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4:47 PM on 09.24.2013

Why you should look into Eldritch

"Lovecraftian" is the main word I've heard used to describe Eldritch, but I've never read an HP Lovecraft book in my life. That imagery doesn't help me to visualize the game so I wanted to help others who may be in my situation. I was able to get my hands on Eldritch, the yet to be released-soon to be beta, about 2 weeks ago and I've had a bit of time with the game to explore it's dark world and experience the myriad of emotions that punctuate its gameplay experience.

"The world's light is very low key and mysterious. The visuals and sound meld together and create an atmosphere that begs to be slowly explored and crawled around until the unknown is a little less abundant. Starting into a dungeon feels like diving off of the deep end into the ocean with so much space below and so little of it explored."

Eldritch is a first person rogue-like game, those familiar with Spelunky, The Binding of Isaac, and other games will be familiar with its single life system. In Eldritch you can venture into books in an attempt to escape the mysterious library you've been imprisoned in. Once inside these books you will face various creatures that want to kill you. Once you die you are sent outside the book and everything on your person will be lost forever but you can store money in a chest that you can access at any point which is the limit of what you can keep upon death. You'll find yourself making risk based calculations on how much money to keep in your chest.

Each of the dungeons is randomly generated the first time you enter, after which you can exit and re-enter the same dungeon and explore it to your hearts content unless of course you die in which case the dungeons change. Mobs can be killed and looted but the kicker is that looted mobs respawn so you have to make a call every time you kill one. Stealth is a big portion of the game, your boots make sound when you walk unless you have stealth boots, you can crouch and sneak up behind mobs for a one hit knife strike from behind or sprint firing bullets at their head. Sounds can call attention to yourself and have the whole dungeon heading your way so be careful. Bullets are scarce at first and you may find yourself using the knife and throwing rocks and bottles to get by alive.

Dungeons increase in difficulty after each successive book. Discovering the different terrifying creatures in each and what they do is part of the fun so I will leave that for you to discover. I've heard Eldritch describes as Dishonored meets Spelunky and that is a wonderfully accurate description. It's micecraft-esque graphics disguise how spooky the game can get. I have yet to fully explore everything in the game's dungeons I've unlocked.

It's going to be the next big indie game to be released and the beta is available starting September 26 for preorders and being released on October 21. It's made by former Bioshock 2 AI programmer David Pittman and his twin brother. Check out the game below and expect a more in depth examination after the beta has been released.

Eldritch Game   read

3:03 PM on 12.19.2012

Why "War z Gate" is a step forward for Steam

Valve has officially pulled The War Z from being purchased and is issueing full refunds to those who have purchased the game and aren't satisfied. Which happens to be almost everybody. The major news here is that Valve has taken the steps to remove a game that clearly wasn't finished.

I don't know how many of you remember the Towns incident; in which the indie game Towns was released via Steam Greenlight full of bugs and glitches. In that instance the game had a warning that it wasn't complete but that warning was moved to the description after a little while. Valve seems to not have a problem releasing a game before completion as long as a warning is available and it is made clear somewhere that the game isn't finished.

The War Z was full of false advertisement the first day, then some of the descriptions were moved to a future feature section so that the only false claim was one about 100 players per server when only 50 were allowed. Now on the third day Valve has completely removed the game from Steam to the point that it can only be found by typing the game's name into the search bar.

This whole situation is actually a good thing. It has forced Valve to act on a game that wasn't ready to be released and hopefully the selection process for games from third party companies gets better and doesn't allow games like this to get in. The gaming community will be more wary of the games they buy and hopefully developers will be held responsible for what they try to sell.   read

9:38 PM on 12.17.2012

2012: Dishonored's dishonorable pull on my emotions

It takes a very special game to make me feel emotional attachment to its characters. Bioshock let me care for the little sisters, Half-Life made me say "Holy god-dammed fuck" over and over as Alyx Vance almost died on a table while I did all I could to protect her. One thing I've noticed is that I feel more attached when it's ME whose saving little sisters or Alyx Vance, not some character I'm just playing as.

This is why I think Dishonored had such an impact on me, and it wasn't even the main story that did it. I was attempting to play a completely stealth and pacifist run. This means not being detected and not killing a single person. I was also not using a lot of saves so that my decisions had more of an impact.

I was on the third level and my target was in a mansion on the top floor. To get there I had to get through a main room with stairs leading to the second floor on each side. As guards would patrol up the stairs I took them out one by one. Once I had finished knocking them all unconscious I starting running around looking for various items and collectables, thinking I was safe.

As I sprinted down some spiral stairs I saw a guard slowly walking up towards me, looking really bored with his job, probably thinking about all of the orphans he fed earlier. Now I was sprinting really fast and had no time to think, so perceiving my already started actions in slow motion, I pulled out my really cool sword... And shoved it into his throat, then threw him over the railing of the stairs. I screamed out "I'm so sorry!" to my computer screen then sat there in silence staring at my monitor.

I had just killed a man. A man with his own life, just doing is job. But not only had I killed him, I cut out his throat and threw his corpse over the side, with all the though of a reflex. I had not intended to kill him, but in the heat of the moment I just reacted, and now his life was over. The next words out of my mouth were "Oh my God..." I felt genuinely bad that I had killed this man merely because he was in the way.

Dishonored will always have a place in my memory for the emotions it allowed me to feel in its world. That was my best gaming moment of 2012.   read

9:20 PM on 12.17.2012

Minecraft Permadeath Run 2 (MPR)

So after a long 2 month break I decided to come back to my permadeath run. My first part is here. One thing I have tried to do is cover much more gameplay in one article.

When I loaded the world back up, this is what I was looking at.

I went outside and checked what I had to work with. Not too much. It seems that the first thing I need to do is reinforce my house and get a stable mine going.

As soon as I started mining this happened. That sand came out of nowhere and almost killed me. Always remember to not mine directly up in case anything falls from directly above. It was getting late so I went back home to wait out the night.

Ahh, the morning sun. So beautiful.

Afterwords I decided to set up a better mine. I knew that I would be down here for a while if I could find some coal so I built a door to keep out any monsters come night time. Now it's time to dig in and mine. (terrible pun)


So I've dug down pretty far and from the sounds I've been hearing this mine I came across isn't too friendly. I will proceed cautiously since a death means a permanent death.

Okay, I just killed three zombies and a skeleton, didn't give me too much trouble but this mine is full of coal and iron, but my last pickaxe is almost broken so I will return to my house and refuel.

Refueling done, I now head outside to find... Two Ender men and two Creepers outside of my mind. I'm going for it. I made it safely. Time to mine some more.

So the mine shaft that I found is really massive and full of iron. This may take me a while to map it all out in my mind. But as I turned around, I saw this, my heart is still pumping and I managed to unpause it quickly enough to grab this screen.

And now to run away really really fast.

I made it out alive and as it stands right now this is my inventory.

I forged some armor with my treasures and log off for the night.

So much for covering more gameplay, eh.   read

11:47 AM on 09.15.2012

Minecraft Permadeath Run (MPR)

I have recently become interested in permadeath running video games after hearing about a brave few people peradeath running Far Cry 2. The few that do it seam to really enjoy the different gameplay permadeath running brings to the table. I wanted to experience this first hand so I purchased Far Cry 2 only to learn that it doesn't run very smoothly with my graphics card, so I decided to permadeath run Minecraft instead. This was made easy with the hardcore option which ends the game if you die, so no cheating either.

What I will be doing is cataloging my play through for as long as I live. I have only set up one rule for myself and that is that beds are not allowed. I want this to be as difficult as possible and I feel beds make it way too easy. I don't know the schedule that I will be doing this in but I will construct one soon. Besides, no one will read all of these anyway so it doesn't even matter.

So without further a due, here I go...

I put it on hardcore mode and I put my alias as the world generator so if you want to play in the same world, here you go.

When my eyes first opened to this new, wonderful, world I was surprised. Trees. Trees as far as the eye could see. I needed to find land with a less dense biome and maybe some hills to build a safe house. So I looked to the right and there was a lot of sand, and a hill, so that was cool.

I decided that the hill in the distance there would make a good home. It's very close to some trees, pretty high up, and I have a clear view for quite a distance.

I then stacked up some dirt to mark this hill as the one that holds my safe house. I've learned that being able to find one's way back home is very important when in such a hostile environment. So now to build my safe house. I will need sand and wood. I walked over to where I spawned, spent a few minutes getting as much wood as I could then went to collect sand, seeing as how it was right near my home. It was nearing nighttime and that beautiful, flowing Minecraft music was gnawing at my conscious to come back home, so I did.

The night started off relatively peaceful. Everything was fine in my home and I was occupying myself with tidying up.

But I had soon realized that I was getting very hungry and with no food in sight. I couldn't go out right now to get some because the creatures of the night would kill me before I made it ten feet. No, I had to wait for daytime.

As the sun came up, it burned a couple of zombies and gave me a small supply of food that was quickly devoured. But it was enough. Enough to find more food.

I decided to head back to where the trees where. More likely food would be there than in the desert. I wondered around for a bit, getting more tense as my food bar had nearly drained.

At last, Food! I slayed some chickens quickly and took a few bites, just enough to make it home and cook up the rest.

It was close but I had made it through and now I had enough food for a few days. Night was nearing and once again that soulful, angelic, Minecraft music started reverberating through my heart, inducing a euphoric state in which I decided to call it a day.

And that was my experience of the first two days.

I will be doing more of these until I die presumably. So see you next time friends.

Also any tips on how to do this better would be welcome, give me all the constructive criticism you can.   read

12:25 PM on 09.12.2012

The (Possible?) disconnect between players and their avatars

This is something that I have recently began to take an interest in when I was playing Left 4 Dead 2 in an online versus match. In Left 4 Dead very often players have to make decisions that determine the fate of other players, and I was tasked with that decision. I decided to let my teammate die in order to make it to the safe house by myself. Granted, I was doing it so we had a chance of winning, and the player I let die would respawn the next round so it wasn't a lasting impact. But I had still sacrificed this player to help myself. In my mind I thought, “Screw this guy, I want to live.”

That thought alone wasn't enough to make me question my decision; but what did get me wondering was when, in a later round, I was the one left behind. Not some random dude, but me. When that happened was that I found myself asking questions such as “Why didn't he come back to save me?” We would have a better chance of winning the game if he had successfully managed to revive me, but in his mind he considered the risk and decided that no, this douche isn't worth risking my virtual life over. And that's what interested me.

If the previous situation was a real situation with real lives at stake, would I have gone back to save this person and would they have saved me? Based on the decisions made in Left 4 Dead 2, no, we wouldn't have. And hopefully this is where the disconnect happens. I would hope that morality has more importance in meatspace (real life) than in virtual situations. (I mean, it obviously does but to what extent?) How much does one's video game morality reflect their real world morality?

I've heard from people who have seen studies (I heard it from a very reliable person) that say up to 90% of gamers, when given the choice between a good option (Ex. saving a kitten) and bad option (Ex. killing a kitten), will choose the good option over the bad. I think this correlates with the amount of people who choose to use the game as a way to emulate themselves (being the 90%) and as a way to play as a different person entirely (being the 10%). The reason I speculate this is because the people who are emulating themselves onto the game character will generally do what they find to be the right thing to do, because the choices they make are their choices and the people who do the immoral thing do it because they are playing as someone else. (I would go into more detail but that gets into non linearity and bad game design)

The general trend seems to be that gamers only have a relatively small degree of separation from their avatars. This degree changes with each type of game played and how meaningful the game makes the actual decisions. So the next time some guy leaves you to strangle to death in Left 4 Dead, know that he would probably do the same in real life if it meant his team would win.   read

2:10 PM on 09.11.2012

Will true interacivity ever be available in games?

When I say true interactivity I don't really mean the kind of interactions one would find in everyday life, such as walking a different way to work or deciding to go to the gym for that day. I'm talking about interactions that really matter, such as pulling a loved one off of life support or not getting that abortion (Obviously not decisions like that, well maybe, I guess it depends on the game) Yes it will be really cool once games advance enough to allow us those insignificant aforementioned decisions, but those small decisions aren't game changing. I want grand scale interactivity and I want my interactions to matter in the game world, have lasting impact, and NPC reactions.

An example of what I want would be that, let's say fallout 3 came out 30 years later. instead of going up to an old man, clicking on him, having him say something, then you either choose one of three responses or leave; I want to be able to say something, either by typing or physically talking to this old man. I want to be able to interact with this old man in a real manner. If want to know what this old man's role in this world is, I just ask him. If I want to know how old he is, I just ask him, and if I notice that he is having a problem I want to be able to help in a way that doesn't bring that problem to the front and ask me as a player if I want to help by answering "Yes or no," In other words, I don't want the game to say "This is a problem, fix it or ignore it" I want to have to rely on myself to notice that there is an issue and then choose to fix it.

I also want to be able to solve the problem in any way I see fit. The game Dishonored has the right idea in letting the player choose how to solve the problem. For example at one point in the game the player is tasked with taking out two women at a party. The player can either kill them or take them out without killing them, they can get inside using stealth, acrobatics, possessing a fish and swimming in, charging in guns blazing and all of this is up to the player. They have even made it possible for a player to solve a problem in a way they don't even know about themselves. This is key to future game development because it is impossible to pre-plan every single way to solve a problem.

This brings me to the question I ask in the title. Will true interactivity ever be available in games? This question can also be phrased as "Will technology ever advance enough to allow us this true availability?" And I really have no answer for this question other than "I hope." We are privileged enough to witness the start of humanity's technological rise, Processing power doubles about every 18 months. New and more powerful graphics cards every year and innovation with gameplay and story mechanics happens everyday. I am confident it will happen but you never know. The goal of the industry could switch from making great and innovative games to only making money, and obviously that would be mostly bad.

So let's just all hope for a bright future in which people who care about video games as art and as story telling agents prevail. Let's hope for a more Gaben future. (Thanks for reading this garbage that didn't even answer the question it posed)   read

7:57 PM on 09.09.2012

The undramatic switch to a PC gaming lifestyle

I was raised on the console and knew almost nothing about PC gaming until about two years ago when I had matured enough to understand the advantages. For example, when I was a console player, "modding" was a bad word. Anyone who modded in halo 2 online would have to deal with the possibility of getting banned and from that mentality my entire opinion of modding was informed. But that is only one example of the differences in console gaming that PC exclusive players may not even know exist.

This blog won't talk about one platform being superior to the other, but what I want to focus on is my journey from exclusively console gaming to exclusively PC gaming, which was recently completed.

My start as a console gamer was with the Nintendo 64, which was the first console I owned, and the game Star Wars Episode 1 Racer. Which was the shit. Moving quickly through time, the next console I owned was the Xbox, then Gamecube, then Xbox 360, then PS3. I had the typical semi-hardcore gamer experience, always playing FPS games, specifically Halo and COD. But I also enjoyed other games throughout my career, such as Dynasty Warriors, Tenchu Z, James Bond 64, Super Marios 64, Super Smash Bros Melee, Jet Set Radio Future, Phantomcrash, Phantasy Star Universe and many more.

Ironically my first step towards PC gaming was getting a game for console, The Orange Box. That was the first time I had played any valve game and it was phenomenal. Portal was obviously wonderful and I can now say that I play Team Fortress 2 on the PC and the difference is amazing. (I actually own all of them on PC now) Free and frequent updates blew my mind. The TF2 that came out on Xbox is still that same TF2, whereas the PC version has triple the game modes, triple the maps, user created content, and thousands of servers to choose from.

Learning that TF2 was getting updates on PC and I wouldn't get them, not because of Valve, but because of Microsoft's updating policy, made me consider the move.

I had finally decided that I wanted to be able to play PC games, but I had one problem, my PC sucked ass. That was the hardest part about getting into PC gaming for me, getting a decent gaming rig. Now I didn't (and still don't) have the money to buy an Alienware computer and just jump into gaming, so I had to plan and practice patience. First I got an average desktop computer with a decent processor and 4 gigs of RAM. Then I purchased a low, low end, graphics card which ended up being a complete waste of money because it couldn't handle any games from even three years ago. It was a Radeon HD 4670 from XFX.

So I installed it into my computer along with a cheap $25 300W power supply. I didn't know jack shit about computer stuff back then but what I did learn extremely fast was that, in this world, you get what you pay for. My warning to anyone who wants to get into PC gaming the proper way is that you shouldn't rush yourself and buy the first thing you see, do your research, find detailed reviews for everything you can, and make sure you are getting the best value.

Shortly after finishing my sub par gaming rig I had issues with the motherboard my computer came with. At the time I had no clue what was wrong with it so I sent it into HP for repairs, got it back about 2 weeks later. It broke again. So I sent it back for the second time, 5 weeks later I got it again. Still fucking broken. At this point I was pretty angry so I was finally able to speak with someone sensible from HP and sent it back for the fourth time, this time when I got it back I noticed that I had a new motherboard in it and it never had issues again. The HP rep was nice enough to give me a $120 dollar gift card to the HP store for my months of trouble and I was able to get this bellow.

Shortly about this mouse; it is an R.A.T. 5 gaming mouse and at first, other than looking cool, I couldn't tell a difference. Using my dad's computer (He is a gamer with an even better computer than my current one even though he is 55 years old) and his normal mouse while browsing the web and not having the extra inputs for various functions made me realize its usefulness.

Back to computer stuff now; I finally had a fully functional computer and knew that I needed better hardware. I decided to really buckle down on my research and saving and once I had decided what I needed, I got it. A better graphics card and power supply. I now have the Radeon HD 6770 from XFX and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an entry level card. It retails for arround $100 dollars. Make sure you have a power suppley and processor that can handle it, that is generally a rule for any graphics card purchase. I can't emphasize enough how important research is.

Okay, so finally I had a decent gaming computer, a good mouse, nice monitor, and Christmas was nearing which means one thing; fucking money (not fucking money, as in, money for fucking, just money, but I was fucking excited, so fucking money) Steam has these amazing sales usually twice a year with really great deals. I ended up spending about $100 dollars on games, but that got me 73 games, I repeat, 73 fucking games! (not fucking games, well you're not stupid, you get it)

[Steam and PC gaming are synonymous at this point and as much as I used to ask people their Xbox live gamertags I now ask for their Steam names.]

For the longest time I had been an Xbox and PC gamer simultaneously and was recently forced to switch to an all PC lifestyle after my move to college. I brought my Xbox and PS3 along but I left my TV remote at my house so I have no way of switching to the HDMI input. Surprisingly I have adapted really well to my new gaming outlook. My Xbox had pretty much devolved into a Netflix/HBO box and my PS3 a Blu-ray player. Even if I did play it was often just older games or GTA IV with close friends.

My Steam friends list has quickly grown and I find most people to be really friendly and good natured. One thing I have noticed is a greater sense of community within games. Counter Strike Source for example has servers with the same games running 24/7 with mostly full servers. Each game's community has sub game communities with their own political structure, or lack thereof, and niche in the universe.

The switch to this new and wonderful world has been a mostly enjoyable one that I am happy to have experienced and I hope that I continue to experience it. Thanks for reading this shitty piece of shit.   read

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