Time and time again, we just don’t have the time

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First, we had ar­cade ma­chines. Drop a coin in the slot, press the ‘1P’ but­ton – a few sec­onds’ worth of has­sle com­bined – and go. Then came car­tridges. Slide one in and flip the power switch: bingo. Given th­ese foun­da­tions, it’s hard to imag­ine how we ever made it through the Dark Age of cas­sette-based stor­age, hud­dled over devices that would take six min­utes to wheeze a game’s worth data into the 8bit com­put­ers of old. Six min­utes! That’s a good round of Drop7 right there. Never again, we swore as we moved on to disks, then carts again, then discs, and be­yond. To­day, we want ev­ery­thing now. Shut up with your Kick­starter pitch, take our money, and hurry the hell up with de­liv­er­ing the goods. The game­play­ing pub­lic has never been less tol­er­ant of de­lays, or load­ing times, or ex­cuses. All this at a time when we need pa­tience more than ever.

It’s taken seven years of de­vel­op­ment for Jonathan Blow to com­plete The Wit­ness. (It might take some of us the same amount of time to com­plete it, too.) Fire­watch, an­other game re­viewed within th­ese pages, may be a more mod­est propo­si­tion, but the pro­duc­tion process still took two-and-ahalf years. To put it into per­spec­tive, con­sider that artist Olly Moss was a dis­gust­ingly young 26 when he started work on the pro­ject; as the game launched, the next birth­day marked on his cal­en­dar was his 30th.

And imag­ine life as one of VR’s true be­liev­ers in the early ’90s. “Mmm. Maybe we need to put this to one side. Let the tech­nol­ogy ma­ture a bit. We’ll give it a cou­ple of years.” Only now, more than two decades later, has the dream of phys­i­cally im­mer­sive vir­tual en­vi­ron­ments be­come re­alised in a prac­ti­cal sense. In this is­sue’s Knowl­edge sec­tion we look at the re­spec­tive of­fer­ings from Ocu­lus and HTC as VR comes of age at last.

Fi­nally, of course, there is our cover game. A new Doom was sup­posed to emerge from Id some years ago, but the pro­ject ran into dif­fi­cul­ties. On p64 we visit the stu­dio to find out how it righted its course in or­der to cre­ate an FPS for 2016 that is wor­thy of the leg­endary name.

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