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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.

by G. Christopher Williams

23 May 2012


I like shooting galleries.  Or, at least, in the last few years, I’ve learned that I like shooting galleries.  My parents took me to a Bass Pro Shop a few years ago, which is about the last place that an “indoorsmen” like me would ever want to go.

There is not a single item that a person like me (who believes that a night at the Super 8 is roughing it) would ever desire to purchase at a Bass Pro Shop.  So, to assuage my boredom with perusing kerosene lanterns and fly fishing nets, I dropped a few quarters into the slot at the shooting gallery.

The Bass Pro Shop shooting gallery isn’t like a carnival shooting gallery, with targets that move or pop up that you might need to lead or aim quickly at.  Instead, it is a rather complex animatronic display of cougars, crows, and outhouses with little targets that you can aim and fire at to make the landscape come to life.

by G. Christopher Williams

21 May 2012


As an escapist medium, video games offer an experience that other mediums do not. You can imagine being Luke Skywalker or Spider-Man or any one of countless super humanly powerful or charming or interesting individuals from the movies or books or comics. However, you can only play witness to their heroic acts.

Video games allow you to be these people, though, not just thrill to their amazing feats from afar. What happens, though, when those people in video games are people that we would never want to be?

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