30 December 2016

Analyse This: The Story of Hyper Light Drifter... (Part 2)

By your powers, combined...

Just a reminder that this series discusses aspects of the game Hyper Light Drifter and will veer wildly into spoiler territory from the get-go.


Analyse This: The story of Hyper Light Drifter... (Part 1)

That is a cool sword...

I've been playing Hyper Light Drifter over the last month or two months. I think it's a great game and I have a 'Post Thoughts' that I'm working on but, after having been intrigued by the visual world and its hinted at backstory, I wanted to explore the lore of what was going on in the game.

Other fans of the game have come up with their own explanations as to the history of the world but I wasn't entirely satisfied with those so I started cataloguing the different pieces of evidence.

As usual, there will be spoilers below:

15 November 2016

Why the PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio are unnecessary and why they’ll hurt the industry and console gaming…

"And I'll have a side of large fries with that..."

Now that the PS4 Pro is launched and its hardware performance and games are being fully analysed by places like Digital Foundry we’re starting to get a better picture of what the future looks like for this side of the console space. 

The future does not look good so far.

9 November 2016

Sci-fi Tropes: Why we can’t be in a simulated universe and why the universe itself is a simulator...

The humans symbolise the functions, the jellyfish symbolise quantum entanglement... per Scott Webb

There has been a lot of philosophical talk about our place in the universe and whether what we experience is real within the last few years – you can even drag in determinism and consciousness into this debate to round everything off! Of course, these discussions have been going on for centuries as the idea fades into and out of popularity; the farther back you go, the language to describe these ideas becomes more limited, though. Rene Descartes didn’t understand anything about computers when he was thinking about the nature of reality and consciousness… but the issues, to my mind, are all intertwined.

23 October 2016

Public Service Announcement: Steam Disc Write Errors...

Seen this message before? Can't play your games? Well, read on...

I've noticed that this particular error is getting more and more common on Steam. Basically, what happens, is that Steam tries to update a game in some fashion and ends up getting a glitch and is unable to proceed. The error has been around for quite some time now and it's trivially simple to fix if you know what to do and where to look... in which case the fact that Valve have no Steam Help page dedicated to the issue (at least not one that doesn't assume your PC or HDD is in the process of dying).

Even worse, it would be pretty easy to code in the fix into the Steam client as a 'when this happens, do this' bit of functionality - all the indicators are there already so the information would just need to be flagged and acted upon.

I looked for quite some time, saw many incorrect solutions and many unhelpful 'suggestions' from hopefully well-meaning users and finally found something that worked (although I don't remember exactly which youtube video it was. I didn't find the work-around written anywhere though - so that's where this PSA comes in...

Now, I'm not going to say that this solution will definitively work for all causes of this error. If your HDD is dying or there is a problem with your system that is causing problems with writing to the HDD then you will need to address that in your own way. Otherwise, this is a good guide to start with before doing crazy things like reinstalling the game, Steam and your OS! 

21 August 2016

About 'adjective' games and responsibilities...

Alien words or alien worlds?

There's an excellent article over at Eurogamer about the type of game No Man's Sky is, the type of marketing and the words used in relating to the consumer. It's a complicated discussion but I feel that it's a great starting point for that sort of discussion so Alexis Kennedy is to be applauded for writing it and Eurogamer for publishing it - it's a brave move.

There are several ideas and concepts crushed down into a single, simplistic article there and, in many ways this serves to unintentionally obfuscate each individual idea or concept by rushing them past the reader in such a manner that the general reader's mind will not fully absorb the intent as part of the greater discussion. Ideally, each major concept would get a separate article but I can't blame them for not going down this path. So here's what I think about 'generalising a game through language'.

19 August 2016

The end of console generations? Or just a change in buzzwords...

The future?

There's been a lot of reporting on how the current console generation's mid-cycle upgrade is 'the end of console generations' but this can only be a bad thing for consumers and developers alike (as I've outlined before).

On the flip-side of things, are 'generations' really at an end? They're still going strong in the mobile market - you have generational separations, definitely. Many games and apps won't work on old hardware. Some apps which would be able to work have their support dropped for different hardware configurations due to cost and actual user numbers.

So what is this, exactly?

15 August 2016

Post Thoughts: Fallout 4...

Seems I didn't take a screenshot of the Red Rocket gas station menu - so here's a wallpaper I made instead...

Fallout 4 is an enjoyable game. I can safely say that if you liked Oblivion, Skyrim and Fallout 3 then you are almost bound to like Fallout 4. The changes it makes from the previous games are almost certainly for the better and fit this game world well enough. Whether Fallout 4 is a good Fallout game is a different question entirely and one I do not intend to answer given that I liked both styles presented by the original two Fallouts and the latter two by Bethesda.

I will, however, give this comparison:

Fallout 1&2 are to Fallout 3&4 as The Office (UK) is to The Office (US). Both have their own strengths and weaknesses, both have their own style of comedy and overarching themes but they are distinctly different experiences for the consumer.

14 August 2016

Post Thoughts: Firewatch...

Finally, a game about relaxing in front of a fire...

The indie game scene has been really ramping up in both quality and ease of access over the last few years. From my own observation it seems that there are two predominant genres: 1) the hyper-reflexive bullet hell-style retro challenge and 2) the reflective and often critical experiential games - the ostensibly purported 'walking simulator'.* This is going to be about the second of those two genres.

I just finished playing through Firewatch (as the above image and article title might indicate) and I thought I'd wrap up my thoughts on the game - as usual: thar be spoilers!

19 July 2016

Screenestate: Site redesigns... (Part 3)


So, today (or maybe last night depending on your time zone) Ars Technica finally revealed their revamped 'new' design. The above is not 'it'. Above, you can gaze upon the wonder that is the updated 'white-on-black' theme (which is much easier on my eyes than typical 'black-on-white' themes of websites and windows programmes). 

This is gorgeous to my eyes:

  • It's relatively information dense
  • Makes use of the horizontal space available quite well with a dual column design
  • Minimises the menu bar and empty space between posts
  • Is chronological in posting order
This is everything that is good in website design!

Let's take a look at the 'real' website:

Well, you can't win 'em all...
Okay, this obviously isn't my preference. I think this would look great on a touch screen mobile device like a tablet or mobile phone. However, on the desktop it looks pretty terrible:

  • Information sparse; not enough posts and too much picture per post
  • Minimises the menu bar and empty space between posts
  • Makes use of the available width of the screen
I don't really have anything else to say about it. I guess it's functional in the loosest sense of the term... The fact that I can only really see two posts is really a useless site design and makes no sense: reducing usability.

To my sensibilities and my design understanding, it's clear that the first picture shows a site that allows its users to understand what is going on and to navigate effectively. I think it's also clear to whoever designed the Ars Technica website too because they are using something very similar for the mobile site design... counter to what I would expect considering the second image.

Like I said in part 1: It's pretty damming that your mobile site, designed to be read on a 5-7 inch vertically-orientated rectangular screen, is more readable than your default website design for expansive 19-30 inch horizontally-orientated desktop screens. Even worse when you provide a 'hidden' (or at best, not promoted) option to view it similarly on your own website...

I wish there was a thumbs up/down option for the available website designs like there is for the user posts on Ars' site. I think it might be quite telling (either way!).

15 July 2016

The rise and rise of AR...

So Pokemon Go is a thing. It's such a big thing that the servers are overloaded, people in un-recognised regions and people on non-supported platforms are trying workarounds in order to play the game!

Not only is the game an unqualified success in terms of user numbers, news coverage, IP capitalisation and implementation but part-owner of the brand, Nintendo, has seen its stock shoot up in the wake of the game's release.

For me this isn't a particularly surprising result - I mean, Pokemon is a multi-generational IP that has had strong societal mindshare and very strong repeat user support; The developers who made the game have already proven the technology through Ingress (which works on mobile phones) and, finally, the fact that the game is more inclusive and open by being an AR implementation is the coup de grâce - the trifecta of perfection. 

If anything, I think Nintendo, Niantic and co. have been too reserved on the release of Pokemon Go and I think that, aside from having microtransactions (which seems to be working really well for them!) they could have also charged a small fee to purchase the app in the first place (maybe $2-5) - so strong is the Pokemon fan base that they would have generated the word-of-mouth that it has seen anyway.

I've long been (and I hate to use this word but it fits in this instance) 'bullish' about AR in comparison to VR and this is, for me, further proof that AR will only go from strength to strength. There are so many more implementations and opportunities out there for AR in comparison to VR that I just can't see the ground swell of support (both user and hardware numbers) for it to really get off the ground.

I can see many more Pokemon Gos in the future of AR. I can't see a Pokemon Go in VR's future.

9 July 2016

Installation probation...

My PC has been a bit slow for the longest time. Let me correct that - my DESKTOP PC has been slow for a long time despite me not using it. Why wasn't I using it? Well, that's mostly because I didn't have a desk or desk area to use it in or on. As a consequence I've not been playing many PC games since my laptop is pretty under-powered, nor have I been recording music or creating graphical art. 

So, slowly, over a period of a few months (because of a combination of work, laziness and lack of focus) I have set up the area for these endeavours and now it is almost complete; the PC was still slow - slower than when I had assembled it. 

Of course, I decided to give it a fresh install.

30 June 2016

Sci-fi Tropes: Hologrammatical sense...

The theory that we are holograms projected into three dimensional spacetime from a two dimensional surface is an intriguing possibility. It's a great thought experiment but one that I find hard to believe. This is mostly because the supposed surface whose information we are projected from is the CMB (cosmic microwave background).

This is the two dimensional representation of the inner wall of a sphere of photons we can observe from just after the reionisation event when the observable universe first became translucent to electromagnetic radiation.

While this, in itself, is not a reason for the theory to break down, the intervening time and light generated by other matter is. If we were a hologram from the surface of the CMB then information from the progression of stars over time would not be simultaneously observable. i.e. We can view the light from the CMB at the same time as viewing light from Alpha Centauri or our own star. This is essentially our ability to see multiple snapshots in time all superimposed on top of one another.

Hologrammatic information does not work this way.

8 June 2016

Screenestate: Site redesigns... (Part 2)

So in Part 1, i discussed what I thought sites were/are doing wrong with UX. I may have levelled the charge that a lot of those sites would be better to navigate and consume on a mobile, vertically-orientated device. So lets see what browsing those same websites on a mobile, vertically-orientated device is.

Knowing where you are:

Like I pointed out last time, humans read across a bit and then down and across again. It works. Whether it's left to right or right to left, that's our thing. Developers of mobile interfaces understand this. It's why we have lots of scrolling on these devices because the viewing space is really limited (maybe 4-7 diagonal inches on average).

Even more telling are the design principles that went into the ergonomics of the iPhone (which was quite innovative at the time) compared to the more common horizontal orientation of the then-competing nascent smart phones. Now, all smart phones and tablets have that primarily vertical orientation for nominal usage, with the option to switch to a horizontal output for more media-friendly viewing. It works really well!

However, just as just before the revolution in interface design that was pushed forward by the iPhone (there were others, but Apple popularised it), we're in an interim period where interface designers have grown up with two familiar systems but are now contending with an explosion in pixel count and screen estate* and it is increasingly apparent that many designers out there do not know how to handle that effectively.

Worse still, there's a not-so-uncommon crossover between different orientations and resolutions when browsing the internet which is terrible. When this occurs, the website is displayed in its entirety on a mobile (small screen, touch) device or takes up a tiny portion of the large 1080p+ resolution display. This is supposed to be 'fixed' in the newer standards to come to the browsing world whereby devices, orientations, resolutions and bandwidth are all detected and adapted to. Unfortunately, much as with the history of the internet, complete adherence to standards can be slow to occur.

5 June 2016

Sci-fi Tropes: Expanding possibilities...

By NASA / WMAP Science Team - http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/media/121238/ilc_9yr_moll4096.png, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23285693
By NASA / WMAP Science Team - Public Domain

I've had a pet theory for a long time now. Actually, it's more of a questioning observation:

Is the universe really expanding?

Now, don't get me wrong! I understand that we are observing the expansion of our visible universe as the physical objects in that visible sphere* are moving further apart. I just see that there is another scenario where that same local 'viewing' of our universe would result in the same or very similar understanding.

There is a recent article on New Scientist that has prompted this line of thinking to come to the fore in my mind, wherein a discrepancy between measurements of the rate of expansion of the universe means that there might be a 9% increase. It's important to note that it may be an error in our accuracy so it's still too early to get overly excited about this observation - much like the faster than light neutrinos!

2 June 2016

Screenestate: Site redesigns... (Part 1)

A week ago I awoke and immediately went to one of my favourite websites on the internet: Ars Technica. I received quite a shock when seeing that the site had been redesigned. The change has since been reconsidered and reverted to the old site design in the face of huge user backlash.

There are several problems with the redesign but let me first talk about the apparently modern/current website design trends and why current UX designers (and UX designers in training) should be shaking their heads at such implementations on desktop.

Regarding this topic specifically, I feel the need to point out that the points I'm making here are from my own personal preferences and biases, except where I'm making an empirical statement - though that doesn't happen often in opinion pieces like this! Normally, I assume people understand this when reading content - however, it seems that few people remember this when reading opinion pieces. I'm making these points in support of my argument and preferences. Other people may have different preferences and so might find these arguments unpersuasive. 

11 May 2016

Screenestate...Ansel and Greatel!

I read on RPS the other day about Nvidia's Ancel tech and, wow... I'm seriously impressed!

I won't reinvent the wheel so here's the short of it as described by RPS:

Games supporting Ansel will let players pop open a camera mode, which pauses the action, turns off the game’s user interface, and lets them compose a shot. Along with moving the camera freely, folks will get to fiddle with the field-of-view, tweak colours, and apply a few simple filters for that Instagram effect. It’ll also offer some fancy image formats, including colossal 8-gigapixel screenshots for mega-high detail, the high dynamic range EXR format, and 360-degree panoramas intended for virtual reality.

This is basically an enhanced version of the screenshot modes available in a number of different games. Want filters like Shadow of Mordor and Dying Light? You got it. Want to be able to turn off the UI and get a clean shot then they have that too. Want to move around the level freely like Shadow of Mordor (and apparently The Order 1886 - though somehow I missed that when playing!) then you can...

What's more interesting are the other features but I do wonder how far from the player character the camera can roam. Either way, no matter how limited, I think this is only a good thing.

The only reason I'm not more excited by this is that it's Nvidia cards only. That's a shame because it's a cool tech and takes a lot of the hassle out of coding these sorts of screen-cap features into each and every title to be released. I think I'd be more interested/excited if this was Valve announcing this feature for Steam... or Microsoft announcing it for Windows. As it stands, I'm looking at the new generation of graphics cards and, depending on the price points of AMD's cards, I'm likely heading towards one of their mid-high range cards as I usually never spend €350+ on a graphics card as, in my experience, most cards perform well for the same number of years at the same settings and you're ready to buy a new card (or couple) at about the same time anyway...

I also don't game on anything anywhere near a 4K resolution so there's no need for me to push that many pixels as it is. What I do want is something that is power efficient, quiet and not too hot (for my non-air conditioned hot spot); A card to go in my planned new rig towards the end of the year that will suffice for the next 4-5 years on Win 10 (even though I don't really want that OS but, hey, I can't stick with Win 7 if I want to play new games!) and even though the new Nvidia cards look tempting I doubt they will be very affordable in my little corner of the international market.

5 May 2016

Dubious backseat designing...

So, I've been a following the indubitable Bill Harris for a number of years now. I was put on his tail by the folks from GamersWithJobs and was hooked from the start. He has a very specific and personal writing style which I would liken to David Gemmell... who could make even the most mundane items and events seem revelatory and exciting.

Bill's a great guy. He also released a game virtually by himself and now he has a follow-up idea.

I think it's a great idea but I think I also have a modification of this idea that would make it more fun and interesting to potential players. The backseat designer in me just couldn't stay quiet. The concept is a half-minute hero version of American football...

4 May 2016

In theory? Is it so hard to understand logic? A.K.A. Why the PS4 was so successful...

There was an article published at Eurogamer the other day essentially positing that most powerful console hardware is the way to 'win' in sales.

Not only is this not true - as seen time and time again - Richard Leadbetter, the story's author also had this nugget to share with the readers:

"Nintendo, Microsoft and indeed Sony itself will be looking at the phenomenon that is PlayStation 4, wondering why it was so successful. Part of the formula is undoubtedly the strength of the core technology. Looking back, Nielsen polling data suggested that "better resolution" was the number one reason buyers purchased PlayStation 4 over its competition. On the one hand, that nugget of data may seem quite unbelievable but on the other, consider this - given two extremely similar pieces of hardware sold at similar price-points with much the same library of software, which would you buy? "Better resolution" may well be the closest the survey had to a response highlighting the spec differential."

I can't understand where he's coming from on this - at all!

26 April 2016

Post Thoughts: Just Cause 3...

This was a really cool title splash screen and sets the tone of 'cool' for the rest of the game...

I never played the original Just Cause though I can extrapolate what sort of a game it was and whether I would have enjoyed it or not from JC2 and JC3. I think I would have. Just Cause 2 was a really fun game in the vein of Saint's Row (but more P.C.) and at the time, the grappling hook gameplay innovation was something really special and added a tonne to the way gameplay felt. Just Cause 3 is another iteration on the original concepts of Just Cause - a big open game world and a new gameplay mechanic added to the mix. 

I'll tell you up front that I enjoyed the game but felt that it overstayed its welcome more so than JC2 did.

As usual: Thar be spoilers!

23 April 2016

AR is the future, VR is the past...

"VR = Virtual Reality, AR= Augmented Reality"

The VR push is in full force now. Demo, after demo, after preview after developer release after... you know what? VR is a great technology.

I'm not sold on it.

22 March 2016

Sci-fi Tropes: Mind over matter...

"We are but dreams amid wanton sleep..." Bloody Mary affiche by binarymind

The fallacy that humans don't utilise the entirety of their brain mass has been dispelled over and over and while what I'm about to delve into is related to that, it's not the whole story...

Sci-fi often depicts advanced races as comprising of super intelligent beings that are able to perform mental gymnastics way beyond our paltry ability. Ignoring, for the moment, those sci-fi universes where embedded circuitry and other shenanigans improve the knowledge and processing power of intelligent beings to god-like levels, it is often assumed that with increasing technological prowess, increasing mental ability is attained.

It's interesting because there is not really any evidence to support this. Humans (specifically Homo sapiens sapiens), are not more intelligent despite our huge and exponentially increasing technological gains over the last two centuries. You can't even argue that we are smarter (with smartness being application of knowledge) because our knowledge base is expanding all the time so application of knowledge will always increase with an increase with available knowledge to draw upon.

7 March 2016

And now for the Gaming Darwin Award...

So, Microsoft announced that they're closing Lionhead Studios (and another studio I've never heard of!). The shocking thing for me isn't that the studios are closing down, but the released statement put out by Microsoft PR:

These changes are taking effect as Microsoft Studios continues to focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play."

The thing is that Lionhead was purchased with the intent of exploiting their creativity but they never really delivered on that, despite all the tech demos they showcased over the years, in favour of doing what Microsoft says they want to do right here in this press release!!!

 I mean, really!

Fable 1, 2 and 3 where the product of investing in and development of the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play. You know what happened? There was nothing else after that!

It's no surprise that Microsoft wants to close these studios - they're not releasing multi-million unit selling franchises. However, the fact remains that Microsoft have not created any of their multi-million selling franchises, only bought them. The problem here is that, sometimes, you need to invest in new ideas in order to make new franchises that people will want to play. 

As I see it currently, Microsoft have only Halo and Minecraft in their stable... nothing else. This is especially egregious given their "support" of the PC gaming environment, Games for Windows Live, the "integration" of Xbox Live and now the Windows 10 "store" which locks games into its environment.

You reap what you sow... and if you don't sow then you will not... er, reap... I guess.

6 March 2016

Why the phone model won't work for games consoles... [UPDATED]

It was recently revealed by sites such as Eurogamer and Ars Technica that the Xbox One might see hardware upgrades over the coming generation.

While the speculation is that the XBox One itself will itself have varied models with different innards, it has also been pointed out by commentors that Phil could have been referring to a phone-like situation where the new model is more powerful but the games will work across both models with some caveats such as increased texture resolution or post processing power. 

This might look interesting to Microsoft from a business perspective because they might think that they can sell new models to existing customers and have the old models recycled back into the consumer ecosystem with the games remaining with their original owners.

24 February 2016

The fallacy of the treadmill and why games should learn from sports... (Part 2)

So how can all these principles that have become common in sports be merged with the emotional engagement from the hero’s journey and applied to skill-based games that currently rely on the treadmill in order to retain players?

Level Drain

You think my suit and colour scheme look good? Well, they won't for long because I have to ditch this gear to level up!

When talking about primarily skill-based games, to take Destiny as an example (because I’ve played a lot of the game), I think the starting point is to make the game mechanics – which stand out so well from the rest of the game’s features – and make those the core player retention mechanism.

This means not gating content behind artificial power levels but instead concentrating on encounter design and difficulty. In RPGs and in games like Destiny, being underlevelled in a scenario is as bad as being overlevelled – but that does not mean that the scenario itself is bad or unenjoyable. There are many missions and quests that are very popular but once the player has exceeded the requirements of that mission/quest there is no reason to play it again because the content is uninteresting and the rewards are non-existent.

23 February 2016

The fallacy of the treadmill and why games should learn from sports… (Part 1)

Take it easy! Have a rest from the treadmill for a while...

In many games, progression is experienced as a gradual climb of abilities, skills and power to (what developers might hope) is a climax right at, or right before the end of the game. This is colloquially known as a ‘treadmill’ or 'grind' and while games such as RPGs and MMOGs tend to utilise it to the fullest, the principle is broadly replicated across many genres (mostly in the single player environment).

Not only is it a way of the developer meting out availability of content based on level or ability requirements but it is almost exclusively used to stretch out that content in the context of RPG, MMOG and F2P games in order to keep players from completing that content in the minimal amount of time possible and thus moving on to other games made by other developers. It’s a way of padding-out the game experience in order to extract increased revenue for games that have monthly subscriptions or rely on the statistical cravings of a userbase in the latter two and a way to increase difficulty in the first (or, if a game is lacking in content, a way to pad that out to increase the play time – which can sometimes happen in RPGs though it’s more common in FPSes).

It’s no surprise that player power curves and treadmills are closely associated in gaming but what is surprising is that I believe that we do not need to rely on these mechanisms to gate content or retain players in crafted experiences. And yet there are few games in these genres that actually break out of that design mould.

You can see where the origins of the power curve and treadmill are found: storytelling.

20 February 2016

Getting old with games…

Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to ang... Wait, I mean - ARGH!

There was a recent report on how gamers become less competitive as they get older – specifically over 30 years old. The research has been picked up by many outlets and reported with more than just a bit of surprise in many corners.

When I saw the news I just scratched my head and mentally said, “Well, duh!”

It’s as if no one remembered that it is well established that people calm down as they get older. Things and events tend to bother them less and they tend to become less violent. I may be in my thirties now but I knew this even in my twenties and I knew it, not only through personal experience but also because I spoke to older and younger people.

One of my close friends who had a career in the military once lamented to me that he just wasn’t angry enough to do his job anymore – he found it more difficult to push himself into becoming aggressive and he felt like he was a failure because of that. I had to take him by the shoulder and tell him not to worry about it because it was perfectly natural. You just mellow out over your lifespan (generally speaking!).

A competitive streak is not something specific to games but to a person’s psyche and, as such, is most likely also affected by this general mellowing out. So I say, embrace it! There’s nothing to fear. Just realise that it’s natural and that you will now be able to appreciate games in genres that you may not have thought worth it before – even if, at the same time, you feel that you no longer like the games you used to.

"I'm not competitive, I'm too old for that!"

Too much of a good thing

Remember that activity burnout is also a known thing: you do something too much of something – even something you love – and it will lose its lustre over time. How long that time frame is, is very dependent on many factors.

So don’t sweat it. If you feel like taking a break from a game or genre or, well, anything – do so! You are probably going to be able to come back freshly to that activity in some time so enjoy the time you have now to do something else – something that you like more than the thing you’re tired of. One of the great things in life is that most ‘things’ are there whenever you want them. So a game you could have forced yourself through today will still be there in a year when you’re really getting a hankering to play it.

It’s one of the things I tell myself when I buy a game during a sale or I put a game down because I’m just not feeling it. Life is too short to worry about having to enjoy doing something – even if your partner bought you the game as a slightly misguided present (I’m speaking from experience here! :) ), you shouldn’t put yourself through something that makes you unhappy or cranky. Maybe one day you’ll be wanting to play something and, perusing your collection of games you see that title. It may be then that you really appreciate it.

So play the games you enjoy when you enjoy them – don’t worry about feeling less competitive, stop and smell the digital roses.

6 February 2016

Mid-Thoughts: The Witness... and the language of games

People are strange, when you're a stranger...

I've been intrigued by The Witness ever since it was first demoed several years ago. The art style really grabbed my attention (though in the intervening years this has become less unique with several titles using similar visual styles) and the fact that the game would be another thought-piece reflecting on "something" as well as a logic game had my attention.

As usual - thar be spoilers!

30 January 2016

Post Thoughts: Batman: Arkham Origins

This post was mostly originally written towards the end of November 2013 right after my "Is Batman the best videogame superhero?" (Answer: Of course he is!) I'd say about 70% was finished during that period and the last 30% was finished during a replay of the game finishing right now.

I'm a fan of superheroes in general but, as I said in my last post, I don't think they're represented all that well in the games arena. However, in 2009, Rocksteady released Arkham Asylum - a game that pretty much came out of the blue for most gamers and which encapsulated the feeling of "being Batman".

Arkham Origins is the second sequel in the series and the first not helmed by Rocksteady.

As usual - thar be spoilers!


2 January 2016

Post thoughts: Until Dawn

Or the end...

I have to admit, I'm a bit of a sucker for choose-your-own-adventure style books like Fighting Fantasy or SMBC's Nerd comedy and the few games that delve into this sort of entertainment are quite rare.  Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain and Telltale's The Walking Dead series are high on the list of "variable storytelling" experiences. However, outside of those, the space is rather barren for high quality titles. Luckily Until Dawn is here to fill the gap.

As usual: here be spoilers!!