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Warning: in this piece I’m primarily talking about Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, which isn’t out on PC as yet, though I’ll willingly devour at least one item of clothing if it doesn’t walk this way eventually. Anyway, I talk about STALKER and Dear Esther too, so everything’s OK.>
Playing The Chinese Room’s new game, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, what strikes me almost immediately is not the mystery, the science fiction trappings or even the extreme prettiness. It’s that I’m in England. A very particular England. … [visit site to read more]
Perhaps the prototypical walking simulator, Dear Esther is a source of some division among the RPS Hivemind – John’s not at all taken with it – but I often catch my mind’s eye returning to its maudlin Hebridean coast. … [visit site to read more]
I’ve discovered a novel way to conduct interviews: tweet vaguely about something you’re interested in, then wait for two game designers you like and respect to have a chat about it and send you the logs. I carefully laid my bait: “I use ‘walking simulator’ warmly and earnestly. I adore walking around looking at stuff and reflecting. Walking is great! Sim it to the max.”
The trap snared my chums Ed Key and Ricky Haggett. Ed created walking simulator Proteus while Ricky is working on Hohokum, a dicking-about sim for PlayStations which might, with fewer puzzles, be called a walking simulator. Unsuspecting, they discussed Proteus, the ‘genre,’ exploring and wandering, and what a “walking simulator” even is. Afterwards they decided “Just email it to Alice,” rather than blog about the chat themselves. “She can turn it into ‘news,’” they said. Suckers!
As I watched early but surprisingly polished footage of The Old City, I was stricken by a few standout qualities: 1) it’s a very handsomely atmospheric game, wreathed in glittering flecks of Dishonored and Half-Life, 2) there are dying whales and I feel very bad for them, and 3) the narrator delivers his lines with the stop-go car crash thunderstorm cadence of William Shatner. The narrator in question is very clearly not> good ol’ Captain Kirk, but still. Phrasing much of what you say such! That it reads like this! Evokes the famed starship captain/lawyer/Priceline mascot! Whether you intend it to or not! The whole package really does seem quite lavishly produced, though. It’s a story-focused exploration game about… well, an old city, presumably. Also philosophy. Developer PostMod Softworks is being pretty vague beyond that, but there’s plenty to watch, if nothing else.
SOMA didn’t scare the scuba suit off me, but I did find a creeping sort of potential in its soaked-to-the-bone corridors. Amnesia: The Dark Descent 2 this ain’t. Or at least, it’s not aiming to be. Currently, it still feels a lot like a slower-paced, less-monster-packed Amnesia in a different (though still very traditionally survival-horror-y) setting, but Frictional creative director Thomas Grip has big plans. I spoke with him about how he hopes to evolve the game, inevitable comparisons to the Big Daddy of gaming’s small undersea pond, BioShock, why simple monster AI is better than more sophisticated options, the mundanity of death, and how SOMA’s been pretty profoundly influenced by indie mega-hits like Dear Esther and Gone Home.>
Valve might prefer to be extra super special secret quiet about it, but they do, in fact, still make games. And games, well, they tend to be more enjoyable when they’re easy on the eyes. Now that I have cracked the eons-old mystery of Why Games Have Graphics, let’s get down to business: Valve has scooped up Mirror’s Edge and Dear Esther gorgeous vista warlock Robert Briscoe. Good for Valve, because Briscoe is astoundingly talented. But wait, wasn’t he in the process of moving Dear Esther’s painterly world into Unity’s less-costly frame? What’s going on there?
Bad news for anyone holding out for Dear Esther 2: The Legend of Jakobson’s Gold – The Chinese Room’s next step for their maudlin, poetic Taking A Walk game is to remake it. Again.
In practical terms – i.e. how this will affect people who want to play the game – this is perhaps a bit of an unstory, but the shock choice to port the game from Source to Unity is a fascinating peek behind the developmental curtain. Why, after using it for the first two editions of Dear Esther, would programmer Robert Biscoe now want to leave Valve’s engine behind? … [visit site to read more]
I’m firing blind to some degree here, as 1) the trailer’s in Italian 2) the website’s poorly translated and 3) the demo they sent me a) isn’t made public yet and b) doesn’t include much more than going for a walk.
However 1) That and the cheesy music reminds me of Inspector Montalbano 2) well, this one’s no bastion of English grammar either 3) a) most of it’s in the below video b) I like going for a walk.
While Dear Esther, Proteus and Gone Home comparisons are likely unavoidable, Forgive Me is more precisely a semi-open world adventure game about suicide, mystery and a spooky, possibly mystical tower in some very pretty but bleak countryside that reminds me a little of Morrowind. (more…)
This is the latest in the series of articles about the art technology of games, in collaboration with the particularly handsome Dead End Thrills.>
Robert Briscoe is obviously not the only great environment artist in games, and it’s a bit weird to say he has a singular portfolio after working on just two titles. What makes it a lot easier is if you think in terms of levels: The Shard, Jacknife, Reflex, Velocity (from Mirrors Edge and its DLC); The Lighthouse, The Cave, The Beacon (from Dear Esther). All masterpieces up there with BioShock’s Welcome To Rapture, Half-Life 2′s Point Insertion and – quick, think of something slightly less distinguished to prove worldliness – that level in Robocod made out of Penguin bars. (more…)
Hello, everyone. I come bearing some extremely depressing news. The rapture’s happening soon, but not to us. Hm, well jeez, when I phrase it that way, it doesn’t sound terrible at all. What I mean to say is, Dear Esther developer thechineseroom’s next non-Amnesia game, the super fascinating Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, is no longer coming to PC – at all, for the foreseeable future. Sony’s nabbed it for its burgeoning army of indie exclusives, so I guess that means it’s not allowed to love us anymore. I reached out to thechineseroom’s Dan Pinchbeck, and he confirmed the bad news.>