Shacknews - Steve Watts

Firaxis is slowly unwrapping Civilization 5's next expansion, Brave New World, as we approach its July 9 release. Today the company revealed a large increase to the number of available civilizations, along with details on the new trade routes and ideology systems.

This expansion will bring the number of civilizations to 43. New civilizations include Poland under the rule of Casimir III, Assyria with Ashurbanipal, Brazil with Pedro II, Portugal with Maria I, and the Zulu under Shaka. The trade system is getting major revisions, becoming less abstract and letting players determine their own precise trade routes to pick who they trade with.

"So imagine you're building one of the wonders of the world in Krakow," Firaxis' Ed Beach told Polygon, "you could have all your trade units channeled internally to get that extra production out there and build that wonder faster than someone else and finish it first."

The game will also introduce a new ideology system, which will open up as players reach the Industrial Age. You'll be able to choose from the ideologies Freedom, Order, and Autocracy. Each one comes with its own perks, and can either enhance the victory condition you're currently aiming for, or switch it up completely to try for a new one even that deep into the game.

These additions join a host of other changes like revisions to the cultural and diplomatic victories.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Civilization 5 is preparing to reinvent itself, again. The Brave New World expansion, which launches July 9, is going to make serious shifts to the late-game content, revising both the cultural and diplomatic victories. We talked with lead designer Ed Beech and senior producer Dennis Shirk about the expansion's focus and goals.

In a way, Brave New World is the other half of Civ 5's last expansion, Gods and Kings. The two are are complementary in the pieces of the game they address--so much so that Brave New World will include many of Gods and Kings' underlying systems for players who didn't buy the first expansion. The second is really meant to work with the first, combining to create a marked shift in the experience.

The two said that this is targeted towards late-game, both to make up for the developer not having the chance to address those systems in the first expansion, and to add more depth to a part of the game that speeds toward the finish.

"If a player is going to run out of things to do, it will be in the second half of the game," Shirk said. "Once the world is all discovered and you're going through that threshold into the Industrial Age, you start running out of things to do as everyone is running up to finishing the game. [In Brave New World], there's a lot focused on that second half of the game to make that race really compelling."

Most of that comes in the revised victory types. Cultural victories now rely on raising great artists, musicians, and writers to create famous works that will spread throughout the world. Beech described how you could build a large museum like the Louvre, giving you plenty of space to fill with great paintings and cultural artifacts dug up from past battles. Tourists can come see your culture, and countries could steal great works to take some of your culture for their own. All of this is built around giving the player more agency in the cultural victory.

"We found that when you're playing for the military victory, it's a very active, aggressive playstyle. You really interacted with all the nations," Beech noted. "But when you played for a cultural victory before it was very passive. You built a few amazing cities, but you just weren't interacting with the other empires in the world. We felt that was a real missed opportunity. We've emphasized in Brave New World that you're going to build a culture that's really the envy of the rest of the world. You not only have to build it, you have to spread it to the rest of the world."

This is all against the backdrop of the new diplomatic victory system as well. Starting around the time the Renaissance starts to give way to the Industrial era, the nations make a World Congress. This doesn't result in an immediate victory, but it does introduce the concept of proposals--specialized rule changes. You'll have a vote to cast in these matters, such as voting against anti-whaling resolutions if that's your primary source of income.

Shirk said these resolutions can be "cooperative or vindictive" depending on your play style, and they can be used to shape the kind of victory you want to attain. In this way, the diplomacy system doesn't just impact its own victory, but it can manage to touch every kind of victory.

Now that the game has dealt with both its early and late-game content, though, I wondered what was left to tackle. When is Civilization 5 complete? "I don't think we're out of ideas," Beech said, tight-lipped.

Shirk, pointing out the expansiveness inherent in a game that is about the entire human experience, remarked: "Obviously with a game like Civ you could go on making content for any number of years."

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Civilization 5 is heading into the Brave New World this summer. Firaxis put a pin on a release date during its PAX East panel this weekend, stating it will be available on July 9.

Kotaku reported the release date, along with a European date of July 12. As previously reported, the Brave New World expansion has a new cultural victory system that relies on producing masterpieces and finding ruins with archeologists, a revision to the diplomatic victory with the World Congress, along with eight new Wonders, two scenarios, nine civilizations, new units and buildings.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Culture, trade and diplomacy are to become more important in Civilization 5 with Brave New World, the second expansion pack, announced today by publisher 2K Games. Arriving this summer, it'll bring a new culture victory condition, international trade routes, the new World Congress, and heaps more.

Overlords will be able to achieve a cultural victory by being the world's dominant culture, exerting a majority influence on every other civilization. To help along this way, you'll be able to place masterpiece works to display in certain buildings, and scour battlegrounds and ruins with archaeologists.

If you fancy a diplomatic victory, you'll want to get stuck into the World Congress, where civilizations can vote and pass resolutions on everything from host cities for the World Games to nuclear weapons and sanctioning "rogue nations." Canny folks can trade their votes too.

Which leads to trade routes, which help your civilization run and expand smoothly while spreading religion, cultural influence, and science along their path.

The spotted listings for a 'One World' expansion weren't too far off, then.

Brave New World also introduces eight new Wonders, two new scenarios, and nine new civilizations, each with their own new units and buildings. Hit the official website for more details.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

The long-troubled BioShock movie, which Gore Verbinski was once set to direct, is officially dead in the water. Creator Ken Levine has confirmed that he personally offed it when given the opportunity, as the movie adaptation risked compromising too much just so it could get made.

The original plan was for Pirates of the Caribbean director Verbinski to make the BioShock movie a R-rated affair, portraying the horrors and violence of Rapture on a big budget. And things went wrong. Levine explained his personal theory during a talk on Monday, attended by Eurogamer.

"Then Watchmen came out, and it didn't do well for whatever reason," Levine said. "The studio then got cold feet about making an R rated $200 million film, and they said what if it was a $80 million film - and Gore didn't want to make a $80 million film."

When Verbinski stepped down, 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was brought in, but the movie again ended up on hold due to concerns about the budget and rating.

Levine said he "didn't really see the match" between BioShock and Fresnadillo, and was offered a way out. "2K's one of these companies that puts a lot of creative trust in people," he explained. "So they said if you want to kill it, kill it. And I killed it."

Having been a struggling screenwriter before he joined the hallowed Looking Glass Studios, Levine said it was "weird" to find himself "killing a movie on something you'd worked on so much." But it was a rare opportunity.

"It was saying I don't need to compromise - how many times in life do you not need to compromise? It comes along so rarely, but I had the world, the world existed and I didn't want to see it done in a way that I didn't think was right. It may happen one day, who knows, but it'd have to be the right combination of people."

Shacknews - John Keefer

Before Gearbox Software came up the look and personalities of Borderlands characters Roland, Mordecai, and Lilith, they devised the basic archetype of each class, with each originally represented in art as a blockhead, a conehead and a spherehead.

Borderlands franchise director Matt Armstrong and lead character designer Jonathan Hemingway were at SXSW offering a behind the scenes look at the early stages of how the in-game team came together. The designers knew they wanted a Doom-style shooter guy, a stealthy Metal Gear-type expert, and a James Bond-style gadget killer. The rough concept art for each class was represented by a sketch that had a 3D shape as a head. After some thought, they realized a play-style was missing, and Brick was eventually added as a tank-type class.

The duo also detailed the original gimmicky UI interface for the skill trees, including Brick's tree involving a series of beakers and IV bags meant to reflect his drug-induced roid-rage abilities. Those were eventually scraped, however, in favor of the three-skill-tree system.

To see more of Borderlands' design process, see the slides over at Joystiq

Shacknews - John Keefer

Civilization 5 lead designer Jon Shafer has kickstarted a new 4X turn-based strategy game called Jon Shafer's At the Gates, coming from his new three-person indie studio, Conifer Games. The game is about half-way complete already and he is looking for a modest $40,000 target to get it officially off the ground.

"The core aspects of the game are all in-place, but a lot of the peripheral, more 'boring' work still needs to be done," he told Shacknews. "Things like sound effects and hotkey systems. We also want to polish up the art and add nice 2D animations for all the units and the landscape. The gameplay also needs iteration time. The features are in but the game hasn't had much playtesting, and I'm sure it's not very much fun to play at this rough stage! There’s also a lot of AI work still left to do."

Shafer has already taken a cue from the Sid Meier school of game naming. "Making games is a tough business, especially as an indie," he said. "You really have to take advantage of every possible opportunity to spread the word about what you're up to. I was very fortunate to have been chosen as the lead for one of the biggest strategy titles of the past decade. As a result there are a few people who actually recognize my name. If putting that in the title will help increase the chance that the game succeeds. As a brand-new businessman I have to take advantage of that. Though, yes, I do feel a little bit dirty about it."

At the Gates lets the player take on the role of a barbarian tribe battling the Roman Empire in its waning days. It may look a bit like a Civ game, he said the differences run deep.

"The fact that the game transforms as you play is a huge difference," Shafer said. "The effects of the seasons means that you have to be more flexible and plan ahead more. Sending an army off in the winter without making sufficient preparations is a death wish. And if you don't have enough food saved up your people will starve. Much of the time in a Civ game you can pretty much just play on autopilot. Hitting the end turn 10 times in a row might not make much of a difference. Well, in ATG that would be a really, really bad idea."

When seasons change, rivers will swell, farms stop producing food in winter, and coastal areas can turn to ice. Shafer said the game's resources will deplete over time, so you can't sit back and hunker down waiting for the enemy to come to you. You will need to continue to explore, meet new leaders and be diplomatic.

"The main way of building relations is through completing requests, and these requests are all situational," he said. "You can't just give another leader some food and expect them to like you. Just imagine how that sort of thing would go over with someone you've just met. But if that same person is starving to death and you give them a meal the context and effects are completely different. That's the idea behind diplomacy in ATG."

Shafer said that there is a possibility of modding for the game as well. "We've been thinking about XML modding, a map editor and even releasing some source code for the game, but it all takes work. Honestly it depends on how the Kickstarter campaign does. ... We'd really like to flesh out the modding side, as well as add more factions and gameplay options. If the campaign does really well, we might even look at crazy stuff like making the Roman factions playable."

With the modest crowdfunding goal, Shafer is optimistic. "Our scope is tight. We don't have a complex, expensive 3D engine, nor are we including multiplayer. We know what we want from the game and there's very little risk," he said. "One of my goals with ATG is to really mix things up with the 4X genre. I feel that there hasn't been a lot of innovation in that space during the past decade, and I'm hoping that ATG shows that there's still a lot of meat that we haven't yet gotten to. I strongly feel that the 4X genre has been underserved and people really want more of these types of games. The fans are a passionate group, and I think they'll be really excited by ATG."

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Civilization V may be getting another large chunk of content. A listing for an expansion titled "One World" has been spotted on a database, fueling rumors of more content to come for the world culture simulator.

The executable file listing was spotted on the Steam Apps Database, and then spotted by users on the 2K forums (via Joystiq). This is far from a solid confirmation, especially as Firaxis hasn't mentioned any upcoming content, but it does give eager world-conquerors reason to hope for some more variation coming to the game--as if it didn't have enough already. 2K has responded with the usual "we do not comment on rumors or speculation" line.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

If you have skipped the BioShock series for some reason, perhaps due to a lengthy coma or immense silliness, you'll soon be able to make amends with one handy bundle. Publisher 2K today announced the BioShock: Ultimate Rapture Edition collection, which bundles the first two games together with all their DLC. Super keen BioShock fans may be interested too, as it introduces a new virtual museum level filled with BioShock history.

The merry bundle is coming to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on January 14 in North America for $29.99. Sorry, PC pals, though you've probably snapped them up cheap in sales already anyway.

It includes the original BioShock and its two DLC releases, the power-adding Plasmids Pack and previously PS3-exclusive Challenge Rooms, not to mention that intriguing museum level. What 2K has to say about that is, "Take a tour of a never-before-seen BioShock museum and view early concept art, character models and more set within the halls of Rapture." Interesting!

Then, along with BioShock 2, you'll get the thoroughly splendid single-player mini-campaign Minerva's Den, Protector Trials challenge mode, and the frivolous multiplayer add-ons.

With BioShock Infinite arriving on March 26, keenly anticipated by our Jeff, 2K's looking to introduce the series to people who skipped it or are new to these here video games. And you poor coma folks, of course. Gosh, it's been five years since BioShock and three since the sequel.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Now is your chance to shoot up with plasmids and waltz with a few Big Daddies and Little Sisters. The GameFly PC client is coming out of beta today, and to celebrate, the company is giving away a trip to Andrew Ryan's underwater paradise of Rapture with a free PC copy of BioShock.

The digital PC client has been in beta for almost a year, and offers 350 Windows games for Unlimited PC play to GameFly members. The catalogue also includes more than 1,500 PC games and 8,000 console and handheld titles to buy or rent. There is also a growing selection of Mac titles.

"We used the positive and constructive feedback from our community during the beta to help make the best product possible," said Sean Spector, GameFly co-founder and SVP of Business Development and Content.

If you have a desire to get back to Rapture, do it quick. Free copies are in limited supply. Just download the client, log in and grab a copy.

[Disclosure: Shacknews.com is part of GameFly Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of GameFly, Inc.]

...

Search news
Archive
2017
Nov   Oct   Sep   Aug   Jul   Jun  
May   Apr   Mar   Feb   Jan  
Archives By Year
2017   2016   2015   2014   2013  
2012   2011   2010   2009   2008  
2007   2006   2005   2004   2003  
2002