• Gaming

    by Published on April 29th, 2016 06:00 AM  Number of Views: 279 
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    The 1990s was a decade of breakthroughs for video gaming. It is the decade in which serious, immersive games were born thanks to technological advancement. Some of the greatest games of all time were released in the 1990s, especially when it comes to role-playing games (RPGs) which were generally far more advanced and complex back then compared to now. 1998 stands out as one of the best years in gaming history, with a plethora of amazing releases.

    In this article we will look at the greatest games of the 1990s (1990-1999 specifically), giving out awards similar to our Game of the Year awards and our previous Game of the Decade article. This will be the last Game of the Decade article until the 2010s are over, so you don't want to miss this one! You may notice some awards were excluded, mostly since gaming was very young at this time and we couldn't find any truly spectacular games eligible for the awards that were omitted.



    Best Soundtrack


    Game Title: Myst
    Release Date: 1993
    Developed By: Cyan
    Published By: Brøderbund
    Platforms: PC / Mac / AmigaOS / PlayStation / Saturn / Jaguar / CD-i / PlayStation Portable / 3DS / DS / iOS
    Genre: Puzzle Adventure

    Soundtrack is one of very few areas in which gaming in general has advanced since the 1990s. Only a few 90s games can compare to today's best video game soundtracks, including the winner of this award: Myst (1993). It wins a razor thin decision over Planescape: Torment. Myst's soundtrack by Robyn Miller (one of the two lead designers of the game) is truly special, a real stand out among video games of all generations.

    Other Nominees

    • Planescape: Torment
    ...
    by Published on April 8th, 2016 07:00 AM  Number of Views: 508 
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    The horror video game genre has been revitalized in recent years and it now strongly populates Steam's indie game section. Even mainstream horror games are being released again, such as The Evil Within. We all see this, but how many of us wonder why? What caused this horror revolution? These horror games are quite a lot different than the classics like Resident Evil and Silent Hill.

    This revolution was sparked by Penumbra, a first-person PC exclusive episodic horror game released by Frictional Games in 2007 and 2008, and it is currently within our lists of top ten horror games of all time (where it's top 3) and top ten best stories of all time. It was the first game from Frictional Games, who later brought us Amnesia: The Dark Descent and SOMA (and no, they did NOT develop Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs). But Penumbra didn't directly cause this surge of new horror games, it indirectly sparked it. The game that directly resulted in the rebirth of horror video games was Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which uses the same formula as Penumbra.

    In this article we're going to review Penumbra in its entirety. That includes Penumbra: Overture (2007), Penumbra: Black Plague (2008), and Penumbra: Requiem (2008). We're going to look at what makes this game so special, why its formula is what revived the genre, and why Amnesia: The Dark Descent was the one that directly sparked this revolution instead of Penumbra. We're also going to score Penumbra relative to how we would have scored it in 2007-2008, although really the only score that is affected is Audio & Visuals since we have new ...
    by Published on March 25th, 2016 07:00 AM  Number of Views: 1294 
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    Another Friday, another article. Today we're looking back at a very special game, Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete, as we approach the ten year anniversary of its original release. This is a collection of a PC exclusive pause-and-play RPG and its three expansions, developed by Obsidian Entertainment, except for the final expansion Mysteries of Westgate which was developed by Ossian Studios. Neverwinter Nights 2 was released in 2006, its first expansion Mask of the Betrayer in 2007, its second expansion Storm of Zehir in 2008, and the aforementioned Mysteries of Westgate in 2009. Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete is available on GOG.com for only $19.99, and it often goes on sale for half that. That's quite the bargain for some of the highest quality RPGs out there with hundreds of hours of content even without mods.

    In hindsight, this game seems too good to be true. This isn't entirely because of our lowered standards, which are the result of industry standards lowering greatly since those times. Neverwinter Nights 2 was the culmination of traditional video game RPGs. Everything was building up to it. It features nearly every playable race, class, skill, and feat offered by prior D&D RPGs, and then many more on top of that. The amount of content offered by it and its predecessor, Neverwinter Nights, was staggering at the time of their release, and even more staggering by today's standards. And that was just the base games, not even including the expansions which added more races, classes, prestige classes, feats/abilities, spells, and more. Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete features 12 races with 17 sub-races, over 400 spells, over 400 feats, 40 different weapon types (not individual weapons but types like longsword, war axe, shortbow, etc.), and much more.

    So in this article we're going to break down this gargantuan that is Neverwinter Nights 2, including all of its expansions. Yes, we're going to review all of them, something we wish we had the opportunity to do. Although for what it's worth, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of Westgate released about one month after GND-Tech was created. That was when we weren't yet reviewing video games, and we weren't even called GND-Tech yet!




    Since we are essentially reviewing four games in one article, we are using a different layout this time around. Gameplay is first and foremost because Neverwinter Nights 2 and its expansions obviously share the same basic gameplay. There are some exceptions in each, but those are discussed on the pages for each individual campaign.

    At its core, Neverwinter Nights 2 is a tactical stat-based pause-and-play RPG built upon Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 which is its foundation. Most things like attacks in combat (chance to hit), damage given, damage taken, almost everything is determined by a dice roll which happens in the background. Combat is partially turn-based; not fully like the classic Fallout games or XCOM, but more on an individual basis. When characters are engaged in combat, turns are in play just like a tabletop RPG in which players take turn rolling dice. Here in Neverwinter Nights 2 the turn-based mechanic is much more seamless than a full fledge turn-based game, you have no controls over the turns and a turn only lasts mere seconds. It's like Pillars of Eternity and the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games but slightly slower.

    By having a stat for so many different things, Neverwinter Nights 2 simulates more aspects than other games, making it seem far more realistic and far more logical than other video games. That's the whole point of the original pen and paper Dungeons & Dragons after all; to role-play, to pretend to live a different life, so in order for it to believable it has to be realistic and account for many different things, hence the different attributes, saving throws, abundance of skills, and how they're all tied together. Role-playing games are meant to simulate an actual life to some degree, and both Neverwinter Nights games go farther than any other video game.

    Keep in mind that Neverwinter Nights 2 is one of few games with an almost perfectly balanced difficulty setting, one that doesn't skew the stats/rules in anyone's favor. That difficulty is called "Hardcore D&D Rules" and it's highly encouraged to play only on this mode and disregard the others.

    Neverwinter Nights 2 is one of few RPGs with both third-person and isometric camera options. In fact, the camera is completely and totally customizable. You can use third person at essentially whatever distance you want, isometric with any distance you want, and whatever camera controls you desire. You see, Neverwinter Nights 2 is a true PC game with an insane amount of customization made back during the days when PC games were designed to take advantage of mouse, keyboard, and higher IQ and attention span. You won't find an RPG with this much customization and configuration anymore.

    It is not an action game. WASD movement is supported but it's like Dragon Age and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, so A and D rotate both the character and the camera in an ideal configuration (it isn't like this by default). The game relies heavily on mouse interaction, as it's a point-and-click game like every pause-and-play and turn-based RPG. All object interaction is point-and-click, although movement can be either point-and-click or ...
    by Published on March 9th, 2016 06:00 AM  Number of Views: 682 
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    We talk about it often, but now we figured it was time to write an article dedicated to discussing and pointing out the degeneration of gaming. Today, the video game industry is one afraid of innovation, and one that looks to milk consumers like cows. Most modern mainstream games are barely even a shell of the pioneers.

    How and why did this happen? The truth is, there were multiple causes that led to the degeneration of the gaming industry. Continue on to the next page to find out why.



    In order to understand the video game industry, one needs to understand its origins and follow its timeline. Without getting into an in-depth history lesson, video games were initially created for distraction; to kill time and offer a brief reprieve from boredom. Many games still exist for this same purpose, like virtually every mobile ...
    by Published on February 19th, 2016 06:00 AM  Number of Views: 2303 
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    Time for another Flashback Friday article! You don't want to miss this one. We are just past the half way point for this decade, the 2010s. This article takes from all of our Game of the Year articles, but instead of looking at the best games of one year, we're looking at the best games of the previous decade, the 2000s! More specifically, we're looking at all games from the years 2000-2009.

    It was an interesting decade with a lot of experimentation and change, with many changes being for the worse primarily toward the end of the decade. Still, 2007 stands out as one of the best years in gaming history with many great releases.

    The awards given out are the same as the ones we use for Game of the Year, although some will be excluded since it's too hard to choose a single game for some of these awards. Also, expansions and even mods that equate to a whole game (like Natural Selection mod or Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer expansion) are now eligible for awards. We're even including a few new awards! These new awards may even be included in future game of the year articles. But for now, go on to the next page to continue reading.

    Special thanks to InfaRedd, aka Valkayria for the basic idea behind this article.



    Best Soundtrack


    Game Title: Dragon Age: Origins
    Release Date: 2009
    Developed By: BioWare
    Published By: Electronic Arts
    Platforms: PC / Mac / XBOX 360 / PlayStation 3
    Genre: RPG

    We were considering excluding this award because there were numerous amazing soundtracks in games from the 2000s. But we were able to agree on a winner, and that winner is Dragon Age: Origins (2009). That's a huge win for Inon Zur and BioWare. Dragon Age: Origins is a dark fantasy game and the soundtrack is absolutely perfect, including some of the best individual tracks we've ever heard in a game (and no, we aren't doing that award since it's too hard to pick one) like the main theme, Ferelden at War, and I am the One.

    Other Nominees

    • Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer (2007)
    • Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir (2008)
    • Neverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of Westgate (2009)
    • Neverwinter Nights (2002)
    • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)
    • Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006)
    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)
    • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords (2004)
    • Penumbra (2007-2008)
    • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
    ...
    by Published on February 5th, 2016 08:00 AM  Number of Views: 1065 
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    Time for another Flashback Friday article. We created these types of articles in order to write about things we never got a chance to before, like our upcoming Game of the Decade article, or reviews of games that were released before GND-Tech was around. In this article we bring you a review of a hidden gem, Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason. It is a psychological horror game developed by Action Forms, published by 1C Company, Aspyr, and others, and released exclusively for PC in 2009. It was also a nominee for Dark Horse of the Decade in our aforementioned Game of the Decade article, it won Best Sound Effects of the Decade, and it has earned an entry in our ten best stories in video games article.

    In our Flashback Friday reviews like this one, we score its graphics quality with regard to its time period in order to make it more fair. So keep this in mind! Continue to the next page for the review.



    Once upon a time, Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason was actually well known. It was marketed heavily by NVIDIA for its use of NVIDIA's PhysX engine (originally AGEIA PhysX before NVIDIA acquired and expanded upon it). It was also promoted ...
    by Published on January 25th, 2016 07:00 AM  Number of Views: 457 
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    One year ago today the world lost a great entertainer. His name was Colin Wyckoff, better known as Kitty0706 on YouTube. Complications from treatment of Leukemia claimed his life, but we like to remember what he brought to us in life: absolutely hilarious Garry's Mod videos, parodies, filled with video game references, tropes, and more. He made videos right up until the end.

    Those who never ...
    by Published on January 15th, 2016 07:00 AM  Number of Views: 2147 
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    Many games rely heavily on their level design in order to provide atmosphere and diversity. Others rely in it in order to provide a challenge, be it through confusing maze-like design or through platforming. Some even design their levels around storytelling. In this article we'll be discussing games with the most memorable level design in an atmospheric context.

    Level design is something we focus heavily on in games (there isn't much if anything we don't focus on) and it's something I personally have years of experience with on different engines.

    We care most about attention to detail; not just throwing together video game maps like what most developers do, but carefully crafting a virtual world and going over every square inch with care. Diversity is a huge bonus, whether it's simple diversity like varied textures throughout the world in specific regions, or something bigger like architectural and structural diversity throughout.


    Level design, like many other important aspects of a game, is overlooked by modern day gamers. Most don't realize that almost every open world game is really lacking in details and liveliness, and most games in general have levels that were designed to be nothing more than simplistic video game maps. They weren't crafted with care or artistic detail, and there is a massive difference between video game maps like this versus atmospheric virtual worlds.

    Note that this article focuses strictly on level design. AI and quest content are excluded. Of course, every selected game and map/level is hand crafted. Procedural generation can't produce the detail that hand crafting can make. Also note that this article is not a sorted list, so we aren't naming a best level design.



    These are the games that were considered, but ultimately we were able to narrow down our choices ...
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