CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 4 Feb / 19 Feb]

 
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Thursday, Jan 29, 2015
Largely due to its small size and independence from the primary game, First Light is simply better than Second Son, even while it owes its existence to it.

Last week here on PopMatters, Scott Juster described Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker as a “micro-machine”, one of those curious little dioramas that seemed popular when he and I were kids. It is precisely the minute scale but high-quality systems of the game that lets us toss it into the category of games we recently called “Big Small games”. While Captain Toad is a great game, perhaps inFamous First Light is a better example of the experimental value of these impressive, albeit smaller, diversions from the triple A game space.


Like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, inFamous First Light is also an offshoot of a traditional full title. First Light, technically, is actually a piece of DLC for 2014’s inFamous Second Son. However, the game is also a completely stand-alone experience. Players do not need to own or have played the first game to dive into the experience. In this way, First Light is an interesting consumer product. Generally, I always consider DLC as a way for developers to incentivize newcomers and keep devotees busy playing a core game experience. The ultimate goal is to prevent people from selling your game back to Gamestop and into the hands of other players without ever receiving a cut of the profit. Our brave new world of “games as a service” seems built as a futile salvo against the used game market.


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Thursday, Jan 22, 2015
Mario’s out exploring the galaxy, but Captain Toad is about examining the most minute details.

When I was a kid, I had a bunch of Micro Machines Star Wars toys. Alright, “kid” is probably a generous term, but I defy anyone to question how cool those things were.


I especially enjoyed the ones that started off as statuettes and unfolded to reveal a meticulously constructed diorama. They were more than dioramas though, since they all had some sort of mechanical trick. Poke around and you’ll find that the Rancor’s cage door moves and that Greedo can be launched out of his Mos Eisley seat after taking a shot from a miniature Han. Something that initially looked simple was actually a collection of intricate details meticulously designed to make the small environment a densely packed one.


Nintendo taps into the same feeling with Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.


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Thursday, Jan 15, 2015
I believe in Clementine, and so I cried when I ask her to kill my Lee. I believe my friends in Dragon Age: Inquisition, so when I change the decor in Skyhold while they are in mourning, I make believe they notice. Choice feels a lot like faith.

Several weeks ago, when the topic of Telltale’s The Walking Dead came up, a good friend of mine announced that he did not like the game because “your choices don’t matter.” My shock and hostility has subsided, but I still fail to understand how such a perception could be true. Why did the decisions I made lead me to tears while it only led him to frustration?


Meanwhile, the past few days has seen a bevy of writing about Dragon Age: Inquisition and the choices that it contains. Patrick Klepek of Kotaku asks, “There’s much to ‘do’ in Inquisition, but how much of it is meaningful?” While Rowan Kaiser on Unwinnable says, “they’re really gun shy throughout Inquisition, with barely any choice that threatens a player’s emotions throughout the game.” Austin Walker over on Paste states (quite rightly I think), “What trained us to prefer a branching, long-form story over a series of little vignettes? I think if we ask questions like these, we’ll find our definitions of words like “real” and “meaningful” become increasingly complex.” Likewise, Todd Harper chimes in with an, ahem, “stiff” assessment that size does matter.


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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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Thursday, Dec 18, 2014
Amid the game’s palatial estates and ancient ruins, I found a story that hit much more close to home than I expected. With remarkable subtlety, the world of Dragon Age creates a personalized experience of race.

Warning: This post contains minor spoilers for Dragon Age: Inquisition.


My Inquisitor is a Dalish female with white hair. See, I try, whenever possible, to make game characters unlike myself. I want to roleplay in worlds with a different perspective than my own, and what better opportunity than in the blight-infected lands of Dragon Age: Inquisition? But even amid the game’s palatial estates and ancient ruins, I found a story that hit much more close to home than I expected. With remarkable subtlety, the world of Dragon Age creates a personalized experience of race.


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