Half-Life Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Half-Life RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Top 10 Remakes/Remasters of All Time https://www.gameskinny.com/b1eoa/top-10-remakesremasters-of-all-time https://www.gameskinny.com/b1eoa/top-10-remakesremasters-of-all-time Fri, 10 Jul 2020 12:02:55 -0400 Daniel Hollis

With the next-generation of consoles right around the corner, now is the time for reflection. A look back at the many games that have released over the years and left an impact in the world of gaming, but perhaps more importantly, those remakes and remasters that have breathed new life into classic games. 

As this generation ends a wealth of older titles are receiving a revival and a new chance to find an audience. From Destroy All Humans to Mafia: Definitive Edition, these games didn’t necessarily sell millions of copies such as The Last of Us Part II, but they made an impact on an audience, warranting the desire for a reimagining.

So, let’s look back over the top most notable remasters and remakes of all time!

10. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Admittedly on launch, The Master Chief Collection hit quite a few snags. The multiplayer was a mess and practically unplayable. It took the development team years to get it sorted, but boy, was it worth the wait.

The Master Chief Collection bundles every single one of the Master Chief’s adventures into one concise package. Perhaps one of the most wonderful things about the collection is how further adventures have been added over time.

Halo 3: ODST and Halo; Reach have both joined the fray. The game now works flawlessly, with players able to jump between the history of the Halo franchise with ease. It’s accessible, massive and a must have for fans of the series.

9. Okami

When Okami first came out, it was easy to dismiss the title as just another Zelda clone. To a certain extent it is, but Okami boasts such an impressive visual art style and unique setting that it’s hard not to fall in love with the world it’s built.

Drenched in Japanese folklore, Okami is an adventure filled with personality, character and a joyous experience to uncover as you mark your path in the world and are equipped with a magical celestial brush that acts as a means to explore the land even further.

The remaster gives players another chance, even better is the Nintendo Switch port which allows players to use the touch screen for the brush strokes. Magical.

8. Metroid: Samus Returns

The Metroid formula has been replicated hundreds of times since its incarnation. You can’t play many games without stumbling into the formula being utilised in some way or another. The term Metroidvania gets thrown around fairly often, but Metroid: Samus Returns is based on the genre's origins. 

Working as a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus, the new incarnation reworks the popular franchise and encourages a new audience to see what the fuss is about. Sporting precise controls, intricate level design and dozens of secrets to uncover, it’s easy to see why the franchise is so popular and why so many titles used the concept for their own ideas.

7. The PS3’s Platforming Remasters

The PlayStation 2 was home to the ignition of many platforming giants. Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter, and Sly Cooper. All made their mark and all were able to form incredible trilogies across the generation. Sadly, those who didn’t own the console missed out on some of the most incredible platformers of our time. 

Then the PS3 released and across its lifespan each mascot was granted a new opportunity to show the world just what fantastic little gems each one was.

Each trilogy was beautifully remastered with gorgeous HD visuals and came bundled with dozens of hours worth of content. It was a wonderful chance to relive adventures with old friends and bring an entirely new audience into the magnificent worlds that each game produced.

6. Shadow of the Colossus Remake

While the murky colour palette of the original served well at the time, with age it’s become a bit of an eye sore. Even with the PS3 remaster, the world was still missing that tiny bit of life to elevate its majesty.

In comes the PS4 remake of Shadow of the Colossus, which not only takes the pitch perfect gameplay of the original, but infuses a truly stunning graphics engine to provide the world the grandeur it deserves.

Taking down these goliaths with more elaborate animations and detailed physical structures is truly breath-taking. Despite being based off an older title, it manages to modernise it to today’s standards while truly capturing the spirit of the source material. A masterpiece.

5. Yakuza Franchise

Yakuza’s rise of popularity in the west over the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable. The niche franchise has garnered a huge fan base and as a result, the entire series is now playable on the PS4.

Not only that, but with each new installment ported over, many graphical upgrades and gameplay improvements have been made. Yakuza Kiwami 2 for example is a remake of the second game using the engine used in Yakuza 6.

Having the whole collection on one system is pretty neat and a fantastic way to experience Kiryu's story.

4. Black Mesa

While fans desperately claw to find any information regarding Half-Life 3, Black Mesa is a fan made remake of the original. Originating as a mod, it was quickly greenlit by Valve to receive the full remake treatment.

Black Mesa manages to modernise an already classic game with a brand new lick of paint and creating a more realised world. It’s easy to see why the Half-Life series is so well loved and how fans are desperate for a conclusion to the story when the original entry contains a fantastic story and addictive first-person gameplay.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

The Zelda series is no stranger to getting remastered. Entries have been given a new lease of life multiple times on various systems, but nothing quite like how Link’s Awakening was crafted.

As a ground-up remake, Link’s Awakening is a gorgeous recreation of a beloved game. Perhaps one of the lesser known titles in the series, the Nintendo Switch reincarnation manages to bring a beautifully realised world to life through a toy-like aesthetic. It’s a new art style for the franchise and one that works.

The open ended nature of Link’s Awakening fits perfectly in today’s standards as players can experiment, explore and uncover the mysteries of the world organically.

2. Final Fantasy VII Remake

Hype around this game circulated for years. The development cycle was long, but ultimately worth it. Final Fantasy VII Remake did something pretty unique. Instead of remaking the whole game, the first part was essentially expanded and examined for a fully fledged experience.

This gave fans the chance to explore the world they’d grown to love over the years in a new light. Simply more than a mere graphical upgrade, the remake adds dozens of hours of new content and even significantly changes up the story. So now, when part two arrives, even those who are familiar with the narrative will be privy to a few wholesome surprises.

1. Resident Evil 2 Remake

I never got the opportunity to dive into the original Resident Evil series. As a horror fan I was doing myself a massive disservice and betraying the genre as a whole. Obviously when the remake hit shelves it was an experience that begged to be delved into and unsurprisingly enough, it became one of the best horror games of all time.

The change to a third person perspective pushed players closer to the horror and the updated graphics engine made Racoon City a truly desolate environment to chip away at. The remake served as a love letter to the original game, made by fans for the fans. Oh, and I still have nightmares about Mr. X to this day.

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Whether you feel the time for remakes and remakes is over or not, it's hard to deny the power and effort that entries have attempted. Any favourites we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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Death Stranding Coming to PC with a Surprise Crossover https://www.gameskinny.com/fr06c/death-stranding-coming-to-pc-with-a-surprise-crossover https://www.gameskinny.com/fr06c/death-stranding-coming-to-pc-with-a-surprise-crossover Mon, 02 Mar 2020 12:20:50 -0500 Ty Arthur

If you were holding off on playing Hideo Kojima's bizarre Death Stranding until it hit PC, your wait is almost over.

Death Stranding is due to get a physical PC retail edition, as well as digital versions through Steam and the Epic Game Store on June 2. 505 Games will handle the publishing for the Windows edition of the previously PS4-exclusive title.

Aside from the main campaign experience, the PC version of Death Stranding includes a surprise Half-Life franchise crossover teased in the video trailer above.

PC pre-orders come with HD wallpapers, gold, and additional cosmetic items to use during your playthrough. PC buyers also get these updates from the console edition:

  • Photo mode
  • High frame rate
  • Ultra-wide monitor support

The Day 1 physical edition also comes in a Steelbook slipcase and includes both a digital copy of The Art Of Death Stranding, as well as the original score digital soundtrack.

Death Stranding was certainly divisive when it launched. Some loved it, while others didn't like it. Half-Life itself now has a new version (kind of): the fan-created Black Mesa remake just saw its Beta 1.0 launch.

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Half-Life: Alxy Release Date Confirmed, Other Half-Life Games F2P on Steam https://www.gameskinny.com/nncgd/half-life-alxy-release-date-confirmed-other-half-life-games-f2p-on-steam https://www.gameskinny.com/nncgd/half-life-alxy-release-date-confirmed-other-half-life-games-f2p-on-steam Fri, 14 Feb 2020 12:43:24 -0500 Ty Arthur

Half-Life: Alxy, a VR-only Half-Life 2 prequel that takes place between the two main games in the franchise, is now officially set for a March 23 Steam release date. Though Valve has trouble counting, at least they know fans want more Half-Life

You can check out the original announcement trailer below.

Playing Half-Life: Alxy will require a compatible VR headset, such as the Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest. The game also supports Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Sadly, there is no indication of a PSVR port at this time. It looks like PS4 owners will have to jump on the SteamVR bandwagon if they want to play  for now at least.

Alxy is up for pre-order now on Steam for 10% off the full $59.99 price. Until the game drops in March, every previous Half-Life game is free to play on Steam.

While a brand-new game is huge news for the Half-Life franchise, fans also have the Black Mesa remake of the original Half-Life game to look forward to soon. After more than a decade in development, Black Mesa finally has a 1.0 Beta version available for testing, with a full launch expected later this year.

Are you planning on picking up a VR headset for your PC to play the closest thing to Half-Life 3 we're probably ever going to get? Sound off in the comments below, and stay tuned to GameSkinny for more Alxy and Black Mesa news!

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Black Mesa Hits Version 1.0, Beta Testers Needed For Achievements, Bugs https://www.gameskinny.com/cy7by/black-mesa-hits-version-10-beta-testers-needed-for-achievements-bugs https://www.gameskinny.com/cy7by/black-mesa-hits-version-10-beta-testers-needed-for-achievements-bugs Thu, 13 Feb 2020 15:06:06 -0500 Ty Arthur

Five long years after first hitting Early Access, the Half-Life fan remake Black Mesa is finally ready for a Beta 1.0 launch.

Now that the feature-complete version has hit Steam (for players who opt-in to the Black Mesa Beta), development crew Crowbar Collective is on the hunt for testers to wrack up achievements and look for bugs.

When that process is finished, Black Mesa will finally have the full launch version on the horizon, with a 2020 launch window currently planned. Of course, the actual release date for leaving Early Access is still up in the air, as Black Mesa has been in development and released in various versions since as far back as 2005.

Here's what Crowbar Collective had to say about seeking fan feedback:

What we are looking for  most importantly, game breakers. We obviously want the 1.0 experience to be as smooth and enjoyable as possible, so if you find any crashes or progression blockers, please let us know so we can fix it. The game has been very stable during our internal testing, but we need to test on a wider set of players and machines.

We are also looking for difficulty spikes. Throughout all of earthbound we rebuilt combat spaces and upgraded the AI of the HECU and Vortigaunts. We think this dramatically improves the combat in the game. Let us know what you think, and let us know if there is a section that feels too hard.

Shooting bloody headcrabs in Black Mesa on Steam.

Check out the full announcement from Crowbar Collective and info on how to opt-in for the Black Mesa Beta 1.0 version over here.

While we're probably never going to see a true Half-Life 3, a new official Valve game in the series is finally in the works. The VR-only Half-Life: Alxy is currently in development and expected to land at around the six-hour mark. The game will be released on March 23. 

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news on the full Black Mesa launch and the upcoming release of Half-Life: Alxy.

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Half-Life: Alyx Clocks in at About What We'd Expect https://www.gameskinny.com/b35lh/half-life-alyx-clocks-in-at-about-what-wed-expect https://www.gameskinny.com/b35lh/half-life-alyx-clocks-in-at-about-what-wed-expect Thu, 23 Jan 2020 12:53:29 -0500 Calen Nakash

A game series like Half-Life doesn't pride itself on hundreds of hours of gameplay, or repetitive looter-shooter mechanics like Borderlands 3 (as exciting as those mechanics can be).

As it stands, it looks like Half-Life: Alyx, the upcoming VR first-person shooter set in the Half-Life universe, will follow its predecessors as a roughly dozen-hour adventure. The news comes from a Reddit AMA with the game's developers.

For comparison, Half-Life 2 clocked in at around 13 hours and 15 hours for completionists. The original Half-Life takes about 12 hours to complete, with a playtime of about 14 to15 hours to finish up.

In other words, Half-Life: Alyx is par for the course when it comes to titles in the series. According to the recent developer AMA, playtesters have found themselves spending roughly the same amount of time with the new virtual reality game as the first two games, which should be plenty for a rich, memorable experience.

More good news comes with the fact that Half-Life: Alyx is a VR game, too: there will be tons of face-eating monsters jumping directly into your eyes. Half-Life: Alyx is coming out in March for Windows. Whether it will eventually drop for the PS4 and Xbox One remains to be seen.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news on Half-Life Alyx as it breaks. 

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No Deathmatch For You: Half-Life Alyx Skips Multiplayer https://www.gameskinny.com/k9hdh/no-deathmatch-for-you-half-life-alyx-skips-multiplayer https://www.gameskinny.com/k9hdh/no-deathmatch-for-you-half-life-alyx-skips-multiplayer Thu, 12 Dec 2019 16:34:46 -0500 GS_Staff

Valve has confirmed that Half-Life: Alyx will forego multiplayer, making it the first game in the franchise to not have a competitive component. Instead, Alyx will be a single-player experience echoing the campaigns found in the first two Half-Life games. 

The news comes from The Verge. In a recent and wide-ranging interview, Valve Programmer Robin Walker confirmed that Half-Life: Alyx will focus on telling a single-player story. 

"We’re not planning on supporting any multiplayer modes at this point," Walker said. 

Though the interview goes on to talk about Alyx's single-player design, such as how it will be "a meticulously designed path," Walker did not share any further information on multiplayer or if multiplayer would be added in later. 

Half-Life: Alyx was revealed in mid-November. Using Source Engine 2, Alyx is a VR first-person shooter set to release in March 2020. It will reportedly support Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, and Windows Mixed Reality. It is set before the events of Half-Life 2

While the game's official trailer can be seen at the top of this article, more information about Half-Life: Alyx will be revealed during the 2019 Game Awards

Half-Life multiplayer has a storied past. Originally a bare-bones mode that accompanied the original 1998, Half-Life multiplayer went on to spawn myriad multiplayer mods built around the GoldSrc engine and the Worldcraft level editor. 

Some of the games to later spawn from Valve's open-source initiative? Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, and Day of Defeat. Considering that history, Valve may very well revisit Alyx multiplayer down the line, though there is currently no information suggesting they will. 

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news and info on Half-Life: Alyx as it breaks. 

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An Interview with the Creative Minds Behind Half-Life: A Place in the West https://www.gameskinny.com/e1s5l/an-interview-with-the-creative-minds-behind-half-life-a-place-in-the-west https://www.gameskinny.com/e1s5l/an-interview-with-the-creative-minds-behind-half-life-a-place-in-the-west Thu, 25 Jan 2018 13:21:58 -0500 Sarah Elliman

Half-Life is a gaming series known and loved by many; the immense popularity of the original game has made Valve what it is today. Even in 2008, the various installments in the series had sold just under 18.4 million units; the sales the series must have achieved by now must be astronomical. It is the intricate world, interesting characters, and various narrative possibilities that have drawn fans back to the franchise time and time again. Sadly, there hasn’t been a third installment to satiate the desire for more content, and the 10-year gap from the release of Half-Life 2 could suggest there never will be. Luckily, mod and comic book creators Ross Gardner and Micheal Pelletier have bought life back into the series with their episodic comic book Half-Life: A Place in the West.

Half-Life: A Place in the West is set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2 on alien-occupied Earth, and it follows three characters who are all drawn to a decrepit American town called New Franklin. The protagonists are searching for a group of missing children when they stumble upon a retinue of freedom fighters who seek to reclaim their land. A simple twist of fate connects the fighters with the missing children, and the tale unfolds from there.

The comic has received heaps of praise from fans, as the comic stays true to the atmosphere and content of the games while telling a different story entirely. The overwhelming success of Half-Life: A Place in the West has been incredibly unforeseen, but it's an exciting prospect for both fans and those involved in the project. At GameSkinny, we have been given access to the brilliant minds behind the comic and their inner thoughts on their marvelous creation. 

GameSkinny: What are your backgrounds, and how has that enabled you to create the comic?

Ross Gardner & Micheal Pelletier: Our backgrounds are sort of all over the place. Making a comic is something we’d wanted to do for a very long, long time.

It’s been an amazing learning experience, and I’m not sure there’s a lot that really could prepare you for it. 

GS: What inspired you to create the comic?

RG & MP: We were inspired by both the bizarre science-fiction universe Valve created and our love of comics … We wanted to tell a story outside the confines of the game and introduce new perspectives on the traditional Half-Life archetypes. 

GS: What made you put it into comic form?

RG & MP: In developing our story, we found Half-Life naturally lent itself to the comic book medium, and whatever we envisioned, whatever we imagined we could do. The vast imagery of Half-Life was open to us, and A Place in the West presented an opportunity to present it in fresh and exciting ways. Hopefully we’ve done that.

 

 GS: The comic has been praised by many as being able to capture the Half-Life universe to its fullest. What do you think allowed you to create a story that is so true to the original content?

RG & MP: We’ve more focused on being true to the themes rather than any actual events, and I think that resonates with our readers. I think the key to making it feel true to the world is about not capturing the events of previous tellings, but capturing how those moments made you feel.

GS: Although not being a property of Valve, the comic has been an incredible success thus far and is continuing to grow. What do you think draws people to the comic?

RG & MP: [We've] stepped aside from the main narrative of the game to focus on different aspects of it … I think the reason that people are interested in it is the same reason that we were drawn to creating it. Half-Life presents an enormous and fascinating world and explores small facets of it.

GS: Where do you see the comic going? Can you envision the future and direction you want to take the comic in?

RG & MP: We have a total of 13 chapters planned, the last of which will bring the story to a definitive conclusion. The story was planned out from beginning to end before we started production on the first chapter, so we’ve always known our endpoint, even if certain arcs and plot beats have necessarily taken different forms along the way. Our main goal is just to keep getting better at this comics thing. We’ve never done anything like this before, and we learn so much with each subsequent chapter. From where we’re sitting, there’s a clear uptake in quality with each release, and we want to keep going on that trajectory.

 


Half-Life: A Place in the West is truly a magnificent comic that captures the essence of the series perfectly. If you haven’t already, check out the first chapter here. It’s entirely free, and subsequent episodes are only $1.99. If you would like more information about the project, you can also visit the Half-Life: A Place in the West website.

Are you interested in reading the comic? What have you thought of it so far if you already have? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Beloved YouTube Series, Freeman's Mind, Returns on the Worst Possible Day https://www.gameskinny.com/5uglh/beloved-youtube-series-freemans-mind-returns-on-the-worst-possible-day https://www.gameskinny.com/5uglh/beloved-youtube-series-freemans-mind-returns-on-the-worst-possible-day Sun, 02 Apr 2017 11:27:59 -0400 Dan Roemer

From the brilliant mind of YouTube user Ross Scott of Accursed Farms comes the potential and unlikely return of the beloved Freeman's Mind series.

If you're sitting there scratching your head, not sure what the Freeman's Mind series is, here's a quick run-down. Imagine if Gordon Freeman was self-narrating in his head during the events Half-Life -- Ross Scott delivers exactly that in an almost “Let's Play” style format. It's incredibly witty and funny (at least in my opinion...).  

The series originally started on the Machinima channel on YouTube back in late 2007 -- but since then, Ross has left Machinima and has re-uploaded the videos to his own channel, Accursed Farms.

 

 The series was so popular it even inspired other YouTubers to create spin-offs for Half-Life: Blue Shift and Half-Life: Opposing Force, in the form of Barney's Mind and Shephard's Mind.

So of course, on April 1, as I was casually going through my YouTube subscriptions and noticed the thumbnail and the episode “Freeman's Mind 2: Episode 1," I immediately thought, “Oh wonderful, another prank video.” But then to my surprise and confusion... There wasn't any sort of prank present in the video. Instead, it was a full and complete 10-minute episode.

So now, I'm left wondering, “Is this still a prank? Is the bit that it's the only episode we're getting!?” I can't say for sure, and obviously, Ross isn't about to spill the beans quite yet. So ... we may have to idly stand by and simply wait to see what may come out of this.

Imagine the Potential, Though ... 

If this is going to be a real full-fledged series covering the events of Half-Life 2, with the prank simply being the date it started on, just think of the potential commentary and comedic gold we could get from this series. From Gordon going to Ravenholm for the first time and meeting Father Grigori to meeting Dog for the first time and using the Gravity Gun and jumping on random bits of metal and garbage to avoid antlions, Half-Life 2 is filled with pure comedic potential for another Freeman's Mind. We could even potentially see a crossover from Ross Scott's other Half-Life 2 series; Civil Protection!

So what do you guys think? Is this all just a big prank or the start of something wonderful? If you're a newcomer to the series, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the series down below in the comments!

As always, stay tuned to GameSkinny for everything Half-Life.

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Stuck in a Game Design Rut? Listen to Advice from These Awesome Developers https://www.gameskinny.com/skoxf/stuck-in-a-game-design-rut-listen-to-advice-from-these-awesome-developers https://www.gameskinny.com/skoxf/stuck-in-a-game-design-rut-listen-to-advice-from-these-awesome-developers Fri, 27 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 Caio Sampaio

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Conclusion:
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Designing a game is a complex activity, even if you are planning a simple one. It is natural to have a creative block and not know what to do next. It is also normal to have difficulties creating a compelling experience, if you are a novice developer.

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We hope that these quotes have offered you some insight on how to craft an engaging game. If you have the time, I recommend that you read the books mentioned in this article, as they will go much further into the insights offered in this list.

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It is time to level up!

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"If your aim is to design truly meaningful play for your players, your games should be effective on every possible level" - Eric Zimmerman
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Another quote from the book Rules of Play, but this time, from the author himself.

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This may seem as an obvious advice, but it is surprising how many aspiring developers usually focus so much on designing the gameplay elements of the game that they forget about everything else.

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A game is a system, which requires many small parts to come together and form a unified whole -- the experience. These parts include gameplay elements, audio files, narrative and many more facets of the experience.

\n

Each of these are important for the success of the game, so when making your first game, remember that a memorable experience consists of way more than just gameplay elements to be effective.

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"Computer games are often discussed as an exciting new medium, but its ties to prior forms of play are not automatic" - Mary Flanagan
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This quote comes from the book Critical Play: Radical Game Design, written by Mary herself. In this passage of her work, she claims that many aspiring designers study video games, but fail to understand that electronic gaming is an evolution from previous forms of play, including board and dice games.

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With this said, there are many valuable lessons that can be taken from these games, but game design students ignore those as they skip them and jump right to video games.

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Analogical games can be a great learning tool for aspiring designers, especially when it comes down to understanding how to create rules for a game and how they influence the experience.

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In a video game, most of the rules operate "under the hood", with elements such as balance of powers and physics. With this said, it is can be difficult to identify every rule and study how they affect player behavior.

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In board games, on the other hand, all of the rules need to be clearly identifiable for players to be able to play, making it easier for an aspiring designer to observe how they impact the game.

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Rules are an essential part of any game, whether digital or analogical, therefore, understanding how to craft them and how they affect the system is a basic requirement for any game designer.

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If you wish to make a game, even if it is a video game, there is a lot you can learn by studying board games.

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"Long lulls where basically all you were doing was doing stuff you had already done before" - Gabe Newell
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This quote may seem odd if taken out of context, so allow me to explain it.

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This phrase came from the book Rules of Play, written by Katie Salem and Eric Zimmerman and in it, Gabe Newell addressed the challenges of designing Half-Life. 

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One of the problems faced during the early versions of the game was that it became too repetitive, too quickly. This is a pitfall many games fall into. The core concept may be good, but due to poor execution, it becomes repetitive and the player loses interest.

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To fix this problem, developers at Valve implemented a reward schedule in the game.

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Have you ever wondered why in most FPS games you usually start with an underpowered weapon? This occurs for two reasons: To give a sense of progression and to give a sense of novelty.

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We have learnt that progress creates progress, therefore, in order to keep the player motivated to continue playing, designers only give to players the most basic weapons of the game in the early missions.

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As players make their way through the game, they start to acquire a larger and more powerful arsenal and this feeling of progress and earned empowerment motivates players to keep pushing forward. This would not happen, if they had access to the most advanced guns of the game from the start, as the sense of progression would be lost.

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This also adds a sense of novelty to the game. Every time players learn a new skill or acquire a new weapon, they need to learn how to use it and this gives to players something new to explore, which would not happen if they had access to the full arsenal from the start to the game. This would also overwhelm the player with too many weapons or skills to explore at once.

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This is how Half-Life avoided becoming repetitive. Almost every FPS game that came after used these techniques and you should take this lesson and apply it to your game.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/c/r/screen-shot-2013-e8173.png","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/c/r/screen-shot-2013-e8173.png","type":"slide","id":"148779","description":"
"When people play games, they have an experience. It is this experience that the designer cares about. Without the experience, the game is worthless." - Jesse Schell
\n

This man is the author of the book The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, which is regarded as the bible of game designers. 

\n

A game is an interactive software, but what makes it different than a spreadsheet in your computer, that is also an interactive software?

\n

A game appeals to the senses of the player, via the use of audio and visual elements and through them, game designers create gameplay, environments, narratives and many more elements.

\n

These evoke feelings on the player and what the player feels while playing determines the tone of the experience.

\n

The competitive urge during a match of Overwatch, the emotional roller coaster of The Walking Dead and the comedic elements of Borderlands. These are all elements that set the tone of the game and create the experience.

\n

When designing your game, it is important to remember that you are not merely creating a software, you are crafting an experience, so you must keep in mind ways to evoke feelings on the player, in order to deliver a memorable experience.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/i/d/sid-meier-640x360-5d287.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/i/d/sid-meier-640x360-5d287.jpg","type":"slide","id":"148778","description":"
"A game is a set of interesting choices" - Sid Meier 
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This man is responsible for few of the most successful series of all times, including the Civilization franchise. 

\n

When designing a game, it is paramount to understand that players need to have autonomy on how they play.

\n

Even an experience as linear as Call of Duty offers choices. Players must choose which weapon to use, whether to run through the enemies or duck for cover, which flank to attack first and so on.

\n

When designing your game, it is crucial to find ways to add player input to the experience, so you can add depth to your gameplay mechanics. People prefer to engage in activities that allow them to make choices. Keep this in mind when designing your game.

\n

A good exercise is observing a game as you play it and trying to think of how it allows you to choose your own modus operandi.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/g/a/m/game-design-e5735.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/g/a/m/game-design-e5735.jpg","type":"slide","id":"148777","description":"

If you are a video game enthusiast, you probably have created ideas for your own game throughout the years. Now, you may want to put these ideas to the test and make your first game.

\n

Easier said than done.

\n

Video game design is a complex craft and just having good ideas will not guarantee the success of your game. In the end, how well you can execute these ideas is what will determine whether your game will thrive.

\n

If you are just starting in game development, we have compiled five quotes from the most accomplished individuals in the industry and explained their meanings, so you can have a better idea of what to do in order to take your game to the next level.

"}]]]>
5 Things We Learned During The Reddit AMA with Gabe Newell https://www.gameskinny.com/k38nv/5-things-we-learned-during-the-reddit-ama-with-gabe-newell https://www.gameskinny.com/k38nv/5-things-we-learned-during-the-reddit-ama-with-gabe-newell Thu, 19 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 Will Dowell

Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve and one of the largest figures in the gaming industry, has just finished a Q&A session called the Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). In this Q&A, Gabe has shed further light on Valve development, future goals, and much more. Here are Five Things We Learned During The Reddit AMA with Gabe Newell.

Gabe Shows Aspiring Developer Important Techniques for Game Design

Passing knowledge to the next generation, Gabe Newell stresses the need of iteration cycles and constant changes. He states:

"The most important thing you can do is to get into an iteration cycle where you can measure the impact of your work, have a hypothesis about how making changes will affect those variables, and ship changes regularly. It doesn't even matter that much what the content is -- it's the iteration of hypothesis, changes, and measurement that will make you better at a faster rate than anything else we have seen."

This advice shares not only experience, but practical applications as well. Creating an actual method gives young designers guidance in the chaotic world of game design.

Valve Justifies Their Lack of Communication as Part of Their Design Structure

Valve has one of the most unique development structures, with developers self assigning to projects and creating freedom unheard of in the AAA space. Team sizes are fluid, increasing and decreasing in response to what needs to get done. This constant changing is one of the major reasons Valve is less open about its content than other developers. According to Gabe:

"Another way to think about this, and the way we talk about this internally, is that we prefer to communicate through our products. We are all pretty devoted to reading and listening to the community -- everyone here believes it is an integral part of their job to do so. And when it comes time to respond, we generally use Steam -- shipping updates that address issues or add functionality. Obviously this doesn't work for everything. Working this way imposes latency on our communication -- it takes longer to ship and update than to do a blog post. This can lead to the feeling of an echo chamber, where it seems like Valve isn't listening. We’re always listening. So sometimes the latency is rough for everyone, including us when we want to address issues quickly. On balance we think it's usually worth the trade-off."

The idea of showing the consumers updates and products rather than telling is a noble idea. As Gabe said however, the lack of response makes users feel ignored and can have larger backlashes if these updates don't go as planned. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive updates for example, frequently divide the fanbase with balancing changes and additional content that make fans feel Valve isn't listening to user feedback. Acknowledging Valve fans with programs like these do remedy the lack of communication somewhat.

Showing You the Games You Want Is Valve's Next Goal for Steam

In this Q&A, Gabe Newell constantly spoke about improving Steam's navigation and filtering systems so users can find the games they need. In response to games containing sexual content, Gabe Newell states:

"In principle, there are two problems to solve. The first is a completely uncurated distribution tool for developers. The second is a toolset for customers that allow them to find and filter content (and people are an instance of content most obviously in multiplayer) that is best for them."

This response is also similar to one involving quality control and the flood of games on the Steam storefront. Gabe Newell believes that there is "not a singular definition of quality" and instead Valve is focusing on making the storefront able to show the right games to customers.

New Valve Movie In the Works

Gabe also re-confirms that a movie in the Half Life/Portal universe made by Valve and JJ Abrams is still in the works, and that Steam's support is a primary focus. The movie was first announced in 2013 but no confirmation that it was still in development existed until now. JJ Abrams was the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and is considered a premier director/film writer. Hopefully it becomes the first truly great video game movie.

Valve is Working on VR and Source Engine 2 Titles

Currently, Valve has been working on unannounced titles using the Source 2 engine and plans on releasing the engine to other developers. They are also focusing on other VR games using their own VR controller. Not much is known about these endeavors, only that they're happening and to expect further announcements.

Counter-Strike: Global Offense has New Plans for 2017

Gabe Newell was not the only Valve employee answering questions in this event. Developer Ido Magal addressing the future of CS:GO in 2017 with this response: 

"As far as a roadmap is concerned, our priorities for 2017 are to replace the UI with Panorama, to make CS:GO available in more territories where a lot of Counter-Strike fans don't have easy access to it (like China), and anti-cheat. Of course, we're also planning on continuing to ship bug fixes and new features throughout the year, as in the past.

We plan to continue updating every week or two. As for Operations, there's no set schedule. We weigh that work relative to other work we could choose to focus on and other recent work seemed better for the product. For example, at the end of 2016 we chose to focus on shipping Inferno, improving spatial audio via HRTF, joinable public lobbies, and some long-term work that hasn't shipped yet."

CS:GO Operations are considered some of the best additions to the game and have been high on fan demand. Hopefully these updates satisfy their hunger for new content. He also addressed the use of the Source 2 engine with CS:GO, stating that the hitboxes would not be fixed with Source 2 and that they are unsure if the engine would be a good fit.

What did you learn in the AMA? Let us know in the comments below.

]]>
The 11 Best Horror Mods For All Your Favorite Games https://www.gameskinny.com/esfn9/the-11-best-horror-mods-for-all-your-favorite-games https://www.gameskinny.com/esfn9/the-11-best-horror-mods-for-all-your-favorite-games Mon, 10 Oct 2016 02:00:01 -0400 Ty Arthur

[{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/b/a/c/backcover-9e6fd.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/b/a/c/backcover-9e6fd.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135461","description":"

You may have noticed while scrolling through this list that there was no Fallout 4 entry – that's because we have a whole article devoted just to mods that turn the Boston Commonwealth into a horrific nightmare!

\n

Have you played any of our picks for the best horror mods, and what scary total conversions would you recommend we try out this Halloween?

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/m/i/n/minecraftresidentevil-a1ac7.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/m/i/n/minecraftresidentevil-a1ac7.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135460","description":"

Minecraft: Resident Evil Mod

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Get It Here!

\n

We'll finish this list off with a silly little entry that puts all sorts of Resident Evil characters into pixel format for Minecraft! Through this mod you can now interact with characters like Nemesis, craft classic RE items like green and red herbs, etc. It's just plain old goofy fun for a bloody twist on Minecraft world building mechanics.

\n

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/s/k/y/skyrimpuppetking-425c7.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/s/k/y/skyrimpuppetking-425c7.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135459","description":"

Skyrim: The Puppet King

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Get It Here!

\n

So, we could easily write 10 lists all of just Skyrim horror mods. There's got to b e dozens or even hundreds of them readily available online. This relatively smaller mod is an interesting example that ramps up the creepy factor with all the animated dolls and a staff that lets you craft your own puppet automaton companion.

\n

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/n/e/w/newvegashellonearth-86764.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/n/e/w/newvegashellonearth-86764.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135458","description":"

Fallout New Vegas: Hell On Earth

\n

Get It Here!

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The Fallout games already have some mild horror elements with those irradiated ghouls and man-eating deathclaws, but this mod cranks that up to 11. There's bits of Silent Hill (Pyramid Head even makes an appearance) and all sorts of other horror tropes as the Courier explores new mist-shrouded locations that really do turn the wasteland into hell on earth!

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/h/a/l/halflifedearesther-9562d.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/h/a/l/halflifedearesther-9562d.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135457","description":"

Half-Life 2: Dear Esther

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Get It Here!

\n

Both of the Half-Life games have some incredible horror mods, so its hard to pick which ones to list. For Half-Life 2 we'll have to go with Dear Esther, which has a hazy, dream-like quality just dripping with atmosphere. It's much more slow moving than many of the other zombie-focused mods, but well worth experiencing anyway. 

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/c/r/y/cry-fear-7254c.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/c/r/y/cry-fear-7254c.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135456","description":"

Cry Of Fear

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Get It Here!

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Originally a Half-Life mod, Cry Of Fear became popular enough it is now available as a free standalone release through Steam. This dark mod has you exploring a mostly-empty city in search of clues for what's going in, in a Silent Hill meets Condemned style.

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/h/a/l/halflifeparanoia-b5c7f.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/h/a/l/halflifeparanoia-b5c7f.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135455","description":"

Half-Life: Paranoia

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Get It Here!

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The graphics are obviously quite dated at this point, but if you still enjoy playing the original Half-Life, Paranoia is an excellent mod to grab that offers a completely different experience, putting you in the role of a Russian soldier on a mission that will go very haywire.

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/u/n/r/unrealkillingfloor-d3176.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/u/n/r/unrealkillingfloor-d3176.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135454","description":"

Unreal Tournament 2004: Killing Floor

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Get It Here!

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Tournament 2004 is easily my personal favorite of the Unreal games, with fantastically ridiculous fast-paced arena combat. There was nothing like the thrill of hearing that announcer yell "dominating!" when you got a wicked kill streak going.

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Killing Floor is a total conversion that drastically shifts style into a single player, modern day experience set in London that strongly pulls from F.E.A.R. 

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/u/n/r/unrealtournamenthuanted-d09d4.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/u/n/r/unrealtournamenthuanted-d09d4.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135453","description":"

Unreal Tournament 3: The Haunted

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Get It Here!

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It's always interesting to see the level of work and detail modders are able to put into conversions like these, taking action-focused games and massively changing their style and even visuals. The Haunted turns Unreal Tournament 3 into a zombie apocalypse simulator with a serious Resident Evil 4 vibe.

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/f/a/r/farcry4devilintheswamp-18051.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/f/a/r/farcry4devilintheswamp-18051.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135452","description":"

Far Cry 4: Devil In The Swamp

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Get It Here!

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There are a bunch of horror-focused custom maps that have now been made with the Far Cry 4 level editor, from basically unplayable movie demos to more objective-focused combat entries, and this visual feast is one of the more interesting ones to watch.

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Completely different from the base game's style, Devil In The Swamp is thick on the atmosphere with creepy cabins, bone-strewn floors, bloody walls, and more.

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/f/a/r/farcryonirica-62dcf.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/f/a/r/farcryonirica-62dcf.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135451","description":"

Far Cry: Onirica

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Get It Here!

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Completely changing the color palette and style of Far Cry, Onirica evokes the feel of some of those classic horror titles of the PS1 days, from Nightmare Creatures to Silent Hill.

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/s/c/2/sc2-0a546.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/s/c/2/sc2-0a546.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135450","description":"

Starcraft 2: Resident Overmind

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Get It Here!

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A creative take on the RTS style of Starcraft 2, this custom map culls out all the base building elements and instead has you playing as one lone space marine. Our down-on-his-luck marine is headed to a military base strangely devoid of life... except for alien monstrosities that leap out of the darkness.

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The camera angles are significantly modified from the base game, which coupled with the flickering darkness really changes the whole atmosphere and vibe of Starcraft to go in a survival horror direction.

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/f/r/o/frontcover-c89e0.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/f/r/o/frontcover-c89e0.jpg","type":"slide","id":"135449","description":"

October is prime time for pulling out the scary games, and we've already been covering the best of the best when it comes to atmospheric horror or straight up jump scares. You don't need to shell any money out for a new horror game if your collection is a little sparse though!

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There are tons of mods available for existing games that take them a genuinely scary direction, from old classics like Half-Life all the way up to newer Far Cry, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout entries.

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These 11 excellent mods all take shooter, strategy, or crafting games and add in a terrifying spin.

"}]]]>
4 Silent Protagonist Characters That Are Actually Quiet https://www.gameskinny.com/0xp0v/4-silent-protagonist-characters-that-are-actually-quiet https://www.gameskinny.com/0xp0v/4-silent-protagonist-characters-that-are-actually-quiet Mon, 27 Jun 2016 10:51:55 -0400 CalendarV

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Many gamers just accept silent protagonists without doubts. But game developers often have good reasons for using silent player characters -- perhaps to help players immerse themselves in the game,or because of the lack of technology, or because too much recording would needed, etc. And gamers know that. We accept it.

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That is why some actually silent characters becomes special. The real quietness gives some extra characteristics to the characters that are unlike other protagonists.

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I believe that there are more actually silent characters out in the world of gaming. When you are playing some game with a protagonist that doesn't talk, it can be pretty fun to think about whether the character is just a seemingly silent character, or a character who is truly man/woman of few words!

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/c/h/e/chell-d3e5e.png","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/c/h/e/chell-d3e5e.png","type":"slide","id":"124290","description":"

4. Chell

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Chell is the protagonist in Portal series, a puzzle FPS developed by Valve Corporation. Erik Wolpaw, who wrote the dialogue for Portal and wrote Portal 2 with other people, felt that the personality of Chell wasn't really important for making Portal.

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GLaDOS, the nefarious artificially intelligent operating system, is irritated by Chell's silence -- saying "Are you even listening to me?". Wheatley, another AI from Portal 2, asks Chell to jump, instead of talk, to respond his questions. As these examples suggest, characters in Portal series DO understand that Chell is a silent woman.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/d/i/s/dishonored-mainjpg-6e4e98-1280w-83603.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/d/i/s/dishonored-mainjpg-6e4e98-1280w-83603.jpg","type":"slide","id":"124289","description":"

3. Corvo Attano

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Corvo Attano is the protagonist of Dishonored, a stealth action game developed by Arcane Studios. Corvo does communicate inside the game through actions such as killing, hugging, and giving stuff -- but he isn't very talkative.

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Even in Dishonored's DLC "The Brigmore Witches", where Corvo appears as an NPC, he does not have a single line. Dishonored's writer has talked about about Corvo's silence before:

\n
\n

I'm biased, of course, but I think Dishonored grips you much more viscerally, more emotionally. And that's on purpose. Corvo doesn't talk and I think it works because everybody knows what Corvo would have to say.

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/f/e/a/feature-successfailuresilence-halflife-650-eb222.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/f/e/a/feature-successfailuresilence-halflife-650-eb222.jpg","type":"slide","id":"124288","description":"

2. Gordon Freeman

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Gordon Freeman is the protagonist of the Half-Life series, a famous FPS franchise developed by Valve Corporation. Valve didn't include any lines for Gordon Freeman, so that it would be easier for a player to immerse themselves in the game.

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His quietness is not only just something set by Valve. In Half-Life 2, a character named Alyx Vance humorously jokes about Gordon's silence, saying:

\n
\n

Man of few words, aren't you?

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/f/i/r/firered-leafgreen-red-5cf89.png","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/f/i/r/firered-leafgreen-red-5cf89.png","type":"slide","id":"124287","description":"

1. Red

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Red is the default name for the protagonist of the first generation Pokémon games. He does not have his own lines during the entire game, and other NPCs infer Red's situation from the items he has or other things that might show what Red wants.

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In the second generation of Pokémon games, he is the hidden final boss of the game. His only line in the second generation games is "......". As such, many Pokémon fans consider Red as a cool and chic, silent character.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/s/i/l/silent-0acdc.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/s/i/l/silent-0acdc.jpg","type":"slide","id":"124286","description":"

"Silent protagonist" usually refers to a player character in video game that does not speak throughout the whole game, except for short sounds or interjections. But quite a number of silent protagonists are not actually silent in-game. Other characters inside the game acknowledge them as a normal person who talks.

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For example, in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the protagonist doesn't speak with voice -- but makes conversations with other NPCs throughout the story.

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Today, we're counting down some of the most silent protagonists in all of gaming. These characters are not just lacking voiceover -- they're also silent throughout their respective games and don't make any sort of conversation. 

"}]]]>
6 Amazing and Simple Video Game Tattoos https://www.gameskinny.com/wduld/6-amazing-and-simple-video-game-tattoos https://www.gameskinny.com/wduld/6-amazing-and-simple-video-game-tattoos Wed, 15 Jun 2016 07:55:25 -0400 JessicaKloss

[{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/s/p/a/space-invaders-tattoo-7fed5.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/s/p/a/space-invaders-tattoo-7fed5.jpg","type":"slide","id":"121361","description":"

Space Invaders

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Go classic with this Space Invaders tattoo! Tattoos that can use just one color ink and look incredible are very impressive. Get your hands on an arcade game inspired tattoo to prove you've been lovin' video games for longer than most. 

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/s/a/m/samus-tattoo-d35cf.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/s/a/m/samus-tattoo-d35cf.jpg","type":"slide","id":"121360","description":"

Samus from Metroid Series

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This Samus tattoo is beautifully done and great for any fan. Samus is an inspiration to women, and the creative choice to add the Rosie the Riveter style pin-up bow to her head was an excellent one. 

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"Samus is an ideal role model not just to me, but for many women to look up to as a powerful game icon."

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--Michelle Perl, cosplayer

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/p/o/k/pokemon-tattoo-9190f.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/p/o/k/pokemon-tattoo-9190f.jpg","type":"slide","id":"121357","description":"

Love Ball from Pokemon

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A love ball, or just a regular ole poke ball, would be a great way to express your love for Pokemon and to mark yourself as a gamer.  The love ball is especially adorable, and could demonstrate your skill at catching the opposite (or same) sex.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/h/a/l/half-life-tattoo-1e53d.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/h/a/l/half-life-tattoo-1e53d.jpg","type":"slide","id":"121356","description":"

Half-Life Logo

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The Half-Life logo represents the Greek letter, Lambda. It is frequently used in the game series because it part of the equation for radioactive decay. Lambda is important in math and programming, so the tattoo could have multiple reasons for being nerdy.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/f/a/l/fallout-tattoos-cc69c.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/f/a/l/fallout-tattoos-cc69c.jpg","type":"slide","id":"121355","description":"

Scene from Fallout series

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If you're looking for a Fallout tattoo, one that includes a radroach, Nuka-Cola, and an explosion all in one is a good way to do it. As an added bonus, it's all composed rather nicely without being too large. 

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/t/a/t/tattoo-788e0.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/t/a/t/tattoo-788e0.jpg","type":"slide","id":"121354","description":"

Assassin's Creed Insignia 

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Use this beautiful tattoo to showcase your part in the Assassin Order. There have been multiple renditions of the insignia throughout the game series, so to add a little more flair the version from the Italian Renaissance or the Babylonian Assassins could be done instead.

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"The symbol that you sought and found... It is a mark of courage and honor, yes. But it promises pain and loss as well."

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--Oiá:ner, speaking of the Insignia

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/p/o/k/pokemon-tattoo-3315f.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/p/o/k/pokemon-tattoo-3315f.jpg","type":"slide","id":"122213","description":"

Brilliant, intricate sleeves and full back tattoos are glorious in their artistic skill and value, but simple tattoos can be just as amazing. They are also more affordable and less of a commitment for those of us that want to show off a video game tattoo. So I've taken to the nerdtattoos subreddit to find the best subtle artwork that a fan would feel proud to wear on their body!

"}]]]>
Meet 3D Environment Artists of Blizzard, EA DICE, and Naughty Dog https://www.gameskinny.com/b9sar/meet-3d-environment-artists-of-blizzard-ea-dice-and-naughty-dog https://www.gameskinny.com/b9sar/meet-3d-environment-artists-of-blizzard-ea-dice-and-naughty-dog Thu, 26 May 2016 06:13:49 -0400 ericafeldfeber

On Thursday May 26th, 2016 from 7:30pm-10:00pm, the Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Games + Animation is hosting an exclusive event!

The event features an artist panel for 3D environment artists Joy Lea (EA DICE), Helder Pinto (Blizzard), and Martin Teichmann (Naughty Dog). Each of the artists will be sharing their own tips and techniques for those looking to break into the video game industry. 

According to the Gnomon School itself, there will be a special feature for fans of Naughty Dog:

"Martin Teichmann’s presentation will include a workflow example of a scene created from the newly released Uncharted 4." 

The event is free, but just make sure that you RSVP by following this link. Seating is first-come-first-served.

There will be a Q&A session at the end, where you will be able to meet speakers in person. But for those of you who can't make it, here's a little about the panelists:

 

Joy Lea

3D Artist at EA DICE

Joy Lea is a 3D Artist that has worked on a multitude of titles, from AAA to indie. Currently, she's at DICE LA working on the award-winning Battlefield series. She most previously worked with ThreeOneZero on ADR1FT, releasing on the Oculus Rift. Her varied experience in working on a wide range of quality titles gives her a unique outlook on art and the video game industry.

 

Helder Pinto

3D Artist at Blizzard Entertainment

Helder Pinto is a 3D Artist originally from Portugal who specializes in 3D and environment art, with nine years of professional experience in the video game industry. Though he started out doing level design work for mods on Half-Life and Max Payne, he has most recently worked on Overwatch, Blizzard Entertainment’s newest multiplayer FPS game.

Check out more of his work here.

 

Martin Teichmann

Environment Modeler at Naughty Dog

 Martin Teichmann is an Environment Modeler at Naughty Dog, originally from Germany. He previously worked at Deck13 Interactive, Crytek, and later moved to London to work on Rocksteady Studios’ Batman: Arkham Knight. Martin moved to Santa Monica in in early 2015 to join Naughty Dog, where he has been working on Uncharted 4.

Check out more of his work here.

 

This is an exciting networking opportunity you will not want to miss!

Schedule:

  • 7:30 pm – 8:10 pm: Joy Lea, 3D Artist at EA DICE
  • 8:10 pm – 8:50 pm: Helder Pinto, 3D Artist at Blizzard Entertainment
  • 8:50 pm – 9:30 pm: Martin Teichmann, Environment Modeler at Naughty Dog
  • 9:30 pm – 10:00 pm: Audience Questions

Location:

Gnomon Campus

Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Games + Animation
1015 N. Cahuenga Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90038

The event will also be featured on Gnomon’s Livestream channel for those who can't make it in person. Click here to watch the stream.

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Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw has left Valve to work on own projects https://www.gameskinny.com/gg2rx/half-life-writer-marc-laidlaw-has-left-valve-to-work-on-own-projects https://www.gameskinny.com/gg2rx/half-life-writer-marc-laidlaw-has-left-valve-to-work-on-own-projects Fri, 08 Jan 2016 07:36:05 -0500 Jessa Rittenhouse

It's time to stop asking Marc Laidlaw about Half-Life 3

The famed sci-fi author, writer of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, and lead writer for Half-Life 2: Episode 1 and Episode 2 has retired from Valve.

His retirement was confirmed in an e-mail exchange between Laidlaw and a fan, posted on the Half-Life subreddit. Redditor TeddyWolf e-mailed the writer to ask the now-ages-old question, "What about Half-Life 3?" 

He probably didn't expect a reply, but he got one. In it, Laidlaw offered a brief explanation for his decision to leave Valve:

"There are many reasons, most of them personal. An outwardly obvious reason is that I'm old, or anyway oldish. My nickname when I first started at Valve in 1997 was 'old man Laidlaw'. The little baby level designer who gave me that that nickname is now older than I was then. Imagine how much older I am! I had the unbelievable luck to fall in with the kids at Valve when they could have just dismissed me as an old fogey who didn't know s**t about videogames. The only Zelda I'd ever heard of was F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife. They taught me everything. I had a good run but lately I have been feeling a need for a break from the collaborative chaos of game production, and a return to more self-directed writing projects."

Sorry. Nope. Still not confirmed.

So what does this mean for the future of Half-Life 3? Laidlaw can't say. He knows he'll always have fond memories of and a relationship with the folks at Valve, but he'll no longer be a part of the development of any Valve projects. As he says in the letter, "Where Valve may choose to take Half-Life in the future is not in my hands."

If you're a fan of Laidlaw's work, however, take heart - while he's not writing for Valve (or any other game developer), Laidlaw says he will more than likely return to writing stories of his own, calling this his "default setting."

Is this the final nail in the coffin for Half-Life 3, or do you think another writer could take up the mantle? Are you hoping the game will still have a future, or do you think it's time to let go of the Half-Life 3 dream? Let us know in the comments.

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Steam Database lists Half-Life 3 under Packages https://www.gameskinny.com/zalz1/steam-database-lists-half-life-3-under-packages https://www.gameskinny.com/zalz1/steam-database-lists-half-life-3-under-packages Wed, 09 Dec 2015 07:51:52 -0500 Jessi_Cat

The website Comicbook.com reported that it saw Half-Life 3 added to the Steam database, along with other games like Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remastered editions. Now, don’t start jumping for joy yet, because I don't want to break your heart. (But that may not be avoidable.)

Steam was quick to make a response about the recent sighting saying that:

“Many things could also be old entries and as such no longer be in development/coming to Steam.”

After that quote they have also posted that “Half-Life 3 still not confirmed.” If you do a search for the name under the Packages tab it will bring you to this video:

Nice little troll there Steam. We don’t think it’s funny. You did just crushed the dreams of every Half-Life fan out there -- am I being over dramatic?

While Half-Life 3 isn’t confirmed even after this little update on the Steam database page, we can still look forward to many other games coming to Steam next year -- like Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 and Street Fighter V.

Remember don’t lose heart. Half-Life 3 is out there waiting, watching, wanting to be created and released.

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Rewind Review - Half-Life https://www.gameskinny.com/sk7jp/rewind-review-half-life https://www.gameskinny.com/sk7jp/rewind-review-half-life Wed, 09 Dec 2015 05:20:13 -0500 David Fisher

You asked for it, and now RR-sama delivers. At the end of my Legend of Zelda Rewind Review I asked you - the readers - to suggest the next series for me to take on, and an overwhelming number of people suggested Half-Life. While others voted on the Star Wars: Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series, Half-Life won with over 76% of the vote. Considering Half-Life's almost cultist-level following, I can't imagine a better game to put under the Rewind Review lens.

So what are we waiting for? Cue the intro!

As with all Rewind Reviews, Half-Life will undergo a review process through the eyes of a modern critic. No nostalgia glasses, no excuses, no rationalizing hardware limitations, and no sparing myself from angry fans and readers. Nothing will excuse the game from anything that we - as modern gamers - would expect to see in the genre today.

Now let's play with some anomalous materials and cause a resonance cascade so we can whack headcrabs with a crowbar in Half-Life for PC!

The Plot

NOTE: For the sake of this review, Half-Life 2's retcons will not be applied to the base material. If you want to complain about this, do so in the comments. This is a Rewind Review, and all games are studied as if they had been released now as-is.

For those who have never heard of the series, Half-Life is a first-person shooter based in a science facility known as Black Mesa. Players assume the role of Gordon Freeman (above), a character who has the personality of a plank of wood with a weapon hot-glued to it. I suppose it is to be expected of a silent protagonist, but even Link had his moments of being a person. Heck, the game itself admits that he's a rather lame character on paper when the intro states the following about his profile:

SUBJECT: Gordon Freeman - Male, age 27

EDUCATION: Ph.D., MIT, Theoretical Physics

POSITION: Research Associate

ASSIGNMENT: Anomalous Materials Laboratory

Clearance: Level 3

ADMINISTRATIVE SPONSOR: Classified

DISASTER RESPONSE PRIORITY: Discretionary

What does the above tell us about Gordon Freeman? Well, he's a well educated man. That's about it. The rest virtually confirms that Gordon is a nobody in terms of his position at Black Mesa. Despite his education, he's barely got a high-level clearance (as the game states there are at least 10 levels of research clearance), and in the case of a disaster he's on "discretionary" status - meaning he could be left for dead and no one would care. Essentially speaking, you play as a nobody in the grand scheme of things.

The story begins on this charming note, then proceeds to take you through what I can assume is a routine thing at Black Mesa. You get your HEV suit on, you go to the lab, and you basically push buttons for people. What isn't routine, however, is the anomalous material that you are told to push into the reactor. I'm not entirely sure what the workplace safety standards surrounding pushing a trolley into a giant beam are, but I'm pretty sure they aren't what it's like in Half-Life.

Considering the fact that the trolley pretty much slingshots into the core when you interact with it, I can't imagine the experiments at Black Mesa qualify under the term "safe working conditions"

That said, this event is responsible for the events that take place for the rest of the game. After a brief moment of cut-to-black flashes, as well as brief moments of being transported to Xen, Gordon wakes up - I assume - to see that Black Mesa has been completely and utterly destroyed. Almost everyone is dead, and the place is a complete mess after the resonance cascade happened.

After one of the scientists asks you to find help on the surface, you spend most of the game running around trying to get there. Seriously, that's all there is to the story. Sure, you have Black Ops groups and soldiers trying to gun you down, but otherwise there's little else to be said.

In fact, the only real story elements from this point forward are as follows:

  • The Hazardous Environment Combat Unit throws Gordon into a trash compactor after disarming him
  • The scientists tell Gordon that the satellite launch failed to stop the resonance cascade, so he has to go to Xen to kill whatever is keeping the portal between the worlds open
  • G-Man talks to you at the end

I won't get into further detail because of spoilers, but let's just say that it's nothing particularly awe inspiring. To be frank, Metroid (NES) had a deeper story to it than this game did - and it didn't have the luxury of voice acting either. I'm going to suggest that you skip on this one if you're a story/plot lover, since it doesn't really give you much in this field.

The Gameplay

The Passable:

I've never written this kind of section before, but I think now is as good of a time as any. Half-Life is what I would call a "passable shooter". In fact, the game reminds me a lot of Halo: Combat Evolved where the game can be pretty much summarized as: shoot until it's dead, and then push some buttons to move forward. There may be a wall or two to destroy, or maybe a scientist or security guard to escort, but otherwise there's not much else to do. It is a tedious and repetitive formula that gets boring fast, especially since there's little to no story elements to break up the action moving forward.

Gameplay gets repetitive as your only real options for progression are: shoot it until it's dead, or find a bigger gun before shooting it dead. Oh, and maybe you need to push a button for it to be dead. Real innovative...

I suppose the one thing that Half-Life has on its competitors is an AI that isn't flat out stupid. However, since this is the first Half-Life title, the AI is far from superior to modern ones. Enemies tend to be smart enough to avoid traps (sometimes), and come around corners to shoot you instead of simply standing and waiting for you to arrive. It's nothing particularly special.

As for the allied AI, the scientists and security guards only know how to follow you. If they need to survive, well... hopefully you saved recently. These situations are particularly annoying later on in the game, as the AI can often follow you into danger. While this can be averted by telling the scientists or security guards to wait in their place, it gives me little to no assurance that they will survive since something could easily go after them by sheer coincidence if an enemy was following me and decided to get lost.

The scientists are the worst culprits as they are basically walking accidents waiting to happen. Their only benefit is that they do not walk straight into walls or traps - a common problem even with today's AI characters.

The Ugly:

The game is simply outdated, and it shows. A lot of buttons, levers, and other interactable items blend in with the backgrounds with the exception of the recovery devices for your HEV suit. Enemy AIs aren't particularly intelligent as much as they are designed to follow you and shoot. If this is considered "intelligent AI", then you may as well mark down Super Mario Bros. as being ingenious for having Bowser shoot fireballs in your general direction.

What really hurts this game, however, is the engine itself. Without a proper physics engine, weapons don't fire or drop where you'd expect, they simply go where you aim. This is best seen in example with the grenades that don't roll, and instead roll a set distance. What's worse is the flashlight which just changes the texture in a given spot to what it would look like if there were lights on. This leads to only a select area where you can see while everything else is quite literally pitch black.

This is how flashlights work in Half-Life. If I pointed this upward a little bit then I would see the wall just above the last grate there. Yeah, it's pretty terrible...

In Half-Life Source and the Black Mesa mod most of these issues are addressed. However, this is the original game, and it is terrible. The game has not aged well at all, and if not for the fact that the game functions at the level of a basic first-person shooter then it would be virtually unplayable. In fact, if not for the intense nostalgia tied to it, I imagine this game wouldn't get a second glance as it offers little to nothing for the modern gamer.

As for other features of the game, interacting with objects is poorly executed. Whenever you grab onto an item, it tends to fling itself toward the direction you move (such as the aforementioned trolley). This can cause some frustrating scenes if you need to move an object to reach a higher area.

Weapons are poorly balanced, and most early game weapons are pointless after retrieving alien weapons later in the game. Enemies are poorly designed as weak points haven't been properly integrated into the game. Only the Apache Helicopter and the final boss have to be shot in a particular place to deal damage, but that is nothing special.

In the end, it's easier to come up with what's bad with the game nowadays as opposed to what it did well back in 1998.

Literally puke:

Don't play the Dreamcast version of this game... ever. The controls are impractical at best, aiming is near impossible, and it suffers from all the issues presented here. There is literally no reason to ever play this. Please, spare yourselves.

The Presentation

I said this before in earlier reviews: 3D models do not age well. While things look okay at a distance (such as above) the real age of the game is apparent when not viewing an object up close. In fact, the images used in this article aren't a fair judge of the original game since most images found on the internet - or snapped by yours truly - use the high-resolution texture update. I can only shudder at what the game truly looks like by today's standards without this pack.

The game does have one redeeming factor in terms of presentation, and that is the music. While some soundtrack pieces can feel out of place depending on the situation, the music is generally pleasant to listen to - even to this day. However, it should be noted that the music does suffer from being composed on old soundboards that do show their age at some times, since you can clearly tell that the sounds are all synthesized.

I'll let you judge for yourself using the Youtube video below:

The Verdict

This game simply hasn't aged well at all. In terms of presentation, you'd best hope you are one of those crouch-hopping speed runners, as you will not want to "take in the scenery" unless you want to stare at what looks like a painted cardboard box. The plot is certainly nothing worth staying for, and the gameplay offers little to the modern gamer. There are simply so many better titles out there to choose from nowadays, and there is no reason to come back to this other than pure nostalgia.

Supposing that someone actually wanted to return to Half-Life as a means of catching up on the story for Half-Life 2 is absurd as well, since this game offers little in terms of story. In fact, so much of it is implied or referenced to in the sequel - other than that which is completely changed in retroactive continuity (retconned) - that there is no need to return.

The guy on the right was retconned to be Eli Vance. That's all you need to know to understand everything in Half-Life 2. Okay? Okay.

As such, I recommend this game to people who are simply nostalgia nuts, or are in desperate need of something to do. The game is playable, but just about nothing else is worth mentioning about it. As such, this game gets a 3/10.

What do you guys think? Am I being too harsh on the original Half-Life? Do you think that this rating or the review is unfair? Is there any redeeming qualities you can think of? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and get the conversation flowing!

 

Reviews in this Series:

The full Rewind Review series can also be found here.

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Nintendo, don't let your franchises fade into obscurity https://www.gameskinny.com/azvm5/nintendo-dont-let-your-franchises-fade-into-obscurity https://www.gameskinny.com/azvm5/nintendo-dont-let-your-franchises-fade-into-obscurity Thu, 22 Oct 2015 11:07:50 -0400 Robert Sgotto

Nintendo, love 'em or hate 'em, has one of the most powerful franchise line ups known to gaming.

Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, Donkey Kong, Star Fox, Metroid, Pikmin, F-Zero, Fire Emblem, it's quite a big list, and it doesn't end there.

However, it's a list that's going to become much smaller if Nintendo keeps letting some of their titles stagnate.

Franchise Decay

The last time we saw an F-Zero game was in 2004, over 10 years ago. Metroid: Other M was released in 2010, and it wasn't received well. To a lot of people, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was the last good Metroid game and it was released in 2007. Earthbound's third installment, and allegedly final game, is only available in Japan.

The problem is that by not giving these franchises any attention, people will lose interest in them, eventually to the point where it wouldn't be worth it to make a new entry in the series.

Metroid isn't there yet but I've accepted the fact Captain Falcon will only ever be a Super Smash Brothers character from now on.

It's not just Nintendo

Half-Life 3. There I said it. If Valve announced Half-Life 3 tomorrow, it would probably be huge news and would see coverage all over the web, despite the fact that Valve hasn't done anything with it in a very long time.

But Half-Life 3 is a very different beast. If Nintendo didn't release a new Zelda game in a decade, it might be similar to Half-Life 3's situation, but for the smaller franchises this would never work.

I'm not saying these games are dying but...

It's a good thing when your franchise is in the public eye. It's a bad thing when they're not.

It's not like people don't want these games either.

Capcom has been sitting on Mega Man for such a long time that fans had to go through a Kickstarter for Mighty No.9 just to get a game that plays like Mega Man.

Mega Man Legends 3, cancelled before it even got a chance.

Classic Castlevania's stopped getting attention (outside Lords of Shadow) and now the game that fans wanted has a Kickstarter.

We shouldn't have to go through Kickstarter to get the games we want, and companies need to find ways to bring their prestigious franchises back into the forefront before they fade into obscurity.

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Valve will never release Half-Life 3, and it's gamers' fault https://www.gameskinny.com/cs27v/valve-will-never-release-half-life-3-and-its-gamers-fault https://www.gameskinny.com/cs27v/valve-will-never-release-half-life-3-and-its-gamers-fault Tue, 18 Aug 2015 10:30:36 -0400 David Fisher

"Half-Life 3 confirmed!" ...is what I would like to be screaming at the top of my lungs around this time next year. Or the year after that. Actually, anytime before I die. In fact, I'm certain that these are the same words that many Half-Life fans would say if they were asked about their thoughts on a future Half-Life 3 release.

Unfortunately, this article isn't a theory on why Half-Life 3 is coming out, or what the game will be like.

Instead, today we will be taking a look at why Half-Life 3 will never come out, a harsh slap of reality that we - as gamers - must accept. This isn't just about Half-Life 3, either. This goes for just about every game sequel that we've ever wanted. The worst part? A lot of this is our fault.

Rumours From Alleged Ex-Valve Employees

Reddit, and all of the internet, is a well-known breeding ground for fake accounts claiming to be ex-FBI agents who claim to be releasing footage of UFOs, and other such rabble. The same goes for employees of major companies, and Valve is of no exception.

One such Reddit post includes a rant from a self-identifying ex-Valve game tester. According to his/her post, testers have not seen anything remotely resembling a Half-Life 3 build. In fact, the game "rarely gets mentioned inside the HQ." The Reddit user - who has since deleted their account - then went on to claim that Half-Life 3 has had a deadline for release for late 2017, or early 2018. Supposedly Left 4 Dead will be getting a third sequel earlier than that, and the characters have already been decided upon.

The source's legitimacy comes into question since they did not release their name, ID card, or even a time-stamp from the company. Furthermore, I have come to question the legitimacy of the user's claims due to the descriptions of L4D3's campaigns sounding too familiar to past maps, and user-generated content.

However, a much more reliable source came to YouTube channel The Know. According to their video found here, a current Valve employee claimed that the reason the game won't be released is due to the fact that Valve:

  1. Earns far too much money from Steam sales and micro-transactions to warrant development of Half-Life 3
  2. Only has 10 employees working on the game
  3. Fears Half-Life 3 would suffer from the hype and expectations in a similar fashion as EA's Mass Effect 3

With the claims from two separate sources in mind, I decided to do some theorizing of my own, and came to the following conclusions based on The Know's research on the subject...

Claim #1: Valve earns too much money to warrant a Half-Life 3 release

Image courtesy of VGCats.com

According to The Know's research, Valve has a revenue estimate of about $730 million a year. They also estimated that if Valve sold 12 million units of Half-Life 3 - an estimate based upon past Half-Life series sales - they would earn about $720 million. While I agree with their calculations, I disagree with their earnings estimate for Half-Life 3. The reason is that in their video they failed to account for development costs.

According to Valve's own press releaseLeft 4 Dead 2 had a $25 million advertising campaign. Supposing that Left 4 Dead 2's development costs were on the lower end of the scale, I used a list compiled by Kotaku journalist superannuation to estimate the game's development budget to be around $10 million dollars based on similar games. Supposing that Half-Life 3 had a similar budget, it would cost about $35 million to release the game.

If The Know's calculations - as well as my own estimates - are correct, Half-Life 3 would still earn around $685 million in sales. As such, I can only conclude that there are two reasons why Valve would not release Half-LIfe 3 based on earnings alone:

  1. They are perfectly comfortable with their current earnings, especially since Valve is a private company
  2. Unknown production, marketing, or distribution costs subtract a significant portion of the remaining earnings

Claim #2: Valve only has about 10 employees working on Half-Life 3

Both the Reddit user, and the anonymous Valve employee interviewed by The Know share one thing in common: they claim that Valve has few resources poured into Half-Life 3's development.

In my opinion, this claim holds the least amount of water out of the 3 major claims. The reason for this is that I cannot fathom any company putting any number of employees on a project that they do not intend on releasing in the near or distant future. Valve supposedly has around 330 employees, 28 of which work exclusively on DotA2. While 10 employees only amounts to about 3% of Valve's workforce, it is equal to a third of DotA2's team.

With that in mind, it would seem that Valve is interested in developing the game at a steady pace, putting some credit in favor of the Reddit poster's statement of a 2017-2018 release. However, I find the claim to be unlikely.

Half-Life 2 had a team of 84 people - and that's excluding face models and voice actors. As such, I would assume that Valve would need at least half of that team before considering designing anything remotely resembling a game as complex as a Half-Life 2 sequel. I may not be in game design, but as far as I understand you wouldn't want to have a team of 10 working on a game, and then suddenly pour on a bunch of extra hands once that team's about a fourth of the way through development. The chaos in management that would come as a result of such a move is uncharacteristic of a well-operating company.

As such, I believe that the claims of an abysmal amount of workers on Half-Life 3 are unrealistic for the development of a game of its magnitude. Instead, Valve is likely keeping these extra workers on hand for any projects they already have going - assuming these 10 workers exist.

Claim #3: Valve fears the potential backlash

Of all the claims you can find on the internet, I believe this one holds the most water.

Why? Because the internet is a horrible place. It may not be as terrible as a destructive riot, but it can get pretty darn close.

In my shared opinion with The Know, the results of a Half-Life 3 release would be astonishingly negative. Comparing the game to Mass Effect 3The Know claimed that Valve fears releasing Half-Life 3 since employees who worked on Mass Effect 3 were harassed and doxxed to the point of ruining careers and lives. Developers and employees were literally told to "kill themselves" by fans of the series, and this is quite likely the fate of any Half-LIfe game that could ever be released in the future by Valve.

Doxxers represent some of the worst people the more toxic side of internet gaming culture has cultivated

While I would like to imagine that people would not be so toxic toward Valve if they ever released Half-Life 3, I cannot for the life of me believe that it wouldn't happen. Gaming culture has become extremely toxic ever since online gaming became the norm.

Gamers and non-gamers alike know that the internet is a breeding ground for hate and general delinquent behavior. With hacking, DDOSing, and doxxing being so simple that even a teenager can do it, who can say that Valve wouldn't be afraid of releasing a game as hyped up as Half-Life 3?

Like it or not, the most compelling argument against Half-LIfe 3 ever being released is the fan base itself.

While I am not point fingers at anyone in particular, we know - as gamers - that anonymity on the internet can be a very dangerous thing. People's lives can hang on the balance of something as simple as their Facebook page getting doxxed. SWAT teams have broken into the homes of innocent Twitch streamers, so what's stopping some overzealous gamers from SWATing someone as impersonal as a game company employee? 

With this information at our disposal, if Valve employees are happy with making millions on Steam and micro-transaction sales alone, then who are we to judge? I wouldn't risk making an extra million if it meant putting my family's life in jeopardy. Until the government finds a way to protect people from these sort of attacks or people learn to just grow up, we may never see Half-Life 3.

Claim #4: What can Half-Life 3 really do?

This claim is one of my design. As I understand it, each Half-Life title was used to display the innovations of each Source engine Valve released. Back in the era of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, game engines were mostly designed to create new gameplay mechanics such as gravity, breakable objects, and so on. However, Half-Life 3 would be running in Source 2.0, an engine that... makes things prettier?

The truth is that modern game engines are designed to make games look good as opposed to making them more diverse mechanically. As a result, Half-Life 3 would need a new gameplay mechanic that would forever change the gaming landscape, just like the Gravity Gun in Half-Life 3. But can Valve do this?

They can't.

While I imagine Valve had plans to use the portal gun in the Half-Life series, I believe that the popularity of Portal actually ruined the prospects of making a Half-Life 3. I theorize that Half-Life 3 was originally intending on releasing sometime between Portal and Portal 2. The game would have used the portal gun to create new gameplay mechanics while aboard the Borealis, as well as interesting new ways to fight in later stages in the game. 

However, after the release of Portal 2, the creators were running out of ways to use the portal gun in a game. Furthermore, the creators of Half-Life realized that the quirky world they wrote for the Portal universe no longer fit into the apocalyptic mode of Half-Life. With Eli and Gordon out of commission as well, the developers accidentally wrote themselves into a hole that no amount of storytelling could repair.

But that's just a theory.

So will Half-Life 3 never happen?

Never say never, but for now it is certainly does not seem in the realm of possibility. One day Valve will release a Half-Life 3, likely to put their flagship series to rest or when their current microtransaction games slow down. Until then, Half-Life should be remembered as what it was, and what it still is for the gaming industry: a beacon light of innovative gameplay and storytelling that still burns in the hearts of gamers to this day.

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Twelve games undeserving of their critical praise https://www.gameskinny.com/574ei/twelve-games-undeserving-of-their-critical-praise https://www.gameskinny.com/574ei/twelve-games-undeserving-of-their-critical-praise Sun, 16 Aug 2015 18:39:02 -0400 The Soapbox Lord

We’ve all been there before. We have been playing a game that was showered with critical acclaim, and while we don’t think the game may necessarily be bad, we wonder, “Why is this getting so much praise?” While this thought may not occur during playtime, the thought may have crossed your mind after the end credits roll.

To clarify, I am not claiming these games are awful; some of them are pretty good. This list is a collection of games that caused me to question their critical acclaim while playing them.  With that in mind, let’s get to the good stuff!

Skyrim

I have to give credit where credit is due: Bethesda is great at creating gigantic virtual sandboxes for players to muck about in. The problem is they rarely fill those sandboxes with anything interesting. While Oblivion had many of the same issues as Skyrim, I found Skyrim the more boring and uninteresting of the two. With constantly repeated dungeons, floaty combat, shallow game mechanics, and an overall boring world, Skyrim is more repetitive than the Dick and Jane book series.   

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

I love a good turn-based strategy game; I’m slightly addicted to them. When I heard the venerable XCOM series was receiving a reboot, I was ecstatic. The original games have not aged well; so being able to play an XCOM game with modern design and sensibilities was a tantalizing prospect. While Enemy Unknown was not bad, it had several design issues and a lack of depth found in other turn-based strategy games.

The game can be easily completed by keeping your squad in a phalanx formation and simply abusing Overwatch like it's no one’s business. Once you get your soldiers promoted, they essentially become all-powerful demigods who laugh at the enemy invaders. A combination of individual classes can make most of the game a breeze. The lack of depth was also noticeable.

I celebrate a game becoming more accessible for newcomers, but there are ways to add depth for those who want it without alienating newer players. It’s far from a bad game. I like the veteran series being thrust into the limelight once again, and now we are getting more, but hopefully the forthcoming sequel will rectify some of the issues found in Enemy Unknown.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

To the time of writing this, I have completed nearly every game I have started. I rarely start a game I do not finish unless the game is awful or just drab in every way. Brotherhood is one of those games.

I endured the uneven first game due to the unique setting and experience (Middle East during Medieval times = awesome!), and Assassin’s Creed 2 improved upon the first game in so many ways, giving me what I enjoyed from the first game with less of what I didn’t. So why in the world was Brotherhood so boring? The game doesn’t introduce many new or interesting ideas; the story was snooze-worthy; and the game was just monotonous as a whole.

Uncharted 2

I debated including this one. However, after the lovely comments on my last piece where I dared accuse Uncharted 2 of not being as great as people think it is, I couldn’t help but include it here!

Yes, Uncharted 2 in NO way deserves the amount of critical acclaim it has received.

Half-Life 2

I’ve really lost it now, haven’t I? (I assure you I haven’t, or maybe I never had it.) Before you discount this thought, though, let’s talk. Half-Life 2 is a good game, but it is nowhere near the perfection people claim it to be. It’s a small game wrapped in a large tech demo. The game was a vehicle to show what the Source engine could do, and at the time of release, it was impressive. Now, though, not so much.

There are some great moments in the game. Ravenholm was tense and dripping with atmosphere. Experimenting with the gravity gun was satisfying. The upgraded gravity gun was even more satisfying. Between all of those moments, though, there is a lot of filler. The game is filled with a glut of boring vehicle sections, some tedious puzzles, and unnecessary fluff which the later episodic release rectified. It’s still a good game, but there’s a reason many fans are still talking about the original Half-Life over the sequel.

Bioshock Infinite

I’ve argued the case for Bioshock 2 before, but I still find people who think BioShock Infinite is the better game because they like to pretend Bioshock 2 does not exist. Bioshock 2 had large locales to explore, gripping combat, depth of gameplay, and was also fun to play. BioShock Infinite was a corridor shooter that quickly devolved into a monotonous slog towards the endgame.

I almost didn’t finish the game due to how boring and predictable the gameplay and design had become. The story was the only thing keeping me invested in any way.

At least it had great art design!

Fable III

The entire Fable series is built upon a foundation of unfulfilled promises and disappointed players. That said, the first two games managed to be enjoyable, even if they came nowhere near the heights they were projected to reach. With Fable III, Lionhead went one step forward and three large steps backwards.

The most egregious change was the abandonment of a menu system in favor of a hub-like area to access your inventory and such. The result was a confusing and ultimately unnecessary system. They also had a ridiculously simple and unfulfilling combat system that was as shallow as it was bland. A bevy of technical issues and a pointless section towards the end add up to one undeserving game.

Grand Theft Auto 4

It’s boring. Hmmm. Is that not enough? Alright, alright, here ya go!

GTA 4 is full of uninteresting characters populating a dull world with failed attempts at social critique, plagued by poor controls and gameplay. Just play Saints Row instead: the controls are better, it is far from pretentious, and it’s just plain fun to play - something the GTA series has yet to learn.

Arkham Knight

Honestly, this one is a matter of principle. Yes, Warner Bros. should NOT have knowingly released such an obviously unfinished PC port. They are completely at fault for pushing this sorry excuse for a game out the door. But why in the world was the game positively reviewed almost everywhere while an entire section of the playerbase couldn’t even play the damn game they bought?

The shady tactics of WB releasing the now infamous PC port should have affected scores overall. After all, Metacritic scores are one of the only ways to get these AAA publishers to pay attention, listen, and learn from their mistakes.

Telltale Games

I really enjoyed The Wolf Among Us. The Walking Dead: Season One affected me on an emotional level only two other games have. Tales from the Borderlands is shaping up to be a solid surprise too. So why are Telltale’s games on this list? Because of The Walking Dead: Season Two and Game of Thrones.

The Walking Dead: Season Two is the very definition of a disappointing sequel. With weaker writing and plot design coupled with brain-dead character decisions and forced confrontations, the game left a lot to be desired.

As a fan of the books who was interested to see what Telltale would do, I am disappointed Game of Thrones has such a poor design base and is just so uninteresting. So far the game has been extremely predictable and plagued with poor design. Now if they would only start from scratch…

Gears of War 3

Marcus and company land on this list with a, you guessed it, an insipid entry in the beefcake versus meat slabs series. While the entire series could be on this list, I managed to somewhat enjoy the first two titles and complete them. Gears of War 3 on the other hand, remains one of those games on my “Do not want to finish list.”

With minimal to no evolution in any way over previous entries, failed attempts at gravitas and drama, and lame firefights, the acclaim heaped onto GoW 3 is puzzling.

Destiny

Checklist for a "meh" game:

  • Repetive gameplay and embodiment of a Skinner box: Check!
  • Bland and lackluster gameplay: Check!
  • Story that reads like a thousand chimps' attempt at a space opera: Check!
  • Inflated expectations due to misleading ads, coverage, and such: Check!
  • Greedy business practices and insuting comments from the devs: Double Check!

And so it goes.

No doubt you completely agree with my list. However, if by some small chance you do not agree with my choices, sound off in the comments! Have I missed a game that in no way deserves the critical acclaim it has received? Make your voice heard as well!

Now go play some better games!

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