there were one or two. What have you addressed, which issues did you identify primarily, and how have you gone about fixing them?
Adam Parsons: One of the things with Dragon Rising is, we tried to do a lot. We tried to do too much, and we came into Red River thinking “Right, what we need to do is crack the focus experience and really improve the things that really matter, so we've made a tremendous amount of improvements all across the game and we've provided a more focussed experience this time around. So it's more based on the US marine corps and drawn from experiences. Real world, TV, that kind of stuff. But in terms of the game improvements, I'll talk you through a few of things. So, the AI has been given a makeover. We've got improvements to the command and report of the line of fire. So if you've got guys crossing your line of fire in front of you, they'll tell you if that's going to happen. They've got no choice to navigate around you, which has been overhauled in terms of making sure they path correctly, if they can, behind you rather than cross your line of fire. Or avoid it.
They're more autonomous, so we can now ask them to move forward and hold position. So what these guys will do is move to a point on the map and actually dig in. And they'll take a small patrol vector on their position and take out enemies that enter into that range so that's been improved. Also, using your fire team rewards you now. Because if you just ask them to follow you, they won't be as accurate. They'll just follow you like a small troop. If you give them individual orders, for example Soto, who is great at long range. You hold him back, you ask him to engage targets, you move Belleto to suppress a group of enemies, these guys will be more accurate under direct order. So that's something else we've improved.