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Reading or writing? Narrative and the purity of open worlds

Tuesday, 31 July 2012 14:36 GMT By Dave Cook

Patrice Désilets has said the first Assassin’s Creed was the best game in the series as it’s “pure,” free of manufactured plotting. Dave Cook asks whether or not games have the strongest narrative when the player’s doing the writing.

The art, the characters, the tone, the geography and the trigger within that area must all grab you by the short hairs and make you listen if a world is to feel believable. Get it right, and the open world can tell a story greater than anything achieved in linearity.

It’s a sun-bleached afternoon in the big city. As the merciless heat hammers down from the summer sky, weary merchants peddle their wares to anyone willing to listen, while the sick and dying lay around in the gutter struggling to breathe.

Cutting a trail through the morass of the poor and desperate, a lone figure in white rushes towards a member of the city guard, blade at the ready. It’s over in a flash – the guard’s throat is slit, spraying blood onto the cobblestones below. The murderer has fled. He’s nowhere to be seen.

An innocent man just doing his job died in cold blood today, but few seem to panic, and even less seem to care. Regardless, revolution is in the air. This is the world of Assassin’s Creed, and this fantasy’s largely in your head.

Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Désilets today called the first game in Ubisoft’s series the ‘purest,’ thanks to the freedom players have to fashion their own personal stories within its open world.

Is narrative really at its most powerful when much is left to the gamer’s imagination?

Many titles have attempted to answer the question. Most recently, we’ve had the likes of Dear Esther and Journey, which manage to tell a powerful story despite their ambiguous nature.

They contain signs, catalysts for your mind, such as Journey’s tapestries, or the odd chance encounter with another player online. These are moments that linger for days longer than a fully-penned narrative.

The “less is more” debate is nothing new when it comes to stories in games, obviously: there was much argument about Half-Life’s Gordon Freeman, and how his lack of speech or personality allows you to define who he is. Valve hasn’t told us much about the man behind the crowbar and specs, and yet Freeman is widely regarded as one of the greatest game characters ever.

For ambiguity like this to really translate into personal stories, though, game developers need to give us just enough.

Fallout 3 is a great example, bookending moments of solitude and lone wandering with skirmishes in the bowels of the Wasteland’s underground network. It’s still a masterclass in world design.

These stories don’t come out of nowhere. They’re fuelled by developers giving you the toys, the locations and the moral quandaries to trigger them. Without them we have nothing to build our own narratives, no inspiration or source – we’re just starting at a blank page with nothing to say.

“Hey, did you diffuse the bomb? Did you spike the water supply? How did you kill that giant super mutant guarding the teddy bear?” These are all the opening chapters of a personal story, one that wouldn’t exist within the confines of a rigid corridor-based title.

Strong, viable and long-lasting open worlds are an art form, and one that developers must work tirelessly to establish. The art, the characters, the tone, the geography and the trigger within that area must all grab you by the short hairs and make you listen if a world is to feel believable.

Get it right, and the open world can tell a story greater than anything achieved in linearity.

The success of the original Assassin’s Creed in establishing such a world is open for debate. Some called the tasks at hand rote, while others – like Désilets – enjoyed the free-form approach.

Are open worlds the unwritten novels of our time? Should the player be the writer? Or should the player simply consume the plot engineered by a narrative team? The man behind Altaïr thinks you should be creating your own stories. Games are purest that way.

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27 Comments

  1. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    Personally, I like a mix of the two. I like a strong character with a strong voice, just not one who wants to make my decisions for me.

    People Can Fly’s Adrian Chmierlarz tweeted recently “Heated discussion with a few gamedevs. It’s depressing how many of them think that cut-scenes are the right way to tell a story in a game.”

    I’m not sure they are either, but neither am I sure that Gordon Freeman is the way to go. Freeman is not a great character and I would dispute the statement that he’s widely regarded as one of the best characters in gaming. No one thinks that. He’s a cipher, a nothing, an empty vessel into which we pour ourselves.

    What people like about Half-Life and its sequel(s) is not silent Jim the speccy-eyed crowbar user. What they like is the fantastic way the other characters tell the story in as few words as possible, that through atmosphere, clear structure and goal-oriented decision-making, the gameplay itself becomes story.

    I also think that there’s no clear answer to this question. The world is split broadly into those with creative minds, without fear of failure, the leaders, the makers – they will always want to create their own stories. Then there are those who conform, do as they’re told and would rather be funneled and led.

    Games can be experienced in completely different ways depending on which type you are or aspire to be, so nobody can offer an answer as to which one is better from anything beyond a subjective viewpoint.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. bitsnark

    The open-world that they plonk us, the player in, needs to be robust enough to make our own stories worthwhile enough to tell from inside of it, (see Skyrim, The Witcher 2 et al) otherwise claims that they’re giving us this wonderful world to create these unique stories just comes off as abject laziness and hollow ringing.

    The original Assassins Creed had a world that was bogged down by so much repetition (which extended not only from the gameplay mechanics through to the lines that spilled forth from NPC’s mouths) that if the frustration and banality of the game didn’t do your skull in, then the broken sense of believability certainly would when confronted by the same NPC’s, spouting the same crap over and over.

    It’s like he’s basically saying – “We have this huge open-world, with some nice scenery in AC1, its basically got fuck all in it – go and make your own story”.

    Thanks for that Patrice.

    And also, if by ‘purest’ entry in the series, he means the most ‘simplistic’ than he’d be right – otherwise ‘purest’ just comes across as a nebulous term for aspects of his own game that he is unable to sufficiently articulate or qualitatively describe.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Dave Cook

    @2 It’s like he’s basically saying – “We have this huge open-world, with some nice scenery in AC1, its basically got fuck all in it – go and make your own story”.

    ^ I like this. Exactly correct :)

    @1 Freeman has had tons of people shouting from the rooftops about why he’s the greatest character ever. I’m with you though, I’m not sure he’s a character at all. I also love the empty vessel reference :)

    #3 3 years ago
  4. DSB

    Actually, I think The Saboteur is a great example of what Patrice Desilets is taking about, but which I didn’t ever think Assassins Creed achieved. I thought the first one was a pointless grind, and I didn’t see any reason to keep going through the same routines, just to get to the good stuff.

    “I deliberately left out the motivation so you could find it yourself”. Come on, Patrice…

    The free roam sabotage that you were able to do in The Saboteur is really the best I’ve seen in any open world game. I guess it’s because it forces a process of actually scoping your targets, plotting your actions, and then executing accordingly, all on your own.

    Not unlike an actual resistance fighter. I miss that sort of subtle guidance from a lot of other games.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    @3

    “Freeman has had tons of people shouting from the rooftops about why he’s the greatest character ever.”

    Yes, but they were talking about themselves, not Gordon Freeman. They just didn’t necessarily know it.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @5 Absolutely, I think a lot of people – as you say – didn’t make that distinction. It’s a risky way to approach ‘characters’. I wonder if anyone will pull that off again as well as Valve did? :)

    #6 3 years ago
  7. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    @6

    Plenty have. Just think any decent franchise with a silent guy in a power suit. Master Chief (though he spouts dross from time to time, he’s still a cipher), Isaac Clarke (first Dead Space), Bioshock – it’s actually a pretty long list.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Dave Cook

    @7 True, although they don’t seem to get the same influx of hype that Freeman dude, but man, Isaac Clarke was much better when he was silent. Really added to the tension I felt.

    Dark Souls is another good example of when silence is golden.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. YoungZer0

    “Valve hasn’t told us much about the man behind the crowbar and specs, and yet Freeman is widely regarded as one of the greatest game characters ever.”

    This makes me so sad. Same goes for every Master Chief’, Samus’, Mario’s and all Links of the world. I think they need to die off. The sooner, the better.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    Ah, Dark Souls. L’amour.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Dave Cook

    @10 HUGE fan here man :)

    Also bagged a big From Software interview for VG247 on Dark souls and what comes next. Watch this space!

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Ireland Michael

    The silent protagonist has a greater degree of weight in gaming solely because of the interactive element. *You* are the one in control of the character, so putting you in a silent avatar’s shoes gives you the freedom to put yourself in their mind and be that character.

    This is Gaming 101.

    But I don’t think you can call these characters great. They are empty ciphers, with no identity beyond that which you transfer onto it yourself. This only works in certain games, but it also neede deftly creative developers at the helm to pull it off.

    The other downside is that it becomes severely difficult to create a story of any real depth when your protagonist has no identity. These experiences may be fun, but they’re not particularly thought provoking or deep. I don’t know about you, but I wish I could come away from more games with something to think about, the same way I do with a good book.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. YoungZer0

    @12: Have you played Spec Ops: The Line?

    #13 3 years ago
  14. Ireland Michael

    @12 No. Why?

    #14 3 years ago
  15. DSB

    The silent protagonist only really works when the gameplay is one of “Can’t stop and talk right now, gotta go” like Half-Life or many other first person games.

    Putting a silent protagonist in something like an RPG just makes you feel like a gimp. You’re literally the handicapped guy in the crowd every single time something happens.

    That’s one thing that Mass Effect, Deus Ex and The Witcher got right. It may stump a bit of the ultimate freedom, but it actually buys you some much needed immersion.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. YoungZer0

    @14: It made me think. A lot. For several weeks, actually. I think it might be the most important game of this year. It also made Yahtzee think and that says a lot.

    @15: I think it’s the complete opposite. In RPG’s you at least have the choice. You’re missing a voice in most of those games, but you’re a presence, you can make decisions, from your looks to your actions. You are that person.

    Games like Half-Life don’t have that. You’re some guy, who just refuses to speak. For some reason Gordon Freeman became a symbol, they worship that dude, even though he never said a freaking thing or made any statements.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. absolutezero

    The Dragon Age series sacrificed true choice for your character to give you some dude to play as that chatted shit and wanted to be a dragon. It came off worse.

    He had a back-story, a family and a voice. He (or she) was as fleshed out a character as Bioware could manage. It was still worse than choosing between 5+ options in text that could make the difference between making an enemy or gaining a friend. That feeling of choosing exactly what you want to say or do is instantly removed when you have one word to choose from and then you just listen to whatever the guy says.

    Mass Effect got away with it because it was nearly always followed up with alien sex or shooting things. It was snappy.

    Sadly those decisions are frowned upon now. Oh well.

    #17 3 years ago
  18. DSB

    @16 I think Gordon Freeman became a symbol because he happened to be in a great game. Mario and Sonic are symbols too. What do we really know about Gordon Freeman? Did he call his mother and give to the poor before he got caught up at Black Mesa?

    We don’t know the first thing about the guy, because no attempt was ever made to bring him to us. He’s an empty shell. If people love that, then they’re ultimately loving what they’re projecting into it.

    The only way I can believe a silent protagonist, at least in a game where dialogue is a part of my input, is if he’s a mute. If it’s established that my vocal chords don’t work, then I can understand not saying a thing for the rest of the game, but then I expect hand gestures and lots of suggestive humming and facial expressions if I’m gonna buy it.

    I’d much rather have a living, active character with one voice, than a dead husk with four different types of grunts to choose from.

    I guess it depends on how well you abstract from something like that. Most of the time I’m playing those games (Dragon Age, Dragons Dogma) I’m wondering why all I’m doing is standing around with a hopeless look on my face. How am I talking without saying a word?

    #18 3 years ago
  19. Pytox

    It was a nice game, only sad thing was that most of missions were the same but at a different location. The ending was good ofc :D

    #19 3 years ago
  20. absolutezero

    Another one of the reasons that people love Gordon Freeman is the tiny amount of background he does have.

    MiT graduate, who is late, get the job of pushing a box full of something into a large machine.

    Then he crowbars the shit out of everything and kills half the army then goes into space.

    It would be ruined if Gordon started monologing or replying to any of the silly bugger scientists. What if they made him sensible or scared or anything like that?

    http://youtu.be/34P7H7n0OYQ

    #20 3 years ago
  21. YoungZer0

    @17: That’s just unfair. A lot of Dragon Age 2 faults can be traced back to the little time they had for the game.

    @18: No, i mean in the game he became somewhat of a symbol. What i really didn’t like – and i hope i remember it correctly – is the one dialog with Alex (or whatever her name is) where she says “Hm, you’re no the talkative type, are you?”

    That’s just so lame. I mean there is every reason why Gordon Freeman should’ve a voice, but he doesn’t. As you said, make him mute, or give him a voice.

    For me, Gordon Freeman is on the same level as Vasili Ivanovich Koslov.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. DSB

    I agree it’s not a good basis for exposition. It’s never about dialogue or actually using the character, it’s about keeping the pace and going with the flow. That’s why it works.

    But that’s also why I think it’s crazy to call him a character, at least in the fullest sense of the word. He’s a nerd fighting all those big bad soldiers and that’s kinda cool, in a Die Hard sort of way, but that still leaves him as a symbol more than a personality.

    I’m trying to think of games that actually have managed to do some good indirect exposition for a first person game, but they’re few and far between.

    @21 Well yeah, I can see your point. Symbol yes, character no.

    #22 3 years ago
  23. absolutezero

    True I agree with DA 2 being pushed out the door far far too quickly but if you go back, Bioware defended it to the hilt. That was the game they wanted to make and they made a hash of it. More time would have made it a tonne better.

    L.A. Noire is another game that falls victim to the same problem, Cole Phelps might have a voice and a character but he suffers because of it due to the complete disconnect between what I thought he was going to say and exactly what the actor delivers.

    It frustrated me more than immersed me, if I had been shown a list of options with exactly what Cole was going to say then it would have lessened the disconnect and made me feel closer to the character. The guy to me ended up being almost schizophrenic depending on if you picked “Lie” or “Doubt”.

    #23 3 years ago
  24. Ireland Michael

    @16 Yahtzee is a moron. His opinion is about as relevant as a duck’s.

    Quack quack.

    I have looked up some reviews and gameplay footage though, and while it all looks a bit pompous and overblown, there seems to be a lot of talk about the story and it’s exposition, so it might be worth checking out. Will definitely give it a shot.

    #24 3 years ago
  25. YoungZer0

    @24: The game is not very subtle with the topics it touches, but it raises a lot of questions most games (especially shooter games) don’t even dare to consider asking. It’s pretty short, so you could rent it.

    I’m a little bit disappointed to see that so many game journalists write about their oh-so-unique experience in DayZ or The Journey, instead of writing about Spec Ops: The Line.

    Truth be told, after playing this game, i had a 4 hour conversation with the father of my girlfriend about the nature of soldiers and their role in todays world.

    #25 3 years ago
  26. Ireland Michael

    @25 It doesn’t really try to be authentic with the portrayal of its soldiers from what I’ve seen, which is one thing that really puts me off. The lead guy makes Chris Redfield look like a scrawny nerd in comparison though.

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about how the story progresses though. I’ll wait to play it before making a judgement call.

    I do not understand the appeal of DayZ in the slightest. Then again, I think zombies are the laziest, most boring, most creatively inept cliche in current media. The game itself is a crude mess.

    #26 3 years ago
  27. YoungZer0

    @26: Yes, it starts of pretty much like every shooter on the market, but the tone changes very fast. The story and character progression is one of the best things about the game. Anyway, i’ve said enough. I hope you pick it up (or rent it) when you have the chance.

    #27 3 years ago

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    Overkill Software released the 21st DLC pack for Payday 2 yesterday, titled The Butcher’s Western Pack. The pack will run you $4.99/€4.99 and other digital distribution channels. “For our 21st DLC we go back in time to visit the Wild West and the arsenal it was known for,” said the developers. “With it we’re introducing […]

  • The Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter just launched and has already met its funding goal

    Playtonic Games launched the Kickstarter campaign for Yooka-Laylee at 5pm UK, and in just over 30 minutes it already hit its $270,000 funding goal. You can watch the funding counter continue to roll over through the link. Yooka-Laylee is a 3D platformer where the characters use special moves such as Yooka’s tongue grapple and Laylee’s […]

  • Batch of hi-res Persona 5 screenshots released by PlayStation Japan

    A set of screenshots have been released for Persona 5, and while you’ve seen these before in magazines and on the official website, these are high-res versions. Some will even look familiar to those who watched the first gameplay trailer back in February. The shots were posted over on the PlayStation Japan Persona 5 game […]

  • Is Alien: Isolation getting HTC Vive support?

    Placeholder images for SteamVR icons have been found and it looks like there may be support for Alien: Isolation, so if you enjoy soiling yourself, get psyched! NeoGAF members found a thread on Reddit, where a little rooting around in a Steam directory unearthed the images. The list includes both games and apps, and as […]

  • Xbox Live multiplayer is free this weekend on Xbox 360

    Xbox 360 players in all Xbox Live regions can play multiplayer online for free this weekend. If you are a Silver member, this means you are Golden from May 1-3 and can play multiple games online with your buddies. All you have to do is log-in to Xbox Live.

  • Assassin’s Creed actor Michael Fassbender confirms film production starts September

    The Assassin’s Creed movie will start production this fall, actor Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, 300, X-Men:First Class) as confirmed. Speaking with ComingSoon.net, Fassbender said filming will start in September, which is inline with Ubisoft’s announcement in February. The actor will star in the film alongside Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard, both reuniting with their MacBeth director Justin […]

  • Eve Online boss states VR won’t be as big as we think next year

    I don’t think I’m the only one who wants VR to hurry up and manifest into a Sword Art Online-esque reality. Unfortunately, the chief executive officer at the studio behind Eve Online doesn’t think that will be happening any time soon. Talking to Venture Beat, Hilmar Veigar Pétursson touched on his excitement at the prospects […]

  • The Last of Us: Left Behind goes standalone in May on PS3, PS4

    Naughty Dog has announced that The Last of US DLC Left Behind will be released as a standalone experience next month. It can be purchased for both PlayStation 3 and PS4 through the PS Store and a two-hour demo of the Factions multiplayer will also be made available. “The Left Behind standalone game will have […]

  • EA’s annual E3 press conference takes place on June 15

    Electronic Arts has announced its annual E3 2015 press conference will take place the day before the show kicks off on June 15. EA, Microsoft, Sony and Ubisoft always hold press events the day before E3 officially starts, so this isn’t any surprise, really. The presser, dubbed “Live to Play”, will last one hour and […]

  • Steam exchange rate mix-up closes down community market

    The Steam community market was buggered up big time today after a mix-up with currency conversion had items selling from practically nothing, to millions of dollars. PC Gamer picked up on the news after a thread on Reddit appeared with screenshots depicting just how silly things were getting over there. The currency exchange rate data […]

  • Britney Spears signs five-year deal with Glu for new mobile game

    Pop star Britney Spears has signed a five-year deal with Glu mobile for a new, untitled game. The mobile game will feature her “voice, likeness, and creative influence,” and is due for release sometime next year. Glu also signed a deal with Katy Perry in February, so expect a game revolving around her to hit […]

  • Large Activision publisher sale on Steam discounts Call of Duty, Prototype, more

    Activision has put the majority of its library on sale through Steam this weekend, and if other titles weren’t included, it could be referred to as a Call of Duty sale. Below are a few standouts. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Gold Edition 25% off Call of Duty: Ghosts 67% off Call of Duty: […]

  • The Dota 2 International Compendium is out, second Stretch Goal almost complete

    The International Compendium has been released for Dota 2 with the prize pool sitting at a lovely $1,917,155 as of press time. Valve said over the weekend to expect the International Compendium to drop sometime this week. As with previous years, those who purchase the Compendium can earn rewards by completing challenges, making predictions and by […]

  • If permadeath RTS games are up your alley, check out indie project XO

    The Square Enix Collective showcases projects for a limited time to help drum up community support and potential backers, and RTS title XO from Jumpdrive Studios is worth taking a look at. The teaser trailer is fairly brief, but if you visit the page for XO over at the Square Enix Collective, it’s understandable – […]

  • GTA 5 PC patch disables mods. Here’s how to get them working again

    A new patch for the PC version of GTA 5 was released yesterday and, as it turns out, has wiped the ability to use mods with the game. The wasn’t great news for some players, but YouTuber taltigolt has already figured out how to play the PC version with mods after installing the patch. Matt […]

  • Xbox One ad stealth launches a mysterious Halo 5 competition

    A new Xbox One advert released today isn’t as straightforward as it appears. The trailer has a couple of pretty conspicuous ‘glitches’ throughout, and members of NeoGAF wasted no time in breaking it down. The first item of interest is the screen from the hunt the signal site, which displays an error message when accessed […]

  • Battlefield 4 Jungle map improved with latest update

    DICE LA has updated the Battlefield 4 Jungle map, adding more foliage and a new route. As demonstrated by Westie in the video above, the map now has the kind of foliage you’d expect in the jungle, helping to conceal infantry players. The update also tweaks positions of objective points and has added a concealed […]

  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate free DLC pack for May includes Metroid and Mega Man armour

    The May DLC pack for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate boasts some big ticket items, including Metroid, Street Fighter, and Mega Man gear. This big fat chunk of free DLC, detailed on the capcom unity blog, includes Hunter equipment: Metroid’s Varia Suit Metroid’s Zero Suit Metroid’s Arm Cannon Taiko Drum Master Hunting Horn USJ’s Star Rook […]

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory for May 1, 2 – Hard Light edition

    Here he comes with his weird face, dealing goods and gear for Guardians. It’s Friday. Xur: Agent of the Nine is back in the Tower. Of Course he is. Got your Strange Coins? Here’s what’s in his bag this week: Ruin Wings [Exotic Titan gauntlets] – 13SC Don’t Touch Me [Exotic Hunter gauntlets] – 13SC […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition Jaws of Hakkon DLC drops for PS4 on May 26

    Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC has now been announced for May 26 for PS3, PS4 and Xbox 360. The announcement was made on Twitter via the official Dragon Age account. Mark your calendars! #DAIJawsOfHakkon pic.twitter.com/mU1WfkSrQV — Dragon Age (@dragonage) May 1, 2015 The DLC was released for PC and Xbox One back in March thanks to […]

  • New Witcher 3 screenshots highlight Geralt’s questionable fashion choices

    Even though The Witcher 3 release date is drawing closer, it still feels like a million year away. So here are some more screenshots to tide you over until then. We got to look at in-game shots yesterday, but these new screens show Geralt riding through some gorgeously vibrant mountains, in the midst of combat […]

  • Sims Gurus patch out pregnant men

    Say goodbye to The Sims 4 unique take on fatherhood, as The Sims Gurus confirm that male pregnancies are no more. The Sims 4 players have been reporting high numbers of alien abductions, leaving their male characters with sore bottoms and a bellyful of alien baby. Kotaku reports that not everyone was getting their knickers […]

  • Black Mesa countdown probably points to Half-life remake release date

    Half-life remake Black Mesa may have a release date at last. Black Mesa is a Source Engine remake of the original Half-life, which like everything related to Half-life feels like it’s taking forever to come out. The first part launched in September 2012, and it looks like we might have a release date for the […]

  • Spector puts down rumours of troubled Epic Mickey development

    Epic Mickey seemed like a surprising follow-up project from the man who made Deus Ex, but Warren Spector has put down rumours of a difficult relationship with Disney. Epic Mickey displays several qualities found in Spector’s other games and which he has always espoused in interviews – heck, this is the man whose dream it […]

  • Ubisoft makes good on Child of Light promise with free eBook

    Child of Light fans can check out a gorgeous new illustrated book set in the world of Lumeria. Earlier this month, creator Patrick Plourde confirmed that there were more Child of Light projects on the way. As we expected from the cagey wording, at least the first of these projects isn’t a game: it’s an […]

  • Half-life episode from Junction Point would have featured a magnet gun

    Half-life seems to be on near permanent hold, but at least we can glean some insight into what might once have been. Junction Point’s cancelled Half-life game came up in Warren Spector’s Reddit AMA overnight. Commenting that he isn’t sure whether he’ll get into legal trouble for discussing the project, Spector gave a few comments […]

  • Destiny: exclusive shader, emblem on offer with Nepal benefit shirt

    Destiny developer Bungie has asked Guardians to offer their aid, and they’ve already responded in troves. A new Destiny shirt added to the Bungie Store is the object of a fundraising drive to provide aid in Nepal following a devastating earthquake this week. Bungie popped the pretty stylish shirt on sale earlier today, offering an […]

  • What does the creator of Deus Ex think of Human Revolution and Mankind Divided?

    Deus Ex creator Warren Spector seems pretty positive about the direction the sci-fi series has followed under Square Enix’s hand. Deus Ex was created by Spector and his team at Ion Storm, and remained with Eidos after the developer shuttered. When Square Enix purchased the British publisher, it put new studio Eidos Montreal to work […]

  • Protest Goat secures future for Elite Dangerous destruction derbies

    One of the stranger and more beautiful stories to manifest in the gaming world this week, I think. Elite: Dangerous has given birth to an unintended, emergent style of gameplay; a destruction derby like affair where players gather in no combat areas to both race and gleefully smash into each other until a victor limps […]

  • Destiny’s stunning landscapes captured in panoramas

    Destiny has some beautiful environments, which screenshots don’t necessarily do justice to. Walking around Destiny exclaiming over the lighting effects and the tiny animated details is the best way to experience Bungie’s tremendous achievements, but these panorama images stitched together from in-game screenshots are a good second. Click to see them fullsize. Redditor CenturyEagle made […]

  • Star Wars Disney Infinity re-release on the cards – rumour

    Star Wars is a no-brainer for Disney Infinity, and at long last it looks like it’s happening. A Star Wars re-release called Disney Infinity 3.0 has reportedly leaked from German retailers. We have to lable this one a rumour as we haven’t seen the original source, but the story was originally reported by DisKingdom, which […]

  • Award-winning mobile indie Monument Valley out now on Windows Phone

    Windows Phone’s game selection can be a bit restrictive, but has expanded delightfully today: Monument Valley is now available. Monument Valley is one of those gorgeous, mind-bending puzzlers the indie scene produces on the regular, winning awards and consuming everyone’s lives for weeks on end. Developed by Ustwo Games, with beautiful, understated art from Ken […]

  • Old-school EverQuest servers safe from legal troubles thanks to Daybreak agreement

    EverQuest rights holder Daybreak Game Company given its blessing to the wonderful Project 1999. EverQuest: Project 1999 is one of those lovely ideas that it are all too often crushed by the realities of the games industry. An entirely fan-managed affair, it provides an emulated version of the classic EverQuest experience, which is no longer […]

  • Free Dragon Age short stories fill us in on Corypheus’s followers

    Dragon Age: Inquisition developer BioWare invites you to learn more about the lore and characters that make up its beautiful role-playing setting. Dragon Age is set in Thedas, a world still only partially revealed by the three core games to date. BioWare puts a heck of a lot of work into its worldbuilding, employing a […]

  • Remember that gorgeous Luminous Engine tech demo? It now utilizes DirectX 12

    Remember the gorgeous Luminous Engine tech demo Square Enix showed off three years ago? The firm showed it again at Microsoft’s Build Conference, this time utilizing DirectX 12. The Witch Chapter 0 [cry] real-time tech demo was created from research Square conducted using real-time CG technology and DX12 in collaboration with Microsoft and Nvidia. The […]

  • Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones sneaks onto GOG and Steam services

    Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones can now be purchased through GOG and Steam. On both services it will run you £12.99/€14.99/$14.99. Links here and here. The game features: Fully explorable ‘Metroidvania’ style overworld, laying siege to a diabolical cloning facility with varied and detailed environments. A variety of special equipment to unlock new […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare DLC Ascendance has arrived on PC, PlayStation consoles

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare players on PC and PlayStation consoles can now download the Ascendance DLC. The second content pack contains the OHM weapon, the OHM Werewolf custom variant, and the second entry in the Exo Zombies saga, Infection. Four new maps are also included: Perplex, Site 244, Climate, and Chop Shop. Ascendance was […]

  • Latest Xbox 360 system update is live, now supports 2TB hard drives

    Xbox 360 now supports 2TB hard drives via the latest system update for the console. Support for the drives was announced earlier this month and has been available for preview members. “In addition we will also no longer reserve space in advance on your hard drive,” said the firm. “If you are using 16GB of […]

  • Kickstarter for Banjo-Kazooie spiritual successor Yooka-Laylee launches tomorrow

    Playtonic Games has announced the Kickstarter campaign for its spiritual successor to the Banjo Kazooie series, Yooka-Laylee, will launch tomorrow. The title of the game was announced today along with the Kickstarter date. Formerly known as Project Ukulele, the 3D platformer is said to be “between the size of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie,” and stars Yooka […]

  • Console version of Mistwalker’s Terra Battle is in development

    Now that Mistwalker’s Terra Battle has surpassed 2 million downloads on mobile, the developer is now working on a console version of the tactical RPG. As part of the original Download Starter campaign, the 2 million milestone means the company will begin development on Terra Battle’s console version with details to be announced at a […]

  • Prison break game The Escapists is heading to PlayStation 4 from May 29

    The Escapists, Mouldy Toof’s prison break game originally released as a timed console exclusive Xbox One, has a release date for PlayStation 4. For those unfamiliar with the title, which is also a PC release, it tasks players’ time management skills as they do a bit of digging and crafting, and other prison-type stuff as […]

  • Dead Island 2 delayed into 2016 to ensure series is “taken to the next level”

    Dead Island 2 has been delayed into 2016 by Yager in order to ensure the sequel “takes Dead Island to the next level.” According to a tweet from the developer, it set “big goal” for the game, and in order to deliver what fans expect, the team needs more time to reach development goals. “We […]

  • Project Cars: here’s a list of all available cars at launch

    Project Cars will contain many, many cars and if we are counting correctly, there will be 74 total at launch. The standard edition contains 65 total, and when factoring the free car as well as the Modified and Limited Edition cars packs, you can add an additional nine cars to the mix. Comb through the […]

  • Competitive matchmaking support is coming to Team Fortress 2

    Team Fortress 2 will soon feature support for competitive matchmaking, which Valve says is a “high priority” project for it at the moment. According to a report from TeamFortress.tv, which visited Valve headquarters recently, Valve is looking into the possibility of 6v6 or 9v9 matches 9v9, a possible quick play option and it is also […]

  • GTA 5 PC patch fixes garage, Job crashes – full notes here

    Rockstar has pushed out a 353 MB patch for GTA 5 on PC The patch fixes a number of annoying bugs related to vehicles and garages, some deathmatch issues and purchase errors. It should also fix various freezing and crashing bugs, as well as a little issue with Steam. Time will tell if the patch […]

  • Fire Emblem If will come in White Kingdom and Black Kingdom versions with amiibo support

    We’ve finally got some juicy details on the next Fire Emblem game, but the most interesting aspect is that there will be two versions of the game. According to Siliconera, who translated an interview between Intelligent Systems and 4Gamer, there will a White Kingdom and a Black Kingdom version that offer different aspects of the […]

  • Deception 4: The Nightmare Princess heads west with “Golden Toilet” pre-order bonus

    Deception 4: The Nightmare Princess will debut on western PlayStation 4 systems this summer, Koei Tecmo has announced. It is also coming to PS3 and Vita. The game was produced by Keisuke Kikuchi of Fatal Frame fame and takes up where Deception 4: Blood Ties left off allowing players to relive Laegrinna’s pursuit to free […]

  • Nintendo US eShop update: Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario demo, Paper Mario, more

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with a demo of Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition, Paper Mario on Virtual Console, and amiibo Tap. The full update is below. eShop update amiibo Tap – free – Wii U Star Wars Pinball DLC – Wii U Paper Mario – Wii U […]

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided PC port handed off to Nixxes

    The PC port of the new Deus Ex has been handed over to Netherlands based studio, Nixxes software. After the initial reveal trailer at the beginning of April, we’ve only had a few morsels in the way of additional news. The most intriguing tidbit to date has got to be the fact that you’ll be […]

  • First-ever PC Gaming Show to take place at E3 2015 in June

    PC gaming will finally have its very own E3 press conference this year, thanks to PC Gamer and AMD. The PC Gaming Show will take place on June 16 at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles and it will be livestreamed on Twitch. PC Gamer said speakers at the presentation will include representatives from Blizzard, […]

  • Majora’s Mask light available now on Club Nintendo for 6000 stars

    Club Nintendo shuts up shop on September 30 and members are being encouraged to spend accumulated stars before then. And what better to spend them on, than this adorable Majora’s Mask light? If you’re a member based in Europe you can nab it for 6000 stars. If you’re in Australia or New Zealand, it’ll only […]

  • Unity support announced for HoloLens, will work with Windows universal apps

    Microsoft is partnering with game engine developers Unity in order to make HoloLens compatible with apps and games which use the cross-platform engine. The partnership was announced yesterday during its Build Developer Conference. Universal apps for Windows 10 systems will also be available on Xbox One later this year, suggesting possible HoloLens functionality with the […]

  • Splatoon Nintendo Direct airs Thursday, May 7

    A Nintendo Direct focused on Splatoon, the Wii U multiplayer title, on May 7. It will kick off at 7am PDT/10am EDT/3pm UK and it can be watched via the Nintendo Direct website. You can also have a look at the game through Nintendo’s Twitch channel. The last game-specific presentation took place last week and […]

  • GTA 5 PC: clean up the streets as a member of the San Andreas PD with this new mod

    Remember the awesome mods for GTA 4 and San Andreas that let you run amok online as a member of the po-po? Well, dust off your taser and load up your gun, because it’s coming to GTA 5. The new mod for GTA 5 is currently in alpha and can be downloaded at palmbeachgames.com. You […]

  • Indie shoot ‘em up Project Root comes to Xbox One, PS4 and PSVita

    Project Root is a self-proclaimed rejig of the shoot ‘em up genre that was released on PC last year, and it’s finally coming to consoles. Combining free-roaming elements with the usual business of shooting things, Project Root was released this week for Xbox One, PS4 and the PSVita.

  • You can now bet on eSports online, starting with League of Legends

    If you’re getting bored with sticking a pony on the races, you can expand your gambling horizons at Unikrn where you can watch esports streams and get a little action on the side. The new platform was set up by Rahul Sood – previously the general manager of Microsoft Ventures. At the moment, customers are […]