It’s perhaps fitting that a game with the tagline “nothing is true; everything is permitted” emerged from creative director Patrice Désilets bending the rules. Assassin’s Creed began life as a Prince of Persia game, expanded and reimagined for a new generation of consoles. You might say it even ended up feeling like one, though Désilets’ creative interpretation of Ubisoft’s mandate layered on many additional challenges for the team at Ubisoft Montreal. Today, Assassin’s is one of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but back then Assassin’s Creed was something new. Its labyrinthine fiction twisted the modern day with the past, offering a science fiction tale of genetic memory and end-of-the-world conspiracies intertwined with another story of a master assassin coming to realize his own ignorance. Its world was made for unprecedented freedom — your character being able to … [Read more...] about Assassin’s Creed: An oral history
Organizing office space at work
I’ve spent a chunk of this week playing Two Point Hospital, an overhead-view commercial management game. It’s made by some of the same people who created Theme Hospital two decades ago, and they’ve definitely been saving up a lot of good ideas, which are implemented superbly in this game. Two Point Hospital is made by British developer Two Point Studios and published by Sega. It puts me in charge of a series of hospitals, each with their own challenges. My responsibilities are first to lay-out the wards, offices and amenities, next to balance the budget, and finally to achieve medical excellence through staff training, fiscal rectitude and detailed personnel management. Two Point Hospital is deeply strategic, and I fear explaining all of its systems could serve as anesthetic. So instead, allow me to share the three things I like most. It’s Funny Two Point Hospital is a rare thing in gaming; it’s genuinely amusing. The gags range from silly puns to razor … [Read more...] about Two Point Hospital is funny, smart and surprisingly deep
This was originally published back in PC Gamer 305 in April 2017, and here it's presented online for the first time. Subscribe to the US and UK magazines for more features like this, designed beautifully for print and digital. Reading the reviews of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, I noticed a trend. Almost every one of them, including my own, mentioned one level in particular: the Palisade Bank. This dense, complex map is arguably the highlight of the game, and a neat microcosm of everything I love about Deus Ex. It's an intricate web of security systems and shortcuts, with severe brutalist architecture and gleaming marble floors. And the first time I set foot in it, the urge to cause trouble and test the limits of the security was irresistible.The design of the Palisade Bank level was led by Clémence Maurer, who worked on it from the earliest concept to its completion. "It was always planned," she tells me. "We have a high-level story document called the blueprint, which details … [Read more...] about Making Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s best level, the Palisade Bank
Over the past 20 years, Tetsuya Mizuguchi has seen his development studios shrink at a dramatic rate. When he started a team for Sega in the ’90s, United Game Artists, he oversaw around 100 people. When he left a few years later to form an independent studio, Q Entertainment, that number dropped to around 17. With his current setup, the number has sunk as far as it can go: Mizuguchi is the only full-time employee. His story isn’t a fall from grace, though. His latest game, musical shooter Rez Infinite, was one of the top-rated early VR titles, made money and won multiple awards. And the team that worked on it wasn’t as small as the numbers suggest — most just weren’t full-time. Mizuguchi is part of a growing group of game developers experimenting with a different way of working, a sort of extreme version of outsourcing. He runs what some call a “concept team,” a small, independent group that generates game ideas and designs, and then partners … [Read more...] about Directing from the sidelines
The 2018 Game Developers Conference is just a few months away, and today organizers are excited to debut the 20 games selected to exhibit at alt.ctrl.GDC, the on-site showcase of alternative control schemes and interactions in games. GDC 2018 attendees who stop by the alt.ctrl.GDC exhibit will have the chance to play all of these inventive and innovative games using unique, one-of-a-kind controllers. You could, for example, pilot a spaceship while shouting madly at a nearby friend/coworker/stranger to plug different-colored wires into your controller, or play games on a special sphere studded with LEDs. You might also play virtual golf by blowing madly into a set of sensors, or help virtual disco-loving cops save their city from a zombie invasion by slapping fake zombie heads in time to the beat. If you're really feeling adventurous, you could climb inside a special unicorn controller and play a game with your horn and feet, … [Read more...] about These are the games you’ll play at GDC 2018’s alt.ctrl.GDC showcase!