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Original author: 
John Walker

A real high-point of every GDC is the Game Design Challenge. Well, was. Sadly the tenth year of this annual treat was the last, with organiser Eric Zimmerman bringing proceedings to an end. And wow, did it go out in style. With the apposite topic, “Humanity’s Last Game”, some of the biggest names in the industry put forth their pitches for the last game we’d ever need. And one man entirely stole the show. For a second year, that man was Jason Rohrer.

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Original author: 
John Walker

An undoubted highlight of GDC every year is the Experimental Gameplay Workshop. Despite having that complete nonsense word in the title, it’s a chance for some of the most innovative and esoteric gaming ideas to be shared with one of the week’s biggest audiences, whether in development, released, or some impossible state in between. Some of the highlights are below.

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Something is happening. I’ve noticed it, you may have noticed it, and it’s probably no surprise to anyone who’s ever bought an “indie” record. The corporations with a finger in this delicious pie we call the games industry have been watching what’s happened, too. They’ve been watching the achievements of the likes of Jonathan Blow, 2Dboy, Notch/Mojang and other countless successful indie developers. Now, they’re changing the way the operate. And that is in turn changing how indies operate. Indie gaming will never be the same again. Is this a bad thing?

We talked to Double Fine, Positech, Klei and others to find out. (more…)

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In the grand scheme of MOBAs, Ironclad’s Sins of a Dark Age is quite the bold thing. AI directors, random rule-rewriting quests, and other RPG-influenced, flow-shattering shenanigans? This certainly isn’t DOTA 2.5 or Assortment of Apologues, and it’s not trying to be. But at one point, it was doing its damndest to be so much more. Unfortunately, the RTS-style base-building and commanding didn’t pan out, and Ironclad scratched them almost entirely. But according to studio director and co-owner Blair Fraser, his MOBA’s retching rejection of all things RTS is indicative of much larger problems for both genres. One, he argues, is on its death bed, and the other could be following suit if it doesn’t start blazing new trails.

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Last week I found myself in two conversations about resurrecting dead games. One was about Homeworld: I’d made a flippant comment about pressuring Relic to do a Kickstarter to make a sequel, and other people agreed. If Double Fine can raise millions for a point ‘n click, then why not millions for our lost and beloved space RTS? The other was about Syndicate. Wouldn’t it be great if we got a Syndicate sequel, finally, in the way we got a “proper” X-Com remake? No right-minded gamer would disagree. Hell, Paradox even seem to be planning to do so.

But I got to thinking about how this turn to “how games used to be” shouldn’t be about nostalgia, or the past at all, really. It should be about the future. The point of looking back must be to identify, rescue and save the futures we were promised.

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Botinacula, since you asked.

Yesterday Jim wrote a superb piece arguing that games are best when everything is going wrong. That the measure of a game’s potential for generating anecdotes, and its depth of connection to the player, is based in the amount of peril it’s able to generate. Citing games like Day Z, FTL and XCOM, Jim’s argument made one small mistake: it was all wrong. Games aren’t best when they’re stressing you out, piling on the pressure, raising your anxiety levels to breaking point! Games are best when they embrace you into their wonderful worlds, telling you great stories, and letting you get away from the incessant worries of real life.

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EVE Online! Since the servers first rumbled to life nine years ago the deeply political, single-shard MMO has been a source of endless fascination for RPS, on a par with helicopters. How do they stay in the air?

But what’s happening in EVE? Last we heard, some of its most famous chaps were grumbling or rioting, followed by something that continues to feel like a controlled peace. We needed an update, and so it was that CCP sent over a crate containing Senior Producer Jon Lander, Lead Game Designer Kristoffer Touborg and Community Developer Sveinn Kjarval. Together, we would get to the truth.
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Ludum Dare 23, get your Ludum Dare 23 here! I’ve gathered together eleven of my favourites from the recent 48 hour compo/jam, although that’s not to say I’ve played all 1,402 of the entries. The theme was ‘Tiny World’ and below you’ll find a musical, an existential microjaunt, a personbreeding simulation and a space cat trader, with other delights sprinkled about. There are also unconventional marks out of ten, based on number of graphics, similarity to Tetris and inclusion of comical readme file.

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Still all concept art at this point, for some reason.
Pity the simulated citizens who will live in SimCity, the reboot of the franchise of the same name, due from the god-game guys at Maxis sometime in 2013. No easy life for them, no appearing as if by magic on the streets of your town and scurrying back and forth between the busy districts of the day. No – instead, life will be a precarious crap-shoot of existential uncertainty, in which no satisfaction, however small, may be taken for granted, and no need may ever be filled in more than momentary fashion. And, as if it need be said, in the game.

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However hard games try to create worlds, they remain artifice. They are stage sets. Painted boxes. And when you step outside them, you get to see how unreal that game world actually is. This, from time to time, can be a wonderful thing. Let’s raise a glass to the strange lands that lie outside the game you were meant to see, that glitchy empire of the game outside the game.

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