Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Nintendo’s new console, the Swapsie, isn’t even out but word has already leaked of a PC port for flagship game Super Mario Odyssey. A new cut of Odyssey’s trailer shows the PC version, which naturally boasts higher-fidelity graphics and — goodness me! — Nintendo have embraced the ‘mature’ nature of PC gaming. When toonman Mario ventures into the real world on PC, he sparks fisticuffs with pedestrians, gets chased by armed police, visits strip clubs, and suffers terrible accidents. Oh, Mario! Sadly, the PC version also renames New Donk City (the best place name in any video game) to Liberty City. Here, wrap your peepers around this trailer: … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Decoding is a regular column about the games we love, and the tricks and traditions that make them tick.>

Oh shit, I pressed the wrong button and killed that guy.

It happens to the best of us. You could play Watch Dogs 2 [official site] for days without firing a gun, or causing a fatal traffic accident, or beating someone to death with a billiard ball. Lead character Marcus Holloway doesn’t seem like the kind of person who’d leave bodies in his wake, and the ease with which he can become a killer is jarring. Like so many of our protagonists, he walks through life with the safety off and his finger on the trigger.

Open world games, particularly those of the urban variety, have a violence problem, and it’s mechanical rather than philosophical.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

A new Grand Theft Auto 5 [official site] mod will add the whole flipping city from GTA 4, the developers of GTA modding tool OpenIV have announced. Liberty City will be added to GTA 5’s world, rather than replacing it, appearing just across the sea. Crumbs! Given Rockstar are seemingly more interested in expanding 5’s multiplayer than its singleplayer, it’ll certainly be nice to have a huge new world to play in with GTA V’s toys. … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

My introduction to the Ultima series was a late one. Having missed numbers one through eight for a number of reasons (namely age, and the fact my dad had a bizarre and exclusive penchant for pinball games a genre which in turn commandeered our games library throughout my childhood), I decided to pick up the Ultima Collection in 1998 at the behest of some series worshipping mates. This would get me up to speed, I thought, and would also grant me a sneak peak at the then upcoming Ultima 9. With ten games to play with, this was sure to swallow my free time, but what I hadn't bargained for was how hard I'd fall for the Collection's seemingly novelty cloth maps.

They were beautiful and I became obsessed. I'd spend hours poring over each game's respective blueprint before every session, and then push myself to reach the far-flung corners of their digital incarnations. I'd invent imaginary treasure hunts and would spend entire evenings recreating my own crude interpretations of the game's vibrant, colourful cartography with crayons and felt pens and coloured pencils. I was an adventurer, an explorer, a keyboard trailblazer and there was as much fun, if not more, to be had with a physical map than the actual games themselves.

Later that same year, my friend lent me his big brother's copy of Grand Theft Auto and I discovered a whole new world of detail. The Manhattan-like homogenous grids of Liberty City, Vice, and San Andreas were masterful, and I'd delight in rallying between the Pay 'n' Spray in Brocklin, the bomb shop in North Hackenslash, the hospital in Eaglewood. The original GTA's 'open world' was ahead of its time, but its concrete playground felt far bigger as I traced each journey with my finger before and after each playthrough. The connection I made between what I had on paper and what I could see onscreen lent this boorishly visualised cityscape an extra layer of credibility.

And then of course every game needed a physical map even the ones that didn't have one. I made bird's eye view reconstructions of my Theme Parks, Theme Hospitals and SimCity 2000's which, given their topdown/isometric perspectives wasn't all too difficult to achieve. Crafting the likes of Tomb Raider's Atlantis, on the other hand, and thinking my use of protractors and steel rules and speed squares made one jot of difference towards their legibility, was a different story/mess entirely.

As games became more sophisticated, in-game maps gradually begun to emulate my hand-crafted creations. Silent Hill 2's map is one which stands to mind. As fumbling protagonist James Sunderland makes his way around the titular otherworldly town, road blocks appear from nowhere, interminable holes form as if by magic, and busted locks so many busted locks prevent him from accessing certain areas.

When James first happens upon maps for each zone in turn he starts with a clean slate, but as he discovers said insurmountable obstacles, he draws the obstructions on himself much similar to how I penned my masterpieces in my formative years. Towards the end of Silent Hill 3, without spoiling its plot, one area's in-game map mirrors that of a child's crayon drawing. It's a real flash of charm in an otherwise horrendous setting.

Like instruction manuals, physical maps are few and far between in today's games. I'm part of the problem I rarely buy physical games anymore. But if I ever catch wind that one is bundled with a real life, hold-in-yer-hand map, then I'll almost certainly be first in line to buy it. I might even stop for crayons, pencils and steel rules on the way home.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Richard Moss)

It may be two Grand Theft Auto generations and 11 years old, but GTA: San Andreas is still very much alive. Its two most popular online multiplayer mods currently have a million or more active players between them one, Multi Theft Auto, had 616,000 players in July (up from just 33k in February 2010), while the other, SA-MP, oscillates between about 15,000 and 50,000 concurrent players. I went to talk to members of both mod communities to find out what keeps them playing.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>

Y’know, the original one. Before 3D. Before Rockstar. Before the world changed.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Even as I begin the long process of writing about all of the games I saw and the people I spoke to at GDC, I’ve found a new distraction. The San Andreas Streaming Deer Cam is a live feed of a modded GTA V [official site] that “creates and follows a deer wandering through the fictional state of San Andreas”. The deer “is autonomous and will wander and respond to it’s surroundings, interacting with the existing GTA V artifical intelligence”. Over the weekend, the deer wandered through a gunfight between two gangs, caused a traffic jam during rush hour and evaded the police. This is the best version of GTA V.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

I’ve been reorganising my house lately, which has meant making decisions about what books, DVDs and CDs to keep and which to bin. This is because I’m out of space, but also because I’ve been lugging the same collection from rented accommodation to rented accommodation for years and most of it doesn’t get touched in the months or years between moves.

This also of course means I’m making decisions about a lot of PC games. For example, the first Grand Theft Auto. Should it stay or should it go?

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Rockstar North President Leslie Benzies, a producer on every Grand Theft Auto game since GTA 3 as well as Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire, and Max Payne 3, has left the studio. His departure was confirmed today in a statement sent to Kotaku, in which Rockstar said Benzies had been on an extended sabbatical and elected not to return.

We can confirm that Leslie Benzies went on sabbatical on September 1, 2014 and has decided not to return to work for the company. We are very grateful for Leslie s contributions to Rockstar over the last 15 years as we worked together to make some amazing games, the statement says. Leslie helped us build an incredible team that will continue to create great experiences for our fans. Leslie will always be a friend to the company and of course we are going to miss him but we wish him the absolute best for the future.

Benzies joined the studio in 1998, when it was still known as DMA Design, and worked as the lead programmer on the Nintendo 64/PlayStation release Space Station Silicon Valley. His name may not be as immediately recognizable as those of founders Sam and Dan Houser, but he was instrumental in the creation of Grand Theft Auto 3, the game that launched the series as we now know it, and for seeing it grow into its subsequent world-beating success as the president of Rockstar North. In 2005, he and Sam Houser were awarded a BAFTA Special Award for Games for their contribution to the videogame industry; in 2014, he, along with Dan and Sam Houser, were inducted in the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.

According to the Kotaku report, Rockstar North is now headed up by Aaron Garbut and Rob Nelson, who most recently shared art direction duties on Grand Theft Auto V.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Marsh Davies)

Fail Forward is normally a series of videos all about the bits of games which don t quite work and why. But in this special episode, Marsh Davies talks about how the mainstream media tends to discuss games only in terms of their threat or their use – with a particular look at the BBC’s recent Make It Digital season, including programmes like the docudrama The Gamechangers and the science show Horizon.

… [visit site to read more]

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