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Thursday, Aug 14, 2014
Balance is a design concept that sits upon the shifting sands of player perception and behavior.

In a recent conversation between Gamasutra’s Leigh Alexander and Ubisoft Blue Byte’s Teut Weidmann, the games industry consultant warned away other designers from mimicking Riot’s monetization strategies for League of Legends. His point about the company’s monetization through reach is a valid one, albeit not one I want to discuss—at least not yet. Rather, I want to focus on this particular quote:


They release a champion that is always, always overpowered. So the people who pay for the game buy the champion immediately… and then Riot will go in and slowly devalue the price of the previous champion they released.



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Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014
The unusual quality of Leisure Suit Larry exists in the unconventional role reversal of the male as pursuer in favor of the female as the one necessary to complete a game's quest.

As a comedy (and not an especially sophisticated one at that), the Leisure Suit Larry series has always traded on stereotypes. The focus of most of the 1980s era point-and-and click adventure games is on Larry Laffer and his quest to get laid. In most instances, the games have a standard formula. Larry attempts to bed several women, all of whom are typically stereotypical gold diggers, before he finally finds his one “true love” (and since this is banal sex farce “true love,” of course, really simply means “good sex” or at the very least “decent sex”).


For Larry Laffer, the narrow definition of sex always contains a simplistic understanding that sex is a commodity. In Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals, Larry will, as usual, attempt to bed at least three women before meeting his dream girl, Passionate Patti. These sexual encounters will end in miserable failure, of course, but they will also be defined by the idea that sex for a loser like Larry will need to be purchased. In the case of this game, Larry initiates sexual encounters by giving a girl a credit card, another is given a deed to some land that he owns, and another is aided in figuring out how to market her exercise video by Larry’s economic advice that “sex sells.” Sex is always for sale in this context, but, also, of course, the boundaries of the point-and-click adventure make the idea of trading objects for sexual experience the only reasonable course of action within this genre. After all, the classic point-and-click adventure is always reduced to solving puzzles by figuring out how to use objects on other objects in order to progress in the game. That the objects of Larry’s affection must be cajoled by yet more objects is unsurprising to say the least (and also unsurprising in a narrative genre in which men and women are most often reduced to objects that represent an idea of what men and women are, rather than in attempting to create realistic imaginings of actual people).


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Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014
by Brian Crecente
This is Chess 2, a chess variant created by MIT grad and famed game designer David Sirlin and given computer game life by developer Zac Burns, to correct what Sirlin views as major design flaws in the original board game.

The weekend’s chess matches with my father ended as they always do, but with a twist.


I lost, mostly, but it wasn’t to a checkmate. Instead it happened four times when he managed to get both of his warrior kings across the board’s midline. That last midline crossing happened despite my defensive line of elephants, wild horse and pawns.


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Friday, Aug 8, 2014
Tower of Fortune has been an enlightening reminder of what “random chance” really means.

Tower of Fortune is an iOS RPG that has you climbing the titular tower to rescue your daughter. It’s a stripped down experience, perfect for mobile platforms: You only have to manage a few stats, and you only have one attack. You eventually earn new swords and equipment that make you stronger, but in truth, there’s very little tactical depth to the game. Everything from combat to fun times at the pub—actually, that’s kind of all you can do. That’s the totality of Tower of Fortune, fighting and drinking—all of which is determined by random chance. And this is not a bad thing.


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Thursday, Aug 7, 2014
I now realize that basically everything Nintendo makes is meant to be portable.

Last weekend I did quite a bit of portable gaming, but it wasn’t the handheld variety. Instead of pocketing a DS or Vita, I packed up my Wii U and headed over to Jorge Albor’s place to play Mario Kart and invent new curse words. The process of bundling up my normally sedentary console made me realize that every Nintendo console that I’ve ever owned has had at least some component of mobility thanks either to the marquee games or novel hardware.


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