2014 was the year I took a step back from writing and dug into my backlog without worrying too much about whether I should pen my thoughts or not. Yet, despite playing more than usual, this list is somewhat shorter than my previous years’. That probably makes it about normal size then.
If you’re a Tap-Repeatedly veteran you know our Game of the Year lists are not always lists, not always games, and almost never devoted entirely to the previous year. This year, when discussion about the feature began shortly before Christmas, everyone said it had been a bad year for games. “I don’t know what I’ll write about,” they moaned, meaning what games. Me, I worried I wouldn’t know how to write about them. It’s a feeling I’ve become familiar with in the last twelve months, to my sorrow and my detriment.
Hi Tappers! Thanks for tuning in for our Games of the Year lists. Once again it seems like I’m the one to kick this series off here in January, so let’s ring in the new year and with a list of my favorite or most interesting games of 2014.
At first impression, Bravely Default is actually terrible. It is the JRPG that Zynga would make. … the story is the most generic JRPG tale possible, an epic where one must take a magical priestess and her fairy sidekick to a temple to “Activate the Wind Crystal” and then three other elemental crystals of increasing power thereafter.
I knew, hour one, that I was going to play it for a hundred hours anyway.
After an abrupt collapse in 2010, it would seem that STALKER developer GSC Game World is back. At least, there are people saying it’s back, and doing interviews to that effect. But I’ve long since abandoned any illusions that reality will influence the state of things in Ukrainian game development.
Dejobaan Games is a Boston-based indie studio. They have a sharp sense of humor, and I like their work, in theory, which is why I am on their mailing list. I don’t like their work generally in practice, however, for one simple reason: I get simulation-based motion sickness, and a game about base-jumping off of high structures for points sets that off in about thirty minutes, never even mind the Oculus Rift. When even The Wonderful End of the World forced me give up and have a liedown, I thought I might have to give up on this studio’s work altogether.
But then I was offered a chance to try out Elegy For a Dead World, created by Dejobaan and Popcannibal, and I jumped at it. I’d tried the game out at conferences previously, and the premise intrigued me. This is A Game About Writing. I like writing!
This is a special edition of Local Flavor. Instead of visiting a game studio, I went out to Washington, DC with my co-worker Shahed Chowdhuri, to visit Children’s National Health System and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation.
So how is this relevant to games? In an amazing way. The Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation is using video game technology to drive innovation in pain detection and management in children. Or to put it even more simply: games for healing.
Shahed and I spoke with Christy Baxter and Dr. Julie Finkel at the organization to learn more about their use of gaming technology to help children. In the process, we learned a lot about how pain works, and a lot about what Children’s National is doing to fight it.
It’s been quite a while since I posted anything on Tap but my good friend Joel Goodwin over at Electron Dance has just launched our new 15 episode local multiplayer video series ‘Side by Side‘. I say our, it’s more his because Joel has done all the hard work, I just hosted the sessions, giggled a lot, spoke with him about our experiences and fed him cheese and ham sandwiches.
Anyway, I’m incredibly happy with the first episode which covers Jan Willem Nijman’s fantastic TENNNES and very much starts the series as it means to go on. Side by Side has its own YouTube channel so feel free to subscribe, like, share and all that other social media jazz. If you know anyone who enjoys a spot of local multiplayer then point them our way: we’ve got lots in store.
X-Wing doesn’t have a tutorial, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t teach you how to play.
Half a dozen invaluable LucasArts classics hit GOG late in October, which, at least in the world as I perceive it, would be internet-shattering news had it not happened the same day that Marvel announced the whole of Phase 3. So I’ve been playing a lot of X-Wing these last few weeks, because even though TIE Fighter is better I felt like starting at the beginning.
Sincere apologies for the lengthy outage over the past week, fellow Tappers. A whole bunch of problems happened at the same time, and we’re still working with our wonderful hosting service to identify exactly what’s going on and why. The site may be down again intermittently over the coming days, but hopefully this will be no more than a minor inconvenience. Some details of larger inconveniences below…
I had hoped that I would be able to get these The Longest Journey pieces out a bit before Dreamfall Chapters released, but as it turns out The Longest Journey is…well…long. But I still managed to finish my replay of Dreamfall: The Longest Journey one night in advance of the release of its sequel. For better or worse, it was much as I remembered.
It was with no small amount of relief that I decided not to write this piece as a review. At first I thought maybe I would, but I realized, quickly, that I might not like what I had to say in it – not always. Not everything.
Hi everyone! Welcome back to Local Flavor!
I’m taking another broad interpretation of local and traveled to the opposite side of the state, to Pittsburgh, PA and the Schell Games studio. I have a history with this studio as I spent about six months working with the company last year. I was eager to check out their brand new space in Pittsburgh’s Station Square, and talk to the team behind one of their releases this year, Enemy Mind. Photos and interviews below!
The most obvious place to start – one of the only obvious qualities it has, really – is that The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is unquestionably the most visually spectacular game I have ever played. Even if there weren’t anything else to say, that might be enough. If your computer can run it (and it’s punishing, but not too punishing) you probably need to buy it just to see the incredible technology The Astronauts bring to bear on this indie mystery. It’s simply jaw-dropping. Your jaw will drop. Which is harder to do than you think. Have you ever tried to drop your jaw? I just released my jaw muscles and my jaw stayed more or less where it was. It moved a little. But I wouldn’t call it a “drop.” You have to actively drop your jaw. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter will make you do that.
Foreword from the author,
Sometimes writing things is difficult. Not literally, like pushing keyboard buttons, that’s usually not difficult, except when coke spills in your keyboard and really messes up the Alt key, that makes pushing the buttons difficult because Alt is really underrated and oft-used. But I meant difficult like, the space in my brain that would normally come up with things to say to the computer word processor is absent. Or filled with noodles. And my brain doesn’t have a way of eating the neighbor noodles so they just have to live together. The noodles are useless too, it’s not like they do something.