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L4D2 NPC’s and Infected Rejected Out Of Hand

Features, Games and Gaming

Oil Derrick Worker
You never see them, because, well, they’re kinda isolated, but you hear reports about them, and they sound terrifying.

Tai Chi Master
If you ever swing that ax faster than an heavily sedated sea sponge, he goes down immediately. But should you go slower, HOO EEEEE!.

Hipsters
You only ever encounter their corpses, they go first.

Vegan
He can be found dumpster diving, looking smug and eating rats.Organic rats.

Flautist
A jazz flautist.

Driver
Sits in his car, a well-notated map of Toledo in his lap, a cold cup of coffee on the dash, and him, crying softly.

Concierge
He stands, looking from the door to his front desk, torn behind a hunger for human flesh and a sense of duty.

Gymnast
Stands below the double rings, arms still on the rings, him looking up, moaning.

Foodie
Fusses and pats you down, emits a low ‘humming’ noise as he considers, invariably leaves you alone.

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Underappreciated LGBT Characters in Gaming

Features, Games and Gaming

Sure, everyone knows about the LGBT characters who get all of the attention, like Tony Prince from The Ballad of Gay Tony, Zevran from Dragon Age, and a large percentage of the female Commanders Shepard from Mass Effect. But what about the lesser known gay characters in gaming?  These characters’ moment in the spotlight is long overdue, and it’s time for them to get a moment of recognition.

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Full Glass Empty Wallet: Portal 2 Edition!

Features, Games and Gaming

Well, hell, it’s been a long time. I’m sorry for the disruption in service. To make up for it, I’m giving away 2 copies of Portal 2. You might have heard of Portal, it helped launch the Orange box, made TF2 a household name (at least in my circle of friends) So, here is the deal, I am giving away 2 copies of portal 2 all you have to do is leave a comment below.
I may need some help distributing the copies, but we can discuss that when you win. Start typing below and let’s get on with it. The contest will run through February 24th, I will announce winners on the 25th.

I will be giving away 2 (two) Steam copies of portal 2, randomly selected from all comments between now and the 24th.

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May the Mods be With You, a List of Star Wars Mods (Part 3)

Features, Games and Gaming, Retrospectives

In parts one and two we covered FPS and RTS Star Wars mods, respectively. Now it’s time for us to turn our attention to anything that doesn’t fit in those first two categories. There turns out to be not that much. Most games with modding tools are for those first two genres. Luckily, it turns out I missed a few mods in the first two parts, so I’ll include those here as well. Continue reading

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May the Mods be with You, a List of Star Wars Mods (Part 2)

Features, Retrospectives

Once again I’m back to walk through one of the most common PC game modification settings ever: Star Wars. The first installment covered FPS mods, this time, RTS games are getting the treatment. Despite the Star Wars series having many official RTS licenses over the years: Rebellion, Force Commander, Galactic Battlegrounds, and Empire at War, there have been limitations with each (Scope, game engine, the game being any good).

EDIT: Part 3 is out now. Check it out! Continue reading

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May the Mods be With You, a List of Star Wars Mods (Part 1)

Features, Games and Gaming, Retrospectives

So if you’ve been playing PC games long enough, you probably feel like every game that comes out that isn’t already one of LucasArts’ 12 Million Star Wars games has its own Star Wars mod. Well, you wouldn’t be far off. There are a whole lot of them. Today I’m just covering the FPS games, but RTS, Space Sims, and others will be covered in the next installments.

EDIT: Check out Part 2 and Part 3! Continue reading

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The Importance of LAN Parties

Features, Games and Gaming

LAN parties — those wonderful gatherings where gamers haul their computers to one location, network them together, and play multiplayer games. Pizza, caffeine, and alcohol are often involved as well. Back when broadband Internet connections were less common, and some games didn’t even directly support Internet play, LAN parties were one of the more practical ways to play multiplayer computer games with low lag against your friends. But now, when most people have broadband Internet connections, and every new multiplayer game has Internet connectivity built in, why would anyone want to go to all the trouble of hauling their computer to someone else’s house to play computer games, when they could just as easily play each other online? Are LAN parties no longer relevant? Simply put, playing games in person with your friends is a completely different experience than playing them online. Sure, it may be a little more work to haul your computer to your friend’s house, but it’s worth it in the end.

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What Final Fantasy XIII-2 Can Learn From Its Predecessor

Features, Games and Gaming

Square-Enix recently announced that they were working on a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, titled Final Fantasy XIII-2. As a card-carrying Final Fantasy fanboy, I am already excited about this, based on nothing more than a 2 minute trailer. However, there is still that nagging voice in the back of my head that keeps reminding me about the fact that Final Fantasy XIII was my least favorite game in the series. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it quite a bit, but certain aspects of the game were a bit off-putting, and I hope that Square-Enix takes the time to address these issues in the sequel.
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Gaming Underdogs of 2011

Features

We’ve heard a lot about the AAA games coming out in 2011 like Bulletstorm, Diablo III, and Portal 2. But what else do we have to look forward to, especially in that sweet spot of $10-15?

2010 was a bumper year for the indie gaming community, and 2011 looks to be continuing that trend. Here’s what looks awesome for the upcoming year. (Note: some of these games don’t have announced release dates, and most of the ones with release dates are subject to change.)

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Steam Sales

Features, Games and Gaming

No one would call me an unreasonable person. Few people would look at me and say, “That Niteowl fellow, he’s one to go skinny dipping in a kiddie pool full Crisco, a grievously injured king cobra, and seven squirrels in the latter stages of rabies”. I have a mortgage, a real job,  and what is laughably considered a pension.

But when the Steam Holiday Sale comes around, well, I wouldn’t say all reason goes out the proverbial window, but perhaps saying “Reason gets put in in a small concrete cell, bound, along with some guy with an unidentifiable Soviet Bloc accent, a car battery, and absolutely no knowledge of the Geneva Convention” is not stretching the truth too far.

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Charity Achievement: Unlocked

Features, Games and Gaming, News

I built Levels Of Detail last year to be the public face of Mefight Club, the semi-private gaming community I started together with a bunch of other Metafilter members more than three years ago.

Mefight Club and this weblog have both succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. We have a stable of great writers and, er, talkers here at the blog, and the community over at the forum continues to grow as more grown-up gamers who cherish playing with friends hear about it, from Metafilter itself or through friends. Our ethos has always explicitly been to value fun, kindness, generosity and the occasional drink or three.

But today, well, today we outdid ourselves.

A few weeks back, one of our members thought that it might be a nice idea for the Christmas (and other non-denominational wintertime) holidays to get together a group donation to Child’s Play Charity.

Child’s Play’s mission is to collect donations for toys, games, books and cash for sick kids in children’s hospitals across North America and the world, and we thought that that sounded like a pretty damn fine idea.

Today, we donated $4155 to Child’s Play. That is, in the most literal sense of the word, awesome.

To everyone from Mefight Club who contributed: you folks are freakin’ heroes. I am honoured to be able to shoot, stab, blow up and otherwise commit mayhem on you in all the games we play together.

Share and enjoy.

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Minecraft Modeling in SketchUp: A Tutorial – Part 1

Features, Games and Gaming

So, Minecraft. You may have heard of it. You may have even played it. And you may have then said, “Man, I love building stuff, but sometimes I wish I could plan out a structure before building it.” Or maybe you haven’t said that. But wouldn’t it be cool if you could?

As it turns out, Google SketchUp, a free modeling program, makes building Minecraft models pretty easy. In this article, I’ll walk you through the basics of building your first model.

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Musings from an Archaeologist on the Civilization Tech Tree – Part III

Features

This is the third and last in a series (first, second) of posts where I look at the technology tree in the game Civilization from my perspective as a professional archaeologist.  If you have not read the other posts please start at the beginning.  In this post I want to talk about how and why most archaeologists conceive of prehistory and technology in a different way now.

As I discussed previously the tech tree embodies two different concepts about human history that have been around for a long time.  The first is that human society goes through regular and predictable stages of development and the second is that this development is best understood as changes in material life like technology, environment, and economy.

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