Friday, October 11, 2013

Portland Retro Gaming, The Last Of Us, and Cronos  


Events: Just this past weekend I made the trip down to Oregon for the Portland Retro Gaming Expo.

I went last year and had a great time not only because it's great to see the old stuff I grew up with, but also because it's family-friendly event, it’s not nearly as crowded as PAX, and the vibe is mellow and relaxed.

If you've never been, it takes place in the Oregon Convention Center, and the floor is roughly divided into two sections. The first is the sales floor when there are all sorts of game-oriented arts and crafts, in addition to all of the vintage stuff that you might be after -- everything including consoles, games, arcade parts, toys and so on. The other half of the hall is the free play area, where there are dozens of home consoles set up for anyone to play, in addition to arcade machines and pinball as well.

It's wonderful to see these classics in action, and it was especially nice to go this year because my youngest (page 4) finally understands pinball and was able to play with a purpose, so seeing him get lost in the flashing lights and clacking flippers was a true high point as a parent.

The event runs well into the night both days, and there are also panels and other events happening at the same time. If you're ever in the area when the PRGE is happening, I definitely recommend it… It's great to get such an intense blast from the past, and it's one of the things I look forward to all year.

See you there in 2014!


Podcasts: Although the @Gamecritics crew will be recording another formal podcast episode this Friday, we've been experimenting with Google hangout and streaming that to YouTube, and tonight was the first time that we made it available for public viewing. It's rough as hell and a work in progress, but in case you're interested, you can click this link and check it out. It's a good chunk of talk and we had a couple of surprise guests who don't usually make it onto the proper podcast.

In case you weren't watching it live, will definitely be doing it again and will be open for questions and comments while we record.


Games: Although I've been dabbling with a few things here and there, what I had planned to focus on was The Last of Us from Naughty Dog.

I'm sure that it’s old news by now to many of you reading this, but I didn't have a chance to play it earlier due to other review obligations, and since I'm sure it's going to be brought up in discussions as we get ready to close out 2013, I figured I should probably get around to it.

That was the plan, anyway.

The part I was enjoying.
I got about four hours into it, and although I’m not much of an Uncharted fan, I found myself really enjoying the game.  The story and characters were interesting, the opening scene was amazing, and apart from a few issues here and there, I was glad to go along for the ride.

Then, I got to Bill’s area.

There’s one particular scene where the main characters are being chased, and they need to go inside a room to take cover from enemies.  Every time I got to this point, the game hard-locked my PS3 and I could not continue.  At first I thought it was just a random freeze, so I re-loaded and tried again with the same result.  I tried again, and again, the console locked up.

The part where I got stuck.
At this point I went online to see if anyone else had had a similar problem, and I immediately found several messages on different forums from people complaining about the same issue.  (I hadn’t heard much about this, but apparently plenty of people are having issues with TLOU.) There were some suggestions on how to get the game back on track, and I tried them all – I turned off cloud saving, I tried to make sure that Ellie went into the room first, I started the entire chapter over and made my way back to the same point…  Nothing helped.

I would genuinely like to continue playing the game but it’s just not possible, and I’m not going to start over from the beginning with no guarantee that I won’t get stuck in the exact same place, or in some other place afterward.  I’m calling it quits for now, and I’ll probably started again when it becomes a free game for PS Plus members on the PS4…


Movies: Finally, just a quick shout out to the movie Cronos from Guillermo Del Toro.

I remember seeing this film at my local video store (in VHS, no less) when it first came out back in 1993 or so, but although I picked it up off of the shelf several times, I never rented it. Now that I'm a fan of his, I only recently remembered that I had never seen it, and quickly made up some popcorn before downloading it from iTunes.

The gist is that an old man finds a device which is capable of providing everlasting life, but course there’s a downside.  Of course there’s more to it than that but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, although I will say that it ended up being something entirely different from what I was expecting.  Still excellent, but very different.


********************PR/NEWS/INFO****** **************

BetaDwarf Entertainment, an award-winning independent game studio, today announced it will hold a tournament for its debut title, the co-op action RPG Forced, from October 11 to October 13, 2013. The tournament, co-sponsored by a number of high-profile partners, provides gamers with the early opportunity to win gear and experience the fast-paced multiplayer gameplay that made Forced a hit at this year’s PAX Prime and Gamescom. The game will officially launch on Steam and other popular digital distribution platforms for PC, Mac, and Linux on October 24, 2013. Forced will also see Wii U and next-gen releases in 2014, with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launches planned.

To participate in the tournament, simply download the Forced demo from Steam and follow the info here: Here you will also find more information about the tournament, including exact timing and prizes.
View the tournament trailer here:
Learn more about Forced’s unique multiplayer mechanics in the newly released “Spirit Orb” trailer:
Like the game on Facebook:
Follow BetaDwarf on Twitter:
Watch on YouTube:


The 2013 IndieCade named this year’s award winners, including the Grand Jury Award going to Quadrilateral Cowboy, created by Blendo Games. IndieCade recognizes superior examples of story development, visual, technological, audio and all-around independent game titles as well as creators who have greatly contributed to the independent gaming field.

Ten of the winners, including the Grand Jury Award, were announced at the Red Carpet awards show on Thursday, Oct. 3. The Grand Jury Award allows IndieCade’s Distinguished Award Jurors to select a game that they feel deserves a special citation for overall excellence. This could be a game that couldn’t fit into any other category, but the jury each year determines the criteria for assignment of this award. Past recipients could have included Gravitation (2008), Moon Stories (2009), Groping in the Dark (2010), Fez (2011) and Unmanned (2012). This year the jury chose from more than 850 games from six different continents.  On Sunday, Oct. 5 the Game Changer, Audience, Developer and Media Choice Awards were announced at the closing party.

This year’s IndieCade included the debut of two new awards: The Media Choice award, given to the game the most media members selected as their favorite, as well as The Trailblazer Award, given to a relative newcomer who has shaken things up and used games in original as well as innovative ways. 

“Every year IndieCade’s awards recognize a diverse array of titles and some of the brightest developers in indie gaming, increasing awareness for this exceptional craft,” said Stephanie Barish, CEO, IndieCade. “It is an honor to identify these amazing projects and we are proud to provide a platform which helps distinguish these games and their creators.”

The game and developer winners this year are:

         Grand Jury Award: Quadrilateral Cowboy – Blendo Games

         Visuals: Kentucky Route Zero – Cardboard Computer

         Audio: Gone Home – The Fullbright Company

         Impact: Dog Eat Dog – Liwanag Press

         Interaction: Spaceteam – Henry Smith

         Game Design: NIDHOGG – MESSHOF

         Technology: Spin the Bottle: Bumpie’s Party – KnapNok Games & Redgrim

         Story/ World Design: Kentucky Route Zero – Cardboard Computer

         Special Recognition: Porpentine’s Twine Compilation – Porpentine
         The Trailblazers Award: Tracy Fullerton

         Game Changer Award: Anna Anthropy

         Developers Choice Award: Killer Queen Arcade –  Joshua DeBonis & Nikita Mikros

         Audience Choice Award:  Slash Dash –  Nevernaut

         Media Choice Award: TowerFall – Matt Makes Games

For more information, visit


In 1993, a rash of ritual voodoo murders took place in the swamps and back alleys of New Orleans. With local police baffled, only one man was equipped to solve the case: Gabriel Knight, owner of a French Quarter bookstore, struggling novelist, and an unwitting descendent in a long line of shadow-hunting Schattenj√§gers. Armed with little more than a sacred dagger and talisman, his N'awlins drawl, and his own irresistible brand of charm, Gabriel Knightquickly became a gaming sensation when Sierra On-Line released his first adventure, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers®, in December 1993.

Twenty years later, the charismatic Schattenj√§ger is making a welcome comeback thanks to the work of Gabriel Knight® creator Jane Jensen's indie development studio, Pinkerton Road LLC, which licensed the Gabriel Knight IP from Activision Publishing, Inc.. The Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th anniversary edition is planned for a mid-2014 release as a digital download for PC, Mac®, iPad®, and Android™. The game is being reconstructed from scratch with all new retina display quality visuals and voice recording, in a development process overseen by Jensen.

The revamped Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers will feature the same mature storyline and puzzle solving as the 1993 version, with research assistant Grace Nakimura, the inept Detective Mosely, and the local color of New Orleans supporting Gabriel's paranormal investigation. Stunning high-res (2048x1536) 3D graphics will replace the original 640x480 resolution pixel art, presenting the authentic New Orleans environments with more detail than ever before. The remake will also have a remastered soundtrack by Robert Holmes, the game's original composer, and will include special edition content.


Today CCP released the latest of its promised updates to DUST 514, titled Uprising 1.5. As always, CCP remains committed to improving and tweaking the core game experience of DUST 514 as well as incorporating community feedback.  Uprising 1.5 is the latest installment in the series of these rapid-fire updates.

Uprising 1.5 focuses on new and expanded Corporation Roles as well as a revised New Player Experience and the all-new Squad Finder.  Some of the updates include:

Revised New Player Experience: Initial tutorials have been completely revised, now following a task-driven structure that rewards players for demonstrating proficiency in joining battles, creating fittings and training skills. Rewards are granted in the form of militia dropsuits, vehicles, weapons and modules.

Squad Finder: Squads are designed to help get players grouped up and battling together in DUST 514. The new Squad Finder will list all available squads that are not yet deployed into battle and are waiting on new players to join them.

New Corporation Roles: Corporation CEOs and directors can now distribute specific roles to other members within the corporation. The roles that can be assigned are: Accountant, Personnel Director, Terrestrial Combat Officer and Terrestrial Logistics Officer.

More details can be found in CCP’s Uprising 1.5 dev blogs on the Squad Finder feature, Corporation Roles and the New Player Experience. Full patch notes available here

DUST 514 brings intense infantry combat, large-scale warfare and deep character advancement to the PlayStation 3 in an exclusive free-to-play massively multiplayer shooter. Set in, and integrated with, the massive universe of EVE Online™, players wage war in the next generation of first-person shooters, where a single victory could prove the crushing blow to a galactic empire of thousands of online gamers. For more information, visit


Dark Matter Arkfalls, launched alongside the Castithan Charge Pack DLC are an entirely new breed of Minor and Major arkfalls in Defiance that are raining down across the Bay Area. Each event puts the player in an incredibly tense and exciting situation where players must race against time to defeat increasingly difficult waves of Dark Matter soldiers, destroy arkfall cores, and in the Major "Extraction Force" battle - take revenge on The Monolith itself.

The Defiance team has included a detailed spotlight on Dark Matter arkfalls here - The blog highlights the objectives and provides useful tips, tricks and strategies to surviving and gaining valuable rewards.


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