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When we meet the creators of fictional worlds, we often want to kill them. Whether its Bioshock’s Andrew Ryan and his deadly Rapture, GlaDOS and the sadistic test chambers of Portal, or Kirin Jindosh and the Clockwork Mansion. The urge to destroy these builders is partly down to the nature of their constructions – deathtraps and mazes that make the architect a cruel overseer – but there is perhaps more to it than that. With spoilers for the above, Hazel Monforton investigates the role (and the death) of the author in a medium that invites the audience into the action.>
With the announcement of City Of Brass [official site] today, I was intrigued to learn what this group of Irrational veterans – key players on so many well-loved games like SWAT 4, Tribes: Vengeance, Freedom Force and of course, BioShock – had planned for their first-person Arabian Nights-themed roguelite. I got in touch with team lead Ed Orman to find out more about how Uppercut Games formed, and how their experience on so many big games plays a part in creating something quite so different.> … [visit site to read more]
When a collection of former Irrational devs, who worked on BioShock, Freedom Force, Tribes: Vengeance and more, tell you they’ve got a first-person roguelite for you to play, it’s well worth paying attention. City Of Brass [official site] is an Arabian Nights-themed procedurally generated FPS, arming you with a whip and a scimitar, and challenging you to see just how far you can get through its permadeath streets. The first footage and more details lie below. … [visit site to read more]
Fallen cities swarming with the dangerous remnants of their human populations, alien battlefield commanders who resemble fantastical heroes, new rulesets for friendship and fear, and an actual active resistance out on the Geoscape. XCOM 2 [official site] is changing.
The War of the Chosen is “definitely the biggest expansion we’ve ever done”, lead designer Jake Solomon told us at E3. Introducing unique enemy champions doesn’t strike me as an obvious move for XCOM, so I asked Solomon how the concept of the expansion had developed, and whether he’d drawn any inspiration from Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system. And whether we can expect any terrors from the deep in the future.
As expected, Firaxis announced a full-fat XCOM 2 [official site] expansion at the E3 2017 PC gaming Show, promising “new environments, new enemies and new XCOM forces”. It’s called War of the Chosen and the trailer shows those Chosen, the “ultimate enemies of XCOM”. They are three champions – nemeses perhaps – and they will grow up in strength through the game, learning new skills and abilities.
On top of that, there are resistance groups to win over, new zombie-like hordes that will attack aliens and humans alike, and a whole lot more. It’s “twice the size” of the original XCOM’s expansion.
Jon Shafer was 21 years old when he became lead designer of Civilization V. Now working at Paradox on an unannounced project and on his own historical strategy game At The Gates in his spare time, he says he’s learning from the likes of Spelunky along with the more obvious strategic influences. We spoke about how the second half of every Civ sucks, the part the series played in his life, the perils of boredom in strategy design, how much we love maps, and what the future holds for both Shafer and Paradox.
I began by asking how he ended up sitting at the Paradox Convention, in Stockholm, the city that has now been his home for two weeks: “It’s quite a long story, actually.”
That story begins in Denver, around 2003.
The original X-COM (UFO: Enemy Unknown), Julian Gollop tells me, “succeeded in spite of itself”. I asked him how he felt about the game now, twenty three years after its initial release, and particularly about the way it’s often placed on a pedestal. He didn’t expect it to be a success and certainly didn’t think he’d be making a game heavily based on its legacy almost a quarter of a century later.
Yet here we are. The crowdfunding campaign for Phoenix Point [official site], a sci-fi horror strategy game about an alien onslaught, has just begun. Gollop is back where many people feel he belongs, and this time round he seems extremely confident in his game’s design.
Oh sure, it’s basically been pennies for years, but nothing motivates the merely curious like free-free-free. For that is the case for X-COM: UFO Defense aka UFO: Enemy Unknown, the 1994 alien-bothering strategy game that kicked off a series now made something of a household name by Firaxis’ remakes. Only until tomorrow, though. … [visit site to read more]
Video games always come with an expectation that the player will suspend disbelief to some extent. Genetically engineered super-soldier clones don t exist, radiation has never and will never work like that, and overweight Italian plumbers could never make that jump. In most cases, if we are unwilling or unable to suspend our disbelief, we may well struggle to enjoy the game and our questioning of the basics of its reality would probably make us insufferable to be around.
There are some games however, where the realities of our world are key to enjoying the game. These are the builders like City Skylines, simulators and sports games like Prison Architect and FIFA, and even crime games like Grand Theft Auto. One genre has a particular problem when it comes to maintaining a foot in the real world yet still creating a setting where one can have fun without becoming mired in morally questionable events and choices: historically based games. And among historical games, few subjects are as complex to represent as slavery. Many have tried, from Europa Universalis IV and Victoria II to Civilization and Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, and in this article I’ll investigate the portrayal and use of slavery in these games and more to explore what they get right, what they get wrong, and how games could do better in future.