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Welcome Home - PAX AUS 2014
By Master_Craig
Posted on 11/18/14
Last night I returned home from PAX AUS 2014. Long story short, it wasn't perfect, but it was quite possibly the best weekend I've had this year. It was a lot of fun. If you'd like to continue reading, the long story is just below. Buckle up. This is gonna be...

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I ain’t scared of no ghost! Now clowns on the other hand…
Posted on Monday, December 9 2013 @ 16:47:07 Eastern

I recently read an article discussing Shinji Mikami’s (Evil Within) revelation that it is simply getting harder to scare gamers. Sir, I agree! As I roll into my 30’s I have developed a rather tragic condition, called “Fearlessness”…nah just kidding it has simply become much tougher to get that old scary feeling. You know, the one where you are so scared you try to scream but nothing comes out (oh yeah that is some good scariness, and has only happened to me once). See, even writing about the fact that I don’t get scared easily anymore is in and of itself quite scary as I can only genuinely hope that no one on the internet is like, “oh, I’m going to show you scary”…please don’t.  I’m not interested in that type of weird scary…just make me a video game that scares the crap out of me and that will suffice.
 
When I was a kid my grandma would watch Return of the Living dead and it would scare the bejesus out of me. You go to sleep and when you wake up if the house is silent, it’s time to make some noise to remind folks that even with all those top notch special effects from 1985 this was not real. Childhood is a good time for being scared, with a lack of experience and knowledge you are ripe for the scaring. As time passes and you move into adulthood, your fears change from that which you don’t know and understand to more immediate and real fears. So the games that are scary for kids won’t simply work for adults. We all know adults still get scared, it’s just that different things scare them.  I have played enough scary games to know that regardless of the consequence I can simply restart and try again. So then how do you scare the crap out of adults consistently?
 
I honestly believe the key to scaring adults is going the psychological route vs. gore and shock. Here are some general features that would freak me out but have not been implemented as of late if ever. When I think of what would scare me now I instantly think of Psycho Mantis and the way in which the boss fight went far and beyond convention by literally taking control of different aspects of the then current console. It was so novel and yet has not been expanded or improved upon.
 
We have been well aware of the Rockstars, EA’s, Ubisofts, etc… collecting our gamer information, so why not utilize that information to tailor a uniquely horrific experience to gamers. One of the biggest issues with something being scary is novelty. If you don’t play a scary game soon after release some of the most shocking aspects are discussed due to the internet and social media diluting the effect for many late consumers, however if implemented correctly the story would actually by unique to specific gamer profiles. Think of walking into room in a game like Max Payne and being in what would be considered a thanksgiving scene only to see characters playing Madden specifically the last game saved on November 26th with teams and scores synced with the game. This would be subtle, as numerous other aspects of the game would be tied into gamer profile, trophy achievements, etc…It would be the subtly that would be unnerving. No one element would encompass what gives you that de ja vu feeling but rather it would be the sum of the experience having you wonder how much of my information is found throughout this game. This would drive you to also play on to not only see what information the use but how…nothing is quite as engrossing as trying to figure out what else makes my game different from my buddy’s and how much do they really know about me.
 
See, you would have the over arching story which I would aim at a current psychological thriller theme being populated with 50%-60% unique personal information. I would keep the character to one life with average abilities. No stat building or grinding, not even super action oriented. Slow down the pace but keep it driving maybe need to kill 1 person the entire game or piece things together a la Momento. I am thinking of maybe a Persona 4/Yakuza style of pseudo realistic with the ability to do side activities (such as games but good friggin game, like crazy taxi, etc...only maybe 1 generation behind, get some of those short pretty games from last gen launch and tie them in).
 
Now for some more fun, all we have discussed is the actual in game usage of personal info to freak you out. What about when you are not playing? The PS3 now has the ability to auto start to complete downloads and updates, how about tracking usage patterns of users and force start the PS3 when the game is normally played if in the drive and display a message like…,”are you there?”, “We’re waiting”. They are also now promoting cross play between the Vita, PS4, and Mobile Phones you gotta use this synchronicity to scare the **** out of people. Have the PS4 app change your phone desktop picture to reflect a graphic in-game screenshot from one of your recent forays into it.
 
Predictability is the bane of fear. When developers try to create a scary game they seem to forget that the system as a whole can accomplish so much more with regard to keeping an experience fresh and innovative. The first forays into this may need to be a first party developer/publisher because they may be permitted the most leeway with regard to modifying system code to allow for some of these ideas but I am telling you if Naughty Dog can create a horror game (not suspense LoU) and implement some of these mechanics you will scare the **** out kids and adults alike.
 
As an adult what makes games less scary is the idea that I understand that each and everyone has a start and end determined by when I turn it on and off but take away that control in a very subtle way and you would be surprised by the freakouts. I could just picture some kids sitting in the living room and the Playstation turning on and asking whether Frank is around? And then going into a full on script about how it feels for people to think it’s just a game and then start rumbling controllers, turning the camera on,  and google searching sentient beings etc…think evil GladOs. Putting a face (more accurately a persona) to the “They” are collecting my personal info will freak people out in and of itself. With so much potential you just gotta think about not only how can you create scary software but rather how can you maximize the overall fear experience via a combination of hardware, software, and accessories.
 
The cool part is you can get approval from the user to do all of this by simply putting a user agreement upfront and asking them to agree before they can continue. Apple says agree or take it back for a refund! 

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My experience at the Rockstar Diner: GTA V Revisited
Posted on Tuesday, November 12 2013 @ 17:17:09 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.


While enjoying a hot bowl of Pho, I was texted by a buddy of mine who inquired as to whether I had gotten onto GTAV Online yet. As some of you may be aware, this has been an issue of contention for me. See, when GTAV came out I ranted and raved to my friends about how great it was based on the single-player experience. Thus, it came as no surprise when my friend reached out to get a match going with me, but alas I had to decline. In pondering how best to articulate my experience with GTAV  I came up with the following analogous offering:

The setup: It is a beautiful sunny day in anywhere America and after having a hell of a night it is time for some breakfast. It’s been advertised all over the news and different media forums that, Rockstar Diner has some of the best steak in town and they recently brought in a new omelet specialist straight from France. So anyone with a taste for the sublime should definitely get the Steak & Eggs special. I enter the restaurant…

Hostess: Well, hello! Welcome to Rockstar Diner. You can hava a seat wherever you like

*Hostess guides me to my table where I take a seat. She advises that my waiter will be with me shortly. Waiter approaches…

Waiter: Hello! Welcome to Rockstar Diner. Can I get you started with something to drink?

Me: Nah, water’s fine. I also know what I want to eat, though.

Waiter: Cool. What yah thinking?

Me: Can I get the Steak & Egg combo (Item 5 on the menu)?

Waiter: Sure can, how do you want your steak?

Me: Chef’s preference I hear you guys make some of the best steak in town

Waiter: Yeah, we do! And just your luck we also got a new French chef who specializes in omelets, so you are in for a treat!

Me: Sweet!

Waiter: So... I take it you want an omelet with your steak?

Me: Yeah, if that’s “the goods” then let me at it,

Waiter: Perfect! I will bring it out as soon as it's ready.

Me: Thanks, man.

*About 15 minutes have passed and I can see the waiter approaching with what looks like a plate of “amazing”. He places the plate in front of me and begins…

Waiter: Hey, I just wanted to let you know the omelet is going to be a few minutes longer but we pride ourselves on our steaks and so I brought it out as soon as it was ready. Once again my apologies for the delay with the omelet, but I think you are really going to enjoy this steak and the omelet will be worth the wait

Me: No problem, man. This looks and smells great. It’s all going in the same place so just bring out the eggs when they are done. Thanks

Waiter: Oh, will do sir! Enjoy and please let me know if you need anything else. I will be back with your eggs shortly.

*I look at the plate. The steak appears perfectly cooked, the hashbrowns are crisp and buttery, while the toast isn’t burnt, just a nice golden brown. In fact, had I just ordered the steak and sides I would have been not only content but rather impressed. I sampled the sides first, so as to delay the inevitable first bite of this delicious steak in hopes that the final piece of the epicness that was this meal would be presented in time for that first bite. I started with the toast and then moved onto the hashbrowns. This was a magnificent meal, even the sides were in and of themselves impressive. As I completed the last bite of the sides, I looked around the diner in hopes of seeing my waiter with what can only be perceived at this point as the coup de grace to this masterpiece of a meal. No luck though, so I proceed into my first bite of steak... it was simply delicious. This type of deliciousness does not last on the plate long.

*35 minutes have now passed and what once was a magnificent pile of deliciousness is now nothing more than a dirty plate. I glance around looking for my waiter and catch his eye. He strolls over to the table.

Waiter: What did I tell you? Was the steak amazing?

Me: Fuck, yeah! I am no critic, but with a steak like that I just had to post a review on yelp prior to completing the meal… 5 stars man! Epic meal!

Waiter: I told you so… glad you liked it. Can I get you anything else?

Me: Well…yeah… my omelet man…

Waiter: Dude… was that not the best steak you’ve had?

Me: Yeah. I just said so...

Waiter: That’s what I am saying…

Me: What?

Waiter: The steak… it was great man!

Me: Okay…what the hell is wrong with you? I ordered steak…and…eggs. What about the damn eggs?

Waiter: Wasn’t that steak great, though...?

Me: I swear to God if you say one more thing about how great that damn steak is and don’t give me my eggs I am going to go Trevor up out this *****…You know who Trevor is right…right?

Random Customer 1: Hey the omelet's friggin amazing I ordered the same thing and can vouch that it is pretty damn amazing!

Random Customer 2: Yeah bro, chill out man. This omelet is amazing it just completes the meal.

Waiter: Listen sir… you ordered the steak and eggs, but that doesn’t mean you are going to get both. To be honest if we don’t bring out the items at the same time it’s considered two totally different menu items.

Me: What?

Waiter: Look…those folks ordered the same thing you did and got their omelet…why are you making such a big deal about it. It’s great!

Me: So I order steak & eggs. Right?

Waiter: Yup.

Me: So that means I am ordering both together due to the “and” correct?

Waiter: Yup.

Me: You brought me out a great steak. Right?

Waiter: Yup.

Me: But you never brought me any eggs…?

Waiter: Yeah... but.... that’s because you ordered steak and eggs AND it didn’t come out together, so after that the eggs are a separate dish and whether you get them today, tomorrow, after several patches, it’s different you know?

Random Customer 3: Dude, the eggs are great and sorry you didn’t get any but get over it. Stop whining. You heard what the waiter said… It’s separate you douche! Everybody else likes them

Random Customer 4: *whispers* I hear you, man. I ordered the same thing and I got the same bullshit response. So after a while I just kind of went with it. You know if 3 of 4 diners say it’s separate after the fact then you know... what’s the big deal?

Me: I don’t know, man. I just wanted to get what I paid for…I thought folks would be a bit more empathetic but this is seriously some twilight zone ****. Who does this and what the hell is in that omelete that has the other customers oblivious to the plight of their peers? 

*Fast forward to November 6, 2013, patch 1.05 installed, yet still no damn eggs? No cloud base server working and a broken multiplayer in which I can't access my saved character (one character I think level 1 or 2, I guess a few points should be awarded for that 1 hour session I got to save a few weeks back...I have tried to get on about 15-20 times over the past 30 days 1 out of 20 aint bad right...here's 2 points)…just a bunch of folks talking about how great their omelet is while I paid the same amount and you know…never actually got what I paid for…but it’s separate…it’s different…you know

GTA V in my opinion was a great single-player experience, but also a game horrendously delivered to its users as a whole. I have no issue with the delay between the single player and multiplayer portions but when **** goes awry with the latter portion, please don’t blow smoke up my ass and ask me how about that single player. I am glad that many people eventually gained access to the multiplayer portion (some of my friends and family included), however, if on November 6, 2013 even after patch 1.05 and well over 30 days into release I still get the, “Sorry Rockstar Cloud Servers are offline would you like to continue without saving” …Epic Fail!

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted originally on November 6, 2013, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan

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Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Full Burst Review Rebuttal
Posted on Wednesday, November 6 2013 @ 15:32:32 Eastern

Dear Ryan,
 
I had a chance to read your review today regarding Full Burst and as a fan of the series I just wanted to play devil’s advocate (aka: pseudo fanboy) for a moment. I am all good with your score but just wanted to provide a perspective from someone a bit more familiar with the series while trying to retain some semblance of objectivity.
 
First, I like your Doctor Who reference! (I needed to say that right off the bat)  In the comments section, Blake compared the backstory relationship to something like a Halo 2, GoW2, or even a MGS4 with regards to reliance upon prior stories. I would compare it more to your Doctor Who reference with 208 seasons or in the video game world Dragon Ball Z. As you stated, the series has been out since 1999. That’s over 14 years of 30 minute weekly episodes to try and summarize just to get up to speed on what is now happening in the series. They actually tried to do those types of recaps in previous entries and as a fan of the series I can tell you it’s difficult to balance summarizing that much info at the beginning of each new game without being called out for repetition. This also makes it difficult to properly develop the characters. One of the frustrations of the previous entries was just how long it takes to get through the information you already know, just to get to the new/current stuff in the game. To parallel it, it would be like having to play though the storyline of each of the original Tekken characters first before being able to unlock and find out about the new characters that come with each iteration.

But that brings me to another differentiating factor between this type of game and a Tekken, Soul Calibur, DoA, etc…Unlike any of those game which focus 95% on fighting mechanics this is more of a 60-40 split between fighting mechanics and story. So whereas the pot of gold is in the fighting in the prior games mentioned, the feeling of gold can only be achieved with a Storm game through a proper balance of fighting and story presentation. The game is pretty though, I would even go so far as to say some of the scenes in the game are actually graphically better than their anime counterparts. Thus my comparison back to Dragon Ball, which in trying to strike that balance went from Budokai to the Tenkaichi formula in an attempt to find some happy medium.

The following quote made me laugh:
 
“The title offers a free fight mode which acts less like a fighting game and more like “What would happen if we turned a fighting game into a quick-time frenzy?” For avid fans of fighting games like yours truly, UNS3’s fighting style was a knife in my brain. I’m used to memorizing combos and performing them with accuracy, but the precision all-or-nothing requirement from this game’s fighters bred more irritation than rolling around in a bed of poison ivy in a Floridian summer.”
               
It reminds me of my buddy Dre’s first time playing with my cousin and I in Ninja Storm 2. He would come in and see my cousin and I playing Storm and then after a while we would switch over to Tekken for some real smack talking and beatdowns.  After a few months he finally asked us to not switch and to give him a shot. He started off with that precise Tekken mentality and memorized combos.  When he would watched us play he was amazed by how much was going on with regard to counters, block strategy, supports, tool usage, etc... and felt a bit overwhelmed. The pace of the game when played by those familiar with it can be perceived as franticly methodical by third party observers, 6  characters controlled by 2 players with match pausing over the top ultimates  and substitutions vs blocks, etc…and so he, like yourself wanted to initially put a knife in his brain. To curb his intent we had a very brief discussion which changed his entire perspective and it went something like this…
 
                “Dre this is not like Tekken! Don’t think about what is going on onscreen, that’s far too hectic. Only think about what your buttons actually do. The buttons are the same for each character because this is not only aimed at fans of the series but also little kids who are not ingrained with memorized combos from years of fighting games (note: this is coming from a guy who routinely participated in neighborhood streetfighter, mortal kombat, virtua fighter, tekken, soul caliber, etc tournaments growing up). So even though moves appear different on screen it really isn’t that complicated. Consider the fact that you have to remember far less than even half of King’s moveset.”
 
                The conclusion of that conversation was,” hey man don’t over think it”. Literally, that’s all it took for him to immediately start enjoying the game and he got a lot better and really began to enjoy the game for it’s simplicity vs, “the precision all-or-nothing requirement from this game’s fighters”. Sadly, I don’t think you had someone to sit down with you and say don’t over think it (which by no means should be necessary to get you to enjoy a new fighting game…but this isn’t really a pure fighting game).
                Lastly, in response to this final comment:
 
“Unless that person is solidly in the Naruto fandom, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 – Full Blast is not the game for them.”
 
            I would argue that young kids and also casual gamers who don’t have the implicit fighter mechanics ingrained in them could find some solid entertainment in this game. But honestly, as I stated in the beginning, I can respect your score of 2.5 but I think if you really don’t think about it as a pure fighter and tried it again you might have a bit more fun (not change your review score fun, but relatively more).
 
Final note: I have Storm 3 but did not see the value in the Burst DLC, so I didn’t purchase it…$10 for one more character and story arc wasn’t that motivating, but will probably get the next full entry in the series. To Blake: that goes for Metal Gear Solid 5 as well *cough…cough*.

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The Segregation of Online Communities…it’s only natural.
Posted on Wednesday, August 28 2013 @ 16:31:52 Eastern

There has been quite a great deal of discussion regarding the under representation of minority groups in video games and in the industry as a whole. From these discussions, further topics branched off into online bullying/harassment as well as how to...   read more...

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X-Com: I know my enemy
Posted on Friday, August 23 2013 @ 13:00:00 Eastern


Well I was going to do a really nice piece last week on the “GaymerX” Convention and had all types of insightful responses to BTS and yet something went terribly awry…or amazing. I received my $14 used copy of X-Com: Enemy ...   read more...

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Damn...Damn...Damn...I think I might be a "Gamer"
Posted on Friday, August 2 2013 @ 08:38:20 Eastern


I was reading through some of the comments in the article Identity Crisis: What Makes Someone A “Gamer”, and I found the definition which resounded most with me was provided by Yossarian29:

I feel like when I strike...   read more...

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PS4...Xbox1...yada yada yada...Let's talk about the games!
Posted on Wednesday, July 17 2013 @ 14:14:35 Eastern



With all this “who ha” about next-gen hardware it seems that one fundamental aspect of gaming is being overlooked…the idea that certain game mechanics will be perfected in the next generation. Wait what, “perf...   read more...

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The Great Migration: Current Online Communities
Posted on Monday, March 4 2013 @ 13:49:29 Eastern


Late in February, it was announced by Sony that the PS4 would not support backwards compatibility. Well, what’s going to happen to my clan, elite status, the war on Tachanka, etc…? When we transitioned from the PS2 to the PS...   read more...

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Season Passes...for every season?
Posted on Tuesday, February 26 2013 @ 12:34:23 Eastern


When Rockstar Games introduced the first season pass via L.A. Noire, it seemed to be quite a novel and great idea. In essence I would get a discount on all future DLC for what was going to be another epic Rockstar title. Blinded by the l...   read more...

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Modern Warfare Games and Artistic Liberty: What side to portray?
Posted on Friday, October 26 2012 @ 13:29:59 Eastern



So I bashed Medal of Honor: Warfighter for the plethora of bugs needing to be addressed via a day one patch, but, the following day I read an article regarding a terrorist training sequence found in the early stages of the game. In th...   read more...

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