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Thursday - June 23, 2016
Sunday - June 12, 2016
Thursday - June 09, 2016
Monday - May 30, 2016
Wednesday - March 09, 2016
Tuesday - February 09, 2016
Thursday - January 28, 2016
Friday - January 15, 2016
Sunday - January 03, 2016
Tuesday - December 15, 2015
Saturday - June 13, 2015
Sunday - May 10, 2015
Wednesday - December 24, 2014
Wednesday - November 26, 2014
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Thursday - June 23, 2016

RPG Grind Time - Gems of E3 2016

by Aubrielle, 12:04

This week's RPG Grind Time takes a look at the RPGs featured at E3 and what we can take away from their presentation.

I wouldn’t call this E3 a banner year for role-playing games, but exciting games are still on the horizon. Plenty of cool RPGs were on display and smaller reveals surfaced. Was I hoping for some cool, big RPG reveal I wasn’t expecting? Of course. Was I dissatisfied with already announced RPGs that either weren’t there or had little information? You bet, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

The magic of E3 is often those announcements you don’t see coming that get you hyped for the future, but I think developers are finally realizing the dangers of making reveals too soon. No one wants another decade-long Final Fantasy Versus XIII fiasco. Things felt much more cautious for the genre this year with more games on display that are coming in the next few months or early next year, and that’s just fine by me. I don’t mind developers waiting until they actually have something worthwhile to show before doing so. 

Case in point – Mass Effect: Andromeda. If the trailer on display at EA’s press conference had hit last year, it would have been super exciting, but not seeing much gameplay as we draw closer to its 2017 release left fans rightfully disappointed. The game was recently pushed out of this year, so that doubly made it difficult to accept. Still, from what we saw in the footage, the game looks cool and promising. I like that we finally saw some of the environments and the protagonist, Ryder. Not to mention that you're the alien in this strange universe. The trailer got me excited, but I can't help but also wish BioWare provided more details. I tell myself good things come to those who wait, but Kingdom Hearts III is also testing my patience. I didn’t expect anything playable, but at least give some updates or a new trailer to tide us over. A release date feels like a pipe dream at this point. While developers may be reluctant to show off unpolished gameplay or scenes, it’s important to show confidence in the game and get a reaction from fans to see what they’re taken with and what has them concerned. 

That being said, while I would have loved to learn more about CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk (at least we got Gwent!) or seen a Square Enix press conference devoted to a slew of role-playing games, I still found plenty of new titles I’m anticipating. Here are some gems from the show that I hope didn’t go unnoticed, and should have you super excited for the coming months.

Read more.

Sunday - June 12, 2016

Opinion - Why Video Games are Bad Role Models

by Aubrielle, 04:10

If you were thinking of eating turkey from a dumpster or planning to enjoy some irradiated salisbury steak, you might want to rethink that.  GameInformer tells us why living like you're in a video game might not always be a good idea.

If you were to attempt half of the things commonly occur in video games, at best you would get dirty looks. At worst you would be imprisoned for life or end up dead. From eating food found in the street to disobeying traffic laws, committing mass murders, and lighting yourself on fire, there are a few lessons we shouldn’t take away from video games. 

We collected some of the worst ideas video games have tried to put in our minds as a cautionary tale of what not do from day to day.

Source: Game Informer

Thursday - June 09, 2016

RPG Grind Time - Making Side Quests Matter

by Aubrielle, 08:48

On this week's RPG Grind Time, Kimberley Wallace talks about side quests in RPGs.

I grew up completing every side quest possible in my role-playing games. I would buy strategy guides alongside my latest RPG conquest just to make sure I would know about every optional quest along the way. I loved getting the most out of my journey, even if it meant dealing ridiculous things like dodging 200 lightning bolts or completing a chocobo race in less than 0 seconds thanks to time reductions. I had a lot of time in those days – I wanted to spend as much time in these worlds as possible. Nowadays, I don't have the luxury for fruitless efforts, and find myself only wanting to embark on side quests if they're convenient or add something worthwhile to the story. Games have grown so much over the years that side quests should be more engaging, but I still encounter so many that don't seem worth my time and are flat-out boring. Yes, that means I'd never repeat those crazy Final Fantasy X side quests, and while I did them back then, I don't find them examples of side quests done well.

Here's what I find great about side quests – they give you the opportunity to extend your time in a world you're enjoying. RPGs are long affairs, but part of the magic is the attachment you get to the characters and universe. Sometimes I just don't want the journey to end, or I'm getting so into the world and people that I want to discover more about them. The best side quests add something new to the characters or the story, or are just their own self-contained affairs that tell a compelling tale. For instance, the Dragon Age series makes a point to give you extra character quests that help you better understand your party members. I still think about Dorian's journey about coming to terms with who he is and walking away from a life that his family wanted to force him into. Another example that comes to mind is Tales of Xillia 2, which had its problems (never force players into side content!), but my favorite part was the character quests because I felt like they offered some intriguing insight into each individual, like Alvin's tragic love and Leia's fight to prove herself as a successful journalist.

I can't mention good side quests without talking about The Witcher. In fact, I find these games to have heaps of quests that offer so many different things to various player types. You have quests for those who just like to take on the biggest, baddest monsters, for those who revel in hunting down the coolest gear, or those who want to learn more about the characters. Some also have self-contained stories that are just fantastically written and memorable; whether it's a humorous take on bureaucracy or helping a woman befriend a monster haunting her. Furthermore, doing some of these side quests don't just offer beneficial experience or items, but they can also shape the world around in you in interesting ways. I loved going back and seeing what my decisions in a side quest changed, which can range from a character living or dying to them opening up a shop that gives me a discount.

I feel the quality and variety of Witcher 3's side quests are the gold standard for them in this day and age and I hope to see that grow. Developers spend all this time creating these amazing worlds and I'd like more compelling reasons to spend extra time in them, doing every little thing possible. Side quests shouldn't feel like work or as if they're necessary to advance in the game, but should be an extra and exciting award for anyone who partakes in them. Instead, I see too many RPGs relying on the same tired ones without much creativity. Fetch quests don't have to be as mechanical, boring, and unrewarding as they often are and killing a certain amount of monsters should affect the area and bring you more than just a few extra healing items. The days of tedious side quests should be over; they shouldn't be something to dread or you just do for trophies/achievements. Something more should drive you to them.

That's not to say they all have to be story focused either. I enjoy optional bosses in games that are a proving ground for your skills (Kingdom Hearts is great at this, by the way). The sense of accomplishment and goodies for beating these baddies are enough incentive. And I'll still gladly partake in extra activities to get badass armor or weapons, but these should offer their own fun moments beyond the reward.  I just feel like we're past the days of these feeling like a job and should be something you want to engage in. I get that side quests are optional, but that doesn't mean they deserve to feel like filler, second-rate content. I'd take less side quests in my games if they meant better quality than an abundance of them that are a bore. Sadly, I see the latter way more than I'd like in my RPGs.

Source: Game Informer

Monday - May 30, 2016

Game Informer - The Other Half of Gaming

by Aubrielle, 00:23

A Game Informer editorial takes a look at the myth that video games must live apart from the non-digital games that spawned them.

Growing up, I loved any video game rooted in my favorite genre of fantasy. I would rent and buy all the video games with a passing relation to dragons and wizards, regardless of quality. Like many of you, as my taste in games grew, I began to recognize how much I was limiting my own fun. While I never lost a love of classic fantasy tropes, a whole world of other video games beckoned, inviting me into other interactive settings of action, mystery, horror, science-fiction, sports, racing, puzzles, and more. Why had I spent so long with an artificial barrier that kept me from such great entertainment? 

In the back of my head, that’s always the memory that comes to mind when I hear that someone loves video games, but has never dipped their toe into the other half of the gaming hobby that lives on your home tabletop. It feels like declaring that you love Italian food, but for some reason you just don’t want to try Mexican cuisine. Sure, some people just don’t like guacamole, but how would you know until you try? 

Prevailing opinion suggests that tabletop and video games are fundamentally different hobbies, and I certainly acknowledge that they each branch in separate directions. But they share the same roots, and much of the same appeal. While the form of presentation and interaction is different, many of the tenets of game design are in common, whether you’re talking about the need for balance in competition, the appeal of growth and progression over the course of the game, or the link between mechanics and narrative that make a game feel cohesive. 

Anecdotally, I can’t count the number of video game developers I’ve visited who trace their gaming roots back to role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, or early board games like Risk. Before the constraints of technology allowed for complex digital gaming, the only place to discover rich and nuanced gaming projects was on the tabletop. As both disciplines have matured, they’ve moved in often parallel and intersecting lines, and each reveal new facets of the way gaming can entertain, educate, and enrich our social interactions.


Source: Game Informer

Wednesday - March 09, 2016

Game Informer - The Difficulty of Difficulty

by Silver, 06:42

Game Informer examines how developers strike the right balance between challenge and frustration. They compare games like Darkest Dungeon, XCOM 2 and Diablo III.

The most important factor for mitigating frustration is fostering the sense that every success and failure is earned by the player. "It's my job as a designer to promote fairness, to make sure that the rules of a game are transmitted clearly," says XCOM 2 creative director Jake Solomon. "...I mean fairness in the sense that when things happen, the player understands why, and how those things fit into the overall rules." Losing a beloved veteran soldier to a rampaging Muton Berserker in XCOM can be devastating, but it's also the direct result of your own choices - where you moved your characters, which enemies you targeted, etc. In other words, you may get frustrated with yourself, but not the game.


Diablo III lead designer Kevin Martens points to another vital component: player choice. "When a game gets difficult, there should be something that the player can learn or choose to do differently to overcome the difficulty," Martens says. Diablo III plies players with endless loot, weapons, and a variety of powerful abilities to overcome obstacles in the method of their choosing. If the player is still hitting a wall, they can also simply choose another activity such as Adventure mode or a tackling Greater Rift.

Darkest Dungeon provides a unique case study. Its roguelike nature and sheer amount of variance can lead to situations where the odds are severely stacked against the player. The solution? Give players a way out. "Without the ability to retreat, the player would feel at times that there is nothing they can do to overcome a bad deal of cards," says Darkest Dungeon design director Tyler Sigman. "It would be like forcing players to bet on a weak hand. We are every bit as interested in what you do when things are going poorly as when all is going great." The ability to retreat from fights and abandon quests doesn't just create an enticing risk/reward to mull over - it once again puts the onus on the player. If you push too hard and get your entire party killed by a ghoulish necromancer, their blood is on your hands, not the game's design.

Tuesday - February 09, 2016

Game Informer - Long Live Single Player

by Silver, 06:19

Remember when the death of single player was predicted? Game Informer has an article on trend driven development cycles.

At 2011's European Game Developers Conference, industry veteran Mark Cerny rattled gamers' cages when he told a room full of journalists he believes "the traditional single-player game experience will be gone in three years. Right now you sit in your living room and you're playing a game by yourself - we call it the sp mission or the single-player campaign. In a world with Facebook, I just don't think that's going to last."

Cerny's prediction placed single-player gaming's death at the end of 2014. These comments were said at a time when a good majority of developers were going out of their way to include multiplayer components into games. Even the strongest of the narrative driven adventure series (like BioShock, Singularity, Batman: Arkham, The Chronicles of Riddick, and Uncharted) invested significant development resources into multiplayer integration.


Not everyone was bearish on single player at the time. Bethesda Softworks largely ignored the industry’s trends and instead focused on making quality single-player experiences like the internally developed The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – an adventure players can sink hundreds of hours into – and Arkane Studios’ Dishonored, an exceptional stealth adventure. Both games, which only offered single-player content, were critically acclaimed and sold well.

Thursday - January 28, 2016

Game Informer - 10 RPG Franchises We Want

by Aubrielle, 00:42

Game Informer waxes enthusiastic about ten RPG franchises they feel deserve to be resurrected.

These days it seems like anything is possible in the gaming world, thanks to the growth of crowdfunding and social media. Series that were once relegated to memory are suddenly coming back. Did you ever think we’d have a chance at Shenmue 3? How about Square Enix reviving the Nier and SaGa franchises? This got us thinking about our favorite RPGs of yesteryear. While plenty of great series have vanished, we think many have potential to thrive again. Without further ado, here are the 10 RPG franchises we’d love to see return.

More information.

Friday - January 15, 2016

Game Informer - RPG of the Year Awards

by Aubrielle, 10:15

Game Informer gives us their picks for RPG of the Year in various categories, such as battle system (LoH: Trails of Cold Steel), Setting (Fallout 4), and Narrative (Witcher 3).

This year had plenty of worthwhile role-playing games to get lost in. A slew of absorbing games, such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Pillars of Eternity, and Fallout 4, appeared with much fanfare. Unfortunately, handheld RPGs weren't as dominant as usual, and games like Tales of Zestiria and Xenoblade Chronicles X underwhelmed compared to their predecessors. The year also had its share of unexpected darlings with Undertale and Legends of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel coming out of nowhere to earn a spot in the race to the top of the RPG pack. Read on to discover what stood out in a year full of ups and downs for the genre.

More information.

Sunday - January 03, 2016

Game Informer - Chris Avellone Speaks

by Silver, 10:00

@GameInformer Chris talks about the reasons for his breakup with Obsidian, what its like working on games and lots more. Check it out.

Your work has largely defined an entire genre of games. What have been some of your major and minor influences over the years?

Me define a genre? God, I hope I haven't. It's only recently that I feel that I've been propagating a number of bad habits (unfun companions, reinforcing archaic dialogue systems, and being on titles where reactivity was simply a lot of special cased scenarios to test rather than true systematic reactivity). Part of this is due to the titles and engines themselves, but I needed to step back before I fell even further into a rut.

In terms of influences: The Hero System defined me with point-building freedom in characters. I don't care for class-based systems, since I feel classes are ultimately an obstacle to role-playing - Fallout taught me that. And speaking of Fallout and influences, Tim Cain and the Fallout crew taught me the best innovations don't have to be technological, you just have to approach a convention with a twist (stats affecting dialogue options). Without having played the Fallout series and designed for it (Fallout 2), I also think Planescape: Torment would have been a weaker product, but Fallout opened my eyes to what systems could do if you looked at them from the right perspective.


Your shift away from Obsidian came as a surprise to many. You were a founder, after all. Can you speak on how that came about and why?

I was indeed one of the founders. I'm still surprised I got the opportunity, and I'm grateful to Obsidian for it.

There's a few things to say here, none of it negative or scandalous or sensationlist, just food for thought. I want to make cool games of any size, any genre with cool people. Anything else (example: money, the best company car) is not important to me. I still think back fondly working with Subset Games, for example. Low ego, high humility, and I loved working on FTL. And I did it for free because I loved it so much. Guess what? I look back on it, and my soul is happy. Perfect.

Obsidian had cool people, but there were a lot of projects that Obsidian wouldn't consider or couldn't consider - both internally and externally. There were even ones that Obsidian didn't know it couldn't do, some of which I discovered to my surprise after my departure (hypothetically, something with "Old" and "Republic" in the title). Hey - now I know, but I never would have known otherwise.

My role was often a question mark, one that I attempted to get answered a few times. I've said this before in other interviews, but while creative director can give a lot of advice and thoughts, they may not have any decision making power at a company - they can't enforce a design philosophy or even tell any other employee what to do, even project directors and lead designers. I don't think this is unusual, but I don't know how the role is at other companies yet. It's certainly different at Larian, where the position has an incredible amount of authority, and it definitely shows on Divinity: Original Sin II.


Tuesday - December 15, 2015

Game Informer - Ken Levines take on System Shock

by Silver, 02:04

@Gameinformer they interviewed Ken Levine to talk about his new upcoming science fiction game and they also asked him about his thoughts on the new System Shock game.

"I wish them the best," Levine said. "I have a personal connection to System Shock, [System Shock 2] was the first game I ever shipped. We were completely stumbling around in the dark on that game... so the impact that it had was a complete surprise to us. Without that game, there's nothing else for us. Nothing would have happened. So I have a deep connection with it... I'm excited, I hope they can figure it out and make a cool game out of it."

We then asked Levine about leaving the next System Shock in somebody else's hands and whether he would have liked to work on it himself, but he responded by drawing comparisons to his mysterious next project that he says is a first-person sci-fi RPG.

"I'm so deeply involved in the themes of our new thing, our new game is a science-fiction game," Levine said. "It involves themes like artificial intelligence and what it means to be programmed, that you are a thing that was created by programming. That's a big theme in the new game. And how much agency you have outside of what you are as a piece of programming instructions. So I'm scratching a lot of those itches in the new game already. I don't really feel a need to go back to touch those characters again, in the same way that I didn't need to when I made BioShock. Say we would have gotten the rights to System Shock before we did BioShock, there wouldn't have been an Andrew Ryan, or Big Daddies, or Elizabeth... I do think it's important to move on and make different things in life."

The full interview with Ken Levine will be featured Thursday on the Game Informer Show.

So now System Shock 3 has been officially confirmed. (Thanks Format92)
*Remember to sign up for promotions and updates if you want more news or to indicate platform preferences.

Saturday - June 13, 2015

Game Informer - Character Creation

by Hiddenx, 14:12

Hershall Cook (Game Informer) asks the follwing question:

Why We Make Avatars And How They Affect Us

I was sliding shells into my 500 Tactical shotgun when I turned around and noticed my dad was still wearing the default armor. "Dad," I said, exasperated, "you could look so much cooler." He shrugged. We were hunting terrorists in Rainbow Six: Vegas 2; who cared what his onscreen avatar looked like? Apparently, a lot of us.

While the most robust customization options tend to appear in RPGs like Skyrim or Dragon Age: Inquisition, character creation exists in a surprising number of games. From sports franchises like Madden and WWE to shooters like Brink and the aforementioned Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, we often devote significant time to designing characters within the limits of a video game editor. Last generation this feature gained so much popularity that even Microsoft and Nintendo jumped on board, with both companies offering user avatars on their respective consoles.

So how do players approach character creation? According to Nick Yee, a former research scientist at Palo Alto Research Center, most create idealized versions of themselves, minimizing their physical flaws while maintaining the illusion of him or herself as the game's protagonist. However, the extent to which someone romanticizes their avatar depends on their self-confidence. "For people who are less happy," Yee says, "whether they're depressed or they have lower self-esteem, the delta [space] between that idealistic buffer gets bigger." Although Yee's insights explain why a bald gamer might play through Bloodborne as himself plus hair, they fail to explain those people who opt to play as the opposite gender or a different race. (...)

Sunday - May 10, 2015

Game Informer - Can a game be too huge?

by Aries100, 16:45

Game Informer asks this in a blend of an editorial and reader discussion at their website.

We're nearing the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which looks awesome, but I'm also intimidated by the idea of playing through such a massive beast of a game. Do you think that a game can get too big, that a game can get to the point that it hurts the quality of the title?  When I was younger, I used to love the idea of diving into a game that was so massive it took months to beat, but as I've gotten older, I've found that I have less and less time to give to demanding games. 

What do you think? Can a game be too big?

Wednesday - December 24, 2014

Game Informer - Video Games Vanishing History

by Couchpotato, 15:40

Game Informer posted an interesting article about gaming history, and how it's vanishing before our eyes in the last fifteen years.Here is a short sample.

Thanks to the proliferation of blogs, websites, and videos on services like YouTube and Twitch, there is more content on video games being produced than ever before. However, we're also losing a significant portion of the industry's history on a daily basis.

Last weekend, we read the sad news that Ralph Baer, the creator of the Magnavox Odyssey and generally recognized as the "father of video games," had passed away. I had the opportunity to interview him for the May 2009 issue of Game Informer. However, outside of our own archives, loyal readers who save their magazines, or some libraries that (hopefully) keep Game Informer in their stacks, old magazine article are largely inaccessible.

Game Informer does keep digital archives – to a degree. Lots of it is hard to find on servers or, if it's older, on CD-Rs that are probably rapidly decaying. Thankfully, I'm terrible about cleaning out my hard drive, so I was able to find an old Word document containing an early edit that was actually longer than what we ran in print. I posted it on Monday and you can read it here. But that's just luck – it's just as likely that an interview with one of the men who invented games could have be lost forever.

The past 15 years have been tumultuous for the media business, both traditional and online. Just think back to all the once-popular game magazines and websites that are gone: GamePro,, GameSpy, Nintendo Power – the list goes on. With each closure, an important part of game history disappears. Online servers are shut down, reducing thousands of interviews, news stories, and game reviews to 404 errors. I'd like to believe the archives of physical issues of old game magazines are preserved, but that's not often a priority when people are losing jobs and figuring out what to do next. In any case, even if a conscientious employee rescues the back issues, they will likely be locked away in someone's garage or basement.

Wednesday - November 26, 2014

Game Informer - 10 Signs That You May Be A Neurotic RPG Player

by Abharsair, 20:19

I'm probably guilty of at least a few of the 10 mentioned points and I have the feeling I'm not alone with that here on the Watch.

Every active quest in your journal nags at your soul
Most quests fall into two categories: The ones that you’ve completed, and the ones that stare at you, piteously, taunting you with your inability to complete them. ...


You will not rest until every inch of the map has been uncovered
Once I finally make it out of town, things don’t get much better. Actually, they get worse. When I pull up my map, I look at it like a larger version of the town map. It’s some kind of fractal nightmare. If there’s a fog of war-style haze obscuring my vision, I’ll methodically walk in a pattern like I’m mowing the lawn, in the event that I’d miss something. I rarely do. Ugh.

Actually, scratch that - I'm guilty of all the points. I guess it's time to create the RPGaholics Anonymous.

Source: Game Informer

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