Don’t Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

United Front Games, best known for their atmospheric Hong Kong city brawler Sleeping Dogs (2012), is rumoured to be closing down.

The weight of this rumour is not slight, and deserves all the extra attention we can bring to it – true or not, at this point in time we don’t yet know for sure – because, once again, the string of events that led us here reads like yet another example of Konami-like profound executive failure.


But, to start from a beginning. According to United Front producer Dan Sochan, Sleeping Dogs – which never quite lived down its reputation as a True Crime game – actually started out as the original game Black Lotus, which was then subsequently bought and slated by Activision to be the next part of their True Crime game series as True Crime: Hong Kong. After the publisher lost faith in the game’s market prospects, with Activision’s Eric Hirshberg noting in 2011 that “The finished product was not going to be at the top of that genre,”1 it was ultimately poached (sans the True Crime moniker) from Activision by Square Enix, who would then release the game as Sleeping Dogs in 2012.2 (more…)

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A Post About a Blog: Edmund McMillen

Alert, alert! @EdmundMcMillenn has recently opened up a new Tumblr dev blog for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.

That ends the newsworthy portion of this post; certainly, the opening of the Tumblr is major news to any and all Isaac buffs (like myself! I am your Golden God!), as McMillen has promised a weekly stream of teasers from the forthcoming Nicalis remake: videos, gifs, screenshots, information, and music. Diptera Sonata, below, won me over very quickly:

The main thing that I’d like to draw attention to, however, is McMillen’s personal Tumblr, which is now largely a domain for nigh-daily Q&A for fans. McMillen’s answers are astonishingly open, honest, and gripping, and recommended reading for anyone interested in the making of art and video games.

I’ll let one of the entries do the talking:

i do enjoy answering questions that might help people, i know i could have used some advice when i was younger so i usually answer those. i think its important when being in the public eye to put as much as you can out there so people get a better idea of you as a whole person, instead of the caricature  the press/internets paint you out to be1

Here are some more past examples of the kind of answers that you can expect from McMillen. (more…)

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Raindrop and the Art of the Kickstarter Pitch

These days, almost all promising, mainstream-enough video game Kickstarters (and, to a lesser extent, Indiegogos) seem to attract enough traction and interest to succeed. Offhand, I am unable to recall one single notable project that would not have succeeded as of late, especially if self-cancelled projects are counted out of the equation.

Alas, one such project is now in great danger of going undeservedly unfunded. Early this month, I tweeted to Andy Kelly how I had – much like him – been absolutely awestruck by Raindrop‘s beautifully-designed Kickstarter campaign:

Their image-laden, equally professional website was no less impressive. According to its developers, Raindrop would be a “a surreal, environment driven, survival game that includes fully explorable levels with intuitive, complex puzzles”.

Below, you can watch their amazing pitch video:


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Top Five Left 4 Dead 1/2 Custom Campaigns

In August 2010, Chet Faliszek announced Valve would begin to rotate biweekly custom-made campaigns on the official servers of Left 4 Dead 2:

Every two weeks we are going to feature a new community campaign on our servers. We will feature one campaign at a time to make it is easier to find games. We’ll be keeping it featured for two weeks so people can familiarize themselves with the maps for competitive play.1

Though we wholeheartedly agreed with Valve on their choice to start their campaign off with 2 Evil Eyes, their subsequent picks have not been as bold as we had hoped, as the team has since gone on to pick Detour Ahead, City 17, Haunted Forest, Dead Before Dawn, One 4 Nine and I Hate Mountains. Now that the slow trickle of maps seems to have dried up – sans Cold Stream, of course, which is still a river running wild – we wanted to introduce to old and new players alike a list of five great Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 custom campaigns – that is, the best maps Valve is yet to highlight.

We applied a loose criteria to this list of Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 maps. First and foremost, each level was to be available for both games. Second, we expected proper playability on the “expert” difficulty setting. Third, all these levels enjoy a degree of popularity in the community, so as to make finding servers and players easier.  Fourth, we did somewhat consider artistic merits like overall look and feel, setpieces, setting and brushwork.

Fifth, we also sought out campaigns that would adhere to the gameplay standards and Left 4 Dead fiction as defined in practice by Valve. This meant no nasty surprises, traps, or major changes to campaign flow. The reason all the campaigns below have been tested and completed on the “expert” difficulty level is because we found that this particular setting best reveals the extent of balancing (or lack thereof) in terms of campaign length, pacing and structure.


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