Sunday, 30 September 2012

September 2012

September reads like a dedication to my love for Indie games. I had the opportunity to interview 3 Indie developers, for this I am extremely grateful. I also reviewed some of the most extraordinary games in September and covered exciting upcoming releases. I also did a few interesting opinion pieces. Come share the journey with me.

Opinion piece: Let’s play “What if” with video games

I secretly harbor this idea that video game developers are prophets in their own right. Now that my insane idea is out in the open, let’s play “What if” with video games. We might find that it isn’t so preposterous after all. I take a look at Deus Ex and Remember Me as examples of video game to real life applications. The realities in these two video games both have a shadow in the real world. The implications are exciting and scary at the same time. With technology one should never forget that it gives with the one hand and takes with the other. Technological advancement comes with its own price tag, be it an economical, ethical or moral cost. Read full article here.

Interview with Dan Pinchbeck: 3 Games 1 Indie studio

In all my years of playing video games there are only two that stand out as something more than just hours spend on my favorite pastime hobby; To the Moon and Dear Esther. Through these two games I was introduced to games as a medium that has more to offer than spectacular graphics and mindless action. They were catalysts for personal growth and both had a profound effect on me. I caught up with Dan Pinchbeck, the creative director of thechineseroom. Join us for a talk about the creations of this fascinating Indie studio: Dear Ester, Amnesia: A machine for Pigs and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Read full article here.

Opinion piece: The case of the “down(vote) syndrome” and other internet dilemmas

Why should we tolerate online behavior that we would never, ever tolerate in real life? Does “online” somehow give people a free ticket to behave amoral? Have you crossed the invisible lines in your own heart? Have you gradually pushed the boundaries of what are acceptable in terms of conduct, communication and interaction further and further? I know I have. It’s a frightening thing to live in a borderless, unaccountable world. We tend to set the demons lose. You are leaving a digital footprint, be careful how you tread. Read full article here.

Opinion piece: Medal of Honor: Warfighter pushes the boundaries of realism again

EA is going beyond the call of duty to add a frightening element of realism to the gaming experience. Up until recently I have always viewed games as completely detached from real life. It is an escape, a fantasy and nothing that happens in my virtual world matters. But isn’t it true that no matter what genre we play, a bit of our real selves joins in the journey? Could adding more realism to that journey actually add deeper value to the experience than just entertainment? I take a critical look at realism in video games. Read the full article here.

Interview with Hugh Jeremy: When an Indie game looks better than triple A: Natural Selection 2

Indie studio Unknown Worlds has kicked up a press storm with the release of NS2 and its AAA look. It seems impossible that a team of seven (henceforth to be called, the magnificent seven), could produce a game with the depth, quality and features that we see in NS2. If you know anything of the history around the Natural Selection universe, you will know that this game was in fact, not the creation of a few dedicated individuals. The phenomenon that is Natural Selection is a combined labor of love from the NS community and its staff. It’s a triumph, an anthem to celebrate the accomplishment of gamer and developer. Read full article here.

Opinion piece: Lola enters the erotic video games conversation

There are more important things to consider in the matter of erotic video games than just my right of choice. I take a look at distributing erotic video games through a public platform such as Steam, the purpose of violence in video games and how it differs from erotic content in gaming. Read the full article here.

Review Guild Wars 2: I played hard to get with Tyria

Unlike the rest of the internet, I had a very shaky start with GW2. When it comes to MMORPG’s I am set in my ways.Whenever developers of a new MMORPG scream for my attention with, “We’ve revolutionized the genre”, I am immediately doubtful. When GW2 therefore promised another revolution of the genre, my heart sank. But like a wise and patient lover, Tyria courted me. Indulge me as I share with you the remarkable journey I had with GW2. Read full article here.

Interview with Aaron Foster: There's nothing routine about Routine

Routine from Lunar Software is a game I’m keeping a close eye on. The reason it has me so excited is that for once a developer has the sense to NOT make a game that caters for the masses. Routine will be extremely difficult and challenging, in fact, it will probably not be to your liking. Read the full article here.

Review: I played a game that changed me, Papo and Yo

Stunned, heartfelt, shocked, compassion, terrified, empathy, despair, profound, anger, and courage: these are the emotions that stampede through my soul as the credits roll across the screen. I’ve just finished playing Papo and Yo, and I will never be the same. Before Papo and Yo is a game, it is an extremely personal story. Should you choose to share in this journey of addiction, betrayal and courage, you will find that your own inner world has been somewhat altered. One thing is for certain; you cannot play Papo and Yo and remain untouched. Read full article here.

Noteworthy news

Saturday, 1 September 2012

August 2012

August was such a hectic month; because of Gamescom I covered a bit more than my usual load for MWEB GameZone, I finally got around to cover eSports for Bravado Gaming and then we hosted the next 16Bit Team Fortress 2 competition. I totally got this journo thing down after Aug ;)

Herewith my article highlights for August

Review: A lesson in empathy from The Walking Dead

The game explores the most fundamental and simplest of human needs; the need to survive. Every confrontation, every decision and every interaction seeks to strip the player of the layers of morality that coats the mind with decency.  It hits you right in the gut with, “How far are you willing to go to live?" The Walking Dead takes the question of survival and escalates it to the point of complete insanity. Now, here is the catch. The game also succeeds in justifying the most outrageous and despicable of deeds in the name of living. It does this by eliciting empathy for the various characters you meet throughout the game. Read the rest of the article here.

An invitation to explore with thechineseroom

I invite you to take a journey with me through the creations of thechineseroom, an Indie studio whose games are changing the electronic playground. They looked into the hearts of gamers and correctly saw an ache for games that are able to tell deeply immersive stories. Dear Esther will leave you with an impression of profound beauty and wonder. Amnesia seems to be a celebration of terror and madness and with Everybody's Gone to the Rapture gamers can expect a game environment that is beautifully drawn, music that cloaks the player in the atmosphere of the game, and a journey that tears at the heart. Read the full article here.

Review: Get feared for free with Slender

Terrifying, nauseatingly fearful, diabolical, erratic, shat in my pants.This free-to-play Indie horror game from Parsec Productions had me in a grip of icy terror. The thickness of the fog, the dreadful noise and the ever present suggestion of his presence all becomes too much. It’s such a sudden bombardment of horror on your visual and hearing senses that you totally overload on fear. It felt like I was physically being cloaked with evil, and I screamed like a little girl. Read the full tale of my night of dread in the foggy woods of Slender Man’s virtual nightmare here

My Indie pick for the month: A horror filled space exploration with Rescue

I found this promising new game from Indie studio, Lunar Software. Routine is a first-person horror exploration game set in space, and it has me in a vice grip of fearful anticipation. Where AAA titles have ceased to impress me, Indie games seem to continue to blow my mind away with its ability to tell compelling stories, create immersive atmospheres and to well, just, be a breath of fresh air in the over saturated, stale playground of video gaming. The glimpse we see of the dreadful world of Routine hints at a game that will be on par with mainstream games on graphics and with a soundtrack that cloaks the player in absolute terror. Read full article here.

Understanding the deeply layered world of Beyond Two Souls

I am fascinated by Cage. What he aims to achieve through the medium of video games are both exceptional and immensely intriguing. To therefor understand Beyond, I propose we take a look at it through the eyes of its Maker. Beyond focuses on two themes; accepting who you are, and the question of what happens after death. The emotional quandary of finding meaning in death and the struggle of self-acceptance are two issues that we all face at some point in our lives. For a game to be able to reflect the inner conflict those two questions can cause, are absolutely fascinating. Cage understands the fundamental ability video games have to engage its users in a way unlike watching a movie or listening to a story is able to do. Read full article here.

The truth about the 3rd degree Mind Sports South Africa received

I've waited years to write this article. The way Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA) and its president, Mr Colin Webster, have been treated by the majority of the South African (SA) gaming community, is something that has marred our image as a mature and respected sub culture within society. I took the most serious allegations from the do Gaming comments (Dec 2008-current) and posed them as statements for SA leaders that has actually walked the line with MSSA. Read the full article here.

Noteworthy news articles & interviews

Check out Living the game, Cape Town gears up for its own gaming festival, A look at the authentic war universe of Medal of Honor, Achieve moral excellence with Ultima Forever, Reinventing death with Dishonored, Capcom introduces memory bending with new game: Remember Me, le Broken Sword reappers, The argument for eSports.

Many thanks to all the readers for your input and support. I'm excited to discover what September has in store for us.