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All Flowers in Time Bend Towards the Sun: The Cat Lady & Depression in Games

Features, Games and Gaming

Depression seems to be a common theme in indie games. From more overt depictions in Depression Quest and Actual Sunlight to the more opaque in games like Anodyne, it’s a subject many indie titles want to tackle. Continue reading

the vanishing of ethan carter
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Important Internet Opinion: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Games and Gaming, Reviews

I never tire of walking around and looking at stuff in video games, as in life. Walking around and looking at stuff, I’m going to suggest mostly because it just occurred to me right this minute, is one of the great joys of being human. Or being a dog, I guess, but make no mistake friends: dogs can’t play video games, and that’s why they spend so much time licking their own genitals.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you’ve probably heard, is one of the best-looking video game places thus far in the young history of video games to walk around and look at stuff in. What you’ve heard is true. It is breathtaking.

The sounds of loons hooting on the lake, the rustling of leaves and the quiet sussuration of the wind, the play of slanting sunlight through the foliage, and all that’s lacking is the damp autumn smell of leaves to put you right there. It is — as long as you don’t stray too far from the path they developers want you to walk — utterly convincing. It’s a triumph, and I salute the artists and developers who made the place. I recommend it without reservation as a quiet, beautiful (if somewhat eerie) virtual place to visit.
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Dorflike Review: Spacebase DF-9

Games and Gaming, Reviews, Things To Play

Last year when we posted our Dorflike Round-up, Spacebase DF-9 was still in its infancy, but the game was promising. Fast forward less than a year, and Double Fine is announcing that they’re going to release version 1.0 next month and then abandon ship. Fortunately, they’re planning to release enough source for the modding community to take over from here. Then again, the game seems light years from completion.

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A castle uploaded by Redditor karmanaut.
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Minecraft and Microsoft: A Story of Hope

Games and Gaming, Gaming Culture, News

I’ve been playing Minecraft since before multi-player existed. I’ve spent thousands of hours hunting for diamonds, building make-shift dirt huts, and shouting expletives at creepers. Some of my best gaming memories happened in Minecraft’s voxelated environments. I appreciate the vital role Notch played in all of that.

That’s why I couldn’t be happier to hear that Notch has sold Mojang.

Minecraft’s success has come (and stayed) in spite of the work Notch and Mojang have done recently, not because of it. Minecraft and its community have been badly mismanaged for years; the sale to Microsoft is an opportunity to change directions and make things better.

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Softcore Gamer

Features, Games and Gaming

Do you think of yourself as a game enthusiast, or even, heavens forbid, a ‘hardcore gamer’? If you’re reading this, you must be some species of gamer, someone who likes to talk about games and read about games and even, once in a while, play them. Well, I’ve got a question for you: how many of the truly great games have you played?

A recent post on Gamefilter got me thinking about my own video gaming history, which stretches back at this point into the deep mists of halcyon time, the mid 1970s. I’ve been playing games on screens for nearly 40 years, a statement that makes my eyes go a bit wobbly as I type it. I admit that from the early 80s to early 90s, I pretty much only played arcade games, mostly in bars, because bars were a lot higher up my priority list in those days, and I didn’t play much of anything from the early 90s up into the late 90s, because I was wandering around the planet (and also spending entirely too much time in bars, if I’m honest). But still: four freaking decades.

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Drinking and Driving

Features, Retrospectives

It’s Friday evening again, and as we’ve done so many hundreds — thousands? — of times before over the past 30 years, the Bearman and I are drinking together. He’s got rye and water, and I have my usual crappy Korean beer. We’re sitting on a cliff at the edge of the caldera high on top on an extinct volcano, looking down into the crater lake under clear blue skies, enjoying the view before we get back on the road. We’re talking about our wives and our jobs and whatever else comes to mind, as we always have, just shooting the shit and trying to figure stuff out. And failing, but the fun is in making the attempt. A storm front looks to be coming in from the east, so we decide to head west, around the rim of the caldera, and make for the ocean coast. We finish our drinks, fire up our engines, and go. It’ll probably take us a couple of hours to reach the seaside, but we have time, and we have booze. The new thing here, though, is that he’s on one side of the Pacific Ocean, and I’m on the other, and there are no drink-driving laws being broken. We’re Online Freeriding in FUEL.

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Mojang’s EULA Problem

Gaming Culture, News

Last week, Marc Watson, Mojang’s Customer Support Manager, dropped a bit of a bomb on Twitter:

Mojang seems to think that their EULA gives them the authority to regulate anything related to Minecraft. It’s true that a well-worded EULA can confer tremendous power (in the U.S., at least), but that power is not unlimited.

Regardless of the legality of it, Watson’s interpretation is hostile to Mojang’s customers. It’s time for Mojang to do some soul-searching. What kind of company do they want to be?

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character creation Guild Wars 2
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The RPG Player’s Lament

Games and Gaming

“I envy people who never play RPGs,” I thought, as I adjusted the nose height of my new character a fraction of an inch, for the eighth time in a row.

I started playing Dragon Age Origins this week. I bought the game on Thursday, but I couldn’t start playing it until Saturday, because I knew I would need to invest a big chunk of time in the first session. Not to get through the tutorials or learn the controls; to get the face right. Continue reading

mass effect 3 pistol
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Chasing the dream of “The Perfect Loadout”

Games and Gaming, Gaming Culture

I wish there was a magic formula for setting up the perfect loadout in any game, but there are far too many variables. Including what you like to do, and – in some sense – who you are as a person.

Do you enjoy the satisfaction of rushing right up to an enemy and pummeling them to the ground? Then you’re not going to be happy with a sniper rifle, no matter how good it is. Conversely, if you enjoy peering off the edge of a high ledge and picking enemies off one by one in a courtyard far below, you’re going to hate a shotgun, even if it is the best shotgun. Continue reading

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This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get

Games and Gaming, Gaming Culture

“Do you hate children, stav?” folks have been known to ask me, all quizzical-like, expecting me to demur, because come on, what kind of monster could hate children?

I tend to respond, as Mickey Rourke did, playing Charles Bukowski in the underappreciated 1987 movie Barfly, when asked about people in general: “I don’t hate children, I just feel better when they’re not around.”

But the truth is, at least in the limited time I have available for playing video games on my computer machine, that I actually do hate children and I wish they would just go away. With one small addendum: the children that raise my ire range in age, I suspect, from maybe 13 to, say, 33. So technically, I guess, they’re not children at all, except in one important way: like all humans with underdeveloped emotional intelligence, they can be complete assholes.

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Favorites and Tops and Bests Oh My

Games and Gaming, News

The votes are in, the dust has settled, the payola and freebies have been distributed, the whistleblowers have been silenced, and it’s time to look at the Best Of 2013. Not the best games, exactly, but the Best Roundups of Best Games. Because being relentlessly meta is what we’re all about here at LevelsOfDetail. Or maybe we’re not, and I just want you to think that we are. Which I have messed up by telling you so. OR HAVE I.

Look, let’s begin again, before I get off on another tangent. Without more ado, then: here are some of the most interesting, attractive, amusing, insightful, excessive or obviously bullshit lists of the Best Games of 2013, gathered together in one place for your perusing pleasure.

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Freebie: Permutation Racer

Games and Gaming, Things To Play

Permutation Racer is a procedurally-generated prototype freebie from the developers of Sir, You Are Being Hunted, for Windows and Mac computer machines. It is fun and pretty and sounds quite lovely with its gently encouraging pings and background techno warffling. I couldn’t figure out how to make it respond to gamepad input despite their suggestions that I do so, but you can’t have everything for free, can you?

Avoid stuff, collect stars to power up your charge bar, boost FOR MORE FASTNESS OF SPEED, get more stars, avoid pink glowy things, pass checkpoints, get more time, lather rinse repeat.

buckaroo-large
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Important Internet Opinion: Pinball FX-2

Reviews

Yes, I’ve been flapping my flippers, bumping the desktop with my pelvis, and seeking multiball nirvana in Pinball FX-2, and now I’m ready to share my Important Internet Opinions with you about it.

But first, some nostalgia.

I grew up in a tiny northern BC town in the 1970s. We could, if we had our rooftop antennas tilted just right, get a total of two television stations, and at night, if atmospheric conditions were right, we might pick up more than two radio stations. There was no internet, of course. There were no movie theatres, no video rental places, no malls or skate parks or really much of anything besides trees and water and moose and oceans of booze.

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Saxxy 2013 Winners

Games and Gaming, Gaming Culture, News

The winners of the Source Filmmaker competition — aka The Saxxy Awards — have been announced. Enjoy the fine Valveriffic goodtimes, below. All the nominees are here, and you can watch Valve’s honorable mentions here.

Best Short: The Mann Co. Symphony

Best Action: Chinatown Getaway

Best Comedy: Disruption

Best Drama: Till Death Do Us Part Two

Overall Winner: Lil’ Pyro Guardian