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This Is Why I’m Not a Journalist

August 4, 2010

In the interest of expanding my bank account authorial frontiers, I recently decided to try my hand at writing reviews.  Valve’s recent Alien Swarm release was my first target, and my verdict is now up on CrispyGamer.  Huzzah!

Of course, people like reviews to be timely, and Alien Swarm came out over two weeks ago.  I blame, uh, the editorial process.  Anyway, go read.  Then go play.

Scratch that: For the benefit of your teammates, read my PSA on How Not to Cure InfestationThen go play, once you have been instructed in the delicate art of not killing your friends.  You’re welcome.

Failure is an Option

July 23, 2010

The other warthog tore around the corner at full throttle, military treads cutting four deep gouges through the hard-packed snow, and skidded right into my crosshairs.  I slammed down the trigger and unleashed a merciless hail of lead from the turret’s .50 caliber guns.  Even as they swerved wildly for the nearest cover, I knew their light armor never stood a chance; after two hellish seconds I released the trigger, letting the barrels spin to a halt.  Another would-be challenger was no more.

The game was Halo: Combat Evolved.  The map, Ice Fields.  The mission…well, it was a race, so the mission was just to go around in circles really fast.  But my teammate in the driver’s seat was handling that job; I was manning the warthog’s rear-mounted M41 Vulcan machine gun.  My mission was to kill anything that moved.  His precision maneuvering and my itchy trigger finger kept us near the head of the pack for several laps, but there was another warthog team ahead of us that had so far managed to stay maddeningly out of range for the whole game.

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No, I Don’t Have a Twitter Account

July 21, 2010

Certain people—you know who you are—have been asking me whether I have a Twitter account.  And then asking me why I don’t have a Twitter account, before transitioning smoothly into demanding that I get a Twitter account.  People, this is annoying.  Twitter is annoying.  I am annoyed.

Would it help if I explained my position on this?  Here it is: I don’t do brevity.  It generally takes me at least twelve hundred words and half a dozen screenshots to properly articulate myself, so I refuse to even consider doing it in 140 characters.  For God’s sake, the internet isn’t even supposed to have space restrictions; that’s half the reason I’m here!  But, if you absolutely insist, here is your daily dose of stupid: My blog, as it would appear on Twitter.

May God have mercy on your souls.

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Nothing to See Here

July 2, 2010

What’s that?  Why, it’s a DEATH SPORK, of course!  I wrote an article about it, but you won’t find it here.  It’s in a guest piece over at Second Person Shooter.  Go read it, lest you never find out the true origins of the Spork.

Neptune’s Pride Diary: Prologue

June 20, 2010

Normally when I write I try to make a point, or make my audience think, or just appear smarter than I actually am.  This is not one of those times.  If you absolutely must take something away from this, here it is: Trash talk and roleplaying are two great tastes that taste great together!

See, lately Kent Sutherland and I have been playing a lot of Neptune’s Pride, an eight-way galactic free-for-all of an online strategy game for which the phrase “diplomatic clusterfuck” seems just barely adequate.  The game is itself a treacherous beast that thrives on paranoia and trust issues, and believe me when I say that makes for an entertaining postgame writeup.  Oh, did I mention that we’ll be doing a postgame writeup?  That’s coming sometime in the fairly distant future; for now I offer you this excerpt from our correspondence as a taste of things to come:

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Heavy Shit: Your Inventory System Sucks

June 10, 2010

Yes, you.  Even if you’ve never made a game before, you totally thought about it that one time.  And it would have had an inventory system.  And that system?  It would have sucked.

That felt good.  And now that I’m done making absurd generalizations, maybe I should explain to you patient readers what I’m talking about:  I’m talking about realism.  And tradition.  I’m talking about collective blindness to fact; a mass delusion that plagues nearly the entire game industry, trading a chance at unfettered enjoyment for slavish obedience to an ancient custom.

I’m talking about inventory systems, and I reserve the right to be as melodramatic as I please.

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Hard Science: Why I Love Mass Effect

May 29, 2010

…Apart from the obvious, I mean.  Mass Effect is simply an excellent series; anyone who doesn’t love it just has no taste for the genre.  But I could never just leave it at that.   I have this pathological need to define everything I like, ideally in the nerdiest possible terms.

And what could be nerdier…than science?

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Welcome to Post-Apocalyptia!

May 19, 2010

War…war never changes.  And neither do games, apparently.

All right, that was a cheap shot.  But seriously, what is it about the post-apocalyptic wasteland that so greatly appeals to modern game developers?  We’ve got Half Life 2, the Fallout series, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, Metro 2033, Rage, and—hmm.  I’ll just stop there, because it looks like that list is going to be a lot longer than I thought.

So do post-apocalyptic environments require less of a design budget, perhaps?  Has focus group testing proved they have a higher than average fun quotient?  Is there, in fact, some deep-seated psychological need in all human beings that drives us to explore the gutted ruins of our future civilization?  Is the blasted wasteland that once held proud cities an unconscious metaphor for our fears of a crumbling society?  Or, indeed, the very embodiment of change itself?

I’m just messing with you; I have no idea.  What I actually wanted to talk about today was the use of these environments in today’s games—specifically, what makes them fun, and what doesn’t.  But first can we agree, in the interest of preventing a repetitive stress injury, that “post-apocalyptic” shall hereafter be abbreviated as “PA”?  Yes?  Good.  Onward!

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This Post Is Not About Portal

May 13, 2010

Edit: Apparently some of you are still clicking that link.  Sale ended May 24th, sorry!  I’ll leave this article up so that you slowpokes may continue to wallow in your misfortune.

Did you hear?  Portal is Fr

Okay, okay, I’ll stop now.  Obviously everyone with an internet connection knows by now that Por—sorry, Portal—has just been released for free.  To everyone.  For keeps.  No strings attached.  So the question to be asked now is: Why?

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Spontaneous Acts of Fandom

May 12, 2010

Did you hear?  Portal is free.  If you don’t know what Portal is, or have never played it, go do that now.  Go on, I’ll wait.

All done?  Good.  You can start posting “the cake is a lie” all over the internet in a bit, but first I wanted to share something with you.

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