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Text:AAA
Friday, Dec 19, 2014
The Masterplan is about a heist gone right.

There have been a fair number of heist games released in the past year or so—from the neon-noir chaos of Monaco to the war-in-the-streets battlegrounds of Payday 2 to the grand spectacle of GTA V‘s bank jobs. Then there’s The Masterplan, an Early Access Game currently on Steam. Normally I’d say that it has a lot of competition, but it stands apart by offering a kind of heist those other games purposefully avoid. While all those other games revolve around the moment when a heist goes wrong, The Masterplan is all about a heist gone right.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Dec 12, 2014
Lifeless Planet uses minimal details to establish a compelling mystery, to subvert our expectations, to create dramatic tension, and to guide exploration.

Lifeless Planet and Stranded approach a similar concept in two very different ways. Whereas Stranded tells us as few details as possible in order to let our imaginations fill in the blanks, Lifeless Planet takes a more conventional approach to its mystery that grows in scope with each new twist. However, despite these very different design philosophies that don’t invite comparison, the two games have very similar beginnings that do invite comparison. I wrote previously about how Stranded is too minimalist for its own good and how it fails to establish mystery, atmosphere, or a desire to explore. Lifeless Planet is Stranded done right, at least for the first hour, before it goes off in another direction. That first hour is similarly minimalist, but uses its minimal details to establish a compelling mystery, to subvert our expectations, to create dramatic tension, and to guide exploration.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Dec 5, 2014
In its attempt to be minimalist, Stranded removes all the things that drive an interest in atmosphere, mystery, and exploration.

Personally, I love a game with any kind of minimalist aesthetic. I still feel haunted by Metrolith and Home, I’m still mocked by Blackbar, I still go gamble in Tower of Fortune, and I think One Finger Death Punch and A Dark Room are two of the best games of the year. However, that said, Stranded is an example of everything that could go wrong when a game tries too hard to be “minimalist.”


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Text:AAA
Friday, Nov 21, 2014
No one really wants to play a fair game. Video games are unfair, but in our favor, which is what makes them fun, right?

No one really wants a fair game. For the most part, we want a game that skews to our advantage so we can finish it and move on to the next game. It’s unfair, but it’s unfair in our favor, which makes it fun. Generally, when a game is unfair to our disadvantage we call this out as a negative, something to be rectified with a patch or update. However, after having recently played Shadow of Mordor and Alien: Isolation, I’ve come to appreciate how unfair those games can be. They prove that balance and fairness are overrated because the most exciting moments in these games stem from the systems that are stacked against us.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Nov 14, 2014
No one really likes being scared. The fun of being scared never comes from the actual act of being scared. This pleasure comes afterwards when we can look back and laugh.

A few weeks ago, Scott Juster asked why it’s so hard to find fear in video games. It’s a question that immediately struck me as odd because I’ve never had a problem finding fear in video games, but while reading his post, it became clear why our experiences with horror have been so different. The post also highlights one of the most difficult paradoxes facing the horror genre and gaming especially: the problem of audience participation.


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