We talk to Gary Carr, Creative Director and co-founder of Two Point Studios about the team's debut title, Two Point Hospital, and the inevitable comparison to the classic that inspired it.
With such fondness for the original Theme Hospital, how do you decide what to change and what to keep? Do you feel like you're anticipating how people's nostalgia might play tricks on them?
Ben was initially the yard stick to test this on. We realise obvious comparisons to Theme Hospital were inevitable...it’s impossible not to have some similar approaches when those concepts came from us in the first place. It’s just the way we think...it’s our style I suppose. Saying that, we were always intending to make a game that stood on its own two feet.
Theme Hospital always felt very British in its humour and style, is that something you've tried to hold onto in this iteration?
Funnily enough we were talking about this today. It’s inevitable that the humour reflects the makeup of the team but it isn't intentionally meant to be overtly British. We were definitely more aware this time that references needed to be more internationally understood but a British slant wouldn’t be a bad thing and easier to land for us and the writing team.
There's more than one hospital to take care of this time, how does that mix up the gameplay?
Yes it’s really made a big difference. I love jumping around my foundation. Taking all the features I unlock back to the earlier Hospitals I played.
Hospitals are famous for a lot of paperwork and process, how do you balance the elements of the game which are more simulation with the times you make a decision in the name of fun?
Classic trick… suck the player in with a charming world with visuals that are easy on the eye. Lots of fun and varied animations driven by our AI systems. Initially keep the game-play simple and well paced… then gradually layer on more challenges and abilities to tweak the simulation. Before you know it you are a hardcore hospital administrator farming illness for vast profits!
Without giving too much away, the personality traits the characters have in the game sound like they have the potential to create some really memorable combinations. How have you managed to balance all of those minute details to ensure everyone doesn't just become a raving lunatic?
It’s still an ongoing challenge! Getting the character interactions right is so tied into the traits systems, I’m amazed Mark Webley and Ben Huskins haven't lost the plot!
Other than TH, are there games you have revisited from the past that you still enjoy just as much today?
To be honest most games of a certain age are difficult to truly enjoy like I did when they came out… and include all the ones I worked on!
Is there something in the game you've just managed to sneak in, that you're particularly proud of, and players will have to keep a sharp eye out for?
Chris Knott, our lead animator is busy working on loads of animation alternatives for all the peeps interactions. He’s not supposed to, we are in bug fixing mode now, so don’t tell a soul!
Two Point Hospital releases on PC, Mac and Linux 30 August. Will you be readying your prescription pad and throwing on your lab coat? Let us know in the comments.
I recently spoke with a friend who we'll call Dave - because that’s his name - who claimed that playing original Xbox or 360 games on a shiny new Xbox One felt wrong in some way. That prompted me to draft this shortlist in order to debunk his nonsense theory, so, basically, here’s a select few games that I think prove Dave a wrong’un.
KOTOR released on the original Xbox way back in 2003, which, in the world of videogames, pretty much makes it an antique. It runs about as well as you'd expect and it won't win any beauty contests, but, it makes up for what it lacks on those fronts with its surprisingly in-depth systems.
Fully exploring the handful of open areas on offer is encouraged, as each location has its own distinctly unique feel and side quests. Players are given free reign when it comes to deciding how they want certain situations to play out, although it can be difficult not to stray towards the dark side when so many folks are susceptible to Jedi mind tricks or will just straight up pay you to leave them alone. Man's gotta eat.
On the surface, this 2D platformer may come across as just another Super Mario clone, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Braid, at its core, is more of a puzzle game with platforming elements.
Tim, the protagonist, has the ability to rewind time, which is essential when it comes to solving many of the game's challenges and erasing any unfortunate deaths. Tim's obsession with undoing his previous mistakes is a trait that becomes integral as the enthralling story unravels, gradually adopting a much darker tone. It’s more than a little bit Manhattan Project-y.
There's even a secret (and very difficult to attain) ending for those with the required patience and dedication, though it’s definitely worth the effort.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Before Skyrim was ported to every single device you own, predecessor Oblivion was top dog in Bethesda Game Studios’ house. It plays in much the same way as its more spritely sibling, but, despite its age, Oblivion is by no means the lesser of the two.
As you’d expect, there are activities aplenty to keep you entertained (or rather distracted) as you march (or rather meander) towards the inevitable final showdown. Guilds offer memorable questlines to anyone that happens to make contact, iconic side quests rival the main story, whilst a generous spattering of Oblivion Gates - portals to a fiery hellscape which must be closed to prevent their demonic denizens from escaping - will have you proudly pushing out your chest as the hero of the realm.
Trials’ simple, physics-based mechanics make it incredibly easy to pick up and play, but, as you progress, environments are deviously built upon to the point that they require savant levels of execution. Beginner tracks require little more than an understanding of the basic premise - get from A to B quick and clean - though before too long you're expected to pull off aerobatic manoeuvres that shouldn't be possible on a bike.
There's an unequivocal feeling of achievement to be taken from just shaving a few seconds off your best time and knowing, should he choose to embrace backwards compatibility, that Dave will never best me on the leaderboards. Isn't that what friendships are really all about?
The inclusion of a track editor increases the game's longevity by a huge margin, especially since many community creations play so well that they seemingly could’ve been designed by developer Red Lynx themselves.
Was Dave wrong to doubt the viability of Xbox One backwards compatibility? Have any of these suggestions convinced you to revisit a classic? Let us know and share your own picks in the comments below.
The recent double drop of Earthfall and Warhammer: Vermintide 2 saw an unprecedented peak of interest in frenetic cooperative action games here at PTC towers, with Sam even pitting the two against each other to see which is the better romp through an apocalyptic world for you and your friends.
The Lord of the Rings
Squint whilst playing Vermintide 2 and you could easily be forgiven for thinking you were looking at a slice of Middle-earth, rather than high Warhammer fantasy. Axe-wielding Dwarves? Check. Large hordes of repugnant enemies? Yep. Towering baddies bringing about the end of days? It’s got ‘em.
No doubt there are modders out there capable of giving Fatshark’s latest effort a Middle-earth makeover on PC, but it’d be great to see the supremely satisfying melee combat of Vermintide 2 officially melded with Tolkien lore.
Any of the franchise’s signature set pieces – the mad dash through the infested mines of Moria, the desperate battle in the woods around Parth Galen, or, perhaps most excitingly of all, the siege of Helm’s Deep – would make perfect settings for epic co-op action, plus the world is rich enough in factions and heroes for there to be any number of enemies and playable characters, each with their own unique weapons and abilities.
Aliens vs. Predator
As was made evident in the infamous Aliens: Colonial Marines, and to a lesser extent the human campaign of 2010’s Aliens vs. Predator, turning H.R. Giger’s terrifying, eight-foot-tall space ants into mindless fodder, easily knocked back and culled by puny humans, all but eradicates their mystique.
Ditching the human element in favour of Predators would make much more sense in any L4D-style iteration; not only do they have a bespoke arsenal of melee and ranged gadgetry, but, most importantly, their natural physique means they’re feasibly able to hang with the iconic, interstellar monstrosities in close-quarters combat.
Before there was the Covenant and the Master Chief, there was the Flood. Coming up against this parasitic life form in the original Halo was almost like a precursor to the L4D games themselves. Agile, deadly, and with a nasty habit of attacking in numbers, the Flood and their various forms are basically already tailored to the genre.
A campaign focussed on the Forerunners’ desperate war to stop them could be an awesome way to both reinvigorate an ageing franchise and explore some of the lesser known lore that’s only really been significantly touched upon in the expanded universe.
Plus, the Forerunners’ advanced array of technology means there’s no shortage of badass weaponry to play with. You could even have Monitors fill in if you’re short on co-op partners for added immersion.
So, those were just a few franchises we think would look good wearing a Left 4 Dead skin. What do you think of our choices? Are there any we missed that’d be perfectly suited to the genre? Let us know below or sound off in the forums.