Open-world video games struggle with a major problem: motivation. It’s difficult for developers to keep us playing for dozens of hours, especially as the context for our actions can become disjointed, forgotten, or simply lost in a sea of explosions. I’ve often forgotten that I’m supposed to be saving the world, as I embark upon a side mission to kill 50 similar things that will allow me to unlock a slightly better weapon. This design issue didn’t exist in 2007 — because the genre as we currently know it didn’t either. Open-world conventions and series that we now take for granted, such as Assassin’s Creed, didn’t yet exist. Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the PlayStation 2 in 2004. There were few established standards for controls, menus, mechanics, or even basic structures and narratives for open-world games at this point. However, one game solved the problem of keeping players motivated in open-world games almost … [Read more...] about Crackdown fixed open-world games before anyone knew they were broken
Open world games where you can fly
Last week, Unity held its annual developer convention “Unite” in Los Angeles, where it showed off a new plan to rebuild its wildly popular engine from its core foundations. This includes the introduction of multiple new updates and work-in-progress technologies. One of these reveals was essentially a glimpse into the future of what open world games might look like. Dubbed the Entity Component System (ECS for short), Unity describes it as “a way of writing code that focuses on the actual problems you are solving: the data and behaviour that make up your game.” Unity claims this "data-oriented" system lets developers iterate on their designs much more efficiently than using the current, object-oriented system.Unity showed off the potential results of this with a short video demonstrating the tech in action. In the demo, the player explores a gigantic cyberpunk city inside a flying car, weaving between endless rows of skyscrapers hundreds of feet high. The … [Read more...] about This Unity tech demo shows the potential future of open world games
Early in the series, Assassin’s Creed lacked mission variety. Then as the years wore on, things pulled too far in the other direction, with big open worlds filled full of stuff for stuff’s sake. After a much-needed year off to replenish its creative edge, Ubisoft tried to change all that with Assassin’s Creed Origins and successfully delivered the best Assassin’s Creed in years. While that was a return to form, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey plays like a greatest hits of the current trends in open-world gaming, with a tighter focus on story and side quests than overly-dense collectathons. We got to play about the first six hours of the game and, judging by that small taste, it’s shaping up to be one of the most varied and engaging Assassin’s Creeds there’s been. Odyssey starts in typically grand style, throwing you straight into one of the best known scraps of classical antiquity – as the legendary King Leonidas himself no less – … [Read more...] about Assassin’s Creed Odyssey preview: Like a greatest hits of open-world gaming
Let’s have a bit of fun. If you could choose a mix of different development studios to create the perfect game, who would you choose for each part and why? Every developer specialises in something, whether they’re the best at creating believable replicas of real-world objects or places, or they’re really good at making a bullet turn a virtual head into crimson mush. But there are also areas where studios could improve. Quantic Dream, for example, excel at creating people that look and sound real, or replicating the way the rain beads down someone’s face. However, when it comes to the actual playing of its games, interaction is simplistic, scripted, and you are essentially following prompts, never testing the boundaries. Collaboration between studios is becoming slightly more common – developers assisting with their specific specialisation on other projects. Only recently, Bethesda announced Rage 2, an open-world FPS that will feature explosive … [Read more...] about Which developers would you choose to make the perfect imaginary game?
The strongest reminder that GTA 4 is now an old game is that Niko Bellic’s phone has buttons on it. Somehow that one detail – and the fact his mobile can’t access the internet – makes this game feel like it came out 10,000 years ago. It’s actually been an entire decade since the release of the first HD GTA, though, and you can sense that in the slightly blurry visage of Rockstar’s hyper detailed version of New York. Like early HD games Gears Of War and Oblivion, it showed a true generational leap was happening. GTA 4 essentially ended the era of clones that followed GTA 3, simply because no one else could make an open world that looked and sounded as good as Liberty City.GTA 4 is the story of Niko Bellic, a Serbian war veteran who comes to the city to start a new life. He doesn’t try that hard to stay out of trouble, however, and soon he’s popping heads on behalf of Russian gangsters and his well-meaning cousin, Roman. While I … [Read more...] about 10 years later: how Grand Theft Auto 4 raised the standard for open-world games and helped shaped GTA 5