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by G. Christopher Williams

5 May 2010


In observing some fundamental patterns in stories, myth critics, like Joseph Campbell, have observed that one common element that leads to closure in epic journeys is the story of the return home.

The classic example of the story of the return home is, of course, Homer’s The Odyssey. Having participated in the war with Troy, Homer commits an entire epic poem to the story of just getting from the conflict back to the place where Odysseus started, the island of Ithaca.  Essential to this particular story (and other stories like it) seems to be the need for a hero who has spent an awful lot of time gallivanting recklessly in wild and foreign lands to get his shit together and get back where he belongs.

by L.B. Jeffries

4 May 2010


There are people who make money by selling things that don’t exist—even when the buyer knows the thing doesn’t exist. Out of curiosity about how this works, I picked up Julian Dibbell’s Play Money, which is a personal account of his experiences working the Ultima Online gold farming scene back in 2004. I use the term grey market throughout this post because selling in game goods is not exactly illegal, just a violation of the EULA with a company. You risk getting banned and losing your accounts, which can be expensive but not dangerous in the traditional sense. In economic terms, each MMO is probably best viewed as its own independent economy. No two are precisely alike in terms of how you get rich off them. Yet there are still a couple of basic principles that are universal, and I’ve tried to extract those from the book for this post.

by G. Christopher Williams

3 May 2010


First things first, a number of readers have been requesting that the Moving Pixels podcast be made available via iTunes. Your wish has been granted, and you can now access the podcast through Apple’s site. Please check us out there and any previous episodes that you may have missed.

This week we are changing gears. Following our six-part series on storytelling, we have decided to shift our focus to game worlds and how they contribute to our experience in gaming.

by Nick Dinicola

30 Apr 2010


Survival-horror games have had trouble finding their place on this generation of consoles. Essentially, they have no place. This is a generation that embraces action, a generation defined by the bombastic chaos of Modern Warfare 2. Resident Evil was the first survival-horror franchise to make the transition with Resident Evil 4, and the game was lauded for the change. Silent Hill followed with Homecoming, and games like Dead Space and Left 4 Dead further solidified the action-horror genre’s place over the dated survival-horror.

Enter Demon’s Souls, a game that claims to be a role-playing game but that’s missing many key traits of that genre. There’s almost no story to speak of, and the mere act of character progression has become so common that it’s no longer identified as an “RPG element.” There’s very little strategy involved in combat (it’s more about timing and pattern recognition), making patience a tactic that works every time. As I play through Demon’s Souls, RPG is that last genre that comes to mind.

by Rick Dakan

29 Apr 2010


This week saw two different Xbox games launch fully scripted and professionally acted videos as promotion for upcoming games, each of which takes a different approach but both of which share a common element that I didn’t expect. They’re both quite subtle.

Halo‘s gone down this path before with their ODST video series, and the new “Birth of a Spartan” video that went up this week follows a similar trend. With basically no dialogue and just a sequence of moments from basic training up to that last second before our newbie Spartan dons the iconic armor, this is a mood piece. The music is dramatic but dour, brimming with a tragic energy. There are no surprises here but rather a building sense of self-sacrifice and tension, all portrayed amongst the soberest of lighting packages and facial expressions. None of that sounds very subtle, I know, and as a piece of film on its own merits, it’s not. Compared to the technicolor, jumping up and down, gunfire-filled romp of your average Halo multi-player match though, it’s subtlety personified.

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Counterbalance: The Avalanches' 'Since I Left You'

// Sound Affects

"Get a drink, have a good time now. Welcome to paradise, and read all about the 305th most acclaimed album of all time. An Australian plunderphonics pioneer is this week’s Counterbalance.

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