The world of making indie games is something that’s become a recent fascination for gamers. With wide open platforms and fewer barriers between a game creator and the consumer than ever, it’s certainly appealing for would be game-makers to take a stab at producing their own content.
This summer, one of XBox Live Arcade’s blockbuster releases was a game known as Dust: An Elysian Tail. Dust is a Metroidvania (or Castleroid if you’re nasty) style game with a bit of a cartoony flair, with a really interesting art direction and a wonderful setting. I’ve heard nothing but good things, and the gameplay videos are promising as well.
But the most interesting thing about Dust? It was created, essentially, by just one man, Dean Dodrill. In a fascinating Postmortem feature at Gamasutra, Dean walks through his solo development cycle for Dust, in which he quit his day job, taught himself how to code, built the game’s systems from scratch and struggled to get it out on time. He goes through the ups, the downs, the woes, the prayers, the deadlines and everything else, in what’s probably one of my favorite game articles I’ve ever read.
Seriously, if you’re interested in ever taking a stab at your own game or just admire the people who do, I highly recommend checking out this article. Has anybody played Dust? Anyone out there already dabbling in constructing your own video games? When do we get to play them? Go!
I didn’t use to be this way. I used to love having Mario all powered-up, Mushrooms, Fire Flowers, Cape, what have you. But Mario’s time as a powerful plumber never lasted long. I always got careless and lost it.
But then something would happen. I would tense up, focus and suddenly become twice the gamer I was before. Being one hit away from death made me better. I enjoyed the tension, the finesse it required knowing I was skirting the precipice of doom. It got to the point that I would ignore power-ups and stay vulnerable because it made the game more exciting and made me a better player. Also, there is the fact that Small Mario is less of a target than Super Mario.
This happens with other games at times. For instance, there may be a section of the game that is built up to be very hard, so I go in very focused and end up beating it handily. This will occur on everything from RPG’s to FPS’s. I mentally psyche myself up and it translate to major pwnage of the game, sometimes leading myself to wonder what the big deal was about that section.
Am I alone in this phenomenon? Or does this happen anyone else out there? Let me know in the comments!
So Minecraft just surpassed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on the list of most played XBox 360 titles. Say what?
For those of you familiar, Major Nelson, Director of Programming for XBox Live, releases figures every month about the most played titles on Microsoft’s platform. Typically, these lists are ho-hum affairs, teaching us that mankind will generally settle for mediocrity, even years later. Sometimes there will even be two or three separate Call of Duty games all in the top ten for the month, a figure that still baffles me. But no matter how you slice it, Call of Duty always reigns supreme in some fashion.
But not so in October 2012, when Minecraft 360 overtook Activision’s beast and cast it down to the number 2 spot. This strikes me as something ridiculously significant. Say what you will about Minecraft’s longevity, and whether or not it’s a gimmick, and if it’s better on the PC or the 360 — but a game created (for the most part) by one man just topped last year’s biggest title as the game with the most users logged (single or multiplayer) on XBox Live. How is that not incredible, no matter your thoughts on Minecraft?
It’s a brave new world, gents. Does anyone else think this is pretty cool? Who’s played the 360 version of Minecraft? Who wants to hate on Call of Duty or defend it? Have at it in the comments.
Hello, Sushians. I’ve come to give you very bad news: single player video games are nothing more than a gimmick. I know, this may come as a shock to you. What, with games like Dishonored, XCOM, Deus Ex, Skyrim and Batman: Arkham City gracing our screens over the last couple of years. I mean, it’s easy to be fooled by these great titles with fantastic mechanics or engrossing stories. But you really should know that playing by yourself is a gimmick.
At least, according to Gogogic CEO Jonas Antonson. Antonson has a few thoughts about single player titles in a recent interview that might not be too popular around these parts:
“I also think that it is worth to note that the single player mechanic is a gimmick – games are meant to be played with others and it doesn’t matter if it’s in-person or online. The first games were designed as multiplayer experiences, but when computer and console games became a thing there was a need to construct an antagonist and/or a protagonist for commercial purposes.”
Antonson goes on to talk about how toddlers make up someone to talk to when they play games, and even points at the “high score list” in arcades as a way to make games social. I understand what he’s saying — on one level, playing a game in a social setting transforms the entire experience. It’s nice to compare experiences with other people in a meaningful way, as we’re seeing with a game like XCOM. But on the other hand, I think it’s too much of an overstatement to say that all single player titles are inherently gimmicky by not including a social component.
So what do you guys think? Is this WTF worthy? Is Antonson off his rocker in his assessment of single player as a gimmick? Does every game need some kind of social component in order to truly matter? Go!
The medieval multiplayer genre has taken off the in the last couple of weeks for whatever reason, with both War of the Roses and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare hitting the PC. While both games take place in a Middle Age setting, War of the Roses is a third-person combat game and Chivalry is in first person built on the Unreal engine. For no particular reason, I decided to pick up Chivalry this past Monday and I’ve been playing it for a couple hours a night and having a ball.
Unlike War of the Roses, which takes place during the actual conflict of the same name, Chivalry takes place in a fictional setting featuring a war between the Agatha Knights (Blue) and the Mason Order (Red). Players can be one of four classes, archer, man-at-arms, vanguard and knight, and can battle it out in a few gametypes like team objective and free-for-all. Team objective is currently my favorite mode as it’s a lot like Team Fortress 2’s Payload mode or Rush from Battlefield. While encouraging teamplay, it also features a host of wickedly medieval objectives like killing a village full of peasants or pushing a corpse cart into the enemy castle’s water supply. Continue reading Stabbing Fools in Chivalry: Medieval Warfare
Even if a game like Dishonored presents itself very seriously, there are still options to exploit its mechanics for moments of levity. One of my favorite YouTubers, birgirpall, found a way to turn Dishonored from a tale of a man seeking revenge into a comedy factory. It may just be his Icelandic accent narrating the entire thing, but I haven’t laughed this hard in a while. There may be spoilers for certain scenes in here; I don’t really know, I haven’t played the game yet. Just a head’s up.
Sometimes it’s nice to remind ourselves that people stil play games for fun as opposed to just finding ways to complain about them all the time. Just thought I would share this with you guys to try and brighten your day. Enjoy!
After being saddled with Desmond the last four games, Ubisoft is looking to bring a bit of finality to his story, and in the words of Masters, “To actually wrap up what you’ve opened and experienced with him”. Traditionally the Desmond segments of the Assassin’s Creed games have always been poorly received, right up from the moment in the first game when we realized that we weren’t technically going to be playing an assassin in the Middle Ages, but were experiencing the genetic memories of some poor kidnapped sod. It’s actually kind of interesting to see the lead designer of AC3 admit that the series did rotate around Desmond for a bit too long, as this part of the interview shows:
“And we wanted you to feel a good sense of progress in what’s going on in the story. A lot of the misdirection and the way we’ve been meandering a little bit has been kind of frustrating as a player and for the audience, so we wanted to make sure there was going to be more substance to get your teeth into.”
While I don’t hate Desmond as much as some, the cliffhanger at the end of Revelations did feel like the modern-day storyline was starting to wear out its welcome. I’m interested to see where the Assassin’s Creed story will go after three, and whether or not we’ll be saddled with another Desmond-type character to keep the sci-fi conceit going.
What do you guys think about this? Will we actually see Desmond’s story wrap up or is this just a developer telling us what we want to hear? Are we saying goodbye to Desmond for good, or will he be back?
War games are a dime a dozen in the video game industry, but rarely do they make you think about the decisions you’re making as a virtual soldier. Go here, do that; it’s all very clean-cut and morally upright. But as anyone who’s read a post-war memoir or has watched a good film, or talked to a real solider might know, war isn’t so neat. It’s messy, brutal and even if you somehow managed not to get physically injured, there’s a whole host of psychological scars.
The other trope of video game wars is that you’re usually a low-ranked grunt, a Private or at most a Sergeant, someone who’s important on the field of battle but isn’t calling the shots. Spec Ops: The Line puts you in the boots of Captain Martin Walker, a Delta Force operator leading a small three-man fire team into the ruins of a sandstorm ravaged Dubai. You’re hot on the heels of one Colonel Konrad, the commander of the Damned 33rd and the person who was supposed to be evacuating the citizens of Dubai. Can Spec Ops: The Line make it through this hot washup? Continue reading Review: Spec Ops: The Line
There may have been some crazy stuff going down at Irrational games over the past few months with some of its high-level designers leaving, but there’s no denying that BioShock Infinite is looking quite hot. It’s been a while since we’ve seen hide or hair of the game, but Machinima just released the Beast of America trailer for BioShock Infinite, and damn if it doesn’t get me excited. This game just needs to come out.
While I just couldn’t get into the first BioShock (I tried playing it about three years too late), I can tell that Infinite is going to push all my buttons in the best way. Leaping from cable to cable and blasting fools off floating cityscapes might just be too much fun. The game is still on track to hit its February 2013 release date. What do you guys think? Is BioShock Infinite still singing its siren song to you?
Considering I’ve beaten Borderlands 2 twice and conquered the end-game raid boss known as Terramorphous, it probably comes as no surprise that I’m hungry for some Borderlands 2 DLC. Gearbox, who apparently know their target audience better than I thought, were happy to oblige with Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty, a DLC adventure that takes you to the Wurmwater Flats in search of Captain Blade’s lost treasure.
Once you hit level 15 in the main game, you can take a trip out to the town of Oasis where you’ll meet your new BFF, Shade. As you might be able to tell from the title, Pirate’s Booty is, well, pirate themed, and as such you’ll be running across all sorts of re-skinned bandits and a few unique enemy types like the Anchorman and the Cursed Pirate. While the desert setting is bereft of water, the new Sandskiff will carry you ably across the sands, provided you don’t slam it into too many sandworms.
While it is fun to get back to Pandora, Pirate’s Booty is kind of lacking in payoff, although is does shine through with the classic Borderlands humor in some parts. Shade is hilariously creepy and this DLC contains two of my favorite new quest-givers, one of whom gives you a great quest riffing on DRM, “Don’t Copy that Floppy”. Unfortunately, Captain Scarlett herself is a lackluster villain, joking the entire time about how she’ll betray you, so it comes as no big surprise when she finally does. You can see the end of the DLC coming a mile off, so the feeling of running back and forth for little to no reason is more prevalent during these quests. To be fair, Handsome Jack set a high standard for villainy, but Captain Scarlett doesn’t even come close to hitting that mark.
If you’ve been hankering for more Borderlands 2 like I have, then Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty will be right up your alley. It’s a good jumping off point for Borderlands 2’s season pass, and it adds even more Badass Ranks to obtain. There’s another high-end raid boss that seems to address the ways players were able to beat Terramorphous and a brand new currency called Seraph crystals (which, to be honest, I didn’t see once during my playthrough).
Has anyone else played Pirate’s Booty? What did you think of it? Was this a good first installment for Borderlands 2 DLC?
One PC gaming series I’ve always admired is Total War, mostly because of its adherence to large scale, semi-historically accurate battles. Last year’s Total War: Shogun 2 took us back to medival Japan, and for the next installment, Creative Assembly is taking another crack at classical antiquity with Total War: Rome 2. A recently released video from the developers showcases the upgrades they’re making including the new cinematic camera.
The fact that this game is just pre-alpha is kind of astounding and I can’t wait to try out the finished product. Total War is one of those series that makes PC gaming really shine. What did you guys think of the video?
Man, there has been a binder full of games coming out the past week, and it just isn’t going to stop until December. I’m still finding things to do in Borderlands 2 (like the recently release DLC) and I’m neck-deep in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I’ve also been playing Pokemon White: Version 2 and Sonic Adventure 2, and Sleeping Dogs sits on my shelf, waiting to be unwrapped.
Truth be told, I don’t know if I’m going to have time for anything other than XCOM. It’s just so good, and really, really difficult. You’re constantly spinning plates when it comes to managing the metagame, and I’ve got at least four countries sitting on Level 4 Panic while I hurry up and wait for my satellites to build. If I play that game through again, I’m going to start building power generators and satellite facilities from the get-go just so I can have a stable of the damn things ready to launch if things start to go off the rails.
I’ve also been quite tempted to pick up Dishonored, but I’ve heard mixed things about it despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews. While the game is being praised for a lot of things, I hear that it really can be quite short, and the stealth mechanics are a little fuzzy when it comes to determining whether or a not a guard can actually see you. After Mark of the Ninja (apples and oranges I know) managed to pull off communicating this so well, and games like Chronicles of Riddick have done it too, I feel like Dishonored could have been more tuned up in this area. That said, I haven’t actually played it, so feel free to tell me if I’m talking out of my butt.
You have to give it to Sony. They’ve been working hard at making things right since the infamous (get it?) PSN Hack. From rolling out tons of perks on Playstation Plus to making Triple A titles available digitally on Day 1, the Big S has really made some strides. So it should come as no surprise that they have something special in store for us for October: The Caravan of the Dead.
It sounds slightly ominous, but it’s actually a good thing: great deals on horror-related video games, with even better deals if you are a PSN Plus subscriber. The deals include Dead Space 2 for $13.99 ($9.79 for PSN+ members), Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Dead Nation and the must-buy game of the collection: inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood for only $4.99 ($2.50 for PSN+). I have heard really good things about the stand-alone expansion and for that price, I intend to find out. The sale runs from now until October 30th. Hit the link for the full list of games and DLC, which is an unlucky number 13.
Recently I’ve been playing the hell out of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and I’ve been really enjoying it, despite its difficulty and the fiddlyness of the controls (though I hear using an actual controller smooths this out – I’m on the PC). One of the aspects I enjoy the most is being able to customize your soldiers and give them individual names. The problem with doing this is that I’ve grown kind of attached to my little polygonal troops and XCOM has no problem killing them off on a whim.
I try to be as careful as I can in a given mission, but sometimes the game just works against me. For the most part I’ve been quick-saving often (autosaves are disabled by default) but during a particularly tough mission today a box truck exploded, taking out two battle-hardened soldiers. I was almost done the mission and had killed about nine Chrysalids along the way, so I didn’t feel like reloading and doing the whole operation over again just to save two troopers. Granted, they were generic ones that I hadn’t given special names to, but this is the first time in XCOM that I hadn’t felt the need to call a mulligan and rolled with the consequences.
Dishonored is a game where this sort of approach can also apply, given the inherit stealthy nature of the mechanics. While you do have the option to go hog-wild on the guards you’re facing, the game rewards you for taking a quiet, non-lethal approach, something that can make people into perfectionists, quick-saving constantly.
So, my question for you guys is, do you accept the consequences of your actions in games like these? Do you prefer to reload your last save because you know you could have done it better?
It’s no secret that Halo 4 has a lot to live up in in terms of multiplayer, but this new video from 343 Industries fills me with confidence that they can deliver. Working in collaboration with Certain Affinity, the development team that made the best maps for Halo: Reach, 343 Industries has retooled Halo 4’s multiplayer with their own spin on things. While Ordnance Drops and Load-outs do sound like they came right out of the Call of Duty playbook, combining them with everything else in Halo 4 just seems to work. Check out this behind the scenes look at Halo 4’s Infinity multiplayer mode and see for yourself.
I don’t know about you guys, but this video made me genuinely excited in a way I haven’t been in quite a while. 343 Industries might have a huge team of talented people and giant development budget, but they seem to genuinely care about giving players an authentic, but fresh, Halo experience. I’m particularly excited for Dominion, which may turn out to be what Invasion from Halo: Reach promised but ultimately couldn’t deliver. What do you guys think about Halo 4’s Infinity multiplayer? Are you on board? Did this video make you a convert, or are you perhaps more wary now?
A recent pattern has emerged over the years and it’s one that makes this crotchety gamer flabbergasted. Video game websites are on a desperate mission to spoil games in as many ways as possible. I’m not just talking about story spoilers, either. No, now we get gameplay videos of full missions of Dishonored, at least 3 of which have been released thus far. The game came out on Tuesday. And yet so far, just from one prominent website that I shall not name (but you can probably guess), we have had posts on: a possible sequel, Easter eggs, tips on how to play the game best, videos showing how many different ways there are to kill enemies, etc…
It’s mind blowing. The game came out this very week and if you had read all these articles, I would question why you even would play the game. Part of video games is about having a sense of discovery, of exploring the world, the environment and figuring out your own way to play it. These posts aren’t doing anyone a service. And other websites do these as well. The most famous game site on the Internet will regularly post videos of endings, while another well-read site will show you the location of every hidden collectible in a game on the day it comes out.
Seriously: Stop doing this. I know there is the argument that people can choose whether or not to read these posts, but can we agree that they shouldn’t be posting things like this on the week the game is released? It’s destroying half the fun of playing the damn thing. We’ve finally reached a point where most websites will not post spoilers about the story, or at least warn you if they are about to, but now we are have inverted the problem by spoiling gameplay.
Am I alone on this? Don’t you think it’s more fun to try things yourself first and not have your hand held through every nook and cranny? Tell us in the comments!
Live action Halo adaptions have a lot to live up to, what with Landfall, We Are ODST and Deliver Hope setting the bar pretty high. Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is set primarily during the United Nations Space Command’s war with the Insurection, years before the Covenant invasion. It follows the story of one Thomas Laskey, a new recruit at the Corbulo Academy of Military Science. Along the way, he ends up meeting the Master Chief, an event which changes his life and puts him on track to be a highly-placed office on the UNSC Infinity, the giant spaceship in Halo 4. You can check part one here, with part two after the jump.
While we’re being blessed with an amazing fall for gaming, sometimes we need to take a step back and reevaluate how we judge the games we play. Even though we avoid bad games, they do exist and sometimes there’s a benefit to playing them just to remind yourself that making a good game is actually pretty hard.
I don’t want to turn this into another “bash Resident Evil 6” fest, but I kind of want to play it just to adjust my views. Between X-COM: Enemy Unknown, Dishonored, Pokemon White Version 2 and Borderlands 2, we’re being kind of spoiled right now and this season is only going to get better. Playing a game like Resident Evil 6 might help me appreciate games more, because if you only sample the best of anything, your tastes get less eclectic and it becomes harder to enjoy the decent titles.
One game I played this year which I enjoyed for what it was was The Amazing Spider-Man, Beenox’s movie tie-in and follow up to the astoundingly bad Edge of Time. If I hadn’t played Edge of Time I might not have liked The Amazing Spider-Man as much as I did, but because I played a game that clearly did not get as much love in developement, Beenox’s next effort seemed better for it. Even though The Amazing Spider-Man is a pale Batman: Arkham City imitation, it has a lot to offer, something I might not have realized if Edge of Time hadn’t lowered my expectations.
So, what about you guys? Do you think there’s a value to playing bad games? Do you always avoid them or do you find they help you keep gaming in perspective?
It’s been more than half a year and I’m still plugging away at the multiplayer mode for Mass Effect 3. While the mode was a little basic to start off with, the various classes and maps that have been added to the game since release has kept its longevity going, and the new pack for Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer, Retaliation, brings a whole new enemy faction into the mix.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the news on Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer mode, Retaliation reintroduces the Collector faction from Mass Effect 2, but this time around they pack an even bigger punch. Collector captains are the brand new foes and in addition to being tougher than the regular Collector trooper, they can also release Seeker Swarms which block your power usage, something that can be downright terrifying when you’re facing down a couple Scions or a Praetorian.
New player classes have also been bundled with Retaliation, including a turian Havoc (a jetpack-using close combat class) and a volus Adept and Engineer. Yes, those little balls of asthma are now playable, and they’re just as hialrious as you expect. Watching a volus roll around and blast Collectors is quite the sight, especially considering they can’t take cover and just sort of stand behind most obstacles (which works because of their short stature). Cerberus and geth also get new types added to their lineup in the form of the whip-using Dragoon and the grenade-launching Bomber, respectively.
BioWare could have let Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer languish, but they’ve shown a surprising amount of dedication to it. They even put up a whole new web portal for stat tracking, including the brand new N7 challenges. Even though this is the last pack for multiplayer, new classes will continue to be added. While there are still server problems and synchronized kills from the large enemies continue to be frustratingly random and Vanguard-inhibiting, this new feature for the Mass Effect series is still going strong, and is a large part of why it’s staying high in my personal top ten for this year.
Is anyone else still playing ME3 multiplayer? What do you think of Retaliation? Anyone going to hop back in now?
Do you ever have one of those games show up on your radar so suddenly that it just kind of takes you back? Like, you’ve got all your priorities lined up, you know where your time is going to go for the next few weeks, and then out of nowhere, you get Falcon Punched by some game you hadn’t even paid attention to?
That’s the case with me and XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the new turn-based, tactical role-playing military game from Firaxis. For some reason, I had no interest whatsoever in XCOM for the last year that I’ve been hearing about it. I really can’t tell you why. But then, people started raving about it just a week or two ago. Then they raved more. And harder. We’re talking glowsticks in the air like you just don’t care kind of raving, from all corners of the gaming press.
You can’t help but take notice when that happens. Then I did that thing that we gamers do, when we get on the slippery slope and say that we’ll just read one review or watch just one video of something, just to get our feet a little wet. And then you discover that the game has all kinds of personalization, like naming your team and leveling them up. And you find out how fun the strategy combat looks. And about some of the cool abilities your team gets as the game rolls on. You know, the wonderful stuff games are made of.
And now, dammit, I want to buy XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
So now, a couple of questions: do you guys ever try to resist the temptation to learn about a new game that people are talking about? Who here is getting XCOM? And what is the deciding factor that gets you suddenly interested in a snap decision like this? Go!