• Jester

    by Published on September 16th, 2016 09:00 PM
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    After many years of waiting, Cyan's latest game is here. They created the legendary Myst franchise, with Myst itself being the best selling PC game for the better part of a decade. Times have sinced changed, and games such as these are unfortunately known only to a small minority of gamers.

    Obduction is an Unreal Engine 4 based, partially crowdfunded first-person puzzle-adventure indie game, just like the Myst franchise. Myst was one of the most important, innovative games in the history of gaming; the first of its kind bringing forward groundbreaking visuals combined with unthinkable environmental design. It may have been the first video game to deliberately make the argument that video games are an art form. Obduction brings forward many questions, such as what has Cyan done differently? How have they changed over the years? Will it continue to innovate and blow our minds with pure visual bliss? Let us find out!



    Obduction is available exclusively on Windows and OS X. It is one of many sub-genres unique to computer gaming. As with its spiritual predecessors, it doesn't have a whole lot ...
    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 September 8th, 2016 09:00 PM
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    A few years ago we reviewed the Ducky DK9087 Shine 2, a keyboard that received universal praise. Since then, many new iterations of Ducky Shine have come up; currently we are up to the Ducky Shine 5 and are awaiting the release of the Shine 6. But one thing that bothered many people was the lack of tenkeyless (TKL) models—keyboards with no numberpad. The Shine 3 was the last of the Shine lineup to have a TKL variant.

    Or so we thought. Ducky and Mechanical Keyboards Inc. have partnered up to deliver what many of us have been waiting for; a high quality TKL mechanical keyboard with RGB LED backlighting! To make things even more appealing, the MSRP is only $119. It is a Ducky OEM featuring the same lighting features as the beloved Ducky Shine 5, with the same case as the Ducky Shine 3. Can it live up to the hype? Let's find out.



    The MK Disco TKL is of course available at the Mechanical Keyboards store which is where I purchased it from for $119 and free FedEx Ground shipping. For $10 extra I was able to add a full Ducky 108 keycap set, made of double shot ABS so I assume it is the same exact set used on the Ducky Shine 5.

    Three business days later, it arrived. It was packed into a cardboard shipping box, with the actual keyboard box being tucked in sandwiched between brown paper. Bubble wrap would have been preferable due to the additional protection. The keyboard box reminds me of my previous ...
    by Published on September 4th, 2016 03:00 AM
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    After a five year wait, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is here, the latest game in one of the most incredible game franchises ever. Developed by Eidos Montreal under Square Enix, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a story-driven hybrid FPS/stealth game with some RPG inspired elements, set in a one of a kind cyberpunk world. The franchise is known particularly for bringing amazing atmosphere and impeccably detailed locations, with an abundance of content.

    Mankind Divided is the sequel to the award winning Deus Ex: Human Revolution which released in 2011, but it is still a prequel to the original Deus Ex released in the year 2000. Newcomers to the franchise are advised to begin with the original Deus Ex, especially since a fantastic mod exists to bring it into the 21st century. After this, continue to Human Revolution Director's Cut (which includes the ~8 hour expansion) before finally playing Mankind Divided. There is also Deus Ex: Invisible War, the sequel to the original, but it is set so far in the future that the only requirement is to play Deus Ex beforehand. Some may know of Deus Ex: The Fall, but it is a very limited and heavily flawed game designed for mobile devices, therefore it is not all that important.

    This was a game that many people were anticipating. Given how excellent both Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Human Revolution are, Mankind Divided has a lot to live up to. Let us see if it is a worthy addition to this legendary franchise.

    This review contains minor spoilers, hidden behind spoiler tags and obvious warnings.



    Technological revolution leading to controversy, riots, and ruin. Advancement of the human species (according to some) through augmentation technology. A world with conflicting views on the technology in question, with numerous well-written characters at every turn providing a different perspective to the issues at hand. A culturally and environmentally diverse world introduced to the players, using massive interactive hub locations to show us how the issues at hand have affected different parts of the world. The protagonist is tall, imposing, and wears a dark trench coat with sunglasses even indoors and at night. Triangle symbolism (representing the Illuminati), conspiracies and espionage. An action game involving far more than just shooting and sneaking, often having more dialogue and exploration than either.

    All of that is Deus Ex. It is what the original game showed us back in 2000, and it is what Deus Ex: Human Revolution successfully followed up on more than the first sequel. It's also what Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is supposed ...
    by Published on August 6th, 2016 09:00 PM  Number of Views: 895 
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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: 1003 
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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 5 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. Note that we have excluded The Elder Scrolls franchise since we are focusing exclusively on story-driven RPGs. The Elder Scrolls has always focused primarily on sandbox role-playing, letting the player do whatever they want, and sacrifice typical role-playing aspects for this (limited variation in dialogue for example).

    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.



    Divinity: Original Sin (2014)


    With this entry we are covering both the original game as well as Divinity: Original Sin - Enhanced Edition, as both are really the same game despite all the enhancements.

    This game has many different classes (especially Enhanced Edition) although no race selection. The player does control two characters instead ...
    by Published on June 17th, 2016 06:00 AM  Number of Views: 1414 
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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 27th, 2016 06:00 AM  Number of Views: 848 
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    One of the biggest tragedies in the video game industry is that most truly brilliant classics are not remade. Technology has advanced so much that many classics can now be fully realized on platforms like Unreal Engine 4, but such things are very rare. Thankfully one of the most beloved PC classics (originally released on Macintosh actually) has been remade, and that classic is Myst. In this article we will evaluate this remake, realMyst: Masterpiece Edition, and see how it fares not just as a remake but as a game itself in this modern era of gaming.



    Like the original, realMyst: Masterpiece Edition is a first-person puzzle adventure game taking place in a distinct fantasy setting. It is remade on a brand new 3D engine, while the original had pre-rendered environments and point-and-click movment. So by clicking, you'd teleport forward in the original. Nobody can truly prefer this original style, but regardless realMyst: Masterpiece Edition can be played in that style. Or it can be played as it should, as a 3D first-person ...
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