E3 2014

The Witness will have a story, but its puzzles will still teach without words

Jonathan Blow designed puzzles in The Witness to give players all the information they need without saying a word. Some of these puzzles are self-contained, with each next step evolving from rules set down with the first step. Some puzzles, however, require players to search back all the way to what they learned closer to the beginning of the game, compiling experiences to solve them. Each puzzle introduces an idea that will be needed to solve other puzzles throughout the world. Puzzles involve tracing a path through designs embedded on panels scattered throughout the game. Some puzzles may require looking through a web of broken branches to determine the correct tracing path, or knowing that black and white colored tiles must be separated. Later panel puzzles will be used to do more...


There and back again: the games returning to E3 this year

But seeing a game at E3 is no guarantee that you'll find it on retail shelves or in digital marketplaces the same year. Or, in some cases, the next. As games get bigger, development timelines get longer, and some games make more than one appearance at E3. Here are the games we've seen before, set to return to on stages and booths this week in Los Angeles. BAYONETTA 2 Bayonetta 2 has been around and unreleased for almost two years years. First revealed in September 2012, we learned last year at E3 that the Wii U exclusive is scheduled for a 2014 release with a two-player mode. We also went hands-on with the game at a pre-E3 event last year, so be sure to check out our impressions of Bayonetta 2, which is headed to Japan this summer. BELOW Microsoft and Capybara Games revealed...

E3 2014

At E3, indie games are set to sparkle

With hardware manufacturers like Sony and Microsoft falling over themselves to present hot indie games at their conferences as well as indie showcase initiatives like IndieCade, there has never been a better time to sample the best games created by small teams and individuals. It's impossible to do justice to the many indie games at E3, and those lurking at the perimeter, showing off their precious creations in rented suites, but here are just a few examples that are likely to garner attention and admiration in the days ahead. The Witness From Jonathan Blow, the maker of Braid, a PlayStation 4 console exclusive that delivers originality and charm. Players explore a lush island in first-person view, solving logic puzzles along the way. The Witness, ready to launch any time...


The Witness dev targeting 60 fps frame rate at 1080p on PS4

The Witness developer Thekla Inc. is aiming for the open-world puzzle game to run at 60 frames per second in 1080p on PlayStation 4, studio head Jonathan Blow on the PlayStation Blog today. "At launch on PS4, we're planning to render at 1080p and 60 frames per second," said Blow, adding that while The Witness hits those marks in many areas, it's going to take some more work to get the whole game up to par. Even though The Witness is a peaceful-looking first-person exploration game, there are no loading screens as players move around the game world; new areas are streamed in on the fly. Even elements in the distance are streamed at high detail, since the developers want to avoid pop-in. According to Blow, most of the island on which The Witness takes place is fully modeled right now,...


Analysis: Mobile games explosion comes with a price

This San Francisco confab was a bone dry business conference, heavy on analytics and light on E3-style wham-bam pyrotechnics. Judging from the various presentations this week, from the likes of King, SGN, Kongregate, Chillingo, Glu and Kabam, these guys are more in the business of stats than in games. Much was spoken here about ARPUs and DAUs, player acquisition and customer retention. Few industries in the world are quite as focused on analytics as mobile gaming. Every in-game action, every download, micro-purchase and social share is scrutinized. Which is kinda ironic when you think that, just a few years ago, this was the so-called "Wild West" of game creation, the place where free-shooting indies and bold innovators could take their chances, free from the trudging Powerpoint models...


Everything old is new, as Sony seeks to reinvent the past

Titles like Apotheon, Axiom Verge and Aztez (below) borrow so heavily from the games of the past that they are categorized according to their progenitors; 'Rogue-like' and 'Metroidvania' for example. Yet these showcases, like the one Microsoft held at GDC, are not about rehashing the ideas of the past. They are about picking up a lost evolutionary thread in game design. They are about completing the possibilities that these genres provide, possibilities that were long closed off by the commercial realities of the past few years, by limited technology and consumer taste. "You can look at a game and say, 'it's just an action-adventure or a it's just a platformer,'" said The Witness creator Jonathan Blow. "But there is a lot of un-mined material in these genres. As budgets got big they...


Let's put down the guns in virtual reality, and learn to pick up anything else

The modern virtual reality community was recharged when enthusiasts finally had VR hardware that was worth a damn, and now Sony is getting into the game. Oculus itself has been acquired for $2 billion in cash and stock. The promise of virtual reality is beginning to look a lot less virtual and much more like reality. The art of putting someone inside a game instead of watching things from a static position outside of the frame, through a two-dimensional screen, is still being perfected. Developers are still learning what they can do, and that’s an amazing thing. I have only one polite request: Let’s try, at least at first, to put down the guns. Violence isn't aspirational, it's filler There are new gun peripherals coming to virtual reality, and a demo my son was given of a new...


Check out Sony's list of PS4 games hitting in 2014, DriveClub is TBA

A post on the PlayStation Blog blog today by social media manager Sid Shuman corrals a list of the games headed PlayStation 4 in North America this year. The list is broken down into six categories, beginning with Out Now, which contains games already released. Spring releases include Child of Light, Sportsfriends and Watch Dogs. Summer releases include Destiny, Murdered: Soul Suspect and The Elder Scrolls Online. Fall's releases contain Dragon Age: Inquisition, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number and The Witness. This winter, games scheduled to hit PS4 count Assassin's Creed Unity, Guns of Icarus Online and Ray's the Dead (pictured above) among them. Games with release dates to be announced include Batman: Arkham Knight, Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor,...


How The Witness devs design to both imitate and iterate on life

Luis Antonio, senior 3D artist at independent developer Thekla, has an interesting approaching to artistic design. In a talk at GDC this morning, Antonio explained how the studio's tiny art team studied artworks of realism and real-world geography to make the visuals of Jonathan Blow's The Witness an extension of the exploration puzzle title's gameplay. Antonio explained Blow wanted to minimize the amount of noise players are exposed to; there is no ambient audio in any of the game's several environments. Additionally, the art must support and extend the gameplay principles — building on the puzzles created for each area — and the island environment must be based on real-world islands. On the subject of the latter, Antonio said the development team strove to create realistic physics...


The next generation of indies faces a tough fight

That's the view of Gone Home creator Steve Gaynor, speaking at DICE on Wednesday. Welcoming new developers and fresh ideas, he nonetheless warned that new indies could face a tougher time that his generation of creators, who have ridden "the first wave" of post-AAA dominance via opportunities presented by low cost development tools like Unity, powerful digital distribution agents such as Steam and hyper-connected social media. "When the first wave came out all they had to worry about was AAA," he said. "They had this proposition of something different that didn't cost $60 that people were saying was really cool. But the thing that is happening now is that those guys are making their follow-ups and those games are being marketed and perceived differently than the first wave, which were...

The Witness Releases
North America
  • PlayStation 4
    • Publisher Sony Computer Entertainment
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