FiringSquad: Do you worry it's going to be a challenge trying to sell a game with fewer maps? Are people ready to trust developers that you'll spend more time making them better, rather than making more maps and hoping a few catch on? Do you think the need for quality maps is a consequence of your campaign-based design?
Paul Wedgwood: ETQW will ship with about 12 maps: they’ll all be good, and they’ll all be different. We’re confident that players would rather have fewer maps that they’re going to really want to play on than more maps that aren’t up to the same standard or support the same depth of gameplay. Maps don’t catch on by chance, they catch on because they’re better. We could have had more maps in the box, but we cut them to concentrate on making the dozen we have the best we can make them.
Having fewer maps means that we can make them more distinctive. Rather than all maps in ETQW being based on a single style of terrain (such as jungle), there are three themes in development: Temperate, Arid and Arctic. These are then augmented by unique geographical locations, individual plots to the missions, and unique objectives. Each map (mission) in ETQW takes place in a completely unique environment, with a different time-of-day, year and atmospheric conditions. Each battle charts a critical moment of the Strogg invasion, much as Wolf ET retold the important missions of World War II.
Because the type of surface being walked over, driven over or shot at, can be determined from the MegaTexture, each experience of fighting within dense foliage, across arctic planes or arid deserts is unique – this is true of the vehicle traction, explosions and vehicle particles, and audio effects. Sand storms, snow and rain all affect visibility. Because ETQW can render right to the horizon, designers can choose visibility conditions that are right for the battle, rather than the technology constraining the design.
This combination of plot, geographical location, light, shadow, differing atmospheric conditions and audio effects makes each map feel completely unique. We think this is really important for game-play and player immersion, especially in the context of the campaign system, where each game takes place across three maps.
FiringSquad: How extensive is your post-release support going to be? Can we expect some new maps further down the line? Or is that something you see the community doing?
Paul Wedgwood: Firstly, yes, both id and Splash Damage would love to provide additional maps, but there are no firm details yet. This obviously depends on everything else that needs doing post-release.
As for the community, we’ll be giving them a full tool suite. Because the MegaTexture features unique detail, we’ve developed a tool called MegaGen which allows Level Designers to generate a unique-looking MegaTexture for their maps, using ‘Geometric Texture Distribution’. This system makes use of settings for the required geographical theme (such as the height of the water table, altitudes of silt lines, maximum incline for grass and moss to grow, precipices gathering stones and pebbles), and then distributes these textures across the whole terrain using custom normal and height-map based blends (ensuring that grass grows smoothly in to the crevices of rock, rather than being blended equally and looking unrealistic). Level Designers can lay down routes quickly with the Road Tool, simply dragging them across the terrain, and then compile the MegaTexture as easily as they did a Wolf ET map. The community mappers are going to go nuts; we can’t wait to see what they come up with.
FiringSquad: Are you planning for the game to launch with the SDK?
Absolutely. id Software has a reputation for excellent mod-community support, and with Splash Damage’s roots firmly in that territory too, you can be sure to see the release of a Software Developer Kit that allows great flexibility and power for mod-makers.
Both new and experienced Programmers will have some really powerful tools, although with the majority of the game controllable in script, you can get a huge amount done without modifying a single line of source code. Nevertheless, the source code for many of the game’s components will also be released, allowing for more advanced modifications and total conversions. Mod-makers will be able to script their own vehicles, and create new hardware shaders and particle effects.
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!
Hear that? It's the sound of the largest computer chip manufacturer in the world churning out new processors to power your gaming rig. This week, Intel is launching their next generation of Core CPUs, code-named Ivy Bridge. Like last year's Sandy Bridge chips, they're low-power, quad-core powerhouses that also feature integrated graphics processors. Want to find out more? Maybe check out a whole bunch of performance benchmarks on both the CPU and graphics sides of things? Well you can, in today's review!
Intel Z77 Chipset & DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Overview
Looking forward to those new Ivy Bridge CPUs? In anticipation of their release later this month, Intel has already unveiled the new Series 7 chipsets designed especially to take advantage of what will be the 3rd-generation of Core processors. In today's article, we take a look at the architecture of the enthusiast variant, the Z77, and how it's used in the Intel Desktop Extreme DZ77GA-70K motherboard. Even if you're not particularly interested in the motherboard itself, you'll probably want to see some of the new features that come along with it, so read on!
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!