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Out of time: the Free Radical story – Part One

Wednesday, 23 January 2013 11:01 GMT By Dave Cook

Born from GoldenEye 64 developer Rare, Free Radical Design’s story is a long and complicated one. VG247′s Dave Cook speaks with co-founder Steve Ellis to set records straight.

Somewhere within the English city of Nottingham, Free Radical co-founder Steve Ellis has corralled 143 employees into a bustling hotel conference room. This isn’t a team-building exercise. Rather, he’s brought them together to tell them that after months of missed deadlines, technical hiccups and frequent disagreements with publishers, they are all now unemployed. 39 lucky employees sat in the next room over, safe from the threat of unemployment. For now.

Recalled Ellis, “The administrators were concerned about doing it at the office because they didn’t want an angry mob looting the place. To their credit though, people mostly weren’t angry. They knew how we had got to where we were. They knew the efforts that everyone had made. They knew that every avenue had been explored.”

It’s December 18th, 2008 and Christmas is just a week away.

Rare Talent

Ashby Computers & Graphics founders Tim and Chris Stamper were known among the gaming elite for their 8-bit label Ultimate Play the Game, and released a string of memorable 8-bit titles such as Jetpac and Sabre Wulf. In 1985 the brothers decided to spin out a new subdivision geared towards creating titles for Nintendo’s NES home console. The studio was given the name Rare.

If you know your gaming history, you’ll know that Rare quickly became a darling of the games industry, and produced a wide range of critically acclaimed and technically accomplished titles. From Donkey Kong Country and its sequels, to the brutal combat of Killer Instinct, Rare’s star burned brightly from day one, but it shone even stronger with the herald of Nintendo 64.

Nintendo’s then-powerhouse console saw Rare deliver what many perceive to be its watershed moments. Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark and Jet Force Gemini may have cemented its place in the public subconscious, but arguably its crowning achievement was GoldenEye 64, a riotous multiplayer shooter that would both propel Rare to the height of gaming stardom and leave it a house divided. It was something of a bitter-sweet victory.

“The GoldenEye team was fairly unique within Rare at that time in that most of us had been to University,” Ellis explained. “We had ambition to do something more than working for a company – even a company like Rare. We wanted to be in control of our destinies and create a working environment that was like Rare but better.

“We also naively believed that we had done all of the work in bringing GoldenEye to market successfully, since we didn’t see anyone else doing anything to help on a day-to-day basis. We later discovered the extent of the behind-the-scenes things that must have been going on to allow us to work in such a sheltered environment, shielded from deadlines, milestone approvals, and externally-enforced changes.

“As it became clear that GoldenEye was enjoying an extraordinary level of success, we realised that it might give us the opportunity that we needed to branch out and raise money to fund our own game. We discussed it through most of 1998, while saving some of our GoldenEye bonuses to help tide us over for a few months without an income, and in late 1998 Dave Doak and I left Rare.”

Although they had no debut project to their name, few publishers would deny Ellis, Doak and the rest of their team a meeting. After all, they were the guys who had achieved 8 million sales of GoldenEye in just over a year since launch. Eidos was the first publisher to offer this new renegade group – operating under the name Free Radical Design – a contract, and on April 1st 1999, Ellis and his team moved into their new office and began conceptualising the studio’s first game Second Sight.

The dawn of time

Second Sight – codenamed internally as ‘Redemption’ – wasn’t Free Radical’s first release, but it was the game that secured the studio’s pairing with Eidos. There was a loose premise in place that involved a game featuring psychic powers, but Ellis and his team decided to try their hand at a multiplayer shooter instead. They wanted a project that would set give them the tools and knowledge needed to get the best out of Sony’s impending PlayStation 2 hardware.

Regarding Second Sight, Ellis explained, “It was ambitious and would take over two years to develop. However we also wanted to prove ourselves as soon as possible, to distance ourselves from the numerous other startups that were constantly starting up and subsequently failing. In summer 1999 we learned that the PS2 would launch in Europe and America at the end of 2000 rather than launching worldwide in March 1999 as had previously been intended.

“This delay was an opportunity. We had an engine running on the PS2, so if we could just change direction a little and make something without a complex narrative, we could conceivably have it ready for the PS2 launch. We had enjoyed multiplayer shooters and had had some success with GoldenEye, so it seemed like a good idea to try making a game that focused on that.

“We threw together a quick prototype and showed it to Eidos. Initially they declined it, preferring that we continued to work on ‘Redemption’, the game that we had signed with them. Undeterred by this, however, we continued to work on it on the side and showed it again to them in November 1999. This time they were convinced and we agreed to make TimeSplitters our first game, aiming for PS2 launch with ‘Redemption’ to follow in 2002.”

The Classic Game Room’s review
of TimeSplitters is rather ace.

Although the PlayStation 2 hardware represented a significant leap over Sony’s predecessor, Free Radical wasn’t intimidated by the challenge of creating TimeSplitters in time for the console’s European launch. Having been familiar with Unix and preferring Linux over Windows, the studio took to what Ellis described as “the Linux-based development environment” of Sony’s rig with ease.

“The architecture was a good match for our abilities,” explained Ellis. “We wrote all of our code specifically for the PS2 and we made the decision to ignore the fact that we might later want it to run on other platforms. We could deal with that if and when the time came. The consequence: with a below-average team size, a below-average amount of time, and having to learn along the way how to build and run a company, we managed to hit PS2 launch with a game that wasn’t embarrassingly bad.”

TimeSplitters launched in 2000 as promised, and Ellis was right: the game wasn’t embarrassingly bad. In fact, it received a positive critical reaction and strong sales that would see it re-launch as a Platinum title in 2002. The game boasted a four-player, split-screen multiplayer mode that recalled the team’s effort on GoldenEye 64, and showed – once again – that first-person shooters can happily exist in the analogue console world.

Looking at where the games industry is now, with its heavy focus on multiplayer games – shooters in particular – and it’s clear that Free Radical retained Rare’s eye for innovation and in second-guessing the market. That Timesplitters and GoldenEye 64 are still seen as two of the key precursors of modern shooters is testament to the studio’s skill. But like Rare before it, Free Radical wasn’t ready to take a break.

“TimeSplitters was an important milestone for us and we were incredibly proud of hitting it,” beamed Ellis. “It meant that we were a ‘real’ company that had actually released a game. We were no longer a startup. However we knew we could do better if we had more time. From the start the scope had been determined by the available time.

“We knew that it wouldn’t be possible to have a complex narrative, so we didn’t get distracted by trying to. We were aiming for a multiplayer sandbox where you had a huge amount of variety and freedom to play in different ways. I think we achieved that, but with a lot of clear areas to take forward in the sequel.”

Wasting no time

Although Free Radical was given life by Eidos on the basis of its Second Sight pitch, the studio still wasn’t ready to shift focus back to its psychic action game. Instead, the team knew it had caught lightning in a bottle with TimeSplitters and it wasn’t prepared to let the sparks fizzle out just yet. Talk of TimeSplitters 2 began shortly after the first game shipped, and it promised to raise the bar for console shooters everywhere.

“After TimeSplitters we were supposed to get back to working on ‘Redemption’”, Ellis recalled. “However it was clear that TimeSplitters needed a sequel. Eidos weren’t comfortable funding our growth to two teams at that time, so we agreed to make TimeSplitters 2 instead and take back ‘Redemption’.

“TimeSplitters 2 had 23 months of development – still not a huge amount of time – but by that time we had a working engine from a released game, so it was enough time to upgrade the tech and add a decent single-player game.

“Again, preferring variety, we chose to go with a series of levels in distinct environments and time periods, with the dam as the first level as a nod to GoldenEye. We spent almost a full year working on that level to get all of the gameplay right and then spent the second year adding all of the rest of the levels.”

The Dam stage was indeed a phenomenal lesson in pacing, design and aesthetic prowess. It recalled the thrills of GoldenEye 64′s opening stage, but arguably surpassed it, as if wrenching away Rare’s torch and passing it to Free Radical by force. From a quiet and tense beginning to an explosive and deafening battle against a Russian gunship, TimeSplitters 2 opened with a warning shot to the world. Free Radical had truly arrived.

The official TimeSplitters 2 trailer
brings back memories. Thanks marksmanr.

TimeSplitters 2′s launch was met with critical acclaim among the gaming press, and runaway sales quickly followed. With a larger focus on campaign narrative, customisable multiplayer modes, riotous deathmatch play and an enhanced level builder, Free Radical had gone above and beyond the original game. It was a booming response to the ‘tricky second album’ problem that causes many entertainment creators to stumble.

On the press and public’s positive reaction to TimeSplitters 2, Ellis explained, “I think that almost all games are influenced in some way by what has gone before, and it’s hard to trace what has inspired what, so I wouldn’t want to take undue credit for inspiring others. However, it’s always nice to hear how much people enjoyed it.

“When you’re making a game it can be hard to see past its flaws. Game development is all about making compromises and you know all of the things that you didn’t get time to do, the things didn’t manage to do as well as you had hoped and the bugs that you’re not going to be able to fix.

“I’ve never reached the end of a project thinking ‘this is amazing’. However I do recall one time towards the end, playing a 16-player game in the office against Eidos QA, thinking that we might have something special.”

With that ‘something special’ behind them, and the Free Radical name now a known force among the games industry, it was time to knuckle down and get Second Sight finished and out into the wild. However, the game had since changed publisher and was now tied to Codemasters, despite garnering the attention of industry juggernaut Activision at concept stage.

“From the start the intention was to have more than one team and preferably more than one publisher,” Ellis recalled. “Being a one-team company sounded incredibly risky, and even the idea of working on two games with one publisher made us nervous. If you only have one source of income, what happens if something goes wrong? We would later find out.”

20/20 Vision

The time had come for Free Radical to take a step back from TimeSplitters and return to its origins with Second Sight. The game starred John Vattic an amnesic who awakes with no memory of his past, but who now bears psychic and telekinetic powers. The game was received well among the gaming press, but didn’t live up to the huge reaction surrounding TimeSplitters 2.

Regardless it shifted around one million copies in its life-span, which pleased publisher Codemasters and thrust the studio further into the publisher spotlight. The game may have fared better at retail under Activision, but we’ll never know.

“Activision had wanted to work with us on ‘Redemption’ from the start,” explained Ellis. “But we eventually signed with Eidos. However we still kept in touch with Activision, and when it looked like Eidos didn’t want to sign the Gamecube version of TimeSplitters 2 – publishers didn’t find it easy to work with Nintendo back then – we started exploring doing it with Activision.

“It almost happened too, but Eidos relented in the end. So instead we agreed to develop ‘Redemption’ for Activision. To distance it from TimeSplitters, and because we had been playing Metal Gear Solid, we decided to change it to third-person, but essentially it was the same game that we had signed to Eidos in 1999.

“Unfortunately, towards the end of 2003 Activision had a change of strategy, fired most of the people we had been working with and pulled out of UK development entirely. They cancelled something like ten games in one day. Since we owned the Second Sight IP we were able to take it to other publishers and eventually signed it – for a third time – with Codemasters.

Second Sight’s trailer held a great deal
of mystery. Thanks AC97RBP.

“It was reasonably well-received, but I think the late change of publishers had resulted in there not being enough awareness of the game by the time it launched. These days we often see it featured in articles with titles like ‘the best games you never played’”.

With all eyes on Free Radical to see what it would do next, life was pretty comfortable at the Nottingham studio. Confidence was high, and while there was no ‘master plan’ set in stone, Ellis and the rest of the team didn’t want to get carried away just yet. While the studio felt assured of TimeSplitter’s quality, the franchise still wasn’t getting the sales it deserved, so EA stepped in to make the the developer an offer for TimeSplitters: Future Perfect.

“TimeSplitters 2 had more critical success than commercial success,” Ellis recalled, “particularly outside the UK. To put it bluntly, it didn’t sell as well as we thought it should have, given its review scores. It sold about 2 million copies, where other lower-rated shooters were selling 3-5 million or more. EA noticed this, and came calling.

“They told us that if we let them publish TimeSplitters 3, they would be able to do better than Eidos had, and so the best way forward was to work with them. They were very convincing, and eventually we signed TimeSplitters 3 with them. It wasn’t an easy relationship.”

Indeed, EA wanted Free Radical to shift the focus of TimeSplitters 3 away from multiplayer and to create a deeper single-player experience. If you’re a fan of the series you’ll know that – while superb – TimeSplitter’s heart beats strongest in multiplayer. To this day Ellis isn’t sure if this shift, or some other force led the game to sell only 1 million units in its lifespan, but it was a dip neither party wanted.

Ellis explained that sales of TimeSplitters 3 wouldn’t have been enough for EA, or any publisher at the time to justify a fourth game. Weak returns was one nail in the TimeSplitters coffin, but at this time – circa 2005 – production costs were spiralling to match Hollywood, and the answer became clear to Ellis and his group of renegades – it would have to raise the money by creating a new IP.

And its name would be Haze.

Stay tuned for part two of my Free Radical feature, in which Ellis and I discuss the untold story behind Haze, TimeSplitters 4, Star Wars: Battlefront III and more.

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22 Comments

  1. LuLshuck

    Timesplitters 2 for me will always be the best game ive ever played, its ashame that EA were the ones that changed timesplitters 3

    #1 2 years ago
  2. friendlydave

    Timesplitters 2 was such a classic for me. Me and a friend used to have the enemy patterns memorised and just blew through levels. So much fun. Time splitters 3 was just as enjoyable. Specially loved the Challenges.

    The Mexican level music will forever be stuck in my head.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. DrDamn

    That first level in TS2 still ranks as one of my favourite FPS levels. I played it through so many times.

    Does this have a happy ending? :)

    #3 2 years ago
  4. CyberMarco

    Not to be that guy, but really, this was the big “BOOM”? Kind of a meh!

    I was expecting some big announcement to blow things out of the water…

    #4 2 years ago
  5. SplatteredHouse

    http://uk.gamespot.com/forums/topic/25392225/should-i-get-psi-ops-second-sight-or-both?msg_id=284419333

    Question du jour, at the time. ^ I’m surprised the article didn’t mention the crunch that happened between these two, that cost Free Radical’s game on the shelves. I did feel like the publisher let down Second Sight at the time as I only learned of it (as it came to be) close to its release, but I was all about Psi Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy. I couldn’t wait to play it. RIP, Midway. (Psi Ops is now available for free* on PC in US/EU, *ad-supported)

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @4 part two is a bigger boom. TimeSplitters 4, Star Wars, Haze etc.

    Also, what is boom to one man, might not be boom to you :P

    Lots of on the record insight here that hasn’t been shared so openly before, fans of the studio will appreciate it I’m sure.

    Sorry to disappoint.

    (Also this piece took me some two months to do, proper big effort)

    #6 2 years ago
  7. manamana

    Well its not a HL3 like boom, but still – applause, applause!

    #7 2 years ago
  8. CyberMarco

    @6 Maybe I’m not such a big fan of those games, never had the chance to play them first hand, nevertheless it’s a big effort from your part to deliver this kind of articles to the fans.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Dave Cook

    @7 thank you, I think the term ‘boom’ needs to be redefined and downplayed a touch ;)

    Part two is awesome though, the proper juicy stuff.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Dave Cook

    @6 :) I’d recommend TS2 dude. Awesome fun.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Dragon246

    Tits not completely blown, but still a bit in shreds :P

    #11 2 years ago
  12. manamana

    @9 reading about SWBFIII makes my heart bleed, so please, be careful. ;-)

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Dave Cook

    @11 the tits thing is coming tomorrow man ;)

    #13 2 years ago
  14. SameeR_Fisher

    @6: WOOoooooooooooh, 2 months ?!, quite the hard work Dave, even though I played non of their games –I wasn’t interested in FPS back then, heck I actually hated FPS– I really enjoyed this article, I love to hear about devs and their work, it is a great thing in my opinion.

    Again great work Dave, and I can’t wait for the 2nd part, witch also has games I never played LOL

    #14 2 years ago
  15. absolutezero

    Its already been mentioned but Second Sight really was a little gem that sadly went completely under the radar, it had a far stronger story and set up that Psi Ops BUT it choose to make your character very vulnerable. On the other hand Psi Ops was all about being a rolling ball of death and fun and power.

    Really interested to see what you’ve got on Haze Dave, I actually bought it at launch and just sat with my mouth open at how bad it all was.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Dave Cook

    @14 haha, thanks :)

    Yeah 2 months. Steve was cautious at first but we discussed and played around with the idea of the feature for a while to make sure it gave the proper, un-spun story. We wanted to set the record straight after all the TS4/Star Wars rumours.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. daytripper

    Really good read Dave :-) I had a feeling it was Star Wars related as I said in the tease thread ;-)

    #17 2 years ago
  18. SameeR_Fisher

    @16: great work, I hope to see this becomes a habit of you, always making articles about developers and titles, either cancelled or on hold, I believe you have the support of all VG247 members ;), so best of luck.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. ps4some

    I’ve got a mate who worked for FR on Haze and even he calls it Hazelol

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Dave Cook

    @19 oh dear. Yeah the production sounded tough from the start. It’s the main focus of part two of my article. Steve paints a tense picture of what it was like at the studio during development.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. The_Red

    Wow, really outstanding piece. As a huge fan of TimeSplitters games (Especially part 3 which IMHO is on par with Black & Halo 1 in terms of console FPS quality). Thank you and seriously looking forward to the “Hazy” part 2 :)

    #21 2 years ago
  22. polygem

    boom! i think someone even guessed right. wasn’t me tho;) loved ts2 so much. neo tokyo…great cgr review link too…actually my most trusted review source in the whole wide interwebs. cannot wait for part 2. i sense a real boom? yes? no?

    #22 2 years ago

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  • Finally, we get a look at Necropolis in action – video

    No longer content with releasing only gifs of Necropolis, Harebrained Schemes has decided to provide a short video. The upcoming third-person action rogue-like with procedurally generated levels is headed to Linux, Mac and PC sometime next year, with a possible console release as well. If you made to PAX East despite the weather, don’t forget […]

  • Super Dungeon Bros will be one of the first cross-play titles for Xbox One, Windows 10

    Another cross-device multiplayer game for Windows 10 and Xbox One has been announced, and it’s Super Dungeon Bros – a “rock-themed, co-op dungeon brawler” from React Games. Super Dungeon Bros tasks four “bros” with raiding underground crypts built by the gods through an ever-changing layout. There, they will be up against “dangerous foes, deadly obstacles, […]

  • Pre-ordering State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition in US nets an in-game knife

    Those who pre-order the State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition will net a bonus, according to Undead Labs. Select retailers in the US will offer the following knives as in-game pre-order bonus content: GameStop -  The Avalonian :  A true work of art, taken off the body of a fantasy enthusiast whose excitement at having […]

  • Rollercoaster Tycoon World gameplay teaser video released

    Today, Atari has provided a look at gameplay for Rollercoaster Tycoon World. Set for release during the first part of this year, the game allows players to build their own rides and which can be shared with other players. It will also feature four-player co-op.

  • One Heist challenge in GTA Online pays out $10 million in cash

    GTA Online’s new Heists content was previewed by various outlets at GDC 2015 this week, and according to hands-on with the free upcoming content, there’s over 20 hours worth of things to do and quite a bit of money to gain. Oh, and a VTOL Hydra jet too. According to a really informative piece from […]

  • Activision Blizzard makes Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list

    For the first time, Activision Blizzard has been named to Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list for 2015. The survey conducted by Fortune found the company “ranked highly with its employees” which felt the atmosphere was friendly and place in which they could “be themselves.” “We have always considered Activision Blizzard to be […]

  • Evolve Hunt for Gold Weekend nets players special monster skin

    A Evolve community event is taking place this weekend, and participants will receive a special skin for Goliath, Kraken, and Wraith. Dubbed the Evolve Hunt for Gold Weekend, it’s the first in a series of upcoming online community challenges and events taking place over the coming months. Those who log-in starting today at 9pm PST […]

  • This video teases contents of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 – Episode 3

    A teaser video and images for Resident Evil: Revelations 2 – Episode 3 have been posted by Capcom. The assets can be considered potential spoilers, so just be aware of that before having a look. The game’s Season Pass costs $20, and the disc version releases March 17 in North America and on March 20 […]

  • GTA Online Heists teaser video is extremely short

    With Heists coming to GTA Online next week, Rockstar has released one of the shortest teaser videos we’ve seen in ages. Hopefully you didn’t blink. Heists, along with Daily Objectives and Adversary Mode, arrive next week on March 10. The PC version of Heists will arrive on April 14 when the PC version of the […]

  • The Division rumors claim Dark Zones support up to 100 players – video

    With the recent leak of older, pre-alpha footage of the The Division, rumors over the game’s contents have been swirling, and today we have a video for you discussing said rumors. Once of the rumors pertain to the game is that it contains 50-100 Player Dark Zones, which are PvP areas. Supposedly, these areas also […]

  • Here’s a look at MGS5: The Phantom Pain emblem creation, limited edition bionic arm

    A look at how to create your own emblems in Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain was demonstrated in the latest Kojima Station broadcast, along with a look at the bionic arm replica included in the limited edition. A Venom Snake emblem will come with the limited edition version of the game, parts of […]

  • Elite: Dangerous coming to PS4 once Xbox One exclusivity period ends

    Elite: Dangerous was announced for Xbox One at GDC 2015 yesterday, and those disappointed over the lack of a PlayStation 4 announcement will be pleased to know it’s in the cards. According to Frontier boss David Braben the space-sim will head to PS4 at some point, once the console exclusivity deal with Microsoft has expired. […]

  • Here’s two new The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt screenshots to salivate over

    Two new screenshots from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have been released, and they are gorgeous as always. The screenshots follow the two released over the weekend. You can look at the new images in full HD glory over on Only Single Player. CD Projekt Red is at PAX East this weekend showing off the latest […]

  • Microsoft looking into streaming PC games to Xbox One

    With Windows 10, Xbox One users will soon be able to stream their games to PC. Microsoft is also looking into streaming PC games to Xbox One, according to news out of GDC. Speaking with Polygon at GDC 2015, Xbox program director Mike Ybarra said the company is also looking into the ability to stream […]

  • Free! Vindictus Lann Revamp codes worth €25

    We have 400 Lann Revamp codes worth €25 to giveaway for free to VG247 readers. All you need to do is enter your details in the box below and you’ll be given a code to redeem in game. The codes are for warrior character Lann and offer a 7 day unlimited Inner Armour pass, battle […]

  • US eShop update: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, OlliOlli, more

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, OlliOlli and a demo version of Azure Striker GUNVOL. Your full update is below. eShop Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars – Wii U, 3DS – Cross Buy OlliOlli – Wii U, 3DS – Cross-Buy Proun+ – Proun+ […]

  • Rock Band 4 confirmed for Xbox One and PS4: supports old instruments and 2,168 songs

    Harmonix has lifted the lid on the long-rumoured Rock Band 4, stating it will support 2,168 previously released tracks and last-gen instruments on PS4 and Xbox One. The game will be out this year. Harmonix has yet to reveal specific features for the game, but it has been built with a completely new engine. As […]

  • First run of Rodea the Sky Soldier copies on Wii U come with Wii version

    The first print run of Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii U will come with the Wii version packed in, NIS America has confirmed. The publisher confirmed today in a press release that anyone who buys the first run of the retail version of Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii U will find the Wii […]

  • Unreal Tournament 4 lets modders sell cosmetic items to players

    Unreal Tournament 4 is a game built with the help of the modding community. So it’s only natural that it will feature a marketplace where all cosmetic items can be sold. Epic Games has confirmed that it will allow modders from the community to sell the cosmetics items they’ve created on the game’s marketplace. The […]

  • D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die is coming to PC – rumour

    SWERY 65 has shown off D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die running on PC at GDC this week, teasing that a possible port may be on the way. D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die is SWERY 65′s latest project. An episodic detective affair, D4 came out on Xbox One last September and utilised Kinect as its main […]

  • Valve’s Lighthouse, VR controllers and more explained

    Valve’s less-talked about prototype VR controllers and its Lighthouse technology have been shown in more detail. When HTC announced Vive, the VR headset it’s working on with Valve, it mentioned “base stations” and ergonomic controllers. Now we know what they meant by that. The controllers are still in prototype phase, and will look better when […]

  • Listen to two professional Counter-Strike players explain why Dust2 is so popular

    Hear what makes iconic Counter-Strike map Dust2 one of the most popular maps in shooter history from two former eSports players. Sal “Volcano” Garozzo and Shawn “FMPONE” Snelling are both retired professional Counter-Strike players who are currently working as designers. At GDC this year, the pair hosted a panel titled “Community Level Design for Competitive […]

  • Core Morpheus hardware locked in, no plans for wireless version

    Sony has finalised the core hardware for its VR headset Project Morpheus, and does not currently plan on releasing a wireless version. SCE Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida spoke to Gamespot at GDC and confirmed that the core hardware of Morpheus is “pretty much done” but that “lots of tweaks and improvements” are still being […]

  • Watch the full Phil Spencer keynote from GDC 2015

    The full GDC 2015 keynote of Xbox boss Phil Spencer is now available to watch. In case you missed last nights’s Phil Spencer keynote at GDC 2015, the whole thing has been made available to watch on YouTube. The address is titled “The Future of Gaming Across the Microsoft Ecosytem,” and it’s where Spencer announced […]

  • Elite: Dangerous won’t be “dumbed down” for Xbox One

    The Xbox One version of Elite: Dangerous will in fact be the same as the PC one. Elite: Dangerous developer Frontier came out on stage last night at GDC to announce the game making its console debut on Xbox One. Some have feared that the port would not provide the same experience as the PC […]

  • Virtual reality: by gum, it’s really happening

    Virtual reality has exited the realm of peripheral gimmick and turned into something that just might go mainstream. VR has an uphill battle ahead of it. The tech is going to be expensive, and there are a number of problems that need to be solved before it could be considered an inclusive technology (motion sickness, […]

  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor takes Game of the Year at GDC Awards 2015

    And the winner is: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor beat out Alien: Isolation, Bayonetta 2, Destiny, and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft to win Game of the Year at the Game Developer’s Choice Awards 2015. Elsewhere in the awards, Ustwo’s mobile hit Monument Valley was a stand-out favourite, with wins in the Innovation, […]

  • Alien: Isolation was prototyped in third-person – video

    Alien: Isolation is one of the most effectively scary triple-A games in years, but it didn’t start off a perfect creation of pure terror. Creative Assembly prototyped Alien: Isolation in third-person perspective before they nailed down the final approach. The developer revealed this during a GDC 2015 presentation, and it’s a good reminder that games […]

  • Madden 15 added to EA Vault

    Madden 15 is now included in EA’s all-you-can-eat subscriber service. Madden 15 is the ninth game to be added to the EA Vault, a stash of games available on demand for EA Access subscribers. It's still Madden Season for EA Access members – Madden NFL 15 is now in The Vault for all members. Go […]

  • Source Engine 2 doesn’t have hidden costs or royalties – but is Steam exclusive

    Three major engines went free at GDC 2015, and each of them is monetising in a different way. There’s been a heck of a lot of discussion about development tools and the costs associated with them during GDC 2015. First Epic announced that Unreal Engine 4 would be free, bar royalities on successful releases. Then […]

  • Final Fantasy creator hates sequels

    Final Fantasy, a byword in prolific franchises, was created by a man who hates sequel. Final Fantasy games are famous for being reinvented with each core release, and it was not until series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi began to withdraw from the franchise after Final Fantasy 9 that we started seeing regular sequels and spin-offs. Speaking […]

  • Guardian complaints led to the closure of Destiny’s Loot Cave

    Destiny players are to blame for the shuttering of the much loved Loot Cave. Early in Destiny‘s history, many players got hugely excited about the “Loot Cave”. Accessible shortly after starting the game for the first time, this high-volume spawn point allowed players to stand in one place, taking out waves and waves of low-level […]

  • Xbox and PC games boss Phil Harrison to leave Microsoft – rumour

    Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business VP and EMEA head of games Phil Harrison is rumoured to have thrown in the towel. Microsoft has not issued a statement on Harrison’s alleged departure, despite repeated questioning by press at GDC 2015. Instead, word comes via multiple sources speaking to GamesIndustry at the show. According to the rumours, Harrison […]

  • Metal Gear Online commentated trailer explains stuffed dog – but not invisibility

    Metal Gear Online developer Kojima Productions has provided significantly more insight into how the multiplayer side of The Phantom Pain works. Metal Gear Online is the online multiplayer component of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. Konami hasn’t shared a great deal about it yet, but we did see a very cool Metal Gear […]

  • Elite: Dangerous Xbox One trailer shows off space MMO

    If Elite: Dangerous looks this good on Xbox One we have nothing to complain about. Microsoft revealed Elite: Dangerous is coming to Xbox One this year during its GDC presentations today. We don’t know very much about the port, but I suppose we ought to have expected it; Frontier Developments has a very close relationship […]

  • Battletoads to appear in Shovel Knight Xbox One

    A Battletoads remake must be on the horizon. Right? Right?? The Battletoads will appear in the upcoming Xbox One version of Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games revealed today. The Battletoads drop in for a fight! Shovel Knight is headed to Xbox One and meets up with @RareLtd brawling trio! pic.twitter.com/OCQIuWbH3W — Yacht Club Games (@YachtClubGames) […]

  • The Division pre-alpha footage leaks, Ubisoft says it’s well out of date

    The Division fans finally got a look at Ubisoft’s MMO this week, but the publisher has said the footage is not in any way representative. Pre-alpha footage of the The Division was leaked this week, but has since been thoroughly smacked down by takedown notices. All that remains are a few screenshots and a GIF: […]

  • Microsoft HoloLens designer killed in hit and run accident

    Very sad news out of Redmond this week, as Mike Ey was killed in a tragic accident. Ey, 30, was one of the key project designers on Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset. He was killed on Saturday morning in a rear-end collision. The driver of the second vehicle fled the scene but was tracked down by […]

  • AMD throws support behind VR with new low-latency anti-nausea tech

    GPU manufacturer AMD has released a new SDK compatible with “a broad set of VR devices”. Called LiquidVR, the tech is designed to “bring better content, comfort, and compatibility to VR applications” including games, simulation, entertainment, education, social media, travel, medicine, real estate and ecommerce, apparently. AMD said maintaining comfort and realism in VR environments […]

  • Danganronpa 3 in the works, but a long way off yet

    A new Danganronpa is happening. Danganronpa 3 is in the very, very early production stages, writer Kodaka Kazutaka has confirmed. Nothing about the project is “set in stone”, Kazutaka told Polygon, so there are no details to share yet; the characters and story may change several times before being finalised. The writer said he’s weighing […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League 2015 schedule announced

    Major League Gaming has announced the full schedule for the 2015 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League. The eSpots firm revealed two more seasons of Pro League, a live Relegation tournament for Season Three, and a season ending World Championship with $250,000 up for grabs You can watch all the action on MLG.tv […]

  • Happy Birthday PlayStation 2, you are almost old enough to drive

    Amidst all the GDC 2015 hoopla today, we forgot to wish PlayStation 2 a Happy Birthday. The system turned 15 years old today, going by its March 4, 2000 launch date in Japan. It was released in the west that autumn, and had shipped 100 million units in less than six years post launch. PS2 […]

  • Here’s what the final version of Valve’s Steam Controller looks like

    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 […]