A tourist’s trip through games (Ancient Egypt)

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Yep, this is how i play games… don’t laugh. Yes, i am like that excited asian tourist with a big camera stopping every couple of steps to take a photo. And yes, i am advancing slowly through games… but you know what? I’m having a lot of fun seeing these amazing worlds. And how often does one get the chance to visit not just Egypt, but ancient Egypt?

PS: yes, this is Assassin’s Creed: Origins, haven’t had such a great visual treat since my visit to to 1789 France in AC Unity (maybe not quite that level though) and parts of the Witcher 3 expansion which also looked very good at times… but from what i’ve seen so far not quite on this level. And the BIG surprise of the experience is that it actually offers somewhat of a similar experience in interacting with the world through a mixture of little stories and exploration.

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Cavalier poping out of the vents of the gothic city. Predator and prey are both animals, one flying, the other arctic.

 
Usual rules: 3 tries per person. Winner gets to propose a gameSketch. x5 multiplier for first timers. Newcomers: you may ask for 3 freebies even if you didn’t yet guess anything. Outstanding credits: Jason Clark 10, Jaco x101, Marius, SebastianKErben x17, Firefish x34, Radu x45, , 47Crows x19, Ange, PettyX90 x7, Pori x2, Tarpo x5, player347 x9, Diana x6, VideoGamesAsArt x2 , thegazer x9, BiaHawks x7, rsocu x5, Teofil S. Awaiting scenes from you guys.

 

All Elder Scrolls Trailers 1994 – 2014

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Wow, what a journey through time! I can’t believe even I didn’t live the first ones. Also makes me wonder when we’ll start to see the slowdown in game-tech so we’ll be more like movies with the difference being more in content than visuals, as I was expecting to see a huge slowdown in the last ones but the leaps were IMHO still big.

Activision’s Microtransaction Patent

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It’s quite interesting to see the player outrage over this one piling up on the recent outrage on the whole turning stuff into “games as service” such as EA shutting down Viscereal Games, the makers of Dead Space, after there too also slowly transforming the IP from a cool experience into a micro-transaction shop. Here’s an even more upset commentator on the subject

What i find ironically funny and a little tragic about it is that we see here both motivated improvements of experiences for the players as well as the less desirable shifting of incentives and even a touch of the kinds of behaviors usually reserved to states in finding new and inventive ways of milking their tax people. And like with them I’d predict they’ll get through with it despite the outrage, but like with them I expect they’ll discover a lot of the unintended side effects of central planning, ways it will backfire and like there there’s gonna be a lot of “patching of loopholes” which might fix some things but might break even more things, or more likely not break but rather tie everything down in a net of hard to follow twisted cause and effects.

In the meanwhile i’ll try to further hide behind my singleplayer hat. Will there still be space in this brave new world for singleplayer stories without catches? The Visceral Games experience with the killing of a singleplayer star wars story game suggests less. But maybe new studios will spring up to fill this desire of the audience as the old ones shift towards the bigger money… because as long as people will be willing to pay for these micro-transactions, well… they’ll be around. What that patent does (as far as I understand it) would indeed increase the pleasure of the experience of the purchasers. Which again makes me think that this whole thing is simply a way to raise the prices, because to those willing to pay more (pre-orders, micro-transactions, late buyers of bundles) the overall experience might actually get improved in the manipulative way in which games have always done, by design aiming to create artificial worlds to give a feeling of achievement by buying the products. And I don’t mean this part as a bad thing… that’s why we buy/enjoy them. Then maybe the question is just one of price… and here, with some knowledge about economics and world history, I have to wonder how much of this increase in price is the normal and expected desire of the game makers to make more, and how much is their attempt to get the same even as the different governments burden them with new taxes and regulations and possibly in the meanwhile dilute the value of “the same amount of money”. In this second case this could mean they’re simply trying to preserve a similar purchasing power as they used to have, but they’re indirectly forced by those in power to do it in such sneaky ways. This would fit very well with inflationary universal experiences across countries and history of the general bad-will of everybody condemning everybody else and hating/being suspicious of the others as the binding trust of societies is slowly eroded with the erosion of the value of their currencies/freedoms.  In this case it would be no different with micro-transactions than the classic “bag of chips got shrunk with price staying the same, or bag of chips stayed the same time, but customers realize that a) it’s got more air to product b) it’s using lower quality ingredients”, like the shift from steak to hamburger meat inflation measurers have been switching to.  Should this be the case i’d expect more and more of such stories, more and more popular outrage even as this shift keeps going on due to bigger forces.

Titanfall 2 – impressions

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-, – the world & level design feels not like you exploring a credible well thought out world with a history but rather like a tightly scripted corridor of fun, feeling very much like a “2d platformer” if I may make the extrapolation. To those who like such games this might be a plus, to me it was somewhat immersion breaking to see bits of walls on cranes sitting exactly where you need them to proceed given your very specific movement type. A few times through the game i would’ve found it acceptable, but though the whole game it felt very “convenient” in a slightly artificial way, even if it had the occasional cool moment

+ within that mechanic though there was a section where I almost felt like I shouldn’t judge it as a FPS being empty and bland but rather like a Portal game with more content than just puzzle rooms… not that it was anywhere near the intelectual/world perception shifting that that game was. Plus there was a bit of a nice joke to see a visual assembly of a house/street.

+, -, +, – They said this would be a short game, well, not for me (+): it took me ages to finish, but unfortunately often because i’d lose interest every once in a while

+,+ Started out very interestingly, with a mixture of nature and technology. Also it has moments when it looks fantastic, slightly bland geometry & texturing, but good use of lights & fog as well as size.

+ technically the graphics looked good, good lighting and cool rendering, felt like good framerate

– but artistically i felt it quite bland, blocky world design, boxes everywhere,

-, -, + I personally disliked the in-titan section, but then again for a mech game it was fantastic, probably the best I’ve seen: the movement felt still smooth, almost like a FPS and the interface was pretty cool looking, with some fantastic touches such as parts of the “screen” turning on gradually as you get in

-, -, – an abundance of old game style bland industrial environments, like pipes and sewers and tunnels which are essentially big straight walls/corridors. In this it reminded me of some games I was playing in the 2000-2005 period, as i was playing each and every fps but, like this, they were too bland to remember past playing them

+, +, – the wall running mechanic felt mixed. It would’ve been very very cool, and technically it definitely was, along with the overall “speed” feeling of the game, but the world wasn’t open enough to take advantage of it so it resulted in an environment that was specifically crafted in a linear way to use it’s tricks in ways that felt predictable and forced, sometimes for the ordinary, sometimes for multiple trial & error deaths to figure out what you were supposed to do (as opposed to had the opportunity to do)

+, +, -,  + however in the end game it felt fantastic when it was combined with another even cooler mechanic, of dual timelines/overlapping spaces. I might even go as far as to say that in it’s implementation this was even superior to the experience in Dishonored 2. Not due to artwork, no, definitely NOT, here the game fell embarrassingly lame, with a huge section where it felt like the devs just placed placeholder boxes and environmental walls that they used to proof test the gameplay but never got around to actually replacing them with actual interesting art assets, whereas Dishonored 2 in the dual-timeline level had stellar artistic content. BUT where this was better however was the feeling of running through it, the possibility to skip whole sections by jumping back and forth in time while advancing and dynamic fights making use of it. That felt nice.

+ the music felt professional but (to me) also in that bland kind of way, even while checking the AAA game/movie checkboxes of quality

+, +, + there’s some great looking cinematic moments, as well as great scripted scenes, even a wonderful time-stop scene which is delightful to explore and still looks great

-, -, –  rather silly antagonists, along with a, to me, somewhat silly to me feeling premise of the humanoid mechs, the relationship with them as well as the whole romanticization of the military structure

+, – the game/story does manage to pull finely on a couple of emotional strings, such as the partnership with the titan, while at the same time doing to me too much of the “oh, i’m an AI so i don’t get jokes but being human is the beeest” that scifi stories of this type do.

+ there were a few moments where I almost felt they were about to start some nice scifi fiction narative on a future humanity… but then they dropped it.

Overall I’d give this game a 1 on a -5 to 5 scale: I’m disappointed in the level of it’s artwork content even as I was impressed in the technical polish of the game. And while I might complain about the mediocre universe and levels I can see why more gameplay oriented people appreciate this game (in a parallel way to to Doom 2016?), especially if one considers that this, to me not as great campaign, is in fact a big huge bonus for people who otherwise would’ve gotten a multiplayer only game, multiplayer which in general I don’t really play more than a few minutes for a peek (seemed decent with fresh ideas) so I don’t count it here. So overall, for me, this is a passable AAA game, albeit a forgettable one.

How Video Games are Turning into Movies

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Funny video with (to me) a more serious discussion behind it.

While I disagree on the use of the term “graphics” I fundamentally agree with the implicit point, which is also the reason behind Artsygamer.com’s starting out. I don’t think it’s about graphics though, but I do think it’s about “content”. Sure, gameplay can be viewed as content too, but I’m talking more about the more traditional forms of content like story/music/mood/architecture/environments/set design…

It is interesting and exciting though to see modern games presenting things in such an easy way that everybody can get it at a glance, but even if one went back to old games, say you went back to text mode games, so there’s no “graphics” at all, I think even back then one could make this separation: I’ve played text adventure games written by the great funny scifi writer Douglas Adams himself… and I’d call that content that can move people in a deep way, and content that somebody coming from a traditional “reading books” world can get, as opposed to games of that same era that were about reflexes, bouncing dots, moving/fitting shapes and reacting which I don’t see as being able to play in the same field. Not saying they’re not fun, or can’t also trigger attachment, I just see a fundamental difference between these two and by far value one over the other even on a theoretical level.

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Engineer system specialist still alive

 
Usual rules: 3 tries per person. Winner gets to propose a gameSketch. x5 multiplier for first timers. Newcomers: you may ask for 3 freebies even if you didn’t yet guess anything. Outstanding credits: Jason Clark 10, Jaco x101, Marius, SebastianKErben x17, Firefish x34, Radu x45, , 47Crows x19, Ange, PettyX90 x7, Pori x2, Tarpo x5, player347 x9, Diana x6, VideoGamesAsArt x2 , thegazer x9, BiaHawks x7, rsocu x5, Teofil S. Awaiting scenes from you guys.

 

The Art of Shadow Warrior 2

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Haven’t yet played the game for fear of grindiness however the artwork looks intricate and one day I do intend to play it as I once upon a time enjoyed the old 90s Shadow Warrior’s differentness of approach.

Mangold’s Battlefield 3 [epic music]

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MangoldProject is my favorite music instructor, I love how he explains chord progressions and especially his chord substitution theory, so imagine my shock and delight this morning as I saw him post a game related video. What a treat. His music starts at 1:45.

If you’re interested in music check out his channel in general as he has many many great piano and music theory videos. My absolute favorite remains https://youtu.be/7ONIzO3l-fw which I must’ve listened to tens and tens of times (and i still don’t feel i’ve internalized, so will continue to do so).

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It’s new and gambled

Based on a proposal by Henri Matikainen. Thank you!

Usual rules: 3 tries per person. Winner gets to propose a gameSketch. x5 multiplier for first timers. Newcomers: you may ask for 3 freebies even if you didn’t yet guess anything. Outstanding credits: Jason Clark 10, Jaco x101, Marius, SebastianKErben x17, Firefish x34, Radu x45, , 47Crows x19, Ange, PettyX90 x7, Pori x2, Tarpo x5, player347 x9, Diana x6, VideoGamesAsArt x2 , thegazer x9, BiaHawks x7, rsocu x5, Teofil S. Awaiting scenes from you guys.

 

CoD: Infinite Warfare – impressions

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As usual, I’m only talking about the singleplayer as for me the multiplayer doesn’t exist/is useless:

-, -, – very blocky world design. It felt like a game crew that couldn’t afford sculptors and only box modellers, or if it could was given no budget for artwork as everything was subservient to “60 frames per second” or some-such gamey goal (probably due to the multiplayer?). Coridors are very boxy, many empty spaces, instead of details “bump maps” or such other “2d” effects. Some pretty good, but not enough to make up for a more interesting world.

-, -, – this is quite related to the above, the setting of the game. The fact that it’s a scifi setting should’ve been a wonderful thing, an opportunity for imagination and originality, but combined with the above the game remains a shallow “go soldier, go go!!!” game with a team with either not enough time/budget or imagination to create an interesting futuristic world. I say this in the following sense: if this same team/budget is given to create say historical weapons/locations/architecture, then (even within their constraints of low poly for high framerate) they could create a world which is interesting and has some measure of believability/interest, because even behind lowpoly objects, we can feel the functional design, their reasons for existing, what they’re supposed to do and in what context. All this becomes false for a futuristic world, and instead you end up with like in this game with a lot of generic “sci-fi-looking” equipment/coridors/objects, which you can tell are “skin deep” shallow”, nobody thought enough about them to make them a true original world, nor did somebody strugle enough to make them very interesting visually. In this sense I would say that within this game/constraints the setting results in a lot of mediocrity

+, +, – the thing that saved the game, and why i kept playing was the fact that you were able to keep moving forward. This kept things a little fresh, and even if I found the story shallow and events and characters uninteresting, at least you could sort of steadily advance.

– however I felt i had very little control, like it was useless to play somehow, like I was just playing chunks of cinematics, like the team wasn’t there to support my actions but me there to support their actions, just waiting for the next checkpoint, the next trigger event, more incentivized to waste time and keep ducking back than to play anything engaging

– the story felt very shallow, soldier propaganda level, with a foolish commander/admiral type who regularly forgets to be one but rather acts like a hero, “one of the soldiers” and always aims to save everybody, which without superpowers of course means he dies a lot (even on easiest difficulty)… and getting back to the story, the guy seems to have the idealism of a rookie who’s never seen casualties (or has done so much propaganda he convinced himself). The villains seem cardboard cut-out “bhaahaha” evil, which i guess they need to be since they seem to be colonies which want to break away so in fact the game is from the perspective of an empire trying to keep them under control as they rebel (particularly ironic when one thinks of America’s origins and the British Empire)

+, -, – it tries to mix things up with space fights, which i guess should be appreciated for variety and occasionally *looks* decent i didn’t enjoy it and felt like the rest of the campaign somehow very limited and not player centric

-, + the music felt forgettable, though i think there was some good stuff too, i just never really noticed it

Overall I’d give the game a -1. It’s still a high budget production, but the most disappointing CoD game in the last probably 8 or so. It feels bland and rather pointless. I wouldn’t recommend this game except to really dedicated and bored FPS fans (I guess I must be one since I finished it?)

“Finishing games” – getting obsolete?

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   His comments about finishing games made me wonder yet again if that concept isn’t somehow getting obsolete. Of course I love doing that and am tempted, and it’s great that for those who do there’s a LOT to do in modern games, however I’m wondering more and more over the past years if that isn’t a kind of thinking that is a relic of olden times, when good games were a scarcity, not an overflowing abundance. In these modern times isn’t it more logical to for example consider an open world more “finished’ when you explore all it’s open map, than when you completed all the quests, stories, things to gather/secrets to find. For many modern games that last last part of the game could take 90% of the time while you could get >80% of the satisfaction by ignoring the exponentially rising difficulty padding that modern games do at the end? Main stories are blessedly not always so (though MGS5 disappointed there) but still… this is a line of thinking i’m having more and more often as I think a better use of my time to go onto new game worlds than to squeeze every last drop of the often wasteful tricks of modern devs. That with a few exceptions of gems worth digging into deeper.

How do you see this brave new world when there’s so many games, so little time?

Dark Souls Timeline

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WOoow, like wooow! this is such a fantastically researched and fascinating timeline. Seriously, so many people only remembering/praising this game with “it’s hard” as their explanation as to why it became so big. Sure, the mechanics were good, but others did too. More importantly IMO they were good because they fit with the world and story, and WHAT a world and story, so much thinking. In my opinion even people who don’t recognize it and talk just about gameplay, the reason they’re noticing/taking the time to enjoy/discover it is even against their own beliefs the fact that all this back thinking and lovingly crafted world and universe and history is seeping through every orifice and even as they think they’re just “fighting” the reason the area is interesting to fight in is that each corner has in it not just good local level design but more importantly bits of the big picture which dictates and unifies it all.

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A child grown under the shadow of the blade of the other side becomes part of the urban insurgency

 
Usual rules: 3 tries per person. Winner gets to propose a gameSketch. x5 multiplier for first timers. Newcomers: you may ask for 3 freebies even if you didn’t yet guess anything. Outstanding credits: Jason Clark 10, Jaco x101, Marius, SebastianKErben x17, Firefish x34, Radu x45, , 47Crows x19, Ange, PettyX90 x7, Pori x2, Tarpo x5, player347 x9, Diana x6, VideoGamesAsArt x2 , thegazer x9, BiaHawks x7, rsocu x5, Teofil S. Awaiting scenes from you guys.

 

Mad Max Design Talk

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A nice fireside chat about the game and world design of this often overlooked rough and dirty gem, which despite it’s problems, still did some extraordinary things.

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