New Alien: Isolation trailer released

Dr Zaius

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I'll be keeping an eye on this one. Looks like it's slow paced and scary, which is always my thing.

[video=youtube;flPGGJifNl4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flPGGJifNl4[/video]
 

Scott Tortorice

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Seeing CA's recent track record - not to mention the dismal state of the industry - I am not at all confident this is going to be anything good. I am particularly worried about replayability as most of these survival horror games are only good for one play-through as they are so scripted and linear.

Anyhoo...preview:

http://www.polygon.com/2014/6/10/5792172/alien-isolation-preview-video
 

Scott Tortorice

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It's gone gold.

http://www.incgamers.com/2014/09/alien-isolation-is-complete-watch-the-no-escape-trailer

[video=youtube;_9P6hyOUYBc]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9P6hyOUYBc[/video]

Here's hoping this is worthwhile. Again, my greatest concern is about replayability. These horror survival games are often one shot johnnys.

Here is the most recent gameplay vid I could find (from August):

[video=youtube_share;B6wCHHXSXRA]http://youtu.be/B6wCHHXSXRA[/video]

One criticism already: I don't like how the alien moves in the game. In the movie, it moved very slowly and deliberately, almost in a mechanized manner. Here, the Alien stomps around like a bear on two legs.
 

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Walkthrough without commentary:
[video=youtube;hJqafmls-2Y]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJqafmls-2Y&list=UUvNjlKRAIMLcpaMASI6XS3g[/video]
 

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So I have spent some time watching this particular walkthrough and I must say that I am currently, very impressed with the game. It seems like it has amazing atmosphere, solid gameplay, little to no glitches or issues from what I can tell, good music, excellent voice acting, good characterization and use of environment, decent AI (it's on medium but I hear on hardcore it's super much tougher), and it's stressful as hell. Watching this game made me feel like I was watching Alien all over again. That is a very good thing. There is one thing I will say however, is that on medium the AI appeared to have a few derpy moments where the alien should have totally spotted the player (came around the corner and the alien was right there! Crapped my pants) but it just sauntered away. Supposedly on hardcore mode, enemies will spot you and if the alien does, you're dead. Also, while I hear that the alien's AI allows it to act very randomly and show up in various parts of the game without a setup, there are clearly a few cinematic moments and a few areas where the alien is essential for parts of the story to move forward. It's not a bad thing because when the alien does show up, you're thinking, "I'm soooo f****d." Lastly, it is a very stressful game because you have several types of enemies. Humans, androids, the ship, and the alien(s). But the coolest thing though is Amanda Ripley. She is a great f******g character. She's scared but at the same time always moves forward, is resourceful and strong. Another cool thing is that she will comment on various things going on around her which makes the game that much more immersive unlike other games where the character only chats in cutscenes or grunts or yells during fights or moving by obstacles. From my early observations of the game, it currently stands at a sold 8.5/10.
 
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So apparently there is a pre-order DLC taking place on the Nostromo using the voices of the original cast for the characters (pretty cool!). However, a huge debate sparked on Youtube over pre-release DLC and most DLC for that matter that doesn't really add to the game. And say of it what you will but Youtube comment sections for video games are a decent way to get a sizeable pulse of how people feel about certain things. So, the most level headed people arguing tend to be those talking about the pitfalls of pre-ordering games (especially for games in the Alien franchise) and how most game trailers and early reviews tend to lie through their teeth. On top of that these same people argue that when you buy or pre-order a game it should come with all of the content that was created during the game's development and not be available through pre-order. Why? Well it's simple, those who wait are going to be screwed by having to pay extra for it due to the simple fact they are being frugal and know that most AAA games that are released tend to be half-finished buggy messes.

These people are arguing that if anything is being billed as pre-order DLC or release day DLC, then it's a scam and the devs are ripping people off. Most of these people are those who are my age or older and grew up buying full games with unlockables. So they know that games can be created and released with all of the content available without the need to nickle-&-dime gamers. Sadly, it seems like those that support this type of DLC have no real experience with those types of games and think that it's okay, and judging by their comments... they tend to be a lot younger or Star Citizen-level fans. Granted, it seems this game is actually really good and the pre-order Nostromo DLC might actually seem like a legitimate DLC, it's still unsettling to see this being released as a pre-order and maybe not released down the line as an expansion of sorts. And considering Creative Assembly's horrible handling of Rome 2, it's easy to see why the only cautious people about this are actually PC gamers who had to deal with CA and the fact that many will get it on Steam or other sites where returning a game is next to impossible. (The console gamers are a tad ignorant of that fact which led me to believe they are mostly very young gamers who don't really know the industry as a whole, both on the console and on the PC...and maybe handheld.)

Now this leads me to another topic of interest. Reviews. IGN is currently under a LOT of fire for their rating of this game, a 5/10 because the reviewer claimed the game was to hard, long (around 15 hours I think), not enough action (apparently compared it to CoD but I have yet to confirm this), and all around a not so very good game. But other reviews from other industry review related sites give it higher praise alongside independent reviewers as well. While again, reading Youtube comments, someone said something veeery interesting. They stated (more or less as memory permits) that industry review sites like IGN that are known for their slanted reviews are now competing with independent Youtube reviewers who actually do a much better job at detailing the ins and outs of games and why they are either good or bad. (Here is where Angry Joe seems to be appearing a lot in conversations.) This can be seen in people comparing the release and handling of Aliens: Colonial Marines and this game (now that gameplay videos are out as well as more independent review of it).

That's all I have on that, now back to homework! :cool:
 

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Alien Isolation wins the Game of the Year award by PC Gamer:

These are the last two paragraphs of why the game got the award. I thought these paragraphs were the best in the article about why it won and what they think this game can do for the industry.
Chris Thursten: Agreed: this is a philosophical victory for the source material as well as a practical one. And by ‘philosophical victory’ I mean ‘they have successfully realised the experience of being hunted through a submarine by an angry space penis’. Survival horror isn’t supposed to work this way: this is a genre defined by canned scares and set-pieces. Isolation is about the fear of being hunted by a system, a set of game mechanics that don’t care if you have a nice time. It’s a game that pushes up against the boundaries of what might be considered entertainment, because playing it can be a stressful, unpleasant experience. That’s a great and laudable risk to have taken, the total opposite of Aliens: Colonial Marines’ infantilisation of the series.

To the extent that we seek to send a message with our game of the year awards, ‘do this again’ is the takeaway here. Alien: Isolation picks up the threads left hanging by indie horror – AI monsters, little to no combat – and applies the resources and time afforded to mainstream development to solving them. Imagine if that could happen to the shooter, or the open-world game. Basically: imagine if all that time and money wasn’t locked to a template. That’s what we should be celebrating here.
 
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Haven't played it yet, but I think its the one other game that came out this year that I fancy trying. I get the impression that there isn't much replay to be had from it so I might wait until it's on sale, and I might wait a bit longer until one of the VR systems have come out for a truly terrifying experience!
 

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Even though I love the movie, and this game got good reviews, I have had little interest in it. I don't know, it is just that the idea of "playing" Alien was never on my wishlist. :) Like Chris, I am prepared to wait for a deep discount on the inevitable GotY edition.

As for GotY going somewhere, at this point I would say Elite wins that easily. Too bad it was released to late in the year for PC Gamer.

Lastly, memo to VG journalists everywhere: using "penis," "vagina," and other bodily appendages in your articles does not for humor make. :rolleyes:
 

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An interesting article on the game's save system. I can confirm what Gary Napper is saying about how people have reacted to it as most gameplays I've watched with commentary have the player expressing a lot of thankfulness and worry when they come across a save point.

Gamesutra Article: Game Design Deep Dive: The save system of Alien: Isolation
Who: Gary Napper, design director at Creative Assembly

I am a game designer with 14 years industry experience and lead positions on many triple-A titles, on a wide variety of genres including third person action adventure games, film licenses, racing games, first person shooters, platformers and simulation games. Most recently I was the lead designer on Alien: Isolation, which released October of last year and is still scaring people, according to my Twitter feed.
What: Alien Isolation's save system

I have often answered questions on the game’s systems, the choice of crafting approach, the level design and of course, the alien itself. Of all the systems, AI entities, mechanics and designs that have made Alien: Isolation such an immersive game, one mechanic often causes a big reaction from people, and as mundane as it sounds, it is the save system.

Who would have thought that such a choice would trigger such passionate reactions from players around the world? It turns out, if you get even a simple mechanic right, you can trigger exactly that. The save system in Alien: Isolation took a rather drastic and some would say “old school” approach to saving. We have no “soft saves” or checkpoints in the game. The only way of saving is to locate a terminal in the world, put in your access card, wait for the systems in the fictional machine to warm up, and then wait for the three simple lights to blink off -- all the while knowing that you could be killed at any moment.

Why force players to save manually?

When we first approached the save system we had the usual checkpoints and menu-based saves. We looked at the games we were all playing, and spent some time balancing when these saves occur and how often.

Like any development team, we all play a lot of games and each have our favorites. Often our decisions and choices are colored by the games we play and our own personal preferences. On this occasion, I was set on using a checkpoint system with hard saves every now and then. For me, it worked in games like the Dead Space series, Metroid games and BioShock, and was a simple system to understand.

However, sometimes “simple to understand” is not the right approach when you are making a game that is designed from its core to terrify and put people on edge.

One of my favorite game mechanics of all-time is the active reload system from Gears of War. I was fortunate enough to meet its inventor, one Clifford Michael Bleszinski, at an EA event we were both working at a few years back. I asked him if he had invented it, and he confirmed it was him -- and he added how surprised he was that other games hadn’t copied it more. After a good chat where we went through games that could have used it, we went our separate ways.

The reason I like this mechanic so much is that it added a huge level of emotion to a previously simple interaction. Pressing X to reload was a staple of many games. It became an annoyance rather than an interaction, in some cases. The most emotional thing you could get from it was "dead man’s click" -- aim, fire, and then nothing, aside from the realization that you have an empty clip.

With the active reload system, if you perfected the timing, you did more damage and got a faster reload. “Damn, I'm good!” you would think as a satisfying glow appeared on your ammo and you were able to start mowing down the Locust quicker. The flipside is the feeling of dread as you messed it up: A jammed weapon, a longer reload, a lost chance at bonus damage. It was risk vs. reward in the simplest form and it worked a treat.

The question I found myself asking was, "Could a simple interaction like saving trigger such emotion?"

Now, I would love to say that it was all my idea, and that this was the plan all along, but alas it was not. During development, one of our designers (now a senior) by the name of Simon Adams came to me with a pitch for a manual save system. I said no many times -- "what we have is fine." It seemed to me like too much change, or hassle, and a lot of work on the game environment: We would have to place terminals everywhere, change the art for the affected areas, and change the code for the save system.

Then there was the alien. For those who haven’t played the game or don’t already know, our alien is systematic. It is an AI entity that works under its own logic, hunting for signs of the player, other humans on board, and anything it can kill. It adapts to the player’s movement, choices, weapons, and makes some interesting design possible.

It was the question of what to do with the alien when we save that raised the debate of save points again. "When I get to a soft checkpoint and the alien is about to kill me... What happens when I come back in? Is he still there?"

We had two clear options. One option meant not doing anything which would trigger an infinite loop of dying and respawning. The other option was to remove the alien on the load, which would mean sprinting to a checkpoint was a valid tactic -- as after he killed the player, they were safe again. Neither of these were good enough, and neither supported the core gameplay.

Simon again pitched his manual save idea, this time as a solution to our issues. If we could have a save location, we could either alter the alien’s behavior in some way so that it could adapt to save points or leave it up to the player to ensure that they were safe when saving.

We decided to test the latter in a simple quick-and-dirty prototype. Our design team quickly put together a simple scripted push-button save point that would trigger a manual save. The first mission to use this suddenly took on a different feel. No longer were we walking around, without a care, knowing that if we died, we wouldn’t lose much progress. We were afraid. If we didn’t make it to the save point and successfully save, we would lose our progress. Even in a single mission this was tense.

"Imagine if you had been playing for a while and not saved? How tense would that be?" This is where the emotion started to appear. Saving became tense. Looking for a save became tense. Imagine that! The simple act of saving had become supportive to the game's driving factors of terror and isolation. A further modifier to this was a simple tweak that Simon made to the prototype save point. He changed the model that was used from a push-button to the card terminal used in other interactions in the game. This interaction was taken directly from the original film, where Dallas uses a form of key-card to access Mother, as seen below:

Simon made a change to this interaction and used our game's scripting tools to pause the animation for a time whilst three beeps triggered. This small change made a huge difference on the mechanic and in many ways, sold it to the non-believers and checkpoint-savers.

The Result

Seeing players bouncing their knees and talking out loud whilst a save point triggered, saying things like "Come on! He's nearby!" was amazing. Another emotion was also present that was unexpected: relief. Players were relieved when they successfully used a save point, and also upon seeing one. The sense of excitement at finding a save point became a highlight on the path through a level, and one that sometimes caused players to dash to use it -- even when it wasn't safe.

For me, this became a clear evolution of our save system, and one that benefitted the game as a whole. Players would risk further and further stretches of gameplay between save points, knowing all the time that they would need to save soon or risk losing their progress.

A tangible sense of loss came when this risk did not pay off and, although some have called it "punishing," it fits with the style of the game and its main enemy. We tried to design a game where when the player was killed, they knew it was something they had done -- or failed to do. A player only needs to have that sense of loss once from losing progress to feel the tension and stress of looking for a save point in the dark, with an alien hunting them.

Whilst I would love to take the credit for this idea, the originator was Simon Adams, and it was a team effort to implement the art, animation, code, audio and level design. The game was changed forever by its use. I am glad I listened to Simon... eventually.
 
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Interesting article, cheers! I think that would add quite a bit to the gameplay and seems like a good design choice. Looking forward to playing this eventually!
 

kawaiku

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Interesting article, cheers! I think that would add quite a bit to the gameplay and seems like a good design choice. Looking forward to playing this eventually!
You're welcome :) And from what I've seen, it totally does. Half the time I'm chomping at the bit right alongside the person playing the game. (You can hear the alien stomping around nearby, makes you sweat.)
 

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I'll be keeping an eye on this one. Looks like it's slow Nox Vidmate VLC paced and scary, which is always my thing.
I get the impression that there isn't much replay to be had from it so I might wait until it's on sale, and I might wait a bit longer until one of the VR systems have come out for a truly terrifying experience!
 
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