The Log is late again. But can you really stay mad at a face like that?
I have too many delightful gaming memories to ever choose a favorite, but I can point at one and say it’s definitely among the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had. What I have in mind today is the weekend I spent with two of my closest friends, sprawled on a sofa, playing co-op Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 in splitscreen.
Understand, we had no idea how to play the game. We had no instructions and had never played online or in the campaign. GRAW2 is the most unforgiving kind of tactical shooter, and even simple moves like reloading took a while to figure out. But for some reason we stuck with it, and over the course of about 40 largely-straight hours, we completed the entire co-op campaign. We stopped to catch some sleep around 4:30 a.m. each day, and all my dreams were viewed through a sniper’s scope.
Whatever you thought about Batman: Arkham City, it’s pretty hard to deny that it’s a damn fine game with a damn fine world to live in. I mean, Gotham is not exactly a new thing, but there’s a Right Way to do Gotham and a Wrong Way, and developer Rocksteady’s pretty much been nothing but Right Way so far.
So I jumped on the new DLC pack Harley Quinn’s Revenge as quickly as I could. Unlike most of the game’s previous DLC, which consisted of challenge maps, alternate costumes, and new playable characters like Nightwing, Revenge is a chunk of proper gameplay, an all-new 2-hourish installment in the Arkham story. It’s an epilogue to Arkham City‘s kind of shocking and definitely controversial final moments. So I’m gonna say it now: spoilers for Arkham City inside.
Hi Tappers! My convention schedule this year is about to continue… with a trip this week to Columbus, Ohio, for the Origins Game Fair. This has always been one of my favorite events: large enough to attract a good variety of gamers, but small enough that it still sort of feels like coming back home.
Sorry Dark Souls, I didn’t mean to leave you. It just sort of happened. I’ll be back soon, I promise.
The previous Cat’s Away Chronicles featured the fine chaps over at Arcadian Rhythms having a wee drink and a chat with Electron Dance’s Harbour Master. The latest in his series sees him venturing up North to visit me where we talk, talk about playing some games, talk some more, talk some more about playing games, play some games, then talk some more. Thankfully Harbour Master is awfully good at editing and managed to focus our chatter on the games we played and a round of quickfire questions. Chainmail skirts, stealing Steerpike’s concubines, evolution versus creationism, the meaning of Braid… it’s all in there. Go see!
Confession: I have logged an embarrassing number of hours on Star Trek Online since it went free-to-play earlier this year. I’d played and enjoyed the game when it first released two years ago, just not $15 a month enjoyed. But to its credit, STO was and is the only MMO that’s ever really got me considering paying that subscription fee.
Star Trek Online has its issues, sure. Even now after two years of marked improvement, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. There are some problems that really stand out, though: heck, a week ago, a Cryptic developer singled out PvP as a part of the game that still sucks. And that is a very, very fair assessment. Because it does.
So let’s take a break from talking about your World of Warcrafts and Guild Wars 2s and Old Republics (actually, does anyone care about that one anymore?) and break down what a sort of niche MMO can do to be greater than the sum of its parts.
Stephen King’s novella collection Full Dark, No Stars could – kindly – be dismissed with a casual ‘not his best work.’ But there’s one in there, briefer than the others, called Fair Extension.
Dave Streeter runs into Satan on a lonely Maine road and they get to talking. An offer is made, an honest to God deal with the Devil. I’m sure you know how those work. But Lucifer’s not really what you expect.
“…if you think I’m going to show up two decades or so down the line and to collect your soul in my moldy old pocketbook, you’d better think again,” sneers the Devil. “The souls of humans have become poor and transparent things.”
Game designer artist Jason Rohrer has done some pretty neat things. I admire the ambition of Sleep Is Death, an experimental foray into two-person storytelling, even though it can be hard to get a networked game set up. Inside a Star-Filled Sky is beautiful to watch in motion. And the drama surrounding 2011’s Chain World was absolutely fascinating.
His most widely-celebrated work, however, is a game called Passage. … I didn’t just feel it was over-rated, but, there was something about it that has always bothered me. It was a reaction I forced myself to examine.
I have a bold idea: have the U.S. government producing the next 10 Avengers features to get itself out of debt. With $700 million banked worldwide after a mere 13 days, Disney should net north of a billion before Blu-Ray sales.
So what transpired to make this Marvel film so successful? Was it the MARVEL fanboy nation, the hype machine, Joss Whedon’s deep Buffy fan base, what was it? Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that when the sun shone through the Staff of Whedon in the Disney map room, it revealed the location of the Ark of the Cash Covenant.
I’m finally getting back on track with my monthly International Game Developers Association column, thanks mostly to the patience of the organization and my editor, Cat Wendt. IGDA Board of Directors elections were held a while ago. Sadly my personal favorite pick – the awesome Kate Edwards of Englobe Inc – won’t be joining the IGDA board, but I have a lot of confidence in those who did win, and lots of optimism for the future of the organization.
This month I write about the uniqueness of how games relate to their consumers, and how developers are inventing some clever new approaches to authorial control that ensures players see and experience what the developers want them to, despite gaming’s inherent affordance. Enjoy!
There are basically two schools of thought on how to approach a Souls game: use the wiki, or don’t use the wiki. I use the wiki. I don’t rely on it, but I use it. My experience is that a few spoilers are nothing compared to what you’d miss without those resources. Characters. Goodies. Immense swathes of storyline. Arguably, the whole theme of the game (Eastern-tinged postamble interpretation of Hellenic ‘Olympians vs. Titans’ creation mythology refracted through Knight of Faith concept in contra-Campbellian nihil-existentialist environment). Two entire regions I would have missed without the wiki form this, our latest (and gloomiest) entry in the Diaries.
Unless you’ve been living in a closet lately, you’ve probably noticed a lot of excitement focused on Kickstarter. Kickstarter, the crowd-funding resource, is being used to fund all kinds of cool games for development. Often, these are games of the quirky variety that might be considered too unusual for a regular publisher to take a risk on. Today we’re drawing your attentions toward a promising Kickstarter done by some friends of Tap: Map Monsters.