Categotry Archives: Video Games


PAX Indie Megabooth Manifestation of Awesomeness: The Magic Circle


So Rob and I risked sounding stupid by asking if the sketchy, cel-shady art in this game was placeholder (we hoped not) or for reals. It is for reals in the best way: you’re trapped in a “legendary vaporware game” and you’re watching as the game’s developers (the gods, basically) edit the game while you’re playing it. The (of course) meta gameplay has you discovering the dev tools behind the game and using them to try to survive and, presumably, punch your way out Tron-style. E.g., if you’re attacked by a creature, you can edit it to make it your friend or even take its abilities.

You learn more of the narrative as you explore, solve puzzles, and overhear the developers–foul-mouthed virtual eyeballs who float in and out of scenes. Very funny, very smart, very meta. LOVE. The self-funded team is ex-Irrational/Bioshock folks (including the CD for Bioshock 2) and they’re making something great. Watch a rough cut of the game play:

FYI: it will be on Steam initially but not early access, since the burden of explaining an incomplete incomplete game is too much to bear.



Assassin’s Creed V: Unity Looks Amazing But Is Still Disappointing


UPDATE: Ubisoft backs away from their excuse about workload after a former Assassin’s Creed animator calls bullshit.

Original post:

Last night I watched the E3 trailer for Assassin’s Creed V: Unity, and man does that game look badass! Intense cooperative multi-player action, an unbelievably detailed open-world recreation of revolutionary-era Paris, thousands of NPCs crowding the screen… I mean, watch the trailer and see for yourself. It’s just generally gorgeous.

I have, as of late, thought of Ubisoft as slightly more progressive than some other game companies. On Assassin’s Creed 3 they worked closely with two members of the Kanien’kehá:ka nation, Akwiratékha Martin and Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer, both who praised Ubisoft’s attention to ensuring that the portrayal of colonial-era Native Americans was sensitive and accurate. In AC3: Liberation, a shorter game set in the same time period as AC3, you play as Aveline de Grandpré, a biracial female freedwoman. And while you couldn’t play as a female in AC4: Black Flag, there were those that felt the NPC females were well-rounded and interesting.

But let’s get back to Unity.

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Jeff Vogel: The Indie Bubble Is Popping.


The Indie Bubble Is Popping. This feels more like “smart guy sees the writing on the wall” than “smug asshole indulges in knee-jerk contrarianism.” (And hey, that’s my job anyway.) The basic argument boils down to this: There’s a finite amount of money to be spent on games, and the number of developers has skyrocketed. Something has to give, and it’s more likely that lots of developers will fail than the amount of money spent on games will grow as quickly as it did during the short-lived explosion* of casual gaming.

That’s not to say that everyone is doomed or that we aren’t seeing some super-neat innovations, just that the industry is going to shake out in a few years to look not very different from the way it did pre-Steam. Maybe a bit less top-heavy.

I think curation and microtransactions and merch could help; see the indie music scene for plenty of examples. Still, the costs of producing mid-tier indie games may end up being unrecoverable in most cases, and that’s a ding-dong shame.


* Explosions are by nature short-lived, but it’s still worth emphasizing.



Guys Are Bad At Pretending To Be Girls


I find the sociology and psychology of what kinds of characters people choose to play in RPG video games endlessly fascinating: do you prefer to do ranged damage or melee? Play male or female? Be attractive or ugly? Play as you are or how you wish you were? I want to read all the studies on all these things! So I found this to be very interesting:

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