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Video Game Industry

Swery65 photo

Swery65 is taking a break from game development

Get well soon, Swery!
Nov 06
// Ben Davis
Game designer Swery65, best known for creating Deadly Premonition and D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die, posted on the Access Games blog today that he will be taking a short break from game development to recover from reactive hypogl...
Brad Muir photo
Brad Muir

Massive Chalice lead Brad Muir has gone and joined Valve

He's also performing some research
Oct 08
// Joe Parlock
At the end of September, Massive Chalice project lead Brad Muir left Double Fine. We knew he was headed to Seattle (thanks to this tweet from Tim Schafer), but we didn’t know where he’d go once he got there. Well...
#PerformanceMatters photo

SAG-affiliated video game voice actors may go on strike

Voting began about a week ago
Sep 22
// Mike Cosimano
[Update: SAG-AFTRA declined to comment on this story due to "ongoing negotiations and mutually agreed upon media blackout"] Today, video game voice actors affiliated with SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild - American Federation o...
UK Industry photo
UK Industry

UK tax relief has 'positive impact' on UK games development

It's not the most generous tax relief in the world, apparently
Aug 24
// Vikki Blake
Though the UK games industry still needs to be "on par" with the British film industry, tax relief is already having a positive impact on the UK games industry. "In 2014 the European Commission gave the green light and the ta...

The Magic Circle photo
The Magic Circle

The Magic Circle launch trailer pokes fun at games industry egoism

'Trailers are just lies set to music'
Jul 09
// Alessandro Fillari
Back in January, I had the pleasure of checking out The Magic Circle, a charming and funny adventure title that poked fun at the chaotic, often insane challenges of game development. There's a launch trailer to set the mood ...
Chris Avellone photo
Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone has left Obsidian Entertainment

No reasons given as yet
Jun 09
// Josh Tolentino
If you're at all into PC-style role-playing games of the Baldur's Gate variety, this may be big news to you: Chris Avellone has, according to brief Twitter and Facebook announcements, parted ways with Obsidian Entertainm...

The Magic Circle tackles game development with clever satire

Jan 28 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]286461:57041:0[/embed] The Magic Circle (PC [previewed])Developer: QuestionPublisher: QuestionRelease Date: TBA 2015 To say that The Magic Circle is quirky and unique in its take on the adventure genre would be an understatement. With independent games on the rise, many of which look to the past to stand out in the present market, it can be difficult to attract an audience -- especially as a brand new studio. Four guys with experience on such franchises as Thief, Dishonored, and BioShock figured their history and perspective on such high-profile titles would be a good place to start for an idea. "We're three people (just now four with Pat Balthrop), trying to say something new -- in part because we're restless after years of very traditional games, and in part because finding some mutant platypus niche is our best shot at survival in the crowded indie market," said lead writer and designer Jordan Thomas, who served as creative director on BioShock 2. "So we decided to skew 'artfully imbalanced' in the player's favor -- both in the narrative and in the game design. Letting them not just inside the joke, but to an extent, inviting them to rewrite it." Set in a fairly by-the-numbers fantasy role-playing game, you fill the roll of "The Hero," who's on a quest to vanquish evil. But you soon realize that you're one of a long series of ideas within the production of the longest-developed game in history. Its creator, Starfather, who is in reality a legendary game developer named Ishmael "Ish" Gilder (voiced by the always wonderful James Urbaniak), is seeking to release a follow-up to his old adventure title (The Magic Circle) from decades past. Unfortunately, production has been plagued with uncertainty and madness. With major revisions and changes happening on the fly, and his producer planning a mutiny of sorts, Gilder's project has long been trapped in the dreaded development hell. Soon after having his family sword stripped away and being sent to the cutting-room floor, a long-abandoned character from the game's past makes contact with our Hero, and involves him in plans to get revenge on the "gods" of the world. Using the game's programming against its creators, The Hero will manipulate the design and code of the game to suit his needs and strike back against the Starfather.  During The Hero's journey, he'll travel throughout the barren and clearly work-in-progress landscape in search of allies for their cause. Stylistically, the visuals resemble half-finished sketches or concept art by artists trying to figure out what they want. Not only does it look as if the creators are chaotic in their vision, but that anything in the world looks like it could be wiped away at a moment's notice. While exploring Gilder's game, players will discover the ruins and relics from past incarnations of the troubled title. One moment, you'll be trekking through caves and deserts of a fantasy land, then in another, you'll come across a door to an abandoned space station that transports you to a retro sci-fi world filled with robots and rogue A.I. programs, all of which are rendered in low-res 3D graphics. The art style feels schizophrenic, but still thematically consistent with the tone of the story. As sci-fi and fantasy are two of the most common genres in gaming, it's no surprise that the "gods" tried their hand at both. It truly felt like I was in a world made by a fickle creator unable to stop chasing new ideas. But of course, that's exactly what The Magic Circle is going for. If you're an enthusiast gamer, and I know you are because you're reading this, then the plot might have struck a chord with you. After all, our hobby is to discuss and analyze the workings of our escapist entertainment. I have no doubt that some are probably thinking of a few famed developers that might fit the bill for Ish. But make no mistake, this isn't some loose expose about a particular figure. At its heart, The Magic Circle is a game about unfocused ambition in the realm of game development. And that's something its creators can relate to. "As an artist, I am constantly fighting with the part of me that wants to try another avenue, because you can always come up with another idea," said lead artist Stephen Alexander. "It is a double-edged sword, more time almost always results in a better end result, but you can talk yourself out of any direction when a newer one pops into your head. The game is kind of a vision of what it would be like if that impulse was indulged endlessly, which at least to my mind is what lies behind any of the famous examples of vaporware over the years. The word that's often used to describe The Magic Circle's humor and its narrative design is meta. Meaning "beyond," TMC recontextualizes troubled game development as the backdrop for a 'world' in chaos. For the characters within the game, the 'talent' working on the game are referred to as the "gods" and appear as giant neon mono-eyes in the sky. Ish and his executive producer Maze Evelyn bicker constantly while observing their troubled creation in flux. Think of it as a mix between the themes of creation and creator from Frankenstein, the philosophical take on perspective from Plato's The Allegory of The Cave, and a dash of the batshit craziness of Too Many Cooks. It's one of the rare existentialist games we've had, and I welcome others to try their hand at it. I got a thrill seeing our hobby, and player agency, as the focus of satire. The topic of game development is something that many enthusiast gamers, press, and of course actual developers are very familiar with. With hardcore gamers treating it as some sort spectator's sport where they worship 'celebrity' developers, how the press manages to latch onto a particular story of a troubled developer, or even the chaos surrounding game development with improper management, The Magic Circle covers the whole gamut of gaming. Its meta approach is something that's not frequently used as a major focus for games. "On the meta front you touched on, the other thing that is constantly in my mind as a writer is that meta framework is so often used as a kind of cowardly pre-apology, a way of saying 'it's a joke, so please don't hurt me.' And I want no part of that," said Jordan Thomas. "So most of the characters definitely don't know they're in a comedy, and as a script I've tried to make it earnest to a fault. What excited us when we started all this was the idea of devs as deeply flawed people with total creative control over an evolving world -- gods with feet of clay. And then, heh...there are the fans. This story is by no means 'devs: stupid! Players: smart / right / beautiful.' That would be too easy. So, the hope: while the premise is meta by nature, the execution -- for better or for worse -- is from the heart." There's a lot of respect for the topic, and especially for the players as well. Though non-gamers might feel lost at the jargon and topics discussed, at its heart this is a story about ambition gone awry. And a lot of that is conveyed by the wonderful voice cast, featuring James Urbaniak, Ashly Burch, Karen Dyer, and Stephen Russell. Urbaniak in particular stands out as the delusional villain Ishmael Gilder. Imagine if BioShock's Andrew Ryan was a game developer who was in massive debt and resorted to several crowdfunding campaigns to keep his vision afloat, all the while chasing trends and upsetting his development staff. In one of many nods, you'll find several audio logs, referred to as Audio Commentaries, throughout your adventure, which illustrate Gilder's decline from respected developer to desperate hack banking on nostalgia. Despite the characters' disdain and contempt for the "gods," I still felt a connection with them, especially the fangirl-turned-game-producer Coda Soliz, voiced by the always chipper and upbeat Ashly Burch. In many ways, her optimism and reverence for the product represents the perception of fandom within the gaming community, which I found refreshing considering how popular cynicism with the audience is. Her character not only shows how the audience has grown up with games, but how it has matured when it comes to the discussion of the medium. "As far as accuracy and thoroughness goes, we do dive deep into the discipline of systems design, but there is a lot of tedium and complexity to game development that we gloss over in favor of focusing on relationships between creators, the audience, and the game itself," said lead programmer and designer Kain Shin. "As a result, we’ve hyperbolized our own flaws and wrapped it in a layer of situational dream logic in the hopes of bridging that emotional gap between the various sides of our developer selves and our player selves." As The Hero has no means to defend himself against the enemies within the world, he is bestowed with hacking abilities that allow him to break the fourth wall and reprogram enemies and other objects to do his bidding. If you're devious, you can simply strip foes of their programming and leave them in a vegetative state, but if you're a forward thinker, you can reprogram them to fight for you and help solve traversal puzzles. Initially, you'll be using common enemies known as Howlers to meet your needs, but hacking rocks and other objects in the world can give The Hero abilities to outfit the various creatures you've recruited. For instance, finding a simple rock allowed me to hack it and take its 'Fireproof' ability, which I used for my howler that served as the Hero's muscle. The Howler was able to barrel through Flamer enemies with ease. Keep in mind, these are usually the simple solutions --- with the amount of variety given to you, you can absolutely come up with clever solutions to puzzles. In one instance, I used a bunch of gecko-turtle creatures (all of whom were fireproof) to jump across a stream of lava. Not sure if that was the accurate solution, but it certainly felt like I broke the game (which is the point). That's always fun to do. As you travel to different areas, from fantasy to sci-fi genres, recruiting monsters and other NPCs, you'll assemble an army of creatures so totally and stylistically different from one another (some of which are rendered in different graphical qualities), you'll feel like the game has completely lost its mind. Between fighting a giant alien hive queen with a squad of feral wolves and insects, and visiting a space station that seemed to be populated by the dumb robots from RoboCop, I can totally see why The Hero was recruited to put an end to this madness. With that said, I got pretty close to my Cyber Rat, which I found in the abandoned Space Station. Even though he's not much use in combat, it's always nice to have a mascot around. I had a blast playing the beta build of the title, and with such a rich subject to explore, I'm excited to see what's in store for the final release. Though that's still a ways out, there's a lot of discussion to be had for this game. It's not too often we get to experience comedy games, especially ones that put the spotlight on the chaos of game development. As gamers, we've perhaps unintentionally added a layer of mythology to game creation, making them feel that they're more than they really are. While that's not bad per se, the human element can often be lost in that. With The Magic Circle, the focus is placed on the humor and insanity that game development can inspire. Granted it's a very absurdist and surreal take, yet there's an inherent and relatable element to it. In this trek through a game world gone out of control, its refreshing to have a title that presents players the opportunity to take charge and fix the damage done by its indecisive developers. And to be totally honest, it might just be the game we need now. 
The Magic Circle photo
It takes a lot to make a stew...
You ever wonder what it's like to be a character in a videogame? Most people would think of something pleasant like Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog, not someone from Resident Evil or Silent Hill. But what would it be like to be i...

Metacritic rankings photo
Metacritic rankings

Metacritic ranks the best and worst publishers of 2014

Nintendo takes the top spot for major publishers, Telltale for mid-size publishers
Jan 27
// Ben Davis
[Update: Included a paragraph about the mid-size publisher rankings, which I somehow missed.] Metacritic just released its 5th Annual Game Publisher Rankings, which ranks publishers based on the critic reviews for games relea...

Zoe Quinn founds anti-harassment network Crash Override

Jan 27 // Mike Cosimano
As for the reasoning behind Crash Override, the group credits GamerGate as being the primary motivator, although combating the movement doesn't seem to be Crash Override's modus operandi. "It was originally Gamergate that brought so many of us together," the representative said. "but in terms of scope, our group was formed to assist victims of any kind of coordinated online mob harassment." So even if your particular case has nothing to do with gaming's largest controversy, the network will provide assistance. "Many of the people we hear from are targets of much older campaigns, some still active," the representative said. In the event that a GamerGate supporter is the victim of mob-based harassment, Crash Override will offer the same level of care, according to the group's representative. "We aim to assist victims of online mob harassment regardless of their ideology or prior affiliations, even Gamergaters, providing that they are approaching in good faith." Since the network launched just over a week ago, the response has been "substantial," according to the Crash Override representative. "We're branching out into areas of online harassment we hadn't planned for, and growing our network of experts accordingly to make sure we do it correctly." If you have recently found yourself a victim of organized mob harassment, you can email the Crash Override network via [email protected] Hack the planet.
Crash Override photo
Hack the planet!
In response to the wave of harassment in the videogame industry, Depression Quest developer Zoë Quinn and freelance game producer Alex Lifschitz have formed Crash Override: a network of anti-harassment crusaders wit...

Prey 2 photo
Prey 2

Confirmed: Prey 2 has been cancelled

Bethesda no longer working on follow up
Oct 30
// Alessandro Fillari
Well you certainly could have seen this one coming. During an interview with Pete Hines, the Vice President of Bethesda, CNET confirmed that the long elusive and troubled development of Prey 2 has come to an end. Taking place...
Where are they now? photo
Where are they now?

Where are they now? Ex-Destructoid editors in the biz

Papa Niero is proud
Oct 23
// Niero Desu
As some of you may have heard by now, Dale North (our editor in chief from 2010-2014) will be moving on to sunnier, though less 'toidy skies. You can read that announcement here. It's no secret that Dale and I have definitel...
PC games photo
PC games

Half of PC gamers will wait for a sale before buying games

A recent survey casts some interesting light on digital sales
Sep 10
// Alasdair Duncan
If there's one phrase you get used to hearing when talking about PC games, it's "I'll wait for a bundle or sale." It's common knowledge if you wait a while, you can get a better price through places like Steam, Green Man Gami...
Harassment photo

FBI joins forces with IGDA in a bid to curb online bullying

Trolls may have to stay under their bridges from now on
Sep 08
// Brittany Vincent
The International Game Developers Association is reported to be working alongside the FBI and other online harassment experts in a bid to stamp out harassment. As a result, it seems, of recent events within the industry, the ...
Aliens: Colonial Marines photo
Aliens: Colonial Marines

Sega outs Gearbox for lying in Aliens: Colonial Marines case

The plot thickens
Sep 04
// Brittany Vincent
Sega has released a statement placing the majority of the blame for the misrepresentation of Aliens: Colonial Marines to customers firmly on Gearbox, especially Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford. Sega has alleged that Gearbox did i...

A word on ethics

In light of recent events <3
Sep 04
// Dale North
[Update from Chris Carter, August 2015: we've also made an effort to retroactively pursue disclosures, as is the case with this review of Oddworld after learning that a staff member, who was hired after we reviewed ...
Shigeru Miyamoto photo
Shigeru Miyamoto

Miyamoto explains Nintendo's reignited passion for core gaming

'In the days of DS and Wii, Nintendo tried its best to expand the gaming population.'
Aug 28
// Brittany Vincent
It's fairly obvious that Nintendo has been ramping up its concerted efforts to attract and maintain its core base, and Shigeru Miyamoto's latest comments confirm that it's not just a coincidence. Miyamoto spoke with Edge in a...
Kids and Gaming photo
Kids and Gaming

New study shows that children may benefit from videogames

BREAKING: Actually being a parent to your child also proves beneficial
Aug 06
// Brittany Vincent
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that children and young teens aged 10-15 who play a small amount of videogames each day show slightly higher levels of psychosocial adjustment than kids who don't play at ...
Far Cry photo
Far Cry

Far Cry 3 was originally poised to tie the franchise's story together

But hey, at least we got Blood Dragon
Aug 05
// Brittany Vincent
Raphael van Lierop, in a recent interview with USGamer, revealed that his original vision of the game would have tied all three entries in the series up to that point together. As narrative director at Ubisoft Montreal for Fa...
Gearbox photo

Gearbox thinks it should be dropped from the Aliens: Colonial Marines lawsuit

Gearbox throws Sega under the bus
Aug 01
// Brittany Vincent
Last year a class action lawsuit was filed against Sega and Gearbox accusing the companies that the press demo shown at E3 of Aliens: Colonial Marines was not indicative of the final product and was misleading. Gearbox has re...
Sony photo

Sony agrees to preliminary settlement over 2011 data breach

With all this identity theft I am racking up a heap of benefits
Jul 24
// Brittany Vincent
Due to a class-action lawsuit concerning Sony's 2011 data breach which led to the theft of names, addresses, and possible credit card data of its 77 million users, the company has agreed to a $15 million preliminary settlemen...
Double Fine photo
Double Fine

Double Fine embarks on new publishing venture

Sounds (double) fine to me
Jul 24
// Brittany Vincent
Double Fine Productions has decided to point its talents in the direction of helping indie game studios with publishing and marketing. In an interview with Tim Schafer, it was revealed that although Double Fine won't be a pub...
Electronic Arts photo
Electronic Arts

EA improves revenue in first quarter of 2014, delays Dragon Age and Battlefield

KOTOR 3 still not in development
Jul 23
// Brittany Vincent
As Electronic Arts' first fiscal quarter came to a close on June 30, the publisher found that it had beaten expectations for profits and revenue. EA credits much of this success to the runaway success of Titanfall. CEO Andrew...
PC gaming photo
PC gaming

PC gaming hardware market holds lead over consoles

Enthusiasts continue to drop big bucks for big hardware
Jul 17
// Brittany Vincent
The PC gaming hardware market, which consists of personal computers, upgrades, and peripherals used for gaming, is alive and booming in contrast to the general decline in the mainstream PC market. Ted Pollak, Senior Gaming An...
Yogscast photo

Yogscast participating in revenue share to promote Space Engineers

Can we pay for them to not make that "awww" noise?
Jul 16
// Brittany Vincent
YouTube streaming group Yogscast has announced that they will form a partnership with Keen Software. In return for a share of sales revenue for a month of the game Space Engineers, Yogscast will offer a series of vi...
Microsoft photo

Microsoft to announce biggest round of job cuts in five years

Cuts could come as early as this week
Jul 16
// Brittany Vincent
Microsoft is beginning its restructuring in the near future, as forecast by CEO Satya Nadella last week in an interview. The reductions will most likely be in engineering, marketing, and areas of overlap with Nokia. The restr...
Japanese gaming photo
Japanese gaming

Reports of the Japanese gaming market's decline are exaggerated

Japanese gaming is actually still alive and well
Jul 14
// Brittany Vincent
A popular rumor in gaming nowadays is the decline of the Japanese gaming industry. This seems to be espoused by news outlets, financial reporters, and even Japanese developers themselves. Through various interpretations of th...
Industry photo

Examining what's behind the $12.5 billion in game company acquisitions last year

Chinese folding ownership away from traditional markets
Jul 14
// Brittany Vincent
Digi-Capital, a London based firm, stated in its second-quarter report that mobile gaming has been the source of the largest amount of companies changing hands with $4.6 billion in deals in the past year. Closely following ar...
Critical Path photo
Critical Path

What do you think about cut scenes?

Kojima, Cliffy B, Jordan Mechner, Vander Caballero, Rhianna Pratchett and more weigh in
Jul 11
// Steven Hansen
There are hard line stances against cut scenes ("cheating"!), Kojima considering them a natural outlet for all the movies he watched, and developers considering them one of many useful tools in this new Critical Path&nb...
Lorne Lanning photo
Lorne Lanning

Lorne Lanning explains why he previously left the game industry

Makes sense, actually
Jul 09
// Brittany Vincent
Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! is an HD remake of the PS1 cult hit Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. Lorne Lanning, the co-founder of publisher Oddworld Inhabitants, and a man who recently took an eight-year hiatus from the video games indu...
Crytek photo

Crytek UK has stopped work on Homefront: The Revolution

Staff has gone unpaid over a month as pressure mounts on new title
Jul 03
// Alessandro Fillari
Amid recent reports of unpaid employees and mismanagement at Crytek, we are now seeing clear signs of trouble within the development studio. The UK branch of Crytek, which is actively working on Homefront: The Revolution...

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