For-Pay Mods: The Good And Bad

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Valve and Bethesda’s announcement that they’re letting people charge for mods on Steam has certainly gotten strong reactions. I think a lot of those reactions however miss some of the details of both this change and the environment that already exists on Steam. There’s definitely a lot of potential good and bad that could come from this. Continue reading

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Indie Game Radar: Some Unknown Spring 2015 Releases

Maybe it’s just me, but there seem to be quite a few indie games coming out right around now and in the next roughly month-long period. Maybe they’re always coming out these days, but right around now I’m seeing the current or imminent release of quite a few I’ve either been tracking for a while or recently caught my interest. I think I’m just gonna highlight a few here to make sure they don’t get forgotten. They’re mainly games I’ve seen get almost no coverage at all. Continue reading

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Do Sandbox Games Even Need Main Missions?

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Yeah this is a brazen question to ask and it is partly to draw attention, but it get’s at the conflict I’ve been seeing in many open-world games made over the last few years, mainly action sandbox games in the Grand Theft Auto tradition. Of course sandbox games can have good main missions, but in a great many of them, main missions seem to actually detract from the central appeal of the game. Continue reading

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Late To The Party: Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, And The Lost Nature Of Sandbox Games

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If finally finished up Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag this week after Nvidia gave me a free copy with my graphics card back in 2013. Playing it made me realize things about how sandbox games have gradually strayed from their original design principles and how that relates to today’s trend of open-world games. Much has been said about how Ubisoft does open-world games, but I think Black Flag in particular highlights its issues because it actually contains a unique and fun classic-style sandbox game buried underneath a lot of modern trends. Continue reading

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Further Observations on AAA Game Download Sizes

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If you haven’t seen it, my new feature article finally went up on PC Gamer. I’ve talked about rising file sizes once here before, but this article seems to have gone up at a good time with some new games coming out to raise the issue again. Continue reading

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The Road Of ArmA 3

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What can I really talk about right now? I’m anticipating Grand Theft Auto V’s PC release, especially since I haven’t played it at all since a short PS3 rental in 2013. Instead of gearing up for it though I’ve just been playing a ton of ArmA 3 over the last week, finally diving headfirst into mods, particularly BECTI. This happened to coincide with a major new patch that changed the way guns feel and operate, also making some huge changes to the audio which I think drastically intensify the game. I guess I could run through some of this for people not already 100+ hours and 10GB of mods deep into this game. Continue reading

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So You Want To Start Playing Zelda

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Every once in a while I see someone asking where to start on the Zelda games and how to proceed through the series, and to be honest I find that a very hard question to answer. The Legend of Zelda is definitely a favored franchise in video games with one of the highest standards in game design quality if you ask me, but it’s also a divisive series with a lot of variety. There’s really no linear scale of “this game is better than this one is better than this one,” or even a scale of how advanced each game is compared to others.

All the discussions I’ve seen over the series have taught me one main thing: nobody really agrees on what even makes ZeldaZelda. People love the games for a wide range of reasons which leads them to prefer some games over others. Almost all Zelda games fit into the same “genre” or “formula,” but they still manage to offer different things. People talk about how Dark Souls is a proper modern Zelda, but I don’t think they’re the same type of game at all. Others say God of War is better, but I don’t even understand how you could compare the games. At the same time I like comparing Zelda to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus which has gotten me odd stares.

I don’t think it makes sense at all to list specific games everyone should or shouldn’t play. Instead I’m going to try to go over what I think individual games and the series overall offer for different people who may want different things from video games.

TL,DR List of Suggested Zelda Games For Newcomers Based on Different Qualities
(Disclaimer: I haven’t played the Oracle games or Minish Cap)

Starter Games That Best Summarize Zelda:
A Link to the Past — Wii U Virtual Console
Link’s Awakening — 3DS Virtual Console
Twilight Princess — Gamecube

I Want Epic Exploration:
A Link to the Past — Wii U Virtual Console
Twilight Princess — Wii
Wind Waker — Wii U

I Want Puzzles/Good Level Design:
Just about all of them starting with A Link to the Past

I Want Challenging Combat:
The Legend of Zelda — Any Virtual Console
Zelda II — Any Virtual Console
A Link to the Past — Wii U Virtual Console
Link’s Awakening — 3DS Virtual Console

I Want An Open-Ended Systemic Game:
The Legend of Zelda — Any Virtual Console
A Link Between Worlds (Kinda) — 3DS

Odd Men Out:
Majora’s Mask — 3DS
Zelda II — Any Virtual Console
Phantom Hourglass — DS
Spirit Tracks — DS

My Favorite Games Like Zelda:
Okami (Epic exploration, atmosphere) — PS3 Digital
3D Dot Game Heroes (Challenging combat) — PS3
Mega Man Legends (Exploration, charm) — PS1/N64
Mega Man Legends 2 (Same as above) — PS1
Ico (Puzzles, level design, and atmosphere) — PS3
Shadow of the Colossus (Bosses and atmosphere) — PS3 Continue reading

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The Meaning Of DLC

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CDProjekt’s announcement of what is essentially a season pass for The Witcher 3 has sparked feelings of betrayal from some customers who didn’t pay attention to what it’s been saying. More importantly though, it re-opens a debate about what the idea of additional content means for video games these days. Continue reading

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Can iOS Finally Change The Set-Top Box Market?

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I don’t remember if I caught this when the rumors first came out a few weeks ago, but the thing we were all afraid Apple would make finally seems to be about to appear at WWDC this June.

I’m pretty sure more than once on this blog, the last time two years ago, I talked about the possible effects of Apple eventually bringing the totality of iOS and its app store to the living room. Since then others have tried essentially the same thing with other operating systems but I still think Apple’s play could be different, and significantly change things. Continue reading

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2015’s Upcoming Summer Doldrums

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For some reason I keep thinking each new year is going to be the year where enough good games come out during the summer. There have actually been a few summers where at least some decent, under-the-radar games come out. Sadly, 2015 doesn’t look like it’s going to be one of those years.

Recently I’ve said 2015 will actually be a pretty good year for big releases, particularly for the PS4 and Xbox One because it seems like great games will finally come that are actually meant for those systems. Even with the recent delays I still think that’s true. After May however you’re probably going to have to wait until fall for that to happen.

Basically, Batman: Arkham Knight is it. At least as far as anyone can really confirm right now. Continue reading

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