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Wednesday, Feb 11, 2015
by Brian Crecente / Tribune News Service (TNS)
You don’t need a big publisher, or a publisher at all, to get your game out and that game doesn’t have to sell for $60, or $20, or anything, for a developer to achieve great success.

His first career, kicked off by a UFO sighting in Greece in 1997, was running a popular ghost-hunting show in Europe.


Nicolas Augusto co-starred in “Research, Investigation, Paranormal” in France for five years, shooting 52 episodes that had him and his team of five visiting haunted locations around Europe, including Dracula’s castle.


The 35-year-old said he became obsessed with the paranormal after seeing a strange floating object while on a trip in Greece. He started reading up on the topic, visiting places where there were sightings of not just UFOs, but also ghosts.


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Wednesday, Feb 11, 2015
Give me a rational reason to act evil in video games. If I'm going to eat a baby, I just need to believe that there is a good reason why.

Ah, binary decision making. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that computer games have often presented distinct binary choices to players as ways of enlivening and complicating the stories they tell. After all, computers themselves are built on binary logic. Is it any wonder that the narratives built on top of computer systems often seem to reflect the programmer’s obsession with 1s and 0s, the concept of on and off?


Of course, what this has led to in the recent past is any number of video games in which players play a protagonist that can be developed in stark terms, choosing to play as a good guy or as a bad guy by offering moral choices in games that loudly reflect a broad ideology of “goodness” and “badness.” It has also led to a lot of discombobulated narratives, especially in regards to approaching games about saving the world while playing as a really ugly specimen of human being. Most players seem to opt to play for the “good” ending in games like Fable, inFamous, Dishonored, and the like and probably for good reason. I have written and spoken before about the frequent ludicrousness of the options often presented in these games that supposedly allow players to make complicated evaluations of moral dilemmas. I mean, if the choice is to save a child or to eat a baby, I am really going to struggle with the moral ambiguity of the circumstances, right?


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Tuesday, Feb 10, 2015
The Banner Saga is interested in expressing the character of the world itself through its game related lore.

A big question in any work of art in any medium is how to convey information to the audience. I don’t mean any information. I mean the type of information that if done badly gets called an info dump, the exposition necessary to get everyone on the same page, so we can get on with the action and drama of present events in the story. This information is important for the audience to know. Otherwise, they won’t understand the stakes or motivations of the characters.  Yet, these scenes contain an inherent paradox that has to be worked out or worked around. The audience has to know this information to understand the plot and to understand the character’s motivations, yet this information is only interesting to people who are already invested in the tale being told.


There’s a long history of creators working out novel solutions to providing this basic need in fiction. However, fiction that seeks to create a world and use it as a platform for numerous stories has a bit of an additional issue. There is a tendency to overstuff works created within the context of an already existing world with information because any part of it could be useful or necessary later down the line. Video games have largely inherited this problem. The need to create worlds that the player can inhabit rather than a fiction that exists within defined boundaries exacerbates this problem. Lore can permeate a world with interesting, but largely useless information. The solution to this overstuffing of information in video games has frequently been to make learning about it largely optional.


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Friday, Feb 6, 2015
In this mansion, even when you're fine, you still feel like you’re dying.

Returning to Resident Evil has been an eye-opening experience. I’ve come away with a better appreciation for the game’s design and pacing, but also, unexpectedly, its writing. Resident Evil is a better written game than people remember or give it credit for. That might be an odd compliment to give a game that’s mostly remembered as a cheesy B-movie at best, what with its classic lines like, “You were almost a Jill Sandwich” and “Here’s a lockpick, it might be handy if you, the master of unlocking, take it with you.”  I’ll admit that dialogue has never been its strong suit, but I’m not talking about the dialogue. What impresses me is the text descriptions that pop up when you examine things in the game’s environments.


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Thursday, Feb 5, 2015
Oops! I accidentally became a mass murderer, slaver, and a dark lord.

Sauron and I don’t know each other very well, so I don’t know if he plays video games. If he does, I bet he is pleasantly surprised by Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. The game basically turned me into a Nazgûl. To be fair, I was able to escape its influence (for how long, I don’t know), so maybe I’m more of a Gollum than a ring wraith. Whatever the case, I think the game does a better job of promoting the The Dark Lord’s power than it does arguing against it.


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