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PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Epic share a work-in-progress Unreal Tournament level">Unreal Tournament

Here's some "working concept art" from the upcoming Unreal Tournament. And it does look like concept art, thanks to the clean environments and stylised lighting. In fact, this is an early look at a work-in-progress level, and Epic are taking you on a flythrough tour in their new development video.

"This, in my mind, represents kind of the sci-fi, industrial look. We could go grimier with this," says art director Chris Perna.

"To me Unreal and the entire franchise has always been a Tim Burton Batman caricature of itself. Where I'd like to go with the new franchise is more a Chris Nolan Batman Begins ... something a little more polished, a little more realism, but without going over the top."

For more Unreal Tournament, you can watch a small taster of deathmatch footage, and read our interview with Epic on their unusual, crowdfunded development process.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Steam Music moves into open beta, desktop interface now available">Steam Music

I've spent the last few minutes prodding the Steam Music beta. You can, too: it's now open to all who want to try it. It's, er, well basically, it's an mp3 player. But one that you can access in-game, through the Steam overlay. Yes, I know, not revolutionary, but there are a some reasons why it might be useful.

For instance: Big Picture mode. If your PC is hooked up to a TV and a control pad, it's a pretty convenient way to blast out some custom tunes (that's still a thing people say, right?). And with the impending Steam Machines and Steam Controller, it makes sense that Valve would want to offer this type of in-app player.

Apart from that, it's a pretty basic tool. Thanks to the combination of standalone media players and keyboard shortcuts, I doubt an integrated Steam player was high on people's gaming wishlist. But it is early in the beta process, and that means there may be planned features that make Steam Music a worthwhile addition. For one thing, it's increasingly common for games to offer soundtrack "DLC" through Steam. Currently, they're just deposited into that game's Steam folder but having them caught by the player would make sense as an option.

And, of course, it still needs to be Valvified. It'll be interesting to see if there are plans for weird sharing schemes, or playlist features, or any of the other ways Valve like to use their users to enhance their features.

To try the app, head to the Steam settings and opt-in to the latest Steam Beta Update.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Titanfall update 5 will introduce a Black Market for Burn Cards and insignia">titanfallupdate

Soon you'll be able to purchase Burn Card packs and fancy Titan adornments in a new Titanfall marketplace. The Black Market is coming as part of the game's fifth major update due July 31, which will also introduce daily challenges and several bug fixes. The Black Market unlocks at level 11 and allows players to purchase Burn Card packs and Insignia with in-game credits. Real world currency will not be supported and will never be introduced, according to designer David Shaver.

"With the introduction of an in-game currency, some may worry that the next step is that we will let players spend real-world money to get an edge in the game," Shaver wrote. "We have stated several times that Titanfall will not have micro-transactions. Fear not, for we plan to keep that promise - NO MICROTRANSACTIONS! The only way to get Credits is by playing the game!"

Where are all these credits coming from? You'll earn them by winning or completing matches, completing the forthcoming daily challenges, discarding and selling burn cards, and for winning the first victory of the day. It's a pretty major shake up which, in concert with the daily challenges, will hopefully provide the game a much needed boost in player numbers. Here's a look at how it works:

While insignias are pretty straightforward (you just buy the one you want), Burn Cards will only come in themed packs. While you're likely to get Burn Cards you want based on the category you choose (for example, a Time Boost Pack), you can't select individual burn cards, thus maintaining the value of certain highly sought after cards.

Respawn is also due to release its second map on July 31. Entitled Frontier's Edge, it will include the 'Dig Site' map, among others.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Crysis 3 lead producer Mike Read leaves Crytek amid reports of financial strife">Crysis 3

Following reports of financial strife at Crytek, another high-profile staffer has left the company. Crysis 3 lead producer Mike Read is now a 'former' producer at Crytek, according to both his LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. It follows news last week that the company's principle graphics engineer Tiago Sousa has defected to id Software.

In an unrelated Twitter conversation earlier this week, Read expressed regret regarding how Crysis 3 had turned out, which was criticised at the time for lacking a campaign to equal its graphics tech. "Some amazing tech behind it for sure," Read replied to a user criticising the game. "Wish we could have done more on many fronts." He later clarified that his issues with the title were gameplay related.

In addition to Crysis 3, Mike Read also lead production on Ryse: Son of Rome, an Xbox One launch exclusive which was met with a muted critical response. According to a recent Kotaku report, negotiations on a sequel ended when Crytek could not come to an agreement with Microsoft over rights. This lead to some employees allegedly only receiving a small portion of their wage. Crytek has yet to respond to these rumours.

It's been a tough month for Crytek: reports of staff being underpaid continue to circulate, along with claims that upwards of 30 staff have voluntarily left the company's UK offices since 2011. Though the company has yet to confirm or deny the rumours, it has moved to assure that its announced projects are still in development.

"We continue to focus on the development and publishing of our upcoming titles Homefront: The Revolution, Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age, Arena of Fate, and Warface, as well as providing ongoing support for our CryEngine and its licensees," a spokesperson wrote.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Beasts of Prey review (Early Access)">Beasts_of_Prey_01

Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.

Beasts of Prey is for builders and I m hard at work. I ve already scavenged enough stone and wood to piece together a crafting bench and a furnace. With a good supply of lumber and a selection of metal ores smelting away, I m making progress towards a home of my own. But I ve also got self-defense in mind. I ve been active on the game s official PvP server for a couple hours already this session, and I have yet to see another player. Feeling secure in my solitude, despite the countless buildings that dot the hills, beaches and forests, I set out to stock up on resources.

I spot a giant grey boulder through the foliage. Unlike the ubiquitous palm and jungle trees, raw stone is a bit trickier to find and usually requires some scouting. After scanning my immediate surroundings, I still don t see any sign of movement. I sprint to the outcrop of boulders and use my ax to hack away a few chunks of raw stone. On my way back to camp, I stop to gather more wood. I ve just looked down to pick up one final log when I hear the all-too familiar and deadly sound of a silenced gun. I look up just in time to see a man walking towards me. His second volley finds its target and I collapse. Game over.

Was it something I said?

Just like in the genre-defining DayZ, the real beasts in Octagon Interactive s online, first-person survival game are the other players. For sure, there are also dinosaurs in the alpha build of BoP s jungle sandbox, but they re slow and easy to hear coming and going. They also have a tendency to wander through solid walls and hillsides. Even with the occasional run-in with a triceratops, it s the game s human element that creates all the interesting tension and surprising situations. While there are region-specific community servers to play on, as well as a separate, PvE only environment, the official PvP server appears to have seen the most activity since the game entered Steam Early Access on June 5.

BoP drops players into what looks, at first glance, like a tropical paradise. With craggy mountains to climb, forests to scrounge lumber in, and beaches on which I can build a compound fit for an Bond villain, the potential is immediately apparent. Players initially spawn with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a hunting knife. With the knife, they can harvest wood and chip off some pieces of raw stone, two materials that form the basis for a much-sturdier ax. Everything is easier to harvest with the ax, and as I outlined above, until you build some sort of shelter, you are vulnerable to ambushes and raids that could mean a lot of wasted work. And because it could play a role in your ability to survive a run-in with a dinosaur or bandit, it s important to note there s no option to invert mouse look in BoP at the moment.

Dinosaurs appear to go where they please, even through walls.

After a few hours of wandering or foraging for crafting resources, however, it all starts to blend together. A day and night cycle as well as quality sound design help to break up the monotony of seeing the same trees, rocks, and building materials everywhere. But I can t help feeling the visual dimension of the game s sandbox is a bit shallow at the moment. Alternate character models, a wider color palette for buildings, and a more diverse tropical environment would help make the world a more interesting place to hang out in during the quiet times.

Each server, whether official or community-run, saves its own profile of your character, so it s possible to vary your playstyle from server to server. By planting a flag and building defenses around it, you can claim a plot of land for a personal palace or a home base for player-run clans known as tribes. Other players and tribes can raid these claims, destroy your flag and claim the land for themselves. Buildings on land claims in each server persist, even though you lose your personal item inventory with every death.

In contrast to its repetitive environmental design, the game s clear and functional crafting system hints at some incredible possibilities for the careful engineer. These include oil refinement for fuel, advanced firearms, and laser-guided, proximity-activated gun turrets. And even when the world feels desolate and empty, with little or no activity, the evidence of a whole lot of hard work is visible everywhere I look.

A lakeside retreat fit for a super villain.

Players not content with the game s small, pre-fab homes can build much bigger structures by crafting a series of modular pieces. These include concrete slabs, wood and concrete walls, as well as gates and doors that only the builder or tribe member can open. Because of this modular flexibility, the only limit to building appears to be land claims, resource control and player ingenuity. On the PvP server, strange, castle-like structures jut out from the sides of mountains, while other players have constructed elaborate, maze-like defense systems, complete with radar antennae and oil derricks. But even with all that obvious effort on display, more often than not, it feels like nobody s home.

BoP, which the developer plans to move to beta in October, pairs a robust and interesting crafting mechanic with a bland game world as a backdrop. Like so many online, open-world games, the potential for weird and wonderful encounters depends mostly on who s playing. BoP s community will likely determine its present and future.


With its accessible crafting system, good sound design and base-building potential, Beasts of Prey is a game for the patient survival engineer. But even with its active Steam forum community, BoP s official servers often feel empty. And if you demand detailed and varied environments as a substitute for PvP, it d be worth waiting to see how the game develops.


Unclear. Even with more polish and variety applied to the game s environment, the fate of BoP likely rests in the hands of its players. This is a case where the developer s earnest call for player feedback could be highly influential. Octagon is active in BoP s Steam forum, and says the addition of a PvE server came in response to the game s community.


Version reviewed: Alpha build 1135

Reviewed on: Windows 7 64-bit, i5-2500k 3.6 GHz, 8 GB RAM, GTX 560 ti 2 GB graphics card

Recommended: Windows XP or later (Vista/7/8), i7 CPU, 4096 MB RAM, NVidia GeForce 560GTX or higher

Price: $19/ 14

Publisher/Developer: Octagon Interactive

Multiplayer: MMO PvP, PvE, and private servers

Link: Steam store page
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Yogventures developer “as confused as everyone else” about Kickstarter funds">8db7564decc350984477c88fff29e0a0_large

The biggest question currently hanging over the collapse of Yogventures is the fate of the $150,000 in Kickstarter funds that Winterkewl Games founder Kris Vale says went to Yogscast shortly after the Kickstarter concluded. Vale claims a contract specifying how the money was to be used was never drawn up but the amount is roughly triple what the studio estimated as the cost for physical rewards, and he's "just as confused as everyone else" about what happened to the rest of it.

In an email exchange, Vale made it clear that the Yogventures project was plagued by mismanagement from the very start, resulting from a mix of inexperience, naivete and a misplaced faith in the essential goodness of human nature. That led to the now-infamous loss of a principal artist, and more significantly the $35,000 lump sum he was paid that the studio could not legally recover. Shortly after that, Lewis Brindley of Yogscast demanded and ultimately received $150,000 of the Kickstarter funds.

Vale said the money was transferred to Yogscast shortly after the Kickstarter concluded, and that he was of the understanding "that some of that $150,000 would be spent on physical rewards, and some would be for Yogscast to get re-compensated for their efforts at E3 and during the Kickstarter, but the bulk would be used to hire a programmer to work on the actual game."

That didn't happen, however, and according to Vale, Yogscast actually insisted on a new contract not long after the money was transferred. "We were basically told that without a new contract, there would be no new programmer. So we were in a really tight spot at that time, and agreed to the terms of this new contract," he explained. The contract stipulated that neither company had any financial obligation to the other, nor was Yogscast actually required to hire a programmer for the game, despite Vale's "understanding."

"We did at least get them to finally agree in writing that the money for the physical rewards was in their possession so it was their responsibility to create and ship the rewards," he said. "We were unable, however, to get it stipulated that they would hire a programmer." Negotiations with another programmer that had been underway when Yogscast made the new contract demand fell through, Vale added, and with no money remaining to offer anyone else, "We had a new contract but no programmer."

He said Yogscast refused to hire a new programmer because Brindley was unhappy with the progress of the game and Vale's handling of the company. During the time Yogventures was in development, according to Vale, "We were sending regular updates and asking each time, 'When do you think we'll see videos promoting the game?' And each time we were told this feature or that feature is a 'must have,' and we'd go off and work on that feature, always hoping that at some point the business would get off the ground and marketing would begin."

"If we didn't need the Yogscast for marketing, we would have never approached them in the first place," he said. "I was honestly afraid all the time that at any moment Yogscast would just sever our contract, so I didn't have a lot of ammunition to fight back when things weren't going our way."

The question now is, if Yogscast didn't hire a new programmer with the money, what happened to it? Brindley said in a July 19 post on Reddit that he disagreed with a number of Vale's claims but declined to address them in detail, although he did suggest that an official statement may be forthcoming at some point in the future. But beyond that, Yogscast has not responded to any inquiries, and Vale says he has no idea.

"The Yogscast maintain that the remaining funds they received were used to pay for the things they did for marketing of the game. They did pay for the E3 booth, (although we paid for all the decorations and rentals of all the equipment, etc.) and they did spend time and effort making and publishing the Kickstarter videos," he said. "But honestly, we're just as confused as everyone else where the rest of the funds went."
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Righting the ship: a look at Elder Scrolls Online’s future">eso-bounty

"Look up, here it comes," the guy behind me whispers. There's something akin to reverence in his voice. I look up at the screen on QuakeCon's main stage to see footage of some thug pilfering the crates and boxes surrounding a shopkeeper's stand, taking care to avoid her gaze. The text accompanying each of the items is red; he's stealing. A guard catches him, and he's asked to hand over the value of the items, which amounts to a measly five gold. He obliges. The guy behind me is snickering now, and I hear a slap that must be a high-five he shared with his friend.

The perspective shifts; we're now behind the twin blades of some Nightblade slinking about the Daggerfall Covenant town of Wayrest. He sneaks up behind poor Phillic Menant, who's just strolling over to chat with the local stablemaster. The blades flash, Phillic falls with a bloody splash, and the crowd around me collectively leans forward. This is something new; something unexpected. "We'd like to encourage everybody to start killing NPCs in the game," says Paul Sage, ESO's creative director, just as we see an archer fire an arrow through an NPC enjoying the morning air. And the entire crowd goes wild.

The last time I'd experienced this level of excitement for Elder Scrolls Online, I was sitting in a cramped room in Maryland with other journalists watching the first reveal of the game's first person combat. In that moment, we saw a glimpse of an Elder Scrolls MMO that could live up to fans' expectations and distinguish itself from the morass of bland competitors. Like that crowd at QuakeCon, we gasped. Over the intervening two years or so, I've often wondered if ZeniMax and other developers would benefit from gathering a crowd of MMO enthusiasts in a similar room, presenting them with concept footage, and then focusing exclusively on the bits that gets the room oohing and ahhing.

Daggerfall, indeed.

Paul Sage seems to feel the same way, although he attests he gets most of his insights into the game's health from ESO's forums and his own experience from leveling a character. In an interview after the presentation, he speaks of the clarity he finds in the post-launch development process that isn't as strong in the beta. With so many people treating the game's beta as a straight preview, he says, there's a danger of focusing on false positives.

"After launch, you don't have people who come in and say, like, 'I don't like this' within five minutes or they have weird patterns because they haven't paid for it," he says. "People in betas are sometimes looking for that 10-minute thrill versus the long play, although an MMO is really about your investment in your character and community. I think that investment doesn't get to happen in beta."

The footage I saw in Dallas depicted an improved game that seems tailored to meet most of the criticisms bandied about in reviews by folks who weren't quite so receptive. The list of changes is impressive staggering, even. The footage of killing and stealing sprang from only one segment of the two-hour presentation, which centered on a new Justice system that would encourage world PvP by allowing players to hunt down folks who engaged in such misdeeds. Other features include:

New, smaller PvP and PvE zones within the besieged Imperial City

Horse racing

A new veteran dungeon

Dungeon scaling

Updated facial animations

Tweaks to combat responsiveness

New crafting motifs that introduce armor from series favorites like the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild.

Concept art for new Thieves Guild armor.

Much of this new content centers on broadening the existing experience rather than tacking new content on at the end, in an effort to deliver gameplay that's genuinely "Elder Scrolls." It s exactly the kind of content I d hoped for when I expressed the need for ESO to grow earlier this month. About 30 percent of the ideas in the presentation are new, Sage says the rest were considered in the initial development process but sidelined by the demands of the release window. "It's fun to do a leveling game," Sage says, "but I think there's something magical about having all these activities that you can do regardless of your level."

ZeniMax s desire to improve the core experience popped up in other entries on the list, revealing an ambitious vision for improving the game that would more comfortably fit in an expansion pack for most other MMORPGs. Spellcrafting, for instance, at last makes its appearance (although it's kept in check by a series of rules that keep you from being able to nuke Daedric lords with one fireball). Reviews at launch tended to criticize the game's phasing and its tendency to keep group players from seeing each other in the world; in a future update, groups will automatically sync with the leader, and the journal and quest tracker will show which quests you share with your comrades. The veteran experience, which I deplored somewhat in a recent article, will be augmented with the "Champion" system that rewards passives via constellations much as in Skyrim.

That's an impressive list by any measure, and it was easy to get the impression from the presentation that we'd be seeing this all in a matter of weeks. Not necessarily so; during the Q&A session a viewer on Twitch asked when we'd see some improvements to ESO's werewolves, and the answer from Lead Gameplay Designer Nick Konkle involved "months."

This marks a sharp departure from the practices of most other MMO developers, who tend to either drop patches with little warning or after a testing period lasting only a few weeks. Almost never do they announce this many upcoming features at once. I asked Sage why they took the risk.

Why don't they have beards this awesome in the actual game?

"We're being pretty open at this point because I want feedback on these systems before we release them," he says. "I think the earlier you get feedback from the playerbase and you gauge the excitement level, the better your systems will grow with your playerbase."

How does Sage expect to make that playerbase grow? By making ESO's current players as happy as possible. In time, he seems to suggest, that commitment should attract others and win over players who may have already jumped ship. For my money, it wouldn't hurt to keep pumping updates full of "wow" moments such as the ones we saw when ESO's formerly inviolate NPCs fell dead underneath a storm of player arrows.

The more Elder Scrolls that gets put into Elder Scrolls Online, the better.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection goes free for all on Origin">Sims-2

Earlier this month, Electronic Arts announced that The Sims 2 was being "retired," and that to make up for the loss, anyone who owns it would be upgraded to The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection on Origin at no charge. But today that deal got a whole lot more Oprah, as EA is now offering the game to everyone, on the house even thought it's not actually an On the House promotion.

As noticed by the fine folks at NeoGAF, the "How to get The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection" entry on EA's help site underwent a change today. It still implies that the offer is limited to Sims 2 owners, saying, "Because you re a passionate The Sims 2 player, we re making The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection available free of charge to download to your Origin library." But the code actually works for everyone. I know this, because I tried it, and I am now the proud owner of The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection on Origin despite not having the original release in my collection.

It's really quite a simple process: Fire up Origin, log in, select "Redeem Product Code" from the "Games" menu and then enter "I-LOVE-THE-SIMS," minus the quotes. Bam! You may not actually love them, but you now officially own them.

Interestingly, this is not one of EA's On the House offerings; Peggle is still filling that particular niche. So what's the deal? Perhaps it's the kinder, gentler EA in action, or maybe it's just trying to ramp up interest in the franchise ahead of the September launch of The Sims 4.

Either way, it's free stuff, and since The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection is no longer available to purchase on Origin (which may be a big part of why EA doesn't mind giving it away), if you want it, this would seem to be the only way you're going to get it. One potential catch: This might all be a big mistake, and EA could pull the plug at any time. I'd recommend you don't dawdle.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Interview: Cliff Bleszinski on Project BlueStreak, PC gaming, FPS design, moddability">cliffyb

Earlier this month Cliff Bleszinski revealed his next project: a free-to-play, PC-focused arena shooter called Project BlueStreak created by Boss Key Productions, his new studio. Following a Reddit AMA that answered some surface-level questions about the game, I spoke with Bleszinski about what sort of shooter he s hoping to create.

PC Gamer: What s interesting to you about PC gaming right now?

Cliff Bleszinski: What s not? If you want the highest-end experience, you go to a high-end PC. If you want to go where the majority of the Twitch streams and the YouTubers are, it s mostly on PC. And not to flak the consoles, but for me, making a classic arena shooter that wants to have the maximum global reach possible and explore the free-to-play space, the PC absolutely makes the most sense, first and foremost.

Randy, over at Gearbox, he s doing that interesting looking pseudo-MOBA game Battleborn, and I looked at the platforms planned and it s PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and a lot of developers intelligently do that to mitigate risk. And I get and respect that. But there s a little bit lost when you re not laser-focused on developing a project specifically for one platform initially to kind of maximize what that product is best at. And for PC, it s that classic keyboard-and-mouse aiming ability and the ability for players to maneuver in a nimble fashion on all axes.

PCG: How much of a priority is it to you that BlueStreak be a spectator-friendly experience?

Bleszinski: It all goes back to skill. When I watch the Dota championships and I m not a big MOBA guy, I play them enough to respect them they re deep and they re complex. When I look at your average Call of Duty match it s twitch to ironsights, pop-pop, randomly come around a corner that s fun as a core loop, but for me it doesn t have that first-person shooter dance, that Halo still nails, to be fair, where one person acquires another, starts opening up shots, and the other person has a shot at turning the table if they either find some health or a pickup or get lucky.

As long as a game is skill-based, and it yields those kinds of interesting plays, hopefully it ll wind up being watchable. But it comes down making a great, airtight game, and once those variables, those verbs are all in place and cool enough for the skilled players, that s when people want to watch it because it becomes aspirational.

PCG: In terms of achieving that tightness you re talking about, do you feel like a lot of it comes down to map design?

Bleszinski: There s a myriad of issues when it comes to map design in the single-player space and the multiplayer space in the shooter arena right now. And, you know, we were partially responsible for it in the Gears days I always pull up that famous GIF where it s like straight line, 90-degree turn, hallway, cutscene, hallway, cutscene, as opposed to, you know, System Shock s map where it s like Here you go, have fun, you might actually have to map this up. Or Doom, E1M1.

And what I think has happened in the single-player space is that it s gotten very linear, not allowing the player to just kind of explore on their own volition and get lost, which is part of the fun of a game. As well as in the multiplayer space, the multiplayer maps have become way too porous. And/or large. So we re at a point where if the map is too large, you walk out for 30 seconds trying to find some action and you get sniped from somebody you never saw. That is not fun. It s only completely fun for one person. And is that skill-based? No, it s not. That person just found the right grassy knoll to sit on and just pick people off. It s fun for him, it s not fun for anyone else who doesn t have a chance of getting back at him, right?

In the other multiplayer space, with the maps being too porous, it s literally you come around a corner and you check one door, and there s two other doors where somebody comes through that you didn t check and they pop you because they saw you first. And that s very fun from a moment-to-moment kind of rat with a feeder pellet type of gameplay, but it doesn t lend itself to the dance that I alluded to before, or very dramatic comebacks in an e-sports kind of space. So getting to a kind of medium-sized, arena-based shooter with the right balance of tight corners and open spaces is important to me. I think open spaces in a shooter like this they re where that dance happens and they re also risky spaces to be in. But again, with map attractors like good weapons or power-ups, you have the tradeoff of risk to reward from that location s spaciousness as well as the desirability of the pickup.

PCG: When you talk about that dance, what do you expect your approach to player movement to be?

Bleszinski: When you look at movement in the majority of your average military shooters, you know, it s a contemporary world and even, I think the people working on Advanced Warfare have realized how limiting that can be when you re just a regular soldier without any sort of boosters or speed-ups, jetpacks, things like that. And so what you have is run, prone, dash, maybe a dive, and just a jump. And that s fine for what that is, but there s so much more that can be done in sci-fi that can be done in regards to giving the player whatever movement we think is cool, we can come up with a creative fiction to explain how it s physically happening.

I don t want to spoil what I m thinking of with this, but I think what I want to do on PC is get back to that sense of verticality that we weren t afraid of with a lot of the older shooters. Because on consoles we re always afraid of the twin sticks and looking up is too confusing if someone s above you all that kind of stuff that Halo rightfully taught us but leading with PC first, literally and figuratively with game mechanics.

PCG: What do you consider to be the best FPSs right now, and what do you like about them?

Bleszinski: What I liked about Titanfall was the variety of gameplay that, just when shooting by itself started to get a bit old, your Titan would be ready and they knew how to switch it up a bit. I think introducing a little bit of minion gameplay without Titanfall turning full MOBA was a good step for them. But outside of that, the new Wolfenstein was in my opinion, and I daresay this, one of the best first-person shooter campaigns since Half-Life 2. And I think I m about halfway through right now, I m stuck on this bridge section but I refuse to lower the difficulty because I hate having to do that in a game.

But when I saw that game at E3 a couple years ago and then PAX East, I was completely underwhelmed, I was writing it off. I didn t want to be a dick and say something about it on social, but my expectations were really low I thought it seemed kind of cheesy and just weird. And then when I got hands-on, it was extraordinarily well written, graphically gorgeous, and the maps were extremely well built. And the combat was just fantastic, it was a labor of love.

PCG: What do you like about a five-on-five format? What does that provide for players?

Bleszinski: It provides intimacy. It provides a chance to matter. When you re playing in a 10-on-10 or more and you re in the bottom third you feel really bad. But if you re four out of five, for some reason psychologically that doesn t feel as bad. Five is a good number for people to get online as opposed to corralling 10 people at once, especially if you have some adults with responsibilities on your team who have to put the kids to bed.

Five just seems like the magic number. It allows for maps to be medium-sized, and it doesn t encourage enormous, mech-based, vehicle-based, sniper-based maps. I want to be able to see the enemies that I m fighting and kind of get a sense of what they re firing before they even shoot at me.

PCG: For me, a smaller scale is opportunity to develop a relationship with your enemy, too. Rivalries.

Bleszinski: Bigger is not necessarily better. When I talk about these combat distances I wrote up a gun design doc the other day it s so good to get back to doing this stuff that outlined a lot of my philosophies about first-person weapon design. Generally speaking you should be able to tell what the gun does the second it comes up, before you even fire it. If it s super stubby, it s probably something more pistol-like or short range.

But the other main thing that we re doing, it s one of those cool little details, we re doing concept art of what the gun looks like pointed at you. I really want to get to a point where, just at a glance, you have that kind of Oh, he s whipping out this weapon or that weapon, I need to figure out my maneuverability to get out of this situation because it s a fast-firing weapon, or, He s going to shoot that, but if I can dodge the first shot, he ll have to reload. All of that kind of metagame that happens in the background beyond people just slinging things at each other, you know?

PCG: What will you charge for in BlueStreak? Is the business model integrating with the design of the game at this stage?

Bleszinski: So, I like to use my restaurant metaphor: we ve picked out the space, we know what genre of food we re going to be in, we re currently crafting the menu how much it s going to cost for a side of butter, I don t know yet, right? And that s one of the things with working with Nexon, they re like, Go build a fantastic game and a community around it, and we ll work on figuring out how to make it hopefully make a lot of money.

As opposed to everyone else that I talked to about the free-to-play space, they re like, Oh, you ve gotta lead with your monetization strategy. And I m like, well, then I m going to wind up with a game that s about crafting hats or something. I don t want that. When you look at the success of League and Dota, those are fantastic gameplay experiences first but they then kind of worked through figuring out what each one s monetization scheme was in that space. And one monetization scheme does not rule them all. I still see a lot of hatred in the pay-to-win category, and I said initially in the AMA I would like to avoid that as much as possible. There might be pay for slight perks, or pay for variety, but it s anyone s guess right now. And the thing is, with using the community to help develop this game, they can help dictate this a bit.

PCG: Is moddability something you ve examined yet?

Bleszinski: Well, it will be. What I love about the modding community is that they keep the developers honest. You look at what happened with Watch Dogs, and the conspiracy theorists continuing to wonder why that stuff was cut out. A lot of the best games, a lot of the best talent comes out of the mod community because the mod community doesn t have all of the bullshit red tape that keeps innovation back sometimes in this industry. You look at there s a new mod that came out for Portal 2 that s just the paint gun, I love that kind of stuff. Will we embrace that? Hopefully. But again, let s figure out the darn game first.

PCG: Do you feel like publishers in general are more interested in or more hesitant about free-to-play right now?

Bleszinski: My gut is saying that a lot of them what s a good way of putting it. They find it interesting, but I don t know if they know how to transition or do it properly. And it s like this weird, struggling to maintain the old model of E3 and, oh, you know, shocking press roll-outs and conferences and that just feels so 2008 to me in regards to let s get GameStop excited about our pre-orders and Walmart gets the blue hat, and I m like, Really, this still happens now?

When you look at traditional publishers, and they look at their bottom lines, they have their established, killer franchises which are still doing rather well, but it s like you ve got to be planting the seeds for where things are going to be in three or five years, especially technology. Take some of that Call of Duty and Assassin s Creed and Halo money and have incubator teams that are working on small, free-to-play projects, small new original IPs that could be the next god-knows-what as opposed to just wearing that rubber stamp out and wondering Where s the next rubber stamp coming from? Oh, wait, I m sorry, we pissed off those developers and they all left, darn it, we don t have anyone else, and that s the cycle that continues.

PCG: Will BlueStreak use a skill-based matchmaking system?

Bleszinski: Have not worked it out yet. That s further down the line. And that s a full-time job I hear rumors that there are a lot of people working on that for Destiny. During Gears 2, our matchmaking was broken when the game launched. It might just be a situation where we let the internet sort it out by itself and people can wind up with really bad or really good players. I mean, we didn t really have any of that in the Unreal Tournament days, it just sort of sorted itself out. So we ll cross that bridge when we come to it and we ll have many, many passionate meetings where we throw many, many Nerf guns at one another.

PCG: What else can you tell us about the game at this point? What feelings do you want players to have?

Bleszinski: I can t really give you much more on that without tipping my hand. One thing I have alluded to is what I ve learned from the NFL, and the sense of tribalism and local pride, that is incredibly powerful. That s something I really want to lean on.

PCG: Right, it s tough for multiplayer shooters to have lore, to build a story or context that people are invested in. Titanfall s an interesting attempt at that.

Bleszinski: You have to be careful. If you look at a game like Hawken, they put a little bit of the IP first before they really nailed a lot of what the core of the game was supposed to be about. When you do a multiplayer, sci-fi game, you need to tell as much of the narrative in an ancillary fashion as possible. We have enough of a budget that we ll get some live-action, animated shorts pumped out once a quarter from some really talented LA studios, kind of like the live-action Portal video. The more you re multiplayer, the more you need all that lore and supplemental stuff to flesh out the universe.

That s one thing that Blizzard does when you click on the characters in their games or you play Hearthstone. Yeah, the voice acting s over the top, but it s so chewy and fun. Blizzard realized this many years ago: if you re clicking on these tiny, five-pixel characters, they have to say really grandiose things and have portraits, and they need to be rendered in spectacular detail in these CG movies, and then they become beloved characters worldwide.

PCG: Thanks for your time. Anything else you want to share?

Bleszinski: It s good to be back on PC.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to New Steam Controller image suggests Valve adding an analog stick">alpha_controller_lines_d0g

The latest Steam client beta carries with an interesting surprise: An update image of the Steam Controller buried deep within its files.

The revised diagram was first spotted by Steam Database and posted on its Twitter profile. The diagram in the latest client beta update, dated July 23 2014, shows a mock-up that abandons the left-side buttons in favor of an analog thumbstick. The thumbstick sits to the bottom right of the controller's signature trackpad on the left side. If the image represents a planned iteration of the controller, it could be a move to make the Steam Controller more versatile.

Earlier this year, PC Gamer Editor-in-chief Evan Lahti criticized the last Steam Controller revision on display at GDC 2014, saying he was surprised at how "unwieldy the trackpads were in every situation." He further noted that he "didn t once feel comfortable, in control, or that Valve s hardware configuration was in any way an upgrade over a controller with analog sticks"

The image is located in the Steam\tenfoot\resource\images\library folder, if you want to check it out for yourself. You'll also have to be taking part in the Steam client beta program.

We've reached out to Valve for confirmation and will update when we hear back.

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