“See, when the elec­tric­ity runs out, you just pedal it”


One of the prob­lems with be­ing suc­cess­ful is that it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to re­sist the temp­ta­tion of con­tin­u­ing down the same, proven path in an ef­fort to keep the mo­men­tum rolling. It’s all very well try­ing some­thing new when it’s Ap­ple’s iPhone that emerges from the R&D pipe, but what about when it’s Sin­clair’s C5? At some point in the de­vel­op­ment process, Sir Clive’s elec­tric tri­cy­cle, with its prom­ise of trans­port­ing you “five miles for a penny”, must’ve seemed like a bet worth making, but re­al­ity ul­ti­mately got in the way, and the project is only dis­cussed to­day as folly. The suc­cesses and fail­ures of such switches loom large in the minds of peo­ple in­volved in the videogame in­dus­try, and that makes those will­ing to take risks de­serv­ing of a slap on the back. In this is­sue, we look at sev­eral ex­am­ples.

On p8 we visit Sen­si­ble Ob­ject, a com­pany formed by a man who made his name de­sign­ing phys­i­cal games but who is now com­mit­ted to videogame in­te­gra­tion, re­sult­ing in the unique hy­brid that is Fab­u­lous Beasts. On p38 we take a tour of The Wit­ness, an in­die pro­duc­tion which has very lit­tle in com­mon with Braid, the puz­zle plat­former whose in­cred­i­ble suc­cess af­forded Jonathan Blow the seven years he’s taken to date in cre­at­ing a fol­low-up. And on p70 we look to the more but­toned-up realm of hard­ware man­u­fac­ture, where Nvidia con­tin­ues to push out­side of its graph­ics-card com­fort zone by re­fin­ing its Shield plat­form, while Valve’s own play for the liv­ing room yields not only a gen­uinely in­no­va­tive con­troller but best-in-class stream­ing tech­nol­ogy, too.

Our cover game, Hit­man, is from a stu­dio that took its own risk with 2012’s Hit­man: Ab­so­lu­tion by shoot­ing for broader ap­peal than ex­pected. The re­sult up­set many of the se­ries’ most loyal fans, and its de­vel­op­ment team re­treated to a bunker to dust it­self down, re­fo­cus on how its games had at­tracted such a fol­low­ing in the first place, and start over. Ad­mit­ting that you got it wrong can be as valu­able as tak­ing the orig­i­nal risk, so long as it doesn’t stop you try­ing again. Our cover story be­gins on p58.

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