The Kingpin Of The Gaming World: Ian Livingstone
How did the idea of Games Workshop come about?
A friend of mine, Steve Jackson shared my passion for playing games. And even with our poorly paid jobs, we would spend a lot of time playing board games. So we thought wouldn’t it be nice to turn our hobby of playing games into the business of making them? We didn’t know how to start this though, so we printed a magazine, Owl and Weasel, which helped us reach out to people. One of the recipients of our magazine, Gary Gygax, who just created Dungeons & Dragons, got in touch with us and explained what this fantastic game was all about. Here was a game where you role-play in a fancy world like JRR Tolkien’s and it was basically an extraordinary adventure of the mind. So we ordered six games and got the distribution rights for Dungeons & Dragons for three years in Europe.
Many say your books, the Fighting Fantasy series, brought gaming to the pages. Will we be reading more new books from you?
Last year we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the publication of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain with a new gamebook, Blood of the Zombies. I was delighted by the fan reaction and the reviews, but it’s all about the question of time.
You are in India to promote the latest edition of Lara Croft Tomb Raider… How does a game that was first launched in 1996 survive the test of time?
The first thing we sat down to discuss was whether we want to make another sequel or whether it is even relevant in today’s gaming world. Then having seen how successful James Bond and Batman have been as a prequel, we thought maybe we could go down that road, so we decided a prequel was the way to go. Plus, many fans wrote into us and wanted to know about the early years of Lara Croft and how she became a tomb raider. It was a brave and bold decision to make the next game about a 21-year-old Lara Croft.
What are the new additions one should look forward to in this reboot?
The game is all about survival along with action and adventure as she was on a voyage of discovery, was shipwrecked on a hostile island and had to learn how to survive. The game still remains true to its three key pillars — exploration, adventure and discovery with combat. It is more of an open world game.
When a game is developed, what is the most important ingredient that makes it stand out?
There are a lot of things that contribute to a game including graphics, narrative, technology, storyline, music, the behaviour of the non-player characters and the emotional rollercoaster involved. But for me, the magic is in the gameplay. This is what makes you come back to play. Even if you strip away the graphics and technology, a great game will always sell because you buy a game to play it, not look at it.
Which games make you want to come back and play over and over again?
It all depends on where I am and how much time I have. If it’s on a console, then its Tomb Raider and FIFA, even though my sons beat me at it. Since I travel a lot, so I use the iPad and play Classic Clan with a lot of gamer friends. It basically gives me an option to play the game from anywhere in the world. I’m also hooked to Village Life on Facebook as it actually captures the human spirit that most social games don’t have.
Games like Village Life and Angry Birds have become a rage… So are we moving away from the more complicated games?
No. I think these are additions that broaden the market. People always want a graphic intense, cinematic experience on the console even though there is a whole new explosion in the content of casual games. But the millions and millions of people playing games on Facebook or on their smartphone or tablets are just adding to the gaming market. Today this market is worth $50 billion, by 2015 it will be $90 billion, so this like snack gaming, it caters to everyone — young and old.
India is known for its business software, but do you see it become a game developing hub?
India is a growing market, but as a developer, it is seen more as an outsourcing destination for doing graphics development rather than the whole production. I think that is going to change now as the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group has acquired over 50 per cent stake in Codemasters — a well-known game developer in the UK. Then there are Yellow Monkey Studios in Mumbai. With 1.2 billion users right here at home, it is a nice market to focus on, but if you want to be a global player then you have to look beyond domestic games. There is talent no doubt and I don’t see why the next Angry Birds can’t come from India, but the software has to go beyond its own culture and business to the fields of entertainment. And that kind of shift is much needed.
Sony Playstation 4
The PS4 is Sony’s most powerful console to date as it is powered by an x86-64 AMD Jaguar CPU with eight cores. The downside is that PS3 games cannot be played on it, so your only option is to stream older games. It comes with a 1.84 teraflop Radeon graphics processor and 8GB of RAM, so expect some spell-binding graphics. The system is also studded with USB 3.0, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, as well as the predictable HDMI, Analog AV out, Digital Output and Blu-ray drive. The DualShock 4 controller has a touch pad and an LED light bar that allows the new PlayStation camera to easily track the device for motion control. Motion sensors are more sensitive with six-axis controller and the analog sticks provide more precise control. Social networking option: You can broadcast your game to your friends through networks like Ustream and Facebook by pressing the “Share” button.
Remote play: A game running on PS4 can be streamed to the PlayStation Vita.
Expected price: $400 and will be launched around Christmas this year.