Why It's So Hard to Make a Game Out of the 21st CenturyLet's build a game. Let's make it a strategy game. We will realistically simulate global politics in the 2030s. Perhaps a sort of Civ or Supreme Ruler 2020-type system.

Where shall we start? How about something easy, like choosing the nations in the game? It's simple enough to consult an atlas. We'll start with Britain...but wait! Scotland is on the brink of declaring independence from the United Kingdom. Should Britain be a single power, or should England and Scotland be depicted as a separate nation? What about Belgium splitting into Flemish and Walloon states? And these are old, established European nations. How will states like Syria and Nigeria look in two decades? It was only a bit over 20 years ago that the Soviet Union appeared to be a unshakeable superpower that controlled Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Okay, let's switch to natural resources. The nations in our game need them to sustain their economies, and they will probably fight to control them. In 2030, the key natural resources will be...what? Where? Shale-oil and natural gas may turn the U.S. from an energy importer to exporter. Energy fracking by other nations, or alternative energy sources like solar, could change everything from global trade to how much money flows into certain Middle Eastern kingdoms. Beyond energy, there is also food. Climate change, whether it's natural or man-made, could radically alter where and how much food is grown, as well as where nations such as China choose to assert their power. Should we assume that where food is and is not grown now will be the same 20 years from now?

Do we assume that you can disrupt the communications of an enemy army, or paralyze a country's entire electrical system, with a single virus?

Resources feed into economics. Every nation in our game will have an economy. Just like Civ, you can set tax rates and spend revenue on building armies, roads, and other infrastructure. The bigger and more advanced the economy, the more resources it has to spend. So, which will be the big economies in 2030? Will rising economic powerhouses like Brazil and India continue their ascent, or will internal pressures such as huge poverty-stricken underclasses cripple them? Is China destined to supplant the United States as the world's economic powerhouse, or will political repression and wealth inequality burst its bubble?

Designing the military part of our game should be easy. We have seen the effects of smart bombs and drones. Then again, what will drones look like 20 years from now? Will there be any manned combat aircraft left, or will warplanes all be pilotless? Will tanks also be robotic? Will nations be more willing to use force if they can fight wars without risking the lives of their soldiers? Then there is cyberwarfare. Do we assume that you can disrupt the communications of an enemy army, or paralyze a country's entire electrical system, with a single virus?

The problem is that often these guesses are cloaked as expert opinion, or game marketing copy that boasts of impressive research.

These are not trick questions. They are merely unanswerable, or at least the answers don't appear until after the fact. Lots of people in the Pentagon, think-tanks and universities get oodles of taxpayer money to devise forecasts, mathematical models and even make games to predict what will happen. Their answers may be better informed than yours and mine—perhaps they have access to classified intelligence data—but this doesn't necessarily mean that their answers are more accurate than yours or mine. The pros often blow it in spectacular fashion (practically none of the experts on the Soviet Union predicted its abrupt collapse). This is not to say that Civ is a better predictor of the future than a mammoth $300 million Pentagon simulation like Warsim. What it means is that predicting the future, whether you're a game designer or a talking head on TV, is to guess. The problem is that often these guesses are cloaked as expert opinion, or game marketing copy that boasts of impressive research. They're still guesses.

Some guesses are better than others. If our hypothetical strategy game portrays Uruguay and Malaysia as superpowers, then either we are privy to something the rest of the world doesn't know, or we made a mistake. As game designers attempting to simulate the future, the best we can do is conduct research, combine that research with our own intuition and knowledge, and make the best guesses we can. This is not an excuse for bad game design. It just means that in the absence of absolute certainty, you either guess or you don't create a game at all.

Michael Peck is Games Editor at Foreign Policy Magazine and a writer for Training & Simulation Journal at Defense News
(Top photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth ] Associated Press)

Why It's So Hard to Make a Game Out of the 21st Century

Invade Syria? A Video Game Tested That.

We've seen this script before. A cruel regime slaughtering civilians. Youtube clips of weeping mothers and dead children. Hesitant calls for humanitarian intervention by the Western powers. More »

Why It's So Hard to Make a Game Out of the 21st Century

Even Our Best Video Games Can't Predict What Kim Jong-Un Would Do To Win a New Korean War

It is curious that there are far more games on a Soviet invasion of West Germany that never happened than a Communist assault on South Korea that actually did. More »

Why It's So Hard to Make a Game Out of the 21st Century

The Immense Pleasure of Huge War Games

"Quantity has a quality all its own," said Josef Stalin, as he relentlessly flung waves of Soviet tanks and troops against Hitler's elite but outnumbered panzers. More »


This GameStop Employee Turns Duct Tape Into Art

Working retail can get dull, even when you sell video games. Luckily for one GameStop employee, his bordedom led to creativity and it got the better of him. Luckily he's so damn talented that even his boss approves!

Redditor ShortYetAwesome has been turning the floor of his GameStop into a canvas for duct tape game logos and they are seriously well done if I do say so myself.

This GameStop Employee Turns Duct Tape Into Art

Besides Borderlands 2, he's also taped out the logos for Black Ops II, Assassin's Creed 3 and more.

There's no big secret to his artistic madness, just good old fashioned duct tape, pencils and an exacto knife.

This GameStop Employee Turns Duct Tape Into Art

After the image popped up the front page of r/gaming the young man's "boss lady" stopped by to comment:

I'm the OP's boss, and he came to me with this idea back in May. He saw something on reddit for a Ghost Recon design, and it went from there. He's done five total throughout my store, and we (so far) have one more planned. And as far as I know, he enjoys doing these (please, correct me if I'm wrong!)

This GameStop Employee Turns Duct Tape Into Art

So let this be a lesson to you. Creativity is often rewarded with both real life and imaginary karma. Especially if your boss browses reddit.

You can check out tapey mctaperton's full creative process here.


You Asked a Game Developer Anything. Here Are His Answers.Hey, Kotaku readers! I'm currently wrapping up development on our Summer of Arcade game Hybrid as we speak! If all goes well it should be out the door early next week and then it's on to finishing up our other game, Scribblenauts Unlimited for the Wii U (and other platforms), which we debuted at E3. I'm really proud of how both teams have worked so hard to make the best products 5TH Cell has ever done. On a personal note, my daughter is now 3 months old and loves to smile when she's not trying to drool all over everything.

Anyway, if you don't know the drill by now, well you must not come here often. Onto the questions!

Foohy—Silence by Kinja asks "How much relevant knowledge—both technical and artistic—did you have before entering the video game industry?"

Honestly? Zero. I've always had an interest in art. When I was eleven, I wanted to become a comic book artist, but beyond a basic understanding of color theory and art history, I got nothing. And programming? I tried Python once, and it almost strangled me. I've played with some level editors and had a basic understanding of scripting, but I couldn't tell you how to use LUA.

Being versed in programming or art tools in your job is helpful but not always needed. There's plenty of non-technical roles within the game industry, such as entry-level QA, business development, production, design, PR, writing, voice over. While all those jobs could benefit from a better understanding of programming or art they aren't required.

DarkNemesis25 questioned "What's your take on advertising and marketing on mobile games? I'm making a game that's coming along wonderfully and has an impressive art style that can rival top apps, I'm taking a while to get it finished but how do I advertise or market games like these? google ads? search results? flash banners on kids sites? I just don't know how to get my app out there, what should I do!"

When you're a new player in the industry it's tough to get noticed. There are over 600,000 apps on the Apple Store alone. That's a lot of competition. What's worse, over 60% of all apps don't break even. The average revenue generated from an app is around $500USD.

Outside of Apple or Android advertising your game within their devices, there's not much a small developer can do to get their game noticed. The amount of money you would need would be more than you have. Kind of depressing huh?

But I have some good news for. New, original games from unknown developers can and continue to succeed in these crowded spaces. How? Easy! The developers made something people wanted. If your product scratches an itch the customers want, it's possible you'll hit it big. Just focus on making a great game that people want to play, and the rest will come. I promise.

kaploy9 said "Do you ever get catering at the office?"

Sure, plenty of times. It ranges from quick pizzas to awesome made-to-order food from specialty chefs.
What's really cool, though, is that employees also bring in baked goods and other homemade stuff on a consistent basis. No one forced them; they just started doing it. I love that, seeing people chipping in and offering up things to others simply because they want to.

Einsteinsassistant posited "You're CEO and Creative Director at 5TH Cell. Before you got there, had you ever considered developing games at another studio or even switching to a different studio, feeling 5TH Cell may not be the right choice?"

I wake up every day and thank God that I have the job I do. The worst day I've ever had at 5TH Cell is still better then the best day I've had doing any other job. Though, to be fair I've never worked at another game studio, those other jobs weren't on a career path that I cared about.

I have a passion for doing my own thing. I haven't worked for someone else in a long time. I did apply to a couple of game companies before starting 5TH Cell, but I never made it past the interview process. I guess that was a good thing.

bbilbo1 asked "What's the longest time you (or a coworker) has gone without sleeping or even without eating as the result of working to a deadline?"

In the early days of 5TH Cell in 2003, I was pulling in 100 hours a week. But that's because you're in startup mode trying to get the company off the ground and started on no cash or employees. I've personally never gone more than 18 straight hours actively working. After that point, things get kind of out of whack and your productivity sinks into a blackhole; heck after 12 hours its horrible.

A friend of mine told me a company he worked for made him work 40 hours straight once. An entire week's worth of work in a single sitting. That's both insane and dangerous. People have died from exhaustion working those kinds of hours. For management to demand that of him was completely unethical .

Wenmandarin wrote "It seems developers and players alike have recently been worrying that any future MMORPGs that come out are destined to be nothing more than mere WoW clones. This really concerns me because I'd hate to see a repeat of the Great Crash of 1983 so soon after Americans have eked out a place at the top of video game popularity in recent years. How do you feel about this sentiment; do you think that it is a necessary cause for concern, and what would you propose (or not propose) to break or shift gameplay away from the "holy trinity" (tank, healer, dps)? I know that MMOs are far from the only genre that represents the VG industry at large, but if there is anything I have learned from following the slow downward spiral of the global economy, it is that expectations matter a whole lot."

MMORPGs are very costly to make, due to their enormous scope. So a lot of publishers want to make the "smart" bet by looking at market leaders (such as WoW) and copying them. There's nothing special about this strategy, it happens with mobile games. it happens with console games. The only difference is there's a lot fewer MMORPGs around due to their cost. The best games always innovate. They zig when others zag. Right now WoW clones are hot because WoW did so well, but, before WoW, EQ was the big hotness everyone was chasing. The industry will always be like this. Llook at movies! How hot are comic book movies these last few years? That won't last forever it's just the current wave we're riding on.

However the solution is already upon us in the F2P space. Here we're seeing all kinds of exciting risks being taken because it's a new space where there haven't been any rules defined yet. Also the products are smaller and cheaper and thus easier to take a risk on. The game market isn't going to crash, only rapidly expand and contract in different areas.

TheCrippledNewt asked "What do you think is most important when looking at a potential new hire? I'm not talking about something specific to a certain job like a programmer, artist, etc but a more general view of what 5th Cell wants when looking to take in new people. A philosophy, if you will."

This is a very easy question to answer. Attitude is the number one thing we look at 5TH Cell. It doesn't matter how talented you are, if you can't work well with others in a positive way, then you should look elsewhere. We built the team working on Hybrid almost completely from new hires and it's worked really well because we screened for individuals who met our requires and thus would gel well with others. We also really search for candidate who enjoy solving problems that no one has tackled before. We take on some pretty interesting design challenges with our games, and we need candidates that find that sort of thing fulfilling.

PSWii2008 questioned "What is your favorite cookie? Are you an Oreo man, or a chocolate chip person?"

Oreo's are good once in a while, but chocolate chip is forever.

Alright, another month of "Ask a Developer Anything" is down in the history books. So I guess that's it for this month. I'll see you next month, Kotaku.

Jeremiah Slaczka is the CEO and creative director at game development studio 5TH Cell. Best known for his multi-million unit selling franchises, Scribblenauts and Drawn to Life, Jeremiah focuses on creation of innovative new titles. His latest project, Hybrid, will be part of the Xbox 360's summer of arcade. 5TH Cell is also making Scribblenauts Unlimited for the Wii U and other platforms.

First off you should know that everything you see in an EvE gameplay video looks roughly 9000x cooler than it does in real life.

The video you've just seen above is in regard to a war that's a-brewin between some 50,000 players in the EvE universe in the star system of Delve. I'm not going to go into details but just know that if you're an EvE pilot you should stay the fuck away from Delve or any surrounding systems unless you want to spend the rest of your days in a pod.

Don't believe me? EvE is serious business, some guy even wrote a song about it.

Want even more proof of the seriousity? PC Gamer will be reporting live from the battlefields of Delve - as if it were a real place!

As a casual EvE player (yes, we exist) I must say I'm always fascinated by events like #BurnJita and #Delve2012 but it is something I will likely never experience firsthand - for I much prefer the great outdoors to the horrors of deep space... being simulated on a PC monitor.

To the victor go the spoils and to the spoils go Victor. He's the CEO of Wargaming and he'll probably buy up CCP at some point. That crazy tank-driving bastard has more money than Bill Gates.


The Best Videos of the Week

Have you heard that video is a big thing over at Gawker Media? It's true, we watch and post a lot of videos each week. Here are some of the best videos of week, culled from an array of Gawker Media sites.

The Best Videos of the Week

Let's Never Stop Watching This Video of CNN and Fox Getting the Obamacare Ruling Wrong

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahaha. Hahahahahahahahaha. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

NBA Draft Spectators Spent Nearly Five Full Minutes Booing David Stern Last Night

The NBA is sometimes accused of being deaf to criticism, and holding last night's draft in the arena recently abandoned by the new Brooklyn Nets seems like an invitation to belligerence. But it's not just Nets fans who have beef with commissioner David Stern, and he hasn't exactly been graceful when dealing with the press, either. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Abusive Boyfriend Gets His Car Trashed By Mob At Car Show

The owner of this white Honda Civic hit his girlfriend, dragged her by her hair, and then attempted to run over a crowd of angry onlookers. That's when the mob trashed and flipped his car. Was this justified? View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Dora the Explorer Gets a Badass Makeover With the Help of Modern Family's Ariel Winter

Most of us know Dora the Explorer as the bilingual Nick Jr. children's cartoon that's slowly infecting our nation's youth with bleeding heart liberalism and tolerance, but did you know that Dora is also a badass action hero with a hot, shirtless (and, in this case, grownup) sidekick named Diego? Well, she is - Dora has gone live-action and she's here to fuck shit up. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

This Amazing Gotye Parody Longs For ‘The Star Wars That I Used to Know'

This is pure brilliance. Eddie King and Tyler Marshall from Teddie Films have made this spectacular parody of the song and its companion video, and it's just… man. It takes everything that makes the original song and video so great (That chorus! That paint!) and puts it through a filter of hilarious Star Wars bitchery. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

This flying robot light show is the coolest thing you will see all day

Stop whatever you're doing right now and watch this. At the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, KMel Robotics - who previously worked on the James Bond theme à la quadrotors - and Marshmallow Laser Feast unveiled this live performance of whirring robots performing a dazzling light show. Words cannot describe how rad this is - it's like War of the Worlds meets Space Invaders meets laser planetarium Vangelis meets a fire-and-brimstone tent revival sponsored by Skynet. Flabbergastingly fantastic. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Public Radio Reporter Interviews His Two Little Girls After One Gives the Other the ‘Worst Haircut Ever'

Hartford-based WNPR reporter Jeff Cohen has two little girls: Sadie, 5, and Eva, 3. Recently, Sadie decided to give Eva a homemade haircut, which, as you might expect, didn't end up looking very good. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Ann Curry's Teary Goodbye on Today: ‘This Is Not How I Expected to Leave This Couch After 15 Years'

At 8:50 this morning, Ann Curry signed off as Today show co-host. It was a teary scene, and Ann was heart-breakingly apologetic, saying: "For all of you, who saw me as a groundbreaker, I'm sorry I couldn't carry the ball over the finish line… but I did try." Ouch. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Mario Balotelli Singlehandedly Knocked Germany Out Of Euro 2012

Italy's Mario Balotelli scored two first-half goals that proved to be deciding in Italy's 2-1 dispatching of Germany in today's Euro 2012 semifinal in Warsaw. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Sony's Best Commercial in Years

For around a decade, Sony and its various advertising agencies managed to create not only some of the most memorable commercials in gaming, but straight-up of the most memorable advertisements. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Watch A Hit-And-Run Rider Get Chased And Forced To Submit

Once they heard the story he had to tell about what happened to him late last week, friends of North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club's "findurpath" (aka James) implored him to send this video along to Jalopnik. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Jon Stewart Discusses Partisan Bickering in the Wake of the Supreme Court's Obamacare Ruling

We're all aware of the Supreme Court's Obamacare ruling today (and the fuck ups by CNN and Fox News) but what happened in spin alley after the decision came down? On tonight's Daily Show, Jon Stewart took a survey of some Republican reactions, focusing on Mitt Romney's completely predictable (and contradictory) remarks. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Sneak Peek: Shirley MacLaine on Downton Abbey

Last night during the AFI Tribute to Shirley MacLaine, viewers got a teeny tiny preview of Downton Abbey Season 3, in which MacLaine plays Martha Levinson, Lady Cora's mother. In a clip, presented by Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) herself, Martha meets the Dowager Countess, and the snide remarks start flying. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

If Minecraft Were a Gooey Cute Japanese Anime

With the Xbox Live version of Minecraft, anime fans thought now would be as good a time as any for this. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Drew Brees Drove A Cab Around New York To Teach People About Concussions

Is this a commercial for Dick's Sporting Goods? Yeah, pretty much. But is it Drew Brees driving people* around New York City while ticking off random facts about concussion education and prevention? You bet your ass it is, unless green-screen technology has gotten a lot better recently. The really fun part is where he takes his eyes off the road to make direct eye contact with the people in the backseat, maybe not the smartest move for a guy currently without a lucrative longterm contract. But if it educates people about the debilitating effects of traumatic brain injuries, it's all good in our book. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

The Same Old Sorkin: A Supercut of Recurring Phrases in Aaron Sorkin's Work

Aaron Sorkin's proclivity for self-plagiarism is fairly well established. In fact, the acclaimed screenwriter is so comfortable borrowing from himself that he recently used bits from an old commencement speech he gave at Syracuse University in a new commencement speech he gave at Syracuse University. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Watch A Wheel Fly Off A Porsche GT3 RS On The Nürburgring

It's hard to tell if the motorsports swag center-lock wheel came off this Porsche 911 GT3 RS 3.8 before it crashed out on the 'Ring, or because of it. When the wheel is flying at you while you film from the sidelines, it's not really important. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Amy Poehler Lets Us In on the Easiest Way to Make Will Arnett Cry

During a recent talk at the 92nd Street Y, everyone's fantasy bestie Amy Poehler was nice enough to answer questions solicited by Storyboard over Tumblr. Storyboard received over 600 questions and the ones that made the Q&A were pretty great. Like this useful gem: What's the easiest way to make Will Arnett cry? Answer: The Easiest way is also the most beautiful. View »

The Best Videos of the Week

Enjoy the Best Moments From Louis C.K.'s Tonight Show Appearance

Louis C.K. stopped by the Tonight Show as the third season of Louis C.K.'s brilliant Louie premieres this week. Here are two great bits from his appearance: ragging on Jay Leno's weird face and Jerry Sandusky. View »


If I were to ask you what the one thing was that it would take to get you to dust off your Playstation Move, my guess is that you wouldn't say a steering wheel attachment.

Well, too bad!

The fine folks over at Sony will be rolling out this bad boy in the hopes that you'll use it instead of the dozens of more suitable and less ridiculous looking 3rd party steering wheels and peripherals. You know, ones made by companies like Logitech and Thrustmaster who do this sort of thing for a living.

To be fair, the sides flip out to a motorcycle grip with a twist throttle and it's only $39.99. Now all you have to do is bring back Road Rash and bundle it with this baby and you've got a hit!

You can pre-order it here.


New Character, Story DLC Planned For Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition The upcoming rerelease of Baldur's Gate will get its own paid DLC.

Director Trent Oster tweeted the news last night, specifying that the team will sell new quests and NPCs as part of future content for the Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, which will be released on PC, Mac, and iPad later this summer.

"DLC=Downloadable Content, not furry earrings +3," he wrote. "The big guys have overcooked the term with badness. New BG storylines, New characters."

Perhaps new space hamsters?

Trent Oster [Twitter]


This Week in the Business: 'We might see an Xbox 720 for $99'What's happened in the business of video games this past week ...

QUOTE | "We might see an Xbox 720 for $99" – Analyst Michael Pachter, talking about how the Xbox 720 might sell for as little as $99 if you buy a two-year cable TV subscription.

QUOTE | "They have a major issue with the capability of the Wii U console." - Dean Takahashi, veteran journalist at VentureBeat, talking about the Wii U's difficulty in driving multiple displays with a single processor.

QUOTE | "It's important that we don't get into a position where we're... just mailing it in and shipping bad games." - Frank Gibeau, head of EA Labels, talking about their continued push to gain share in the shooter market.

QUOTE | "Fils-Aime is effectively complaining about having a fanbase who are clamoring to buy his company's products." – Rob Fahey, former editor of GamesIndustry.biz, talking about Nintendo's comments about how gamers are impossible to satisfy.

QUOTE | "When you run a dedicated, very well-executed PR campaign, it does nothing, absolutely nothing." - Natural Motion CEO Torsten Reil talking about how PR and marketing don't seem to help mobile game sales.

STAT | 2.22 million – The number of 3DS units that Nintendo sold in Japan in the first half of 2012, according to data from Famitsu; the PlayStation 3 was second with 695,000 units sold.

STAT | 67% – Percentage of US gamers that acquired at least one game in the first three months of 2012, according to NPD; the number rose to 75% for online gamers.

QUOTE | "Neither Pincus nor any other Zynga executive ever dropped the F-bomb." - Steve Peterson, West Coast Editor for GamesIndustry International, talking about why Zynga never even said the word "Facebook" in their big press event this week.

QUOTE | "Dotcom traffic may be growing a few percent, but the mobile and social platforms are exploding." - Brad Winters, GM of GameTrailers.com, talking about where their viewers are coming from these days.

STAT | 400 million – Total number of Android devices activated so far, according to Google; the number was only 100 million about a year ago.

QUOTE | "We do not expect most of them to spend money, and we don't need them to." - Chief Marketing Officer David Reid of CCP, talking about their upcoming Dust 514 free-to-play shooter coming to PlayStation 3.

QUOTE | "The most senior staff will have had one very specific audience in mind—the stock market." – Rob Fahey, veteran journalist, talking about how E3 presentations are ultimately trying to impress investors.

This Week in the Business courtesy of GamesIndustry International
(Image from Shutterstock)

Hey, folks. If you want to keep Talking Among Yourselves, you can do so at this link. It's the new home for TAY and it goes on forevvvvvvver....


SOG makes knives, Danger Close makes video games featuring men who use knives. Seems like a perfect fit, no?

SOG's latest line is both inspired by and featured in Medal of Honor: Warfighter. It features a knife, multitool and a tomahawk designed specifically for the game - the Voodoo Hawk.

SOG Teams Up With Medal of Honor to Create Bad Ass Blades for Charity

All proceeds from sales of the Voodoo Hawk will go toward Project Honor, EA's new initiative to help raise charitable funds for military organizations such as The Navy Seal Foundation.

SOG's VP of Marketing says the company is, "Honored to be asked by the Medal of Honor producers to work with them in creating a unique weapon specifically for this game. The dedication to accuracy is incredible."


For more on SOG's line of MoH inspired gear and the Voodoo Hawk, head to their website.