Magic 2015 lead designer says Duels of the Planeswalkers is a yearly franchise 'like FIFA or Madden'

Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015 has had a troubled launch from the perspective of many fans. But whatever problems he'll admit to, lead designer Nick Davidson also adamantly defends the game: "I think it is the best Magic experience that you're going to get at that price point pretty much in history."Davidson wants to clear up some of the misconceptions surrounding the latest Duels of the Planeswalker release and reveal some missing features that could be making a return. He begins by clarifying the different approaches Wizards of the Coast takes with Duels versus Magic: The Gathering Online. "Magic Online is trying to really replicate the tournament environment and be 100 percent authentic to all the cards and formats that exist," Davidson says. "Duels of the...

Moga mobile game controller coming to Kindle Fire and Windows Mobile, iOS if it ever can, developer says

The Moga mobile game controllers for smartphones and tablets are expanding beyond Android and headed to Kindle Fire and Windows Phone, the device's developer announced today. At GDC, we caught up with J.J. Richards, Moga's divisional vice president, to get our hands on several implementations of the devices and its accompanying software, including the Kindle Fire, and were able to see it running on a Windows Phone. Richards admitted that Moga's position as a hardware add-on is a bit of a tough sell. "You go up to a person on the street and say, 'Hey! You want a controller for your mobile phone?'" Richards characterized the man on the street's response by snoring. The company believes it can change that perception if it can get devices paired with quality games into consumers'...

Cut the Rope developers expanding with four new games this year, focusing on quality over quantity

When Cut the Rope launched for iOS in 2010, developer Zeptolab had exactly two employees: twin brothers Efim and Semyon Voinov.Today, the Moscow-based developer has nearly 60 employees spanning three continents. Cut the Rope is available on multiple platforms, and they told Polygon that it recently passed the 300 million download mark. By the end of the year, Zeptolab plans on releasing four new games, beginning with a new Cut the Rope-related game in April. Polygon spoke to the brothers Voinov at GDC 2013 about the studio's past, future and how they've coped with a magnitude of success they didn't foresee by staying focused. "Our plan is to release four games this year," Semyon said. "Some of them are related to Cut the Rope, and some of them are completely different. We wanted to...

Blizzard's Rob Pardo on Hearthstone, a 'stepping stone' to more experimental games

Blizzard teased its announcement at PAX East this year as "a little something, different from our other games." On Friday, the developer behind massive titles like World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 announced a new game that is certainly different than its more familiar titles; Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a free-to-play collectible card game spanning Blizzard's usual Windows and Mac OS grounds but also extending to the mobile world, targeting Apple's iPad."It's definitely a different sort of game for us at Blizzard," Blizzard's chief creative officer Rob Pardo said. "We've been doing these really huge games for quite a long time, kind of those summer blockbuster sort of games, and it's really left a lot of ideas on the table that we wished we could do. "We wanted to...

Tomb Raider multiplayer extends the single-player experience, says Eidos Montreal producer

Late last month, the presence of a multiplayer mode in Square Enix's upcoming Tomb Raider reboot was announced by Official Xbox Magazine. At CES today, we had a chance to play it and speak with Joe Khoury, producer at Eidos Montreal, where a team of 40 worked on the mode alongside the game's main developer, the Bay Area-located Crystal Dynamics. "The project basically came to light two years ago," Khoury told Polygon. "Tomb Raider as a reboot had already been in existence. Crystal [Dynamics] had really wanted to do a multiplayer component but they didn't want to fragment their team so they looked at other opportunities within Square Enix and Eidos Montreal — first of all there's a big pool of talent in Montreal — and they said that if we wanted to do this correctly, a fully dedicated...

Valve's Greg Coomer talks Big Picture and the challenge of the Steam Box

We stopped by Valve's CES booth this morning and spoke with Greg Coomer, product designer at Valve and one of the earliest champions of Steam's recently launched Big Picture mode, which reformats the PC gaming platform with a living room-appropriate 10-foot UI. With its part of the software problem solved, Valve is now meeting with hardware developers and has brought "multiple" hardware prototypes to the show, including the Xi3 system unveiled yesterday. "We're surprised that there aren't more PC manufacturers who are addressing the combination of form factor, meaning size, and things like noise and industrial design that seems appropriate for the living room," Coomer told Polygon. "And I think that maybe there's a situation in the industry where that got tried a number of times in the...

Creating twisting towns in the new SimCity

The new SimCity's road-building tool will allow players to set down roads in almost any configuration, filling in connecting structures like bridges and tunnels automatically and guiding players like their own personal civil engineer. "It all started with a desire to build cities that weren't on grids," SimCity creative director Ocean Quigley told Polygon. "It was the initial, fundamental decision to allow players to build cities with more free-form shapes. And once you make that decision, you need to change your fundamental architecture - including how you define roads."For the first time in a SimCity game roads and paths are 3D objects. In previous titles, roads were 2D paths, preventing players from building roads crossing under a bridge or having bridges intersecting. "It's more...

Warren Spector on Epic Mickey 2, developing for Wii U and making a better Marvel game

Somewhere in Disney's archives of the abandoned and forgotten, the ideas that never made it to screen, there is a room containing rejected Tinker Bells. And it haunts Warren Spector's waking hours. "While we were going through the archives we found all these rejected Tinker Bell designs," Spector told Polygon. "Like: oh my god. There's a gothic one from the '40s, a sexy nymph Tinker Bell, one that looks like a 1940s actress, all sorts of rejected Tinker Bells. I can't shake this idea of there being an area in Wasteland where a little enclave of bitter, resentful Tinker Bells live. But she's a major franchise now, so that's why I couldn't include it in Epic Mickey 2." Spector also wanted to include an Alice in Wonderland-themed area, but at the time Tim Burton was making his...

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale's core difference to Super Smash Bros. is in the battle itself

The comparison was always inevitable. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale brings together key characters from PlayStation franchises and pits them against each other in a battle arena. Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series does the same thing but with Nintendo characters. Superbot, the developers behind All-Stars, is well aware of these comparisons. According to the game's director, Omar Kendall, this is exactly where the similarities end. Kendall, who has worked on fighting games like the UFC series, says the similarities between the two games are superficial and the differences lie in the core gameplay mechanics. "The biggest difference is Super Smash Bros. is a game about knocking people off a level, and we don't really have that," Kendall tells Polygon. "At the heart of PlayStation...

Medal of Honor: Warfighter buddy system inspired by Navy SEALs

Medal of Honor: War Fighter's buddy system was inspired the sense of brotherhood between the Tier 1 operators in the Navy SEAL, according to Danger Close Games' director of multiplayer, Kristoffer "Hoffe" Bergqvist. Speaking in an interview with Polygon, Bergqvist said that where Medal of Honor: Warfighter's campaign mode is based on the experience of the Tier 1 operators, the multiplayer is based on the same foundation but also has the players working in pairs. "The Navy SEAL has a buddy system where they pair up with another soldier and they work so closely together that they developer this kind of sixth sense for where the other guy is, and we wanted to emulate that in our game," he says. "The first time we saw this was when we took two Navy SEALs to the mo-cap (motion capture)...

Ken Levine wrote the script for Big Daddy and Little Sister in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale

When a studio brings together more than 20 game characters from different IP owned by different studios around the world, it can be easy to lose track of the characters' origins and what they stand for. The team behind Sony's upcoming PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale were careful to avoid that, according to SuperBot's Omar Kendall. Speaking with Polygon, Kendall said that it was very important for the developers behind PlayStation All-Stars to respect every character that joined their roster. The studio even had Irrational Games' co-founder, Ken Levine, write the script for the Big Daddy and Little Sister characters from Bioshock who appear in the game. "We worked really closely with Irrational on the development and getting Big Daddy and Little Sister into the game," Kendall says....
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Ubisoft boss touts importance of Japanese marketplace

Alain Corre, executive director at Ubisoft, spent some time a few weeks back checking out the Tokyo Game Show, an event he personally attends each year. He's a lot more enthusiastic about the Japanese market than you'd think. "Just walking inside the show floor, I felt that the game market is changing very rapidly," Corre told Famitsu magazine in an interview published this week. "The fact that the population of people playing games is going up in this environment is something we can be really happy about. I also saw fans lining up to play Assassin's Creed III and I was really excited to see what they thought of the game. It's the biggest title in Ubisoft history, and I'm looking forward to it being a big success in Japan as well." The history of Western console games in Japan is not...
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