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There Was a Hole Here

Games and Gaming

On Silent Hill 2, Grieving, Relationships and Identifying with Game Characters

“Games are power fantasies.” If you’ve spent more than five minutes talking to anyone about videogames, you probably know the concept. It’s a popular idea. To a certain extent, I even understand it. Playing Jet Set Radio makes me feel free and lawless and infectiously optimistic; No More Heroes 2 makes me feel a sense of unearned mastery as Travis gracefully dismembers wave after wave of cartoon goons. Psychedelic “pretty colors and happy sounds” affairs like Audiosurf and Rez can both thrill and relax me. The act of playing a game can sometimes even help ease my chronic anxiety (another article altogether). So, I get it; kind of.

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A Short Tale That Illustrates A Universal Truth

Features, Games and Gaming

You are going to die.

Friend, you are going to die. That’s the one thing I can say about you, without the tiniest shadow of a doubt, no matter who you are. It’s one of the few things that all humans share. Awareness of that universal truth might just be the thing that makes us human. We know we’re going to die, and we build glorious, airy structures of belief to help us deal with the Fear, or to convince ourselves it’s not going to happen. But it is. You’re going to die. And whether or not you’re a believer in some kind of continuity of self after death, it is still an End, of a sort. You can believe that you’ll flit around clouds, winged and be-harped with a smiling god enthroned and beaming, you can believe that an eternity of pain and torment and screaming and fear await you because of that time you rubbed your downbelows a bit in church, you can believe the quantum standing wave that instantiates your personality in your skull jelly will persist with or without the meat substrate, you can believe in a self made of spirit that will coalesce with the universal consciousness after your heart stops beating, you can believe in the great wheel of becoming and that you’ll return until you Level Up. Whatever you believe — even if you believe nothing, or have decided due to lack of concrete evidence that it’s best to reserve judgement — dying is going to be an Ending. And just possibly, in some ways, a beginning.

The Stanley Parable is about endings.

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Rimworld Title Screen
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RimWorld – Alpha Review

Reviews
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I’m not new to roguelikes and I love a lot of the genre. I’m not a Dwarf Fortress player but I could be. My roguelikes? Rogue, played on a PDP-11 – no colors or easy to recognize characters, thank you. Also hack and NetHack and larn. (Even used to play a custom branch of hack that included lemmings.) Fast forward to FTL or pretty much any contemporary roguelike that I can lose badly. I have a special affection for Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space.

Having enjoyed Prison Architect, but not as fully as I wanted to (mechanics/philosophy stuff I won’t go into here), I was thrilled to hear about RimWorld’s more Firefly-esque approach to building and cultivating the colony and kickstarter-pledged immediately at a level that’d get me access to the Alpha.
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The Dorflike Round-up

Games and Gaming

Playing Dwarf Fortress is an amazingly deep and interesting experience, but it is not without a learning curve. The pairing of the enchanting, emergent stories the game produces with a nearly impenetrable interface has created a market for games that provide a similar experience with a prettier and more approachable interface.

This is no easy task. Gaming history is littered with barely-started projects that have been abandoned by their creators. Lately, however, it seems that an increasing number of these games are getting to playable states and showing varying degrees of progress and promise. Many of them have playable releases and I’ve tried as many of them that I can get my hands on; this is a report of my findings.

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News

Jason Holtman, who spearheaded Valve’s Steam business for eight years before leaving the company in February, has a new job at Microsoft, where’s he’s apparently going teach Microsoft not to hate and fear PC gaming. When asked, he is reported to have said “It was down to a tough call between going to EA or Microsoft. When you have to choose between evil or stupid, it’s never easy.”

Witnesses claim he then began to giggle and mumble, before asking “Have you ever been driving down the road and had an almost irresistible urge to swerve into oncoming traffic?” and terminating the interview.

Games for Windows Dead

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The Bane to Civilization that is Candy Crush Saga

Games and Gaming, Gaming Culture, Reviews

Is it the primary colors? The arcade-game sounds and aesthetics? The casualness? The almost immediate gratification? The strange feeling of satisfaction when you fire off a powerful combo of special pieces? It’s hard to say. Whatever the winning freemium combination, Candy Crush Saga is a runaway hit in Apple’s iOS App Store and on its other platforms as well.
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Minion Rush

Games and Gaming, Reviews

I turn out to be a pretty big fan of Endless Runner/Driver/Flyer/Skier games. On my iPhone I have installed: Jetpack Joyride, Subway Surfers, Ski Safari, Road Trip 2 and Zombie RoadTrip. Most of these games are free or freemium and they try to hook you on buying points or coins or bananas or whatever so you can upgrade and maybe have a longer run or a more varied, fun time.
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XCOM Wallpaper
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XCOM: Enemy Unkown on iOS (versus XBox’s version)

Games and Gaming, Reviews, Software, Technology

Huge X-COM fan here. I liked a lot of the old franchise and really missed the turn-based tactics. For a lot of years. I remember trolling Good Old Games and emulators and other ways to re-experience the game and I’ve always loved the mixture of tactical turn-based (it’s why I started the Fallout franchise too – my love of that cultivated by X-COM), soldier cultivation, resource management, tech trees and light disaster-related political resource allocation that X-COM brings to the table.
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News, The Bucket

In an inspiring announcement from a massive gaming corporation, it was revealed that a large chunk of fuck was youed. Many respected analysts opined ‘fuck,’ although some also followed up with ‘you’.

Expectations were stated that a veritable Blizzard of fucks would ensue, distracting dimwits from the irony of dumbass manipulative game-company names like Activision and Vivendi, to the advantage of a gaggle of the Investing Class who wouldn’t know a video game from a goddamned bus ticket.

Activision-Blizzard executive old-fuck wunderkind Bobby Kotick explained ‘Wheee! Money!’

In related news, the usual cadre of fast-talking asshole Business Scumbags were expected to make ludicrous amounts of money on the backs of sweatshop-labor coders, designers, and artists. Film at fucking 11.

A Blizzard of Fucks

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Picture of OUYA with One Controller
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OUYA Gotta be Kidding Me! – the winning edge of content curation and good playable demos

Games and Gaming, Hardware, Retrospectives, Reviews, Technology

Got my Kickstarter OUYA maybe a couple-three weeks ago and I have to say I am not impressed. Actually, I am impressed, but not about playing games on it. It looks nice. The design is pretty good. It’s tiny. Bigger than an Apple TV considering all dimensions (it’s taller) but I think its shelf footprint is smaller.

It’s small and cute and it uses dim white lights for status instead of bright green or red or blue like all the other blinky status LEDs in my now full-to-bursting entertainment cabinet that I wrote about earlier.

But what I’m not impressed by is the shoddy content curation. More about that below.
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Far Cry 3 Cover
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Review: Far Cry 3

Games and Gaming, Reviews, Software, Technology

I am an avid gamer. I enjoy FPS games but they have to bring something extra. I like: The Mass Effect Series (sort of not, sort of yes, an FPS), The Borderlands Series and The Halo Franchise. Mostly I like them on the XBox. I think the XBox controller feels right. I’m looking forward to Watch Dogs and Tom Clancy’s The Division.

So I bought Far Cry 3 on sale because I’d heard great things about it and indeed, there were great things. The way that violence just sort of happens to you in Far Cry 3, even if you are in a protected, friendly area, is really fascinating. I didn’t think I would like it and I sort of don’t, but as you get stronger that violence, while still jarring, can get kind of fun(?).

The storyline is brutal and the main missions are on plot rails even if your method to get from point A to point B can be maddeningly complex with lots of options and sometimes few of them very good. I had a couple storyline missions where I would die and die and die trying variations on a thematic approach until I did something truly original and then had immediate success.

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