The forgotten hero of Mortal Kombat

Liu Kang is dead. It’s 2002, and after a rocky transition from 2D to 3D for the Mortal Kombat franchise with Mortal Kombat 4, players booted up the newest installment, Deadly Alliance, with feverish anticipation. They were greeted with an opening scene of Liu Kang, the franchise’s hero, training at...

X-Men: Children of the Atom: An oral history

If there’s a lesson to learn from Shaq Fu, it’s that the mid-’90s game industry would turn just about anything into a fighting game. A movie, a TV show, even just a celebrity — drop it into the template, and that was often enough to greenlight a game. So when...

Breakout tabletop RPG by Native designers imagines an uncolonized North America

Every year thousands of school-aged children from across the Midwest make their way to downstate Illinois. Along the banks of the Mississippi River, wedged between St. Louis and the world’s largest catsup bottle, they spend a day touring the remains of one of North America’s oldest cities, now known as...

Why hang a game map on the wall when you could build a world around one instead?

For indie designers, producing a tabletop role-playing game might mean learning new skills: not just game design, but layout, graphic design, marketing, or illustration as well. For Ross Cowman, designer of the award-winning storytelling game Fall of Magic and the new City of Winter, which is about to complete its...

In Hitman 3, Agent 47’s freedom is more important than yours

Early in the production of Hitman 3, the developers of the game found themselves in a bind — a conundrum of their own making. For the first two entries in the trilogy, 2016’s Hitman and 2018’s Hitman 2, series protagonist Agent 47 didn’t have top billing. The real stars of...

The new official Xbox Wireless Headset is a best-in-class offering for the price

Microsoft’s entry into the gaming headset market isn’t perfect, but it’s a very strong offering for the price. The design team behind the new Official Xbox Wireless Headset plainly had two missions: first, to create a best-in-class Xbox headset at a sub-$100 price. But second, and equally important, it also...

X-COM got its name, in part, because ‘XCON’ sounded like ‘ex-convict’

Ed. note: Now on Kickstarter, Monsters in the Dark: The Making of X-COM: UFO Defense is author David L. Craddock’s latest book looking back at the history of the video game industry. Below, we have an excerpt covering the early brainstorming sessions between developers Mythos and MicroProse for the game...