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Legolas_Katarn

AJSA Commander
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Posts posted by Legolas_Katarn


  1. Completed: Galak-Z
    Platform: PC

    70s anime styles space action game. You can switch between a ship (guns, missiles, dodge) and mech (sword, shield, and grapple) mode and will find or purchase upgrades with salvage between each mission. Expressive animations for your character on the bottom left of the screen that shows the effect on him while doing things like boosting or attacking and enemy pilots on the bottom right get the same treatment. Responsive movement. Light on content with limited mission variety, upgrades that are taken from you after each season (every five of the 20 missions) that you will likely just get back, enemy variety, and locations but the base gameplay is enjoyable while it lasts.

     


  2. wqwPYKv.png

    Included in this article are some of the best and most interesting game related videos that I've seen throughout 2019. Put together with the goal of highlighting some of the best content creators and videos that can enhance your knowledge of or bring up interesting viewpoints on the industry, developers, events that happened this year, or on individual games. Many of these have been shared in my weekly This Week In Gaming articles.

    Each section might include a single video, a single video series, or videos that might be from different people but focus on a similar idea or subject. The ordering does not signify better or worse quality. All mentioned creators are worth following and all of them were likely to have produced other content worth viewing on their channel this year. Some videos are from older channels with a large number of followers and supporters, while some are new and could use more support. Many of them are able to work due to the donations of their Patreon supporters, if you enjoy the content and would like to donate this can usually be found in their Youtube video description or linked social media profile.

    The best writing of 2019 article can be found here.

     

    Previous Best Video and Video Series Articles

    2016

    2017

    2018

     

    Storytelling

    Videos focused on analyzing and discussing the stories of games be they guided or emergent, their themes, the way they are told, and how and if their mechanics and interaction with the player helps to tell those stories

     

    "Dutch has the charisma and competence to live life as a well-to-do banker but instead he targets his talents at the most prosperous in that profession. He drags mud through their institutions, he steals their currency, and he reminds them that their safety is contingent upon their cooperation. And their lowest class, their laborers, their indentured servants, their tribes that they'd like to wipe off the map, they're treated with the dignity and respect normally reserved for the man in the tallest tower. Their mouths fed, their voices heard, their persons armed. They fight back against the world that once took advantage of them. Dutch van der Linde disgraces civilization and he exposes the Pinkertons and Cornwalls as nothing more than rival gangs who sold the masses on its lies. Blessed be those who see through their seductions, for freedom is theirs to grasp by the reins and ride! And so these people that society turned its back to come together and hope that their lives as degenerates and thieves will be forgiven through the acts of goodness that they can muster between all the killing. The gang is born. And the gang, is doomed."

    What Made Red Dead 2's Story Worth Telling (By Orange Lightning)

    Orange Lightning breaks down why we follow people with vision, trying to understand our own motives, and what it means to finally see them clearly through the characters of Dutch and Arthur in Red Dead Redemption 2.

     

    "And this American apathy, this is where BJ Blazkowicz runs into a little cognitive dissonance. Because Blazko has, in many ways, defined himself against Nazi ideology. The Nazis are uncaring but he's empathetic. They are white supremacists and he's an egalitarian. They're German and so he leans hard into his American identity. But an American identity is complicated, really complicated, and ultimately this is where NJ's self-identifying falls short. Because what he doesn't fully understand is that the America of his youth isn't a refutation of Nazism. Not at all. If Blazkowicz was to return to that America, his Jewish heritage would make him lesser by definition. In fact, the Aryan supremacy that fuels the worldwide Reich is directly inspired by the country that BJ calls home."

    Judaism and Whiteness in Wolfenstein (By Jacob Geller)

    Jacob Geller discusses how Wolfenstein's focus on the depiction of the Jewish identity and empathy of its main character, as well as the history of the country he was raised in, helps to contextualizes Blazkowicz's fight against Nazis within America’s history of white supremacy.

     

    "Those are the experiences that the team at Red Candle crafted into a beautiful and nuanced piece of horror. The game itself was designed to look like an old faded photograph, capturing the feeling of that era perfectly, and drew on Taiwanese and Asian mythology in order to flush out the more supernatural portions of its story. Creating a distinctive cultural identity for Detention. All while showing the damage high-level government oppression can have on the most vulnerable members of society. But also a chilling tale about one person's inability to accept the atrocities they've committed. Detention to me is horror at its most powerful, filled with cathartic creative scares but using that fear to convey the very real terror the people of Taiwan would have felt. And, in doing so, turning the horror of Detention into a tool for empathy."

    DEVOTION: The Disturbing Horror of Red Candle Games (By Super Eyepatch Wolf)

    Super Eyepatch Wolf covers the themes and setting of Detention and Devotion as well as some of the history of Taiwan, the White Terror period, and the rise and prevalence of cults. Devotion was very well received but shortly after release was reviewed bombed on Steam from Chinese gamers due to insults towards China's leader being found withing the game (many of the low reviews being written due to the potential problems it could cause for the Chinese game industry rather than caring about the content), the developer has since removed the game from all storefronts, and their Chinese publisher has had their license revoked.

     

    "But I want to take a closer look at the sentiments that these types of moments create, the psychology behind the emotion that fills our hearts and our minds when we see our heroes battered and bruised. And we'll focus on Midna's desperate hour as the example here because there is something special that happens in our minds when when we drive the story. The sadness changes how we play the game."

    The Best Moment of Twilight Princess | Psych of Play (By Daryl Talks Games)

    Daryl Talks Games discusses his favorite moment in Twilight Princess and how sadness effects how we play games.

     

    "As I'm preparing for my spaceflight, I look into the distance at the sun. It's much farther than it is from my home planet, but through the atmosphere of the gas giant and miles of empty space, it's still beautiful. And then I look back and realize the space station has drifted away from me. And I laugh, this time. Death is inevitable, after all. And as I go into my own orbit around the planet, my zero-g version of a lazy river, I take the time, ironically, to breath. If you'd believe it, it's incredibly relaxing. I've died from blunt force trauma, I've been eaten, crushed, burned, punctured. To drift off in this gentle void, it's not too bad at all."

    Outer Wilds: Death, Inevitability, and Ray Bradbury (By Jacob Geller)

    Jacob Geller shares stories of discovery and inevitable death in Outer Wilds.

     

    "In its attempts to reground Modern Warfare, it ends up becoming exactly the kind of mindless action I was expecting out of a game like Breakpoint. Where that game managed to be broken and slapdash to the extent that it felt as genuinely hostile to me as a game about being a soldier probably should, Modern Warfare doesn't want you thinking about the contradictions inherent to its campaign, it barely even wants you stopping to look behind you half the time."

    Critiquing the Campaign of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) (By Writing on Games)

    Writing on Games looks at the campaign of this years Call of Duty title to see if it handled its portrayal of war and conflict in the grounded way they promoted, and considers the little details that need to be focused on to make you question your role in war stories.

     

    "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare does not have a perspective on modern warfare. That is their official position. What...what do you even do with that? Is freedom good? Is war bad? This game has no idea! Come and play the game series named after the phrase we say when we're honoring soldiers, a series completely neutral on the ideas of war.Alright, alright. So what's interesting here, taking them at their word, is what the writers of Call of Duty think a perspective-less story looks like."

    Does Call of Duty Believe in Anything? (By Jacob Geller)

    Jacob Geller examines Modern Warfare to see if the writer's belief in having created an apolitical perspective-less story could possibly be true and if it really was a narrative or mechanical departure for the series as it was advertised.

     

    Interviews and Documentaries

     

    "And one low fidelity word that I hear often in reference to socially impactful media is representation. Irresponsibly, representation is used as a purely quantifiable golden ratio of the right kinds of characters in a story or creator on a project in order to make a movie or a game socially relevant. X number of people from this underrepresented background or worldview makes the whole work either noteworthy or more of the same. The problem is, if there's an elite group of people making the lives of everyday individual miserable, mixing up the optics and keeping the practice the same does no one any favors. Responsibly, I believe, that representation is less about a keen obsession with counting and more about asking what kind of permission is an empathetic piece of art giving to a subset of people who wouldn't typically see themselves reflected in other places."

    Spending A Night In The Woods (By Satchell Drakes)

    Satchell Drakes' short film has him talking with others about growing up in similar locations to the town portrayed in Night in the Woods and being able to spend time with characters from underrepresented groups that both feel like real people and allow you to spend time with them in ways not usually seen in games.

     

    "Most of the comments were nice, both those first few weeks, I got a lot of nasty comments. They would say things like, "You don't belong on here." And then they would say, "Why aren't you sitting in a rocking chair, knitting?" I said, "I don't like to knit." And then some of them were really downright vulgar. So I learned to answer them politely, like a Grandmother would say something to a child that didn't have any brains. And eventually they learned to treat a Grandmother with respect instead of the way they were acting."

    Shirley Curry: The Gaming Grandma Documentary | Gameumentary (By Gameumentary)

    Gameumentary interviews 83 year old gamer and Youtuber Shirley Curry. Covering how she got into playing games and creating her content, the stigma against older gamers and why others don't want to be as visible, the problems with how games are marketed, and how she interacts with her subscribers and what draws them to her.

     

    "I didn't have an Amiga actually, but I had heard about them. They drove me up there, they looked after it, had lunch, and they kept talking about, you know, when you can do your product when can you put your product on there. And it turned out they got the wrong Taurus company. There was another Taurus which was Torus, and so the end of it they said you know, are you gonna be, you know, putting your developers on this, and I said absolutely."

    We showed Peter Molyneux every game he's ever made (By People Make Games)

    People Make Games' started a series, The Games I Made, their first episode had Peter Molyneux walking them through his entire career one game at a time, starting with a story of how a case of mistaken identity got him into the industry.

     

    "You have to get 150 people, who are very stubborn and passionate and creative to all see a similar picture that doesn't exist. And doubt is the demon that lives in the ear of every person in this industry. That is, to me, the biggest obstacle, keeping everyone focused on the goal and not listening to that little demon in their ear that says, they're all gonna laugh at you, and it's not gonna work. I have the exact same thing in both ears constantly, but I'm still trying to steer people back. And, you have to be able to trust each other that you can fail and openly fail together and still recover, otherwise everybody just starts protecting what they're doing and nobody wants to share anything."

    God of War - Raising Kratos: Full Length Feature | PS4 (By Santa Monica Studio)

    A look into Santa Monica Studio's five year journey to create God of War. While a studio and publisher supported documentary likely falls to being PR friendly this does show some of the struggles involved in developing AAA titles and in multiple parts show how it can be damaging and unsustainable. 

     

    "I learned more about what it was like to work at the studio, the parts they'd like to remember, and the parts they'd rather forget. You see, for most Telltale alumni their feelings on the studio are complicated. Many made lifelong friends there, found the work rewarding, and the day to day exciting. But it was also a place which suffered terrible crunch for years, toxic management, difficult work conditions, and ultimately abandoned hundred of people into one of the most expensive places to live in America with no severance and only two weeks of health insurance. Understandably, many of the folks who worked there have found it difficult to summarize their own feelings on Telltale, so most of them turned us down thinking that they probably had a lot to lose and really nothing to gain. Hundreds of people worked at Telltale over the course of its 14 year life. Each of those people had a different experience and a valuable story to tell. So out story isn't a comprehensive history of the studio or its games, it's the story of four people who wanted to come forward and tell their version of the tale."

    Telltale: The Human Stories Behind The Games (By Noclip)

    Noclip interviews four former Telltale employees about what it was like to work at the company over the years, covering the camaraderie of the staff, problems with earlier executives, how and why ideas and game elements would be accepted or not, the changes being made in their final year, attempts to save the company, and the physical and psychological effects of the sudden closure.

     

    "As the years waned on, and the industry changed, many of the most influential Japanese game designers belonging to developers like Compile, Treasure, and SNK have found a new home at a company called M2. Their unique passion and understanding of classic video games have positioned M2 as one of the industry's top players when it comes to keeping gaming history alive and playable for gamers of today."

    M2: Complete Works / MY LIFE IN GAMING (By My Life in Gaming)

    My Life in Gaming's documentary looks into the history of Japanese game developer M2, from their early dedication to improving on ports to their involvement with some of the most iconic games of all time.

     

    "So we have a number of candidates for the 'first ever game', and we've painted a picture of our understanding over the last few decades. Paradoxically, the further you go back, the more recent the consensus of the 'first ever video game' and everything seems to converge on Pong. As video gaming developed, so too did the appreciation if its history, and as more scrutiny was given to the limits of popular memory, the origin was pushed farther back, first Spacewar!, then Tennis for Two. The principal catalyst for this interest, at least at first, were the Magnavox lawsuits. With a very strong financial incentive for someone to overturn these key patents. But as we shed more light on the past, another paradox emerges. The more we uncover, the less certain we become."

    The First Video Game (Ahoy)

    Ahoy looks into the history of the games that were at different times or by different people considered to be the first of their kind, who created them, and what tech was used to do so.

     

    "SonicFox's professional career is only about five years long but it's easy to forget that given how much they've achieved in that time. They've become an example of everything great about the FGC. They've become an ambassador for esports. In just five years they've assembled a trophy cabinet that rivals some of fighting game's greatest talents. They've won over 60 first place trophies, including five EVO World Titles. They're one of the greatest fighting game players of all time but, perhaps more importantly, they're an inspiration, and that will be their legacy."

    The Furry Who Beat Everyone: The Story of SonicFox (theScore esports)

    theScore esports tells the story of the rise of SonicFox.

     

    "And despite drastically changing the character's design, it pulled off the impressive feat of being welcomes with open arms by video game fans across the globe and its soundtrack being cited as one of the best to this very day. The animal buddies, the level design, the cast of characters, and the enemies themselves it was all able to knock it out of the park right off the bat. That's still critically examined by video game enthusiasts, as well as game journalists, for how to do a 2D action game right. The game went on to sell nine million copies, making it the third best selling Super Nintendo game. It also held the record for the fastest selling video game of all time during its launch. But every great legacy to every great game has a team of people behind it that made that possible."

    The Donkey Kong Country 25th Anniversary Interview Documentary (By Shesez)

    For the game's 25th anniversary, Shesez interviewed five of the original creators of Donkey Kong Country Gregg Mayles (lead design), Steve Mayles (character design), Kevin Bayliss (design), Chris Sutherland (lead programmer), and David Wise (composer).

     

    "In many ways, Sweden, through Bergsala, became a western testing ground for Nintendo. A huge early success that proved their was a desire for the work of Miyamoto and Gunpei Yokoi outside of their homeland and it was build, in the nicest possible way, on a lie."

    The Lie That Helped Build Nintendo (By Joe Skrebels and Dale Driver)

    Joe Skrebels and Dale Driver tell the story of the lie that that changed a business empire and the game industry.

     

    Systems, Level, and World Design

    Videos focused on the mechanics and worlds of games and how they get the player to interact with them

     

    "But what I find striking is how nearly unavoidable combat mechanics are in any type of game with an open world component whatsoever. That the general idea seems to be that, "If we remove the combat element from the game there will be less in it and therefore it will, logically be a worse game." But that's a flawed truism, isn't it? It's like saying more ingredients on a pizza will always make the pizza better. I'm convinced that if the emotional experience you want your game to get across would benefit from the absence of violence altogether then designing your core gameplay around it could potentially add a lot to it. Even though that might feel counter-intuitive at first glance. And then, all of a sudden, there came this game along that proved my hypothesis firmly."

    Eastshade: The Value of Rejecting Conventions (By RagnarRox)

    RagnarRox on the value of rejecting conventional, and often contradictory, design ideas of always needing to add combat to open world games and the benefit of focusing on designing around a game's intended emotional message.

     

    "To most gamers, this experience of feeling emotionally invested in the virtual world of video games is probably obvious and self-evident but when it comes to our actual understanding of it, the exact nature of virtual empathy and the real-world implications of in-game morality are still hotly debated. And understandably so, because moral responses carry an important function, as another study explains. 'Like any effective state, a moral response hold informative value for the person experiencing it. For example guilt can be understood as a spontaneous feeling that "informs" a person that he or she did something wrong.' Effective moral responses put us in the state of reflection, and when necessary, can subsequently guide us in altering our behavior and our worldview in general. It makes me wonder what potential video games have by evoking such real-world responses in their virtual worlds."

    Virtual Empathy – How The Witcher 3 Encourages Moral Reflection (By Like Stories of Old)

    Like Stories of Old, usually a channel focused on well made and thought out film essays, discusses empathy in video games like The Witcher 3, how player agency can be too limited or results too cynical to allow for reflection, what developers can do to draw players into their worlds, and if the empathy you feel towards those worlds and characters can help make you a better person.

     

    "And all of this, all of this, comes from a game that is blatantly unfinished. But maybe that's a bigger part of it than we like to think. There seems to be a certain kind of magic that can only really come from a game being incomplete. This doesn't mean that every incomplete game will be good, very far from it, but when you rush something out the door there is a non zero chance that that thing will still be good but it will force you to overlook quirks and rough edges of the engine that you would otherwise 'fix' or 'polish'. No one in their right mind would, or I think really even could, design inertia as an intentional game mechanic as it appears in DMC4. It's too convoluted, too niche, too complex, too generally useless at low level, and DMC5 seems to be proving that to be the case. There have been a handful of these lightning in a bottle moments like this throughout gaming's history, melee probably being the most famous of them, I compared them earlier for a reason. These are games that are all time classics not in spite of their flaws but quite literally because of them."

    Devil May Cry 4: A Flawed Masterpiece // Codex Entry (By Codex Entry)

    Codex Entry looks at the mechanics, bugs, and half finished elements that come together to make Devil May Cry 4 one of the deepest and most unique action games ever made and why he doesn't know if games of this scale can lead to something like this anymore.

     

    "Game design is typically utilitarian, by necessity. Making a game is hard and expensive. You don't build a giant stone door for no reason, right? But just as soon as Ascadia posted his theory, the thread was inundated by other questions and theories, many of which seemed equally valid! What were those rings in the desert, and why were they positioned in such a specific way? That beach, the one that looks like it's from ICO, that has to be related somehow. As a matter of fact, is that the castle from ICO far in the distance, as seen from the top of the bridge? And the hole that Dormin speaks through, why can't that be seen from the secret garden? These unanswered questions form one of the pillars of Shadow of the Colossus’ design."

    The Decade-Long Quest For Shadow of the Colossus’ Last Secret (By Jacob Geller)

    Jacob Geller tells the story behind the decade long quest to find the final secret of Shadow of the Colossus, how and why it started, where it lead those that worked together to uncover it, and how the game was designed in a way that provides mystery.

     

    "It's called The Oldest House. And once you start thinking about Control as taking place in a haunted house, things start to click into place. The Oldest House is a bizarrely elusive building, despite being in the middle of New York, it can only be found by someone specifically looking for it. The Bureau of Control didn't build it, nor do they have the knowledge to recreate it. The Bureau calls the oldest house "a place of power," a location "acted on by paranatural forces." And in a way, I find this terminology almost cute. They're assigning words to things they truly can't understand, trying to tie a logic to a place this is, by every definition, illogical. They found a haunted house and set up a government agency in it, but at every turn, they're just reminded how little they know about where they've placed themselves."

    Control, Anatomy, and the Legacy of the Haunted House (By Jacob Geller)

    Jacob Geller discusses the games Control and Anatomy by talking about the legacy of the haunted house and why we are drawn to buildings that reject habitation.

     

    "And it got me thinking about what exactly it is that the creators of Minecraft expect me to do, what do they think this game is about? Every video game is created based on certain assumptions, assumptions about the world and its people that are reflected in the game's mechanics which enable ad constrain virtual behavior. Examining these assumptions is a great way to understand why a game is designed the way it is, but it could also reveal what would be different if the creators were to change them."

    The Unfulfilled Potential of Minecraft – Assuming a Different Perspective (By Like Stories of Old)

    Like Stories of Old considers what assumptions were at the heart of Minecraft's virtual world as it was developed, how those assumptions frame the worlds of Minecraft and your actions in it, and what could happen if those were changed so that the world was no longer indifferent towards you.

     

    "It felt like a cruel cosmic joke, one of many, that would only grow in intensity as the game went on. To the point that Death Standing, to me, is as much a comedy game as it is an absurdist exploration of isolation and loneliness. It's Untitled Goose Game, except the players are the villagers and the world is the goose."

    Keep Running Up That Hill: An Analysis of DEATH STRANDING (Spoilers) (By Writing on Games)

    Writing on Games analysis of Death Stranding. Kojima's use of his actors, Sisyphean tasks and confrontational design, what drives you to keep going, and a surprising lack of enthusiasm for continuing discussion of this game.

     

    "Now, have I deceived you, clickbaited you with the bold claim on the thumbnail of this video that Disco Elysium is the literally best cRPG? No. I haven't, I stand by this, I stan, how the youths say these days. Admittedly I've been wrestling with myself for quite a while when I was playing the game because I kept having this desire to say, "This is seriously the best RPG I've ever played!" But I didn't quite dare to speak it out because it's such a bold claim, you know, but the more I thought about it the more I felt that, yes, in a literal sense, in the original semantic meaning of the term RPG, role playing game, that harks back to the tabletop, there is not a single game that made me feel more like I'm feeling during a tabletop campaign."

    Disco Elysium is a Role-Playing Dream Come True (By RagnarRox)

    RagnarRox describes the systems, writing, world design, character building, recognition of small details, branching options, and rejection of genre conventions that make Disco Elysium the best cRPG. 

     

    "That's why these experiences stand out so much to me. What they've given me is space without objectives, time without a timer. It's startling to not be told what to do in a medium that we've basically created to give us things to do. What's left is me, and how I relate to the world, not as a tool to accomplish missions but just as a thing living on this planet."

    Artificial Loneliness (By Jacob Geller)

    Jacob Geller describes what he means when he says a world is alive, the "aliveness" in areas that have little gameplay utility, and what happens when you travel from one of the most "alive" areas in a game to a quieter place that allows you time to reflect.

     

    Music and Sound Design

     

    "APE OUT is an explosion of color and sound. APE OUT is an album cover come to live. APE OUT is synesthesia for music's most violent genre, not in terms of themes or lyrics, but in terms of the literal interaction of person on instrument. APE OUT is smashing a man against the wall, smashing a drumstick against cymbal. APE OUT is smashing restart over and over and over again until you've managed to just survive the anthropocene most hostile ecosystems. APE OUT is fucking great."

    APE OUT and FREEDOM (By Jacob Geller)

    Jacob Geller on the art and sound design of APE OUT and how it lead to one of his favorite gaming moments.

     

    "Health's unique sound was chosen as the perfect fit for representing Max's journey, and they never missed a beat. Every track in the game has an underlying purpose in its instrumentation. It perfectly represents every moment and aims to be more than just a mood enhancement. It's a character study through music, and in this video we'll be analyzing Health's award-winning soundtrack to understand the music of Max Payne 3."

    Understanding the Music of Max Payne 3 (By Liam Triforce)

    Liam Triforce's Understanding the Music series examines the soundtrack composed for Max Payne 3.

     

    "I've always kind of written off this idea as rose-tinted nostalgia, things always mean more to us when they were a formative part of our growing up, and we have a tendency to compare the best of the best from yesteryear with the average flock of today. And after all, there are still plenty of wonderful game soundtracks being released every year, whether AAA or indie, western or Japanese, orchestral or chiptune, melodic or ambient. There's something out there for everyone, if you think video game music has gotten worse, well you just have to look harder. However, I've realized that's not really an answer, it's a dismissal, and the question continues to be asked in spite of it."

    What Happened to Memorable Game Music? | Game Score Fanfare (By Game Score Fanfare)

    Game Score Fanfare discusses why old game music is often said to be more memorable than modern soundtracks by looking at the history and evolution of hardware and design focus.

     

    "It really did change me as a human being, and it made me, I think, a better person, and it definitely made me a better composer because I never thought that deeply about music and about the interaction between music and gameplay as just three years of trying to make it all it could be."

    Why Journey's last song was the hardest to compose (By Clayton Ashley)

    Clayton Ashley speaks with composer Austin Wintory about the difficulty of creating and inspiration for Journey's final song, and how a concert pushed the game's ending in a new direction.

     

    Designing Games

    Videos discussing process and theories behind game design

     

    "Welcome to Who Shot Guybrush Threepwood, a philosophical interrogation into the meaning of genre in and beyond the gaming idiom with the adventure game as our guide."

    Who Shot Guybrush Threepwood? | Genre and the Adventure Game (By Innuendo Studios)

    Innuendo Studios explores the meaning of genre and what it is for while using adventure games as a guiding point.

     

    "The impulse to rationalize ourselves and to jump to the indictment of others is a potent trap that many might fall into. Given the uneasy ambiguity of morality, conceptually and prescriptively and psychologically, perhaps any earnest attempt to address the question needs to come from that explicit perspective. In other words, forcing ourselves to bear witness to the fact that there is no easy answer to moral questions and how easily manipulated we are by our own instincts can get us to understand the paralyzing ambiguity of morality. Video games as an interactive medium are uniquely situated to do this."

    Morality and Guilt in Video Games | How Game Designers Reveal our Heart of Darkness using Mechanics (By The Game Overanalyser)

    The Game Overanalyser examines how games can explore morality and guilt through their mechanics, systems, and narratives and pulls from studies, psychology, and philosophy to examine their potential as moral education.

     

    "This little test has me questioning how I became interested in video games in the first place. I don't remember how they became such a big part of my life. I don't know how I got to the point where I could look at a compass at the top of a screen and know what to expect from every marker without looking them up; I don't know how I first learned about stamina bars and various ways to make sure I don't run out of energy, I don't know how I became, I guess, fluent in the language of video games. I'm just glad that I learned the basics when I was young enough not to care about spending hours on one level."

    What Games Are Like For Someone Who Doesn't Play Games (By Razbuten)

    Razbuten runs an informal experiment to see how inexperienced players might engage with games and how they start to come to learn how they function. Covering the expectation newcomers have of games versus the reality of their limitations, how even seemingly detailed tutorials might end up teaching the wrong lessons, and how learning the language of games, like any other language, is much easier when you start early in life. The series was continued in a later video covering how Breath of the Wild allowed for varied solutions that helped a new player build confidence by allowing things that would probably be ignored by experienced players. A third episode was produced within the last few days.

     

    Long Form Analysis

    Videos covering multiple facets of a game from its design, ideas behind and history of their creation, legacy, themes, narrative, and mechanics

     

    "And this is what Alpha Centauri does, it reveals that the status quo of its time wasn't permanent, wasn't stable. The then post Cold War, liberal-capitalist order was fraught and frail and could not survive the world that this order itself had brought into being. It's in the Peacekeepers that we see Alpha Centauri's biggest idea, the scariest way that it plays with its parent franchise. Sid Meier's Civilization is, in its own words, about building an empire that will stand the test of time. Alpha Centauri looks at the empires of its own day and says, what if they don't."

    Sid Meier at the End of History: the Philosophy and Politics of Alpha Centauri (By Yaz Minsky)

    Yaz Minsky discusses the history of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, how it won its designers independence, its use of hard science and tech research as well as character and faction ideologies to tell its story, what those factions says about the politics and philosophy during the time of its creation, and how it questions the focus of it's parent franchise Civilization, as well as the wider 4X genre, by looking at what humanity can do better rather than marveling at what we've done.

     

    "On the surface some of the symbolism is so on the nose and simple and some of the images so self-indulgently gross and excessive that you might think the game is being edgy for the sake of being, but I don't feel like that's the case here. The way American McGee subverts the iconography of Alice in Wonderland also subverts the predatory aspect of the original work. This is not a story being told by a grown man to a child, it's a story about a wounded woman whose narrative is in her own control. As active media Alice the protagonist is responsible for her own success or failure, adjudicated by your mechanical efforts as the player, but most of all what is subverted is this idealized image of femininity. Like all humans, she has regret and grief and rage and sometimes those emotions are overwhelmingly ugly. The Alice in the game embraces the disturbing and the weird. Approaching the grotesque with the same wit and charm that she approached the merely whimsical back in the original books. After all, there's nothing in this Wonderland that wasn't part of her to being with."

    Manic Pixie Dream Worlds: A Critique of American McGee's Alice Games (By Noah Caldwell-Gervais)

    Noah Caldwell-Gervais covers the works and author behind the character of Alice compared to the version American McGee presents in his games, the game's subversion of common ideas of femininity and early tropes of the designer's previous work through its focus and use of the Quake engine, and how the sequel compared to the original.

     

    "If you're a tabletop RPG player you probably know full well that when you have a good storytell or DOM rolling a critical failure often leads to the most interesting role-playing experiences. Sure frustration goes along with it, but it's also extraordinary. In Video games, death is very often treated as a state of, well, you failed so you better reload and try again because that is not how the story played out, lets do it right this time. But Pathologic is one of those games where you have an exceptional DM, death or precisely failure leads to the most interesting experience."

    Pathologic 2 is an Underrated Masterpiece (By RagnarRox)

    RagnarRox on what makes Pathologic 2 a unique and underrated masterpiece that makes struggle, choices, and even death meaningful.

     

    "Great, you're completely fucked, and you're on day three. Day two is excellent game design. It's deeply engaging watching your attempts to get anything at all done get frustrated, and it also sets a general tone for the game it does the special game design trick that I like to call re-contextualizing. Players come to games with their own expectations and understandings of how a game is supposed to work, and feel, and play, a certain general set of ideas about what all this is supposed to be like. If you're playing an open-world RPG you know what dialogue trees, shops, trading, and hunger, and time mechanics, and moral choices are and you think you know how they work. Day one partially plays into this, it takes pains to show how fragile you are and all the work you have to do to not die but it's doable, it makes sense, it doesn't feel that much different from a normal game. When the prices rise so massively that money is effectively worthless and you were given no warning this would happen, everything about how you relate to the game experience is thrown out the window, and you feel that happening in your brain as you play and realize what just happened. Walking around while slowly starving, getting rid of the rest of your own items to try to get the food for a doomed quest, carrying food you can't eat around and wondering when you will get to eat, and watching your meters inevitably rise as you race to help the town and only barely achieve anything. You start to make realizations about the scope of this experience. You weren't playing a game with the mechanic where you have the option of using money to buy things, you were playing a game about having no money. You weren't playing a game where you have to eat food to survive, you were playing a game about starving. You weren't playing a game where you can choose what sort of morals you have, you were playing a game about how betraying the people who trust you is better for you than trying to be a hero and doing the right thing is an exercise in getting your time and energy and money wasted."

    Pathologic is Genius, And Here's Why (By hbomberguy)

    hbomberguy discusses the amazing bad game and nightmare that is the original Pathologic and the value of negative experiences. What makes it unique, how it often goes against conventional video game logic, how it makes you engage with it, all of the bad, why some of those bad things are good, how it acts as the antidote to modern game design ethos, and why you should buy the second one.

     

    "A big part of the appeal of video games is that, while in all other mediums we observe protagonists, in video games we embody them. Making for what I think is the rawest form of escapism, letting us take up the roles of heroes of time, warriors of light, or any other number of characters that just feel bigger than we are. And initially, this is the appeal of Cloud. As a first-class member of Soldier, Cloud is this elite military bad-ass. He has the highest attack in your entire party and the most devastating Limit Breaks. And its this bad-ass we embody, but something is not quite right."

    The Impact of Final Fantasy 7: The Game that Changed Everything (By Super Eyepatch Wolf)

    Super Eyepatch Wolf on the impact of FFVII and why it is their favorite game. Covering the history of its creation, how it appealed to the west through its advertisement and mechanics, finding the character and world details that were made possible with human character moments and a shift to 3D, how character arcs and relationships are conveyed through gameplay, the early simplicity and growth of a new battle system that allowed for more player expression, enemy design, Hironobu Sakaguchi's need to portray death in a game about life, and embodying a character that used to be a nobody but becomes enough.

     

    The Game Industry, Connected Industries, and Culture

    Videos looking into different aspects of the game industry, companies associated with it, discourse, platforms, how games intersect with the wider world, funding, hiring practices, etc

     

    "So remember to follow me on Twitch TV slash I kill weed names because you can enjoy what the Earth-Mother gave us but that isn't the same as having a personality."

    Manufactured Discontent and Fortnite (By Folding Ideas)

    Dan Olsen's essay looks at the exploitative design of Fortnight. Discussing how the psychology and social pressure behind the game is designed to hook players, while seeing it as a glimpse of a perpetually monetized and hostile future.

     

    "I've seen a lot of things change over the years. And one of those that has definitely changed is, like, a lot of benefits are just kind of going by the wayside little by little. You know, we don't even talk about earning royalties anymore, that's not even in discussion."
    "Did that used to be a thing?"
    "Oh yeah. I have a house, by and large, because *** managed to sell pretty darn great. Royalties have gone by the wayside, paid internships by and large have gone by the wayside, extensive benefits have gone by the wayside a little bit. I mean, you're still seeing a lot of shops offering, you know, full health, dental, vision, etc but even then you're starting to see that kind of get clamped a little bit."
    "What about crunch time, have you seen a lot of that in your career?"
    "...Oh God, yes. I've seen crunch destroy marriages, I've seen it turn people into alcoholics, I've seen it give them health problems, you name it."

    Unionization, Steady Careers, and Generations of Games Culture (By Super Bunnyhop)

    Super Bunnyhop looks at GDC and into the efforts towards unionization in the games industry and how the way the industry is run effects future generations of designers through discussions with developers and advocates.

     

    "Problems of skipping bylines and misinterpreting the methodology and intent behind media messages, there's something I've noticed a lot more of in recent years. Especially now that people who are teenagers a few years ago during, lets say, oh I don't know, August 2014, are now growing up to become adults. But media literacy also requires an understanding of, not just the standards and ethics that serious journalist should hold themselves accountable to, but also the sinister effects that money and cognitive bias have on it. And that goes both ways, both for writers and for readers. All of that idealism, all of the standards and ethics and professional codes clashes with the reality that media is just another product in a highly competitive market supported by other people's disposable income. The race to sell newspapers was a race to the bottom, and in many ways that really hasn't changed. If anything it's been made far worse in the age of social media where anyone with any kind of internet connection can make media no matter their motives, their funding, or their education."

    Media Literacy and Game News (By Super Bunnyhop)

    Super Bunnyhop discusses media literacy and becoming media literate, media history, what he was taught in journalism classes and learned working in print media, the evolution of game journalism, ethics codes, how advertising effect reporting and headlines, the lower standards and lack of accountability that comes with Youtube reporting, danger of isolation in online social environments, what to look for to see if you should trust reporting, and discusses some of these issues as well as deciding factors of what get published on websites with editors from EGM (Josh Harmon) and Kotaku (Jason Schreier).

     

    "2:22 AM made me uncomfortable. It made me think about all the other games I play. How predictable they are. How I understand the rules. It made me wonder what lies beyond the polished edges of AAA game development. 2:22 AM doesn't really fit within our existing games infrastructure. Itchio is kind of a haven for these experimental titles but, because of that, Itchio is also kind of a punchline for a lot of people dismissive of non-traditional gaming experiences. Newer platforms, like the Epic Store, have promised that the titles they sell will be more strictly moderated, they'll only sell high quality experiences. This might exclude the worst of the worst but who decides what lives inside or outside the realm of high quality experiences. Where do games like 2:22 AM fit in?"

    Who’s Afraid of Modern Art: Vandalism, Video Games, and Fascism (By Jacob Geller)

    Jacob Geller discusses the attacks faced by modern and experimental art, both in videos games and the wider art world. Where the anger typically originates from and why and the problems that come from a dominant culture attempting to create a hierarchy of value for the art world to follow.

     

    "The former employees I have spoken to share common threads, anger at the way they and their colleagues were treated, frustration with the company's infantile, volatile atmosphere, and a remarkable level of disgust reserved for one particular Rockstar executive, Jeronomo Barrera."

    Fear & Fury: How The Rockstar Sausage Is Made (The Jimquisition) (By Jim Sterling)

    Jim Sterling collects the horror stories of abuse and exploration from former Rockstar Games employees. Jason Schreier's article on sexual assault allegations towards the executive behind many of these stories can be found here.

     

    "These are the whales, so callously hunted by assholes with lanyards. It's very easy to suggest that these are people who should be smarter with the money, that only a fool lets it get this bad. I refuse to believe that anyone that churlish about the situation, has ever dealt with addictive behavior in their own lives. I simply refuse to believe it. Because addiction simply does not work that way, you can't just switch if off, it's not that easy to simply stop. You can even know, all day long, that what you're doing is wrong and you can consider yourself stupid, and you can know that it's harmful, but that won't stop you."

    The Addictive Cost Of Predatory Videogame Monetization (The Jimquisition) (By Jim Sterling)

    Jim Sterling examines how addiction is exploited by video games while covering company statement and personal testimonies.

     

    "Cyberpunk has no inherent agenda, at least no more than any other genre. It has hallmarks and anxieties, class disparity, the interface between technology and consciousness, the boundaries that define humanity, the replacement to the state of capital, and it's the view point and consciousness of its authors that shapes how these anxieties play out. In the world of 80s science fiction it was pretty hard to get your voice heard if you weren't someone with a lot of luck, resources, and privileged. The kinds of things that cyberpunk as a genre routinely strips away, but so much of the genres change has been the result of its ideas and themes propagating and being interpreted by people who never had those things."

    We Need To Talk About Cyberpunk (By Yaz Minsky)

    Yaz Minsky discusses the roots of and some of the more defining media of the cyberpunk genre, how and why art changes when it is no longer looked at through limited worldviews, and that the failings of Cyberpunk 2077's marketing, unfortunately, historically puts it closer rather than further from the staples of the genre.

     

    "What video game production alone is doing to our planet is a pretty scary thought. So yeah, welcome to the Ethics of Buying Games, my new show about the different ways of buying games and the impact that they have on many different aspects of life."

    The Environmental Impact of Physical Games - The Ethics of Buying Games (By HeavyEyed)

    HeavyEyed's series looks into the impacts that buying video games has on the world. The first episode covers the sustainability of physical game products, the disappearance of game manuals, and Atari's dumping of thousands of copies of ET into the New Mexico desert. Episode 2 covers how digital distribution can be worse for the environment than physical copies of games.

     

    "This isn't really that weird, people do tend to be pretty bad at figuring out why they like the things they like, so they just assume their stated values apply to the things they enjoy. And yes, to bring this back around, World of Warcraft has undeniably changed over the years and the changes have collectively been dramatic. Not just changes in terms of graphical updates, large swathes of new content, or the world overhaul of Cataclysm, but philosophically. The ideas answering questions like what makes good content have shifted and morphed over the years, often subtly, sometimes drastically. I want to remove the outrage merchants from the equation and contrast some of these changes honestly, because, while on a personal level, I think a lot of people have been hoodwinked by outrage merchants into parroting bad syllogistic arguments, I don't think people are being disingenuous when they say they enjoyed WoW more in the past than they do in the present and that it's not all nostalgia."

    World of Warcraft Classic And What We Left Behind (By Folding Ideas)

    A long time WoW player Folding Ideas examines World of Warcraft classic, how RPGs/MMOs have changed over the years, and why people might have the desire to go back to what was left behind.

     

    "I honestly think that this is a case of quick low effort decisions being made and it's in the situations where propaganda can be the most effective. Propaganda typically relies on quick and simple explanations of complex issues which makes it the perfect accomplice for those trying to move quickly through complex topics. Like a filled out answer sheet casually passed to you by someone who looks suspiciously like Mussolini. In this way, grand strategy game development and propaganda are sort of a match made in heaven. They have a symbiotic relationship, with propaganda facilitating easier production of the games which then spreads that very propaganda."

    Paradox Interactive is Not Immune to Propaganda: Leftist Politics in Grand Strategy (By Huntress X Thompson)

    Huntress X Thompson covers how the grand strategy games with a focus on history but created by armchair historians lack the research or mechanics to portray certain ideologies with any nuance and how they instead repeat modern or historically used propaganda to showcase those ideas to their player base.

     

    "Even if nuclear war happened tomorrow, it still wouldn't look like Fallout because the world's moved on since that era in Klamath Falls, and progress does a better job than apocalypse of burying the past."

    The Real Life Landscapes of Fallout 1, Fallout 2, and Fallout: New Vegas (By Noah Caldwell-Gervais)

    Noah Caldwell-Gervais follows real life maps and landscapes that he had explored digitally with Fallout 1, 2, and New Vegas as he attempts to find the intersection of fact and fiction in the series and explores how the locations change over time.


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    Joshua Rivera's goodbye article to Kotaku touches on game journalism and the consequences of ignoring the culture and industry around video games, Blake Hester tells the story of why all the money in the world couldn’t make the Kinect happen, Forest Lassman reports on the way companies use credits to punish or reward developers, RagnarRox explains how folklore brings horror to life in Fatal Frame, Dan Root begins series on the five fundamentals of game animation, Disco Elysium's developer ZA/UM talks to Gamespot about how they made their mechanics work and what inspired them, Control's developers react to a 49 minute speedrun of their game, Nic Reuben on what makes The Witcher's Geralt the perfect hero for the gig economy, FFVII and Marvel's Avengers delayed, Sony skipping E3 again, and more.

     

    Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods)

     

    Magic: Legends reveals Diablo-like gameplay in first footage

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    Magic: Legends, one of several Magic: The Gathering games announced at The Game Awards in December, has produced its first gameplay trailer.

     

    Trials of Mana ‘Charlotte and Kevin’ character spotlight trailer

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    Here is an overview of the two characters and how they are linked, via Square Enix:

     

    Warhammer Underworlds: Online is a faithful recreation of Games Workshop's best competitive tabletop game

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    In the depths of a doomed city, warbands go to war for treasure and glory.

     

    Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV opening movie

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    The company also released the Japanese verison of the latest developer diary, which is titled, “Lineage of XI, Evolution of XIV, Part One.”

     

    Langrisser I & II ‘Langrisser II’ story trailer

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    And here is an overview of the remake collection, via NIS America:

     

    Serve Demons, Humans, and Elves Drinks in Coffee Talk on January 30, 2020

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    Coffee Talk, a visual novel with coffee shop management elements that shares some gameplay similarities with Va-11 Hall-A, has a release date.

     

    Marvel’s Avengers delayed

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    Marvel’s Avengers is the second Square Enix-published game to be delayed today. Developer Crystal Dynamics announced that the superhero action game is now due out September 4 worldwide, a nearly four-months delay.

     

    Final Fantasy VII Remake Delayed Until April 2020

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    There’s some disheartening news for people who were counting on playing Final Fantasy VII Remake in March 2020. Square Enix has just delayed the game. Instead, its new release date is April 10, 2020.

     

    RESIDENT EVIL 3 REMAKE Nemesis Trailer (2020) HD

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    RESIDENT EVIL 3 REMAKE Nemesis Trailer (2020) HD

     

    Doom Eternal - Official Story Gameplay Trailer 2

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    The Doom Slayer is back and still ready to rip and tear their way through the latest gameplay trailer for Doom Eternal featuring new weapons and abilities along with a look at some of the characters from the story.

     

    The Creators of Shantae Reveal Exclusive New Switch Game

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    WayForward, the creators of the cult hit Shantae franchise, have pulled back the curtain on their latest title, an upcoming exclusive for the Nintendo Switch.

     

    Pokemon Sword & Shield Getting More Old Pokemon, Free Updates On The Way

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    Sword and Shield's Pokedex is about to get a little bigger. During today's Pokemon Direct presentation, The Pokemon Company revealed that additional Pokemon are coming to the Switch Pokemon games with the arrival of two new expansions, Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra. These Pokemon include both brand-new creatures and over 200 older ones that previously didn't make the cut into the Galar Pokedex, and even if you don't plan on buying the DLC, you'll still be able to get those Pokemon into your game with a little extra work.

     

    Wargroove's free co-op DLC arrives in February

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    The pixely dog warrior tactics game Wargroove is getting a free DLC next month centered around a new co-op focused campaign. The Double Trouble DLC is dropping on February 6th. Just in time, I suppose, for the day that co-op life partners celebrate together. Double Trouble also adds new commanders, units, and arcade missions.

     

    Future of Three Kingdoms - Total War: THREE KINGDOMS: Mandate of Heaven

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    In our first Behind the Design, Mandate of Heaven DLC design director Attila and senior designer Simon talk through the design philosophy of the new Mandate of Heaven DLC.

     

    You can no longer buy Grand Theft Auto IV on Steam

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    As of today, you can no longer purchase Grand Theft Auto IV on Steam. Rockstar’s immigrant story is still listed on the store, but there’s no longer an option to purchase it. This affects both the original game and the Complete Edition, though the standalone DLC collection Episodes from Liberty City is still available at its usual price.

     

    All proceeds ever made from Modern Warfare’s Outback DLC now go to Australian wildfire relief

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    While wildfires continue to spread across Australia, a number of businesses have started promotions to benefit funds for relief efforts in the country. Now, Activision has joined in. The publisher says it will donate all proceeds from the Outback pack in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to provide aid to those affected by the ongoing fires.

     

    Steam to start selling soundtracks independently of games

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    The virtual hills are alive with the sound of music, thanks to Steam wresting soundtracks from the videogames they were yoked to. As of today, developers can sell soundtracks independently rather than as DLC, which means you won’t need to buy or download the games themselves. Videogames are defunct now. Let us all escape into the superior medium of sound.

     

    Epic Store to give away another 50 free games

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    Epic has announced it is extending its free games promotion for the whole of 2020. The promotion, which has run since the publisher opened the Epic Games Store in 2018, means Epic gives away a PC game for free every week.

     

    Sony skipping E3 again as it gears up to launch the PlayStation 5

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    Sony is skipping E3 again, just months before it plans to launch its upcoming PlayStation 5 console during the 2020 holiday season. This is the second year in a row Sony is skipping one of the largest video game conferences in the world. E3, short for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is a long-running annual event held every June in Los Angeles, and it has traditionally been where both Microsoft and Sony have revealed new details about upcoming software and hardware.

     

    How An Overwatch Skin Left Some Of D.Va's Biggest Fans Feeling Betrayed

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    On social media, Korean women expressed similar disappointment and anger towards the skin, talking about how it mirrored the uncomfortableness of Korean school uniforms, or that she was fulfilling a “tsundere class president” anime trope for men.

     

    Sony's Jim Ryan: PlayStation 5's 'bigger differences' have yet to be announced

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    PlayStation boss also suggests there will be no months-long delay for Japanese launch

     

    AGDQ 2020 raises another record-breaking sum for cancer research

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    Awesome Games Done Quick 2020 has wrapped up, and once again the event has broken its own fundraising records. This year’s AGDQ raised more than $3.1 million USD (about £2.37 million) for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, a US-based non-profit dedicated to the prevention and early detection of cancer.

     

    Esports

     

    Nintendo's President Explains Its Reluctance To Fund Smash Bros. Tournament Prizes

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    During a recent interview with Japanese business journal Nikkei, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa was asked a variety of questions concerning the publisher’s future, one of which concerned Nintendo’s support for Super Smash Bros. competitions, in particular its reluctance to support Smash tournaments with prize money.

     

    Crowdfunding News (not sharing everything I find, just ones that look interesting, have known talent behind them, and a chance to succeed)

     

    Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous “should feel like the tabletop”

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    The first edition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game was released in August 2009, and grew out of Dungeons and Dragons version 3.5. More rules-dense and content-rich than D&D’s current, more accessible fifth edition, 3.5 was a very different game, but popular with the hardcore crowd. Thus, Pathfinder had a ready-made audience when it launched, and has been one of the best-selling pen-and-paper RPGs of the last decade.

     

    Rubi: The Wayward Mira

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    A 2D action platformer game teeming with lush pixels, featuring ability-based progression paired with RPG elements. For PC and Switch!

     

    Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc)

     

    Pa'lante, Kotaku

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    There is no real incentive for the world to pay attention to video games. You can completely check out of the gaming world, pay it no mind, and get by just fine—no one will balk at you for not knowing Final Fantasy the way they would if you’d never heard of Game of Thrones.

    In my opinion, this is bullshit. That does not make it untrue. But there are consequences for ignoring video games—the culture and the industry around video games are often a petri dish of people and technology colliding in miniature. There are people out there who are clueless about streamers, YouTube, or the online culture wars. A project of my career is suggesting that, had they paid a little more attention to games, perhaps they would know more about culture.

    Goodbye From Josh and Gita

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    Today, Joshua Rivera and Gita Jackson are both leaving Kotaku. They sat down to talk about what they love about this place, as well as the state of games journalism and its diversity, worker solidarity and herbs.

     

    A Big Union Wants to Make Videogame Workers' Lives More Sane

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    The Communications Workers of America is targeting workers at gaming companies, who work 80-hour weeks during “crunch” times.

     

    Video games and disability: Looking back at a challenging decade

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    Diversity and inclusion have become huge gaming discussions in the past decade, and with good reason. More people are playing, talking about, and making games than ever before, and everyone has strong feelings about what they’re playing, or if they’re able to play at all. And, of course, those discussions comes with their own backlash.

     

    All the money in the world couldn’t make Kinect happen

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    For a moment a decade ago, the game industry looked like a very different place

     

    Episodic Games Were the Future, and the Future Was Dead on Arrival

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    Games like 'Hitman' and 'Life is Strange' showed the magic of a shared, episodic experience. They also showed its fragility.

     

    How Game Companies Use Credits To Reward, Or Punish, Developers

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    It takes a team to make a video game. Unfortunately, given the state of video game staff credits, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to know who was actually on that team.

     

    Apocalypse Now, And Again, And Again

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    Fear of a nuclear apocalypse has been reflected in popular media for decades, from ’80s era movies with Cold War themes (Red Dawn, War Games, Rocky IV), all the way to the media of the present day, including modern video games. I’ve played several contemporary games that deal with what happens after the end of civilization. Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding, which came out in 2019, depicts an America that’s on its fleeting last legs, placing you in the shoes of post-apocalyptic delivery man Sam Porter Bridges who embarks on a last ditch effort to save the country. In 2018’s Frostpunk, you’re tasked with creating a sustainable city in a frigid environment after climate change has made most of the planet unlivable. Even the first Fallout game from way back in 1997 used a world-ending nuclear war as its backdrop.

     

    The making of Disco Elysium: How ZA/UM created one of the most original RPGs of the decade

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    ZA/UM. As a studio name, it's awfully bold and affected. A little awkward and intractable, too; it doesn't look right when not in all-caps. But for co-founder Robert Kurvitz, "It just looks hella cool, that slash there. It looks like the technical name of something that definitely exists and weighs eight tonnes." And then there's its Russian meaning, which is 'from the mind' or 'for the mind'. "Just calling something that, it looks cultural. Like it's not laughable."

     

    Shadows of Chernobyl: tracing the inspiration of Escape from Tarkov

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    'Zone games' like Escape from Tarkov and Hunt: Showdown harken back to a legendary Russian film director

     

    Digital Demonology: The Historical Origins of Gaming’s Infernal Obsession

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    Much of Christian demon lore has its roots in Jewish and Middle Eastern myth and folklore, and thus reaches back many hundreds if not thousands of years. While demons or demon-like entities play a major part in the myths of cultures all over the world, no other demonic tradition has managed to entrench itself as firmly in pop culture as that of the Judeo-Christian variety. Video games, too, have relied on this demon lore to imbue the darker aspects of their worlds with a sense of authenticity and a distant, archaic past.

     

    My Games, My Music, and My Internalized Racism

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    Along with being the only girl at the time in a Catholic immigrant household, I wasn’t allowed to ever leave the house without my mom, so I spent a lot of time watching TV when I wasn’t gaming, and let very dangerous views on people of color become my own views because mid-2000’s television really was something else. Additionally, Latinos are known for being anti-black, and are vocal about it, but of course I’m not speaking for all Latinos. I had to be around that constantly with a conservative mother that dealt with some internalized issues, with her just as conservative friends that also dealt with similar problems. So that, combined with arguably just as harmful representation in gaming, took a toll on little Monti.

     

    Geralt is the perfect hero for the soul crushing instability of our hellworld’s gig economy

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    Deep in the thicket of a cursed, gloomy marshland, bubbles rise to the surface of a fetid pool, while a fawn scavenges for something green amongst the dying undergrowth. Without warning, the silence is broken by two thrashing shapes emerging from the water. A Kikimore – a vicious, spider-like mutation – and a sword-twirling Witcher – human, or…almost. A desperate fight ensues, during which the Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, is almost impaled, gored, and drowned. Eventually, Geralt emerges victorious, if exhausted. A hard day’s work, by anyone’s standards.

    Now, he just has to find someone to pay him for it.

     

    playthis Death Stranding

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    As I began to fell in love with Hideo Kojima’s games — as they got more simulation-focused, as their controls got better, as their systems became more readily apparent, the things I value in games — the long-time fans seemed to be falling out of love. All the people who’d told me how brilliant the games were for talking about memes or government information control or who loved things like the Psycho Mantis controller port switch and The End’s boss fight (where changing the PS2’s clock to a time after his death from aging would kill him) soured; they were upset that the games didn’t seem to be dense story experiences that made them feel smart and had memorable gimmicks. I was falling in love because the games were getting smart in other ways.

    Then along came Death Stranding.

     

    Fallen Men

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    In Ursula Leguin’s Earthsea books, about a distant archipelago settled by wizards and dragons, one of its principal characters, the wizard Ged, comes to lose his powers. This is a deeply traumatic event, one from which Ged must rebuild, not only in terms of his health but his sense of self, wrapped up as it is in his ability to do magic and to be made more powerful by it. As the witch Moss describes it: “His power’s himself, see . . . When his power goes, he’s gone. Empty.”

     

    When in Hell, We Do Shots At the Bar

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    Before too long, even though in the game I was drinking, After Party was representing me in a way most media intentionally chooses not to. I stopped really caring about the game’s overarching story. Which isn’t to say it’s bad – on the contrary it’s very funny, intelligently written and does some amazing things with its setting – but before too long I started playing Afterparty like an AA meeting, picking it up for an hour at a time and just listening to people. Afterparty seems to understand that, even in Hell, we’re all humans.

     

    Control Developers React to 49 Minute Speedrun

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    Watch as Remedy Entertainment's Adam Persson (Level Designer for Control) and Sean Donnelly (Lead Gameplay Programmer for Control) give their thoughts on speedrunner Bryonato's incredible run of Control, offering unique insight on what was or was not intended to be used or manipulated in the game.

     

    My Favorite Game Animation of 2019

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    Support New Frame Plus on Patreon! http://www.patreon.com/newframeplus

     

    The Five Fundamentals of Game Animation: An Introduction

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    The 12 Principles of animation are the foundation for good animation, but video games have their own set of fundamentals separate from linear film and TV animation. Let's look at them!

    Please consider supporting the channel through Patreon to help improve the quality of research, editing, footage capture, animation and overall production of each episode: www.patreon.com/DanRoot

     

    The Untold Story Behind the Design of Transistor - Documentary

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    We uncover the original design concepts for Transistor and show how the team at Supergiant Games worked to avoid the sophomore slump.

    Noclip's work is 100% crowdfunded. Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/noclip

     

    The Aesthetics of Play | Why We Play Games, and the Search for Truth and Beauty In Game Design

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    In this Video, we examine The Aesthetics of Play, that is, the question of Why we Play Games.Play is an impulse that exists across every culture, and expresses itself in different forms, but we don't have a consensus as to why. In this video, we survey the many different conceptions of the aesthetic of play, from the mechanics dynamics aesthetics framework, to Jesper Juuls art of failure, and on to Frank Lantzs ideas about Metacognition, to see if we can identify a unifying purpose.

    To build an understanding of this idea, this video surveys the history of games, play, art and aesthetics to illustrate how culturally contingent the very question of the aesthetic of play is. However, this does not mean there aren't unifying themes across space and time, that speak to a higher purpose for play, perhaps one that interrogates the very ideas of truth and beauty.

    Support on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gameoveranalyser

     

    Fatal Frame or (How Folklore Brings Horror to Life) | Monsters of the Week

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    Fatal Frame, especially the original trilogy, is a series of masterfully crafted, groundbreaking Japanese survival horror titles. In this video, we're uncovering how the original Fatal Frame pushed the still fresh genre into a completely new direction with its unique blend of folklore, J-Horror and a gameplay-design that goes hand in hand with the game's message; and turns the players into active participants in Japan's folklore.

    Bonus Video: Exorcising my Patrons in Himuro Mansion

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    Patrons... They're Everywhere! Thank you all so much for watching, subscribing, staying with me, supporting me and being overall a peachy person. https://www.patreon.com/RagnarRoxShow

     

    The Feature That Almost Sank Disco Elysium | Audio Logs

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    In this week's episode of Audio Logs, Disco Elysium's lead designer and writer Robert Kurvitz discusses the hardships ZA/UM underwent to make sure that the game's Thought Cabinet mechanic worked, and talks about the game's unlikely inspiration.

     

    The Secret of Success? | So You Wanna Be A Game Designer? (#8)

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    Support Farlands on Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/farlands

    The road to success is an often-discussed topic, especially among younger developers who start out and want to reach it. So let's talk about it.

     


  4. Completed: Yesterday
    Platform: PC

    Adventure game. You are an immortal that forgets his past when he dies and begins to remember what happened in the last few years that got him involved with his current "friends". Short, abrupt end, surprisingly violent, not that good, some nice backgrounds.

    Completed: Shadow of the Tomb Raider
    Platform: PC

    The worst in a trilogy of games that was fairly mediocre to begin with. Continues to do nothing for Lara as a character, mostly just continues to put her back where she was before. The majority of the game has almost no combat and is entirely focused on simplistic puzzles and climbing. This makes her, once a game, murderous rampage welcome D action movie entertainment. The series continues to be bad or just average at everything it does, never providing interesting combat locations or weapons, continuing to have awkward melee combat and dodges, the guns continue to feel weak to shoot even with the low health most enemies have, your stealth kills are the same slow and awkward looking attacks she has been doing since the first game and her refusal to properly move and hide the bodies when you are in cover is a weird choice, and you are pretty much invincible in what little combat there is if you just make use of the herbs you gather all the time. Hilariously bad chase sequences where dozens of people/vehicles will fire machine guns, rifles, arrows at you and somehow not hit you as you slowly climb walls or you outrun massive catastrophes with the entire city falling and ground giving way all around you. Series is still very into Lara's constant pain. Upgrade tree and buy weapons to regain the same abilities you have been using all trilogy. A forgettable story that once again has Lara showing up in an ancient hidden culture and becoming the most important figure for two groups of people.

     


  5. K6sURs4.png

    2019 is now behind us and I've put together a list of some of the best writing I saw throughout the year. Created with the goal of highlighting the work of some of the best writers and journalists in the industry and to share topics that can enhance understanding of the game industry, events of the previous year, and of the games themselves. Many of these have been shared in my weekly This Week In Gaming articles.

    These articles might focus on developer and game history, what working in the industry is like, what games make us think and feel, things that have effected the industry this year, the effects of games on people and culture, entertaining stories, and the lessons learned and connections that can be established through games. Links are included to author's social media accounts and it is worth following them and their work if you are interested in games and the industry.

     

    Previous Best Games Writing Articles

    2016

    2017

    2018

     

    History of the Industry, Developers, and Games

    Research and interviews examining the life and work of notable figures, developers, studios, and the games and franchises they created

     

    "The impressions of human desire are often left upon objects of their devotion or on the paths leading to where a sense of peace or pleasure can be found; i.e. the worn frets on a favorite guitar; the finger-smoothed ivory keys on an old piano; the “secret path” in the forest blazed by decades of children that’s been “a secret path” to other children for over 100 years. And, of course, the front left-hand sides of all unrestored and original Pac-Man arcade cabinets that no one –until now– has thought to explain."

    PAC-MAN: THE UNTOLD STORY OF HOW WE REALLY PLAYED THE GAME (By Catherine DeSpira)

    Catherine DeSpira looks into the history of Pac-Man, with a focus on the physical impressions left behind on the arcade cabinets and how that signature left by the first generation of gamers tell the story of how the game was really played.

    "How did things go so badly wrong in such a short space of time? According to over a dozen current and former Starbreeze staff members, who asked to remain anonymous in order to protect their careers, the writing had been on the wall for some time. But even as staff lost faith in the studio and its bosses, nobody, it seemed, thought Starbreeze's fall from grace would turn out to be quite so dramatic."

    The fall of Starbreeze (By Wesley Yin-Poole)

    Wesley Yin-Poole looks into how it all went wrong so quickly for Starbreeze by talking to the people that were there.

    "As for the men and women chosen to work on Silent Hill, the town asks much more than it’s willing to give. Long hours, false starts, corrupted data, an impossible legacy. It’s claimed marriages, careers, and livelihoods. More than one colleague’s told me they believe the series is cursed. Perhaps that’s true; those drawn to the town of Silent Hill are so rarely able to change their fates. I certainly knew, the first time I heard Akira Yamaoka’s iconic mandolin, that I’d be a resident until the town’s final tortured moments, whatever those might be."

    From Super Fan to Producer: An Insider's Perspective on Silent Hill (By Tomm Hulett)

    Tomm Hulett reflects on his past as a fan of Silent Hill, becoming a producer in the franchise, and what it was like to work on the series in troubled years.

    "Speaking to eight former Rockstar employees, we recently pieced together the story of Agent’s phase in San Diego. This is not the complete Agent story, and in many ways is the story of the early days of Rockstar San Diego as a studio. It’s a story that involves a workplace environment that some call toxic."

    The Agent before Agent, a lost Rockstar San Diego project (By Black Hester)

    Blake Hester talks to former Rockstar employees about the early days of Rockstar San Diego and the history of their missing game Agent.

    "During that seven-day nightmare, every corporation on that network had their online operations sabotaged by a bunch of nerds who'd somehow been given $4.5 million dollars and a mission to create something extraordinary. And for its time, half a decade before World of Warcraft, EverQuest was nothing if not extraordinary."

    Breaking the internet: The story of EverQuest, the MMO that changed everything (By Steven Messner)

    Steven Messner tells the story of the creation of EverQuest and how it came to define a genre.

    "I used to have this thing with Todd, because he was one of the ones that’s like, “Let’s not make it too weird.” So I’d bamboozle him. There was a period where I would actually draw two different versions of a monster — the one that was weird and that I wanted to be in the game, and then one that was fucking crazy. And so I’d go to Todd, and I’m like, “OK, I think I’ve got the mid-level creature set.” And I’d show him a picture. He’d be like, “Nah, dude, that’s crazy.” Then I’d go back to my office and I would act like I was drawing something new, and I’d just come back with the original drawing of what I really wanted to be in there. Like, “Hey, is this what you were thinking?” And he’d be all, “Oh, yeah, that’s much better. That’s great.”

    Morrowind: An oral history (By Alex Kane)

    Alex Kane and Morrowind's developers cover the history of the game's creation and the thought process behind creating a world that could withstand the test of time, one that players could explore and experience in radically different ways.

    "Perhaps most alarming, it’s a story about a studio in crisis. Dozens of developers, many of them decade-long veterans, have left BioWare over the past two years. Some who have worked at BioWare’s longest-running office in Edmonton talk about depression and anxiety. Many say they or their co-workers had to take “stress leave”—a doctor-mandated period of weeks or even months worth of vacation for their mental health. One former BioWare developer told me they would frequently find a private room in the office, shut the door, and just cry. “People were so angry and sad all the time,” they said. Said another: “Depression and anxiety are an epidemic within Bioware.”

    How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong (By Jason Schreier)

    Jason Schreier interviews Bioware employees to report on the troubled development of Anthem and a studio facing an epidemic of burnout and depression.

    "Getting girls into games required more than simply making games that would appeal to them. Kelly recalls that girls at the time were actively discouraged from engaging with games and technology. Even if a girl did start to play, Kelly adds, citing ethnography research she did later at Mattel, “when a boy walked in the room she’d have to give it up to the boy.” Worse, she says, “it was a known fact [that] girls don’t play with computers and girls don’t play with video games. That’s what the retailers thought.” Kalinske adds that even when presented with actual concrete data, many people would scoff at the notion that girls might be interested in video games."

    What happened when Sega courted female players in the mid-’90s (By Richard Moss)

    Richard Moss speaks with the Sega executive, Michealene Risley, behind the efforts to bring in more female players in the mid 90s and the effects of those efforts.

    "Revising the history around the game crash matters because otherwise what remains is corporation-worship that puts a magnifying glass on profit margins while disguising human effort and lives."

    Pitfall II: Scene 1: The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 (By LeeRoy Lewin)

    LeeRoy Lewin on the reasons behind the 1983 game crash and how the people that want or think that one is coming revise the history around it.

    "Yeo’s character reveals itself in the very makeup of The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa, the entirety of his passion poured directly into its creation. His approach combines a depth of vision and philosophical perspectives with a love of the arts and an affinity with pop culture. Given his unwavering commitment to his craft, whatever challenges he chooses to take on next will undoubtedly be watched by audiences both East and West."

    The Incredible Real-Life Story Behind The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa (By Jeremy Hosking)

    Jeremy Hosking learns the story behind the creation of The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa by speaking to its creator, Yeo, about his life and inspirations. 

    "The game was built on indecipherable “spaghetti code” where moving one piece can result in the game imploding for no logical reason; there isn’t enough space to fit English translations without crashing the game, which means you’d have to hack it and force it to accept more; one chapter in particular—the dreaded chapter five—was coded in such a perplexing way it lead to the whole “translation patch killer” branding. It’s where translation attempts go to die."

    The Near Impossible 20-Year Journey to Translate 'Fire Emblem: Thracia 776' (By Patrick Klepek)

    Patrick Klepek covers the history of attempts to translate the fifth game in the Fire Emblem series as well as discussing localization, the work behind translation projects, and what drives people to attempt them.

     

    Writing On Games

    Articles on the games themselves, effects they had on the industry, the stories they tell, how gameplay is used, deeper meanings of titles, etc

     

    "Heaven Will Be Mine was the missing piece helped me make sense of the divides between three generations of queer activists. It helped dispel the myths around of the radicalism of youth, adults who knew about “the real world”, and the cynicism gained through growing up trying to do the impossible. Heaven Will Be Mine helped me internalize what CIG calls “fighting in our own times and geographies”, the way solidarity and diversity can help us bring the best of each other’s visions instead of imposing ours."

    Fighting with Perfect Greed: Heaven Will Be Mine and diversity of tactics in activism (By Eme Flores)

    Eme Flores examines the characters of Heaven WIll Be Mine as representations of different strands of queer activism.

    "The term “power fantasy” pops up a lot in video game criticism. Bastion, you see, is a game that made me feel powerful in a way I don’t get to in my real life. On the most basic level, that’s because I was one person against the world and, through skill and grit and an upgrade tree, I managed to beat the world back."

    One Minute Past Midnight: Bastion & Healing from Nuclear Devastation (By Ty Gale)

    Ty Gale explores the anger felt over their Grandmothers' erasure of their Japanese heritage through the apocalyptic lens of Bastion.

    "Rakuen is about accepting the things we cannot change, while asserting that our little actions make a difference. By this I mean we should take time to grieve when we fail, but also know that our actions aren’t futile in the face of a cruel, uncaring world. We can care, and we can act."

    The Serenity Prayer and Rakuen (By Priya Sridhar)

    Priya Sridhar covers how the character arcs in Rakuen hold a mirror to the real world by teaching that small actions matter and how to accept what you can't change.

    "While MGS4 was a far more sombre game, dealing with Snake at the end of his life fighting a war he had no choice but to fight, Revengeance is (as the incredible subtitle implies) near-infamously bombastic in the same way that many of PlatinumGames’ other developed titles are. This switch in tone works extremely well in its favor – while MGS4 used Snake to question the legitimacy of heroic war narratives, Revengeance is focused heavily on the question of violence itself in a video-game context."

    And Besides, This Isn’t My Sword (By Lilly)

    Lilly covers how Metal Gear Rising deals with the theme of justice and what is learned through Raiden's rivalry with Jetstream Sam.

    "There’s a street prophet who stands by the fountain in the center of town in Fort Tarsis. He has much to say about the game, if you’ll listen. Someone knew what they were making, and they slid it in sideways through his mouth. He often talks about the Anthem of Creation. He calls the player a scared puppet of meat, always fighting, always afraid, always grasping at a meaning she’ll never know because she’s just playing along with the systems that push and pull her by unreliable whims. “It never finishes,” he says. It can’t afford to."

    “Today, I Felt Nothing,” by Tara Hillegeist (By Tara Hillegeist)

    Tara Hillegeist considers how the frequent feelings of loneliness and isolation that the game invokes can tie into the troubled seven year development of Anthem and the thoughts employees must have had while working on it.

    "As players, we look to find ourselves in narrative and characters in these games. Searching for resonance, that someone or something understands psychic spaces we often have difficulty expressing without avatar, surrogate, metaphor. To assuage our anxieties over the complexity of a progressively accelerating and dividing modernity, we vainly attempt to problem solve the fractured, redacted From Software worlds. We make videos, discuss themes and share theories on forums, twitter, and even sometimes in person. We hunt for psycho-spiritual ligature in these hollowed out digital people. Pulling meat from our own bodies to fit into the gaps in their bones."

    Charting our Emotional Landscapes through Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice’s Hanbei (By Dia Lacina)

    Dia Lacina shares her feelings on the character who meant the most to her in Sekiro and why players respond strongly to From Software's lonely and isolating worlds

    "Your journey becomes defined by how far you are from the next safe place, like stops on a pilgrimage or stations of the cross. Since you do not know how far away the next checkpoint is, going outside is an act of faith. Players must stumble in the dark, learning the area, until their faith is rewarded with safety, only for it to be tested yet again as they leave. There’s been plenty of discussion about whether Sekiro or Fallen Order “count” as souls-likes, but this misses the point. Their usage of Souls’ structure results in a meditative ritual of combat. Respawning becomes an act of redemption. The structure mimics the process of reincarnation, whereby over multiple lifetimes of experience, perfection can be reached."

    Jedi Fallen Order and Sekiro Shadows Die Twice: A Leap in the Dark and the Chaos of History (By Grace)

    Grace on religious cycles and the space between battles found in Jedi Fallen Order and Sekiro.

    "My father has run emergency rooms for years, but I didn't fully understand his job until we played a game together."

    ‘Project Hospital’ is A Great Way to Understand Our Broken Healthcare System (By Ian Boudreau)

    Ian Boudreau plays Project Hospital with his father, a hospital director, and finds that the game can be used as a way to understand the broken healthcare system of the United States.

    "That’s where the magic lies, in the a back-and-forth alchemy where player, character, and boss meet and their reactions to the actual battle as you choose to play it, not through cutscene chatter or flashy but ultimately hollow QTEs. You’re doing this. You’re doing all of this – and you can trust that the game will respond to every last drop of extra effort you put in and do its best to play along with you."

    Now I’m motivated! (By Kimimi)

    Kimimi's analysis of how Devil May Cry 5's final boss avoids typical AAA boss tropes and how it remains special by focusing on the personalities of the cast.

    "This isn’t just a fantasy game. It’s a game where every paranoid concern about your life, that it truly isn’t your own, comes true. And it’s about making decisions knowing that fact."

    Years Later, the Ending of 'Dragon's Dogma' Remains Wonderfully Weird and Subversive (By Cameron Kunzelman)

    Cameron Kunzelman describes how Dragon's Dogma does something different with the traditional fantasy narrative.

    "Rightfully or wrongfully, the Metal Gear saga is inextricably linked with its creator Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear marks the birth of the myth of Kojima as supreme auteur; even this analysis couldn’t help but see the creator in his creation. However, the tensions at the core of the franchise are larger than any single man. They are the inescapable tensions of a genre where players are always the intruder. The player is not welcome in Outer Heaven; they will not be welcome anywhere. And Metal Gear is the moment where that previously unspoken sentiment is finally voiced."

    Metal Gear Retrospective: Snake's Punishment BeginsMetal Gear 2 Retrospective: The World Spins Without Snake
    Metal Gear Solid Retrospective: 'You Enjoy All The Killing, That's Why' (By Heather Alexandra)

    Heather Alexandra retrospective on the Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid series explores the characters, themes, creators, and series intersection with the real world and their fan reception. So far covering Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, and Metal Gear Solid.

    "Hellblade stands in the shadows of capitalist institutions that encourage us to sell our trauma, to expose our wounds at the expense of our dignity. But we can look away. We can make and find art that does not speak but listens. Art that allows itself to cut, to move away, to imagine something else. Art that believes our hurt and that does not showcase or sell it, but lets it be, lets it heal. This is not enough. As long as art is being made under capitalism, this problem of commodifying trauma will remain. But it is a start."

    Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Trauma, and the Power of Editing (By Grace)

    Grace examines Hellblade's failure to depict mental illness.

    "Judgment wants us to consider what kind of sanctity the law deserves when those who bend its already unfair guidelines to serve their purposes are capable of harming others by doing much the same."

    “Real Justice,” by Reid McCarter (By Reid McCarter)

    Reid McCarter discusses Yakuza spin off Judgement and finding real justice outside of Japan's corrupt bureaucracy.

    "New Vegas interrogates the heroism of the post-apocalyptic power fantasy. Where the morality of the previous games is uncomplicated, New Vegas’s moral compass is deliberately troublesome. Its gameplay has no romanticism; there’s no melodrama directing the player’s violence. You’re not killing people to save the vault or to find your father, you’re killing people for your own ends. For the sheer enjoyment of the power fantasy. New Vegas subverts the FPS genre with the reasons it gives the player for justifying their violence. Taking revenge on the man who shot you isn’t even required, but it is pretty satisfying, and it’s appropriately done in Vegas. After all, why do people go to that city? For pleasure, or greed. It’s the only American power fantasy that the game delivers: that you can actually get what you want in Vegas."

    NOT A HERO, JUST A POSTMAN (By Euan Brook)

    Euan Brook on the moral grey of Fallout New Vegas, the game's attention to detail, and the world not existing solely for the player character's benefit.

    "The album’s title would later be absorbed into the universe’s canon as a stage play in Crisis Core, but its inclusion here remains opaque. Still, when Bilinda Butcher sings about holy places, lonely places, and “sunshine faces carrying their heads down”, it’s hard not to picture Midgar itself. A city of slums and superstructures, secret police and ID checks, social stratification, and the profound personal isolation that blossoms where technology grows faster than community."

    Why Final Fantasy 7’s Midgar is one of the most politically-charged video game locations ever (By Nic Reuben)

    Nic Reuben's analysis of Final Fantasy VII's Midgar.

    "I’m a killjoy, a cynic, a bummer. I’ve been here so many times before, that is aboard a zeppelin, or at least some kind of large, aviated zeppelin-esque vehicle, shredding videogame enemies one after another with moral impunity, that if Soph and the game-makers who write her dialogue want to ask me whether I can believe it, then my answer is likely to spoil their fun: yes, yes I can believe it; after experiencing the climactic zeppelin level of 2013’s BioShock Infinite, the shootout which takes place aboard a zeppelin in 2015’s The Order: 1886, and then the zeppelin-based opening to Wolfenstein: Youngblood’s 2017 predecessor, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, I can believe it and believe it easily."

    The Infinite Zeppelin (Ed Smith)

    While playing Wolfenstein Youngblood, Ed Smith comes to the realization that he's seen all this before.

    "But we can’t see the terrible strangeness of our empire in the same way we cannot see the air we breathe. It is so pervasive, winding its way into the stickers we put on our trucks and military recruitment specialists that come to every high school in fatigues. We don’t see empire, and as a result games about working as a paramilitary commando can claim to be apolitical. We don’t see it, we can’t see it, without stupid sexy Raiden’s full body prosthetic turning roided-out Dick Cheney into ground beef. Metal Gear makes the hideous silliness of our empire clear — these impossible things happening clearly under the midday sun."

    How Metal Gear Eschewed Realism to Convey the Horror of Imperial Violence (By Moira Hicks)

    Moira Hicks on magical realism and how Metal Gear uses fantastical elements to better communicate the horrors of war and American imperialism.

    "In this light, even A Plague Tale’s most outré moments—its seemingly infinite heaps of corpses, never-ending torrents of rats, and the presence of literally sorcerous characters—can be forgiven as expressionist exaggeration or a magical realist fantasy meant to render the most unbelievable horror of real history into something understandable. Its camp excess is meant to heighten the sense that everything happening to Amicia and Hugo, but also to the wide swaths of ordinary 14th century French who actually lived or died during the horrific medieval war, can only be communicated through the twisting logic of a nightmare."

    A Plague Tale: Innocence Is the Anti–Assassin’s Creed (Reid McCarter)

    Continuing with a focus on magical realism, Reid McCarter examines A Plague Tale’s depiction of the Hundred Years’ War and how it differs from game's like Assassins Creed which frequently follow in the style of Thomas Carlyle’s “great man” reading of history.

    "Bioshock could be powerful at times — who could forget that first interaction with the splicer, or the golf club moment? — but by going “hey, I’m About Something,” a lot of people who were desperate for games to be taken seriously made the mistake of assuming that being About Something made you inherently intellectual."

    i don’t think i like prestige games 
    yeah, okay, so i don’t like prestige games, and i think i get why (By GB 'Doc' Burford)

    Doc Burford defines his idea of prestige games and covers the desire people have to feel that their hobby is validated by championing games that attempt to be intellectual regardless of how poorly they examine their messages or how much was lifted from better things. Doc briefly gives some of his thoughts about his article and wanting people to seek more for themselves rather than being complacent here and wrote a follow up piece going into more detail and discussing some of the responses to the first.

    "I’ll offer one architectural term, though: a “falsework,” which is a temporary frame that holds a structure up until it can support itself. A certain subset of falsework lends the texture to Brutalism’s concrete walls, in fact. Shooting is the falsework of Control: built first, defining its form, supporting its architecture. In the end, we’ll dismantle all that scaffolding so the beautiful pillars and the coffered ceilings can settle into their new positions on high."

    “Falsework,” by Nick Capozzoli (By Nick Capozzoli)

    Nick Capozzoli considers if the architecture of Control serves as anything more than the foundation of a shooting gallery.

    "She will enjoy it. She will feel at home. But she will also have to work that enjoyment within a corrupt system that works to control inexplicable things that resist control. Just because she hires “better people” doesn’t mean they won’t be prone to the same kinds of hysterics and egos that led to Darling and Trench’s respective downfalls. She will ultimately realize that without the Bureau, without The Oldest House, she may as well be dead. She must keep this position, or there will be nothing left worth living. She will fall under the same lust for control that plagued Director Trench. Like Trench, the job will be as much a prison as it is privilege. Things she once enjoyed will be corrupted by bureaucracy, just as the Altered Items are corrupted by the collective subconscious. A self-fulfilling prophecy. A cycle that repeats and renews ad infinitum. Capitalism, bureaucracy, politics, America."

    Everyone Wants The Big Chair, Meg (By Carol Grant)

    Carol Grant on the feelings of frustration and fascination felt by the implications of the ending of Control.

    "The game’s basic message—like the chilling effect of Wajda’s Kanał—is, in the end, universal, even as it focuses on the specifics of Warsaw, Poland, in the last months of 1944. It shows the Uprising not as a glorious, bloodless undertaking but as a horrifying event that the world should mark as one of the darkest chapters of our history. Warsaw is the latest contribution to a nation’s ongoing efforts to process its history, delayed for decades and erupting in recent years as an ongoing battle between competing visions for the country’s future. But it’s also a monument to the many struggles Poland has faced, in the 20th century and before, to continue existing at all."

    How Warsaw Captures the Brutality—and Complexity—of the Historical Uprising that Inspired It (By Reid McCarter)

    Reid McCarter researched the Warsaw Uprising to tell how the recently released game Warsaw captured the events brutality and complexity.

    "James’s descent through the strata of a psychic netherworld to, one way or another, atone for killing Mary is commonly read as a Freudian punishment dream. This is worked into the game’s foundations—as Gareth Damian Martin wrote, on both a micro and macro scale the architecture of Silent Hill 2 is an expressive Freudian topography built to ferry players into its ever-darker depths."

    “Nurse With Wound,” by Astrid Rose (By Astrid Rose)

    Astrid Rose on the use of violence and psychosexual meanings behind the design choices of Silent Hill 2.

    "During my time reviewing Death Stranding, I had a relationship fall into disrepair. That my most valued personal connection frayed while playing a game that is ultimately about the bonds we make was not lost to me. Time and time again in Death Stranding, I wandered through harsh red deserts and snow-capped peaks with the mission of bringing people together. I crossed bridges left by strangers, trusting that the paths they had laid would bring me where I needed to go. Outside of the game, I was lost. What does it mean for a connection to unravel, like an old rope bridge across a ravine? What does it take to rebuild one? I don’t have answers to this. Death Stranding didn’t provide them. Instead, it insisted on a simple idea: that we are made strong by the grace and, more beautifully, the chance of others."

    Death Stranding: The Kotaku Review (By Heather Alexandra)

    Heather Alexandra described what Death Stranding seems to draw its inspirations from, how it communicated its themes of togetherness and worker solidarity through its systems, gestures towards modern America, and how it creates a desire to build something.

    "In its use of 19th and 20th century imagery, Death Stranding consciously evokes the violence that hangs over both eras, be it America’s use of the nuclear bomb at the end of World War II or the systemic brutality that accompanied the country’s western expansion. Most strikingly, the game is filled with constant reminders that everything players see and do in its setting takes place in the shadow of a horrific tragedy—the “Death Stranding” that left regions of the country marked by enormous craters caused by bomb-like “voidouts” and the ordering influence of a recognized government in shambles. Its main characters are all touched by the instability of their country and this recent terror. All of them have been marked, physically and mentally, by the cataclysm that partially destroyed their country—and each of them has thoughts on how America can move on from the chaos."

    Death Stranding Finds Hope in Despair (By Reid McCarter)

    Reid McCarter shows how Death Stranding signals for hope and optimism in even hopeless situations.

    "Death Stranding’s (and Kojima’s) tendency to complicate for no reason other than complication’s sake ends up depoliticizing the game. The early game presents an America that’s mostly artifice—an oval office that’s depicted through a hologram projection over a gray hospital room; devices for “linking citizens” that look more like handcuffs; and a de facto leader, Die-Hardman, who literally wears a mask through 95 percent of the game—and the game honestly seemed to be presenting a narrative that would attack fantasies of “going back” to the old days, fantasies in no short supply in our own American moment. But as the game introduces more and more to the world and plot it presents, this simple critique becomes muddied in a way that doesn’t make it more complex but instead smooths out any contradiction or critique in favor of a happy ending in which the nation could be saved and humanity might survive another day. In other words, Death Stranding starts out with a pointed approach but settles on a description of America as a land of contrast, one that is not only depoliticized but politically frustrating on its own merits."

    The Muddled, Flavorless Politics of Death Stranding (By Trevor Strunk)

    Trevor Strunk attempts to find a coherent message in Death Stranding.

    "Gears is not capable of answering why we should choose or why we should live. It is, despite flickers of other ways of living, an anti-utopia. However, its characters do continue, fighting for a peace that might never exist, because they refuse to believe that this is the end. I admire them and weep for them, when the writing allows, because they strive. Gears of War is fundamentally tragic, but it is not nihilistic."

    What Have We Got Left? Gears of War and Cyclical History (By Grace and Cole Henry)

    Grace and Cole Henry discuss Gears of War's narrative struggle with the series own business model alongside the character's struggle for survival.

    "You can find beauty in this ugly, cynical world if you can look at where you’ve been, look at what you’re still holding onto, and saying “I can do better”. It’s not about making the past disappear. That’s impossible, and you’ll always have your past deeds weighing you down. But people are complex beings, good and bad. Disco Elysium neatly sums up what makes role playing so powerful. It’s not about unbound freedom. It’s about us shaping our own character arcs."

    Disco Elysium and Finding the Beauty in a Cynical World (By Jeremy Signor)

    Jeremy Signor covers how Disco Elysium handles finding beauty and redemption in a cynical world while showing what makes role playing powerful.

    "Communists and fascists do not do battle in Disco Elysium. Why would they? Power lies within the hands of the moralists and the ultraliberals. Neither the communists nor the fascists are relevant enough to upset this balance of power. The neoliberal grip on the world is too strong, and the historical moment that allowed for the revolution has passed."

    A Spectre is Haunting Martinaise — Detective Fiction and Disco Elysium’s Disappointing Ending (By PJ Judge)

    PJ Judge gives their thoughts on why some people are disappointed by Disco Elysium's ending, why they think it works, looks at the history of detective fiction and how it is portrayed in the game, and examines the power behind the ideologies in the city of Revachol.

    "Some of the game’s most staggering worldbuilding is staged in this little church; it is here we witness the synthesis of Elysium’s spiritual, scientific, artistic, and “para-natural” aspects. Note how Soona, the failed programmer, finally locates the 2mm hole: she surrounds it with its opposite, its antipode. She floods in loud, live, human music. And not just any music: noisy, urgent rave. Youth music. If the old world is leaking, Disco Elysium seems to say, plug it with the new. If there is too much past to bear, make yourself present. Outside, the world is 72% pale, and the ratio is worsening. There is more and more of the stuff each day, growing skyward. A rising tide of past, crashing ceaselessly into our present, threatening to wash us away. Yet a beach still describes the ocean, even as it is consumed by it. And Harry Du Bois provides a living analog of this—its human proof. He cannot run from his past, but he can dance with it."

    A Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Disco Elysium on the Past and Present (By Alastair Hadden)

    Alastair Hadden examines Disco Elysiums use of amnesia, the desire to become something new without being able to escape the past, opening cynicism as you piece your view of the world together, the role of its police, and sorting through the wreckage of the world of Elysium and how it reckons with its history.

    "A rattling skull. A trashed hostel room. A vacant memory. As Disco Elysium begins, protagonist Harry Du Bois has definitively lost his shit. We can never make him anything other than a man who’s lost his shit, but our choices can shape exactly what sort of shit he’s lost. Planescape Torment asked: What can change the nature of a man? Disco Elysium says, sure, you’ve lost your shit, but of that shit, how much is really worth trying to get back?"

    How Disco Elysium Mocks Fascists By Letting You Play As One (By Nic Reuben)

    Nic Reuben plays through Disco Elysium exploring where the fascist options take your version of the protagonist and where it took the like-minded characters you interact with.

    "How do you tell a story about the horrors of war to players who’ve been trained up in your own virtual proving grounds? Players who can kill eight men with a cinder block? And how do you do it without alienating potential markets (and the Department of Defense)?"

    How Modern Warfare smooths over the horrors of war (By Nick Capozzoli)

    Nick Capozzoli considers how the attempts at realism make this years Call of Duty feel more artificial, how it clearly borrows scenes from films and the importance of what it changes, and the way people view the campaign and multiplayer as separate games with only one deserving critique. Additional thoughts were posted here.

    "The Metro series is one inexplicably drawn to the idea of things. When the end of the world happens, do things serve us similarly?  Do they carry the same weight or are they changed? Do we have any more things or do we need to make new ones? The answers to these questions are difficult ones to come to but one thing’s for sure: everything is invariably changed. Things that were taken advantage of before find new, deeper meaning. The trains people traveled in and the tunnels they flew through became new homes. The bullets we used to wage war now act as both protection and currency. Guitars that were once just instruments bring communities together in song and dance, communities that had nothing before that."

    Metro: Exodus-Home is Where Your Stuff Is (By Moises Taveras)

    Moises Taveras covers how the Metro series uses the things we love to hold on to our humanity.

    "Start from square one and take a deep breath, no matter what – the apocalypse can only happen behind you."

    UNSTOPPING (By Skeleton)

    Skeleton considers the apocalyptic visions of the shoot em up genre and how ZeroRanger allows you to break free.

    "I don't remember the first photograph I took in this generation. But I know I took a lot. Somewhere north of 85 gigabytes (nearly half the space taken up by my conventional photographs) are sitting on an external hard drive, and those are the ones after the culling. If I didn't immediately love the games of this generation, God I sure did love the Share button. Even as I was bored, I couldn't help but shoot."

    How the Photo Mode Became a Homogenized Feature of Commodified Games (By Dia Lacina)

    Dia Lacina on the rise of photography modes in video games over the last few years and where they have ended up.

    "It’s about time we in Western circles more widely grappled with the place that historical dating sims inhabit within this canon. In the remaining days of this year, one already rife with significant anniversaries in video game history, there’s one paradigm-defining entry in the genre that turned 25 this past May, yet has lamentably gone ignored despite its sheer presence in its homeland and its immense legacy remaining in many of today’s chart-topping hits."

    25 Years With an Invisible Elephant in the Room (By Tom James)

    Game translator Tom James looks at a genre defying game for its 25th anniversary, Konami’s Tokimeki Memorial. Why it is seen as a titan in Japanese game history and how and why its influence is felt in some of the most popular games today.

     

    Game Design

    Articles that focus on game design and the ideas and processes behind it

     

    "Sure, there are some things I can’t do, and that’s okay; it’s life, for everyone. But for disabled people, we often can’t join in just because no one thought of us. It’s unbearably isolating and sad to be faced with other people’s palpable joy and camaraderie when you have to watch from the sidelines, again. It’s also not always an all-or-nothing situation of can or can’t. Sometimes, doing the thing is painful or extra exhausting (i.e. harder than it should be). So, yes, I completed Bloodborne, but in doing so I was left with hand injuries that took months to heal – and I’m not being hyperbolic. Playing exhausted me, both mentally and physically. It made me hyper-aware of my limitations as a disabled player."

    Sekiro: Accessibility In Games Is About Far More Than 'Difficulty' (By Cherry Thompson)

    Accessibility expert Cherry Thompson discuss the framing of conversations regarding difficulty in games and the variety of elements that go into making games more accessible.

    "Whether or not a player notices, appreciates, or is able to see these details, everything from a pen on a desk to a chair in a room has to be meticulously made, scrutinized, and tested. But at what cost? How does a developer decide how much time to allocate to set dressing a small room versus a game’s main character? How many polygons should an asset in the corner of a players eye get versus something directly in their face?"

    The 18-month fence hop, the six-day chair, and why video games are so hard to make (By Blake Hester)

    Blake Hester speaks with developers about the time and cost of trying to get the little details right in games.

    "When I first spoke to Spencer Yan, I wanted to tell the stories of modders who had poured themselves into passion projects that never saw the light of day. I'd been reading the recent RomChip, and several articles there had made the same, lucid argument: the history of games is also a history of the games that never made it. Not just the big studio failures where everyone, at the very least, ended up with a paycheck, but the hundreds of hours sacrificed by talented amateurs. I wanted to end this piece having told these stories, and maybe finish with some easy, conclusive quotables that might have helped anyone embarking on a creative work in the future. Spencer Yan's story doesn't have any of those, so if you're after a bow to wrap things up, maybe stop reading after this insight from Pi0h1."

    The messy story behind the Hotline Miami mod that never was (By Nic Reuben)

    Nic Reuben interviews the man behind a failed Hotline Miami mod. The life events that inspired and changed it, community reactions, and what can happen behind the projects that never made it.

    "Game designers don’t actually talk that much about difficulty; we talk about things like progression systems and mental load. None of these things are strictly questions of “difficult” versus “easy” — they’re more about how we guide players to greater competency, and what that journey should be like, ideally."

    Difficulty is about trust and communication, not ‘hard’ vs. ‘easy’ (By Jennifer Scheurle)

    Jennifer Scheurle looks at recent discussions around difficulty and Death Stranding to discuss how designers and players talk about the subject of difficulty in very different ways.

    "Before Twitter and its legions of armchair quarterbacks with the luxury of spending much more time reviewing translations than the original translators had in doing them, our main concern was an honest desire to make a fun and entertaining game for a local audience. To this day, I believe the best translators are writers, who take on what is an impossible task and do their best to satisfy several masters: the audience, the original author, and the marketplace."

    The bizarre, true story of Metal Gear Solid’s English translation (By Jeremy Blaustein)

    The man who translated Metal Gear Solid, Jeremy Blaustein, tells the story behind his work.

    "What people outside of the industry don't always appreciate is a game is constructed from so many pieces and you don't see the final product until the very end so it's hard to plan for unforeseen problems," says Szamalek. "When you're working on a play in the theatre, you might not have the costumes or the set, but you can see the actors interpreting the lines, you can imagine what it will look like - in games that's extremely hard. Even if you do have a clear goal and direction, you might end up in a different place because a certain part of the game gets cut or a new mechanic is introduced and this requires you to change the storyline, or it turns out that a tester says the game is lacking this or that."

    The writing of The Witcher 3 (By Keith Stuart)

    Keith Stuart speaks with CD Projekt designers about the challenges behind the writing and location designs of The Witcher 3.

    "Particularly when coupled with its dreamlike story and nightmarish imagery, the experience of playing Pathologic 2 can feel bizarre and obscure. You might stumble upon a solution by accident or receive advice in a dream while you sleep, and around town there are rituals of ambiguous purpose. Does it accomplish anything to bury a doll in the ground at the behest of some children, to buy a bull that allegedly speaks, or to follow the kids’ rules when exchanging items at their hidden stashes? And even if it all means nothing, do you dare not to do these things and risk finding out?"

    A Russian Crucible: Pathologic 2 and the Problem of Video Game Difficulty (By Steven Nguyen Scaife)

    Steven Nguyen Scaife interviews the developers of Pathologic 2 about storytelling, choices, and designing a difficulty when the point is to punish the player.

    "Gather around, curious collectors! Today, we thought it’d be fun to recount the all-encompassing journey of Shovel Knight's development. Let's explore how it all began, and how our original vision evolved into a 6 year development, producing five games in five years forming the multi-game collection known as Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove."

    How Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove Went From Minor DLC to a Collection Built to Last,
    The Making of Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, Part 1: The Plan
    The Making of Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, Part 2: Froggy Foreshadowing
    The Making of Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, Part 3: Our Favorite Secrets and More
    The Making of Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, Part 4: The Subtle Art of Backgrounds,
    The Making of Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, Part 5: Fin
    (By Yacht Club Games)

    Yacht Club Games recounts how the development of Shovel Knight turned into making five games over the course of six additional years and how the work of creating them was done in this series of guest articles.

     

    Game Industry

    Articles focused on the industry itself, from what it is like to work in the game industry or in fields connected to the game industry, to the platforms and tech behind it

     

    “I thought that room would be packed with employers,” he says. “I walked in branded with my IATSE gear. I wanted it to be glaringly obvious that I was a union representative. I went into that room expecting to walk into a lion’s den and be torn apart ... but what I found was 200 games workers absolutely ready to attack the IGDA.”

    Game developers need to unionize (By Tim Colwill)

    Tim Colwill discusses the need for unions, why tech industry leaders have worked to create a culture of hostility towards them, and the work done by Game Workers Unite.

    "At the point when the layoff occurred, I (and many others) had been working overtime for months (10–12 hour days, 6 days a week). My personal life had taken a backseat to the grueling pre-launch schedule that got WoW out the door. This is what we were asked to do, and I did it willingly, without hesitation. A few months later, I found myself jobless. I was loyal to a company that in the end felt no loyalty to me in return."

    Finding a New Path: How I Survived a Game Industry Layoff (By Christine Brownell)

    Christine Brownell tells her story of going through a layoff at Blizzard 14 years ago, how it can effect you, and what she learned from it.

    "I knew that games are built from dreams and tricks, but seeing first-hand how much it hurts a team to not put in a last little detail that might add cohesion to a world because there’s a critical bug elsewhere made me reconsider how I see the rest of the games I play."

    How it feels to release an indie game in 2019 (By Xalavier Nelson Jr.)

    Xalavier Nelson Jr., the narrative designer of Hypnospace Outlaw, discusses the panic and uncertainty that comes with releasing a game and the factors that cause that.

    "The free market is rarely, if ever, actually free, and competition, especially inside a well-oiled money-making machine like Steam, isn’t fair. People game the system precisely because Steam is unfair. Success often comes down to who can ride luck, the wax and wane of genre preferences, timing, gimmicks, algorithmic shifts, and even underhanded tactics like lying about release dates to the top of a select handful of charts that go a disproportionately long way toward determining success or failure. This inherent unfairness is present, too, in the competition between Steam and Epic, and it creates a similar sort of tension that Steam users can only vent through rage. In theory, “fair” competition would involve another service coming along with a better feature set than Steam and winning the day on merit alone. Easy enough. But, nestled within that sleek shell of simplicity is a briar ball of thorny particularities."

    Why People Are So Mad About The Epic Games Store (By Nathan Grayson)

    Nathan Grayson covers how the perception of fairness has been defined by society and major companies and the inevitable unfairness that comes from the scale of competition between Valve and Epic.

    "The popularity of Fortnite has been transformative for Epic Games. But the game’s explosive growth led to months of intense crunch for Epic employees and contractors, some of whom say they felt extreme pressure to work grueling hours to maintain Fortnite’s success and profitability, resulting in a toxic, stressful environment at the company."

    How Fortnite’s success led to months of intense crunch at Epic Games (By Colin Campbell)

    After dozens of employee interviews over the course of months, Colin Cambell reports on the stressful and hostile work environment at Epic after Fortnite's sudden success.

    "I took one day off between Jan 1 [2011] and the day the day 1 patch was approved. It was my birthday, and it was on a Sunday, so it was ok if i was just on call. I was allowed to go to a friends' wedding (on call of course) on a Saturday night, after working an 8 hour shift first. Those were the only two days i didn't work from at least 10 am to at least midnight. We were all doing this. I mean, except the bosses, of course, who would leave after dinner."

    Former devs speak out about 'severe crunch' at Mortal Kombat studio (By Wes Fenlon and Andy Chalk), 
    "This Is How They Get Away With It:" Former NetherRealm Studios Contract Devs Reveal a Troubling Studio Culture (By Matt Kim), 
    NetherRealm's self-sustaining culture of crunch (By Brendan Sinclair)

    During the release of Mortal Kombat 11, multiple former employees of NetherRealm Studios began speaking up about the poor working conditions and culture of the studio, going back as far as MK vs. DC from over 10 years ago. Multiple websites have interviewed their current and former employees and contractors about the culture, involving forced crunch, low and unequal pay, issues with inclusivity, false promises of full time positions for fatality designers, and the mentality in the game industry that has allowed companies to get away with it.

    "The video game association that conceived the industry’s national ratings system, handles all lobbying efforts and runs the massive annual E3 showcase is in disarray. The Entertainment Software Association is still staggered by the departure of its president and what numerous current and past employees tell Variety was a toxic environment rife with internal politics, witch hunts and in-fighting."

    Inside the Disarray Facing the Video Game Organization Behind E3 (By Brian Crecente)

    Brian Crecente speaks with sources and researches leaked documents to uncover the current state of the Entertainment Software Association.

    "The Nintendo Switch is the first time that a mainline Pokemon title has been developed for a home console, and as a result that kind of workforce upscaling has likely occurred a second time. However, the general backlash to Pokemon scaling down its product in order to reach a reasonable development time reveals quite clearly that fans don’t seem to understand how much work goes into each game."

    Pokemon, and Why The Games Industry Needs To Be Less Secretive (By Lilly)

    Lilly uses the anger directed at Pokemon Sword and Shield to talk about how corporate messaging hurts gamers already poor perception of how games are made.

    "One Friday afternoon a few weeks ago, the developers at Treyarch held a happy hour event to welcome the summer interns. There was pizza, beer, and jubilation for everyone at the studio behind Call of Duty: Black Ops 4—except the quality assurance testers, who had to leave shortly after they got there."

    The Human Cost Of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (By Jason Schreier)

    Jason Schreier reports on the human cost of Black Ops 4 and the treatment of game contractors and QA.

    "We’ve moved beyond the time of the Atari 2600, when publishers simply saw their games as disposable, and bigger companies are getting somewhat better at archiving and maintaining their own histories, but with live service becoming the business model for the biggest publishers, games can change drastically over the course of their life spans. As Eric Kaltman wrote in his 2016 essay “Current Game Preservation is Not Enough” for Stanford’s How They Got Game program, “The incredible production rates of current games, and the inability to currently preserve them all will lead to a situation where predominantly single player, non-networked games are overrepresented (or in many cases the only representatives) in the playable record.”

    The Uncertain Future of Video Game History (By Michael Goroff)

    Michael Goroff interviews those looking to preserve game history, why it matters and how it effects the future.

    "I still feel it in my bones when I read that 99% of 1980s Japanese PC games are lost, there is no question about that. But at the same time, I feel like we should accept that it is OK. As players, we should reconcile with our nostalgia, cherish our memories but understand that trying to re-live them is futile. Preservation efforts, in my view, should be informed by this counter-intuitive philosophy, accepting that games, art, things, people – disappear, are forgotten, every day. This re-alignment does not mean that efforts to continue finding and preserving video games of the past should cease. Rather, the focus of these efforts should expand to include celebration, interpretation and political action, all driven by an anti-capitalist ethos, an ethos that rejects both profit and immortality as motivators."

    Game preservation and the quest for immortality (By Seva Kritskiy)

    Seva Kritskiy discusses why, despite preservation efforts, most games will continue to disappear, accepting that that is ok, their primary worth being personal and emotional, and rejecting profit and immortality as reasons and motivation for preservation.

    "A lead would walk around the office with a notepad asking how many overtime hours QAs were going to put in, she recalled. If they said none, the lead would ask the reason why. 'There was no extra money on top of your normal wage for overtime, but rather you would be allocated $5 worth of food from the store [across] the road which the leads would go and buy for you.' In her experience, working with smaller studios made for a better experience overall, and having testers embedded with developers really made a difference."

    What It’s Really Like to Be a QA Tester (By Diego Argüello)

    Diego Argüello spent months interviewing current and former QA testers to learn about the industry exploitative practices.

    "Ghosting stories like these are common when it comes to Nicalis, a game developer and publisher that has grown big in the independent scene thanks to smash hits like Cave Story and Binding of Isaac but also has cultivated a reputation for mistreating employees and outside developers. Nicalis, based in Orange County, California, employs a staff of around 20 and handles a number of ports, re-releases, and original games, usually developed with external partners. In recent years, fans have noticed some public scuffles between Nicalis and game developers, but the extent of Nicalis’s troubled history has not yet been revealed."

    Inside The Ghosting, Racism, And Exploitation At Game Publisher Nicalis (By Jason Schreier)

    Jason Schreier speaks with former employees and developers that have worked with publisher Nicalis about their experiences with the company and its founder Tyrone Rodriguez.

    "A frequent question that gets brought up is “why now”. I would like people to understand that I tried. I spent years trying. When I did try, closer to when it happened, I couldn’t even speak ill of him. I was completely shot down. Every E3 I would post a thread talking about how hard it is to see him in the open, to be confronted with his work, and nobody knowing what happened. I talked extensively how you can’t do anything about this unless you are famous too, and matter to people. I spent years building up a reputation, and standing in this community. I wanted to say something. I didn’t think I mattered enough to be believed."

    my follow up post (By Nathalie Lawhead)

    In the later part of the year multiple men in the game industry (Jeremy SouleAlec HolowkaBen JuddAlexis Kennedy, etc) were called out for sexual assault, creating hostile working conditions, and for their abusive behavior by multiple former and current acquaintances, business partners, and co-workers. Nathalie Lawhead wrote the initial blog post, calling out my rapist, about her interactions with Jeremy Soule. A few days later, after many others had joined her in exposing the actions of other industry veterans and they all received the normal backlash, she wrote the above blog about coming forward, the toll of abuse, and the need for a cultural and community shift away from abusive behavior being tolerated and rewarded instead of corrected.

    "Still, I understand why many readers feel this way. I think that game review sites spent too many years treating game criticism as an exercise in raw consumer advocacy. I count myself among those responsible. Reviewing Diablo 3 for such a site, I gave it a positive review because it struck me as a game that “the audience” would like. In actuality, it’s a game I find gross and off-putting in its constant, blatant efforts to make you feel powerful and to stroke your ego. But I was inside that professional world, where the kind of approach I took to that review and many others was expected of me, was, in fact, the only acceptable approach, and at the time, I didn’t question this. I believed in it myself to some degree. Writing this now, I think of the Mandalorian, unquestioningly asserting “This is the way,” or perhaps Joe Pesci’s crime boss Russell Bufalino in The Irishman, saying with some measure of regret about an unchangeable truth, “It’s what it is.”

    Ruthless Individuality: Criticism’s Past, and Hopefully Its Future (By Carolyn Petit)

    Carolyn Petit shares her thoughts on the perception of critics, how that has shifted over time, working as a critic in a professional environment, and how reactions towards Death Stranding lead to thoughts of there being nothing more useful than ruthlessly individual perspectives outside the hive mind.

    "However, one of the lessons we learn growing up is that matter cannot be created or destroyed. Santa Clause had no part in the development, sale, and delivery of Spider-Man for the Nintendo 64; Mom and Dad had to work, get paid, budget, plan, travel, and purchase that cherry-red cartridge so that I could mash C buttons and web-up thugs into squirming cocoons. All things begin and end with labor, even magical video games."

    Games are Not Magic (By James Frierson)

    James Frierson on the work behind the magic and when your passion becomes a product.

     

    Life, Culture, and Games

    Articles on the meaning that games and the industry can have for people, connections they help create, how we look at them, how they influence people, how they have changed over time, and why they matter

     

    "Mats would not live what they considered a "normal life". He would die young and be taken away from them - without having set his mark on the world. They were so completely mistaken."

    My disabled son’s amazing gaming life in the World of Warcraft (By Vicky Schaubert)

    Vicky Schaubert interviews Robert Steen who learned about the life his disabled son lived through online gaming after his death.

    "Behind one of the most iconic computer games of all time is a theory of how cities die—one that has proven dangerously influential."

    Model Metropolis (By Kevin T. Baker)

    Kevin T. Baker looks at the book and theories that influenced Will Wright's ideas on city design and the implications of the politics of SimCity.

    "Though no creative feat is achieved without inspiration, the manner in which Fortnite has transplanted the creative output of these men into its brightly colored marionettes, without permission, credit, or compensation feels particularly egregious. After all, the direction that this creativity travels is from those with less, those who spark viral brilliance from nothing, to those with so much more, absorbing whatever they can, erasing the past in the process."

    Fortnite's Appropriation Issue Isn't About Copyright Law, It's About Ethics (By Yussef Cole)

    Yussef Cole ‏gives historical context to the moral issues surrounding Fortnite's dance appropriation.

    "Mae’s world treats her as she really is. There’s no saccharine lie about everything being ok now that she’s upended her life trajectory and put her family out. Coming home isn’t a symphony of sympathy and a line of open arms. She left as a ticking bomb and came home detonated and there’s a mess to clean up. The clean up crew love her and want to help, but there’s no simple fix and no absconding from her own role in things. That too, I recognize."

    Years In the Woods (By Ethel)

    Ethel works through their thoughts on identifying with the characters of Night in the Woods, seeing yourself in the media you consume compared to stories focused on escapism, and seeing others identifying with characters in the same way you are.

    “When games are discussed in purely mechanical terms, as these kinds of games inevitably are, any evaluation of what they actually achieve (or fail to achieve) on other fronts is always going to feel besides-the-point or navel-gazey. The accepted approach is to say that Anthem does not have “enough to do,” foregoing a look at whether what there is “to do” is worthwhile.”

    “Consuming the World,” by Reid McCarter (By Reid McCarter)

    Reid McCarter writes about consumption and the reductive discourse surrounding games like Anthem when the focus is almost solely on mechanics and the amount of content rather than if what there is to do is worthwhile in the first place.

    "Symbols aflame can feel more real than real. They put “fire in the minds of men“. And I could see it now: we are all on fire, all the time. Notre Dame’s billowing flames were my wake-up call."

    The Cathedral and the Simulacrum (By Gilles Roy)

    After the Notre-Dame fire, Gilles Roy explores in Assassins Creed Unity while considering how virtual spaces can carry the memory of real ones and wonders what will carry the memory of the digital.

    "This key feature of historical games, interactivity and, as a result, counterfactual outcomes, makes games potentially a very powerful medium for exploring the past. Historical games, in short, can do a very good job presenting the past in terms of systems and interactions, the causal connections that made past societies and people act the way they did. They can also represent the past, to a certain extent, as it seemed to agents at the time, as a contextualized world of possibilities where agents make choices in the hopes of achieving or avoiding certain outcomes, without any certainty how everything will come out in the end. Indeed, this is how life is experienced for most of us, past and present. Interestingly, however, as Copplestone (2017) noted, the standard form of representing the past, textual history, tends to present the past as anything but open-ended, as simply a linear set of events destined to turn out the way they did. Games offer a sense of exploration, of control, of possibility, possibly a sense of sober consideration, not just passive determinism. As such they can helpfully move history education beyond the archetypal monotony of “one damned thing after another.”"

    Playing with the past: history and video games (and why it might matter) (By Jeremiah McCall)

    Jeremiah McCall discusses how and why games are a powerful tool for teaching and learning history.

    "The Hero’s Journey is not a laudable goal to reach, nor a reference sheet for format, but a set of handcuffs we tighten around our wrists with every iteration. The Hero dies at 40, and I am glad he is dead, memento mori, for the heroics are not for me. They are for you, a salve to slap on the mind, to deaden the horror of life, to give meaning to a cycle of absurdity through projection, a cycle that one should frame so that it can be broken."

    Theater of Mechanics, and in Mechanics, a Movement (By Mx. Medea)

    Mx. Medea suggests that people discussing whether or not games are art don't have an understanding of what art is in the first place.

    "While the open worlds of Minecraft and Roblox are sometimes touted as an opportunity for children to learn programming skills and develop an aesthetic sensibility, they have also become indoctrination into entrepreneurship for children, shaping their creativity and passion before they have enough life experience to know the alternatives or the consequences of it. Almost every game on Roblox is free to play, but there are opportunities to spend Robux, the game’s universal currency, at every corner."

    Open Worlds How we became nostalgic for Minecraft (By Alexi Alario)

    Alexi Alario on how we became nostalgic for Minecraft and how players have been urged to monetize their creativity.

    "At this scale, games have become both tremendously risk-averse and brutally neoliberal. They require a vast, heterogeneous player base to pay off their massive investment but are more intent than ever on accommodating their zealous orthodox wing. They attempt to be everything to everyone, while still maintaining their necessarily conservative core. Designed as accessory slot machines, neverending serials, and forever games-as-a-service, they’re meant to generate revenue indefinitely. Some of them are meticulously crafted, incredible experiences — this is the industry that still made The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — but even so, their visions are filtered through scores of people, layers of market considerations, and always those persistent assumptions about what gamers are and what they want out of games."

    No shit, video games are political. They’re conservative (By Josh Tucker)

    Josh Tucker examines the lies that the game industry tells and how it got like this.

    "Like a drug store or a supermarket, GameStop has become more of a utility provider than something a teen might wrap their identity around. Games, too. Playing Fortnite doesn’t furnish a special identity so much as a communion with pop culture at large, eating a tasteless wafer with an image of Ninja pressed into it. The games industry generated $135 billion in 2019, and not purely off the backs of outcasts and idiosyncratics. In 2019, the fact that a person plays video games doesn’t say a lot about them. The escapist tendency is strong in most of us, no stronger in gamers than in those who compulsively use Instagram or comment on New York Times articles. We can’t pretend anymore that the places online we escape to are entirely separate from what we’re escaping from when escapism itself has become an industry optimized to distort these base desires."

    Confessions Of A Teenaged Strip-Mall GameStop Delinquent (By Cecilia D'Anastasio)

    Cecilia D'Anastasio looks at the rise of GameStop, strip mall culture, and former ideas of online and offline identities through the lens of adolescent escapism.

    "The rancorous consumer movement of the 2009-2014 period originally was built on a well-reasoned foundation of a demand for quality and fair practice. Rising launch prices, intensive pre-order campaigns with gated content for specific retailers, communal investment in decentralized spaces overrun with mandatory matchmaking, and exploitation of talent via burnout. There was no immediately obvious reason at the time why any of this grounded protest would prove toxic in the long run, but some PR firms and ‘guerilla marketing’ professionals increasingly grew seduced by the notion of taming the dark side energy emanating from this consumer fury and the numerous ways to harness it."

    The Art Of Letting Go – The End Of Nostalgia Bait (By Emily Rose)

    With the release of Rise of Skywalker Emily Rose considers the effects of mining nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake, how modern film discourse relates to the current state of games, and how we got to games as a service business models.

     

    Game Industry Abroad

    Articles covering the game industry of different countries, mostly focused on the ones that we don't often associate with video games, or covering how the industry is growing and effecting people and places worldwide

     

    "It’s uncertain whether people would venture to a gaming museum in the heart of Marvila, halfway between social housing and hipster hotspots. No one knows if this will address the district’s greater needs or be a stepping stone on the path to gentrification. And if it does pan out, there’s still lots of red tape between Silva and success. To someone else it might be a moonshot, but the librarian’s boundless energy and unshakable faith are what brought them here."

    The Gaming Library That Helped a Neglected Neighborhood Find a New Identity (By Kimberly Koenig)

    Kimberly Koenig reports on a gaming library that helped a small neighborhood in Portugal find a new identity after its only outside reputation caused it to be known as one of the city’s most dangerous areas.

    "The five-story mega-arcade was the brainchild of Taishiro Hoshino, a set designer for kabuki theater, who opened it in 2009. Far from a simple collection of games, Anata no Warehouse (“Your Warehouse”) was a recreation of the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong’s New Territories, a gravity-defying mega-slum that had captured the world’s imagination until it was torn down in 1993."

    The Final Days Of Japan's Most Incredible Arcade (By Alexis Ong)

    Alexis Ong on the creation and final days of a Japanese arcade modeled after The Kowloon Walled City.

    "So players head to Steam, and the government, so far, just doesn't seem to care. The huge blind spot is surprising, to say the least - but more surprising still is that the government isn't just turning a blind eye to Steam; it's turning a blind eye to gaming in China as a whole. For all the talk of harsh censorship in games, and president Xi Jinping's desire to "care for the children's eyes" and protect their "bright future", the lack of meaningful enforcement of those rules is striking. Tell that to Monster Hunter: World, you might be thinking - but that's just one incident, on the surface. Dig just a little deeper and there's a world of gaming in China where it can feel like the regulators just don't exist."

    Video games in China: beyond the great firewall (By Chris Tapsell)

    Chris Tapsell travels to Shanghai to speak with developers, publishers, analysts, Valve, and local gamers to get an understanding of the gaming market of China and what it means for everyone else.

     

    Esports

    Articles focused on the world of competitive gaming and companies and players involved in it

     

    "The mainstream narrative of esports has been lovingly crafted by those who benefit from its success. There’s big money in esports, they say. You’ve heard the stories. Teenaged gamers flown overseas to sunny mansions with live-in chefs. The erection of $50 million arenas for Enders Game-esque sci-fi battles. League of Legends pros pulling down seven-figure salaries. Yet there’s a reason why these narratives are provocative enough to attract lip-licking headlines in business news and have accrued colossal amounts of venture capital. More and more, esports is looking like a bubble ready to pop."

    Shady Numbers And Bad Business: Inside The Esports Bubble (By Cecilia D'Anastasio)

    Cecilia D'Anastasio talks to esports experts about the shady numbers and business of the industry and if and when they think the bubble will burst.

    "If skill demands training, but training itself is not profitable, then who is obligated to support the labor of learning until accumulated skill can start to pay for itself? This is the heart of what’s often called a pipeline problem. Skill-building is time-consuming and expensive, and yet it must take place in order for skilled industries to survive."

    The esports pipeline problem (By Will Partin)

    Will Partin looks into the challenge of developing talent in the world of esports.


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    James Frierson on the work behind the magic and when your passion becomes a product, Noclip releases their documentary on The Outer Wilds, Chariot Rider discusses using games for escapism and the studies researching the healthy and unhealthy effects escapism can have, Errant Signal on the recent Star Wars games and hoping that Star Wars starts to leave nostalgia and iconography behind in the future for more interesting works, Ian Hamilton looks at game accessibility quotes of 2019, Gamespot interviews Control's game director to learn how its most ambitious level was created, Phillip Moyer looks into how independent game stores survive, Tom James looks at a genre defying game for its 25th anniversary Konami’s Tokimeki Memorial, part five of Codex Entry's Persona 5 analysis, and more.

     

    Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods)

     

    Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls To Explore the Depths on PC on January 15

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    Yesterday, Xseed revealed that Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls will release on PC via Steam and Humble Bundle on January 15, 2020.

     

    Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot video gives you an idea of what to expect

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    Here’s a new Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot video to hold you over until release.

     

    Langrisser I & II Gets a Sneak Peek at Latest English Version Gameplay

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    NIS America recently livestreamed a sneak peek at Langrisser I & II‘s English version featuring localization editor Jon Chang.

     

    Manipulate the politics of a country in FMV game Not For Broadcast

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    In Not For Broadcast, you are given the power of controlling a national TV station at the time of a highly public political scandal. You only came to the studio to clean up, but now you've been thrust into the role of production director for the National Nightly News Team — that's quite a big promotion.

     

    The Lord of the Rings: Gollum confirmed for Xbox Series X and PS5

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    The Lord of the Rings: Gollum has been confirmed for Xbox Series X and PS5.

     

    Tokyo Mirage Sessions Is Great On Switch

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    Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore arrives on the Nintendo Switch on January 17, bringing the excellent Wii U role-playing game hardly anyone played to a much larger audience. While the Shin Megami Tensei/Fire Emblem crossover has more than enough style and charm to stand on its own, Atlus added a bit more story and a few additional features to sweeten the pot. It’s a very sweet pot now.

     

    Dreams goes gold

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    If you missed it, watch the latest trailer here.

     

    Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories

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    NIS America today released a new trailer for Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories, which is slated to release stateside for PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC on April 7. Holding true to the series' history, the new footage for Summer Memories shows players will be making allies and meaningful choices in the face of disaster.

     

    StarCrossed Trailer

     

    Oddity is an Earthbound spiritual successor that used to be a fan sequel

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    The Mother series, known as EarthBound outside of Japan, stopped with Mother 3 in 2006, and only the second game was released internationally. That hasn't stopped fans from carrying a torch for it over the years, with one group deciding to stop waiting for Nintendo and create their own sequel, which has now transformed into a separate game with a new name, Oddity.

     

    Kentucky Route Zero Will Finally End (And Come To Switch) Later This Month

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    On release day, Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition will launch on Steam, and anyone who has the Kentucky Route Zero season pass on Steam will receive the fifth and final act on that day.

     

    Escape from Tarkov not getting playable female characters despite dev retracting initial statement

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    This all started in a 2016 interview with Wccftech where a Battlestate representative said the team “came to the conclusion that women can’t handle that amount of stress” as the reason for snubbing female characters.

     

    Crytek seeks to dismiss its own Star Citizen lawsuit until Squadron 42 launches

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    Creator of CryEngine believes Star Citizen's single-player game will be delayed past June, moves for October trial

     

    Platinum Games receives capital investment from Tencent Holdings to expand into self-publishing

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    Bayonetta 3 and Babylon’s Fall developer Platinum Games has received a capital investment from Tencent Holdings as a basis for partnership, the company announced.

     

    Riot feared angering gamers with mobile and card game announcements

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    After the reception Diablo Immortal and Artifact got, it’s hard to blame them.

     

    Fantasy Flight's Video Game Studio Is Closing

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    In 2017 Fantasy Flight, a juggernaut in the board game world thanks to stuff like Game of Thrones and Star Wars, opened a video game studio. Barely two years later, Fantasy Flight Interactive is closing its doors.

     

    One of America's Largest Unions Gets Serious About Organizing Game Developers

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    The Communications Workers of America (CWA) union has embarked on an ambitious national campaign to transform the tech and game industries for workers.

     

    Esports

     

    The competitive Pokemon scene can’t agree on Dynamaxing, but thinks the National Dex restriction is good

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    With every new Pokemon game comes new changes, giving each generation its distinctive identity and heavily shaping the competitive Pokemon metagame for years to come.

     

    The challenges and advantages of casual approachability in Brawl Stars esports

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    A visit to the World Finals in South Korea.

     

    Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc)

     

    Games are Not Magic

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    However, one of the lessons we learn growing up is that matter cannot be created or destroyed. Santa Clause had no part in the development, sale, and delivery of Spider-Man for the Nintendo 64; Mom and Dad had to work, get paid, budget, plan, travel, and purchase that cherry-red cartridge so that I could mash C buttons and web-up thugs into squirming cocoons. All things begin and end with labor, even magical video games.

     

    Pauline Jacquey’s World Tour: The Unlikely Journey of Ubisoft’s Punk Nomad Fixer

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    She worked in six countries, trekked across two continents, and nearly gave up everything after burning out. Now she’s finally found her calling.

     

    Seven Games That Were Almost My Game Of The Decade

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    When people ask me to name my game of the decade, I pause. There are so many. I took away hard-won lessons from some of them, but over time, I’ve come to realize that those lessons were probably wrong.

     

    Extra Ball: How Visual Pinball Wizards Bring Back the Classics

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    For this community of enthusiasts, preserving pinball history in virtual form is an intensive—and legally gray—labor of love.

     

    The Cost Of Being A Woman Who Covers Video Games

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    Now that it’s 2020, I keep thinking about how it felt to be a woman writing about gender in video games back in 2010.

     

    Surviving GameStop: How Passion, Community, and Novelty Keep Indie Game Stores Alive

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    In an era dominated by chains and digital distribution, is there still room for the little guys?

     

    Game accessibility quotes of 2019

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    Below are a few things gamers and developers have said over the year that stood out for me, covering those topics but also some others too. It's a long page, but an easy read. Some of these quotes are inspiring, some are thought provoking, some have practical advice – and some are a wake-up call.

     

    How Unity Of Command 2 balances game design with military history

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    The first Unity Of Command was designed for the open steppes of the Eastern Front. There, the major battles were about manoeuvre, with tank units chasing and covering miles of ground for their objectives, and lines of infantry moving to counter and support. The steppes were perfect for UoC’s unique focus on maintaining your army’s supply lines.

     

    25 Years With an Invisible Elephant in the Room

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    It’s about time we in Western circles more widely grappled with the place that historical dating sims inhabit within this canon. In the remaining days of this year, one already rife with significant anniversaries in video game history, there’s one paradigm-defining entry in the genre that turned 25 this past May, yet has lamentably gone ignored despite its sheer presence in its homeland and its immense legacy remaining in many of today’s chart-topping hits.

     

    How Age of Empires 2 got some Scottish kids into RTS

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    Here's a question: How do you get a bunch of disillusioned kids in the arse end of Scotland into real time strategy games? I doubt it's a question the creators of Age of Empire 2 ever asked themselves but nonetheless, they provided a definitive answer. Now I can't help but wonder as I play through the recently released Definitive Edition, are there games that could manage similar feats? Better ones?

     

    'Sayonara Wild Hearts' and the Masks We Wear to Protect Ourselves

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    In a year of personal change, a video game pop album helped me understand how to move forward.

     

    Life is Strange 2: Validating the Pain of Being Human

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    It’s been incredibly helpful that Life is Strange 2 is also angry as hell. Like Parasite, my favorite movie of 2019 and one of my favorite films ever, there’s an intense rage simmering underneath the empathy that ultimately prevails. I say this empathy prevails only in the sense that it rings genuine and true to the experiences of the undervalued. It’s an empathy that shows nobody actually wins in the end because this world isn’t made for people like us to win, and it’d only be irresponsible to whitewash the truth and pretend otherwise. Neither Life is Strange 2 nor Parasite are particularly grandiose stories but both are masterfully told. And maybe the most important stories to tell of the world we live in today are no longer the ones that offer escapism but instead the ones that commit the bold, fantastical, and often unfathomable rebellion of giving a voice to the people whose voices society never gives a shit about.

     

    Persona 5 Analysis [Part 5]: This is Totally Fine. // Codex Entry

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    this game is haruible haha the commodification of rebellion routinely undermines sincere political movements that actually seek to have beneficial impact on the world for the sake of churning a profit by selling people the illusion of aiding in social change be sure to buy my Phantom Thieves Brand Masks to learn more

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/codexentry

     

    Nier Retrospective | A Difference of Perspective (Part 2)

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    Part 2 of my Nier Retrospective, look at the themes of the game, and trying to maintain my sanity in the process.

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Foxcade

     

    The Magical Other World: Understanding the Nature of Escapist Play

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    Escapism is a common coping method to deal with the stress of life.  But is it healthy?  In this video, I explore the phenomenon of escapism in gaming.

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=14052600

     

    What Minecraft Is Like For Someone Who Doesn't Play Games

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    This past year, my wife made the mistake of taking an interest in my hobby, and instead of just letting her play games for fun, I figured it'd be more interesting to chronicle her journey of figuring out how to play video games. So, this is a continuation of those experiments where I look into what Minecraft is like for someone who doesn't play games.

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/razbuten

     

    Star Wars: The Franchise Strikes Back

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    I looked at Star Wars way way back in 2013, but I thought (given all of the Star Wars stuff that's come out in the intervening years!) maybe it was time to look back again? Or maybe that's a bad idea...

    Support the show on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/errantsignal

     

    Indiewatch: Top 10 "Don't Miss" Indie Games of December 2019

     

    Videogames & IRL Politics: The Decade's 5 Most Important Developments

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    Support Left Left Up (and my other rad projects) on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/marijamdidLLU

     

    How Death Stranding Became My Favourite Game

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    Here's my pretty chunky analysis and discussion of Death Stranding, a game that managed to exceed my expectations and become my favourite game of all time :) Please be aware that there are SPOILERS in this video.

    All background music is from the Death Stranding score.

     

    How Control's Most Ambitious Level Was Created | Audio Logs

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    The Ashtray Maze is Control's standout level: a motel that twists and turns around you, backed by an unforgettable soundtrack. Game director Mikael Kasurinen describes where the idea for the maze came from, and how the team at Remedy implemented something so ambitious and unique.

     

    History Respawned: Assassin's Creed II

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    Bob talks with Dr. Anne Proctor about Assassin's Creed II. Topics include Renaissance Florence, the Medici family, Leonardo da Vinci, popular historical fiction, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

    Please consider supporting us on Patreon! www.patreon.com/historyrespawned

     

    The Making of Outer Wilds - Documentary

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    Become a PATRON to unlock more videos https://www.patreon.com/noclip

    We talk to the developers at Mobius Digital Games about the design of their breakthrough hit - Outer Wilds.

     

    Things I missed from previous weeks

     

    Dear Player: I love you, let’s talk

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    A love letter from a game designer to all players


  7. Completed: Killing Time at Lightspeed
    Platform: PC

    A visual novel style game where you are taking a roughly 20 year trip to a space colony that only seems like a 30 minute trip for you. While you are traveling you keep up with news and old friends by checking on and replying to messages and posts on the current popular social media site, every time you refresh the main page over a year of time for everyone else has gone by. A good short game showing brief snippets of the lives of a small group of people as they deal with a frequently shifting tech and political climate.

     

    Completed: 60 Parsecs!
    Platform: PC

    Gather your crew and resources in 60 seconds before your ship explodes and try to find a new home after landing your escape pod. Manage resources, craft, and try to make helpful decisions every day with your captain stats, crew stats, and items. Amusing events and nice art style. Can start to get a bit repetitive as you end up doing similar actions or try to get the resources or items you need from random events.

     

    Completed: A City Sleeps
    Platform: PC

    A horizontal SHMUP from Harmonix. Only three levels and limited tracks but each level has six difficulties with each giving different unlocks. Ghosts to equip that can posses two kinds of objects for different effects and relics for different passive abilities. What music there is is nice, decent amount of unlocks to change things up, and some story notes attached to each level and difficulty. The actual gameplay just isn't very good, going through the same looking three levels, dull looking shot, sword, and special attacks and enemies.

    Completed: Fly O'Clock
    Platform: PC

    Jump between corners of a watch to avoid being crushed by clock hands. More playtime unlocks additional characters to use. Amusing for a little while.

    Completed: DEADBOLT
    Platform: PC

    A 2D action/stealth game similar in style to Gunpoint but allows you to take a more action orientated approach. Shoot, use melee, or sneak your way through killing all enemies or reach the objective in each stage. Good atmosphere and music, a variety of enemy and weapon types, a hard mode that changes up the stages quite a bit, and community made workshop levels giving you even more options when the main game is done.

     


  8. Let other AJSA members know what games you have finished this year. Post a few words about what you thought of the game, a longer review, a video review or footage, screenshots, etc. Feel free to discuss the games we've beaten or to talk to others about them. For a game to be considered beaten either finish the single player portion of the game or, for games without campaigns (MMOs, sports games, multiplayer only games, etc), play to a point where you have seen what the game has to offer. Not going to be counting DLCs as individual games (as that could get confusing) but feel free to post your thoughts on them as that is also the point of the thread. If it is an expansion that was sold separately or stand alone content like Shogun 2's Fall of the Samurai I will count that. Episodic games will count as one game, not a game per episode, but feel free to mention each one if you want to discuss each episode individually.

     

    If you want to see what people thought of a certain game or see how many people have played it you can use the search function near the top right of the page and type in the game's title, just switch the search option to be for this topic.

     

    I'll keep track of how many games we each have finished to see who has been playing the most and what our combined total is for the year.

     

    Total Games Completed: 19

     

    Games Completed By Member

     

    Kaz32: 11

    Legolas_Katarn: 8

     

    Old Threads

    Late 2015 (Completed 225)

    2016 (Completed 626)

    2017 (Completed 371)

    2018 (Completed 302)

    2019 (Completed 251)

    Kaz32 and Madfinnishgamer38 like this

  9. Completed: Untitled Goose Game
    Platform: PC

    It took me about 10 minutes or less to realize I would not like the goose game, unfortunately that was after leaving it on in the background while reading things for over an hour and 50 minutes, passing Epic's return playtime window with the additional 10 of playing it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    So I finished it while listening to videos.


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    With the release of Rise of Skywalker Emily Rose considers the effects of mining nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake, how modern film discourse relates to the current state of games, and how we got to games as a service business models. Chris Schilling covers the making of Fable 2, Nic Reuben plays through Disco Elysium exploring where the fascist options take your version of the protagonist and where it took the like-minded characters you interact with, Critical Distance shares their year in game blogging list, Skeleton considers the apocalyptic visions of the shoot em up genre and how ZeroRanger allows you to break free, DavidOZ examines the approaches games have taken to their presentation of sex, after the release of the show more people are playing The Witcher 3 on Steam than at its release, Dia Lacina on the rise of photography modes in video games and where they have ended up, Brian David Gilbert's idea for a Waluigi game, more.

     

    Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods)

     

    Dramatic visuals abound in new Star Citizen Squadron 42 teaser

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    Epic music and beautiful spaceships for a holiday treat.

     

    Yakuza: Like a Dragon latest gameplay trailer

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    Yakuza: Like a Dragon is due out for PlayStation 4 on January 16, 2020 in Japan, and in 2020 in the Americas and Europe. A demo is available now. Read more about the game here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

     

    Final Fantasy VII Remake demo introduction scene leaked

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    Watch the footage below. (Backup download here.)

     

    More People Are Playing The Witcher 3 On Steam Today Than Ever Before

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    The Witcher 3 was a popular game back when it came out in 2015. But the recent release of the Netflix show has lead to a huge surge in popularity for the Polish RPG. And it just set a new active player count record on Steam today, with over 93k players.

     

    Esports

     

    Remilia, The First Woman To Compete In The League Of Legends Championship Series, Dies At 24

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    Remilia made history in 2015 when she became the first woman to make it into the League Of Legends Championship Series while playing for Renegades. However, in 2016 she left citing harassment and stress as the main reasons for leaving.

     

    Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc)

     

    THIS YEAR IN VIDEOGAME BLOGGING: 2019

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    The works you see featured in This Year in Videogame Blogging have two main sources: our weekly roundups and submissions from you, the reader, sent in via Twitter and email. My curation process is essentially unchanged from how Eric handled TYIVGB in the past, though I would like to thank current senior curator Chris Lawrence in particular for their assistance with creating the longlist.

     

    Game Hihyō (ゲーム批評) / Game Criticism Magazine

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    As we entered the 90s, hardware segregation increased and many game magazines that were on the market each took their own specialist route. One result from that trend was that magazines began to rely on companies for exclusive screenshots and pre-release software for their articles. This potential for conflict of interest eventually led to the staff of Game Criticism creating their own magazine, one that could be openly critical of video game companies, as they felt that being unable to criticize advertised games wasn’t a healthy publishing environment. Game Criticism’s mission statement — not publishing ads or taking money from game companies — was touted on both the front and the back of every issue.

     

    A Programmer Lost A Game He Made As A Kid, Until Someone Streamed It On Twitc

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    If you’re interested in game design, you’ve probably made a few side projects or prototypes. If you were lucky, you might have had the means to start early in life and made a few games as a kid. These usually end up deleted or lost on rotting hard drives. You definitely don’t expect them to show up twenty years later on a random live stream.

     

    How the Photo Mode Became a Homogenized Feature of Commodified Games

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    Photography means "light drawing" but is that truly what we are doing? Is photography generative or is it merely recordative? Is it creation or acquisition? But what is game photography? Or really, what should game photography be?

     

    Best Games Architecture of 2019

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    I’m not really a big fan of lists because I find them to be overly reductive. The only thing worse than a list in my book is a grade or some sort of score. This might sound strange coming from somebody who clearly just made one, but architecture featured prominently in games this year, so I decided to swallow my pride and put together a list of the top ten examples. In order to pretend that I’m still holding onto my principles, though, I decided to make it an unranked, strictly alphabetical list. Without further ado, these are what I consider to be the top ten games of 2019 from an architectural perspective.

     

    Fable 2: how Xbox's most-ambitious exclusive game changed the rules for open-world interactivity

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    Breadcrumbs, Buffy and bucolic Britain: the story of Lionhead’s most magical Fable of all

     

    The Defining Chinese Video Games of the 2010s

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    Since then, we’ve seen the lifting of a decades-long ban on console gaming, the subtle shift in Chinese game studios from pure “outsourcing” to a more engaged presence in game development, the dominance of China in esports, the import of the “culture wars” in gaming discourse online, censorship and moral panics, and between it all — some incredible games.

     

    How a Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy mod became a 16-year passion project

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    When it comes to the art and honour of lightsaber duelling, you’ll find fewer players more dedicated than Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy’s various Jedi and Sith. I know this, as one of the first things I did in the game was to annoy one. After getting Jedi Academy for Christmas, following its release in 2003, I was so eager to dive in I never bothered to check if I spelt my username, Jedi Kight, correctly – nor did I bother to think of a better one. [Does this piece have anything to do with Jedis? – Ed.]

     

    The diary of an RNG Hitman, part 1

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    I never get the most out of sandbox games, because I’m always looking for the ‘right’ way to do something. If a game like Deus Ex has optional stealth, I will do everything I can to ghost that sucker, while if a game suggests a way of completing an open objective, I will follow that method to the bitter end. Nowhere have I struggled with this more than IO Interactive’s recent Hitman games. Their sandboxes are bigger and more choice abundant than most, yet I cannot bring myself to mess around with any of it.

     

    How Disco Elysium Mocks Fascists By Letting You Play As One

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    In Disco Elysium, choosing to play as a racist doesn’t hurt your chances of success. In contrast, it’s a viable solution to at least one major puzzle. But it does fuck with your soul in a big way. Where a CRPG in the vein of a Baldur’s Gate might equate positive morality with lawful, tidy actions, Disco rewards oddness and chaos. Where it draws the line is deliberate cruelty towards anyone kind enough to show a wretch like Harry sympathy. There’s enough alienation in Martinaise already, and the only way to really fail in Disco is to willingly create more of it. Most importantly, it makes Kim Kitsuragi sad. If that doesn’t bother you, you never had a soul in the first place.

    Disco Elysium Is a Kind of Self-Loathing I Can Understand

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    At the very least, Harry has the decency to feel shame and bears no entitlement towards the forgiveness he doesn’t deserve. It doesn’t make him a good person, but it does mean he’s not a bad guy. I may not terrorize innocent villagers or skip out on hotel bills, but I know what it’s like to be too ashamed to look at the monster in the mirror.

     

    Destiny 2 Shadowkeep: The Past Haunts Us

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    Destiny 2 is at an interesting point in its life right now; it’s broken up with its longtime partner and is trying to thrive in a different way. Last year, I wrote a small love letter to Destiny 2’s DLC launch of Forsaken in 2018, which is my favorite campaign launch from Destiny to date. This love letter comes from a different place, considering the change in pace of the releases and also the change in content. Ever since Bungie broke from Activision, things were different. They had the freedom to listen to what the fans want, and really implement these things in game. With the release of Shadowkeep, we got a taste of how the year 3 content in Destiny 2 would be like moving forward as an independent game company.

     

    UNSTOPPING

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    Start from square one and take a deep breath, no matter what – the apocalypse can only happen behind you. ZeroRanger is entirely defiant of the player conquering it, never yielding or throwing in a breather boss. It escalates in a way that the best classics of the genre rarely did, despite their best efforts. IT IS WORTH POINTING OUT that occasionally when faced with a giant-skull or a multiplying army of space Buddha, that ZeroRanger will play music. My best efforts have been often unable to determine if this music is cheering on my success or my destruction. The road to enlightenment is fraught, and occasionally may require starting over.  Undulating digital tones greet you softly at the title screen (something you might well prepare to see frequently) before kicking you back out into the galaxy. A gentle flight over the ocean while a synthesizer choir sings a hymn of destruction.

     

    The Art Of Letting Go – The End Of Nostalgia Bait

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    With the release of the hyped final entry in the most recent Star Wars trilogy, eyes have turned to the lackluster reception and immediate backpedaling present in the subtext. With numerous concessions made to comply with fan backlash since the first entry, heated debates about the appropriate level of fan service, the responsibilities surrounding a reboot or revival, and arguments on who should helm one of the most established contemporary pop media franchises, has finally culminated in one tumultuous yawn. Not quite a failure, not quite a success- just a lingering bitter taste in the mouth of those with expectations cultivated beyond reason. The impossibly high bar of quality demanded induced by runaway marketing strategies, artifically assembled as a sort of bulwark, a last ditch defensive effort by media corporations against cynical counter-culture.

     

    Mutazione: You Are the Mirror In Front of Me

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    I kept seeing my reflection while playing . Being alone somewhere new, it’s so easy to be cold and  stunted. This game forced me to stop asking so many questions, and see that maybe having the unknown flourish in front of you can be a one-of-kind experience. The slow process that is making friends, then opening up to each other and realizing that even though you two  seem worlds apart, there are impossible things you thought no would ever understand that you both can relate to, and it makes the friendship that much stronger.

     

    Luigi’s Mansion 3 Isn’t Just A Haunted Mansion Ride, It’s the Whole Damn Park

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    The Year of Luigi was back in 2013, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Luigi’s debut in Mario Bros., but 2019 was the year Luigi was cemented in our hearts as Nintendo’s most endearing character. He may be fierce on the racing track, but watching him grow from scaredy-cat to the saviour of his friends is the wholesome journey we needed this year.

     

    Channel Recommendations

    Quote

    Please consider supporting the channel through

    Patreon to help improve the quality of research, editing, footage capture, animation and overall production of each episode: www.patreon.com/DanRoot

     

    An Analysis of... Sex in Video Games?

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    This is an in-depth examination of all of the different approaches video games have to sex and intimacy in their presentations.

     

    Nier Retrospective | A Difference of Perspective (Part 1)

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    A video rambling about what made Nier so special.

     

    The History of Grand Theft Auto

    Quote

    Please consider supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/GVMERS

     

    Portal Retrospective

    Quote

    Portal, as a series, has left an astounding impact on the world in many ways and is both a gateway into gaming and one of the most intelligent games that a player of any skill level can enjoy. This video aims to address why that is.

    Like my videos a ton? Consider becoming a Patron: https://www.patreon.com/liamtriforce

     

    IndieWatch: Top 10 Indie Games of 2019

    Quote

    We're at the end of 2019, and that means it's now time to take stock of some of the indie games that I kept coming back to all year, whether it was to recommend them or to revisit them as a player.

     

    Fantasy & Themes | So You Wanna Be A Game Designer? (#7)

    Quote

    When creating games, we should think about not only about the mechanics, but also in what context these mechanics are wrapped in, as well as what deeper questions we would like to discuss.

    Support Farlands on Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/farlands

     

    Things I found entertaining throughout the week relating to the game industry

     

    Waluigi, Unraveled

    Quote

    Dear Doug Bowser, I made this video for you. Please make a Waluigi video game.

     

    Things I missed from previous weeks

     

    I Played Disco Elysium as an Absolutely Gigantic Fascist

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    Quote

    He is also a lens through which Disco Elysium deals with its themes of bigotry. The game provides a whole host of dialogue options to define your character in a number of ways: the aforementioned doom-saying crackpot, a person who is sorry about absolutely everything all the time, and even a fervently nationalist, misogynistic fascist. The last option gave me pause during my initial playthrough of the game, as I kept seeing these occasional dialogue options to blame economic woes on The Foreigners, extoll my white character’s believed biological superiority, or express skepticism of “the homo-sexual underground.” You can say some pretty nasty stuff in Disco Elysium, but exploring these options reveals a portrayal of prejudice that is surprisingly thoughtful about both its origins and its repercussions.

     


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    Riley Hopkins on the reverence Outer Wilds has for its music, Super Eyepatch Wolf covers the creation and marketing of Final Fantasy VII and how it uses gameplay and 3D models to flesh out the characters and world, Adam Millard on the games of 2019 you should have played, CD Projekt and Andrzej Sapkowski settle Witcher royalty dispute, Chris Compendio examines the use of the unreliable narrator in Katana Zero, Colin Campbell tells the story of Silas Warner the often forgotten creator of Castle Wolfenstein, soccer player Mesut Ozil removed from PES over tweet about China's treatment of Muslims, Super Bunnyhop reviews Death Stranding after having recently gone on a cross country bike tour, Aimee Hart on the small moments of peace in A Plague Tale Innocence, John Walker plays Star Trek: 25th Anniversary and is surprised to find that it has things to teach modern games, Giant Bomb's guest top games of lists, Razbuten considers why they rarely roleplay in roleplaying games, and more.

     

    Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods)

     

    Crusader Kings 3 reveals tons of new features in a new developer diary video

    Quote

    Paradox Interactive is keeping fans up to date on the development of Crusader Kings III by periodically publishing interviews with the team creating the next big medieval dynasty simulator. The latest, posted Friday, touches on a host of key features and changes to the formula, including a brand new 3D portrait and DNA system, new mechanics for ruler’s councils, and of course, cunning plans.

     

    New Half-Life Alyx gameplay shows why it’s VR-only

    Quote

    After a lengthy stretch of rumours, Valve announced Half-Life: Alyx out of nowhere alongside a brief trailer. We only got a handful of details at the time, but the Half-Life: Alyx release date is coming very soon. There will be no non-VR versions of Alyx, but it will be compatible across a wide variety of headsets, and now we have a bunch of new gameplay footage showcasing how the game works on a wide variety of hardware.

     

    The Legend of Heroes: Hajimari no Kiseki announced for PS4

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    Here is an overview of the game, via Falcom:

     

    Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II Will Be an Xbox and PC Exclusive

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    Back at The Game Awards 2019, two big announcements were the Xbox Series X and one of its first games, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. At the time, we knew it was definitely an Xbox Series X title. Now, Microsoft Xbox Games Marketing General Manager Aaron Greenberg has confirmed that this sequel will only appear on the “Xbox” and PC.

     

    Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore overview trailer

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    Here is an overview of the game, via Nintendo.com

     

    Vestaria Saga I: War of the Scions launches December 27 in the west

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    Fire Emblem creator's strategy RPG gets a release date.

     

    Puzzle & Dragons Gold Gets a New English Version Trailer

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    Puzzle & Dragons Gold releases for Nintendo Switch in North America on January 15, 2020. It’ll release in Japan on the same date. Check our previous report for more story and gameplay details.

     

    Age of Empires IV interview: “it is absolutely not past the time for RTS”

    Quote

    Age of Empires IV was first announced at Gamescom 2017 with a 97-second trailer comprised entirely of artwork that, rather teasingly, flitted throughout all the historical periods this iconic RTS series has tackled. And then Microsoft waited more than two years to tell us anything else about it, which was terribly cruel.

     

    New World release window confirmed, new multiplayer details revealed

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    Update [December 19, 2019]: Amazon Game Studios has posted a new developer diary, revealing new information about New World. You can find out more about the game and its PvP and PvE combat in the video below. Original story follows.

     

    Nurse Love Addiction and Syndrome Switch Versions Being Released Outside Japan

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    Kogado’s Nurse Love visual novel series will be arriving on a new platform outside of Japan.

     

    The Future of Control With Director Mikael Kasurinen - Inside Gaming Interviews

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    Many thanks to Remedy Entertainment and Mikael himself for sitting down with us and talking about this incredible game! *Seinfeld sting plays*

     

    Battle At Ji Province | Mandate of Heaven DLC Cinematic Battle | Total War: Three Kingdoms

    Quote

    The year is 184 AD, and Lu Zhi marches deep into the heart of the Yellow Turban Rebellion, towards its capital in the Ji Province. It's here that he meets the rebellion's leader Zhang Jue, fielding a much larger rebel army. Will Lu Zhi's smaller but more battle-hardened Imperial army win? Or will Zhang Jue defeat the Han in this crucial battle in the grasslands of Ji Province?

     

    Resident Evil 2 gets officially stripped of Denuvo DRM

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    The Resident Evil 2 remake launched early this year, and as many triple-A games do, it came with the controversial DRM layer of Denuvo Anti-Tamper tech. Now – as some triple-A games have done in the past – Denuvo has been removed from the game entirely, so if DRM is a dealbreaker for you, you’ve got a fresh gaming option.

     

    CD Projekt and The Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski settle royalties disagreement

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    CD Projekt and The Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski have forged an agreement that ensures CD Projekt Red can continue to use Sapkowski’s creation, ending a disagreement that sprung up last year.

     

    Star soccer player Mesut Ozil removed from PES 2020 in China over tweets criticizing the government

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    Mesut Ozil tweeted about China's detention and mistreatment of Uighurs and other Muslims in the Xinjiang province.

     

    Little Nightmares developer acquired by THQ Nordic’s parent company

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    Tarsier Studios is now part of the ever-expanding THQ Nordic/Koch family.

     

    In Memoriam of Charles “Chuck” Peddle

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    It is with sadness WDC/I announce that on December 15, 2019, Chuck Peddle passed away. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and the personal computer industry. We have lost a pioneer with Chuck’s passing.

     

    Esports

     

    The 15-year-old British gamer who won almost £1 million at the Fortnite World Cup

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    Quote

    Volume 4 Issue 002: Lightning-fast reflexes, no fear and endless practice make “Wolfiez” one of gaming’s elite professional competitors. Just don’t tell Jaden Ashman to go play outside.

     

    Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc)

     

    Guest Top 10 Lists

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    Giant Bomb is doing their usual guest lists for the end of the year, go to the site and scroll down to check them out.

     

    How Atari took on Apple in the 1980s home PC wars

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    Atari’s 400 and 800 packed some of the most advanced tech of their era and ran the best games. Forty years after their debut, they’re worth cherishing.

     

    The man who made Wolfenstein

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    The late Silas Warner is barely remembered in gaming, but he did something extraordinary

     

    'Civilization' and Strategy Games' Progress Delusion

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    How strategy games have held on to one of colonialism's most toxic narratives, and how they might finally be letting it go.

     

    The Switcher: How Saber Interactive Took One of the Biggest Games Ever Portable

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    You’d think the news that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt would be coming to Nintendo Switch would be met with awe, delight, and celebration. But when rumors started to circulate earlier this year that a port would be announced, the idea was met almost instantly with incredulity and derision. On Twitter, blocky, textureless shots of the PC version on the lowest possible settings made the rounds, mockingly labeled as leaked Switch screens. After the official announcement and trailer came during Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct, one IGN commenter instantly dubbed it “the degraded edition.”

     

    How Disco Elysium captures our current political moment

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    Disco Elysium's left-leaning messaging is clear, but the questions posed by its central story leave no easy answers

     

    How Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II Made The Force Interesting

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    In the walled city of Iziz the caged beasts howl songs about their own matted fur into air that tastes like violence. Men stand alongside those cages, some dreaming of a home outside the walls. A nervous soldier watches from a distance, unconsciously fingering the trigger of his blaster. He’s never been a political man, he lies to himself, all this talk of blockades and coups is above his pay grade. His job is to keep the peace at the ports, let visitors know the power of their visas, make sure no one leaves. Then the tension breaks. The violence in the air becomes manifest in torn metal and broken bone as a jaw snaps shut and the soldier watches paralyzed with fear. A stranger, fresh off her ship, draws a line of light across the beast’s chest and leaves its body in the sand. The siege goes on.

     

    The Outer Wilds: Six Notes Make a Chord

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    It was beautiful, for a moment. Then, I saw the bright light of the supernova start coming for me, and I turned off the signalscope. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to the instruments, knowing they’d be snuffed out one by one by one by the sun exploding.

     

    In The Outer Worlds, Hard Decisions Feel Like an Illusion

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    When I go back to the community I doomed, I come face to face with the aftermath of my decision. Guards are ordered to shoot me on sight if I try to snag the part I need for my ship. Citizens gather together in a mob, frightened and worried about what the future is going to hold for them now. I didn’t just rob this place of electricity; I robbed it of its life. I had spent hours helping these people only to end up destroying them. It‘s a moment that should make me feel something—an ounce of guilt, a pang of remorse—but functionally, the game doesn’t seem to care about what I did.

     

    Coming Home-Wolfenstein: Young Blood

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    Wolfenstein: Youngblood establishes a strong sense of place that’s specific to Arkane Studios — in the Dishonored series, the fictional city of Dunwall bore influences from the Haussmannian architecture that gives Paris such a particular look, but with a gothic steampunk twist; Youngblood sees them go back to their roots, transposing the real thing to the game. Playing through the levels as a French person, it was obvious to me how much of a hand fellow French people had had in the design. I felt understood and seen rather than seeing the dozen of inaccuracies I can usually point out in other depictions of my hometown and getting lost in the world felt comforting rather than disorienting or frustrating.

     

    Star Trek: 25th Anniversary has so much to teach modern games

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    This is, on some level, seven brand new episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series. Seven individual stories, that barely overlap, which tell original yet incredibly TOS-like tales of bridge-based banter and landing party derring-do. But on another, it’s a really astonishingly versatile game that allows you to play it in very different ways, with very different outcomes. In a way that makes me gawp, because this is what games keep promising they’re going to offer today, but never really do.

     

    Gears of War 5 Plays Like Its Predecessors, But it Has More to Say than Ever

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    While nothing original or groundbreaking, I can definitively say that Gears 5 does a better job of saying something in regards to its politics than this year’s Modern Warfare. Where Modern Warfare uses a real world war crime orchestrated by the United States into a fictionalized atrocity done by the Russians, Gears 5 gives a straight answer to fascists when it comes to protests.

     

    A Plague Tale Innocence: Flowers Grow in the Strangest Places

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    Have you ever started a game that immediately made you uncomfortable within the first few minutes? I know I have, but I don’t think one has done so with such fervour as Plague Tale. That’s not exactly a negative thing, either. There’s just something sobering about being put in the shoes of a young girl who loves her family, despite it being broken and full of lies. Even when playing Amicia, the protagonist of this story, at the start, where the world around her is full of vibrant colours like yellow and blue, the sharp edge of an exhausted family is easy to pick up in the tone of  father’s voice, or the whispered rumours of the De Rune servants.

     

    Katana Zero: Playing with Time to Fix a Fractured Memory

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    There is something about how Askiisoft’s Katana Zero uses the “unreliable narrator” device that works with me—rather than misdirecting the player with ludicrous and unearned twists in a linear plot, this game makes the player feel active in the story. The protagonist of this game, a katana-wielding assassin named Agent Zero, is trying to piece the echoes of his memory back together, and the player has an unusual amount of agency in how he goes about achieving this.

     

    Control and The Bomb

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    Stepping into the lobby of the Oldest House in Remedy Game’s Control felt refreshingly like coming home. Control clearly gets it. It gets that the closer you get to atrocity the more absurd things seem.

     

    Roleplaying in Video Games (and why I barely do it)

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    Roleplaying is something I really enjoy doing in games like Dungeons and Dragons, and I feel like it should be something I enjoy in video games as well, but it always seems to fall short. This video takes a look at some of the barriers that get in the way of good roleplaying in video games along with me trying to overcome those barriers. So, let's look at roleplaying in video games (and why I barely do it).

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/razbuten

     

    The Impact of Final Fantasy 7: The Game that Changed Everything

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    Hey. Final Fantasy 7s like my favorite game ever. Here’s a video about it.

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Supereyepatchwolf

     

    On Death Stranding, Bike Touring, and Cultivating Personality

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    Here's some reflections on a 3,000 mile coast-to-coast bike tour across America, and how it made Death Stranding make a lot more sense.

    Support the channel on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/superbunnyhop

     

    The Splinter Cell Game Ubisoft Won't Let You Buy | Pandora Tomorrow Retrospective

    Quote

    Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow is the only mainline Splinter Cell game you cannot buy on the Uplay store, despite it being a solid game in the franchise. Pandora Tomorrow fully deserves a bigger audience even if it does show signs of being rushed out the door back in 2004.

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/CDavis_Games

     

    20(19) Games You Should Have Played

    Quote

    2019 was a bumper crop for fantastic games, but that's had the unfortunate side-effect of meaning that a bunch of otherwise great  or interesting games have been overshadowed by AAA giants. The Architect considers this to be a grave miscarriage of justice, and so - for the third time - is attempting to wrap up the year by telling you all about the games you should've played, but probably didn't.

     

    2019 Snoglobes - Best & Worst Games of the Year

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    2019 was a phenomenal year for gaming! Let's take a look at 6 of the most memorable titles I've played! Enjoy!

     

    The Making of Bastion - Documentary

    Quote

    Supergiant Games tells us the story of how the studio was created, and how Bastion was designed.

    Become a PATRON to unlock more videoshttps://www.patreon.com/noclip

     

    Gameplay Loops | So You Wanna Be A Game Designer? (#6)

    Quote

    Support Farlands on Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/farlands

    All games are essentially built on a mental model that we call 'gameplay loops'. In this video, we discuss what they are, and what is needed when defining a creative direction.

     

    The Story of Super Mario Bros. 3 | Gaming Historian

    Quote

    A documentary about the creation of Super Mario Bros. 3, the unparalleled hype surrounding its release, and why it's considered one of the greatest games of all time.

    Support the show on Patreon https://goo.gl/pQaU9N

     

    Virtual Reality is No Gimmick

    Quote

    Despite a rocky start since its re-emergence as a going concern in the mid-2010s, virtual reality seems like it's in the best place it's been in years. In this video I discuss my own experience with virtual reality after buying an Oculus Quest, and how I came to see the platform as a truly destabilising force within the industry—potentially changing everything about how we play, make and think about games.

     

    Chord Voicings in Halo 3: ODST's "Rain"

    Quote

    As much as I love nerding out about esoteric chord types and unconventional harmonic progressions, it's becoming more and more clear to me the importance of how a chord is 'voiced' - how the notes in the chord are arranged in relation to each other. The wrong voicings can turn a brilliant chord progression into a corny mess, while the right voicings can make a simple chord progression sound intensely powerful - and this is exactly what happens in 'Rain'. From the suite, "Deference for Darkness" from Halo 3: ODST's soundtrack, this short piece perfectly encapsulates the vibe that the game was going for and after taking a look at it, I think the approach to voicing each chord is the biggest factor in this achievement.

    PATREON: https://www.patreon.com/8bitmusictheory

     

    The History of the Xbox 360 Kinect | Past Mortem [SSFF]

    Quote

    Support us on Patreon!https://bit.ly/SSFFpatreon

     

    How Emulators 'Rewind' Games | MVG

    Quote

    Ever wondered how emulators work? In this episode we perform a technical deep dive on how emulators can Rewind games and how Save States work. We demonstrate these features with the Nintendo Game Boy as the target emulation device.

     

    Lucas Pope's Return of the Obra Dinn - The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook

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    Robin Hunicke returns as guest host and sits down with Lucas Pope (Return of the Obra Dinn, Papers, Please). They discuss their start in games, formulating Papers, Please, the urge to continue learning, and how important relationships are when telling a story.

     

    Amy Hennig - The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook

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    Industry legend Amy Hennig (Uncharted, Legacy of Kain) sits down with Ted to talk about coaching young developers, giving proper feedback, marrying narrative and design, and the evolution of development culture.

     

    Bioshock Composer Garry Schyman - The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook

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    Composer Garry Schyman (Bioshock series, Destroy All Humans series, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor series) sits down with new guest host and fellow composer Austin Wintory (Journey, ABZU, The Banner Saga series, Assassin's Creed Syndicate) to discuss his early career both inside and outside of gaming, the evolution of music in games, the differences to working in film, and creating the score for the Bioshock series.

     

    Dead Space Composer Jason Graves - The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook

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    Composer Jason Graves (Dead Space series, Tomb Raider, Moss) joins fellow composer Austin Wintory to talk about his different approach to scoring Moss, his career journey to Dead Space, and designing a completely new instrument for Tomb Raider.

     

    Noclip Podcast #20 - Noclip's 2019 Year In Review

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    Danny & Jeremy review all the work that Noclip released in 2019 and take a moment to chat about some of their favorites games from the year.

    Become a Patron and get early access to new episodes: https://www.patreon.com/noclip

     

    Things I found entertaining throughout the week relating to the game industry

     

    The top 50 games of the decade, in 7 words or less

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    We attempted to describe every one of Polygon's top 50 games of the last decade in 7 words or less... how'd we do? Here's this same idea, but thoughtful:

     

    Things I missed from previous weeks

     

    The Lie That Helped Build Nintendo

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    The story of a man, a lie, a video game handheld, and a business empire.

     

     


  12. Completed: The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game
    Platform: PC

    Based on the physical version by Fantasy Flight, with some changes to the mechanics and made for 1-2 players instead of 1-4. Both end up playing quite differently as combat is much different but both versions are two of the better card games I've played. This one also borrows a lot of the excellent art from the physical game. Some very good synergy between many of the cards. Certain abilities or cards can have uses you might not originally expect from their normal assumed use, which can lead to effective strategies in dealing with certain situations or locations. Digital version allows more varied card types and random effects as well as more unique scenario situations. Well voice acted. For now has 18 different scenarios to play through as well as a tutorial and a newly added gametype that randomizes things.

    Fate and ways of dealing with threat can make sitting around without moving on to build forces too effective, but it looks like some changes made and some of the goals on the newer quests are starting to be able to work around that. Went quite awhile without a good content update while they were improving the tutorial and working on the console versions but the content they did end releasing after the way was very good and I'm hoping to see new cards added more quickly in between campaigns.

    Completed: Angry Video Game Nerd II: ASSimilation
    Platform: PC

    Takes the character swapping of the previous game and now hides hidden upgrades that will increase your attack, gives you a brief way to slow your fall, see hidden platforms, punch through bricks, etc. Good music. Plays more like a SNES game than the previous title you can swim, wall slide and jump, and shoot in 8 directions, charge your attack.

    Controls don't work well when you wall jump or fire charged shots, sometimes just refusing to jump or fire for no apparent reason. A lot easier and by extension over a lot faster than previous game.

     

    Completed: Akane
    Platform: PC

    Cyberpunk arena combat game where you fight a wave of 100 enemies before the boss enemy appears, killing them starts the next wave. You have a sword, gun, block, and dash move and can do two special attacks when your adrenaline meter fills. You can unlock different swords with new abilities, guns, shoes to change your dash style, accessories, and cigarettes to change your dash color by completing different challenges. Fun well made simple game. More options would be nice just to make some custom runs by changing up enemy types, effects, skill, or enemy amounts.

     

    Completed: 99Vidas
    Platform: PC

    Beat em up with a good art style and some nice backgrounds but one that plays too much like the more mediocre beat em ups of the past with nothing or very little done to improve on them, and in one case being worse.

    You have a punch, kick, two dash attacks, jump attacks, and a meter that charges over time to do a screen clearing and high damage moves. You have the usual dull weapons that are either worthless or behave in a dull way while doing little damage. Bat and pipes do an awkward looking attack that knocks enemies down that will have you walking back and forth and hitting enemies in between their knock down phases and you have knives and bottles that are as worthless as they always are in these games because that's what the old games did for some reason and if no one has fixed it in 30 years why bother now. Characters have the same combos but with speed and strength differences and different elements. You don't have any real special attacks, combos are just four punches or a punch and three kicks with the last hit unleashing an elemental attack with it (water, fire, lightning, earth) that does more damage after you pay score point to upgrade moves between stages.

    Normal enemies are very limited in variety, get you in long combos, grab you randomly, and constantly back away and run from you off the allowed screen space. You get the usual annoying fat guy enemies that fight you by being fat and awkwardly slamming into you with their stomachs for large damage while being suddenly immune to your attacks. You will get caught in odd looking combos from multiple enemies you can't get out of unless you use your self damage AoE move. You will rarely know if you should use this because of all the times you will think you are about to be caught in a combo, only for the enemies to just kind of get bored after hitting you once or twice to just stand around. Boss fights are terrible. Instead of a normal fight they have some gimmick where they will take almost no damage and easily counter you, until they get stunned somehow and you can pull off about three full combo attacks for large amounts of damage. Bosses suffer very little damage from your charged screen clearing move, so its better to save it when you are about to die with health nearby or for some repeating robot mid-boss that you can almost kill in one hit with it.

    You can have some fun playing this with 1 or 3 friends but there are much better beat em ups to buy and much better ones to emulate, as it is it is too simplistic, not that satisfying to actually hit your enemies, and does nothing to fix problems with the older games in the genre, even making some of those old problems worse.

     

    Completed: Luigi's Mansion
    Platform: Gamecube

    Great looking for its time and still is now, atmospheric environment, Luigi's has very expressive movement and sounds. In addition to normal enemies find unique ghosts, the 50 hidden Boos (though you get 15 from a boss fight), hidden items, and keys by exploring the mansion and using your vacuum and elements it can make use of to effect the environment. Main enemies aren't very interesting. Good but limited music, but nice to listen to Luigi hum along. Short with no real replay value.

     

    Completed: Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi
    Platform: PC

    An FPS rougelite. You return from losing the Olympic fencing competition in Sweden to attend your sister's wedding, only to find your family and family friends captured and your sister about to be sacrificed to summon Lord Malachi. You fight with a silver cane sword, different types of guns, crosses, and stakes. You need to save as many people as you can in an 1.5 hours to weaken the final boss. The castle makes changes each time you play, though the overall design is the same just with different rooms, this does lead to a lot of generic looking rooms. It has a good atmosphere as well as good sound and music. Crosses and holy water have to be used to defeat certain enemies and stakes used on vampires that are found or that have retreated to their coffins. Not the most technically competent or most satisfying gunplay but everything works well enough together on top of a more unique idea at the time to make it enjoyable enough even all these years later.

     

    Completed: X-Blades
    Platform: PC

    Terrible story, acting, and combat. Dull locations and enemy design.


  13. Completed: AI: The Somnium Files
    Platform: PC

    You take the role of a cap with an AI prosthetic eye that belongs to a secret division that has a machine that allows them to explore the minds of other people. Exploring their minds has you and your AI interacting with different objects in their minds environment to open memory locks, many of these lead to diverging story paths. Outside of these areas gameplay involves just choosing all the dialogue options with people and clicking on things in the environment to look at.

    Often dark but more comedic than the 999/Zero Escape series. Good writing and characters with an interesting plot, multiple paths that need to be explored to get the full story and true ending. Good music, and great acting. The character models look a lot better than they did in Zero Time Dilemma.

    Not much in the way of puzzles, more of a visual novel with some alternate choices (with the alternate choices being things you will need to do anyway). Environment can give information about a place or a person often being good subtle foreshadowing, but more often creates often odd puns or sexual comments that make the main character seem dumb/sleazy and detracts from the game. You are never really required to do anything challenging or interesting puzzle wise in the actions or sync environments, and when there is action it doesn't mesh well with the art and character models of the game.

     


  14. Completed: Sayonara Wild Hearts
    Platform: PC

    I have no interest or attachment to music and have already forgotten every track in the game seconds after playing, so I don't have anything interesting or meaningful to say about it like a lot of other people can. Without an interest or ear for music I can't really have anything of value to say about the gameplay either. Visually it looks great and almost every stage is adding a new way of movement and a new type of environment. Was hoping it would be gayer. Probably recommended.


  15. S9BDiel.png

     

    The Game Award winners and reveals, Outer Worlds developer Taylor Swope describes fixing an unusual bug, Japanese gaming focused news site Gematsu has been having their articles copied by edge-lord focused site Nichegamer for years, Jacob Geller examines Modern Warfare to see if the writer's belief in having created an apolitical perspective-less story could possibly be true and if it really was a narrative or mechanical departure for the series, GOG adds Blade Runner to their catalog of games, Modern Warfare sells the ability to view your kills and deaths, Emily Rose and Catherine Brinegar interview the narrative designer of Control, Emily Rose on the the corporate politics of Descent,The Game Overanalyser discusses creating emotional games with mechanics and the design philosophy of Fumito Ueda and Jenova chen, Dan Root looks at how The Last Guardian's Trico was animated, and more.

     

    Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods)

     

    All The Big Announcements At The 2019 Game Awards

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    They just showed off the new Xbox at the fifth annual Game Awards, during a show that also saw a slew of new game announcements, release date reveals, and trailers.

    The Game Awards 2019: All the Winners

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    From Control to Death Standing to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, here are all the winners of each and every category of The Game Awards 2019!

    Beaker Meets Untitled Goose Game at The Game Awards 2019

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    What happens when you cross the Muppets with Untitled Goose Game, some live-show uncertainty and the whole game industry watching? Magic.

    Disco Elysium Developers Shout Out Marx And Engels In Game Awards Victory Speech

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    During the speech for their second win of the night, ZA/UM, the team behind Disco Elysium, gave a special thanks to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the authors of The Communist Manifesto.

    Xbox Series X: Microsoft reveals new console at Game Awards

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    The new Xbox, which will be released during the 2020 holiday season, resembles a PC tower and is far taller than its predecessor, the Xbox One X.

    Reggie's Speech at the Game Awards 2019 (Indie Award)

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    Reggie gave one heck of a speech at the Game Awards 2019 where he talked about the importance of games and indies! See what he had to say!

    How That 'Apex Legends' Moment Came to Life at The Game Awards

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    A lot of tech and a lot of planning went in to bringing the digital character live onstage at Thursday's awards show.

    Developer On Pranking Game Awards With Golf Balls: 'It's A Boring Show'

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    During the show, word began to circulate on Twitter of somebody rolling golf balls down rows of audience seats. This mystery person was praised for their peculiar brand of “low-key anarchy” and hailed as a “hero.” Though I was not in any of the affected rows of seats, I came across people with golf balls in a hotel lobby after the show and—with the aid of a friend who was in the know—tracked them to their origin: Tim Garbos, creative director of comedy game What The Golf, a golf game for people who hate golf.

    12 Epic Games Store Free Games Being Given Away Starting December 19, 2019

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    There will be a lot more Epic Games Store free games available in December 2019. During The Game Awards 2019, the company announced a “12 Days of Free Games” promotion. Between December 19, 2019 and January 1, 2020, the days its holiday sale will run, people will be able to claim one free game each day. All they need to do is open up the launcher, log in, and claim that day’s game from the store. It then becomes a permanent part of their library.

     

    Gears Tactics arrives in April

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    The turn-based strategy has a new trailer, and finally, a release date.

     

    THQ Nordic releases Gothic remake playable teaser to decide if it gets made

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    The cult-classic Gothic could get a full remake, if we want it enough

     

    Death Come True Shows Off Teaser Trailer With Choices And Atmospheric Music By Danganronpa Composer

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    Izanagi Games released a teaser trailer for Death Come True, their upcoming FMV game that will let you make choices for branching story paths. Additionally, it was revealed that killer7 and Danganronpa series composer Masafumi Takada will be composing for the game.

     

    Ghost of Tsushima gets new trailer, summer 2020 release date

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    Sit back and enjoy a nice look at one of the most anticipated games for the PS4. At The Game Awards tonight, developer Sucker Punch revealed the latest trailer for its PS4 exclusive Ghost of Tsushima, an action-adventure game that combines sword fighting and stealth in a world inspired by feudal Japan. Clocking in at four minutes, the trailer is easily the best look at the game to date, mixing together both gameplay and cinematic footage.

     

    Indie FPS Receiver is getting a sequel

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    With "Sidearms modeled down to every spring and pin".

     

    Nine to Five is a Rainbow Six Siege-like FPS from former Wargaming and Remedy devs

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    Look out Rainbow Six Siege – there’s a new tactical FPS in town. Or there will be, sometime in 2020. Devs from some AAA studios (like Wargaming and Remedy) have teamed up to create new studio Redhill Games, and announced their first title at The Game Awards 2019. It’s called Nine to Five and is “a fresh take” on the tactical FPS genre, due to hit alpha testing next year.

     

    Weird West is the first game from former Prey, Dishonored developers at WolfEye

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    WolfEye Studios was founded earlier this year by Arkane’s former creative director Raphaël Colantonio and former Arkane executive producer Julien Roby. Their credits include outstanding games like Prey and Dishonored. At The Game Awards tonight, the new company showed off its first game, Weird West.

     

    Naraka: Bladepoint is a multiplayer melee combat game with a striking visual style

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    The lush hack-and-slasher promises accessible controls with a unique, no-block-button defense system.

     

    The 'System Shock' Remake Demo Shows Its Development Is Back on Track

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    For this year's Game Awards, the show expanded beyond its star-studded stage, past our browsers, and right into into our Steam libraries. Whereas past years have incited sales on games featured in the show, this year, jolly old Geoff Keighley brought all the good little gamers a very special treat: “The Steam Game Festival.” For 48 hours, you could download demos from 14 different upcoming games, including titles like Heavenly Bodies, SkateBIRD, and my personal favorite: System Shock.

     

    Tainted Grail [PC] - announcement trailer

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    Tainted Grail is standalone digital RPG adventure game set in the world of critically acclaimed Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon. See all the details on steam!

     

    Surgeon Simulator 2 slices things four ways with co-op next year

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    A sequel to the darkly funny Surgeon Simulator is currently in the works, with plans to launch sometime next year, developer Bossa Studios has announced.

     

    Adventure RPG ‘Hero must die. again’ Reveals Gameplay in First English Trailer

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    Degica launched an English trailer for the Pyramid and G-mode developed adventure RPG Hero must die. again, coming to PC-via Steam in spring 2020.

     

    Humankind trailer reveals the game’s avatar system

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    Previously announced at gamescom 2019, Humankind allows you to create your own avatar as you journey through time to see how your civilization will evolve from pre-history onwards.

     

    Shantae and the Seven Sirens will launch in spring 2020

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    WayForward Games has announced that Shantae and the Seven Sirens will not meet its initial winter 2019 release date, and has been pushed back to spring 2020, which is an announcement a helluva lot of smaller titles have been making this month.

     

    A New Bravely Default Is Coming To Switch

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    The beloved 3DS JRPG series Bravely Default is getting a third game on Nintendo Switch next year.

    Bravely Series Producer Asano And Composer Revo Share Thoughts On Bravely Default II

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    With Bravely Default II officially being revealed at The Game Awards 2019, producer Tomoya Asano and returning composer Revo shared a few words about the new game.

     

    Billion Road first English trailer

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    Watch the trailer below. If you missed our previous coverage, read more about the game here.

     

    Magic: Legends is an MMO set in the Magic: The Gathering universe

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    Perfect World and its subsidiary Cryptic Studios—known for Neverwinter, Star Trek Online, and City of Heroes—are developing a Magic: The Gathering MMO.

     

    ‘The Wolf Among Us 2:’ Telltale CEO Discusses New Sequel

    Quote

    Telltale Games folded in 2018, but a holding company picked up many of the assets earlier this year. This will be the first game from that holding company, LCG Entertainment, now doing business as Telltale.

    The Wolf Among Us 2 development is starting over on a new engine

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    Among all the Game Awards announcements, perhaps the most surprising was the return of The Wolf Among Us 2. Development of the game previously ended with the Telltale shutdown, but it’s coming back under some of the original game’s former creative leadership – but none of the work on the original version is carrying forward.

     

    Cyberpunk 2077 – Official Behind The Music Trailer | The Game Awards 2019

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    Meet some of the artists behind Cyberpunk 2077 soundtrack!

     

    The Forgotten City delayed to winter 2020

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    Publisher Dear Villagers and developer Modern Storyteller have delayed The Forgotten City for Xbox One and PC from its previously planned late 2019 release window to winter 2020.

     

    'Fast & Furious Crossroads' game promises heists and bro-hugs in May

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    The Fast & Furious franchise is about to roar onto PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Bandai Namco and Project Cars developer Slightly Mad Studios are working on Fast & Furious Crossroads, which will drop this May. That's the same month the next installment in the massive movie franchise, Fast & Furious 9, hits theaters.

     

    Endnight reveals sequel to The Forest, Sons of the Forest

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    At The Game Awards 2019, developer Endnight Games announced its new game, Sons of the Forest — a sequel to 2014’s The Forest.

     

    Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance Is Coming Back With A Brand New Game

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    Called Dark Alliance, the action role-playing game is based on Dungeons & Dragons’ Forgotten Realms campaign and will follow the exploits of the dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden, created by fantasy writer R. A. Salvatore. Like the original game, Dark Alliance will have couch coop and focus on cutting down orcs, wolves, and other baddies in search of experience points, gold, and ever more powerful loot. Up to four players will be able to play locally or online, taking on the roles of Drizzt’s companions, including the archer Cattie-Brie, dwarf Bruenor, and barbarian Wulfgar.

    Expect "seven or eight" Dungeons & Dragons games in the near future

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    Wizards of the Coast president Chris Cocks reveals that D&D is returning to video games in a big way

     

    Ruined King and Convergence are the first indie League of Legends spinoffs

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    Riot Forge was announced a week ago as a way for Riot to expand the League of Legends universe with smaller, linear games.

     

    Travis Touchdown returns in colorful No More Heroes 3 trailer

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    On the livestream, Nintendo debuted the shortened trailer, but a longer trailer was posted to YouTube shortly after. (See above.) The colorful trailer features an anime-style story with one particularly weird, wacky character — “a goddamn superhero” — that turns everything into pink blobs.

     

    Ori And The Will Of The Wisps trailer reveals short delay

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    Good news: a new trailer for Ori And The Will Of The Wisps shown at The Game Awards gave more lovely little looks at the sequel to 2015’s pretty-pretty metroidvania Ori And The Blind Forest. Bad news: the trailer also confirmed a one-month delay. Previously due on February 11th, 2020, it’s now slated to launch on March 11th. Balanced news: it looks real nice so I’m happy to wait another month for this one. Better late than rushed.

     

    Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 is the first Xbox Series X game

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    Microsoft unveiled a new Xbox at The Game Awards tonight, the Xbox Series X, and to go with it, a brand new game from Ninja Theory: Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2.

     

    Final Fantasy 7 Remake - Official Cloud Strife Trailer | The Game Awards 2019

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    Originally hired by the resistance group Avalanche in their fight against the sinister Shinra Corporation, Cloud Strife becomes embroiled in a much deeper conflict and proves he’s more than just a mere mercenary.

     

    Resident Evil 3 remake: Everything we know

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    "If you compare Resident Evil 3 to the second installment, it leans more toward action. So we remade everything based on that premise," said producer Masachika Kawata in an introduction video for the game. Like the original game, expect the new remake to feel more run-and-gun than RE2. Just don't go full Hollywood action movie like Resident Evil 6, and you should be fine.

     

    Amazon’s questionable MMO has you colonize the ‘new world’

    Quote

    It’s interesting, too, that New World is developed by a company as controversial as Amazon. From its treatment of workers to its tax avoidance and environmental record, the conglomerate is arguably one of the most exploitative organizations in the world, an aggressive colonizer in its own right.

     

    Godfall is the first game announced for the PlayStation 5

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    Gearbox and Counterplay Games have just announced Godfall at The Game Awards, a “third-person fantasy looter-slasher focused on melee combat” that marks the first game announced for Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 5.

     

    Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 DLC Rise of the Phoenix adds four playable X-Men

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    In Rise of the Phoenix, you will find Phoenix, Gambit, Ice Man, and Cable added as the second of three DLC packs included with The Black Order Expansion Pass.

     

    Play as the Han Empire in Total War: Three Kingdoms’ Mandate of Heaven prequel pack

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    Mandate of Heaven is the new chapter pack coming next month to Total War: Three Kingdoms.

     

    The Outer Worlds will get story DLC in 2020

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    Obsidian’s return to big-scale – if not quite Fallout-scale – RPGs with The Outer Worlds has been well-received by pretty much everyone, and if you were sad to say goodbye at the end of your adventures, the studio has good news. DLC for The Outer Worlds is on the way, which will expand the game’s story sometime next year.

     

    Frostpunk's pre-apocalyptic second paid DLC The Last Autumn out in January

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    The Last Autumn, developer 11 Bit Studios' second bit of paid DLC for its superb post-apocalyptic city builder Frostpunk, will be out on PC in January - and there's a brand-new trailer to get you in the pre-apocalyptic mood.

     

    Star Wars Battlefront II celebrates The Rise of Skywalker film with new in-game content

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    Developer DICE has unveiled the latest trailer for Star Wars Battlefront 2 in celebration of the theatrical release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker this week. The new trailer showcases crossover content set to hit the multiplayer shooter on December 17.

     

    Modern Warfare Will Show You Your Kill-Death Ratio For $20

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    Modern Warfare finally offers players the ability to see their death count during matches, but what was once a staple Call of Duty feature now comes at a price.

     

    Blade Runner is back! It's on GOG! You can buy it! It works!

    Quote

    Today in News I Thought I Might Never Write And Am Wholly Delighted To, we can now easily buy Westwood’s 1997 Blade Runner adventure game. GOG, the virtuous vendor of vintage video games, have somehow untangled the rights and are selling it. Right now. For £7. I have already bought it and started the download. Blade Runner is one of the very rare decent movie tie-in games and I remember it fondly. I hope so much that I am not crushed.

     

    PlanetSide Arena Is Shutting Down After Only 4 Months

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    Some games last for years and years. Other games disappear in about one. PlanetSide Arena, which launched back in September 2018, is closing down next month. The announcement was made yesterday on the game’s Steam page via a blog post from the developers at Daybreak Games.

     

    Official DualShock 4 attachment adds two back paddles

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    Simply called the Back Button Attachment, the new add-on bolts onto the DualShock 4‘s bottom connector. What is it? Well, it’s a small unit that adds two extra buttons to the back of the controller.

     

    Japanese gaming focused news site Gematsu has been having their articles copied by edge-lord focused site Nichegamer

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    The CEO of Japanese Indie Publisher Dangen Entertainment Resigns As Allegations of Harassment Mount

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    Ben Judd is stepping back from the publisher he helped found, as well as his "other industry endeavors."

    Ben Judd departs Dangen, DDM amid accusations of harassment, bad business

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    Sources allege Judd mishandled communications and payments, publicly exposed himself, upheld harmful power dynamic with ex-partner

     

    Valve Removes Nazi Steam Profiles After German Complaints

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    German television and radio regulatory body the Media Authority of Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (commonly abbreviated to “MA HSH”) said in a recent release that it got Valve to remove 30 user profiles and 28 wallpapers that it deemed illegal under German law, citing the country’s Interstate Treaty On The Protection Of Minors. It pointed to people with usernames like “Führer” and “Holocaust,” as well as groups with names like “Reconquista Germania.” It noted that in Germany, this kind of language is only permitted in “exceptional cases,” such as “if its use is for research or teaching, or if it is criticism or satire.” These profiles and groups, the regulatory body decided, were clear violations.

     

    Another ex-Google employee accuses company of union busting

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    A fifth fired worker attests company let her go for coding internal notification about workers' rights

     

    A Lawyer Explains the Very Messy Way YouTube Is Handling Videos for Kids

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    David Graham (www.dpgatlaw.com) is a lawyer who has represented clients creating content for YouTube and other platforms since 2011, and has been a prominent commentator in the fighting game community since 2010.

     

    Esports

     

    Apex Legends is getting its own esports league with online and local events

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    Respawn is kicking off a new competitive series for Apex Legends.

     

    Crowdfunding News (not sharing everything I find, just ones that look interesting, have known talent behind them, and a chance to succeed)

     

    Tangletorn

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    Tangletorn is a roguelike deck-building game set in a realm torn between opposing cosmic forces, where fate itself has become more of a suggestion than a rule.

     

    Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc)

     

    How the Discord Store's sudden closure destroyed and remade this indie horror game

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    Executive director Justin Vasquez takes us through signing with Discord, the store closure, going dark, and the recent Steam launch.

     

    Outer Worlds Developer Finds Bug That Caused Companions To Climb Infinite Ladders Until They Died

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    Obsidian Entertainment’s games can tend to be glitchy. The Outer Worlds mostly bucks that trend, but at least one bug proved to be incredibly frustrating: a strange glitch stating that your companions were dead when they were, in actual fact, alive. This could lock players out of completing quests. Figuring out what was causing the issue took time, but the game’s quality assurance lead Taylor Swope explained exactly what was going on on Twitter yesterday.

     

    Maintaining CONTROL – An Interview with Remedy Entertainment’s Brooke Maggs

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    At PAX West 2019, the RE:BIND team sat down in person with Brooke Maggs of the Remedy Team to chat about the inspirations and stories behind their newest game, CONTROL. We’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to sit down with her and talk about her experiences coming into the project and hashing out the finer details of what makes Remedy’s narrative style so refreshing.

     

    Why We Do Research, or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned to Love Clickbait.

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    This is a failure of a bunch of people to do some basic research because of the deadlines and article requirements put on them by their bosses and their owners. We have great journalism coming from places like Polygon, like Kotaku, like Fanbyte, but because of the constant and incessant need for cash to be acquired as fast as possible, you’re going to see more and more articles like this pop-up. Sites like Unwinnable and Giant Bomb create fantastic editorial and news content, and because they’re directly viewer-supported, they can forego a lot of the clickbait 10-articles-a-day stuff you see being created.

     

    From Kamurocho, With Love

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    People talk a lot about wanting to live in a videogame’s world. I find this a baffling concept, as most everything in a videogame world, by design, is trying to kill you. Why on earth would you want to set up a life, raise a family, grow old and retire in a world full of monsters, murderers and inexplicably placed spikes? Can you imagine going to the grocery, only to bring with you a medium-sized militia’s worth of weapons and equipment and the inhuman ability to double jump over pits of death, all so you can pick up some eggs and a copy of USA Today? Why the hell would you want to live in any videogame world?

    I wish I lived in Kamurocho, the fictional city of the Yakuza series.

     

    Jedi Fallen Order and Sekiro Shadows Die Twice: A Leap in the Dark and the Chaos of History

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    Your journey becomes defined by how far you are from the next safe place, like stops on a pilgrimage or stations of the cross. Since you do not know how far away the next checkpoint is, going outside is an act of faith. Players must stumble in the dark, learning the area, until their faith is rewarded with safety, only for it to be tested yet again as they leave. There’s been plenty of discussion about whether Sekiro or Fallen Order “count” as souls-likes, but this misses the point. Their usage of Souls’ structure results in a meditative ritual of combat. Respawning becomes an act of redemption. The structure mimics the process of reincarnation, whereby over multiple lifetimes of experience, perfection can be reached.

     

    Metro: Exodus-Home is Where Your Stuff Is

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    The Metro series is one inexplicably drawn to the idea of things. When the end of the world happens, do things serve us similarly?  Do they carry the same weight or are they changed? Do we have any more things or do we need to make new ones? The answers to these questions are difficult ones to come to but one thing’s for sure: everything is invariably changed. Things that were taken advantage of before find new, deeper meaning. The trains people traveled in and the tunnels they flew through became new homes. The bullets we used to wage war now act as both protection and currency. Guitars that were once just instruments bring communities together in song and dance, communities that had nothing before that.

     

    The Muddled, Flavorless Politics of Death Stranding

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    This is a long way of saying that I won’t be arguing here if Death Stranding is fun or nice to look at or funny or gripping. For the record, I had a good time playing it, and it is pretty nice to look at if a bit samey during the mountain climbing portions; if you want more than that, there are tons of articles for you out there written by really intelligent people. What I’m going to be arguing about here is the very particular claim that Death Stranding makes about America, American exceptionalism, and connectivity, and how that claim falls short. More simply, I’ll be arguing that Death Stranding tries to argue that America, such as it is in 2019, represents an insufficient and even dangerous political project, but that due to its maximalist perspective and a tendency to touch on everything broadly instead of one thing perceptively, the game ultimately produces a muddied, incoherent series of ideas instead of an argument.

     

    In Defense Of Final Fantasy XIII

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    Final Fantasy XIII is ten years old today, which means that 2019 is officially running out of ways to remind us of our mortality. It was a controversial entry in the Final Fantasy series, shifting the series’ usual approach to combat and ditching old traditions to tell a techno-thriller story starring deeply flawed heroes. To this day, fans react dramatically at its very mention. Looking back a decade later reveals a game with scars, but one which also deserves a critical reassessment.

     

    If We’re Going to Talk About Untitled Goose Game Then By God Let’s Talk About Untitled Goose Game

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    There is value in asking questions that are, in internet parlance, “spicy.” By this I mean questions that are intentionally inflammatory, questions that make us defensive, get our hackles up, encourage us to get indignant and sputter a bit as we go into defensive mode.

     

    Material Defender – Freelancers and The Corporate Politics of DESCENT

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    Enter PTMC- an acronym only boardroom meetings and focus testing groups could love. Bland, flavorless, devoid of Charisma- executive Samuel Dravis was emblematic of the Gen Xer distaste for their high ranking bosses: a stuffy piranha disguised as a tweed suited humorless prick, the perfect individual to feed you objectives from across a synthetic walnut table as you struggle to not fall asleep where you sit. Filling the role of ‘Material Defender’ (the title he bestows upon the nameless player) requires little to no imagination to connect with, so many of us have been on the receiving end of mind numbing bureaucratic protocol that the sympathetic response comes naturally.

     

    How Trico Was Animated / Video Game Animation Study

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    One of the most anticipated games for nearly ten years had one of the most memorable characters, but how was Trico animated?

     

    Discovering NOCTURNE

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    Frappe Snowland: The History of Mario Kart 64's Most Broken Track

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    Good Game Design - Shovel Knight: King of Cards (ft. Yacht Club Games)

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    The Shovel Knight saga has come to a close with King Knight's campaign and the 4-player brawler, Showdown. Today on Good Game Design, let's look back at the franchise and see how it evolved over the years, and get insight from the developers as to how it was made. Enjoy!

     

    How Toby Fox Put Sans "Over" | Psych of Play

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    Pro wrestling is fake... surprise surprise. But millions of people across the world are absolutely obsessed with it because of its power to sell a story. The characters and their interactions, albeit scripted, create the same level of engagement as any other form of storytelling, including video games. And thanks to a little anchoring heuristic and some good ole fashion “in ring psychology”, characters in wrestling and in video games can come off as immensely powerful before a match or a boss fight even begins. And Sans is a prime example of this. So today on Psych of Play, we’re taking a look at how Toby Fox put Sans “over”.

     

    Designing Emotional Games | Jenova Chen, Fumito Ueda and the Lens of Emotion in Game Design

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    In this video, we analyze how Game Designers create emotional games using mechanics, music and other framing devices to craft memorable experiences. Emotions are not usually the first lens of design, with mechanics being the usual impetus for crafting a game, but in this video, we examine the design philosophy of designers like Fumito Ueda and Jenova chen, both of whom have inspired a generation of designers to tap into deeper emotions than the ones native to our medium.

    Support on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gameoveranalyser

     

    Building The Pillars | So You Wanna Be A Game Designer? (#5)

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    One important aspect of Creative Direction is called Core Pillars - some notions that you consider for your game, everything that you do should revolve around them. In this video we will take a deeper look at pillars and how to build them.

    Support Farlands on Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/farlands

     

    Noclip Podcast #19 - Video Game History Unleashed

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    Frank Cifaldi from the Video Game History Foundation joins us to talk about game preservation, vengeful sharks, and alien-fighting basketball players.

    Become a Patron and get early access to new episodes: https://www.patreon.com/noclip


  16. Completed: Sigma Theory
    Platform: PC

    Sigma Theory has you choose a team of four agents each with an intelligence and strength skill and passive traits that make them better or worse in different areas. Each playable country is trying to acquire scientist to research technology that will greatly push forward advancement in different areas. You can hack other countries to lower their alert levels, find what scientists they have through hacking or having your agents travel and investigate, convince scientists to become double agents, extract or capture them on short missions that give you a few decisions that will make things easier or harder on your agent, and if you want to use researched technology yourself or give it to powerful secret factions for less victory points and probably terrible results for humanity but bonuses in other areas.

    It's an interesting idea but it is all way to limited. You usually only have two choices, faction missions will always play out the same way, extractions are limited, your agents might have some detail in their backgrounds but will almost never say or do anything interesting in the game and have no relationships among each other, the research plotline makes the game short and the game would probably be more interesting without it and the focused moved to expanded character and mission interaction. It gives you no real information about the actual numbers behind outcomes making it difficult to judge how effective some things are, many of the agents you could use seem like they would basically be useless, and intelligence and hacking abilities is so much more useful than anything else that there is little reason to go with any other type of agent as your game has no real reason not to play out in almost the same way every time once you know what to do.

     


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    Carolyn Petit on the perception of the role of a critic, the shifting of that role over time, working as a critic in a professional environment, and how reactions towards Death Stranding lead to thoughts of there being nothing more useful than individual perspectives outside the hive. In her final Kotaku article Cecilia D'Anastasio interviews former Razer employees who talk about the CEO threatening and berating staff, Reid McCarter covers how Death Stranding signals for hope in the most hopeless situation, Jeremy Peel looks at the work of four people that worked with Kojima and heavily influenced his work, Resident Evil 3 remake revealed and many new game announcements, Summoning Salt explores the history of Castlevania speed runs, Aimee Hart on the bland protagonist of Fallen Order hiding the more interesting stories from the rest of the cast, Justin Reeve on Gotham's architecture in Arkham Knight, Yacht Club Games continues their Shovel Knight retrospective, and more.

     

    Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods)

     

    Resident Evil 3 Remake finally confirmed, and it includes Project Resistance

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    Resident Evil 3‘s remake is one of the games industry’s worst kept secrets, and publisher Capcom has finally decided to officially confirm it during PlayStation’s State of Play stream. The Resi remake will come to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on April 3, 2020 – and it will contain all of Project Resistance as a separate 4-player co-op mode.

     

    Brenda Romero breaks down Empire of Sin's complex relationship system

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    The main idea that sets Empire of Sin apart from other management sims is a deep and autonomous character interaction system. Throughout lengthy campaigns, you can recruit NPCs to help guard stash houses, fight alongside you, and carry out hits. These NPCs can suffer and benefit from a long list of passive and active effects throughout a run.

     

    Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous announced

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    Wrath’s setting is actually based on the adventure module for the Pathfinder tabletop game of the same name, so “players of the original adventure path will encounter a lot of familiar faces and encounters, but [there] also will be new characters, twists, and stories,” said Mishulin.

     

    Former Payday dev's co-op alien shooter GTFO enters Steam early access next week

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    GTFO, the new co-operative alien shooter from Payday lead designer Ulf Andersson, will be making its way to Steam early access next Monday, 9th December.

     

    MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries prepares for launch with a flashy new trailer

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    2019 isn’t coming to a close without a new MechWarrior game out in the wild. MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries hits the Epic Games store December 10, and developer Piranha Games has a new trailer out to remind you just how big these things really are.

     

    Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore Trailers Introduce its Characters, Story, and Battles

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    Nintendo and Atlus shared new trailers for Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore to introduce its characters, story, and battles.

     

    Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle Comes to PS4 on February 18, 2020

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    Ten years after their original debut, Bayonetta and Sam Gideon return once more in the Bayonetta & Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle on PlayStation 4! We’re thrilled to finally bring the frantic action and unrelenting style of PlatinumGames’ flagship titles to life in 4K at 60fps on the PlayStation 4 Pro. This hard-hitting combo pack launches on February 18, 2020.

     

    Stronghold: Warlords isn’t just about RTS combat, it’s about managing a feudal castle

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    The Stronghold series has always been about two things: Building big, impenetrable castles, and fielding armies to knock down your enemies’ castles. In a new video, Firefly Worlds demonstrates the improvements its making to the castle simulation side of Stronghold: Warlords, which moves the action to medieval Asia.

     

    Sisters Royale coming west for PS4, Switch on January 30, 2020

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    Chorus Worldwide will release Alfa System-developed shoot ’em up Sisters Royale digitally for PlayStation 4 and Switch on January 30, 2020 in the west, the publisher announced. Pre-orders begin on December 19 via the Nintendo eShop and December 30 via the PlayStation Store. Xbox One and PC versions will be released at a later date.

     

    The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a Gone Home-meets-Firewatch mystery in an old hotel

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    The Daedalic-published horror-thriller is coming early next year.

     

    Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection Trailer Looks at the Red Hero’s Abilities

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    While a delay has meant we won’t see Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection until February 2020, Capcom hasn’t left anyone in the dark. The company has been putting out a steady stream of information, doing things like confirming minigames, to help people prepare. The latest is a new trailer looking at the Red Hero: Zero. It shows off all of his abilities.

     

    Sony's MLB The Show Franchise Headed To Non-PlayStation Platforms

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    Baseball fans on non-Sony platforms like the Xbox One have had to watch while PlayStation fans got to enjoy the MLB the Show franchise over the years, but a new deal is bringing the famed series (developed by Sony's San Diego Studio) to new systems.

     

    Langrisser I & II ‘Langrisser I’ story trailer

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    Langrisser I & II is due out for PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC via Steam on March 10, 2020 in North America and March 13 in Europe.

     

    Superliminal coming to PS4 in April 2020

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    Forced perspective puzzle game Superliminal, which first launched for PC via the Epic Games Store on November 12, is coming to PlayStation 4 in April 2020, developer Pillow Castle Games announced.

     

    Paper Beast delayed to Q1 2020, gameplay trailer

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    Pixel Reef has released a new gameplay trailer for Paper Beast, its upcoming PlayStation VR title from Another World and From Dust creator Eric Chahi, which confirms a delay to Q1 2020 from its previously planned late 2019 release window. It will be available for PlayStation VR when it launches, and PlayStation 4 non-VR at a later date.

     

    Marvel’s Avengers’ Creative Director on Making a Superhero Game for Everyone

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    “Kamala is just so iconic—she’s probably the female Spider-Man, if you will,” Escayg said. “I’m really in love with that character. She sees through that lens and she’s excited about life. She’s passionate about the Avengers—that’s her greatest superpower. Sure, she’s a polymorph and she can stretch and punch, but it’s hope and hope in the Avengers that make her a hero.”

     

    Golf Story sequel Sports Story coming to Switch

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    Sports Story from Sidebar Games will feature a new adventure with plenty of sports, dungeons, and mini-games.

     

    Bullet Girls Phantasia coming to PC in early 2020

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    D3 Publisher and developer Shade will release third-person shooter Bullet Girls Phantasia for PC via Steam in early 2020, the publisher announced.

     

    Solve Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard next week

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    A party has been ruined, the most heinous of crimes.

     

    Check out Adam Hunter in this new Streets of Rage 4 trailer

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    Fan-favorite brawler Adam Hunter was shown off today in a new Streets of Rage 4 trailer.

     

    ‘Shack-and-slash’ dungeon crawler Boyfriend Dungeon adds Switch version

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    “Shack-and-slash” dungeon crawler Boyfriend Dungeon is coming to Switch alongside its previously announced PC (Steam) version in 2020, developer Kitfox Games announced.

     

    Murder by Numbers - trailer Nintendo Switch

     

    SkateBIRD - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch

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    A game about skateboarding birbs who try their best.

     

    For Axiom Verge's Creator, the Switch Was a "Natural Platform" For the Sequel

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    Axiom Verge surprised even its creator when it garnered critical acclaim in 2015. An indie metroidvania in the age of indie metroidvanias, developer Thomas Happ took a refreshingly formulaic approach that captured the same sense of wonder and mystery as classic Metroid. With a welcome dash of H.R. Giger-inspired art and a creepy, pulsating soundtrack, Axiom Verge was a breakout.

     

    Babylon's Fall absolutely looks like a Platinum game

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    After its moody and information-light announcement at E3 2018, I wasn’t sure what to make of Babylon’s Fall. I expect slick, stabby, and slightly silly action from PlatinumGames, the makers of Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Vanquish, and Nier: Automata. Yet here was this murky fantasy game being presented like Dark Souls? A new trailer today showed some of the game and oh mate, this absolutely is a Platinum action game.

     

    Watch new Ghost of Tsushima teaser, full trailer coming at The Game Awards

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    Today’s trailer is actually only a teaser for the full thing coming at The Game Awards on Thursday, so it’s a bit anticlimactic.

     

    Danganronpa Creator Announces New Full-Motion Video Game

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    The mind behind Dangarnonpa's killing games has announced a new project today, in a surprising new medium. Kazutaka Kodaka will work with Izanagi Games to develop Death Comes True, a game taking place in full-motion video, or FMV.

     

    Final Fantasy 7 Remake cover art confirms one-year exclusivity on PS4

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    As many probably guessed, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is not a full PS4 exclusive.

     

    Predator: Hunting Grounds release date set for April 24 on PS4, PC

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    A release date and addition information for Predator: Hunting Grounds was revealed during Sony’s latest State of Play episode.

     

    Phoenix Point has been delayed on Xbox Game Pass and the Microsoft Store

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    "The fact is we dropped the ball," the announcement reads. "We were exceedingly busy getting the game itself ready, and being inexperienced with Game Pass and the Microsoft Store, we simply had not properly prepared the groundwork to get the game released on time on these platforms. Compared to other platforms we’re on these platforms require a number of prerequisites, from Microsoft certification to legal documentation review. While these are now mostly complete, they have given rise to a number of new delays."

     

    Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Infinite Combate Arrives West on PS4, Switch, and PC in 2020

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    Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? – Infinite Combate is set in a fantasy realm where gods have limited their divine powers in search of excitement and to experience the hardships of the lower world. To interact with humans, each deity has founded a Familia, which are groups that adventurers can join to socialize and support each other before they set out into the dangerous labyrinth called Dungeon.

     

    Here’s why Age of Empires 4 doesn’t have environmental destruction – sort of

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    The Age of Empires 4 trailer shown at X019 gave us our first real glimpse at the upcoming RTS game and some of the battle action we can expect to get our teeth into when the Age of Empires 4 release date arrives. It showed trebuchets bringing down fortifications, and creative director Adam Isgreen has now confirmed “man-made destruction visuals” like this will be a feature of the game – but destruction of the natural environment won’t be.

     

    The Survivalists is an island life follow-up to the Escapists, and it hits Steam next year

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    If trying to bust out of prison has put too much stress on you in your sandbox games, Team17’s The Escapists is taking a picturesque turn toward island life in The Survivalists. But there’s still that whole problem of survival to deal with. The Survivalists was announced as part of Nintendo’s indie Switch showcase today, but it will hit Steam, too.

     

    Temtem, an online monster-catching RPG, releases January 21

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    Seek adventure in the lovely Airborne Archipelago alongside your Temtem squad. Catch every Temtem, battle other tamers, customize your character, join a friend's adventure and explore the dynamic online world.

     

    Dead Cells' first paid DLC is The Bad Seed and it's due early next year

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    Bad Seed is more accurately the work of Evil Empire - the splinter studio formed by ex-Motion Twin staff specifically to continue work on Dead Cells - and its headline feature takes the form of two new biomes, intended to offer headless adventurers new path choices in the early game, "ensuring that all players, no matter their level, will be able to enjoy it".

     

    Kingdom Hearts III DLC ‘ReMIND’ launches January 23, 2020 for PS4, February 25 for Xbox One

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    Kingdom Hearts III downloadable content “ReMIND” will launch for PlayStation 4 on January 23, 2020 and Xbox One on February 25, Square Enix announced in an unlisted trailer posted by the official Kingdom Hearts YouTube account, which has since been removed.

     

    Watch 13 minutes of Borderlands 3's first expansion

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    Moxxi's Heist of the Handsome Jackpot is coming on December 19.

     

    Here are the next two DLC fighters coming to Tekken 7

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    Bandai Namco has unveiled two new Tekken 7 fighters - Muay Thai champion Fahkumram and Ganryu.

     

    Elder Scrolls Legends development "on hold for the foreseeable future"

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    Bethesda no longer making new content for fantasy card battler, but will continue support with monthly rewards and regular events

     

    The Curse of Outdated DRM Claims Another Victim, 'Tron: Evolution'

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    If you bought 'Tron: Evolution' but haven't played it yet, the game is currently broken.

     

    Rune 2 developer Human Head being sued by publisher for abandoning game

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    Rune 2 developer Human Head Studios is being sued by publisher Ragnarok after it abandoned the game one day after its release in order to join Bethesda.

     

    In Japan, a Dispute Filled With Accusations of Sexual Harassment and Bad Business Practices Boils Over

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    Dangen Entertainment isn't as well-known as other names in gaming, but as an indie-centric publisher that helps bridge the gap between Japan and the West, chances are you've probably played something due to the result of its work. Through publishing, localization, and marketing services, Dangen's work has touched games such as Bloodstained, Momodora, CrossCode, and Iconoclasts.

    Dangen Entertainment Warning #2

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    I’m sorry, because of my insufficient Japanese ability, I can only talk about this topic in such broken Japanese. However, I wanted to say something directly from my heart.

     

    Wargroove Developers Respond to Criticisms of Whitewashed Voice Cast

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    Later on Friday, Kimlinh Tran, the casting director hired for Double Trouble and voice actor for Wargroove's Ragna, weighed in with a response of her own. In a lengthy thread on Twitter, Tran recounts the months-long casting process for Double Trouble and attests that the Chucklefish team wished "to cast the characters as authentically as possible." Even as they struggled to find actors who could do authentic Scottish accents (the developers' desired choice for Double Trouble's new bandit faction), Tran says she "directly contacted Scottish VA's, minorities too, to audition." Ultimately though, Tran is happy with the actors cast in Double Trouble's roles. She says she feels their process was flawed and that more steps could have been taken toward representative casting.

     

    Kalypso opens third internal studio to work on 'next-gen' Commandos title

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    Kalypso Media has established a new in-house studio to work on the next entry in the Commandos series.

     

    Vaping Congressman Who Spent Campaign Funds On Steam Games Resigns

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    Hunter was indicted last year on charges of “wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations and conspiracy” related to using campaign funds to pay for everything from family groceries to video games. He then proceeded to go on Fox News and blame nearly everything on his wife, who was also indicted.

     

    Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc)

     

    Razer CEO Berated And Threatened His Staff, Former Employees Say

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    Ten people who worked for Razer shared stories of Tan yelling at employees or throwing objects. Some said they’d seen him publicly shame and threaten to fire employees on whims over the last 13 years. At Razer, former employees say, he instituted and celebrated a culture of fear, described by two as a “dictatorship.” Under Tan’s rule, Razer employees said they’d stay overnight at the company’s original offices in Carlsbad, California (they have since moved north to Irvine) to get work done, and that if they weren’t available at all hours to take phone calls or answer emails, they feared they would be fired. Many said they stuck around anyway, largely thanks to the hope of a massive payday once Razer eventually went public. Tan would often imply that all the long hours would lead to huge checks, they said.

    Goodbye

    Quote

    Today is my last day at Kotaku. I never once imagined that I could find a full-time reporting job like this—one where I could be myself, for better or worse, and live by and grow my values. What’s resurfacing in my mind as I pack up my things is my second day here: Editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo took me into a conference room to ask what I wanted to do at my cool new media job. We discussed covering MMORPGs, sexism in competitive games, Twitch, cybercrime. Stephen then turned to me and very seriously asked whether I regularly watch anime.

     

    The Shape of Videogames To Come

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    We often use the term “games” without qualifier in this way to refer to multiple different forms of work at once. It is a point of pride for the videogame to belong to this lineage of “games.” To the AAA manager, it suggests a beautifully unbroken lineal ascent of more perfect communication of meaning through more precise refinement of technological advancement. To the scrabbling disenfranchised laborer of the modern itch.io mold, it suggests a heritage of appropriately scrappy communal participation in taking a suggestive desire through to a playable vibe. To the entrepreneurial indie auteur, it suggests a mystical creative effort through which participation in the electronic life’s work of their imagination is just a historical reappraisal away. It’s an inspirational feeling, this historicized legacy, across these different paths through an industry that sees no real room for feeling when there’s quarterly profits on the line. Everyone wants to believe it’s true. It makes “videogames” feel important, feel expressive, feel revolutionary, feel powerful, feel vital. And not just an important, expressive, revolutionary, powerful, vital form of artistic labor, but—the metrics insist—the most.

     

    Ruthless Individuality: Criticism’s Past, and Hopefully Its Future

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    One reaction I saw right after the Death Stranding embargo was lifted was a tweet from someone responding to the fact that one of the old guard game sites had given the game a 6.8 while another gave it a 9. “What went wrong?” this person asked. The question suggested that, in their view, critics should have a clear sense of what the average player (or perhaps gamer is a better word here) likes, and therefore, there shouldn’t be such deviation in scores and conclusions. There are clear metrics by which games should be evaluated, and everyone whose job it is to review games should therefore know the difference, objectively, between great games and lackluster ones. But there is no “average” player. There are no objective metrics. And we shouldn’t let players maintain the comforting, self-aggrandizing notion that they represent a group with objective attitudes, to whom games should naturally cater.

     

    Four genius Kojima Productions staff who aren’t Hideo Kojima

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    But it’s important to remember that Kojima doesn’t make his games alone. That when he talks about starting up Kojima Productions as an independent with just a laptop, a piece of string and a packet of Polos, he’s missing out the contribution of many loyal and long-serving collaborators who keep his work consistent and recognisable. That when somebody like legendary producer Kenichiro Imaizumi exits Kojima Productions, the hole they leave behind is like a voidout.

     

    The cult of Hideo Kojima

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    It goes without saying the Death Stranding world tour is, of course, a clever marketing gimmick, one that banks heavily on Kojima's enigma to drum up more interest in the game. Some people I spoke to attended the event out of sheer curiosity, divulging that they would have done something else that day if the venue was too packed. But the concept of making social connections - or "strands", to borrow a word from the Death Stranding lexicon - by meeting with fans and players all over the world would have sounded like complete hogwash, if not for Kojima's sincerity. When the Q&A session concluded, the host announced that everyone in attendance - all 500 people in the hall - would be invited to a one-on-one photo-taking session with him. The news was received with explosive cheers. And to be fair to Kojima, that was probably a rather exhausting undertaking.

     

    Big Weird: Control (The Game), Death Stranding (The Game), and Control (The Concept)

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    With 2019 coming to a close, we’re about to see a lot of people (myself included) attempt to wrap up both the year and the decade with some kind of defining thoughts on all the games we’ve seen. While it’s tempting to focus on the status quo as it stands in 2019, I’d instead like to focus on two games within AAA space that have been widely described as “weird”: Control and Death Stranding. Weird games are not hard to find, but weird games with a high budget are few and far between, and it’s these games that have the most power to challenge the status quo of the mainstream and redirect the course of the medium.

     

    The modders who spent 15 years fixing Knights of the Old Republic 2

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    Released on December 6, 2004, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords (KOTOR2) was the first game from the then newly formed Obsidian Entertainment. At that time, the new studio was a shoestring operation with just seven veteran developers who had made the move from the recently shuttered Black Isle Studios, all holed up in CEO Feargus Urquhart’s attic. But publisher LucasArts, wanting to capitalize on the success of the original KOTOR from the year before, reportedly gave that threadbare new team just 14 to 16 months to create a sequel.

     

    The Making of Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, Part 3: Our Favorite Secrets and More

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    Yacht Club shares their favorite secret areas; the art of positioning health pickups, and more.

    The Making of Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, Part 4: The Subtle Art of Backgrounds

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    In the penultimate entry, Yacht Club Games talks about the small but important details that can make the difference in a level.

    The Making of Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, Part 5: Fin

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    Yacht Club Games concludes their deep dive into Specter of Torment's design!

     

    How character creators help us explore gender identity and expression

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    When it released in 1997, Ultima Online was revolutionary. The size of its world, the scope of its ambition, and the freedom it gave players were all unparalleled. Not to mention the range of character customization options: even on our grainy monitor, I delighted in flipping back and forth, studying the tiny differences between facial presets. I could color my own outfit. I could choose to be a woman. And there were ten unique hairstyles. Ten! The depth of choice was mind-bending. Growing up young, queer, and uneasy with my identity, diving into Ultima’s character creator felt like a revelation.

     

    Always on Edge: my life with Jason Brookes

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    In the autumn of 1995, I interviewed for a writing position on Edge magazine. I had no experience in publishing; I'd spent a year since leaving university writing manuals and design documents for the developer Big Red Software, but I was desperate to be a journalist. Although I hadn't read Edge that much, everyone I worked with treated it like a holy text. It felt like a long shot. Then Jason Brookes turned up late for my interview, was friendly but distracted throughout, and at the end set me a writing task before disappearing completely. I assumed I had failed. Over a month later however, he called me and offered me a job. This was my first inkling that Jason had his own way of working.

     

    Everybody's Gone: Dan Pinchbeck on Rebuilding The Chinese Room

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    He made his name with experimental games like Dear Esther. Now he wants to build “the Naughty Dog of the U.K.”

     

    Keeping History Alive

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    In 2008, a fire ravaged through a backlot in Universal City, California. Thousands of irreplaceable master recordings were destroyed in the blaze, the scale of which we’re only learning about today. According to The New York Times, recordings from the 1940s through the 2000s were affected, including artists as diverse as The Who, Tom Petty, The Damned, Buddy Holly, Primus, and more. That part of music history – including countless unreleased and unheard tracks – has now been scattered to the winds.

     

    No Blood for Imulsion: Gears of War and the Military-Industrial Complex

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    Gears of War’s original creative director, Cliff Bleszinski, has stated multiple times that the series is a specific metaphor for the Gulf War (or the First Iraq War) and a criticism of the Bush administration and the military-industrial complex in general. Released in 2006, Gears of War came out at a time when the Second Iraq War was at the top of everyone’s mind and the United States’ involvement in the Middle East was under intense scrutiny. Gears of War isn’t exactly a neat one-to-one parallel to either war; in fact, it’s a messy hodgepodge of different global conflicts. But, in the end, there are enough connections drawn, and so thoroughly, that the series’ commentary seems even more prescient now, 13 years later.

     

    WE’RE GONNA CRASH!

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    THE APOCALYPTIC SURREALISM OF CRUIS’N USA

     

    Gotham’s Multiple Masks

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    The most notable aspect of the architecture in Arkham Knight would have to be its lack of consistency. The buildings in Gotham belong to a remarkably broad range of different styles. With its glowering gargoyles, the Clock Tower for example is clearly Gothic. Wayne Tower is definitely Art Deco. LexCorp Tower has all the hallmarks of Modernism. In other words, the architecture in Arkham Knight is quite eclectic. There’s a bit more meaning to this than meets the eye.

     

    Jedi Fallen Order’s interesting female relationships are hidden behind a bland protagonist

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    Anyway, that really felt like ‘Star Wars‘ to me at the time, even outside of redemption, Death Stars and lightsabers. Yet, in spite of it all, there was that one little niggle: where were the other girls, didn’t Leia have any of them to talk to? It was a niggle that has since grown into full-blown annoyance with age, and it’s one that raised almost instantly when hearing about that infamous interview Game Informer had with Respawn.

     

    Why Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete Remains One of the Best JRPGs Ever

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    Twenty years ago, a cute little Japanese RPG became a beacon of hope in Final Fantasy VII's long shadow.

     

    Tea and Warfare

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    For the once seemingly-infinite British Empire, World War I, in spite of victory, was a low moment for its internal narrative, a blow to its aristocracy’s ability to point to God and crown as a good enough rallying cry for its soldiers. Though Britain had fought plenty of wars before, deadly advances in technology and blundering confidence on the part of its generals and rulers (“donkeys” leading “lions,” as the officer class was commonly described) meant that World War I brought a brutal reality not just to the commoner classes, who were quite familiar with it, but to those who led them, who had encouraged joining the war and were responsible for its horrendous outcomes. For the first time, the wealthy and influential, the effective nobility of modern England, had to reckon with the ugliness of war on an unheard of scale, as well as the longstanding scars that this ugliness could leave on a society’s self-image long after the war itself was done and over with.

     

    Life is Strange 2 is the most important game of 2019

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    It’s a game that’s not afraid of showing the darker side of America, from religion to immigration and even the impact of different drug laws across state boundaries. It’s an experience we need, holding up a broken mirror to our world and our place in it, reflecting how our choices now shape our planet for future generations. It’s about being dealt a shit hand and trying to prove everyone wrong, even at your own expense. It’s about sacrifice and brotherly bonds. It’s about us, humans, no matter where our parents are from.

     

    My Favorite Witcher 3 Quest Has No Fighting, Just Drunken Shenanigans

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    There’s a quest in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that best shows why the world Geralt of Rivia inhabits is so easy to get lost in. It’s not an epic battle against a Griffin, or a cursed fetus. It’s not even a naked Witcher in a hot tub. There’s actually no fighting at all in ‘No Place Like Home,’ a quest that takes place right before the game’s final act kicks off.

     

    Not Quite Human: Frostpunk, Papers, Please, and the Dehumanization of Totalitarianism

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    By letting us participate, games offer a unique opportunity to learn about oppressive regimes.

     

    Death Stranding Finds Hope in Despair

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    In a world filled with nightmares, Death Stranding still manages to show us a path forward.

    Death Stranding’s Hero Is Just A Side Character

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    Death Stranding purports to be a game about a man named Sam reconnecting cities across America. He’s hooking them into a thing called the chiral network, which allows them to print structures, but he’s also putting them in contact with those other cities, their people, and their history. As director and writer Hideo Kojima said before launch, “it's about making people think about the meaning of connection.” That’s Sam’s story. The mechanics work metaphorically with the broader plot to deliver a product that connects geologic timescales up with the intimate finitude of a few human lives. It is powerful, and when it works it works well, but what I was struck by in the game had very little to do with Sam’s story and its connection to the potential flourishing or annihilation of all life on the planet.

    Instead, I found that Sam seemed more like a side character in the lives of all of the other people we meet along the way.

     

    Blips: Minesweeper Roguelikes, Soccer Coaching, and Ecological Disaster!

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    Here are a bunch of little vignettes, most of which involve hex-based spheres in some way!

     

    The Most Innovative Game of 2019 | Game Maker's Toolkit

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    Every year, I celebrate one game that went above and beyond in terms of innovation, invention, and imagination. From Her Story to Snake Pass to Return of the Obra Dinn, these games have stunned us with their unique ideas and excellent execution. This year, the award goes to...

    Support Game Maker's Toolkit on Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/GameMakersToolkit

     

    Other Places: One Day in Valentine (Red Dead Redemption 2)

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    Other Places is a series of short films celebrating beautiful videogame worlds.

     

    Glock.

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    Next up: Barrels.
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/ahoy

     

    Establishing Vision | So You Wanna Be A Game Designer? (#4)

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    When starting out to develop a game, it is very important to set up a structured creative direction during pre-production. One of the most needed elements is a strong vision, which we're going to discuss in this video.

    Support Farlands on Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/farlands

     

    The History of Castlevania World Records

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    The Environmental Impact of Digital Games // HeavyEyed

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    Welcome back to the Ethics of Buying Games, a show about how games can affect us and the world around us! This time we're talking about the environmental impact of digital distribution.

    patreon// https://www.patreon.com/heavyeyed

     

    Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice cut content gives context to that moment with Anayama

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    Modder Lance McDonald, whose name should be familiar to FromSoftware fans thanks to his storied history in uncovering cut content, features and stories in the Japanese studio’s games, has returned with a fresh look at Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

     

    How Mind Control Saved Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee | War Stories | Ars Technica

    Quote

    When Lorne Lanning first conceived of what would become Oddworld, he wasn't necessarily setting out to make video games. What he needed to do was tell a story. On this episode of War Stories, we hear from the co-founder of Oddworld Inhabitants and learn all the ups and downs of Abe's journey to the screen over the past 22 years, including what comes next for the franchise in Oddworld: Soulstorm.

     

    The History of Quake with Tim Willits

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    Become a PATRON to unlock more videos https://www.patreon.com/noclip

    Tim Willits breaks down the history of the Quake franchise.

     

    Into the Breach with Justin Ma - The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook

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    At D.I.C.E. 2019, Robin Hunicke chats with Justin Ma (FTL: Faster Than Light, Into the Breach) about following up on a successful game, development hurdles, finding strength in uncertainty, and discovering success by creating the games they want to play.

     

    Things I missed from previous weeks

     

    THE FIRST 25 YEARS

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    An oral history of Sony’s big gaming play, and how it changed the world

     

    Paradox Interactive is Not Immune to Propaganda: Leftist Politics in Grand Strategy

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  18. Completed: Eastshade
    Platform: PC

    A relaxing game without any combat, your main goal and quests revolve around painting different things in the environments you explore. Beautiful landscape and good music.

    It is focused more in areas I wish it wasn't, that being crafting and gaining access to things to explore more rather than the painting side of the game. Your paintings are done automatically just by copying the parts of the area you assign that are in front of you onto your canvas. There are no painting supplies to acquire except for crafting or buying more canvases, no way to change the style of how you paint, and even waiting for another time of day is going to have to be done indoors or after you have found out how to craft and found the parts to make a tent. Quests only require you to find the correct subject it doesn't matter how poorly you capture that subject and portraits of characters is just painting them in whatever awkward looking way many of them are currently standing. A lot of the game is going to spent completing quests (the best ones often being the ones that don't have anything to do with painting) so you can earn money or crafting recipes. Learn how to make a tent, buy a bike, buy a coat so you can stay outside at night, pay a bridge toll, learn how to make a raft and where to get parts to make that raft, or to open up the few other areas in the game. You are going to need to get to those areas to complete your main goal which is to paint four areas loved by your dead mother in memory of her.

    You gain inspiration by finding new areas, seeing certain events, or reading but these just fills a meter and increases a number to allow you to paint rather than do anything interesting. And the game gives you nothing for finding and painting anything interesting that you find or anything that you personally want to paint or feel like your character should want to paint. If you do paint anything you might just end up out of crafting resources and be out of the way of a place to buy a new canvas and will likely be encouraged to paint over that paining just to capture a subject needed for a quest or commission. You aren't even able to save your paintings in any meaningful way as exporting them will put them in an odd file-path at a very low resolution.

    It's a nice time spent in a pretty world, interacting some amusing characters. Just wish it not only did away with the gamey "everything wants you dead" but also not focus so heavily on crafting and completing quests for money or progression items and instead gave you ways and reasons to paint in new ways.

     

    Completed: MO:Astray
    Platform: PC

    Beautiful looking action/puzzle/platformer, even with all the decaying bodies, Controls well, good action, environments and how you interact with them is frequently changing, animations of enemy creatures and details in the backgrounds make the locations feel a bit more alive. Play as a blob that can stick to surfaces and heads to control enemies before learning new powers. Main story is a mostly uninteresting one of science gone wrong and betrayal, but reading the thoughts of infected creatures and seeing the images of past events play out is a good use of the mechanics and environment.


  19. S9BDiel.png

     

    RagnarRox on why Disco Elysium is a role-playing dream come true, Yacht Club Games recounts how the development of Shovel Knight turned into making five games over the course of six additional years, C o n q u e s t o f D r e a d discusses concepts of decolonization and how they affect video and tabletop games, Writing on Games critiques the campaign of Modern Warfare, Quantic Dream ordered to pay former employee over failed security obligations, multiple developers warn about working with Dangen Entertainment, Persona 5 Royal gets a release date, Peter Tieryas interviews the composer of Ghost Trick, Riot pays 10 million in gender discrimination suit, Archipel and Matt Leone interview key developers and businessmen about how the original PlayStation changed video games, Harold Goldberg interviews Hideo Kojima discussing how his childhood influences his games and wanting to help his audience find connection and relief, and more.

     

    Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods)

     

    10 lovely-looking indie games to look out for in 2020

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    Great new ideas on show at Day of the Devs

     

    To the Moon 3: Impostor Factory announced for PC

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    Freebird Games has announced Impostor Factory, the third entry in its To the Moon series following the original game and sequel Finding Paradise. It will launch for PC via Steam at the end of 2020.

     

    Crusader Kings 3 will finally add knights, making warfare much more interesting

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    Over its nearly eight-year run, Crusader Kings II expanded to include many aspects of medieval life and politics that weren’t included in the original game. However, even as its political and strategic complexity grew, it was always missing one crucial element of the Middle Ages: Knights. That’s changing in Crusader Kings III, which is rebuilding the series’ combat system to be more interesting and – hopefully – chivalrous.

     

    Let's Play Phoenix Point - Part 1 - Tactical Tutorial

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    With Phoenix Point less than a week away from release, we kick-off our playthrough by working through the tactical tutorial. This video contains cutscenes and narration from the early game, which is not spoiler-heavy. Future videos are likely to contain more story elements.

    Let's Play Phoenix Point - Part 2 - Geoscape Tutorial

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    With Phoenix Point less than a week away from release, we kick-off our playthrough by working through the tutorial. This time around we cover the strategic Geoscape tutorial. This video contains cutscenes and narration from the early game, which is not spoiler-heavy. Future videos are likely to contain more story elements.

     

    One of the most underrated Metroidvanias on Steam is getting a sequel

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    Released in 2015, Castle in the Darkness wasn't the most talked about Metroidvania of that year (thanks, Ori and the Blind Forest and Axiom Verge) but I can confirm that it was very good, especially if the sprawling Wonder Boy games were your bag. So it's great news that it's getting an unlikely sequel.

     

    Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York release gets delayed by one week

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    Today, developer Draw Distance confirmed the release will be postponed for another week. Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York will be released digitally on December 11 for PC. The game will hit PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in the first quarter of 2020.

     

    Life Is Strange 2's final episode is out today

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    The fifth and final episode of Life Is Strange 2 is out today. The choice-based narrative game has revolved around brothers Sean and Daniel as they run from their home in Seattle after a tragic run-in with police. Over the course of the season they’ve slowly made their way south attempting to flee to Mexico.

     

    Firewatch team’s next game ‘on hold’ as it works on other Valve projects

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    Campo Santo team is working on Half-Life: Alyx, Dota Underlords, and other projects for now

     

    Enhanced and Expanded ‘Persona 5 Royal’ Arrives on March 31, 2020

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    This updated take on Persona 5 includes a new character, the ability to gift items to both men and women, an enhanced cell phone conversation system, more story, and more. It’s unclear if Royal will be able to address the criticisms leveled at the game’s ugly mishandling of queer characters, or if Atlus will allow people to stream the game without enormous and burdensome restrictions. The Japanese version was released in October.

     

    Starship Troopers gets a survival RTS in 2020

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    Between the bug-busting violence, sci-fi theatrics, and rampant militarism, Starship Troopers seems like the perfect fit for games, but the series’ history in digital adaptation has been spotty. Starship Troopers: Terran Command aims to change that – with a little help from the formula that’s helped to make strategy games like Conan Unconquered and They Are Billions such successes.

     

    Mike Pondsmith: "If you want to get somebody to see your point of view, don't preach"

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    The veteran designer on adapting to new technology, bringing Cyberpunk 2077 to 2020, and using games to tackle political and social themes

     

    Q&A: Blizzard Answers Our Biggest Overwatch 2 Questions

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    New details on gameplay tweaks, the sequel's approach to storytelling, new character designs, and more.

     

    Earthbreakers is a new FPS from Command and Conquer developers

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    Petroglyph Games, the studio that formed from the ashes of Westwood Studios after EA closed it down, have revealed a new project, Earthbreakers, and it’s a spiritual successor of sorts to Command and Conquer: Renegade.

     

    The memes of medieval monks inspired the artwork for this comedic turn-based strategy

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    Throw down the gauntlet and command your inky army in Inkulinati.

     

    Snikch confirmed for Total War: Warhammer 2 Shadow and Blade DLC pack – here’s everything it adds

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    Total War: Warhammer 2 developer Creative Assembly recently teased new DLC for the strategy game, and now we know exactly what’s coming. Death Master Snikch is indeed on the way, along with another new lord and two new playable factions.

    The Shadow & The Blade - TOTAL WAR: WARHAMMER 2 DLC Reveal

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    Revealing all the lords, characters and units in the new Shadow and the Blade DLC for Total War: Warhammer 2 which releases on December 12th, 2019.

    NEW SKAVEN UNITS + REPANSE! Close-Up & Stats Guide | Shadow & The Blade DLC - Total War: Warhammer 2

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    A look at the new ratmen DLC units from The Shadow & The Blade DLC + New Bretonnian Lord & Hero. Remember this is pre-release so, stats/prices and other things may change!

     

    Square Enix shares more info about Kingdom Hearts 3's Re:Mind DLC (but there's still no release date)

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    Square Enix has finally released more details about the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3's Re:Mind DLC, including news that a new trailer for the DLC will release next month.

     

    Ghost Recon Breakpoint is getting a new loot system next year

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    It’s fair to say that Ghost Recon Breakpoint has had a rough go of it since launch, and even publisher Ubisoft seems to agree. The company held a two-week player survey earlier this month, and has now pledged to address players’ most commonly-held concerns – and one of the big ones is Breakpoint’s Destiny-esque tiered loot system.

     

    Euro Truck Simulator 2 DLC trailer is a hypnotic ride through Eastern Europe

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    Road to the Black Sea comes out on December 5.

     

    Rainbow Six Siege adds two new operators in today's Shifting Tides update

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    Watch a new bolt-action sniper rifle shoot through walls and Operators alike as Operation Shifting Tides comes to Rainbow Six Siege. In addition to her rifle, the Attacker, Kali, brings a versatile underbarrel explosive charge to help destroy enemy gadgets, while Wamai gives the Defenders extra cover by deploying grenade-grabbing magnetic devices. Learn the ins and outs of the new gadgets, and spot the big changes to the Theme Park map in the latest rework.

     

    YouTube lightens up about videogame violence

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    YouTube’s ever-changing content and advertising guidelines have taken creators on numerous rides over the past several years, but the latest changes sound like they’ll offer a bit more freedom to folks who focus on violent titles. Starting today, YouTube’s community guidelines will treat videogame violence the same as other scripted violence – though there have been no changes to the existing, separate guidelines for what’s ‘advertiser-friendly.’

     

    Quantic Dream has been condemned by French Court over still ongoing cases of employees harassments & toxic working conditions

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    The famous French video game company was sentenced to the labor courts for letting an employee broadcast shocking images staging leaders and employees. This is a new round in the bitter battle between the company and its former IT manager.

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    Quantic Dream ordered to pay former employee over failed 'security obligations'

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    As reported by Mediapart (via Try aGame and ResetEra), Quantic Dream has taken a partial loss in one action filed by a former IT manager over offensive images described by a judge as "homophobic, misogynistic, racist or deeply vulgar," that were created by other employees and shared among members of the studio. As a result, the studio has been ordered to pay the ex-employee €5000 ($5504) in compensation, as well as €2000 ($2201) in in legal costs.

     

    Riot Games will pay $10 million to settle gender discrimination suit

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    Riot Games agreed to pay out at least $10 million to women who worked at the company in the last five years as part of a settlement in a class action lawsuit over alleged gender discrimination, according to court documents filed Monday.

     

    Dangen Entertainment Warning

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    I am writing these posts in the public interest, to warn people of my experiences with Dangen Entertainment and their CEO Ben Judd. It is my opinion that Dangen Entertainment and Ben Judd are predators that prey on indie game developers and young women, and I cannot in good conscience allow them to continue without leaving some public warning and evidence of their actions.

     
     
    Esports

     

    ForZe defeat Tricked, win DreamHack Open Winter CS:GO

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    ForZe have been crowned the new champions of DreamHack Open Winter after the Russian CS:GO team took down Tricked 2-1 today in Jönköping, Sweden.

    CS:GO player caught openly cheating by a streamer at DreamHack

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    Cheating in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been a major problem for a while, and if anyone needs more evidence, this clip from a livestream broadcast from DreamHack Winter ought to make the case. A young player was spotted using CS:GO hacks at the event and making no effort to conceal the fact.

     

    A Tekken Legend's Visit To Pakistan Is Met With Both Cheers And Drama

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    Over the last year, Pakistan’s fighting game community has risen from relative obscurity to a place of prominence thanks to a handful of its players winning major Tekken 7 tournaments on the world stage. The country has garnered so much attention, in fact, that South Korean veteran Jae-Min “Knee” Bae traveled there last week to train for the Tekken World Tour finals this weekend. What should have been a simple opportunity for these players to learn from one another, however, became a mini controversy when two of the country’s best avoided playing the South Korean visitor altogether.

     

    The Kid From Nowhere Who Won it All... and Gave the Money Away

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    The Dominican Republic earned their way to the top of the Street Fighter world. They overcame barriers, borders and gods and earned the rest of the world’s respect.

     

    Crowdfunding News (not sharing everything I find, just ones that look interesting, have known talent behind them, and a chance to succeed)

     

    A Profound Waste of Time: Issue 2

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    A Profound Waste of Time is a unique videogame culture magazine that pairs the reflections and ideas of some of the best writers and developers in the industry with specially-commissioned illustrations from leading image-makers. Rather than focussing on news and reviews, we take a more timeless approach, examining the influences, processes and broader conversations behind the medium.

    The first issue of APWOT was published in 2018 to wide critical acclaim and now we are delighted to return with our second instalment: a beautifully-produced, 180+ page volume featuring the very best in videogame culture writing.

     

    Former Fire Emblem ROM Hack Becomes Brand New Video Game

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    Once upon a time, there was a ROM hack for Fire Emblem called Midnight Sun. It was cancelled in 2017, but is now back, having spent the intervening years transforming itself into a standalone, original video game.

    Path of the Midnight Sun | A dark fantasy jRPG-VN

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    In a world filled with demons and political schemes, your choices influence the story & gameplay!

     

    Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc)

     

    A Video Game Auteur’s Quest for Connection

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    “I thought, I’ll tell her once I’ve become a little successful,” he says. “I didn’t want her to worry.” But she died during the game’s gestation. “The ghosts in the game — maybe my parents are one of them, seeing me in this world,” he adds. “I wanted to have that kind of metaphor, that within you, you’re connected to the people that passed away.” Kojima admits to regrets about not telling his mother about the game. He appears shaken as he says it.

     

    How Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove Went From Minor DLC to a Collection Built to Last

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    Yacht Club Games recounts the evolution of Shovel Knight's ambitious collection.

    The Making of Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, Part 1: The Plan

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    In the first part of this Shovel Knight deep dive, Yacht Club Games explains the planning process behind Specter of Torment.

    The Making of Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, Part 2: Froggy Foreshadowing

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    Yacht Club Games explains the art of spacing, enemy placement, and more as it delves still further into the making of Specter of Torment.

     

    ACID GAMES Talks: Unlearning - Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hive Mind (Troy)

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    Hello, this is my talk, it’s called: UNLEARNING, Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Hive Mind.

    Ghost Trick Has One Of The Catchiest OSTs On The DS

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    The whole concept behind Ghost Trick is making ghostly possessions a game mechanic. That meant every object in an area was either a potential tool to be manipulated or a method of transit. Interesting characters, witty dialogue, and vibrant visuals made it an instant classic for me. But the thing that’s stuck with me most is the soundtrack. I still listen to it all the time, whether it’s when I’m writing, working out, doing chores, or just chilling. So I was pretty excited to get the chance to speak with the game’s composer, Masakazu Sugimori.


    Working for major studios

     

    ‘Death Stranding’ imagines the eco-horror of our future dystopia

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    Hideo Kojima’s latest video game is a mindful hiking simulator set in a post-disaster America.

     

    ONCE AGAIN (november review)

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    The blurb on THE NINJA WARRIORS ONCE AGAIN Amazon page is “Significantly enhanced remake of one of the best Japanese side-scrolling beat-me-up games of all time!” This bit of hyperbole could be mistaken for a selling point, or, it could be the absolute truth.

     

    Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Turns Trauma and Fear into Cheap Tricks

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    No one thought that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare would be an educational experience, and it didn’t seem that Infinity Ward made any claim that it would be. But it is clearly designed to send a message, to present a specific feeling. As I delved further into the single-player story campaign, my frustration grew deeper as I experienced these same tricks repeatedly.

     

    Disco Elysium offers a dark mirror to my mid-life crisis

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    Martainaise, the broken-down home of Disco Elysium’s broken-down police story, is an excoriating light shone not just upon its broken-down policeman, but also upon me, and my failure to be the person I thought I was. It is my mid-life crisis writ in grey rainfall, my dread realisation that death is coming and I’m not who I ever meant to be.

    “Dick Mullen and the Miracle Plot,” by Chris Breault

    Quote

    In Disco Elysium, lieutenant Kim Katsuragi is both your partner and your guide. Elysium’s protagonist, Harry Du Bois, is a ruinously drunk detective whose latest binge has obliterated his memory; he leans on Kim, a steady 20-year veteran of the force, to explain the game’s central murder case and the world to him.

     

    Disco Elysium is a Role-Playing Dream Come True

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    Following it's many years of development, I had hoped Studio ZA/UM's Disco Elysium would turn out to be a decent RPG that stands out by omitting a traditional combat system -- but when it came out it ended up being one of the absolute best roleplaying games I've ever played on a computer. In this video, I'm talking about how this game managed to be the first video game that gave me the feeling of playing a tabletop campaign with an actual DM. And many other shenanigans.

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    The Trouble with the Video Game Industry | Philosophy Tube

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    DECOLONISING GAMES - Conquest of Dread

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    Kia ora e hoa, this time I'm gonna introduce you to a couple of concepts we often talk about in discussions of "Decolonisation", what they are, how they sometimes overlap and how they affect everything from videogames like The Witcher 3, Skyrim and Greedfall, all the way through to tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons. While we are focusing on games this time, hopefully after watching you'll be able to see how these same ideas can apply to movies, books and even places like museums!

    https://www.patreon.com/conquestofdread

     

    Critiquing the Campaign of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)

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    Review copy provided by publisher. Contains spoilers for Modern Warfare (2019) and Call of Duty 4. Brief discussion of torture.

    There's something comforting about the release of a new Call of Duty game; a title with unmatched production values to distract from its utterly mindless gameplay. With their campaign in this year's Modern Warfare, however, Infinity Ward wanted to do something more—putting us more face-to-face with the consequences of this action romp than they perhaps ever have, in order to critique the systems of conflict. Let's talk about how what we got might be the complete opposite, and how if Call of Duty really wants to go down this route in future, this vision arguably lies in its fundamental technical framework rather than any trite story moment.

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    Control taught me to love the ugliest architecture

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    The team behind Control, Remedy's latest game, used Brutalist architecture as the inspiration for the concrete monstrosity where the game takes place. But what is Brutalism?

     

    How Link's Awakening Rearranges a Soundtrack

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    After being blown away by the Link's Awakening remake and its approach to rearranging the original Gameboy soundtrack, I decided to see if I could analyze the new soundtrack to glean some insight into arranging for a group that you don't often hear in video game soundtracks: wind sextet. After analyzing the game's wind sextet arrangement of its title theme, I tried to 'steal' the ideas present in the arrangement in order to create a wind sextet arrangement of the original Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow title screen of my own. After much trial and error I ended up with something that I'm pretty proud of, and this video is meant to take you through the process of how I got there.

    PATREON: https://www.patreon.com/8bitmusictheory

     

    What happens when you try to recycle a video game?

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    We take a look at what happens when you try to recycle a video game, plastic box and all.

    Support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/PeopleMakeGames

     

    Super Paper Mario - A Flat Game with a Deep Story | The Completionist

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    Super Paper Mario was a deviation of the Paper Mario RPG formula. When announced it was going that direction, it worried a lot of fans. Turning the game into a blended platformer with some RPG elements lead to a very creative Mario game. Navigating the 2D and 3D axis of the game is a lot of fun and has plenty of new opportunities to hide secrets. And the plot of this game actually gets a bit dark. Luigi, your own brother, gets brainwashed and because a villain known as Mr. L. Plenty more to discuss in my Super Paper Mario review!

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    Elite Dangerous Review

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    Elite Dangerous is a space sim about living in a futuristic Milky Way galaxy completely to scale. Now that's cosmic horror. The review also touches on Horizons and Beyond.

    Support the channel at: https://www.patreon.com/mandaloregaming

     

    How Riven Makes The Player Feel Isolated - Riven Retrospective

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    Riven is one of the most immersive and memorable point-and-click adventure games out there. Let’s talk about it!

    PATREON: https://www.patreon.com/HoodoHoodlum

     

    Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare... 12 Years Later

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    Support the Channel at: https://www.patreon.com/raycevick

     

    How the PlayStation changed video games forever

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    We sat down with four key former developers and businessmen from Sony to reflect on the original PlayStation, its creation and launch, and how the video game industry has changed over the past 25 years.

    Staying up all night and riding in a car trunk: The early days of Tekken

     

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    When Namco made the first few Tekken games, everything seemed to come together last minute

     

    A Hidden Masterpiece! - The History of Beyond Good and Evil

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    Please consider supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/GVMERS

    The mid-2000s were a formative period for Ubisoft. New studios joined its repertoire and bolstered its stature as an international brand. Old studios came into their own with classic series that would define the generation. And series that would come to be classics in the next generation were slowly being cultivated for their future stardom.