“The whole history of the Creeper World series is serendipitous and unintentional,” says its creator, Virgil Wall, in his Texan lilt. “You know how it goes with these things, one thing led to another.” Creeper World is a singular take on the realtime strategy that Wall has spent the past decade making. Former man of the cloth Kieron Gillen once described the original as “the most apocalyptic game I’ve played in ages”, an RTS about managing constant attritional threat. But it’s also a game about simplicity. As Wall puts it, “its original purpose was to throw strategy gaming into a crucible and turn up the Bunsen burner as hot as it could get and boil away anything except the essence.” But that’s led to 10 years of grappling with a constant problem: how do you design follow-ups to a game that was already boiled down to its essentials? Creeper World’s origin is in, as Wall tells me, “a piece of a failed … [Read more...] about Why Creeper World’s decade-long evolution keeps getting harder
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The water cycle is one of the first scientific concepts you learn about. Water evaporates from the surface of the Earth, rising, accumulating and condensing before returning to lakes and oceans in forms, such as rain, before beginning the process all over again. I don’t have to explain what rain is to you. You know rain. It’s a part of many of our daily lives, and among the most common stylistic elements in fiction. Considering its familiar nature, it’s surprising how little we know about how rain is created in videogames—and how widely these approaches can vary. VFX artist Aaron Miller speaks to me about how Fireblade Software created the furious rainfall of naval roguelike Abandon Ship. “In Abandon Ship we wanted the weather to have a gameplay effect, which for rain was to extinguish fires. It also had to fall either straight down, or be at an angle depending on the strength of the wind.” The solution the team decided upon was to create … [Read more...] about How developers make perfect rain in games
In 1925 the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his expedition team set off from the Brazilian city of Cuiabá in search of the Lost City of Z, which Fawcett was sure lay hidden in the depths of the Amazon rainforest. It was the culmination of years of obsession for Fawcett, who had come to believe in the existence of an advanced lost civilisation based on sketchy travellers' tales and a mysterious idol given to him some years earlier by the pulp author H. Rider Haggard and said to be from the region. Abandoned cities had been found in jungles before, of course. It was still not that long since 19th-century expeditions had mapped the Maya city of Tikal in Guatemala (though knowledge of that, like many 'lost cities' had never been entirely lost to the indigenous population). But Fawcett's quest for Z was no conventional archaeological enterprise. Fawcett had long been a devotee of spiritualism and the esoteric, and his obsession with Z was deeply intertwined with his beliefs about … [Read more...] about Does bad archaeology make for the best games?
I remember the day Capcom first showed us what would eventually be known as Monster Hunter. It was 2003, at the then-annual Capcom Media Day in Las Vegas, and of all the games they showed us that day, Monster Hunter stood out. There was the GameCube's Viewtiful Joe and P.N.03, and PS2's Devil May Cry 2, but I couldn't tear my eyes off this curiosity called Monster Hunter. We watched a CGI cinematic of what appeared to be a four-player cooperative multiplayer game, in which the squad would customize and optimize its gear to take down powerful monsters. I needed this. Badly. You have to understand that when I first learned about Monster Hunter, I was a grieving Phantasy Star Online widower. Earlier that year, SEGA bafflingly decided that what the PSO fanbase really wanted was a card game, not more of the then-peerless Diablo-lite loot action I'd been hopelessly addicted to. A card game. I wanted none of that, and apparently neither did many other people, as that was basically the end of … [Read more...] about How Monster Hunter rose from niche import to an international sensation
As you may already have spotted, Theme Hospital joins the legions of 90s PC games being blessed with 21st century spiritual sequels. The Sega-published Two Point Hospital is the first game from Two Point Studios, the new endeavour from Bullfrog and Lionhead alumni Gary Carr and Mark Webley, Their plan, ultimately, is to follow-up Hospital with a clutch of other theme/sim/management games set in the same world – picking up, perhaps, where the Peter Molyneux-founded Bullfrog left off when EA closed them down. I chatted to Carr, Webley and Two Point technical director Ben Hymers (himself an ex-Lionheader) about why they’re returning to Theme Hospital, why now, the importance of humour to it, what’s the same and what’s different, how the audience has changed since 1997, how they’ve been inspired by Prison Architect, Planet Coaster and Twin Peaks, and their plans for that world of sim games. Gary Carr, co-founder: I’ve been in the industry since 1985, … [Read more...] about “We want to build out a world of sim games” How Two Point Hospital is a step toward bringing Bullfrog-era sim games back from the dead