A View: Sunless Sea
My ship has been sitting in the Great Khan's docks for two months because of a fatal mistake. Not on the part of the Khanate's people - I'm an emissary of the enemy so I'm understandably watched and shunned. Not on the part of the scheming dead of Fallen London. Not because of wistful devils or aggressive mountains or giant crabs or ambitious pirates or any of the other threats of the Unterzee. But because I didn't listen to the Blind Bruiser properly and accidentally spent the thousand echoes that he gave me. Yes, genuinely; I wasn't paying attention and spent a gangland boss's bribe to a foreign diplomat.
Tabletop Tutorials; what Video Games should have learned from Board Games
One is a medium that seems age-old to its youthful players, set in its ways, rarely fresh and dominated by people who think that the old games are the best. The other one is board games.
The trend is mature now, but board games over the last few years have been a much more interesting space to watch than video games. The spread of geek culture has made high-quality, complex board games desirable, compared to the cheap, badly-designed rule-systems we grew up with (Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo and the rest). Globalisation and technology advances have made small, high-quality board game print runs viable. Kickstarter meant that once designed, board game developers don’t have to fund the costs of creation and shipping - and they might even make a profit before they’ve even shipped.
Garry Newman on indies, cannibalism, and Facepunch's other projects
Garry Newman is best known for his multi-million selling Garry's Mod, a sandbox expansion for Half-Life 2. However, in recent years he's moved into development proper, setting up Facepunch Studios to work on games like the zombie survival sandbox Rust and several other projects. We caught up with him to ask about the topics of the day.
You've never been a traditional developer, nor part of the indie community. How would you describe yourself?
Garry: I don't know, I'm probably closer to a modder than a traditional developer. I've never worked in a real game studio.
State of Play: Female Protagonists
Female protagonists, oh my. Given the oh-so-friendly atmosphere around gender and games at the moment, prior to writing this article I've blocked all methods of communication I can and have booked a ticket to the middle of the Kalahari desert. (I have a shotgun ready for any persistent carrier pigeons.) That caveat aside, this week I'm just looking for the best games with female protagonists. Of course, many RPGs and MMOs let you create your own female character. But that's not what we're looking for. We're looking for great games that make you play a believable female character.
The Dirty Dozen Sale!
Welcome to the first dirty dozen - A dozen cool indie games at crazy prices. All games are bought direct from the developers site with no middle men. All 100% of your cash goes to the people who made the games. This site takes ZERO cut, so more than ever of your money goes towards making great new indie games. All links take you direct to the game developers websites or order forms. Please tell everyone you know about this sale, and spread the word. Thanks,
What's up, Doc? The way the greatest games might have been.
Game design is an art, not a science. It's haphazard, with forking paths that take developers down dead ends, that for indies is a day's lost work and beans for dinner, for an AAA studio can mean months, millions of dollars, and a hundred lay-offs at project's end. Very few games look the same from start to finish.
And the stage at which everything is most fluid is that initial pitch. It's amazing how many of our favourite games changed completely in their first few months. I've collected together a few of my old interviews and dug up design documents to look at a few of the biggest games that could have been completely different.
State of Play: Procedural Death Labyrinths
The title of this week's round-up isn't my creation. No, it's a genre that's just starting to emerge, seemingly sparked by people wanting to say that FTL can't be a roguelike. Is there much to distinguish the procedural death labyrinth from the roguelike? Well, both Lars Doucet and Tanya X from Gamasutra seem to think there is. You can read more about it at www.proceduraldeathlabyrinth.com If you can't be bothered; basically, there's a 'Berlin Interpretation' of what constitutes a roguelike, derived from the 2008 Berlin international roguelike conference. The conference, like its subject matter, featured permadeath, incomprehensible tomes, and was packed with monsters. The Berlin Interpretation of the roguelike mentions phrases like 'non-modal', which were probably argued over for days.
Dont believe the hype: games that screwed reputations
For a game developer, reputation is everything. However charming, handsome and pleasant you are in person or on screen, however technically gifted you are at instantly turning ideas into code into games, if you've screwed up your reputation, you may as well give up now, because no-one will buy your game. Most game developers I've met are good people. They're creative and excited, keen to turn the strange ideas into their head into the nearest-to-reality that they can. They may not always manage a 1-to-1 conversion, but most of the games I play end up fun enough - and a lot better than they did ten years ago, pre-Unity.
Round-up: Hipster Garbage
Its arguable that Valve's greatest achievement wasn't Half-Life 2, but the amount of vitriol generated when they created the Steam Tags system. All sorts of games were cruelly tagged as the system opened up, with no title escaping the bitterness of Steams crowds of teenage old vandals. Despite Valve suppressing the offensive tags, two attendees at the Develop Conference in Brighton last week admitted that their games had been tagged as Hipster Bullshit on Steam.
Enter The Author: The Move to Literary Games
I was the writer on a game (http://pandora.proxy-studios.com/). Like many writers in games, I wasn't brought in at the start, but towards the end of the project. My job was to provide a backstory, dialogue, characters, and descriptions for everything in the game. All of which the game had managed perfectly well without until quite close to release. And, to be honest, this was a more word-heavy, creative game than many out there.
State of Play: Kingdom Builders
The kingdom or city builder genre is all about giving players godlike power to shape a realm however they like, and hopefully enable it to survive. The realm itself doesn't matter so much, though differing settings give you wildly different objectives - the aim of Theme Park, for example was to massively increase the salt on your cheap fries so that everyone was forced to buy your horribly overpriced soft drinks. Or at least that was the way I played it. After all, they can't call you megalomaniac, if you really are in charge. ...
The Golden Age of Simulations is Now
Look at that title. What hubris, to call the modern day a Golden Age! Sceptical scientists out there will argue that games are neither valuable nor chemically inert enough to justify such a moniker. Yet, when I think of the simulation games of my childhood, huddled in the realistically-cast shadow of more exciting, more gamesy games, modern sims have come a huge way. ...
Democracy 3 now in beta / pre-orders
Democracy 3 is the ultimate political strategy game! A game that puts you in the role of President or Prime Minister. Can you keep the population happy, whilst simultaneously fixing your country's problems and getting the economy back on track? www.positech.co.uk
The Red Solstice is up for sale!
As of 16th of August 20:00 GMT + 1, 2013, The Red Solstice is available for purchase in its alpha stage on www.theredsolstice.com After some 5+ years in the making, the first title by an independent game development studio from Croatia, Ironward, is made available to the public via their own website.
The Red Solstice is a strategic, team-based action shooter from the top-down perspective with a strong focus on unique and cooperative multi-player. Check out the game at www.theredsolstice.com
The Red Solstice Alpha Gameplay - First Look...
Sir you are being hunted...
REDSHIRT Design talk May 2013
THE MAKING OF FROZEN SYNAPSE: Red
As old-school PC gamers, we used to love the box-product mentality of the "expansion pack" - a big load of diverse (sometimes fairly wacky) content which transformed the base game. The modern DLC drip-feed approach can work really well in certain games, and there's obviously nothing wrong with it fundamentally, but FS was always about delivering a huge payload of stuff in one go ...