Friday, February 27, 2015

Player Agency and Robocraft: More Power to Ya

Games of any kindbe they video games, tabletops, or sportshave one thing in common: the player is in control. Whether it’s simply controlling when and where your little 8-bit Mario jumps, or building a new half-elven ranger from the ground up, games revolve around player agency. That's the chief reason why the gaming medium is so different from other forms of electronic entertainment. The ability to leap in, to become part of the action, is the charm of video games.

With that in mind, it shouldn't be surprising that more and more video games have started to include character building elements: levels, skill trees, equipment upgrades; the list goes on. It’s almost become a matter of course, to the point that it can be genuinely surprising to realize that a game doesn't have some sort of character customization option, whether for abilities or just appearance.

Recently, as anyone who's heard of Minecraft knows, some games are now devoted to putting all the power into your hands. It's a trend that isn't stopping soon, if Robocraft is any indication. Robocraft is a fun little game that's been sitting pretty near the top of Steam’s free-to-play games for quite some time now. Your goals are simple: build robot, pilot robot, blow up other robots. You're given just a little push to get started: a robot that amounts to a box on wheels, a quick tutorial, and off you go. But what happens after that? That's up to you.

Something Shiny: World Zombination Game, and a Sprites and Dice Guild Project!

So, you like zombies right?  Well, maybe you don't like zombies, per-say, but you love taking them apart by the baker's dozen.  Do you want to accomplish this in less than five minutes?  Man, is there a game for you.

World Zombination by Proletariat Inc. is a really cool game we saw at PAX East 2014 last year, which quite frankly blows somewhat similar defense/offense games like Clash of Clans out of the water.  It lets you run through a campaign as either survivors defending the streets of major cities... or as zombies overrunning them.  It's a great game on iOS and mobile that yes, is a free-to-play, but it's one with a lot of content without ever hitting the spend button.  With a few hours under my belt already, it's safe to say my iPad has been splattered with many zombie guts and human bodies with me grinning like an idiot.

Let's get down to the point.  We're working on a review of this game, but it's not quite ready.  Why?  Well, because Player vs. Player and Guild vs. Guild is a huge part of this game.  Rallying your defense or your horde, organizing your ranks, and going to town, allied units at your side.  This is where you come in.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why We Con Part #2 - A Community of Makers

One of the great things about the modern world is that we have free time.   Free time, and a society that promotes the pursuit of happiness, of education, of individual drive to find what makes you grin or frown.  That can mean anything from old, traditional pursuits like getting a drink on the town after dark, to more modern ones like plopping down in front of a television or a movie theater.  A chance to sit back and drink in the world at our own pace, through a method of our choosing, be it alcohol, book, or computer screen.

There's many though that take this free time and instead of just consuming, use their free time as chance to create.  To craft, big or small, to make something their own and share it with the world.  In the end, that's what "the arts" are, aren't they?  People voicing statements and dreams in whatever medium they can find.  Making virtual worlds and inviting you to come be a part of it in a big way.

Also, to show off amazing statues.  That's an art thing.
I want to say that one reason why I love being involved in the gaming subculture, is because of the sheer love and interest in the act of creating that can be found everywhere.  That going to a convention is a choice to let yourself get caught up in the dreams and inspiration of developers, of fans, of artists. When we started this website, I wrote about why we go to conventions: that feeling of belonging, that knowledge that you were going to see people of like mind and spirit.  It's more than just that though, isn't it?  We also go to have our minds expanded, to see new things to inspire and intrigue us.  We want to see creativity and creation at its best.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The State of Nintendo 2015 - Services and communal outreach

Welcome to part III of my breakdown of the state of Nintendo for the year 2015.  If you haven't already done so, check out part one here, which is all about software, and then go read part two at this link, which deals entirely with hardware.  Also don't forget to check us out on Twitter (, and on Facebook (  We love doing this, and community outreach is the only way we can continue, so thank you all for your support!

With the plugs out of the way, it is time to get right down to today's topic.  What I'm going to get into today are the other programs Nintendo operates as part of their community support programs.  This will focus primarily on their internet services, such as Club Nintendo.  This piece will be a bit less specific, as I need to cover a pretty wide, and somewhat frustrating net.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Staying Power: The Legend of Zelda, and How it has Stayed Relevant

What is it that makes a game stay with you? What causes an older game to continue to stand out among its peers, and above games that come after it? Why, for instance, does Final Fantasy VII continue to be held up by many as the epitome of JRPGs, when so many others have built and improved on everything it did? Why is an outdated game like Goldeneye still remembered as such a great FPS? What makes these games stay with us as a community, while so many others fall by the wayside?

Some of you may remember a game called Heavenly Sword, one of the first titles released for the Playstation 3. It was a hack-n-slash somewhat along the lines of God of War or Devil May Cry, and as far as anyone could tell, its sole purpose was to show off the PS3’s capabilities.  Whatever else may be said about it, Heavenly Sword was a visually impressive game.

You know... for its time.

As if it were a fireworks show, people oohed and aahed, and then forgot that it had ever happened.

The Legend of Zelda, on the other hand, is a franchise that has been with us since the early days of gaming. From the initial installment on the NES to Skyward Sword and beyond, love it or hate it, this franchise is one of the oldest cornerstones of our gaming culture.  The big news on the Legend of Zelda front, of course, is the re-release of Majora’s Mask on the 3DS. With that in mind, it seems like an appropriate time to consider what makes this series so fundamentally different from a flash-in-the-pan title like Heavenly Sword.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hand of Fate Review: Deal Me Death, Please

This is a game where it can actually be fun to die.

Lizards...why is it always lizards?
Don't get me wrong: death will happen, and sometimes, your death will come for you at really frustrating moments.  Sometimes, you'll die when you were so close to killing the final foes in the maze of scenarios laid out before you.  Sometimes, you will simply become too lost, and supplies will run low, starvation coming for your avatar before you can find the end.  In fact, both of these types of deaths will probably happen a lot to you.  However, if on your journey you had managed to come across a new card, collecting the essence of it for your personal deck of fortunes?  Death just became a chance to collect your thoughts, rethink your options for items and adventure, and ask the fortune teller that's trying to kill you to deal you back in again.

Sit down, pick your favorite cards, and ready your axe hand...Welcome to Hand of Fate.

Monday, February 16, 2015

How to Write the Plot for your Role Playing Game

Plot Creation: Where do you start? 

     Spinning an entire world out of nothing and populating it with a myriad of interesting denizens may seem like a daunting challenge to any DM. However, like most things, writing becomes easier if you break it down into manageable chunks. When you set out to write a plot for your game I find it helpful to pick a setting you (and your player base) think is interesting. It could be anything from a traditional Tolkien-style high fantasy to a wild west gothic wasteland to even a future-based setting, set around exploring future galaxies.  There's enough RPG systems out there for any particular mood your in, if you look around: anything goes.

Castle Tower by Tyler Edlin
Flying castles are so cool!

 How do you do this right?  How do you make a story that your players will be attracted to, wanting to immerse themselves entirely into the role of their choosing? As the Dungeon Master (or Storyteller, or Game Master... there's a dozen different names), it falls onto you to play the role of the computer, generating interest and keeping it there.  It certainly is one of the most rewarding experiences in gaming, but it does come with the need to prepare and create before hand.  How do you build a world that comes alive for your particular players?