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An anonymous reader writes "Alex Norton is the man behind Malevolence: The Sword of Ahkranox, an upcoming indie action-RPG. What makes Malevolence interesting is that it's infinite. It uses procedural generation to create a world that's actually endless. Norton jumped into this project without having worked any big gaming studios, and in this article he shares what he's learned as an independent game developer. Quoting: "A large, loud portion of the public will openly hate you regardless of what you do. Learn to live with it. No-one will ever take your project as seriously as you, or fully realize what you're going through. ... The odds of you making money out of it are slim. If you want to succeed, you'll likely have to sell out. Just how MUCH you sell out is up to you.' He also suggests new game devs avoid RPGs for their first titles, making a thorough plan before you begin (i.e. game concepts explained well enough that a non-gamer could understand), and considering carefully whether the game will benefit from a public development process."

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2K Games / Firaxis

The Skyranger lunged at the subway platform in Delhi, India. Thrusters vectoring down on their gimbals, the big tires taking the impact on thick shocks. The fireteam burst from the landing ramp into the dark and the rain, with Assaulter Edwin “Geronimo” Garcia up front. They saw blood, a fine mist of it along the stairs, a small pool on the landing. The way it reflected the light, you could tell it was fresh. A paper bag blew along the ground as my men slowly tucked into hard cover behind the railway signage. I strained to hear our quarry in the night.

We were not alone. A tall, thin man with round glasses stepped from the shadows across the track. And then came his twin—and his triplicate. Another pair of clones beside a commuter bench were illuminated by a flash of lightning. And then our world was lit green by plasma fire coming from all directions. Kim “Steady” Check, our heavy gunner, set one of the clones inside her holographic sights. The rest of the team had a solid target now and let loose volleys of their own. Metal wilted around my team, chips of concrete flew, but they kept firing into the night. 

Consider the audacity of Firaxis Games’ Jake Solomon. It’s all fine and good to praise X-Com: Enemy Unknown as one of the finest PC games ever made. But to remake it? Many have tried to modernize the game and failed, including series originator Julian Gallop himself. Perhaps the most successful games to follow in X-Com’s turn-based tactical footsteps were Valkyria Chronicles and Frozen Synapse, but they never dared to tie combat to base building and a tech tree. Solomon’s team went for it, and just to make it harder on themselves, they tacked on the added goal of broadening the game’s audience to include console gamers.

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Civ_thumb

This is big on the internet today: some dude on Reddit announced that he’d been playing the same game of Civilization II for the past 10 years. If you’re not familiar, Civ II (released in 1996) is, like the rest of the Civilization series (we’re at Civ V now), an empire-building game that takes place through world history and into the future to infinity. You don’t necessarily win through military might, but through a variety of different avenues, like technological might or cultural superiority. They’re some of the best games ever. After 10 years, the aforementioned Civ II player — Reddit handle: Lycerius — has reached the year 3991 A.D. and Earth is basically a hellscape of scant natural resources supporting vast armies, while the people starve and fallout poisons everything.

His conclusions are worth sharing:

I’ve been playing the same game of Civ II for 10 years. Though long outdated, I grew fascinated with this particular game because by the time Civ III was released, I was already well into the distant future. I then thought that it might be interesting to see just how far into the future I could get and see what the ramifications would be. Naturally I play other games and have a life, but I often return to this game when I’m not doing anything and carry on. The results are as follows.
The world is a hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation.

There are 3 remaining super nations in the year 3991 A.D, each competing for the scant resources left on the planet after dozens of nuclear wars have rendered vast swaths of the world uninhabitable wastelands.

- The ice caps have melted over 20 times (somehow) due primarily to the many nuclear wars. As a result, every inch of land in the world that isn’t a mountain is inundated swamp land, useless to farming. Most of which is irradiated anyway.

- As a result, big cities are a thing of the distant past. Roughly 90% of the worlds population (at it’s peak 2000 years ago) has died either from nuclear annihilation or famine caused by the global warming that has left absolutely zero arable land to farm. Engineers (late game worker units) are always busy continuously building roads so that new armies can reach the front lines. Roads that are destroyed the very next turn when the enemy goes. So there isn’t any time to clear swamps or clean up the nuclear fallout.

- Only 3 super massive nations are left. The Celts (me), The Vikings, And the Americans. Between the three of us, we have conquered all the other nations that have ever existed and assimilated them into our respective empires.

- You’ve heard of the 100 year war? Try the 1700 year war. The three remaining nations have been locked in an eternal death struggle for almost 2000 years. Peace seems to be impossible. Every time a cease fire is signed, the Vikings will surprise attack me or the Americans the very next turn, often with nuclear weapons. Even when the U.N forces a peace treaty. So I can only assume that peace will come only when they’re wiped out. It is this that perpetuates the war ad infinitum. Have any of you old Civ II players out there ever had this problem in the post-late game?

- Because of SDI, ICBMS are usually only used against armies outside of cities. Instead, cities are constantly attacked by spies who plant nuclear devices which then detonate (something I greatly miss from later civ games). Usually the down side to this is that every nation in the world declares war on you. But this is already the case so its no longer a deterrent to anyone. My self included.

- The only governments left are two theocracies and myself, a communist state. I wanted to stay a democracy, but the Senate would always over-rule me when I wanted to declare war before the Vikings did. This would delay my attack and render my turn and often my plans useless. And of course the Vikings would then break the cease fire like clockwork the very next turn. Something I also miss in later civ games is a little internal politics. Anyway, I was forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering my empire. But of course the people hate me now and every few years since then, there are massive guerrilla (late game barbarians) uprisings in the heart of my empire that I have to deal with which saps resources from the war effort.

- The military stalemate is air tight. The post-late game in civ II is perfectly balanced because all remaining nations already have all the technologies so there is no advantage. And there are so many units at once on the map that you could lose 20 tank units and not have your lines dented because you have a constant stream moving to the front. This also means that cities are not only tiny towns full of starving people, but that you can never improve the city. “So you want a granary so you can eat? Sorry; I have to build another tank instead. Maybe next time.”

- My goal for the next few years is to try and end the war and thus use the engineers to clear swamps and fallout so that farming may resume. I want to rebuild the world. But I’m not sure how. If any of you old Civ II players have any advice, I’m listening.

I love that he’s not done, nor does he seem particularly tired of the game. Me, I have no advice. I’m sure you could have fun for days with the analogs between our world and his Civ II history, but he’s still playing a game. I can’t say how many times I’ve pushed the red button, so to speak, to launch all-out nuclear war in this or that game. That said, we live in privileged times — still — and a whole lot of brutality is going to have to go down over the next 1,979 years.

Reach this writer at michaelb@motherboard.tv.

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Prior to working at Blizzard, Jay Wilson worked on some big games, including Company of Heroes and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War while he was at Relic. But none of his previous games were as widely-anticipated -- and garnered as high expectations -- as his latest work: Diablo III, launching this week for PC and Mac. As director on Diablo III, Wilson had to digest everything that the 16-year-old Diablo franchise is known for, lead ...

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In advance of Diablo III's May 15th ship date, Art Director Christian Lichtner spoke at GDC about his team's approach to resurrecting the franchise's classic art style in an ecosystem of first-person shooters and hyper-realistic cutscenes.

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In advance of Diablo III's May 15th ship date, Art Director Christian Lichtner spoke at GDC about his team's approach to resurrecting the franchise's classic art style in an ecosystem of first-person shooters and hyper-realistic cutscenes.

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Continuing my examination of the Action RPG genre, part two further looks at progression. This time the act of leveling up and skills, and how the process has changed over the years.

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