Bioshock Articles RSS Feed | Bioshock RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Bioshock Little Sisters: Rescue or Harvest? Thu, 06 Feb 2020 17:28:25 -0500 Ty Arthur

While exploring the underwater city of Rapture, Bioshock hits players with a recurring moral choice: should they harvest Little Sisters for extra ADAM, or do the right thing and rescue them instead? 

This is more than just a question of right and wrong. Because your playthrough can change radically depending on which option you choose it's important to choose wisely.

If you're having trouble deciding, we've broken down all of the possible rewards related to rescuing or harvesting every Little Sister found in Bioshock.

Rewards For Rescuing or Harvesting Little Sisters

Twenty-four Little Sisters can be found in Bioshock, and each can be rescued or harvested after defeating the Big Daddy that protects them.

Here's the basic breakdown you need to keep in mind when making your decision:

  • Harvesting = 160 ADAM
  • Rescuing = 80 ADAM

While harvesting seems to be the obvious way to go, there's a twist. Brigid Tenenbaum offers you a teddy bear gift of 200 ADAM — as well as goodies like ammo, health, tonics, and even plasmids — for every three Little Sisters you rescue.

Some of those gifts can be extremely useful when battling Splicers and other Big Daddies. That's especially true on the game's harder difficulty settings. You'll even need certain Plasmids to get into certain locations, such as Chompers Dental or to find all of Bioshock's audio diaries. 

Here's a breakdown of each gift you get for rescuing three Little Sisters, including the area in which you need to save them. 

  • Neptune's Bounty: Hypnotize Big Daddy Plasmid, 12 armor-piercing pistol rounds
  • Arcadia: Safecracker tonic, 12 electric buck
  • Fort Frolic: Hypnotize Big Daddy 2 Plasmid, 4 first-aid kits
  • Hephaestus: 4 EVE hypos, 6 proximity mines
  • Olympus Heights: Armored Shell 2 tonic, 12 incendiary bolts
  • Apollo Square: Prolific Inventor tonic, 150 liquid nitrogen
  • Point Prometheus: 100 antipersonnel auto rounds, 4 first-aid kits

Even with the extra 200 ADAM gift every three saves, you still get more overall ADAM by harvesting each Little Sister. Here's the total ADAM breakdown if you exclusively harvest or rescue Little Sisters throughout the entire game:

  • Harvesting = 3840 ADAM
  • Rescuing = 3520 ADAM 

Should I Harvest or Rescue Little Sisters?

The bottom line is that harvesting more than one Little Sister during the course of Bioshock's story lets you upgrade all your plasmids much more quickly, but it also results in getting one of the two possible "bad" endings.

Saving all the Little Sisters (or all but one of the Little Sisters, as you can still harvest one without consequence) results in getting the "good" ending but with slower advancement. By the end of the game, you will still be able to afford nearly all of the upgrades, however, and you get all those nifty extra goodies.

There is one instance where rescuing can be better from a gameplay perspective, and that's playing through on Survivor mode.

In particular, the Hypnotize Big Daddy plasmid and Armored Shell 2 tonics are crucial to survival in that most difficult setting. If you want the hardest experience, we recommend going the rescue route, even if you have a walkthrough or have experience with other games in the genre. 

       When playing Survival mode, you absolutely want Hypnotize Big Daddy

Whether you're playing the vanilla game or the remastered version on PS4, Xbox One, or PC, you now know whether you should rescue or harvest Little Sisters. Which route are you going to take on your next Bioshock playthrough?

Be sure to leave us a message if you need help with any other part of exploring Rapture (under the sea), or you can check out our full list of Bioshock guides here:

Bioshock: Chompers Dental Key Location Thu, 06 Feb 2020 16:46:25 -0500 Ty Arthur

Bioshock has a few vexing areas, but one of the first you'll come across is Chompers Dental. To get through the area, you'll need the Chompers Dental Key. Luckily, we know just where to find it. 

When trying to access the area's Door Control you'll get the following message: "You Need The Chompers Dental Office Key." Normally finding a key wouldn't be a big deal, but there's a catch: the key is actually in the same room that you need the key to enter!

In any normal first-person shooter, that might be the end of the line. But with the right Plasmid equipped, you can actually get the key without ever entering the office.

Where to Find the Chompers Dental Key in Bioshock

      Chomper's Dental Office Key Location

Use the telekinesis to pick up the key and pull it directly to you through the broken window to the left of the main door.

If you can't see the Chompers Dental key at first due to the shading and low light, just stand still for a second and it will flash white as a quest item.

It is possible to accidentally drop the key while using telekinesis, and it may land in an area outside your line of sight (one you can't reach). Bungling the telekinesis pull effectively means you can never get into the Chomper's Dental and find all the loot inside. Unfortunately, there are no cheats to get it back. 

If you do get inside Chomper's Dental, there are three separate rooms: a reception area, a supply room for storage, and a back operating room. After you get through the locked door, make sure to grab the EVE Hypo under the counter, the Electric Shotgun Buck on the desk in the middle room, and the Antipersonnel Auto Rounds located on the floor and in the cabinet.

In the backroom, don't forget to crack open the safe to find these items as well:

  • Auto Rounds
  • Armor-Piercing Pistol Rounds
  • First Aid Kits

How to Get the Telekinesis Plasmid in Bioshock

The Telekinesis Plasmid is actually quite close to Chomper's Dental and only takes a few minutes to pick up.

Head to the Medical Pavilion and look for Dandy Dental in the Dental Services area. Then find the Gatherer’s Garden with the green floor.

Press the switch on the podium to turn on the makeshift ball launcher, then look to the right to find the telekinesis plasmid. Once you've got it equipped, just head back to Chomper's Dental and grab the key through the broken window.

      Where to find the Telekinesis Plasmid in Bioshock

That's all you need to know about the Chompers Dental Key location in Bioshock. Even though getting inside isn't necessary, grabbing the loot in Chompers Dental will go a long way to helping you defeat Rapture's Splicers and Big Daddies. 

Need help with any other part of the original Bioshock, either because you're replaying the vanilla version or The Bioshock Collection on PS Plus (or Xbox One or PC)? Be sure to leave us a comment if you are stuck anywhere and need a solution, or you can check out our full list of Bioshock guides here for a quick list of helpful starting tips:

BioShock: How to Switch Plasmids Thu, 06 Feb 2020 16:41:01 -0500 Jordan Baranowski

As you play Bioshock, you'll find powerful upgrades called Plasmids. All of these powerful abilities grant you some type of combat advantage. Some are offensive while others are defensive. However, you can't switch Plasmids through a menu or on the fly. You have to scour Rapture for specific vending machines first.

As you slice through splicers and security drones, you'll pick up more Plasmids than you can equip at any given time. You'll use them for combat, but also for accessing certain areas, or for finding a Little Sister or the game's audio diaries.

Some locked doors can only be opened with a shot from Electro Bolt. Other times, a Plasmid like Hypnotize Big Daddy or Security Bullseye will get you past a particularly tough section.

Here's what you need to know about equipping Plasmids whether you're playing on PC, PS4, or Xbox One.

Switching Plasmids in BioShock

To switch the Plasmids that Jack has equipped, you'll need to find a Gene-Bank machine. Gene-Banks look a lot like most of the other vending machines you'll find throughout BioShock. However, Gene Banks feature a blond, muscled man holding up a strand of DNA over his head.

They look like this:

A Gene Bank vending machine in Bioshock

There are several Gene-Banks located throughout Rapture. Almost any time you encounter a group of vending machines you'll find one. The first one most players encounter is in the Neptune's Bounty area.

To switch Plasmids, simply approach the Gene Bank and interact with it. From the menu, select up to two Plasmids and which hand you'd like to equip them to. Once you've got your loadout picked, simply back out and relish in your new power!

As you move further into BioShock, you'll also be able to upgrade your character and Plasmids, including the ability to have more than two equipped at once. These upgrades are purchased with ADAM, the currency you obtain from saving or harvesting Little Sisters.

You purchase these upgrades at the Gatherer's Garden areas scattered throughout Rapture. Conveniently, Gene Banks and Gatherer's Gardens are usually within close proximity to one another.

Bioshock Plasmid List

Here's a list of all of the Plasmids in Bioshock, along with their effects, where you can find them, and how much ADAM they cost. 

Cyclone Trap

This Plasmid creates a small cyclone as a trap, throwing enemies around an area. It can first be found in Arcadia for 60 ADAM. 

Electro Bolt

This Plasmid uses electricity to shock enemies and open certain locked doors. It can be found in the Welcome to Rapture area for free. It is the first Plasmid you receive. 


Like crowd-control abilities in other games, this Plasmid makes affected enemies attack other enemies. It can first be found in the Medical Pavilion for 60 ADAM.

Hypnotize Big Daddy

This Plasmid causes Big Daddies to protect the player. It can first be acquired after saving three Little Sisters and speaking with Brigid Tenenbaum. 


This Plasmid does what it sounds like: it damages Splicers and other enemies over time with fire. It can be found in the Eternal Flame Crematorium. This is the second Plasmid you get. 

Insect Swarm

This is also pretty on-the-nose and uses a swarm of insects to attack enemies. It can first be found in the Silverwing Apiary for 60 ADAM. 

Security Bullseye

This Plasmid makes security drones attack enemies. It can first be found in Neptune's Bounty for free, but it costs 60 ADAM otherwise. 

Sonic Boom

This Plasmid uses supercharged air to knockback enemies. It can first be found in Neptune's Bounty and Farmer's Market for 40 ADAM. 

Target Dummy

This Plasmid creates holograms of the player to distract enemies. It can first be found in Neptune's Bounty. 


This lets players grab and throw objects. It can be found in Dandy Dental. It's good for lobbing projectiles back at Nitro Splicers or Houdini Splicers. It can also pick up Big Daddy corpses. 

Winter Blast

This Plasmid freezes targets for a short time. It can first be found in Neptune's Bounty for 60 ADAM. 

Little Sister Antidote

This does what it says and lets players rescue Little Sisters from Big Daddies. It is given by Brigid Tenenbaum. 


That's all you need to know on how to switch Plasmids in Bioshock. For more, including whether or not you should rescue Little Sisters, be sure to check out our other Bioshock guides

Bioshock Infinite First Key: Where to Use It Fri, 07 Feb 2020 11:31:00 -0500 Sergey_3847

An entire Bioshock Infinite walkthrough would show you the locations for all of the game's keys, many of which open chests with special items (Luckily, none of the Infinite's vigors are locked away). But this one will show you where to use the first key, which is located near the Lansdowne Residence.

Often, both keys and chests are hidden in different locations, which makes them hard to find. That goes doubly for this one. 

Where is the First Key in Bioshock Infinite?

The key is in the Fraternal Order of the Raven. Here's how to get there:

  1. Take the transportation capsule to the Comstock Center
  2. Follow the story until you get branded as the False Shepherd
  3. Take the alternative route to the Lansdowne Residence
  4. Use the freight hook to jump onto the balcony of the next building
  5. Enter the Montgomery Residence from the balcony
  6. Exit the Montgomery Residence through the back door
  7. Enter the courtyard of the Fraternal Order of the Raven.

Don't rush into the building, but be careful, as there are a lot of enemies inside, some of them Crow, which teleport around the area. Others are normal enemies such as Founder's Police.

You'll pick up the Murder of Crows vigor before entering the area, so that will help you deal with them one by one. After the short battle, take the key from the main altar in the central hall.

Where to Use the First Key in Bioshock Infinite

When you have the key, return to the Lansdowne Residence. 

  1. Enter the Montgomery Residence through the back door.
  2. Leave the residence through the balcony.
  3. Use the freight hook to reach the Lansdowne Residence right across.

Inside the residence, enter the bedroom with an open door and a chest. Open it with a key and take an infusion, a life potion, and a mana potion. While it might not be a boon on normal difficulty, this chest is a huge help in 1999 mode.


That's it on how to find the first key and where to use it in Bioshock Infinite. Grabbing it will help you get through the earliest portions of Columbia and, hopefully, progress through the story just a bit faster. For more on Bioshock Infinite, Booker, and the game's ending, be sure to check out our review of the first-person shooter from 2K and Kevin Levine

BioShock: The Collection Might be Heading to Nintendo Switch Tue, 14 Jan 2020 11:42:20 -0500 Josh Broadwell

It's been almost four years since 2K's BioShock: The Collection launched on all modern platforms — except Nintendo's Wii U, of course. Now, though, a new rating from the Taiwanese ratings board suggests it might be heading to a Nintendo platform after all: the Nintendo Switch.

The ratings board provides a ratings description for BioShock: The Collection on Nintendo Switch, as well as separate ratings for each game included in the collection. International ratings are much more reliable than retail listings when it comes to predicting new releases and launches, as we discussed just recently with the Tales of Arise rating in South Korea.

Whether this means a Nintendo Direct announcing BioShock: The Collection is imminent or not is another matter, but we're guessing per usual, one will be announced in the next month or so.

BioShock: The Collection includes all three BioShock games plus all single-player DLC. For those who like lists, that means it includes:

  • BioShock
  • BioShock 2
  • BioShock Infinite
  • The Columbia's Finest pack, among others

And it's all remastered from the original PlayStation 3 release. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more BioShock and Switch news as it develops.

8 Games You Need to Play Before Cyberpunk 2077 Tue, 09 Jul 2019 09:00:02 -0400 John Schutt


We'll have to wait and see if Cyberpunk 2077 lives up to the massive amount of hype it's built for itself, intentionally or not. I'm also curious where it will take its greatest inspirations from, at least when it comes to design and worldbuilding decisions.


The games on this list are just a few of the possibilities CD PROJEKT RED might see as worthy of helping build their game, but I have a feeling there's much more in store for us than we would ever think possible.


Cyberpunk 2077 releases April 16, 2020, on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.


Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

  • Developer: Kojima Productions
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  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
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  • Release Date: September 1, 2015
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If ever there was a game that gave players as many options as was humanly possible, it would be MGS 5: The Phantom Pain. While it's not an RPG, it does give players almost complete freedom in how, where, when, and why they overcome challenges.


Headfirst into a firefight or complete stealth. Lethal or nonlethal. Change the weather or drop boxes from on high. If you can think it, MGS 5 probably gives you the option to do it.


Time will tell if Cyberpunk goes as far as Hideo Kojima himself when it comes to player freedom, but from what we've seen so far, they're certainly going to try.



  • Developer: Irrational Games
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  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
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  • Release Date: May 13, 2016
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First of all, do I really need to give any real justification for playing the DOOM reboot? Didn't think so.


If you insist, though, one of the most important aspects of DOOM's appeal is the sheer pace of the gameplay. Once it gets going, your wholesale slaughter of Hell's hordes doesn't stop. All you have are brief moments of looking for more ways to murder more demons.


When it comes to Cyberpunk 2077, you aren't necessarily incentivized to kill everything you see, but that won't stop some players from trying. More to the point, as far as we know, instant action is a viable way of making your way through the game. That makes DOOM a great game to play if you want to master fast-paced, murder-filled play.



  • Developer: Irrational Games
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  • Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
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  • Release Date: August 21, 2007
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The original Bioshock is one of the best test cases for how to merge storytelling and mechanics. Its major twist notwithstanding, the player's dependence on plasmids and their use in the decline of Rapture are integral to the overall worldbuilding of the game. 


That and the way the world connects together into a cohesive whole is also something Cyberpunk is attempting to do. Thanks to improvements in technology, Night City won't be constrained by loading screens or individually contained levels, but the way everything connects is classic Bioshock.


The gameplay variety offered by the plasmid system is another idea Cyberpunk is playing off of. Through augmentation and future-tech, players will be able to define not only how they play but also how the world plays around them.


There's nothing more satisfying than turning a Big Daddy against his brethren to save yourself some ammo. Hacking that lumbering, juiced up dude in the corner to pummel his former friends? Same thing, just with tech rather than genetic modification.




Planescape: Torment

  • Developer: Black Isle Studios
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  • Platforms: PC
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  • Release Date: December 12, 1999 (Original), April 11, 2017 (Enhanced Edition)
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Storytelling is a hallmark of any CD PROJEKT RED title, from the deep characters and compelling storylines to the difficult choices and player-driven worlds. To that end, the Witcher devs owe much to the likes of Chris Avellone and the developers behind one of the best RPGs ever made: Planescape: Torment.


Though set in a classic Dungeons & Dragons setting, Torment helped to define and innovate on the complexity and depth a game could offer with its narrative. Many of Torment's systems — story-centric or otherwise — would go on to inspire developers across the genre, and there are plenty of gamers out there, our Ty Arthur included, who see this title as one of the pinnacles of gaming achievement.




Dishonored 1 & 2

  • Developer: Arkane Studios
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  • Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
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  • Release Date: October 9, 2012, and  November 11, 2016
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Much in the same vein as Mankind Divided, both Dishonored games present players with complex, sometimes labyrinthine levels contained within a single larger location. In this case, each area has a different aesthetic and gameplay challenges, but the focus — unlike both Deus Ex and Cyberpunk in some cases — is on stealth and subterfuge.


Players can use the Dishonored series as a means to experiment with stealth mechanics and learn how to navigate heavily layered levels. Cyberpunk looks to be offering that kind of level design and more, so understanding how to fight your way through a punk-style world through both lethal and non-lethal means will be critical.




Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

  • Developer: Eidos Montreal
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  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
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  • Release Date: August 23, 2016
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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is one of the best examples of a complex, layered, and interconnected world. It might not boast the same sized map as Cyberpunk 2077, but it is a great test case for how a single location can provide hours upon hours of gameplay and story.


Another thing Mankind Divided brings to your Cyberpunk preparation is in its shooting and action mechanics. While what we've seen of CD PROJEKT RED's new title seems to indicate an increased focus on pace and movement, that shouldn't stop you from using the latest Deus Ex as a way to experiment with what's possible in a first-person action RPG.


The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

  • Developer: CD PROJEKT RED
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  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
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  • Release Date: May 19, 2015
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Let's get the other elephant out of the room. You shouldn't go into Cyberpunk 2077 without having at least a working knowledge of CDPR's previous epic. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is widely considered by critics to be one of the best RPGs of the decade (I'm inclined to agree), and plenty of people think it to be the best game ever made.


From its storytelling, deep customization, expansive world — itself enough to encompass several full-priced games — and overall quality, The Witcher 3 will give anyone a 100-hour masterclass in how CD PROJEKT makes games. 


Final Fantasy VII Remake

  • Developer: Square Enix
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  • Platforms: PS4
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  • Release Date: March 30, 2020
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Let's get the elephant out of the room. The Final Fantasy VII Remake is one of the biggest games we know about in 2020. A total overhaul of both its systems and its world — both legendary in their own right — the Remake has four years of development expectations and more than 20 years of hopes and dreams to live up to.


Coming out almost a full month before Cyberpunk 2077, the Remake will be an excellent primer for how developers build and evolve their worlds to match or exceed what their fans are looking for. 


Plus, if it's anything like its source material, the Remake will offer fans plenty of options with how they want to build and play. Build experimentation and execution is a huge part of any classic Final Fantasy and it will certainly be an integral aspect of Cyberpunk's gameplay.


Most of all, I would put money on the idea that Cyberpunk has at least a little bit to thank Final Fantasy VII for. And even when CD PROJEKT RED's next potential masterpiece has been well and truly conquered, we have more Final Fantasy to look forward to for years to come.


Few games coming out in the next year carry a larger profile than Cyberpunk 2077 from The Witcher 3 developer CD PROJEKT RED. Perhaps only the Final Fantasy VII Remake holds the same kind of weight and expectation. 


There's good reason for the hype:

  • Cyberpunk follows The Witcher 3, one of the most beloved games of this generation. Players are expecting something at least on par with that experience. 

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  • More than six years of development time with seemingly no compromise between release time and content quality places expectations at a high level. 

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  • Direct consultation with the creator of the tabletop RPG source material means that the world, characters, and story ought to be very authentic.

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  • A 45-minute showcase of everything the game has to offer, followed by 26-minutes more recently, tease an intricate world full of complex mechanics. 
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And while Cyberpunk 2077 releases all the way in April 2020, there are plenty of games new old, and still unreleased you can play and should play to pass the time. We'll be talking about eight of them.

8 Games That Could Be Considered "Art" Sun, 18 Feb 2018 13:13:05 -0500 buymymixtape123

Video games have come a long way from the 8-bit sprites of the 80s. Games now rival other forms of media in art style, storytelling and music. Video games are as much of an art form as a movie or a piece of music. Here are eight games supporting this thesis and showing the boundaries gaming pushes as a art form.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt  

The Witcher 3 is as beautiful as a game could get. Just peering over the horizon while the sun is setting is just as soothing as looking over a real sunset. Furthermore, the narrative and music are exceptionally good, rivaling other popular high fantasy stories like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. I remember the first time I played this game back in May 2015, and just riding through Velen for the first time on Roach and taking in the sights and sounds of the world changed the way I looked at gaming. This game made me realize that gaming is art.


Cuphead is one of those games many gamers would look at and think it's a 1930s cartoon. Cuphead is brilliantly designed and stays true to the 1930s cartoon look, even having the strong film grain cartoons and movies of the past used to have. This run and gun, boss rush game is notorious for its hard difficulty but just taking the time to appreciate the art that this indie studio, Studio MDHR, made is enough to make you fall in love with this game.



Bioshock is a game on this list that's artistic for more than its art style. This doesn't mean Bioshock isn't a beautiful game, just going down into the underwater city of Rapture in the first few moments is going to make your jaw drop. But the narrative is what pushes this game into art territory. The game pushes you to think about what is wrong and what is right, and even comments on tyrants and the struggle of power and narcissism. Not a lot of games cover subject matter like this, and Bioshock does it beautifully, to the point where you want to know what is going to happen next in this amazing story. Bioshock is more than a game; it is a piece of art.

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

There is one moment in gaming I will never forget and it is the moment at the start of Breath of the Wild, where Link first comes out the Shrine of Resurrection and looks over the horizon of Hyrule for the first time. At this point of my life, I never thought a game would surprise me like that and this moment did to the point of tears. Breath of the Wild isn't a perfect game, but it is art in every aspect of the word. The attention of detail Nintendo did with the landscape of the world, the cartoonish but beautiful graphics all show how gaming is art. 

The Last of Us

The Last of Us shows that video game narratives can be just as compelling and serious as a feature length movie. The Last of Us story of Ellie and Joel as they survive together in a post-apocalyptic world is heart wrenching, addictive and bittersweet. Not to mention that this game is beautiful and dark, which the PS4 remastered port expands upon. This game's story is so beautifully crafted that it's well-known outside of gaming. Even non-gamers know of this title and enjoy Naughty Dog's creation.  


Journey is one of those games that will impact you immensely in the short time it takes to beat. It isn't hard and doesn't have complicated mechanics, but it uses beautiful visuals and music to tell an emotional tale of a robed individual in the vast desert. Journey's soundtrack was so beautiful that it was nominated for a Grammy in 2013, one of the highest awards in music. If after you play Journey, you still don't think video games are art, you may have to get your head checked out.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker was hated when it was first announced. Nintendo went for more of a cartoony, colorful experience than following the graphics laid out in Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask. But, people came to notice how beautiful this game really was and how fun the game is in general. Nintendo really focused on facial animation in Wind Waker, where Toon Link makes a certain face when he swings a sword or tries to push something that is too heavy for him. Also, the game is gorgeous for its cel shading graphics. This games still looks as good, if not better, than games coming out on the Switch.

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus is beautiful because of how little it does compared to other games. Other games on this list earn their beauty from a wide arrange of colors and architect. This game does not have any of that, as there are no towns to go to, nothing to really look at and no other quest besides killing all of the Colossi around you. It is similar to Journey, where the game takes you on a emotional roller coaster without really doing much. This is the beauty of gaming: it is able to tug at your heart strings just through gameplay, art style and music alone, without a direct narrative putting it all together. If you are unsure if Shadow of The Colossus is in fact art, please check out the PS4 remastered that just came out recently.

There you have it, eight games symbolizing why video games can be considered art. When it comes down to it, if any other media like movies and music can be considered art, then video games should be as well. 

7 Games That Should Receive a Remaster a la Shadow of the Colossus Wed, 14 Feb 2018 12:58:07 -0500 Andrew Krajewski


That wraps up our list of games we would love to see remastered and revived. Let us know if your favorite game made the cut and what other games deserve to be remastered for newer generations. Be sure to stick around GameSkinny for all your game culture, guides, and more!


BioShock: The Collection was a tremendous success when it came out a couple of years ago, but we want to see the franchise remastered again. The story is so gosh darn good, and the world is one of the most immersive in video games. BioShock is a shining example of an experience you can only have by playing video games.This game is a classic and, like Shadow of the Colossus, we'll always want it to be remastered with better graphics again and again because, frankly, everything else about this game feels perfect.

Super Mario Strikers

Super Mario Odyssey has been extremely successful on the Switch and sets Nintendo up perfectly to capitalize on its success by reviving Mario sports games. Whether it be soccer, tennis, or even volleyball (part of what makes Mario Party 5 so great), the sports games featuring Mario have been a tremendous hit with fans. 


Super Mario Strikers nailed gameplay with easy-to-learn controls, simplified rules, and exciting action. If the series came back with even more playable characters, in addition to stats more specific than "balanced, playmaker, or defender," the game would be an instant hit. The "play anywhere" nature of the Switch would make the game a great candidate for local multiplayer, though it might have to contend with Rocket League nowadays.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Reoublic

KOTOR is one of the only Star Wars games people still think about in a positive light anymore, thanks to Battlefront 2's microtransactions, the cancellation of Star Wars 1313, and the shutting down of Visceral Studios' Project Ragtag. 


KOTOR does a tremendous job expanding the Star Wars universe and has a strong fan following. Updated graphics would help the game maintain its ability to hold up going forward. In a time where a lot of classic Star Wars fans aren't super happy with the newest movies, a remaster of this classic title might cheer them up a tiny bit.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater

Pro Skater 2 is Metacritic's second-highest rated game of all time! Although the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater franchise struggled and sputtered out (while the Skate series took its place), it'd be great to see the game revisit its roots and replicate the reasons that made it a major success. Ask anybody who played these games as a kid, and they'll tell you that Tony Hawk Pro Skater helped define their generation through a kick-ass soundtrack and awesome Easter eggs. 


More recent games in the franchise struggled because of technical issues and lack of depth. Reviving the franchise with a higher level of polish would serve the IP well and could potentially bring back long-lost fans. We might be waiting a long time for this remaster, though, since the license expired in 2015.


Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy far exceeded expectations when it came out in the summer of 2017 and immediately got fans talking about other remasters and remakes they would love to see. One of the most talked-about games in that discussion is Spyro. Spyro is beloved by many fans but has hit a few rough patches with more recent installments of the franchise. A remaster of the original Spyro games, including Year of the Dragon and Ripto's Rage, could definitely help the franchise reboot itself and remind fans why they love their favorite purple dragon in the first place.

Conker's Bad Fur Day

Conker's Bad Fur Day was such a good game it already got a remake in 2005 as Conker: Live & Reloaded. The game was a hit and helped bring more credibility to Xbox Live as a multiplayer platform. The original game, however, shined because of its local multiplayer, and when it was released as part of Rare Replay, fans were excited to revisit those multiplayer games -- only to be tremendously disappointed. The game was unplayable, not because of graphics or story, but because the controls were mapped terribly and couldn't be changed. 


A remaster of this game, with a better control scheme, updated references, and memes would make it an edgy hit similar to South Park: The Stick of Truth. It's unfortunate that Conker looks like Lucky from Super Lucky's Tale. Microsoft most likely wouldn't want the confusion caused by two characters so similar in appearance but so vastly different in what age they're appropriate for.

Black and White 2

There's been a resurgence recently of city-building/management/strategy games like Cities: Skylines, Planet Coaster, and even They are Billions. Black and White 2 was the perfect god sim game and has had people waiting for another game as good as it for a long time. The opportunity to have a ten-story-tall cow perform miracles and gather followers gave the game the right amount of charm. Updated graphics, more creatures to choose from, and a little more depth in the management tool would go a long way in making this franchise come alive again.


It's worth noting that since Black and White 2 was a product of now-defunct Lionhead Studios, it's unlikely to come back, but we'd love to see what Microsoft could do with the title if they revived the IP.


Considered one of the greatest games of all time, Shadow of the Colossus has been remastered several times to great success, including its most recent remaster. Its vast world, emotional story, and striking visuals have made it consistently stand out as a game with that "wow" factor. 


Because of the recent remaster, new generations of gamers in addition to longtime fans can appreciate it once again. With updated controls and graphics Shadow of the Colossus is easier to come back to than previous iterations. Keeping this in mind we compiled a list of a few other games we think might be worthy of a little refinement for the modern age.

2007 vs 2017: A Decade in the Making Sun, 31 Dec 2017 14:15:34 -0500 H. Rhodes Hancock

Around a decade ago, I watched a video on GameTrailers called the Top 10 Years of Gaming, and the #1 was 2007. Considering that this video was made and uploaded at the tail end of 2007, it almost seemed presumptuous to call a year that was just on its way out the “Best Year in Gaming.” Now here we are, 10 years later, and people are already declaring 2017 to be another “Best Year in Gaming.” And you know what, both are right.

2007 and 2017 are two great years in the history of video games. 2007 gave us Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Portal, Modern Warfare, BioShock, and Super Mario Galaxy. 2017 gave us Cuphead, NierAutomata, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Breath of the Wild, Persona 5, and Super Mario Odyssey. And those are just all I can name off the top of my head. The sheer volume of quality games that came out in both years is amazing.

However, in retrospect, it wasn’t just the quality and the quantity of the games released that made it a historic year for the medium. It was how those games changed the landscape.

[Image courtesy of BioShock Wiki]

Take BioShock for example. The ideas it helped popularize have become so commonplace that its impact almost feels subdued. The way it uses audio logs to tell you its story, or how you are given moral choices that will impact the outcome of the game, were brought into the mainstream by BioShock and have become mainstays of video game design to the point that those once revolutionary mechanics feel clichéd.

How about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare? Not only did it break the military shooter subgenre out of World War II and into the modern era, but it also promoted the perk system in multiplayer and (for better and for worse) the idea that single-player campaigns could be highly scripted, cinematic roller coaster rides where you are taken from one set piece to the next.

In fact, when you think about it, the franchises and trends that defined 2007 either reinvented themselves or were phased out. In 2007, the Assassin’s Creed franchise begins. In 2017, the franchise gets a soft reboot with Assassins Creed: Origins. In 2007, the Call of Duty franchise does a huge shakeup by going to the modern era after the World War II setting begins to grow stale. In 2017, the Call of Duty franchise decides to go back to the World War II setting after the modern era setting grows stale. In 2007, Half-Life 2: Episode 2 ends in a huge cliffhanger that will ultimately set-up Half-Life 3. In 2017, Half-Life 3 is released in the form of a plot summary on Pastebin.

2017 feels like a new chapter is currently being written. The Nintendo Switch is blurring the lines between handheld games and console games. The surprise success of Nier: Automata saved Platinum Games. SEGA’s long-standing Yakuza franchise finally broke out of its niche. Cuphead surpassed the sales of the more heavily marketed Star Wars Battlefront II by a huge margin. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild reinvented the open-world mechanic.

The game industry is always changing. But this past year, just like 10 years ago, is where we are going to see the roots of many defining trends for years to come. Games will start taking cues from Breath of the Wild and how it constructed its world, while companies will begin to start assessing the Nintendo Switch and its potential after its first lucrative year.

What do you think? Are we gonna see some trends emerge from this year like we did from 2007's releases? What's it gonna be like reading this article in 2027? Let us know in the comments.

Feast Your Ears on the Fascinating Audio Commentary in These 11 Games Tue, 21 Nov 2017 13:56:02 -0500 Sergey_3847


Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots


Alas, Hideo Kojima, the creator of the famous Metal Gear Solid series, never took to the task of recording a single line of developer commentary on his games. However, the fourth game in the series, Guns of the Patriots, includes such a commentary by Ken Imaizumi, the game's producer, Aki Saito, Konami international product manager, and Sean Eyestone, one of the writers.


This audio commentary is available in the game on Snake's iPod. So if you haven't had the chance to listen to it yet, maybe now's the time.




What's your favorite developer commentary track? Let us know in the comments below!.


Grim Fandango Remastered


Tim Schafer is one of the world's most renowned and consistent game designers. His titles have garnered huge fan followings, and his new games are anticipated by millions of gamers everywhere every year.


Grim Fandango is definitely one of his finest moments. That's why Sony decided to release a remastered version of the game just a few years ago. It was a great decision to include the developer commentary, too, as it reveals the massive amounts of talent Tim Schafer wields.


Fortunately, the entire commentary has been leaked online, so grab a pack of popcorn and immerse yourself in the world of mesmerizing game development of Grim Fandango.


Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut


The Director's Cut of the first Deus Ex introduced a number of revamped gameplay elements, a fantastic series of developer commentaries, and a whole documentary showcasing the behind-the-scenes creation process.


Even if you've never played the game or have no interest in the Deus Ex series but want to know what it takes to develop a modern AAA title, then be sure to check the entire audio commentary section of the game. Be warned, though, it's long. Seven hours long.


Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2


This survival horror franchise from Valve was another massive success for the company. So it's no surprise that the dev team opted to provide audio commentary in the same fashion as both Half-Life 2 and the Portal franchise: as interactive nodes that could be activated by players during the gameplay.


The sequel, which came out only a year later, had the same team record their thoughts on the development process, too, making it one of the most encompassing game design commentaries you will ever hear.


Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour


Here is another cult title from the 90s -- a true blast from the past: the one and only Duke Nukem 3D. The upgraded version of the original title was released just a year ago to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the series.


Allen Blum and Richard Gray, the original designers of the game, return to their progeny and not only deliver additional content to the original game, but also discuss what went into the process of reviving the old files from the ashes.


Tomb Raider: Anniversary


The very first game that launched the epic Tomb Raider series was released in the mid-90s. Ten years later, Crystal Dynamics released a remastered version of that first game based on the new Legend engine.


Fast forward to the Tomb Raider: Anniversary bundle, and you'll find game developer commentary featuring Jason Botta, the creative director of the remastered version, and Toby Gard, the original game's lead designer. 


They discuss each segment of the game as you play through it, and reveal why certain decisions were made in the process of the creation of those particular levels.




Firewatch offers a developer commentary as a part of its free DLC, which adds an Audio Tour mode to the game. It's designed in such a way that allows players to pick up audio players in the beginning of the prologue, and then pick up audio cassettes that are placed in special spots throughout the game.


Each cassette contains a recording from a Firewatch development member who discusses how that particular part of the game was designed. The best thing about this approach is that the recordings are relatively short and don't distract from the actual gameplay too much.


Portal & Portal 2


After the smashing success of Half-Life 2, Valve released another title that is considered to be one of the most original game concepts ever devised -- the Portal series.


As usual, Gabe Newell, the founder of Valve, was joined by the development team behind the Portal games and recorded an accompanying audio commentary for the series. In order to access all of the commentary episodes, players must first complete the game. Afterward, the developer commentary mode will be unlocked, offering over a hundred audio segments for your listening pleasure.


The Last Of Us Remastered


The Last of Us was a PS3 exclusive and international hit. A year later, it was remastered and ported to the PS4 -- bringing with it developer commentary by Neil Druckmann, creative director, Troy Baker, who plays Joel, and Ashley Johnson, who plays Ellie.


This commentary can be accessed through an in-game menu, which shows all of the game's cutscenes in succession -- with audio commentary on top -- making the experience very similar to watching films with director commentary. 


Half-Life 2


Half-Life 3 is undoubtedly the most anticipated sequel to any game ever released. The first two games have set the bar of the quality so high that it will be hard to achieve the same level of intrigue as before.


However, if you want to know how the development of this incredibly popular series began, then be sure to check the developer commentary of Half-Life 2: Episodes 1 & 2.


Unfortunately, the development team didn't record commentary for the first game, but there is more than enough material to study from the two episodes of the sequel. Commentary includes anecdotes and behind the scenes stories from team members such as Gabe Newell, Greg Coomer, Jay Stelly, and many more. 


BioShock: The Collection


Every fan of the BioShock series simply ought to have BioShock: The Collection. Not only does it inlcude the remastered versions of all three games, but it also adds to the experience an exciting commentary track from Ken Levine, the series' creative director, and Shawn Robertson, the lead artist. 


Interestingly, the commentary for Bioshock: The Collection is part of the franchise's world. Throughout each of the stories, players are able to find collectible items that activate new episodes where the developers discuss the design process behind the series.


The commentary uncovers many previously unknown details about the risks and challenges that the development team had to take in order to deliver one of the most praised video game franchises in history.


While audio commentary from directors and filmmakers is typical for most Hollywood movies, commentary from video game developers discussing their creative process on a separate audio track attached to your favorite game is relatively new.


It took some years before game developers decided to adopt the same approach as their Hollywood counterparts. The first game that appeared with such developer commentary was 2000's Star Wars: Episode I: Battle for Naboo.


After that first experiment, other developers also wanted to share their experiences with gamers, and many games followed suit. Here you will find 11 of the most inspiring video game developer commentaries that will not only let you see the the machinations behind your favorite games, but also what drives your favorite developer to keep making great games. 

Bioshock Celebrates 10 Years with Anniversary Collector's Edition Wed, 08 Nov 2017 12:30:24 -0500 Sarah Elliman

The Bioshock series would have been celebrating its tenth anniversary back in August of this year. To celebrate the occasion 2K have announced an exclusive Collector’s Edition to commemorate the series, available on November 14th. 

The edition will set you back $199.99 and is only available for purchase within the US. You can either buy it directly from 2K’s store or at your local GameStop. The edition will also only be available for PS4 and Xbox One players.

The 10th Anniversary Collector’s Edition will include a copy of the Bioshock: Collection alongside a 11.5-inch statue of Bid Daddy and Little Sister. To celebrate the 10th anniversary, the figurine has been modeled after the original art that was displayed on the first Bioshock cover. The statue will feature Big Daddy’s drill fully motorized and varying light components as well. To further pay homage to the original Bioshock they have added Bid Daddy and Little Sister voice clips directly taken from the game to feature for this statue.

The original Bioshock game was released in August 2007 for PC and Xbox 360, with a PS3 port coming later to the series. Bioshock was praised for its immersive story-telling and interesting combat mechanics. Many critics couldn’t get enough of the game, with IGN’s review praising the game immensely, stating that:

"Bioshock stands as a monolithic example of the convergence of entertaining gameplay and an irresistibly sinister, engrossing storyline that encompasses a lot of multifaceted characters."

The overall score on Metacritic, which comprises of critical reviews, rated Bioshock at 96/100.

Ken Levine was the driving force behind Bioshock, where he was the writer and creative director for the project. In all the games he has involved with, Levine tried to put a sociological tone over the game. The issue of harvesting the Little Sisters or not and the core story are a testament to his style. However, he was not present for the writing or directing of Bioshock 2, but later returned to work on Bioshock Infinite.

Bioshock 2 didn’t receive as much praise as its original counterpart, but was still  nominated for a variety of awards, including a “Best Story” for BAFTA Games Awards. Although nominated a fair number of times, the only coveted award that Bioshock 2 won was from the GANG Awards for the “Best Use of Licensed Music.”

Bioshock Infinite was a return to the extremely high praise that was bestowed upon Bioshock. Infinite not only won a variety of “Best Game” awards, but was nominated and honorably mentioned for many more. Bioshock Infinite sold over 10 million copies and was widely praised by critics.

What do you think of the Bioshock series? Are you going to purchase the Collector's Edition? Let us know in the comments.

Insanely Evil: 5+ Video Game Villains with Diagnosable Psychological Disorders Tue, 04 Apr 2017 08:00:01 -0400 ThatGamersAsylum

Almost every game has a villain. But very few have noteworthy villains; too many are evil for its own sake. The best villains are emotionally complex with their own motivations, pasts, and neuroses. It makes them relatable, flawed, and human -- even if they are not actually human. But sometimes these neuroses are more than just small problems; they are driving forces in a villain's life.

A psychological disorder can not be treated if it hasn't been diagnosed, so it's a good thing that resident P.h.D. ThatGamersAsylum* is here to assist. (What'd you think the Asylum stood for? Not just a family name.) Today I take a look at some villains that could've used my help before they destroyed *insert amount of resultant carnage*.

Patient: GLaDOS (Portal)

Diagnosis: Compulsive Liar

portal, glados, robot, ai

I know what you are thinking, "That is so true! She totally is a compulsive liar!" Oh, wait? That’s not what you’re thinking? Well, who cares if she is a robot? She can still be insane! I think... look this isn’t Rick & Morty folks. I’m not here to argue about the philosophy of AI psychology. All I know is that whoever programmed GLaDOS was a messed up son of a... Ohhh! Cake!

GLaDOS' compulsive lying starts at the beginning of Portal, "there’s cake," she says, "just keep doing all of these tests that may or may not lead to your death," she says. Well, I died a lot and never received any cake. What really pushes this over the edge, however, is that she lies even when it is obvious and no longer convenient or useful; she just can't stop. Even as you are funneled onto a conveyor belt that leads into a fiery inferno, GLaDOS insists that you are just fine and that the cake is totally not a lie. It’s just around the corner; it wasn’t.

Patient: Rafe Adler (Uncharted 4)

Diagnosis: Adrenaline Junkie
Rafe Adler, Uncharted 4

Rafe is a well-written character. He is flawed and multi-faceted. It is completely possible that a psychiatrist would see many things wrong with Rafe (Certainly nothing medication couldn’t fix, though.). The characteristics that make Rafe an adrenaline junkie are best exhibited by the lengths he is willing to go to acquire the treasure he has sought for so long. Rafe has wasted much of his inherited fortune, spent over a decade of his life, committed murder, and risked his own life all in pursuit of this treasure.

The last of these is of particular note because he does not need to be involved. Sure, it helps ensure control, but it also lets him get his hands dirty. His willingness for adventure, action, murder, and greed are all shown well when he kills the prison official early in the game.

Patient: Lusamine (Pokemon Sun & Moon)

Diagnosis: Depression w/ Psychosis
Lusamine, Pokemon Sun & Moon 

In Pokemon Sun and Moon, it is said that Lusamine was a kind, affectionate, (and still hot) mom when her children were young. It is only when her husband disappeared while researching the very creatures that she is now obsessed with that she began to become the madwoman we know and love today.

Lusamine seems to truly believe that she was a great mother and that her children betrayed her without reason. She also thinks she can save Pokemon while allowing the Ultra Beasts to wreak havoc upon the world. Lusamine feels a need to save and protect the Ultra Beasts when the only known threat to them is her. In short, Lusamine suffers from delusions and struggles to adequately grasp reality and this would fit psychosis.

Psychosis is,” characterized by radical changes in personality, impaired functioning, and a distorted or nonexistent sense of objective reality.”

Psychosis, however, is a symptom. Since her psychosis seems to be onset from extreme grief it seems clear she suffers from Major Depressive Disorder with features of psychosis. (You didn’t really think we’d get through an article about psychological disorders without talking about depression, did you?)

Patient: Seymour (Final Fantasy X)

Diagnosis: PTSD

Seymour, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy

I know what you are thinking (yes, this schtick again), "Oh! That guy is a major asshole... and isn’t PTSD for soldiers?" Yes, he is. And no, it’s for anyone that has witnessed or experienced something traumatic, especially death. Seymour’s PTSD is specifically rooted in his childhood.

Being a half human, half-guado, he was meant to be seen as a coming together of the two species but was eventually despised as an abomination by both. As such, he and his human mother were exiled. By the time he was 10, his mother was terminally ill and decided to sacrifice herself to become a fayth in order for him to be able to use her as a summon to kill Sin, a creature that reincarnates and destroys civilization and whose actions are seen as a divine punishment for, well, sin.

Final FantasySay hello to momma... NO WONDER HE HAS PTSD!!!

His mother’s sacrifice really screwed with him, as one can imagine. It left him alone in the world and he became distant, eventually developing deeply held nihilistic worldviews. This ultimately lead to him believing that the only way to save people from suffering was to kill them. He really was a sweet boy. I swear. One symptom of PTSD sums it up best:

“Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world.”

Remember children, raise your kids right or they will become an undying monster that’s an unbelievable pain in the sides of JRPG fans worldwide.

Patient: Andrew Ryan (Bioshock)

Diagnosis: Complicated...

Andrew Ryan, Bioshock

"We all make choices. But in the end, our choices make us."

 ―Andrew Ryan

Andrew Ryan has similarities to many of the villains on this list. He grew up in Russia as a child and witnessed the 1917 Russian Revolution at the young age of 6. This shaped his world views, namely, that the greatest things in the world were accomplished by great people that were unfettered by government, regulation, and “parasites,” or those reliant upon the great successful ones. This is not altogether unlike Seymour’s youth.

Ryan also seems to share aspects of Lusamine’s psychosis. He constantly fears Rapture being taken over by the “parasites” while continually undermining his own ideals every step of the way. He goes to great lengths to take over private businesses to overthrow a smuggling ring, something that is in direct opposition to his creed. Certainly most damning, both morally and philosophically, is when he follows Su Chong’s advice and laces plasmids such that their users would become vulnerable to mental persuasion via pheromones.

Andrew Ryan, Bioshock

Andrew Ryan looked vastly different over the 3 games.

Ryan also categorically shows disregard for the well-being of others. His whole ideology is fixated on “parasites” potentially sucking on the teet of the wealthy and affluent. But it seems to be pushed to the extremes, such that there are no protections for those who cannot defend themselves. The lack of moral restraints on scientists, which ultimately leads to the many scientific abominations you fight in Bioshock, is exceptionally concerning. Extremist ideology merges with politics in an interesting way.

The Larger Picture

Is this used to signify scope, or just from a scrapped ME:A article? Yes.

What makes Ryan so interesting within the context of this article is that he begs for a greater, relevant debate to be had. Where do philosophy and personality end and psychological disorder begin? Andrew Ryan’s guiding philosophy may be unusually un-altruistic, but does holding such views make you a sociopath who lacks the ability to empathize with others? Just because your ideology grows from a different place, a different context, does it make it inherently inferior?

Could an ideology -- that was developed or nurtured in psychosis -- be relevant? At what point can you call Ryan’s arguments poppycock and insist that his are the ramblings of a mad man that needs not be in the pulpit, but rather in the asylum? Does evil necessarily equate to some underlying disorder?

face plan, statue

You can see a similar argument take place in modern medicine. The DSM-V allows what many consider to be normal grief to be diagnosed as clinical depression within a short amount of time. This can ultimately allow for the over medicating of patients that do not need medicine. Where is the line drawn between the normal and the obtuse? And when the obtuse is verified, when do we decide that it should be medicated away?

When does a “hard ass stubborn old mule” turn out to be a lack of empathy in need of diagnosis? Even Andrew Ryan was pushed to the edge and forced to use his power as "the man" to interfere with the privacy of others to act for the perceived greater good. When does government do the same to help the mentally estranged that need help? When does it become necessary? When does it become obtrusive? There are no easy answers.

Patient: Everybody (Borderlands)

Diagnosis: F*@&ed Up!

borderlands, gangAh! The whole gang back together again. Makes me nostalgic.

Now to lighten the mood after confronting you with the crushing possibility of an over-medicated country! And what’s better for winding down than Borderlands? Everybody in Borderlands is crazy, whether it be a good guy, a bad lady, or any combination of the two. (In Borderlands, you just might see a combination of all four.) And you didn’t need me to tell you that!

Death is only the icing on top of the sweet cake that is the act of killing people for all of these sickos. Psychos are well, psycho. “Strip the flesh, salt the wound! Aha! Ahaha!” I mean, who fights over meaningless loot and weapons in a society where death means that you are instantly cloned and revitalized? This is supposed to be a utopia and all of you are fighting one another to obtain guns which you then us to kill each other to get more guns? And on the armpit of hell of all places? You’ve got to be kidding me. I now see why Dr.Zed is so flippant about practicing medicine. What’s any of it matter? Moxxi, hit me with the strongest spirits you’ve got!

This is supposed to be a utopia and all of you are fighting one another to obtain guns which you then use to kill each other to get more guns? And on the armpit of hell of all places? You’ve got to be kidding me. I now see why Dr.Zed is so flippant about practicing medicine. What’s any of it matter? Moxxi, hit me with the strongest spirits you’ve got!


That's it for video game villains who have actual diagnosable psychological issues. But, if there are some obvious ones I have missed, let me know in the comments below.

*Not an ACTUAL doctor. Obviously.

Header Image Attained from Neil Conway & Edited.

Grieving Angel Attained from Sarah Gath & Edited.

All diagnostic quotes are from the DSM-V unless otherwise noted.

Why Scanning in Mass Effect Andromeda Sucks (and How Bioshock Did It Better) Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:00:01 -0400 ThatGamersAsylum

In Mass Effect Andromeda, you have a scanner on your omni-tool which you use to scan and learn about objects of interest in the environment, while also earning research currency towards one of three categories. In Bioshock, you have a camera that you use to take photographs of enemies while earning research points that eventually unlock powerful upgrades. The mechanic itself is not really all that unique; it’s been done in everything from the Batman Arkham games to Beyond Good and Evil. However, despite the similarities between the scanner and camera, some small differences make a significant impact.

Different, but the Same

First, I need to make sure we are on the same page: the camera and the scanner operate very similarly mechanically. This is in spite of them being aesthetically different. You pull both up, frame what you wish to scan/photograph, and press a button. You are then rewarded for researching new objects.

There are particular affordances to both of these, however. Everyone is familiar with a camera. We know what it means to take a good picture; we understand photography as an art form. There is an end result, a literal photograph that’s leftover. When you are able to review photos later it gives you an incentive to try to take better ones. Final Fantasy XV showed us that even photos taken in a videogame can make you reminisce. It’s a large part of what makes the screenshot feature so alluring on the PS4, or Steam.

A scan, although similar in many ways, feels different even when it physically requires similar inputs. We understand it within a different context, a scientific context. Mass Effect Andromeda specifically lists properties off to the side of your scans, such as the chemical composition and boring facts. Meanwhile, the Batman Arkham games gave useful info via its scanner -- for instance, enemy heart rate helped you understand what state of distress your prey was in.

The scan itself is not inherently important, unlike photography, which we view as an art form. Instead, the results, namely the data, is what’s important. Scans are beside the point, which inherently makes them less fun to take than photographs. For instance, scanning enemies in the Batman Arkham games was mostly passive. And despite scanning being an action in Mass Effect Andromeda, you still did not have a picture database.

Why it's Done

What is the purpose of mechanics like this? I would argue the designers want you to slow down and look at the world. As such, these mechanics work best when they incentivize you slowing down and smelling the roses, so to speak. Many games put a ton of effort into making things happen, but never really ask you to look at them. Photography is potentially a great way to engage players with that content. Knowing that their pictures matter, either in-game or on Reddit, makes them more valuable to the player. Similarly, learning about the world by scanning things encourages you to slow down and explore.

How its Done WELL...

Beyond Good and Evil literally had creatures that only existed for you to figure out how to photograph them. Creatures that would have felt like ambient visuals in other games were a fun challenge to take photos of in Beyond Good and Evil, such as the dolphin-like creatures -- it made me appreciate their existence more. Batman Arkham City tasked you with taking pictures of objects that were the answer to the Riddler’s riddles. I paid more attention to the game world knowing that the answer to a riddle could be around the next corner.

Bioshock did something spectacular in that they didn’t just ask you to take a picture of every type of enemy, like Beyond Good & Evil. Instead, it rated those pictures based on what was happening in the photo and how often you'd taken a photo of that kind. It wanted you to slow down and catch the splicers, big daddies, and little sisters as they interacted with one another, the world, and you. Each different enemy could be photographed in a variety of situations -- including bashing your brains in -- to reward even more experience. If you choose to sit and watch them in their maddened ramblings it forced you to empathize with your enemies’ plight, in a way that you normally wouldn’t have while mowing them down, setting them ablaze, shattering them, or.. well, you get the point. (Plasmids were really violent. When was a swarm of bees needed in civilian life exactly?) Trying to take pictures of a big daddy as he charged at you while you helplessly held a camera up to his face was a daunting task, to say the least.

 ... and How Mass Effect Andromeda did It

The act of scanning in Mass Effect provided none of these thrills. The other games I've talked about gave you very specific things to photograph or scan. But in this game, it was unclear exactly what objects should be scanned. The end result was the player opening the scanner, walking around, and waiting for something to light up. Moreover, even objects that seem interesting are often not scannable. Sure, I can scan the basic computer terminal that has been in all of the Mass Effect games, but that new alien species? Nah! Even when you did scan interesting things there was rarely anything interesting you learned about it. Because of this, it fails to re-contextualize the world.


On top of that, the rewards for scanning are very slow. Sure, research leads to blueprints which can create some of the best items in the game, but that is mostly meta-game content. I'm still not sure what weapons are useful to craft and resources take so long to gather I don't want to waste them.

Compare that to the fact that some of the best abilities in Bioshock were obtained early in your photography progression. In fact, one of the first upgrades you gained from this line of research allowed your character to turn invisible when they were immobile, which helped you observe enemies and take better pictures. It literally feeds back into the loop while still being a useful and interesting skill on its own. Moreover, your main source of income in Beyond Good & Evil was photography.

Bioshock Wins (But Who's Counting?)

Bioshock did the camera almost perfectly. It gave great in-game rewards while allowing you to take cool pictures, which is intrinsically rewarding. It made sure that good, varied pictures were rewarded so that you were constantly challenged to up your game instead of merely taking one photo of an enemy. It added a wrinkle to world exploration and to combat while deepening the purpose of the dangerous inhabitants of Rapture.

In contrast, Mass Effect Andromeda largely concentrates on scanning inanimate, mundane objects, like computer terminals and parked vehicles. The rewards are abstract and take long to bear any meaning. They added little to the world and didn’t ask you to see the world with a different lens (Pun intended. Pun always intended.). And that's why it sucked.

The 16 Best Fan-Made Short Films Based on Video Games Mon, 20 Mar 2017 08:00:01 -0400 Sergey_3847

Hell of a DayZ

People that play DayZ know that the worst enemies in the game are not zombies roaming the wastelands, but the humans, or simply other players. This is also the main plot point of the short film based on DayZ that tells a story of two companions.


The film clearly shows what usually happens in the world devoid of any honor and conscience, which is probably the best lesson one can get.


On that note, let's wait and see what else 2017 will bring in terms of video game fan-films, so expect another selection later this year.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Shadow

Here’s another dark re-telling of the familiar story. This time Link meets his dark twin -- the Link’s shadow. The film’s got a few bloody scenes and the whole theme suggests that the bright world of Zelda is not that bright after all.


It was made by the same team that shot Shadow of Mordor, so there is a certain style to their work -- lots of action in a fantasy-based world. We hope they do more of this stuff in the future ‘cause it does look great.

Metroid: The Sky Calls

The Sky Calls is the true successor of such great sci-fi films like Alien and Space Odyssey. It has that undeniable aesthetics of the grim, open space that is as dangerous as it can get.


There is a lot of CGI in the film, but it’s done very well, and the special saturation effect that resembles the Kodak film strip used in the 70s and 80s makes everything look extra cool.


If you are a fan of oldschool sci-fi movies, then definitely watch Metroid: The Sky Calls.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Instead of letting a real actor play the part of Sonic, the creators of this fan film decided to go with a full animated character, and probably for the best. The animation looks neat and it blends naturally into the live setting of planet Mobius.


The film doesn’t try to take a Sonic into some new direction, but shows it the way this character is meant to be -- fast and funny, if even silly at times. However, the danger is real and the stakes are high, so there is more to the story than it seems at first.

Super Mario: Underworld

Super Mario in a horror movie? How is this possible? Well, Nukazooka made it possible! It’s a tale with morale that warns all the young kids about the dangers of missing a jump in Super Mario Bros. game, because if that happens, then Mario will go to the most terrifying place -- the Nintendo underworld.


Anyhow, it’s a really cool concept, it is actually so good that could spawn an entire fan-made video game, but we all know too well that Nintendo will never allow that... but we can always dream, right?

Portal: No Escape

No Escape simply cannot show all the aspects of the original game from Valve, but it does tell a short story from a life of a female prisoner who finds the miraculous handheld portal device.


It is a very well made short movie, which isn’t surprising, since the creator of the film is Dan Trachtenberg -- the same guy who directed 10 Cloverfield Lane from last year. If you want to see how he came up with his own style of filmmaking, then definitely check out his Portal film.

Tomb Raider: Croft

The story of Lara Croft is not only one of the longest-running video game series, but also a movie franchise that spawned two features with Angelina Jolie in the main role and the upcoming reboot with Alicia Vikander.


Although not a massive undertaking as the above-mentioned Hollywood blockbusters, this fan film is nothing short of amazing. It was inspired by the game that was released in 2013 and incorporates all the stylistic features of it, such as the new look of the main heroine, grim atmosphere, bow and arrows as the main weapon, etc.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Human Revolution is not a usual fan-made short film -- it’s got a relatively huge budget, it took two years to film... and it looks impressive. The slick design of the game is preserved to a T and the action sequences are perfectly choreographed.


The actor who plays Adam Jensen, the main protagonist, also served as the editor, writer, and director of the film -- his name is Moe Charif. He is currently working on his full feature film “Exile” that should be out sometime this year.

The Splinter Cell

Ubisoft has two tactical shooters that should make their way into the big cinema sooner or later -- Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon. None of them have been actually seriously considered yet, but this fan film made by Atomic Productions is simply staggering.


The cinematography in the film is mind-blowing and at times even trumps those big Hollywood flicks.

BioShock: The Brothers Rapture

BioShock series is a perfect candidate for being turned into a few high-budget Hollywood blockbusters with some nice plot. At one point such a movie was greenlit, but due to financial problems and artistic differences it was put on a halt indefinitely.


Fortunately, there are some really cool short films based on the iconic game. One of them is The Brothers Rapture created by film students from Canada. It tells the story of two brothers who work in the Rapture City and how their experiments lead to some horrific results.

The Last of Us: No Escape

Pocketsquare has made two short films based on The Last of Us thus far, and it looks like it’s not their last one, especially with the announcement of the sequel to TLOU video game.


The 13-minute long film captures the atmosphere of the game incredibly well. Some of the scenes are gripping and convey a true sense of despair. The sound design plays a huge role in it, and it is clear how much attention the creators paid to the ambience -- these people know what they do.

Fallout: Nuka Break

The original short film based on Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas became so popular that the team behind the project decided to turn it into a full-fledged web-series. The first season got huge online very quickly and the Kickstarter campaign was launched to finance Season 2.


Not only fans were amazed by the quality of the original film and the series, but the representatives of Bethesda themselves gave them two thumbs-up. Later on the Nuka Breaker weapon has been released through a DLC, which was a direct homage to this fan-film.

Red Dead Redemption: Seth's Gold

Seth’s Gold is a true fan-film made with the money gathered on IndieGoGo from 87 backers that managed to bring in over 8,000 Euro. Although it is based on the RDR video game, the shooting style was inspired by the old westerns, such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West.


The people behind the film are two young Spanish filmmakers -- Guillermo de Oliveira and Javier Esteban. They have a few other cool shorts on their YouTube channel, so check them out.

Watch Dogs

Ubisoft has in plans of releasing a feature film based on Watch Dogs, but after the flop of the Assassin’s Creed movie, we should all expect more delays and rewrites. There is hope if the production team tries to really ground everything down, instead of imitating the unrealistic approach that works only in video games.


The good example is the short film presented here that received tons of positive reviews from the community. It was created by Infectious Designer right after the release of the first game, which even spawned several sequels.

Shadow Of Mordor

This little movie was made in 2014 by Sam and Niko from Corridor Digital with financial support of Warner Bros. Games. The film shows an episode from the story of ranger Talion, who is being chased by a bunch of orcs.


It features high standards of production, including top-notch make-up, excellent acting, fighting choreography, and some very well-done CGI. The only drawback is the main character’s synthetic wig that looks really cheap, but other than that it’s totally worth a watch.

Grand Theft Auto: RISE

There isn’t much story wise in RISE, but the chase scene that takes the two thirds of the film is more than impressive. Gevorg Karensky, the writer and director, created a style that combines both live and video game footage.


The film was so well accepted by the community that it was immediately snatched for the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. Sam Gibs from Gizmodo UK said the following about GTA: RISE:


"It blows every other fan-made project I've ever laid eyes on completely out of the water."


In the last 20 years dozens of Hollywood filmmakers tried to make movies based on video games that would be well-received by the audiences. Unfortunately, only a couple have managed to bring something decent to the world cinemas -- there is a feeling that movies based on video games are cursed.


The very first game character that was brought to life on a blue screen was Super Mario in 1993. The latest one was Assassin’s Creed, which failed both domestically and globally. On the other hand, there is an entire community of amateur filmmakers that make their own short films of video games -- and it is way more successful than you may think.


This selection offers some of the best examples made in the last five years, including fan-made films based on GTA, Watch Dogs, Fallout, The Legend of Zelda, and many, many others. You can watch them all right here without the need to visit the cinemas.

Unlocked: The Evolution of Lockpicking in Western RPGs Sun, 22 Jan 2017 06:46:53 -0500 Emily Parker

For as long as the human race has had possessions, somebody has tried to steal them. When doors and latches were invented, so was the lock. It wasn't just about protecting ourselves while we slept anymore: there needed to be a way to secure our treasures while we were out for the day. 

Originally, ancient citizens would learn or invent complicated knots to secure a rope around their belongings. This was only to detect if one of their neighbors was stealing from them, not to actually safeguard their things.

During Ancient Egyptian times, the single pin lock was invented. This is an impressive feat, as it is still the base for the majority of locks we use today. During the Industrial Revolution, mankind made several more advances in lock manufacturing, but it's interesting to note that our standard padlocks aren't very different than what our ancestors used 5,000 years ago.

But just as we need locks in real life to secure our belongings and safeguard our homes, so too do we need them as players -- especially in RPGs.

So how does all of this translate to our favorite role-playing games? In a similar fashion to our real-world ancestors, devs started simple, had a big breakthrough, did some fine-tuning to the systems involved and then haven't really bothered doing much else since. It is truly a shame (considering how much the RPG genre relies on puzzles) that there hasn't been more progress with how loot is locked up. 

With the early addition of puzzles in RPGs, stats-based lock picking was introduced. This was a simple click-and-wait mechanic. If your skill was high enough, the lock would open. Training up your skill was really the only requirement, and RPGs with fewer resources or technical limitations (like WoW, for example) still use this method today. 

Then developers began to implement something called "the minigame," and lock picking in video games started to look like what we see today. This gave game developers and designers an opportunity to combine a player's RPG stats with a timed puzzle, making an old mechanic fresh and new. 

An early (and excellent) example of this advancement was an RPG called Hillsfar. The minigame in question is actually quite a lot of fun -- the player picks up lock picks throughout the game, must match several to each lock within the time limit, and if they do it incorrectly, their pick breaks. The system was genius, as it combined hours of collecting locks and fast-paced decisions with tangible consequences. 

Hillsfar was released in 1989. In the video game world, this is the equivalent to Ancient Egypt. As you can see, there have been no huge innovations since our first lock-picking mini-games -- in realism or complexity. They even remain in 2D, which severely limits their capabilities. 

However, they have been graphically enhanced and re-imagined. The Elder Scrolls series has polished traditional lock-picking mini-games to a gleam. RPGs like Bioshock, Risen 2, and Mass Effect took their lock picking in completely different directions. For example, Bioshock features a strange liquid/tube puzzle to crack open the loots and the Risen series is all about the order in which the player sticks the pins.

While some of these systems eventually get repetitive, they are great examples of developers making a genuine effort at making something fairly easy for the player to decipher a little more complex. 

Mass Effect is a good example of lock hacking. As we're on the cusp of switching completely to digital locks in the real world, it's an easy assumption that video game locks will follow suit. "Hacking" provides a multitude of opportunities to improve how video game players break in -- or keep NPCs out.

So How Can Lock Picking in Video Games Innovate? 

Whether they are digital or mechanical, it would be nice to see a few innovations in the way lock-picking mini-games are presented in our upcoming RPGs. Focusing on tension and movement -- rather than time limits and breaking picks -- would be a nice way to refocus the increasingly tired gameplay of these minigames. This could be best pulled off in a 3D environment, veering away from the typical 2D mini-game, killing two birds with one stone.

If a developer lacks the funds to do anything groundbreaking mechanically, take note from the solution for the same problem in the medieval times. There weren't a lot of resources to create pin/tumbler locks, so most lock designs were ward locks.

Ward locks can be opened with a decent skeleton key, so medieval engineers would hide locks in intricate tapestry and stone work. They would also create several dummy keyholes, to keep the thief occupied until they were (hopefully) discovered (and arrested). 

Think about how that would revitalize the locking systems (and picking systems) in modern RPGs. At the very least, adding this concept in with other familiar systems of locking and unlocking in-game loot and items would make gameplay that much more interesting, enganging, and varied. 

Medieval Skeleton Key


Whether you're questing for it, stealing it, or keeping it safe, loot is a primary motivator in many modern RPGs. And while it might be more glamorous to focus on mobs and bosses as an obstacle between the player and their precious treasure, developers would be remiss to stop developing more creative and intuitive locks in all aspects of their game's world -- not just in puzzles.

Pulling from our own history, humans have always been clever with how they safeguard their things. And while the mechanisms themselves haven't dramatically evolved since ancient times, the ways humans use and implement locking systems and lock-picking methods has seen varied use throughout time.

There are plenty of opportunities for video games, especially RPGs, to draw from this creativity and implementation. 

What's your favorite lockpicking system? What improvements do you think developers should implement to make breaking and entering more fun for the player? Let us know in the comments below! 

What Can Disneyland Teach To Aspiring Game Designers? Fri, 20 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 Caio Sampaio

If you wish to become a video game designer, it is wise to learn as much as possible about the field, but do not forget other mediums. Innovation is a vital element of the gaming industry and one of the keys for developing novel concepts is looking for inspiration where no one else is.

You can have your "eureka moment" and think of a new technique when watching a scene from a movie, reading a description in a novel or walking through an amusement park.

When it comes down to parks, Walt Disney World is the dream destination of most people around the globe, as it occupies the number one spot on the list of most visited theme parks on Earth, according to the website World Atlas.

This popularity did not happen without a reason. The experiences in the park are carefully constructed to push the human imagination to its limit and aiming to keep the Disney standard of quality in the park, the company developed a list known as Mickey's Ten Commandments.

This is a set of rules Disney uses when creating new attractions to the park, but it can also prove valuable to an aspiring video game developer, as parks and game design have a lot more in common than you may think.

Mickey's Ten Commandments are:

1- Know your audience;

2- Wear your guests shoes;

3- Organize the flow of people and ideas;

4- Create a weenie (visual magnet);

5- Communicate with visual literacy;

6- Avoid overload;

7- Tell one story at a time;

8- Avoid contradiction;

9- For every once of treatment, provide a ton of fun;

10- Keep it up!

In this article, we will explain each one of these rules and address how designers can apply them to design better games, but before talking about Mickey's Ten Commandments and their use in gaming, let's discuss  one core similarity between designing a park and a video game.

It is all about the experience:

Released in 2013 by Irrational Games and 2K, BioShock Infinite is a First Person Shooter that allowed players to be in the shoes of Booker DeWitt, a former solider who received the mission of travelling to the floating city of Columbia to rescue Elizabeth, a girl who spent her life incarcerated in a tower due to her ability to open doors to parallel universes.

The universe of BioShock Infinite (above) carries many references to Walt Disney World, from the art, to the design of the areas, where each one carried a specific theme, as in a Disney park.

The most important aspect to observe in this game; however, is that whilst its core gameplay mechanic consists of shooting enemies, the experience is larger than that.

As players walk through the streets of the city, they explore the area and uncover its secrets and pay attention to the slightest detail of the carefully crafted world, as they interact with its characters.

This occurs for a reason -- suspension of disbelief.

This is a basic technique of entertainment, which consists of making the audience accept the premises of a work of fiction, even if they are absurd in real life. The idea is to allow players to forget about the logic of the real world and immerse themselves in a fictional universe.

In order to "sell" the idea of a floating city in BioShock Infinite, developers created a set of rules through the story of the game and crafted every section of the experience accordingly, from the art style, to the soundtrack.

It is crucial that every aspect of the production communicates the same vision. A poorly placed element could break the immersion and ruin the experience of the player.

With this being said, BioShock Infinite is a shooter, but its success occurred due to the sum of its parts. Audio, art style, characters and many more elements that, when put together, created a whole experience.

Now, regarding Walt Disney World...

The central point of Disney, and any theme park, are the rides, but they alone cannot sustain the success the park has had. People do not go to Disney to ride a roller coaster, they go there, in order to explore the park and enjoy the experience as whole, to the finest details that compose the magic universe of Walt Disney World.

Just as BioShock Infinite is a shooter, but people do not play it solely for the shooting, Disney is a park, but people do not go there simply for the rides. In both cases, what people wish for is the whole experience.

The whole experience is what makes a game successful, not only its basic mechanics.

The whole experience is what made Disney successful, not only its rides.

This is the connection of game design and Walt Disney World. Their success depend on carefully crafted experiences, which need several fragments to come together and become an united piece.

This is a crucial lesson any aspiring designers needs to learn. A game is a lot more than just its gameplay.

With this said, it is time to analyze with more detail how Disney builds its parks and how these lessons apply to game design. In order to do this, we will take a look at the aforementioned Mickey's Ten Commandments.

1- Know your audience:

"Identify the prime audience for your attraction or show before you begin design."

In any commercial endeavor, it is crucial to determine who your target audience is. Any aspiring designer must understand that he may have to develop a game for an audience he is not found within.

If that is the case, it is paramount to discover the preferences of the target demographic, in order to determine the direction of the project.

This brief intro takes us to the next topic.

2- Wear your Guests’ shoes:

"Insist that your team members experience your creation just the way Guests do."

In this case, we should change "guests" for "players."

This second Mickey Commandment claims that a creator of a experience, as well as the people behind it, should see his work through the lenses of the audience. This is boils down to a single word: empathy.

The Marrian-Webster dictionary defines empathy as:

"The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner"

This skill is fundamental, because the designer needs to create a product that suits the taste of the target audience and if the designer is not inserted in this demographic, he/she may need to develop a game that is not fun for himself/herself.

In order to clarify this idea, let's see an example:

Imagine a 30 years old man, who needs to develop a game for a target audience that consists of teenage girls. The dissonance between the tastes of the designer and of his target demographic will make it hard for him to create a successful game, unless he develops empathy and starts to look at his design through the eyes of a teenage girl.

This is a tricky feat to achieve and in order to do so, the designer must know as much as possible about the players. Luckily, the field of psychology has some tools to make the life of a game designer easier in this regard.

One of them is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Wikipedia entry explains what it is:

"It is an introspective self-report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions."

Once the volunteer answers all of the questions, a report is generated, which gives an overall look at a person's psyche, as the image below shows:

The video below shows the YouTube channel The Game Theorists using this test to analyze the personality of its audience, in order to determine the reason why players had certain preferences in the choice-based game Life is Strange.

                                  [Warning: Spoilers for Life is Strange]

After applying this test to several people who represent the target audience, a game designer will have a solid idea of what to aim for when designing the game, thus develop empathy.

So, now you have the tools to know the drives of your target audience. What comes next? Mickey's Third Commandment tells us.

3- Organize the flow of people and ideas:

"Make sure there is a logic and sequence in our stories and the way Guests experience them."

 In Disneyland, each area of the park tells a different story, but the designers of the park ensured to expose each narrative in a concise way.

In video game design, this Commandment is mostly associated with open world games, through the way the development team places the various points of the world in the map.

Take for example the world of Fallout 4 (below).

Each one of these locations tells to the player a bit about the story of the game, but it is important to know where to position these places. The game must deliver the story in a concise, logical and sequential order, otherwise the player may become confused and lose the interest in the narrative.

To prevent this from happening, the developers must take into account two factors -- the player's starting point in the world and the game mechanic known as "fast travel."

Have you ever wondered why in most games you can only fast travel to a location after you have traveled there for the first time? There are plenty of reasons, but one of them to is to ensure that the player will follow the background story in a logical order.

In most open world games, which parts of the story a location tells is based on how far from the player's starting point this place is. With this said, if a player walks closely to the starting point, regardless of the direction, he/she will only uncover simple details of the story, while the game reserves more in-depth information for areas further away.

If the game grants to the player the ability to fast travel to a location, without progressing through the game to arrive in it, it will risk breaking the narrative, as players will discover elements of the story out of sequential order.

With this said, as Mickey's Third Commandment states, it is paramount that a game designer creates an experience that tells a story in a concise way, even if it is fragmented, as in a Disney park.

4 - Create a wienie (visual magnet):

"Create visual 'targets' that will lead Guests clearly and logically through your facility."

In a park, it is important to add visual clues indicating where to go next and so is in gaming. Players need to understand clearly where to go, in order to proceed with the plot, but adding an element to act as "visual magnet" can be tricky.

As stated herein, the game designer must sell the "plausibility" of the fiction, in order to suspend the disbelief of players and allow them to immerse themselves in the game.

If you add a visual element to guide players, but it does not mix with the rest of the universe, you will break the immersion, as the visual magnet will be perceived by players as a foreign element.

An example of visual magnets being well implemented in a game is Journey, where developers added a mountain with a light beam coming from its top. Most importantly, through the art of the game, this visual element matches with the surroundings of the player, thus feeling natural and maintaining the suspension of disbelief.

A game which received mixed reactions regarding its use visual magnets was Splinter Cell: Conviction (below).

The game used text projected on objects and walls to tell to the player where to go. These had the intention of showing to players the thoughts of Sam Fisher, the protagonist. 

A poll on Ubisoft's official forum asked whether players wanted to have the option to remove these projections from the game. The results showed a perfect split. As we see in the comment from this poll, some users felt that the projected texts were intrusive and hurt the immersion of the gameplay.

This brings us to an important conclusion -- when designing visual magnets, it is a safer bet to use objects that are already part of the universe, as the mountain of Journey, so they do not stand out in a negative way, appearing as foreign elements, as the texts of Splinter Cell: Conviction.

This connects with the next Commandment from Mickey Mouse.

5- Communicate with visual literacy:

"Make good use of color, shape form, texture – all the nonverbal ways of communication."

"Always show, do not tell," is a basic rule of any medium that delivers a story and it has more importance in video game than in any other form of storytelling.

According to the video below from the YouTube channel Extra Creditsone hour-long television shows have approximately 20-30 minutes of dialogue, whereas in video games, this figure drops to ten.

This occurs due to the interactive nature of games. They allow their audience to explore the environment and receive information regarding the plot by observing the world around them, as opposed to relying on an exposition done by a character.

This reduces the number of words spoken in a game, but places greater emphasis on what is known as "environmental storytelling" -- telling a story through the world.

A game that mastered this type of narrative is BioShock (below).

In it, players survive as they explore the fallen underwater utopia of Rapture. The image above shows how the game uses visuals to tell portions of the story.

In this point of the game, no character has told to the protagonist when this society met its demise, but through the art of the world, players know that it happened during New Year's Eve of 1959.

This is just one example of tens, if not hundreds, of opportunities where the development team found a way to send a message to the player through the art of the game.

6- Avoid overload – create turn-ons

"Resist the temptation to overload your audience with too much information and too many objects."

You can tell a story through the environment, but it is important to avoid filling the world of the game with an overabundance of objects and information, otherwise you may confuse the player with an overwhelming amount of messages and visual pollution.

To achieve this goal, we can rely on a rule from film making, which states that every object that appears on screen must have relevance to either the story or to the development of the character.

This concept provides us with a solid idea when designing environments for a game. As an aspiring game designer, when creating your levels, you must discover which objects and visual guides are essential to the player, in regards to both combat and environmental storytelling.

If you add too many objects to a room, not only the will distract the player, but they will consume resources from the team, as additional time will be required to create them. In the end, everybody loses.

Keep it simple, but you should also avoid placing too few objects and make the world lose its life. Finding the right balance can be tricky and concept arts are usually the most useful tool to use in this case.

The world of Mirror's Edge is an example of a game that only has enough objects in the area to build the suspension of disbelief and allow players to navigate through the level in a challenging way, as seen in the image above.

Which brings us to the next topic...

7 - Tell one story at a time:

"If you have a lot of information divide it into distinct, logical, organized stories, people can absorb and retain information more clearly if the path to the next concept is clear and logical."

As previously stated herein, in a Disney park, visitors walk through different areas and each one of them have a different theme and mostly importantly, they all tell a different story.

The 7th Commandment of Mickey Mouse exists in order to ensure the audience understands the message being delivered in a concise way. To do this, it is crucial that all of the areas in the park tell a different story, but all of them connect somehow to create a larger narrative arc.

This same principle applies to game design, and to discuss a stellar example of this concept in practice, we will take a look at BioShock once again.

In The 5th Commandment of Mickey, we addressed the concept of environmental storytelling and its use in this production. In order to understand how the rule of "tell one story at time" fits in this game, we first need to answer why it relies heavily on environmental storytelling. It is all about the narrative structure of the game.

The most common type of story consists of three acts:

Act I - Introduction to the characters and the universe of the story. It ends once the conflict of the plot starts.

Act II - The quest of the protagonist to resolve the main conflict of the narrative. Ends with the climax.

Act III - A brief glimpse of how the characters and/or the universe changed after the conflict has been resolved.

This structure is mostly used in literature and films, but in video games, it changes a bit. Given that the selling point of video games is their interactive nature, developers try to put the player in the middle of the conflict as soon as possible.

For this purpose, they often use a literary device known as "in medias res", which means "in the middle of things". This concept consists of starting the story on Act II, in the middle of the main conflict, and BioShock made a masterful use of this technique by dropping the player in the middle of the conflict for the control of Rapture.

"But how did developers introduced players to the characters and the conflict erupting in Rapture without the first act?" You may ask.

This is where environmental storytelling comes into play.

Through the art of the fallen society of Rapture, players can get glimpses of how life once was in that city and through constructions, posters and propaganda, the audience can understand the events that led to the downfall of the city, thus delivering the information of Act I, while players explore Act II.

The story of Rapture; however, is very complex, to the point it was turned into the novel BioShock Rapture, written by John Shirley, so delivering this amount of information through the visuals of the game is not an easy task.

The story of BioShock consists of the player traveling through key areas of the city of Rapture (above) and each one of these locations tell a mini-story. The player reaches the area, but some event prevents the audience from moving to the next level. Players then need to complete certain tasks to overcome these obstacles and continue to the next part of town.

This is how BioShock managed to deliver a complex story in an understandable way. It broke down the story of the city into smaller narratives and delivered them to players one at a time -- one level at a time.

8 - Avoid Contradictions:

"Clear institutional identity helps give you the competitive edge. Public needs to know who you are and what differentiates you from other institutions they may have seen."

Every major video game franchise has an element that identifies it, regardless of that being a character, the art style, a gameplay mechanic of a combination of each of these factors.

The problem; however, is that as more installments of the series are developed, it can become difficult to maintain the identity of the franchise -- the reason why it became popular.

A series need to change over time, in order to keep its fans engaged, but this movement needs to be planned carefully. If the change contradicts one of the essences of the franchise, the fans will not be pleased with the result.

A prime example of how the lack of consistence can hurt a series is the latest installment in the Call of Duty franchise, Infinite Warfare, which sold approximately 50% less than its predecessor.

With the franchise moving away from its military roots to pursue shootings in outer space, it lost its identity and the interest of its fans in the process. This is a clear example of what NOT to do when aiming to deliver some change to a franchise.

9 - For every ounce of treatment, provide a ton of fun 

"How do you woo people from all other temptations? Give people plenty of opportunity to enjoy themselves by emphasizing ways that let people participate in the experience and by making your environment rich and appealing to all senses."

This Commandment from the world's most beloved mouse stands for the autonomy visitors have in Disneyland. They can go to the rides, visit the areas and watch the shows in any order they wish and through all of the techniques created above, Disney created an alternative reality, via its parks, which provide a rich experience to all of the senses of a person. Even the smell of popcorn is added to some areas where visitors will watch a show, in order to explore people's senses to their fullest.

The most important aspect to observe here is the autonomy visitors have and how they can still enjoy the experience regardless of how they choose to spend their time in the park.

This is similar to the premise of GTA V, a game that allows players to explore an open world in any way they want and this is one of the reasons for its success. Through the autonomy it allows players to have when deciding what to do in the game, it pleases a broad audience.

This is a lesson every aspiring designer must have in mind. Of course, not every project has neither the scope nor the budget of GTA V, but it is important to allow players to have some autonomy on how they tackle the situations within the game. This not only adds depth to the gameplay, but also broadens the target audience of the project, thus making it more profitable.

10 - Keep it up!

"Never underestimate the importance of cleanliness and routine maintenance, people expect to get a good show every time, people will comment more on broken and dirty stuff."

Everything in a Disney park is built aiming for perfection, even maintenance and cleaning duty, as Disney strives to deliver to visitors the absolute best experience they possibly can. If you are an aspiring video game designer, this is the mindset you should follow.

Of course, it is impossible to be perfect, especially in the video game industry with the budget and schedule constraints teams operate under, but that should not stop you from trying anyways. When you do what you love, there is no excuse to not dedicate a 100% of yourself to delivering the best game you possibly can.

Do not use the circumstances as an excuse for delivering an underwhelming game, because players will only care for the quality of the final product, not the circumstances under which it was created.


These commandments developed by Disney have withstand the testament of time and are still relevant today, as Walt Disney World continues to be the most popular theme park in the world.

I made my best to summarize the applications of these rules in game design, but this is a complex topic and if you wish to know more details about the reasoning behind the art of crafting experiences at Disney, I recommend the book One Little Spark, which you can purchase for 14 dollars on Amazon.

Of course, these are only some guidelines you should follow when designing your game, but they show that making the right connections, it is possible to link two subjects that seem unrelated to each other.

So, next time your are watching a film, reading a book or walking through a theme park, remember to keep an eye on the small details, as it is always possible to learn from other forms of art.

As Steve Jobs said, innovation is all about "connecting the dots."

The Unsung Heroes of the Games Industry Mon, 21 Nov 2016 05:40:58 -0500 Clayton Reisbeck

Video games are bigger than they've ever been. The triple-A game industry rivals even that of the biggest movies released today. Even though the game industry is booming, we really don't have many stars that we hear about outside of the big name publishers or indie darlings that pop up. What about the people who really make our games function? The people who put in countless hours so we can explore the worlds that they have created for us. These people are the true heroes of the games industry and it's time we gave them some thanks.


Writers/Environmental Artists


I have always said that I play games for their stories. Games present us with a form of storytelling that I haven't found in any other medium. The ability to interact with a world that is engaging and compelling is something that I have only found in games. Because of this, I find it crazy that we don't give bigger props to the writers and environmental artists of games.

Writers and environmental artists are the ones who build the world that a game is set in. The writers provide the voice of the world. In a game like Bioshock, where the people you meet embody this idea that the city of Rapture is founded on and show where the people of that city end up. The environmental artist gives us the world that tells the visual story of that city. Wandering the waterlogged halls of Rapture and seeing the decay and destruction tell a story of their own and all of this goes back to those environmental artists.

With both of these groups working in tandem, we get some amazing stories from games.


Voice Actors

If the writers provide the words that are said in a game, the voice actors are the ones who provide the voice that say those words. It's one thing to see Batman say "I am vengeance, I am the night, I am Batman!" written down on a script, but Kevin Conroy's delivery of that line is what brings it to life. I'm pretty sure that when you read that line you didn't just read it with your own voice, I'm sure it was Kevin's voice that you heard. This is the kind of power that a voice actor has.

Voice actors bring so much to the storytelling of a game. Their voice gives the emotion and basis for any scene that a player would be experiencing in a game. A game can be ruined if the voice acting is bad. It's baffling to me that we don't give more recognition to these actors. There are a select few voice actors that I think we in the gaming community can name and I feel that we should be showing all of them more appreciation for the strenuous work that they do. Not only does a voice actor voice the lines of a game, they have to voice every reaction that could be possible in game play. They can spend hours just performing those reactions. It truly is strenuous work that usually goes unnoticed.


Programmers/Game Testers


These people may be some of the most important people in all of the game industry. No game is made without these two groups. Programmers and game testers are the ones who make the gears turn in the machine of a game. They spend long hours making sure that everything works mechanically. In some cases, they have to build brand new engines to make things work which adds even more time to the creation of games.

Programmers may get a lot of the brunt of any criticism a game receives. If something doesn't work, the first group blamed is the programmers. Its very rare that you see the programmers praised for their work. This is really sad to me. I'm pretty sure we have all heard the horror stories of crunch in the development of games. These people have to spend horrendously long hours making sure that the game is working and staying late to make sure that the gears turn properly. And they do all of this with almost no recognition.

Game testers also have a pretty thankless job. I've heard way too many people talk about they think that it is the easiest job in the world. I would have to disagree. Sure, they spend their days playing video games for a living, but they have to play a game that isn't finished. Think of the batch of games we've had in recent years that are clearly broken and then think about only playing those games for a living. That sounds like a really hard job. They have some of the most important jobs in the industry and they get no thanks. These are the people we should be recognizing any time we're wanting to give awards to games.


These are just a few of the people who go by unthanked in our industry. If I'm completely honest, any person who has a hand in the creation of a new game deserves thanks. As gamers, we really just get to see the end product of what these people spend years crafting for us to enjoy. We don't have to think about all the trouble that goes into creating, but I think it's time that we start.


What do you all think? Who do you feel goes by unnoticed in the game industry? Let me know in the comments!

5 GDC Talks Every Aspiring Game Designer Must Watch Mon, 14 Nov 2016 18:48:18 -0500 Caio Sampaio


These five talks are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes down to the content featured on the GDC YouTube channel. With an expanding list of more than 500 videos, the best minds in this industry share their experiences and ideas for the future.


If you wish to work in this field, it is wise to listen to those who have thrived in it and with half a thousand of videos available, there certainly is one that perfect for the role you want to occupy, regardless of being a game designer or a writer.


Grab your popcorn, create your playlist and enjoy an evening of learning.


AI Behavior Editing and Debugging


To craft an emotionally engaging experience, a game designer cannot think exclusively about how to drive the behavior of the player, but also the interaction with the game's various NPCs.


In 2016, Jonas Gillberg joined GDC to discuss the different behaviors of NPCs in Tom Clancy’s The Division and how to design the attributes of the NPCs that players encounter throughout the experience and how to make the interaction with the player and the AI as impacting as possible.


How to Make Great Game Tutorials


Some gamers may not like to admit this, but the days when developers made games especially for gamers are long gone. Nowadays, game designers attempt to reach out to the largest audience possible and in some cases, this has led to an inferior product.


As the Portal franchise has shown us, however, it is possible to design a game that is accessible to even those who do not play games and still be a compelling experience for those who do.


We currently live in an era in which the budgets for AAA games have gone through the roof and as a designer, it will be your job to ensure this money is an investment, not an expense. In order to do this, you will need to design great tutorials and to make your game accessible even for people who are not familiar with video games, thus making your target audience wider.


In order to discuss how to create a good tutorial, Asher Vollmer spoke on the GDC 2014 about the topic.


How To Make Your Game Funny


Throughout the years, the video game industry has embraced a variety of genres, but still has not invested in one: comedy.


In the Borderlands franchise, developers at Gearbox Studios aimed at combining an FPS with humor and the success of the series has proven that comedy does have a place in video games, but we are yet to see a major movement from other companies in this regard. Therefore, there is a big opportunity to upcoming developers to innovate and invest in this under-explored niche.


In his talk, William Pugh, the co-creator of The Stanley Parable, shares his thoughts on why his game was successful and how to make a video game funny.




Building to an Emotional Theme


As video games continue to feature more complex and emotionally engaging narratives, a good game designer needs to have a clear understanding of how storytelling in this medium works, in order to design a system that makes best use of the plot.


In order to help you getting a clearer picture on how to craft an emotional story in a video game, watch this talk from 2016. Lead writer of the Dragon Age franchise, Patrick Weekes, and narrative designer, John Epler, discuss the process of designing the narrative of the "Trespasser" DLC.


Narrative Lego


In 2014, Ken Levine, the mind behind the BioShock franchise pitched the concept he wishes to implement in his next game.


“Narrative Lego”, as he calls his idea, consists of creating a story-driven experience in which the choices of the player will dictate the course of the story.


Many games, such as Fallout 3, for instance, have featured choice-driven narratives in the past, but what makes Levine’s concept unique is the fact that players will have the freedom to create their own stories and choices, rather than following what the designers and writers scripted.


As the video game industry continues to mature, the techniques designers use to craft better experiences keeps raising the development curve. Each day, bright minds create novel ideas and innovative concepts that continue to transform our favorite medium.


If you wish to become a game designer, it is important to keep track of the latest trends in the field. One of the best ways to do so is following the Game Developers Conference (GDC) channel on YouTube, where the masterminds of the industry share their thoughts about the current state of video games and what the future holds.


With this in mind, we have picked five GDC talks you must watch if you are an aspiring game designer and want to keep updated with the latest trends in the industry.

What Can BioShock Teach To BioShock Infinite? Tue, 08 Nov 2016 02:00:01 -0500 Caio Sampaio

Your heart races in a moment of despair, as your airplane descends from the sky. Defying the odds, you survive the crash and the fear you once had transforms itself in curiosity, as a lighthouse invites you in. As you step inside, your footsteps echo through the room and the door behind you shuts for good. There is only a single path to follow. The only way to go is down. What will happen next will forever dwell in your memory. Welcome to Rapture.

Developed by 2K and Irrational Games, BioShock is the spiritual successor of System Shock 2 and received praise from critics and players upon release in 2007. With a score of 9.6/10 on Metacritic (PC version), the franchise received another entry in 2010, but it swam in familiar waters, as the setting of the sequel remained the city of Rapture. In 2013, the series gave its farewells to the underwater dystopian society, as it flew above the clouds to present players to the city of Columbia, the locale of BioShock Infinite.

The third installment of series allows the player to live the role of Booker DeWitt, a former soldier who receives the task of traveling to a floating city in the sky, in order to rescue Elizabeth, a girl who spent her entire life imprisoned in a tower. With a peculiar premise, the game divided the waters of the gaming community.

A portion of the players claimed it was not a masterpiece, as critics were preaching. The gameplay mechanics presented therein followed the core design used in the first entry of the franchise, but the team at Irrational Games made sure to alter the old formula.

Not every change was positive; however. This article details how BioShock surpassed Infinite in one aspect, combat, and how developers could have implemented the lessons learned from the first installment of the series in the third one, in order to create a more compelling experience.  

"Human" enemies:

In BioShock, players fought mutated human beings, known as Splicers. In appearance, they resembled zombies. In Infinite; on the other hand, the player faced soldiers, who were mundane in their looks. The enemies in the former; however, felt more human than those from latter. In several occasions throughout the experience of BioShock, the game presented players with the opportunity of observing the enemies from a distance.

Through actions and dialogues, players could get a glimpse on their stories and personalities, thus adding depth to their characters and to the universe of the game. This humanized feel made the enemies seem as real people, as opposed to simple shooting targets. By killing them, players felt they were reaping a life.

The best example of this technique in action is the Big Daddy. It looks as a monster, yet players can easily create an emotional bond with them, because it will not attack unless attacked first. This gives to the audience the opportunity to simply follow and observe its relationship with the Little Sister. What they do and the sounds they produce, communicate plenty about who they are and what their personality is.

This element is rarely present in Infinite, which leads to the notion that the foes are nothing but lifeless bots, with the sole purpose of serving as a statistic of how many soldiers the player murdered throughout the game. Ideally, the game should allow for stealth gameplay mechanics, in order to permit the player to eavesdrop on conversations and witness the activities of the enemies.

The more the player knows about the enemies, the better, for this will allow them to have a deeper emotional connection with them, thus making combat more meaningful and improving the overall experience by creating a deeper universe, populated by real people, as seen in BioShock. There are other methods to achieve this objective and they work in conjunction, as the next topic explains.

Character design:

What you wear communicates a lot about who you are. This principle holds true whether the subject is a real person, or a fictional character. Foes in BioShock wear a vast variety of outfits and each one tells a bit, regarding who that person once was, prior to the events of the game. In BioShock this principles serves the purpose of reinforcing the notion that the enemies are real people, with lives that went wrong.

In Infinite; however, the majority of enemies are soldiers, who wear uniforms. Their standardized appearance works against the overall experience, because it makes them feel as lifeless characters; bots that only exist for the player to slaughter, one by one.

In order to avoid the said scenario, developers could have changed the main enemy of the game. Considering that the inhabitants of the city perceived Booker DeWitt, the protagonist, as the “False Shepard”, the development team could have added them as the primary enemies, who would do anything within their grasps to drive away the “demon” and protect their city. This would add variation in clothing, which would make the enemies more human and, as previously stated herein, add depth to the experience.

Less is more:

Through the two techniques presented herein, BioShock created unique enemies, who engaged the players in memorable fights. Each time players entered a battle was an event unto itself and they rarely encountered more than one enemy at once. This allowed the game to implement its vision of communicating to the audience that the citizens of Rapture are people as well. With few enemies on screen at the same time, it is possible for the player to listen and observe them; which would be impossible if dozens of enemies populated the area.

In Infinite, on the other hand, enemies may appear by the dozens, which makes it impossible for the player to get an insight on who they are. Without this contextualization, the human aspect is lost, thus making fighting them a less appealing task. While BioShock emphasizes the importance of the battles by means of their scarcity, in Infinite, combat occurred often, thus making it lose its significance, due to repetition. As the saying goes “if everything is highlighted, then nothing is.” This is not to say that in order to make defeating foes a more appealing task, all developers need to do is reduce the number of fights.

This approach worked in BioShock due to the number of areas the player could explore apart from the main course of action of the story. This gives to players an interesting thing to do while not in combat, whereas in Infinite, the lack of locations for the audience to dive into, in order to uncover details of the city, did not give much for the player to do asides from proceeding with the story and fighting with enemies.

With this said, in order to create a more meaningful combat experience in BioShock Infinite, the developers could have reduced the number of fights and enemies, whilst expanding the map of the game, in order to incentivize exploration. There is; however, another element from BioShock that would need to be implemented, in order to make this approach work.

Level design:

Another factor from BioShock that made its combat experience compelling was the element of mystery. The close-quarters nature of the city of Rapture made it impossible for players to know what awaited for them in the very next corner. There could be another enemy or perhaps just another empty hallway, but the player would never know until getting there.

Through the audio design, this led to several heart-racing moments, for players tended to expect the worst. In Infinite, due to the outdoors nature of the city of Columbia, the element of mystery was lost, as players had an ample field of view.

To implement the element of mystery in Infinite, this concept would need to be adapted, due to the divergence between Rapture and Columbia. The previous being a narrow set of corridors, while the latter is an outdoor environment.

With this said, level designers could have used the buildings from the floating utopia to deliver the “fear of the unknown” element in Infinite, by placing enemies inside them, that would shoot the player through the windows. This scenario gives to the Artificial Intelligence of the game the possibility of engaging the players in ambushes, as there would be no way for the audience to tell whether a building is occupied by bloodthirsty soldiers.

This suggestion would also increase the options of the enemies to get to cover from the player’s fire, thus making combat harder and forcing players to spend more time to defeat an enemy, which would, in turn, help to lessen the number of enemies in each combat sequence. Creating; therefore, a more meaningful combat experience.


I praise the developers of BioShock for developing a new approach, rather than sticking with their original formula. While I regard Infinite as one of the best games I have ever played, I cannot be delusional. There are aspects in it that could have been better. Combat was one of them.

The objective of this article was to show how the techniques used in the original title could have improved Infinite if developers had implemented them therein.

Which elements from BioShock do you think should have been carried over to Infinite? Let us know in the comments!

Top 10 Games Set in Political Dystopias Mon, 07 Nov 2016 06:00:01 -0500 Justin Michael


We all know what the best dystopia is though, no not Equilibrium. But 1984, George Orwell's 1949 book, turned movie that released in 1984. Some of these games have come close to matching the detail of 1984, with Deus Ex: Human Revolution coming closest.


What are some games you feel have a dystopian theme? Let me know in the comments below.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

While many would look at Skyrim as a fantasy RPG the story has a heavy political agenda. You're in a world at the brink of a civil war between the Nords of Skyrim and the Imperial Legion of Cyrodiil. The Jarls of the various holds across Skyrim also have their own agendas and corruption can be found throughout the land in all manners.


As the Dragonborn, you can choose whose side to join, or not join a side at all. The beauty of these types of games is that it does not punish you to remain impartial, even if it does limit your options later down the line.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

The Phantom Pain is a game rife with politics and dystopia. For starters, you play as Big Boss, a legendary soldier turned leader of the mercenary outfit Militaires Sans Frontieres (Military Without Borders). You and your men are willing to fight for anyone and anything, as long as the price is right.


The game has a number of controversial topics within it such as child soldiers, blood diamonds, nuclear armament, and unethical human testing. There is also a number of flashbacks to moments of extreme violence from Big Boss' past that breach the topic of PTSD in those who experience the harsh realities of war.

Fallout 3

What could be more of a political dystopia than post-apocalypse Washington D.C.? In Fallout 3 you play as a vault dweller who leaves the safety of the vault to find your father, who leaves the vault without saying a word.


Civilization is doing what it does best in the fallout wastelands -- trying to rebuild and even flourish. Throughout your journey looking for your father, you'll encounter settlements of hopeful wastelanders just trying to survive, raider scum, remnants of the former government, and the Brotherhood of Steel. Along the way you'll make choices that will not only affect you, but the fate of those who call the wastes their home.

Red Faction: Guerrilla

With a word like Guerrilla in the title, you can expect that the game has a certain level of dystopia. In Red Faction: Guerrilla you play as Alec Mason, a simple mining engineer looking to start a new life with his brother mining on Mars. The Earth Defense Force, the main corporation in charge of the mining operations, however, have other plans and kill your brother, who was a member of Red Faction, a resistance movement.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

Shadow of Chernobyl puts you in the boots of a stalker -- a scavenger mercenary that illegally trades artifacts from "The Zone." There are many other factions in the zone that are vying for control over the artifacts that you'll encounter, some friendly and some that shoot on sight. Who you chose to interact with molds your relations with the other groups in this hostile, unforgiving environment.


Welcome to Rapture, where the people are insane and everything wants to kill you. It wasn't always this way, Rapture used to be a thriving utopia and haven to the social elite removed from the law of the surface world. I mean, what could go wrong?


Everything went wrong.


The population became divided, a resistance grew, and a battle was waged. You just happened to get stuck dealing with the aftermath as Jack, the sole survivor of a plane crash. Given the circumstances wouldn't you rise up against the tyrant running Rapture? Even go so far as to Kill him? Would you kindly...


This list would not be complete without a mention of Dishonored, a game all about political dystopia, deception, and revenge. You are Corvo Attano, bodyguard to the Empress of the Isles and you've been framed for her murder. Throughout the game, you learn more about the coup that made you a scapegoat as you dole out revenge while doing the Loyalists, a resistance group fighting to restore Dunwall to former glory.

Metro 2033

Metro 2033 takes place in post-nuclear Russia and has some very interesting elements of political dystopia. For the most part, society has survived this devastation and is starting to rebuild in the Metro, the subway system that the fortunate few were able to escape the nuclear destruction. However, the peace is dangling precariously in the balance between the rising tensions between the 2 main political factions -- the Fourth Reich and the Red Line, communists who follow Stalinist ideology.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Shadow of Mordor takes a very interesting approach to political dystopia by looking at the internal struggle for power within the society of the Uruks, the main enemies of the game. As the player, the Gondorian ranger Talion, you can influence the hierarchy of power between the Uruks in a number of different ways. This ranges from assassination, to taking control of a war chieftain's mind and forcing him to do your bidding.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Throughout the Deus Ex series, we play as a character with superhuman abilities at the cost of some of his humanity. In Deus Ex: Human Revolution our main character, Adam Jensen, is the survivor of an attack that killed his girlfriend. His survival came at the price of having the majority of his body augmented with cybernetics and robotics.


Throughout the game, you see just how much of an impact the modification of our bodies with cybernetics has divided the people. The shadowy mega corporations that work behind the scenes use their influence to sow discord, and skew the population's perception on the topic of transhumanism.


A dystopia is a futuristic imagined universe, in which oppressive societal control under the guise of a perfect society is maintained through corporate, bureaucratic, technological, moral, or totalitarian control.


While a terrifying situation to actually find ourselves in, dystopian settings make up the bulk of the societies in games we play and are sometimes the major driving force behind the story. And with a less-than-ideal political election coming up for the US, the notion of creating a political dystopia is becoming more and more prevalent among unhappy voters. 


As such, let's take a look at my top 10 choices for games set in political dystopias.