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Cliff Bleszinski: 'I respect that core gamers see free-to-play as a dirty, dirty thing'

Aug 30 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]308383:60188:0[/embed] At this point, LawBreakers co-developer and Killzone series director Arjan Brussee chimed in "If you have a small barrier of entry like an early access fee, then I think that can work. For us, if you look at the game, it's definitely a triple-A type of experience. We don't want to charge $60, but our fans are used to paying money to play games with the Killzone and Gears of War stuff. So, I think we can leverage the free-to-play thing and do cool stuff in that space." Brussee's right in saying that this is a segment of the gaming population that doesn't have a problem coughing up some cash for games. The challenge comes in getting them on-board with free-to-play -- especially those who are distrustful of the model. But, Bleszinski wouldn't want to go back to the traditional sales metrics. "Yeah, for me, that's completely dead. That's pre-orders, that's 'how many do you get in the first two months' and then it's an exponential curve downward after that," Bleszinski said about the idea of his metrics for success suddenly shifting. "People who are still doing that: have fun. For me, that's old. For us, it's about a ramp." Bleszinski continued "We may not make a lot of money in the first couple months. But, in the first year, we may start to ramp up. These games are like a locomotive where they get going and going. Once they get momentum, you look around and say 'How did this game get so damn big?' The marking is a steady launch over the course of a bunch of different beats throughout the year as opposed to blowing the wad at Christmas while everyone else is blowing their wad. Or, the Super Bowl where you try to get Liam Neeson and Kate Upton to do goofy ads. We're in it for the long-run here."
LawBreakers free-to-play photo
But he's done with the traditional model
When Cliff Bleszinski formed Boss Key Productions to create the game now known as LawBreakers, he always knew that free-to-play was the model he wanted. That statement's not as black and white as it sounds. There's a lot of i...

Cliff Bleszinski: We want players to actually use verticality

Aug 29 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]308291:60187:0[/embed] "I don't mean to slag any other games, because those core loops of getting a lot of kills quick are what kill streaks and kill streak rewards are built on," Bleszinski said. "With us, we want to have a little bit of that dance, a little more like Halo where if someone gets the drop on you, you at least have a shot at either getting away or at least taking a dent out of them so they might die by your teammate." The hook that allows LawBreakers this freedom lies in the world-building. Because of a cataclysmic event known as "The Shattering," Earth is left with pockets of low gravity in certain areas. Conveniently enough, LawBreakers' maps are set in some of these areas, which should make for interesting and varied gameplay. Bleszinski was visibly excited about this. "We see these moments where there's this giant zero-gravity pocket where everyone's vertical and people are actually knocking each other around with rockets. One of the comments on Twitter was someone asking if rockets actually propel people. Since you have a rocket jump now, you actually have a radius. We found that with rockets not being a one-hit kill (because we don't really want them to be), even with Kitsune who's a very light character, once we have the law equivalent of her, she probably might be a couple rockets minimum. Still, it's a light character, but we want you to juggle." There's a reason he wants players to juggle. "When you introduce low gravity and the concept of juggling as well as a rocket that you can air-burst with the alt-fire, you see somebody flying through the air blind-firing propelling themselves, and you can suddenly send them over to the other side of the map by air-bursting a rocket and then follow through with your stomp move and kind of chain your moves together. We want the FPS dance to kind of come back." That FPS dance means that players stay alive longer and actually get to make use of the game's vertical axis. "It's a lot greater than your Call of Duty grind. It's a little bit faster than your Titanfall one. It's somewhere around Halo-ish is what I like to say," Bleszinski ultimately said of Spencer's original time until death inquiry. Figuring out exactly how to properly execute all that action is the tough part. LawBreakers' gameplay trailer showed a handful of different characters, each with their own abilities and traits. Bleszinski and his team are now in the position of getting all of those characters work in conjunction with one another without any of them sticking out like a sore thumb. "Perfect balance is nearly impossible to get," Bleszinski commented. "We're still working on it. Right now, in the current build that people are playing off-site, it's very asymmetrical -- two unique classes on both sides. The Law has all sorts of weapons whereas the Breakers have like area-of-effect stuff. That's been really hard to balance. One of the first things we're going to do when we get back is, you have Breacher on the Law side, we're figuring out who the Breacher equivalent is on the Breaker side. That's something that when we go back to symmetrical gameplay, I think it's going to be easier to balance. But, it'll still be slightly asymmetrical." It may not be exactly what he's shooting for, but Bleszinski made reference to a revered fighting game when talking about balanced gameplay. "I saw a graph where they're pointing out the Smash Bros. characters from the original that we've used over the years. Smash Bros. may be the most perfectly balanced game ever because they kept finding a new character and a new exploit without the game ever being patched or updated." An interesting analog, but LawBreakers won't take that approach. Bleszinski continued "Thankfully, we're going to be a living product so we can keep introducing updates, hopefully every couple weeks. Pump that shit through, have test kitchens and things like that. Basically, if we find an exploit that breaks the game, fix it. But, also recognize when there's an exploit that adds to the game. You know, rocket jumping is one of those accidents that actually is cool." Bleszinski and Boss Key can expect to find a lot of those exploits given the combination of possibilities between several unique characters and maps with variable gravity. There are a lot of factors at play. Some exploits will evolve into part of the game, some will get squashed. Those that make verticality more enjoyable and contribute to the FPS dance (as Bleszinski put it) have a better chance of surviving.
Bleszinski interview photo
Doing the FPS dance
Just this week, Cliff Bleszinski and Boss Key Productions pulled back the curtain on LawBreakers -- the free-to-play arena shooter that has been in development under the codename Project BlueStreak. It's more than just the co...

3D Gunstar Heroes revitalizes Treasure's debut action title

Aug 19 // Alessandro Fillari
Released towards the end of the Sega Genesis' life in 1993, Gunstar Heroes was Treasure Co.'s first title, and it was certainly a hell of a debut. While it quickly became a favorite among action fans and gaming press, it mostly went under the radar for many Genesis owners. Though the spotlight was on the release of the upcoming Sega Saturn, Gunstar Heroes still managed to become a cult hit among hardcore gamers. But over the years, it's cemented itself as one of the Genesis library's most loved and sought after titles, and even saw a sequel in Advance Gunstar Heroes for the GBA. This made it a prime candidate for the remaster treatment in Sega's 3D Classics series. Speaking with producer Yosuke Okunari, he spoke at length about the respect and admiration they have for the hectic and punishing action title."This was Treasure’s debut game. Everything they ever wanted to do, but couldn’t up until then, is poured into and represented in this game," said the producer while reflecting on the title's legacy. "The game’s volume and difficulty balancing is really spot on in my opinion, and you can feel the passion of the original dev team when you play the game even now. Their follow-ups, Dynamite Headdy and Alien Soldier, were really good games in their own right, and while the games' volume and difficulty were appropriate for its own day, they might not stand up so well in modern standards [In regards to difficulty curves]."Taking place in in a world where a massive army of mercenaries are seeking world domination, it's up to a family of crime-fighters known as the Gunstars to stop them. With the evil Colonel Red (called Colonel Grey in Japan) having acquired four powerful gems to power a massive robot capable of conquering the world, the brothers Gunstar Blue and Gunstar Red have to put a stop to the army's evil plans, all the while finding the whereabouts of their missing brother, Gunstar Green.Unfortunately for me, I missed out on Gunstar Heroes back in the day. While most of my attention was on titles such as Streets of Rage, Mortal Kombat, and Sonic, this one totally slipped past me. It sucks, because my seven year old self would've lived for this type of game. In similar style to Saturday morning cartoons or Japanese anime, the action and tone of the story is extremely over-the-top and takes place in episodic order, allowing you to go about clearing the game in anyway you want.For the uninitiated, Gunstar Heroes blends together high-octane shooting with some light-brawler action set across a series of unique and challenging levels. In the vein of classic side-scrolling shooters such as Contra, two players can utilize a variety of weapons, ranging from close-range flamethrowers, energy beams, and homing lasers. Moreover, players can even select aiming modes with Free-Aim (moving and shooting) or Fixed-Aim (stop and shoot), to suit their play styles. Even at close range, the Gunstars know how to handle themselves. Unlike the Contra guys, the Gunstars can throw, kick, and dive attack enemies that get too close for comfort. Utilizing all these skills is quite easy, and you'll be able to kick ass with ease.I was pretty blown away by the performance of 3D Gunstar Heroes on the 3DS. The original was quite an achievement on the Genesis, and seeing it in action in 3D is a trip. The visuals in the game use a number of graphical tricks and gimmicks that made the action really pop, and the 3D option really does a lot to enhance those aspects of Gunstar's visual design. Some bosses even have some quasi-3D animations and visuals, which was extremely impressive back on the Genesis. With 3D Gunstar Heroes, the overall performance is rock solid. Even with the 3D enabled, I was blasting enemies with screen-filling weapons and watching foes rush the screen with no drops at all. The folks at Sega saw porting over Gunstar Heroes as a major challenge, and actually put it off until they had more games under their belt."When we went about these Genesis 3D conversions, back when we first got the project off the ground, we thought that if we could get Gunstar into what we considered ideal 3D, then there was no way it wouldn’t be a good game," said the producer. "However, we knew that we had to wait until the development team had the experience needed to go about converting the sheer number of stages and all the odd perspectives the game used. In three years, M2’s team has worked on 13 titles (and then some), and they were finally ready to handle Gunstar since they now had the speed and skills to pull it off."Of course, one of the most admired aspects of Gunstar Heroes is its unique power-up system. While you select a core weapon at the beginning of each mission, power-ups acquired while out in the field will act as modifiers to your main weapon. For instance, using the lightning gun with the chaser power-up (green homing laser), it turns the lightning weapon into a homing laser that targets nearby enemies and clings to them until death. The weapon combos get pretty gnarly as you switch things up, and each combo changes the gameplay and strategies up considerably. In keeping with its focus on challenge, the original game only allowed core weapon selecting before the beginning of a mission. This design was to ensure players would commit to a weapon and stick with it for the level. Unfortunately, it was very often players would choose poorly and be stuck with an ineffective weapon for a level that may call for something more versatile. While many of the more skillful gamers could make it work, most players would often have to restart and pick a better weapon. This was one area the developers at Sega wanted to improve upon. With the addition of the brand new 'Gunslinger' mode, players can now switch between core weapons on the fly. While many hardcore fans might find this a bit sacrilegious, the developers had a lot of discussions about the new mode, and even took some inspiration from other titles from Treasure's library. "In Gunstar Heroes, there’s a lot of weapons, but the opportunity to change weapons is somewhat limited, so sometimes you get all caught up in using that one combination you like," said Okunari while discussing their work on Gunslinger mode. "It’s possible that people just never had the leeway to try different weapons or control modes. But by using Gunslinger Mode, you can now try a different weapon combination on that boss that used to give you a hard time back in the day, and you might find that you can beat them a lot faster. It’s a chance to try playing the game the way the developers originally intended. This does have the impact of lowering the difficulty. The 3DS’s controls are different from the Genesis, and we want people who played games back but maybe not so much now to be able to have fun with it. The gamers back then are probably more or less the same age as me, and they might not have the same skills they used to, you know?""This is something we can say for all the ports, but the SEGA 3D Classics development team were all fans of the games back when they were released. We know what makes these games good, so we didn’t need all that much time to figure out what sort of support features a person needs to play the game in today’s world," continued the producer. "The core of Gunslinger mode comes from a sequel made by the same development team called Alien Soldier, a game with a bit of a cult following that was only released in Japan and Europe. The key lies in this game. In Alien Soldier, you can choose from a number of weapons and control modes at will right out the door."Thankfully, I can say that the new mode is in keeping with the core Gunstar experience. The game was still tough as hell, even with the extra room to experiment and adapt to challenges with the weapon switching. I was pretty impressed with how well balanced the game is. Even with the larger arsenal, the enemies still can overwhelm and outmatch the player. I'm more than certain fans of the original will find a lot to like with Gunslinger mode. With the increased access to weapons, you'll be able to get to core of what Gunstar Heroes is about without much hassle.All in all, I have to say that 3D Gunstar Heroes is a pretty stellar port of the original. While I'm still kicking myself for missing out on this one back when I was a kid, I still managed to recall those days of wonder and excitement while spending some time with this installment. I feel as though this entry will bring in a lot of new admirers to the series. In many ways, Treasure was ahead of the curve when it released this title, but not that many people realized it. Thankfully, 3D remastering has done the original justice, and it'll give new players curious about this cult favorite the chance to give it a shot. But take heed: all the hype about this title's challenge was not exaggerated one bit. Be ready for this one.
Sega 3D Classics photo
Lock and Load on August 20
It's been pretty wild re-experiencing many of these past titles in Sega's 3D Classics series. In the last few months, we managed to get 3D remasters of several games that have defined Sega's legacy as one of the most famous g...

Super Meat Boy dev: Fingered is how I got back into game design

Aug 14 // Chris Carter
Destructoid: So what have you been up to lately?Edmund McMillen: Just actually got back into more full time dev work, after a six or more month break I took to get my personal life back in working order and prepare for my wife's first upcoming release "tiny daughter: the reality!"The past few months I've spent getting the Isaac expansion design fleshed out, regrouping with Tommy on Super Meat Boy and purging out this finger game with James.James Id: I gave up real world responsibilities to make a game that will inevitably make everyone ask "Where's Mewgenics?" In addition, I've been filming myself naked for the release video, working 24 hours in the editing bay and with bug fixes. I won't know what to do with myself once this is all released.What compelled you to create Fingered? It looks pretty out there, and by out there I mean rad.Id: Edmund had mentioned that he had this game idea, and I kind of jumped at the opportunity. I've been playing a lot with creative coding and generative design, so once I heard the idea I knew exactly how to implement it. So I latched onto Edmund like a dog in heat, and pumped this thing out. As we were making it, I think we started seeing how weirdly satirical it was getting. So I guess the premise of the game just grew on the design. McMillen: I literally hadn't worked or thought much about game design for the first time in 13 or more years... I had fucking lived, eaten, and breathed game design for a very large part of my life and it was hard to get away from it or take a much needed break without feeling utterly worthless in the process. but I had some pretty horrible family stuff happen to me that forced me out of it and also forced me to get my priorities straight, so I totally got away for a while.Fingered was how i got my feet back in the water, it was a small game I made with a friend that was being made purely because we wanted to "have fun making a weird ass video game." It was a very refreshing way to jump back into game design for me, its nice to get back to why I started making games and kinda enjoy that feeling again.Also, it's going to win all the awards and get me mad bitches!Id: I guarantee there's going to be some angry women, sure... but it's not right for Edmund to call them that. I apologize for him and will whip myself for penance.What's the reasoning behind the really low price point of $1.87?McMillen: Its a small game... closer to an app or one of my larger flash games from before Super Meat Boy, so a low price point felt appropriate.Id: I want to be poor forever. I hate rich people. Edmund, I hate you! Bernie Sanders 2016!!! McMillen: Fuck the police! [embed]305504:59979:0[/embed]Sell us on Fingered. What's the single coolest part of the project?Id: The game makes you question characteristics and stereotypes. Not in a "we're gonna change the world" way. More like "wait... what does a person who is ____ look like?" I've played the game with people where they are almost deconstructing how they judge people just to win a round. I didn't expect it at all, but I guess that's what you get when you have a pretty decent idea for a game.McMillen: The random generation is pretty awesome, and I drew a lot of bullshit and when randomized you literally get a billion very different looking people.. that aspect is quite fun for me. I'd say the best selling point though is just to say we ripped off Guess Who and phoned it in... it's Papers, Please wrapped in a giant bloody American flag covered in hamburger grease with a smaller Confederate Flag stitched to it just slightly out of eye shot. Tell us a bit about yourself James, and how you came up with the idea of these surreal trailers for your games.Id: I don't know how to sum myself up, so let me outline my schedule tonight: I'm going to watch a movie called Max: Mon Amour. I heard it's a movie about a woman who cheats on her husband with a chimpanzee. I'm going to watch it, half inebriated, occasionally stopping it to listen to Art of Noise, or King Missile... something that reminds me that there's stuff I still like. I'm bound to shit myself silly due to the stress of releasing this game, so I'm most likely going to get a few hundred pages through Clash of Kings. This process is making me miss my fiancé though. I'm glued to this chair as she watches 90210 or plays Rebirth. I'm hoping the game does relatively well so I can make a movie that no one would want to watch, but I'll be happy if I can make rent. I also really want to make out with the few legal age fans I have.The trailers are just things that come to me mostly. Edmund will usually have an idea, but I'll try to subvert it into something bonkers. I grew up on psychotronic-type television and movies, and music videos. Oh god the music videos! So there's this itch I have to scratch with every video I do. I'm lucky that Edmund is sweet enough to support it, because I really don't think anyone would ever ask for what I'd make... strange to say since I quit my day job to make video games and videos!Oh, my night just started with listening to Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel Mighty Real". I wasn't expecting that...McMillen: Truth be told, James was a troll on my website's forums back in 2000. He annoyed me then and still does now...Id: Edmund, when is Isaac 2 going to come out? When is Super Meat Boy Forever? Is there going to be additional Isaac DLC. Gish? Aether? Time Fuck? What about Mewgenics? Why are you distracting yourself with these shitty games when all we want is Mewgenics. GIVE US FUCKING MEWGENICS OR I'M GOING TO SET MYSELF ON FIRE IN FRONT OF YOUR HOUSE! IT'LL BE YOUR CHILD'S FIRST MEMORY EDMUND, SO RELEASE IT NOW!!!! Do you feel like you still have time for as many side projects as you'd like after hitting it big over the past few years?McMillen: I have time for whatever the fuck I feel like working on whenever the fuck I wanna do it, that was the true independent freedom I was working towards for all these years and it feels good to make something that embodies that.I'll always probably have one or two larger projects going, but honestly who knows what my life will be like when my daughter is born. What's next for the Isaac franchise?McMillen: Afterbirth will be coming out in the next month or two, we should be announcing the release date in a week or so. Afterbirth is a mega update to the game that should add a good 200+ more hours to most peoples games and adds a great deal of new and interesting ways to play/things to do.After that I'm honestly not sure, the community has expressed interest in a fully supported level/chapter editor, so there is a chance that once Afterbirth is released Nicalis and I may start working on a mini expansion that adds something along those lines as well as a few more items/playable characters. But I think it's safe to say that if we add any more substantial content to it, it may as well be in the form of a sequel than DLC.Speaking of Isaac, how would you compare its success to Super Meat Boy?McMillen: At this point Isaac is easily my most successful game, beyond the fact that the original sold three million copies and Rebirth crossed the one million mark recently on Steam alone. Rebirth is also my first game I've released on all current gen systems including handhelds and I think that's pretty damn amazing.That said, Super Meat Boy and Isaac are very different games, I'm sure if Super Meat Boy were a randomly generated game with more luck based aspects that you could play for hundreds of hours it would probably be a lot more successful than Isaac. How are Super Meat Boy Forever and Mew-Genics coming along? Any targeted release window in mind? McMillen: Super Meat Boy Forever is back in development again and is my primary project at this point now that Afterbirth is basically complete on my end and Fingered is [almost] out. Mew is on hold till after Forever is out, the only target release is "when its done."Id: Please buy Fingered, I just want to make it through September.
Team Meat interview photo
Things get weird (awesome)
I recently caught up with Edmund McMillen of Team Meat, who is working with frequent collaborator James Id on Fingered, a small project that's launching next week. We ended up talking about Isaac, what Team Meat is up to currently, future timelines for existing and potential projects, and a whole lot more.


Assassin's Creed Syndicate reinvigorates the series with a return to basics

Aug 05 // Alessandro Fillari
Assassin's Creed Syndicate (PS4 [Previewed], Xbox One, PC)Developer: Ubisoft QuebecPublisher: UbisoftRelease Date: October 23, 2015 (PC Q4 2015) Unlike its recent predecessors, Syndicate aims to do something a bit more streamlined during its trek through the streets and over the rooftops of Victorian-era London. While Assassin's Creed has had online gameplay components since 2010, Syndicate will follow AC: Rogue's example and focus purely on single-player gameplay. While online has been pretty neat for the AC titles, the developers wanted to make a single-player experience while putting all their resources into making it the sharpest game of the series. "We really wanted to get back to the basics. Our objective was to ship the biggest and liveliest city yet with London, and it was a big challenge, and we wanted to concentrate on building a massive single-player experience," said associate producer Andrée-Anne Boisvert. "Because of that, we were able to refine the core gameplay, adding in the rope launcher for easier traversal, refining the parkour, revamping the fighting gameplay -- so with all these things, we wanted the single-player to be really amazing." Of course, the most unique aspect of Syndicate is its focus on two protagonists with the brother and sister duo Jacob and Evie Frye. While we've already seen much of Jacob and his exploits in London, this marked the first time we were able to go hands-on with Evie, and it's evident who has the brains in this operation. Much like her brother, Evie is an assassin who must find the location of the Piece of Eden, all the while debilitating the Templar's control of the city. Though unlike her brother, she is a far more calculating and cunning assassin, and tends to shy away from the all-out brawls Jacob revels in. With many of her skills focusing on long-range assassinations and stealth, Evie is essentially the scalpel within London's Assassin order. At any time during open-world exploration, you'll be able to switch between the two and engage in missions at your leisure to reassert control of England's capital city. "We found it interesting to have the dynamic between these two; they have different personalities and different narrative storylines," said the producer. "That's something we wanted to focus on. We wanted to make sure that their personalities are reflected in the gameplay with their unique skills that they have." We finally got to put Evie's skills to the test during a key mission to strike at the Templar order. During a Blackbox mission within the Tower of London, Evie infiltrates the site to assassinate the Templar operative Lucy Thorne, who also has knowledge of where the ancient artifact is. Using skills and weapons such as the Voltaic Bomb, which shocks nearby foes, and the chameleon skill, which grants limited invisibility, Evie's approach is far more subtle. Much like its predecessor, Blackbox missions are open-ended challenges that feature multiple approaches to accomplish a single goal. Unity was the first to implement this mission structure, and Syndicate definitely plans to create more unique moments during these specific events. As Evie found her way to a vantage point within the Tower of London, she was able to discover three different opportunities to infiltrate the site and assassinate Thorne. Option one was to stalk the key-bearer and procure the master-key to enter the main tower solo; option two was to work with an undercover tower-guard to sneak into the tower; and option three was to rescue the local Constable and round up a group of loyal guards to battle their way into the tower. The third option was the riskiest and loudest approach, but it also allowed for Evie to utilize her stealth skills in unique ways, so I immediately went for it. The developers felt that with the two protagonists, there was room for much more variety and experimentation with the missions. "For Assassin's Creed: Synidicate, we wanted to make it a lot more about the freedom to choose your own path and ways through missions," said Boisvert. "We want players to be able to tackle the missions in the way they want to do it. Blackboxes are the way we have them do it, which is what we base the game on, giving players choices and offering many different ways to approach an objective for their playstyle." Using many of the traditional Assassin skills, such as Eagle Vision, parkour, and aerial assassinations and takedowns, I was able to sneak into the guard house to free the Constable, and we led a group of loyal guards to assault the main tower. While Evie isn't much for brawling and tends to focus more on the calculated strokes to achieve victory, she can easily hold herself in a scrape when it comes to it. The combat in Syndicate has seen a bit of an overhaul, which the developers felt was necessary after seeing how easily players were able to win encounters by waiting for enemy attacks and using parries. It seems over time the Templar order has finally wised up to the Assassins' tricks and plays a far more defensive game. They'll only attack when they see an opening and will guard many of your attacks. Evie and Jacob will have to utilize guard breaks and dodges to counter them, and parry only when the time is right. I felt far more active during combat, and it was the right move to switch things up. As the guards battled their way through the tower, I was able to gracefully move through the carnage while using Evie's knife throwing skills to make quick work of any oncoming threats. We finally came upon Thorne with her personal bodyguards. With the carnage filling up the central room, I was able to get the jump on Thorne for a quick assassination. At this point, the mission ended in traditional AC fashion with the central character and victim sharing a final moment before their death. But I didn't stop there. Afterwards, I booted up the mission again and went for the other options. The key-bearer was the stealthiest approach, as I was able to sneak through the tower area and assassinate the target with minimal casualties. As you can probably guess from reading this, I'm into the new setting. As one of the most requested settings from fans, Victorian-era London is a stark departure from the previous titles. Not only from the stylistic standpoint, with the dark and grimy streets filled with people who represent the best and worst of what society has to offer, but it's also the first AC game (outside of the present-day narrative) with its toes dipped into the modern era. As swords and axes become antiques, revolvers and rifles are much more common, making combat feel riskier than ever. "It's the first modern-day setting for an Assassin's Creed title [in regards to the core game setting], so it's the first time where we have a city that is so huge like London," said Boisvert. "Traffic is dense, we have carriages and other people walking on the sidewalks, and you also have the police which will chase after you when you cause trouble for others. It's a whole new dynamic for us. With the also the trains and boats, it make the city much more vibrant than any other title." I was pretty impressed with Assassin's Creed Syndicate. The game ran fairly well and I didn't notice any performance hiccups like the ones that plagued the previous AC title. I got the sense that Unity represented a major shift in how Ubisoft develops the series, and with Syndicate re-evaluating its priorities to focus more on the core game as opposed to the meta-aspects and supplementary content, I feel this entry could be a great turning point. I look forward to seeing more from the Frye siblings in the coming months, though I certainly hope the devs will figure out a way to work in Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes, and Charles Dickens during the Assassins' trek through the city. To ignore them would be a missed opportunity.
Assassin's Creed photo
There's no place like London
It's not often we get to see a series recognize that things may have gotten off track. As many no doubt remember, Assassin's Creed Unity got hit hard with criticisms about its technical performance and odd design decisio...

Woah Dave! is a success, Space Dave! coming soon

Jul 26 // Jonathan Holmes
You'd think that success was what motivated the studio to create Dave's all-new, upcoming outer-space adventure Space Dave!, but that's not actually the case. Jason went on to say he thinks "...Space Dave! would most likely still have happened even if Woah Dave! hadn't done well. The reason being is that MiniVisions games are largely driven, in all honesty, by us making games that we want to play ourselves. They're all kinds of experimental." "We're never sure if everyone else will be as in to these ideas as we are, but the passion on our end to make it is there, so we kinda roll with that. Also, probably worth nothing that Space Dave! is a surprisingly different formula, but still 100% a 'Dave' game." Choice Provisions is planning to reveal Space Dave! to the world at PAX Prime this August.
Woah Dave! photo
Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it
[Space Dave! Box in progress box art by GLIΓCH RIΓUΛL] Woah Dave! is a gaming underdog story if ever there was one. Inspired by his young son's passion of the original Mario Bros., developer Jason Cirillo's...

3D Streets of Rage 2 is a return to classic brawler action

Jul 22 // Alessandro Fillari
Released back in 1992, Streets of Rage 2, called Bare Knuckle II in Japan, was an immediate hit with Genesis owners and still stands as a favorite among beat-'em-up fans to this day. Set a year after the events of the first game, our street-fighting brawlers have to take back control after the sprawling criminal empire the Syndicate kidnapps one of their allies and plunges the city into chaos. Teaming up with pro-wrestler Max, and a young rollerblading brawler names Skate (the brother of SoR1's Adam), Axel and Blaze have to scour the city while scrapping with vicious thugs that work for the ever-elusive Mr. X. I spent many hours with Streets of Rage 2 when I was a kid, and the flashy neon lights and bombastic atmosphere -- along with Yuzo Koshiro's bumping synth score -- are imprinted in my memories of those glorious Genesis days. Surprisingly, there's a strong focus on plot in these titles. While most beat-'em-ups settle for the save X from Y plot and call it a day, SoR goes a bit beyond that by wrangling in government conspiracy and even throwing in some crazy sci-fi angles. Though the narrative is pretty much on par with B-level action movies, it still goes a long way with setting the tone and atmosphere. While there was another follow up with SoR3, the second game is my favorite and holds up remarkably well. Fortunately for us fans, Sega agrees and it's since been ported over to many different platforms, including Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and even iOS. However, with its upcoming release on the 3DS, this marks the first time you'll be able to play the game in 3D. "Streets of Rage 2 was the most popular of the three games in the series, so we actually had 2 slated as a conversion candidate from the very beginning," stated producer Yosuke Okunari. "However, when we first starting the development on these games, there were technical issues around getting this game into 3D, and it was deemed an impossible task so we gave up on it. If you've spent time playing the game, you've probably noticed that these sorts of side-scrolling beat-'em-ups are extremely well-suited for stereoscopic 3D (we actually call them 'belt action' games in Japanese because it's like being on a conveyor belt). The benefit of being able to visually confirm that you are lined up with your enemy and thus avoiding whiffing is huge." Coming off the original, the sequel featured a number of innovations and upgrades that made it stand apart from its predecessor. Aside from the obvious visual upgrade, which features sharper graphics and more detailed environments and character designs, the combat mechanics were greatly expanded to include new character-specific moves and super attacks. While I'm sure there were many who missed the police backup from the original, the focus on character diversity and growth was what made Streets of Rage 2 a true upgrade. During their work on the original's 3D remaster, the developers overcame the challenges of translating the unique visual style to bring over its sequel. "The graphics in these games were not like modern 3D, so there's a lot of pseudo-3D going on [referring to the diagonal side-scrolling stages], and when you take that and apply real stereoscopic 3D to it, you get conflicting visuals. So at the time, we thought we wouldn't be able to get the game into 3D," explained Okunari. "That said, because we were able to get the first game in the series into 3D, the staff's ability and know-how around 3D conversions saw huge improvements, and we found ways to work around these sorts of conflicting situations, and thus making the project a reality." After several playthroughs with the 3D remaster, I was impressed with the quality of the port. I can assure you that the pictures do not do the game justice. The side-scrolling visuals really pop with the 3D enabled, and many of the animations and action sequences feel more pronounced. The visuals on the 3DS feel sharp and with no slowdown or loss performance, which is great for when things get really hectic. While the game is largely as it was, gameplay feels just as precise as it was back in its heyday on the Genesis. It's a true testament to the design of the game, and it feels right at home on the handheld. As with the other 3D Classic releases, Sega has decided to do fans one better with the addition of new gameplay modes. In 3D SoR2, players can now experience the new mode called Rage Relay, which gets people playing as other characters during their run. Upon death, your starting character will switch over to the next one from the roster. For instance, if you start out playing with Axel and you get taken during a tough encounter, then you'll switch over to Max upon respawn. Initially, I found it to be a pretty odd gimmick, but I'll admit it came in handy during tough bosses or enemies which called for a bit more brute force. The developers included this optional mode as a way to encourage trying out the other characters after noticing how often players would stick with their favorites. "The original development team that worked on SoR2 was heavily influenced by Street Fighter II when making this game, so rather than a normal beat-'em-up, they really wanted each character to have their own feel, so each character has a very unique play style associated with them," said the producer. "However, unlike competitive fighting games, people tend to only play with the character the choose first for beat-'em-ups, and we didn't think most people strayed from that initial choice. There's four characters here, each with their own play style, so we wanted to make sure every character got a shot and make it interesting by giving players a chance to try characters they didn't really used back in the Genesis era. Our answer to this was Rage Relay." To say I had a great time with 3D SoR2 would be an understatement. I was pretty damn happy with how this remaster turned out. Not only do the new features help liven up the experience, the core gameplay still shows that simple beat-stuff-up action can be a ton of fun. And with local play available, you'll be able to team up with friends to take down Mr. X. With its release approaching, I can tell that many fans of Streets of Rage 2 will feel right at home with the 3D remaster. Not only has this title held up well, but it makes some impeccable use of the 3DS hardware. Once you fire up the game, and Koshiro's synth score reverberates through the opening title crawl, you'll be hooked. It's a total blast from the past, and it'll get your adrenaline pumping in no time.
Sega 3D Classics photo
Taking back the streets on July 23
Growing up, one of my favorite genres was the side-scrolling beat-'em-up. From Final Fight to Double Dragon, I was quite fond of the action found in traveling through different stages and kicking the asses of gang members and...

Rising Thunder aims to shake up the fighting game scene

Jul 20 // Alessandro Fillari
The developers at Radiant Entertainment have quite a history with the Fighting Game Community -- particularly Tom Cannon, who not only was the co-founder of the development studio, but is also one of the founders of Evolution Championship Series -- and after Seth Killian joined the studio, who's been a key figure within the FGC for many years and has worked on several fighting games during his time at Capcom (the final boss of Street Fighter IV was named after him), they figured it was time they try to bring their own desires for what a fighting game can be into reality."For me, a big part of my history with fighting games has been trying to show them to people, talk to people about them, and try to get people excited about them and give them a chance," said creative lead Seth Killian while discussing his history with genre. "And while I've been doing that for a lot of years, and while I love it and I think fighting games are one of the greatest genres and one of the proudest achievements in gaming period, it's exciting and a little sad to see that of the twenty people I talk about fighting games, only one will have the same experience that I have. Fighting games are really hard, and often times the core game is buried behind this very tall executional wall. And it's not about making it easier so we can all be Justin Wong, but I'm saying the basic moves and mechanics can take a long time to get a handle of. Once you do, then you can start learning the intricacies of player strategy." Set in the far-future, players control a select group of battling robots from different areas of the world and duke it out for supremacy. Each of the six starting characters have their own unique skills and abilities, and special combos used from the variety of weak, medium, and heavy attacks. In addition to that, super moves called Overdrives are activated when the super meter is filled to unleash devastating attacks. Moreover, they can take advantage of kinetic abilities that range from breaking enemy combos and dash cancels. The developers wanted to allow for a great level of customization, and players will be able to select loadouts for their favorite characters, which determine what special moves they bring into battle. The minds behind this title have some ideas on how to make this new fighter more accessible to players who aren't as well-versed in the classic formula of fighting games. On the surface, Rising Thunder looks very similar to titles like Street Fighter IV or Mortal Kombat X. Action is on the 2D plane, with two fighters duking it out until their enemy's health is depleted. Using special moves and strategies unique to each character, players will have to equally overpower and outsmart their opponents to claim victory. Sounds familiar, right? Well, the formula is largely as is, which is a testament to how timeless the setup is. However, the developers saw an opportunity to alter certain parts of the formula in order to remove the initial anxiety and awkwardness from new players seeking to break into competitive play."We were really excited to build a game that could open the door to what's glorious about these games to more people, and to try and let everybody understand what's exciting about these game and kept us excited about them for most of our lives. We basically ended up making a list of all the things that kept most people out of fighting games. For one, Online Sucks, it's terrible and you can't have a serious competitive experience with others. And even if you like fighting games, you also need to be in a place where you happen to be around twenty or so friends that are willing to play with you all the time."Given that it's a PC exclusive fighter, and how candid Killian was about the state of online fighters, the developers wanted to ensure they didn't drop the ball in that regard. Not only is the game completely playable with the keyboard (which feels great, by the way), and they even consider it the default setup, they also have the means to update the title quickly when needed. But course, online play is the make or break point for online fighters. Thankfully, the other founder of Radiant Entertainment, Tony Cannon, is also the creator of the famous GGPO (Good Game, Peace Out) netcode, which started out as a fan-made solution to poorly designed netcode for online fighters, but has since been implemented into retail releases. With Rising Thunder, the creators are bringing in their new GGPO3 netcode, which ensures even more sophisticated tech powering online play. Even during its alpha state, my time online was rock solid and ran at a smooth 60 frames-per-second."The other thing was -- we didn't really know, but it was our suspicion, so we built a prototype to test it -- but when you look at a fighting game match you never go 'Wow, that guy did all his moves. He didn't mess up any fireballs, what a champion.' When you look at the great history of fighting game matches, it's all about the great decisions, reads, an in-genius play, using moves in ways that you would never thought of before -- no one cares about the guy who can do the moves, that's the basic bottom layer of skill," Killian explained. "My thinking was basically, what if we were to make these moves not a problem? What if we were to remove special move inputs?"You might have done a double-take after reading, and I kinda did mentally when he first explained it to me. Accessibility was a major focus for Rising Thunder. Though while many fans may cringe at the thought of moving or adjusting the bar to make things easier for the common player, the developers wanted to think up of ways to allow players who aren't as skilled or knowledgeable as many other players to get into the core gameplay of the fighter much faster. But in doing so, you'd have to go against an established and accustomed idea. In Rising Thunder, all core specials moves, along with the Overdrive moves, are executable with a single button and don't require directional inputs. Every character brings in three special moves, which are activated by three special buttons, and each move works on a cooldown.Initially, I was a bit taken aback. As directional inputs for special moves are pretty synonymous with the genre itself. However, this idea works much better in practice, and Rising Thunder makes great use of the mechanics. I was able to jump into the game pretty quickly, and with much of the initial awkwardness of having to get a feel of the character's inputs and moves correctly, I got over the awkward character introduction phase and started to think about how to utilize their moves within minutes of play. It sort of gave me some callbacks to MOBA titles that emphasizes setups and pick-up and play mechanics, but of course, it's still a deeply refined fighter at its core."Well, all the theorists on the internet will tell you you'll destroy fighting game, it wouldn't make sense anymore, it wouldn't be a fighting game, and if you would've asked me five years ago I probably would've agreed that it wouldn't work," said Killian. "But the way we decided to try it was to build it, and to test it. And not only did the game work, but I started to see things happen in a game ever in my twenty years of talking about fighting games. One guy went from total scrub, to started playing mind-games with me. Like for real. It opened a lot of interesting match-ups. [...] That's where fighting games to me really shine, it's where they can show off people's minds and the way they work in relation to one another."In addition to these tweaks and modifications to the classic fighting game formula, the developers also added in a number of interesting visual and gameplay changes to accommodate the focus on online gameplay. Certain character utilize moves that are telegraphed and use visuals that can used for strategies, For instance, the character "Crow" is able to drop a dome barrier that makes him invisible while inside of it. While the player using Crow is invisible (which is still somewhat visible on their screen), the opponent will not be able to see them during invisibility on their screen. This is to add a layer of unpredictability. With opposing players using their own screens, they'll be able to hide the more nuanced aspects of their moves from their enemies to surprise them.Radiant Entertainment is certainly confident in their new fighter, and given that they're allowing the FGC and newcomers full access to their game very soon (early alpha beginning on the 28th), they're looking forward to hearing their feedback. As with their other title Stonehearth, the community will have a major impact on the state and feel of the game. While Rising Thunder does a lot of things that may go against the more iconic aspects of the genre, there's a lot of thought that went into the intricacies of this fighter. As this title is still in fairly early stages, many features and visuals are not in place quite yet, but the developers are confident enough in releasing it as the true heart of the game is in place. They also plan to actively update the game, introducing new content, updates, and other additions to keep things interesting. "We love fighting games, we've loved them for a long time. We've seen a ton of games come and go, there's plenty of great fighting games out right now, but -- at least in our view -- they're not focusing on the real sources of the trouble [accessibility]," he said. "Don't charge people to try your game, don't ask them to spend six months practicing the game before they can actually start having a real game, and make the online good god dammit."If anything, Rising Thunder will prove to be a pretty interesting experiment. During my time with it, it was clear that a lot of love and passion went into the game, and the folks behind this title are putting a lot of trust into the FGC to be as honest and vocal about the game as possible. Which certainly won't be hard for them. In recent years, the fighting game genre has evolved significantly, and with more players mindful of the true core gameplay with every fighter, Rising Thunder aims to get players to the nitty-gritty of what fighters are all about right from the get-go. Rising Thunder [Alpha Sign-Up] 
Rising Thunder photo
PC, free-to-play, powered by GGPO3
If you were one of the many watching the EVO 2015 livestreams over the weekend, then you no doubt saw a trailer for Rising Thunder, a brand new fighting game featuring battling robots. While viewers didn't get much info about...

People Can Fly photo
Working on a triple-A shooter
People Can Fly, a Poland-based developer, announced a split from Epic Games this morning. While the studio gained notoriety for its Painkiller games, in 2007 the majority of the company was acquired by Epic, and since th...

You can easily cut off content in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Jun 22 // Zack Furniss
The demo was snappier than Human Revolution when it came to interface and movement. I expressed concern about the balance of streamlining the gameplay without scaring off players who don't want this to be just another shooter. "We are never taking away control," DeMerle said. "Deus Ex has always been a game about playing it the way you want, finding the path that works for you. A big change for us is that when stealth gets screwed up, it was too tough to get back into the shadows so we want to change that. We want you to be able to mistakes but continue on the way you want. Of course, it won't be too easy, as there needs to be a challenge." I personally play the Deus Ex series in a dumb, compulsive way where I stealth to an objective, and then run back through the empty areas, scouring vents, hacking computers, and digging through trash to get every bit of experience I could. So would they find a way to stifle this, maybe locking off areas so that you have to do another full playthrough of the game? "We are encouraging multiple plays in many different ways. How you handle certain characters will bring entire new storylines. These will come back and have an effect on the critical path. I'm not talking about sidequests per se, but there will be plenty of those as well (and they'll also have an effect on the critical path). You can easily cut off content by killing the wrong person." Human Revolution was sorely lacking the permanent character choices from prior entries in the series. By the end, Adam Jensen could have practically every augmentation. Should we expect the same here? "We can't get too specific. I just realized there's one thing that I can't say, that wouldreally answer your question. There might be certain things that you can do that would cut off certain ways of...upgrading...That's all I'll say!" Then came the Mechanical Apartheid question. I apologize for not detailing the controversy on that one, folks. I didn't want to link to Twitter accounts and open that door. I still feel it was worth getting their response. Anyway...one more question, to leave it on a fun note. I'm sure we'd all love an augmentation or two, so I had to know what DeMerle would want. "I want an augmented ear like a babel fish! I know it’s not in the game but I would love to be able to understand all languages!" And that's all we had time for. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is coming early 2016.  
Deus Ex photo
Here's the rest of the interview
After watching twenty or so minutes of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, I sat down with executive narrative director Mary DeMerle. We spoke about the streamlined gameplay, Human Revolution's flaws, and their plans for tackling sensitive issues in a critical medium.

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It's not a mobile game factory just yet
Back when word broke regarding Tri-Ace's acquisition at the hands of mobile group Nepro Japan, the early speculation was the studio's days making games for consoles were over. Then, just a couple months later, Square Eni...

Nier New Project photo
Spoilers?
Interviewing developers can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. For example, when I spoke to Nier producer Yosuke Saito and director Taro Yoko about their game the other day, the pair spent a good portion of the interview dodg...

How and why Platinum Games is making Nier 2

Jun 19 // Kyle MacGregor
"So, with the previous game, we got some feedback from our fans, not only in Japan but also from abroad, that for being an action RPG, the controls weren't great," Nier producer Yosuke Saito told Destructoid (through a translator) earlier this week at E3 in Los Angeles. "And that's one of the things we've really learned from the previous game." "When I thought about developers that are really known for great gameplay and design (in terms of gameplay implementation), there aren't that many," Saito continued. "But Platinum is one of them. They're known for great gameplay and development of gameplay engines and so we brought up this conversation dialogue and decided to make this collaboration project." "Honestly, in my personal opinion, the best action game developer in Japan has to be Platinum Games," Nier director Taro Yoko added. "So, being able to collaborate with them on this endeavor on the new Nier project is a great feat for us." But Platinum Games is known for action titles, not role-playing games. I wondered how different from its predecessor the sequel might turn out. Would it just be a straight-up action game? "It's more of a varied approach," Yoko replied. "It's not necessarily going to be the same way as before. I want to keep trying new things. And obviously with Platinum Games, they're renowned for their action game controls. So, we may do a little re-balancing and redesign in terms of some aspects, but we are considering a varied approach." [embed]294470:59163:0[/embed] What does that mean exactly? "Obviously Platinum Games are known for their quick, speedy combat. But if we go too far that direction, it gets too difficult for other people to really enjoy. So, since this is a JRPG we're trying to do that good balance with typical Platinum Games-style action elements with JRPG-element combat." "A lot of people think of action when they think of Platinum Games, but with this team they really showed a lot of respect to the original Nier. We actually have several fans of the previous game on the team, and through that respect they haven't completely deconstructed the old combat system or created a completely new one. They've taken the old combat system from the original and out of respect sorted of added onto it, added their own sort of flair here and there to improve upon what we already had and make a better game experience." It sounds like people needn't worry about this being a linear action game. "It's not going to be a game on rails so to speak," Yoko said when asked about the game systems. "It's not going to be one straight path. You are going to have room for exploration similar to the previous Nier." Yoko has long lived in Tokyo, but the director recently moved across the country to Osaka, where he is now embedded at Platinum's offices. So I asked him to talk about the studio, while also expressing some concern about the sheer number of titles Platinum is working on at the moment. "I don't know what Platinum Games was in the past. I've only been with them recently. I can't really comment on Platinum Games. But for my team specifically -- it's a very young team. For example, the game designer [Takashi Taura] is 29 years old." "So it's a very young, but passionate team. They have a lot of desire and passion for our project to do a good job. They're extremely skilled and very quick. Obviously we may do overtime here and there, but it's not like we're slave drivers necessarily. They love their job, they love being in the industry. Honestly I've been in the industry and I'm just amazed at the amount of skill and how efficiently this team works." We can look forward to seeing more of what the team has been up to sometime this fall.
Nier 2 interview photo
An interview with the RPG's creators
Nier isn't the sort of game you would expect to get a sequel, but that's exactly what's happening. Square Enix surprised (and delighted) folks the world over when it announced the new project at E3. That news alone would...

NieR interview photo
Director explains how they came to be
Nier is a game of extremes. For all its strengths, it has as many weaknesses. One of the roughest elements of the experience is fishing. The whole thing is poorly implemented and just as badly explained. And one of them wasn'...

Xbox originally thought backwards compatibility was impossible

Jun 18 // Brett Makedonski
To be blunt, I was sort of astonished to watch the Xbox One transform into an Xbox 360. With a simultaneous press of the menu and view buttons, the Xbox 360's guide pops up -- yes, the exact one that still exists on the legacy console. From there, it's fully functional to look at friends, launch games, view Achievements -- all that stuff that everyone's already familiar with. Maybe the most interesting aspect of backwards compatibility is its cross-platform ability. The presenter stressed that, because this is essentially an Xbox 360 running off of an Xbox One, anyone can play and chat with friends who are on 360. That's a nice way to bridge the gap for those whose friends haven't taken the "next-gen" plunge yet. But, just because it's acting as an Xbox 360 doesn't mean that it forfeits the perks of still being an Xbox One. The system's sharing and broadcasting features remain live, so snapping screenshots, capturing video, and Twitch broadcasting are all available options. Have your cake, eat it too. While all this seems great, one has to wonder how on-board third-party publishers will be with the feature. After all, they aren't making money if you're playing a game you already own. In an age of remaster after remaster, you have to think that it's a more alluring prospect to opt out of backwards compatibility and re-release a game at a higher visual fidelity and -- more importantly to publishers -- a price tag. However, Xbox doesn't necessarily think this will be the case. Or, at least it hopes it won't be. One representative went so far as to suggest that companies will use backwards compatibility to grow their brands. "Our group doesn't talk to the publishers directly, but if you listen to what Bethesda had to say on-stage on Monday where you get Fallout 3 for free if you buy Fallout 4, I think they'll do things like that to encourage customers to buy the latest games and to get into the IP. They want more people in the IP to grow their audience, not just the same people coming back. I think it's a good channel for them to be able to do things like that," he said. Microsoft's intentions for backwards compatibility appear earnest and sincere, but all these advancements make it sort of seem like the Xbox 360 is an obsolete machine. When I asked if consumers can just throw away their 360s after backwards compatibility is fully up and running, the presenters laughed and said "We wouldn't advocate throwing them away! But, like Phil said at the conference, now's the time for 360 customers to upgrade to Xbox One. We want them to say 'everything's there for me. Let's go.'"
Backwards compatibility photo
'The team never gave up'
Microsoft's E3 announcement that the Xbox One would be backwards compatible was a big one for fans who have thousands of dollars invested in the last generation of gaming. Two years ago, many struggled with the idea that thei...

Hideaki Itsuno talks his return to DMC with Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition

Jun 18 // Alessandro Fillari
It's been more than seven years since the release of DMC4 back on PS3 and Xbox 360 back in 2008, and things have changed quite a bit. During that time, Itsuno choose to begin work on his passion project, an open-world Action-RPG title for consoles, which eventually became Dragon's Dogma. The sprawling role-playing game was one of Capcom's most intensive projects, and was largely met with acclaim. Though sometime after its release, the opportunity to return to the series presented itself, and Itsuno was keen on giving the series another go. "Once the original DMC4 production was over , I was ready to be done with DMC for awhile, and it was quite good timing," said director Hideaki Itsuno while recalling his work on Dragon's Dogma. "But by that time [after Dragon's Dogma], I felt that I wanted to work on another DMC game, and the topic of the Special Edition came up and it was really good, it came at a great time for me. Also it wasn't too difficult coming back to DMC mentally after awhile. I had actually been working on some mobile titles for awhile before this. It was good to be home with DMC, it was a year and a half project, and and I really enjoyed it all." As the second Special Edition release for the series, many fans have det their expectations high for the return to DMC4. Since its reveal, we've learned much about what the Special Edition will contain, and surprisingly they decided to go further with including the most playable character in a single title that the series has ever seen. While talking about the development of the game, Itsuno recalled what they wanted to focus on when making the Special Edition."Coming off DMC3: Special Edition, including Vergil was a no-brainer really, and it was also something that a lot of fans pretty much expected to happen when you announce another Special Edition," said Itsuno. "The next thing we looked at was bringing it up to speed [...] It's been seven years since the last game, and people may not be as familiar with it as they once were. So even just having tiny things like auto-save, helped bring up to console standards. Then we added Lady and Trish."Right from the beginning of the series, gamers have recognized that DMC is in a class of its own when it comes to combat. After Itsuno took over as director for the series, the combat expanded much further. With experience on titles such as Capcom vs SNK and the Street Fighter series, he used much of his work on honing combat and fighting mechanics and transitioned it over to DMC. With DMC4SE, the developers plan on injecting more of the fighting game mentality into the series with the inclusion of multiple playable characters, as each posses their own unique playstyles.  "You definitely could say I've brought my fighting game experience to bare," said Itsuno while talking about the new playable characters. "Particularly because we got some additional characters and gameplay experiences are quite different for each character, and the gameplay will change for each. It's quite a unique aspect to DMC, compared to other action games where we have this selection of characters, so you're really getting a different gameplay experience with each character. We looked at people's combo play videos for 4 and also 3 Special Edition for Vergil, and we used those as references. But ultimately, we wanted to make sure it was the game you love." During my time with DMC4SE's Vergil, it was clear that he adopted some tricks from DmC Vergil. Ninja Theory's work on the mechanics for Vergil offered some very inventive takes on classic moves and also included some new skills that very clever in their own right. Over the years, DmC: Devil May Cry has been a pretty divisive title among series fans. Many of whom don't tend to view it in the same light as the original series. The director of the series spoke about his work supervising the developers at Ninja Theory, and still holds the game and its developers in high-regard."It was a three year project working on DmC: Devil May Cry with Ninja Theory, and I was going back and forth to Cambridge working on it with them. And I got a lot of great memories, I'm still really great friends with those guys, whenever I see them I'm like 'give me a hug, bro', and even though it was a divisive game, and that was the reaction from fans, obviously -- I still feel it's a well respected game. I don't like thinking of it as this separate other thing from the rest of the other games. My work on that game definitely influenced DMC4SE.As with every upcoming E3, many fans like to hypothesize about what's going to be announced at E3. Just checking on twitter or NeoGAF, you could see massive threads detailing fan theories and speculation about some upcoming news relating to the developers and publishers attending. And though many were convinced that Capcom was going to drop the bomb and announce Devil May Cry 5 at this year's expo, they of course were mistaken. But rest assured, Capcom is totally aware of the enthusiasm for the series. Itsuno had this to say to fans about the current state of Devil May Cry.  "Of course, there was some people rumor and speculating whether or not there'd be a new announcement at E3. Sorry, but there wasn't one this year. But 4SE is something I really wanted the chance to get DMC in the hands of the next-generation console player. It's been that long since the original series, the hardware has changed, standards are different, and I know that people are waiting to play the game again." With the upcoming Special Edition almost upon us, it's going to be a special time for many fans who've longed for the return to the original series. I've spent quite a bit of time with it, and I feel that many long time fans will love what Itsuno and the developers have done to reinvigorate DMC4. The new characters add a whole new level of freshness to the game, and fans who've spend countless hours exploring the nuances of Dante and Nero will love what Vergil, Trish, and Lady bring to the table. Expect our full review from Chris next week.
Devil May Cry photo
This Special Edition goes all in
As you have probably noticed over the last few months, Destructoid has been loaded with articles about the Devil May Cry series and its upcoming titles. The folks at Capcom have been very open with sharing details about the s...

Talking Kingdom Hearts III (and a bit of Final Fantasy VII!) with Tetsuya Nomura

Jun 16 // Zack Furniss
[embed]294205:59114:0[/embed] Mr. Nomura, I see that Sora is dressed in new duds. With your history of costume design, are we going to see changing outfits to go with form changes like in Kingdom Hearts II? Yes. Form changes are being considered to bring back. I have enjoyed making different designs for different abilities in the past. What is the process like when deciding which Disney levels are going to be in the game? Does Disney often intervene to make sure you're utilizing certain properties? Disney sometimes does make suggestions, but the development staff has more sway over worlds and gameplay mechanics. When KH began, Disney was a large pool to pool from, but now with the additions of the Star Wars and Marvel properties, it is goddamn huge. Has this made it difficult to parse between which franchises you would like to insert into the ever-expanding universe? The fact that we have to pick, and the difficulty associated with that, is something we have faced with each installment since the beginning. We pick more IPs than necessary and consult the schedule and feasibility of actually getting our designs to work. It’s been a repeating process. How much would I have to pay you to draw a small portrait of me in your signature aesthetic? I do some work outside of my current projects. The tasks come and I do them without knowledge of how much money I will make. If I ever decide to leave Square Enix, I will determine a price! (I pull out my wallet and start taking out whole dollars. Tetsuya lets out an adorable giggle and shows a big, goofy [ha!] smile.) With Final Fantasy VII being remade, are you more excited to finally remake this, or nervous because of the years of players' built-up expectations? When I create anything, I feel no pressure for some reason. When the trailer was announced yesterday, I was texting Kazushige Nojima and Yoshinori Kitase, but I sensed that one of them was nervous and it was interesting to me. Seeing the reactions made everything worth it. Nojima said he is very determined to make this after seeing the reaction. I asked “you weren’t sure before that?” Haha. The news of the remake is impacting so many people. I couldn’t sleep last night because my phone was blowing up! So many people are congratulating me that I feel like “Oh wow, maybe I did do something profound here!
Tetsuya Nomura photo
What an adorable little man
HOLY FUCK I UNEXPECTEDLY INTERVIEWED NOMURA. I sat in a private room at the Square Enix booth with Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII's creative director Tetsuya Nomura. Co-creator Tai Yasue was also there, though he let Nomura answer the majority of the questions that two other journalists and I asked him.

Destructoid and Destructive Creations talk about Hatred: Part 1

Jun 12 // Jonathan Holmes
Destructoid: For people who don't already know, what is Hatred about and how does it play? Jarosław Zieliński (Destructive Creations CEO): Hatred is a dynamic isometric twin-stick shooter where you take a role of cold-blooded Antagonist who hates the whole humanity and goes out for a hunt. But, when the police and army walks in, you will be hunted, and you'll struggle to survive in order to achieve the main game goal (but we won't spoil it). The game is quite challenging, unless you play on easy difficulty. On hard or extreme it shows its teeth and that's the way it was meant to be played. You can steer with a combination of mouse and keyboard or with a use of a gamepad. There is a wide selection of weapons, and you can also use some vehicles to perform the mayhem. The environment is almost completely destructible; the game offers very advanced physics and uses UE4. Dtoid: If the Antagonist of Hatred played Hatred, would he love it or hate it? J. Z.: He wouldn't like it, because he would consider it as an easy way of venting out his hatred. He is clearly a heroic fella in his own opinion; he does things in reality and that's what matters to him. But I'm just guessing here. Dtoid: You've said in prior interviews that the GTA series is largely about killing for greed and self interest, while Hatred is about killing out of an honest urge to destroy. Yet, Hatred has been demonized by many of the same people who seem to adore the GTA games. Why do you think that is, and do you think the Antagonist of Hatred is in any way more honorable or deserving of respect than the criminals of GTA? J. Z.: He isn't hiding anything behind what he does. He is full of emotions, because hate is also an emotion as the love is. His aim is to eliminate the targets. He is not getting anything out of that – no money, no fame, no satisfaction for sadistic intents. As a sociopath, he only wants to watch the world burn. His actions aren't motivated by greed. There is a kind of purity in his behavior, because he is not trying to justify who he is and what he does, contrary to what we can see in GTA, because there, we also play criminals, but motivated by something less pure. You may try to look deeper and figure out on your own why Antagonist is like this. We left the explanation of his behavior to the gamers. Dtoid: You've also said in prior interviews that you were never interested in using pixel art for Hatred, as you don't like the look and you don't think it would fit the game. Hotline Miami is another twin-stick shooter about being a sociopath, but it uses sprite-based graphics, and it's done very well commercially and critically. [Spoilers] It also has a twist at the end that comments directly on how the player likes to hurt people. [/Spoilers] Have you played Hotline Miami, and/or do you have any thoughts on how the game was received vs. Hatred's reception? Do you think people are more willing to accept an ultra-violent game about being "the bad guy" if it has "sprite-based graphics and/or a veneer of self-awareness and deeper meaning"? J. Z.: To be honest – I've never played Hotline Miami and that's exactly why: I don't really like its colorful style, it is not in my taste. We wanted to stick with more realistic approach to the looks of the game. We aren't fans of pixel art graphics; that was never in our interest to do something like that in Hatred. Why HM is more acceptable to the public than Hatred is? I can only guess, but if you would have exactly the same story and gameplay features, but it would be shown in a realistic mood, with people's faces reflecting fear and pain, there would be much more controversy about the game. And there's also a matter of a plot. I don't really know what the storyline is in HM, but I doubt it's "evil deeds for evil deeds" as it is in Hatred. And mostly – that's the reason many people are so obsessed by our game, in both ways – love or hate. Dtoid: Do you think people would have reacted differently to Hatred if it starred a woman or a member of an ethnic minority? Or a man who's dying of cancer, like in Bobcat Goldthwait's film God Bless America? How about a gun-wielding baby who just doesn't know any better? J. Z.: Possibly some would react differently, some wouldn't. I wouldn't like to give an answer for everybody as each of us has his own perspective on such things. We thought it would be better if we create a character that leaves more questions than answers to the audience. As you have seen, many people accepted the game design, theme, and the character, and we are happy about that, as we are sure that our game reached the audience we aimed for. I would also like to add that killing is always wrong in terms of morality – doesn't matter if you're a soldier, a person dying of cancer, or a psychopath wearing a trench coat. Justification of evil deeds is a cancer of humanity and will probably put it into the grave at some point. Dtoid: Hatred involves near-constant killing of innocent people, but it does not feature the violence towards children or animals, or any sexual violence of any kind. Were you concerned that allowing the Antagonist to engage in those acts would somehow make the player feel bad about themselves? Or are those monstrous actions just not monstrous in a "fun" way? J. Z.: We didn't plan to put animals, children, or rape into the game; that wasn't in our interest. And you've got the exact point – some things are so bad that even on the screen they would be too much for me, but it's a matter of personal approach. I didn't kill children in Fallout, even if I could. I was never interested in games like Rape Lay, never even seen it. As for killing animals – let's face it – we're used to doing it in games. We didn't put animals into Hatred, because it would be too much work and keep in mind we're a very small team, with small budget. And it wouldn't add anything worthwhile to the game itself. Dtoid: You've jokingly said in prior interviews that unlike Anita Sarkeesian, your team hasn't gotten any death threats, maybe because the people who make death threats are probably fans of Hatred. When things are funny, it's often because there is at least some truth to them. What do you think of all the conflict swarming around the release of your game, and what advice would you give to fans who are trying to fight "Social Justice Warriors and Unethical Games Journalists" on your behalf? J. Z.: Actually, we got more positive feedback than negative. You could count hate emails we received on two pairs of hands, and the positive feedback can be counted in thousands. It's rather a problem with media, when they found out that some "rebels" had made a game that worked against all trends. The "crusade" against us didn't really work out, as our game became more and more recognizable and successful. And who said that thing we've said had to be funny? I think it's kinda true. To anyone who opposes "Social Justice Warriors and Unethical Games Journalists" I would say: "keep fighting, we're on your side!," while we don't really care about the voice of SJWs, they are just loud minority in the gaming world and most people don't care about reviews or Metacritic anymore. Me included – many games I liked were heavily bashed by media. And besides – submission is for the weak. We won't submit to the values we don't accept. We like to do things the way we want. Dtoid: Indeed you do. Thanks for reading everybody, and be sure to come back for part two of this interview where we discuss AO ratings, if Hatred is appropriate for children, Juggalos, shitting, and more. 
Hatred interview photo
For the most part, they seem pretty nice
For better or worse, many in the gaming world might have come to take Destructoid for granted. If you follow gaming closely enough to know who we are, then you've probably also formed a general opinion about us, and regardles...

Combofiend talks Street Fighter V, and the importance of community

Jun 11 // Alessandro Fillari
In many ways, Street Fighter V seems to represent a culmination of many different aspects of the series as they're reaching a fever pitch. With the developers spending many years honing their craft, and the growing popularity of a community of fans that share their passion with others, the genre seems to be in the strongest state yet. In the last decade alone, popularity for the fighting genre exploded thanks to the Internet, and the sharing of many great moments from tournaments. During our chat, Peter "Combofiend" Rosas spoke about how Street Fighter V will bring together many different eras of SF fans, as this new installment will features elements they've come to love over the years. "Everyone is ecstatic about this game; the responses to the character reveals have been immense," said Peter Rosas while discussing the growing fan base. "The series has such a history, you have people from my era, the Street Fighter II dudes, the people from the Street Fighter III era in the early 2000s, and the people from 08-09 that started with Street Fighter IV -- we're all excited for this game. I'd say the excitement for Street Fighter is at an all-time high." Understandably, when there's a new installment to a popular series coming, people are curious about the changes and upgrades. While they're excited at the prospect of the new entry, there's still the budding anxiety of having to master a brand new system that may or may not contradict strategies they've spent years improving. In order to cushion this a bit, the developers took a long look back at the series and decided to incorporate elements from the past and re-contextualize many strategies and tactics into the new system in place here. Rosas elaborated that each character will feel more unique because of it. "What we did was look at all the good things we've done over the years versus all the things players didn't necessarily like, so there are SO many good things, positive mechanics that people loved over the years," explained Rosas. "So we wanted to focus on that aspect, while also having the game feel new and fun. We thought the speed from Super Street Fighter II Turbo was appropriate, so we sped the game...but then, we also wanted each character to feel like a unique experience. When we looked at the V-Skills, we saw an opportunity to see how each character will feel different." One of the more shocking announcements from Capcom, aside from the return of Nash, is that Street Fighter V will be a PS4 exclusive release on consoles. Understandably, this upset many fans who haven't taken to the new hardware yet, or just simply own an Xbox One. Though the title will also be released on PC, there's still that air of unrest, despite knowing that this title is developed with a partnership from Sony and Capcom. Thankfully, the folks working on the game hope to remedy things with the cross-play feature. Players will be able to compete against each other regardless of their platform, and do so seamlessly. "That was extremely important to us, to make sure that all the players are together," said Rosas. "Because previously, you had people on one console, then on another console, then 'PC master race' over here, but the way it goes is that that's never been possible before, and our partnership with Sony has allowed us to do so. We definitely want people to finally be able to compete; everybody is going to be able to play everybody and we'll truly see who the best Street Fighter is." Over the years, the FGC has grown in a big way, bringing together long-time and new fans to the series. However, there are many who feel daunted by the complexity of the genre and competing against more seasoned fighters. In Street Fighter V, the developers hope to balance things out as they focus on accessibility while maintaining the hardcore element. Rosas spoke about the brand new Variable System, which not only features a lot of nuance, but also gives newcomers more options to use against the vets. "[Accessibility] was the one thing we wanted to maintain. For this one, we wanted to make sure everyone could access all the cool stuff. That being said, V-Skills are just two button presses, but they are unique for each character. The V-Trigger is the strongest unique ability that's accessed by pressing heavy punch and heavy kick together, so anyone who may have been intimidated playing Street Fighter because they couldn't access all the things that guys with high dexterity could, they can now do that. It goes back to that old-school feel where a fireball and an uppercut and pressing a few buttons could win you a few games. It goes back to the basics where you can just concentrate on the core mechanics, where it becomes a mind game versus more of a dexterity game." Obviously, one of the most talked about aspects of any Street Fighter is the roster. And with this title setting itself at an interesting point in the SF timeline -- and yes, I tried to ask when but they wouldn't spill the beans -- it's making everyone very curious to see who will pop up next. The folks at Capcom have clearly been listening to what fans want to see, especially after conducting surveys and other forms of outreach. Though they obviously can't say who will show up next until they're ready to, Combofiend did share some thoughts on the developers' rationale and thought process behind the roster for SFV. "We looked at a variety of sources,  but we wanted to make sure that with the roster we selected, it was characters that people would enjoy and it would be fighting styles that would be properly represented in the game, and also to make sure that everything put into the game had meaning. " He elaborated that even the returning characters, some of whom have been present since the beginning, will feel new in the fifth installment. The Variable System aims to reinvigorate the classic SF formula substantially. "We wanted all the characters to feel fresh, and to feel familiar," he explained. "Ryu still has his fireballs, Chun-Li still has her hundred kicks, but at the same time, we wanted [them to be] unique to Street Fighter V. So when were looking into the V-Triggers, we thought 'What would be really appropriate for the characters?' [...]We made sure that all the abilities played to the characters and their personalities." I was pleasantly surprised by his frankness regarding the scope of the game's ambitions, while also discussing the importance of community. Given his deep ties to the FGC, and that they've been helping to keep the series relevant for all these years, there's a clear respect for the fans who have spent so much time with the titles. While there's still many details we don't know about, the folks at Capcom assured us that it's important to keep things a surprise. Though it's still a ways out, Street Fighter V is shaping up to be an exciting title. I was eager to go hands-on with the title before E3, and I wasn't alone in saying that they've got quite a title on their hands. The fans are going to have a field day analyzing all the details and speculating what's in store. I'm very anxious to see what Capcom reveals next. For more info on Street Fighter V, check out my hands-on impressions of the game. 
Street Fighter photo
Variable System aims to change the game
In case you missed it, I had a blast playing Street Fighter V. I spent three hours playing against other journalists and developers from Capcom, and I learned so much about what this new title is all about. Given that they've...

Reggie wanted The Binding of Isaac on 3DS all along

Jun 07 // Jonathan Holmes
We talked more about that, Edmund's feelings on if Isaac is appropriate for children, our chances of ever seeing Super Meat Boy on a Nintendo console, his Newgrounds days, plans for a new game, and a lot more. It's essential reading for any fan of Isaac or any of Edmund's many other games. It also comes with a double sided Splatoon poster, which is pretty neat. You can pick up the issue here, or a year's subscription to Nintendo Force here. 
Binding of Isaac photo
Way to go, Reg
[Update: We added some samples from the magazine in the gallery, including a look at both sides of that double-sided Splatoon poster, featuring some original art by Anita Sarkeesian Thor Thorvaldson. It's really good!] The Bi...

Street Fighter V photo
How does Ryu type with those things?
Hey, how do you feel about fighting in the streets? Well, if the mere concept of pavement brawling is enough to get your boxing gloves in a knot (?), this is the website for you. My fellow Destructoid contributor Alessandro F...

Disney Infinity 3.0 expands with the Star Wars and Inside Out playsets

Jun 01 // Alessandro Fillari
For those who aren't familiar, or maybe just a bit confused about what Disney Infinity is, this title brings players into an open world and unified experience to craft unique and original playgrounds for Disney characters from the past and present. Much like the Skylanders series, characters are acquire by purchasing actual figurines that can be uploaded into the game via a world disc, a real world scanner. While you can create levels and unique scenarios and share them with others online, you can also dive into unique playsets centered around specific Disney films and television shows. In its third year now, Disney Infinity has seen a number of upgrades and additions. With last year's expansion introducing Marvel characters, they've also spent some time upgrading the gameplay and general design. In order to do this, they recruited help from independent developers such as Ninja Theory, Sumo Digital, and United Front Games where they worked on the key areas of combat, racing, and additional character support respectively. With general development handled by Avalanche Software (note: not the same Avalanche behind Just Cause), they've found the creation of Disney Infinity to be a rewarding and satisfying experience. "The two words that come to mind are 'humbling' and 'gratifying," said the GM of Avalanche Software John Blackburn while reflecting on his work on Disney Infinity. "I feel so fortunate to work with all these brands, and it's a dream come true in a lot of ways[...] I'm pretty happy that people have responded to it in the way that have, and have accepted it and are looking forward to the new versions right now. I want to make sure we're doing a good enough job that we're really trying to make high quality kids and family entertainment, because that's been more and more difficult as a business to do. So it's very gratifying to see that we're doing it right." With the 3.0 expansion, new environments and characters will be added to the core game, such as the recently announced Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic (based on the prequel trilogy), Rise Against the Empire (original trilogy), The Force Awakens, and also Pixar's Inside Out playsets. While Star Wars will be largely combat and vehicle focused experiences, Inside Out will experiment more with platforming in surreal environments. Much like the film, the gameplay centers around the emotional state of a young girl named Riley and her changing perception and feelings. Set sometime after the film, players take control of Riley's emotions Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear, when she experiences a nightmare after falling asleep during a scary movie. The playset focuses on platforming gameplay through Riley's dreamscape, where environments and enemies take on a variety of different properties, such as warped gravity and the ground turning into hot lava. Each character has their own unique abilities and skills which will serve them throughout the adventure. After seeing the movie, I was itching for another trip into the bizarre and evocative world from Inside Out, and the Disney Infinity playset serves a great follow up to the film as it's basically the sequel to the film. Moreover, it fleshes out many of the settings and areas from the film, such as the dream productions studio where Riley's subconscious craft her dreams by way of old school film production. It's a very colorful and imaginative world, and it's likely the most unique playset Disney Infinity has had yet. The devs at Disney Interactive were very excited about what the new playsets can offer. "Every year a new fan is born," explained the VP of production John Vignocchi. "We're sitting here in the hallowed halls of Pixar, and everyone there will be someone who sees Toy Story for the first time, and we want to make sure that when they pick up Buzz Lightyear, or another favorite character, and when they play with them inside of Infinity, that he is just as cool as he was in the film." Even though I've only had some minor experience with Disney Infinity, I was quite surprised with the creativity found in these playsets. Perhaps this was coming off of my high after seeing Inside Out a month early, but I was very pleased with the translation from film to game. With the writers and directors from the film working with the devs, along with the same voice cast including Amy Poehler and Bill Hader, they wanted to ensure that it would be as faithful as possible. It's pretty crazy to see how much Disney Infinity has grown over the years. What was once a strange experiment trying to catch on to the Minecraft and Skylanders craze, has now turned into a title that's really come into its own. It's pretty impressive to see how much detail and content is packed in the title already, and with the new 3.0 expansion hitting this Fall, the Disney universe is about to get a bit bigger for fans to explore.
Disney Infinity photo
It's a small world after all
Who knew that Disney's strange and bizarre mishmash of characters into one large game would turn out to be such a big hit? I know, a Disney title with a bunch of Pixar, film, and legacy characters would've sold regardless, bu...

Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition brings the gang back together

May 18 // Alessandro Fillari
Now this isn't the first time that the original DMC series has received the Special Edition treatment. A year following the release of 2005's Devil May Cry 3, Capcom released an enhanced version that made a number additions and tweaks -- most notably the inclusion of a playable Vergil with his own moves and levels to play through. Now with the release Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition coming, nearly eight years after the original, the creative minds at Capcom sought to rekindle the same enthusiasm found in Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition for this supped up re-release. And much like the recent Definitive Edition for DmC, they looked their well-received PC release as the base."There was content in the PC version of the original DMC4 that was not possible for consoles at the time due to hardware limitations. We have always wanted to provide these features to more DMC fans, most notably Legendary Dark Knight Mode," said DMC producer Takashi Fujii. "We wanted to provide a good action game that really gives the player a lot to sink their teeth into. With the features I’ve mentioned previously, and the addition of three new playable characters we’ve designed, I think fans will be very happy with all the content we’re offering in DMC4 Special Edition. With the hardware capabilities introduced in the new console generation, it proved this was the right time to revisit DMC4 and provide all of these features that we had been thinking about."Back when Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition was revealed last year, we all got a nice tease showing that Vergil was going to be making a return. But who would've thought that DMC's leading ladies, Trish and Lady, were going to get in on the action as well? While the ladies were already present in the core DMC4 story, Vergil's campaign in the Special Edition features his own unique story taking place many years before the events of DMC3 and 4. In addition to these new characters are several tweaks and upgrades made to the core game. Such as higher texture and graphical quality, auto-saves, rebalanced orb and proud soul economy, official trophy support across all platforms (take that early generation seven architecture!), and also some tweaks to puzzles -- such as the infamous dice game. It's a pretty meaty package. You might as well call it "Super Devil May Cry 4." The larger cast was a way for Capcom to offer variety in a convincing and fun way that stayed true to its combat heritage."Everyone plays Devil May Cry games a bit differently, and so with Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition in particular, it was important to us to give players more ways to enjoy the gameplay experience," explained the producer. "It was important that these characters each had distinctive combat styles, so fighting a boss you may have fought as Nero, for example, will feel very different from doing so with Lady or Vergil." In the two hours I spent with the game last month, it was quite clear that a lot of work went into the new characters. Though of course they're still going through the same areas and fighting the same bosses from the original game, that didn't really bother me all that much after getting settled with the new characters. Any fan will tell you that the combat is the crux of the series, and the new characters offered a lot depth and complexity that are totally unique to them -- which really set themselves apart from both Dante and Nero. And yes, for those who've gotten really comfortable with Dante and Nero over the last seven and half years, you'll be please to know that they're largely untouched (aside from general gameplay tweaks). "No changes have been made to Nero or Dante," said the producer rather bluntly and with the utmost clarity. So please, use high-level tricks such as guard flying and intertia to your heart's content. And with the sharing functionality on PS4 and Xbox One, showing off your high-flying antics and finger acrobatics will be much easier than before.For those who read my long preview last month, you could tell that I was quite smitten with this title. Devil May Cry is easily my favorite Capcom IP, and seeing it return this year with two really cool titles was a total joy for me. Checking out the new characters in DMC4SE was a complete blast, and I can't wait to dive back in from the beginning. I'm telling you guys, Trish and Lady are not to be messed with. Vergil's got some serious moves, and his concentration mechanic is a total game-changer, but these ladies are total bad-asses. I cannot wait to see some high-level exhibitionist videos later once people get them in their hands.With the release next month just after E3, you'll have the opportunity to get some quality time with the gang again. We all remember that tease at the end of DMC4 with Dante, Lady, and Trish teaming up to battle more demons, so it's definitely exciting to see that it's finally coming to fruition. So don't let this slip past you. If you've been screaming for a chance to return to these wonderfully goofy characters in this over the top world, you finally got it.And by the way, be sure to check out Capcom's weekly twitch livestream on Wednesdays for sessions with DMC4: Special Edition  by Capcom staff.
Devil May Cry photo
Capcom Producer talks revitalizing DMC4
In case you missed it, Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is now a thing. Following up on their release of the excellent DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition (seriously, it's great), Capcom are readying their second hit o...

Adam Tierney and Mariel Cartwright on the evolution of Til Morning's Light

May 17 // Jonathan Holmes
Tell us about the origins of Til Morning’s Light. Where did the concept come from and how did you two get involved? Adam: It started as an original WayForward pitch that Mariel and I teamed up on 5 or 6 years ago. In fact, I think it might have been the first project we worked on together. Mariel: I had just gotten started working with WayForward at the time, as one of my earliest game industry gigs. I do a lot of art for WayForward’s game pitches, and this was one of the first ones I did art on! I always thought it was a cool concept so it was great to see it come back after all this time. Five years is a long time. What changed about the concept between that initial document and the game you ended up making? Adam: Not as much as you'd think. From the beginning, the main character was always a teenage girl named Erica, locked in a haunted house, trying to survive overnight and escape by morning. The enemies were different - just bugs and rats and bats, from what I recall. And the concept was originally envisioned as a 2D sideview game (like the original Clocktower), whereas the final game is fully 3D. But thematically, it didn't change much. Mariel: Yeah, surprisingly, from my end the biggest thing visually that changed about Erica was her outfit. It was actually fun to revisit just a few drawings I did back then and really try to bring that character to life. Can you talk about each of your roles on the game? Mariel: I was the lead concept artist.  I designed Erica, the NPCs, and most of the creatures under Adam’s direction. I also storyboarded all the cutscenes in the game, and did a few bit illustrations you’ll see in the game. Adam: I wrote and directed Til Morning's Light, and led the design team. I basically oversaw all creative aspects of the production, working with all the artists and coders as they implemented everything. How would you describe Erica? What did you hope to accomplish with her? Adam: I've always loved the standard setup of a young female protagonist in horror games and films. In the original pitch, we had a very clear visual for Erica (from Mariel's art), but she didn't have much of a defined personality back then. After the game was signed with Amazon Game Studios, we came up with the idea of making her very meek and timid at the start of the game, then slowly evolving her to be more aggressive and powerful over the course of her adventure, so that the girl who came out at the end would feel like a completely different character. Mariel: I think Erica is someone that a lot of girls can relate to— smart, self-aware, but shy and afraid to stand up for herself. Adam: Stephanie Sheh (who voices Erica) really brought Erica to life as sort of a cute dork. Once we heard her take on the character, all remaining dialog was written with that personality in mind. So Erica got a little more hammy and sarcastic as production went along. In what ways does Erica “evolve” over the course of the game? Adam: In terms of VO and story, she begins the game timid and easily-frightened. Her wit and sarcasm is still there, but it's less confident. As the game progresses and she has to defeat all these insane bosses and creatures, Erica gets more and more frustrated and aggressive, so that by the end of the game she's the strongest person in the house. It was a lot of fun to build a story around the idea of your main character slowly evolving over the course of 12 story hours. Mariel: She also changed visually as well - starting with just her normal outfit at the beginning and becoming more tattered, dirty and messy as she progresses through the house. It’s a cool way to evolve her both mentally and physically and show how far she’s come. How would you compare Erica to other WayForward characters? Adam: She's much more subtle than most of WayForward's heroines. With characters like Shantae, Patricia Wagon, and Kebako (Cat Girl) you have very loud, action-packed, dynamic personalities that hit the ground running. With Til Morning's Light, there were still the usual WayForward sensibilities (especially in the visual design and gameplay), but we wanted a very slow build of the characters, and a slow reveal of plot points, with more emphasis on emotional highs and lows than we typically include in our game stories. Mariel: Yeah, Erica is less cartoon-y and more relatable of a character, I think. I definitely I see a bit of myself in her and I’m sure many others will too. Is Til Morning’s Light a “horror” game? How scary is this thing? Adam: Most people would consider it a horror game, I think. "Spooky" might be a slightly more accurate term. There are lots of unsettling, creepy moments, but there's no real blood or gore. If you've ever seen the film Coraline - which is kind of a film for teens, although there is still real risk and death - we're tonally pretty close to that, but maybe a little bit older and darker. I'd say our bosses are probably the scariest thing in the game - even though they're each charismatic (in their own ways), they're also a tremendous, deadly threat to Erica. What’s the gameplay like? Is it a mix of action and puzzling? Adam: Yeah, the game is equal parts exploration, combat, and puzzling. You explore the mansion grounds, which spans over 100 unique locations. Advancing through the game is very lock-and-key driven (in typical horror genre fashion). Combat is rhythm-based, using a touch input system of taps and swipes that get more complicated and challenging as you advance. And puzzling involves a little of everything - deciphering clues, finding pieces, combining and manipulating objects - everything you've come to expect in this genre. Mariel: Erica is a normal girl that’s been thrown into a crazy situation, so she doesn’t have an arsenal of weapons to blow up her enemies. She instead has to rely on what she has, which is basically just herself, so the combat and puzzles were designed around that. Are there any unique features in the game you can talk about? Adam: Most of the ghosts you encounter in the game are friendly. As a general rule in this game, ghosts are good and creatures are bad (and it's explained why through the story). But occasionally you'll come across a ghost that's lost and attempts to flee from Erica. These moments provide a game-long secondary objective to locate and essentially rescue all the 'lost souls' in the game (ghosts without memory of who they are or where they come from). This process involves first revealing the ghost by using the camera on Erica's phone (a mode that's enhanced in the Fire phone version of the game), then after the ghost is revealed, chasing it around the area until Erica absorbs it. Performing this process on all lost souls in the game yields a very special reward. What’s the story like in this game? And how did that come together? Adam: As I mentioned, it's really all about Erica. Although there are over a dozen speaking characters in the story, the story revolves around her. And even the types of secondary characters we included were done as a way to highlight different aspects of Erica (romance, confidence, being a child, being an adult, etc). I'd say the story legitimately runs the gamut of being very funny at times, then very unsettling, then very depressing, and ultimately a (hopefully) very satisfying conclusion. Mariel: I did all the storyboards, so it was important to really show how she changed from scene to scene. Everything from her expressions, posture, and appearance changed as the story progresses, so I’m hoping people really relate to that. Adam: The story was developed between WayForward and Amazon Game Studios. As a publisher, they are very collaborative and tend to assign 'experts' in each area of the game. So rather than me working on the game's story with only producers, they had a story expert who would go back and forth with me on plot, characters, and drafts of the script. The process was very exciting, and I think the story and dialog we ended up with is more developed than if we'd just put it together on our own. The game is getting a release on iOS, Fire phone, and tablets. Were there any challenges in making a game like this for mobile devices? Adam: Not really challenges as much as things we needed to keep in mind. Thematically, there are a lot of complex actions Erica performs in the game. But we wanted the game's controls to essentially support single-touch throughout the adventure. So boiling down a fairly complex, traditional horror game design to a handful of single screen taps took some real thought. The combat, as I mentioned before, is rhythm-based, and this came from us experimenting with a variety of different approaches early on. Initially, we tried combat that was directly-controlled (hit for hit), but to get that feeling good on a mobile device, we had to essentially overpower Erica (which worked against the game being a horror title). So, we ultimately went with a minigame-like rhythm interface, similar to Buddha Finger or Elite Beat Agents. Once we did that, we were able to have tight, challenging combat, but still keep Erica as only a semi-confident combatant. How is TML different from other action-adventure games offered on the iOS and Fire devices? Adam: First and foremost, it's a really meaty game. I think gamers will be surprised by just how much content is here - story, characters, locations, secrets, battles, etc. It feels like a console experience shrunk down for mobile devices, rather than the more bite-sized adventures you often see on mobile. There also doesn't seem to be a tremendous amount of deep horror games on mobile devices. There are a few that attempt this – Amazon Game Studios just shipped another great horror game, Lost Within, on mobile devices a few weeks ago. But overall, I think most publishers and developers don't attempt the genre on mobile because they doubt the possibility of something being creepy and immersive on a tiny screen. Hopefully Til Morning's Light will go toward proving that these types of games are very possible, and work well, on mobile devices.  How has working with Amazon on this game been? Adam: Amazon Game Studios has been a dream to work with. They're very hands on, but at the same time never interfered with the process or put up walls. I think their primary goal is to understand the kind of game that the developer is envisioning and then do everything they can to help realize that vision. Whether we were tackling story or combat or puzzling, I don't recall ever getting any mandates or notes I disagreed with (which as publisher, would be completely within their rights to do). They just sought to fully understand what this game was all about then use any and all expertise they had available to help make it as great as possible. I look forward to working with them on another project in the future. Were there any previous games in particular that influenced your work on Til Morning’s Light? Mariel: Oh man, I love horror games— Silent Hill, Clock Tower, Resident Evil, Fatal Frame — with a soft spot for ones with female protagonists, like Haunting Ground. I love stories where a normal girl is thrown into a terrifying situation and has to fight her way out, so I tried to channel that into Erica. Adam: I've loved horror games and films ever since I was a kid, so I'm sure it all had a subtle influence on this game. My project previous to Til Morning's Light was a Silent Hill title, which is my favorite game series. So SH fans might note some similarities in this game. The same goes for Resident Evil, Luigi's Mansion, Castlevania, Metroid - anything creepy with room-by-room progression.  Who’s the target audience for this game? Adam: Core gamers, the same people enjoying the best games on PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, and Steam PC right now. From the beginning, Amazon Game Studios let us know that this product should appeal primarily to core gamers, which is why Til Morning's Light is a very robust, console-like experience. Obviously we tailored the controls to what works best for mobile devices and tweaked some of our design implementations based on how people enjoy mobile games. But the goal was generally to create something very substantial and immersive. At the same time, there's no real blood or gore in the game. So although it can get pretty dark and unsettling and tense at times, younger gamers who aren't easily frightened should also find the game appropriate to play. Anything else you want to let our readers know about Til Morning’s Light? Mariel: I’ve wanted to be part of a horror game for a long time, so it was awesome to be given the opportunity to work on Til Morning’s Light. I can’t wait ’til it’s out so everyone can see what we put together! Adam: This is the most personal game I've ever worked on, and the talent on this team was some of the best that WayForward's ever put together. I can't wait for gamers and horror fans to check the game out, and hopefully it resonates with you all the same way it did with us.
Til Morning's Light photo
Skullgirls and WayForward devs speak
[Til Morning's Light is a new horror adventure title from WayForward and Amazon Game Studios, bringing together talent from titles such as Aliens: Infestation, Skullgirls, and... Sailor Moon? We've got a v...

Sega's Thunder Blade makes a fierce return in the 3D Classics Series

May 13 // Alessandro Fillari
Originally released in 1987, Thunder Blade brings players to the helm of a heavily armed attack helicopter as they battle waves of foes in tanks, jets, and battleships across a variety of locations. Much like the other Sega offerings of its time, the story is kept light in favor of offering accessible and fast arcade-style gameplay. You're the good guy, everyone else is bad -- shoot them. Though unlike most other shoot-'em-up titles, Thunder Blade features a unique take on perspective, as the action will transition from an overhead angle to the over-the-shoulder look similar to Space Harrier during key sections of the stage. This dynamic switch of perspective made it a welcome fit for the 3D remaster. "We felt that this point of view was extremely well suited for a stereoscopic 3D conversion," said producer Yosuke Okunari. "When we went to actually build the game out in 3D, we found that it gained a very unique sense of actually being suspended in their air, and was even more impactful than the original game. This same thing happened with 3D Galaxy Force II, where by implementing stereoscopic 3D, the game's visual view point style transcended in to its final form, you could say." Thunder Blade has made the transition quite well, and the new hardware has done wonders for the gameplay. The frame rate is rock solid, and the controls for the 3DS are super sharp and make controlling the attack chopper feel very accurate. The left stick controls movement and altitude, while both shoulder buttons control speed (increase and decrease). Though the 3DS is a far cry from the control scheme found on the original arcade release -- which featured a flight stick and a special chair that sought to emulate the cockpit of a helicopter -- I can safely say that 3D Thunder Blade is a fine port, and the action still kept me on my toes during the hectic battles. Much like the other 3D Classic titles, Thunder Blade makes exquisite use out of the new 3D visuals and hardware. One of the most striking elements is its depth of view during altering perspectives, and the new 3D visuals do well to enhance the view and sense of movement during the action. Though the draw distances unfortunately haven't been improved, I was still quite impressed with how the visuals sharpened up. Interestingly enough, the transition to 3D meant having to design the new visuals around the new perspectives independently, and layering them on top of one another. "For this version, we had to implement 3D separately for each of these three types of scenes," said the producer. "The boss stages were particularly difficult. The original game actually had preset depths. Even more so than some of the Genesis games, there were a number of situations where we wouldn't really have to worry about if we left them in 2D, suddenly [having] paradoxical situations when we put them into 3D." "Thunder Blade has three types of gameplay for every stage. The first are scenes that are from the top-down, which allow you to fully appreciate and enjoy changing your helicopter’s altitude. The second are scenes that are 'over the shoulder,' which are reminiscent of After Burner II. The last are the boss battles, where you are not able to change your altitude but you are placed into a forced-scroll situation where you can control your speed and progression. There are no other games that allow you to experience these three types of gameplay all in a single game." Though they were keen on keeping the 3D remaster as it was with the original title, they did implement some new features -- both out of necessity and the desire to include new content with the original game. As some areas didn't take to the new 3D visuals too well, such as shadows glitching out and boss battles resulting in odd bugs, they had to be cut in order to preserve the experience. But in order to make up for this, they implemented a stage that's brand new to the original Thunder Blade. Okunari stated that the new level will be consistent with the rest of the game and really offer an exciting finish. "The new stage feels natural and uses the graphical style of the era, all while taking advantage of the stereoscopic 3D to deliver a scene where you flying into the center of a base, reminiscent of the final Death Star scene in Return of the Jedi. The boss has a really awesome background to it as well, so I encourage everyone to check it out." Not only that, there's the new Arrange mode which is unlocked after completing the arcade mode. In Arrange Mode, players will control an alternate helicopter with different weapons and tackle stages that have some additions to them. While the the original arcade mode is exciting, the extra content goes above and beyond what I expected. I was pretty damn pleased with how 3D Thunder Blade turned out. It helped to scratch that shooter itch I had after playing Space Harrier and After Burner, and Thunder Blade definitely holds its own. While the style and approach is a bit different, I still found it to be a welcome addition to the Classics series. And it's a fine 3D remaster, too. This title is a good one to close out the spring phase of the Classics series, and it'll definitely hold you over till the summer titles come a knocking.
Sega 3D Classics photo
Sans crazy arcade installation
It's been a real joy re-experiencing classic titles from Sega's past. With the recent releases of Outrun and Fantasy Zone II bringing back some serious nostalgia trips, the folks at Sega have still got plenty of 3D remasters ...

Castlevania's IGA back with 'dream game' Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

May 11 // Steven Hansen
Bloodstained stars Miriam, an orphan stuck in the middle of "a classic tale of magic, or rather faith and belief, versus science," Igarashi told me through a translator. A group of alchemists, fearing its waning relevancy as science captures the 18th century setting, try to warn against the world losing faith. Start fucking loving science, they warn, and a bunch demons will take over. When that doesn't happen, egg on face, the alchemists start fusing demonic crystals into orphans to call the demons to earth, attempting to instigate a global annihilating "told ya so." The demon crystals have a, "natural inclination to expand, eat away at hosts' bodies," not unlike bad videogame companies, perhaps. "Stained glass" acts as an artistic motif reflected in the art style, but those pretty shades in characters' skin are also the basis of gameplay. Enemies drop materials, which are forged into gems, which can be formed into weapons. Rare materials can be forged into ability crystals that can be stuck in Miriam's body. They can also be combined in a number of ways, like adding a strength+ attribute crystal to a double jump for a double jump attack move. Igarashi explained the new system would be a little less repetitive than old Castlevania's, naming Aria of Sorrow specifically, where "you're just grinding on the same enemy to create the same thing." Why stained glass? "Stained glass is already cool-looking as it is, but stained glass weapons is badass." A recent walk through Grace Cathedral in San Francisco has me in agreement. Igarashi, "wanted to have a more colorful palette," and so on top of the stained glass, you have a blue-heavy protagonist, purple tinted key items (candles, keys), and an active blood orange sky in the background (thanks to parallax scrolling) inspired by an 18th century Icelandic volcano eruption that killed 23,000 Brits and bore a "bloody sun rising." All of this is framed by classic Gothic gray. If the mock up is any indication, it could look lovely. That's a "could," of course, because the game has not been made yet. Igarashi is someone you can likely depend on to make a Castlevania-style game. Inti Creates has been delivering for a long time. And Bloodstained isn't even held hostage by its Kickstarter, though it's meant to fund the last "20%" of development (and make for physical, pressed Xbox One and PS4 discs). Still, it's a way's out. Igarashi hasn't been gone from Konami much more than a year and shopping this proved difficult, hence last year's "hold." Igarashi "scoured the globe" and "pitched every major -- even minor -- publisher on this concept." "There was a ton of interest, but for various reasons, from, 'we do distribution for Konami and...don't want to anger them,' to 'Oh, this looks like a Japanese game.' But they didn't realize Igavania games sold better in America than any other territory." Incidentally, despite the widening popularity of the term "metroidvania," the team is eschewing the "castle" and "metroid," opting for the term "Igavania," explaining, "We want to make sure we don't anger Nintendo, and Igavania is a more accurate name." This project will likely irk someone at Konami regardless -- "Konami doesn't know about it," Igarashi said last month -- perhaps even more if it proves successful, like Mighty No. 9 or the recent not-Banjo-Kazooie platformer from ex-Rare folks, Yooka-Laylee. Given those examples (or Double Fine Adventure Game, or a number of others), it feels like a sure thing, but Igarashi does seem a bit more unsure after constant publisher rejection. "A lot of them were more interested in AAA stuff," he said. "There's a big disconnect between what the publishers are giving people and what the fans want." Inafune's success, specifically, "proved that the Western audience would put its money where its mouth is and support the creators that it loves." Igarashi doesn't expect he'll generate "anything close" to Mighty No. 9. He remains modest about the whole thing. "I spent the last year trying to make this work because I believe that's what the fans are telling me. And if the Kickstarter campaign shows that's not the case, then in the end the publishers were right and I was wrong." "From Iga-san's perspective," the translator, explains, "the most frustrating, saddening part is that he did his due diligence. He tried to work within the standard publisher model." It does seem surprising that Mr. Castlevania shops around a Castlevania and no one bites. Then again, why did Igarashi have to leave Konami in the first place to make this sort of game? "In the good old days, it used to be, as a producer you'd put your neck out on the line to make a game and if it's didn't work out, then you'd be done," Igarashi explained. Speaking specifically of Konami, at least as far as he left it a year ago (and somehow it was in a better state then), "Recently, there's more of a delicacy at [Konami] towards how they handle IP to the point where rather than maybe making new games, 'let's just not touch it'" becomes the mantra. "Or, 'we have to do it a bigger way." The 3D Castlevania, perhaps. Igarashi thinks it's "more risk averse" because someone used to, "pledge it would be okay, and it was their responsibility," but given that he would've have pledged on a new Castlevania, or Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima's likely ending relationship with the company, I'm not sure that's all of it. But Konami is in the past now. Inti Creates is making Bloodstained under Igarashi's direction. "We had several developers that were interested," he explained. "We needed a team that was both capable, but more importantly passionate. "They said, 'Listen, ever since becoming an independent studio, we've wanted to do three games.' One was a Mega Man type game, which they're now doing. The second was an Igavania game. And the third is a Zelda-type game, which they will probably never get a chance to do," Igarashi chuckled. Nintendo seems more open these days, though. Igarashi did dredge up some past, scoring the composer of Symphony of the Night, Michiru Yamane. "I basically tricked her into joining the campaign by getting her really drunk and making her promise she would help," Igarashi said. "You think that's a joke, but it's the truth." I believe it. And I believe Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night's campaign shouldn't have a problem, "proving that this is a concept that the fans really want." I mean, all you have to do is ask "Sword or whip?" and they flip.
IGA's metroidvania photo
Publishers wouldn't touch it
Last year, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night assistant director and subsequent series producer Koji "IGA" Igarashi left Konami after nearly 25 years with the company. At GDC that year, Igarashi ended his interesting Symphony...

Swery: D4 on PC is '100 percent bona fide D4'

May 07 // Brett Makedonski
The reason that Swery doesn't feel that the Kinect-to-mouse transition is a concession of sorts is because control method isn't what's at the core of D4. Swery elaborated "D4 is a game that doesn't derive its entertainment value merely from the fact that you can control it. My design has always been focused around the 'sensory replication' element. All input devices have their own special characteristics, and I feel that I've created separate control schemes that are all designed specifically for the Kinect, controller, and now the mouse." This "sensory replication" Swery speaks of isn't some marketable-sounding term that he tacked on to describe control schemes; it's something he spends a lot of time thinking about and crafting experiences around. In fact, further hypothesizing by Swery is the reason the PC port is even happening. He explained how D4 on PC came to be by saying "I started working on the PC version at the end of last year, through to GDC this year. At that time, I had made no plans about releasing it. It was just an experiment to help prove the contents of my GDC speech. To sum up [my speech]: 'Even without Kinect, the theory of symbolization and sensory replication through minute observations is still possible, and pieces that replicate sensations in this manner can enhance the overall empathy that people experience.' In order to prove this, I started making a sample version of the game that could be played using only the mouse. I revealed it to people at GDC and PAX East, and since people responded more positively than I had expected, I decided to develop an official release." That official release won't come as easy as one might think. This is Access Games' first time working on a PC title. (The poorly-received PC port of Deadly Premonition was controlled by another studio, and Swery says that Access wasn't able to exert control over the process because it didn't own the rights to the game.) Because of Access' inexperience developing for PC, Swery describes the process as including "a lot of unexpected surprises and problems." He went into detail by saying "Like I talked about earlier, we had to figure out how to create sensory replication with the mouse. Since we couldn't use Kinect, we needed to figure out how to make the PC version a game that anyone could easily enjoy with the mouse. Our game designers, programmers, and UI designers really had to rack their brains about this. Next, we had to think about adding user options and confirming minimum system requirements and recommended specifications that didn't exist in the console version. Since we created an original shader for D4 using our own code, it was hard to make it backwards compatible simply through changing settings in Unreal Engine, so we had to adjust the code and add new parts to it. Since we've only worked on console games so far, this was a brand new experience for us." Above all else, Swery's says he's dedicated to not letting the PC version of D4 go the way of Deadly Premonition. "The team that worked on the Xbox One version of D4 is in charge, and I've also been taking part in the adjustments. We're really serious about this, and intend to treat the D4 IP with the utmost care." One thing that he wasn't too serious about was commenting on his feelings about Microsoft announcing one year ago that it'd release a version of Xbox One without Kinect. After all, Swery had likely undertook this project with the understanding that Kinect would be something that's in every living room that an Xbox One is in. All of a sudden, that wasn't the case. Swery took the high (and humorous) road by simply chiming in "#ThanksObama." Temporary comedic relief aside, Swery seems very serious about D4 and its future. When asked about reading fan theories (a pastime that's dominated the Destructoid office at times), Swery said that he refrains out of respect for the fans. He clarified by saying "D4 is of the mystery genre. With this genre, the fun comes from 'enjoying' all the mysteries up to the end. I think it's natural for people to closely watch the developments, hypothesize, and then think up their own opinions and theories. That's what's so great and important about the mystery genre. With that in mind, I think I have no right to take part in those sorts of discussions." For all the transparency and openness behind the whole process of getting D4 to PC, Swery turned mysterious again when the topic on everyone's mind came up: Is a second part to D4 ever getting made? "I still can't talk about what'll be coming next. All I can say is that I'm working my hardest!," he said. Figures. But, maybe with the help of a PC audience pushing for more D4, we'll get the resolution we need. Or, maybe we'll get more fights with a cat lady. Both are welcome with open arms.
Swery interview photo
Kinect didn't make the game
To say that developer Hidetaka Suehiro -- or, Swery65 as most everyone knows him -- has a knack for creating unique and strange videogame experiences would be an understatement. He has a loyal cult following, as anyone that l...

Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China gives the series a fresh perspective

Mar 31 // Alessandro Fillari
Assassin's Creed Chronicles (PC, PS4, Xbox One [previewed])Developer: Climax StudiosPublisher: Ubisoft Release date: April 21, 2015 (Episode One) / Fall 2015 (Episodes Two and Three) "It's a very exciting and very challenging project to work on," said lead game designer Xavier Penin. "[Ubisoft] had a pretty [sizable] pitch for the project and wanted them to be short, episodic, and each of the stories would have their own specific artstyles that fit the character and time period. We knew we had to focus our efforts on making something that didn't just feel like a smaller Assassin's Creed." For the first episode, Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China, players take on the role of female assassin Shao Jun, who fans might recognize from the animated film Assassin's Creed Embers. Picking up some time after the events of Embers in 1526, Shao Jun returns to China after her training with Ezio Auditore and seeks revenge against Emporer Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty after the massacre of the Chinese Assassin Brotherhood. During her exploits, she'll acquire new abilities and contacts that will help in her quest, and revitalize the Assassin presence in 16th-century China. China has been a top requested location from fans, along with a playable Shao Jun, and seeing it come to pass is exciting. In the three levels I played, set in The Forbidden City and Fujian Province, we got to experience a starkly different setting and visual palette not seen from the series. Moreover, the brief taste of the India and Russia episodes we saw also feature their own art styles and aesthetic. Granted, the nature of this downloadable title allows them to try different settings, but I was blown away by the potential AC has in such lush environments. This enthusiasm was also shared by the folks behind the title. [embed]289710:57987:0[/embed] "When we were going to do this game with [Shao Jun], I was really excited about it and wanted to get all the information about background and her story, but it was actually pretty thin," said Penin. "So eventually we decided to come up with new ideas and settings, beyond Embers, and we came up with a story that AC fans will enjoy." Understandably, the switch from 3D to 2.5D has brought some changes to the action-stealth gameplay. For the most part, players will still traverse the environment with free-running maneuvers while avoiding detection, and only using combat as a last resort. Players will run and leap across obstacles in the environment and move between the foreground and background during traversal. I was impressed with the depth shown in the environments, and I was quite surprised that areas shown off were largely interactive. In one section during a prison escape, I had to find my gear before making an exit, which meant having to search for a guard's keys. After traveling through a hallway, I entered a large cavern housing dozens of prison cells. Off in the distance in the background, there were several guards making their rounds near a number of prisoners. From the foreground, I jumped onto a fallen pillar, which allowed me seamlessly run across to the background of the environment, which had its own unique layout and design. It was neat to be able to see how much depth the levels have, and the later levels show off much more intuitive and clever design. The stealth gameplay has had a bit of change, however, and the assassins now have to rely more on shadows and darkness to slip past their foes. Instead of the line-of-sight design from past titles, Chronicles utilizes a vision cone system. Similar to Mark of the Ninja's gameplay, all enemies can see and hear only a certain distance ahead of them, which gives you the means to figure out the best way around them. While it's still very much AC, the new design feels different. The lead designer elaborated a little further with how they went about re-designing AC stealth for 2.5D. "We had a lot of work to find the right recipe because this is the type of gameplay that require precise signs of feedback," said Penin. "We experimented a lot with the detection system, which focuses on cones of vision that work really well because it shows accurately in the 2D perspective. While some people initially thought [the visual representation of enemy line of sight] got in the way of the art style, ultimately the function allowed for us to design the stealth for players to be more interesting." Though you can easily avoid all conflicts by sticking in the shadows or hiding inside doorways or off the sides of ledges, there are a whole assortment of gadgets that Shao Jun has at her disposal, such as the rope dart which can sling enemies and help her traverse to new heights. The action and pace of the stealth from past games is present, though there seems to be much more thought put into it. Some sections felt like actual puzzles more than action-stealth gameplay, and I mean that as a good thing. The narrowing of the perspective put a lot more depth into this facet of gameplay, and it was refreshing to have a more refined approach to it. I'm also quite impressed with the visual aesthetic of Chronicles. The developers have stated that each episode will have a unique look to it, and China's style is stunning in its representation of perpetual autumn and uses of inkblot-style visuals and palettes. The colors are vibrant and lush, and the shadows and darkness show a certain roughness, as if it's a place that only the Assassins, history's wet-workers, can venture to. These still-images do not do this title justice -- it's quite gorgeous in action. While I was enjoying myself throughout the China setting, a part of me wished this was a fully 3D title rather than a downloadable side story. Nothing against this game, as it's really solid and makes some clever choices in regards to approach to stealth in a limited perspective, however I feel that such rich settings would be better used for full-fledged 3D Assassin's Creed titles. In any case, Assassin's Creed Chronicles is looking to be a nice surprise for the franchise. Though we can undoubtedly expect to see another main entry in the series this year, Chronicles will serve to be a nice change of pace for those looking for a different take on the series. For those who bit on the Unity season pass, you'll get the first episode on day one. The bite-sized nature of these titles will make them easy to get into, but they're sure to surprise players with how much depth is present.
2.5D Assassin's Creed photo
Stabbin' necks through history in 2.5D
It's not often we see a major player in the big leagues of yearly releases reinvent itself in a more modest and distinct way. With Assassin's Creed titles expected every year, it's been a bit of a challenge for Ubisoft to kee...

EVE Online's new focus is putting power in the players' hands

Mar 26 // Brett Makedonski
Nordgren said that this was "a huge step" for CCP. She cited it as the developer's way of saying "What you see in space should be much more in the hands of players." But, it's not necessarily as simple as CCP providing the sandbox for pilots to play in -- that might threaten the very foundation which EVE Online was built upon. "We're going more and more in that direction," Nordgren remarked about the possibility of an open sandbox. "But, it'll never completely get there," Nordgren continued. She elaborated "We’re going more toward a place where we want to control the reality of the New Eden universe, how it works, and what’s possible. Ideally, players should control anything that players can build, for example. And, then they can work with what you can do in that reality. It’s a fictional space universe, and it makes sense that we as a developer are responsible for the world, and we should give tools to the players to do stuff in it." If the change to structures is the functional example of this mindset, the customization to spaceships is the creative embodiment of it. It's borderline silly how big of a deal this is to the EVE Online universe; after all, nearly every other game on the market is chomping at the bit to offer (in most cases read: sell) extra skins. [embed]289358:57918:0[/embed] Even Nordgren had to chuckle a bit when I asked why this was such a monumental step. As it turns out, it's less about the actual aesthetic, and more about what they represent. "The game is 12 years old, and we have a very ambitious art direction for it as part of why it looks really good. We haven’t really given players any means to stand out or customize their stuff. Players have been asking for this for a long time," she explained. "You had some options before, but it was mostly through acquiring completely different special ships rather than changing your ship. This is a huge upgrade to that. Also, it’s really reflecting that the players are getting more power in the universe. These almighty space pilots get to finally decide what their ships look like." All-in-all, it boils down to CCP becoming less rigid as the gatekeepers to EVE Online. It seems as if the developer strives to draw attention away from the idea that the game has limitations, and enforce a mentality that it just exists as the player wants it to. This is apparent by looking at the roadmap to changing EVE over the years, which has moved from two major updates each year, to ten updates per year, and now, a constant stream of new features. Nordgren says that CCP found this evolution of its features model to be "a natural progression" because it would want to release updates that weren't necessarily thematically tied to whatever happened to come next. This left a lot in limbo, which is a pointless problem in an ever-changing, living, persistent world. But, mostly, CCP found itself in a weird place where players only paid particular attention at certain times. Nordgren said "In the past, we’ve trained people to really care about these release dates because we had two per year, and features would only come on those days. So obviously, people would invest a lot and care about those dates. But then, a bunch of features actually become available in between. So, it's like 'Well, they’re not exactly part of the release, and they’re not part of the next release, so how are we going to tell people about them?' We release a bunch of stuff, but people barely notice because it’s not on this big date." The solution? As Nordgren, with a grin on her face, brazenly put it "Shit's gonna change all the time." She added "You’re probably going to care more when it’s big features, so let’s focus on the features instead of the dates. Instead of trying to teach everyone that this date has this name and then talk about what’s in it, we just talk about features." So, if EVE Online feels like a more fluid entity beginning in the coming months, that's because it is. A lot of care and planning has gone into making it seem like a game with less monumental changes. Those changes are still happening, they're just not telegraphed the same way. It's all part of an ever-evolving model to put power in the players' hands and to make the EVE universe as closely rooted to the possible and the achievable as it can be.
EVE Online photo
New directions for New Eden
The developers at CCP face a unique challenge with EVE Online that other studios don't necessarily face. Its players expect an incredibly deep and detailed experience, which means that evolving the game is particularly d...

Dirty Bomb aims high with its focus on hardcore FPS action

Mar 26 // Alessandro Fillari
Dirty Bomb (PC)Developer: Splash DamagePublisher: Nexon Release date: March 26th 2015 (Open Access) "For us, we were kind of accustomed to shipping packaged products and retail games, so that within itself was a different mentality to production,"said Splash Damage co-founder and chief branding officer Richard Jolly while discussing their transition to developing a free-to-play title. "So you essentially get the game to what is considered open beta, which is pretty much the final game in most cases, and then the players will play it, release a few updates and a bit of DLC, and then you walk away from it. But with Dirty Bomb, we're kind of back to mod-making. It's constantly evolving, and the game we had in the alpha with our fans is completely different than what we had now. It's interesting to have that level of transparency with our fans, and that's really helped us because we're still actively developing the game." [embed]289520:57922:0[/embed] Set in near-future London, the city had been plunged into chaos after a mysterious "dirty bomb" released toxic gases and large amounts of radiation. In the years since, London is now an abandoned husk of its former self, and the only ones willing to venture into the decaying remains of England's capital city are mercenaries who see the opportunity where others do not. With valuables and other fortunes to find in London, those crazy enough to set foot inside will have to fight for their riches in order to make it out on top. While on the surface it feels like a grittier and more mature take on Team Fortress 2, there's certainly a lot more going on with Dirty Bomb than at first glance. In total, there are several unique characters with their own arsenals and backstories. While many of them share a similar archetype, such as the sniper, medic, and assault classes, they each have access to their own particular set of skills and weapons that are specific to them. There's a lot of humor and humanity found in Dirty Bomb, and the accompanying flavor text that describes each character and their motives for merc work did a lot to bring me in. When in battle, you can select a squad of three characters. These three are the characters you can switch off from during the game, so you'll have to choose wisely. I mostly stuck with Phoenix, Vassili, and Arty, a medic, sniper, and support group. Though I initially was confused on how exactly I could switch off between the character gear, I quickly picked it up after a few minutes of play. Essentially, the members of your squad are loadouts, similar to those in Call of Duty or Battlefield, and you'll have need to switch between them in order to stay ahead of your foes. During a match in the game mode Stopwatch, a neat mix between the standard demolition and capture the flag modes, I was able to switch off between the characters when they were needed. Set on the map Terminal, the attackers have to plants charges on a wall within the quarantine zone in order to gain access to the train station that houses valuable documents that the attackers need to destroy -- but of course, the data is being protected by another group of mercs who aim to keep them intact. Playing on both sides, I found that I needed to switch up my classes more often, as when I was attacking I had to stay healed more often. While on defense, I needed to pick off the oncoming threat from afar. I was really impressed with how the flow of the game motivated me to switch things up more often, as I usually just stick with one class in other titles. I felt I experimented more often in this title than in most other shooters. This aspect of experimentation was something that the developers wished they players would explore. "Games are always an evolution, right? Especially since we were making this for ourselves, before the publisher stepped in," said lead designer Neil Alphonso. "We wanted to really bring out the characters of the mercs. They look really cool, and we wanted to reflect that in the gameplay more. So far it's worked really well, we've had players come up with combinations that we would've never expected in closed testing that we never would've expected, and of course we're gonna have to keep adjusting to that." When you win matches and collect cash, you can purchase cases that yield merc cards that offer a different variation for each character. Spanning across different rarity types, each type of card will offer that specific character a new loadout and special perks. For instance, I found a found a bronze card for Vassili, which not only gave him a new sniper rifle with higher rate of fire, but also gave him the ability to throw his melee weapon. As you find rarer cards, you'll gain access to new abilities and weapons for your characters. Though lead and bronze cards are very common, silver and gold cards really change the game for your characters, as they turn your merc into an elite badass decked out with perks and other special gear. While it's possible to the find much of the content on your own without ever spending a dime by combining junk cards and turning them into rare ones -- there are many different options to take advantage of if you feel as though you want get content quicker. As credits can be acquired pretty easily, you can always be comfortable with what you have, and the developers were clear that Dirty Bomb is a game that will not be "pay-to-win." "If you're making a competitive shooter, something that's hardcore, then the first thing people want is a fair playing field," said Alphonso. "The way I look at it, and it's a bit idealistic, but you just have to make a game that people enjoy enough, that they want to give you money. Rather than they feel like they need you to in order to compete." It's not too often that we see a F2P title with so much openness and transparency from the developers. Generally, the free-to-play genre has somewhat of a bad reputation because of poor practices from certain titles. And while it's understandable that many players feel a bit apprehensive for upcoming ones, I can say that Dirty Bomb was a pretty rad title in the hours I spent with it. Though I kinda wished that the developers stuck with Brink's traversal system, because that'd be such a welcome fit for this game, I found the action in DB to be pretty hectic, bombastic, and super satisfying to take part in. Not only did I feel like I got in some great action moments, going on a seven-kill streak was pretty damn great, but I also felt like I was a pretty integral part of the team as a healer and support unit. With the game available on Steam, now's your chance to get involved with the game that's been in the works for quite some time. And since it's still an on-going process, the developers have continued plans to roll out new features and content in the coming months, such as new maps and other cool content. I had a blast (no pun intended), and the folks from Splash Damage haven't lost their touch for fast and frenetic FPS gameplay.
Dirty Bomb photo
Rule 1: Don't be a dick
The folks at Splash Damage have been busy over the last two years. Since the release of Brink and a stint on Batman: Arkham Origins' multiplayer, they figured it was time to return to their roots with a heavy focus on PC...


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