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by Nick Dinicola

23 Sep 2016


There are two endings to No Man’s Sky, and both are the very definition of anti-climactic. Fans that were already disappointed with the game latched onto the endings as justification for their feelings, undeniable proof that No Man’s Sky was a creative failure. But they’re wrong.

The endings certainly lack spectacle, especially the kind of destructive spectacle that defines a lot of games, but that’s the point. When you think about what kind of game No Man’s Sky is—the ideas it expresses, the things it considers important, and the things that it wants you to consider important—then these anticlimaxes become inevitable and revelatory. Together, they make a quiet yet grandiose statement about life’s relationship to the universe, expressed through the mechanics of gameplay.

by Nick Dinicola

16 Sep 2016


Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of The Counter of Death and Tap Hero, two mobile action games. They’re relatively simple games, especially within the action genre. Both use only two “buttons”. The Counter of Death actually has two virtual buttons, and Tap Hero splits the screen in two with each side becoming an invisible “button.” In each case, the simplicity of the controls belies surprisingly difficult games, but they’re not difficult because of their mechanics. They’re difficult because of my natural human limitations.

by Nick Dinicola

9 Sep 2016


One of the most common words used to describe No Man’s Sky (common, at least, when being positive about it) is “lonely”. PopMatters’ own Erik Kersting wrote a piece just last week about its “vast loneliness”.

But for a game that’s supposedly so lonely, there’s a crap ton of life everywhere you look. There’s a space station in every galaxy, and every planet is littered with crashed ships, outposts, transmission stations, and ancient monoliths—markers of intelligent life and civilization. Not to mention all the plants, every planet has some plant life, so there are no truly dead worlds. In fact, I’d say there’s too much life in No Man’s Sky. No matter where you go, you can never escape the presence of the three big spacefaring species. I think the review by the A.V.Club has the best description I’ve read of the game, “Your traveler is not really an explorer—you never visit a planet unknown to the galaxy’s intelligent species—they’re a pilgrim, traveling towards their sacred destination slowly and alone.” This universe was discovered, charted, and colonized long before we ever showed up. We may be traveling alone, but we are also never truly alone.

by Nick Dinicola

2 Sep 2016


One surefire way to ruin the drama of any story is to have a protagonist that doesn’t care about the drama of the story. Unless you’re making a comedy, the protagonist of any story should take that story seriously and should not actively undermine the dramatic tension of climactic moments. Having a character who does this consistently in an otherwise straight-faced drama is just poor storytelling.

by Nick Dinicola

26 Aug 2016


Everything is online now. As someone who mostly plays single-player games but who still has his console connected to the Internet, there’s no escaping the omnipresent community of friends and fellow gamers. From multiplayer to leaderboards to player-generated content—heck, even the faux-online feel of offline games like DarkMaus—I can never forget that I’m part of a larger social group.

This is not a bad thing. I like the hyper-connected world that we live in, and I can manage my online presence just fine, but knowing/assuming that I’m always connected can result in a weird and (wonderfully) fascinating disconnect from reality in those rare moments when I’m not actually connected to a larger community.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

I'm Going to Kill You: 'Johnny Guitar' Gets the Class Treatment

// Short Ends and Leader

"One tends to watch this film open-mouthed in wonder at the forceful dialogue, the colorful imagery, and the sheer emotional punch of its women.

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