Friday, August 16, 2013

Scratching Infinite, War Logs, and Faery  


Games: Earlier today I got a chance to sit down with fellow Seatowner Samantha Kalman, and I took a look at the new project she’s working on.  I’m not at liberty to say much, but if you’re someone who leans towards indie games, you may want to check out her website and/or follow her on Twitter (@SamanthaZero).  I suspect more information will be forthcoming very soon… 

Also, in case you missed it, here’s my full review of Saints Row IV and the Second Opinion from my good fellow, @SparkyClarkson.  

Personally, I had a blast with it and it more than made up for the nonsensical patchwork that SR3 was. However, I’ve been hearing some grumbling from others (a good number who came aboard the series with SR3) who didn’t find it the same enjoyable experience that I did.  Tastes certainly vary, but I think in this case it seems that a person’s expectations are somewhat defined by what their first experience with SR was. 

As for me, I played all four of the games in sequence and because of that, I think my appreciation for what SRIV brought to the table was certainly increased –I was quite tired of the same old GTA-inspired formula, and I loved that the writers took time to deepen characterization and make connections to the older titles.  However, if SR3 had been my first taste, I can understand how the massive change in play style and story that actually gives a damn would seem like a huge left turn away from the previous.

So with that review in the can, what am I playing now?

I had been considering Bioshock Infinite since I figured it would be one of those ‘must-plays’ that will inevitably come up during GOTY discussions in a few months, but I never managed to get excited about it before and after watching my wife play for a couple of hours tonight, I decided to scratch it off my list. 


Basically, I got my fill of the ‘Bio’ experience with Bioshock 1 & 2 (as well as the superb Minerva’s Den) and I didn’t feel like there was much more to say there.  The story elements introduced at the beginning of Infinite didn’t grab me, and seeing the wife fall immediately into scrounging for food and money while blasting oncoming waves of enemies was a big turn-off.

Interestingly, I mentioned my plan to give it a miss on Twitter and I was met with a surprising number of responses who told me not to bother with it, or that I wasn’t missing much.  Apparently, the tidal wave of love Infinite received earlier in the year has now receded, and it’s... not seeming like such a great experience to more and more people?

I ended up deciding on Mars War Logs since the XBLA version recently became available and includes the re-done voiceovers that the PC version received.

I’ve been a fan of the developer (the unfortunately-named Spiders) ever since I reviewed Faery on XBLA, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting something else from these folks for a while.  After jumping in, I haven’t been disappointed with it so far.

What I like most about the work from Spiders is that they take Western-style RPGs and do some really interesting things with them.  

In Faery, the player had nearly unlimited flight which could be used to explore a giant-sized world, and a simplified combat system which still managed to entertain.  Also, the artwork was quite stylish.

In War Logs, the action is now real-time, and the game is set inside a prison which just happens to be on Mars.  Once again, the art team comes through with some attractive visuals and I appreciate the tone – starting a prison-based experience off with a rape attempt in the showers certainly lets you know what sort of content you can expect.

Something common to both Faery and War Logs that I looooove is that the developers don’t waste your time.  The actions needed to advance the plot are clearly marked (although there are limited sidequests for those who want them) and the territory is small.  Although I still call myself an RPG fan, I definitely don’t have the time to sink 50, 60 (or more!) hours into something that’s expressly designed for extended periods of play. The games from Spiders scratch the same itch and get it done in a tiny fraction of the time – These are RPGs that can easily fit into a busy schedule.


Book: I think I may have forgotten to mention it (heh) but I finished the most recent draft of my book Speaking In Forked Tongues and sent it off to my publisher a week or two ago. It feels pretty awesome to get that off my plate, and fingers crossed that there won't be any more edits requested. Hopefully some more news soon!


Boston Festival of Indie Games proudly announces the details of its featured panel at this year’s festival, titled “Boston: The Cradle of Narrative Games.”  The all-star session will take place in the BostonFIG Main Theater, located in Room #10-250 (Maclaurin Buildings) from6:30 pm to 7:30 pm on Saturday, September 14. For more details on the festival schedule and registration, visit

          Boston has a long tradition of developing amazing games with gripping stories, and was home to two companies that are an essential reference on creating narrative simulations, Infocom and Looking Glass Studios. Infocom created games such as the Zork series and Wishbringer, while Looking Glass Studios is well-known as home to series such as Ultima Underworld, System Shock and Thief. Moderated by narrative game designer and writer Matthew Weise, the panel features key members of this Boston narrative games tradition: game luminaries Terri Brosius, Austin Grossman, Dave Lebling, and Brian Moriarty.

“Boston: The Cradle of Narrative Games” – Featured Speakers

          Terri Brosius worked for Looking Glass, Ion Storm, Electronic Arts, Tiger Style, and Arkane. She is the voice of Shodan and Delacroix in the System Shock series, and the voice of Viktoria in the Thief series. Terri has writing credits on the Thief games, Dishonored, Waking Mars, and more.

          Austin Grossman is the author of two novels, You and Soon I Will Be Invincible.  He is also a game designer whose credits include System Shock, Deus Ex, Epic Mickey and Dishonored. His writing has appeared in Granta, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times.

          Dave Lebling is best known as a co-author of Zork and a founder of Infocom. He co-authored Zork I, Zork II, Zork III and Enchanter with Marc Blank, and wrote Spellbreaker, Starcross, Suspect, The Lurking Horror and James Clavell's Shogun. He worked for over ten years at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, where he co-authored Maze (the first FPS played on the ARPANET) and Trivia.

          Brian Moriarty: Brian Moriarty authored three of the original Infocom text adventures, Wishbringer, Trinity and Beyond Zork. His first graphic adventure Loom was published by Lucasfilm Games. He collaborated with Ron Cobb onLoadstar for Rocket Science, and is credited with “Additional Additional Story” for Steven Spielberg’s The Dig. He has designed, engineered and/or produced games and toys for numerous publishers including THQ, Ubisoft and Mattel.

          Matthew Weise (Moderator): Matthew Weise is an independent game designer and writer, most recently Narrative Designer at Harmonix for Fantasia: Music Evolved. Matthew was Game Design Director for the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab for five years. His writings on narrative game design appear in books, online publications and his blog Outside Your Heaven.

          Additional speakers to be featured in the Main Theater at the Boston Festival of Indie Games will include keynote speakers such as game designer and producer Robin Hunicke (“Finding Meaning in Gameplay”), and industry luminary Chris Remo (“Specificity: The Indie’s Advantage”). Brian O’Halloran, best known for his recurring role as “Dante” in the CLERKS films, will be the official master of ceremonies introducing all fest speaker, films and panels.

          The 2nd annual Boston Festival of Indie Games will be held on Saturday, September 14, 2013 at the Stratton Student Center and the Johnson Athletic Center on the MIT campus. A celebration of independent game development in a variety of media and genres, Boston Festival of Indie Games is free and open to the public. Festival attendees play video games, tabletop games and live action roleplaying (LARP) games in a casual, inclusive environment, plus attend film screenings and keynote talks. To register to attend and to receive regular festival updates, visit

Xbox LIVE Summer of Arcade – Every Wednesday in August

Summer of Arcade is heating up with a full line-up of games for everyone. Fight crime with a few turtles, get wrapped up in a cult sci-fi action classic and even more with the hottest line-up yet of four new titles. Invite your friends and get ready to experience the latest in arcade action. Plus, buy any two summer of arcade games and receive a Souls Pack for Ascend: Hand of Kul, free.

Brothers: a Tale of two Sons
available now for 1,200 Points
Guide two brothers on an epic journey. Control both at once with each thumb stick in co-op play like never before. Explore puzzles, varied locations and fight boss battles.

Charlie Murder
launches August 14th for 800 Points
Fallen punk rock idols Charlie Murder must face off against rival death metal band Gore Quaffer and their army of the damned in an RPG brawler hybrid inspired by coin-op beat ‘em ups and dungeon crawlers.

launches August 21st for 800 Points
Conrad B. Hart of the G.B.I. is re-enlisted for the return of an acclaimed gaming franchise. Uncover an alien conspiracy, getting through complex & deadly environments.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
launches August 28th for 1,200 Points
TMNT: Out of the Shadows returns to how it all began. Become the four turtles fighting to save New York City from mutants, the Foot & Shredder.


Spearhead Games, an independent game studio founded by former EA, Ubisoft® and Eidos® developers, today revealed that it intends to publish Tiny Brains, the co-op puzzle game that drew wide acclaim at this year’s E3, as a PlayStation® 4 launch title, alongside simultaneous releases for Xbox LIVE® Arcade and Steam. However, PAX Prime attendees won’t have to wait to get their hands on PS4 controllers and play Tiny Brains: they can try a demo at the show in booth 6305.Any group that can defeat the development team’s high score will win a beaker of brain-infested lab juice!

With a whimsical 3D art style, Tiny Brains challenges players to escape a mad scientist’s nefarious puzzles as one of four mysteriously powerful lab rodents. Using each tiny brain’s unique power – Create, Vortex, Teleport and Force – players collaborate to beat intricate levels and escape to freedom.
For more information, or to schedule a press demo of Tiny Brains at PAX Prime, please contact


Today we would like to share the first trailer for our upcoming series, 
'The Wolf Among Us,' based on Bill Willingham's award-winning comic book series 'FABLES' and licensed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The series will also be shown to players for the first time at PAX Prime in Seattle WA this August 30th to September 2nd.

The season premiere will later make its debut on Xbox LIVE Marketplace for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®Network, and on PC and Mac from the Telltale Online Store and other digital distribution outlets.

For more information on the game, visit the official websiteFacebook, and follow Telltale Games on Twitter


Video Games Live™, the first and most successful video game touring concert in the world, has kicked off its Kickstarter campaign to fund the production and release of their upcoming album - Video Games Live: Level 3.

Video Games Live: Level 3 will contain a track list of music of award-winning video games from original composers from celebrated franchises like  Chrono Trigger & Chrono Cross, Shadow of the Colossus, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Skyrim, Bioshock, Metal Gear Solid, Journey and many more killer games. As for rewards for backing, Tommy’s goal is to provide backers with at least 4x’s the amount of what was pledged. The $10 pledge gets you the album plus an exclusive Kickstarter album. The $5K pledge will get you lunch and a private tour at Blizzard.

-          Campaign Duration:  30 Days
-          Start Date:  August 14, 2013
-          End Date: September 13, 2013
-          KickstarterLink 
-          Funding Goal: $250,000 USD

Reason for Kickstarter:  People don’t realize that the art of video games combines the artistic mastery of visuals and graphics with sound and storytelling and music with cutting edge technology. Video Games Lives seeks to bring a spotlight on the music of games and showcase its artistic side.  Video Games Lives wants to produce a new album consisting of some of the most majestic scores from noteworthy video games, music that many people may not have heard before.  The music industry does not believe there is an audience for this project, but fans of Video Games Live will prove them wrong.


NIS America is thrilled to announce that the newest installment of the fan-favorite Disgaeastrategy RPG series, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness, will release on the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system on October 8 in North America and September 27 in Europe. For the initial North American run of the game, the retail version will include:
   • a two-disc official soundtrack
   • a graphic print
   • a costume DLC pack for Laharl, Etna, and Flonne, which will be available as
   a free download on PlayStation®Network for the first 30 days from the launch of the


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