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by G. Christopher Williams

5 Oct 2011


Katarina from League of Legends (Riot Games, 2009)

Y’know, I was terribly amused by the parody of the long term grind (that which is necessitated by the turn-based role playing game genre in general) in Half-Minute HeroHalf-Minute Hero more or less does what it suggests by boiling the time consuming “play” of that genre into the shortest character development of a role playing hero possible.

Gone, in that game, is the necessity for spending hours just killing, killing, killing in order to get strong enough to advance the plot by beating the next big boss in a dungeon.  Indeed, while I whiled away many an hour playing JRPGs as a kid and as a teenager, these were not games that required much skill or even intellectual acumen.  Winning a battle required pressing a button in a menu to “Attack” and then healing once in awhile if a member of your party was in the danger zone in terms of their hit points.  All the “skill” required by a boatload of turn-based RPGs is simply just persistence (and that’s really a character trait, not a skill, right?).

This is partly why I tend to avoid turn-based RPGs these days—as my own “persistence” has evolved into simple “impatience” as I have aged alongside the genre.

Which is why League of Legends is so very tantalizing and so very compelling when played in short RPG-lite bursts.

by G. Christopher Williams

3 Oct 2011


So, our Moving Pixels podcast crew spent a couple of weeks playing in fits and starts (well, because that’s the way you have to play social games) the beta version of Sid Meier’s CivWorld.

The game seems an effort to capture a narrower audience of Facebook gamers, a more hardcore crowd, or possibly to introduce casual players to the Civilization universe.  We consider the game’s success at doing so and whether or not social games can legitimately appeal to a hardcore audience.

by Nick Dinicola

30 Sep 2011


I hadn’t played Deus Ex: Human Revolution for weeks. Considering how much the central narrative revolves around mystery, conspiracy, and corporate intrigue, I resigned myself to suffering through a couple clueless hours before the plot sunk in again. But as the game loaded, I was presented with a pleasant surprise: written recap that I hadn’t really noticed before. The surprise isn’t so much the existence of a recap, but rather how effective yet unobtrusive it manages to be.

by Jorge Albor

29 Sep 2011


Warning: This article contains significant spoilers for Gears of War 3.

Deified heroes and proud warriors flood the shooter genre. The soldiers of Call of Duty, quite literally answering destiny’s call to fight for freedom, wage a relatively justified battle across the franchise’s many theaters of war. Master Chief (and all the Spartans of Halo for that matter) have become god-like. Their trials and exploits have become legend in their expansive worlds. As players, we vainglorious actors are rewarded with praise through achievements and rewards. It comes as a surprise then when Gears of War 3, the finale to one of the biggest shooter franchises on the market, ignores the trend. While Marcus Fenix and the team do share in macho gloating, the cast of Gears of War 3 share more in common with the ragged and exhausted soldiers of Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers. There is no glory for gears, no triumphant chorus to proclaim their deeds, and no exultation at all for a war well fought. In Gears 3, the series’s iconic gritty brown-grey aesthetic finally couples with narrative and gameplay to actually tell a truly melancholy and sobering war story.

by G. Christopher Williams

28 Sep 2011


Okay, so maybe on the face of it, a game like Zynga’s Cityville (one of many spin offs of the wildly popular Farmville) and Sid Meier’s Civilization World (a transformation of the classic video game into a social game format) only vaguely have some things in common.

Both games focus on the development of cities, creating buildings and growing populations, in order to show your opponents that your civilization is superior to theirs. 

But wait a sec, CivWorld is obviously a game about showing off your prowess in evolving a superior civilization, while Cityville is a co-operative playground in which I own my own city, build it, and help others in building their own cities. There’s no competition in Cityville, right?

Not so fast, though, while CivWorld might be more of a traditional “game” in that it has an end goal, a way to win, along with clear rules about how to achieve that win, really there is a potentially more subtle competitive aspect that underlies Cityville as well. And frankly that aspect of competition is why Cityville‘s monetization will probably remain more financially lucrative for Zynga than CivWorld ever will be for 2K Games.

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