Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Ben Barrett)
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Jem Alexander)
According to Sega’s latest financial report, space stealth-em-up Alien: Isolation [official site] had sold 2.1 million units across all platforms at the end of March. It comfortably outsold the publisher’s other new releases during the same year, such as Football Manager 2015 (810k sales) and the two Sonic Boom games (620k total sales).
Consolidated financial statements are a great way to lend an air of legitimacy to the job of writing news about games. It means I get to use phrases like "year-to-date", "equity in earnings" and "operating income for the previous fiscal period"—thus sounding like a serious journalist, even when four years of professionally writing about games has left me grossly unable to report on basic real-world journalistic concepts like law, politics, money or the comings and goings of reality TV stars.
That was a long opening paragraph. Sorry. Here's the news: Sega's full-year financial report for the 12-month period ending March 31 shows, in their words, "weak" performance in packaged game software—a category that, confusingly, includes digital PC sales. In total, the publisher sold 12.3 million units, which, while a year-on-year increase, was clearly below their expectations.
Breaking it down further, we can see sales totals for the company's releases. The multiplatform Alien: Isolation, for instance, shifted 2.11 million copies. The PC-only Football Manager 2015, meanwhile, sold 810,000 copies.
It's a shame that Alien: Isolation sold—from a multi-year AAA-project perspective—so little. It's a great interpretation of the Alien formula, and deservedly our game of 2014. Hopefully the less enthusiastic commercial reception won't stop Creative Assembly being able to do more with that team—as a recent job posting suggests they would like to do.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Alec Meer)
You might remember Sonder as an intriguing-sounding real-time Day In The Life In Space game which boasted a prog-rock soundtrack. We’ve not covered it for a couple of years, but it’s just broken cover with news that it’s going episodic, and somehow also has The Who on its latest trailer. … [visit site to read more]
Organizers of the Game Developers Conference have generously posted many videos of the sessions recorded at this year's show online. You need to be a member to see some of them, but there's no shortage of fascinating talks that are available for free. After looking through them, these are some of the free sessions we think you shouldn't miss.
Virtual reality was without a doubt the theme of GDC 2015. Sony had a new Morpheus model, Valve demoed Vive, and Carmack was on stage talking up mobile VR. However, the most down to earth, realistic session I saw about VR at GDC was VR for Indies, where Darknet developer E McNeill, Max Geiger, Ben Kane, Holden Link, and Vi Hart talked about how smaller developers can take advantage of this new technology, or if they even should. They weren't there to pitch you on a new product. They just talked honestly about what can be done now, and can hopefully be done in the future.
In this session, indie developer and game critic Liz Ryerson makes a really strong case for why we should stop chasing super realistic graphics and games that aim to emulate reality as closely as possible and instead consider the power of the abstract. It's not only a fascinating perspective, Ryerson also mentions several interesting games during her talk that you can download and play right now.
Ever wonder why there aren't more women in eSports? This talk from professional players, Blizzard's Kim Phan, and Heather "SapphiRe" Mumm from the ESEA will not only tell you why, but what we can do to fix the problem.
Look, I'm not even going to pretend that I understand what John Carmack is saying half the time, but I do know when I'm the presence of genius. Carmack made Doom, he dabbles in rocket science just for kicks, and he's doing a lot of important work on the current resurgence of virtual reality. Here he's talking about mobile VR, but you'll learn a lot about Oculus in general, and it's always interesting to hear him talk.
Divinity: Original Sin was easily one of the best games of last year, and a perfect example of what makes PC gaming so great. In this session, Larian Studio's Swen Vincke explains how they created Divinity. Spoiler alert: it wasn't easy.
Speaking of some of the best game of last year, this session will tell you all about how Creative Assembly created PC Gamer's 2014 Game of the Year, Alien: Isolation. One of the coolest things about this session is that at some point Creative Assembly considered making Alien: Isolation a third-person game, and there's even the footage to prove it.
If you play League of Legends, watching this session should be mandatory. Ryan "Morello" Scott, League of Legends' Lead Designer, and Frank Lantz, the Director of the New York University Game Center, discuss how Riot Games designs and balances an eSports sensation that over 70 million play every month. Lantz is a big fan of the game, Scott is surprisingly open, and it's really interesting to hear them nerd out about the design decisions, big to small, that make League of Legends tick, even if you don't play it.
2014 was a pretty difficult year for women in the games industry. In the #1ReasonToBe session, game developer Brenda Romero hosts a panel including game critic Leigh Alexander, developer Adriel Wallick, Uncharted writer and current creative director at EA Amy Henning, and others who work in different parts of the industry. They discuss the highs and lows of their experience in games, and how to create a more inclusive way forward.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Adam Smith)
Last night, BAFTA gathered in London to dish out sinister metal masks to a chosen few gamesfolk who had been found worthy of such an honour. I tend to be dismissive of Awards Shows, unless something that I really like wins a tiny trophy – then I’m quite happy and momentarily convinced that the world is just and right. It happened with Cave Johnson at this year’s Academy Awards (I’m ambivalent about Birdman) and at the 2015 BAFTA Game Awards it happened with…Destiny as best game? Oh no. Full results below.
Good news! Hmm, maybe that exclamation mark is a tad too definitive. You see, new job listings by The Creative Assembly suggests the team responsible for Alien: Isolation is moving on to something new. That could mean a sequel to PC Gamer's 2014 GOTY, which could mean another campaign of horror at the hands of a seemingly unstoppable, perfect organism. So "good," but in a pretty speculative and potentially terrifying way.
The job listing that caught the eye of Z-Giochi is for an Online/Muliplayer Programmer. The ad states CA is "creating another multi-platform AAA blockbuster," and lists PC, Xbox One and PS4 as platforms.
The multi-platform specification tells us its not a new Total War, as does the fact that the job is specifically listed as for the "Console Team," not the Total War team.
We know that an Alien: Isolation sequel has been discussed by the studio, and it seems more likely that it'll be that than, say, a Viking: Battle for Asgard sequel. If it is Alien, the need for a multiplayer programmer inherently implies a multiplayer component. That could be an interesting progression for the series.
District 9 director Neill Blomkamp, who revealed last month that he's turning his talents to the next Alien movie, recently told IGN that he's a big fan of Alien: Isolation. In fact, he said the game was so good that it actually forced him to question how he wanted to present the technology that will underpin the film.
One of the cool things about Alien: Isolation is the way it maintains the vision of the future as it was seen in 1979: Everything is big, clunky, and monochromatic, just as it was in the movie. "The chunky keyboards, phone receivers, distorted CRT monitors, and blinking coloured lights should look dated, but it has quite the opposite effect," as we noted in our review. "This is a tactile, practical, and convincing science-fiction world, with machines and environments that are functional and utilitarian, rather than overtly futuristic."
It's a style that Blomkamp was apparently taken by, too. "I m such a visual person that the narrative of stuff is neither here nor there for me sometimes. It s literally about imagery. And when I saw the images I thought, Sh*t, they can t be that good'," he said. "And then I played it and to me it was that good. It s so good. It s ridiculous."
The game made enough of an impact to leave him questioning how he wanted to depict advanced technology in the new film. Referring to the green CRT displays, dot matrix printers, and "Mother," the Nostromo's mainframe computer, he said, "That sh*t was real man. On the planet, in that future, that was cutting edge. So it s an interesting debate if you look at it from my standpoint, which is, do I make my cutting edge… is it cutting edge, or is it actually closer to the first two [films]? Because I wanted to be like it has the same parent. It s a genetic offspring of the first two movies, and Alien: Isolation made me question that quite a lot. Because they got it so perfect with all of the late 1970s, early 80s tech, it s really cool."
The actual influence that Alien: Isolation will have on Blomkamp's film remains to be seen, but it certainly speaks highly of The Creative Assembly's efforts to capture the "real" feeling of Alien—something we took note of as well.