Late To The Party: Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, And Why GTA Online Took Over

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I’m coming up towards the end of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas now but I’m going to go ahead and write this LTTP blog about it because I don’t know if I’m going to finish the game.

I have made blog posts in the past about my struggles with GTA games, but I wanted to take one last crack at San Andreas before actually starting the copy of Grand Theft Auto V I bought years ago. I ran into some of the same problems as before and overall I don’t think San Andreas stands the test of time, but from it I also learned some important things about sandbox games which may point to why GTA is so beloved, why Grand Theft Auto Online has taken over its destiny, and what’s wrong with other sandbox games. Continue reading

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Stop Treating Call of Duty: World War II Multiplayer Like A Documentary

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There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the multipalyer mode for Call of Duty: World War II — the way it depicts player characters, the way it’s working in microtransactions, etc. I think all that stems from a misunderstanding of what that mode is trying to do in relation to the rest of package people are paying $60 for. Continue reading

On The Fall of NeoGAF

By now you’ve probably heard of the sudden and drastic collapse of NeoGAF, arguably a central forum of the video game community. It was pretty much my main online hangout for years, and in the midst of its seeming downfall I’ve seen all kinds of opinions about it fly around from both without and within. There’s been reflection on what set it apart and whether any part of it is worth preserving in today’s gaming landscape. Continue reading

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Stealth Games Shouldn’t Judge Non-Stealth Tactics

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From what I can tell, most people writing about Dishonored: Death of the Outsider (which I just finished) center on how its no longer judging players for killing was very liberating. I certainly agree, but playing it and other recent stealth games further confirmed something else for me: I tend to not enjoy stealth games as much when they judge you for not being stealthy.

I think I’ve always generally held the opinion that stealth in video games is at its best when presented merely as one option in an sandbox of tools and options for players. The two main reasons for this are that stealth feels cooler when players choose to be stealthy and succeed at it, and it feels better when you have other options after failing stealth. I have the most dislike for games that automatically fail you upon detection. Continue reading

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Loot Boxes Are Just A Symptom, Not The Problem

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So basically every big game coming out this fall is going to have loot boxes. Star Wars Battlefront IICall of Duty: World War IIAssassin’s Creed OriginsForza Motorsport 7Middle Earth: Shadow of War, what did I miss? Judging from the reactions I’m seeing, loot boxes are just the next recipient of the ire that before gamers had towards DLC, online passes, season passes, and microtransactions. They’re all attempts by publishers to solve the same problem — the problem of keeping console games profitable. Continue reading

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All Open-World Games Need “Discovery Tour” Modes

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Assassin’s Creed: Origins is going to have a “Discovery Tour” mode that will strip out the story and combat and let players simply explore the game’s open world with some commentary from historians. People are already lauding this as an excellent use of all the historical research that goes into the Creed games. I think similar functionality should be expanded to virtually all open-world games.

It’s really just another step in the conversation surrounding “story mode” difficulty levels. I don’t see “discovery tour” as an actual difficulty mode though, but just another way to get use out of the art assets developers spend so much time and money putting into games. Maybe it’s not for everyone but it could offer some people yet another reason to buy a game. Continue reading

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The Video Game Photographers I’ve Been Following

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I’ve tried to pitch this as an article for a while now but ultimately just decided to write it here: a list of everyone whose “video game photography” I’ve been following.

Maybe you’ve heard of Dead End Thrills, the site run by Duncan Harris, who became known for creating beautiful high resolution screenshots of games using mods. This photography-style approach to games has been catching on for years now. It’s gotten big enough that Nvidia built its “Ansel” tools to facilitate high resolution screenshots for supporting games, and an increasing number of console games are offering photo modes. Finding more and more people into this sort of thing became a hobby of mine. It’s been a main source of my wallpapers.

Mostly I’ve been finding them in Flickr accounts. From what I can tell most people have slept on Flicker at least since Yahoo took it over in favor of Instagram or Tumblr. In that time, Flickr has become popular with photographers, among them “video game photographers.” Some of these same people also regularly post their work in NeoGAF’s PC screenshot thread.

To download these from Flickr you need a Yahoo account — and it’s actually pretty much the sole reason I have a Yahoo account. Be sure to check out the photostreams, as some of these accounts don’t put all their pictures into albums. Continue reading

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Steam Review-Bombing: Tech Companies’ Regulation With Tools Instead of Humans

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The brouhaha over how Valve has chosen to handle review-bombing on Steam looks like just another chapter in how tech companies are trying to solve human problems without humans.

I’m going to talk about Valve specifically in this post, but there are similarities to how people have reacted to chosen solutions for harassment from companies like Twitter or YouTube. All of them try to solve these problems with new tweaks, features, or AI to try to guide how people use their services. Continue reading

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Selective Game Installs Coming To Consoles. Finally.

DJozG7BXgAAZ85sIt looks like console gaming is finally starting to utilize compartmentalized game installations upon figuring out everybody can’t install or download 80-plus gigabyte games. Bethesda confirmed the newly-announced Nintendo Switch version of DOOM will come on a physical game card that will only contain the main campaign, with the multiplayer being an optional download that can’t fit on the card. Microsoft also just started talking about how future game installs on Xbox will let players be selective about what parts of a game they want to install — choosing between textures, game modes, and audio languages, in order to save hard drive space and internet data.

Frankly Microsoft should have been doing this long ago, and Bethesda should allow this for every version of DOOM. Some PC games have been doing something like this for a while (for decades actually if you wanna get really technical). For the most part though until now console games that install to the hard drive have just been installing everything. Continue reading

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20 Years Of GoldenEye and FPS Mission Design

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The 20th anniversary of GoldenEye 007 for the N64 completely passed me by last month. This week is the 20th anniversary of the North American release of Final Fantasy VII but I’ve still never actually played that game beyond the first few hours, so I’m just gonna finally write about GoldenEye.

I imagine everyone else who wrote about GoldenEye a couple weeks ago went on about how everyone around them played it in 1997, how it was the first major console first person shooter, and how its competitive multiplayer was a main pillar of gaming at the time. All that is true, but I also like pointing out how influential GoldenEye’s story campaign may have been for certain kinds of first person action games. Continue reading

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