‘We always dreamed about making games’: A Chat With FIFTYTWO

We talked to the Russian indie devs about their journey into game development, Populus Run, and the importance of music in video games. Nizhny Novgorod may have felt like the centre of the planet for much of this summer’s World Cup, but the developers at FIFTYTWO have been creating their own beautiful universes there for years. Using innovative and immersive designs on Kenshō, JELLIES! and the upcoming Populus Run, they are part of a flourishing Russian games industry. We spoke to co-founder Mikhail Shagin. You used to make games in your spare time. What was it that inspired you to […]

No Man’s Sky NEXT and the Volatile Identity of Modern Games

July 24th saw the release of No Man’s Sky NEXT, an update for 2016’s divisive universe exploration title. For many, this finally made No Man’s Sky the game they thought they were buying two years ago. NEXT raises a host of fascinating practical and philosophical questions in an era when art, and games especially, can be endlessly updated. In the metaphysics of identity there is a thought experiment known as the ship of Theseus. You have Theseus’ ship. Now imagine replacing the ship’s parts, plank by plank, gradually over time. At which stage – if ever – should it be […]

Looking Ahead: Is PlayStation Already Winning the Next Console War?

It’s the fifth year of this console cycle and time to peak around the corner to predict what might be next. The battle for top spot will be won or lost by the ability to get into our wallets. So which console are gamers planning to invest in when the next generation comes around? The major differences between Sony and Microsoft’s premier gaming consoles have begun to dissolve in recent years. A decade ago it would have seemed unimaginable that Metal Gear Solid, a series which is practically written into the DNA of PlayStation, would ever dare to grace a […]

Is it Time For World of Warcraft II?

Here we sit, at the cusp of a new World of Warcraft expansion. With over a decade of adventures shared with friends across the world, it’s time to ask: is there a limit to how far Blizzard’s golden stallion can run? We’ve been through a lot to get here. We’ve faced down Arthas, the Burning Legion, Deathwing, Garrosh Hellscream, and even traversed to an alternate timeline before going back to Battle for Azeroth. Let there be no doubts about it – the fact that World of Warcraft has endured as long as it has is a testament to Blizzard’s commitment […]

What Do Gamers Make Of Sony’s Fortnite Cross-Platform Policy?

Boasting millions of concurrent players and even a Twitch stream with Drake, Fortnite is a game that has connected a huge and varied audience. Yet PS4 players are still missing out on the full experience. It’s been a big week for Fortnite, marking one year since its initial release by surpassing $1billion in revenue. First teased by Epic in 2011, the game now feels like an overnight success story seven years in the making. The ever-evolving title has become the new titan of the Battle Royale genre and a symbol of the possibilities of free-to-play and cross-platform gaming. It has […]

Humour in Video Games: Unexplored Potential

What are the challenges of creating humour in video games? What type of humour works well? We caught up with four game developers to discuss comedy. Humour has been a part of video games since its inception. Unintentional humour is possibly the most common form; odd glitches, cheesy dialogue or bad looking graphics amuses players. On the other hand, there are also elements of intentional humour found in most titles, even in dark games either for tension relief or to contrast the serious tone. The Hitman series is a perfect example of this with silly assassination methods and costumes, just […]

The Safe Room: How Game Designers Create Horror

Resident Evil isn’t the first survival-horror game, but it’s probably the most quintessential. Its mansion’s dilapidated halls are fraught with danger, yet nestled deep amongst the hostile architecture are a few pockets of solace. The safe room — a brief respite away from the horrors outside. Resident Evil’s first safe room is no more than a cupboard under the stairs. An old storm lantern illuminates the room and paints shadows against walls of bare concrete. It may be sparse and claustrophobic, but it’s a place to rest and recuperate nonetheless. There’s more to these safe rooms than simple ambiance and […]

Handheld Gaming: Back in Fashion?

Ever since Nintendo launched the Game Boy in 1989, the extremely popular follow-up to the Game and Watch in 1980, portable gaming has been an attractive and accessible branch for players who enjoy fun experiences on the go. Nintendo DS, released in 2004, remains the best-selling handheld gaming console ever with over 150 million sales. The Game Boy and 3DS take the second and third place, making Nintendo the undisputed champion of handheld gaming. Sony’s PSP has sold an impressive amount too with its 82 million units. The mobile takeover Handheld gaming consoles appealed to a different audience that PC’s […]

At Gamers’ Beck and Call: What Do Developers Owe The Gaming Community?

Unprecedented communication between gaming community and developers has created a consumer base that expects recognition. Yet this is not a model that applies to other industries. What makes gamers different? The loot crate debate that is currently gripping the gaming industry is showing no signs of abating. The most-downvoted Reddit comment of all-time – from DICE studios, in an attempt to justify their pay-to-win model for Star Wars: Battlefront II – has produced a flurry of immediate consequences. Battlefront II has yet to reintroduce item crates, and Belgium is currently reviewing the micro-transaction system out of fear that it resembles gambling. […]

Unforgiving Environments: The Most Hostile Worlds

As players we are continually told we are “The One”. A prophesied hero, the world our oyster — with sword in hand we’re set free in search of pearly fortunes. However, not all games are so emboldening. There are occasionally hostile worlds where even survival is a struggle, where you feel more like an unwelcome stranger than a powerful champion. The World Is Your Oyster Alongside the rise of open world games a tendency towards maximising player choice and freedom developed. Virtual worlds became bigger and players were able to decide where to go and who to kill. In short, […]