The classic Counter-Strike: Global Offensive map Dust has been given a facelift by Valve. The revamped playground has been dubbed Dust II, and looks to capture the essence of the original while 'buffing away the jagged edges.' While that's great news for CS:GO players, what's more interesting for developers is the way Valve went about reimagining the quintessential map. The studio has posted a lengthy explainer detailing the method behind its madness, and it's an interesting read for anybody curious about level design. For instance, Valve has attempted to improve the flow of gameplay by removing cars from certain section of the map so players can manoeuvre more easily. Other little touches, like the removal of pesky drain pipes and the simplification of scaffolding, will also improve combat by making it easier for players to peek around corners and toss frags. Of course, those are just a few of the … [Read more...] about Dust to Dust II: How Valve rebuilt a classic Counter-Strike map
The Tokyo Game Show is one of the biggest consumer-oriented events for video games worldwide. It has also traditionally been a big place for business, and all the major Japanese game announcements. But over the years, the show has evolved from one of announcements to one of catchups – these days, more games are announced at E3, or Gamescom, or even PAX. At the same time, over the last year or so, the game press has declared that “Japan is back!” Hits, or at the very least interesting games like Persona 5, Final Fantasy XV, Yakuza Kiwami, Nier Automata, and others, have given players the feeling that Japan is back on its proverbial game. But how do Japanese game developers themselves feel? And how does the Tokyo Game Show reflect these changes? We asked four venerable developers – Naoto Ohshima (Sonic the Hedgehog), Hidetaka "Swery" Suehiro (Deadly Premonition), Kotori Yoshimura (Star Cruiser), and Tak Fujii (Ninety Nine Nights) to give … [Read more...] about What are Japanese devs saying about the recent Tokyo Game Show?
The Orange Box is a decade old, but it only seems like yesterday that Valve's five-game compilation, which included Half-Life 2 and its two continuations, Episode One and Episode Two; Team Fortress 2; and Portal, was hitting shelves. It's strange to think that, back then, Portal was something of a mystery. Half-Life was still going strong (those were the days) and Team Fortress had already amassed a following, but no one had any idea what to expect from the quirky, reality-bending puzzler. Not even Valve. Despite being an unknown quaniity, Portal soon became the talk of the town. And while the portal-flinging mechanics were truly special, it was the game's robot antagonist, GladOS, that emerged as the star of the show. Now, in a recent interview with PC Gamer, Valve designer Robin Walker has explained how the cake-loving maniacal machine came to be. "In any game's development, there are too many … [Read more...] about How GladOS solved one of Portal’s biggest problems
Later this year, Assassin's Creed: Origins will make its way to PS4, PC, and Xbox One, marking its return after a one-year self-imposed hiatus. Set in ancient Egypt, the game follows the journey of Bayek of Siwa, an Egyptian assassin who lays the foundation for the Brotherhood seen in earlier games. Despite being an origin story, Assassin's Creed Origins does look to tread new ground by heading to a historical setting that's comparatively less historically documented than its sibling games. We caught up with Ubisoft game director Ashraf Ismail, who previously directed Assasin's Creed IV: Black Flag. We wanted to know more about directing games that have multiple studios involved, and why Ubisoft Montreal decided to explore ancient Egypt in this new game. Below is a (lightly edited) document of our conversation, which includes insight into how Ubisoft takes advantage of its multiple studios, and what advice Ismail has for other … [Read more...] about A view from the director’s chair of Assassin’s Creed: Origins
In honor of the 5th anniversary of the release of the brilliant XCOM: Enemy Unkown, we present this classic postmortem, which first appeared in the January 2003 issue of Game Developer magazine. The game was a "reimagining" by Firaxis of the classic 1994 strategy title UFO: Enemy Unkown, as well as a reboot of the XCOM series. It was a smashing success, earning numerous awards and GOTY accolades. This in-depth look at what went right and what went wrong during development was written by Garth DeAngelis, who was the lead producer and a level designer on XCOM: Enemy Unknown. There may have been wounds, but somehow, the XCOM: Enemy Unknown development team evaded permanent death. In 1994, Microprose released a special PC game called UFO: Enemy Unknown. The turn-based strategy title accumulated a devoted fanbase for its unique take on high-level management against an alien invasion blended with boots-on-the-ground, … [Read more...] about Classic Postmortem: XCOM: Enemy Unknown , which turns 5 today
"Every time a player started a new game, the dice would pick whether characters were replicants or not." - Playful's David Leary, reminiscing with Eurogamer about his work on Westwood Studios' Blade Runner adventure game. There's a new movie out this week bearing the name Blade Runner, and that seems to have at least partially inspired Eurogamer to revisit Westwood Studios' 1997 PC adventure game of the same name. Released more than a decade after the original film, Blade Runner is a game devs should know about because it did something very rare in the '90s: it presented players with a detective story that changed every time you played. "Every time a player started a new game, the dice would pick whether characters were replicants or not," Leary told Eurogamer, recalling how he helped out on the game and coded a script that would (presumably semi-)randomly dictate which characters were secretly … [Read more...] about How the Blade Runner game ensured players never knew who to trust
Valve has shared an insightful breakdown of the various design concepts its team keeps in mind when creating new heroes and skins for Dota 2. While the intent of the newly updated document is to prove a useful tool for Dota 2’s community of custom content creators, the breakdown itself is ripe with the sort of information game developers, artists, and designers find useful. With well over 100 playable characters in Dota 2, it’s no doubt extremely important that each possible combatant has an unmistakable look on the battlefield that quickly and clearly communicates its identity to friend and foe alike. To that end, Valve says that the page itself embodies the kind of general design concepts and principles that improve the readability and quality of Dota 2’s robust cast of characters. The post runs through a number of guidelines for elements such as informative silhouettes, value gradients, value patterning, color and … [Read more...] about Take a gander at how Valve designs the look and feel of Dota 2 heroes
Over the course of the past five years or so, there’s been a rise in hardcore, realistic games coming from Eastern European developers: a shooter with military-grade tactics; a true-to-life medieval times simulator; fantasy RPGs with intricately branching dialogue trees and brutal strategic combat. To the casual observer, these games are unforgiving and inaccessible, oftentimes requiring months of serious effort to begin to master their intricacies. Yet this fascinating sub-genre perseveres, thanks in part to the passion of the developers and its rabid niche fanbase. Some of the developers making these games come from storied AAA backgrounds, while others wandered into the industry as fans. No matter how these studios started, they all have one thing in common -- a deeply embedded passion for the types of games they wanted to make. Many had trouble finding the types of games they wanted to play, so they decided to fill that gap for … [Read more...] about What’s up with all these niche ‘hardcore realism’ games from Eastern Europe?
"Any developer who is like ‘Hey, we’re going to do this thing in the game that’s very complicated and reactive’, the best way of managing the risk for that would be to look at other things that are potentially complicated and reduce the complexity of them. It’s triage.” - Josh Sawyer explains the tricky balance devs have to maintain when developing on a tight schedule PCGamesN took some time to chat with some of the developers behind Fallout: New Vegas and collect some of their stories and memorable moments. The full piece itself is brimming with charming anecdotes and memories from a uniquely game dev point of view, but one particular snippet explores how Obsidian molded the landscapes found within the post-apocalyptic game. Scott Everts, the lead world builder on New Vegas, explains that the team found real satellite date online for Las Vegas and the surrounding area and was able to import it … [Read more...] about Mountains to molerathills: Squeezing the Mojave desert into Fallout: New Vegas
"Any developer who is like ‘Hey, we’re going to do this thing in the game that’s very complicated and reactive’, the best way of managing the risk for that would be to look at other things that are potentially complicated and reduce the complexity of them. It’s triage.” - Josh Sawyer explains the tricky balance devs have to maintain when developing on a tight schedule PCGamesN took some time to chat with some of the developers behind Fallout: New Vegas and collect some of their stories and memorable moments. The full piece itself is brimming with charming anecdotes and memories from a uniquely game dev point of view, but one particular snippet explores how Obsidian molded the landscapes found within the post-apocalyptic game. Scott Everts, the lead world build on New Vegas, explains that the team found real satellite date online for Las Vegas and the surrounding area and was able to import it into the … [Read more...] about Mountains to molehills: How Obsidian squeezed the Mojave desert into New Vegas