Edge May 2021

The authority on videogame art, design and play, Edge is the must-have companion for game industry professionals, aspiring game-makers and super-committed hobbyists. Its mission is to celebrate the best in interactive entertainment today and identify the most important developments of tomorrow, providing the most trusted, in-depth editorial in the business via unparalleled access to the developers and technologies that make videogames the world’s most dynamic form of entertainment.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
13 Issues

in this issue

7 min
virtual humanity

Epic Games is on the cusp of opening limited early access to MetaHuman Creator, a 3D character-creation tool which has the potential to transform the way character models are produced. The software can rapidly generate unique and extremely high-quality realistic models of people that are fully set up for use in Unreal Engine, where it will be entirely free to use. “The tool compresses the weeks or months of work it usually takes to create a realistic character into minutes, or however long you wish to put into customising the exact character you want,” Vladimir Mastilovic, vice president of Digital Humans Technology at Epic Games, tells us. “Up until now it has taken very sophisticated teams weeks or months to create just one high- quality digital human, and now that massive…

11 min
made in iraq

People have been making games in Iraq for thousands of years. A popular pastime in ancient Mesopotamia – a region that enclosed much of modern-day Iraq and Kuwait together with parts of Syria and Turkey – was a strategy game in which players raced to move their pieces off a 20-square board. Rediscovered as ‘the game of Ur’ by British archaeologists, it predates chess and is a possible ancestor of backgammon. Videogame development in Iraq, meanwhile, dates back to at least 1993, when a small team of Baghdad University students led by Rabah Shihab developed a roleplaying platformer, Babylonian Twins, for Commodore’s Amiga. Created against a backdrop of high unemployment and devastated infrastructure following the Gulf War, it is an attractive side-scrolling recreation of an age of relative prosperity and great…

5 min
model pro

There’s a refrain common among developers who’ve broken free from the triple-A space to make indie games or shift their focus to mobile platforms. Big ships turn slowly, as they say, and the faster speed of iteration – and the shorter turnaround between conception and release – is a big part of the appeal of moving away from blockbuster development. Hironobu Sakaguchi’s studio Mistwalker has enjoyed some success on mobile with the Terra Battle games: small-scale tile-based tactical RPGs. But the studio has spent the past three years developing Apple Arcade exclusive Fantasian, a lavish production that ostentatiously harks back to Sakaguchi’s genre roots, down to its typically expansive Nobuo Uematsu soundtrack. Though its priorities for the service seem to have shifted recently, this is still a coup for Apple: it’s…

1 min
gacha con

Sakaguchi certainly doesn’t seem overly concerned about the challenge faced by premium games on mobile platforms, in light of the abundance of free-to-play games. In fact, he suggests players familiar with modern monetisation practices – particularly in Japan, where gacha games rule the roost – are beginning to tire of them. “My belief,” he says, “is that if you can craft a really good experience – something that’s unique, whether it be on the story side or the game mechanics side – then players will want to flock to it and experience that for themselves.”…

5 min
viking invasion

You know the tune by now: a game appears, seemingly out of nowhere, and grabs hold of the zeitgeist for a minute, pushing ahead of far more established titles and maybe breaking a record or two along the way. Among Us. Fall Guys. Phasmophobia. And, latest to join the chorus, Valheim – a Viking survival game that, this February, joined the exclusive club of games to hit 500,000 concurrent players on Steam. It’s an achievement only ever matched by four other titles: PUBG, CS:GO, Dota 2 and Cyberpunk 2077. And in stark contrast to its new peers, Valheim is a debut release from a Swedish studio with a headcount of five. At the outset of development, the team consisted of one person: Richard Svensson. Svensson quit his job as lead programmer at…

1 min
expanded horizons

With more kronor in its pocket than expected, has success affected Iron Gate’s plans for the future of Valheim? Not much. “We’ve actually had a quite clear development roadmap from the beginning,” Törnqvist says. “This really hasn’t changed our plans.” It’s sticking to the milestones it laid out ahead of launch, and has no intent of rushing to deliver them. The biggest difference Valheim’s sales numbers will make is to the size of the team – which, as it stands, is equivalent to one member of staff per million copies sold. “We’re going to hire some more people sooner rather than later,” Törnqvist says.…