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Editorial

Give Developers Creative Freedom

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Video games are a medium that gives players control over the way an interactive story unfolds. In reality, this power is an illusion crafted by developers with a creative vision. This means that developers should have the final say over all creative choices. However, with the continued rise of social media, the gaming community has become so vocal that their opinions on the games they play can no longer be ignored. No other creative medium offers its audience that much power over its creators. Looking at past games which have been updated due to player feedback offers some insight into whether developers should listen to or ignore them.

A lesser known example is that of Portal. On March 4, 2010, Valve included an update that added “valuable asset retrieval” and altered the ending. This update came three years after the initial release of Portal and was created following Valve’s announcement of a sequel. The original ending of Portal had the community questioning the developer as to how the story could possibly continue. This led Valve to update the ending to ease fans’ concern.

Recently, when the ‘Shadow Heritage’ DLC for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey disrespected the LGBT community and took away player agency, consumers were outraged. The subsequent online response urged the developer to reconsider how the content’s story concluded. The initial response from Ubisoft was that the DLC had “missed the mark.” The post explains the reasons behind the choice of ending in great detail but players continued to give negative feedback. Eventually, Ubisoft announced that it would change the ending of the DLC based on customer feedback.

In 2008, when Bethesda released Fallout 3, players and critics alike were frustrated that a game that featured an expansive open world would simply end and prevent players from returning to their adventures. Bethesda’s approach to resolving this issue was to create paid DLC that allowed play to resume after the final mission and experience a new selection of missions.

The most memorable case was when BioWare released the free Extended Cut for Mass Effect 3. The ending ignited fury among players, who took to the internet petitioning for the game to provide an alternate ending. Prior to releasing the Extended Cut for Mass Effect 3, Bioware co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka released a statement on the official BioWare blog stating that:

Our first instinct is to defend our work and point to the high ratings offered by critics – but out of respect to our fans, we need to accept the criticism and feedback with humility.

I believe passionately that games are an art form, and that the power of our medium flows from our audience, who are deeply involved in how the story unfolds, and who have the uncontested right to provide constructive criticism.”

The above statement is a much-needed reminder that games are works of art. They are subjective in nature, designed to entertain, and are visual delights like any other artistic medium. The only difference is that players can directly manipulate how they experience a game. This agency gives them a sense of ownership and, in turn, the right to change something they do not like about the game. Gamers are not always right but neither are developers.

Criticism and feedback are an important part of the creative process. However, no filmmaker, painter, or songwriter would change a masterpiece because someone complained. At some point, game creators deserve the right to ignore feedback just like any other artist.

In all the above cases, the studios listened and made a change to appease consumers. Some changes such as those to the ‘Shadow Heritage’ DLC are necessary as the content was disrespectful. Others, such as Mass Effect 3, Fallout 3, or Portal, were not entirely needed. Yes, the changes made enhanced the quality of the games, but demonstrated to the gaming community that negativity wins.

If negative commentary continues to dominate online forums, the developers will no longer have creative license. They will create games that jump on bandwagons and follow the same tried and tested formulas out of fear of retribution from players. Innovation and bold ideas will effectively cease, and in a culture like that, nobody wins.

What does a fitness instructor like to do with their spare time? Write about video games obviously. Amy has been obsessed with video games ever since watching her parents play Crash Bandicoot on PS1. All these years later, she is thrilled to get to share her thoughts on the games she loves so much.

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Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in May 2019

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May

May offers no respite from the big, bold games that have released so far in 2019, bringing with it a host of games almost certain to appeal to gamers of every stripe.

Close to the Sun

Release Date: May 2, 2019
Platforms: PC, consoles later in the year

May’s first major release may also be its most intriguing. Close to the Sun has regularly attracted comparisons to BioShock for its art style and premise, though the relationship between the two titles is, at best, spiritual.

Players take the role of journalist Rose Archer as she steps aboard Nikola Tesla’s ship, the Helios in 1897. Like Andrew Ryan before him (or after him, depending on perspective), Tesla has created a microcosm in which scientific freedom is unrestricted, with disastrous outcomes. Rose’s first impression is of a quarantine sign at the entrance to a still, dead ship, but she presses on regardless in search of her lost sister.

With Close to the Sun, developer Storm in a Teacup aims to provide an intense horror experience. The Helios holds none of BioShock’s shotguns or Plasmids. Instead, players have no means to defend themselves, with gameplay focusing on hiding from and escaping the threats on board.

Check out OnlySP’s final review of the game here.

RAGE 2

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

For anyone to whom the slow, meditative approach does not appeal, Bethesda is busting out the big guns with the long-awaited, little-expected sequel, RAGE 2.

This time around, id Software has tapped Just Cause and Mad Max developer Avalanche Studios for assistance in developing an open-world game. The result, if the trailers are any indication, is a breakneck, neon-fuelled experience that focuses on insanity and ramps up all the unique aspects of the earlier game.

One focal point of development has been ensuring the interconnectedness of the game’s structure, and the teams have promised a greater focus on narrative this time around. Perhaps in keeping with that, RAGE 2 is being distanced from its predecessor, taking place 30 years later with a new protagonist and a whole new story, though some callbacks will be present.

Although id’s legendary first-person gunplay is a driving force throughout the game, it will be supplemented by some light RPG elements, robust vehicular combat, and post launch challenges and support (though the developers deny that RAGE 2 is designed with a games-as-a-service model in mind).

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Out on the same day as RAGE 2 is the vastly different A Plague Tale: Innocence. A historical adventure, the game challenges players with overcoming obstacles with brains rather than brawn.

Players become Amicia, an orphan girl struggling to survive in a plague-infested medieval France while also keeping her younger brother safe. With the landscape rife with rats and members of The Inquisition, one of the core tenets of gameplay is reportedly the need to use these threats against each other. As such, though Amicia has a sling to use, the gameplay is designed more as survival puzzles than combat ones.

Developer Asobo Studio is not a household name, though it has a lengthy history of adaptations and support on major titles, including Quantum Break and The Crew 2. Furthermore, even though A Plague Tale is yet to release, publisher Focus Home Interactive has displayed remarkable confidence in the project by extending its partnership with Asobo.

Honourable Mentions

Although RAGE 2 is the incontestable action-blockbuster of the month, gamers in search of another kind of frenetic may want to wait until May 21, when Curve Digital drops American Fugitive, which has a more than passing resemblance to the earliest Grand Theft Auto games. Alternatively, PlayStation VR owners may want to look into Blood and Truth come May 28.

Sega also shines this month, dropping Team Sonic Racing on May 21 and Total War: Three Kingdoms two days later.

Anyone looking for an RPG has indie’s answer to The Outer Worlds, Within the Cosmos, to look out for on May 30, while those looking for slower stories get the latest episode of Life is Strange 2 on May 9, Observation on May 21, and the fjord-noir Draugen at a yet unspecified date.

Have we forgotten anything that you’re excited for? Let us know down below or on our Discord server.

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