2 Games About Serious Issues

Thursday, January 26, 2017

This past week has been very difficult for a great many people in this country and around the globe. For those of you who fall on either side of the issues, it is vitally important that we be able to maintain an open dialogue with each other. To that end, I have selected 2 games that I think deal with some very serious issues and would be a great place to start having conversations about topics like surveillance and the value of a free press. 

Starting a New Campaign From Scratch

Thursday, January 19, 2017

When we talk about video games, replayability is an oft touched on topic. We like large games that invite players to experience the stories within it again and again. That's why games like Skyrim, Mass Effect and Grand Theft Auto V have such staying power even years after their initial release. As a tabletop player though, it is very unlikely that you'll be tempted to play through the same module or adventure path more than once. Maybe I'm wrong, and this really isn't a thing, but I have never encountered a player or group, who upon finishing off the BBEG and closing the book on their quest turned around and said, "great job everyone! Let's do it again, but this time we'll all play different characters and be total dicks to everyone."

As a DM, I have run the same module more than once, but it has always been for different groups of players. The closest thing we DM's come to replayability is our player's engagement with the worlds we imagine for them. Over the last few weeks, I've been working on creating a world for my players to inhabit. It's a slow process that involves a lot of reading, writing, drawing, rereading, erasing, rewriting and redrawing. In the end we hope to have created an environment that the players can make themselves at home in and really become a part of. The first session, the reveal of that world is one of the most terrifying moments as a DM. Will the players like it or will they spend the next few hours shitting on the world you've spent weeks creating?

The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Pre-apocalypse Javier. Looks like a young guy with a whole lot ahead of him.

I've been following Telltale since their early days with Sam and Max and Monkey Island (both new additions to two of my favorite Lucasarts adventure series) but I don't think many will argue that their work on The Walking Dead really put them on the map. The story they told proved that they were capable of far more than just comedy. The story of Lee and Clementine remains one of my favorites from the last 10 years. Though it ended tragically for Lee (I draw the spoilers line at 3+ years. Sorry, folks.), we've still had Clementine around. She was the player character for Season 2 and is back in Season 3 as a very important NPC. Seeing the way that she has grown and changed over the course of the story has brought hope and heartache and Season 3's 2 episode debut shows no signs of changing that.

I'm Prepared to be Disappointed by Andromeda

Thursday, January 12, 2017

In anticipation of Mass Effect: Andromeda, I've been replaying the series on PC. I'm now a few hours into Mass Effect 2, which I consider to easily be the best of the three existing games. But as I've spent more time with the series, I've come to realize something very important. Andromeda may not end up being very good. For everything I've seen of it, intriguing as it all may be, there remains the distinct possibility that it won't live up to the lofty expectations heaped upon it.

Dishonored 2: Keeping up with the Kaldwins

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

One of the things that I appreciate about the Dishonored series is that Arkane Studios has set expectations well. I've become accustomed to watching game trailers with interest and then tempering that with the likelihood that what I've seen will be dialed back somewhat; that the initial trailer(s) includes concepts that will be cast by the wayside and forgotten, having become too costly or complicated to bring to fruition in the finished title. It's common for a game to be given a polished cinematic to advertise the game rather than a series of gameplay clips, especially for a game's announcement. 

While these advertisements are successful in introducing story with a high production animated mini-feature, they often obscure the actual gameplay in the process. True gameplay trailers are all well and good, but they are often no better at giving reasonable expectations for way the final game will truly be like to play. This is one of the reasons I was so pleased by Dishonored when I had finally got hands on with it. It played as its trailers gave you the impression it would. The protagonist, Corvo moved through spaces with the gift of the same strange arcane powers and an assassin’s practiced swiftness that had been presented. It was marvelous. 

REDUX: Monikers is Simply the Best

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

We left out this fantastic game from our holiday list! Wesley and I played a lot of Monikers with family over the holidays and we just didn't feel right about not mentioning it. So here is our original piece about it, reprinted here for you.

While at PAX Prime last year, we had the opportunity to play Monikers with Alex Hague, one of its creators. Crammed into the crowded Indie Megabooth, Alex dealt out a few cards to each of us from which we assembled a deck of our favorites. Each card had a name of a person or a thing on it and our goal was to guess what thing was on the card from a description given by another player. In the second round, we were asked to guess the same cards with only one word clues and the final round forced us to play charades-style, with only gestures and slight sound effects. In fifteen minutes, we laughed uproariously while fumbling to describe or act out the things on the cards. As soon as we were able, we bought our own copy and tonight we played it with my mother and brother.

We Are Back for 2017!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hello readers! We had a long and lovely break over the holidays but we are back and ready to jump into 2017. We played a number of games over the break but there are a few that stood out. Here's a quick run down of some of the games that captured our attention during our winter break.