Play enough games, and at some point your mind is going to start creating your own. If you can program, if you can draw, maybe you can sit down and make them happen. If not, there are tools like GameMaker and Unity and the UDK to make them happen. But what if you’d been inspired before these modern marvels came along? What if you’d had a genius idea for your own 3D world back in 1991? Then maybe, just maybe, you’d have found the 3D Construction Kit (or Virtual Reality Studio) the answer to your prayers. If so, you’d be the only one. 3D Construction Kit was where your ambitions went to die.
Very rarely has such an awesome toy been this useless. And yes, awesome is the word. 3D Construction Kit offered incredible technology by the standards of the time, not simply on the PC, but on everything from the Amiga to the ZX Spectrum. It gave you a complete polygon based 3D engine, scripting, compilation tools, and more. But don’t take my word for it. Check out this official video to see the kind of experiences you too could dare to dream of one day creating. Beware! Your mind may be blown.
This VHS originally came with the 3D Construction Kit, and it’s notable for being a little… how can I put this tactfully… full of shit. Yes, you could indeed create a car. You wouldn’t however be able to drive it anywhere, or have other 3D cars on the track doing anything. You’ll note how the only movement you see the car doing is courtesy of the camera sweeping past it. There is a Reason. You could, in theory, create adventure games, but since your only interaction method was shooting stuff and banging into it, there wasn’t much scope for creating puzzles. You could create a 10,000 seater stadium, ignoring the lack of actual seats and such, but you had precisely zero chance of actually playing football in it.
Really, all you could do with the 3DCK was create very simplistic scenes, a few tiny bits of them moving or wobbling around, by painstakingly shoving every last primitive into place, and adding a bit of scripting to make bits move around a bit, vanish from the gameworld, or fire deadly lasers. As soon as you wanted to go beyond that, you were either out of luck or in a world of hurt. Usually both. I know many people who owned the 3DCK. I don’t know any who managed to put together an actual game with it.
In any toolkit, the demo project sets the tone. This was 3DCK’s (albeit running in a more updated version of the engine with a far higher resolution than the original’s 320×200). If you’re wondering what the game version of Inception is going to be like, consider this a surreal little preview. I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on, but as far as I can tell, your job is to buy scuba gear from an alien so that you can find a desert island that lets you bypass a vision of Satan in order to hump the Space Shuttle.
Suddenly my own life goals seem so… ordinary.
Despite being barely usable (and this was on PC – the 8-bit versions had single-digit framerates) for anything serious, 3DCK was an impressive release. It was ridiculously ahead of its time, for good or bad, and the first consumer level tool that really make playing with 3D seem cool. This was a couple of years before Doom, and even commercial 3D games of the time looked pretty terrible. 3DCK also had an excellent heritage. It was based on the Freescape engine, as made famous by games like Driller, Total Eclipse and Castle Master and while those names may not mean much now, they were justifiably well-regarded at the time. Technologically, anyway. As games, they were largely terrible.
Freescape was also (in a way, via its successor, Superscape) the engine that powered a truly ghastly TV show called Cyber Zone, about which YouTube has precisely one surviving clip. It came out two years after 3DCK, starring Craig Charles as himself and James Grout as Thesp, a virtual fat man who acted a little bit snooty. Knightmare, it was not. It wasn’t even Time Busters. Or Incredible Games.
Nothing about this show worked, not for a single solitary second. Despite trying far too hard to be futuristic and cyber and other nonsense that was embarassing even in 1993, it was instantly out-dated. The world may have been fully 3D, but it ran like a dog, and the interaction was barely more advanced for being professionally designed. One team ran on pressure pads to move around, go into rooms and solve incredibly clumsy puzzles that usually boiled down to shooting ducks or similarly embarrassingly simple stuff even by Crystal Maze standards, while the other got to drive or fly around the world and… pretty much just watch them. The set was all dark and trashy. The main world used in the show was a recreation of a boring modern town. The prize was Craig Charles asking the winner what they wanted, and when they said ‘a sports car’ or whatever, handing them a disk and saying there was a virtual one on there. Words can barely describe how toe-curling this show was. Luckily, a minute or so is enough.
(Craig Charles went on to host the even more painful Heaven and Hell, while the BBC inflicted the astoundingly dull Fightbox on the world. At least Time Commanders was pretty entertaining though, proving that you can make a decent TV show out of a game if you try…)
3D Construction Kit wasn’t a bad product. For the £25 or so it cost, or the £7 I originally bought it for, you weren’t really paying for a game creator tool, but a kind of game creator role-playing game. You may never have made anything with it, but that wasn’t the point. You could always have made something tomorrow, or next week, or in that even more nebulous world of ’some time in the future’. For most of us, that’s really no different to the tools available now. They’re simply better, easier to use, and permit humping the space station in glorious high-definition. Thank goodness. Anything else would be rubbish.
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Cover athletes for EA Sports’ NCAA Football series may not get the same attention as Madden’s leading men — but hey, at least they’re not cursed. In fact, you can help the next young star get “lucky” by voting him onto the cover of NCAA Football 12.
NCAA Football 12 cover athlete determined by fan vote originally appeared on Joystiq on Fri, 04 Mar 2011 23:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Finnish Studio Recoil Games took us behind closed doors to check out its newest downloadable title for PSN, a gravity manipulating platformer called Rochard. We didn’t know what to expect, but after getting some hands-on time with the title, we’re looking forward to its spring release.
Rochard follows the story of an astro-miner named John Rochard (voiced by Duke Nukem’s own Jon St. John.) Rochard and his mining team work for one of the lowest producing mining rigs in the galaxy, but just as the team is about to lose their jobs, they discover proof of alien life on a lonely asteroid. At the same time, a group of dim-witted space bandits attack their mining station and begin ransacking the rig. Using only his wits and his mining equipment, Rochard is forced to fend off the pirates, find his missing crew, and save an alien artifact that could change human history.
Altering gravity is the crux of Rochard’s gameplay. Rocard is equipped with a gravity gun that allows him to move blocks around his environment, but he will also be able to alter the strength of gravity, which allows him to jump to greater heights and pick up larger objects. A series of environmental puzzles require Rochard to reroute power, and disable auto turrets while navigating a space bandit populated mining station. We enjoyed our brief hands on time with the game, and are looking forward to Rochard’s spring release. But don’t take our word for it; check out the game in action below.
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NFSGreg takes the week off from the podcast, with Drew, Spenser and Kirk handling the major news of the week, which includes plenty of new SHIFT 2 Unleashed stuff, the release of Lamborghini Untamed for Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, a new photo mode contest (#HPDLCPhotos on Twitter), new cars and a new patch for World, as well as the off-topic topic and Team Need for Speed news.
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Famed game designer David Crane talks about his design challenges creating Pitfall for the Atari 2600.
Massively Speaking Episode 139 returns today with the day three impressions of GDC 2011. Shawn and Rubi discuss Runes of Magic Chapter 4 and Battlestar Galactica Online impressions as well as talk about an interview with Nexon’s Daniel Kim. After yesterday’s unexpected leak of the newest Guild Wars 2 profession (the Thief), Shawn talks extensively about his hands-on experience with that class.
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Massively Speaking is the official podcast of Massively.com. Hosted by Editor-in-Chief Shawn Schuster and Community Manager Rubi Bayer, Massively Speaking takes on the week’s biggest news and dev interviews with plenty of opinion, rants, and laughs thrown in for good measure. Join us every Wednesday afternoon to listen in and see what we’ll say next!
Surprisingly few racing games are big on offline multiplayer these days, except for ones that end in the word ‘Kart’. So imagine our surprise when Evolution Studios announced that MotorStorm Apocalypse would not only allow online play, but four-player split-screen too. So the UK GamesRadar team huddled around the TV to put this split-screen action to the test – and you can watch the results here.
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Last year was a rather good year for PSN gamers with titles such as Tumble and Soldner-X 2 making a splash on Sony’s service and providing highly entertaining gameplay. Amongst the key releases we saw last year, one standout was the zombie action title Dead Nation from developer Housemarque. Despite being another twin-stick shooter, Dead Nation …
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Find your “Personal Jesus” in next week’s Rock Band DLC, featuring three tracks from iconic electronic music band Depeche Mode. If you’re not in the mood to declare your “Policy of Truth,” there will also be a single number from Death Cab For Cutie available.
Check out the full DLC details after the break.
[Pictured: Screencap of "Personal Jesus" music video; source: YouTube / WMG]
Rock Band Weekly: Depeche Mode, Death Cab For Cutie originally appeared on Joystiq on Fri, 04 Mar 2011 10:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Beginning next Tuesday you’ll be able to get your Porsche fix! The Porsche Unleashed DLC pack for Hot Pursuit will be available on the Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Store for $6.99 (560 Microsoft Points). You can take a look at the new cars and get more info right now:
Porsche Unleashed, continues to add to the already stellar lineup of Porsche cars in the game. Any car enthusiast will be delighted to see the Porsche 911 Turbo (1982 Edition) make its way into the game, along with the Porsche 959 and 911 Speedster. The Porsche 911 Turbo is a high performance tier one car, designed to enable players to go back and reignite their earliest rivalries and beat their friends’ times. Also included in this pack are 10 new events and four new trophies and achievements.
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Though we didn’t see any multiplayer in action during our cover story visit to DICE, that didn’t stop us from prying some revealing answers from executive producer Patrick Bach.
This is an extended version of the interview that ran in the March 2011 issue of Game Informer.
The experienced player understands and appreciates the teamwork concept in Battlefield’s multiplayer, but you often see new players lone wolfing it and missing the point entirely. How do you break through that barrier?
We’ve been asking ourselves that question – why don’t people play it. Because when you’ve put some hours into it it’s like, “this is way better than the competition.” The problem isn’t only on the game side, it’s how do you get to the point where everyone has tried it? Even if you have a demo or you gave away free samples you still need people to try it. The challenge is to get people to try it because we know that they will get hooked when they do. But also on the teamplay aspect it’s a deeper layer that most other shooters don’t have. The hurdle is to make sure that we lower the threshold to get into the game by letting everyone try it out. The running and gunning should be extremely accessible. That’s something we’re working toward with every iteration of the game while deepening the game so once you get hooked, there’s enough depth to play to get people to come back.
Bad Company 2 came out of the gates quickly, placing in the top three on Xbox Live for several months. Then you went six months without delivering new maps and the community fell off drastically. Do you plan on taking a different approach with Battlefield 3?
We have a big focus on sustaining the game. To be honest, Bad Company 2 was a bigger success than we anticipated. We did not account for that. We sold a lot of copies and don’t feel bad about where we were, but looking back, we should have released more, bigger content earlier. The challenge is to build a game, and then have more people coming on before the project is done to start building extra content because it takes a lot of time to get stuff out. Even if you’re done with something it takes another one-to-two months to get it on the net so to speak. We’ve learned our lesson now, and have a lot of really interesting plans for how to keep the attention of the players. We can do better in that area.
One of the things I felt went hand-in-hand with the lack of new maps was that, anecdotally, a lot of people stopped playing around level 25 because there was no longer a carrot dangling in front of them in terms of unlockables. Why did you decide on that approach, and do you plan on altering the progression in Battlefield 3?
It falls back on what I said earlier – we were much more successful with our approach than we anticipated. We didn’t think most people would hit level 22 to be honest, and especially not so fast. Our calculations on how much people would play to hit level 20, 25, 50 were completely wrong. Thought people wouldn’t play that much. We’re looking into the numbers of how we scale up, what we give away, how we give it away, with the understanding that some people put a lot of time into the game. There will be a lot more to unlock, not only weapons and other treats, but we have more things that you can unlock than in Bad Company 2, and we’re also making sure that there is a reason for you to reach the top rank. It doesn’t just end. There will be a lot of focus on persistence and how we present stuff to the player.
One of the things that helps persistence is when you give the player an identity. For instance, you can carve your initials into your gun in Black Ops, and Rainbow Six let you customize your outfit. What are the challenges to this approach and do you see Battlefield 3 going in this direction?
The more variation you have [in the characters] the less variation you can have in the rest of the world. I think it also has to do with the way you play more professionally. You don’t want people to look completely different. It’s team A versus team B. It’s always a challenge – how do you personalize a uniform? Giving the pink rabbit hat to someone would make it fun, but if you’re running around and you don’t know what you’re shooting at you don’t take the professional gaming seriously in my book. So there’s a challenge between personalizing and keeping it uniform. We will do more in that area, making sure that you can get your character to be more personalized both in a visual way and more specifically in the way you gear up. We did a good job I would argue in Bad Company 2 with specializations, different scopes, and different weapons – you can kind of find your way of playing the game, which broadens the game for more people. The deeper you get into that the more you unravel figuring new things out every day. That was kind of the seed to what we’re building now. We now know more than we’ve ever known about how to personalize a uniform team. Your friends will get very happy when they can see what they can do with their soldiers.
When I think about Battlefield 2, I always come back to the Commander position and the game within the game that arose from having Special Forces objectives. Are those returning in the proper sequel?
We could implement it but the question is how do you get the threshold lower? That’s not by making it more complicated. Our challenge is to make sure that anyone that just jumps into the game will get it. One of the biggest problems with Commander was that only two people could use it. Some people liked it but most people didn’t care, they just cared that someone gave them an order or that their squad could play together having fun on their own more or less. Then the more hardcore people went into the Commander mode and learned how to use that. You could argue it was a great feature, but looking at the numbers you could also say that no one uses it. We tried in Bad Company 2 to give that to the players, so you could issue orders to your squad, and you could use gadgets like the UAV that only the commander could use earlier – giving the power back to the players so everyone could use it. That made a big difference. More people could enjoy the game. We lowered the threshold for everyone because we gave it to everyone. We now know where the boundaries are for keeping the strategic depth and complexity while lowering the threshold to get in.
Since Battlefield 2 you’ve toyed with the amount of classes – that game had seven classes, Battlefield 1943 had only three, and Bad Company 2 had four. Do you think you’ve found the sweet spot?
Yes, I think the sweet spot is four. Looking at what we’ve done so far, we see the classes as a starting point. Classes are kind of “Who am I? Well, I’m this kind of person. I want to help out or play in this way.” Then as you go along you will find different nuances of that class. If you look at the amount of classes you actually have in Bad Company 2 with all of the different loadouts, it’s probably a couple of thousand, compared to 1942, which was quite static. So the sweet spot for entry is around four. Then it’s about how much you branch it. It’s a never-ending discussion that’s a matter of what kind of toys you want the player to have and how you balance it out. The rock, paper, scissors theory is still the foundation of every Battlefield game. A lot of people come up to me and say “You should increase the power of that gun, or you should make this gun better, or you should add nukes.” The easy response to that is “How is that fun for the person getting shot at?” Because that needs to be the balance – if there’s no counter to a weapon, then we won’t put it in the game. There should always be a way of countering, so then you get this circle of death where if you have the means to kill me, I can switch gear and find means to get back at you. There shouldn’t be any über class or über weapons. Some games have perks where you kill the game by using it, and you do it over and over again. That’s no fun, that’s a game breaker. If someone gets really good at flying a chopper, then people say the chopper is overpowered. No, you just haven’t learned how to counter it, because there is a counter. That’s the kind of depth you want in a Battlefield game. It actually takes time until someone figures it out. We often compare ourselves to sports. You have a game with a set of rules, but there are a million ways of playing that game still even though the rule set is very solid and it hasn’t changed for 100 years. Every game is completely new. There is always a way to counter the opponent. Like football, or basketball, or soccer, the game is always evolving, yet the rules are the same. People adapt and find new ways.
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What does a “gritty”, modern Call of Juarez reboot look like? What do fighting fit roller derby players make of recent fitness games? What is Guy up to in San Fransisco? Find out now! And win Black Ops codes!
The original Dead Space was a tough act to follow, but Visceral Games
succeeded by making improvements across the board for Dead Space 2. The
problem? Now the team has set an ever higher bar for the inevitable
Dead Space 3. As good as Dead Space 2 was, EA and Visceral are probably
already looking into a follow-up – along with aspects of the gameplay
and story that could use some tuning. The form Dead Space 3 takes is
anyone’s guess at this point, but here are some things we hope are on
the team’s radar as the series moves forward.
NOTE: The following article contains SPOILERS for Dead Space and Dead Space 2. If you haven’t finished the games or plan to play them, we suggest you do so before reading our wishlist.
Yeah, we get it: The marker is mysterious. After
two games of cryptic references and vague mumbo-jumbo, it’s time for
some answers. That isn’t to say that every little mystery should be
explained, but in Dead Space 3, Visceral needs to stop answering every
question with another question. Who built the markers? Why do they make
people crazy? What is Isaac’s significance? Give us some concrete info
to fuel our speculation!
Dead Space 2 took the concept of zero-gravity
gameplay and made it more interesting, allowing Isaac to maneuver in 3D
space. That is an improvement, but it didn’t go far enough; Zero-G
sequences involved more navigation than combat, which didn’t exactly
leave players on the edge of their seats. In Dead Space 3, we want these
segments to be more threatening, delivering scares instead of shooting
gallery encounters. It’s a tricky request, since zero-gravity combat
could be terrible if handled incorrectly, but we have faith in Visceral.
Isaac the Ripley
After surviving two Necromorph outbreaks, Isaac isn’t just some hapless
engineer with a plasma cutter. Like Ripley from the Alien series, he has
become the galaxy’s foremost expert on dealing with hostile
abominations. It would be nice to see an acknowledgement of this fact in
the Dead Space universe. Yeah, the government is trying to cover up the
whole necromorph thing, but at some point people have to recognize that
Isaac is the only dude who knows what’s going on. Dead Space 3 would be
a great place to start that process.
Isaac’s mind has been changed by the marker,
and he no longer has a firm grasp on reality. This was a key element of
the story in Dead Space 2, and we don’t want that going anywhere.
Seeing the world through the eyes of an unstable protagonist adds a lot
to the atmosphere, since his hallucinations make you question the
reality of events. As hard as life is for Isaac, we hope the marker’s
effects don’t start to wear off.
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