Latest Blog Posts

by Nick Dinicola

1 Jun 2012


This discussion contains spoilers for Max Payne 3.

Max Payne 3 is an exciting shooter. The controls allow for some impressive precision. The options of choosing how to target enemies in “hard lock,” “soft lock,” and “free aim” modes separate shooting difficulty from enemy difficulty (which is a great idea that deserves its own blog post). The combat scenarios are varied and interesting. On the whole, it does everything that a good shooter should do, but it takes a very different road to get there. Call of Duty, Gears of War, and the rest are also exciting shooters, but their excitement stems from their sense of empowerment. Playing them is fun because it makes us feel stronger than we really are, capable of going toe-to-toe with an entire army and winning. The same can’t be said about Max Payne 3. Sure, you still go toe-to-toe with armies and win, but just barely. Max Payne 3 is not about empowerment.

by Scott Juster

31 May 2012


Starhawk (Sony, 2012)

I’m a realist.  I understand why it’s so hard to craft dynamic stories and relationships in games.  With all their random behavior and nuanced feelings, people are hard to track and systematize.  I’m willing to look past the fact that Mass Effect might not allow my Shepard to live out her life as the owner of a space vineyard.  It’s fine that I can’t start a truly intimate, emotional relationship with every NPC in Dragon Age.  I accept the fact that, given enough time and experimentation, the affection that my Sims feel for one another could be expressed numerically. 

In the absence of infinite diversity in infinite combinations, an interesting plot can spice up even the most familiar gun battles and scavenger hunts.  This is one of the reasons that Red Dead Redemption is one of my favorite games.  In a ludic sense, it’s about as “video game-y” as the come, but its story content and dramatic themes convey an interesting (if dismal) message about the human condition.  The problem is that many story-driven games don’t bother to do anything interesting with the plot, which in turn does nothing to help alleviate dull or well worn game mechanics.

by G. Christopher Williams

29 May 2012


The Witcher 2‘s release on console seemed an appropriate enough reason for the Moving Pixels podcast crew to have a look at last year’s well regarded PC RPG.

To call the The Witcher 2 ambitious is an understatement, as it is a game that approaches the question of how much control the player has in crafting the story by offering expansive branching paths rarely seen before in games.  We are of differing opinions regarding the success that CDProjekt has had in doing this, though, and in their presentation of the politics and pathos in the game’s narrative.

by Nick Dinicola

25 May 2012


There’s a lot of bad exposition in games. Exposition itself isn’t a bad thing, sometimes it’s helpful and even necessary, but video games—with their need to create entire new worlds—constantly fall back on the bad habits of lazy execution: characters explaining things that they already understand or going off on a whole history lesson with the slightest provocation, purely for the sake of the player. It feels forced and leads to bad dialogue, since it’s hard to make an encyclopedia article sound like anything other than an encyclopedia article.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings ends with a massive exposition dump between the protagonist Geralt and his antagonist Letho. This political thriller fantasy game involves dozens of character, all with their own motivations and secret plots, interacting with each other, playing off each other, using each other, and betraying each other. One conspiracy mastermind might just be a pawn in someone else’s larger conspiracy. It’s an incredibly complex web of character relations, and it’s all laid bare in the final conversation of the game: a climactic Q&A session. Some of it is forced—and horribly so—but for the most part The Witcher 2 excels at doling out large doses of information in a very short time. It does the exposition dump right.

by Jorge Albor

24 May 2012


Janna, a support character from League of Legends (Riot Games, 2009)

The flashy menaces of multiplayer games get all the love. Their flurry of sword strikes, bestial roars, and shadowy auras give the deadliest avatars an edge in popularity contests. The damage dealers may get the looks, but the true unsung heroes of class-based games are the support champions and their designers. Creating a combat role that specifically stands back from the fray, setting aside offensive prowess for ostensibly subtle benefits, but nevertheless satisfies a sizeable player base, sounds unreasonably difficult. Yet creating a niche in multiplayer gaming for the reserved and tactical group of players who prefer supporting compatriots to devastating their foes adds an incredible level of nuance to a game experience for all players. The support class remains one of the best inventions of modern multiplayer gaming.

We have come a long way from the hectic firefights of Quake. Modern shooters lean more toward tactics than twitch gameplay and advanced rocket jumps. The run-and-gun shooter is all but dead and class-based combat has soundly taken its place. From Battlefield to Borderlands, support characters and load-outs bolster the efforts of offensive warriors. Bestowing health with spells or med kits keep the damage sponges fit and healthy, revive abilities bring back fallen comrades from death, and ammo packs keep the fight moving. Similarly, MMOs are commonly built on the “one tank, one-support, and three-dps” rule, in which heavy hitters unleash damage on foes while the tank corrals enemies and soaks up hits and the healer… Well the healer stands in the background, heals, and tries not to die.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Home Culinary Exploration Has Never Been More Fervent

// Re:Print

"Ever wondered what the difference between cinnamon and cassia is? The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs will teach you.

READ the article