Hermen Hulst Discusses the Transition From Killzone to Horizon Zero Dawn

Hermen Hulst is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Guerrilla Games. The company is best known for the Killzone series of first-person shooters for Sony PlayStation consoles. Those games have enjoyed a solid following and critical acclaim. In 2017, Guerrilla hit a new level with Horizon Zero Dawn. An open-world action-RPG with a lush setting, the game was a radical departure from the grim-and-gritty shooters Guerrilla was known for. Many consider it one of 2017’s best games.

At DICE Europe 2017, Hermen Hulst will be talking about Guerrilla’s evolution and the challenges he faced preparing the company for Horizon Zero Dawn. Here’s an excerpt from my chat with Heremen Hulst.

In the keynote I’ll be talking about how long this process has been. During the Killzone 3 days, we already started wondering about doing something new. “Is the time there now? Can our creatives do their best work within the same franchise? Is there enough room for wild design ideas?” We actually made the decisions to start investigating new roots towards the end of Killzone 3. That’s when we started the internal pitching processes of new ideas. So we’ve been working on this thing for six-and-a-half, seven years. That’s a very long time.

There were such a wide range of changes. For one, we had always focused on games in a particular genre — the first-person shooter genre. With that comes a certain set of expertise, which you would expect from a studio that operates within that genre. So when you move into a different genre, you’re looking for new areas of expertise. We moved from first-person shooter to open-world action-RPG, so we had to build out our narrative capability. The requirements in that new genre are much higher in narration then they are in the fps world.

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Mary DeMarle Talks Deus Ex (DICE Europe 2017)

Here’s a chat I had with the absolutely delightful Mary DeMarle, narrative director of Eidos Montreal. She’ll be speaking at DICE Europe 2017 about maintaining motivation and innovation during long game development cycles. We talked about the challenges of reviving the Deus Ex franchise — bringing one of the most lauded IPs in PC gaming to a new audience more than a decade after the original release. Aside from talking to Mary DeMarle about Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, I had an excellent time enjoying her company. She was charming and fun. Yeah, yeah, I know you want to hear more about the game stuff, so here’s an excerpt from my interview with Mary DeMarle.

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New Day Rocks WrestleMania 33 With Final Fantasy

WWE faction The New Day rocked WrestleMania 33 with an assist from the legendary Final Fantasy videogame series. Serving as the hosts for WWE’s biggest event of the year, the team came out dressed as characters from Final Fantasy’s job system. Xavier Woods was dressed as a monk, Big E was decked out like a samurai, and Kofi Kingston made for a dashing red mage. The team even had a pushcart (filled with New Day ice cream, naturally) adorned with chocobos and moogles. Check out the clip below to see  New Day’s spectacular WrestleMania 33 entrance.

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Five Reasons Why March 2017 Will Be an Awesome Nerd Month

March is going to a be a glorious month for nerds and people with nerdish tendencies. There are so many wonderful things to look forward to — potentially fantastic movies, a new videogame console, and an all-new, all-different television series from Marvel. While I’m still adjusting to life in America after a month in Asia, these things will certainly make the transition easier. Let’s take a look at all the brilliant nerd stuff coming in March 2017.

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Alex Fernandez DICE 2017 Interview (AIAS)

A few weeks ago, I had an extremely animated chat with Streamline Studios CEO and cofounder Alex Fernandez. Obviously, we spoke about his company, which develops original games and assists on some major franchises (Street FighterBioShockSaints Row, and more). The conversation became loaded when Alex Fernandez wanted to discuss politics. He released a video statement (embedded below) speaking out against United States President Donald Trump’s immigration policy. As Alex Fernandez is a Latino-American that operates a business with offices in America, Europe, and Asia (in Malaysia, a primarily Muslim country), he had strong opinions on the matter. Here’s some of what he had to say.

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Jason Rubin DICE 2017 Interview (AIAS)

Here’s a DICE 2017 chat I had with Jason Rubin, head of content for Oculus VR. Some of you will remember Jason Rubin as the cofounder of Naughty Dog, while those of you that follow the videogame industry closely will recall some controversial statements he made at previous DICE Summit events. In the chat below, he discusses what he said at DICE 10 years ago, how his views have developed over the years, and the tremendous potential of VR gaming. Here’s a clip from my conversation with Jason Rubin.

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Ariana Grande to Appear in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius

Pop star Ariana Grande has teamed up with Square Enix for a special appearance in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. In addition to appearing in the game during a mid-January event, the diminutive superstar with a larger-than-life voice has cut a remix of her song “Touch It” for the game. For those of you unfamiliar with Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, it’s a free-to-play RPG for Android and iOS devices. It uses a simple interface and old-school turn-based mechanics, similar to Brave Frontier.

Fans of Ariana Grande are surely familiar with her predilection for wearing bunny ears. On her Instagram account, she showed off some pixel art from her appearance in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius in all her bunny-eared glory. Check out the short video she posted below.

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Bonnie Ross DICE 2017 Interview (AIAS)

Here’s a chat I had with Bonnie Ross, corporate vice president at Microsoft and head of 343 Industries. The piece was for the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences to promote Bonnie Ross’ upcoming talk at DICE 2017. She’ll be heading up a session called “Stewards of a Sci-Fi Universe.” The talk will cover how game creators and their communities can work together to preserve cherished sci-fi properties.

As Bonnie Ross is a huge fan of Star Trek, I was curious to hear her thoughts on how to work with longtime fans of a franchise that have…strong feelings about new takes on the property. While I love the new Star Trek movies, I know many longtime fans that loathe them. Here’s what she had to say.

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Coffee Talk #671: The Best of 2016

Another year is in the books! Thanks so much for making RPad.TV a part of your 2016. To celebrate and reflect on the year that was, let’s take a look back at some of the best things of 2016. Naturally, when I mean “best,” I really mean “favorite.” (The idea of a movie or a record being “best” is…stupid.) Below is a “Best of 2016” list of my favorite movie, vaping gear, album, WWE Superstar, and more. I’d love to hear about your favorite anything and everything of 2016. Please share your personal highlights in the comments section. Now let’s do this!

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Hilmar Petursson Interview (DICE Europe 2016)

Saving my favorite DICE Europe 2016 interview for last, here’s my chat with Hilmar Petursson, CEO of CCP Games. Many gamers know CCP for the popular MMORPG EVE Online. More recently, the company has been a pioneer in VR gaming, with titles like Gunjack and EVE: Valkyrie. At a previous DICE talk, Hilmar Petursson spoke about the human brain as a gaming platform. At DICE Europe 2016, he’ll be speaking about how gaming can benefit humanity.

As you can tell from the topics he chooses to speak about, Hilmar Petursson thinks a bit differently from most people in game development and game publishing. This is why chatting with him was so much fun. He has a beautifully creative mind, but he’s also kind of out there. Here’s an excerpt from my conversation with Hilmar Petursson.

I think we’re just beginning. How old would you say computer games are? Let’s say 30-years old. For the greater part of those three decades, the majority of games have been single-player. It’s one person playing against a device, not unlike solitaire. I am personally very interested in when you add a social dimension to it — when people are playing with other people. What we’ve learned through our work on EVE: Online is that once you start playing with other people, you’re part of a society. If you look at society as a computer game — at least the socio-economic aspects of society — it’s a fairly upstart endeavor. Money, debt obligation, and the concept of possession are really virtual phenomenon. They’re social constructs that we’ve trained ourselves to adhere to over thousands of years. They’re upheld mostly through paper, as well as our own understanding of rules and regulations. I believe that with computers, we will be able to elevate and accelerate those concepts quite a bit.

We’ve been inspired by a lot of what we’ve learned though EVE: Online. You could basically call it a society. I wouldn’t call it a country, because that’s a very specific thing, but it has all the expressions of a society. It has its own social economy. People value the things in that world. They have a similar relationship to their possessions in the virtual world as they do in the real world. Even though EVE: Online was one of the first games made like this, in many ways it can be improved upon a lot. It’s the first hint of what can be done with games. And then we see virtual reality and how we can really engage with the rest of the human senses. Then you can buy into the notion that not only do you belong to a virtual world in the abstract, but you can also buy into the notion that you are part of a virtual world in a concrete, physical sense. Even though you aren’t, so many of the body’s sense are engaged that you feel like you are. The illusion takes a step further.

I believe that with advances in both concepts — these vast, massive social worlds and economies — coupled with advances in the visual domain with technologies like virtual reality, we will be able to really bring about a virtual world where we have higher and deeper relations with each other. Physical reality is, in many ways, kind of primitive. We have to implement the atoms of the Earth to create clothing to express our personalities. It’s taking away resources that could be used for something else. Ninety percent of what we buy for our homes is out of them six months later as trash. We have all these very wasteful processes that we’ll be able to implement much more efficiently using technologies in computer games. In many ways, we’re trying to tell this to ourselves in science-fiction, whether it’s The Matrix or other works that discuss the virtualization of social interactions.

Please check out my full talk with Hilmar Petursson when you have a chance. He’s a wonderfully creative person that supports my theory that all Icelanders are at least a little bit crazy (see Guðmundsdóttir, Björk).

Full Interview