E3 in-depth
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If the entire game-playing populace of the world was as enthusiastic about Pikmin as Miyamoto, it would probably be the best-selling game franchise of all time

Pikmin 3: Little plants in the shadows of giants

Pikmin has always been a strange series to pursue as a major tentpole franchise. It's a busy game, with lots of moving pieces — both on a mechanical and visual level. It's a deeply, surprisingly complex strategy game, a genre that Nintendo's not especially well-known for, and a genre that its casual-leaning audience doesn't have much crossover interest in. Despite those assumptions, Pikmin has a huge and devout fanship that's been waiting on its next installment since Pikmin 2, which was released nearly a decade ago. Pikmin 3 was first announced in 2008 Shigeru Miyamoto is among that fanbase. In an interview with Polygon, Nintendo of America's Bill Trinen — who translated for Miyamoto — said Pikmin 3 was one of Miyamoto's favorite games that he's ever created. So why has he kept...
E3 in-depth
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Sucker Punch aims high with an ambitious superhero story about real-world issues.

Superpowers and meaning in Infamous: Second Son

Brian Fleming has been with Sucker Punch since it was founded in 1997. He's helped pull the company through its toughest moments. If anyone is able to recognize an important time for the developer, it's him. And E3 2013 is an important time. "This is the first time in seven years that we've had an E3 that mattered," Fleming says. "Through the past console generation, Sucker Punch has only ever had a trailer or a small demo. "Infamous 1 and 2 weren't going to ship for a year after E3." But this year Fleming and crew are leading the charge on showcasing Sony's powerful new PlayStation 4 hardware. Their latest superhero game, Infamous: Second Son, is less than a year away, and it's one of the most exciting next-gen demos on display — nearly as exciting as Sucker Punch's promises for...
E3 in-depth
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Dying Light may look familiar, but it's not the same old game.

Dying Light: Techland finds life after Dead Island

Techland international brand manager Blazej Krakowiak is passionate about zombies. He has a massive list of books and movies that the studio draws on for inspiration – from The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later all the way to George Romero’s classic original zombie flicks. These sources are all variations on the same general zombie mythos, but they cover a wide variety of tones and styles. And that's why Techland feels comfortable starting work on its second zombie IP. "We are trying to look at the zombie genre as this broad pop culture phenomenon," Krakowiak says. “We think this is where the strength is: It’s not just one specific thing. You can bring more ideas into it." Compared to the chaotic hack-and-slash nature of Techland’s previous work with the Dead Island games, Dying...
E3 2013
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How Massive Entertainment is proving itself with a hugely ambitious next-gen project.

The Division: A Massive step forward

During Ubisoft's E3 press event earlier this week, one surprise reveal caught everyone's eye. After a slew of trailers depicting previously announced games — most based on existing properties — The Division, an open world online role-playing game based in a ravaged post-pandemic New York City, finally made its debut. The teaser was dark, heavy on exposition and revealed to be a brand new Tom Clancy property. The moment was an incredible emotional release for the team at Massive Entertainment — based in Malmo, Sweden — which has been working on the game in secrecy for more than a year and a half. "They actually stayed up in Sweden, and had a party at 1 a.m. [Malmo time] for the Ubisoft conference," Game Director Ryan Barnard told Polygon following the announcement. "They had drinks...
E3 in-depth
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Polygon talks with the showcase of indies launching on PS4 to shed some light on how Sony intends to grow the next crop of smash indie hits.

The Indie Eight: Polygon talks with the showcase indies launching on PS4

There they stood, shoulder to shoulder across the wide semicircle of high definition screens at Sony's E3 press conference. Streamed live to the world from the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, the presentation showed eight indie developers demonstrating their games live while a crowd of journalists and enthusiasts cheered them on. It was a scene fit to make any of their mothers cry. But it was also a table set to entice a community of gamers who, over this eight-year console cycle, have grown ever hungrier for new, exotic flavors of indie to devour. The vignette in Sony's nearly two-hour long presentation was a broadside blast at the opposition, Microsoft and Nintendo. Here stood the tiniest studios, two and three-man teams, along with established indie developers. Here stood...
E3 in-depth
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We track MachineGames' path from working at Starbreeze to forming a new studio to creating a new Wolfenstein.

The team reviving Wolfenstein

In mid-2009, seven Starbreeze Studios veterans quit. After struggling through the cancelation of a Jason Bourne movie game tie-in, a long-in-development reboot of Electronic Arts' Syndicate and a team that had grown to over 100 people, they wanted a fresh start. "We sort of grew into a situation at Starbreeze where we felt like we didn't have the opportunity to make really great games," says former art director Jens Matthies. So they formed a new team, MachineGames, hoping to find the freedom and control that had slipped away. By their admission, though, they wouldn't be able to make a game as seven people — or especially so as five, after Starbreeze and MachineGames Founder Magnus Högdahl left for personal reasons along with Technology Director Michael Wynne. For the kind of...
E3 in-depth
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Microsoft and Double Helix explain how Double Helix got the job and how the free to play business model works.

Defending Killer Instinct

Earlier this week, Microsoft answered fan cries and online petitions by announcing Killer Instinct, a reboot of Rare's '90s fighting franchise for Xbox One. Then came the flood of community questions. Why isn't Rare making it? Why did Microsoft hire a developer with a rocky track record? Why is it free to play? Or is it, really? A year earlier, this was just an idea in Microsoft Executive Producer Mark Coates' head. "It began as a passion project by a number of members of Microsoft internally," says Microsoft Producer Torrin Rettig. It was far from the first time anyone had floated the Killer Instinct name since Microsoft acquired the license 11 years ago — Robomodo's Josh Tsui tweeted this week, for instance, that he pitched the idea numerous times. But with a new console...
E3 in-depth
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Quantum Break brings binge viewing to video games

Unpacking the Quantum Break elevator pitch is its own meta-game. Its creators, Remedy Entertainment, describe Quantum Break as (inhale) a transmedia action-shooter video game and television hybrid that mashes together real world actors and traditional filmmaking with computer graphics and virtual settings in the same fictional universe. In layman's terms, Quantum Break is one of those wildly ambitious projects that would be prohibitively expensive were it not funded by a billion dollar corporation determined to get people excited about its upcoming entertainment hardware, in this case Microsoft's Xbox One. Set in the fictional Northeastern U.S. Riverport University, the story of Quantum Break follows the people who were in the presence of a time-travel experiment gone wrong —...
E3 in-depth
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A deep look at the first game in a planned multi-part series from the creators of the Halo universe.

Bungie unveils its Destiny

It's a game of superlatives. The studio's biggest game. Its longest development cycle. The first with new publishing partner Activision. It will also be the first game many at the studio have made that isn't Halo. Imagine having a ten year career in game development and knowing nothing but Halo. Some of these people can say that, or at least they could until now. They could also say they hadn't designed for anything but a Microsoft console in over ten years. This game will be Bungie's first multi-platform title since Oni, and its first new IP game since regaining its independence in 2007. For Bungie, this latest game represents the culmination of decades of growth and years of hard work. It is Bungie's best — and possibly only — chance at shedding the mantle of "former Halo...
E3 2013
27 Comments
How Post-it notes and a continual sense of wonder help Nintendo keep Mario interesting.

Super Mario 3D World: Keeping Mario weird

Super Mario games have always been weird. It's easy to point to the obvious things: It's a series about a little dude who travels via plumbing, jumps on angry turtles and has a decades-long rivalry with a pissed-off dinosaur. But it's the little details that really drive home Mario's surreal nature: the bizarre terrain, the wacky physics, the way putting on a costume imbues magical powers. The series has remained vital for close to 30 years because these elements are so playfully integrated with top-level design and, typically, a healthy balance of nostalgia and brand new bits of gameplay. What's the secret behind the magic? Post-it notes. "The first thing we do is decide on a concept for a stage that really drives how a player will be experiencing it," says Nintendo...
E3 in-depth
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Respawn emerges from its turbulent past to steal the show at this year's E3.

Titanfall: Respawn's 'second skin'

Respawn is ready to move on. There’s a palpable hesitance in Respawn’s staff to talk much about the event — the point more than three years ago when Respawn founders Vince Zampella and the since-retired Jason West were fired by Activision from their last studio, Infinity Ward, later taking dozens of their former employees with them. It was an acrimonious split that chased Activision and the nascent Respawn for years as both parties sought to disentangle themselves from complicated legal agreements, complaints and contractual disputes. Even the driest news coverage painted these events as a tiring ordeal, and Respawn has clearly grown weary of talking about them. "Our mantra is a brand new start,” said Joel Emslie, one of Respawn’s artists. But discussing the past is the only...
E3 in-depth
28 Comments
Rocksteady set the scene for the Batman: Arkham series, but WB Montreal and Armature Studio are splitting responsibility on where it goes from here.

A tale of two Batmen: the dueling philosophies of WB Montreal and Armature Studio

“Fans have a right to be skeptical.” WB Montreal creative director Eric Holmes has just finished an interview with Polygon, but says he wished he had said that last sentence on camera. He's responding to the concerns that some fans have over whether Batman: Arkham Origins will be able to live up to the high bar set by two previous Arkham games from developer Rocksteady. Holmes understands the source of those concerns, but he believes in his studio's approach: emulation. "We're trying to be true to it,” Holmes says. "We really respect what [Rocksteady is] doing. The worst thing you could do would be to come in and try to reinvent the wheel. We're trying to be true to why people love those previous games and add new things on top of it — not substitute or replace or ultimately...
E3 in-depth
20 Comments
After a public collapse and a hard-earned recovery, Infinity Ward is back with Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Call of Duty: Ghosts: The Return of Infinity Ward

It starts with a cork board. That is the place and moment of conception of a Call of Duty game at developer Infinity Ward: a blank slate to which hundreds of ideas — taking the form of index cards, scribbles of Sharpie ink and thoughts — are pinned. The hundred or so employees at Infinity Ward all get a crack at designing the studio's next game. Sometimes, executive producer Mark Rubin says, the ideas they propose are as simple as "It would be cool to add this weapon to the game." Sometimes it will be an explosive action set piece or a new technical feature the audio team has been trying desperately to get into the Call of Duty engine. Other times it's the addition of a dog who serves as your teammate and ally, and a playable character. "It's a free-for-all, basically," says...
E3 in-depth
6 Comments
Harmonix brings the magic of the classic Disney film to Xbox One.

Fantasia Lets You Make the Music

Three years ago, at GDC in San Francisco, members of music game maker Harmonix sat in a meeting room with a team from the Walt Disney Company. Meetings like this happen all the time. They only rarely lead to actual games. This meeting, however, would not only lead to a game, but to something its creators believe could be much more. When the developers from Harmonix entered the room, they thought they were being asked to make a version of one of their popular music games, but featuring Disney characters. Rock Band Hannah Montana, perhaps. Duck Central. Cars Hero. What they were there for, however, was none of that. And when they found out what it was it blew their minds. "When we actually mentioned to Harmonix what the game was, it was almost like the room went silent," says...
E3 in-depth
37 Comments
The studio behind Far Cry and Crysis opens up about the development history behind its next big thing.

Ryse: Son of Rome's seven-year road to E3

Six weeks ago, Cevat Yerli sent his wife and kids on a vacation to France. He wasn't going to be any use to them for a month and a half, he figured, with crunch time that would keep him at the office until 11 or 12 p.m. — or, on some days, until 5 a.m. Growing a beard, stressing out and making a video game. As CEO, president and founder of Crytek, Yerli currently oversees six games, a company and a technology engine from his office in Frankfurt. But for the past month and a half, he's been head down on what he says has been his studio's "most challenging," "most expensive" and "most demanding" title to make, Ryse: Son of Rome. Meeting with project directors, reviewing builds and giving feedback. "It's a little bit of a dictatorship right now," he laughs, while sitting in a Crytek...
E3 in-depth
23 Comments
Chicago's Wargaming West is bringing free-to-play to the Xbox 360.

World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition: Wargaming's phenomenon comes to the console

Chicago's Wargaming West is producing a version of the wildly successful free-to-play phenomenon World of Tanks for the Xbox 360. Like the PC version that came before, World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition puts players in command of WWII-period armored vehicles, from nimble scout tanks to large-caliber indirect-fire artillery. It borrows heavily from MMO games and first person shooters to create gripping tactical battles. The game has thrived over the past three years due in part to its rich clan structure, where teams duke it out across multiple maps on multiple fronts. American and German tanks will take the field in an open beta scheduled to begin soon after E3. That beta will be carefully-scaled for release on the Xbox Live Marketplace. When the game goes live world-wide later in...
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