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Meet the new game, same as the old game

2012 is shaping up to be the year that developers finally pushed back. For many years past both content creators and content consumers have bemoaned the pandering of the lowest common denominator. Why can’t anybody make something original for once? Why do we need yet another modern shooter set in the Middle East? Of course we get these games because people buy them, but many of us knew that if somebody ever made that classic turn-based, squad-based RPG they remembered so dearly, they’d buy it too. Well along came Kickstarter and the people responded with money in hand.

But Kickstarter hasn’t been without its criticisms. Though the platform has helped fund numerous big game projects this year, starting largely with Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Adventure, its come to light that many of these games are essentially rehashes of the days of old. A leisurely walk down nostalgia park if you will. For all of its ability to fund developers outside of publisher’s control, it doesn’t quite seem to be able to fund things we’ve never seen before.

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Why have I switched back to the PC?

About 3 years ago I was playing console games almost exclusively. PC games were a pretty rare treat and usually only with games that made sense for PC, such as RTS games. Everything else at the time was just a better proposal on a console. I could sit among my friends and enjoy a single-player game while they watched some TV or even if they played something else entirely. But something happened when I moved out from college. In a really short span of time it seemed like I was playing on the PC quite a bit more than I remembered. My Steam library was filling up at a rapid pace and my time on Xbox Live was slowly parring down. As has been discussed quite a bit recently, PC gaming has made a meteoric comeback, but I want to reflect on why exactly that happened for me personally when I was just so into these console games before.

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Why can’t Nintendo ever seem to get a controller right?

But the GameCube controller….

You know what, you guys already know where this discussion is going so let’s get this one out of the way first. I’m gonna Tarantino it for a minute here and start with the middle of the article.

The GameCube controller: charming, yet frustrating

You all love that GameCube controller and I know it. The GameCube controller was OK. I loved the feel of it and I liked how the A button was extra large and I kind of liked the placement of those Y and X buttons. Everything else about it made me uneasy. The “C stick” or whatever you want to call it felt weird to hold for extended periods, like in an FPS game. The L and R buttons had far too much tension on their springs (although I liked that satisfying click they had). The D-pad just sucked, its worse than the Xbox 360 D-pad. There, I said it.

Alright, back to the beginning.

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Silly gamers, Fable: The Journey is “core”

Its core.

Why? Well…it just is.

Hey I don’t question when marketing teams tell me what something is. Usually. Alright maybe I do.

Fable: The Journey is one of those games nobody wants to talk about. I think in a weird way many of us want to pretend like Fable is still a thing. But we probably need to realize at this point that while it is a thing, its not the thing we want it to be. Its something else. Fable: The Journey is nothing more than an on-rails shooter with magic powers and a Kinect interface. Yet the marketing team at Microsoft really wants us to believe that its something much more than that. That its core. Core right down to its core. So core you couldn’t believe its core.

But…its not.

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How could StarCraft go Free-to-Play?

During the Valencia eSports Congress panel, StarCraft 2 Lead Designer Dustin Browder commented that Blizzard was “looking at free-to-play as an option” in the game’s multiplayer mode. Its an idea many will initially scoff at. Even Browder admitted “We don’t know how we would monetize it. While it might be good fun for me to play against someone with only half the units available to them, that’s not going to be an enjoyable experience for them.” This statement is more than true, as anyone who has played a F2P game typically bemoans the “pay-to-win” portion of the game.

But I don’t believe anyone is thinking very clearly about how this game would work in a F2P capacity. StarCraft 2 could potentially be a huge F2P game if we get out of the idea that monetizing pieces of the game itself will do the trick. Many consider StarCraft to be the competitive gaming experience of today and opening that experience up to even more people (and monetizing it for the people already playing) could be bigger than games that have mastered the F2P formula such as Riot’s League of Legends or WarGaming.net’s World of Tanks. Lets take a look at some ways Blizzard could consider moving to this model.

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You got a little dubstep in my Halo, sir

I actually don’t have much a problem with dubstep. Its pretty enjoyable when I just want to tune everything out and listen to the bass-melting wub-wub of a tune while I write. But something about dubstep and Halo just does not mix. If you were holding back any doubts about 343 Industries’ ability to capture the “essence” of Halo in their upcoming Halo 4 title in November, then maybe you should check out this multiplayer trailer for the game:

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I’ll be your pocket Voltar!

It’s a MOBA! It’s 3 vs. 3! It’s…basically Team Fortress 2 arcade?

If you’re into action platforms that involve base defense and lots of fast-paced hacking, slashing, shooting, biting and/or blowing up enemies in an attempt to gain money (solar in this case) then you should definitely check out Awesomenauts. This game was recently released by Ronimo, and despite the developer having a very small track record (only one other game which I have never heard of), Awesomenauts may be their ticket onto the casual gaming map.

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When game reviews are wrong: Wall Street Journal reviews Borderlands 2

I’ve held my own personal opinion about other people’s opinions for a long time: most of them are garbage. A combination of virtual anonymity, self-empowerment and a general notion that one is always right no matter what has led to the oft-said line: “It’s just an opinion man”. We’ll I’m here to say that sure its just an opinion, man, but what do you have to back that opinion up? Yes I do take personal criticism of my own opinions to heart, I’ve been known to change my tune in light of new information or even just a better stance than what I was once on. “Just an opinion” is just that: an opinion and nothing more, it has no real weight to it. So excuse me when I say that yes, people often do have very shallow, mis-informed and just plain wrong opinions.

Still not convinced? Well then let me introduce you to Adam Najberg. He writes for the Wall Street Journal and apparently does some of their video game reviews. Reviews, by the way, are the ultimate in journalistic empowerment. Its a chance to write about entertainment and voice what you think, without really doing much other research than just watching the movie, eating at the restaurant, or in this case playing the game. Najberg, in his review, displays a complete lack of knowledge of the gaming world or of its major genres, or of the first-person shooter’s pretty clear-cut sub-genres. In this case the distinction between Single Player Campaigns, Co-op Campaigns and Competitive Multiplayer games:

The sequel to the highly acclaimed 2009 Borderlands game goes on shelves Tuesday in Xbox 360, PS3 and PC versions for around $60. At that price point, the first-person shooter, published by 2K Games, inevitably invites comparisons with the Halos and Calls of Duty games already out and due to come in the next few weeks and months.

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How to tell when a video game company knows absolutely nothing about video games

Not every idea is a good one. Furbies, the Resident Evil movie series, and Snooki are all prime examples of this. Unfortunately, the video game industry is just as susceptible to terrible ideas as everything else; I mean, look at Superman 64. What the hell was that? 

This past Tuesday was the release of new game NBA Baller Beats from Majesco Games; a Kinect exclusive that is half music game, half sports game, and one giant disaster waiting to happen. The basic concept of the game is to dribble a basketball (bundled with the game) to the beat of various songs, which I assume is supposed to help with control of the ball as well as…keeping time to music, I suspect.

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Why this Nintendo Fangirl will not be buying a Wii U

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog bubbling about PAX and how much I love Nintendo and how I wish they would adopt me. (Read HERE) While everything I said in that article was true, there were some things I purposely left out. Only one thing, really- the Wii U.

I got to play with one at PAX when I tested New Super Mario Bros U. The Wii U tablet was cool; very lightweight as well as easy to pick up and learn the controls quickly, but- something was missing. I guess it was that “love at first sight” feeling, the very same I had when I first laid eyes on the 3DS. I threw my wallet at the TV screen when I first saw the 3DS. I nearly puked with excitement the first time I got to play one. But holding that Wii U controller in my hands, there was no magic.

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