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Welcome Back to the West
By oneshotstop
Posted on 08/01/16
The only thing that stops the dust is the rain. It’s a sweet reprieve, but there is no middle ground. The land is either as dry as the Betty Ford clinic, or as wet as the ocean floor. Everything can be seen from the ridge overlooking Armadillo as John Marston gently bounces along atop...

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Metroid Is Officially 30 Today
Posted on Saturday, August 6 2016 @ 11:31:52 PST

On August 6, 1986, the first Metroid released for the Famicom.  30 years have passed, and it's been a bumpy ride, but it's definitely a series with many solid entries.  The good ones, including Retro's wonderful Prime trilogy, are all available right now on the Wii U's virtual console so if you own one and haven't given them a chance yet this is as good a time as any to check them out.

It didn't inaugurate the gated maze style of 2D platformer and puzzle game known as the 'Metroidvania', that honor goes to Nihon Falcom's earlier Xanadu, but it did bring it to the console market and it added its own refinements and improvements to it and the 2D sidescrolling shooter.  Its influence was rather diverse.  It not only inspired the other half of the genre's name, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, it also inspired another game which would also go on to become staggeringly influential: System Shock.  One of the things that set Metroid apart in 1986 was that its design was, from the ground up, not intended for arcades.  It was clearly a game meant to be played at home on a console in front of a television and not at a quarter-eating arcade machine.

On a somewhat more personal note I'll say that as a series, particularly the prime trilogy, it helped shape my sense of what constitutes good versus bad in environment design, layout, boss fights, and development of mechanical complexity across a game. 

Metroid is in a somewhat awkward place today, Other M was a disappointment to anyone who actually liked the series up to that point and it has not had a legitimate release worth talking about since Prime 3.  Rumors abound that Retro might be working on something and if that's the case it would be wonderful.  Here's hoping.



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The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Bethesda Game Studios Part 2
Posted on Wednesday, July 13 2016 @ 17:39:00 PST

I honestly wish I didn't have cause to write this post.  I've given Bethesda a very hard time in my comments on this site and elsewhere for their lack of originality, my genuine and severe dislike of their approach to design, and their increasingly cavalier attitude toward their IPs.  But there are lines that they haven't crossed, or at least I thought so due to my own ignorance.  It had become blatantly clear with Fallout 4's release that Bethesda was running out of ideas of their own and followed whatever was trendy and took liberal inspiration from their own fans.  But, to my incomplete knowledge, that hadn't crossed certain ethical lines.

Here's a quest in a Fallout game.  You enter a vault, talk to an occupant via the intercom at the entry way, they open the door, you come in at their request and help solve a murder mystery in which the financier, who also worked with Vault-Tec to design it, has been murdered.  There are twists and turns along this plot but solving it forms the core of your experience in the vault.

For those of you who have played Far Harbor, you might be excused for thinking I was talking about the Brain Dead quest.  I wasn't.  I was talking about a mod for New Vegas called Autumn Leaves which was released before Fallout 4 shipped in November of 2015.  Here's the ModDB article talking about it: Big Publishers and a Small Mod (Archive link in the event that Zenimax's legal team attempts to bury the evidence - here) and I think their evidence and argument are sufficiently persuasive.  The similarities are simply too close and in too many unlikely places to be any kind of coincidence  This is outrageous.

Plagiarism is an ugly word.  It draws on the worst aspects of indolence run riot.  It's also a difficult thing to prove.  Textual plagiarism is simple enough, a block of text is excised or paraphrased from a given source, not quoted, and passed off as the work of whoever happened to lift it.  Conceptual plagiarism is somewhat harder to prove but arguments can be made for it with somewhat broader latitude.  The general premise and the nuances of execution are where conceptual plagiarism come out.  Typically the work taken from has more nuance, more content, more scale, and the plagiarism lacks these things to some extent.

So it shouldn't surprise us that Autumn Leaves, which came out more than seven months before Far Harbor, contains much more developed dialog trees and more complex plot development.

And as much as it pains me to say it, this is just the smoke.  Plagiarists don't quit.  Fallout 4's gone from a disappointing game in a franchise I adore to a hunting ground.  There's more in there, somewhere, and it will come out in time.



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The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Bethesda Game Studios
Posted on Sunday, July 10 2016 @ 20:14:31 PST

I've not reviewed Fallout 4, yet, and I might get around to it some day.  Until then I'm most likely going to chuck gravel at Bethesda's increasingly crack-brained approach to design and technology.  Today is for technology.

One of the common knee-jerk defenses of Bethesda's degenerate design and Frankensteinian technology is 'mods will fix it' or some variation of that.  This was never a valid defense.  It puts the onus of responsibility for their games ending up in a state of polish on a group of hobbyists working in their spare time for no pay.  Such an arrangement is absurd and the only upside to it is that the brave souls who manage these efforts can use it as a stepping stone to a career in the industry.

However, the way forward for some of these projects is very bleak for Fallout 4.  The exact issues, and why the mod teams working on them may have to put their projects to rest for good, are detailed on a Reddit post by user Arthmoor here.  Another batch of problems pertain to how the game uses geometry described by user jonwd7 here.  I recommend reading both posts but the rough sum of it is that using mods, including unofficial patches, causes weird technical hangups that it shouldn't as a result of changes made by Bethesda either in the jump from Skyrim's version of the engine to Fallout 4 or at some later point in a patch.  So, short of some kind of engine revising patch, there's basically no way for either the unofficial patch to move forward or for something like the Skyrim Mesh Improvement Mod to ever get off the ground.

It appears that the issues they've described are the result of measures taken to improve performance.  But those measures have made what were once simple edits into massive projects which create absurd headaches down the line.  Ironically there are viable alternatives that would yield similar performance gains (like not handling all shadow map instructions on CPU core 1) without hamstringing mod makers or the patch process.

Whether Bethesda will listen to their concerns and do anything to resolve them is anyone's guess at this point.



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System Shock Remaster Hits Funding Goal
Posted on Saturday, July 9 2016 @ 10:01:09 PST

On Saturday, July 9, Nightdive Studios' Kickstarter for a System Shock remake reached its funding goal.  The goal was reached with 19 days to spare and additional funding now goes to stretch goals.

Nightdive is perhaps best kn...   read more...

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Six Other Games Which Did Not Measure Up
Posted on Sunday, July 3 2016 @ 07:58:13 PST

Jeb Haught wrote an article about ten games which failed to meet expectations they'd raised.  So here's six more.

-Bioshock Infinite

Five years of development to create an overproduced arena shooter with wor...   read more...

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Peter Moore Said a Thing
Posted on Saturday, May 7 2016 @ 12:51:58 PST

After broadband became available and Steam took off with consoles following suit years later with their own digital storefronts it became fashionable, once in a while, to say a very stupid set of things.  This set of stupid things can be summed ...   read more...

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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, t...   read more...

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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.&...   read more...

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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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