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Windows 10 Review for Dummies
By Ivory_Soul
Posted on 08/11/15
After all these years, and growing up with Windows 3.1, I have seen an entire evolution of computers and software. Touch screens and large resolutions were a pipe dream just 15 years ago. Now it's the norm. Going from a Packard Bell (yes, before HP) that couldn't run 3D Ultra Mini...

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On Open World Design
Posted on Saturday, April 30 2016 @ 17:09:46 PST

The anonymous producer of the hilariously caustic "Slower than Slow, Thicker than Thick" blog also runs a side blog which deals with games themselves from a practical critique perspective.  Entitled "Some *******, I dunno", it's very insightful, often humorous rather than dead serious in its observations and now that Gawker is circling the toilet drain like so much content from their member sites it's probably going to be the more active of the two going forward.  With that in mind I'd like to discuss a couple posts from it.

The first is from the 29th of April.  In it he fields a straightforward question, "Mr. Feel, why is exploring in Fallout 4 so ****?" and he explains, in perhaps hyperbolic rhetoric, why he thinks Bethesda's efforts have dropped the ball.  Having had some difficulty wrapping my head around why a game I pretty much knew was going to disappoint any expectations had for it still managed to disappoint and annoy beyond that I found the post most helpful.  I'd like to add that I see a genuine lack of inspiration in all those systems and how they play out.  I've mentioned in previous posts how Fallout 4 feels like a game designed by a group of teams working in relative isolation with their output overseen by some larger committee.  There wasn't one person, a group of people, asking themselves, 'is this actually fun to do?' who also played an active role in the guts-and-bolts development of the game.  At least, that's how the game feels.  This may also explain how Bethesda are now 2 for 2 in building Fallout games which have environmental plot holes.  Just a question for anyone reading this, because I never found an answer to it: where is the electrical power for various things coming from in the Commonwealth?  What powers the radio beacons?  What about Saugus Ironworks?  There are heats of iron cooking white hot in those kilns.  Where do they get the power for that?  I don't mean to be pedantic but if there's some source of power in the region that can keep a steel mill running then why is the player building generators or otherwise unable to tap into this power source?  Maybe go to war for it...that would be fun.  Why doesn't whoever has control of the power source cut them off?  Sure the glow of the metal provides an atmospheric backdrop in the mill but as far as I can tell it doesn't really make any sense that the furnace is in operation especially seeing as it's being run by a bunch of illiterate diseased raiders.  Seeing as 'providing power sources' is an active part of the game it's not something the developer should skirt.  Anyhow, it's a pretty good read if you found Fallout 4 underwhelming and would like some help figuring out why.

The second post is more constructive.  It offers up some ways to make an open world better.  The general gist is that tying the various systems together and not treating the player like an idiot would result in a better experience.  The only thing I'll add is coherence.  Internal consistency and coherence is drastically underrated in a lot of things, and it can elevate even questionable work.  New Vegas' environment makes sense, hangs together, fundamentally works in a way that Bethesda's Fallouts don't.  There's no making the irrational mistake that anyone ever could or did live in either Fallout 3 or 4's worlds.  For this reason the nearly perfectly horizontal topography of New Vegas, and the often downright poor use of three dimensional space (DLCs aside) skates by because it's in a region where that makes sense (Nevada) and the layout of areas is much more naturalistic and believable than Fallout 3's recursive dungeons or Fallout 4's recycled Draugr tombs.  It also helps that at some point someone at Obsidian stopped to consider 'it's been 204 years since the bombs dropped but no one's been able to assert central authority in the area so...how would that look?' and the game follows up with answers to that question quite literally everywhere.

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A Few Words on Mighty No. 9 (Updated) (Again!)
Posted on Friday, April 15 2016 @ 09:46:06 PST

Writing for Gameranx Nick Monroe shows that Comcept have silently slipped yet another ship window.  It's now a year behind schedule and they don't even have a new raft of bogus excuses to declaim personal responsibility.  In fact, they've gone all but totally silent with their English-speaking backers for months.  The odds are getting too long that this isn't a scam but the writing was on the wall from an early point.  Before any of the delays, before the community's unpleasant fight with Dina Karam (who no longer works for Comcept) and before the Kickstarter was even finished some smart wag had the good sense to ask one of Inafune's colleagues about his work.  That colleague was one Hideki Kamiya, who is well known for being completely forthright with his opinions.  Responding to a question on Twitter he stated "He's a businessman.  Not a creator."  And this makes perfect sense in light of every suspicious detail.  Whether it was a 'Chinese' firm actually based in Grand Cayman (insert Simpsons reference here) bailing out the Red Ash fundraiser, hiring a developer whose previous work consisted of mobile shovelware, or going completely silent as yet another deadline slips, Mighty No. 9 was always a cynical cash grab.  I attempted to contact Comcept a week ago and have yet to receive any kind of response, not even an automated 'message received, will review' reply.  Not being a backer myself, nor inclined to lie about journalistic credentials, my message contained only a few questions about how the latest schedule slip might cause backers to have cold feet and whether or not they had plans to begin communicating the current situation to their English-language backers, especially seeing as it's gone almost completely unreported in the English-language gaming press.

If you're a backer on this project and haven't gotten your money back yet, you should do so as soon as possible.  Chargebacks can be done by contacting your bank if Comcept won't give you a refund themselves.  This work has slipped date after date.  Every detail that comes down the pike about the internal workings of the company and the actual development pipeline makes it all look worse, not better.  Please get your money back while you still can.

Update:  Shacknews reports that the game may have been delayed to December.  This is not from a statement of any kind from Comcept or Deep Silver.  It's info pulled from the XBox Live store listing for the game.

Second Update: Apparently the new release date was the result of mistaking a European calendar for an American one.  So we're back to 'game has slipped once again and there is no new information on when, if ever, it's going to release'.  Either way, if you have any money in this I once again strongly urge you to pull that cash out now.

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Final Fantasy XV Will Almost Certainly Fail
Posted on Thursday, March 31 2016 @ 17:57:55 PST

Via this GameInformer piece it's come out that Final Fantasy XV has to sell ten million units to break even.  Ten million.  That's a budget north of 240 million dollars.  Scattered across more than eleven years of development.  To be a success by standard rule means it needs to rack up twice that many overall sales.  20 million sales for a series whose most successful entry racked up a little over half that.  20 years ago.  It's fair to say that Square Enix has yet to grasp the meaning of the phrase 'sunk cost fallacy'.

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Fallout 4 Needs Revision, Not More Content
Posted on Monday, March 28 2016 @ 14:42:13 PST

    So Fallout 4's first DLC, Automatron, came out and it isn't worth ten dollars.  If you didn't get the season pass at the early low price and haven't shelled out fifty dollars for one, or were considering a stan...   read more...

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Regarding Doom's Box art poll
Posted on Friday, March 4 2016 @ 13:37:25 PST

So the Doom twitter account is running a poll for alternate sleeve design for the new Doom box.  You can find it here but you'll need a twitter account to vote.  I have a serious question about this.  WHY?!?!?

Not &#...   read more...

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On Translation and Consumer Rights
Posted on Saturday, February 27 2016 @ 07:49:19 PST

Translation is inherently dicey.  In the 13th century Dante Alighieri warned against even trying to translate his Commedia out of its native Italian because it was impossible to reproduce the original meter and rhyme scheme.  As I sit here ...   read more...

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A Couple News Items
Posted on Thursday, February 18 2016 @ 09:36:32 PST

As reported yesterday by GamesIndustry.biz, Warren Spector has left his academic post to join OtherSide Entertainment full time to work on Underworld Ascendant and System Shock 3.  As mentioned in previous coverage of OtherSide and System Shock ...   read more...

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Bethesda Announces DLC Release Plans
Posted on Tuesday, February 16 2016 @ 09:58:32 PST

Fallout 4 came out 3 months ago with no definite word on when DLC would be coming along, making the season pass rather like buying a pig in a bag.  As of today, February 16, the wall of silence has dropped and three planned DLCs have been announ...   read more...

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Reviewing a Bad Editorial
Posted on Friday, February 12 2016 @ 15:27:51 PST

One thing which continues to mystify me to this day is editorialists, ostensibly knowledgeable about video games and gamer culture, going to bat for Ninja Theory's ill-fated reboot of Devil May Cry.  It's not just that they're openly...   read more...

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October 18, 2005: The Day the Guns Went Quiet
Posted on Tuesday, February 9 2016 @ 19:33:45 PST

    The first person shooter genre has been in commercial and artistic near-freefall for a decade.  They were always a niche genre, even if they tended to draw disproportionate publicity, but now the number of actual releases per ...   read more...

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