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Browsing posts from: April 2019

Oldest-looking version found, but bear in mind: this looked far less detailed, and was still the most fun a certain sort of kid could have.

Need For Madness is the brainchild of one-man Egyptian studio Radical Play (Omar Waly). Simply put, it’s a cartoonish driving game where every stage can be won as a race or as a demolition derby, at the player’s discretion. Its current iteration is grand and ambitious, a comprehensive single-executable package including the original game, the sequel, multiplayer functionality, car and stage designers, and updated graphics. This is all well and good, but today we’re focusing on what kicked this all off: the 2005 original, in all its low-poly, childhood-forming glory.

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Supposedly, this one sunk the Titanic.

Co-written with Yestin Harrison

In the past, it wasn’t unusual for projects to take 3-5 years, particularly in AAA or experimental IPs. Sometimes, the hype cycles were a strength, other times not so much. It’s not as though the development model that Infinity Ward popularized with Call of Duty hadn’t already been present in the industry. However, at the time, it was a strategy largely reserved for producing spinoffs and experimental gameplay.

Capcom were notorious for this, often sharing staff among multiple IPs. This is perhaps exemplified in the provenance of the original Devil May Cry, which began life as Resident Evil 4, but was deemed too incongruous with the Resident Evil series and eventually became the first installment in a series all its own. (The title actually known as Resident Evil 4, for reference, came several scrapped versions later.) DMC’s “air juggling” of enemies came from yet another title, being inspired by a bug in Onimusha: Warlords.

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Handelingenkamer, The Hague.

On the 25th of this month, Ross Scott of Freeman’s Mind and Ross’s Game Dungeon fame (both of which, by the way, warrant coverage of their own in the future) dropped a video essay, “Games as a service” is fraud. In the description, he writes:

WARNING: This is more boring than my usual videos.

Well, all right, it’s a dry topic touching on the technical, the philosophical, and the legal; but it’s important and warrants a conversation. I highly suggest giving the video a watch, even if it feels like preaching to the choir. That said, this article doesn’t require it. The springboard I’ll use for now is the following quote from 42:53:

Every once in a while, you’ll hear people ask if games are art. I don’t have an answer on that, but I think it’s pretty clear games are creative experiences often worthy of preservation, so I’ll say art just to keep it simple.

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The 90s were an interesting time: tearaway pants, presidents rocking saxophones, the Atari Jaguar… It was a grab bag of culture, packed to the gills with foundational artistic forays that still ripple into today. Simply look at how Rob Schneider or Adam Sandler have permeated mainstream society and become cornerstones of our modern cultural tapestry. Alongside the many technological milestones of the time, gaming and otherwise, there was an entire new world of marketing, full of opportunity.

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Staring down the gargantuan beast, you only have one sliver of health left. You’ve gone through several phases now, but you aren’t sure how much longer it’s going to keep clinging to life. You bait the first attack, then the second; you roll in and go for the kill. Two swipes, and it starts winding up its next attack. Barely dodging out of the way, you land the final blow, and the monster falls. A victory chime sweeps over the scene, and you pump your fists into the air. It only took 16 tries, but you’ve finally overcome it.

This is the sense of accomplishment offered to you by FAR BLADE, a title currently in early access from solo dev @BcubedLabs. Presented as a boss rush, the game is controlled from an isometric perspective, allowing the player to sweep the camera 360º around the character, roll, block, and swing their blade. A small hub area gives grounding to the world, taunting you with several tantalizing routes to take, each one leading to a new monster for you to surmount. There seems to be a bit more to the exploration of the world than most boss rushes, allowing the player time to wander a somewhat expansive space between monsters.

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I never finished Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, much to the chiding of my social circle. Despite this, it was still a very memorable and formative experience for me. When other ImmSims and RPGs were showing me fantastical realities I had difficulty relating to, Bloodlines was different: a painfully familiar drama, full of petty street politics and demographic struggle I recognized from day-to-day life.

Parasocial relationships are a hot topic right now, but something we don’t discuss is how we often form those relationships with some setting. We are very fond of taking a fetishistic snapshot of a city’s culture, gleaned through second-hand anecdotes or romantic portrayals in media. More than just a fan tribute to bloodlines, Santa Monica By Night, made by Outstar and 8bitmemories for the Vampire Jam, is a meditation on this concept.

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Home to myriad experimental interactive pieces, the PS3 served as fertile ground for developers looking to stretch their legs in a different direction than AAA had typically allowed. Microsoft and Sony went back and forth, cultivating marketplaces stuffed with interesting and unique titles, courting small teams and individuals to produce content exclusively for either platform. In the case of Sony, some of these endeavors veered into territory fairly unknown for mainstream audiences.

Enter Linger in Shadows. Developed by Polish group Plastic, the title was adamantly touted as “not a game” by senior producer Rusty Buchert. Despite interactivity and trophy support, Linger in Shadows was positioned as a piece of interactive digital art. While only $3, games journalism at large rebuffed it, baffled as to why such a short-form experience would cost money in the first place, much less be pushed by Sony themselves.

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VR is a controversial topic. For some, it’s a technological panacea, a wave of the future. Others, sometimes justifiably, see it as a hubristic cash grab whose saving grace is the occasional hardware innovation beyond pure novelty. After being subjected to a seemingly endless ouroboros of PR and hype campaigns, no one can be faulted for growing cynical or weary in the face of bold promises.

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Nearing an extinction event unlike any we’ve ever experienced, humanity veers closer to collapse on a daily basis. Rising sea levels, record-breaking heat, and vanishing biodiversity are the hallmarks of modernity. Regardless of having reached a point of no return, life on Earth has been drastically and irreversibly blighted by the forward march of industrialization. Given the opportunity, mankind destroys without remorse, and for the most part, without concern for the future. Protection of ecosystems and sustaining life longterm become priorities for societies, should they wish to avoid crumbling.

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This image of a kitty scratching an itch is public-domain, but it’s honestly funnier if you imagine a Shutterstock watermark over it,

Sometimes it just feels like the right time to stick a bucket under the waterfall that is itch.io, trying to collect something that catches your attention, makes you think, or just makes you pleased that someone out there is taking a particular direction. Without further ado…

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