Train2Game News: Danny looks back at his favourite interviews in his final day as Blog Editor

After over two years in the role of Train2Game Blog Editor, I’m leaving for pastures new after accepting a job at a major publisher based in London.

This role has allowed me to attend industry events including Develop Conference, Eurogamer and Gamescom as well as enabling me to interview some of the biggest names in game development.

With this being my final day with Train2Game, it’s a great time to revisit some of my personal favourite interviews from my time in the role of Blog Editor.

 26th August 2011 – RAGE Creative Director Tim Willits

Speaking to me at Gamescom, the i D Software boss talked about creating RAGE, his role as creative director and the huge benefits of modding to those looking to break into the games industry.

2nd September 2011 – Far Cry 3 Narrative Director Jason Vandenberghe

An interview recorded at Gamescom, in which Jason talks about game design in Far Cry 3, using motion capture technology and actors, improvements for Far Cry 3 and more.

27th September 2011 – Valve writer Chet Faliszek

Speaking to us Eurogamer Expo, Chet discusses development of CS: GO, beta testing and modding.

31st October 2011 – Deus Ex: Human Revolution writer James Swallow

In a huge interview, James Swallow talks writing Deus Ex: Human Revolution, game design, what makes a good games writer and more.

14th November 2011 – Brink Lead Writer Ed Stern

Splash Damage’s Ed Stern spoke to us in-depth about the design and art of Brink, narrative in games, what makes a good designer and breaking into the games industry.

24th November 2011 – Bioware co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka & Dr. Greg Zeschuk

Recorded before the BioWare Lecture at BAFTA, Muzyka and Zeschuk talked about games as art, the history of BioWare and how they transitioned from working in medicine to working in game development.

22nd February 2012 Remedy Head of Franchise Development Oskari Häkkinen

Oskari Häkkinen talks game design and development of Alan Wake, life at Remedy and digital distribution, among other things.

27th March 2012 – SoulCalibur V game director Daishi Odashima

Speaking to The Train2Game Blog at a SoulCalibur V tournament, Odashima discusses development of SoulCalibur V , the importance of community feedback and what makes a good game designer.

July 11th 2012 – QA Veteran and Cheat Mode Author Dan Jacobs

In what must be the longest Train2Game Blog interview, Dan Jacobs talks about his book, Cheat Mode, QA Testing, life in the industry and much more.

20th July 2012 – Ian Livingstone OBE

In my final piece for The Train2Game Blog, Ian Livingstone discusses Make Something Unreal Live, Fighting Fantasy, what makes a good game developer and more.

Thank you to everyone who has read The Train2Game Blog over the last two years, commented on here, or on the Train2Game forum. Be sure to keep reading The Train2Game Blog for more great insight into the industry once my successor takes over in the role of Editor.

Danny Palmer – Train2Game Blog Editor April 2010-July 2012

As usual, leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum

Train2Game News: Team Fortress 2 Pyromania update adds 6 community created weapons to the game

Team Fortress 2’s Pyromania update is into its second day and introduces six new weapons, all of which have been created by members of the TF2 community.

The update for Valve’s free-to-play shooter includes user-created weapons for the Sniper, Solider and Scout classes, in addition to The Scorch Shot for the Pyro.  It was the Scorch Shot which featured in a ‘How a gun gets made’ video you can see here on The Train2Game Blog.

As of August last year, Team Fortress 2 players had earned $2 million through their custom weapons being added to the game then sold in the game’s virtual store.

Valve has a reputation for supporting modders, with Chet Faliszek, a game designer at the Bellevue, Washington studio, previously telling the Train2Game Blog that modding is a great way to get noticed in the games industry.

There’s more about community created items and modding – both excellent ways for Train2Game students to practice and showcases their skills – here on The Train2Game Blog.

Meanwhile, be sure to keep reading for the latest news from Valve and Team Fortress 2.

What are your thoughts on community created weapons forming the bulk of the latest Team Fortress 2 update? Are you inspired to make items for the game?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative released

Train2Game students can now build and share their own Portal 2 levels thanks to the release of the brand new and free Perpetual Testing Initiative update.

The puzzle maker for PC and Mac allows players to create new Portal 2 test chambers without the need to leave the game, with maps published directly onto Steam Workshop. Players can vote on and automatically download any user-created puzzles using the Workshop.

There’s more on the Perpetual Testing Initiative in the trailer from Valve and Aperture Science’s Cave Johnson below.

In an interview with The Train2Game Blog, Valve’s Chet Faliszek told us modding or using community creation tools is a great way for aspiring game developers to show off their skills.

There’s more Valve news right here on The Train2Game Blog.

Are you building Portal 2 puzzles yet? What do you think about the tools?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Gmae Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Valve reveal how CS:GO beta heat maps influence design decisions

Train2Game News readers should find this interesting; Valve has released data about the science of player actions during the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta, and how it ultimately effects their design decisions.

The developer has released heat maps of the map de_train showing where 6.5 million bullets have been fired during the beta. You can see it in full here.

“Recently we have discussed how we incorporate feedback into our design decisions. In addition to valuable feedback on the forums, another important form of feedback we receive is gameplay data.” read an update on the Counter-Strike blog.

“Our data collection is extensive. We track nearly every player action, from individual bullets fired to weapon purchases, and the resulting data can be used to help us evaluate game design decisions.”

The post added the heat map helps the Valve development team gain insights into player habits.

“A straightforward way to visualize the data we collect is through heat maps. Heat maps can reveal player preferences, choke-points in maps, sight-lines for snipers, and much more.”

In an interview with The Train2Game Blog , Valve’s Chet Faliszek said that beta testing is an important part of the game development process for CS:GO.

“It’s really important to us because we’re going to let that drive the release date,” he said.

“Because we’re really looking to get the feedback from the community over the changes we’ve made. We’ve brought over some stuff that was good from Counter-Strike: Source and we’ve brought over some stuff that was good from 1.6, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the communities react” Faliszek added.

There’s more Counter-Strike: Global Offensive news right here on The Train2Game Blog.

What are your thoughts on Valve using heat maps to help make design decisions? Are you taking part in the CS:GO beta?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Your chance to join the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta

Train2Game students have the opportunity to register for a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta key.

To be in with a chance of receiving a CS:GO beta key, visit the Counter-Strike blog and follow the link to complete a survey using Steam. The survey asks questions based on your previous experience with Counter-Strike, favourite weapons and some other more general information.

Valve are keen to state that there are no wrong answers, and it’s likely that they’ll need CS: GO beta testers from a variety of different backgrounds.

“Over the coming months we will make selections from the survey participants. Sometimes we might add experienced players, other times new players. Sometimes 1.6 players, sometimes CSS players, sometimes people who have played neither.” said the Counter-Strike blog post.

Valve plan to expand the CS: GO beta as it goes on, with the idea that it’ll eventually transition into being the full game

In an interview with The Train2Game Blog , Valve’s Chet Faliszek said that beta testing is an important part of the game development process for CS:GO, and ultimately it’s player feedback that’ll drive the eventual full release date.

“It’s really important to us because we’re going to let that drive the release date,” Faliszek told us

“Because we’re really looking to get the feedback from the community over the changes we’ve made. We’ve brought over some stuff that was good from Counter-Strike: Source and we’ve brought over some stuff that was good from 1.6, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the communities react” the Valve writer added.

Read The Train2Game Blog interview with Chet Faliszek on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive here.

Keep reading The Train2Game Blog for the latest beta testing opportunities.

Will you be attempting to grab a CS: GO beta key?

Leave your comments on The Train2Game Blog, or on The Train2Game Forum.

Train2Game news: CS:GO beta begins tomorrow

Train2Game students who were lucky enough to pick up keys at The Eurogamer Expo can get involved with the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta from tomorrow.

As reported by the Train2Game blog, Valve’s beta test was supposed to start in October before being delayed after feedback from professional players. However, those with keys will be able to begin beta testing from tomorrow, with Dust and Dust 2 the first maps available to play.

Valve plan to expand the CS:GO beta as it goes on, with the idea that it’ll eventually become the full-game. In an interview with the Train2Game blog at the Eurogamer Expo, Valve’s Chet Faliszek said that beta testing is an important part of the game development process for CS:GO, and ultimately it’s player feedback that’ll drive the eventual full release date.

It’s really important to us because we’re going to let that drive the release date,” said Faliszek on beta testing.

“Because we’re really looking to get the feedback from the community over the changes we’ve made. We’ve brought over some stuff that was good from Counter-Strike: Source and we’ve brought over some stuff that was good from 1.6, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the communities react.”

Beta testing is good way for Train2Game students to test their bug finding skills, and according to Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars in an interview with the Train2Game blog, it’s also a potential way to get a foot in the door of the games industry.

There’s a lot more about beta testing and its importance to game development, here on the Train2Game blog.

So Train2Game, are you going to be involved with the CS:GO beta test? What will you be looking for?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: CS:GO beta delayed, but here’s a reminder of the significance of beta testing

Train2Game students who picked up Counter-Strike: Global Offensive closed beta keys at the Eurogamer Expo will need to a bit longer to get involved because it’ll miss the planned October launch.

Valve’s Chet Faliszek  – who spoke to the Train2Game blog at Eurogamer last month –  says the delay comes after feedback from professional players.

“They gave us a lot of feedback on things we should get in the game before we release it, otherwise we’re going to be getting a lot of bug reports or a lot of feedback and it would just be redundant,” he explained

“There’s going to be things we’re going to release it with knowing we need to add more, we need to do more. But just knowing there’s some feel and some just operating the game issues that need to be resolved first. We want to get those done first.”

Faliszek said the beta will accommodate 10,000 players, it has no official end date and it’s the beta testers who’ll say when CS:GO is ready to be released.

“We have no mandate from anybody of when we have to ship this. So we’re more than happy to just keep working on this until it’s ready to ship.

“By the end of it, everyone will be playing the game. It will be the released game that you’re playing and then at some point we’ll say, ‘OK we’re going to officially release it.’

His comments on beta testing and a release date echo those he told the Train2Game blog at the Eurogamer Expo.

“It’s really important to us because we’re going to let that drive the release date,” said Faliszek when asked about the importance of beta testing to game development.

“Because we’re really looking to get the feedback from the community over the changes we’ve made. We’ve brought over some stuff that was good from Counter-Strike: Source and we’ve brought over some stuff that was good from 1.6, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the communities react.”

The Valve man also told the Train2Game blog that modding is a ‘really good way’ to get into the industry. Meanwhile, End of Nations Senior QA Tester Karl Tars told us that beta testing is potentially a good route into QA.

Train2Game students will be aware that beta tests are used by many developers to tweak their games, but as the Train2Game blog reported last month, Battlefield 3 developer DICE believe some gamers misunderstand the meaning of ‘beta test’

What are your thoughts on the CS:GO beta? Are you going to be involved? If so, what are you looking for?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: CVG]

Train2Game news: Valve on playtesting

Train2Game students, especially the QA Testers, will be aware of the importance of testing games in development.

In an interview with the Train2Game blog last month, Valve’s Chet Faliszek revealed that testingto be an important part Counter-Strike: Global Offensive development. Now other leading Valve developers have given further insight into how testing works at the studio.

Gamasutra report that speaking at GDC Online in Texas, Valve writer Erik Wolpaw said they take it very seriously. They start testing internally during game’s early development before bringing in testers from outside the studio.

“We definitely do playtest. We’ll ask people after they play to recount the story to us and gauge their comprehension of their experience…” he said.

Of course, Valve fans among the Train2Game community will know the developer like to put humour in their games. However, Wolpaw added that testing this aspect of game design can be difficult.

“Comedy stuff is tougher [to evaluate] because it’s more subjective and it’s really hard to gauge peoples’ reaction,” he said.

“Pretty much no one that played Portal 2 cracked a smile, but testers still said the game was funny. It’s hard to tell if a joke is failing or not.” Walpaw added.

Nonetheless, the testing process is useful to Valve and they’re happy to make changes if something isn’t working.

“We fail all the time, we just don’t advertise it too much,” said studio writer Marc Laidlaw.

Excerpts of the GDC Online Valve Q&A session can be found on Gamasutra and it should make interesting reading for Train2Game students, especially those on the Game Design course.

Of course, Valve aren’t the only game developers who value playtesting, with the Train2Game blog recently reporting that Bioware see it as a key part of developing Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Flower and Journey developers Thatgamecompany have also stated that testing is a crucial part of the game design process.

Find out more about the Train2Game QA Tester course here!

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the testing process at Valve? How important is it to get both an internal and external opinion on games in development?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Gamasutra]

Train2Game interview: Valve’s Chet Faliszek on CS:GO

 

Train2Game attended the Eurogamer Expo, and during our time there we had a chat with Valve Software writer Chet Faliszek about Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In an in depth interview, Faliszek discusses the reasons for making CS: GO, bringing the PC title to consoles,  the importance of beta testing and much more.

The Valve Software writer also tells the Train2Game blog how important modding can be as part of finding work in the games industry.

Read the interview below, on Train2Game’s Scribd page, or listen to it via Train2Game Radio.

We’re over ten years on from the original Counter-Strike, why is the time right for CS: GO now?

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive started because we were actually originally just going to do a port of Counter-Strike: Source for XBLA. Internally we started playing it a lot and released that ‘Oh, this is a lot of fun’ We forgot how much fun this translates over to the 360 now we’ve got really good at this, so we should make a bigger investment, a full game and expand out what it is.

What are the main Game Design changes that have been made to CS: GO?

One of the cool things with Counter-Strike is it’s been around for so long, that there’s a lot of feedback we can get about what works and what doesn’t work. So we’ve taken a look at 1.6, we’ve taken a look at Counter-Strike: Source, we’ve kind of taken the best of both worlds and we think we’ve created the best version of Counter-Strike.

Which modes will be available in the upcoming game?

We’re going to have the classic bomb planting and hostage and rescue, and were also going to have – again looking back to the community, they had worked on gun game – and so we’re incorporating gun game directly into what we call ‘Arsenal modes.’  We have two of those modes; one is Demolition and that’s about bomb planting and team based Gun Game. And then we also have Arms Race which is the classic Gun Game where every kill you get, you get a new gun and then eventually you get to the knife round.

How difficult has  it been to bring what’s fundamentally a PC game onto consoles?

We don’t really ever look at games that way. As a company, as gamers ourselves, we play on too many different platforms just to think of a game being that anymore. I mean, I play Left4Dead on console as much as I play it on PC, so you know, I think we’ve become accustomed to that.

It’s been fun watching people jump down here and say ‘Oh man, I can’t believe you don’t have keyboard and mouse here,’ and then they play on the PS3 and go ‘Oh yeah, that works pretty well.’

It’s had a good reaction from the hardcore Counter-Strike fans then?

Yeah, actually what’s really funny is at PAX back in Seattle, we were showing it on the 360 and we had a pro-gaming website come in really dissing that we had it on the 360. And they sat down and ran over everybody and they loved it.

Is there a mode for players who might be new to Counter-Strike, but don’t want to get run over by veteran players?

Well actually in all of our modes we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen, but we have the Social Mode which you’re seeing here. You get all the weapons, there’s no friendly fire, all talk is on and it’s a place to have fun with your friends and you’re talking about your girlfriend’s or what you’re talking about on TV while you’re playing the game.

But also there’s also a skill based mode which is all about the skill based matchmaking, so that’ll always make sure you’re having a competitive game without getting owned by someone who’s been playing for  ten years and is tonnes better than you – they’re going to be playing against different people than you will.

You’re giving out beta keys here, how important is that phase in the development of a game?

It’s really important to us because we’re going to let that drive the release date, because we’re really looking to get the feedback from the community over the changes we’ve made. We’ve brought over some stuff that was good from Counter-Strike: Source and we’ve brought over some stuff that was good from 1.6, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the communities react.

Already we’ve got some positive feedback from some of the pros, but we’re telling the communities it’s not going to be either, it’s going to be something new so let’s play it, let’s give feedback and let’s go from there.

Valve Software has a reputation for hiring modders, is modding therefore a good way for a budding game developer to get noticed?

It’s a really good way for someone to get noticed because it shows that you’re able. Normally modders have to work as a team and that’s important, and they also have to be able to finish something and that’s really important. So those two things together are a really good way to demonstrate that you’re ready to work in the industry.

What other advice would you give to someone looking to work in the games industry?

Make sure you’re doing something.  Do whatever you’re doing, like we (at Valve) weren’t necessarily writing for games when Gabe (Newell) tapped us, but do whatever you do as well as you can and with a view as to what your eventual goal will be.

Anything else you’d like to add about CS: GO?

We’re going to have the beta starting in October, check it out. We think it’s the best version of Counter-Strike there is, and you can help us make it the best version.

Thanks for your time.

The CS:GO beta begins in October, with a Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC released scheduled for early 2012.

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

For more information about Train2Game, go to www.train2game.com

Train2Game news – Valve: modding ‘a really good way’ to get noticed in the games industry

 

Train2Game students should take up modding in order to help demonstrate that they’re ready to work in the games industry. That’s according to Valve Software’s Chet Faliszek who spoke to the Train2Game blog at The Eurogamer Expo.

“It’s a really good way for someone to get noticed because it shows that you’re able” he responded when asked about modding.

“Normally modders have to work as a team and that’s important, and they also have to be able to finish something and that’s really important. So those two things together are a really good way to demonstrate that you’re ready to work in the industry.”

Valve have a reputation of hiring modders, and as previously reported by the Train2Game blog, Team Fortress 2 regularly sees community created items added to the game.

As part of an interview that’ll shortly be published  on the Train2Game blog in full, the Valve writer added  that it’s important to just “make sure you’re doing something.”

“Do whatever you’re doing,” he said.  “Like we (at Valve) weren’t necessarily writing for games when Gabe (Newell) tapped us, but do whatever you do as well as you can and with a view as to what your eventual goal will be”

Faliszek’s comments echo those of id Software’s Tim Willits, who last month also told the Train2Game blog that modding is a great way to get into the industry. Willits himself started his career as a modder.

“Modding is a great way to get into the industry. Most of the key guys at ID come from the mod community – myself, Matt Hooper, Robert Duffy, Jan Paul Van Waveren – and we have numbers of other guys” said the RAGE Creative Director.

“What I suggest to people who want to get in the industry is find their favourite engine – Unreal, Source, it doesn’t matter, id tech – find whatever engine they like, what games they like to play, get the mod tools and make a mod. And make sure they complete it!

“Lots of times we have people who send resumes’ in with 20 half completed mods; we don’t want that, we want a handful of one’s that are actually done, and that’s really important” he added.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Faliszek’s advice? Do you mod? Would you like to take it up?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.