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Monday, Jul 7, 2014
This week our podcasters sail the Caribbean with Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.

Not since Sid Meier’s Pirates! has there been a pirate game as engrossing as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.


This week we discuss the most recent Assassin’s Creed, its place in the history of the Assassin’s Creed series, and why sailing the Caribbean with Edward Kenway has reinvigorated our interest in this annual series.


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Wednesday, Jul 2, 2014
A Dark Room withholds the one piece of information that is traditionally the very first thing established in the rulebook of games: the object of the game.

A Dark Room, an iOS and browser based game developed by Doublespeak Games, is an amazing experience, and it is hard to immediately say why.


Beginning in a dark room that is cold, the player is given a single option to interact with the game by lighting a fire. I’m hesitant to say a great deal more about the game at this point, though, as I think a great deal of the experience of playing it has to do with with not knowing what you are getting into. So, if you haven’t played the game and don’t want to have anything spoiled for you, I would recommend that you stop reading right here and go try your hand at it yourself at one of the links above.


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Tuesday, Jul 1, 2014
Papers, Please is a game where actions do have consequences, but most of it relies on the emotional state and investment of the player.

Choices in video games are often given to us in a moment. The game slows down, highlighting that what is being presented to us right now is a choice. Most games effectively pause during these moments to give the player the chance to consider the scenario. Some, like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, up the pressure to choose by adding a timer. Still, though, the event is highlighted as a choice.


For choices to matter, they need consequences. But within the safe boundaries of a video game, creating a consequence by external means is an ineffective measure of making them matter, as the rewards in terms of the game itself often end up being considered more than the moral or narrative implications of the choice. Last week, I left off by asking if the player’s own emotional state should be the measure by which we understand a game’s consequences. Yet, such an attempt would have to be outside of those special moments. The player’s emotional state is a continuous thing that is affected by the moment to moment play of the game. One game that was mentioned in response to the original post, in what has now become a series, that has created a real sense of emotional consequence to the player’s action was Papers, Please.


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Tuesday, Jul 1, 2014
by Erik Kersting
The trouble with game tutorials is that you can't live with 'em and and you can't live without 'em.

Aren’t Steam sales great? With so many great new games to play, it can be hard to choose which games to play first. Early in the sale, I picked up two games that caught my eye months ago, Game Dev Tycoon and Prison Architect. The former because of the infamy of its pirated version and the latter because building a prison sounded like fun and the game has gotten good buzz. Yet, my experience in beginning to play these two games could not have been more different.


The first of the two I played was Game Dev Tycoon, a quaint simulation of running a gaming business. Starting the game I decided to skip the tutorial, which I often do when given the option. This did not affect my gameplay in the slightest. I immediately figured out the basics and was already making successful games, critically and financially. I quickly sunk many hours into the game, creating vital new series like the mystery-adventure games Sarah’s Killer, Sarah’s Killers and Sarah, The Killer?, which had critics and fans raving for more.


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Friday, Jun 27, 2014
Episode four of The Wolf Among Us feels mostly unnecessary. Maybe this is a sign that Telltale should mix up their episodic structure some more.

Structurally, Telltale’s games are pretty linear. We’ve realized that now after seeing the format repeated in both The Walking Dead Season 2 and The Wolf Among Us. Our many choices in these games exist to make that linearity feel unique and personal to us. This is particularly noticeable in The Walking Dead with its constant concern with life and death stakes. As a result, our every decisions feels like it carries that heavy dramatic weight. Each death of one of the game’s cast members feels partially like our fault because of the choices we made, and this gives us a sense of personal responsibility for the actions that have played out. These extreme consequences keep us invested and interested in every little choice made in that game.


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