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Battlefield Hardline: First hands-on impressions

Jun 09 // Dale North
The idea started as a dream when DICE and Visceral studio heads met in Barcelona a couple of years ago. Big fans of each others' games, they started talking about games they'd like to make. A crazy idea snowballed into a full-on plan. But Visceral, the team behind the Dead Space games, knew third-person shooting better than first-person. So as a way of learning the ropes, Visceral did a Battlefield expansion pack, End Game.  After that, they started on the concept work for what would eventually be Hardline. In a pre-E3 reveal, Ian Milham, Creative Director on Hardline, explained that his team at Visceral had been working on a new IP following the last Dead Space. He put his presentation together for executives after working on it for a few months, but it got a mixed reaction. The execs brought up making a Battlefield game instead. Milham says he has been a franchise fan for a long time, but he did not want to do another military shooter. Milham talked about how modern military shooters were going science fiction lately. He wanted to do something different, fun, and relatable -- no grizzle-voiced heroes or private armies. His dream was to make something that played off backyard fantasies. Robbing banks, relatable places, real weapons -- no fancy equipment or high-end squad tactics.  We had a chance to spend some time with Battlefield: Hardlline's multiplayer a few weeks back. playing a couple of short matches in two newly revealed game modes. The game does have a full single-player component, but Visceral wanted to show multiplayer first to show the direction they're going with this project. Milham noted that they've done a lot of single-player games in the past, so we know they have that side covered. The cops in Hardline are pretty militarized, so armored cars and helicopters are the norm in battle. On the criminals side, these guys are pros, so they have a bunch of handy technologies and automated gear like grappling hooks and ziplines. Cops have ballistic shields, gas masks, flash bombs and more. For vehicles, my hands-on time felt like anything goes in Hardline. Cops have fast interceptors that can zip around town while a partner hangs out the passenger side window, shooting. Criminals have muscle cars as a parallel, but they also have their own armored transports. I was suddenly dropped into just about every vehicular situation you could imagine in one match that had both factions fighting over control points in a city. I went from being on the ground, to manning a turret on top of a transport, to shooting a machine gun from an open helicopter door, all in a scramble. I played in a large group multiplayer session to try out the Heist mode. This has the criminals trying to break into a defended area,  gathering loot, and then working to escape safely. They have to get to vaults, arm charges, and defend them until the charges explode. From there, they'll take their loot to a drop-off point. Meanwhile, the cops are working to intercept these transports and halt escapes. In this mode I had fun as a cop, running down criminals with cars, or picking them off after they've worked so hard to crack a vault. Another mode, called Blood Money, has cops and robbers fighting over stolen loot. A transport was stopped mid-route, and the cops have to try to secure the transport while the criminals try to steal from it. The criminals have to take the stolen money, bag by bag, to their vault and protect it. But the cops can raid this vault and steal it back. Nothing is safe, and the line, measured in money, is constantly shifting.  This mode was even more fun than Heist. The map, a large city with plenty of damaged buildings and roadways, has plenty of hiding places and alternative paths to sneak away in as a criminal. Despite the large number of cops running, I was able to steal loads of cash for my team by keeping low and taking underground passageways. Above ground, gun fights, helicopter patrols, and crazy setpiece events, like crashing buildings, kept the tension up.  From my short time with it, Hardline feels more relaxed and approachable than the multiplayer in past Battlefield games. There's quite a bit more character and personality as well, which had these matches feeling less competitive and more enjoyable.  Battlefield is a huge franchise, but Hardline feels like a departure from the big budget, super serious games of late. Hats off to Visceral and DICE for taking the opportunity to try something different. We hope to see more of Hardline in the coming weeks.
Battlefield hands-on photo
Details on how Hardline came to be
I was pretty excited to be able to be the first to tell you about Battlefield Hardline, the new team up cops-and-robbers title from Visceral (Dead Space) and DICE. But trailer leaks, detail leaks, and even gameplay video lea...


Watch the D.I.C.E. Awards live right here!

See who wins
Feb 06
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
[Update: It's over, see the full results below. The Last of Us won 10 of the 13 awards they were nominated for, including Game of the Year. Congrats, Naughty Dog!] The 17th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards are happening live in Las Veg...
Rockstar photo

Rockstar founders will be inducted into AIAS Hall of Fame

The Houser brothers and GTA producer Leslie Benzies will receive the honor on Thursday
Feb 04
// Alasdair Duncan
Dan and Sam Houser, founders of Rockstar Games, and GTA producer Leslie Benzies will be the latest inductions into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' (AIAS) Hall of Fame at the D.I.C.E. awards ceremony on Thursday....
The Last of Us photo
The Last of Us

The Last of Us leads D.I.C.E. Awards with 13 nominations

Awards to be livestreamed on February 6 at 7:30PM PT
Jan 16
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The 17th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards take place in Las Vegas from February 4 to February 7 and the nominations have been announced by The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Last year the Sony exclusive Journey was up for...
Battlefield 4 photo
Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4 double XP event delayed

More trouble for the ailing shooter
Jan 02
// Harry Monogenis
As many Battlefield 4 Premium players are aware, the double XP event that was scheduled to occur at the end of December never actually happened. As it turns out, said event, which the Premium calender still shows as havi...
Battlefield photo

China bans Battlefield 4

Surprise, surprise
Dec 28
// Harry Monogenis
I remember browsing the Origin store a few days ago to see if EA was going to at least try and compete with Steam's Holiday Sale when I came across the Battlefield 4: China Rising expansion in the 'New Releases' sec...

Here is yet another patch for Battlefield 4

Keep rollin', rollin', rollin'
Dec 21
// Harry Monogenis
DICE has rolled out a new Battlefield 4 update for the Xbox One, several days after pushing out another one for PC. Much like the latest one for PC, this Xbox One patch fixes the "kill-trading issue" where two ...
Battlefield 4 photo
Battlefield 4

New Battlefield 4 patch launches on PC

Fixes client crashes among other things
Dec 10
// Harry Monogenis
With future DLC on hold, DICE have been busy trying to fix the many issues that Battlefield 4 has been suffering from since its launch. Part of that effort has been reflected in their latest PC patch, which aims to fix a...
EA Star Wars photo
EA Star Wars

EA isn't making any games based on new Star Wars movies

Mesa like dis
Nov 20
// Joshua Derocher
EA's Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen talked about Star Wars games during a presentation on Tuesday, and he made it clear they don't want to make a movie game. Jorgensen said, "We've done movie games over the years and...
BF4 China Rising map list photo
BF4 China Rising map list

Alleged map list for Battlefield 4: China Rising leaked

Also includes five new weapons, Air Superiority mode, more
Nov 13
// Brett Zeidler
A picture sent to MP1st contains an alleged screenshot of a post on Battlefield 4's Spanish Facebook page. It states that the four multiplayer maps added by China Rising will be Taklamakan, Altai Range, Guilin Peaks, and...
Battlefield photo

Operation Metro returns in Battlefield 4: Second Assault

Second Assault to your wallet
Nov 05
// Abel Girmay
Remakes of any kind are a tricky thing, but trickier still when it comes as DLC. Battlefield 4: Second Assault is a prime case of this. On one hand, it's nice to revisit your favorite maps from previous games, with all the L...
Tell me more about your AXE body sprays!
Hey kids, do you want to look at something stupid this morning? Look no further than this juicy slice of video idiocy, courtesy of Battlefield 4 and AXE's pore-closin' smell juice! Together, AXE and BF4 celebrate men and wom...

Battlefield photo

This is Battlefield 4's chaotic multiplayer

Our review is coming!
Oct 29
// Jordan Devore
I didn't pick Battlefield 3 up until well after its initial release, but after running into launch-week issues for more than a few of DICE's games now, I'm surprised. I was not expecting to be able to get into Battlefield 4 ...
Battlefield 4 graphics photo
Battlefield 4 graphics

DICE: Battlefield 4 platform parity 'the cowards way out'

Would a coward do this... BYE!
Oct 17
// Steven Hansen
Battlefield 4 executive producer Patrick Bach expects a slew of complaints when Battlefield 4 launches on October 29. Then another slew of complaints when the game re-launches on next generation hardware. It happened with Ba...
DICE on BF3 mistakes photo
DICE on BF3 mistakes

DICE: 'We should be slapped' for Battlefield 3 unlocks

Glove slap, baby glove slap
Oct 03
// Steven Hansen
Remember when Battlefield 3 came out and all everyone was doing was impotently running helicopters into the ground? DICE wasn't happy with the its flying learning curve, according to Battlefield 4 creative director Lars Gust...
Battlefield photo

What happens when you're in BF4's collapsing buildings

Turns out you just sort of shuffle and die
Oct 02
// Abel Girmay
Remember that crazy Battlefield 4 E3 demo where the skyscraper came tumbling down and "leveloution" became a word? Yeah, that was great -- the collapsing building, not the buzzwords. But have you wondered what it looks like ...
Battlefield not annual photo
Battlefield not annual

Slow your DICE roll: Battlefield not being annualized

Aug 29
// Steven Hansen
After EA decided to pull Medal of Honor from its stables, there was fear that Battlefied would be annualized to continue to try and contend with the Call of Duty juggernaut. Speaking to Videogamer, Battlefield 4 executive pro...
Battlefield 4 photo
Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4 beta coming in early October

Full release at the end of October
Aug 20
// Darren Nakamura
In today's press conference at gamescom, EA announced that the Battlefield 4 beta would roll out in early October, with the final game shipping for current generation consoles on October 29th in North America and October 31s...
Battlefield photo

Battlefield 4's second-screen feature is next-gen only

Sorry, Xbox 360 and PS3
Aug 05
// Jordan Devore
The second-screen feature of the new Battlelog service for Battlefield 4 will only be available on PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox 360, DICE has confirmed to Engadget. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 players won't be able to use ...
Star Wars Battlefront photo
Star Wars Battlefront

DICE to 'innovate,' 'try new things' with Battlefront

Won't be a reskinned Battlefield
Jun 19
// Steven Hansen
As we reported, Electronic Arts recently swooped up the Star Wars license, announcing several upcoming projects in the process, including a new Battlefront helmed by Battlefield developer DICE. Speaking to IGN, EA Labels pres...
Free DLC! photo
Free DLC!

EA makes Battlefield 3 Close Quarters DLC free during E3

Can't beat that
Jun 10
// Brett Makedonski
EA's pretty keen on its Battlefield franchise, and wants to make sure you're as geared-up as possible for Battlefield 4. The best way to do this is probably to ensure that players are still playing lots of Battlefield 3....

Ugly photos from Battlefield 4's Alpha leak new features

Unfinished preview reveals weapons, gameplay, squads
Jun 09
// Niero Desu
A massive 58 image gallery of an early, half-textured alpha build of Battlefield 4 was making the rounds last night, presumably leaked from a private multiplayer test on the Xbox 360 ("Xenon" Build).  They're pretty...
Mirror's Edge 2 photo
Mirror's Edge 2

Mirror's Edge 2 posting shows up on Amazon

Could the beloved series return?
May 23
// Joshua Derocher
A listing showed up on for Mirror's Edge 2, and while it doesn't have any details about the game, it is a good indication that the rumors are true -- that EA might actually be making a sequel. I know we al...

'Who the f*ck gives a sh*t about f*cking Xbox 360?'

And other pearls of wisdom from the Battlelog community
Apr 26
// Jim Sterling
It's an innocuous enough little blog post -- an article on Battlelog aiming to help Xbox 360 users save space on their hard-drives by deleting obsolete Battlefield 3 update files. Fair enough, right? Wrong!  The otherwis...

Can Battlefield 4's narrative be relevant after Spec Ops?

Mar 28 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]249762:47806:0[/embed] Let me say that I appreciate that DICE is trying to do something with Battlefield 4. Battlefield 3 was a multiplayer game with a useless single player portion tacked on, but this new campaign seems like it has some real effort behind it. But I don't actually like what they're doing. If the team wants people to believe it is going for something emotional and believable, showcasing the protagonist sliding around a building as it collapses and then falling several stories (with a rock immediately overhead) and landing without serious injury probably isn't the right way to do that. The completely unbelievable amputation (one knife motion cuts through a hardened soldier's leg? seriously?) doesn't inspire me either, nor does the irritatingly manipulative death of that same character just a few minutes later.  As with any criticism of pre-release footage (especially in this day and age), there is a problem of context. These 17 minutes are all shown without any greater narrative significance, so I can't rightly pass judgment on the emotional impact of the scene. It's totally possible that there are all kinds of amazing character moments that give some sort of weight to what is on display beforehand. I doubt it, but it's possible. Still, this is what EA and DICE decided was a representative slice of gameplay and narrative, and they decided to show off the single player before the multiplayer. It's a pretty gutsy move, so it's unlikely that they're showing anything less than their A-game. For that reason alone, I wouldn't feel bad making judgments, but what is on display here is also symptomatic of some larger issues that are very unlikely to change with context. Let's talk about cognitive dissonance. One of the more unique (and oppressive) features of Spec Ops: The Line was its use of loading screen tips. At the beginning of the game, they just say general things about the gameplay like any other game, but as things begin to unravel, the game starts talking to the player in a rather unpleasant way. Some of them are more direct ("Do you feel like a hero yet?") and some are more general ("Cognitive Dissonance is the unsettling feeling caused by holding two conflicting beliefs simultaneously."), but they all make a point about the role of the player and of the player character. What makes them so significant, though, is that they don't just apply to Spec Ops. It is very likely that Battlefield 4 will make the player feel like a hero in the long run (although the gameplay demo does end on a sour note), but at any individual moment there is a question of what actual good is being done. This is especially true in a world ruled by DICE's Frostbite engine. Destructible environments are amazing things. Yes, I prefer Red Faction: Guerilla's real-time deformation to the model-swap that DICE prefers (especially since it doesn't lead to those awkward moments where blowing up a wall reveals an unharmed enemy immediately behind it who is firing on you while you reload your grenade launcher), but the gameplay possibilities afforded by either are really compelling. In Red Faction: Guerilla, it didn't really matter what you were destroying because you were playing a revolutionary/terrorist. You weren't a hero in the traditional sense. Now, what I'm saying applies to the last few Frostbite-run games DICE has released (and any other game with destructible environments), but it's not something I ever considered in a pre-Spec Ops world. Watch the gameplay video over again, and think about what happens at 4:49, when a grenade blows up a large section of a building. Yes, at this moment there were enemies in that building, ones who can now be more easily killed, but that is also a person's house. Then 10 seconds later the player blows up some cars, presumably owned by civilians. Why? Because it's an easier kill.  Would that make you feel like a hero? It shouldn't. It should make you feel terrible and feel like your character is terrible. The apparent lack of civilians on the street means that it's easier to forget that the satellite dishes on top of each roof represent some virtual person who just wants to watch the news at night, but believing that you are doing good while wantonly destroying civilian property is the epitome of cognitive dissonance. One of the other features that makes Spec Ops: The Line unique, and something that will likely find its way into other games as time goes on, is a progression of in-combat dialogue. At the beginning, characters shout "Tango down" after killing an enemy; by the end, it's "Got the fucker." At 7:46 in the Battlefield demo, somebody shouts, "Kill confirmed." It's a small thing, but it's significant. Rather than attempt to downplay the violence with their language, they are openly acknowledging what they are doing, and nobody has a problem with it. It brings to mind this particularly poignant Spec Ops loading screen: "To kill for yourself is murder. To kill for your government is heroic. To kill for entertainment is harmless." We go back to the idea of a hero. This confirmed kill is heroic, because it is done for the higher purpose of winning the war. For the player, though, it's harmless, because nobody is actually dying. It's very likely at least a few people were shouting that at me a couple of paragraphs ago. It doesn't matter if digital civilians are having their homes destroyed because they aren't real. There's no reason to feel any sort of dissonance. While some of that is true, it's also irrelevant. Another loading screen: "The US Military doesn't condone attacking unarmed combatants. But this isn't real so why should you care?" In Spec Ops: The Line and in Battlefield 4, the player should care because the game wants the player to care. They don't want the player to care about the same things, but both of them want to elicit some kind of emotional reaction. Selectively reacting to parts of the game is also a brilliant example of this kind of dissonance: "Oh, I feel bad about having caused the death of this virtual man I tried to save earlier, but I don't feel bad about killing all of these other virtual people or destroying the homes of these virtual civilians because they're not real or whatever." As soon as one death or event matters, then everything else matters as well. The fact that they didn't matter at the time says something about the way people connect with the medium, but it's also not the point. The character is an extension of the player, and the player must assume all responsibility for what that character does, good and bad. That is the lesson that Spec Ops taught. It is a lesson Battlefield 4 does not seem eager to expand upon. At the end of the Battlefield 4 clip, before it goes to the montage of action sequences, it turns out that the death of the person whose death doesn't seem all that meaningful was unnecessary. In fact, the entire scene was unnecessary. I'm conflicted about the exchange that follows— "So, Staff Sergent Dunn was KIA for... something we already knew?""You have your orders, Captain." —because it could either prove or refute the point I just made. The issue is that second line and the role in plays in the greater narrative. The death of Staff Sergeant Dunn is not Captain Recker's fault (that scene could have just as easily played out with Dunn shooting the window himself); it's the fault of the people who gave those orders. So the player is absolved of blame, and now their anger (if they have any) is potentially shifted towards the people on the other end of the radio. That's interesting, but it also rings false. If the game plays with the idea of "orders" and their significance, then perhaps some of that responsibility will be shifted to the character, and then these ideas can be expanded further. That isn't to say I want every military shooter from here on out to be Spec Ops: The Line. I really don't. But a game now exists that has made generic military shooters narratively irrelevant. In 2011, Battlefield 3's narrative was useless because of a clear lack of effort. But this time effort might not be enough. This won't affect sales, and it probably won't even affect review scores, but it will affect the game's lasting significance. If Battlefield 4's campaign follows the same tropes that so many other military shooters have followed, the ones that it appears to be following despite the way they were so brilliantly deconstructed last year, then it will just be yet another campaign, distinguishable only by the number of birds that it has flying over a given map.
Battlefield 4 Relevance photo
Probably not.
In lieu of partying or whatever it is college kids are supposed to be doing, I decided that my number one priority this spring break would be to to replay Spec Ops: The Line. I joined the Spec Ops party a bit late, but t...


Battlefield 4 not coming to Wii U because it's too risky

DICE wants to avoid a gamble
Mar 27
// Jim Sterling
Despite the Wii U finally giving Nintendo a console that compares to the PS3 and Xbox 360, quite a few studios have decided to pass on bringing their games to the system. EA DICE is the latest, creative director Lars Gus...

Watch people cry during Walking Dead's finale [Spoilers]

What a bunch of crybabies!
Feb 12
// Allistair Pinsof
In the above video, you will see the season one finale of TellTale's The Walking Dead. You'll also see video of YouTubers OfflimitsPC, Morfar, and PewDiePie bawling their eyes and shouting out as something really bad happens...
Drunk at D.I.C.E. photo
Drunk at D.I.C.E.

Come on, montage! Drunk man crashes D.I.C.E. Awards

'Who gives a sh*t, this is Vegas!'
Feb 12
// Jordan Devore
Of everything to come out of the 2013 D.I.C.E. Summit last week, this undoubtedly brought me the most joy. Specifically, the moment I'm referring to happens at 2:07:30, when an intoxicated man jumped up on stage and wanted t...

David Cage is wrong: Violence is essential

Feb 11 // Allistair Pinsof
The notion of senselessly unloading a fire arm into houses is a distressing one, naturally. It's also far from a necessity in order to feel attached to my environment and reality, since my senses guide me, even as my mind wanders. And I'm not the least bit schizophrenic (no, really.) David Cage, and to a lesser extent Warren Spector, gave speeches at D.I.C.E. last week that called for industry action in steering away from violent games and creating ones that reflect our lives and the complexities that come with them: Caring for family, facing familial and employment crises, or simply appreciating the beauty that surrounds us; the subjects we often come across in film and literature. It's nothing that hasn't been said by dozens before -- or attempted by many indies -- but that these ideas are being delivered from directors of multimillion dollar productions makes these declarations of anti-violence have a special, headline-grabbing impact. After the chin-stroking, blogging, back-patting, and heavy drinking that industry conferences bring, all parties go on their way, acting on market demands at the office while continuing the discussion of ethical theories in private. I'm not going to explain immersion, the necessity of violence (action), and the future of technology for developers' benefit; no, this is for the public's: we suffered too many boring, navel-gazing indie games that are based on the theories that Spector and Cage now preach. The idea of a talented designer following suit with a multimillion dollar project, an edge case should one like it ever exist, is too much to bear. I am not here to claim Journey didn't have an emotional impact on me, to call misty-eyed bloggers a bunch of sissypants, or to say we shouldn't have another game like it. Instead, I wish to focus on why Journey had impact and speculate just how far that impact can go, given the current state of technology. On immersion: From the Greeks to videogames today, the focus of art has always been on immersion: the ability for a creator to envision a reality and convey it with viewers. Art gives us an escape to another reality, while offering the ability to let us return with renewed strength and insight. That immersion increased as Greeks evolved from pottery to Hellenistic sculptures that tower above the viewer with lifelike details. And so it was with the theater that gave way to the cinema: A place where sound and vision surrounds the viewer, as increasingly convincing fantasies play out. And so it is, too, with games. How we have gone from the basic lines of Spacewar! to the complex narrative decisions of Warren Spector's Deus Ex (though time has indicated it may have been more of Harvey Smith's Deus Ex that I love so much) in such a short time is one of the most remarkable evolutions of an art form since time began. So, what makes videogames the most immersive art form, following the logic that pottery -> sculptures/paintings -> plays -> film -> videogames (factoring where novels and music fit is a can of worms I rather not open here)? The most immersive aspect of each art form is embodied in the ones that follow. Plays contain props (pottery) and backdrops (sculptures/paintings); film carry all those and takes out the set and fixed perspective; videogames carry all those and then grants the viewer agency in narrative and interaction in a fictional world, thus granting entrance to devised alternative realities that can be believed through their own logic and rules, so long as they don't break the ones they previously establish (tsk tsk). So, there we are then: videogames. If the evolution of art depends on immersion, then how do we make games more immersive? After all, a game of Tetris can be as immersive as a stroll through the lush world of Ni no Kuni or navigating player choices of Dishonored. Immersion can come from mechanics, aesthetics or system-deep narrative interplay. Like a game of basketball, an intense round of Street Figther or Tetris has a way of dimming the lights on the real world. Taking in the sweeping vistas of Journey makes us temporarily forget there is a controller in the hands. Realizing that choices made hours ago led to a moment unique to one's playthrough in Dishonored has a way of making a dead reality feel alive. When a game has all three of these types of immersion, transcendence is achieved, but even this transcendence is only temporary. Cordless or not, the controller and distance to the television serves as a constant reminder that we are only peeking our head below sea level, not quite swimming. On the necessity of violence: Have you ever played a game where the world is ugly and the gameplay is a chore, yet you feel compelled to continue for the story? But, what about the opposite: A game where the action is all that counts? Immersion in game world come from our actual senses: touch, sight, and sound. More specifically, immersion in game worlds comes from the combination of all these things, i.e. feedback and sense of possibility (or possibility space). Proteus is more immersive than Dear Esther because the possibility space is larger (not a set path) and feedback is more noticeable (environment reacts to your movement and presence). How could Proteus be made even more immersive? Violence! Put a gun in the player's hand, surround the island with threats on legs, and let the code bring the two together. Action has a way of immediately increasing our investment in a game world, since it triggers our reptile brain and makes us focus on a threatening non-reality than the harmless actual reality that our body is inhabiting. If a distinct lack of enjoyment (through faulty programming and design) is present, the illusion is ruined. Going back to the opening of this essay, violence can make me more aware of my current environment but the power of my senses does that enough. This can also be true of games. Antichamber has no immediate threats -- one can argue falling and losing a small amount of progress, I guess, but that's a stretch -- it finds immersion through sight and sound. The abstract architecture overpowers our tendency to compare to reality, and the sound design is rich and ubiquitous. Puzzles, objectives, and first-person movement maintain the immersion. The ability to shoot (action) increases it. Perhaps it sounds like I'm backpedaling here, but I'm not: Action can exist without violence (harm against another thing), but there is no more immersive action than violence. Would Journey have been a more compelling experience if the player wielded a shotgun and gunned down hordes of enemies? Yes, it would have; but it wouldn't have maintained the same tone and sense of space. In other words, it wouldn't have been Journey. Journey is something of a compromise between immersion and aesthetics. To make the game more immersive through action, it would no longer maintain the same emotional complexity and impact (aesthetics). Journey stands out because its developer focused on feedback and possibility space. The sense of weight, flight, and movement is convincing. The environments are large and freely flowing, expanding while directing the player in slight ways. It's hard to imagine what can improve the experience without changing its expression. On the future: I have a lot of admiration for id Software's John Carmack, but I didn't expect him to agree with the above. Yet, he did just that when I interviewed him at QuakeCon, last year. Carmack admitted to making games with guns in first-person because it's more immersive. Firing a gun introduces possibilities for feedback that are unparalleled in games. I then expected him to tell me how the Oculus Rift VR headset, that he is promoting and tweaking, would further improve this. Instead, he told me how it'd change this, ushering in a new era of non-violent games. By introducing head-tracking (interaction via touch) and enclosed panoramic HD visuals, a new state of environmental immersion will be introduced, easing pressure off the necessity for action. The Oculus Rift is a baby step toward this future, but the jump from 2D to 3D could also be considered a baby step from where we now stand. I am not under the impression that the visual impact will be enough to do away with violence and immediate threats in games, but it will open the door for games like Journey that favor expression over immersion (even if not by design) to become more believable. No longer having the world confined to a screen in a living room, or the player's view fixed (or guided by a camera), will create a more intuitive world; one where the impact from moving may compare to the impact of virtual violence without a VR headset. Take away the weight of the headset, add realistic body feedback, introduce smell, and you can have realities that are virtual in name only. It's a frightening Snow Crash future that may exist in a Mad Max world, but that's the only way games will be able to tell stories of emotional impact without relying on violence. In a way, film and novels are still more immersive than games, since they carry a greater level of immersion to more kinds of stories. Recreate episodes of Mad Men or a great novel in a videogame world and you'd be bored silly. Our mind and senses guide us through art; our bodies occupying an almost catatonic state. This state, however, cannot be reached with games that require us to push buttons and fiddle with thumbsticks -- things we cannot do without thinking about them. And putting the controller aside for cutscenes forsakes the medium (sorry, Walking Dead). Dear David Cage: Dreaming of games without violence is a lofty goal. One that we may achieve in the near future. But, before we tell the masses that it's time to do away with violence, we must wait for technology to catch up to artistic expression, first, through new and improved ways of interacting with our senses. For now, let's get emotional with our fists. [Image courtesy of Jeuxactu]
David Cage is wrong photo
On immersion, violence, and the virtual
How is it that a walk around the golf course outside my house, with its scummy pond, ugly ducklings, boring grass, and the dull sky above is so much more immersive than exploring the psychedelic world of Proteus or mystical l...

thatgamecompany photo

Journey dev hints at next game, wants 'financial success'

Jenova Chen: 'My resolution is to create a big financial success'
Feb 11
// Jordan Devore
At the 2013 D.I.C.E. Summit, thatgamecompany co-founder Jenova Chen spoke at length about creating Journey, revealing that the studio ran out of money after significant delays which ultimately resulted in the game many of us ...

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