Latest Blog Posts

by Nick Dinicola

12 Aug 2016

I wrote this about the difference between exploration and wandering some time ago:

Exploration is not an aimless activity. It’s a very goal-driven activity. We might not know what our goal is initially, we might not know what we’re looking for, but we know we’re looking for something. It’s the knowledge (or assumption) of that “something” that drives us to look closely at the world, to explore it. Without that “something” to tempt us, our movement ceases to be exploration and becomes wandering. The former has a purpose (we move with the intention of learning), but the latter has no purpose. That’s why Skyrim gives us a compass to point us in the direction of interesting discoveries. Bethesda understood that without some sort of goal in mind, players can only wander, and wandering is boring.

I think the distinction still holds true. There’s a fine line between exploration and wandering, between something fun and something frustrating. The Elder Scrolls and Fallout games have achieved immense popularity because they expertly straddle that line. Surprisingly, so too does Pokemon Go.


by Nick Dinicola

5 Aug 2016

The Way of the Pixelated Fist is a side-scrolling action platformer in the tradition of Prince of Persia, but it looks nothing like Prince of Persia, nothing like any game really. It instantly sets itself apart by how it frames its action. Most of the screen is black at any given moment, with only a thin slit of a window in which any gameplay takes place. It is counter intuitive framing, blocking out as much of the world as possible, but in practice, it serves as a clever way to emphasize movement and action as well as a workaround for its graphical limitations.

by Nick Dinicola

29 Jul 2016

Last week I wrote about the story content of Spirits of Xanadu. This week I want to write about its graphics, those terrible graphics that “look like a student project from the early 90s”. That description still holds true, but what’s impressive about this virtual world of simple geometric shapes is how much emotion and style it wrings out of such low fidelity graphics. It might not showcase much detail, but it know how to frame a scene, and in this case, composition is more important than detail.

There are two scenes in particular that I want to call out. Both can kind of be considered spoilers, but one can definitely be considered a spoiler, so I recommend that you play the game first before reading on. It’s only a few hours long and only $10.00 on Steam. With that said…

by Nick Dinicola

22 Jul 2016

Spirits of Xanadu has some terrible graphics. Let’s just get that out of the way first.

From the robots and guns made out of basic 3D shapes to the flat texture-less walls of the ship, the game looks like a student project from the early 90’s. It certainly lacks a lot of visual flair, but I’m telling you about it now because it still manages to do a lot with the very little it has.

by Nick Dinicola

15 Jul 2016

Mirror’s Edge is a racing game. Sure, you may be controlling a person, not a car, and you may be jumping across rooftops like a platformer, but neither the first-person shooter nor the platformer fully capture the ethos of Mirror’s Edge. It’s a first-person game unconcerned with shooting and a jumping game that’s unconcerned with jumping. Yes, you’ll jump a lot, but that’s not the really the point of it all. The point of it… is speed. Getting up to speed. Maintaining speed. Improving yourself to increase your speed. Everything about the game eventually feeds back into that singular idea.

//Mixed media

Exposition Dumps Don't Need Dialogue in 'Virginia'

// Moving Pixels

"Virginia manages to have an exposition dump without wordy exposition.

READ the article