2015 Resolution Reflections

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 is nearly over, and everyone from Buzzfeed to the Daily Mail is in the mood for reflecting on the year. I've got a bit of that spirit myself, though I don't think we need another best or worst of list. I'd like to focus on something more personal. Last January, I made a single resolution for 2015; no more pre-orders. It has been almost 365 days since that post and the year has been full of big releases, each promising various sundries for as exclusive pre-order content. So, how did I do?

REDUX: Raising Kids With Games

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

In light of recent holidays and the slew of parents introducing their children to games for the first time, I though it was time to readdress the way we approach responsible gaming with our little ones. If you're struggling with ways to promote healthy game time with your family, I recommend giving this a read.

Ours has always been a house of gamers. My wife and I both play games and have since before we started dating. We courted over Halo and have used Borderlands to keep in touch with some of our friends who have moved away. Our kids have been interested in games for a long time and in recent years have started playing games on the console and PC. A while back, my brother asked me what our policy was for regulating our children's time with games and I found it difficult to answer. Since then I've received a few requests for an article on the same topic. I've taken some time to look at our rules for games and hope that what I present below will be useful.

Xbox Elite Controller: Worth Every Penny

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

When Microsoft announced the Elite controller at E3, my ears immediately perked up. I've considered getting a custom controller for some time. I've perused various sites from Evil to SCUF and have always found the price to be prohibitively high, despite the numerous options available through each site. Not long ago, however, I bit the bullet and bought an Elite. Here are my preliminary thoughts on Microsoft's first attempt at a high end controller.

Far Cry Primal And My Anthropological Anxiety

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Far Cry Primal, the latest in one of my favorite series' takes players back to the stone age. It's an era of history I've always wanted to play in. When I first came across news of the game, I devoured any media relating to it. I've seen every developer diary and all the trailers. The crafting system, collaborative hunting and the plethora of prehistoric wildlife are a big draw, but I've got a few qualms to deal with before I can really commit to the world they've created.

When Does a Microtransaction become a Macrotransaction?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Microtransactions send a chill down many gamers' spines. They've become synonymous with greedy game-making and cheap, pay to win schemes. Usually, these things cost only  few dollars, and award the player with heaps of in-game currency, experience or high level gear. I've never liked them, I think it is a lazy waste of money that erodes challenge from games and I do my very best to avoid them. Recently though I've seen a new form of microtransaction emerge. Instead of costing only a few dollars, these are anywhere from $20 to $50 and are used to lock away significant gameplay advantages and/or content. The well worn term "microtransaction" doesn't seem to fit these monsters. Behold, the birth of the macrotansaction.

Don't Let Your Baby Die in Who's your Daddy

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Who's Your Daddy has been taking the internet by storm. Currently up for voting on Steam Greenlight, Who's Your Daddy is, at its core a 1v1 asymmetrical multiplayer game. One player play the role of a destructive infant that wants nothing more than to drink bleach, eat batteries and stick forks in light sockets. The other player acts as the father to this little monster and must prevent the child from injuring itself. It sounds sadistic and it is, but in the most hilarious way possible

The Games of My Childhood are Coming Back

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The last two days have been very strange for me. Yesterday I learned that Double Fine will be making a remastered version of Full Throttle, my absolute favorite adventure game of all time and today I got the news that System Shock 3 is a real thing. I haven't played System Shock or System Shock 2 in a very long time, but I remember it as one of the first games to really unnerve and surprise me. These were two very influential games in my early days, so to have them return all of a sudden leaves me a bit flabbergasted.

Mayan Death Robots

Thursday, December 3, 2015
Hear me out. What if the ancient Mayan deities were really giant alien robots, competing in a series of deathmatches broadcast across the galaxy? I know what you're going to say, but it makes about as much sense as anything on Ancient Aliens. It also happens to be the premise of the new game Mayan Death Robots. Inspired by classics like Scorched Earth and Worms, MDR is chaotic and entertaining, but with chaos is not without its consequences.

It Takes Way Too Much to Play Games Together

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I've been looking at a second TV and console setup for our living room lately. My wife and I love to plat games together, but it has become increasingly difficult to manage that seemingly simple joy. So many console games, especially AAA games have abandoned the idea of split-screen play. I've covered this issue before, but after more than two months of disappointing releases that lack any local multiplayer whatsoever, I'm brimming with frustration over the lengths I've been brought to in order to play one game with another person in my own home.

Help Bring Back MST3K

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Killer Shrews was the first Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode I saw. I was 8 years old and had stayed up late to watch TV on our new satellite network. I'd never seen anything like it in my life and was immediately hooked. We had a feed from the east coast so everything we watched aired 3 hours earlier than it normally would which forced me to get up before 6 AM on Saturdays to record new episodes on VHS (I spent a lot of my allowance on blank tapes back then). Though it's been off the air for a while now, MST3K has never stopped being relevant. Now Joel Hodgson has taken to Kickstarter to bring it back again and I strongly encourage you to contribute.

Dragon Age: Magekiller #1 Review

Thursday, November 19, 2015
We don't talk about comics enough here. While the list of comics I read regularly has dwindled significantly through the years, I still come across a few here and there that catch my eye. So it was when an advance copy of Dark Horse's Dragon Age: Magekiller #1 found its way into my hands. Dark Horse has done excellent work with Dragon Age in the past (especially the World of Thedas books) though it has mostly been confined to characters within the games. Magekiller marks their first venture with wholly original characters, but it is no less a success.

No Post Due to Snow (Such is Life in North Idaho)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Due to severe winds and freezing weather, tonight's regular post will be delayed. With every gust of wind, our lights flicker and our power has gone out twice. Please check back on Thursday when we resume our regular posting schedule. In the mean time, go play some games.

Fallout 4: The First 4 Hours

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I haven't been as dedicated to Fallout 4 as many of my friends have, but I've spent enough time with it now that I feel comfortable weighing in on my experience. In the four hours that I've played, I've done my best to try out as many of the new features in the game. Despite my best effort though, my research has often been overshadowed by something.. buggier.

Holiday Bullshit Returns as 8 Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The latest of Cards Against Humanity's holiday things is now available. The 8 Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah promises exactly that for $15. Cards Against Humanity launched its first Holiday pack in 2012 and has run an increasingly complex series every year since. The eight gifts will ship over the month of December and are a complete mystery (as always).

I Just Discovered Hack 'n' Slash and I Love it

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I've been working to learn programming for a while. It's a slow process and has been really frustrating at many points. Learning to program may be difficult but it is such a powerful creative medium I think it's something everyone should learn, at least to some extent. There are tons of resources out there, from books and instructional videos to online courses like Harvard's CS50 (which I highly recommend). It wasn't until I came across Hack 'n' Slash that I'd thought about looking for a game centered on programming.

REDUX: This is The Wasteland

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fallout 4 is a week away. We've been really interested in what we've seen so far from Bethesda and can't wait to set foot in the wasteland ourselves. As we approach the release of the latest in the series, I thought it apropos to recall how we felt about Fallout 3. I'm one of the hard to please old fans of Fallout and while Fallout 3 was successful in many ways, it just didn't feel right to me. Anyway, read on for more on it. Here's hoping Fallout 4 lives up to some of the hype.

In Case of Werewolf, Play Games: Games For Halloween

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Two days from now, millions of costumed peoples will descend upon suburban neighborhoods, ferreting out every last bit of chocolate and tasty candy treat before midnight. I presume they turn into pumpkins or something after that. Alright, maybe I have no idea how Halloween works. Those of you who don't plan on heading out on Saturday evening, I have prepared a short list of thematically appropriate games for All Hallow's Eve. Enjoy.

Rebel Galaxy: Almost a Browncoat

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Firefly holds a special place in the hearts of many. Gamers like myself have spent a great deal of time searching for a game that at least approximates the feeling of managing a raggedy crew at the edge of space. Our cohort have been enticed and allured by many prospective games in the past, usually leading to disappointment, many in recent memory (does anyone else remember that terrible Firefly tabletop game?). The one that has come closest is Rebel Galaxy, an independent title released last week on Steam, but it still doesn't quite hit that spot.

Destiny's New Exotics: A Primer

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I take pride in my ability to think tactically; to recognize patterns and quickly analyze situations. When it comes to Destiny, I’ve put my abilities to good use. Since the game’s launch, I’ve accumulated more than 32 days of time in game, walking numerous players through the raids and strikes, ferreting out secrets and dissecting the game’s most difficult encounters. I’ve also managed to lay hands on some of the game’s more elusive weapons and feel confident predicting their optimal use.

Tales From the Borderlands Review: The Best of Both Worlds

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Teamwork, trust, ambition; three words that sum up the Borderlands series. Omnipresent, even in their antithetical forms, these facets have been at the root of the franchise since the beginning. Where Borderlands 2 deepened the narrative of the franchise, Tales From the Borderlands increases it exponentially. Told through the lens of Telltale's characteristic methodology, Tales shows through as the best story to come out of the series' tumultuous universe.

Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime is Blissfully Stressful

Thursday, October 15, 2015
Image Source: loversinadangerousspacetime.com

I'm a huge advocate for local multiplayer. I've filled my Steam Library with games like Samurai Gunn, The Yawhg, Monaco, and Nidhogg, and the most frequently played game on my PS4 is Towerfall: Ascension. I have utterly refused to purchase Halo 5 unless it somehow reintroduces a split screen co-op mode. So far, I've been lacking in good couch co-op games for the XBox One. I really like the FIFA and Forza series' but Wesley is not much for sports or racing games. We do have the excellent Rayman Legends but we're running out of teensies to rescue. We needed something to feed that fix and we found it in Lovers In a Dangerous Spacetime.

Minecraft Story Mode, Episode 1

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 1- The Order of Stone
 is a witty, fulfilling game that sets up what I hope to be a very entertaining series. Set in the universe of Minecraft (ahem, hence the name), Telltale's latest series is a more accessible game, aimed at the entire family rather than the strictly adult setting that Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us or Tales From The Borderlands. This is the first Telltale game since 2011's Back to the Future to hold less than a Mature rating from the ESRB but the seasoned developer hasn't lost any of its skill in the change of pace.

So You Bought Pro Skater 5; What Now?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Let's face it folks; Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 is a mess. It's just a terrible game in almost every respect. While the news and numerous reviews have saved numerous would be consumers from buying this piece of garbage, there are still tons of you out there who were roped into pre-ordering it, or were given it as a gift by a well meaning friend or relative. It's hard to believe that something this bad could have carried a $60 price tag, and to help alleviate some of the hurt, we've come up with a few ways to get your money's worth out of it.

REDUX: Sweet Kobold Jesus

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

There's a running joke between Ssalarn and I about our tabletop games that his aim is to crush any plans I make. While he and MoreGun were part of our regular group, I grew a great deal as a player and a DM. Looking through some of our older posts, I found the genesis of that joke, which is actually one of the more poignant lessons I learned as a DM. I hope that this tale of group dynamics, railroading and lack of planning helps some of you aspiring dungeon masters out there.

Humble Monthly; Is it Worth it?

Thursday, October 1, 2015
Image Source: or-politics.com

Earlier today, Humble Bundle announced their latest in a number of additional services. In addition to offering multiple bundles (weekly bundles, book bundles, dedicated mobile bundles, etc) and their storefront, now you can give $12 a month to receive a hand picked bundle from the online purveyor of indie games and charitable donations. It's an interesting idea, and many people have likened it to a digital Loot Crate, but do the numbers really add up?

Time Machine VR: Jurassic Park Done Right

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The last thing that I imagined I would be doing at PAX Prime is swimming with dinosaurs, but an Oculus and Time Machine VR made it possible! , there has been such deep ice cap drilling that mankind has unleashed a 15 million year old virus and humans are beginning to go extinct. Your job, as a scientist, is to go back to the Jurassic are and study the creatures living there and how they survive with this virus in their ecosystem. The demo was straightforward but breathtaking.

Occult Adventures

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I believe it was a couple years ago that I interviewed Erik Mona and asked him about his thoughts on Dreamscarred Press' Ultimate Psionics. He was actually really excited about it, and told me that he was glad someone had done the psionics and power point system such justice, because Paizo had different plans. With an almost childish glee in his eyes, Erik described to me his dream of a book with classes and mechanics informed by Lovecraftian mythos and new age spiritualism, with a healthy dose of 19th century mysticism for good measure.

Time passed. Paizo released its Advanced Class Guide, a book so poorly edited and sublimely uninspired that I had almost given up hope that we'd see anything as amazing and awesome as the Alchemist, Oracle, or Witch from the Advanced Player's Guide, the first book where they really came out and said "We're Paizo, and this is what we're about". But where the Advanced Class Guide was a barely redeemable slog of mostly uninspired and largely formulaic class design with very few bright spots, Occult Adventures immediately leaps off the shelf as something special, something that shows that spark of creativity and healthy dose of love from the writers and contributors that is hard to quantify or explain but which is immediately recognizable in their work, and which was very much Paizo's hallmark when the Pathfinder Core Rulebook first came on the scene. When I talked with Erik Mona this year at PAX, there was really nothing I could say to him beyond "Well done, man. You guys knocked this one out of the park".

Post Pax 2015: Armello

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We are still going through the oodles of info we brought back from PAX Prime. Bear with us, there's still quite a bit to cover. In August, Playstation Plus members were allowed to vote for one of the free games. Though the Ubisoft published Grow Home eventually won the voting, I cast my vote for Armello; a digital boardgame with an interesting, Redwall-esque aesthetic to it. Later, while wandering the Indie Megabooth at PAX, I happened upon its developer's booth and was given an opportunity to play. 

Cards Against Humanity Announces the Science Ambassador Scholarship

Friday, September 18, 2015

The average player of Cards Against Humanity may not be aware of all the incredible things they have done over the years. The outrageous card game has given money to various charities including the Wikimedia Foundation, an incredible school shopping spree from DonorsChoose.org, and the Sunlight Foundation. Their latest card pack, The Science Pack, has upped the ante quite a bit. They are funding a full tuition undergraduate scholarship for women pursuing a degree in science, engineering, math or technology.

So There's This King, Who Takes Things..

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The great yo-yo of Destiny has me in its grasp once again. I've now played through the main story for The Taken King and while I was trepidatious about giving in to Bungie's parade of changes once again, I've got to say that I've been duly impressed so far. So let's break some things down and talk a bit about what's changed.

Razer Has New Goodies!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Recently, at PAX Prime Razer had some fun items to reveal! I stopped by their booth and attended their panel during the Expo and am excited to show you what I saw.

PAX Prime 2015: Runic Game's Hob is Beautiful, Mysterious

Thursday, September 10, 2015

We sat down with Marsh Lefler, President of Runic Games, at PAX to talk about Hob. The third game from the Seattle based company, Hob is an adventure game set in a strange world humming with life and mysterious technology. As you traverse this world you will learn more about where you are and what your role is. We arrived at Runic's booth very curious about Hob, and our time there left us even hungrier for details.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (A unique take on a tired trope)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

As a red-blooded American who was raised by an unhealthy dose of TV as a child, I am on a first name basis with the common action trope of frantic bomb defusal. We all know it; someone is trapped with a bomb/warhead capable of terrible destructive power. No one can get in or out. The expert in defusing just this explosive item has to talk our inexperienced hero through the process via some sort of lifeline. The red numerals tick down closer and closer to the big Kaboom. Will they ever make it in time??

Rhyme of the Bearded Mariners

Friday, September 4, 2015

The point and click adventure genre is a large draw for me, principally because it was a substantial part of my childhood gaming foundation. Hours of adventuring with Guybrush Threepwood and Bobbin Threadbare have laid a deep grove in my gaming preferences. And so I found myself drawn in by the siren call of Burley Men at Sea at the PAX Prime Indie MegaBooth and had the opportunity to play their teaser demo.

PAX Prime '15 Discoveries- Southlands: Adventures Beneath the Pitiless Sun

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I hadn't heard of "Southlands: Adventures Beneath the Pitiless Sun" until I stumbled across it at PAX. I'd somehow completely missed the Kickstarter, hadn't heard it mentioned or seen any reviews, and yet it leapt right off the shelf at me.

Post PAX Round-up : Prime 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

PAX Prime 2015 is over. Our four days in Seattle brought us into contact with a great deal of interesting games and many of their developers. It was a strong year for indie titles and tabletop games, but a few AAA games shone through to capture our attention. We have a lot of content to unload over the next couple weeks, as well as a few surprises. Before we go in-depth with any of the games we played and the things we saw, here are some of my highlights.

PAX Adjacent: The Seattle Indies Expo

Friday, August 28, 2015

Once again, PAX Prime is upon us. Every year, the expo fills the Washington State Convention center, drawing thousands of fans, and tons of games from AAA video games to indie boardgames. It is an event we wait for all year, but it is notoriously difficult to get tickets for, usually selling out within an hour. If you're still in the area though, there is another way to fill your weekend with games.

Play it Again, Steve: A Tale of Lost Things

Thursday, August 20, 2015

This week there was an incident involving our PS4. While watching Netflix, the power flickered and when we attempted to turn the PS4 on again, it refused to boot properly. In the moment it lost power some of the system files were corrupted and it would not load the dashboard. What followed was an arduous journey that we hope to never repeat.

REDUX: Fable 2 Thoughts

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A very small trickle of information about the latest Fable title has been winding its way through the news sites lately, and it got me thinking about the series overall. As much as I want to say I love the series, I have had a number of ups and downs with it. Fable 3 felt like quite a letdown, with an incredibly short campaign and largely meaningless side-quests. Looking back through some older articles, I came across this piece about Fable 2. Reading it again after all these years I came across one of the things I think was missing from the last game; something I hope can be revitalized in Legends.

Goodbye, World: Fallout Shelter Released for Android

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The only low point of Todd Howard's E3 presentation was having to wait for Fallout Shelter to be released for Android devices. Now that the wait is over, I'm happily lording over my vault dwellers; assigning them jobs, dressing them in various outfits and sending them out into the wasteland. As invested as I've been in the Fallout universe, I'm always curious about any new approach to it. Fallout Shelter blends the RPG with elements of The Sims and Sim Tower (that's right, I went way back).

Hello There Chaps, The Return of Salad Fingers

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Giant Elephant Games (with the go ahead of  creator David Firth) has resurrected Salad Fingers, that unsettling mid-aught staple of the internet. The new Salad Fingers: Where's May Gone is a point and click adventure, whose first of three acts is currently available for free.

5th Edition for the Family Part 2: Consider the Mule

Thursday, August 6, 2015

When we left our band of adventurers, they were desperately trying to catch up with the hill giant Fangrinth and his cohort of orcs and goblins. The group suffered some early hardships, from losing the artifact to attracting the attention of a few giant spiders. Fangrinth was well ahead of them and didn't seem to be slowing down at all.

Senthon, the High Elf ranger played by my brother knew the forest very well. Despite low rolls for tracking their foes, Senthon was able to keep the rest of the party abreast of the situation, keeping track of how many orcs and goblins remained with the giant, making particular note of the orcs (his favored enemy). After dispatching the giant spiders, the group elected to keep moving at double time to make up for lost time. 

5th Edition for the Family Part 1: Fangrinth and the Feindish Focus

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fifth edition has surprised me. What I expected to be a dumbed down version of the iconic tabletop RPG has supplanted Pathfinder as our regular game. I am so thankful that the latest D&D iteration has allowed me to bring my daughters into the fold. They have taken such joy in their characters' adventures, talking with their friends and grandparents about their latest encounters and the treasures they have now berated from their foes. While my brother visited with his family, he asked if I could run a short adventure for the whole family to try.

What I'm Playing: Loose Ends Edition

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Every summer, I fall into the same routine. I buy a bunch of games through the sales on Steam, Good old Games and Humble Bundle with every intention of playing every one to completion. On top of that, I almost always have some console game or another to finish that ends up gathering dust through no fault of its own. This year, I have resolved to complete at least five of the neglected games in my list. I've already finished two of them (Far Cry 4 and Arkham Knight) leaving me to talk briefly about the remaining three games on my list.

Polygon's Piece on EA is Fantastic and You Should Read it Now

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This week I have family visiting and will be cutting down my posts to spend more time with them. Today, I'd like to direct you to a recent cover story from Polygon. It is a very well researched and insightful piece about EA, the publisher we all love to hate. Please take some time to check it out. It's a lengthy story, so I'd set aside at least 40 minutes to read through it.

ESL Discussing Anti-Doping Measures

Thursday, July 23, 2015

In a recent video interview, Kory "Semphis" Friesen , formerly of Cloud9 talked about using Adderall during a CS: GO tournament in March. Adderall is a prescription amphetamine abused by many competitive gamers to heighten focus and remain alert. Friesen claimed the entire team was using the drug at the time of the ESL Katowice One event last March. In response, the ESL has announced that it is taking measures to counteract doping during its events. The extent of these measures are yet to be determined, but it is an important step for professional gaming.

The Guardian's See-Saw: Up and Down with Destiny

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My time with Bungie's latest game has been tumultuous. The Dark Below was a nasty blow to many players, making most of their higher level gear unimportant and forcing them through a largely uninteresting story and a raid based more on just killing things than working as a team. The House of Wolves has brought a number of those scorned players (myself included) back into the fold by adding some new and varied content as well as offering players a simpler way to up their equipment without invalidating it. For a while it seemed that Bungie had learned some lessons about running the game, but it didn't take long for the other shoe to drop.

REDUX: My Old Nemesis

Thursday, July 16, 2015

It's time for another blast from the past. While drafting a piece on my current feelings for Bungie's Destiny, I was reminded of my old fight with Ninja Gaiden. Sure, my issues with Destiny are a bit different than my long fight with the hideously difficult Ninja Gaiden, but many of the emotions involved are the same.

Arkham Knight Was Great Until it Ended

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

There has been a lot of talk, good and bad, about Arkham Knight. The PC port was a mess, but is being fixed. The console version has been very well received, being hailed as "Batman, perfected." I've finished the campaign and have seen all parts of the ending. I slogged through hordes of enemies and slagged countless tanks and drones before it was done. While I had a lot of fun in the process, the endings have been more than a bit of  letdown.


REDUX: DLC (If Only I'd Been Right About This)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I was perusing some of the older pieces on the site today and came across this piece from many years back about the expanding role of the player in additional content. As far as console games go, I'm afraid that I was quite incorrect in my predictions. Fallout 4 may be the closest thing we see to my optimistic view of the future.

Downloadable content. This generation of consoles is well acquainted with the concept. Additional maps, weapons, vehicles, missions, songs, stories, costumes, what have you. The games that survive the test of time in this generation are the ones with regular downloadable content be it in the form of microtransactions, episodic gaming, or just regular updates and fixes from the developers.

Smoke in the Air: Firewatch

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

We live in the Pacific Northwest. At the moment, the air is hazy with smoke from a 2,000 acre wildfire less less than 50 miles from our town. We are told that the fire has not grown much, and there is no word of any evacuation at this time. Things are under control and we are at no risk of burning to a crisp. But all this smoke and talk of wildfires got me thinking about Firewatch, the indie game from Campo Santo. Due out later this year, Firewatch is a first person mystery game that takes place in the Wyoming wilderness.