GAME PC CONSOLE Witchinour - Top-Down Shooting Chaos Starring A Cute Witch

GAME PC CONSOLE Witchinour - Top-Down Shooting Chaos Starring A Cute Witch

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Nour, an adorable, if kinda-aggressive, witch, has lost her spellbook while exploring a dungeon. She sort of needs it back, and so sets out to figure out where it lies in a randomly-generated dungeon filled with extremely hostile monsters that chase her harder and harder the further she gets in the depths of Witchinour.

Witchinour is a top-down shooter with an emphasis on speed, with Nour quickly flying around arenas as enemies rush her way. Nour will be able to fire back at them from any direction using her upgrade-able spells (I guess she doesn't need her spellbook THAT much), and she'll want to do this in a hurry. The monsters become more alert the deeper she gets in the dungeon, which makes them attack her even faster.

As such, it's a constant battle against the clock and her enemies' alertness, trying to kill them all before more monsters are drawn to her position that act even more hostile than the last set. If you can do this quickly, you'll calm your alertness rating a bit, but if not, expect things to get faster and harder in a hurry. Also, doing all this while dealing with random dungeon setups makes things even more challenging, promising a brutal time for something the developer jokingly calls a "cute 'em up."

Witchinour is available for $4.99 on Itch.io and Steam. For more information on the game and developer Sofuto Geimu, you can follow them on YouTube and Twitter.


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Gamasutra New Game Online Q& A: How Microsoft is pitching the Xbox One X to devs (& consumers)

Gamasutra New Game Online Q& A: How Microsoft is pitching the Xbox One X to devs (& consumers)

With Microsoft’s focus on the Xbox One X at E3, Gamasutra has been performing a series of interviews on the system. Following a discussion with Microsoft's corporate vice president for Xbox and the Windows game platforms Mike Ybarra on Friday about the “how” of porting games to Xbox One X and competition with Windows as a platform, today we talk to Microsoft’s senior director of product management and planning for Xbox Albert Penello, asking about the way the company is positioning the hardware to both developers and consumers.

Penello: When we announced Project Scorpio last year, we talked about building this console. What people didn’t know is we were actually building two consoles [in one]. We were building the one for our customers, but we were also building a bespoke unit specifically for developers, which we had a nice article with Gamasutra on a few months back.

I think the developer was as much in mind in how we built this machine as the consumer was. Because we knew we were introducing a new concept of doing a mid-generation console leap in performance, which hadn’t been done before—at least, when we were conceiving of it we didn’t know of the PS4 Pro. We needed to figure out how to make that process really easy for developers. So from the get-go we knew that we wanted to be able to take the existing engines that they were working on on Xbox One and get those engines up and running in 4K. And we knew we wanted the high resolution textures and assets that they were building for 4K PCs and give them a place to run in the living room. So I think the pitch is actually quite easy for developers, particularly ones that are making games on PC, which is: If you built an Xbox One game, the code, your dev tools, your systems, your profiling tools, everything you’ve done for Xbox One is going to work immediately out of the box. 

I think the number of 4K televisions is going to grow exponentially in the next couple of years. I think it’s a great developer story that the effort and energy that you’re putting into 4K on the PC is going to have even more customers available on console now with Xbox One X. So I think it’s a great pitch: Really easy to develop for. Those 4K assets now can leave the monitor and go to the TV. And we’ve seen developers getting games up and running in hours. We’re hearing stories of two hours to get it up and running. 

"Developers like power. They’ll find other ways to use that power."

Well, sure. I mean, I think this industry, if you go back to the Atari 2600, more power always enables more creativity. So certainly a developer like the Ori guys are going to choose to use HDR and lighting effects and frame rate and use that performance in ways that makes sense for their artistic vision. So they’re going to find interesting ways to use it even if resolution isn’t necessarily the thing that’s going to drive their artistry. Developers like power. They’ll find other ways to use that power. That’s what’s exciting about building a canvas like this platform.

The mindset is developers are going to make things for Xbox One X, but they’re also going to make sure that what they’re making is compatible with the previous generation… can you call the Xbox One a previous generation?


Ori and the Will of the Wisps debuted at E3 last week

I think in the console business it’s hard because that’s worked a certain way. So everybody’s mindset is locked into this generational concept. The fact is, if you step out: phones, PCs, all kinds of technology these days just evolve and customers are used to having multiple performance levels at different price points.

I mean the PC is the most scalable platform in the world. So to go from one spec to two specs in this day and age for a developer, is a lot easier for them to comprehend than, I think, people who follow the console business. So of course, they’re already building their engines to scale to dual 1080 SLI core i7 overclocked processors from Intel integrated graphics chips. They already have to figure out how to make their game engines work. So the idea to go from an Xbox One S to an Xbox One X is very easy. And, again, we focused on making that super simple for them from a development perspective.

"If developers were only incentivized by install base, we never would get out of a generation. The previous generation is always the largest install base."

Oh yeah, totally. 100%. And I mean, again, it goes back to ease.  When you talk about install base, if developers were only incentivized by install base, we never would get out of a generation. The previous generation is always the largest install base.

But again, even though the install base for integrated graphics is significantly higher than the install base for high-end PC graphics cards, developers still push the envelope there. So it comes down to ease of use. Assets are already built because they’ve already built 4K stuff on PC. We’ve made it super easy to take that engine and get those textures and assets there. So I don’t think we have to incentivize them. I think we’ve made it easy. I think the assets exists; I think they’re going to want to take advantage of the power. 

"If you look at the projections, they’re saying that something like 60& to 80% of TVs sold this year are going to be 4K sets."

Well, I think we can agree, over the next few years 4K is going to start to take over. Just like from SD to HD there’s always an inflection point. I think it kind of started really last year. If you look at any of the projections for TVs, they’re saying something like 60-80% of TVs sold this year are going to be 4K sets. Of course, there are hundreds of millions of households and it takes a long time for that to come over. But I think we can agree, in the next few years 4K is going to dominate.

So if you’re thinking that’s going to happen and you have to make a console choice right now, and you’re like, “Hey, I don’t have one today, but I’m planning on getting one,” you’re going to want to invest in an Xbox One X because you know you’re sort of future proof. You know the console’s there when the TV comes.

And we have been very thoughtful about making the 1080p experience on an Xbox One X really good. We have a faster hard drive so that games will load faster. We’re doing anisotropic filtering in hardware so that older Xbox One games that exist on the market will get better texture filtering. Games that run at dynamic resolution or dynamic frame rate will run at their max res and framerate on an Xbox One X. And we have supersampling by default so games that are rendered in 4K get super sampled down to 1080p. And if you haven’t seen, there’s some great YouTube videos on supersampling. A 4K super sampled image at 1080p looks better than a native 1080p image. So if you have a 1080p TV there’s a laundry list of reasons why an Xbox One X is a great console. And if you’re planning on getting a 4K TV it’s almost like a no brainer. 

Again, we didn’t want to split the user base. The more different they are, the more we go back to your early point about having to do specific work. In fact, an interesting thing is happening, people ask this question, “Is Xbox One X held back by the One S or vice-versa?” And in fact, the tweaks you make to your engine, every tool improvement that we make to development makes Xbox One S and Xbox One X development better. Every tweak you make to your engine to get a little bit more performance out of your engine makes your Xbox One S engine better.

So, no, in fact, actually the strategy is quite the opposite. The strategy is to grow our tools to make our development environment better to make our profiling tools better so that that work benefits both consoles. In fact, if you talk to Turn 10, they’ll say that the tweaks that they made on Xbox One X allowed them to get dynamic weather back into Xbox One S. So they are very much a strategy of making one great development environment and really just separating the devices by performance.


Dynamic weather in Forza Motorsport 7

"It’s hard when a console transitions and you lose your library. Maybe you wanted to show your kids. Maybe your buddies are getting together from college and you wanted to reminisce and play those old games. We respect the content."

It’s hard to predict the future because technology changes so fast. Phil [Spencer, Xbox chief] talked on stage a lot about original Xbox backwards compatibility. That’s a 16-year-old system, but there are great games on that system. And we care a lot. I’ve been in the games business for a long time. Phil’s been in the games business for even longer and we care about your library of games.

It’s hard when a console transitions and you have to lose that library. Maybe you want to bring your kids through it. Maybe your buddies are getting together from college and you want to reminisce and play those old games. We respect the content.

And I think one of the things that the PC has done well for 40 years is that there’s a thread of compatibility—and sometimes things fall away, but for the most part you can go back and play really old PC games on a modern PC. So I like that idea. I like that concept and I think it’s one of the things we do a lot with Play Anywhere, and backwards compatibility is preserving and respecting the content, making sure your library goes with you.

We’re in a position at Microsoft with our backwards compatibility team and the way we architect our systems to try and bring those things into the future. So I don’t know exactly what the world’s going to bring. I think we’ll always embrace state of the art hardware tech, but I think that thread of compatibility is something that we believe really strongly in.

No. Because we’ve said, they [Xbox One and Xbox One X] are the same system. That is a question that I completely understand why a customer would ask, but if you go talk to developers they will say, “It doesn’t make sense.” It is one system.

That is like saying, “Would a developer ever make a game that only runs on a 1080 Ti?” Well, no I wouldn’t do it. Forget marketshare, it just—it’s a PC. It works on all of them, why would I do that?

"We are going to sell more Xbox One S units than we will sell Xbox One X units."

We’re going to give them choice. We are going to sell more Xbox One S units than we will sell Xbox One X units. There are lots of customers that are having their first 13th birthday, that are just going to get their first console. There’s a lot of people who aren’t going to make the leap to 4K, or they’re on a budget and they want to just play games. And we have an unbelievably good console in the Xbox One S.

I’m not trying to get people to move off of the Xbox One S and onto Xbox One X. I’m trying to offer choice. I think there’s a great value on the Xbox One S and I think for the people that care, that want the best platform where the best versions of games are going to be, that’s going to be Xbox One X. And then for the developer, our job is to take away all the difficulty in harnessing the power of those two systems so I can continue to make my Xbox One engine great and tap that power in Xbox One X very easily.


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Gamasutra New Game Online Indie game artists can soon seek funding and support from The Liberty Foundation

Portland-based designer and event organizer Andy McMillan (XOXO) has launched a new venture that may be of special interest to some devs: The Liberty Foundation, an organization that seeks to fund and support indie artists.

The Foundation's mission statement encompasses indie artists of all stripes, which notably includes those working on physical and digital games. 

It also includes real financial support: later this year the Foundation hopes to open applications for a number of fellowship awards, each of which includes unspecified funding for health insurance costs and $60,000 to cover living costs.

These fellowships won't tie the recipients to a specific project, but are instead meant to give them "a chance to step back and make decisions based on curiosity and long-term growth rather than dire and immediate need."

The Foundation also aims to support indie artists by publishing an online library of helpful resources, setting up a coaching program, and offering workshops on practical concerns like financial planning and business development.

Devs can keep tabs on the Foundation's work (or get involved with supporting it) via its new website. 


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Gamasutra New Game Online After winning $500M in lawsuit against Oculus, ZeniMax pushes for more

After winning an award of $500 million earlier this year in its lawsuit against Oculus VR, id Software owner ZeniMax Media was back in court on Tuesday to argue for more.

While the judge overseeing the case has so far declined to make a judgement, it's still interesting to see how the two parties are staking their place in this long-running legal battle over technology that's had a significant impact on the game industry. 

For its part, ZeniMax argued that Oculus should be barred (via court order) from selling its Rift VR headsets while they contain what it claims is stolen technology. Failing that, the company wants a ten-year deal for 20 percent of revenue from all sales of Rift hardware. ZeniMax also (according to Ars Technica) argued that it should be awarded at least another $500 million.

Meanwhile, Oculus argued against the proposed sales injunction/royalty scheme and disputed the verdict of the original case, pushing for either the verdict to be thrown out (it has already filed a motion to request a new trial) or for its damages to be reduced to $50 million. The company is also reportedly seeking damages from ZeniMax for failing to disclose key financial information requested during the trial. 

The judge evidently stated an intent to "resolve the heck out of [this] big, hairy fight" but has so far declined to issue a ruling, instead asking for more information and encouraging the representatives of both sides to reach a settlement.


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GAME PC CONSOLE Building A Digital Board Gaming Community With Longsword Tabletop Tactics

GAME PC CONSOLE Building A Digital Board Gaming Community With Longsword Tabletop Tactics

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Miniature wargaming is an expensive, time- and space-consuming hobby that requires you to find a group of like-minded individuals in close proximity to fully appreciate it. With Longsword Tabletop Tactics, Zero Sum Games is working on a digital solution that does away with the tactile sensation of moving little plastic dudes over lovingly-crafted battlefields, but aims to keep most of tabletop gaming's other joys intact.

The game lets you collect and build an army comprised of miniature champions, spells, equipment, and structures. You can then customize the appearance of your army and enter it into battle on a hex-based tabletop battlefield against online opponents.

While the game's online component is going to be its meat and potatoes, there will also be story-driven solo and cooperative modules for you to enjoy and to try out new unit combinations and builds. What's more, Longsword aims to be a fully modular framework for tabletop games, allowing for different settings and scenarios down the road. As such, the current fantasy setting is just the first step for the game.

A tablemaker with integrated Steam Workshop support lets you create new battlefields and even whole scenarios and easily share them with other players. This editor looks like it has a wealth of options and could actually turn out to be one of the game's main, uh, selling points.

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Longsword aims for a free-to-play business model, generating revenue through the sale of card packs, vanity items for your miniatures, and solo adventure packs. New units bought with in-game gold, which can be acquired by playing, are locked to your account, but cards bought with real money can be freely traded via the Steam Market.

Card packs will cost $2 or less, depending on how many you buy, and each one will contain 5 cards, with one guaranteed rare. Considering the option to trade unwanted cards, that sounds like a fair deal. Solo adventures will have a higher price tag - around $6.99 - but will offer you a single player experience with unlockable rewards, as well as a (tradable) set of cards relating to that adventure which you can also use in multiplayer.

I asked developer Daniel DiCicco about the nightmarish task of balancing 400 cards in over 7 unique factions - with more to come at a later date. The way that free to play games with collectible elements are structured, this could turn into a pay-to-win scenario all too quickly. However, DiCicco is confident that this won't be much of an issue:

"The first line of defense in balancing this game is to apply a base mana cost to every skill and ability in the game, and a mana cost associated with each stat point. So a champion with a powerful ability or a powerful base stat will always cost more to mana to deploy to the field relative to a weaker champion.

The second line of defense comes from measurement - what units or spells, which combinations of cards are proving the most effective? We can track which cards are deployed most often, which cards are most often associated with victory or defeat, and from this we can draw conclusions about what might be over-powered or under-powered.

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As far as avoiding a pay-to-win scenario, it's important to provide excellent starting decks to free players and to provide avenues to improve their collection through play. For people who invest real money into the game to speed their progress, they will absolutely have more options available when making a deck, but because of the tactical nature of Longsword, that's not necessarily an advantage.

Depending on community demand, we might also institute some "common" leagues, where your deck has some additional restrictions like requiring every card to be Common rarity. This is a nice way to let people compete on an absolutely even playing field."

Fair enough. DiCicco hopes that the game will draw a large enough community to keep it going and updated with new content for years to come. With a wide variety of different play sets, it might even draw in different types of tabletop gamers getting their fantasy/zombie/World War 2 board gaming fix. That may not happen right away, but the game is free and it looks incredibly promising.

Ultimately, Longsword's future will be shaped by its community. It has a very flexible engine and for now, Daniel DiCicco is not ruling out anything with where it could go. If you want to support the game, consider backing it on Kickstarter. For more information, you can visit the game's website or follow Daniel DiCicco on Twitter.


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Gamasutra New Game Online How Darkest Dungeon mirrors the real highs and lows of game development

This week, Red Hook Studios released the latest expansion to Darkest Dungeon, formerly known as The Crimson Court. With this new DLC, we wanted to take a chance to catch up with Chris Bourassa and Tyler Sigman, the two leads behind the game, to see what they’ve learned about game development now that they’ve shipped a whole new update for their Kickstarter/Early Access success. 

The answer, as it turns out, is a whole lot. While our conversation (which you can watch in full up above) ranged from everything to designing The Crimson Court to the original design goals of Darkest Dungeon, you may want to know these key facts that came from our conversation with Bourassa and Signam. 

Making a game about stress helped Sigman and Bourassa understand how stress affected their lives

As they put it, the in-game character barks that drive up the stress level with other party members is actually a mechanic that Sigman and Bourassa saw reflected among their game development team in production. According to them, they wound up putting a moratorium up on discussing stress as the project went on, instead electing to create a Slack icon based on the game’s stress icon to let other employees know when their mood wasn’t 100%. 

The game’s new character, the Flagellant, makes interesting use of the game’s death mechanic

Since we figured we have some RPG designers in the audience looking for interesting character ideas, we delved into the design goals behind the Flagellant, the new class of character introduced in The Crimson Court. Sigman in particular took time to explain how this brawler, inspired by self-flagellating Spanish monks, is meant to encourage players to bring him closer toward death instead of avoiding it, and why it proved worthwhile with players. 

How Red Hook Studios planned to sell a $10 DLC "with $15 worth of content"

Since most expansion packs are generally aimed at high-level, high skill players, it was unusual to see Red Hook Studios sell a separate campaign expansion that integrated with the core of the game, as opposed to appending itself at the end. Sigman and Bourassa explained their general intent behind “going back to the well” and why they think it’s a decent model for single-player DLC. 

If this was useful insight for you, be sure to follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel for more developer interviews, editor roundtables and gameplay commentary. 


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Game Reviews Pokemon Go Launches New Anti-Cheat Measures

Developer Niantic Labs continues to try to dissuade users from using any type of third-party add-ons for Pokemon Go. A new update has taken things a step further with suspected cheaters having their Pokemon directly affected.

Niantic warned of the impending change in a post on reddit:

"With the announcement of Raid Battles and the new battle features, we are staying true on our commitment to ensuring that Pokémon GO continues to be a fun and fair experience for all Trainers. Starting today, Pokémon caught using third-party services that circumvent normal gameplay will appear marked with a slash in the inventory and may not behave as expected. We are humbled by the excitement for all the new features we announced yesterday.This is one small part of our continued commitment to maintaining the integrity of our community and delivering an amazing Pokémon GO experience."

There weren't many details on exactly what types of third-party add-ons will be flagged, and Niantic said that they won't go into exact details of what "may not behave as expected" actually means. Likely the biggest culprits will be GPS spoofers and mappers.

Since the change, reports have started to surface on what these erratic Pokemon do. Pokemon caught using a third party app are getting "slashed" in the Pokemon inventory, meaning they can't be used. There are also reports that offending Pokemon turned in to the professor do not get any candy in return. Reddit user KERL0N from Romania posted this image, saying that some of his slashed Pokemon were caught back in early April. Some Pokemon can get the slash removed if you evolve them, but that is likely an oversight that could be fixed in a subsequent hot fix. 

Despite the crackdown, conversation continues among some players trying to find a way to best the system. Given Niantic's track record in hating anything that goes against its terms of service, you can bet they will continue modifying their anti-cheat measures to stay ahead of the cheaters.


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Game Reviews Rumor: Visceral's Star Wars Game Gets First Plot Details

We've known that Visceral Games has a Star Wars title in the works. Nothing was mentioned at EA E3 press conference about it, meaning it is still in a galaxy far, far away. However, a Star Wars fan site is reporting some details that could give us the first clue on what to expect.

MakingStarWars.net is reporting several plot details for Project Ragtag, the code name for the new game, and on the chance that some of these details are accurate, we will throw out a big SPOILER warning now. So you are warned. Also, you can intersperse the words supposedly and rumored through the next few paragraphs.

The game will be set between the time of Star Wars IV: A New Hope and Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. Writer Todd Stashwick (12 Monkeys) is penning the story along with Visceral's Amy Hennig. The main character is a shady individual named Dodger who had been at home on Alderaan. He got the nickname when he avoided military service with the Imperial army. Once Alderaan and the Death Star are destroyed, Dodger ends up doing work for Jabba the Hutt and the Hutt criminal underground. He also finds he is wanted by the Empire and is on a known "survivors list" as the Empire sweeps through the outer rim hunting for the rebel elements responsible for the Death Star's destruction.

In his time working for Jabba, Dodger is saving money to buy his way off the list, but being part of the underground gets him access to various information about the Empire's plans, causing him to rethink his past and confront the destruction of his home world, and forcing him into an unlikely alliance with the rebels.

We won't steal all the thunder from the article, where you can read more on Dodger's abilities and weapons. While these reports could be true now, the development of any game in its early stages is very fluid and things could change drastically before we even make it to an official announcement. The game isn't set for release until sometime later next year, and there is the specter of Star Wars 1313 looming in the background.

Visceral Games has a strong track record, with games like Dead Space under its belt. It also is home to developers Hennig, who is also getting collaboration from Kim Swift and Jade Raymond, all of whom know a thing or two about making quality games. Raymond said around this time last year that "the team at Visceral Games is forging ahead into an exciting phase of development. Seeing Amy Hennig lead this team through the creative process has been incredible. She is a rare breed of storyteller, and she’s collaborating with the creative leaders at Lucasfilm to tell a new, authentic Star Wars story."

Suffice it to say, take this with more than a grain of salt, but if true, it sounds pretty interesting


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Gamasutra New Game Online Video: A lawyer's guide to practical contract law for indie devs

There are some things you should know before you sign a contract, but you probably missed them if you're an indie developer -- your job is to make games, after all, not parse legal documents. 

That's why games lawyer Chris Reid returned to GDC 2017 to deliver a practical talk on what every indie dev should know about contracts.

Intellectual property, privacy, licensing, distribution and almost every legal issue important to developers is handled with a contract. With that in mind, Reid covered the five contracts every indie needs to understand: contractor agreements, publishing agreements, game development agreements, NDAs and EULAs.

For each type of contract, he described when it comes up, why it matters, and what terms to include and avoid. 

It was an incredibly useful talk, so don't miss your chance to now  watch it for free over on the official GDC YouTube channel!

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault and its new YouTube channel offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent Game Developers Conference events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers.

Those who purchased All Access passes to recent events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC Next already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription via a GDC Vault subscription page. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company by contacting staff via the GDC Vault group subscription page. Finally, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault technical support.

Gamasutra and GDC are sibling organizations under parent UBM Americas


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Gamasutra New Game Online The development-side benefits of creating an E3 demo

"You know, it's really not even about the marketing. It's about the development process for the game itself."

- Days Gone creative director John Garvin on how creating the E3 demo helped the team workshop encounters.

Sony Bend Studio’s Days Gone was one of the many games showcased during Sony’s E3 press conference last week, but notably was on of the few titles at the show to receive more than a just a trailer.

Now, speaking to Kotaku, Days Gone creative director John Garvin notes that creating the demo shown at the show was more than just marketing; it actually helped the team determine how well certain systems worked in the game.

The development benefits of creating a polished demo aren’t something exclusive to major titles showcased at E3, however. In the interview, Garvin explains how even the process of creating a demo can help a team zero in on what works and what doesn’t before it’s too late in the development process for major changes.

“One of our goals was to not do stuff specifically for the demo—we wanted to make it real," said Garvin. "So everything we were doing was going to be part of the actual game. We were polishing stuff that hadn’t been polished, and that’s what took most of the time.”

In the case of Days Gone, creating a demo in the span of three months offered the development team a way to spend time polishing certain features and let them determine which elements worked, should be left behind, or needed more attention in development.

“You don’t want to put too much polish into an ambush event if it turns out to not be fun,” he explains. “So we go through this whole set of focus testing both internally and externally and then say, ‘OK, this is working really well; this is the kind of thing we need to do more of.’ And once we get to that stage, then we polish it. Because otherwise you’re tossing work that’s expensive. So we don’t wanna do that.”

The rest of that conversation, as well as the full Kotaku Splitscreen episode, can be found over on Kotaku.


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