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Hawken’s Mark Long on core F2P and VR pornography

Wednesday, 28 November 2012 10:20 GMT By Stace Harman

Adhesive Games and Meteor Entertainment are aiming to reconcile core gamers with a meaningful free to play experience via killer mechs. Stace Harman speaks with Mark Long to find out how.

Mech shooter Hawken is developed by Adhesive Games using the Unreal Development Kit and published by Meteor Entertainment.

Hawken is currently undergoing its third and final closed beta, which ends December 6, before the open beta begins on December 12.

Meteor has partnered with DJ2 Entertainment to produce a number of transmedia initiatives for Hawken from the ground up, including a feature film, a live-action web series and a number of digital comics.

Hawken was awarded $10 million by the capital investment companies behind League of Legends and has attracted a further $18m in funding, which Mark Long explains is facilitating the worldwide roll-out of Hawken on December 12.

Warning: this article features themes of both a free to play and pornographic nature.

Many of you are now squirming uncomfortably as an internal conflict rages between your Pavlovian aversion to the mention of one and your base response to the possibility of t’other. Alas, immediate gratification is not my thing and I’d like to believe that at least some of you are here to read about the free to play Hawken. So, let’s first talk about why the notion of free to play sticks in the craw of many a core gamer.

Thanks to a period of rapid evolution, the clued-up gamer has developed an instinctive wariness of the free to play concept. In part, this is due to the overwhelmingly negative connotations that free to play has managed to engender in its short lifespan. Since its introduction to the gaming landscape as means to fight rampant piracy, free to play seems to have grown into something that is often revealed as both ugly and pernicious.

The depth of its dark nature has been exposed over a short span of years, in which the free to play concept has grown fangs and roamed the deceptively placid environments of our web browsers, social networks and mobile phones. Here it seeks to sink its teeth into its unwary prey; in the hope of bleeding dry its victim before it thinks to extricate itself.

For many core gamers, one company above all others has risen to represent the least wholesome side of free to play. Zynga’s recent fortunes might have brought its CEO close to tears but it has long been held in contemptible awe for its ability to churn out soulless experiences for the purpose of luring new victims.

“Zynga don’t actually make games, they make compulsion loops,” posits Mark Long, CEO of Meteor Entertainment, the company responsible for publishing Adhesive Games’ free to play mech shooter, Hawken.

“They have some really evil practises to dead-end players, liking switching buttons around so that you end up buying stuff. It’s the same on the mobile side, they create obstacles and you have to use money to avoid frustration.

“If we’re going to do something different with free to play it has to respect the hardcore players that aren’t going to put up with that shit, right? The people that put up with Farmville have never played games before so they don’t know any better, but certainly you and I know better and the first inkling that I get that I’m being ripped-off in a core free to play game, I’m out.”

“The people that put up with Farmville have never played games before so they don’t know any better, but certainly you and I know better and the first inkling that I get that I’m being ripped-off in a core free to play game, I’m out.”

It’s perhaps at this point that you expect me to claim that Hawken is set to cure all of the ills of free to play core-gaming. That with its worldwide, open beta launch on December 12 it will arrive like a mechanised harbinger of Christmas spirit to deliver us from the evils of conventional free to play (or maybe you just want to get to the part about pornography). However, the very nature of free to play requires a suck-it-and-see approach, which is necessary to establish if the player-base is willing to invest both time and money; this is especially true of the core gaming community.

What Long, Meteor and Adhesive are attempting first, is to identify a consistent and coherent vision of what free to play should look and feel like in the core gaming space. This vision stretches far beyond ensuring that the player never feels like they’re being set up to be ripped-off.

“Core free to play is not going to be about convenience or about buying your way out of inconvenience,” Long states. “It’s going to be about things like customisation and about choice. Being able to customise your character however you want, to show your affiliation in-game with things that are important to you, be that the sports team that you’re into, or the university you go to or even just a skull and crossbones. It’s going to be not just a game but a lifestyle; a destination on a Friday night for me and my friends.”

Hawken’s customisation options enable you to buy parts of a mech, a whole mech or even a bundle of mechs and to strip everything down to its constituent parts in order to construct custom-built killing machines. There’s also a plan to offer the ability to customise the cockpit view of the mech, in much the same way as you might personalise a real world desk or workspace. As Long hints, the team’s vision for Hawken is to create a place where friends gather and so clan support and the option for private servers are also coming.

“Usually, pornography is the experience that drives things forward, it’s the reason that VCRs were possible, it’s the reason that the internet exists and the same thing will probably be true for HMDs.”

Amongst the ambitious plans that Meteor and Adhesive have for Hawken the game – which forms just one strand of a multi-faceted transmedia plan for the IP – is the inclusion of support for Oculus Rift, the virtual reality head-mounted display (VR HMD) designed by Palmer Luckey. To hear Long talk of the VR capabilities of Oculus Rift in connection with Hawken is to hear a man excited by the possibilities of a new experience. Despite Long’s claims that Oculus Rift solves many of VR’s legacy technology and comfort issues, it’s a medium outside of gaming that he believes will help it finally gain mainstream acceptance.

“I would argue that you don’t ever buy technology, you buy the experience,” says Long. “Usually, pornography is the experience that drives things forward, it’s the reason that VCRs were possible, it’s the reason that the internet exists and the same thing will probably be true for HMDs.”

Before we reach the brave new world of VR pornography, however, Long is intently focused on the job at hand: to bring Hawken to a worldwide core gaming audience, complete with PvP, clan support and copious customisation options. After that, will follow the possibility of expanded PvE, co-op play and fully featured VR gaming, with the development of each new strand directed by Hawken’s audience. It’s this audience Long hopes will feel valued and respected by the team’s efforts to make free to play a more desirable and worthwhile proposition for core gamers the world over.

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9 Comments

  1. sleaker

    Brenna, I think you need to hit the history books on the creation of the internet, and the VCR. The creation of things like the VCR and internet drove innovation in other industries (aka the porn industry). It was not the reverse as your article claims.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. The_Red

    @1
    I don’t think they meant that porn industry actually created VCR or internet. Mark was talking about that one unique experience that makes an existing technology super popular.

    We all know how Internet came to be. VCR was also invented for other commercial or non-commercial uses but you can’t deny that the porn made both of them popular. Even now porn drives the internet. Maybe saying “porn is the reason the internet exists” is a bit misleading but porn is one of the main reason that internet has become the beast it is today (Not saying it’s good or bad, just saying).

    #2 2 years ago
  3. sleaker

    @2
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/julieruvolo/2011/09/07/how-much-of-the-internet-is-actually-for-porn/

    Sources make for good journalism, not outlandish comparisons that hold a shaky at best argument. Basing a story on something that isn’t proven and omitting sources is just lazy. It’s like telling me ‘One thing led to another’ instead of actually filling in what happened.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. YoungZer0

    @1: “Story by Stace Harman”

    And i think you’re completely missing the point of the article.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. roadkill

    @3 You’re still missing the point! And Red just pointed it out for you. How hard can it be!?

    @Stace Great article! Thanks! :) I love this game so so much! It’s incredible!! I’m having a lot of fun with it and I’m still playing solo at the moment.. :(

    #5 2 years ago
  6. YoungZer0

    btw. Still waiting for that key you guys promised. :/

    #6 2 years ago
  7. roadkill

    Zero “buy” this http://www.comixology.com/Hawken-Genesis/comics-series/9515! You will find a key on the last page. You can redeem that key on playhawken.com.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Dave Cook

    @6 you are? I’ll give Pat a shout as he set up that key dispenser. Bear with me.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. The Auracle

    This game might just be what influences me to build another PC after selling my last one to my dad. Fabulous stuff, this.

    #9 2 years ago

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    A look at the updated Steam Controller has surfaced via a hands-on post from Polygon. Valve said what you see in the images below is the final version of the controller. The controller has gone through numerous revisions since it was first revealed, but it seems Valve has decided on two touch pads which work […]

  • The Sims, SimCity developer closed down

    The Sims 4 developer Maxis has been shuttered, EA has confirmed. The Sims, SimCity and the rest of the Sim franchise has traditionally been helmed by Maxis, which had its flagship studio in Emeryville, California. Now EA has confirmed with Kotaku that this studio is being closed. “Today we are consolidating Maxis IP development to […]

  • Gigantic MOBA coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One with cross-play

    Today during GDC 2015, Microsoft announced that the new IP from Motiga called Gigantic will be cross-play enabled. Slated for Windows 10 and Xbox One, the five-on-five third-person battle arena game allows the player to select from an array of heroes with distinctive powers and play styles. Players will then make their way through areas […]

  • Here’s a look at Unreal Tournament DirectX 12 gameplay

    Epic Games is creating Unreal Tournament using Unreal Engine 4 running on DirectX 12, which Microsoft says “sets a new bar for visual fidelity.” DirectX 12 is a single API developers can access across Windows devices, which can result in a 20% improvement in performance over DX11 running on the same machine. The Unreal Tournament […]

  • Wireless adapter for Xbox One controllers out later this year

    Microsoft announced at GDC 2015 today it will that all wireless Xbox gaming accessories will be designed for and supported on both Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs moving forward. Later this year, a wireless adapter will be released, allowing current Xbox controllers and future devices to be used wirelessly on PCs. This will […]

  • Microsoft offers up more details on Spencer’s GDC 2015 talk

    Microsoft has provided more details on Cross-Buy functionality between Windows 10 and Xbox One as well as the Xbox Live SKU and other announcements made during Phil Spencer’s talk today. During the session, the head of Xbox shared “the next step” in the company’s plans for a unified platform across all Windows 10 devices which […]

  • Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 this summer

    Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 as a Game of the Year Edition. inXile Entertainment announced the news on the PS Blog, noting the edition contains enhancements and improvements. The game has been ported to Unity 5, which was announced over the weekend, providing upgraded visual effects, “improved character models, upgraded environments, and Unity […]

  • Cross-Buy detailed for Windows 10 and Xbox One; Elite: Dangerous coming to Xbox One

    During Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s session at GDC 2015 today, it was announced Elite: Dangerous would release on Xbox One. Spencer also outlined cross-buy functionality across Windows 10 and Xbox One. Spencer’s talk started off with Frontier Developments announcing Elite: Dangerous for release this summer as a console debut on Xbox One, suggesting the Elite: […]

  • Longbeards Culture Pack available now for Total War: Attila

    The Longbeards Culture Pack is now available for Total War: Attila and it comes with three new playable factions. The Langobards, the Burgundians and the Alamans can be played in both single and multiplayer campaign modes as well as custom and multiplayer battles. A new feature called The Lay of Ybor is also included. It […]

  • Nvidia unveils Titan X as world’s “most advanced GPU” – video

    Nvidia revealed Titan X as “the world’s most advanced GPU” during Epic founder Tim Sweeney’s State of Unreal session a t GDC 2015 today. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage during the panel stating it contains “8 billion transistors,” and has 12GB of RAM. Pricing wasn’t announced, but it was rumored back in January […]

  • Steam sale discounts titles announced for SteamOS

    With many of the year’s most popular games heading to SteamOS, Valve has decided to host sale in celebration. Here’s a short list of titles on sale. The full list of PC, Linux, Mac and SteamOS discounts can be found through the link. The Banner Saga Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Batman: Arkham […]

  • PayDay 2 announced for SteamOS, celebrating with franchise sale

    PayDay 2 is coming to SteamOS, Overkill has announced. Still under development, a release date will be announced at a later date. “Making sure PAYDAY 2 is available on SteamOS felt like a no-brainer,” said Bo Andersson Klint, CEO of Starbreeze in the press release. “With PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition coming to the next generation […]

  • Magicka 2 has a release date and a crazy new trailer

    Magicka 2 has a release date for PC and the PlayStation 4, and Paradox Interactive has released a trailer featuring “Vlad’s latest lyrical triumph,” which is his rendition of the Game of Thrones theme. Magicka arrived on PC and PS4 May 26 and the game can be pre-ordered on PC beginning today, with PS4 pre-orders […]

  • Nintendo eShop schedule: Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone, others

    Nintendo has sent over a list of titles heading to the eShop in 2015. The schedule contains titles such as Affordable Space Adventures, Runbow, Swords & Soldiers 2, Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone and Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. Below a preliminary list of games scheduled to launch in the Nintendo eShop on […]

  • Week 8: Can you win the weekly VG247 GTA Online playlist? Play tonight at 8pm UK time!

    We’re hotdogging tonight. I don’t even know what that means. Eight weeks of ridiculous death. Such a brave, true milestone. We’re going to celebrate two entire months of playing weekly GTA Online playlists with VG247 readers with Hotdogging, a set of six jobs I named completely at random. This one ends with a straight-up border […]

  • Puzzle platformer Four Sided Fantasy coming to PC, consoles in early 2016

    Curve Digital and developer Logan Fieth’s studio Ludo Land are bringing puzzle platformer, Four Sided Fantasy, to PC all major consoles in early 2016. Ludo Land are developing the PC version, with Curve Digital handling the console and Vita versions. Four Sided Fantasy tasks players with venturing across “dreamlike levels” by controlling and manipulating the […]

  • Tropico 5 arrives on PS4 in April – video

    A release date for Tropico 5 on PlayStation 4 has been announced. This is the franchise’s first foray onto PlayStation consoles. It arrived in Europe on April 24 and in North America on April 28. A Limited Edition has also been announced, and it includes The Big Cheese DLC and the Bayo Del Olfato sandbox […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Limited Edition PS4 releasing in Asia

    A limited edition Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain PlayStation 4 system will be released in Asia. The system and its DualShock controller were designed in collaboration with Konami Digital Entertainment and targeted for the Asia region, per Gematsu. It will be released as part of PS4 Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain […]

  • This video shows Sid Meier’s Starships being played on iPad

    Sid Meier’s Starships will be released on iPad alongside Mac and PC, and to give you an idea on how it plays on the tablet, a new video has been released. Watch below as Pete Murray and lead producer Stuart Zissu show off the iPad version. The 4X space-strategy releases on March 12.

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood announced as standalone prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a standalone prequel to The New Order, will release May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The game takes pace in 1946, and and players take on the role of B.J. Blazkowicz as he embarks on a two-part mission in Bavaria. Part one, Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves, […]

  • Observer Mode coming soon to Evolve as a free update

    Observer Mode will be released for Evolve as a free update for all platforms, 2K and Turtle Rock have announced. The community feature was designed to give Evolve players the ability to observe and add commentary as well as livestream, allowing a sixth user to “passively enter a custom game” with the ability to switch […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes and PS4 top Media Create charts in Japan

    The PlayStation 3 and PS4 skus for Dragon Quest Heroes were the top sellers on the Media Create charts in Japan, moving a combined 594,749 units. Elsewhere on the chart, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was in third place with 39,751 units moved, and last week’s top seller, God Eater 2: Rage Burst, […]

  • Watch Hideo Kojima answer lots of your burning Phantom Pain questions

    What’s better than learning the official release date of MGS5: The Phantom pain? Hideo Kojima talking more about it, of course! Hideo Kojima has decided to answer a few fan questions about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, to help boost everyone’s hype to insane levels. He talks about the game’s story, his relief […]

  • MGS5: The Phantom Pain Day 1 and Collector’s Edition revealed

    Konami has officially revealed the release date of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain alongside the game’s Day 1 and Collector’s Edition. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will release September 1, worldwide, as previously leaked. It will be available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The PC Steam […]

  • EU Club Nintendo: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack back in stock

    Club Nintendo members in Europe can once again pick up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack. For 3000 Stars, members of the program will receive the double-CD soundtrack which features 89 tracks with liner notes from Ryo Nagamatsu and 12 sheet music excerpts. It also comes with 16 Milk Bar Musician pieces. […]

  • HTC apologises over “confusing” Half-Life VR comments

    HTC has misspoke when it talked about Half-Life coming to VR headset Vive. HTC chairwoman Cher Wang has apologised over the comments she made yesterday about the possibility of Half-Life coming to Vive, the VR headset it’s manufacturing with the help of Valve. Sources close to Valve, have indicated to the BBC that the developer […]

  • What do Heists and Daily Objectives tell us about the future of GTA Online?

    Daily Objectives could be more important to GTA Online than Heists. These theories and more, from a giddy Matt Martin. Yesterday Rockstar dropped a bombshell. Not only is it releasing Heists next week – the mythical 4-player missions for GTA Online – but it’s also going to be introducing daily challenges and more modes to […]

  • Breaking down Hardline Premium, is it worth it?

    Having been announced just a few days ago, the Premium service for Battlefield Hardline has been a topic of constant debate among the Battlefield community. Many look at Hardline as a Battlefield off-shoot that will just tide everyone over until Battlefront comes out in the fall. EA has other plans however, announcing a $50 Premium […]

  • Watch Dogs sold more than GTA 5 and FIFA 15 in Australia in 2014

    Watch Dogs outsold GTA 5, and FIFA 15, at retail in Australia last year. According to data obtained by the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) from the NPD Group Australia, last year’s year retail sales charts look a bit different in Australia. The top-selling game was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, followed by Watch […]

  • Watch PC footage of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from GDC 2015

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a new gameplay video available that shows a bit of action from the PC version. The video below was captured from Nvidia’s GDC conference live-stream. Developer CD Projekt RED was on hand to show off The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt‘s graphical prowess running on a PC. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.