Double Fine's Approach To Crunch And Labor

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Double Fine's Approach To Crunch And Labor

Double Fine founder Tim Schafer used to tell people he didn't have any regrets; he's been able to make all the things he wanted to make. But as he got older, his feelings changed. In his career, Schafer both participated in and encouraged brutal periods of crunch on various game development projects. Reflecting on it now, he says he has a lot of regrets about what he put his teams through.

"When it's just yourself, you can throw yourself against the task as hard as you can," Schafer says. "'All day and all night, I'm going to push this rock. Ahhh! I'm going to give it my all.' And then as I got more into a role where I was managing and designing and there were other people doing the gameplay programming stuff, now you're pushing on a soft person who's against the rock. So you can, like, squish them and kill them if you push too hard."

Mass Effect's Jennifer Hale And Courtenay Taylor On The Challenges Of Bringing Certain Characters To Life

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Mass Effect's Jennifer Hale And Courtenay Taylor On The Challenges Of Bringing Certain Characters To Life

With the Mass Effect Legendary Edition out now, so many seasoned fans are jumping back to board the Normandy once more to revisit familiar planets and say hello to old friends. More than that, however, newcomers to this beloved franchise are diving in for the first time, experiencing a new adventure, one that has touched so many lives throughout the years. With so many characters that have come to feel like family so many, what about the voices behind those friendly faces? We sat down with Jennifer Hale, who plays Commander Jane Shepard (among other roles) in the franchise, and Courtenay Taylor, who famously brought Jack to life, to learn a little more about the process behind the creation. We already knew it wasn't easy, but some of what we learned is good insight that applies to many aspects of life. 

Game Informer Staff Celebrate 5 Years of Overwatch

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Game Informer Staff Celebrate 5 Years of Overwatch

In a market full of class-based multiplayer games, Overwatch exploded onto the scene back in 2016 with a roster that demanded attention. Not only did each character fulfill a necessary team role, but each of them was visually distinct from the last. Players fell in love with Mei's charm, chastised Bastion and his damn shield turret, and found solace behind Reinhardt's broad shoulde– I mean, uh, barrier field. You had a role to play no matter which hero you played, and when your team was firing on all cylinders, Overwatch felt like magic. And while the shifting winds of esports lead to major shakeups in the game's meta, Blizzard continued to update their hero shooter with seasonal events, new cosmetics, and even massive character reworks.

In our original review of Overwatch, we lauded the game's fresh twist on the team-based multiplayer genre:

To close out Overwatch's 5th Anniversary week, I reached out to Game Informer staff members to share why Overwatch means so much to us. If you have any specific memories tied to the game or simply want to share what Overwatch means to you, leave a comment down below to let us know.

The Secrets Behind Tim Schafer's Rubik's Cube Collection

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The Secrets Behind Tim Schafer's Rubik's Cube Collection

Tim Schafer owns a lot of Rubik's Cubes. This is something eagle-eyed viewers of Double Fine's many documentaries might've noticed throughout the years. Any scene with Schafer sitting in his office – of which there are a lot – is usually accompanied by many Rubik's Cubes covering his desk. Or they're found in his hands, as he quickly works through the Cube's puzzles in various meetings or work calls.

Take, for example, this scene from Double Fine Adventure episode three. Schafer, sitting next to Double Fine principal artist Lee Petty, is on a Skype call with artist Nathan "Bagel" Stapley as they work out various art directions for the then-in development Broken Age. Based on our frame-by-frame analysis of the scene, three different Rubik's Cubes can be seen: one in Schafer's hands, one on his desk between him and Petty, and one atop the couch near the window in the background. While there has been some debate here at Game Informer over whether or not the final Rubik's Cube counts, as it appears to actually be a small pillow, for the sake of comprehensiveness, we've chosen to include it.

Super Replay Is Back With Bloodborne

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Super Replay Is Back With Bloodborne

Are you ready for part twelve of our epic playthrough of FromSoftware's Bloodborne! Grab some snacks and come join us as we take the iconic whirligig saw out for a spin on the toughest bosses of The Old Hunters. Check out our review here and join us today at 2 PM CT!

Are you ready for a chilling thrill ride through FromSoftware's masterpiece? Bloodborne is a dark horror action/RPG that tasks the player with navigating through haunted streets full of werewolves and shuffling, shambling ghouls – and that's just the first hour. Bloodborne showcases immaculate environments dripping with atmosphere, creative and cruel monster designs, and terrors ripped from the great beyond. And we're going to play through it! Super Replay, the legendary Game Informer series that pairs pro players with even more professional commentary, is back.

As the flagship revival title, Bloodborne is going to be live and uncut every Friday at 2 PM CST. So won't you come join us for a blood-tinged brawl? How many times will I choke during boss fights? Will I even remember how to use the parry guns? (Probably not).

Courtenay Taylor, The Voice Behind Jack In Mass Effect, On Her Character's Missed Opportunities

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Courtenay Taylor, The Voice Behind Jack In Mass Effect, On Her Character's Missed Opportunities

Earlier today, we talked about how modders are doing what they did for the original Mass Effect trilogy for the remaster by restoring cut dialogue options that gave players more same-sex romance options. With some characters cut due to previous social pressure from outlets like Fox News, a lot of players that were hoping for more representation were left waiting for mods. Jack is one such character, and even though her character's storyline even expressly states that she is interested in both men and women, she was left as a Male Shepard-only option. Between that and her limited appearance in Mass Effect 3, there were a lot of unexplored areas regarding the biotic with a sordid past. So, we decided to explore on our own a little bit with Jack herself with voice actress Courtenay Taylor. 

When we asked Commander Jane Shepard's voice actress, Jennifer Hale, what she'd want to see from the next Mass Effect, she told us she wanted Shep back and the ability for her to romance both Tali and Jack. Taylor echoed that sentiment and went a little more into detail about how she felt her character had so much more to give despite being satisfied with how they ended her narrative.

Jennifer Hale On Next Mass Effect, 'I Want Shepard Back, 100%' And FemShep To Romance Tali

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Jennifer Hale On Next Mass Effect, 'I Want Shepard Back, 100%' And FemShep To Romance Tali

Last year, we had our first look at the next Mass Effect. The video took us through a timeline of events, bridging the gaps between Andromeda, the trilogy, and the extended lore found in the books, comics, and even movies. With the video ending on a shot of a matriarchal Liara with lifelines on her face and a smirk on her lips, we know that the future of Mass Effect could very well be set hundreds of years in the future. With the two galaxies represented between the trilogy and Andromeda, the sky is the limit (literally) as to where the next Mass Effect could go. When we sat down with Commander Shepard herself, Jennifer Hale, we couldn't help but ask where she'd want to see in the future of this space franchise. 

I think a large portion of the community would agree with her when she told Game Informer with a resounding "yes!" that she'd like to see Commander Shepard back in some form. "I want Shepard back 100%," she told us. "I want to explore the relationships, you know, with Garrus, Thane, Liara - all of that!"

She took it a step further, saying: "I would like for FemShep to base able romance Tali, and I would like everyone to be able to romance Jack. I just want to just want to jump back into this story in any capacity. I love it so much, and I also want to be like Mark Meer (who voices the male Commander Shepard) where I can be this weird alien that nobody knows it's me."

Double Fine’s Lee Petty Talks Game Dev Philosophies, Crunch, And More

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During our recent Psychonauts 2 cover story interviews, we had the chance to talk one-on-one with the game's principal artist Lee Petty. A game developer for more than 20 years now, Petty's career has taken him from triple-A studios like Crystal Dynamics all the way to, of course, the smaller teams of Double Fine. During his tenure at the latter, he's served as art director on Brütal Legend, lead the development of RAD and Stacking, and generally had a hand in the art and writing of many other games. 

Our chat with Petty, however, reached far beyond his years at Double Fine, covering his thoughts on open-world game design, the value proposition of video games, and the game industry's issues with crunch. Petty had a lot to say about a lot of topics, all of which you can watch in the video above and/or read in the transcript below. 

For more Psychonauts 2 coverage, make sure to check our cover story hub, see an exclusive look at one of the game's new powers, and read our interview with one of the mental health experts consulting on the game. 

Elder Scrolls Online Dev Opens Up On What "Terrifies" Him About Losing Touch With The Community

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Elder Scrolls Online Dev Opens Up On What

The Elder Scrolls Online had a rough launch, but the team turned it around in a beautiful way, in large part due to community feedback and finding the game's identity. But other MMORPGs have lost touch with their communities, and that's one of the creative director's biggest fears. We sat down to talk with creative director Rich Lambert to talk about how rocky launch of the online title earlier this month, but there was one part that truly struck out regarding how involved with the community this team really is. 

When The Elder Scrolls Online first released, it was immediately met with negative feedback due to its bland storyline, paid subscription fee, and a plethora of other reasons. Lambert told Game Informer that this was largely due to the dev team not really having "an identity" with what they wanted to do, spreading the direction between wanting to make everyone happy too thin, effectively doing the exact opposite. With each expansion, this online experience has grown and has become an incredible MMORPG experience. A lot of that is in part to the community, a community that has helped shape the amazing world of Tamriel we know today within this particular iteration. That's why, according to Lambert, the team is "terrified" at losing touch with that community pulse because the community is what makes this game so amazing.

Biomutant: A Spoiler-Free Beginner's Guide

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Biomutant: A Spoiler-Free Beginner's Guide

So, you picked up Biomutant, eh? Although I didn’t enjoy the game as much as I’d hoped (check out our review), there’s no denying that the experience possesses a certain charm and can offer solid fun. If you’re planning to take the plunge, know that Biomutant has a ton to do and it can be overwhelming to decide where to go first and what to prioritize. To get your adventure started on the right foot, I put together this spoiler-free beginner’s guide with some general tips and advice, some of which I wish I knew earlier after investing dozens of hours into the experience. 

Biomutant begins by having you create a character, which includes selecting its tribe. This dictates your proficiency in certain stats, as well as your general appearance. Classes, meanwhile, come with a special ability or perk, such as Psi-Freak’s Spark Ball attack. 

Don’t stress too much about being locked into a specific way of playing. These templates are largely fluid and outside of missing out on a certain perk (not a big deal) any of them can be tailored to your liking depending on where you invest your ability points. Saboteur may be the best class for dual-wielding melee weapons, but that doesn’t mean other classes can’t dual-wield effectively.  When it comes to selecting a tribe, feel free to pick one based on appearance first and foremost.