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Turtle Rock Studios Interview (con't)
FiringSquad: Since you have worked on both Source and Valve's Steam service how do you personally feel about the work Valve has done on both projects?
Michael Booth: I founded Turtle Rock Studios with the intention of publishing on Steam. I saw it as a crack in the big corporate game development fortress where I could escape with my creative freedom and IP ownership intact.
Over the last four years, my experience with Source and Steam has only made these convictions stronger.
Source and Steam are both polished and mature platforms that have been proven viable in the real world. In addition, Valve has attracted a truly world class collection of talent who are actively working to enhance and evolve Source and Steam.
Valve has also long been a leader at building and maintaining gamer communities. In 1999/2000 when I was arguing with the powers that be in big corporate game development that releasing level editors and supporting the online community was a Good Thing (and being categorically shut down), Valve was already cultivating support for community-made "mods". Counter-Strike itself is a great example of their success in this area.
FiringSquad: Recently Turtle Rock announced plans to release an all new first person shooter using Valve's Source engine and using Steam as its delivery system. What hints can you give us about the game at this stage?
Michael Booth: All I can say right now is that we look forward to playtesting it every night here at the studio.
FiringSquad: How do you see the first person shooter evolving in the next few years?
Michael Booth: Although there are several areas where I see such evolution in the first person shooter genre, such as richer interactions with the environment and deeper plots/scenarios, the area I have long been preparing for is robust and interesting AI.
Even as far back as Ultima Underworld and the first System Shock, I was frustrated by the disparity between the reasonably believable environment and the simplistic actors within them. This has continued to be an issue, and today's ultra-realistic visuals just make the problem more apparent. There are exceptions, such as Alyx in Half-Life 2, that have made solid progress in creating believable personalities. However, most games have very realistic mannequins that run headlong into solid walls, move robotically, and emit a single canned line of dialog when you interact with them. Clearly, more can be done here.
FiringSquad: Do you see digital distribution of PC game becoming more popular, perhaps replacing retail store distribution altogether?
Michael Booth: Digital distribution is undoubtedly where things are going. I don't see it entirely replacing retail sales, but I do think digital distribution will become the primary channel in the very near future. As a corollary, I can't remember the last time I bought a CD - but my iPod is full of new music. In fact, I have discovered more kinds of interesting music in the last couple of years than I ever *even knew existed* when all my music choices came from the retail channels. As a result, I'm enjoying music even more these days.
For the game developer, digital distribution is a far better situation than the traditional publisher model. The overhead of selling and delivering a game experience is far lower than having to invest in manufacturing thousands of boxes, DVDs, and manuals and then shipping them around the planet. In contrast, the internet's reach is worldwide, instantaneous, and fairly inexpensive. Plus, our ability to seamlessly update our game at any time with no user intervention required is invaluable.
It is that last point - ongoing and seamless updates - that really puts the nail in the coffin of traditional retail sales for me. My interest has always been the online/multiplayer community and the kind of game experiences that medium can offer. The combination of online communities and ongoing updates has massively huge potential that we've barely begun to explore.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!
Mass Effect 3 PC Demo Impressions Mass Effect 3, EA/BioWare's third iteration in their series of sci-fi action RPGs and one of the most anticipated titles of the year, is fast approaching its March 6th release. This week, though, they released a playable demo on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 that offers a glimpse into both the single-player and multi-player portions of the full game.
Whether you're waiting impatiently for your download to finish or don't have the time to check it out yourself, go ahead and read some impressions of the demo from resident FSers Synch and Vandy in today's article!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Xbox 360 Review
The self-appointed "most anticipated game in history" launched worldwide this past Tuesday. Why, it's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, of course (of course), what else? Unsurprisingly, the military FPS debate between this and Battlefield 3 rages on, but now that both have been released, surely we can take a look and objectively evaluate them both? Luke's taken the Xbox version of MW3 for a spin this week, so to find out what he thinks of it in today's review!