Latest Blog Posts

by G. Christopher Williams

7 Nov 2010


What’s a few Microsoft Points among friends?

From Activision to XSEED, it seems like every publisher these days is pressing developers to produce downloadable content, which raises some interesting questions for gamers looking to completely engage with their games.

Does seeing nipples improve the experience of The Saboteur?  Does The Signal illuminate the murkier plot points of Alan Wake?  This week the Moving Pixels podcast crew try to answer these questions through a discussion concerning what may or may not be added to the experience of a game through the inclusion of downloadable content.

by Nick Dinicola

5 Nov 2010


Certain genres are better suited for an episodic structure than others, and with the success of all of Telltale’s games, it would seem that the adventure genre is well suited for that kind of small scale story. Yet after playing through the last episode of Sam and Max: The Devil’s Playhouse, the downsides of this structure became obvious. It would then seem like the epic nature of The Secret of Monkey Island 2: Special Edition is preferable, but it too falls victim to the same problems that plague all story-driven puzzle games.

by Scott Juster

4 Nov 2010


I recently visited Nintendo’s website commemorating the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. to see how the company was publicly celebrating the milestone. It was reassuring to see Nintendo upholding and embracing the unapologetic quirkiness of its signature franchise. The growing collection of retrospective videos, speed runs, secret techniques, and glitches convey a nice sense of nostalgia while illustrating the series’s long tradition of challenging the player while encouraging experimentation and exploration.

While the site is a nice trip down memory lane, I think the most interesting aspect is the information that Nintendo has chosen not to include. Seeing as how Super Mario is perhaps the most prolific video game character ever, the relatively small number of games showcased as part of the anniversary is striking. By selectively including only certain Super Mario games to as part of the retrospective, Nintendo seems to be fashioning a canon of core titles.

by Rick Dakan

4 Nov 2010


This discussion of Fable 3 does contain spoilers.

It’s no spoiler to say that at a certain point in Fable 3, your character becomes monarch of Albion. The fact that you’ll get to make royal decisions and decrees and manage the kingdom was one of the features that Peter Molyneux was talking up from the beginning of its marketing. The other big selling point in the advertisement for the game was the concept of revolution. And, as advertised, the game’s story does center around you starting a revolution against your tyrannical brother, but it is a revolution that you have no control over. There are allies to be won, but you can’t choose them (with one exception, who doesn’t end up affecting the game or story at all). To win those allies, you have to make promises. You have to make them. The game won’t proceed unless you make the promises that it demands of you. And while there are sections that allow for broad freedom, during which you can pursue side quests as you please, at a certain point you have to go off on a foolhardy expedition that makes no sense at all.  Though the plot clearly needs this expedition badly, you have no say in the matter. You don’t really even have the option to fail.

by G. Christopher Williams

3 Nov 2010


It isn’t often that one can describe something as “whimsical.”  Maybe the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” scene from Mary Poppins (well, maybe the whole movie) or maybe something from a soundtrack written by Danny Elfman.  Perhaps, there is a magical formula for generating whimsy locked in some secret vault at the Disney or Pixar Studios, but there are few artists able to walk the line between heart warming and insipid to find that sweet spot that is the whimsical or the enchanting.

Peter Molyneaux has been lauded for his innovations in game design.  Often credited as the creator of the “god game” as well as admired for his ability to layer simulation upon simulation upon simulation in the Fable series, the man is a remarkable game designer.  What his team at Lionhead Studios has been able to do beyond merely design unique and innovative titles, though, is to generate a world in the Fable series that is not only ambitious in terms of design but is also able to produce that “lightening in a bottle” quality that one doesn’t usually see except in really masterfully crafted material targeted at younger audiences.  Put simply, Albion is uncompromisingly whimsical.

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