Alex Mosolov is showing me a picture, and for a good few moments I don't really understand. There are well over a hundred spaceships, all spread across one white plane, all of differing sizes and construction. Concept art, maybe? Not even slightly. "That is all of the ships in one of the mod compilations. Numerous high quality mods are either being worked on, or are more or less finished."
It's helped spawn Hotline Miami and Lone Surivor - welcome to indie gaming's most powerful forum.
Always online is just one outcome of the unwelcome intrusiveness of modern games.
When you're terrified of the dark, a forest fire has a beauty. When you're surrounded by an inferno and the night is lit up with an aggressive combustion, rampaging through your carefully planted wall of trees, you almost feel safe, comforted by the warmth and this blazing warning to all the things that go bump in the night.
It starts with desperation. Alone in some lost room in a research complex, empty cans littering the cluttered floor, each one another ration you've devoured, pushing you closer to starvation. Pick them up; they'll come in handy. Then leave, because there's nothing left here, especially not safety. You push aside the debris that was so hastily used to create a barricade. You clutch your 9mm pistol in your hand, and you venture out into the corridors.
Bioshock will never really be remembered for its high concept ideas or the way it plays around with the lack of autonomy within an FPS. The legacy is Andrew Ryan, and Rapture, and everything that a game can do to bring to life the failed dream of a larger-than-life figure. It'll be remembered for that scene with the golf club, and for Sander Cohen and Fort Frolic. Bioshock 2 had Sofia Lamb and the Big Sister, and an even more dilapidated Rapture falling apart at the seams. As high-falutin' as Bioshock gets, it's only as strong as its antagonists.
SPOILER WARNING: Be warned - this week's soapbox contains spoilers for the ending of Walking Dead, so please don't read on unless you've played through Telltale's game in its entirety, or unless you really, really want the whole thing RUINED for yourself.
Right from the off, Miner Wars 2081 is confused. (It's confusing, too, but we'll get to that.) Trapped in the middle of a deep space mining facility under attack by the Russian armada, you're surrounded by HUD elements informing you that the surrounding asteroid walls are rich in minerals. It's the first thing you see - and it's immediately irrelevant. You're supposed to be escaping and instead you're being distracted with nitrogen nodules.
Music can become grounded, plucked out of the air and tied to a place. It can be as recognisable as a landmark, and it can dredge up memory and inspire nostalgia just as easily as a photo. Music can permeate a space, until the sight of it conjures up the tune just as clearly as if it was being played right next to your ear. Fract OSC has a sense of place that is mired in its music, but it's gone a step further and completely erased the lines separating the two.
In theory, on paper, in your mind, or in just about any space that isn't the physical, real world, Natural Selection 2 is a gleaming beacon of what can happen when people shrug off the shackles of just one genre and let something new and interesting gestate in their minds for a few years. It blends real-time strategy and first-person shooting in a multiplayer game that takes the best of both worlds and runs with them. It's something very special. But that special something is often ruined by that most unpredictable of things - human beings.
It's a murder simulator, right? IO is, quite literally, simulating murder, albeit of the professional variety. But Agent 47 isn't some kind-faced Jean Reno with a plucky Natalie Portman by his side. There are no redeeming features to the bald, bar-coded clone, and yet we still thrill to be placed a few feet behind his head. Disguising, strangling, sneaking and blasting our way through mostly civilian locations to kill whoever has the bounty on their head, along with a sizable handful of their personal entourage.
The typical game development studio will get about halfway through a game in two years. They'd be just about at the stage of a working build, burgeoning with bugs and still riddled with placeholder art. Two years is a lot of time, and getting that far is a lot of work.
League of Legends maker Riot is set to take on the eSports big boys with the biggest prize pool in video game tournament history.
Wargame: European Escalation prioritises information over all else on its battlefield. Knowing where your enemy is, and what company they're keeping, is tantamount to victory - provided you know how to act on that information.
In a submerged world, the man with the oil is king. He is the one who controls the flow of a battle. In Unigine's game, making mad grabs for oil derricks is something that you absolutely have to do, and that it ties into the theme so neatly is admirable. You send out your units and they grab. Derricks, nodes, factories, helipads. It's all quite elegant. It just took me a little while to figure out why.
It's not about hate. It's more complicated than that. It's about bigotry, and misogyny, and the dangers of cultural traditionalism. It's about people, and what they do when they're put in an isolated environment over hundreds of years. Hate is a pretty small part of it, all told. The Analogue part, though? That's pretty spot on.
"Keep walking, asshole, before I shove this nightstick where the sun don't shine."
I had a friend who had synaesthesia. Sounds would form a iridescent fog over her vision, with different sounds creating different colours, and multiple sounds layering over one another; blue could be shot through with silver, or pockets of red would flare in a brown malaise. Most of the time, she said it was actually quite pleasant, as though she was seeing an extra layer to sound that was unique to her. Most of the time, it made her feel special.
Among the thousands of innocent civilians occupying Prototype's Manhattan, there are a few that have been singled out, the ominous big brother of that terrifying Lottery hand pointing a conspicuous finger at their heads.
Name: Quarbani Singh
For an area that's been blasted by radiation for the past twenty years, the sloping hills of the countryside around Chernobyl are impressively virile. The grasses have shifted from soft greens to muted browns, admittedly, but there's still a lot of vegetation, and, more worryingly, a lot of wildlife.
Consider the Boot. The Stalwart Companion of the Road. The Silent Sufferer of the Inevitable Sewer Level. Courageous Clinger of Ladder Rungs. Stoic, Sodden when Submerged. And yet, despite all these admirable feats, the Gracious Boot doesn't often get much of a look-in in games. Often, in fact, it won't even be rendered, its hard work all but ignored when you look downwards, only to find empty air between you and the floor.
I think that Terraria has a bottom.
The Earth's axis has stopped turning, and gravity is now something that's less of a given, more of a taken. Things are floating around and keeping anything in orbit, let alone on the surface, is a serious problem. Everything's in limbo: physical objects, time, the seasons. Without the axis spinning, the world's on an indefinite pause.
You weren't there, man. I had to leave them. There wasn't enough time for a rescue. I couldn't risk it. I'm sorry, but tough choices need to be made, sacrifices need to be sacrificed.
Shhh! Keep it down, would you? And don't read so loud, it's upsetting. Not to me, no. But to it. That big, angry, metaphorical eye sweeping the galaxy, just waiting for an excuse to get up off its arse and clean the insignificant smudge that is human existence off the windscreen of its war machine.
Freespace 2 was released in 1999, over a decade ago. It's an interesting case because, for one, it's never been surpassed. Since then, we've had the odd Freelancer, or X3, but they've not touched on the same high notes, and the things they've done well aren't the things Freespace 2 even attempted. It's peerless, which means it's in a bit of a vacuum when it comes to aging. Or would be, if things had remained the same. But I'll get to that.