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Friday, Jan 9, 2015
The companion apps for Unity highlight the antagonistic relationship between the art of games and the business of games.

One of the most ridiculed aspects of Assassin’s Creed: Unity is the map. It’s littered with collectible icons.


This by itself annoyed many players, but more annoying is the fact that a good chunk of those collectible treasure chests can’t be opened unless you link your game to multiple companion apps. It’s an awkward and frustrating integration of “social hooks,” but these apps are worth investigating because they include something fascinating. Sadly, they’re not fascinating for narrative or lore reasons, but for academic reasons: The companion apps for Unity highlight the antagonistic relationship between the art of games and the business of games.


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Text:AAA
Thursday, Jan 8, 2015
Words can deceive. The way we fight reveals our true nature.

Generally speaking, I don’t miss having roommates. Those dishes in the sink are my own doing. The person-to-bathroom ratio is suitably low. I can walk around the house in various states of undress without offending anyone. It’s good to be king, even if your kingdom is a small apartment.


One thing that I do miss about living with a motley horde is being able to poke my head out into the hallway and instantly find a Smash Bros. opponent. Instead, I’ve been putting a considerable amount of time into the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U online mode. Because I haven’t yet abandoned my delusion of becoming competent at the game, I mostly play 1-on-1 “for glory” (meaning no items, no stage hazards) matches. It’s a unique experience that differs from your standard in-person Smash-fest in some key ways:


1. You have no rule options. It’s a 2-stock match with a 5 minute timer.
2. You keep playing the same person until one of you disconnects.
3. There’s no voice chat.


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Text:AAA
Wednesday, Jan 7, 2015
The characters in This War of Mine live in a home situated in a larger world that is much colder, much more callous than the bright and cheery suburban void that the homes of The Sims exist in.

The dollhouse is a place to prepare for real life. Of course, most toys, most play has often served that cultural role. Play becomes a space in which children can try on different roles and practice their conceptions of those roles for the future. We play, we practice, and we prepare.


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Text:AAA
Monday, Jan 5, 2015
It's a new year, but the Moving Pixels podcast revisits an indie darling that refashions a game out of the remains of a bygone era of gaming.

Using RPG Maker XP, To the Moon was fashioned out of the imagery and basic exploration mechanics of the sprite-based era of RPG games.


Less an RPG game, though, and perhaps more honestly a piece of interactive fiction with some light puzzle mechanics, what it does have in common with RPGs of that era is a commitment to telling a very human story despite its simple graphics and character sprites.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Dec 19, 2014
The Masterplan is about a heist gone right.

There have been a fair number of heist games released in the past year or so—from the neon-noir chaos of Monaco to the war-in-the-streets battlegrounds of Payday 2 to the grand spectacle of GTA V‘s bank jobs. Then there’s The Masterplan, an Early Access Game currently on Steam. Normally I’d say that it has a lot of competition, but it stands apart by offering a kind of heist those other games purposefully avoid. While all those other games revolve around the moment when a heist goes wrong, The Masterplan is all about a heist gone right.


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