Most Recent: Opinions

Batman Is Forever: 4 Ways to Bring Back the Arkham Series

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Rocksteady sent us all on a wild ride back when Batman: Arkham Asylum first launched, finally giving the world a chance to properly squeeze on that rubber cowl and proclaim, “I’m Batman!” Two sequels (and a WB Games Montreal-helmed prequel and an Armature-developed side-scrolling spinoff) later, the future of the series is still very much up in the air now that its original developer has stepped away… or have they? Regardless, it seems likely that someone will continue the legacy of the Bat, but what direction could the series possibly take? Well… I’m glad you asked, hypothetical Internet stranger! (more…)

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Hitman, Brussels, and Showing Restraint After a Tragedy

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This morning, I couldn’t sleep. At about 3:30 or 4:00 AM I went online; the first reports of what had happened in Brussels were just coming in. I switched on BBC News and felt like it was 7/7/05 all over again. Commuters and travelers were targeted just going about their day, just as they had been nearly 11 years ago in the London attacks. Not much was known this morning, as it had pretty much just happened, and amidst the chaos, everyone was just trying to get their bearings and get to safety. About the only thing that was known was that it had to be terrorism. Coordinated explosions in crowded public places during peak travel times are not a coincidence. It was terrorism, and someone had intended to hurt and kill people.

Last week, it was Ankara and Istanbul; in December, it was Tell Tamer and San Bernardino; in November, it was Beirut and Paris. Every time it happens, it catches us momentarily off guard, and we think, “Really? This crap is still going on? When is this going to end? Will it ever end?” And the usual societal discourse ensues: the condolences, avowals of justice and solidarity, strategies to prepare for the future. These we expect. This is how we grieve.

What we don’t generally expect is, I don’t know, let’s say, news for a video game whose objective is to target and kill people to be announced just a few hours after a horrible terrorist attack. (more…)

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Pulling Back the Curtain: The Importance of the Double Fine Adventure Documentary

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Recently, 2 Player Productions wrapped production on Double Fine Adventure, a documentary series that followed the development of Broken Age. It was revolutionary in the gaming scene, being the only documentary to ever follow a studio developing a game from its conceptualization through its release and aftermath. Before it, the average game player had only ever seen brief snippets of development from single-person games or small indie teams. Double Fine was the first developer to pull back that curtain on game development, a feat arguably more important than its rocketing of Kickstarter into the mainstream, and unquestionably having a bigger impact on the industry and the community than Broken Age itself. If we’re being honest, Double Fine completely mismanaged their Kickstarter funds, and Broken Age isn’t great. But by “showing how the sausage gets made,” as studio founder Tim Schafer put it, Double Fine made their campaign more than worth it, and left a long-lasting contribution to the industry.

Until DFA came out, game development was a mystical secret that no one outside the industry could begin to comprehend. So much of it was mysterious that many who wanted to be in the industry viewed it with rose-tinted glasses: a dream job where they could play all day. All we knew about game development beforehand were the two extremes. There were the developers that talked in interviews about how great it was, coming to work and hanging out with cool people, getting to create great games that everybody loves. We also read the headlines about developers losing their jobs, and studios being shut down. That or it was about developers going mad in “crunch time” having to work 80 hour weeks. In fact, Double Fine gives us a good example with the Tim Schafter episode of G4’s Icons, when he took us briefly behind the scenes of production on Psychonauts.

We never knew what it was really like, not until Double Fine showed us. (more…)

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The Frames Per Second Fight is Just the Return of the Bit Wars… We All Need to Move On

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Unlike many in the video game community, I don’t have fond memories of gaming as a child. It wasn’t until I was 13 or 14 when I got a PS2 for Christmas that I got serious about my gaming. Before that, video games were an entirely foreign concept to me, though I did play my sister’s Super Nintendo from time to time. We’d play Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Country, and Paperboy 2; it was the only time when we weren’t trying to kill each other. My dad was into games back then too, playing old adventure games like Riven and Myst.

As my interest in gaming grew, so too did my interest in gaming’s history. Time and time again in my halfhearted and aimless research I became aware of the fanboy subculture. In those days, I was a Sony fanboy, but the art of emotionally investing in a multi-million dollar company that didn’t care about its individual customers was more refined in the height of the Sega and Nintendo wars. (more…)

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The Changing Face of Bethesda’s Heroes Led the Way at E3 2015

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Bethesda’s first-ever E3 Press Conference was chock-full of goodies, from Dishonored: Definite Edition for next generation consoles to a new Doom and its intuitive SnapMap creator. But there was also something else to celebrate during the presentation, as the company’s two biggest announcements, Fallout 4 and Dishonored 2, both offered the choice to play as a female character. And believe it or not, every game showcased by Bethesda will give players that same choice. (more…)

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Opinion: I Wish Sony Had Let The Last Guardian Fade Away

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Sony put on an incredible show during this year’s E3 Expo, debuting new IPs from Guerrilla Games and Media Molecule, as well as offering further glimpses at long-awaited titles such as No Man’s Sky from Hello Games and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End from Naughty Dog. Yet it chose to open its presentation with perhaps the most long-awaited title of all time, The Last Guardian. (more…)

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Iwata is Listening: 5 Things Nintendo Needs to Hear After Negative E3 Reaction

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In a year when big hitters like Microsoft, Sony, and Bethesda gave exciting, extraordinary E3 presentations that included a smooth blend of new tech, surprise reveals, and gorgeous gameplay videos, the reverse is true for Nintendo. The company, who gave up on live E3 presentations two years ago, delivered a lackluster Digital Event that sought to highlight games due out this year or early next year. This effectively ruled out showing any new footage from the still untitled Legend of Zelda Wii U, despite the fact it was revealed at last year’s E3. Not content with backing itself into a corner with this decision, we were told that the company’s new platform, the NX, would also not be touched upon. Yet, given how meager-looking the titles were for the Wii U, it has led to rampant speculation that the company is holding upcoming games back for its next console.

In summary, Xenoblade Chronicles X was shown. Again. Super Mario Maker was shown. Again, and not just from E3 2014, but also from the Nintendo World Championships. Yoshi’s Woolly World was shown. Again.

3DS owners fared far better, with the announcement of new games such as The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes and Hyrule Warriors Legends, a port of the underrated Wii U game. There was also a new Paper Mario-esque title, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, and an odd Samus-lite Metroid game, Metroid Prime: Federation Force.

There were a few surprises for the Wii U, but not the good kind, and certainly not the ones fans wanted or expected, such as Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash or Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival (which is, essentially, Mario Party with Animal Crossing characters). The initial reaction to the presentation was best summed up by our good friends over at Nintendo Life:

As a Wii U owner and general advocate for Nintendo, I was not as angered as many who chose to vent their anger on social media, but after Sony and Microsoft made pitch-perfect presentations, to say I was disappointed in Nintendo’s efforts would be an understatement. Nintendo President (and part-time puppet) Satoru Iwata seemed equally aware of the reaction from gamers and fans around the world, taking to Twitter to reassure them the company was listening: “Thank you for watching until midnight. We take the various opinions for this year’s Digital Event very seriously. I would like to continue our efforts to be able to meet more and more of your expectations in the future.”

Unlike many armchair CEOs calling for his resignation, I personally think Iwata has steered Nintendo through a stormy chapter in its history, and is obviously aware that more change may be needed. With that in mind, here are five suggestions on how Nintendo can improve for next year. (more…)

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Hype Fatigue: Why I’m Exhausted With Viral Marketing, Elaborate Advertising Campaigns, and Countdowns

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The machinations of video game marketers absolutely baffle me. Obviously, “video game marketing” is an incredibly broad term that encompasses hundreds of different campaigns a year, all run by different people, and all carried out with different expectations. Whipsawing between a seemingly neverending series of hype events and viral campaigns has started to make my head spin. Following hashtags and decoding secret messages has become de rigueur if you want to come up with all the latest game news. Last week, three publishers launched three very different viral campaigns that made me long for the days of the simple press release/trailer combo platter. But maybe they aren’t to blame, as video game marketing has been growing increasingly insane for years now. (more…)

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