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    by Published on January 2nd, 2017 04:00 AM
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    With 2016 being concluded, it is time for our annual game of the year awards. 2016 had many noteworthy releases, so we are excited to get this one underway. Get started on the next page!



    Mod of the Year - Overhaul


    Mod Title: Sky Reclamation Project v1.1.1
    Game Title: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky (2008)
    Release Date: July 9, 2016
    Platforms: PC
    Genre: FPS
    Developer: GSC Game World
    Publisher: Deep Silver

    Sky Reclamation Project is a massive unofficial patch for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky, aiming to fix all of its bugs and improve many aspects of the game, adding new gameplay mechanics in the process. Lots of optional features are included like true pistol iron sights, altered emission frequency, reduced AI grenade spam, and far more. It is a perfect mod. There is no reason to play the unmodded game since Sky Reclamation Project is a universal improvement, not to mention more stable.

    2016 was full of excellent overhaul mods. Settlements Expanded for Fallout 4 lets you do things like this compared to this from the unmodded game, and far more. Hearts of Iron IV: The Great War does not ride on the shoes of Battlefield 1; instead it showcases one of the most terrible events in history in its own unique, Grand Strategy way. Brutal DOOM 64 brings a re-imagined version of one of the most interesting ports of the original DOOM, borrowing from the acclaimed Brutal DOOM's mod legacy.

    Warcraft: Armies of Azeroth seeks to remake one of the best strategy games of all time on the Stacraft 2 engine, and TemplarGFX's ACM Overhaul seeks to make the disappointing Aliens: Colonial Marines into something actually worth playing. Quite the task all these mods have, but through sheer tenacity and respect for the original work and the art form, all are worthy of our time!

    Other Nominees

    • Settlements Expanded (Fallout 4)
    • Hearts of Iron IV: The Great War (Hearts of Iron IV)
    • Brutal DOOM 64 (Doom 2)
    • Warcraft: Armies of Azeroth (StarCraft 2)
    • TemplarGFX's ACM Overhaul (Aliens: Colonial Marines)




    Mod of the Year - Total Conversion


    Mod Title: Call of Chernobyl 1.4.12
    Game Title: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat (2010)
    Release Date: October 24, 2016
    Platforms: PC
    Genre: FPS
    Developer: GSC Game World
    Publisher: bitComposer Games

    Call of Chernobyl is an extremely ambitious total conversion mod for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat, adding many new locations, tons of new equipment (with gorgeous gun models), and new gameplay mechanics with a ton of new options not only for gameplay but also UI, sound, weather, and more. Of course, graphics are improved as well. Call of Chernobyl features every single location from all S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, and more. You can even create your own character like an RPG, something totally new ...
    by Published on November 19th, 2016 06:00 AM   
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    Multiplayer shooters have fallen further than most other genres. Time has really taken its toll on it. We talked about it to some degree in this article which compares many past games to present day counterparts. It was also mentioned in this article. But we felt this specific subject deserves its own article because so much has been taken away from this genre.

    There are of course exceptions to the rule. Valve, Tripwire Interactive, Bohemia Interactive, and others preserve the greatness and the flexibility provided by older PC exclusive multiplayer shooters. But these exceptions are rare. In general this genre, along with RPGs, have been watered down so much that it really is baffling and depressing.



    The release of Battlefield 1 and the positive reception triggered many of us at GND-Tech, kickstarting this article in the process, but the negative trends it follows are older than the game itself. The Rental Server Program, the only way to host a server, is what really got on our nerves. Details below:

    As you know, Rental Servers for PS4 and Xbox One have gone through EA. Now with Rental Servers going through EA, thereís quite a lot of questions. Letís answer some now:

    How
    ...
    by Published on October 24th, 2016 05:00 AM   
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    Today's article is unlike others you will find on this site. It is no secret we write a lot. Today, we are writing less and instead presenting screenshots and videos. This article serves simply as a demonstration of some of the most spectacular visual art in video game history (mods included). Most gamers are too focused on graphics fidelity (while failing to understand and even see fidelity in the first place), opposed to art design and attention to detail. Too many only notice and focus on bloom, lens flare, and inaccurate depth of field, opposed to things like non-repeating environments and textures, materials processing, terrain formations, detailed and logical architectures with distinct designs.

    Remember, this is just about visual art. Video games are an art form for other reasons too, such as their ability to tell stories in different, incredible ways, explored here. Furthermore, every game listed here isn't just designed around the set pieces like recent Call of Duty games are. So while they look spectacular, there is much more to them.

    You know what they say; a picture is worth a thousand words. Behold the value of thousands upon thousands of words, as we present to you the visual art of games! All screenshots in this article are indeed unedited.



    We are starting things off on quite the high point, on what is in my opinion the most visually mesmerizing game of all time. Obduction is Cyan's latest game, released in August 2016. We reviewed it here. They also created one of the most important games ever, Myst, and Obduction is likewise a pioneer in its own right.

    Obduction shows why fidelity is still rather important. It wouldn't be as awe inspiring without its state of the art graphics technology powered by Unreal Engine 4.


































































































    Myst may have been the first game to argue that video games can be art. Its environment was made up of still images, but realMyst: Masterpiece Edition from 2014 is a full 3D remake with free roaming capabilities. An amazing improvement even if the graphics fidelity is far from top notch, but despite this its environments are jaw dropping and so imaginative.

    So the version we are looking at is indeed realMyst: Masterpiece Edition. Behold.































    Praise must be given not only to Bethesda Game Studios who created The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, but also the modders who brought its visuals up to standards seen years later. Morrowind has one of the most visionary, unique, otherworldly fantasy worlds in video game history; the island of Vvardenfell. See for yourself. The mods shown are listed here. Note that view distance and anti-aliasing can be improved further than what the screenshots, but even an i7 6700k running at 4.6 GHz with 16GB DDR4 3000 MHz RAM and a GTX 1080 struggle to run it! That's the downside of adding so many new graphics features to an old engine.





































    Now some of you younger gamers may understand why some people prefer the world of Morrowind to those of Oblivion and Skyrim.



    The visuals of Dishonored were a thing of controversy. The press often praised its artistic attention to detail, but criticized its apparent lack of fidelity. Although as far as fidelity goes, it only lacks in texture resolution, and this was intentionally part of the art design. Textures are meant to appear "painted" and can look oily at times, really demonstrating this. Combined with its post-processing effects and lighting (which are still fairly advanced even by today's standards), it really does resemble the painting.

    In order to look stunningly beautiful, Dishonored should really be played at larger resolutions combined with supersampling. This is because aliasing is a real problem with its graphics, as is the case with most other modern games. Furthermore it benefits greatly from forced ambient occlusion via NVIDIA drivers (far superior to injected shader implementations, e.g. ReShade and ENB). The result of these tweaks (not mods) is magnificent, as seen below.









































    All of these screenshots were taken on max detail, 2560 x 1440 resolution, with forced 2x fullscreen sparse grid supersampling as well as forced high quality ambient occlusion, both through NVIDIA drivers. ...
    by Published on September 11th, 2016 10:00 PM
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    There are some unfortunate trends that single player game developers are following, and many excellent design concepts that aren't being used. In this article we will show you both sides of the equation.

    It is no secret that most single player games today follow the same formula, falling into our "Don'ts" category and largely ignoring the things in our "Do's" category. But everything in our "Do's" category has been done in the past, but unfortunately they seem to be primarily a thing of the past now.

    From storytelling to gameplay design, level design and sound design, we will be looking at a bit of everything. This is by no means a complete list of course; a complete list for such a thing can't really be compiled as game design involves creative, artistic work. But everything here should be considered by developers and publishers.

    This article revolves around more story-driven single player games, not strategy games, and the concepts we encourage are vague enough to apply to many different kinds of games. Let us first begin with the "Don'ts" or the design pitfalls most games are falling into.

    Beware that this article is filled with spoilers for various games. Also, special thanks to Charcharo for aiding with this article and adding ideas and examples.



    This page contains design choices that are overemphasized or misused. We are not saying these concepts need to be abolished entirely. Except for one, which is the use of waves of enemies with infinite respawns. Non-stop enemies. It's excessively gamey and serves no purpose other than to add synthetic difficulty and to chew up time. Developers, never use this.

    Now, let's look at the bigger concepts.

    Cinematic Presentation

    Let us tackle perhaps the biggest issue first. So many games now are emphasizing a cinematic approach, but rather than using cinematic presentation in a way that benefits the games, they are simply trying to copy movies completely and making huge sacrifices in gameplay, level design, and storytelling. These games try to get you to focus on the "cinematography" as well as the visuals and acting, and skimp on actual writing quality.

    Another storytelling sacrifice is interactivity. Video games are an interactive medium, but these overemphasized cinematic games disregard this interactivity in favor of copying movies, thus you watch rather than play. Therefore, it is clear that these games ...
    by Published on August 6th, 2016 09:00 PM  Number of Views: 1999 
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    A game is nothing but an idea without an engine, and in today's gaming industry there are many options when it comes to engines and APIs. When cost and royalties are factored in, the choice may become difficult. But in this article we are putting that aside and focusing purely on technology, and believe it or not, for the most part it is quite clear which technologies have the most potential.

    By game technology, as you may have guessed we are largely referring to game engines, but also physics engines, graphics APIs, and audio APIs.



    The Engine


    Several engines are worthy of respect, and many are not. Far too many studios stick to their own inferior, outdated, and terrible engines just because of familiarity. Bethesda Game Studios and Bohemia Interactive are perhaps most guilty of this because their games are in need of a new engine more than most others.

    But one engine seems to have it all. One engine supports practically every platform you can name, has an array of both graphics and audio API options, is very easy to use even for newcomers, is loaded with most of the features one could ask for, and allows you to build essentially any kind of game. And it's free to install and use, and is even open source! This engine is Unreal Engine 4.

    Unreal Engine has come a long way. Unreal Engine 3 was perhaps the most used game engine for the last 9 years. Examples of UE3 games include, but are not limited to:

    • Every game by Epic Games since 2007 obviously, such as Unreal Tournament 3 and the Gears of War games.
    • Mass Effect trilogy
    • Every Batman game since and including Arkham Asylum.
    • Borderlands and Borderlands 2
    • Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, Rising Storm, and Rising Storm 2: Vietnam
    • Killing Floor 2
    • Thief
    • The
    ...
    by Published on July 10th, 2016 05:00 AM  Number of Views: 2187 
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    It is time for another RPG article! Role-Playing Games are endangered, and with this article and many of our others we do our best to preserve knowledge relating to them. In this article we have created a "tier list" if you will of wRPGs, sorted from least role-playing to most. Here is the catch; we are only listing story-driven RPGs with a solid amount of role-playing, an amount somewhat satisfactory to us or better. Every wRPG excluded on the list either does not provide enough role-playing to be worthy of inclusion, or we simply have not played it.

    The purpose of this article is to enlighten gamers as many of today's gamers have only experienced dumbed down RPGs with a minimal amount of role-playing, such as The Witcher franchise (something we have written about before). Mainstream role-playing games today are very limited with how much role-playing they actually provide. Only indie RPGs provide enough to compete with many of the classics.

    For more details, go on to the next page to begin scrolling through our tier list. Tier 1 represents the most role-playing, while Tier 6 represents the least. The actual order within each individual tier is unsorted; every game listed within a tier has a comparable amount of role-playing.

    It is important to note that the only thing we are taking into consideration is how much role-playing each game actually offers, not the quality of each individual game. All is explained in the next pages, for each individual game. This article does not contain many spoilers, and the few present are behind spoiler tags.



    The Elder Scrolls III - V (2002, 2006, 2011)


    With this entry, we include Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. While Morrowind does have more role-playing than the other two, it isn't a big enough difference to justify putting them on different tiers.

    Compared to the other games on this list, The Elder Scrolls is unique. While they sacrifice none of the freedom that Fallout 2 boasted, adding even more on top of it in fact, almost none of that freedom is ever recognized or has any impact on the game. You can play as one of many races: Nord, Imperial, Redguard, Dunmer, Bosmer, Altmer, Argonian, or Khajiit. These games also have right around two dozen distinct playstyles, so they are formidable action RPGs just as far as gameplay mechanics go.

    Morrowind is distinct from the others in that it has more unique dialogue depending on your race, as well as a reputation system that can completely change conversations. Players with poor reputation will be insulted and can't inquire about much or anything, and will be refused services like lodging and trading. Furthermore, Morrowind lets you alter and ruin the main campaign/story at will, the result of the player becoming a murderer and failing to properly fulfill his/her prophecy. Whereas the campaigns of Oblivion and Skyrim have zero flexibility ...
    by Published on June 17th, 2016 06:00 AM  Number of Views: 2878 
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    This is a big question. Some gamers would be appalled at the sight of it, but we find it necessary to tackle this subject. There are many who would have you believe all of the most loved classic video games, particularly from the 1990s and early 2000s, are significantly better than today's spiritual counterparts. Most gamers today wouldn't pay much attention to such claims, but we find the subject fascinating. Are all or even most of the classics really much better games, and if so better in what ways? If not, worse in what ways?

    In this article we will explore these questions with some of the most praised classics and their equivalents today, in several different genres. Beware that every page after this one will contain spoilers. Below is a listing of all the games featured in this article.

    Classics

    • Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (RPG, BioWare)
    • Neverwinter Nights (RPG, BioWare)
    • Neverwinter Nights 2, Mask of the Betrayer, and Storm of Zehir (RPG, Obsidian)
    • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (RPG, BioWare)
    • Planescape: Torment (RPG, Black Isle Studios)
    • Fallout and Fallout 2 (RPG, Black Isle Studios)
    • Icewind Dale (RPG, Black Isle Studios)
    • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and IV: Oblivion (RPG, Bethesda Game Studios)
    • Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Resident Evil - Code Veronica (survival horror, Capcom)
    • Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2 (psychological horror/survival horror, Konami)
    • Thief Gold and Thief II: The Metal Age (stealth, Looking Glass Studios)
    • Deus Ex (shooter/stealth/RPG hybrid, Ion Storm)
    • Half-Life and Half-Life 2 (shooter, Valve)
    • Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City, San Andreas (open world action, Rockstar)


    Newer Counterparts

    • Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age: Inquisition (RPG, BioWare)
    • Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4 (RPG, Obsidian and Bethesda Game Studios respectively)
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (RPG, Bethesda Game Studios)
    • The Witcher trilogy (RPG, CD Projekt Red)
    • Metro 2033 and Last Light (shooter + survival horror, 4A Games)
    • Underhell (survival horror, indie)
    • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl (sandbox shooter with survival and RPG elements, GSC Game World)
    • Amnesia: The Dark Descent (psychological horror/survival horror, Frictional Games)
    • SOMA (psychological horror/survival horror, Frictional Games)
    • Dishonored (stealth/action, Arkane Studios)
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution (RPG/stealth/shooter hybrid, Eidos Montreal)
    • Grand Theft Auto V (open world action, Rockstar)


    Spoilers begin on the next page.



    To start things off, we'll look at how the classic BioWare RPGs compare to the newer ones listed on the first page. We will analyze each and every game to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of each.

    Baldur's Gate (1998)

    Baldur's Gate is a Dungeons and Dragons based RPG series utilizing pause-and-play gameplay from an isometric 2.5D perspective. It is one of the most famous RPG franchises ever because the first game, Baldur's Gate, was the first game of its kind, which is also the main reason why it's praised so much.


    Baldur's Gate was recently remade in the form of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition with modern operating system and resolution compatibility. So those curious about the game can now easily play it.

    This game set some trends that perhaps every other BioWare game would follow, such as the inclusion of a plot twist, the "full circle" trope in which important plot events very late in the game occur where the game began, and of course the fact that you play as a character (not necessarily a hero due to the role-playing) who tries to save the world (Dragon Age II may be the only BioWare game to exclude this).

    The pause-and-play gameplay is something that BioWare uses to this day as well. But both Baldur's Gate games have far more complex and tactical gameplay than any modern BioWare game (and any modern mainstream RPG), with more diversity as well in the form of playable races and classes. You also play as a relatively "clean slate" or a protagonist with only a loosely defined background, in this case it is only initially known that the protagonist lived in Candlekeep studying under Gorion for most of his/her life (this does suggest the protagonist should be a Wizard). Although it is revealed later that the protagonist may carry the blood of Bhaal, former Lord of Murder.


    Baldur's Gate: Reloaded, a faithful yet unofficial remake of Baldur's Gate.

    Baldur's Gate is known first and foremost for its role-playing; being able to play as almost any kind of character. However, ...
    by Published on May 15th, 2016 06:00 AM  Number of Views: 1039 
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    The term "walking simulator" is a new development in the gaming industry. It is used as a label, a tag, and often times an insult. In this article we're going to examine the origin of this term, how it's used, and why it's misleading.

    We cover this subject in our "biggest myths" article but quite frankly this deserves its own separate article.



    The origin of the term "walking simulator" is intertwined with the game Dear Esther. This game caught attention for several ...

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