the vanishing of ethan carter
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Important Internet Opinion: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Games and Gaming, Reviews

I never tire of walking around and looking at stuff in video games, as in life. Walking around and looking at stuff, I’m going to suggest mostly because it just occurred to me right this minute, is one of the great joys of being human. Or being a dog, I guess, but make no mistake friends: dogs can’t play video games, and that’s why they spend so much time licking their own genitals.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you’ve probably heard, is one of the best-looking video game places thus far in the young history of video games to walk around and look at stuff in. What you’ve heard is true. It is breathtaking.

The sounds of loons hooting on the lake, the rustling of leaves and the quiet sussuration of the wind, the play of slanting sunlight through the foliage, and all that’s lacking is the damp autumn smell of leaves to put you right there. It is — as long as you don’t stray too far from the path they developers want you to walk — utterly convincing. It’s a triumph, and I salute the artists and developers who made the place. I recommend it without reservation as a quiet, beautiful (if somewhat eerie) virtual place to visit.
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Spacebase DF-9 Screenshot
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Dorflike Review: Spacebase DF-9

Games and Gaming, Reviews, Things To Play

Last year when we posted our Dorflike Round-up, Spacebase DF-9 was still in its infancy, but the game was promising. Fast forward less than a year, and Double Fine is announcing that they’re going to release version 1.0 next month and then abandon ship. Fortunately, they’re planning to release enough source for the modding community to take over from here. Then again, the game seems light years from completion.

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A castle uploaded by Redditor karmanaut.
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Minecraft and Microsoft: A Story of Hope

Games and Gaming, Gaming Culture, News

I’ve been playing Minecraft since before multi-player existed. I’ve spent thousands of hours hunting for diamonds, building make-shift dirt huts, and shouting expletives at creepers. Some of my best gaming memories happened in Minecraft’s voxelated environments. I appreciate the vital role Notch played in all of that.

That’s why I couldn’t be happier to hear that Notch has sold Mojang.

Minecraft’s success has come (and stayed) in spite of the work Notch and Mojang have done recently, not because of it. Minecraft and its community have been badly mismanaged for years; the sale to Microsoft is an opportunity to change directions and make things better.

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Games and Gaming

Innovated Too Much

“Dungeon Keeper suffered from a few things. I don’t think we did a particularly good job marketing it or talking to fans about their expectations for what Dungeon Keeper was going to be or ultimately should be. Brands ultimately have a certain amount of permission that you can make changes to, and I think we might have innovated too much or tried some different things that people just weren’t ready for. Or, frankly, were not in tune with what the brand would have allowed us to do. We like the idea that you can bring back a brand at EA and express it in a new way. We’ve had some successes on that front, but in the case of Dungeon Keeper, that just didn’t connect with an audience for a variety of reasons.”

EA Mobile boss and brand-fetishist Frank Gibeau, positively dripping with contempt for his customers

FUEL Online Freeride
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Drinking and Driving

Features, Retrospectives

It’s Friday evening again, and as we’ve done so many hundreds — thousands? — of times before over the past 30 years, the Bearman and I are drinking together. He’s got rye and water, and I have my usual crappy Korean beer. We’re sitting on a cliff at the edge of the caldera high on top on an extinct volcano, looking down into the crater lake under clear blue skies, enjoying the view before we get back on the road. We’re talking about our wives and our jobs and whatever else comes to mind, as we always have, just shooting the shit and trying to figure stuff out. And failing, but the fun is in making the attempt. A storm front looks to be coming in from the east, so we decide to head west, around the rim of the caldera, and make for the ocean coast. We finish our drinks, fire up our engines, and go. It’ll probably take us a couple of hours to reach the seaside, but we have time, and we have booze. The new thing here, though, is that he’s on one side of the Pacific Ocean, and I’m on the other, and there are no drink-driving laws being broken. We’re Online Freeriding in FUEL.

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EULA Problems are something like this.
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Mojang’s EULA Problem

Gaming Culture, News

Last week, Marc Watson, Mojang’s Customer Support Manager, dropped a bit of a bomb on Twitter:

Mojang seems to think that their EULA gives them the authority to regulate anything related to Minecraft. It’s true that a well-worded EULA can confer tremendous power (in the U.S., at least), but that power is not unlimited.

Regardless of the legality of it, Watson’s interpretation is hostile to Mojang’s customers. It’s time for Mojang to do some soul-searching. What kind of company do they want to be?

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character creation Guild Wars 2
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The RPG Player’s Lament

Games and Gaming

“I envy people who never play RPGs,” I thought, as I adjusted the nose height of my new character a fraction of an inch, for the eighth time in a row.

I started playing Dragon Age Origins this week. I bought the game on Thursday, but I couldn’t start playing it until Saturday, because I knew I would need to invest a big chunk of time in the first session. Not to get through the tutorials or learn the controls; to get the face right. Continue reading

mass effect 3 pistol
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Chasing the dream of “The Perfect Loadout”

Games and Gaming, Gaming Culture

I wish there was a magic formula for setting up the perfect loadout in any game, but there are far too many variables. Including what you like to do, and – in some sense – who you are as a person.

Do you enjoy the satisfaction of rushing right up to an enemy and pummeling them to the ground? Then you’re not going to be happy with a sniper rifle, no matter how good it is. Conversely, if you enjoy peering off the edge of a high ledge and picking enemies off one by one in a courtyard far below, you’re going to hate a shotgun, even if it is the best shotgun. Continue reading

Games and Gaming, Gaming Culture

Inside the disintegration of a game jam reality show

“Every side was pulling for what they wanted, and in the end the side that mattered most got burned. We can’t have that,” Rosen writes, in a post that details the behind-the-scenes evolution of a modest game jam into a “terrifyingly enormous spectacle.”

Inside the disintegration of a game jam reality show at Gamasutra

Gaming Culture

Lord of The Flies

This is where things can get unpleasant. You can handcuff people. You can break people’s legs with axes. You can force them to eat tainted food or drink bleach. These are mechanics coded into the game with the presumed intention of making the game more fun for players.

Let’s think about that what that means for a moment. The game designers believed that their game would be improved by the ability to kill other player characters by forcing them to drink bleach.

The New Statesman worries about the Meaning of DayZ.