While strolling along the vast expanse of wilderness between Skyrim’s major settlements, I chanced upon two mages dueling each other to the death. One was a fire mage, the other a frost mage. After killing them both (they were hostile, I promise), I took a moment to marvel at the consistency of it all. Here, in the middle of nowhere, I encountered something that I might have easily missed: a continuation, perhaps, of an eternal feud between fire and ice. While this duel might otherwise appear as a scripted event for my benefit, the fire/ice battle in a frozen landscape instead enriches the world of Skyrim. While the picturesque landscape and Nordic atmosphere constructs the environment, logic lays the foundation for an enveloping, albeit precarious, form of world building.
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Penn and Teller: Smoke and Mirrors is an unreleased mini-game compilation for the Sega CD. Around the time of its planned release, the company that was publishing it collapsed. As a result, the license was lost and so a finished game fell by the wayside to seemingly become an odd footnote in the history of a failed console and a flailing console maker.
Among other things in the collection is quite possibly one of the worst games ever made: Desert Bus. In it, you are the driver of the titular desert bus, who must make the journey from Tucson to Las Vegas in real time. At 45 mph, the in-game bus’s top speed, that trip takes eight hours—in real time. Once you do this, you earn one point and the option of driving back for another point. You can’t just tape down the gas button and press forward because the bus will list to the right, and you have to correct for it constantly. If you go off the road, the bus will break down, and you will have to be towed back to Tucson, again, in real time. The game cannot be paused. What kind of madmen would make this game and what type of madmen would dare play it?
Be it writing online user guides for software programs or writing news articles, I’ve come to accept that the majority of what I write is disposable. An article for the newspaper will soon become the liner for someone’s bird cage. Another article will be quickly skimmed over and then forgotten as yet another article gets someone’s attention. It’s all part of the profession.
I could have worse jobs. As for others in the writing profession, I can’t think of a less enviable task than the writers for the 300-plus books that are scattered throughout the vast land known as Skyrim, the latest in the Elder Scrolls series. Last month, Bethesda’s massive, immersive role-playing game racked up more than $400 million in first week sales.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a game that closed out the usual doldrums of summer gaming. We actually recorded this episode just a week or two after the release of the game, but due to a number of scheduling conflicts, the episode just slipped for some reason into this, the closing moments of the holiday game season.
Nevertheless, the release of this new Deus Ex is one of the more memorable gaming moments of the year, so while you may be crawling through Skyrim or reuniting with Drake or Ezio Auditore, take a break and return with us just a couple of months to consider the success or failure of a prequel to one of the most admired games of ten years ago.
A good menu can set the tone for the rest of the game to come, or when done poorly, it can be a nuisance that players try to skip as fast as possible every time that they boot up a game. I’ve written twice before about some innovative menus, and since then, I’ve played three more games that I feel deserve special mention for how they handle this normally bland part of a game.