Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Where are they now? - David Jones

No, you're not seeing things; David Jones is working on another Crackdown game

For today's "Where are they now?" post let's talk about David Jones. No, I'm not talking about the department store that's a competitor to Myer, I'm talking about the Scottish game developer who was behind two of the biggest franchises in gaming: Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto.

Born in 1966, Jones would eventually study software engineering in Dundee, Scotland during the 1980s and towards the end of his uni days, started up his own game development company called DMA Design. Jones's first commercial game was a side scrolling shoot 'em up on the Amiga called Menace< which apparently sold 15,000 copies - not a bad result in the early days of PC gaming. He followed this up with another side scrolling shoot 'em up in 1989 called Blood Money.

It wasn't until 1991 that one of my favourite puzzle platformer games of all time was released called Lemmings. Apparently, the idea for Lemmings came about while the DMA Design team were working on animations for the sequel to Blood Money. They eventually realised that there was a potential game to be made having these "lemmings" walking around a precarious landscape. The rest, as they say, is history. Lemmings sold 55,000 copies on the Amiga on its first day of sales alone. Over the next couple of decades, Lemmings would sell over 15 million copies.

Jones helped to program the 1992 sequel to the game but from then on started to take on more managerial and designer roles with respect to games. He is credited as being the "Capo Di Tutte Cappa" for the first game in DMA Design's most famous (and controversial) franchise, 1997's Grand Theft Auto and was also a Creative Director/Executive Producer on the 1999 sequel.

DMA Design was eventually acquired by Rockstar Games in 1999 and renamed to Rockstar North in 2002. In 2000, Jones left to form a new game development company called Realtime Worlds. Their first game was an Xbox 360 exclusive called Crackdown which was released in 2007. The game was a critical success thanks to its open-world approach and Jones served as Director on its development. He was also the Director for the development of 2010 MMORPG All Points Bulletin or APB. APB wasn't as well received as previous titles Jones worked on and it's around this time he left to pursue other interests.
In 2011, he co-founded a game development studio in San Francisco called nWay. Here he helped develop an action role-playing Facebook game called Chronoblade with ex-Diablo II designer Stieg Hedlund which was released in 2013. The game has quite a following with over 381,000 Likes on Facebook.

Jones also co-founded a company called Cloudgine which, what must seem like deja vu, is again working on a game called Crackdown for the latest Xbox (Xbox One of course).

While it'd be nice if Jones could return to develop another Lemmings game or, at the very least, a PC game, it doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon. However, considering his track record with the first Crackdown, there's a good chance this latest one coming to the Xbox One is going to be a winner, and if it's a winner, maybe he'll have enough money to risk it on a PC title? Whatever happens, thanks for the memorable games Mr Jones and good luck with the next Crackdown!

[ MobyGames: David Jones ]
[ Wikipedia: David Jones (video game developer) ]
[ Wikipedia: Lemmings (video game) ]
[ Chronoblade Official Website ]
[ Cloudgine Projects Webpage ]

Monday, June 29, 2015

Choicest VGM - VGM #188 - UFO: Enemy Unknown - Geoscape 2

Soundtrack composed by: John Broomhall

This is one of the two tracks that plays when you're viewing the "Geoscape" which is a graphical representation of the globe, its major cities, your bases and any hostile UFOs that happen to be zipping by. Geoscape 2 happens to be my favourite of the two Geoscape tracks. It manages to sound menacing and badass at the same time, in a late 80s/early 90s kind of way. I mean just listen to 4:01 onwards when it starts to ramp up: It's time for X-COM to kick some arse. Also gotta love the funky groove that starts at 6:02.

Thanks to Fenyo for providing these memorable tracks.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Spotlight Sunday - Week 27 - 2015

Spotlight Sunday is a way for Choicest Games to feature PC games that are scheduled for release on the following week - games that we consider worthwhile checking out.

This week (29th June to the 5th July 2015), there aren't too many games that I'm keen on; in fact there's only one I'm interested in and it's an oldie (but a goodie):

Subspace Continuum

  • Release Date: 03/07/2015
  • Availability: Steam - Free, Direct - Free
Subspace Continuum is a game that's 20 years old if you read up its history. The game started off as a test program to determine how laggy a massively multiplayer game could get on a dial-up connection! This was back in 1995 and the game was called Sniper. Eventually the creators realised they could actually market Sniper as an actual game and it went into open beta in February 1996. I'm guessing this is about the same time my brother and I really got into the game and let me tell you it was a real blast. It was basically a top-down space arena with hundreds of players attempting to attack each other for points and to collect upgrades for their ships. So in a nutshell, one big free-for-all but in space, flying a variety of spaceships. The game became was released commercially in December 1997 and had a price of almost $30 USD.

The game flopped commercially and was heavily pirated. Eventually Virgin Interactive Entertainment, who owned the IP went bankrupt in 1998 and although much of Virgin was bought over by EA, Subspace was not. However, despite the official servers going down, several users hosted their own servers and this helped the game continue to survive to this day. It's been ages since I've played Subspace and considering it's been almost two decades, I daresay the game may have not aged too well, but with the special price of $0, I'm sure it's worth a shot :).

So are you interested or excited about any PC games being released next week? Which games are you looking forward to?