All posts by Patrick Stafford
StarCraft 2 Legacy of the Void

By on March 19, 2015 at 11:07 am

StarCraft is the $5,000 guitar of video games. You think it looks cool, and love having a bit of a play, but it’s best left in the hands of someone who can really shred.

Yet the past two StarCraft II expansions have managed to yank me back in. And based on the preview I experienced at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco this month of the third instalment – Legacy of the Void – I’m sure it’ll steal quite a few hours of my time again.

games.on.net was given limited hands-on access to Legacy of the Void’s multiplayer. While we didn’t get to see a lot, we were able to try the new Archon co-op mode – and it may just help some newer players get back into the game which, quite frankly, still has a scary learning curve.

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Offworld Trading Company

By on March 11, 2015 at 2:19 pm

The former Civilization veteran behind a recently released economic real-time strategy title, Offworld Trading Company, says the reception to the game has been strong – but its unusual structure has made it a difficult sell.

“I don’t think we’ve figured out how to market this game,” Soren Johnson, the former lead designer of Civilization IV and now head of Mohawk Games, told games.on.net at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco last week.

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League of Legends

By on March 9, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Getting rid of toxic and abusive environments in a game community doesn’t just benefit players – it has the potential to spread and start making the entire internet a better, safer place to interact.

Jeffrey Lin, head of the analytics research team at Riot, delivered this message at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco last week. He issued a strong directive for developers – you have a responsibility to make this happen.

But in order to do so, designers can’t wait days or even weeks before banning player or sending warnings, Lin said. They need to be immediate and extremely clear – otherwise, negative players will just continue their behavior.

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thewalkingdead_clem

By on March 9, 2015 at 10:15 am

Telltale isn’t too concerned whether you think its projects are “games” or not, said the company’s CEO Kevin Bruner last week, instead arguing players should appreciate the projects for what they are – an innovative way of combining story and technology.

The comment was made during a presentation with Bruner,along with key writers and designers from Telltale during the Game Developer’s Conference. The group discussed what makes the company’s unique brand of adventure-style titles work.

“Whether they’re games or not, we don’t really care,” said Bruner, to applause from the room.

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esports_spectator_interfaces_gdc_2015_1

By on March 5, 2015 at 11:03 am

Game developers need to start thinking more about eSports from the outset of their development, and create user interfaces friendly for spectators, players – and people who have absolutely no idea what’s going on.

In particular, designers should take influence from traditional sports broadcasts such as baseball to identify what information is most important, and what data simply makes people tired and confused.

This was the message delivered by Ryan Schutter of Blizzard, and Phillip Tan from the MIT Game Lab, during a talk at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco.

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nvidia_shield_3

By on March 4, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Nvidia’s latest attempt to win over gamers in the living room is a set-top box with an exclusive emphasis on streaming video content, online services like YouTube, and full, new-release games in high definition.

The company announced the Nvidia Shield at a press event in San Francisco just now, but games.on.net was present at a special hands-on session yesterday afternoon.

Nvidia is very much emphasising the Shield’s streaming capabilities as an advantage above competitors, at least in the gaming space. “We saw with Netflix how that has taken over the film and television experience in the living room,” a company rep said yesterday, adding it wants to create a similar experience for games.

“This is a streaming device on steroids,” it said.

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Battlefield 4

By on March 25, 2014 at 3:14 pm

It took six years for DICE to release Battlefield 3 after the previous iteration, so a gap of just two years before the release of Battlefield 4 caused some skepticism – but the company has sworn at GDC it made big leaps during that time.

During a talk on Friday morning, the last day of the conference, DICE lead artist Linnea Harrison said the company wanted to add a heightened sense of realism to the series in order to differentiate itself among the flooded FPS market.

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BioShock Infinite

By on March 19, 2014 at 7:24 am

Irrational Games may have all but shut down, but its developers are very much out in force at this year’s GDC in San Francisco – and have revealed some key secrets and failures about the development of BioShock Infinite.

Specifically, lead programmer John Abercrombie gave a talk today showcasing the creation of Elizabeth, and her complicated and well-received artificial intelligence – something the team struggled with immensely.

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Murdered: Soul Suspect

By on June 21, 2013 at 9:44 am

Criminal investigations without any shooting-based combat, the ability to possess innocent bystanders and the power to walk through walls – these are the unlikely ingredients that help make up Murdered: Soul Suspect.

The new game from Airtight Studios (the team behind last year’s Quantum Conundrum) and Square Enix is based on a simple thought exercise from creative director Yosuke Shiokawa: imagine Die Hard — if protagonist John McClane died at the beginning of the film.

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Mad Max

By on June 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm

When an open-world Mad Max game was teased last week, the Australian journalists wondered among themselves whether the game’s main character would actually feature an Aussie accent.

There’s no real surprise here: no. He doesn’t. Mad Max has a grizzled, American tone. Thankfully, it was the only real disappointment of a behind-the-scenes demo shown to games.on.net on the E3 show floor.

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Wolfenstein: The New Order

By on June 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Fighting zombies is as much a part of video games as collecting coins in Mario, or madly trying everything in your inventory in a point-and-click adventure. Wolfenstein, as one of the first and most popular FPS titles, represents a huge steppingstone for the industry.

The team behind the latest iteration of the franchise, Machine Games, is attempting to recapture that same sense of joy gamers had when they first encountered the original in the early 1990s.

Based on a hands-on demo played by games.on.net on the show floor, we believe they’re showing good signs of succeeding.

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The Evil Within

By on June 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm

You are upside down.

Your vision is blurry, and the dim light around you isn’t helping. But as your eyes begin to adjust, you see them: bodies. Just like you. Hanging upside down, the blood obviously drained from them like sponges.

This already grim situation is made worse by the clanking buzz of a chainsaw breaking through a human spine. You can’t see it, but blood, muscle and tissue are splattering on the floor.

Soon, a massive brute passes by you to a nearby room, carrying the top off a human body. He begins to mutilate it with a machete.

This is The Evil Within. It’s disgusting, it’s brutal, and survival horror fans are going to love it.

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DayZ

By on June 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm

So many zombie games, and so little quality. Fortunately, the stand-alone version of DayZ has shown that it has the ability to stand above the crowd and deliver what was so great about the original mod in a polished package.

In a hands-on demo played by games.on.net on the E3 show floor today, we saw a variety of new features and tweaks, including new animations and a much cleaner and sophisticated inventory system.

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Dark Souls 2

By on June 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Recently, there has been some concern among Dark Souls fans as to whether its sequel will be “dumbed down”, or made easier for new fans won over by the first game.

Consider this. On the show floor at E3 today, games.on.net had access to a hands-on demonstration of the game. The final portion of this demo contained a boss called the Mirror Knight, a hugely powerful enemy.

By the end of the conference’s second day, not one journalist — out of the hundreds of thousands attending — had managed to beat this boss.

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