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Thursday, Nov 8, 2012
Halo 4's smooth transference of ownership -- and more importantly the community's positive reaction to it -- reflects a continuation of the changing relationship between player communities and developers.

The release of Halo 4 earlier this week put an end to both the excited and nervous anticipation of the renewal of a franchise in transition. Now in the very capable hands of 343 Industries, Halo is with us forever now or at least until the studio rounds out their own trilogy. The smooth transference of ownership—and more importantly the community’s positive reaction to it—reflects a continuation of the changing relationship between player communities and developers.


For fans of the series, Master Chief’s return has been a long time coming. Halo: Reach launched two years ago, but the game was a side story and mechanical departure from the standard Halo series. Master Chief has been slumbering for over five years since the release of Halo 3, longer than his actual cryogenic sleep between the events in Halo 3 and Halo 4.


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Thursday, Nov 1, 2012
A game doesn't have to be full of ghosts and zombies to be spooky.

Depending on when you read this, you’re either preparing for or recovering from the annual candy and alcohol feast that is Halloween.  Well, what better way to get into a gruesome frame of mind or shake out last night’s cobwebs than a discussion of some holiday-appropriate games.  It’s likely you’re familiar with horror classics like Resident Evil and Fatal Frame, as well as more recent hits hits like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Slender, so I thought I’d take a different angle and talk about a handful of games that were unexpectedly chill-inducing and the ways in which they strike fear into our hearts (and thumbs).


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Thursday, Oct 25, 2012
Chris Worboys, the game designer behind iBeg, sits down for an interview about his goals for iBeg, the difficulties of addressing homelessness in a game, and more.

Kickstarter has helped launch some of the most anticipated games in recent memory. Double Fine blew open the game funding floodgates with their upcoming point-and-click adventure and, most recently, Project Eternity broke records with almost four million dollars raised through Kickstarter.


Among the heavy hitters, a small indie-game about a serious issue is making its own attempt at crowd-sourced funding. iBeg, from Last Pick Productions, is a pixelated simulation of homelessness. Like most social impact games, iBeg’s subject matter is sensitive and the issue complex. While the game is still early in development, the game concept alone raises interesting themes in regards to the design of social impact games. Chris Worboys, the game designer behind iBeg, kindly offered to sit down for an interview about his goals for iBeg, the difficulties of addressing homelessness in a game, and more.


Tagged as: ibeg, kickstarter
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Thursday, Oct 18, 2012
I find myself increasingly impatient with games. I tell myself that I don't have the time to invest in a 50 hour RPG. I don't like being asked to slog through a long manual or parse obscure game mechanics. I don't have time for any of that, or so I think.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: a brash young man gradually mellows over the years, gains perspective on life’s annoyances, and begins to respond to setbacks in a more measured, thoughtful way. At some point, I realized I was this walking stereotype. The things that annoyed me in years past had gradually become easier to take in stride. I can’t do anything about a traffic jam. The old lady at the grocery store who insists on paying for two apples with a personal check will finish when she’s finished. A single bad day at work isn’t a sign that I should abandon all my earthly possessions and become a monk. Life is a marathon, and patience is the key to winning.


However, this general mellowing hasn’t completely extended to my attitude towards games. In fact, it’s often the opposite. I find myself increasingly impatient with games. I tell myself that I don’t have the time to invest in a 50 hour RPG. I don’t like being asked to slog through a long manual or parse obscure game mechanics. Long cutscenes? Widely-spaced checkpoints? Load times? I don’t have time for any of that, or so I think.


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Thursday, Oct 11, 2012
The blunt nature of Papo & Yo's central metaphor serves its purpose by spotlighting the more detailed and personal moments Vander Caballero and his players bring to the experience.

Creators always put themselves into their games in some shape or form—they cannot help it. We naturally infuse the things that we create with all the experiences, cultures, values, and ideologies that we call our own, even if we do not recognize them consciously. While these outside influences vary dramatically in size and function, they are ever present in the games we make. None of this is more true than in Papo & Yo, one of the few truly autobiographical games. The first game from the new Minority Studio undoubtedly sprang from the childhood of its lead designer Vander Caballero.


Papo & Yo wears its themes on its sleeves. Even without knowing the story ahead of time, it is hard to miss the game’s blatant metaphors. Quico, the game’s protagonist, begins his journey wanting to save the big pink rhino-like monster that is obviously a metaphorical stand-in for his father. The coconuts that make him fall asleep and the green frogs that turn him into a fiery vessel of anger clearly represent alcohol. I have serious doubts any player missed this, even before the game literally turns bottles of liquor into frogs before your very eyes. This is a very personal story about Caballero’s confrontation with his history of abuse.


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