Latest Blog Posts

by Nick Dinicola

23 Aug 2013


Grinding is supposed to be annoying. It is supposed to force the player to perform a menial task over and over again in order to afford some arbitrarily expensive thing. Sometimes we grind for experience to level up, sometimes we grind for gold to buy stuff, sometimes we grind for rare items, or sometimes we grind out side quests for that 100% completion statistic. The time that it takes to grind out these dubious achievements isn’t really a factor in why grinding is annoying. Even random battles in Half Minute Hero get boring and they only last a few seconds each. It’s the repetition that gets to you. Grinding isn’t supposed to be fun. That’s why it’s called “grinding,” a word that evokes a sense of slow, eroding destruction. If it was fun, could it still be considered grinding?

by Nick Dinicola

16 Aug 2013


When I was playing Telltale’s The Walking Dead, I was so invested in the plight of Lee and Clementine that every choice felt intensely personal. So personal that I was unable to go back and replay the game. Making any other choice just seemed wrong, like a betrayal of the character and myself. It’s good that Lee and Clem are nowhere to be seen in 400 Days (unless that brief flash of a photo on the billboard of a girl with a backpack and hat was in fact Clem) because it allows me to forge a different kind of relationship with the game.

by Nick Dinicola

9 Aug 2013


The story is usually considered the most important part of a Silent Hill game, yet I’ve largely ignored the story of Downpour in my last two posts about the game. That’s not because it’s bad, but because the story really deserves its own post since it’s just as smart and subversive as the combat and level design.

by Nick Dinicola

2 Aug 2013


As a kid, I loved miniature playsets. If I had a choice between a full-size action figure and something the size of my thumbnail, I’d take the mini guy every time, which is why I have a soft spot for games that feel like miniature playsets. XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Anomaly 2, Deadlight, and Civilization V are a few that immediately come to mind. What strikes me about all these games is that even though they belong to multiple genres, they’re all largely designed around how we look at things rather than how we interact with things, and that’s an important distinction for this diorama aesthetic. We’re meant to look, but not touch.

by Nick Dinicola

26 Jul 2013


Aliens: Colonial Marines is a bad game, but it should still be played by people who love this medium because it’s bad in some interesting and uniquely ludic ways. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the death scenes in Tomb Raider might have felt more gratuitous than they actually were because of the gameplay around them, and the same concept applies to everything in Colonial Marines/ It’s a fantastically flawed game in which every poorly implemented system helps bring down every other poorly implemented system.

//Mixed media