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Free eBook photo
Free eBook

Amazon has The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers for free

Download Volume 1
Nov 13
// Jordan Devore
Just yesterday, I was reading up on a canceled decades-old Konami fighting game whose character sketches are, uh, better seen than described. What a what-if! The information originated from author John Szczepaniak and his boo...

Excerpt: WTF is Wrong with Video Games

Oct 18 // Kyle MacGregor
Nowhere in this book am I going to talk about Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but right now I am going to discuss the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movie San Andreas. Yes, for a book about video games that probably seems weird. I'm gonna do it anyway, because I have a good-ass point to make here. I don't give a fuck. San Andreas, the film, is very bad in a very specific way. It's not the first over-the-top action movie that operates as a series of ridiculous physical obstacles the hero must overcome, and it won't be the last. But it's a bit unusual in how everything the filmmakers have the main characters do over the course of the film is with the intent to put them in the position to have to overcome those obstacles. They don't simply encounter those obstacles -- it's more as if they seek them out. The film is about The Big One, the alleged forthcoming mega-earthquake that looms over those of us who live in California. In the movie, the quake starts in Los Angeles, then jumps up the San Andreas fault to San Francisco (thus the title). The Rock plays a rescue helicopter pilot, and when the quake begins in LA, he takes his chopper and grabs his ex-wife out of a collapsing skyscraper, and then they head off together to SF to save their daughter. But the chopper took some damage from all the skyscraper shrapnel and crashes outside a mall that’s being looted in the Central Valley, where the couple steals a truck (from a looter, smashing all the TVs said looter had jacked in the process) and continues their trek -- until they encounter a fucking big-ass crack in the ground. There, they trade the stolen truck to an old couple, who happened to be chilling out right next to the crack, for a single-prop plane (convenient!), which they take the rest of the way to San Francisco. But the airport is all fucked up when they arrive, forcing them to dramatically parachute into AT&T Park, which managed to be in pristine shape despite the quake. Then The Rock decides to steal a motorboat and drive it to the other side of the city, just in time for a tsunami to roll into the bay and flood the entire peninsula, and The Rock drives his little boat over the tsunami like he's playing Assassin's Creed IV. After that, they drive the boat around the flooded city until they just randomly stumble upon the broken skyscraper their daughter is holed up in. And this is only half the movie, mind you; the daughter has her own nonsensical adventures as she wanders through SF with a couple randos she'd met earlier. And, yes, they do end up driving the boat through the broken skyscraper because why not, I guess. All this comes off as checking items off a list. Well, we need some falling skyscrapers in LA, and we need a shot of a big-ass crack in the ground, and we still think baseball is cool and AT&T Park is pretty recognizable so we need to put that in there somewhere, and we need a tsunami, and on and on. There's zero effort to make the absurd sequence of events seem organic, and you can feel it. Your average big-budget video game is just like that. I once joked in an editorial about BioShock Infinite that the folks at Irrational Games put so many enemies in the game for you to shoot simply because the level designers had created places where they could put them. But probably a more tangible comparison would be Uncharted 3 and its sinking ship set piece. Uncharted 3 is the quintessential example of video game indulgence for its relentless glut of complex set pieces, and nothing illustrates that better than the sinking ship. In the middle of the game, Nate Drake is kidnapped by some random pirates and locked in a ship graveyard. He breaks out, kills a thousand bad guys and makes his way to the one functional boat around, a cruise liner that had been repurposed for piracy. Nate eventually ends up in the cargo hold at the bottom of the ship, and yada yada yada a chunk of the hull gets blown out and the hold starts filling with water. That triggers a frantic escape sequence while the ship goes down — with bad guys continuing to try to kill you instead of saving themselves from certain death. The sequence is ludicrous on its face, but also in the context of the game as a whole. See, this entire sequence is a non-sequitur. During the rest of the game, Nate and friends are in a race against time with some sort of secret society to find the fabled Atlantis of the Sands on the Arabian Peninsula, and these pirates have not much to do with that. They show up only for this small portion of the game, and never come up again after. In an already bloated game, the sinking ship sequence feels extra indulgent. Uncharted 3 creative director Amy Hennig has said the development team decided before the story was written that there would be a big set piece on a sinking cruise ship, and this is the sort of thing that very often occurs when you operate this way. The end result is prone to be jarring and disjointed. Hennig seems to be a believer in that system, though, having worked in the industry for a long time. Though she is a writer, she began her career as an artist and worked her way up the ladder over the years. "The story has to be the most flexible thing in the whole production," Hennig told CNN in 2011, in regards to writing around the big set pieces and whatever else the designers constructed. That's a terrible way of thinking, but Hennig is well respected as a writer (deservedly, even with Uncharted 3 being awful) and her comment gives this industry status quo some kind of creative credibility, at least for those on the inside. But realistically, you can't expect to be able to regularly make major plot changes on the fly and at the whims of designers/other directors/corporate overlords and have the shit you make turn out to be any good. In fact, developer Naughty Dog has largely managed to dodge fate over the past decade, with two of the three Uncharted games and The Last of Us having basically competent storytelling. Collectively, however, that standard operating procedure doesn't work that well for games, or any other storytelling media. Usually, working that way makes things go very wrong. It certainly did with Uncharted 3, the game Hennig was promoting in that interview. Developers don't often create a game with the unified intent to make one single piece of art. The development process as it exists today -- and I'm particularly focusing on large productions because the more people involved, the worse the splintering becomes -- is scatterbrained to the point of comedy. We're lucky to play any major release that even had key thematic concepts behind it when development began. More often than not, development begins with a gameplay concept or concepts and everything is slapped together as the project goes along, typically with endless revisions until the product ships as cobbled-together nonsense. It's been amusing for me to talk about production with developers because they readily admit that they work that way. Many claim they see no issue with that approach, at least on the record, but the products speak for themselves by just feeling wrong when they're released. Even games I actually enjoy, like Dead Space, suffer because of backwards development. Dead Space began life as a pitch demo that focused on dismemberment as its primary mechanic, and you can really feel that in the full game. As you explore the derelict starship USG Ishimura, where most of the game takes place, you're constantly reminded to shoot the limbs off the many monsters you have to fight. It's hilarious because it makes little sense that shooting off a monster's arms would kill it more quickly than any other method, but the developers made this dismemberment tech, and goddamn it, they're going to remind you about it at every opportunity. Glen Schofield, producer on Dead Space and the one who commissioned the pitch demo, said one of the most hilarious things I've ever heard a developer say: "The primary theme of Dead Space is dismemberment." That completely nonsensical statement explains just about everything about the way developers too often think. I probably should end the book there, but let's keep going anyhow. It's not some impossibly rare situation that a game built by a large staff will turn out to be pretty enjoyable. But it does feel like a coin flip, and when it all does work out it's despite their goofy processes (combined, often, with interference from above). Sometimes all the chaos and noise of game development turns out something good, and more often it comes out like BioShock Infinite. Infinite, more of a spiritual successor to the original BioShock than a second sequel, has become the poster child for the nonsense of games. It is a game that absolutely has ideas it would like to communicate, but the density of "arbitrary video game things" that accompany its mildly compelling plot is overwhelming, and it's also a rare title where we actually know where all those things came from. Infinite is a shooter because the original BioShock was a shooter. You acquire superpowers in the game that are very similar to the powers you had in BioShock, because Infinite carries that franchise’s name, and that's how game franchises work. Infinite was a game that began life as a shooter with Bioshock mechanics set in a city floating above the clouds, and the story we find when we play it was grafted on later, after going through iterations during production. The resulting plot is not one that should be told through endless warfare, but warfare is the vast majority of the entertainment that Infinite attempts to provide. Because video games. BioShock Infinite was birthed by industry royalty Ken Levine, and Kotaku editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo actually asked him at one point why the game was a shooter. His response was that he feels games need "a skill component." "I can sit down and write a scene about just about anything,” Levine said. “It's really tough to make a game about any particular topic." The joke, which Levine didn't get, is that he wrote a story that wasn't even really about shooting dudes, and many of the stories we get in video games wouldn't be about shooting dudes if they were adapted directly into other media. The real problem Levine actually had was not about his difficulty in figuring out a different skill element to use, but that he made the game first -- 15 hours of shooting people -- and story second, and they didn't work together. What matters in creating fiction is not to use logic that makes sense in the real world, because that is creatively limiting. What does matter to creating effective fiction is internal consistency: what happens in the story only needs to make sense inside the story. Video games rarely reach even that lowly bar. And while BioShock Infinite may be the poster child for games fucking up that most basic concept, it's also emblematic of how the games industry is not really trying to get that right. There was no turning point for me in how I went from feeling that games were on the way to achieving greatness as a form to being able to see them for what they really are, no one specific moment where I had that epiphany. It was a years-long process, but there was one evening I can point to where that journey accelerated significantly: when I spoke with several people who write games at a Writers Guild of America award reception, for a feature story I did at Kotaku. These writers described their efforts as collaborative, involving not just themselves and the folks in charge but also seemingly everyone else who was working on the games. They explained their jobs as being that of facilitators of whatever "fun" things the folks on the technical side decided to build into the game. Jill Murray, lead writer on Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, recalled at that reception an anecdote in which some designers decided midway through production to build a mission that included a fort. Murray, who essentially lived at their mercy, had to come up with both a good story reason for the player character, Aveline, to go to a fort at some point in the middle of the plot as well as find an actual, real-life fort that had existed in the historical period and region in which the game was set. All in a day's work, she claimed. I couldn't help but find it odd that these writers worked that way, but even more surprising was that they claimed to be happy with that arrangement, especially given who some of these writers I spoke to were -- Murray was also a novelist, and Bruce Feirstein had written a pair of screenplays for James Bond films before making the leap to James Bond video games. Within the sphere of video games, it is very difficult to get people on the industry side to provide any meaningful criticism of the way things work 'round those parts when you have a recording device shoved in their faces. In more casual settings, off the record and with a healthy amount of alcohol for lubrication, those who are fully embroiled within the system tend to be more willing to openly criticize the way they're forced to operate. Whether those writers I mentioned were being sincere in their enthusiasm for the process is beside the point here, though. The process they described is itself the point. If one ever wonders why writing in games usually feels sloppy, one only needs to look at how the writing is done. The design of the game isn't serving the vision; the vision is serving the design. The nature of storytelling is such that an alteration like the addition of a new location will likely require a significant reworking of the entire tale. If it's simply tossed in haphazardly, it damages the whole product. In the world of film, late-stage rewrites or reshoots, or beginning production without a screenplay, or extensive retooling in the editing room, are usually considered a cause for concern. That concern is warranted, because the end product in those situations typically is subpar. Other times, the product turns out to be good anyway, and we would chalk that up to luck. In video games, that sort of artistically problematic production is just accepted as how things are done. Because it is how things are done most of the time.
WTF is Wrong With Games photo
A book by Phil Owen
Phil Owen is a freelance journalist and the author of WTF is Wrong With Video Games, a book that "sets out to lay bare all the fundamental issues with games, and the industry that makes them, that are holding this burgeo...

Kingkiller Chronicles photo
Kingkiller Chronicles

There's a Kingkiller Chronicle game in the works

The Game of the Wind
Oct 02
// Darren Nakamura
Behind George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, Patrick Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicle is probably the most well-regarded current fantasy book series. The former has had plenty of games based on it at this point, in...
World Records photo
World Records

The world's biggest arcade machine can house an African elephant

Guinness shares the latest gaming records
Sep 04
// Vikki Blake
Edit: Can't get the images to display for some reason - sorry! :( Have removed them for now, but will pop them back in as soon as I can.  The latest edition of Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition shares a heap of new ...

Game Art Book review photo
Game Art Book review

Check out Japanator's review of a cool game art book

40 Games from Japan and Beyond
Sep 01
// Josh Tolentino
Hey there! It's not all "manga this, anime that" over at Japanator. We get cool game stuff, too, and one such thing is Game Art: Art from 40 Video Games and Interviews with their Creators, an appropriately-titled book about t...
Goosebumps: The Game photo
Goosebumps: The Game

There's going to be a Goosebumps video game

That strange woman is very strange
Aug 19
// Vikki Blake
WayForward will be bringing the Goosebumps book series to life by way of an all-new, point-and-click adventure game, Goosebumps: The Game. "The walk home from school today is going to be a lot spookier than usual… Your sleepy neighborhood’s been overrun by monsters!" says the listing on the Xbox Store.
Assassin's Creed ZING! photo
Assassin's Creed ZING!

Portland bookstore has sick Assassin's Creed burn

Turns out the books work on launch day
Aug 06
// Jed Whitaker
Long-time reader, first-time tipper and professional stand-up comedian Sarah Maywalt sent me the picture above that she took in the Powell's Books, an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon.  Powell's reminds us that ...
Spelunky book photo
Spelunky book

A book about Spelunky is in the works from game creator Derek Yu

Published by Boss Fight Books
Jul 09
// Ben Davis
I have lost count of how many hours I've sunk into Spelunky, both the original free PC game and the multiplatform remake. And just when I think I'm starting to master the tough-as-nails procedurally generated platformer, I se...
Persona 4 manga photo
Persona 4 manga

Udon publishing Persona 4 manga in English

Coming this September
Jun 17
// Steven Hansen
Aside from two different anime series, a great Vita port, and whatever else, Persona 4 also got a manga that was previously only available in Japan (in Japanese, except through fan translation). Maker of fine books Udon is br...

Review: Shooter

Jun 02 // Nic Rowen
Shooter (Book)Released: June 2, 2015MSRP: $5.00 Shooter is a collection of essays from recognizable names in game criticism speaking on a wide range of topics related to games that involve some kind of gunplay. Some chapters take a deep dive into the mechanical and technical details that make shooters what they are. Steven Wright's “The Joys of Projectiles: What We've Forgotten About Doom” for example, laments the rise of “realistic” modern shooters and how their largely interchangeable hitscan assault rifles have abandoned many of the mechanics that made early FPS games so pleasurable and skill testing. Others are more personal, such as Gita Jackson's touching reflection on how Counter-Strike could be seen as a microcosm of the (seemingly one-sided from her self-deprecating perspective) sibling rivalry she shared with her brother. Shooter strikes a great balance, it never gets so bogged down in technical minutia that it feels like a lecture in game design, but has enough mechanical grounding that it doesn't just become a series of anecdotes either. The games Shooter examines are varied and numerous. Of course genre forebears and trendsetters like Doom, Half-Life and Call of Duty are discussed as you would expect, but there is plenty of attention paid to less bombastically popular titles as well. Genre-defying shooters like Red Orchestra 2 with its brutally unforgiving depiction of realistic combat, and the insidious darkness of Far Cry 2, which sets aside the typical rationales for heroic violence to make the player complicit in something unsettling, get entire chapters dedicated to them. It's a great technique. By examining the few games that step outside of the bounds of typical FPS conventions and power fantasy dynamics and figuring out why they feel so different, it is easier to pinpoint the standard tropes and expectations of the genre that have become so ubiquitous that they are nearly invisible. Perhaps the greatest praise I can give to Shooter is that it made me reexamine and reflect on my feelings about a few games. When a piece of criticism grabs you by the collar and demands you take a second look at something, you know its doing it's job right. Filipe Salgado's chapter on the intentional ugliness and barely contained chaos of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days almost made me want to play through the game again with a fresh set of eyes -- eyes more willing to see past the clunky mechanics and thoroughly unlikable protagonists to scan for deeper meaning. Almost anyway (this is still Dog Days we're talking about). At its best, Shooter feels like a lively conversation with some very smart people who enjoy, but expect more from, their trigger happy games. Its snappy, intelligent, and occasionally funny. At it's worst, the book veers into the pretentious. At times, it feels less like a conversation and more like an awkward dinner party dominated by a lecturing windbag everyone is too polite to interrupt. Thankfully these rough patches are few and far between. The rest of the book is well worth putting up with the occasional eye-rolling turn of phrase. Mostly though, Shooter feels important. The industry needs more “capital C” Criticism to unravel the subtext and ideas behind the games we love. Games mean something. They impart messages, communicate ideas, either by conscious choice on the part of their developers or by the assumptions they make -- the casual omissions and things taken for granted. We have to start examining these ideas in a mature, intelligent, and yes, academic way. Shooter isn't the first example of this kind of criticism in games writing of course; there have certainly been other books written, and articles penned (on sites like Destructoid, I might add) that dive into these waters. But, it is still very much a nascent field. Video games are a young medium, and we haven't had time to establish a critical tradition like film and literature has. We need to cultivate these voices; the generation of writers that will talk about games in a serious manner in the coming decades. What better way to stake a claim in this new field than to gather a variety of exceptionally talented voices to talk about and critically examine what is generally considered gaming's dumbest, most developmentally arrested genre? The thrill of shooting a Cyber-Demon with a rocket launcher may be obvious and simple, but there is a lot to unpack when you take a closer look.
Shooter Review photo
Looking at life down the barrel of a gun
Shooters seem simple. You step into the shoes of your typical tough guy space-marine or mercenary and empty clip after clip into the faces of Nazis, or aliens, or alien-Nazis from the vaguely disembodied gun bobbing up and do...

The Witcher photo
Books, aye, remember them?!
As we all know, Geralt of Rivia is back on fine video game form with The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, but lesser known is his return to print with Sword of Destiny. First published in 1992, Andrzej Sapkowski's second short story...

New Guinness Game Editio photo
New Guinness Game Editio

Guinness' Gamer's Edition 2015 lets you know how to make mom finally love you

Play Minecraft for 25 hours to make those years up
Feb 06
// Jason Faulkner
Wanna know what you have to do to be the best? The new Guinness World Records 2015 Gamer's Edition hosts a diverse listing of various gaming records. Wanna have the largest Tomb Raider memorabilia collection in...
To Be or Not To Be photo
To Be or Not To Be

Choose your own adventure Hamlet is now a game

To Be or Not To Be
Feb 04
// Darren Nakamura
A few years ago, Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics fame) set up a Kickstarter campaign for a "choose your own adventure" styled retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet, titled To Be or Not To Be. It enjoyed enormous success, making m...
In Real Life photo
In Real Life

Not-Review: In Real Life

A beautiful look at MMO psychology, relationships and economics
Sep 18
// Jonathan Holmes
First Second is quickly becoming one of the best small press comic publishers, especially for those who like videogames. Their Glorkian Warrior book and corresponding videogame are both delightful in their own right, though n...
Story Bundle photo
Story Bundle

The Video Game 4.0 collection from Story Bundle is out now

There's two music albums included too
Aug 20
// Alasdair Duncan
I've barely finished reading the titles I bought with the last videogame-themed offer from Story Bundle and now the fourth one is here for us to enjoy. As always, there's a great mix of books on offer and for the first time, ...
Digital Devil Saga photo
Digital Devil Saga

Digital Devil Saga novels coming to the U.S., so read 'em if you refuse to play the series

I know I PERSONA-LLY have to have these
Jul 31
// Brittany Vincent
A series of books based on the Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga series is being published in the U.S. by Bento Books. There are five books in total which are authored by Yu Godai. The first book is titled Quantum Devil ...
Just in time for EVO photo
Just in time for EVO

Finally learn to play fighting games with this free guide

It all starts with Street Fighter
Jul 08
// Steven Hansen
I'm currently trying to get good at Bushido Blade and cursing Square Enix for not making a new one, but I do often talk about wanting to get good at one fighting game -- Persona, these days -- much like I talk about one ...
Story Bundle photo
Story Bundle

The eBook Video Game Bundle is out now

There's some great titles on the rise and fall of SEGA and Atari available
Apr 04
// Alasdair Duncan
The previous videogame-themed collection of eBooks from Story Bundle kept me well read for quite some time, so I'm more than ready to dip into the new 3.0 bundle. There's some really eye-catching titles in the bundle, includi...
Not a game photo
Not a game

999: The Novel is a Choose Your Own Adventure book

Should have charged nine dollars
Mar 17
// Steven Hansen
What really is a game, anyway? This is a question that bothers a lot of insecure people with insignificant things to argue about. Actually, when 999 came out on iOS in Japan we learned it had removed the "escape the room" puz...

Review: The Art of Titanfall

Mar 15 // Ian Bonds
The Art of Titanfall (Book)Publisher: Titan BooksReleased: February 25, 2014MSRP: $34.95 The Art of Titanfall is an impressive tome. At 192 pages, it's nice to see that no details have been spared. Or at least, that's the impression the book gives, as it delves into so much thorough detail that I'm not sure Respawn didn't given them every single asset from the game. Beginning with the Titans themselves, the book details all the different classes, as well as intricate cockpit views and brief descriptions detail how they went from drawing to concept renders, some even before it was decided the title would be a multiplayer game. The Ogre, Atlas, and Stryder are each given several pages of detailed paintings and renders, and are described with little details that most may not pick up on while playing the game, such as Atlas not being so named for the mythical character, but rather for the globe-like "head" so you can tell where the Titan is looking. Character models of the pilots, militia, grunts, and creatures round out the first section, with minimal details. While the different types of soldiers and such each get a brief description to go along with the specific characters, the creatures don't fare as well. I would have liked to have seen a bit more in the creature department, as we really only get a few sketches in that section, but the rest of the book more than makes up for it. The vehicle section is truly impressive, with practically each spaceship, aircraft, and ground vehicle getting full-page representation, mixing between sketch and final render, and sometimes both. There's also an extensive section on the weapons and tech of the game, from assault rifles and drones, to gorilla tanks and rail guns, each getting a brief description on design. For fans of the game, the level of detail here is impressive, but the next section will really be what most players of the game will enjoy. Each of the locations in the game are all represented here, with beautiful detailed renders are paintings of each locale, some taking up full two-page spreads. It always fascinates me how much detail goes into concept art, with each little sign, plant, and bullet ricochet painstakingly visualized. Don't expect it to showcase each choke-point or focus on strategy placements here, as these are more focused on the design aspect of the level. The industrial  dockyard of Angel City, the cold sterile environment of the Colony, the sheer staggering size of the Boneyard are all given multiple pages to pour over, giving more background detail as to what each of these environments represents in the world of the game, and how their design came about. The locations section is easily the biggest part of the book. My favorite section, however, is the final one: the Graphics and Modeling section showcases the signage you may not really notice in the background of the levels, as well as the physical maquettes made to show how the Titans and pilots would look in 3D. These models are all hand made from scratch bits, and it's a neat inclusion in the book. However, these can't compare to the full-sized Titan that was built for E3 2013. Damn, that thing is impressive. There's a lot of detail in this collection, and practically every description along with the art has quotes from the development team or artist involved in its production. There's a lot to absorb here, but if you're drawn into the world of the game, this is a great companion piece.
Titanfall photo
So. Much. Art.
When you create a new IP from scratch, it's pretty much a given that you'll have to go through a lot of the design phase until you land on an idea that jumps out at you. The developers at Respawn Entertainment had no idea wha...

Console Wars photo
Console Wars

Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg directing Console Wars movie

Nintendo vs. Sega
Feb 24
// Jordan Devore
Author Blake Harris' Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation will be available in the US this May, but the story doesn't end there. Sony Pictures is adapting the book into a feature-length movie...

Review: Dark Souls: Design Works

Jan 14 // Chris Carter
Dark Souls: Design Works (Book)Publisher: UdonReleased: January 21, 2014MSRP: $39.99 Design Works is a modest little book that mostly delivers environments and characters with little exposition. To be clear, this is a book for those who truly like to look at art for hours on end, as there's very little in terms of expanding the lore of Dark Souls. It starts off with a number of pages dedicated to specific areas and creatures, then it moves on to the concept art, and the early designs of some bits that never made it into the game. It's a rather full artbook with 112 pages of pure art, so there's plenty to flip through. It is a hardcover book, but the silver gloss printing on the front looks a bit cheap (like it would rub off), and the quality of the book itself isn't all that impressive. As for the art, most fans will be able to recognize obvious bosses like the Gaping Dragon, but there's a tiny bit of text next to each character to identify them. Despite hitting most of the major facets of the game, what the book decides to focus on is uneven, as some minor creations get a lot of love like Havel the Rock (who sports a full page), but others like Frampt get one tiny box. It's a bit puzzling and might be because it's the only bit of artwork they could get their hands on for the book, but you should be prepared to be underwhelmed by some of the inclusions. Sadly, a few areas are erroneously marked in the process to localize the book, like the case of the Mimic (a treasure chest monster) and the Serpent Mage, who are mismatched. Bosses are shown off in all their glory however, and the art for foes like the Four Kings is phenomenal.  Next up is the weapons and armor section, which displays an impressive array of equipment -- but if you don't play the games, they're going to look all the same to you. One area I was particularly disappointed in is the lack of unused material, or art we haven't seen before in some fashion. Flipping through the hardcover guide that launched with the game, I noticed that a lot of the same pieces were re-used, so I was really looking forward to the concept art. There's some interesting unused areas and characters to ogle at but not much. Poor Artorias (one of my favorite characters) is lumped in this section, before he ended up heading up his own DLC campaign. To cap it all off, there's an interview with director Hidetaka Miyazaki and four From Software designers (Daisuke Satake, Hiroshi Nakamura, Masanori Waragai, and Mai Hastuyama). It's 12 pages altogether (with tiny print to boot), and pretty in-depth. It's from December 2011, but it's still pretty insightful, and sheds a few facts like how bosses are created (unlike the rest of the project, these are apparently done in isolation with a singular artist in charge of a boss), and how each map and layout was achieved. Story-centric origins are also discussed, and I particularly liked the bit where the Ceaseless Discharge's backstory was revealed, despite the fact that it wasn't outright explained at any point in the actual game (barring some item-centric lore). There's even talk of influences and a whole lot of anime is name-dropped, including Record of Lodoss War, Saint Seiya, and Jojo's Bizzare Adventure. This is easily the best part of the book, and I wish there were more sections like this peppered throughout. Unlike Hyrule Historia, which contained multiple interviews and tidbits to shed some more light on Zelda's massive universe, there aren't a whole lot of extras here to augment your enjoyment of the Souls series. Dark Souls: Design Works could have been a lot more expansive, but at a discount price (it's approximately $25 on Amazon), it's mostly on the mark for those of you who can't get enough of this franchise.
Dark Souls art book photo
Mostly for the fans
The art of the Souls series blows me away. It truly is an adventurous experience, because although the style is consistent, you literally never know what you're going to walk into next. Whether it's a series of decadent ...

Capcom book photo
Capcom book

Review: Capcom 30th Anniversary Character Encyclopedia

From Ada Wong to Zero
Dec 25
// Jonathan Holmes
[Update: The book is currently on-sale for just over $8] The people running the show at Capcom have been irritating fans and employees alike for years now -- burning bridges, nickel and diming consumers, canceling games, land...
Wario Land 4 eBook photo
Wario Land 4 eBook

Wario Land 4 to be critically analyzed in 600-page eBook

I'm jealous I didn't think of this first
Dec 17
// Brett Zeidler
Game Design Companion: A Critical Analysis of Wario Land 4 is a 600-page eBook that will analyze the entirety of Wario Land 4. I'll just give you a moment to let that sentence sink in. Seriously, Daniel Johnson has put togeth...
StoryBundle photo

Pay what you want for these videogame books

StoryBundle 2.0 offers bonus items for $10 or more
Nov 26
// Alasdair Duncan
I eagerly picked up the first videogame collection that was offered by StoryBundle, purveyors of pay-what-you want eBook bundles, so I eagerly snapped up the 2.0 bundle. You can pay what you want for six eBooks and magazines ...
Telltale photo

Telltale is reportedly working on Game of Thrones

Try to keep your cool
Nov 21
// Jordan Devore
This is one of those rumors that you can just picture being true. According to IGN, sources say Telltale Games is making a game based on Game of Thrones. Whether the project will draw inspiration directly from the HBO show or...
Kickstarter photo

Upcoming Sega Genesis/Megadrive art book looks marvelous

25th anniversary book celebrates Sega's 16-bit glory
Nov 17
// Wesley Ruscher
SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works, an officially licensed 25th anniversary commemorative compilation of artwork, development sketches, hardware manufacturing plans, and interviews from Sega's golden years looks to be t...
Books photo

Diablo book Stay Awhile and Listen now available

A tale of two Blizzards
Nov 01
// Jordan Devore
We had previously posted an excerpt from David L. Craddock's Stay Awhile and Listen: How Two Blizzards Unleashed Diablo and Forged a Video-Game Empire - Book 1 and it's now available for Kindle, iBooks, Nook, and Google Play....
Deadly Premonition photo
Deadly Premonition

Deadly Premonition 'Visual Companion' ebook released

They sure do know how to milk a success
Oct 14
// Conrad Zimmerman
Fans of Deadly Premonition are being offered a new "Visual Companion" ebook through the iTunes store today. The supplement features more than 350 pages of material, including some of Swery65's notes, and an assortment of...
Yoshitaka Amano photo
Yoshitaka Amano

Look at Yoshitaka Amano's Deva Zan story and art book

Literary debut of legendary illustrator
Oct 04
// Jayson Napolitano
I've been looking forward to getting this book for a long time. When we featured The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy some months back, we were told about the impending release of Deva Zan, Amano's literary debut that not ...

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