Story Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Story RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Red Dead Redemption 2 Could Be Taking Its Cues From These 8 Westerns Tue, 28 Aug 2018 12:47:01 -0400 Fenislav


Rockstar Games is known for getting their inspiration from movies and popular culture. Sometimes it’s the general outline of the entire main storyline (Red Dead Redemption and Wild Bunch), sometimes it’s the art, setting, and ambiance (GTA: Vice City and Scarface). The way they mix tropes and memes and create new ones in the process is always a joy to watch. If and how much they’ll draw upon any of the movies from this list in Red Dead Redemption 2 still remains to be seen. Whatever the outcome, we can’t wait to find that out when the game comes out on the 26th of October.

8. Django: Unchained (2012)

You might be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed in the western genre since the original Red Dead Redemption came out in 2010. In case you weren't paying attention to the other audiovisual medium, this happened: a groundbreaking spaghetti blaxploitation western written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.


Django: Unchained is at its core a universally relatable story of vengeance, love and freedom. As such, it is just an amazing movie, period, and anyone designing a narrative could benefit from analysing how Tarantino wrote it.


It’s also the first popular movie that depicted racial tensions in the Old West in a work of fiction meant mainly for entertainment.


Red Dead Redemption's producer and main writer for both games, Dan Houser, said back in 2009:


We didn’t fully represent era-appropriate racial attitudes because it’s too unpleasant to deal with, but we touch on those issues


The first game dodged this aspect of the Old West. In 2018 it’s safe to say that we’re ready to face at least some of that unpleasantness and that the general public appreciates inclusive stories that try to maturely approach all intricacies of their chosen setting.

7. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

This one’s pretty obvious, since we already know Red Dead Redemption 2 references The Assassination, at least in its trailer.


The legendary Jesse James (Brad Pitt) is followed by a starstruck fan, Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), who tries to join the James-Younger gang. Train robberies, a botched heist, infighting within the gang, conflicting loyalties and honor among thieves — there’s a lot in this movie that could inspire a story beat or two in RDR2’s depiction of the dissolution of the Van der Linde gang.


For now, at least the film's beautiful cinematography made it to the game's trailer, which leads me to believe Red Dead Redemption 2 may be the second game with movie-grade visual storytelling coming out this year.

6. Justified (2010–2015)

Neither a movie nor a western, Justified tells the story of Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) as his over-the-top Wild-West brand of justice gets him sent to his backwater home county of Harlan, Kentucky.


For many viewers, though, the real hero of Justified is Raylan's friend from the old days, Boyd Crowder. Played with equal parts ham and finesse by Walton Goggins, the sly, affable, entrepreneurial criminal displaying model Southern manners arguably steals the show from the second season onwards.


Even though Justified has a contemporary setting, it's so intent on depicting the rural US as the modern frontier, that it's a western in all but the appearances. Red Dead Redemption 2 would do well featuring a slightly larger-than-life magnificent bastard with Goggins' voice, no matter which side of the law he would occupy.

5. Unforgiven (1992)

It’s the last Clint Eastwood movie on this list, I promise! Stay with me though, cause this one’s a real diamond and a Best Picture Oscar winner.


Let’s face it, if Red Dead Redemption had one flaw, it was the way it dealt with morality. The game just doesn’t work well if we’re trying to make John Marston a bad guy. It even sent us to perform honorable genocide on a band of cattle thieves (quite literally rewarding us with Honor points for murder) in the name of the law as soon as its fourth story mission. Red Dead Redemption 2, on the other hand, is set to feature alternate approaches to conflicts and more interesting ways to be a bandit. It would be a waste if its story didn’t depict a complex society where good and evil are about more than the color of one’s hat.


Like The Missouri Breaks, Unforgiven makes sure your sympathies don’t completely agree with the legal delineation, though Gene Hackman is a very convincing and layered character as the movie’s sheriff. This film is also a deconstruction of iconic western tropes and features an absolutely badass portrayal of the outlaw archetype. Since we’ll be able to pick between good guy and bad guy lines in Red Dead Redemption 2, we can only hope they’re as powerful as the final dialogues of Unforgiven.

4. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Eastwood’s directorial debut is a simpler and more straightforward vision of the outlaw life, that also has some pacing problems. The heart of the story, however — a chased man’s search for a semblance of family and home, is very much in line with what we’ve seen in the trailers for Red Dead Redemption 2 so far.


The movie's not perfect — its action scenes and dialogues are a bit stilted by today's standards. Eastwood's Confederate sympathies are probably at their strongest here, which harms the story by crudely drawing a very thick line between good and evil. It's a beloved classic, though, drawing upon as well as cementing many tropes of the genre.

3. Hang 'em High (1968)

One of the first revisionist westerns. It features Clint Eastwood as Jed Cooper, a man first wrongly accused of stealing cattle and lynched, then saved from near-death by a marshal and offered the chance to take vengeance with a badge in his hand.


Not only does the movie set up a grey morality from the very beginning, it proceeds to point out the hypocrisy of its lawful society, where a desire for vengeance, influence and a sense of belonging are passed off as longing for justice. 


Back when Rockstar was making the original game, Rob Wiethoff, the voice actor portraying John Marston said of the character’s past:


I think John made some decisions in his life that made him feel accepted. I don’t know if he knew that what he was doing was wrong or not. I don’t know if he cared until, one day, he realized he didn’t want that life anymore.


Those words aren’t exactly canon, but if Rockstar proceeds with that or a similar interpretation of Morgan’s and Marston’s actions in RDR2, they’re going to need to picture a society that pushed them into this life. A society as flawed as the one depicted in Hang ’Em High.

2. The Missouri Breaks (1976)

Speaking of bounty hunters, it takes a really unsavory character chasing after outlaws to make the audience sympathize with the gang instead of the law. Marlon Brando was just such a character as a regulator who hunts down Tom Logan’s (Jack Nicholson) jolly band of rustlers.


The Missouri Breaks matches the freedom vs order theme of the dying frontier that Red Dead Redemption 2 seems to be going for. Nicholson’s character is a semi-decent guy who just happens to be stealing horses from a land baron that has enough money to have him and his friends all killed. Plus, you can’t help but notice that he even looks a bit like both RDR protagonists. If the young John Marston had his own gang, this is how I’d picture it.


There's also the fact that Rockstar blogged about the real-life inspiration behind Brando's character back in the RDR days.

1. For a Few Dollars More (1965)

All signs point to Red Dead Redemption 2's main theme being gangs of the Old West. There’s plenty of inspiration the game could take from a movie about two bounty hunters infiltrating the gang of a ruthless, sociopathic murderer haunted by the sins of his past. Perhaps we’ll see Arthur Morgan and John Marston worming their way into a rival outfit that threatens the Van der Linde gang? Or maybe Dutch will ally them with another band that will turn out to be out of control due to its leader smoking opium to cope with his animalistic nature?


Red Dead Redemption is an open-world masterpiece and, arguably, the best story ever written by Rockstar. The development team took field trips to the Library of Congress to learn from history and watched countless western films to inform and inspire the journey of John Marston as he hunts down his former gangmates across the dying Old West of 1911.


The original game’s narrative took cues most ostensibly from Wild Bunch and A Fistful of Dollars, with more than a hint of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid in its finale. Red Dead Redemption 2 has a different story to tell, though, and it can draw upon the following westerns to shape the fate of its new protagonist, Arthur Morgan.

7 Awesome Indie Games that Don't Have a Happy Ending Fri, 02 Feb 2018 05:19:22 -0500 Highties


Stories have a way of teaching us about life. They teach us that not everything ends on a happy note. Sometimes the tragic and morally questionable aspects of a stories ending serve as a caution about how we live our lives and how to improve our own story. 


Despite all that these games told great stories and I, for one, can't wait to see what else Indie developers will show us in the future. 


Did you feel this list did a good job of showing some of the unhappy endings of Indies? Were you disappointed that certain games didn't make the list?Comment below what sad tales you would have put and what you felt about these endings.

To the Moon 

Price: $4.99-$9.99


Buy it on: Steam, Android & Apple


To the Moon is a 16-bit story-driven game about two doctors who travel through a dying man's memories to accomplish his last dream to go to the moon. You will experience some of life's saddest moments; love, hate and the joy that this dying man went through in his life. 


When it comes to sad endings To the Moon holds that title proudly. In To the Moon you play as two doctors who were hired to send an old man to the moon, but to do so you need to figure out why he wants to go. You end up exploring the old mans entire life through his memories and ultimately find out why he wants to go into space. 


Not only do you start thinking about the beauty of To the Moon, but also about the futility of life and the fickle nature of memories. The ending is joyful in its way, however it is a bittersweet feeling. The idea that it was so close to being satisfactory and so close to being a happy occasion.



Silence: The Whispered World 2

Price: $29.99


Buy it on: PC & Xbox One


Silence: The Whispered World 2 is a story-driven game that allows you to experience what life is about for two kids named Noah and his younger sister Renie. The danger of war and the choices you must make for your family are an integral part of this fantasy world called 'The Silence.'


What would you do if your brother was in danger? What choices would you make in the name of family? In Silence: The Whispered World 2 you will experience a fantasy world unlike any that have come before it, however there's a catch. Toward the end of Silence: The Whispered World 2 you will have to make a difficult decision that will have massive consequences for your character and their family.   


Price: From $9.99


Buy it on: Steam, PS4 & PS Vita


In Undertale you will play as a human who falls into an underground world full of monsters. But, are all these creatures monsters? Are they as wicked as they may seem? Either way you have to find your way out, or chance being forever trapped in darkness.  Will you choose to play as a pacifist, or maybe you will choose a darker path and take the monster out of the picture?   


Undertale is considered one of the best Indie titles of recent years, mainly because its story and pacifist playthrough options. Most of the interactions in Undertale deal with a variety of emotions and make you question the choices you have made throughout the game. As a pacifist the ending can be pretty satisfying, but will leave an emotional imprint on your mind. However, if you decide to choose the genocidal path the ending can be gruesome and unforgiving to the main character. As for the rest of the underground world it is left in a state of disarray from what you have done.

Papers, Please

Price: $8.99


Buy it on: Steam


In Papers, Please you decide who crosses the border between Grestin and Arstotzka while implementing government laws and policies that will bring glory to the Arstotzkan government and keep your homeland safe. However, Arstotzka is not all it appears; behind simply controlling immigration at the borders there is government corruption and revolution at hand.


Behind Papers, Please lies a truly depressing story about a man who has been chosen to work for the Arstotzkan government through a lottery and must work in order to keep his family alive. In Papers, Please you will work as an immigration inspector on the borders of the Arstotzkan side of Grestin. The game takes a twist when the government you are working for becomes more hostile towards immigrants. Slowly, more and more policies are implemented to prevent suspicious people gaining entry into Arstotzka.


One example of the depth of the story in Papers, Please is when a revolutionary group tries to convert you to their cause. You will have to make a choice between the safety of government or the radical freedoms of a revolutionary movement. However, you're not alone. Your family depend on you and every action you take can affect them and the outcome of your story. 


There are multiple endings in Papers, Please and over 20 involve sad outcomes for you and your family. The naunce and thought gone into Papers, Please cannot be understated and it is well worth checking out.


Price: $19.99


Buy it on: Steam


Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller that follows a group of friends who go out to have a good time, however it doesn't all go to plan. You accidentally stumble on a rift between worlds that traps you and your friends on the island. Alex (the protagonist) must find a way for him and his friends to escape the dreaded island before it is too late. 


Oxenfree contains supernatural elements that will chill you to the bone and by the end of the game you must face an almost impossible choice. Oxenfree has several endings depending on who you help and who you end up leaving behind, but every choice you make has a consequence. 



Gone Home

Price: $14.99


Buy it on: Steam


Gone Home is a mystery game reliant on puzzles which help the protagonist figure out what happened to their family. The disappearance of the protagonists family leaves him in disarray and he must figure out what has caused them to leave.


Going home can form mixed emotions depending on an individuals situation, whether you feel jubilation or dread at the thought of returning home depends on your home life. In the case of Gone Home its a sorrowful affair for the protagonist. You come home to find everyone has left unexpectedly and with no explanation, therefore forcing you to explore your home to solve the mystery. Towards the end of Gone Home it is clear that everyone left for their own reasons and in time you understand that when you left your family moved on.


The ending feels resolved, however you are left to wonder about the fate of some family members. It appears as though they may have left for good reasons, but there is a prevailing sense of dread throughout the entirety of the game.

Night in the Woods

Price: $19.99


Buy it on: Steam


Night in the Woods is an adventure game that allows you to explore a colorful world that is filled with interesting characters and conflicts that will require you to make friends with people throughout the town. 


Night in the Woods centers around Mae Borowski: a college drop out who returns home and has to sort through issues that arise in her hometown. Throughout Night in the Woods the protagonist begins to form bonds and starts building close relations with many of the characters in the story, despite this towards the end of the game you end up feeling unsatisfied with the resolution. Especially since some of the issues are left unresolved, therefore creating a sense of indignance from the player. However, Mae does learn to face her problems and learns to move on from past events instead of focusing on them; which brings a somewhat neutral ending to a fantastic story and gaming experience. 




Endings can be hard to handle. We spend so much time in these other worlds getting to know various characters and experiencing all the game has to offer only to be sent down a cycle of indignation. It's all over, your journey complete and you're left with a hole in your heart. 


What's even harder to handle is when the worlds you have spent so much time in end on a sour or sad note. Several triple-A titles have included morose or melancholic endings that tug on our heartstrings. However, Indies are no stranger to these narrative archs, so we present our top 7 Indie titles that broke our hearts.  

8 Indies with Surprisingly Well-Crafted Stories Sat, 18 Nov 2017 07:00:01 -0500 bazookajo94

Look, I know what you're thinking. You see an article title with the word "Indie" next to "Well-Crafted Stories," and you suspect another writer praising the wonders of Undertale or LIMBO. And I am such trash for indie games that I'd probably be the one writing that article. 

But I'm also trash for the underdogs, for the stories and games that don't get noticed unless they're played by popular let's players who post two videos a day and need more to sustain their income than AAA games or featured Steam games. 

So here are just a few indie games with stories worth your time that might have gotten lost in the dark shadows of skeletons based on fonts or boys lost in the woods.

One Chance 

One Chance, released by Newgrounds in 2010, follows the story of John Pilgrim, a scientist who thought he created the cure for cancer but instead doomed all of humanity -- unless he could find a cure in six days. In this adventure-style pixelated game, walking, talking, and opening doors are about the extent of your control over the character, but these simple actions still have lasting effects, depending on where the player walks, who they talk to, and what door they open. 

At first glance, the story and concept might not seem that original. I Am Legend immediately comes to mind. And yet another game where our choices matter? Haven't faced the consequences of our actions enough?

But One Chance is different in that you only get just that: one chance. If you reload the browser, the website returns you to the point in the game you ended on. Whatever ending you got, you got. And this game, believe it or not, gets pretty sad. Because John Pilgrim is not alone in his life; he's got a wife and child, and his choices affect them, too. Even before the whole, you know, all-of-humanity-is-doomed ending. 

So good luck, because you've only got one shot to save everyone. 

That Dragon, Cancer

Following the vein of cancer and the tragedy it brings to life comes Numinous Games That Dragon, CancerWritten and created by Ryan and Amy Green, the point-and-click adventure game follows the true story of Ryan and Amy and their son Joel, who was diagnosed with cancer at twelve months old. The gameplay pairs exploration with the upsetting and uplifting moments the family experienced during the years Joel lived with his illness before his death in 2014. 

This is a sad story, but it's a good story, and one worth playing. Even for those who are not as religious as the Green's, whose faith seeped into some aspects of the game. The genuine emotional rawness of this story resonates with all players, even those who haven't personally experienced cancer in their lives.

You can buy That Dragon, Cancer on iTunes or the Google Play Store for $9.99.


Not all good stories have to be solely sad. They can be creepy and sad, like in the French RPG game OFFDeveloped by Mortis Ghost in 2008 and translated into English in 2011, this Unproductive Fun Time production follows the Batter as he makes his way through the Zones while defeating creatures on his "important mission." The gameplay follows standard RPG protocol: gaining experience after every battle and leveling up eventually, adding members to your party, and turn-based combat mechanics. 

As the player, The Puppeteer, guides The Batter on his quest alongside his cat guide, The Judge, The Puppeteer starts to question who's really evil, who really deserves to be "purified," and if they should be in charge of making that decision at all. 

You can download the game for free here and find out for yourself what's really going on in OFF. 

Calm Time

I've mentioned a pixelated game before and I'm going to do it again with free-to-play Calm Timedeveloped four years ago by GoosEntertainment. This short indie horror game introduces the player as someone who lives on their own in an isolated house with only the wind and stars as company. Tired of being lonely, they invite people to their house for a dinner party. 

And then people start dying. 

Though the game doesn't have an expansive story to captivate its players' hearts, there is just enough for players to start questioning their own morals. To make them sit back and think about their own life choices and whether or not they really think an isolated idea would be such a good idea after all. 

Download the game here and get ready for your peaceful night to get weird. 

Layers of Fear

Who says scary games can't have plot? Maybe the same people who say they read certain magazines for their articles...

Layers of Fear stars a man traversing his own house while trying to survive his crumbling psyche as he struggles to solve the mystery of his past. While being yet another game that's following in P.T.'s footsteps, this 2016 title succeeds by having an original plot that can get pretty spooky. 

Games that have protagonists with hallucinations bring a unique kind of fear, one that has players questioning everything they explore. And in Layers of Fear, they're going to have questions. Why is this guy seeing things? And what's up with his painting? Actually, just what's up with that guy in general? His deterioration into madness is "fun" to experience, and scary to witness. There are also three unique endings to the game, so you get to try three different times to make sure he gets the ending he deserves. 

Paint this game into your heart and nightmares for only $19.99 on Steam, PlayStation, or Xbox. 

Road Not Taken

Not every game has to be dark and depressing. They can be light and depressing, too, like Spry Fox's Road Not Taken. In this puzzle adventure game, players enter the forest and save the town's lost children from the brisk winter storm. Each level that passes is another year closer to retirement. The player also has the option to woo a town's member in an attempt to start a family of your own. But, much like real life, things don't always turn out as planned. 

The charming art style of Road Not Taken serves as an interesting contrast to the underlying starkness of its story. I'd like to say that everything turns out alright, but the developers didn't use Robert Frost's poem as a promise to its players. 

You can find this game for $14.99 on PlayStation, Steam, or Xbox. 

The Swapper

Maybe cute and sad isn't your scene, as mine apparently is. Well, don't worry, because Facepalm Game's sci-fi adventure The Swapper is here to satisfy your futuristic story needs. 

The game opens in an abandoned research facility with the player finding a device that allows them to clone themselves and then swap between their clones, which can only mean that they must use their clones in puzzles that lead them across the facility and closer to the answers surrounding its doomed fate. 

The story feels reminiscent of some of the abandoned vaults in a Fallout game, ones where dead things are everywhere and you can only piece together what happened through journals written and rooms abandoned. Plus, the game is beautiful. Like, seriously gorgeous. 

The Swapper is available on Steam or PlayStation for $14.99. 

Presentable Liberty

That's right. I did it. I saved the best for last. Or, at least, my favorite for last. Presentable Libertydeveloped by Wertpol in 2014 and free to play, tells the story of a prisoner in a cell with sparse interaction from the outside world save for the ticking of a clock and letters from someone the prisoner knows, someone they don't know, and the staff from the prison itself. 

The game begins with the players resigning themselves to the fate of their cell, and then the letters start to reveal more of the secrets behind why the player is locked up and what their friends are doing on the outside, and suddenly they are invested, suddenly they care, suddenly the game start playing tricks on the players mind, giving them a real sense of isolation and despair. 

Perhaps the best place to see the psychological toll this game takes on a player is to commit yourself to the hour of Markiplier's let's play of this game. 

Or, you know, you could play the game and experience it for yourself. You do you. 

As you might have noticed, many of these stories are rather sad, but good stories can be more than sad. They can be cute and sad, or scary and sad, or not sad at all (and thus probably not very good). However, no matter the emotion someone gets when playing a game and experiencing its story, if they finish the game having felt something, then something must have gone right. And though these games may be hard to find or don't have the best quality around, they deserve a chance to have their good (ie sad) stories heard. 

Grinding to a Halt: Why MMOs Should Really Rebuild Their Quest Structures Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:00:02 -0500 SpaceGamerUK

MMO games need grinding to give players the ability to achieve more, and go further. The same grinding process is also the reason why people are playing MMOs less and less, even if they seem to be very interesting.

Let me be perfectly honest with you; there is no chance that there will be no grinding in games -- especially true in MMO games.

Do I think this is ok? No, not really. Grinding is boring, and some serious TLC is needed to make it bearable and interesting.

So what should really happen to make sure that grinding is brought to a halt?

For starters, a game which is not even an MMO, but at the same time is the poster boy for a bad grinding system:

No Man's Sky

Let's forget the whole discussion about what NMS was/is, and if the advertising on the Steam store was actually cheating or lying. I believe that everything has been said by everybody about Sean Murray and his vision of almost unlimited worlds -- hint: they all just appeared to be a second class cartoon with a lot of limitations.

This is not how NMS look in reality. Sorry!

What is important though, NMS is a perfect example of a game with boring grinding for no reason. Or rather I should write -- grinding is actually THE reason for everything.

No Man's Sky, due to ill design, did not present any interesting aim for the players. Very quickly it was established that there is nothing in the heavily advertised "centre of the Universe" -- the endgame for NMS. I think someone got there in the first couple of hours of the game, and was transferred to exactly the same Universe (at least it looked the same). How very sad and a boring idea for the game finale it was.

Grinding in NMS is very bad, by waving some sort of blaster taking chunks of different coloured blobs. That's it.

If anybody thinks that I chose NMS as an example of bad grinding in games because it was easy target -- this is exactly the reason! But I will not feel guilty, the grinding of the games should feel guilty of being bland.

The reason I have brought No Man's Sky is, that the grinding in the game failed badly. There was no really interesting story behind it. It seems that Hello Games people one day were sitting behind the table and decided that NMS players must grind something. Otherwise the game will have no purpose.

I think this is the worst case scenario for any game -- when grinding becomes the aim for it.

What about Elite: Dangerous?

I love the game, don't get me wrong, but repetition in Frontier's version of the Milky Way can sometimes be concerning. It certainly drags player out of the game very often.

There is an aim here though. The reason for grinding in ED is to reach Elite rank in three categories: fight, exploration, and trading. Higher ranks are also responsible for the access to some of the solar systems, and also grant access to more sophisticated space ships.

Where is the problem?

I feel that the problem is lack of variety in the quests. It is not so visible at the beginning, but with time, when players have most of the space ships and ranks it becomes very apparent; there is not too much else to do.

I am just in the middle of a passenger trip taking 6 people to some sort of Nebula. Hours of jumping from star system to star system. Nice views -- I can admit -- but nothing more. This is where the problem lies; grinding is lonely and overly prolonged.

A lot of players who are leaving ED claim that they achieved everything. Sometimes two or three times, and that is it.

I can understand this point of view and I can see where those leavers are coming from.

I didn't quit though, and regardless that I am sure there is much to say about endless grinding in ED, there is also one thing, which makes it different comparing to many other titles. The reason why grinding can be acceptable is that you can interact with other players (when you are not on your way to a nebula) and create some sort of own story.

This is an important feature of properly designed MMO games, such as Elite: Dangerous; people are never alone and they can interact not only with the in-game world but also with each other. This makes a difference and provides sense to questing and grinding.

The same principle applies to every MMO game

Let's take a look at the really big titles. World of Warcraft is certainly top of the bunch. Highly acclaimed, easily playable but still based on the old MMORPG principle of waving your sword/axe/knife or shooting, and just in world doing repetitive quests to achieve higher ranks. Mega grind in progress...

Star Wars: The Old Republic? Exactly the same. After 2 hours of playing this game I was ready to uninstall it and forget it forever. And I actually did -- until a friend, who has been playing for the last 5 years, told me exactly why he is still playing and why I was unwise to quit.

He stays in game for the people who are playing with him. It is not so much about another quest, another skill or ability any more. What keeps him coming back, grinding another quest, achieving another skill is an ability to use what he learned during team escapades against other clans or teams.

It seems to be really clear, that to avoid grinding which will put people out of the MMO game, developers must re-think the position of quests/grinding in their game design.

Quest structure should be rebuilt...

...and players should gain deeper control over their own development paths.

The easiest way to describe a good grinding system would be our real life structure.

Of course people need to work, and work quite often reminds us of proper in-game grinding. The difference is that in life we are fully in charge of our decisions and choices. Therefore we are in power to stop our grind -- change of job, move to another country, write a book, or start to write for GameSkinny (editor note -- in our JTP program hint hint)...

Good MMO games should follow a similar pattern; of course games are not real life and never should be. The popularity of sandbox games, like Life is Feudal, Astroneer, Evochron Legacy, shows quite clearly that set quests and grinding becoming rather obsolete. Players want to decide about their in-game life and what to do next.

This is the reason why in Elite: Dangerous, Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft, and so many other games, people are slowly adding an element of team cooperation though factions, corporations, any sort of PvP interaction, and more.

This is the way of bringing grinding back to life -- making it useful for the community and a force for good.

Therefore quest structure should rely on the choice of the players. They should be less designed as a path from A to B, and should be about choices with the support of others, skip a couple of levels, jump higher, and succeed or fail. Learn from experience, learn from mistakes. Learn from others.

EVE Online is all about players and learning

There is only one world in EVE. The world is cruel and requires you to learn from all the players. It can be a painful experience, dragging people out of the game, but they have the option to work with other people, have some advice, and above all support. In exchange they just need to be useful for the community.

A few days ago I was in my tier 1 frigate flying around. As a noob in space, I wasn't grinding. I was attacking space structures surrounded by players with tonnes of skills, and flying ships I was not be able to buy for another two years of playing EVE. I was still part of this story. It was fun. Much better than endless missions for local militia.

In many games I would need to level up for ages to even gain access to this kind of "boss fight."

I think that CCP, the developers of EVE Online, learned a long time ago that the best method of keeping your game interesting and popular is to give players an ability to mould the game and run it. This is why EVE has such a sophisticated economy system, lively corporations, and constant buzz around main alliances -- as well as  space battles with thousands of players.

There is no reason to remove grinding from a game. What should really happen is developers making sure that grinding will not become the reason for the game.

With interesting, non-linear quest design, stunning visuals, and an attention grabbing believable story behind it all, every MMO game will be closer to being a better version of real life. Regardless that many look at games as an escape, we are also hoping to find something familiar there, as well as a life changing experience which would require effort but not constant boredom.

New Story Trailer for Torment: Tides of Numenera Thu, 09 Feb 2017 09:31:56 -0500 Rob Kershaw

Techland have just released a story trailer for the forthcoming Torment: Tides of Numenera and it looks very promising indeed.

Whilst the background for your character has been discussed before -- as well as the game's possible antagonist -- the latest trailer summarizes the events leading up to your arrival in Torment succinctly.

From what we can gather, you may not only be fighting against The Sorrow, but The Changing God as well -- the entity who created and possessed the vessels that allowed him to survive through the ages, of which you are one.

But the way in which The Changing God is portrayed suggests that there may possibly be scope for you and The Sorrow to work together, and defeat the entity which has been cheating death for millennia.

It's an intriguing introduction to Monte Cook's world, and given the writing talent behind the game we can expect that the conflict we'll encounter will be tinged with various shades of grey.

The release date is less than three weeks away, so we can expect a ramp up of promotional information as February 28th draws closer.

Does the story trailer make you excited to play Torment? Let us know in the comments!

5 Ways Final Fantasy 15's Story Could Have Been (Much) Better Sat, 21 Jan 2017 07:00:01 -0500 Emily Parker


Though Final Fantasy XV can be predictable and unnecessarily complicated at times, it is redeemed with a large sprinkle of the Final Fantasy magic fans adore. The relationship between your party members, for instance, deserves praise and really makes this game shine. 


We can argue its failures and successes, but at the end of the day, it's nice to see another Final Fantasy installment and I hope there will be many more to come.

Complicate Your Villain

There were aspects about Ardyn that I loved -- his flowing purple hair and his casual confidence.


The rest seemed incredibly predictable and cliche. Oh, he was once good and now he's bad? He's seeking revenge? Society screwed him over? He dresses flamboyantly? Stop me now if any of this sounds familiar.


Additionally, "The villain doesn't want to kill you yet, but totally could" trope is a bit tired and nobody was shocked when he revealed his true colors.


Even just disguising his actions a bit more would have had players a little more intrigued. Anyone that plays video games or watches movies could spot him from a mile away. Throw in some other motivators besides revenge, or some complications with his rise to power, and we can start to invest in our arch-nemesis.


As complicated as Final Fantasy wants to make the rest of their lore, the Accursed Ardyn was a pretty basic attempt at a super-villain. 

Stop Killing Everyone

A story has to be just fantastic (e.g. Game of Thrones) and the characters truly gripping to get away with killing a majority of the cast. If not, you really (really) risk losing your audience. And well, a lot of us just threw the controller down (or at least rolled our eyes) during our time in the world of Final Fantasy XV. Why? Because Square kept killing everyone -- and wanting us to care!


I understand this is a pretty common theme with Final Fantasy stories, but it felt really overdone in FFXV.


At least the dog lives right?

Fill Your Plot Holes

If the plot wasn't predictable or confusing, it was missing altogether. Even the most die-hard and well-read fans are scratching their heads at several missing plot points.


For instance, Luna and Noctis always seem to be within a few miles of each other, but they can't seem to meet up. Trading notes via a magical doggie is cute and all, but wouldn't a cell phone call or text message make more sense?


Another good (and glaring) plot hole is the Secretary of Altissia. Why would she bother helping Noctis awaken the Leviathan? She knew you would destroy her city, you knew you would destroy her city, and you totally end up destroying her city.


It also is strange flying through outposts and gas stations and nobody seems to care that Nilfheim has invaded Insomnia. Maybe nobody really liked Insomnia anyway. Who knows. With all the plot holes, it's easy for things to get lost...

Go With a Stronger Female Lead

I understand this is a story about bros -- and I want to emphasize that I loved that their relationship was the focus.


But did we really need the video game's version of Luna? The love story felt forced and weak. Why? Because her character was written to prop the protagonist... and very unapologetically, she had no other purpose.


Instead of some jewel Noctis chases across Eos, would it not have made more sense to give some depth to her character? Luna is better developed in Kingsglaive -- a movie worth checking out if you are a still a little confused -- but her portrayal in the game is disheartening. 


If you really want your game to so heavily revolve around a love story, let both partners have purpose and strength. It felt gross watching Luna obsess over Noctis, live her entire life (in pain) to inspire him and then get stabbed to death for (as far as I can figure out) no real reason. Meanwhile, Noctis is racing Chocobos with his friends.


And don't get me started on her dress ripping up as she was being attacked by the Hydraean -- or Shiva's and Cidney's character designs. We'll leave all of that alone.

Make It a Little Easier on Your Players

There's a reason a FFXV search yields tons of "explainer" articles when you type it into Google.


The dialogue is obnoxiously obscure when it doesn't need to be, the characters can be difficult to keep track of, and not a lot of the plot is thoroughly explained.


Quite a bit of pertinent information for the game comes from other Final Fantasy media. I really appreciate a broad lore set with plenty of options to digest more content, but what I don't appreciate is a $60 game that feels like it's missing part of its story. What happened to the old days when a story, you know, came in one piece?

A lot of other gamers share the sentiment, and this is possibly the biggest issue the community is having with the game. 


Final Fantasy XV has an engaging story. It's sometimes fun and equally quirky. It's supported by a rich environment, stunning visuals, and beautiful music. It is intricate, emotional and fairly innovative.


Unfortunately, it ended up falling flat for many players and confusing the rest. A big part of that disconnect was because Square Enix relied too heavily upon transmedia devices (like books and movies) to convey the game's overall story. There were also some questionable risks taken and underdeveloped characters that made things even harrier.


Here are 5 speculations on how Final Fantasy XV's story could be improved.

2017 Game Releases That Are Perfect For Storytellers Tue, 10 Jan 2017 09:09:49 -0500 Rob Kershaw

There are some incredible games coming out this year running the gamut of genres and focuses. But for me, storytelling will always take priority. The way developers and writers continue to offer up new, inventive, and exciting ways to tell a tale never fails to impress -- and for the coming year there seems to be an abundance of creativity that story fans can eat up.

While it would be easy to pick out some bigger releases to highlight the upcoming influx of epic, sweeping narratives -- such as Mass Effect: Andromeda, Torment: Tides of Numenara, or Ni No Kuni 2 --  I'd instead like to focus on some of the slightly less well-known titles that I'm looking forward to playing. Each of them approaches storytelling in a different way, but whether through aesthetic, exploration or the choices you make, they are all looking to deliver their message in a unique fashion. 

Tokyo Dark

Release Date: TBA 2017


Fans of noir and anime could be in for a treat with Tokyo Dark, a side-scrolling point-and-click set in downtown Tokyo. You play as Detective Itō, searching for her missing partner and uncovering a macabre mystery that threatens her own mind. 

A unique system tracks your choices -- monitoring your sanity, professionalism, investigation, and neurosis, then opening or closing options dependent on your state of mind at any point. With eleven possible endings, the potential replay value of this crime thriller is impressive.

Tokyo Dark followed up a sterling Kickstarter campaign with a strong showing at last year's EGX that left me eager for more. The decision to delay its original October 2016 release may have been wise -- it's already looking polished, but a few more months ironing out those final bugs certainly won't hurt. 


Release Date: TBA 2017

Fans know very little about the next game from the creators of Gone Home. The similarities are there, but the setting is completely different. You arrive on an abandoned space station in 2088, and have to figure out exactly what happened. Where is everyone?

Unlike Fullbright's first indie darling, which had an absence of other characters, in Tacoma you'll actually be able to observe some of the station's crew whose earlier movements and actions are replicated through polygon avatars. By discovering and manipulating items, listening to the crew's conversations and exploring your environment, you'll try to make sense of the situation. Like Gone Home, there'll be no weapons and no fighting; story is front and center.

Having just watched Passengers (I enjoyed it, even if the critics were divided), I'm incredibly excited about the prospect of mooching about a similarly outfitted high-tech space station, and nosing into the crew's personal lives. The overarching mystery is an added bonus, and the world-building elements are placed primarily in your hands. The more you search, the more you'll be able to piece together the backstory. Not every item will be essential to the plot, but it all adds to a fully rounded narrative experience. Hopefully Fullbright's sophomore title will build on the foundations which made Gone Home a delight to play.

What Remains of Edith Finch

Release Date: TBA 2017

Another mystery, this time split into short stories which each focus on the death of a member of the Finch family. As Edith, the last remaining family member, you play through her eyes as she relives the final moments of each of the Finches. 

Developer Giant Sparrow isn't afraid of taking a progressive approach to storytelling, as their first title The Unfinished Swan demonstrated. Their follow-up may not have the same stylized aesthetic, but the events that occurred in the house look to be delivered in a wonderfully dreamlike manner, imbued with a cinematic quality.

It's difficult to say how the story will play out, or how much agency the player will have. However, it's been suggested that the stories will morph from the mundane to the surreal, and offer different control systems as you play through them to their inevitably morbid conclusion. Can hope and wonder spring from death? Hopefully, as we discover alongside Edith what happened, the final outcome won't be as gloomy as we might fear...   

The Sexy Brutale

Release Date: TBA 2017

As a kid, I loved Infocom's text adventures. They were witty, intelligent, and meticulously crafted pieces -- each with a unique voice that told a captivating story. One of my favorites from their catalog was Murder, which cast you in the role of a detective at a dinner party as you moved from room to room, and interacted with guests before the titular event took place. Subsequent playthroughs saw you go to different rooms, follow different people, and try to work out who committed the crime, how they did it, and for what reason.

With The Sexy Brutale, Tequila Works and Cavalier Game Studios appear to have crafted a visual version of that text adventure, set at a masquerade ball. There are a couple of twists though: multiple people are being murdered, and a Groundhog Day MacGuffin means you can rewind the day and try and save them all. Each person you save will grant you powers that will allow you to save more people. 

Working out how to stop their demise will be tricky -- you play a frail priest, so you'll need to rely on your wits rather than physicality. If a hunting rifle (a potential murder weapon) is too heavy for you to pick up and hide, why not swap out the live round with a blank one? It's unclear at this stage whether there will be multiple approaches to stopping each guest from snuffing it, but I'm very keen to see how the time-travel element can be utilized in driving the narrative forward.


Release Date: Q1 2017 TBC

Gorogoa is the most unique entry in this list, since it contains no dialogue or language at all. The story is told purely through visuals, hand-drawn and meticulously detailed, and tells the tale of a boy searching for a monster who may or may not have divine powers. 

The game is a succession of four different tiles, each depicting an image. By moving the tiles around, you can form linked pictures which interlock and then activate. The narrative is presented through the animated sequences which are triggered whenever you correctly discover how these images are linked. It sounds complicated, but a quick look at the trailer below reveals a unique and beautifully designed mechanism for storytelling, with the artwork invoking shades of Studio Ghibli. 

It's part jigsaw puzzle and  part room escape, but the gameplay is incredibly mellow. And with the reliable Austin Wintory handling music duties, it may be one of the most relaxing gaming experiences you'll have all year. Designer Jason Roberts has been working on Gorogoa for over half a decade, but we may finally be closing in on a release this spring. 

All in all, it looks like a great year for story-driven games.

Personally, the most exciting thing about 2017 from a storytelling perspective is that these games are merely a small selection of what the industry has to look forward to. The big RPGs on the horizon (Valkyria Chronicles and Dragon Quest XI to name a few) will no doubt hit the headlines, but I've historically found the smaller titles such as Brothers and Year Walk to be far more affecting. So to have such a wide selection of potentially stellar games to choose from is wonderful. Regardless of where your priorities lie though, there's no doubt that it's going to be a good year for narrative gaming.

Which story-driven games are you most looking forward to playing in 2017? Let me know in the comments below! 

Telling Stories: The Importance of Lore in Video Games Mon, 28 Nov 2016 09:02:53 -0500 Pablo Seara

Writing the story of a game is one of the most important tasks in video game creation. A compelling, well-written narrative can draw players in, and make them feel all sorts of emotions, like a good roller coaster. 

A fulfilling tale can -- and will -- stay in the memories and even hearts of those who have experienced it. However, there is  one more step, one more element that can push the gamers even further in their involvement with the title: the lore.

The lore of a game is its backstory, all the elements that complement the principal narrative. These details add depth and richness to the universe of a video game, expanding its history outside the main plot. It is an aspect that is sometimes overlooked by developers, which is a mistake. Good lore writing is essential to engage players, and a good way to offer them more than the base title.

In the following lines, I will explain some of the keys to lore building with both good and bad examples, and why it is so important.

The Elder Scrolls: An Optional, Compelling Universe

The Elder Scrolls (TES) is a well-regarded franchise, with lots of followers. Many of them love the games for their fun gameplay and interesting world. Fans often choose to get deeper into the history of Tamriel and its different reigns. The lore of The Elder Scrolls is an extensive one; full of gods, demons, and important historical events that influenced the current state of the world in the franchise.

Every new installment in the series expands on its universe, one of the richest and most consistent lores in gaming history. This is possible because the vast majority of Bethesda employees work with The Elder Scrolls, making sure everything blends into a cohesive, overarching backstory. This is also the main reason why many TES fans do not like The Elder Scrolls: Online, which is developed by a completely different team, that has not been able to successfully expand on the backstory.

However, all of this information is optional. Not all the players like to delve into the lore of a game, and they just want to play the main story. The lore of The Elder Scrolls is presented through all the dialogues and books you can find in the different titles. It's also available as external products such as comics and or books. It is a reward for those who want to learn more about Tamriel and its history.

The lore of The Elder Scrolls also serves to add more context to many subquests that deal with deities or  events enmarked in Tamriel's History. Knowing about the past of the world can make you appreciate the experience even more. This is also the case in other excellent series like The Witcher or Fallout, which have great world building.

Dark Souls: A Community in Love With the Lore

Dark Souls is another excellent and different example of good lore writing, which takes a different approach to it. Instead of thoroughly explaining the history of the world throughout documents and events, Dark Souls is more subtle and open to interpretation.

The franchise only has a handful of cutscenes that directly teach the player about its lore, but most of the events that take place during Dark Souls cannot be understood without the proper information. However, this knowledge can be found at plain sight, if you know how to search for it.

Newcomers get into Dark Souls for its difficulty, but they stay for the lore

There are plenty of lore details around the games, in the different areas, in the cryptic dialogues, in the odd character interactions and in the mysterious item descriptions. All these clues are brought together by the faithful community of the franchise, that work together to understand Dark Souls' universe.

Dark Souls demands a lot, both from the gameplay and the lore. To understand the game you are playing, you have to work for it. That is the secret of Dark Souls: it treats the player with respect and intelligence, and rewards him accordingly, with interesting information and awesome world building. Newcomers go into Dark Souls for its difficulty, but they stay for the lore, an achievement many companies should learn from.

No Man's Sky: One More Failure

We all know No Man's Sky was a  failure, but you may not know that it failed in delivering good lore as well. A sci-fi game about travelling the galaxy, meeting new alien races, exploring planets and discovering ancient civilizations should have an interesting, developed background story like Mass Effect, but this is not the case.

No Man's Sky introduces the players to its lore through different artifacts, shelters and pieces of dialogues from the aliens they encounter while travelling. It takes a mixed approach between TES and Dark Souls. However, it does not manage to be as interesting and compelling as those other franchises. This happens because there is absolutely no events in the game that are enhanced by No Man Sky's History.

In No Man's Sky, there are no interesting characters whatsoever

Let us take World of Warcraft as example. If you have done your homework, you probably know about the heroes and villains that populate Azeroth. When the time comes and you fight these characters, the prior information makes the battle more thrilling and exciting. It is not the same if you fight a random person, than going against Arthas, the Lich King.

Meanwhile, in No Man's Sky, there are no interesting characters whatsoever. All the creatures you find during your journey are unknown aliens, that do not add anything special to the story. Once you find out about the nature of the universe, it does not improve upon the lore. Everything the game teaches you is bland, superfluous, and even boring.

A good backstory could have helped the game to be more successful, even a little bit, by encouraging the remaining players to learn more about its universe. In the end, all they get is a repetitive, dull experience, with zero impact and no reason to be.

As shown by the previous examples, a good, worked lore can drive players to get more attached to a game. It can improve a story, by adding lots of interesting information about the world and characters that live in it. Like a good book, it can trap us and move us to get engaged with other fans, discussing theories and talking about the backstory for endless hours. Conveying a good background story is an achievement to strive for.

What do you think? Is there any game you love because of its lore? Let us know in the comment section below!

New Mass Effect Andromeda Trailer and Information Wed, 09 Nov 2016 00:00:17 -0500 Lampstradamus

N7 Day (November 7th) recently passed us by and along with a recent issue of Game Informer, we have a slew of information about the next entry in the Mass Effect series, as well as a cinematic reveal trailer.

The cinematic reveal trailer gives us a taste of what we will be getting with Mass Effect: Andromeda. The trailer shown to us is backed with a monologue from one of the characters, and goes through several shots of the environments we might be exploring and  some of the events we may will experience.

The Ryder siblings.

When we get to pick up Mass Effect: Andromeda we will be stepping into the shoes of either of the Ryder family. Specifically we will play one of two twins, Scott (voiced by Tom Taylorson) or Sarah (voiced by Fryda Wolff). The Ryder family can be customized with players being able to edit the twin they don't play as, as well as the father, Alec Ryder.

For the game itself, there have been a lot of reported changes.

One of the major changes that many fans have been wanting for a long time: unrestricted romance options. 

Specifically speaking if you're playing a female protagonist and want to romance a female character, you can do that. The romance options are no longer gender locked.

For those of us familiar with the class system of the old games, it has been changed to be more flexible. Instead of locking into a class at the start of the game, you will fall into a class as you spec into skill trees. And if you want to respec to change how you play, you can.

If you were a fan of the loyalty missions from Mass Effect 2 and disappointed they weren't in Mass Effect 3, be glad because those loyalty missions are returning. 

And one of the bigger changes is that the Paragon and Renegade system is gone. You still have different dialogue choices that will personify your version of the character but it seems that you might not have to invest in being completely Paragon or Renegade.

Are you happy with these changes? Or do you wish the old mechanics were merely refined further? Let us know in the comments below.

How Deep Is Your Love for the Witcher 3? Tue, 01 Nov 2016 10:00:02 -0400 Sand Snake

I have waited a long time to write a review for my all time favorite game The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. Not because it would be difficult, but because there was so much to say about this wonderful game. I wasn't sure, how to properly express how truly amazing this game is. For those of you have fallen in love with this amazing world and with Geralt of Rivia, this article is for you.

Geralt of Rivia AKA The White Wolf, is a skilled warrior and deadly Witcher, renowned throughout the lands for his skills with the blade against both man and monster. His recognizable mane of white hair is a side effect of the Mutagens flowing through his veins. These give him unnatural speed, reflexes, and eyesight that has yet to be matched by any foe he has ever faced. Geralt of Rivia is truly a one of kind hero, not because he is perfect in any sense of the word, but because he has flaws like any man from this cruel, dark world. Flaws that lead him down dark roads to shine a light into the dark recesses of the world.

But that is not the only reason we love him. We love playing him, because in a world full of darkness, where everything is not as it seems or should be, a place where evil is residing around every corner, in the hearts of monsters, humans, dwarves and elves. We see Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher neither a human or monster caught in the middle of it, and like a small candle blowing in the wind his blade could help destroy or save.

Your choices, your decisions, your actions will affect the world around you. Whether it be stopping humans from taking advantage of elven maidens, or killing self-righteous Scoia'tael who have been slaughtering innocent peasants to feed themselves. Your blade will decide the fate of thousands. That kind of power and control over the fates of so many, makes this game unbelievably addictive.

Added to it are the amazing voice actors that were cast for each role, and the extraordinary cinematic sequences throughout the game that have been consistently amazing and enthralling. Like the scene with the Ladies of the Wood, where we got to see the three witches for the first time and I gotta say, I did not see that coming at all. The way they looked, the way they acted and the way they talked was all so perfectly choreographed that it made me want to say, "what the fuck?"

Oh, and let's not forget the background music. The music in this game is insane! Whether its pumping you up for a fight or creating this creepy, dark mood. The music they used throughout the game has this quality, that just made you want to keep listening to it, even after you're finished playing the game. My favorite music has to be the one in the cloak and dagger quest, the music had me bopping my head up and down as I played. I also enjoyed listening to the Gwent music, which in my opinion is an awesome card game that should definitely be made into an full game -- oh wait, it is.

Then we have the quests! Let's not forget about the quests! The quests in this game are of the highest quality. There was none of that nonsense of go fetch me a sheep, or go kill as many bandits as you can, or go clear a place of monsters. Every single quest was well crafted and more than a few had direct consequences leading to the completion of each quest.

Most importantly each of the quests made sense. There were no ridiculous side quests that would be completely out of character for Geralt to complete. Every single quest was designed to help immerse yourself within this unique world.

I am not even halfway done yet, there is still so much I want to talk about, but I'll end it here as I feel these are the most important aspects of The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. But what did you love most about The Witcher 3?

The Wolf Among Us By Telltale Games Mon, 31 Oct 2016 06:00:01 -0400 Sand Snake

Honestly, when I first heard Telltale Games had made other games besides The Walking Dead Series, I was pretty surprised. I had no idea Telltale Games had made any other games. And after playing The Wolf Among Us, I gotta say they have not disappointed me. The story, the decisions you make and the characters you come across are all brought together to make this intensely dark and gritty story. 

The greatest thing about this game has to be the background story, which is both beautifully unique and extremely realistic. A bunch of fairy tale creatures flee their home world to become refugees in the real world, and because of their appearance, they have to wear glamour charms to appear human. All of which is enforced by a special task force, which includes Bigby (the protagonist), Snow White and Ichabod.

The sheer amount of darkness you see in this world, which includes black markets, shady loan sharks and thugs for hire, all keep you wondering about their past lives. How bad was life back home for them to flee to here? To live in this rank cesspool of humanity. I have never come across a game that so actively builds up this morbidly fascinating world, full of characters that have been twisted and warped.

Then there are the characters Bigby the big bad wolf from Three Little Pigs, who is constantly haunted by a past that people will not forget. Snow White a woman, who only sees the world in shades of black and white. The Woodsmen from Little Red Riding Hood has become an abusive drunk that is stuck in the past. Toad a father, who tries his best to provide for his family and is constantly beset with money problems. And many more characters, all of whom have colorful past lives and intriguing background stories that are absolutely riveting.

And finally the choices, this game is full of decisions that need to be made and all those decisions will impact the ending of the story. Which is exactly the type of game, you won't want to put down till you've played it a few times to see how things would work out differently if you had done things a certain way.

The creators, the artists, the voice actors, and the writers have all done an amazing job. They have brought this imaginary, fictitious world to life and you can't ask for more than that.

"I thought we were all supposed to have a fresh start here. I can't change the past" - Bigby 

Overwatch's latest animated short stars everyone's favorite robot Thu, 18 Aug 2016 09:10:37 -0400 Jeffrey Rousseau

Today, Blizzard Entertainment released its fifth animated short -- this time dedicated to Bastion. The story revolves around the self aware robot's reasons to taking part in Overwatch.

Since Overwatch's release in May, Bastion has become prominent among players. The automaton is considered to be one of the more powerful offensive heroes you can play as.

In the video, we see the last Bastion unit curiously reactivate himself. After reviving, the robot takes in his new life and is seen appreciating all things nature provides. He even forms a bond with local wildlife.

Later we witness that he can't quite fight his original programming for violence, or so we are lead to believe. Bastion learns of the results of the war that took place between man and machine. In the end, however we see that he ultimately is able to be more than his program determined him to be.

Fans of Overwatch can look forward to more animated shorts from Blizzard.

King of Fighters Station Vol. 1 unveils boss of KoFXIV and Story Mode details Thu, 16 Jun 2016 06:07:15 -0400 FlameKurosei

Yesterday, a new video for the upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive King of Fighters XIV released, revealing story details and gameplay updates for several characters. Titled "King of Fighters Station Vol. 1", the video is in a Q&A-type setting, where interviewers ask the game developers about changes to existing movesets, character designs, and more. The game is set to release in August 23rd this year for North America, and August 25th in Japan.

One notable reveal in the video was a clip of the game's "opening movie" showing a new character--the new antagonist for King of Fighters XIV, Antonov!


KOF XIV Producer Yasuyuki Oda provides a few words about the character as follows:

He's Antonov, the new host of the KOF Tournament...He's actually a pretty lovable character, but wait till the release of KOF XIV for more on him!

The interviewing team then proceeds to try out the KOF XIV E3 demo while the developers provide back story for 12 selected characters, including Yuri, King, Joe, and more. Afterwards the KOF Station has a friendly tournament between coworkers to show more of the 50-character cast.

Watch the full video here, with some parts subbed in English:

For more details on King of Fighters XIV, check out an article on Team Kim starring KOF members Kim, Luong, and Gang-il here on GameSkinny!

What are your thoughts on Antonov and the other newcomers to the King of Fighters series? Please leave a comment below!

More Persona 5 Story Info: From Elizabeth to Margaret comes 2 new Velvet Room Assistants Sun, 12 Jun 2016 05:36:57 -0400 FlameKurosei

Atlus released a load of new story details yesterday for their upcoming PlayStation 3 and 4 JRPG, Persona 5. In particular, the new details revolve around the Velvet Room, a mysterious place where an elderly man named Igor resides. The game is set to release on September 15th 2016 in Japan and February 14th 2017 for the Americas. 

"The old man, Igor, asks the protagonist, “Are you prepared for this challenge? The challenge of taking on a distorted world?”

The Velvet Room is located in a place for each Persona title; such as at the end of an alleyway in Persona 3, or the interior of a limousine in Persona 4. However, the place inside is the same, filled with a calming musical tone with walls covered in blue velvet along with Igor and his female assistant.

In Persona 3, Igor's assistant was Elizabeth, and in Persona 4, his assistant was Margaret. Now in Persona 5, Igor has not one but two assistants, twins in identical outfits by the names of Caroline and Justine (voiced by Aki Toyosaki).

Atlus offered brief description of the girls, as translated from website Gematsu:

Caroline and Justine     

Twin prison guards that accompany Igor. They both look the same, and each wears a solemn eye patch on one eye. These two call themselves the guards of the Velvet Room, and generally receive the imprisoned protagonist with a sharp attitude and tone. Also, the twins vary greatly in punctuality and sometimes argue over treatment of the protagonist.

In regards to the Velvet Room, there are also more details about the main character, who is incarcerated for protecting a woman from her abusive husband. (Unfortunately for him, during his probation sentence, he has a dream where he wakes up in the Velvet Room, meeting Igor and the twin guards. Igor comments that the protagonist is a "prisoner of fate", and warns him of future misfortune, saying the only fix is to become an "excellent thief". Thus, the "Phantom Thieves" is founded, and sets out to take and reform the hearts of cruel adults by night. The process of reform causes adults to go insane, creating a global dilemma for many nations.

So how do the Phantom Thieves reform the adults? Igor gives them a smartphone app called "Isekai Navi" ("Other World Navi") and through the use of this app the Thieves travel to the "Palace", a twisted, opulent reality found in the hearts of evil adults. There the Phantom Thieves steal various "treasures", lavish physical manifestations of an adult's inner desires. The Palace changes per adult, so there are different environments to infiltrate, such as a bank or an art gallery-themed level.

The final details Atlus revealed involved the other half of the Persona game format -- social linking and school days for the thieving team. Like the previous Persona games, building relationships and character traits happens during the daytime, and involves various activities such as having a meal with friends or going on a date with chosen lover.

There will be more details to come as we approach release day for Persona 5, including a confirmed showing at E3. So keep your eyes peeled! In the meantime, check out more Persona 5 character details here on GameSkinny!

What are your thoughts on the new Persona 5 story and Velvet Room? Please leave a comment below!

[Images retrieved from Gematsu]

Grab the popcorn and get ready for Dark Souls III: The Movie Mon, 09 May 2016 12:51:19 -0400 Eric Levy

To some, Dark Souls III is a test of your skill, reflexes, and tolerance for punishment. As you explore this vast, interconnected world, you will come across new bosses, die A LOT, and then eventually release a guttural scream of victory as the credits roll. To others -- like me -- Dark Souls III is a rage inducing, controller snapping experience that, while completely respectable as a game, isn't worth the lost time...or the brain aneurysms. However, that doesn't make the story any less intriguing.

The Dark Souls series has never been one to shove story and lore in your face. In fact, it's completely possible for players to make it to the end and not really understand what happened in the story. Thankfully, YouTube user MoonlightButterfly has been making sense of the series' complex story by turning each game into its own movie.  Now, a few weeks after Dark Souls III's release, it has finally received the MoonlightButterfly treatment:

With a running time of 1 hour, 43 minutes, and 16 seconds, MoonlightButterfly expertly weaves together gameplay, dialogue, and cutscenes from Dark Souls III, creating a cohesive viewing experience for those interested in the Dark Souls III story. Additionally, since there are alternate endings to Dark Souls III, there are a few alternate endings to the movie as well.  You can find these alternate endings on MoonlightButterfly's Dark Souls III playlist.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have a movie to catch and I need to get the popcorn.

Fire Emblem Fates DLC starts dropping May 5th Wed, 04 May 2016 12:55:24 -0400 Eric Levy

Starting May 5, Fire Emblem Fates will be getting new DLC maps that will expand the game's massive lore, including characters and story.  

The first map, titled I: In Endless Dreams, will be available for download for 49 cents when the DLC launches. Subsequent maps will be released weekly up until June 9, and will be available for $1.99 each. Additionally, you can buy the Map Pack 2 package for $7.99 if you wish to automatically receive each new map as they are released.

Unlike Map Pack 1, the first round of DLC for Fire Emblem Fates, the content included in Map Pack 2 will tell an ongoing tale spanning multiple alternate dimensions. My Nintendo News goes into more detail regarding the upcoming story:

Across dimensions, other versions of the Hoshidan and Nohrian children are under attack. Born and raised in the Deeprealms, these fledgling warriors must now rise up to save themselves and their parents as they unravel the mystery of their adversaries.

The list of maps along with their respective release dates and prices are as follows:

  • May 5-June 9 – Map Pack 2 ($7.99)
  • May 5 – I: In Endless Dreams (49 cents)
  • May 12 – II: Realms Collide ($1.99)
  • May 19 – III: The Changing Tide ($1.99)
  • May 26 – IV: Light’s Sacrifice ($1.99)
  • June 2 – V: Endless Dawn ($1.99)
  • June 9 – End: Lost in the Waves ($1.99)

You can find out more on the upcoming Fire Emblem Fates DLC on the official My Nintendo News blog post.

Will you be downloading the new Fire Emblem Fates DLC?  More importantly, which side will you choose -- Hoshidan or Nohrian?  Let us know in the comments below!

Why The Witcher 3 didn't completely win me over... Tue, 26 Apr 2016 15:16:40 -0400 Burgurah

First things first. I love The Witcher 3. That might seem a bit of an over-statement when you read the title, but bear with me for a moment. The open world was gigantic and full of life (and death), with a ton of unique sidequests and a solid combat-system. To me, it's easily the most complete action-RPG of the last decade.

"Ok," you say "so why are you such a whiner in the title, you click-baiting bastard?" Well, my rude reader, because of my conflicted feeling about what most people were actually happy with: the main story.

I'll start by justifying my knowledge in "Witcher lore" by stating that I indeed played the two first games and even read all the books (yeah, I'm THAT guy). So you should at least respect my humble opinion as a Witcher fan. Now that I think about it, I actually think it's this knowledge that ruined some part of the experience for me, but I'll get to that in a moment.

I also have to say that you could encounter some mild spoilers here and there, so be on your guard if you haven't finished the game yet. And if you haven't... Get off your arse, would you?

Ok, now that that's out of the way, let's begin.

The story was in no way the epic adventure I had hoped for.

It was great, but my expectations were much higher. Can we blame hype-culture? We most certainly can; I think that the long wait, the delays and the constant flux of trailers and gameplay footage killed the hype a little, to say the least. But when I asked myself if this was the main reason, I just felt like it couldn't be. It was the feeling I had a day after completing the main quest that made me scratch my head.

Wasted Plot from the Second Installement

My problem actually began at the VERY start of the game. You are directly introduced to the characters Ciri and Yennefer in a dream (which already frustrated me a little, but let's move on). Ater that, you land in the first area of the game. You do a little "research",  kill a griffin to find Yennefer's location and then y- oh sh*t, there she is right in front of you...

Let me get this straight: we spent the ENTIRE second game looking for this witch and this is how they get reunited? I guess it's an understatement to say that's one hell of a way to obliterate a fantastic build-up.

My other problem with this is that it also makes the first part of the story completely meaningless. You go out to look for Yennefer, but she just appears as soon as you have (little to no) information about her whereabouts. That's an easy way to get the title "Best Tracker...Evaaaaar".

Come on man -- they haven't seen each other in a long-ass time and THIS is how CD Projekt Red chose to reunite them? For me, this ruined what could have been emotional and tense angle of the story between two very important characters. And thus crushed my immersion.

The Actual Main Quest

After this, we're introduced to the actual story for this game: find your lost foster-child because the Wild Hunt is after her. And because her actual father wants her on the throne. If you're wondering who the hell this girl is, don't worry, because so do people who played the two previous games. And because this is such an urgent matter, the Emperor wants you to track her all by yourself, with absolutely no leads at all, and all the while you make it perfectly clear you have no intent in handing her over to him.

Because this is in NO way related to any earlier installment of the series, it let me down since I was hoping for a continuing plot.

This was probably done so new players wouldn't fall off the lore-boat. Although this somewhat can be doesn't make sense if the rest of the game is filled to the brim with references and throwbacks to previous games and the books!

I have no problem with the new story that involves Ciri (and more importantly The Wild Hunt -- you already knew these dudes were badass). But what happened to the political intrigue from the second game? Oh, it's now a cut-scene where some boring dude talks over a map while you do your very best not to mash the skip button. This is supposed to be a game -- not a history lesson given by a 60 year old burned out teacher!

There is no atmosphere like there was in previous game, where the tension could be cut with a knife.

In Witcher 2, you actually felt the racial tensions -- and not just by some guys annoying an elf on the street, or some burning pyres to make you feel uncomfortable. You had difficult to choices to make about whether you would stand with the Scoia'tael or the humans, because they were all degenerate pricks.

And even if they did a fantastic job portraying the "poor-as-dirt" Vellen with the war-torn scenery, there isn't that much to the atmosphere besides the decor and people complaining about the war.

"War is tough!"

"I'm hungry, and my brother got killed.."

"Nilfgaard is at our gates"

"Who's gonna save the north?"

NOTHING actually happens here! They're always talking about it, but nothing substantial happens. Was this CD Projekt Red's version of the Cold War? Because it really didn't give that effect, that stress...

This was just a missed opportunity, I think. But let's get back to the main story.

Very Little Pay-off for the Main Quest

The actual quest(s) to find Ciri were not that bloody impressive either. You get three quests that basically tell you to go to three locations and look around a little. You have the choice to go anywhere you want, but the trip to Skellige will cost you an arm and a leg, and the required level will make you think twice about it. That's why you went there last -- not because you chose to.

And you know what's even worse? It doesn't even matter where you start! Every time you finish a part of this "main quest," you hit a dead-end and some bloke whispers in your ear that you should get off your arse and go look in another part of the world... Dude, I know, I just thought I might actually learn something!

Don't get me wrong, the Bloody Baron questline was absolutely brilliant and each quest had me invested to some extent, but my problem is that they were completely unrelated to the main story. Think of it: The Baron makes you find his family and tells you "Ciri was here, but she left". You have to free Dandillion, and he says "Ciri was here, but she left". And then you travel to Skellige to find out... Sigh... You know the rest... 

Finding Ciri and the aftermath of the Battle of Kaer Morhen

When you actually find Ciri (by the way, props to whoever made that cutscene, that left me devastated for a moment) and you go back to the mainland, you have the battle at Kaer Morhen. Great! An epic battle to finally spice things up! This is what the main quest needed, because the first part just felt a little...boring.

But no time to dwell on that, we need to kick some spectral-elven ass. This finally gave me the adrenaline rush I was waiting for, and it was pretty bloody intense if you ask me. But right after that came -- once again -- a very long and quite boring preparation for a second clash with the forces of evil...

What the actual plough?

The pacing in the main quest is just god-awful! You don't have the impression time is running out at any moment, and the open-world is too big of a distraction to even care about what's happening in such a flat story. Although this could be seen as a positive note, it shouldn't be! This gives you the impression that the Wild Hunt is as big of a threat as the Fiend you slay for some cash.

In the Witcher 3, it was actually the side quests/side activities that stole the show: why go on another quest to find some meaningless clue about where Ciri took a dump, when you can upgrade your Gwent-deck? It's sad to say, but I never found myself rushing one main quest after the other, just because the rest of the game was more interesting. And for a story-driven game, this shouldn't be said about the main quest...

You see, that's the moment where I realized what I was missing: a story with pacing like the second installment of this great gaming series. The Witcher 2 certainly wasn't as long as this installment, but man I was hooked and on the tip of my toes the entire time. There were times I skipped the side quests because I was too invested in what was happening. 

Just as an example, the first part of The Witcher 2 puts you in the middle of an impressive siege. Out of nowhere a dragon appears, and while you escape from that, your king gets his throat slit by another Witcher, leaving you screwed when the guards arrive. This is the first 15 minutes of the game, and the main quest rarely slows down in my opinion. Okay, you don't chase Letho from start to finish, but you're always busy with something that feels important. It seems like I didn't have time to get bored in Assassins of Kings"because there was always something epic or interesting happening in the main story. And even though the secondary quests were not always as fascinating, they felt relevant.

I'm going to end this rather long post by saying that despite everything I wrote above, it has been an amazing ride in The Witcher 3. I'm still enjoying this masterpiece and I'm looking forward to the Blood & Wine DLC. This is just the biggest issue I have with a game and a franchise I truly love. 

If you made it through the entire text, I salute you, I thank you for reading my first post and I invite you to leave a comment in the most respectful way you can! 

Cheers from the Burgurah!

Until I Have You, a promising action platformer, arrives next week Mon, 28 Mar 2016 16:46:41 -0400 Ian Ilano

Gamers rejoice!

Until I Have You is set to release April 4.

From Woodworm Studios, the group that brought us Primordia and its engaging story line, comes Until I Have You, a successful cross between the Metal Slug and Fear series.

The game follows the story of the Artist, a talented assassin, who is on a mission to rescue his wife from the hands of his employers. Donning a specially crafted exoskeleton suit, the Artist will travel through unforgiving cities, and combat various monsters and enemies. Players will witness firsthand, the absolute brutality of the Artist's skills, and the gripping consequences that result from his life of sin.

"Although this provides him with additional powers, it also can cause hallucinations and affect his judgment. "

If you could save someone, how much of yourself would you be willing to sacrifice?

The game will feature:

  • Twelve chapters of immerse story-telling
  • Pixelated retro environments
  • Fast paced action
  • Over 60 unique enemies and 12 boss fights.
  • Fully voiced dialogue
  • and keyboard and controller support.

The thing I loved about Primordia was its unique visuals and story-line. If the development team can incorporate the same quality of story telling that was present in that game, with the fast paced combat they promise in this title, then Until I Have You is certainly one to watch out for.


The Massive Plot Hole in Fallout 4 That Needs to be Filled Mon, 29 Feb 2016 18:32:40 -0500 Anthony Rossi

Large games can and will have massive amounts of lore to support them. The two concepts are inherently linked. The larger you make a game, the more "things" you have to explain. Introduce a new mechanic? Gotta explain it. Travel to a new location? Gotta explain it. New character pop up in the story? Gotta explain them, their backstory, and their personality. While you are at it, could you do us all a solid and link everything together to create a unique and immersive world? That would be great.

While the majority of my gaming has had solid writing, there are the occasions in which a chunk of the story was left out, not explained, or the player was supposed to "just go with it." In the case of RPGs, it usually chalks up to, "Shut Up, it's MAGIC!" Other times it could just be that idea was dropped during the course of the franchise's development, as with Dark Energy in Mass Effect. These ideas might even be great, but sometimes the creative process starts spinning out of control or the writers just can't fully develop it. It happens.

But then there are the rare instances where looking back, you just think to yourself, "Huh? Wait, what ever happened to (what's-his-name)?" Someone or something is referenced during the game, and then....nothing.

What Happened in Fallout 4

Below is a video from Enzo Gaultier, in which companion Nick Valentine tweaks out on us momentarily and gives us quite the scare:

So once again, here's what Nick Valentine/Kellog said,

"Hope you got what your were looking for inside my head. Heh, I was right. Should've killed you when you were on ice."

How Did This Happen?

For a little background on what you just witnessed, here is a quick rundown of the events that lead up to this little quirk. On your quest to find Shaun, you are directed to meeting with a Private Detective named Nick Valentine. With his help, you figure out that the guy who busted into your Vault, kidnapped your kid, and shot your wife is a merc named Kellogg.

Once you finally come face to face with this guy, you are able to get SOME information out of him, but it ends the way we all knew it would -- with a bullet to Kellogg's face. Or, a few bullets. OK, a lot of bullets. 

While you are pilfering the spoils of your conquest, you also pick up a Cybernetic Brain Augmenter off of Kellogg which you use back at the Memory Den to access his memories. You end up using Nick Valentine as a kind of "conduit" to explore Kellogg's memories and you walk around in a state reminiscent of Legion's "Virtual Reality of Geth Consensus" mission in Mass Effect 3. Admittedly, it is an interesting trip through the man's history as you get to learn his backstory and how he came to be, as seen in this video from Overlord Actual:

The conversation in question between the Kellogg and Valentine comes after everyone has disconnected from the machinery and you are on your way out. That is when we suddenly find out that there is a little bit of Kellogg left in Valentine, and it is kinda creepy. As you progress through the story line....


Poking around in a few forums I have found that Kellogg may or may not surface again while your are in the Glowing Sea, but there is nothing after that. I have no shame in admitting that the initial exchange left me creeped out, yet I was anxiously waiting to see if Kellogg would resurface at an inopportune time, but....nothing. Kellogg never resurfaced, never caused a ruckus in any capacity, just...nothing.

Hole To Be Filled?

This hole is way too large to remain. Bethesda, while jokingly known for releasing glitchy games, keeps tight control of their content. Two of my personally favorite franchises are Elder Scrolls and Fallout, and both have extremely deep lore reserves and never, in my years of playing, has there ever been a plot hole this insultingly obvious. Further more, I have never experienced a plot hole like this in ANY game. This kind of misstep in writing just does not happen.

Which leads me to believe that this hole will soon be filled. Bethesda has recently announced that the first round of DLC will soon be released over the course of this year. One of the DLC packs in particular, Far Harbor, even goes so far as to mention Nick Valentine by name in its description. Granted, it could only be because we are picking up a cold case from Valentine Detective Agency, but at least it is a start. There is also talk of additional content yet to be disclosed in the initial DLC announcement.

Perhaps there will be a continuation of this scene in one of the DLC packs? Maybe even its own DLC in which Valentine is compelled to resolve some of Kellogg's unfinished business? All we can do for now is wait for their release!

Capcom announces the fourth and final beta for Street Fighter V before launch Wed, 27 Jan 2016 08:45:10 -0500 Douglas A. Skinner

Street Fighter V will have its final beta this weekend from 12:01am PT January on 30th until 3:00am PT January 31st. Apparently F.A.N.G will be the only player not returning to the beta. No new features have been announced for this final beta either. 

March is when fans can expect the first DLC, giving players ample time to earn in-game currency to buy the new characters and play through the story.

The story mode will reveal background for each character, their relationship with other characters, and how they relate to the plot as a whole. A free DLC  that will expand the story will be released in June that bridges Street Fighter III and Street Fighter IV. The expansion will contain "cinematic experiences" which will be a first for the Street Fighter franchise.

Pre-order Street Fighter V to play the final beta and get some exclusive costumes.

For Street Fighter enthusiasts, a Street Fighter V Collector's Edition is being sold for $99.99 at GameStop and on Amazon