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Thursday, Aug 14, 2014
Balance is a design concept that sits upon the shifting sands of player perception and behavior.

In a recent conversation between Gamasutra’s Leigh Alexander and Ubisoft Blue Byte’s Teut Weidmann, the games industry consultant warned away other designers from mimicking Riot’s monetization strategies for League of Legends. His point about the company’s monetization through reach is a valid one, albeit not one I want to discuss—at least not yet. Rather, I want to focus on this particular quote:


They release a champion that is always, always overpowered. So the people who pay for the game buy the champion immediately… and then Riot will go in and slowly devalue the price of the previous champion they released.



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Thursday, Aug 7, 2014
I now realize that basically everything Nintendo makes is meant to be portable.

Last weekend I did quite a bit of portable gaming, but it wasn’t the handheld variety. Instead of pocketing a DS or Vita, I packed up my Wii U and headed over to Jorge Albor’s place to play Mario Kart and invent new curse words. The process of bundling up my normally sedentary console made me realize that every Nintendo console that I’ve ever owned has had at least some component of mobility thanks either to the marquee games or novel hardware.


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Thursday, Jul 31, 2014
Some players think it’s the worst yet. Lead designer Nick Davidson thinks quite the opposite. In a strange way, they are both right.

In a recent interview with Polygon, Magic 2015’s lead designer Nick Davidson called the latest entry in the Duels of the Planeswalkers franchise, “the best Magic experience that you’re going to get at that price point pretty much in history.” Hundreds of fans on Steam, Metacritic, and a variety of forums might have something to say about that grandiose statement. Since its launch earlier this month, the game has received a heavy dose of criticism. Some players think it’s the worst yet. Davidson thinks quite the opposite. In a strange way, they are both right.


Let’s take a step back. For those unfamiliar with Magic the Gathering, it is a tabletop card game that has stayed alive for more than twenty years. Even today, the game has a massive audience, young and old alike, thanks in no small part to a fantastically designed system that has withstood the test of time. This beautiful system, the artful construction of decks and ingenious play, is still the glistening diamond at the head of Magic 2015. Despite its transition into the digital space, when you put your deck together, planning and imagining all the card combinations and synergies together and then take it for a glorious spin, you can see it. This is, hands down, a great game.


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Thursday, Jul 24, 2014
Can we overcome the Darkness through the power of dance? We’ll see.

I’ve been thinking about dancing in video games and not in the Dance Central, “you are the dancer” sense. I’m talking about games where dancing is far from (at least as far as I can tell) the central interest of the game. I’m talking about the Destiny beta, a weird place where you are the universe’s savior and also its interstellar b-boy. Dancing is seemingly a light hearted and minor action in the game, but it is an important illustration of how difficult it is to maintain a game’s thematic tone.


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Thursday, Jul 17, 2014
“People like us get forgotten all the time… When we suffer, we do it in silence. And the world likes it that way.” -- Nerissa

Warning: This article contains spoilers for all episodes of The Wolf Among Us.


Speaking in his own defense at his murder trial during one The Wolf Among Us’s final scenes, the Crooked Man, the kingpin of a Fabletown mob of sorts, questions the perspectives of the jurors/townsfolk: “You all act like I’m some kind of tyrant. When your government abandoned you, left you poor and helpless, sniveling on the street corners, I was there to look out for you.” He wants those he most exploited to respect him as a savior, a hero of the people.


This dynamic, between the sufferers (in this case the Fabletown citizens themselves) and the institutions of power, runs through the entire five-episode arc of The Wolf Among Us. Victimhood is a recurring theme throughout the game, consistently used to undermine Bigby’s efforts to solve a murder case far more complex than he first imagined. Issues of culpability and guilt abound, and the game offers no easy answers to the persistent dilemma. The game does, however, send a clear message about focusing on the victim above all else.


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