Nest owns Revolv’s home automation tech now, too

image Google’s adding another member to its household family that includes Nest and Dropcam, and this time its home automation outfit Revolv. The firm’s website lists it as “a Nest company” now, and goes on to to assure existing customers that they’re…

Engadget RSS Feed

Filed in Gaming | Comment Now

What’s up with Engadget Expand?

image We’re just two weeks away from our free Engadget Expand event, taking place at New York City’s Javits Center on November 7th and 8th and there’s still so much to tell you about. If you can’t join us in person, don’t worry — we’ll keep you updated…

Engadget RSS Feed

Filed in Gaming | Comment Now

YouView boxes finally granted the BBC’s new iPlayer and red button features

image The BBC’s extensively redesigned iPlayer has been gradually lumbering its way onto different compatible devices since it was first launched earlier this year. YouView’s hybrid Freeview/IPTV set-top boxes have, until now, been sorely neglected, which…

Engadget RSS Feed

Filed in Gaming | Comment Now

How to play Dreamfall: The Longest Journey on Windows 7/8

image

image

imageimage

PC Gamer latest stories

Filed in Gaming | Comment Now

A newbie plays Dwarf Fortress

image

Welcome to Illralam, a land of optimistic dwarves and bloodthirsty elves. It’s the world of PC Gamer’s Dwarf Fortress LP “A newbie plays Dwarf Fortress.” Wes, the newbie, teams up with Dwarf Fortress veteran and PCG video producer Will to learn the ropes of the dwarven life simulator.

We put up new episodes on Tuesday and Thursdays, and now they’re all collected in this post. The newest one is at the top there, while the previous episode is below.

Want to know more about Dwarf Fortress? In early July 2014, Dwarf Fortress received its first major update in two years. We wrote about why now is the time to get into the game with our guide Into the deep. Now you can learn along with us.

Check back for new episodes every Tuesday/Thursday. And enjoy!

image

imageimage

PC Gamer latest stories

Filed in Gaming | Comment Now

3D Realms returns with 32-game anthology bundle

image

3D Realms Anthology

3D Realms, as you are no doubt aware, is actually legally known as Apogee Software, Ltd., distinct from Apogee Software, LLC, which was spun off from 3D Realms in 2008 and holds the license to the Apogee name, logo, and library. Got it? Me neither, but that’s not important: The point is that 3D Realms is back, with a 32-game anthology bundle that includes some real retro goodness.

3D Realms had a good run through the 90s, but the following decade was rough. Its greatest success, Duke Nukem, became its downfall: Unable to finish the infamous Duke Nukem Forever, it closed its doors in 2009. Earlier this year, however, the company showed signs of new life thanks to its acquisition by Interceptor Entertainment, most recently known for remaking Rise of the Triad and being sued by Gearbox.

We said at the time that we were looking forward to learning what 3D Realms would get up to, and now we know: It’s getting up to what 3D Realms got up to all those many years ago. That would be, specifically, the 3D Realms Anthology, a collection of (almost) the entire 3D Realms oeuvre, along with a “re-rockestrated” soundtrack. The anthology includes:

  • Arctic Adventure
  • Bio Menace
  • Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold
  • Commander Keen: Goodbye Galaxy
  • Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons
  • Math Rescue
  • Monster Bash
  • Mystic Towers
  • Paganitzu
  • Monuments of Mars
  • Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure
  • Crystal Caves
  • Death Rally
  • Alien Carnage
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Major Stryker
  • Blake Stone: Planet Strike
  • Realms of Chaos
  • Pharaoh’s Tomb
  • Word Rescue
  • Secret Agent
  • Raptor: Call of the Shadows
  • Terminal Velocity
  • Wacky Wheels
  • Stargunner
  • Shadow Warrior
  • Wolfenstein 3D
  • Rise of the Triad: Dark War
  • Duke Nukem
  • Duke Nukem 2
  • Duke Nukem 3D
  • Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project

There’s some stuff in there that probably isn’t going to turn too many cranks, but there are a lot of winners, too. Max Payne and Prey are unfortunate (and unexplained) absences, although they may simply be a little too new (or perhaps a little too owned by Rockstar) to belong in a bundle like this.

Whatever the case, the games run via a custom-built launcher designed for Windows, so compatibility presumably won’t be an issue, and the whole thing goes for $ 20. Interested? Get the details at 3DRealms.com.

image

imageimage

PC Gamer latest stories

Filed in Gaming | Comment Now

Civilization: Beyond Earth review

image

need to know

What is it? Classic 4x strategy game and spiritual successor to Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.
Price: $ 50 / £30
Release Date: Oct 24, 2014
Publisher: 2K
Developer: Firaxis Games
Multiplayer: Up to 8 players for traditional or hot seat multiplayer
Link: Official site

Beyond Earth begins with the very sci-fi premise of “What if?” What if you took Civilization, the classic turn-based grand strategy game, and made one of its signature endings the beginning of a whole new game?

In Civilization, you can win the game by building a spaceship to launch your civilization into space, in search of a new world. Beyond Earth takes that ending and makes it a beginning. You are now on that new world: Go.

The result is a game that succeeds in almost exactly the same way as it fails; a major case of cognitive dissonance. Beyond Earth, while bearing many attributes of a brand new game, is based in Civilization 5’s engine and mechanics. It is in many ways exactly the same game as Civ 5, just spacier.

Is that a problem? That depends on how much you like Civ 5, and how willing you are to take the ride and give Beyond Earth’s new space look a shot.

For me it was a problem all through my first game. I played as the Brazilian civ, with its bonus to melee combat. Being a Civ veteran, I, without even realizing it, ported over my go-to Civ strategy of focusing on strength in the early age to build the foundation of a strong late-game civilization. And then, turn-by-turn, I played the game almost on auto-pilot.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn’t enjoy the experience. And it took me losing that game and having to step away and reassess how I was approaching it in order to learn how to love it.

New world

Beyond Earth has a lot of new looks: new units, new victories, a completely new tech tree (actually, it’s a web), new leaders, new civilizations and a handful of things under the hood that are also completely new. But the experience of cracking it open, watching my colony ship settle onto a completely dark map and then setting foot onto this alien world felt just like playing Civ 5—at first.

On the one hand, there are many worse 4X strategy games to emulate than Civ 5, and as that game’s expansions have proved, while it redesigned much of the original Civ formula, it left a lot of room on the table for reinventing itself. Beyond Earth brings some of the better reinventions along with it. Trade routes feature prominently in Beyond Earth, for one thing, as does a new strategic component much like Gods & Kings’s religions, called Affinities.

Affinities allow you to evolve your Beyond Earth civ beyond its human origins, focusing research on technologies that will play to how you want to interface with your new world and its inhabitants.

The Harmony affinity is what it sounds like, allowing you to meld with the new planet’s lifeforms and create new alien units. Purity focuses on genetic manipulation of the human genome to build better versions of your civ. Finally, Supremacy lets you make your civ’s humans into cyborgs with giant robot friends.

Each affinity allows for slightly different victories and affinity-only units, and can have a dramatic effect on your overall game. Specializing in Supremacy will unlock robot soldiers, for example. Whereas the Harmony affinity will grant you access to alien-based units and the ability to tolerate the new world’s harsh alien environment. Other civs will respond to you (or not) based on your affinity, and actions you take in the world can impact your affinity score.

on alpha centauri

It’s impossible to play Beyond Earth without comparing it to the ‘other’ Civ-in-space game, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.

One of the first games developed by Firaxis following its founders’ departure from Microprose, Alpha Centauri had the benefit of the expertise of Civilization Creator Sid Meier, but without the Civilization IP. Firaxis has since regained many IPs from now-defunct Microprose, but due to the vagaries of the game business, Alpha Centauri resides with its publisher, EA.

I played Alpha Centauri extensively during a long Late Winter in San Francisco. I was taken in by the living world aspect and the deep narrative with elements pulled from science fiction of the day. I enjoyed the experience greatly.

That said, if I had come to Beyond Earth looking for a direct sequel or a modern update to the 1999 game, I would have been wildly disappointed. Although it does have narrative elements, and certain signature aspects of Alpha Centauri have crept in, Beyond Earth is very much its own game.

This is most noticeable when dealing with the planet’s indigenous creatures. Instead of Civilization’s barbarians, Beyond Earth has a variety of alien lifeforms, some more aggressive than others. On the surface, these seem to be more bug-like versions of the barbarians, but they play and react quite differently from their hairier, Earth-bound cousins. Whereas barbarians will more or less attack whatever is in range at random, the aliens will frequently not attack unless provoked. I was able to send Explorer units carefully into heavily alien-infested territories without earning so much as a scratch. Still, other times, aliens would attack me at random, either provoked by the presence of one of my military units or by the aggressive actions of my civ neighbors. Over-aggressively terraform your new world and your Harmony attributes will be for naught, as aggro aliens force you into conflict. Whereas attempting to clear out the new world’s alien lifeforms (instead of attempting to harmonize with them), can lead to them becoming even more aggressive, eventually luring more powerful aliens toward your cities.

The other big newness is the orbital layer. You can build and launch satellites in Beyond Earth, and these will impart benefits to specific tiles. Some are quest- and victory-based, and others are magnificent weapons. The Planet Carver, for example, shoots a massive beam of weaponized energy from space and it is glorious. You can toggle between the planetary and orbital layer with a button, and you can knock enemy satellites out of orbit with certain ranged units.

The Orbital Layer adds a fun, new twist and an engaging tactical element to Civ 5’s already finely tuned tactical game. I found myself chuckling at the misfortune of civs that crossed my path when I had Planet Carvers at my disposal. And deploying Solar Collectors and Miasma Repulsers (to clear away the alien planet’s harmful, natural vapors) made me feel like I now had a new, more direct tool for improving my cities.

Besides, who doesn’t like launching stuff into space?

Old struggles

Now for the bad news: It’s easy to feel like Beyond Earth is just an expansion to Civ 5, albeit spacier than those that came before. For Civ 5 fans like myself, this is a loaded proposition.

If you like Civ 5, then more Civ 5 equals more Civ 5, which is great! But there’s no denying that even as much as I love Civ 5 (and I do love it, quite a lot), I was expecting something more from Beyond Earth than Civ 5 with a sci-fi skin. And in spite of the dramatic opening cinematic, the rocketing descent of my landing craft and the stirring opening text about how my civilization had traveled the stars to start anew and blah, blah… as soon as that first turn started and my explorer unit stared across the landscape dotted with hex grids and covered with the fog of war, I felt a rush of disappointment.

My newly founded city needed to produce things, and although those things bore new names, they seemed to me the same, old buildings in all but name alone. And although the alien landscape was littered with seemingly-unusual resources, the deadly “miasma” and resource pods containing goodies for home, all that, too, felt “same old,” at first blush.

So I set about methodically slogging through the familiar in search of the new, and without my even realizing it, I found it.

Starting over

Beyond Earth’s many similarities to Civ 5 mask, to its detriment, a game that is remarkably new and different, and once I was able to see past those similarities, the newness and wonder of playing in a future Civ sandbox washed over me like a slow boiling pot of water. I was engrossed before I realized it.

As the Brazilians, I was aiming for a Purity affinity, but fumbled my way through the research web willy-nilly and eventually lost the game without ever realizing one of my enemies had been close to victory. Not great, but that’s when it finally dawned on me that Beyond Earth, in spite of its heavy foundation in Civ 5’s mechanics and rules, is actually a completely different game.

So I started again, this time as the Slavic Federation. I would specialize in Supremacy and after a bit of research on what the new victories actually were (pro tip: read the f-ing manual), I decided to shoot for the Contact victory, but build a strong enough civ that, should all else fail, I could at least take over the world.

Beyond Earth offers five victory conditions, although two are similar, differing only in which affinity will unlock it.

Contact involves discovering an alien signal and unlocking the secret of your new planet’s ‘Progenitor’ species, an ancient alien race that left mysterious ruins behind. It is by far the most narrative of the victories, although its attempts at narrative don’t always mesh well with Civ’s UI.

One specific portion of the road to the Contact victory, for example, called for sending a military unit to a recently discovered alien ruin. I located the ruin and dispatched a rover… and waited. And waited. And waited. The instruction dialogue said the ruin itself had summoned a civilian from one of my cities, then asked me to send a military unit, presumably to escort that civilian. Which I had done, but I wasn’t sure if I had skipped a step. After several turns I finally noticed a new button had appeared in the rover’s action panel. I pressed the button and the quest concluded anti-climactically, with a text box and a ding. Wheres Firaxis’s ‘other’ sci-fi game, XCOM, uses cinematics to impart such momentous advancements, the Beyond Earth solution felt more than a little hollow and frustrating.

Domination is what it sounds like, giving you the win if you capture all of the opposing civ’s capitals. This is the most Civ-like of the victories, although it does require some mastery of Beyond Earth’s new technologies and units.

Emancipation and Promised Land are two sides of the same coin. You must research the technology to eventually open either an Emancipation or Exodus gate back to Earth, bringing those left behind either salvation or dominance. If you are Purity or Supremacy, this is your Affinity-scientific end game.

Transcendence is the Harmony victory. It involves researching alien technologies to create a “mind flower” that will unite your consciousness with that of the alien planet. City buildings can aid in this victory, shortening the amount of time it takes for the mind flower to bloom.

CivBE Virtues
Generate culture to unlock powerful benefits.

In addition to the end game victory, Beyond Earth also brings along smaller quests. Occasionally new technologies or improvements will offer a choice for how they are used, adding additional money or food, for example, or presenting a moral or philosophical choice. Eradicate aliens or domesticate them, for example. It’s a nice new twist and they gave me a stronger connection to the decisions I was making, and gave an aspect of the game that has typically been ho-hum, more drama.

Quests will occasionally also be simply fun things to experience. There is a massive ‘siege worm’ in Beyond Earth, for example. A late-game Harmony technology will eventually allow you to control these worms, like Paul Atreides in Dune, but an early-game quest with no affinity restriction tasks you with killing one. If you can pull it off, it’s a hoot.

Playing as the Purity Brazilians, I eventually corralled a siege worm and with the help of one air unit, three ranged units, a melee soldier and a satellite buff, I took it. It had already destroyed two settlers, half a dozen military units, countless trade convoys and an entire outpost. The quest reward didn’t nearly repay what I had lost, but it was a glorious struggle.

Ascension

performance and settings

Reviewed on: Core i7-3770k 3.5GHz, 16 GB RAM, AMD R9 290
Recommended: Quad-core CPU, 4 MB RAM, AMD HD500 / Nvidia GT400
Variable framerate: yes 
Anti-aliasing: MSAA 2-8x
Misc. gfx options: Vsync, threaded rendering

Beyond Earth ran smoothly at 1080p, hovering at 60 FPS with all settings maxed, occasionally dipping to 45 at the start/end of a turn. There’s a noticeable improvement from 2X-8X AA and shadow and texture settings from medium to high. Animations and particle effects need the high-end to shine. Testing briefly on an AMD HD 6900 GPU, my framerate maxed out at 45 FPS and dipped as low as 10 with all visuals set to “medium.”

As the Supremacy Slavs, I slaughtered alien lifeforms with abandon, reaping monetary and technological rewards and tried to focus my research on Supremacy techs to grow my military force. When the ARC civilization landed on a plain I had planned to colonize myself, I decided to go full tactical and take them out.

What followed was an, at times, tedious, but overall successful campaign to take over the ARC land and, in the process, clear an alien infestation from a mountainous jungle that would eventually form the production center of my empire. Using Brawlers, Rovers, and Gunners, I first attacked ARC’s capitol and was repulsed, and then withdrew into the jungle to wage war on the aliens while earning upgrades and improving my equipment with scientific research. Dozens of turns later, I emerged from the jungle with a seasoned army and conquered the ARC one city at a time. They were but the first.

As my neighbors inched toward various victories, I invaded their lands to secure my dominance, building a robot empire on the bones of their fallen civilizations.

For my third playthrough, I wanted to win without firing shot. I almost succeeded.

I picked the Franco-Iberian civ and focused on the Harmony affinity. Instead of clearing the alien miasma, I left it alone and eventually developed immunity to its effects through technology.

Focusing on trade and science, I built a civ on an archipelago-like planet that spanned two large islands. I traded with every other civ, giving both them and me a boost to income and science. I made deals for resources I had in abundance. I made friends. Meanwhile I used my trade vessels to boost my own productivity and growth, and built city and tile improvements that gave me a scientific edge.

When war broke out between the Polystralians and the PAC, I took no sides. When the Brazilians edged closer to their own Transcendence victory, I made trade routes to beef up my science output and closed the gap.

Above: Gameplay footage we captured from an earlier preview build.

When I pulled ahead, and Brasilia began massing troops near my border, I formed alliances elsewhere and quietly poured money at my military and defenses.

Ultimately, war never came. Although I was forced to kill a handful of arbitrarily aggressive aliens, I dominated my fellow civs with science and trade, with my guns silent. And when my mind flower bloomed, I felt like I finally understood everything Beyond Earth had to offer. And, just like for my Harmony civ, with understanding came a deep appreciation for my new world/game’s many complexities.

This is how Beyond Earth succeeds in spite of its similarities to Civ 5. It offers a game steeped in the traditions and mechanics of Civilization, that’s nevertheless surprising and new in often unexpected ways. I’ve conquered countless civilizations on the planet Earths of each various Civilization game, and each time it’s felt like reinventing a fantasy version of the past. In Beyond Earth, victory feels like living in—and forging—humanity’s future, and I can honestly say I’ve never had more fun building a civ “to stand the test of time.”

image

imageimage

PC Gamer latest stories

Filed in Gaming | Comment Now

10 years of World of Warcraft: an interview with Ion Hazzikostas

image

World of Warcraft Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft turns ten next month. Think about that for a second: not only have people been playing World of Warcraft for ten years, but Blizzard has actively supported it for a decade. While there’s no lack of statistics pointing to a declining subscriber base, the truth of the matter is that even in decline, World of Warcraft is head and shoulders above its competition. Not to mention that subscriber numbers tend to peak in the lead up to a new expansion. With the promise of expansion releases at a steadier rate into the future, it’s hard to imagine World of Warcraft going away soon. 

Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas joined Blizzard in 2008. I caught up with him during a trip to Sydney where he appeared at an event celebrating the game’s tenth anniversary, alongside the November 13 release of Warlords of Draenor. We chat about what the ten year milestone means to Blizzard, and what the studio has in mind for the future.

PC Gamer: World of Warcraft hits ten years next month. Is there another ten years in it?

Ion Hazzikostas: Yes, without a question. I can’t tell you exactly what our 20th anniversary celebration event is going to bemaybe new content which hasn’t been createdbut I can tell you there’s going to be one.

PCG: Has there been any notable shifts in the way both Blizzard and the community approach the series, since you joined in 2008?

IH: Yeah. There hasn’t necessarily been a clear cut point where things suddenly changed, it’s just a series of gradual changes among our community but also among us, as we respond and listen. Part of having a game which has run for ten consecutive years is that your fans and your players lives are changing, and you need to evolve with them. A lot of players who first adopted WoW in 2004 were students then, but now they have families and careers. Maybe previously they liked to stay up raiding, but now they’re trying to fit in 60 to 90 minutes after the kids go to bed, trying to keep in touch with this passion of theirs.

At the same time we don’t want to make the game exclusively like that, because new players are coming in all the time: people who are looking to be the best, to climb to the top of an arena ladder in PvP or to be the best raiders in the world. What we’ve seen over the years is a continuing broadening of our reach and focus. We’re not trying to focus on one play style versus another, but trying to focus on all playstyles. 

If you like collecting, getting mounts and pets, then you can build a whole experience around doing that. If you just want to log on and see to the end of the story, you can hop into the raid finder and experience content which, seven or eight years ago, you’d need to organise 25 to 40 friends and dedicated blocks of time over the course of weeks and months to see. Now if you feel like it you can get the story payoff there. Really it’s about accessibility wherever possible, but not at the expense of depth.

PCG: Over the course of all the expansions, and given that some people have played for ten years, does it get more difficult to balance the needs of newcomers with the old school?

IH: Sure it does. I think the challenge there is giving existing players something that feels new and fresh to them, and giving them evolution. Particularly with classes, the characters they play, the new toys they want and new abilities, but without letting the game get to the point where it’s overwhelming and frankly bloated for someone coming in from scratch.

What we did in Mists of Pandaria we’ve gone further with in Warlords of Draenor. That is, where possible we’ve consolidated and streamlined those elements from the past. We want to keep the elements that are the best, strongest and most pure, while getting rid of the ones that are redundant, less used or less needed by the player base. A lot of the class changes that we’re making in Warlords reflects that philosophy. We’re looking back at ten years worth of class development, where often classes would get abilities just because other classes were getting new abilities (even if they didn’t need them). As class designers we would sit around thinking to ourselves “well okay, does the Death Knight really need four new abilities? They’re kinda well rounded, they can do everything as it is, but oh well, I guess everyone’s getting new abilities so let’s come up with some stuff.” Some of them were good but some of them weren’t really needed. You layer enough of those on top of each other and you get to the point where a new or returning player is overwhelmed with the amount of options.

But it also means when we want to give you something newsomething that is valuable and is meeting a gameplay needthere’s no room. People’s action bars are full and their keybinds are all tied up. So we’re constantly having to go back to do periodic housecleaning, streamlining, getting rid of things that are less used in order to make room for exciting new things.

PCG: Has that thinking influenced making the previous expansion sets free? What was the motive there?

IH: I think that’s in the same vein as the level 90 boost: trying to remove the obstacles that come with having ten years worth of content. We want to keep that richness and the depth, because it’s a ten year old game and there’s an amazing amount of content in there. But we don’t want you to feel that if you want to check out Draenor you have to buy this box and that box, or that you need to jump through all these hoops in order to play the content with friends. If you see an advertisement and you want to check it out, or if you have a friend who says “come raid with me” or “come join my guild” we don’t want people to jump hurdles to get there.

Draenor

PCG: The new character models have been well-received. Are there plans to upgrade other angles of the game from a cosmetic point of view? Maps for instance?

IH: I think certainly in Cataclysm we did a large scale overhaul of the old world. We increase the level of fidelity that we design the game to in each expansion. We support newer features from the newest graphics cards and so forth. I think that’s something that we continue to push. I don’t know that we necessarily have plans to go back and retrofit and update old portions of the world. To some extent it’s a living timeline and history of the development of WoW which you can play through and which stands as a record of that time. 

Part of the charm of what Outland, Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King content entails is that the way they look reflects how the game looked back then. As always where it makes sense and when it’s the right thing for the player we’re not going to shy away from something due to resources, but it also comes to the question of where we allocate that resource. Would it be better served if we took all that art time and instead used it to make extra zones in our new expansion content? The answer to that is probably yes.

PCG: But in terms of practical and appealing upgrades, has the studio discussed any possibilities?

IH: Well we have more work to do with the character models, and there’s also the things that players transform into: like the Moonkin for the Druids, things along those lines that are in the same vein, and are things you see on the screen all the time. Other things we’ve been exploring is adding additional visual depth to our armour systems, whether it’s cosmetic attachments like the hunter who can have a quiver, or more geometry to the armour to help you distinguish your silhouette from other players.

World of Warcraft

PCG: Have there been any recent MMOs you’ve enjoyed or taken inspiration from?

IH: Yeah, lots. All of us on the team are fans of the MMO genre: we’ve played all the games and not just for market research, but because we’re excited to see what people are doing with the genre. Whether it’s Guild Wars 2, Aion, Wildstar, Elder Scrolls or Destiny – if it’s in the genre we’re playing it, we’re talking about it and we’re enjoying it. There’s certainly things that we look at. We make sure that if they’re doing something better than we are then we ask what can we do to fix that, how can we improve, what elements could we adopt to make our player’s experience better. It’s not about copying or keeping up, it’s more about keeping pace with the industry as a whole, the way the MMO genre evolves and doing the right thing by players.

PCG: World of Warcraft is head and shoulders above its competition. Why is the paid model not working for some competitors? We’ve had Star Wars: The Old Republic and Elder Scrolls Online struggle of late. Are players shifting away from the subscription model or is it a problem with the genre?

IH: It’s tough. It’s hard for me to really speak to other games and their particular stories. I know that for us, we feel like the subscription model continues to be the right one for us and our players. We deliver high value for the monthly subscription because it allows us to provide a steady stream of content, and we don’t have any plans to move away from that any time soon.

PCG: Blizzard has a good track record launching stable expansions. What’s the mood in the office when it ticks over?

IH: Always anxious, always tremendously excited. There are few greater joys as a designer than sharing what you’ve created. It’s always this excitement at seeing people run off into a world, and the excitement of playing it ourselves. We’ve obviously played it extensively internally, but the game is so big that it’s hard for any one staff member to see it all, so there’s always tonnes of surprises to experience for the first time. It’s always incredibly high energy and a fun week.

PCG: It’s been mentioned a couple of times that Blizzard hopes to release expansion content on a more frequent basis. A yearly basis has been suggested. Could these be as big in scope as Draenor or Mists, for instance?

IH: There isn’t a specific template that we try to fit every time. We’re pretty happy with the number of dungeons and raids for example, and the scale of a Pandaria or a Draenor I think is something we’d try to stick to. Clearly talk is cheap and action is what counts, and we’ve been talking about wanting to release more frequent expansions forever: they date back to 2008.

That runs into both production realities and our inherent perfectionism. We don’t want to just push the game out there because we said we’d hit a date: we need to make sure it’s the right thing for our players and the right thing for us. That said, the WoW team has grown significantly in the last year and a half. We’re trying to be capable of meeting some of those goals and of course you have to walk before you can run. Things slow down a little bit as you bring a tonne of people on as you need to train them up. You need to integrate them into your culture and into your environment, into your workflow, and so those are some of the reasons why there was a large gap between Mists and Warlords. But we feel like we’re not going to repeat that, but of course again: time will tell.

PCG: How did the idea for Garrisons in Warlords of Draenor evolve?

IH: It grew from a couple of things. We had this very small feature in Mists, which was the farm. You received a small plot of land where you could plant crops and unlock a few additional rows and fields. It was a tiny aspect, but players loved it. There was a lot of attachment and joy in the sense of owning a piece of the land to yourself. We saw that unexpected success and thought about how we could build on that further. It also dovetailed with the themes of Draenor: it’s sort of a return to the series’ RTS roots, both in terms of the franchise story, but also the idea of building a base and having the iconic looks of the old barracks and the blacksmith and the armoury, in addition to the storyline of needing to raise an army. All of that came together and now the story of Draenor is the story of you and your garrison.

It’s a very Warcraft version of player housing. Many MMOs have done it and many have asked for it, but we could never square the idea of player housing with our universe. Does your Orc warrior come home and decide what kind of drape they’re going to have or how the couch is going to look? No, you come home and decide whether you want a barracks or an armoury. That’s Warcraft.

PCG: Are there any ideas to expand Garrisons beyond the Draenor expansion?

IH: There aren’t specific plans, but you never know what the future holds. If it turns out that players are so attached to their garrisons then it’s a problem we’ll happily accept and find solutions for. Right now we’re envisioning it as something that’s very integrated into the Draenor experience. As part of the ten year anniversary and the scope of the game, it’s important how we approach features like this, to try to keep them focused where possible on specific expansions. We’re never going to release expansions quicker if every new addition creates a new maintenance process. That would mean having to create new garrison buildings, or 50 new followers etcetera. Where it makes sense we’ll do that, but we’d like to try to focus things so that the experience from one expansion to another is more varied.

PCG: Did you hear about the guy who leveled to 90 in the Wandering Isles starting zone? What do you get out of a story like that?

IH: It’s definitely cool, it’s just emergent gameplay. Some people try to do things in unconventional ways. In this case clearly you were supposed to have to pick a side, it was designed that you would join an alliance, but this was a loophole. In retrospect if someone in our QA team entered a bug that it’s possible to level indefinitely by collecting herbs in the starting zone we would have fixed it before the game shipped, because it’s clearly not intended. But once someone is out there doing that, it would be terrible to undermine that person’s efforts. It’s not something that’s for everybody and clearly they had fun doing it because they had random people logging on just to have a chat, and it became a spectacle. In general we like to let people have fun unless it’s coming at the expense of someone else’s fun. We always get a kick out of that stuff.

image

imageimage

PC Gamer latest stories

Filed in Gaming | Comment Now

Tickets for Sony’s PlayStation gaming show go on sale Friday

image So, you put in for the time off from work to hit December’s PlayStation Experience event in Las Vegas. The next logical step, of course, is buying tickets and come Friday you can do just that. As previously reported, a single day pass will set you…

Engadget RSS Feed

Filed in Gaming | Comment Now

Nvidia adds Dynamic Super Resolution support to older graphics cards

image

dynamicsuperresolution-teaser

Nvidia just released a new GeForce driver: 344.48 WHQL. On top of adding support for new games like Civilization: Beyond Earth, this new driver enables Nvidia’s Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR) technology on Nvidia GeForce GTX 500, 600 and 700 series desktop graphics cards.

In case you haven’t read up on DSR, it involves running a game at a higher resolution (up to 4K is currently supported) and then downsampling it to a 1080p screen to improve image quality. It’s essentially brute force anti-aliasing. Thus far, Nvidia has been promoting DSR functionality as a built-in feature for its new Maxwell GPUs. Now Nvidia has brought the technology to the older Fermi and Kepler GPUs.

The most exciting thing about Nvidia’s implementation is it works automatically through the GeForce Experience, and since the downsampling is done at the driver level, it’s more compatible and efficient (though not as configurable) than modder-created hacks, like Durante’s GeDoSaTo.

Players who want to further tweak their DSR experience can do so by clicking on the game-by-game settings in the GeForce Experience app. In this NVIDIA Control Panel you can select different DSR scaling factors and adjust the smoothness of the DSR filter, which sharpens or softens the in-game picture.

Dsr Auto Enabled In Geforce Experience

The latest 344.48 WHQL drivers also optimizes Nvidia graphics cards for new games including Civilization: Beyond Earth, Elite Dangerous, and Lords Of The Fallen. Support for Oculus Rift drivers on G-SYNC systems has also been added. You can download the GeForce Game Ready 344.48 WHQL driver through the GeForece Experience application or from Nvidia’s website here.

image

imageimage

PC Gamer latest stories

Filed in Gaming | Comment Now