FFXIV Pixel Pride 2014

To celebrate the addition of same-sex marriages in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the Rough Trade Gaming Community took to the streets of Eorzea in the inaugural FFXIV Pixel Pride parade.

J. Bryan Lowder, Slate:

I must say, having watched both the real thing [Pride Parade in New York City] back in June and now this, the Rough Trade parade seemed—pixilation aside—the more joyous of the two.


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War Ensemble

This is enough to sell me on Rocksmith 2014.

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Polygon pits Dota 2 champ payout against professional sports

A very interesting read on how professional and eSports players are paid out after winning championship titles.
Owen S. Good, Polygon:

So. Next time someone asks you if eSports are a real sport, you can show ‘em the receipt.

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The Cat Mario Show

In 1988, Nintendo distributed a first-party magazine called Nintendo Power full of reviews, previews, strategies, and tips and tricks. With the eShop channel, and programs like The Cat Mario Show, Nintendo seems to have found a great alternative to the magazine.

I’m very happy to see a focus put back on tips and tricks. Bolting to drug store magazine aisles to read GamePro, Nintendo Power, and EGM while on errands with my family remains one of my fondest memories. I remember flipping directly to the tips and tricks sections to see if any of the games I owned were being featured. In the event I found on, I’d scribble down the code or attempt to embed the button combinations into my muscle memory. In all honesty, clever tips and tricks were enough to sell me on a games I did not own; more so than actual previews and reviews.

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Sokobond: Chemistry-themed 2D indie puzzle game

This game looks fun, gorgeous and powerful. Coming to Steam on July 21st. Eventually being released on iOS and Android.

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Historic Gaming

Colin Moriarty, IGN:

Indeed, players have to do very little in Valiant Hearts other than get through its short campaign, and even if you opt to do only that, it seems impossible not to get caught up in its passion and emotion. Valiant Hearts really resonates not only as a game, but as a wonderful teaching tool, one that makes history interesting and fun, just like it was when we played The Oregon Trail as young kids.

Hopefully, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a sign of more good things to come not only for those of us who love video games, but for those of us that understand the amazing power of history, too. History doesn’t have to be boring or dry. In fact, it never is, if it’s presented right. Valiant Hearts: The Great War is all the proof you need.

Interesting read after yesterday’s Assassin’s Creed Unity piece by Chris Plante.

My high school summers were spent taking history classes. This was in an attempt to get ahead in my curriculum and to condense my history lessons into shorter timeframes. Needless to say, I hated history until playing in the fictional world of Assassin’s Creed… even Uncharted for that matter.

If there is one educational avenue games and simulations have succeeded in, something I too learned from Oregon Trail, it is their ability to immerse us in and teach us about the past. Even the most stripped down gameplay or overly embellished fictions can be successful in delivering historically accurate lessons and stories that stick. Like Plante, history is the reason I am drawn to the Assassin’s Creed games. Not neck stabbing.

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A Tale of Two Trailers

Chris Plante, Polygon:

The trailer is misleading. I know when Assassin’s Creed Unity is released, this isn’t the game I’ll get. It will be about movement and daring escapes and history and spectacular set pieces and drama. That’s the game I want to play.

But marketing plays a role in game development, especially at the level of multi-million dollar AAA games. And if the studio gets the sense that non-stop-bloodshed is what the audience wants, they will ensure that’s what it receives. Only if we speak up, will the studio look at its audience differently. Until then, they will act off the rapturous applause they receive at E3 when a someone’s head explodes like a watermelon thrown off a 7-story building.

If you’d like an example of a trailer that conveys a different marketing method, look no further than the history-focused vignette Ubisoft ran yesterday in Europe. It hints at fictional conspiracy theory near the end, but overall it’s a fine primer on the history of the French Revolution. Maybe Ubisoft has divided their marketing, targeting different audiences with different trailers. Maybe this is them having their cake and eating it, too. Marie Antoinette would be proud, even if she never said anything about cake and that idiom is English.

Fantastic piece by Plante.

The two trailers mentioned, in respective order:

Revolution Gameplay Trailer

Inside The Revoltion

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Order and Chaos

Richard Lemarchand, as quoted by Polygon:

Capy Games, makers of Sword and Sworcery EP and their recent new arrival Super Time Force, and of the forthcoming Below. No two Capy Games are alike — they boldly experiment with the form and content of their games — but their fans follow them for their identity of stylishness, experimentation and playability.

They say that one of the best business plans you can have is to identify a product or a service that you passionately want, but that does not yet exist. The chances are that millions of people around the world will want it too, and your passion for whatever it is that you’re creating will ensure that you make something of high quality.

So it’s my firm belief that as game developers, we should trust our instincts, and cultivate our tastes. Whatever it is that you care about passionately, devote yourself to seeking out the best of it in the world, figure out what makes it good, and bring your discoveries to the games that you make.

This is the same reason I become incredibly excited at the mention of new Portugal. The Man or Cursive albums. These bands are shapeshifters, built on the idea of changing rather than defined sounds.

On the other hand, I will continue to purchase Minus The Bear records on trust of the consistency of their sound. The times they stray away are the times they lose me. There’s something to be said about the complimentary nature of variance and consistency, order and chaos, and our need for both.

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Fabian Giesen’s exit letter

Ex-Valve contractor Fabian Giesen’s exit letter:

Part of this has to do with the direction of the project. With AR, there’s a variety of information display/visualization applications, all of which are at the very least interesting and could turn out to be tremendously empowering in various ways. The endpoint of VR, on the other hand – all engineering practicalities of first aiming for a seemingly easier goal aside – seems to be fundamentally anti-social, completing the sad trajectory of entertainment moving further and further away from shared social experiences. (As I have mentioned multiple times, I find the limited, formalized, abstracted and ultimately alienated social interactions in most forms of online gaming to be immensely off-putting).

Later, offering context:

And having an immersive virtual environment – hey, MMORPGs even without VR get people to sink lots of time into them, and if anything that’s probably gonna be more pronounced in the VR version – that is set up to, ultimately, generate
ad revenue (and hence prioritize the needs of the advertisers over the desires of its users) is just an inherently gross concept to me.

All these trends have been there for a long time. I used to be hypothetically
antsy about a major ad-run operation going long in VR. Now that Facebook has bought Oculus, that’s not a hypothetical anymore.

Now, I’m writing this just as the kerfuffle about Facebook running psychological experiments on their users is ebbing. This is not surprising; if you’re trying to maximize engagement (and thus ultimately ad revenue), these are the kinds of
trials you run, because you want to know what to show to people.

I still find it fascinating that three major companies are investing heavily in a novelty space.

Regarding social network involvement: Within the past few months, the increased rate of social networking notifications and ads has become more apparent. I don’t need to know if a friend just posted a status update, I don’t need to know that two games journalists I follow are discussing the WWE, and I don’t need to be asked if I know somebody with a random notification.

Don’t get me wrong. There will certainly be stellar avenues for VR in the forms of education, sports, and accessibility. Relinking my thoughts on VR piggybacked on Andrew House’s comments about Sony’s plans for the space.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ready Player One. I am not ready to live it.

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