It’s perhaps fitting that a game with the tagline “nothing is true; everything is permitted” emerged from creative director Patrice Désilets bending the rules. Assassin’s Creed began life as a Prince of Persia game, expanded and reimagined for a new generation of consoles. You might say it even ended up feeling like one, though Désilets’ creative interpretation of Ubisoft’s mandate layered on many additional challenges for the team at Ubisoft Montreal. Today, Assassin’s is one of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but back then Assassin’s Creed was something new. Its labyrinthine fiction twisted the modern day with the past, offering a science fiction tale of genetic memory and end-of-the-world conspiracies intertwined with another story of a master assassin coming to realize his own ignorance. Its world was made for unprecedented freedom — your character being able to … [Read more...] about Assassin’s Creed: An oral history
Oral history project
It was Team Andromeda — an internal R&D team at Sega of Japan — that first revealed the potential of the Sega Saturn. Its debut game was the on-rails shooter Panzer Dragoon. Part Space Harrier, part Dune, part Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Panzer Dragoon filled Sega Saturns around the globe with evocative 3D shooting action featuring a blue dragon and its rider. Over the course of three initial games — Panzer Dragoon (1995), Panzer Dragoon 2 Zwei (1996) and Panzer Dragoon Saga (1998) — Team Andromeda continued to mine this simple yet compelling premise: that of a rider and his dragon facing off against a mysterious empire. While 2002’s Panzer Dragoon Orta (developed by ex-Team Andromeda members who later joined another studio, Smilebit) kept the series going later, it was the role-playing game Panzer Dragoon Saga that ended up becoming the standout. Taken at face value, Panzer Dragoon and its much-improved successor, Panzer Dragoon 2 Zwei, … [Read more...] about Panzer Dragoon Saga: An oral history
The organizers of the Game Developers Choice Awards announced today that they have rescinded the Pioneer Award for Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, and announced the award will not be given this year entirely. The decision follows a day of outcry after GDC organizers announced that Bushnell, 74, had been tapped for the GDCA’s lifetime achievement honor. News accounts and histories over the past several years have documented a history of workplace misconduct and sexist behavior toward women by Bushnell, during Atari’s early days. In a statement this morning, GDC said its awards committee “made the decision not to give out a Pioneer Award for this year’s event, following additional feedback from the community. “They believe their picks should reflect the values of today’s game industry and will dedicate this year’s award to honor the pioneering and unheard voices of the past.” The Pioneer Award is for “individuals who developed a … [Read more...] about GDC cancels achievement award for Atari founder after outcry
A digital-only game based on licensed content is doomed to die right from the outset. At some point, months or years from now, that licensing agreement will expire - at which point the publisher can no longer sell the game. It will be summarily pulled from digital storefronts - sometimes with little or no warning - and is unlikely to ever resurface, unless the publisher is willing to negotiate those licensing deals all over again. Last December, a slew of Transformers games were suddenly removed from Steam and PSN (and later from the Xbox Marketplace) with no warning from publisher Activision. Among them was Transformers: Devastation by renowned developer PlatinumGames, which had only been released two years previously. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Marvel titles published by Activision have suffered a similar fate. Players who have previously bought and downloaded such games can still download them again. But even this exception may not apply forever. The fact is that you do not … [Read more...] about Where do downloadable games go when they die?
The first time Taylor Kurosaki and Bob Rafei saw a running PlayStation, they were in a Las Vegas hotel room. It was the 1995 Consumer Electronics Show. They, along with the company they worked for, Naughty Dog, were being given a behind-closed-doors look at Sony's first foray into the game console industry. When they describe the event now, they use words like "inspiring" and "enthralled" and phrases like "blown away." They didn't know it at the time, but the members of Naughty Dog in that room — Kurosaki, Rafei and co-founders Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin — were looking at the system that would host the team's next game: Crash Bandicoot. They were seeing the console their company would eventually create the unofficial mascot for — the console they would develop Naughty Dog's first smash hit for. It was Kurosaki and Rafei's second day with the company. Naughty Dog released Crash Bandicoot for Sony's original PlayStation in September 1996. In it, the team took an old … [Read more...] about Crash Bandicoot: An oral history