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  • Ludono

    Inside The Box - The Last of Us Survival Edition

    By Ludono

    Hi and welcome to yet another new blog series I've decided to start up. Inside The Box will focus on packaging and extras that come with various "editions" of games, though I won't limit myself to just games. Anything nerdy is fair game on this blog!     The inaugural post features one of the most highly anticipated games of this year, The Last of Us, specifically the Survival Edition of the game.   **Note: This is NOT a review of the game, only the packaging**     The Last of Us - Survival Edition   Release Date - June 14, 2013 Developer - Naughty Dog Platform(s) - PS3 Price - $79.99 Price Paid - $79.99 (Amazon) Retailer Exclusive - No   I decided to make an unboxing video for this!       To summarize the above video: - Collectors box/packaging - Steelbook case featuring Ellie/Joel - Sounds and Sights DLC - PSN Avatars and Theme - 170 Page Hardcover Artbook - Issue #1 of The Last of Us comic   The Last of Us Survival Edition is one of two different special editions, the other being the Gamestop exclusive Post-Pandemic Edition which substituted a 12 inch statue in place of the Artbook included with the Survival Edition.   This edition is available for $20 more than the standard edition, which seems fair for what you get with it. The box is much larger than I expected it to be, below is a comparison picture with a standard PS3 game.         The box everything comes in is large and looks like one of those promotional display boxes you'd see at Gamestop. That said, the artwork for the game is nice and I know I won't mind putting this box up for display on a shelf somewhere. However, a box this size might be the bane of those more space-conscious that myself.   The steelbook is simple yet elegant, with the added bonus of having artwork on the inside as well. The Artbook is definitely a premium book, more along the lines of the Uncharted 2 or Mass Effect artbooks rather than a small pack-in artbook most games get.   The DLC and PSN Avatars/Theme are a nice bonus, but definitely not worth any amount of money. Finally, the comic seems to be the afterthought of this edition, being more of a teaser than anything else, likely in the hopes of getting you to buy more issues of the comic as it comes out.     Overall you get your extra $20 worth out of this edition, though not much more than that.   Presentation - 9/10 Price/Value - 8/10 Extras - 7/10   Score - 8.0 / 10     Edit: The art book is available separately, albeit as a preorder (July 2) and at $40 MSRP ( $27 on Amazon)   What did you think of this type of review? More videos or more pictures in upcoming ones? What would you like to see next?
    • 12 comments
    • 3,907 views
  • Venom

    "Upcoming" Game Titles Revised for Accuracy

    By Venom

    This started out as a couple of dumb one-off jokes I made earlier today, but then I realized...why not go further with it? Why not make it a number of dumb jokes?   Why not indeed.   So, in today's post, I'll be talking about some upcoming video games that are taking way too long to come out. But not just that - I'll also be revising their names to more accurately portray their current state and poking a little fun at them along the way. I've got my poking stick set to "stun" and my jokes set to "kill," so let's get this thing on the road!   Agent Revised name: Undercover Agent This is literally the game's entire existence.   Do you remember Agent? No? No one does, so if you said yes, go sit in time out, Mr. or Ms. Pants on Fire. It was announced in 2009 or so, and since then there's been nothing - total radio silence. Suffice it to say, it appears Agent has gone deep undercover, so until Rockstar pulls him from active duty, he won't be seen in the public eye unless he's in disguise. Let's just hope Momma Agent doesn't get a letter saying he was KIA. Final Fantasy XV   Revised name: Final Fantasy 2015, At the Earliest Revised revised name: Pretty Boys with Sharpened Toys   At first they were going to call it Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which is a heck of a mouthful. Makes sense to shorten the title a bit, especially after it's completely failed to show up on store shelves since its announcement in 2006, right? But Squenix wasn't just shortening the name, they were telling us something. Something to do with 15...what does it mean? Well, I've deduced that it means 2015 is the absolute earliest we'll see this game on store shelves. So if they rename it to FFXVI, be prepared to wait another couple of years, at least.   The Last Guardian   revised name: The Last Guardian of the PS3's Legacy "Woof! I mean...meow! I mean...hold on, let me think about this."   Let's pretend for a moment that The Last Guardian is still coming to PS3, because that may be the only way for some of you to hold back the tears. Got rid of the sniffles yet? Good, let's move on. The Last Guardian has been "in development" for a while, being announced in 2009, and has always been slated to come out on PS3. Since it looks like the PS3's lifetime will expire before this game ever comes out, I've taken the liberty of crowning it the Guardian of the PS3's Legacy. Once every PS3 game that will ever be released has come out, ol' Trico will finally spread his wings and soar onto the system to secure the console's legacy with one final, amazing game. Unless it turns out to be terrible, like most games that stew in development hell for years, but let's just do what it takes to keep from crying and hope for the best. Beyond Good & Evil 2   Revised name: Beyond Good Graphics and Evil Executives 2 Still waiting.   BG&E was a fan favorite and a critical success, but it didn't really do well commercially, so fans were ecstatic when it was announced the game was getting a sequel in 2008. And yet now they've been waiting...and waiting...and waiting. At this point, I'd like to think that by the time the game finally does come out it will have amazingly advanced graphics, probably powered by the Playstation 5, Xbox Two, and Wii U Me, and the developers will have finally found a way to convince the publishing bosses that the game will turn a profit. Prey 2   Revised name: A Longer Development Cycle than Prey, 2   Now with twice the prey!   Prey 2 was announced in 2011 or so, but they've been pretty quiet since Bethesda told everyone that it was being polished up to their standards. What standards those are, exactly, we'll never know, but it probably involves releasing it with a host of hilarious glitches. In any case, the original Prey took around 12 years to finally see the light of day, and while Prey 2 has only gotten a few years in, the complete lack of any new info points to the developers trying to match or exceed that cycle. I'm pretty sure at that point it stops being "development hell" and turns into "development hell frozen over."   Kingdom Hearts 3   Revised name: We Ran Out of Kingdom Hearts Spinoffs 3   I'm confused about those 3 things behind the logo too, Sora.   It finally happened. After so many long years, we finally have confirmation. It's what we all expected, all hoped, all secretly knew. And our waiting has paid off as Square Enix has revealed...that it has finally run out of Kingdom Hearts spinoffs.   Half-Life 3   Revised name: No-Life 3 While you wait, enjoy this mockup that took someone literally seconds to make.   Because people who are still going around looking for clues of this game's existence have no life. That, and the game itself doesn't have a life, since it doesn't exist. It's a double whammy of painful realization! Starcraft: Ghost   Revised name: Starcraft: Ghost I don't know if this is an actual screenshot. No one remembers what the game looks like.   Oh, wait.     Some of you may be saying that these are the same games I featured in a past article (welcome back, Señor or Señora Pantalones de Fuego) but I talked about them differently this time, so it makes it new. So nyah.   So what do you think? Did I hit the nail on the head with my revised names? Do you have a better name for any of these? Or do you not care either way and just want to sound off in the comments about something else? Whatever the case, head on down there and speak your mind!
    • 10 comments
    • 3,542 views
  • iwx Leprechaun

    (The Return of) The Angry Leprechaun Rant: The Console War

    By iwx Leprechaun

    Alright kiddies, strap yourself in. The Angry Leprechaun has been dormant for too long, here is another attack at your eye balls, I suppose if you read this this out loud it's an attack on your ear holes as well, but that's not the point.   The console war, a vicious cycle. New consoles come out, people argue over which is better and cite various statistics, lather, rinse, repeat. I won't lie, I have been involved in the past of "Console War" hoopla and who won, lost, is in a rubber room in a straight jacket wearing a tin foil hat to keep the enemies from seeing his thoughts and simultaneously cooking his brain like a baked potato. Can be good fun and is ultimately futile. So why rant if ultimately I'm OK with it, you ask? Well first off, thank you for being polite and asking a good question, second don't interrupt me while I'm typing, it's rude, just let me get to the point on my own you impatient little... moving on.   Every single day, in various news outlets/sites/forums, I can't help but see a "Console X" has already won the "Console War". (Yeah, I like that, I'm putting quotes around that for the rest of the rant, because of how stupid it is. In fact, imagine me doing air quotes whenever you read it too. For fun you can do the air quotes yourself if you'd like. Go ahead, no one is watching you. Anyway...) Whenever I see this, I am overcome with a multitude of emotions, well maybe not a multitude, it's mostly just overbearing annoyance and rage.   Let's start with the fact that the 2 latest consoles have been out for just over 6 months. Their previous iterations have been around for over 7 years. You mean to tell me from 6 months of sales data, you are predicting that the white flag is waving? The fat lady is singing? Let's face it, you're an idiot. If I recall, the PS3 was off to a rocky start with it's high price tag. So you want to try telling me again that 6 months of sales figures declares a winner? Go jump off a cliff. The "Console War" isn't won with the console itself, it takes games too.   Bringing me to my next point, neither the Xbox One or PS4 is worth purchasing currently. I'm sure many are going to disagree with me here and frankly, I don't care. I have played the PS4 and I own an Xbox One currently and that is only because I won it in a costume contest on Amazon. The honest truth is neither console has games for it to be a fully justified purchase yet. I'm not saying there aren't fun games out there, there are, but not yet are there any that make me want to run out and spend a couple hundred dollars. This is why out of current gen consoles, I probably enjoy my Wii U the most, while the library is small, the quality of that library is excellent. (And I'm drooling thinking about X releasing, oooooooo yeah). They will be worth it, games will come, I will buy a PS4, but until they have some console sellers, the "Console War" is still going to be at a stalemate in my mind. OoLaLa Retired Robin, Would you look at dem gams?   Another thing I can't wrap my head around is, why is everyone so quick to decide a clear winner? This is one of the very few instances where I can say without a doubt, winning is a BAD thing. If there is a clear winner declared, sure be happy your console of choice is the "winner". Here's the thing, what if that "win" actually knocks the other console of of contention completely? Competition is the reason why I own a PS3, 360, Wii, WiiU, Xbox One (well technically Amazon is the reason for this). Competition is what drives innovation, what creates amazing games, what pushes these companies to be better than the other in an attempt to "win". As a gamer, you shouldn't want someone to win, you should want them to fight and win battles instead of the war. While the companies battle, we reap the benefits. The argument could be made that a single console means that all effort would be put into that console, I doubt it though.   In summation, stop declaring a winner. It makes you look like a moron and I hate you.
    • 7 comments
    • 4,106 views
  • Royzoga

    Random Roy - EVO 2014 Summary

    By Royzoga

    I didn't think it would be possible to follow last years hype, last years upsets, and last years incredible matches. Well, I was wrong. I bring you again, the summary of Evolution Championship Series. Now if you're unfamiliar with what EVO is, basically the Olympics of fighting games. There's a medley of fighting games to be played ranging from Street Fighter to Super Smash Bros Melee. However, the roster is ever changing. Almost each year, the main 8 games played change up, allowing newer and fresher games to be showcased. And this year was definitely a crazy ride. Without much more intro, let's dive right in.     Ultra Street Fighter IV The series 6th year at EVO 1st. MD │ Louffy, who played as Rose, from France. 2nd. Bonchan, who played Sagat, from Japan. 3rd. RZR │ Fuudo (Winner of EVO 2011,) who played Fei Long, from Japan.   In quite possibly one of the biggest upsets of an entire generation, a huge portion of the favorites to win the tournament were eliminated before even the Semi-finals. It just goes to show you that even the changes they made for Ultra can really impact the level of competition.     Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 The series 4th year at EVO 1st. EG │ Justin Wong, who played using the team Wolverine/Storm/Akuma, from the USA. 2nd. GG │ NYChrisG, who played using the teams Morrigan/Doctor Doom/Vergil, Magneto/Morrigan/Doctor Doom, from the USA. 3rd. RG │ Fillipino Champ, who played using the teams Magneto/Dormammu/Doctor Doom, Magneto/Doctor Doom/Phoenix, Morrigan/Magneto/Doctor Doom, from the USA.   Finally, it happened again. Justin Wong returned as the Marvel champion. It's been too long since we've heard the crowds of viewers cheering his name and he definitely deserved this.     Super Smash Bros Melee The series 2nd year at EVO 1st. C9 │ Mang0 (Won EVO 2013), who played as Falco, Fox, from the USA. 2nd. CRS │ Hungrybox, who played as Jigglypuff, from the USA. 3rd. P4K.EMP │ Armada who played as Peach, Young Link, from Sweden.   Quite possibly one of the coolest things to see this year, not only because of the competition, but because of Nintendo's support. Before the finals began, it was nice to see Reggie on screen thank the players and such. At least after last years almost nightmare, it's nice to see the turn around. Smash is not done.     Killer Instinct The series 1st year at EVO 1st. KN.RM │ CDjr who played as Sadira, Jago, from the USA. 2nd. RG │ Rico Suave who played as Thunder, Fulgore, Glacius, Jago, Sabrewulf, from the USA. 3rd. EG │ Justin Wong who played as Sabrewulf, from the USA.   Straight up, I'm not a KI fan in the least bit. But watching the grand finals was pretty intense. Higher level play of most games can still almost always give you that tight feeling in your chest of, 'oh, that was freaking cool.'     Blazblue Chrono Phantasma The series 1st year at EVO. 1st. Garireo, who played as Litchi Faye-Ling, from Japan. 2nd. Dogura, who played as Azrael, from Japan. 3rd. BE.TSB │ Dora_Bang, whoa played as Bang, from Japan.   Quite possibly the most hype matches I've ever seen for this game. The commentators were fantastic, the players were outstanding and my heart was racing every single second.     King of Fighters XIII The series 3rd year at EVO 1st. Qanba │ Xiao Hai, who played as EX Iori/Mr Karate/Kim, from China. 2nd MCZ │ Tokido, who played as EX Iori/Mr Karate/Chin, from Japan. 3rd. LDA │ ET, who played as Clark/Mr. Karate/EX Iori, EX Iori/Mr. Karate/Kim, from Taiwan.   It's sad to see the hype for King of Fighters XIII dying off so early. It feels like it could still have a lot of life left in it, but with the past EVO champion, Reynald, unable to participate as well, some are skeptical to the future. Even the commentators felt weaker compared to last year. KoF XIV might be in the near future, but these players show case a series of beautifully executed combos and game knowledge.     Injustice: Gods Among Us The series 2nd year at EVO 1st. RG │ SonicFox, who played as Batgirl, from the USA. 2nd. AK │ Pig of the Hut, who played as Zod, from the USA. 3rd. IC │ Mit 88, who played as Deathstroke, Aquaman, from the USA.   Having the second fewest signups this year tells a great deal for the future of the game. I'm fairly certain that most people are getting excited for Mortal Kombat X at this point, but still. It's fun to see Batgirl deliver some butt whooping.     Tekken Tag Tournament 2 The series 2nd year at EVO 1st. Twitch │ JDCR, who played as Heihachi/Armour King, from South Korea. 2nd. Twitch.MCP │ Gen, who played as Bob/Leo, from Japan. 3rd. BE │ Ao, who played as Alisa/Miguel, from Japan.   Sadly, Tekken seems to be dying off a tad at EVO this year, seeing the fewest entries compared to the other games. However, in contrast to this, series director Katsushiro Harada displayed a new teaser trailer for Tekken 7. The Devil is returning, we just have to be patient. In the mean time, we can enjoy and get hype over one of the best Tekken games since the original Tekken Tag.     That concludes this years Evolution Championship Series main events. While this does not cover every single tournament that was played at EVO 2014, it does cover the top 8 most signed up for. Something else worth note, I felt that EVO seemed a lot more main stream this year. It makes me happy and sad at the same time. On the upside, sites like IGN and Kotaku posted coverage on it the entire weekend. it made following the events I missed a lot more convenient, not to mention archives of the grand finals matches. It was a tad sad however, to see so much advertising for things like Mountain Dew. I can understand them being a sponsor, but this is the sort of thing gamers made fun of Microsoft and Activision for with the whole Doritos and Mountain Dew giveaways. I just hope it doesn't evolve into something out of control for the future. Regardless, it was definitely one of the most hype years yet and I can't wait for next year. With games like Persona 4 Ultimax, Mortal Kombat X, Tekken 7, and possibly a new patch for Ultra Street Fighter 4 to be out in time for EVO, there's gonna be a ton of new stuff to watch.   Hope you guys enjoyed my quick coverage of the event! If you enjoyed a particular video or game, leave a comment below. Same goes for disliking. Let's spread the love of the Fighting Game Community~♥
    • 12 comments
    • 3,985 views
  • Kezins

    The Majority Of Magic 2015 Players Exhibit Poor Sportsmanship

    By Kezins

    While I do enjoy playing Magic The Gathering on my iPad and PS3, it seems good sportsmanship exhibited by other players rarely exists. I'd estimate that in 80-90% of the multiplayer games I'm in where it's obvious I will win the match, the other player will exit the game which causes a slow down waiting for the computer to take over for them.   I'm not sure where the lack of sportsmanship comes from. Anytime I know I'm going to lose, I give my opponent the satisfaction of finishing me off and completing the game. It's a real shame the game doesn't punish those who quit out.   Even worse than people who "quit out" is people who will take the maximum time for every move they make likely in an attempt to get you to quit once you lose patience. Magic 2015 definitely gives players way too much time to make moves.   Perhaps the anonymous nature of online interaction encourages rudeness...who knows...  
    • 6 comments
    • 3,457 views
 

So I Gotta Know: Why Doesn't SCEA Care About the Vita?

Welcome, one and all, to the wonderful, magical world of solo debatery and madness, that which is known as "So I Gotta Know!" Today's episode asks...why doesn't Sony's American branch seem to care about the success of the Vita?     Despite being possibly the most powerful gaming handheld to date, the Vita has had a rough time in North America. It launched with a fair number of games, both digital and physical, but very few of these games were enticing enough for the average gamer to jump on the system right away, leaving it mostly to the early adopters. To be fair, though, the 3DS had a pretty rocky start as well, so that's just how things go when you launch a new system people aren't too sure about. However, where the 3DS has since picked up steam and become a strong seller for Nintendo, Sony's Vita is still back at the starting line, waiting for someone to give it a push out on to the field.   So what's the problem? Well, part of it is the software library - even now, a year after the Vita launched, there's still very few "killer apps" that make the Vita worth owning. Many of the games released for the system have been ports or remakes of older games, which are great for Vita owners, but not so great at convincing non-owners that it's worth buying. Not only that, but looking at the release calendar for 2013 looks pretty grim - as of this writing, there are maybe 7 titles confirmed to be coming to Vita this year. How is that even possible? It's clear that Sony has a good relationship with developers, or at least enough money to bribe them, by looking at the numerous PS3 games that have exclusive content not found in other versions. So why can't Sony get developers on board for the Vita? da ba dee da ba die...   Numbers. It all comes down to numbers...there's just not enough Vita owners out there to make developing for the system profitable. Developers aren't going to put time and effort into making a game for a system that relatively few people have compared to the PS3. This presents a conundrum, however, because if developers aren't making games for the Vita, no one's going to buy a Vita, leading to a vicious circle where nothing changes. It's clear that Sony needs to make some changes to their plans for the Vita in order to get more systems in players' hands, and yet, they seem to be content to just sail along and hope everything works out for the best. It's this disinterest from the company that's supposed to be promoting this device that really makes consumers and developers alike wary of the Vita, and it's going to hurt Sony in the longrun. So how can they turn things around if no one's making games for their system?   Games like these, perhaps.   Price. As seen in the brief GamesRadar article linked there, when Sony's Japanese branch dropped the price on the Vita, sales made a huge jump. Recent rumblings also suggest the release of Soul Sacrifice in that region have played a big part in moving units as well. If SCEA was to follow suit with a price drop, we'd see a surge of Vita sales in North America. From there, developers would have a revitalized interest in providing quality games for the growing Vita audience, and things would certainly start to look up for the system. And yet, it's almost as if SCEA is completely ignoring what their other branches are doing. Not only that, but they're ignoring what Nintendo did as well - Nintendo saw a surge of 3DS sales after their price cut. While it's true that reports suggest many stores have lowered the price on the 3G Vita by $100 (Sony has lowered it in their stores by $50, which you might notice makes it the same price as the Wi-Fi model), those same reports also suggest Sony may be discontinuing the 3G model, which will leave only the $250 Wi-Fi model unless Sony releases a new one.   But unless Sony releases a newer, and more importantly, cheaper model of the Vita, nothing is going to change, yet Sony doesn't seem to mind. Rather than give people a reason to get excited about the Vita again, rather than guarantee some sales by dropping the price, rather than even try to find some way to make the Vita attractive even at it's current price point, SCEA is doing practically nothing to help the system succeed. If they're not going to cut the price, then it would certainly help to run a marketing campaign to at least make it look like they care about the Vita. But it would seem that no matter what people say, no matter what suggestions they make to help the Vita's audience grow, these words fall on deaf ears. And why? Why doesn't Sony step up their game and push the Vita? Why don't they remind developers of their successes with the PS3 and get them back on board? Why don't they do anything just to make it look like they're trying?   Oh, right.   Yes, it seems with the PS4's launch looming on the horizon, Sony has all but forgotten the PS3 and Vita and begun looking towards the future. While Sony did mention that some, or perhaps all, PS4 games would be playable on Vita, what good will that do if they don't start convincing people to buy the Vita? It seems Sony can't manage more than one console at a time, and so they've devoted all their resources to making sure people know the PS4 is coming and hyping it up. By focusing on the PS4, however, they're essentially killing the Vita outright - if they're working to bring developers on board for the PS4, who's developing for the Vita? If they're trying to convince consumers that the PS4's price is fair, who's going to change their mind about the Vita's? And finally, if Sony is making a marketing push to get the PS4's name out there and known across the gamerscape (I just made that up right now) who's going to tell people that the Vita still exists? Certainly not Sony, because they just don't seem to care about it anymore.

Venom

Venom

 

Roundtable Reads: Gaming News Ruining Reveals?

Every day we read the news from newspapers, magazines, blogs, articles, the internet, etc. and find ourselves enjoying what were interested in reading. One area that we love to read is the gaming industry. There are many fascinating news from new games in development, reviews, previews, and many more. We get excited for pretty much anything that aims towards us. Throughout the years gaming has been growing and people from all age groups enjoy them. I do the same thing when I wake up. First thing I do is go to Game Podunk to read Marcus“s news blog and then look at other gaming sites for the latest news. What I“ve noticed the recent trend lately is that whenever there is announcement for something big, it eventually leaks or ruins the surprise. The question that comes in mind about gaming news is that have they ruined the surprises and reveals to us? I say somewhat in some ways because the feeling of excitement of surprise disappears quickly. I will discuss some samples that ruins reveals in some areas of what leads to revealing.   Imma read what's going today When a new game is being announced, were not sure what it is and the developer/studio would give out hints by talking about what type of game it is, gameplay, story, etc. Gaming sites would post articles explaining what it is and sometimes even post a date to release more information like trailers, images, and footage. The idea they do is hyping the news up to get us ready for the big reveal. We love to get that anticipated feeling of the surprise. It is like opening a gift on Christmas morning.       What?! The game came out?! Dude when was that JRPG announced?!   Trailer leaks or footage are one of the biggest and easiest things to ruin surprises. Anyone can take a trailer that is supposed to debut in the future and leak it around the internet. For example Assassin“s Creed IV: Black Flag trailer was supposed to debut on a certain date, but prior to that someone leaked the trailer on YouTube. Trailers give away a good set of what the game would be about. When I first heard the announcement, I was very excited and look forward to the debut trailer on the day they would show it, but having it leaked ruined the surprise and just felt like another trailer to check out. Trailers make the game look and when it releases it can be a surprise hit, but sometimes the actual game can ruin the hype and be a possible disappointment. Footage is another thing that can ruin the moment. I mean a demo is good enough to get a taste of what the game is all about, but having leaked footage of most or some of the game can affect the gamer“s feelings towards it. Too much recorded footage can reveal a lot about the game.   Looks like were getting leaked sir! Images can be revealing to what is being created in the process. Some are real and some are fake. We read articles that describes what is in development and talk about what features it will have. For example the PS4 had many talks of what they have and there would be many different pictures on the internet to see what it looks like. When Sony would announce they would have a PS4 announcement on a certain date, images of what the console would look like spreaded around the net. I was looking forward to the announcement, but the urge to look at leaked stuff is tempting. The leaked image of the PS4 controller had everyone even excited for the PS4 announcement show, but in the end nothing much was shown other than the games. Not even the console was shown. The leaked image felt like an early surprise that was only needed to be seen once and wait for the big reveal at E3. I think it was better to show reveal the whole thing at E3 than teasing us with a little show. Either way it“s alright. It gets us more excited about the PS4.   Why did you spoil, you jerk!?   Discussions and comments in the news can spoil the surprises as well. Every news article would have a comment section below to have the society discuss about the latest news in gaming. Spoilers are a huge part of the comment section as there can be jerks that spoil the game for others. Besides that most of the articles do a great job warning readers for possible spoilers and what they will talk about before having you to proceed to move on with the story. This is why having a discussion board is very useful to see threads that talk about the surprise that can lead to the big revealing. It helps out the community to have a gathering of opinions and theories on what the surprise could possibly be. It is fun to discuss theories and predictions that can be right or wrong.   Am I ready to be revealed yet? I want to surprise the kid   Gaming news has somewhat ruined many surprises and reveals leading up to exciting announcements. I feel that people should not leak stuff and when it does, it seems to be a waste of excitement. The surprises and reveals in gaming is like Christmas for everyone. We get excited to open the announcement and reveals that has our minds looking forward to the news. I think what the gaming news sites should do is instead of making an article based on everything, they should release little information and add more through the later days going into the final reveal. As time would go by before the reveal, we would be making speculations, predictions, and opinions what it could be and how it would be great or bad. Most of the time it isn“t as bad as it is and it“s just depending on yourself if you want to get spoiled or not. We have a choice of ruining it ourselves or patiently wait for the reveal.

TKtheknight

TKtheknight

 

Video Game Music Gone Wrong

Video games have not always contained music. During their inception, the hardest task was simply learning how to get an image moving on the screen. Audio got added in soon enough, but it was a far cry from the orchestrated scores of today. Still, many arcade games did their best to have an addictive theme and succeeded. Since then, fans have gathered around video game music as a great auditory medium.   As great as some game music is though, there are times when music is a great disservice to the title it is included within. Sometimes it may just be one song out of place, and others may hinder an entire game with a lackluster soundtrack. On occasion, there are songs so completely bad that you can“t help but obsess over aching eardrums instead of what is even occurring in the game. Music can have powerful effects in the positive and equally in the negative. With all that said, let's take a look at some shamefully bad game tracks!     Doom II: Hell on Earth   First, let“s go with an example of a game being harmed throughout thanks to an unfitting soundtrack. Doom II: Hell on Earth was a much anticipated sequel to the original Doom. This popular FPS had been paired with MIDI rock which arguably was a big part of the experience. Doom II had some of this, but it also had a lot of incredibly questionable music choices. When multiple tracks can be compared to elevator music, you know you“re doing wrong by Doom.   http://youtu.be/NOTFyvj0vaw   Castlevania: Symphony of the Night   Other times, games can be fantastic up until the final point. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has long been acknowledged as a marvelous game in the series. However, one simple song is queued up at the end which nearly ruins everything. Granted, some fans have gone to laud the song for its hilariously out of place nature, but it still stands as being pretty damn bad. I mean, honestly, who thought this smooth ballad was befitting to such an action-packed game? Apparently Konami has yet to learn from their mistakes as they continually include unfitting songs in their games to this day (see Never Dead and Silent Hill: Downpour), although they have since removed "I am the Wind" from re-releases.     Night Trap   Sometimes there are games that already bad but could be aided by some good music. Although the games may be beyond redemption, at least they could include a few entertaining tracks to keep the experience from being completely useless. Unfortunately, "horror" game Night Trap was never given such a chance. Much of the music is of no consequence, being barely there to begin with aside from sound effects. But there is one song that has managed to survive far past its FMV days and live on in infamy. Give it a listen and see if you find any redeeming qualities.   For the most part, video game music is either unassuming, slightly endearing, or totally awesome. On the occasion that music is bad is when it becomes ridiculed and, in some cases, far outlasts the game it was included with. In some way, this may please the composers as at least their work isn't lost to time, but tends to be the far more embarrassing road. Is it better to score boilerplate rock or orchestrated music or a musical abomination?   At the very least no, games can suggest they have music as bad as the entity that is Crazy Bus. This title, developed in 2004, is little more than a title screen and a soundtrack, but has attained fame due to one thing: Its god awful music. I will leave readers with this video as it is one of the worst example of video game “musicé ever conceived:  

Marcus Estrada

Marcus Estrada

 

Information Overload and The Removal of Surprise

E3 2012 was so disappointing. Behind all the flashing lights and booth babes, there really wasn't much substance. Sure, there were some trailers and in-depth demos on some of the biggest hits that were to come out over the year... but what about the surprises, the big reveals? Out of everything shown, so very few games were actually announced. It's great to know how the games we're all excited about are getting along, but it's far from the most exciting news a company can bring.   It's the biggest gaming conference in the U.S., and no one had anything to wow the country but with more gameplay footage of the same games? Really, what's going on here?   Skyward Sword is nice and all... but I already knew about that game!   Practically everyone knows the answer already, of course... the Internet. While that may be oversimplifying things, the convoluted World Wide Web has made it easier to announce any tidbit of news than ever before, and also harder to keep secrets. The evolution of the Internet has given millions access to an endless stream of information, and video games are no exception.   Remember when the Internet was not around in its full force? No? Okay, I'm old. But back in the day, gamers did not have this electronic luxury. We were confined to word of mouth and monthly gaming publications, drinking up what little information we could get. So, to us E3 was a glorious event; the one time of the year where the big companies pulled out ALL the big guns, aiming to wow us and surprise us with exciting new console announcements and triple A game reveals.   THIS used to be our go-to source for news and everything gaming related.   But then, computers started finding their way into every home, and the Internet turned from an AOL keyword filled club to a gargantuan mass of websites. Social networking via mySpace, and eventually Facebook and Twitter took center stage in many peoples' lives. Technology, over just a few short years, has managed to integrate itself so completely into our lives that many would be unable to function without it.   Because of that, it's very easy to obtain information on practically everything. Wondering how a friend's doing? Check their Facebook page. Have an odd bump on your leg? Go post a question on Yahoo Answers. Need to know if a game is worth buying? There's a website for that. Quite a few websites, actually.   So the question now is... why wait? People of this technologically saturated age crave instant gratification. They don't need the booth babes and the flashy reveals; they simply want to know if and when a game is coming out. Therefore, most developers just announce games and release dates on their social networking accounts. Rarely do companies wait until a big event to announce their big plans--because even if they didn't let everyone know via tweets, someone would just find out anyway from an internet leak or poking around site sources or copyrights anyway.   Remember when Atlus trolled everyone with their Gungnir/Growlanser reveals? All thanks to social media.   The developers and publishers see a double benefit in this. Firstly, they get to reveal new games to excited gamers at any time, which is beneficial to both sides of the equation. But, they also don't have to spend time, effort, and money on trying to make their reveal really 'wow' everyone. Why bother when you can just post a status update and a picture and get the same results? Social media saves tons of time and money, leaving events like E3 to be little more than a glorified physical GameTrailers-like conference.   Are the old days of reveal parties and huge excitement gone? Maybe not completely, but it certainly is dying. I mean, when the day comes that the next entry of the frequently asked about Fire Emblem series is revealed on Twitter after the E3 event instead of during it, you know things have changed.

gaiages

gaiages

 

Pixel Reviews: Super Hexagon (PC)

Developer: Terry Cavanagh Publisher: Terry Cavanagh Platform(s): iOS, PC (platform played on), Android Release Date: August 31, 2012     Have you ever wanted to just.....escape into a world of pure fun? A world where there is very little to see, lots to hear though, and most importantly, not much to do, perhaps? Well, that's Super Hexagon in a nutshell.   Super Hexagon is quite the interesting case. It comes from a developer who I very much admire from afar. His games focus more so on gameplay, music, and retro-styled art reminiscent of that of 80's games. That being said, SH is even MORE simplistic than his previous creations, but that isn't necessarily bad. In fact, the Steam store page description for it just says it all: "Super Hexagon is a minimal action game by Terry Cavanagh, with music by Chipzel."     So simple, yet so good! Honestly, while playing Super Hexagon, I really got into it like I haven't with most games I've played lately. I had a clear objective (beat my highscore firstly, then my friends' scores, and finally, reach over 60 seconds survived to unlock a new level) and knew exactly what to do. All you have to do is just run through the hole (with your character- a tiny green triangle) in each of the hexagons closing in on you. It sounds easy when hearing about it, but it really isn't.   Screenshots honestly can't show off what I mean for you to understand, so here's the trailer:     The graphics are nice, crisp, and simple, and it helps to not dramatize the game too much or anything like that. The music is just about the opposite though, with pulsing chiptunes playing while you furiously rage at your continual loss at the game.     As a package, Super Hexagon certainly doesn't dissapoint, but I can't help but feel a little cheated at the price. I know it being on Steam basically automatically garners it a price of over $1, but the game is incredibly simple for the price it asks for ($3, still fairly modest though), but I was still a bit surprised at the price. It's just a little annoyance but if you can get over it there's still a fun game to enjoy beneath.   Super Hexagon does exactly what it sets out to do quite well. It provides a tough but enjoyable "beat the next high score" sort-of experience that's fun in small bits and fun with friends. As a media experience though, it's nothing amazing, but as a small little game it's very fun and I wouldn't heisitate recommending it to anyone who can chug out the small asking price.   I give this game a score of: 8/10   Pros   +Excellent soundtrack +Fun, simple gameplay that really challenges you +Leaderboards and Achievements add a little bit to the fun +Levels are tough so you won't finish the game right away   Cons   -Perhaps a bit TOO tough -$3 price tag may be a little too demanding for some -Only 3 levels (with "hyper" editions of each)   Super Hexagon is one of those odd yet great games that you can show off to your friends. It's not incredible or mind-blowing, but it definitely shows that simplicity can still work well in today's gaming society.

DrPixel

DrPixel

 

Review: Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse got a pretty bad rap from game critics, but they just did what they were paid to do - they reviewed it based on its merits as a game. However, that's not (entirely) what I'm here to do today. I've noticed that many reviewers of the game had varying knowledge of the show, but not many of them actually claimed to like the show - heck, I saw one review where the reviewer admitted to not even liking the show. So I decided it was high time a die-hard fan of the show reviewed the game. This is that review. *cue that "dun dun" sound from Law & Order* Developer: Heavy Iron Studios Publisher: Activision Platform(s): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC Release Date: November 20, 2012 ESRB: M   This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game   Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is a third-person shooter based on the Family Guy television show, specifically, the episode "Road to the Multiverse." In that episode, Brian, the Griffin family dog, and Stewie, the baby of the family, travel into parallel universes that show Quahog, Rhode Island - the setting of the show - in various states such as a scientifically advanced utopia and a world run by dogs. Back to the Multiverse runs with that theme by setting each level in an alternate universe, many of which are based on other episodes and gags from Family Guy that have nothing to do with "Road to the Multiverse." So does the game get the Family Guy humor right, or does it fall flat on its ass-neck?   The story of the game begins with Bertram, Stewie's evil half-brother who was killed in the episode "The Big Bang Theory," returning to swear vengeance on Stewie - it turns out that this Bertram is from an alternate universe, and is amassing an army from other universes to destroy the universe in which Stewie, Brian, and the other Griffins reside. Stewie and Brian leap into action, with Stewie grabbing guns from his secret bunker in his room and grabbing his multiverse remote to chase Bertram through the multiverse and stop him from exacting revenge.     While the premise is interesting, the universes visited in the game aren't really all that inspired, compared to the universes featured in the Road to... episode. There's a world ruled by frat boys and sorority girls, then a world ruled by Amish, a world where everyone is evil, a world ruled by alien chickens, a world ruled by...well, you get the idea. While having one constant theme to the universe isn't a bad idea in itself, it's the choice of themes that drags the game down, because none of them are really that interesting. Stewie explains the basics of what's happening in each universe when he and Brian arrive, but you wouldn't really have to be all that sharp to figure out that a level teeming with pirates is a pirate universe. The one saving grace of each universe is all the call-outs and winks to episodes of the series - for instance, in a level where handicapped people have all the power, there's a Wheelies Cereal ad from "Ready, Willing, and Disabled" and the Big Pete's House of Munch restaurant from "No Meals on Wheels." You'll also find appearances from other characters in the show, who are usually dressed to suit the theme of the level. You might find Herbert patiently waiting for school to let out in the Amish world, or find Quagmire tied to a bed in the evil universe. These nods and cameos really help to let you know that you're in the Family Guy world, and often provide some humor that other parts of the game are lacking.   Many characters from the show make appearances, regardless of whether they fit the level's theme.   By lacking, I mean the dialogue - most of it isn't all that funny. I certainly chuckled a few times, but overall the jokes really fall flat. Thankfully, all dialogue is recorded by the voice actors from the show, so at least it's done right even when it's not done funny. The worst part about the dialogue is that very little of it was recorded specifically for the game. The cutscene dialogue is mostly new, but the words uttered by various characters (including Brian and Stewie) throughout the level are mostly lifted directly from the show. What's worse, much of the voice work is repeated throughout each level, where a few canned lines play each time a character picks up ammo or health, resulting in a lot of repetition that gets old fast. It's certainly funny to hear a line the first time and remember which episode it's from, but not so funny after you've heard it a hundred times over the course of the fairly brief, 10 level campaign. I'm not sure how long it took me to complete the game since it doesn't keep track of playtime, but I can safely say it wasn't more than 6-7 hours, and that was only because I scoured every part of every level looking for collectibles and shout-outs to the show. If you just blow through the game, it might take 4 hours at most. The game's music isn't too bad, and it sounds like music that was composed specifically for the show, even on the occasions where it wasn't. Where the game really shines is the graphics, because the game essentially looks like a 3D version of the show. The graphics are cartoonish and all the characters look like they should, which is a great touch that brings the game closer to the source material. It also helps that the game opens with the show's intro, though it would have been cooler if it was rendered in 3D and not a direct video. The game also runs at a smooth 60 FPS framerate, and it almost never bogs down regardless of on-screen action.   The game certainly looks the part.   So how does it play? Back to the Multiverse is a pretty standard third-person shooter, which is an odd fit for a Family Guy game, but it's at least more entertaining than the mish-mash of gameplay styles from the 2006 Family Guy game. You play as Brian or Stewie and can switch out between them, unless you're playing co-op, which is local only - no online here. Each character has a set of weapons that they gradually unlock over the course of the game, and their weapons are different enough from each other to make both characters useful in certain situations. There are also a handful of powerups to use, such as one that summons Ernie the Giant Chicken to attack your enemies, or dropping a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tube Man to distract enemies. Unlike most third-person shooters of this generation, this isn't a cover-based shooter, and there's no regenerating health - the enemies will sometimes take cover behind objects, but for the most part, they stand in the open to fire at you or run right up to you to hit you with melee attacks, which you can ward off with your own clumsy swinging of Stewie's golf club or Brian's whiskey bottle. That is, the enemies do these things when their programming actually works - oftentimes enemies would simply stand and stare at me, even when I was right in front of them, as if waiting to be put out of their misery from this fairly mediocre experience. The gunplay works, the melee doesn't work quite as well but still does its job, and the AI gets better later in the game for some reason, but taken as a whole, this game just doesn't have anything unique to offer. Really, it doesn't have much to offer at all - there are some neat unlockables, like costumes from various episodes of the show, as well as multiplayer characters, but it's not likely that you'll want to take the time to unlock everything the game has to offer anyway.   Aside from the campaign, there's a multiplayer mode that I didn't get to try, because it's all local-only. There's the regulation deathmatch mode, a horde mode, something called Infiltration, and in a shout-out to an older episode, a mode called Catch the Greased-Up Deaf Guy. In multiplayer, you can play as various characters including and besides Stewie or Brian, many of which have to be unlocked from the in-game store with money collected during the campaign. The game also has a challenge mode, where you're dropped into one of the campaign maps and given some objective to complete, such as defeating a certain number of enemies or rescuing a number of NPCs. The challenges have 3 difficulty levels and can be played solo or co-op, but there's really not much reason to play them outside of a few unlocks and possibly boredom.   All in all, Back to the Multiverse is a fairly solid game aside from some enemy AI issues, just one low on content and with nothing unique to set it apart from the myriad of other shooters out there. As a game, it works, but isn't going to wow anyone. As a Family Guy game, it's got plenty of references and nods to the show, and at least some of the humor is there, but in the end you're still playing a fairly bland shooter that just happens to feature characters and themes from a popular show. Die-hard fans may get a kick out of some parts of the game, but definitely shouldn't pay the asking price of admission - just give it a rental if you want to get in on the fan service, or if you've ever wondered what a particularly long episode of Family Guy with lots of violence and no cutaways would be like.   Score: 6.0 out of 10   Closing comment: A middling score for a middling shooter. There's a little something here for fans, but only if you're willing to play through a standard shooter with spotty AI and aren't concerned about not being able to play multiplayer online. Maybe if you have friends who also like Family Guy to play co-op and multiplayer with you, you could try to get the game cheap, but otherwise, just stick to a rental.

Venom

Venom

 

So I Gotta Know: Why does Activision publish certain games?

Hello again everyone, and welcome to the second episode...entry...thing of "So I Gotta Know," where I ask question about the game industry to no one in particular and then fight with myself a bit over the answer. Today's episode asks...why does Activision even bother publishing some of the games they publish?       Some of you probably already know where this is going, and, yes, I am going to talk about how great Singularity was momentarily, but first a bit of elaboration on my question is necessary. Activision is a huge, well-known publisher of video games, and they're raking in the cash from their series of games like Call of Duty and Skylanders. And yet, besides those, they've also published some lesser-known games, like Blur and the aforementioned Singularity. So, clearly, they have the resources to publish all sorts of games, so why do they promote the popular games and leave the other games to die? Why do they put the time and effort forward to publish a game that they're not even going to bother telling anyone to buy? Why did they ever greenlight Singularity if they didn't want to sell it?   What Raven devs want to do to Activision execs. (probably)   Publishing a video game isn't free, and even if it was, it isn't easy. From the boring legal stuff like trademarks and licensing to (and this is a biggie) distribution, there's a lot involved in getting the game from the developer's computers to a packaged disc in the consumer's hand. For all the effort and money a publisher has to put forth, it makes sense that they'd want to see a good return on that game, so they're going to make sure people know about it. So why on earth would you go that far, and then not spend a dime on advertising? Apparently, that's just how Activision works, since they regularly put out games with virtually no marketing or promotion whatsoever. This has happened even with some of their recent licensed games like Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse and Wreck-It Ralph. Now, I can kinda see why you wouldn't think you'd need to promote a licensed game because there's already an established audience, but even as a Family Guy fan, I wasn't aware that Back to the Multiverse was out until I saw it was available for purchase on Amazon and Steam.   Wanted: Dead or alive. See Sheriff Bobby Kotick for reward.   So, going back to Singularity, which was a fantastic game (there it is) Activision essentially just threw it to the dogs when they released the game in June of 2010 with nary a sound to let people know that the game was out. When people finally did play it, they loved it, critics loved it, and things looked good, except for one small fact...no one outside a relatively small number of people even knew the game existed. Those who had heard of the game but hadn't played it had no idea what it was about, because there was nothing to tell them why they should be excited about the game. Even people like me who got excited at the prospect when the game was (barely) announced in 2008 were in the dark about it's existence until reviews started coming in, at which point they thought "oh, hey, Singularity reviews, it must be coming out soo-wait, what, it's already out? Why didn't anyone tell me??" And so, the game was a massive financial flop, and the team at Raven Software, who had a dream of making a unique FPS that set itself apart from the run of the mill shooters, is now relegated to helping with development on...wait for it...a run of the mill shooter that goes by the name of Call of Duty. You might have heard of it, seeing as Activision has casually advertised the series all over the freakin' place.   Subtlety. Grace. Nuance. This ad has none of these things.   But Raven Software was one of the lucky ones. Things didn't turn out so "well" for Bizarre Creations, developers of Blur. Bizarre had seen success with it's Project Gotham Racing series, which did fairly well because all the games were published by Microsoft Game Studios, who were able to hype it up as a Xbox exclusive racing series. Fast-forward a bit, after Bizarre was acquired by Activision, and they decided they wanted to make another racing game, this one with more focus on the arcade-style aspects of PGR and a bit of Mario Kart thrown in. Again, Blur was released with nary a mention of it's existence, and although the game didn't generate as much positive buzz as Singularity, people liked it well enough. Still, the game sold horribly because no one really knew what it was due to having zero marketing put behind it. Bizarre was then put to work on a James Bond game, and the Bond video game curse struck shortly afterwards when Bizarre was shuttered by Activision.   No jokes here. Just quiet discomfort.   So why does Activision do this? Why publish a game when they're just going to throw caution to the wind and hope for the best? Why does Activision even greenlight the development of a game when they have no intention of making the game succeed? I can only surmise that Activision executives are evil, soulless husks of bitter unlife who only care about money, but they have so much money that they decide it would be fun to throw some of it away on a developer's hopes and dreams. All Activision cares about is publishing their big-name games like Call of Duty, and yet they push these other, less-noteworthy releases out the door simply because they can. And above all, I think they do it because they want these developers - these developers like Raven and Bizarre, who have ideas different from those of the Activision heads - to spend their resources developing games they won't profit from, just to get rid of them so that Activision can continue to spoon-feed their billion-dollar babies like Treyarch while throwing the scraps to the developers who pump out licensed games for them. Clearly, there's no room in Activision for imagination and innovation, and they seem intent on keeping it that way.   I don't think I have to ask how most of you feel about Activision, so I'll ask you this instead - have you ever played Singularity? Blur? Wolfenstein? If you've played an Acti game that you feel like didn't get enough love from the publisher, or from the critics and community, feel free to talk about it in the comments! You might give me an idea for my next article, or you might just get caught up in me reminiscing about Singularity. Either way, it should be fun.

Venom

Venom

 

Memorable Miscreants in Gaming

An Article by Ludono                       Whether planning on taking over the Mushroom Kingdom, or simply absconding in your dirigible, videogames would be nothing without the diverse cast of cretins that we shoot, stomp or score against whenever we dive into the digital universe. There are a plethora of profligates that exist within gaming, but some are more enduring than others.   ______ "How do we make ourselves more memorable?"   There are multiple factors that determine whether these are villains worthy of their accrued infamy, or if they“re simple hooligans with laughable agendas. The first order of business is making a villain that“s unique enough to stand out. Do they have their own agenda or is it just following in the steps of previous villains? How flashy is their design? These are important traits to make an interesting and memorable villain. In the case of singular villains, they need to have certain flair, their own pizazz so to speak. Their reputation soon follows.       Perhaps the most famous, or rather, infamous, villain in all of gaming is none other than everyone“s favorite Koopa king, Bowser. He“s had decades of gaming history behind him, but why did he get so popular in the first place? Much of it falls back onto the popularity of Mario, the hero of Bowsers universe. However, no good hero is complete without a good villain. Just as Mario has become the face of the “good†in the Mario universe, Bowser has come to represent the “badâ€. He“s got a unique design and always manages to incite the player by kidnapping the princess.   She will haunt your dreams forever     I feel as though it is safe to say that a large portion of villains are simply foils of the games hero. Chris Redfield is the ”roid raging “save the world†protagonist to Wesker“s sleek “the world is mine†antagonist. Sephiroth to Cloud, Link to Ganondorf...the list goes on and on. It may seem lazy, but if done right, it works out splendidly. For what is the basic function of a villain, other than to oppose the hero, and what easier way to make right and wrong cut and dry, than to make them polar opposites? Some villains manage to stand out on their own however, without a hero to mooch off of. Alma Wade, of the F.E.A.R. series, is a good example. She is largely the both the villain and the story of the game whilst your character is a faceless marine grunt. Another example is that of GLaDOS who is the biggest character draw in Portal due to a mute player character. Their backstories and personalities draw players in, either as interesting characters (The Poo, Conker) or simply as characters players “love to hate†(Hello, Elusive Man).   How could anyone forget the mighty poo?   Their design is another facet of the villain, you can“t conquer the world looking like just another enemy grunt now can you? Some villains are remembered by their designs, such as fancy pants Kuja or “WTF is he wearing?†Kefka or even the iconic ghosts from Pacman.     Finally, there are some villains remembered by their boss fights (usually in addition to the other factors mentioned). Most notably, Psycho Mantis and his gamepad controlling, memory card reading antics. Once again there are numerous examples I could list off in this category. These oftentimes create some of the best memories of villains in gaming.   Sephiroth: Making long hair more badass since 1997   Throughout the years we“ve fought against many a memorable foe, and numerous others that have long since been forgotten. Being on the verge of a new generation, we can only wait and see which villains make the cut to next gen.     What are some of your favorite (or simply most memorable) villains in gaming?

Ludono

Ludono

 

What Makes Kefka Memorable

We all know in videogames the good guys always win. The hero goes on a journey and defeats the villain in the end to save the world or someone. The light always shines through the darkness. Many stories have great moments between the hero and villain and see to what lead to their final battle. We have favorite characters in the game and most of them are the good guys. How about the bad guys? We have our favorite villains in games that stood out a lot and had memorable crazy moments. Now the question is what makes a villain memorable in games? How do they make the story unbelievable? Well there many factors of what makes the most memorable villain in the story like his/her morals, character development, acts, backstory, personality, appearance, power, etc. A great example to talk about is Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI. Not only he was the craziest memorable villain, but he actually succeeds at one point.   Possible Spoilers Ahead; Read at Your Own Will   Kefka is definitely the most evil Final Fantasy villain besides Sephiroth. His appearance is resembled to the Joker, but in a jester like uniform. His attitude is beyond evil as he is a maniac, psychopath, and very cruel to everyone. He actually has no feelings for society and finds enjoyment in hurting others. Every now and then he would speak jokes that are pretty dark. He would do anything to create chaos with his insane laughter. The actions he does in the game is the most sinister in the series.           Before all this he was the Emperor“s right hand man taking orders from him, but later he goes to his own ways of being a villain. Prior to that he was the first person to go into an experiment called Magitek that gave him magical powers, but going through it caused him to become insane. This led to him being very cruel and became a manipulative madman.       His actions throughout the game were horrifying. Kefka would poison the castle Doma killing civilians including the royal members. When he was rumored to be a general in the military, there were those who did not like the idea, but eventually took over and poisoned the river causing genocide. He laughed and loved the music of cries when that happened. His highest action is attaining the power of Godhood after destroying the world by stealing powers after eliminating the espers. He took over the world for about a year which is terrifying for a villain. Ever since the main characters were defeated, apocalypse had occurred through the year before the heroes gathered together for the final battle. Of course in the end Kefka was defeated in their second attempt. Kefka was one of those villains who became ultimately unstoppable for his actions and chaos. It was amazing how he was able to rule for a year.       These factors are what made Kefka a memorable villain in gaming history and the story of Final Fantasy VI. Villains are usually never successful in heroic stories, but Kefka was a very unique written character of the story. His Joker-like killer attitude is what made him one of the most insane villains in games. I would love to see a villain in other games actually succeed for once to make the story twisted and unbelievable. It“s too cliché to have heroes win all the time and I feel there should be villains like Kefka to succeed at one point and have gamers react and pulled into the villain“s view.

TKtheknight

TKtheknight

 

Two (choice-focused) Games From 2012 That Everyone Should Play

Last year was probably the biggest year in video games since 2007. Y'know, the year of Bioshock, Call of Duty 4, God of War 2, Halo 3, The Orange Box, The Witcher, Assassin's Creed (it was a Big Damn Year, is what I'm getting at.) In 2012, we got games like Mass Effect 3, Spec Ops The Line, Assassin's Creed 3, Halo 4, Dishonored, The Walking Dead, and too many more quality titles to name and not turn this post into one giant list.   It's those last two titles that I want to talk about (or write about, whatever) here. Dishonored and The Walking Dead. I got Dishonored on launch day, and never really paid any attention to The Walking Dead. I've recently looked into The Walking Dead, and am attempting to slap my past self in the face for passing up the series. But now, let me take a moment, and say why both games are games everyone should play. I might even say games everyone needs to play, but that might be a bit too strong a phrase.   Dishonored, for those who don't know, is a semi-sandbox first-person stealth-action game (wow, that's a lot of dashes.) It puts players in the role of disgraced, framed royal bodyguard Corvo Atono who gets broken out of jail by a small underground resistance movement and sets about taking his revenge, aided by magical superpowers granted to him by the otherworldly entity, The Outsider (he has black eyes, by the way. Figured that was worth mentioning.) Now, that all probably sounds cool, but also well-worn. It's not. Really, it's not. Because of all the emphasis Dishonored places on player choice; you can choose whether or not to kill anyone in the entire game (literally, you can beat the entire game without killing a single NPC, even the targets,) you can choose what kind of magical superpowers you use (you can freeze time, possess people, teleport (honestly, that teleport power might be one of the coolest of the bunch, simply because it is so easy to use, and so very effective and awesome) blast people with wind, see through walls) you can choose what kind of gear you wield (do you use a crossbow to take out people silently? Then get clip and fire rate upgrades for it. Do you get into a lot of sword fights with guards? Get an upgrade that makes it easier to break away from sword-locks.) To sum it up, Dishonored is basically Deus Ex for modern gamers. For those who have never played Deus Ex, it was a game that basically let you play exactly how you wanted to; want to sneak around and shoot people with sleep darts/cattle prod them? Go ahead. Want to go just run around and shoot every enemy in the face? Go ahead. Want to beat people senseless with a crowbar? Sure. Want to shoot a fellow military-cop at the top of the Statue of Liberty and take his assault rifle when the only witness is a terrorist? Why the heck not? (I'm not exagerating there. You can actually do that. Look up kikoskia's Let's Play Deus Ex series; It's the twelfth video.) Dishonored is the same type of game: want to teleport around and choke everyone out while you have time stopped? Go ahead. Want to run in and shoot everyone in the face? Go ahead. Want to summon a swarm of rats and stick a razor trap to one, possess it, and guide it to a group of guards? You ingenious bastard, you, go do that right now.   What's even more amazing is how Dishonored's story and environment adapt to how you play through the Chaos system; stay sneaky and keep the body count low(Low Chaos), you get a much more, well, "upbeat" tale, I guess. The rebels are all cordial with one another, a religious soldier asks his friends to put him down so he doesn't spread the rat-plague to them (there's a rat-plague too, I might have forgotten to mention that) the old boatman who drives Corvo to all his missions is very friendly, and you often get extra goodies in the form of money and power-granting Runes for taking the non-lethal routes with key targets. The actual ending itself is also very much a happy one. Kill everything between you and your targets, and then kill your targets too(High Chaos), and you get a much darker tale; the rebels are at each other's throats, those religious soldiers murder their pal who swears he isn't sick (even though he clearly is,) the boatman hates Corvo's guts, the Empress's daughter can come across a tad sociopathic, and the ultimate ending is not at all a happy one(There are two ending possibilities for a High Chaos playthrough, and they're both exceedingly bleak.) Dishonored is truly something to behold in how it molds the world around the player in accordance to the player's actions. Leave a lot of corpses in a High Chaos playthrough, there are going to be a lot more rats around, and more plague victims (Who basically act like zombies that spit bile into your face instead of eating it (your face)) and heightened security. Even more impressive, Dishonored is a new IP; in an age of sequels and reboots and special editions, Dishonored is something totally new. It's something a group of people decided they were going to make, current market research be damned. On that merit alone, it deserves some respect.   A word of warning, though; Dishonored is a fairly short game, so unless you're incredibly obsessive-compulsive about your games, or have a good deal of cash to drop, maybe just rent it and beat it twice. It really is worth experiencing.     The second game, The Walking Dead, is something I've just recently discovered. And it might be one of the finest examples of emotional story and impactful player choice that I've ever seen in a game. Come to think of, it does player choice better than just about any game I've played, too. Most games have a system of choice that ranges between one of two extremes: "the right thing to do/nice" and "*******/psychopath." The Mass Effect series (Especially Mass Effect 3) is really a great example of this; when a fan comes up to you in Mass Effect, you can entertain his adoration, and slowly move him away from the idea of emulating you in a way that is tactful and considerate. Or, you can blow him off, shove a gun in his face(not necessarily in that order) and oftentimes indirectly have him get himself killed trying to prove he's capable. Clearly defined good guy and ******* paths there. In ME3, you can cure the Krogan's sterilization disease, or not cure it and let them think you did so you get their help and the help of the race that sterilized them in the first place (the exact methods of tricking them vary; you might have to shoot an old friend from ME2 to make it happen.) However, only the people who have Urdnot Wreav, Krogan traditionalist and mirror-image ******* to a Renegade Shepard(and really, who actually HAS Wreav in a serious capacity?), would see tricking the Krogan as the right thing to do (And even then, very certain conditions gave to be met so you don't need to commit murder to be able to trick the Krogan.) In all other cases, tricking the Krogan is clearly the ******* choice. I'd get into the choices of inFamous, but I'm getting off-topic here.   The choices in The Walking Dead aren't clear-cut "Nice" and "*******." They don't really even fit under those terms in the context they're presented; they're simply choices that reflect what you think is the best thing to do. Do you let the woman getting eaten alive by zombies live and continue to get eaten alive so the zombies focus all their attention on her, allowing you to safely scavenge resources for your people? Or do you put her out of her misery and bring every zombie in town down on your head? Maybe not the best example, but it's still very much a quandry in the context the game presents it in. It's not a "Is this the nice thing to do, or the ******* thing to do?" It's more a question of a "How do the needs of me and the people depending on me balance against this one person?" How about this: you have ten people in your group who are all hungry, but only four items of food. Which four people get to eat? That's actually a choice you have to make, and while that might sound easy (you'll probably already have an idea of who you like and don't like by the time this choice comes around) it's not. Do you give some food to the jerk dad of the pseudo-leader of the group, to get on her good side? Do you keep the two children in the group fed (also note that doing that will make another member like you more)? When you're down to the last piece of food, do you save it for yourself, or decide that someone else might need it more? I spent a good half hour debating with myself over who got the food (in the end, I gave the kids, the jerk dad, and an ex-air force pilot the group picked up in-between episodes the food.) I've got another great example, but I don't want to spoil it for late-comers like myself. Let's just say it involves... y'know, I'm not even going to hint at what it involves exactly. It's that impactful, and that great an example of a no-pre-defined-morality-choice.   It's not just the choices themselves, but also the effect they have. Do something one member of the group approves of, they'll have you back when things get tough (provided they like you.) This is even more apparent through the game's dialogue system; various choices in conversation are shown that dictate the tone of your response. While some might seem trivial, even the seemingly least-important choice of several in an conversation can be the one that certain characters will remember, and they will keep that in mind for a good long while. Tell the leader of the group that she is acting like a bitch when she gets angry that one of the group saved you from an imminent zombie death (this is in the first episode, before you become a part of the group,) she'll remember that comment and it will set the tone of your interactions with her for the rest of the episode.   But probably the most important factor of The Walking Dead is how emotional it is and how easily you fall into caring about what happens in the game. Most people probably know who Clementine, the little girl whose safety is you responsibility, is by now. I myself did my best to look after her (and shield her from the harsh reality of a zombie apocalypse) in Episode 1, but never quite felt like she was influencing what I did. Come Episode 2, I'd thrown myself whole-hog into looking after her, and cared what she thought of what I did (there were two big moments near the end that really drove that fact home for me.) In Episode 3, when she showed me the stickers she'd put on her walkie-talkie (a keepsake from her missing parents) I was struck by how absolutely adorable that was (it's not just the stickers; it's how happy she is about them.) Not only have I grown to care about her as the game goes on, but the game itself almost mirrors my feelings; by Episode 3, Lee Everet (the player character) is calling Clementine "Sweet Pea."   It's not just Clementine though. It's everyone and everything. I won't say exactly what, but something happened recently in Episode 3 that literally had me close to tears over how desperately sad it was. When Lee returns to his hometown of Macon, and finds it overrun by zombies, with the group of survivors hiding in his family's pharmacy, the continuing search of the place left me shocked and feeling for Lee potently (there's a moment when you get the keys to the pharmacy storeroom. It's emotional and sad as hell. I won't say any more, but trust me on that.) Heck, listening to the answering machine in Clementine's house in Episode 1 will get you feeling down.   I'll say it somewhat straight: I'm not entirely sure if The Walking Dead can be called solely fun. It's absolutely exhilarating, often times comes across like a well-written TV show, and will undoubtedly choke you up (no matter how cynical, jaded and tough you think you are.) It's more of an experience; it's like Heavy Rain without the plot holes, with a little girl to protect, and zombies. That might not be the greatest analogy, but it's the only one I can think of that even comes close to describing The Walking Dead in other terms.   These two games, The Walking Dead and Dishonored, are games that place an unfeasible amount of importance on player choice. Dishonored builds its world and ending around the choices of the player, while The Walking Dead makes sure the player has no easy choice to make and that they feel the impact of each one, whether it's immediate or something that lasts for multiple episodes. They are games that everyone should play.

ijs1337

ijs1337

 

So I Gotta Know: What's the Rush?

Hello readers, and welcome to the first entry in what I hope will become a series, known as "So I Gotta Know." Basically, I'll pose questions to the game industry that have been bugging me and I just need to know the answer. However, since I'm not actually asking these questions to anyone in particular, I'll have to come up with my own answers, and maybe rant a little bit along the way. This first segment is about how many games these days don't let you stop and sight-see, and instead are constantly pushing you along from objective to objective.   His blue isn't going to blur itself, you know.   So what's the rush? Back in the era of 2D gaming, it made perfect sense for a game to keep you on the move. I mean, really, if you weren't moving forward, where were you going? Most 2D games didn't allow you to just roam around to your heart's content because that wasn't the point, unless it was an adventure game like The Legend of Zelda or something. So a little flashing arrow with the word "GO!" attached made sense because there was no reason to not keep going, especially because many older games had timers. As developers moved into the third dimension though, it made sense to stop pushing the player along because the developers wanted players to explore and see all the hard work they put into making a large 3D environment. So, for a time, the worst thing that would happen if you stopped moving for a while was that Mario would take a well-deserved nap.   Close your eyes and drift off into Subcon.   But now that everyone's used to seeing fancy, shiny graphics, developers have had to find other ways to keep your attention, and at some point many of them decided the best way to keep you engaged was to make sure you never stopped doing what they wanted you to do. This was accomplished by having some sort of on-screen indicator pop up every now and then to remind you of where to go or what to do, or, more annoyingly, have a secondary character remind you of what to do. Rather than let you rely on the objectives screen that every game with objectives has, or let you press a button to show your target marker on your own, some developers decided to make sure you always knew your mission. They decided that if you stopped moving towards your objective for more than a few seconds, you must be stuck and needed to be reminded of where to go. These developers might have crafted a large, semi-open world just begging to be explored, but don't expect to deviate from the path unless you have your mute button nearby or just like hearing "I'm over here!" a thousand times in a row.   I KNOW WHERE YOU ARE ALREADY   Constant on-screen reminders aren't THAT bad, but it's the characters that actually tell you, out loud, to get moving that are awful. One of the worst offenders I've recently played was Front Mission: Evolved. In that game, if you went off to explore and didn't do what the game wanted you to be doing, the other characters wouldn't just tell you what to do, they'd yell you what to do. If I decided to see what was down that other road, or off in that little cranny and I took more than a minute or so, I'd have one of the supporting characters yelling at me to go shoot this thing or go blow up that thing or oh my God there's a bomb that needs to be defused and why are you NOT DEFUSING IT!?!? I'm not sure that last one actually happened, but you get the idea - the game wasn't going to let me explore at my leisure because it wanted me to stay focused on shooting stuff and blowing up stuff, because that's what giant mechs are supposed to do.   Sometimes there's some overlap between the two.   So here's my theoretical answer: developers that do this don't want you to casually stroll through their game because they don't want you to stumble upon something they did wrong, and instead they want you to see everything (they think) they did right. Either that or the game is supposed to be a fast-paced action game, so they thought you wouldn't have any reason to dawdle and wanted to make sure you didn't find a reason. Maybe the game just doesn't have much to offer, and the devs don't want you to realize it. I honestly can't think of a legitimate-sounding reason why developers chose to make games that pester you along from objective to objective instead of letting you move at your own pace. Whatever the case, when I buy a game, I fully expect to be able to play that game however I desire, not however I'm being told to play it. At that point, it becomes less an entertainment product and more of an annoyance product, and people only pay money for those when they annoy other people.     So, that's my first incoherent ramble known as So I Gotta Know. What do you think about developers rushing you through games? Why do you think they do it? Do you even notice or care when a game does it?   But maybe you're not in the mood to answer questions, so here's something else - if you have a question about the game industry that's bugging you, ask it! If I find that I've asked the same question, I'll see about writing up a So I Gotta Know about it. If I haven't thought of it, well, that will just give me a reason to go ahead and greenlight my spinoff, So YOU Gotta Know.

Venom

Venom

 

Bioshock Infinite, (im)Perfection and The Dark Knight Rises: A Study in Pre-Release Expectations and Where We Go Wrong

In my last post, I discussed a little something I call "The Dark Knight Rises Effect." It describes a situation where a piece of media is released, a piece of media that comes from a series or creator with a long line of high-quality products to its/his or her name. Often, it's a sequel, or the third entry in a franchise. Take all these things together, throw in amazing trailers that make you think each time you can't get more excited for the product to finally reach the public, and let the expectations overboil.   This is The Dark Knight Rises Effect: where expectations for something ultimately become so incredibly high, meeting them is effectively impossible. I used this as a possible explanation for the hate heaped on Dead Space 3, but realize now that I might have picked the wrong game as demonstration. Dead Space 3 had plenty of detractors from the first announcement trailer, and everyone, even die hard fans, were subtly unsure if the game could deliver.   Bioshock Infinite on the other hand could not be a better example.   The craze started about three years ago when at E3 2010, Irrational Games teased us with pre-rendered trailer showcasing a suspiciously Big-Daddy-like-creature with an exposed chest cavity in a flying city (that really can't be stressed enough) time-bending phonographs, and flower telekinesis. Later that year, they released ten minutes of gameplay footage, and set the industry on fire. After shooting it with lightning. And then hurling a giant, superheated ball of condensed cooking implements at it.     This giant, superheated ball of condensed cooking implements.   From there, things only got better. We were treated to a stellar fifteen minutes of gameplay at E3 2011, saw a female NPC companion who was quickly shaping up to be able to stand on her own with the best NPC companions(i.e. Alyx Vance, and no-one else, really) and an portal to an alternate-reality 1980s where the Jedi have their Revenge. Needless to say, just about everyone was frothing at the mouth for this game.   Then, things started going bad. A number of key individuals left Irrational, and Infinite was delayed several times, setting a tentative release date in late 2012 that was eventually pushed back to 2013. We feared the worst, but Infinite personified the phoenix metaphor and rose from its ashes with a redesigned story and batches of incredible trailers. Our faith restored, we began eagerly awaiting the day of its release.   It's that point, where we assured ourselves everything was fine again and resumed business as normal where Infinite was concerned (business as normal being godly expectations and an near inability to wait as long as Irrational was asking us to) that gives us The Dark Knight Rises Effect. In face, The Effect is made all the more potent by Infinite's near collapse and resurgence; it bounced back from near disaster, and looked even better for it. If our hopes were sky high before the trouble started, they started skimming the surface of the sun when Infinite proved it was not to be denied.   We've got such incredible expectations for Bioshock Infinite. Expectations that, unless we maybe take a breath and admit to ourselves that as much as this is our FPS-Second-Coming, it's likely not going to be perfect, Bioshock Infinite inevitably won't live up to. Because nothing is perfect. However much we might deny it, nothing is ever perfect. It's a simple truth we so often refuse to acknowledge, and we are always worse off for it. We expected the greatest, most perfect Batman movie in history with The Dark Knight Rises, because how could we not? Nolan had Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and Inception under his belt. We saw ourselves as within our rights to expect the perfect Batman movie. We got what was arguably one of the greatest Batman stories/movies ever, but perfect? No. It wasn't. It couldn't have been. Yet we, for whatever reason, begrudged it that lack of perfection.   I get this is a joke video, but this was also used as a serious argument for why the movie was terrible. This one thing. Think about that.   What I'm saying is this: we can't expect the same thing from Bioshock Infinite because we can't expect the same thing from anything. We can't expect Infinite to be the perfect FPS game, with tight shooting, superpowers, awesome guns, a truly clever story with characters that we actually care about and a plot that is more than fist-pumping bravado and that maybe makes some insightful commentary on society. I'm not saying we likely won't get all of those things, I'm just saying that maybe we shouldn't instantly expect them all to be done perfectly. I'm saying we shouldn't expect Infinite to be the perfect game. We should instead expect it to come as close to perfection as it can.   Because that is the unrealistic expectation that is far harder to fail to meet. And in all likelihood, it's the game we'll end up getting. The game that almost reaches perfection, but is so damn good anyways that we don't care that it's not perfect. That's the game we ought to be expecting.

ijs1337

ijs1337

 

New Video Game Trading Sites Part 1: 99gamers

Being a gamer isn't always the most budget friendly hobby. So I always like to try finding new and cheaper ways of getting games. One of the best ways I have found to do this, is through the use of online video game trading websites.     Without trading sites there's no way my bookshelf would look like this, and this isn't even all of the games!     I have recently joined two sites that have been created in the past few months and believe them both to show a lot of promise.   I have had the opportunity to interview the owners of one of the sites and will hopefully be able to get one with the other for a future blog (if not, it will simply be a review).   Tonight, I was able to interview 99gamers.com via email exchange.   Me: I appreciate you being able to take some time to talk about your site. So first off, Who are you guys and what inspired you to create 99gamers?   Brandon: I'm Brandon Kruzeniski and I'm one of the founders of 99Gamers with the other being my brother Jon.   I originally got the idea for a video game trading site when I came across a post on Reddit about how someone would shoot darts at their game collection to choose which game they would play next. I realized that this random person had a bunch of games that I would love to play but just haven't had the chance to. I turned to my game collection and thought that this person would probably feel the same way about my game collection.   I was also tired of getting ripped off by GameStop, knowing they would turn around and sell the game for double the next day. I knew other video game trading sites existed, but none of them were what I wanted them to be.   I wasn't sure how many people would be interested in something like this so I decided to post it to Reddit and see what the response was like. I was thinking maybe a few hundred people would see it and I'd be able to get some feedback on the idea, but within a few hours the post was at the top of r/gaming and even hit the front page for a while, resulting in thousands of signups. I then knew enough people felt the same way I did so I went forward with the site.   Me: How long has 99gamers been around?   Brandon: The original Reddit post was in June of 2012. After a few months of development 99Gamers launched in private beta in October. We slowly began to let more people in as we worked towards perfecting the trading system. We then publicly launched this January.   Me: So how has the site been received since moving out of beta and going public?   Brandon: Since getting out of beta the number of members, games and trades have all more than doubled.   Me: What is it that sets 99gamers apart from other trading sites out there?   Brandon: First off, 99Gamers is completely free to use. There are no costs to trade games so as a member you'll see the savings start to add up quickly.   Video game trading sites have traditionally used a queue system with fixed game prices. I think long term this has shown to not be most effective way to go about trading games. The trade lines start to grow longer and begin to turn into month long waits. Having to wait so long until you receive a game can severely limit the excitement you have to play the game. You are also not guaranteed a game, as you tend to have to put requests for multiple games to ensure you'll get one and depending on the timing you may miss out on games or have to settle for a game you are not as excited for.   With 99Gamers, we take the free market approach and in doing so there are no wait times to receive games. Sellers set their own prices for each game. This way you can get games you actually want quicker because you don't have to wait for everyone else to get it before you. As soon as you get enough coins from selling games you can buy the game which will be shipped to you right away.   The feedback system on 99Gamers ensures you can choose sellers who you feel comfortable trading with. Other trading sites don't give you the choice of who you receive a game from. We put the power in the buyers hands by allowing them to use the feedback system and the sellers location to choose which seller they feel most comfortable with receiving the game from.   We have a vast collection of games with over 5000 listings and almost 1500 game titles over 25 platforms. New releases are usually available within a week or two of their release date and can sometimes be available next day. The price for popular games is very fair. An example of this is Assassin's Creed III is now only 25 coins ($25) where at GameStop it would cost you $55 pre-owned.   On a side note, I think it's pretty cool you bought Dead Space 3 four days after it was released then sold it to someone else two weeks later for just 4 coins less than you bought it for. Things like that just aren't possible on other trading sites.   Me: So how does it really work?   Brandon: Members add their unwanted video games and sell them to other members for a virtual currency called 'coins' valued at $1 per coin. Members can then spend their earned coins on other games.   Me: How do suggested game prices get calculated?   Brandon: The suggested market price for each game is calculated by taking into factor the condition of the game as well as the price people have recently paid on Amazon, eBay and other online retailers. Together we use these to calculate the market price.   Me: Are you aware that I can't help but sing, "99 gamers but a b*tch ain't one" in my head at least once a day when I visit your site?   Brandon: Haha, glad to hear I'm not the only one.   Me: Approximately how many users/trades are there?   Brandon: There are over 2500 members and over 1750 trades.   Me: What can users do to get the most from the site?   Brandon: We've found the following tips will help get members more sells: The more games added the quicker they will sell. The sweet spot for new members is around 5-10 games at the market price or just below it. You can then expect to sell about 2 to 3 games in the first week.
If you are a new member, giving a coin or two discount for your first few trades goes a long way as you build up your feedback history. You may be competing with sellers at the same price who have a much bigger feedback history.
Members who use their real name and a photo of themselves are much more likely to sell games. Buyers feel much safer when they can put a face to a name.
RPGs go a long way. People always love to pick up an older gen RPG from their childhood
Me: What sort of protection is there against scamming/abuse?   Brandon: There are many security measures in place to make sure everything goes smoothly. 99Gamers uses a virtual currency, not cash, so there is less incentive for anyone to do anything unsafe. New members have go through an approval process when they sign up which allows us to verify their information and make sure no red flags stand out.   99Gamers guarantees protection for buyers if they do not receive the game they have paid for. We will refund your coins as long as no legitimate delivery confirmation or proof or shipping has been provided by the seller. Sellers can protect themselves by buying delivery confirmation and taking photos of the disk before shipping the game in case there is a dispute about the condition.   For their first two trades new members can only trade with an established member who has at least 2 sells with positive feedback. This way the more experienced member can help walk them through the process.   The feedback system keeps track of how things are going and allows sellers and buyers to build a trading reputation. Buyer's can see the sellers trading history before purchasing a game to avoid "bad" traders. We continuously monitor the trading activity to ensure all members trading needs are met and either side of the trade is abusing our trading system. So far with taking all these approaches bad traders have been non-existent.   Me: So any insight into surprises in store for the future?   Brandon: We have a bunch of new features coming up that we think our members are going to love. We'll be introducing PC games and digital codes. The browse and profile pages will be getting a much improved new look. These will be geared towards helping members discover new and interesting games faster. Members will be able to find new games they may have not realized they would enjoy. As the number of games continue to grow it's important that members can find the games they want as quick as possible.   We'll be adding a bunch of seller tools to help members sell their games quicker. These will put the ease into selling games and make it the selling process much more streamlined leaving the seller with much less work.   Down the road we plan on adding consoles and gaming accessories into the mix as well as some more exciting features. Our main goal continues to make buying and selling games as easy as possible so our members can spend more time playing games.   Me: Are there any promotions currently running or coming up you would like to talk about?   Brandon: We have a contest running now where members can invite their friends to join the site. Prizes range from coins, plush toys, and t-shirts to a horse head mask and games. The Power Gamer Giveaway is also going on now which rewards the top 10 sellers of the month with free coins. We are always looking for new ways to promote the site and get the word out so you can expect more to come soon.   Me: Again, I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to talk about the site a little. Hopefully this interests a few new users   Brandon: Thanks for taking your time to do this.   ----------     As a current user, I will leave you with this, The site is extremely easy to use and is filled with honest and courteous traders. In my short time with the site, I have received games including Ni No Kuni, Dead Space 3, Portal 2, The Killzone Trilogy, Ico/Shadow of the Colossus Collection and Lollipop Chainsaw. A lot of users are even willing to haggle a little bit on what their game prices are. I have 51 total trades there and each one has been pleasant. Definitely a trading site worth checking out.

iwx Leprechaun

iwx Leprechaun

 

The Next Duke Nukem Forever

So, everyone and their grandmother knows the story of Duke Nukem Forever by now. The game spent 12 years locked in development hell, where it became a legend whispered in hushed tones and broken promises. Delay after delay after delay, it was thought that The King would never take his throne, but then Gearbox stepped in to usher him to his seat of honor...which turned out to be more of an ugly metal folding chair than a seat fit for a king.   Hell, they probably spent a year alone on that intricately animated jump.   But I'm not here to talk about DNF. I mean, other than that first paragraph. I'm here to talk about the games that are starting to look like they'll take the same road as Duke and enter a protracted development cycle full of turmoil, missed release dates, and topped off with a nice "when it's done" when asked about the game's release. These are the candidates to become the next Duke Nukem Forever.     FINAL FANTASY VERSUS XIII Announced: 2006 Status: As of October, it's "still in development."   FFVXIII as it shall henceforth be known because I am not typing that out every time, has good reason to get RPG fans excited - it's basically the gritty reboot of the FF series. It's dark, angsty, and moody, and it doesn't care what you think. The setting is also worlds different from what we've come to expect of the series, being set in a futuristic environment, but, like, Earth futuristic. Then there's the gameplay, which looks like a more fast-paced, action-packed version of the Kingdom Hearts battle system. All this combined might be the kick in the pants the FF series needs to draw in a new crowd and get back some of those who were less than impressed with plain ol' FFXIII. But Squenix has been relatively quiet about the game, only mentioning it in little blurbs because they're annoyed that everyone's asking about it. Still, the fact that they've confirmed it's still in development as recently as last year is better than when they were saying nothing and everyone assumed it had been cancelled. It's also been rumored that this game has been turned into FF 15, which, knowing Square, would just add a few more years onto the development cycle while they redo the logo or something.   We be rollin'. Slowly.   Likelihood of being released: It's not looking good due to the sporadic updates. They say they're working on it, but not how hard, or how often, or how far along they already are, or anything, you know, indicative of the game ever coming out. Don't hold your breath.     THE LAST GUARDIAN Announced: 2007 or so Status: Fumito Ueda says he's still working on it...that's something, I guess.   Hoo boy, where to start with this one. Team Ico's next game has a lot of people feverishly anticipating its arrival, and for good reason - Team Ico has made a couple of fantastic games, and gamers are ready for more. Not only that, but The Last Guardian hearkens back to Ico with its theme of bonding and friendship, only instead of it being between a little beast boy and a...whatever Yorda is, it's the friendship of a little boy (not beastly this time) and a gigantic...furry thing. The furry thing in question has a lot of appeal with those big sad eyes that tug at your heartstrings, so gamers are ready to find out just how darn lovable he really is. Sadly, all we're getting is little teases here and there that the game is still coming out, with no concrete evidence that it even exists in any form at this point.   Sit, Trico! Good...fluffy...birdy...thingy.   Likelihood of being released: Well, Sony would be foolish to let this one slip away, but it's still going to take a while. You might have to buy a PS4 for this one. Or, who knows, maybe, along with The Last of Us, it'll be part of Sony's "The Last" games to send off the PS3 after the PS4's release. Or something.     BEYOND GOOD & EVIL 2 Announced: 2008 Status: Coming to next-gen systems. Probably.   There's really very little to say about BG&E2, because there really hasn't been much said about it. It was announced to much fanfare back in 2008, and fans of the original game have been wringing their hands in anticipation of getting to finally play the follow-up to such a stellar adventure. Since then though, the game hasn't been heard from very much. There's been a few mentions of it here and there, but nothing really concrete until last year when it was announced that the game was actively being developed for next-gen consoles. Unfortunately, unless they never started on a current-gen version of the game, that probably means they have to redo a whole bunch of stuff to get everything ready for it's big debut on the fancy new PS4, 720, and Wii U hardware (well, ok, maybe not so much on that last one.) Regardless of whether or not that's the case, the development of this game has been so quiet that it wouldn't be that surprising if it just went dark again for a few years.   They seem content to wait it out, at least.   Likelihood of being released: There's a good chance this will come out, sometime. It's just hard to say when, but fans of the series seem willing to wait. Either that or they've already forgotten about it.     HALF-LIFE 3/HL2: EPISODE 3 Announced: Never Status: ???   This one is a bit tricky. Whether you want to call it Half-Life 3 or Half Life 2: Episode 3, the one thing everyone can call it is non-existent. Valve has never officially announced either game, but that hasn't stopped people from scouring the internet, Steam, and real life for any and all clues that point to the release of this most elusive of video games. Sure, there's this thing:     Now with realistic crowbar action!   But it's not a Half-Life 3 screenshot. It's not a Half-Life 3 anything, necessarily. It's just some fantastic concept art. Honestly, it's hard to find any concrete information on what, exactly, that is at this point (it was posted a few years ago), but if you ask the average PC gamer, it's a bona-fide Half-Life 3 screenshot and that's enough for them. And why wouldn't it be? The Half-Life games are some of the best story-driven FPS games ever made, and fans are itching for more. But, like a bad friend, Valve has no intentions of scratching that itch. So it looks like you'll be waiting a long while yet for a game that, according to that picture, looks better than anything Crytek has ever done. Better start upgrading your PC in the meantime.   Likelihood of being released: Oh, it'll be released, eventually. It pretty much has to at this point, it's just a matter of when. It could be this year, or it could be 2025. Who knows? Only Valve does, and they're not telling.     HONORABLE MENTIONS   Agent - Announced (conceptually) in 2007, officially (with name) in 2009. Has been pretty much nothing said about the game since.   Prey 2 - Announced in 2011, which isn't that bad, but the development seems to be stalled. It's being polished to Bethesda's standards. Wait, why are you laughing?   So, sure, 6 years in development may not seem like much compared to DNF's 12, but they're halfway there - and if the developers continue to show the same amount of disinterest in releasing these games, they could go all the way, if not further. This is to say nothing of other HL3-esque games that haven't been confirmed but people think they're happening anyway - like Kingdom Hearts 3 or Shenmue 3 - which may not ever see the light of day, or even exist, but that hasn't stopped people from saying they're being made...ever so slowly. But let's just go ahead and agree on one thing - if any of these games end up taking 12 years to come out, they're probably not worth playing.

Venom

Venom

 

Are Scary Games on Consoles Going to DIE?!

Through many of the years of gaming we“ve endured many scary games that gave us the chilling feeling and heart pumping moments around every corner that frightens us. These games are made not only to have fun, but to experience what it“s like to be in the moment with haunting and terrifying scenes all around. What I love about scary games is that it gives you the view of one person put in the survival horror like themes with limited features or items you have in your pocket. How do we survive this outcome? Scary games are fascinating not just because it“s scary, but the story and mystery on how we go through the terrifying adventure.     We“ve played a lot of scary themed games from handhelds, PCs, and to consoles. Developers would create unique spine chilling games that makes us jump out of our seats. Most of the games I“ve played are on consoles. In my experience there are times where I tried playing the game in the dark, but I was too scared to continue. That moment where you look around your own room and outside the windows to check nothing bad happens got me nervous in real life. Past and present games are very different form each other. I“ve played through games there were pretty scary in the past, but these days they aren“t that scary, but provide the scary thematic elements.   A question that comes in mind after noticing scary games for consoles today is “Are Scary Games dead on the consoles these days? Personally in my opinion I think it depends on what they mean by scary games, but I“d say they are not dead yet, but there are reasons why they are barely still alive. Think about it. When it comes to scary games we think of games that are meant to scare people and jump out of their seat giving us heart attacks, but these days it“s been toning down slowly, but developers sometimes take that genre in different ways. Maybe the games are scary because of the environment, characters, monsters, stories, or even the game itself other than being a fright fest. We take a look at why scary games are not dead for the consoles yet. There may not be much games, but every once in a while there is at least one or two titles that come across to scare us. Let“s take a look at some of the examples of scary games that are not dead on consoles that I“ve played.       The Silent Hill series is one of the most frightening experiences I“ve had and actually the first series to play a scary game. Silent Hill 2 on the PS2 was the first in the series that I picked up. I knew nothing about it and decided to try it out. Went into the game thinking what kind of gaming style is this. I“ve never even heard of the survival horror genre. That night I was finally able to get a chance to test it out. I was in the room with the doors closed, lights turned off, and everyone asleep. So I enjoyed the opening and music. Started the game and here we go. What the heck? Why is everything so foggy? I walked around the area and started hearing sounds and had to turn the lights on to continue playing it. My mind was telling me no keep going, don“t be a chicken, keep the lights off. My hands were pretty sweaty and I kept looking around the room to make sure there were no monsters. The first time I saw wicked looking mannequin nurses lurking out of nowhere, I ran as far as I could in the game and ended up being lost. Eventually went through more scary moments while running around and then got to the Pyramid Head guy. Holy smokes the first time I met that dude, I was stuck in a room and he blocked my path to exit. I died and said never going to play this again. Pyramid Head haunted me for a while and I couldn“t even finish the game. That was the first scary experience I“ve had in scary games. What I like about this game was the environment was very spooky and anything can scare you from every corner. I“ve never played the other games in the series, but I can tell the later games are starting to go to a different route from this one. It seems that they are turning into a horror action adventure with many easy ways to help you survive and it doesn“t have that fright factor. It“s not as frightening as this one, but it“s still scary in a different way.       The Resident Evil games were great survival horror games in the early days, but nowadays it“s just a horror action adventure. Sure it“s not scary to where you are nervous for every corner these days, but it“s a fun scary adventure. Around between 3rd-5th grades, a friend of mine introduced me to the series. He brought over the PS1 version of the first Resident Evil to play and was ready to discover why this was popular. This was very different from playing Silent Hill when I started. I wasn“t a fan of zombies at the time, but I was definitely afraid of going near them in the game especially mutated ones. The environment wasn“t too scary because it took place in a mansion most of the time. The camera angles were annoying to play with, but I managed to get used to it. The features in the game gave you a pretty good survival horror theme. I loved that we get limited ammo to make it tougher, weapons, herbs to heal, and even a typewriter to save. You need to be prepared for every corner around the mansion with limited ammo and solve challenging puzzles because a survival horror game is how you survive with limited stuff and finding a way to escape scary. The series started to not get scary when they decided to go in a different direction in later games from RE4-6 with adding quick time events, upgraded weapons, action scenes, versus, and the typewriter is missing after RE4. They made the games less scary and provided gamers with linearity, less challenge, predictable moments, and making the gameplay easier. In the past the games were all about survival and have the feeling of being in rough moments alone, but now it“s not as scary, but scary in adventurous way with toned down frights.       The Siren series is another unique survival horror game that is pretty scary. Siren: Blood Curse is the one game in the series that was really thrilling and frightening and the latest game from Siren. I was able to play the EU copy for PS3 from a friend of mine many years ago. His PS3 would not be able to play it so we played it on mine together and it was a blast filled with frightening moments.What I like about this game is the gameplay which follows episodic events through the view of different characters in the story. What I mean is you take on the role of characters and see their point of views and jump to another character“s view during the episode or mission. The gameplay in this is that you control the character and progress the story while getting past the Shibito which are the enemies in the game. In order to get past them, we use an ability called “Sight Jack†which goes into split screen mode to allow players to see in the view of others while playing. It is actually the main way to surviving the game to find clues and reach their goal. You can even set traps and yell at enemies to distract or have them cover using the D-pad and use the X button active. Another thing is that you can only carry one thing at time which can be weapons that include shovels, pistols, rifles, and even a katana. Most of the time during the game, stealth is the main way to survive. You will try to sneak past them and if you hear a heart-beat like drum sound that is a sign of warning the players that the Shibito is there. If you are successful in hiding the alerted enemy, they will give up and become idle forgetting about you. Most of the environment in the game is pretty dark going through caves, forests, abandoned areas, hospitals, etc. This is a game that I recommend playing for survival horror fans and felt that this is a missed gem.     The Condemned Series is a very intense psychological survival horror game. It“s not just a survival horror game, but it mixes it up with investigating features with the genre. This is a title that I feel everyone should check out if you like mystery and survival horror at the same time. It“s a FPS title that focuses on crime scene investigations solving mysteries and clues by looking at evidences around the area, observing bodies, use gadgets, etc. The enemies are very creepy because they can appear at random times in the dark. You can hear the sounds around you knowing someone or something is there waiting for you. The setting takes place in urban environments with less lighting. You have to use a flashlight to go through the game“s entire darkened areas while you deal with scary moments that can happen any time. One of the most terrifying moments that freaked me out in the game is the mannequins. At one point there would be one mannequin just sitting there, I look around for a few seconds and turn back to see not just one mannequin, but two and even more every time I look away and look back. It was really creepy because they start to follow you and eventually make a surprising attack (not all the mannequins, but one or two of them). The first game was really good and enjoyed the mystery investigating elements and the second one as well. The series is worth checking out if you“re a fan of mystery and combining it with horror.       One game I really as a survival horror is the Dead Space series. The first game scared the crap out of me when I first played it on the 360. I loved the haunting space environment and the third person experience with it. The mutated aliens were very frightening throughout the game and I would double check most of the times to make sure it doesn“t pop out and scare me. The only way to kill them is to by cutting their limbs off to weaken them and use my awesome stomp/punch attack. The heads up holographic display is a nice feature that keeps your log of items, weapons, collectibles, etc. The first game in the series plays like a survival horror adventure and every moment, I was ready for that terrifying jump or pop outs. The second game felt the same way, but it was toned down a bit in the scare factor, but it was still frightening. Since the 3rd game recently came out, I remember EA wanted to tone down or go to a different direction in survival horror. Dead Space 3 seems like an action adventure set in horrific settings, but not that scary. The addition to co-op hurts the game because most survival horror games focus on one player going through terrifying moments through the story. Either way this series is a great survival horror game that terrifies you in dark areas.   Those are some of the examples of scary games on consoles that I played that were pretty scary and worth checking out for the survival horror genre, but eventually developers took on the genre and change things around in sequels. I don“t think scary games are dead on the consoles yet because the term scary started out as survival horror and then spread to different ways of using it to create a scary game. I do see the genre disappearing in the near future for consoles because the term survival horror is disappearing and going into a different direction. Although outside of it like indie games like Slenderman and PC titles like Amnesia are great examples of non-console games that are very scary. Scary games are definitely a fun way to experience the fright and terrifying moments that could happen to you someday. Love it or hate it, it“s worth fearing for.

TKtheknight

TKtheknight

 

When Tapping, Waggling, and Smashing Get in the Way

When the average gamer goes out to buy a game, rarely do they think of how well the game controls. While it's an important part of certain genres, for the most part gamers are more worried about things such as the story, game mechanics, or even graphics and music. However, how a game handles controls is a very important part of a game itself, and if done incorrectly, can ruin the experience.   What makes a game have bad controls? Well... there could be any number of reasons. However, as we look through the gaming ages, we can see that control issues sprout up more and more in later generations. This is mostly because of the evolution of controllers throughout the times.   Remember when the original Nintendo controller had only the D-pad and four buttons? With a controller like that, it's hard to mess up the technical side of controls... though on the flip side, developers were forced to keep simple controls schemes. Sure, there were still issues with the developmental side of controls such as unresponsive or floaty controls, but that's an issue I'll get into in a bit.   Ah, the simple times of old... at least controllers don't have sharp corners anymore.   Nowadays, controllers have way more than four buttons. The PS3 and 360 controllers each have a D-pad, two analog sticks, and thirteen buttons. With so many ways to input control, it can be easy for developers to get overwhelmed or over ambitious. However, the Wii is the worst; while having far fewer buttons, the Wiimote uses motion to control games, and that leads to a whole new can of worms involving programming (and messing up) controls. When the Wii first was released, many games were sited for sloppy, unresponsive, or just plain odd controls. When developers don't know what to do with button happy controllers and motion gameplay, things can go awry quickly.   But, that's not the only aspect of detrimental gaming controls--the game creators can easily make controls more convoluted than it needs to be. One of the most common cases is the developer using a gimmick in their controls; for example, a DS game using full touch controls when it's unintuitive or a PS3 game that tries to fully utilize the Sixaxis controls. Usually it doesn't work out, and makes a good or great game a mess to play. Just try Mad Maestro! and its pressure sensitive button tapping rhythm based controls and you'll quickly see what I mean.   Oh, sorry! You pressed X slightly too hard. Try again!   That's not the only time developers screw up the controls, though; sometimes it's just a simple lack of thinking things through. Many game creators in this camp stand on one of two sides: Either the majority of the controls were an afterthought, or they thought too hard about them and made it over complicated. This sort of control issue is exasperated by the complicated controllers of the current generation... sometimes developers just don't understand they don't need to use EVERY button on the controller.   Finally, there's the problem that controllers have nothing to do with... and that's bad in-game controls. A game could have its controller perfectly mapped, but controls can still end up sloppy from programming decisions made within the game itself. This could be things like delays between pressing the button and the action happening, game characters having bad physics (so being 'floaty' or 'heavy'), or certain moves or commands not working properly.   Out of all the problems mentioned above, this is the one that had been consistent throughout all of gaming's history. It all boils down to the programmer's skill and time constraints at that point... and often the factor that can make or break an otherwise great game.   Older games have control issues too... even if they are sometimes overlooked (or sometimes opinion based)   So, to answer the original question... when does it get in the way of the game itself? Well, bad controls can easily and quickly turn any game experience sour, giving any game a frustration level never intended by the creators. Many games could be be regarded on a more positive level if the controls simply worked better... and that doesn't go for just racing or fighting games. All genres need to have good controls to be enjoyable, and controls are a bigger factor than you may think.

gaiages

gaiages

 

Indie Games: Will Arrogance Be Their Destruction?

Indie games have had a very long history. The first games, created without consumeristic intent, were made by only a few people with access to massive computers at a few colleges. As time went on, and games became something valuable, we saw more independent developers creating new content. As the PC made its way into homes, tiny teams did their best to sell their games free of publishers. Many of these titles were only known in the surrounding city of their creation.     In the 90s, websites became a near necessity for anyone who felt they were tech savvy. Many individuals who were making games on their own or in small groups set up sites for them. During this time period, more became aware of “indie gamesé but certainly not the complete library of them being uploaded to the web. Many of these games have since been lost to time thanks to many free web hosts closing their doors.   It is only now in the current era that we have seen indie games really rise in popularity. Minecraft, developed by Mojang, managed to hit it big and become popular with adults, children, and teens who may have never before played an indie game. Similarly, Journey managed to surprise many PSN users who had previously ignored Flow or Flower which were thatgamecompany“s first two titles. Unlike Minecraft however, their title is one which would probably never hook the bro gamer demographic.   With indie games now seeing wide popularity thanks to digital distribution, we may be entering a whole new era. This next generation could be one where indie games are backed by publisher press and attention. Although not all games have attained critical success, gamers certainly now are beginning to feel okay with indie titles as a whole. Polished and entertaining indie games have proven that you don“t need to have seasoned developers or bags of money to make something worth playing.     The way I see it, indie gaming could follow two distinct paths at this point. They may mostly enjoy flourishing as they did thanks to Steam, XBLA, and PSN, but otherwise not attempt to push for more interest. Or, there may be more teams like thatgamecompany who feel they are good enough to break free of the publishers who had helped them attain popularity as a means to further their own success.   I use thatgamecompany as an example as they are the model which others may follow. This team had lived under Sony“s domain as they could not possibly fund and subsist off their games themselves. The team is certainly full of bright, creative individuals, but would have went bankrupt creating Journey if Sony hadn“t been there for them as part of a three game exclusive deal. Of course, we now see that the game has been a massive success. Because of it, they were able to move out from under Sony“s wing and have since made their development studio one which they shall self publish from.   Hubris, whether warranted or not, is something multiple indie developers may struggle with after making a popular game. Although some have only ever self published, the success of doing well may keep teams pursuing the 100% “indieé label; one where the developer has no publisher. So far, it seems thatgamecompany plans to stay solo because they now have the funding to do so. However, in creating the games they truly want to make, they may eventually find that the money is not there. Thanks to the now inbuilt fan audience (mostly created with Journey) their fans will probably follow the next game. But what happens if it is not the experience fans expect? They may once again retreat to other games they feel are safer bets rather than the overly ambitious indie team.     At that point, it seems we may see multiple indie teams who have seen success take hits due to lack of market attention. The indie marketplace is already heavily saturated with titles and more are added every week thanks to Steam Greenlight and similar initiatives. It takes a lot to get a gamer“s attention these days, and word of mouth is the most useful form for them. Triple A games never have to worry about this since their publishers designate millions of dollars to be spent on advertising; something which no indie team will ever have much of. And word of mouth, no matter how great, seems to lately revolve around the echo chamber that is Twitter. Games that are popular within your clique on Twitter will for the most part remain within that circle.   Therefore, I predict one future of independent games is where the currently successful developers stay solo and attempt to create even vaster, more expensive experiences. However, they may see their fanbase falter and make far less than intended, which then forces them into restrictive relationships with publishers (if not destroy entire companies outright). This is hardly what they desire, and as it squelches out full artistic freedom, is not what gamers will want either.   The other path is a much less dramatic one where indie games continue a steady increase in popularity, but do not try to do too much too quickly. Indie games will maintain a hold over Steam, XBLA, and PSN and net new followers. Although it may not be the most profitable method, it is also one with less chance for completely destroying the company. There are still many out there who have yet to experience many or any indie games, and at some point they will if they keep being shown shown such titles on digital storefronts.   No matter what happens, there will always be indie games. They basically were gaming“s inception and have persisted alongside each generation. Even if once highly popular indie teams “sell outé or go bankrupt, there will be more to take their place. As long as indie games are being created, new developers were be inspired. From there, the cycle of inspiration and creation of independent titles will be able to live on through future generations.

Marcus Estrada

Marcus Estrada

 

Rise of the Concept of the Indie Game

I“d like to start this piece off by asking a simple question; what exactly defines the term “indie gameâ€? We hear about it all the time these days, about the successes of small teams making equally small games and their gain in popularity, but what exactly are they?     I suppose you could start by defining what “indie†means, because it“s not exclusively tied to the gaming world. We have indie artists, indie movies…the list goes on and on. The word “indie†of course is short for independent, and in the case of creators be it movie directors or game developers, being independent means you have creative freedom, no studio or publisher keeping you on a leash, making sure you “make that guy more evil looking†or “add some more koopas over thereâ€. Thus, indie games often tend to buck the mainstream trends associated with bigger productions.   The gaming landscape is dominated by several game publishing giants, all of whom spend a great deal of money making sure they put out the next AAA title. Their goal is after all, to make money, and lots of it. But you really can“t fault them for that, can you? Sure Activision COULD start funding Joe Indie“s new project Super Blasterman, but why would they if they could churn out another Call of Duty and raking in a few more billion dollars?     That“s where indie games step in. We“ve always had them, but they“ve really fallen into the spotlight in recent years due largely, if not entirely, to the marvels of digital distribution. 10 years ago it would“ve been impossible for a game with no or limited physical release, and no marketing or advertising, to reach even a few hundred people. But because of digital distribution making the selling and transferring of a game so easy and cheap it is now possible for a single creator to reach thousands if not millions of potential customers. Minecraft is possibly the best example of this, created by one man with a vision to make a game he wanted to play and made available for anyone to purchase, has sold well over a million copies worldwide, and its still being worked on!   So what sets indie games apart then? Markus Persson (the creator of Minecraft) himself has stated that he not sure that there“s anything that indie developers can do that the big studios can“t. He refers to Portal as essentially being an indie game in all but name, a unique game that took a risk at being different. The difference being Valve chose to make the game on a small budget, whereas indie developers oftentimes don“t have a choice. However, there is still the fact that Valve is a major (albeit private) company and still lacks the ultimate creative freedom that small team of indie developers has. Another highly successful indie game studio, Thatgamecompany is one of the major players in the rise of the indie game craze of the past few years. They started with flOw a mildly successful title that garnered little attention, then moved on to Flower which was held up as “gaming artâ€, until finally releasing their Magnum Opus; Journey. But Thatgamecompany is but a drip in the giant pool of indie developers that have arisen these last few years.     I already mentioned that the ease of digital distribution helped make the indie game craze possible, but there are numerous other reasons as well. While AAA game development costs continue to soar, making simpler games are a much cheaper task. The affordability and access to better hardware and software has allowed even those of lesser means to bring their visions to life. Even funding no longer poses as much of a problem as it once did, thanks to a rise in sites such as Kickstarter which rely on crowdsourcing to fund an otherwise un-fundable idea.   Not only that, but smartphone use has seen a spike in usage in roughly the same amount of time as the rise in indie game popularity. Sure, indie games remain a largely PC staple but they are, and have been, branching out to mobile phones as well as other platforms, which also help increase their audiences. Rovio for example, made a simple little game called Angry Birds with a tiny team and tiny budget. That game is now more popular and widely played than most real videogames.   Even now, with the dawn of a new generation on the horizon, indie games are looking to stay, and I believe they won“t be going anywhere anytime soon. The decrease in the amount of smaller game titles released each year in favor of a few major hits is being compensated by indie games, and if things continue to go the way they are now we may very well see the line between these smaller game releases and indie games blur and eventually, disappear.

Ludono

Ludono

 

When Do Controls Get In The Way?

If you believe Steven Spielberg then controllers are always getting in the way and Kinect is the only way to fully immerse yourself in a game. Now then, let's segue into reality for a moment and talk about when controls are too complex for their own good and ruin the enjoyment of games.   To use a recent example of controls annoying me, I played Mass Effect 3 recently on the PC and it had multiple commands bound to the one button and gave me no way to change it. Look I understand there are only so much buttons on a controller, but the keyboard is covered in buttons, so you should be able to let me assign these commands as I please. Having sprint, take cover and roll all on the one button is just a pain in the ass. This has been a problem with PC games (mostly PC ports) for eons, just let me change these damn buttons so that when I want to take cover I don't end up rolling against a wall like a bloody idiot. All the buttons you could ever need, and then another 20 for good measure.   Another problem I have ran into with a few games (again mostly on PC) is really poor control layouts. I want controlling a game to feel like second nature, to be able to focus on what's going on in the game and not have to keep looking at my controller/keyboard trying to figure out how to do something. A big offender of this was ARMA 2, as someone who has played his fair share of shooters; this game confused the hell out of me. I think I spent more time reformatting all the controls than actually playing the game, I swear it is like someone vomited out the control scheme and they just ran with it.   If we wanted to boil this down to its most basic form then, controls get in the way when they aren't intuitive, it is pretty much that simple. When the controls don't make sense or they frustrate you then they are getting in the way and ruining your enjoyment of the game.   So what about motion controls? Right, if we let all those moans die down so I can talk, then I will say that motion controls have a lot of problems with them, the main one being that they don't really work. Motion controls have failed to dominate this generation (apart from the Wii I guess) both the Move and Kinect have been left to die (but they might make a comeback next generation). So can motion controls become a better way to control a game? The main problem I see is in the whole motion part of motion controls, for starters gamers are really lazy and also moving around isn't easier than just pushing a button, so they would get in the way. I don't want to write motion controls off entirely, as they can work sometimes, but for the majority of gaming I feel that they would be less effective than a simple button based controller. Having to push 0 to aim? No wonder those ARMA devs were arrested   So when do controllers get in the way? When you are really angry at a game and you want to throw something, then they end up lodged into a nearby wall. Seriously though, the majority of games have decent controls and I feel like for the most part it isn't an issue, but sometimes the control layout makes no sense or can't be changed to your preference (left-handed gamers for example) then it gets in the way and decreases your enjoyment of the game. That of course is the one thing a game should never do, because games are supposed to be all about enjoyment and when you get in the way of that, you have failed your job. Bloody game developers.

Khorne

Khorne

 

Jerk Arena of Time: What I'd Do Differently If I Were In Link's Boots

In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link is a time-shifting hero chosen by the gods to save the land of Hyrule from the most evil man in existence. Yeah, that“s cool and everything, but don“t you think he“s also kind of a ****? I mean, while he does go down in history as a legendary hero, that won“t stop people in his world from perceiving him as a vandalizing, time-wasting, cucco-abusing kid/teenager. If I were in his boots, I think I would do things a bit differently to avoid being seen in any negative light…     Put Down the Pots and Stop Stealing Rupees!     “In Hyrule, residents have a tendency to stash their money in antique pots they apparently all have plenty of. Knowing that, why am I holding a pot over my head? Was I honestly about to go around smashing them all and stealing other people“s hard-earned rupees?   “No, I“m better than this! Sure, it may be tough financially for a fairy boy like me who grew up deep within woods that rarely anyone can even visit, but I have to suck it up! There are more noble ways a hero can earn money than resorting to a life of crime. Maybe I can set up shop somewhere and sell fairies or something…†    Don“t Get Distracted By Games!     “Alright, I“ve made it to Hyrule Castle Town at last! It“s been a rough adventure so far, and once I meet with Princess Zelda, we can stop this evil guy from wreaking havoc. Now let“s see… Well, I should go ahead and waltz on over to Hyrule Castle now… Oh look – GAMES! I love a fun game! Alright, let“s head into…   “Wait a minute, I can“t play games now! I have a duty to uphold. I know games are fun and can help ease the stress this journey has caused me thus far, but this is no time for that. And sure, it may help me financially if I can win at one of these games, but money and ammo aren“t going to help if the world gets taken over by the forces of evil. Unless, of course, I can use my rupees to sue him for all he“s worth…†    Put Down That Fishing Rod!     “Alright, now that I“ve got a fishing rod, it“s finally time to… Wait, what am I thinking…? Hyrule is being taken over by the King of Evil and I“m actually thinking about fishing?! While I“m off fishing, anything could be happening. I could be here looking for that fabled Sinking Lure while Ganondorf destroys even more of this land.   “No, I can“t let myself get distracted like this! No matter how much I love to fish, there are more important things I must attend to. And no matter how hard I think about it, I“m pretty sure a fishing rod will have no effect on someone like Ganondorf. Unless, of course, it somehow slows him down during battle. Hm…†    Don“t Mess With the Cuccos!     “Lon Lon Ranch, huh? I remember this place from when I was a kid. Yup, that horse is here too. Looks like she grew up since last time. And if I remember correctly, this place should have some – a-ha! Cuccos! Come here, you flightless little…   “No wait, am I serious? I did this last time, and back then I almost got myself killed. I really shouldn“t go messing with cuccos if I know what“s good for me. Seriously, they might even pose a greater threat than Ganondorf himself…â€

Jordan Haygood

Jordan Haygood

 

A "Full Powered" Hero

You know how some games start with the player in the past, or in some scenario where the player has full power? We all love those scenarios, as it gives a preview as to what you can expect to be at the end of the game. It“s not always 100%, as you can earn powers that you necessarily didn“t start with. That“s just a tease. Not happening on my watch.   If I were the hero I would take a different route by starting off fully powered, instead of building up power. Similar to how Samus limits herself in Metroid: Other M, (she never lost her power ups), the powers that I have would always be at my disposal, which is great, but I“m always in situations where my powers would be limited to some extent, thus forcing me to be creative with my powers and abilities surrounding them. Not only is that a great idea, but it would be realistic as well!   If I have the power to control heat and fire, then throwing fireballs in the forest probably isn“t the best idea, because of the risk of a firestorm. Sure I could attempt to absorb all of the heat, but that could be disastrous, and potentially kill me, as the human body (assuming I still am one) can only handle so much. But what if I must use my powers in order to find a switch to open ancient ruins? Why not try and make everything freeze by absorbing the heat in the room?   The possibilities are still endless, but it“s just presented in a different light. By having strong ramifications to my actions, I would have to think through the situation. Those situations would truly push me as a hero, because I would be a person that is used to just using my powers to do everything. By limiting myself, I could explore the true extent to what those abilities are.     Let's stay like this.   Wait, if I“m learning about how to apply superpowers in a different manner, did I really start off with all of my powers? Didn“t I just explore the extent of my powers throughout the game, thus building my knowledge of them? So maybe I didn“t start with all of my powers after all…

Blazeknyt

Blazeknyt

 

What I Would Do Differently If I Was Commander Shepard

Look Commander Shepard is pretty solid, but if I was Shepard then the first thing I would do is grow a bitching mustache and then I would I would do the classic Kiwi thing and take one look at the fate of the galaxy and just go "She'll be right". I would probably then proceed to drink heavily for the next few weeks and then die in the Reaper invasion.   But let's work under the assumption that I go along with this "saving the galaxy business" and ask myself, what would I do differently? For starters I would use my classic Kiwi know-how and my trusty piece of number 8 wire to tinker with that Mako so it doesn't fly off into space whenever you bump against some flat ground. I would also realize the seriousness of the situation and not run around helping people find their lost toilet paper or whatever I spent all that time doing, while letting Saren waste time summoning the Reapers. This blog might contain racial stereotypes you don't know about, sorry.   Another thing I wouldn't do is die, seriously what were you thinking non-Kiwi Shepard? Actually dying worked out pretty well for non-Kiwi Shepard so I might do that too... Anyway after dying and coming back to life I would just abandon Cerberus right off. A strong, independent Kiwi man let's nobody tell him what to do, also Cerberus isn't exactly a trustworthy name. I would then skip all that messing about and run right up to that Omega 4 relay and bust out my good friend the number 8 wire and make that thing send me all the way to the collector base. Of course I would have had plenty of experience being a rugby captain for the All Blacks and would be able to get everyone out alive with my amazing leadership abilities.   And after all that I wouldn't bother blowing up that Mass Relay to delay the Reapers, I would just head right out there to meet the Reapers, offense is the best defense right? I would then proceed to make the Crucible out of my last piece of number 8 wire and use it to destroy all the Reapers so I could go home and watch the game in time, with a nice cold beer.   He looks like someone I would trust the galaxy with   So what about the romantic options? Well as your typical unemotional, kiwi bloke I wouldn't exactly be wooing those aliens, but I would have that rugged, manly man allure that no one can resist. I would of course refer to whoever I ended up with as a Sheila and get her to keep the fridge well stocked with beer. We would do romantic activities such as: watching the races, watching the cricket, watching the rugby and then we would go out back and fix up that fence that has been on a lean all week.   Of course all this would garner me some media attention, but I would remember about Tall Poppy Syndrome and just pass it off as a "no biggie, it was a real team effort and I am just proud of the boys who really delivered out on the field today". It would also later be revealed that I did the entire thing with a broken arm.   The only flaw in this plan is that I doubt I would still be alive in 2183, which would hinder my ability to take the place of Commander Shepard, but the important thing is that I just wrote a really bad fanfic about Commander Shepard basically being Colin Meads.

Khorne

Khorne

 

Being 50 Cent: Blood in my Shoes

Heroes are the ultimate archetypal foils to everything that is considered “evilé. They stand against criminals, villains, demons, and entities that are considered inherently bad. In pop culture, the hero is the greatest thing a person can aspire to. Video games follow a similar pattern, featuring heroic characters who defy all odds to save the world, win the girl, and blow away the baddies in cinematic fashion. The hero I“d love to be has none of those storied qualities; he isn“t noble, amiable, or gracious. My hero is brash, abrasive, and downright cold when he wants to be, because that“s how he rolls. If there“s one hero I truly wish I could be, it“s 50 Cent from none other than 50 Cent: Blood in the Sand.   Fiddy is about as heroic as a testosterone, steroid-induced, gun-crazed rapper gets. He wins my vote because of his pure awesomeness. When players tackle the great Blood in the Sand, they find themselves in Fiddy“s ripped off shoes. His payment for a random concert in the Middle East doesn“t come through, the replacement diamond-encrusted skull is stolen, and a whole army of generic terrorists is after Fiddy“s head. Solution? Kill everyone while screaming as many four-letter profanities as humanly possible. Fiddy doesn“t even try to be subtle; he points guns at his allies, knifes mercenaries after breaking their arms, and listens to his own music as a background soundtrack. He“s the most self-centered bad boy in the universe, and I love him.     Fiddy“s power stems from his seemingly bulletproof body. As legend has it, Fiddy has survived more gunshot wounds than most soldiers do in the worst parts of Afghanistan. Blood in the Sand allows Fiddy to take at least 500 shots before a lick of health is lost. Meanwhile, Fiddy can enter a Matrix-esque bullet time (called Gangsta Time) and assassinate entire battalions of enemy fodder. It“s fantastic to listen to him mutter about someone stealing his skull as he rams a shotgun down someone“s throat. Fiddy also has back-up in the form of G-Unit. For some reason, his whole music crew seems to be packing more heat than the entire US military, and boy do they use it! With Fiddy“s invulnerability, great music, and toughened G-Unit, there“s no reason not to bet on him in a fight.     But not all that glimmers is skrilla. Fiddy“s attitude is about as likable as a mule that repeatedly kicks you in the nuts. He“s hilarious to listen to, but absolutely no fun to work with. I would be a nicer guy so I could get in good with the arms dealers. After all, you can“t trust anyone in his world. I love his bulletproof bod and oodles of ammunition, but I would be a better person. I would also limit the amount of times I call someone derogatory names, considering how many Klaznikov rounds they empty on me. And yes, Fiddy really does call them Klaznikov“s. I guess I should add proper English to the list, eh? Well, I“ll probably still keep the colorful language since it just sounds puerile and cool.   Is 50 Cent heroic in the least? Probably not. I mean, he made his own video game because he felt like it. As if he wasn“t legendary enough in the rap scene, he just had to immortalize his “gangstaé life in a weird Gears of War meets The Club third-person shooter. What kind of hero asks for his own statue while holding the sculptors at gunpoint? Fiddy. But I can“t argue with the amount of bad guy blood he leaves in the sand.  

Harrison Lee

Harrison Lee

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