By James Pinnell on December 4, 2013 at 1:57 pm
One of the things I generally complain about to fellow journalists and friends is that lack of “surprise” that increasingly comes from entering a new game.
Developers and publishers constantly promise new mechanics, experiences and technology, but generally fail. As games become more expensive to produce, bigger studios start to feel the pinch from their overlords — niche systems, ideas and creativity don’t sell franchises, and those franchises that make incremental changes rather than wholesale overhauls allow for players who want to be comfortable. After 20-odd years of gaming, I don’t want to be comfortable anymore — which is why I’ve been enjoying the flood of new indie experiences that actually attempt to work against the status quo.
But it’s not just new experiences — it’s also refined ones. These five games were the titles I played this year that delivered those surprising moments — whether improving on classic systems, creating new ones or just making great use of creative prompts, such as humour, sadness or even politics. We’re coming up on the end of the year, and GON’s official GOTY awards are not far away – but this feature is designed to reward those titles that may not be showered in kudos, or simply forgotten on top of all the BioShocks and Last of Us‘s that whitewashed Metacritic this year.
By James Pinnell on May 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm
When it comes to the MMO genre in 2013, a particular saying instantly comes to mind — “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. The formula for success has been been well and truly established, over the ashes of a plethora of failed titles. Developers now know what works and what doesn’t, replacing potentially risky gameplay mechanics with small refinements to well trodden, successful systems such as real-time combat and dungeon crawling.
So if anyone should be in a position to know precisely what failure looks like and how to hopefully alleviate it, it’s Cryptic Studios, reborn under the Perfect World banner to develop the second Dungeons and Dragons MMO – Neverwinter. With three (and a half) titles under its belt, Cryptic are one of the most experienced development houses in the industry, coupled with a publisher (Perfect World) considered a rising star after a host of successful free-to-play efforts in both Asia and the US. Can this team strike gold with one of their most ambitious projects yet?