Amid horrible spin-offs and money grabs, MachineGames is proving licensed video games may be nice

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DNA TRACING

(Picture credit score: Future)

 This text first appeared in PC Gamer journal concern 355 in April 2021, as a part of our ‘DNA Tracing’ collection, the place each month we delve into the lineages behind iconic video games and studios.  

Jens Matthies is laughing considerably incredulously. Though his garments are informal, his physique language is guarded. It is QuakeCon 2017, and I’ve simply instructed the inventive director of MachineGames that some persons are saying single-player video games are lifeless. “Individuals,” he retorts. “What individuals?” 

“Individuals within the trade,” I counsel, unconvincingly. And so Matthies continues to snort. I am unsure what sort of response I anticipated: he and his workforce have guess their careers on the argument that single-player video games are very a lot alive. That regardless of what number of instances publishers chop the top off story-led adventures, builders will achieve reanimating them. 

It is a conviction that set in years earlier than MachineGames was based, again when its core workforce labored at Starbreeze, bonding over the troublesome growth of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Then, as now, Starbreeze was wracked by monetary issues, and shedding workers at a demoralising price. So as to insulate themselves, the Riddick workforce moved to a unique flooring, shutting out the depressing drama that had consumed the remainder of the corporate. It was a unit solid in hardship that will show to final a long time. 

(Picture credit score: Starbreeze Studios)

The world past Starbreeze’s doorways anticipated little from Butcher Bay, cautious of ropey licensed video games made on shoestring budgets. However the Riddick workforce made good use of its 18 months, eschewing multiplayer to focus fully on a marketing campaign impressed by Half-Life and Splinter Cell. Setting the sport solely throughout the confines of a labyrinthine jail was a shrewd financial alternative, too. Whereas Starbreeze could not have competed with the luxurious outside environments of Far Cry, it may pour element into Butcher Bay’s cell blocks, which had been darkish, dramatically lit, and densely textured.

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