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10:25 AM on 02.25.2013

Miami Hotline Video Review

Hotline Miami has received a lot of attention lately for being somewhat of an indie darling on the PC and with the game gearing up for a PSN release, we figured now is a good time for the AO crew to dig into the game and give you our two cents on the bloody romp through 1980′s Miami. Please enjoy.

PS: Eff the dogs


8:42 PM on 01.29.2013

The Real Texas Video Review

Does the Real Texas keep it real and deliver a compelling gameplay experience...guess you'll just have to watch and find out.

Please excuse my voice sounding slightly off. I've been rather ill lately.


12:57 PM on 01.25.2013

10,000,000 Video Review

There have been an influx of indie titles being released for the PC market in recent years and with all of those releases, it's sometimes hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Does 10,000,000 manage to set itself apart from the rest? You'll just have to watch and find out.


10:36 AM on 10.18.2012

Mark of the Ninja Video Review

In honor of the game's Steam release, here is a quick video review of Mark Of The Ninja. Enjoy.


2:25 PM on 08.30.2012

Core Online: Gaming of the Future

Like it or not, Square Enix's "Core Online" is very possibly how we will be seeing our games offered in the future. It makes a lot of sense to deliver games in this fashion from the developer, publisher and consumer standpoint. The biggest problem is that gamers are cynical and quick to reject any idea that comes from a giant publisher. People are quick to dismiss new ideas as an attempt to snatch some of their hard earned money away. Coming from a company that charges copious amounts of cash for iOS offerings of decade old games, who would blame gamers for their pessimism? Join us in our quest to decipher what Core Online actually has to offer, and take away, from us gamers.

How it’s good for Publishers:
Publishers have long lived and died by the “launch window”. If a game doesn’t sell well out of the gate, it’s largely considered a failure. With a service like Core Online however, they are able to receive revenue from these games in the form of advertisement s. What this means is that they are able to generate revenue where there was no revenue before. They’ve helped solve the issue of used game sales with this system as well, but we will get to that when we talk about how this is good for the consumer. A gamer could be mildly interested in a game, but never interested enough to spend their money on it. As the industry is now, that is simply lost potential. The gamer never pays to play the game, and the publisher never makes any money from that gamer. With Core Online though, they are able to satisfy the curiosity of that gamer, and potentially make a little money at the same time.

currently only Hitman: Bloodmoney and Mini Ninjas as the only titles available

How it’s good for Developers:
Imagine you’ve got a new game in a series coming out, and you are afraid it’s been too long since the last entry. You’re afraid that gamers have lost interest in your intellectual property and it’s really going to hurt the sales of your new game. Now, imagine being able to push out the preceding games in the series to the public for free! Of course the publisher would never allow you to do such a thing if they couldn’t fiscally benefit from it, and that’s where a system like Core Online comes in. You’re able to drum up interest in the series, the user gets the play the games for free, and the publisher gets some revenue from the service. That’s what we call a “win-win”.

Would you try the original X-Com for free?

How it’s good for Gamers:
The phase, “There’s no such thing as a free meal” is the first thing most people think of when offered something as generous as a free game. Core Online however is making that a reality. If you’re interested in a game, but have never really been willing to spend money to satisfy your curiosity, this is a perfect solution. Sure, you’ll have to watch a few ads, but that’s a very small price to pay when it comes to playing a triple-A game... for free. What’s even better is that it’s a digital offering. This system combines the massive appeal of free games, with the convenience of downloading a game direct to your PC. Sure you could get in your car, drive to the store, pick up the game for $20, drive home and play it…but isn’t it so much easier to just go to the site and download the game? What’s even better is that you have a choice. If you don’t like the ads, you can always just buy the game. While used games are a very important part of the game industry, a system like Core Online is a major threat to their business model.

Less more of this...

What needs to happen:
It’s easy to see the potential in a system like this, but there are also obvious short comings. One of the first things that needs to happen is how/when the ads are presented. A simple time based system can be very frustrating when in the middle of a tense situation. You’re in the middle of an intense cutscene, then the game suddenly pauses and requires you to watch an ad. It’s a very jarring effect and can completely ruin the tone of the game. These ad breaks need to be incorporated into the loading screens, between chapters, between multiplayer matches. ETC. Not in the middle of gameplay.
The next “must change” about the service is its limited library. While this is likely this is just a test to see if a system like this will even work, the true test is when the selection of games is large enough to support an actual community. If done correctly, this kind of service could be the video game equivalent of Hulu or Netflix.

The most important thing Core needs to do is bring the service to a console base. There are plenty who feel PC gaming is largely superior but the numbers don’t lie. Console game sales still greatly outnumber PC game sales and there is something to be said for the simplicity and ease that comes with playing games on a console.

Other titles are currently being prepped for the service

Only time will tell if the Core Online system will bear fruit. Honestly, gamers everywhere should hope it does. Given the odds, it can only be a good thing is this type of model catches on. While some would argue that Square Enix has lost their way in innovative storytelling (those people obviously haven’t played Neir), they certainly seem to have a staggering amount of potential with their Core Online.   read

5:20 PM on 07.11.2012

Buck Up Indie Devs!

You hear a lot of great success stories from the indie game development scene. It's fun to listen to these stories because they make you feel really good about this industry you've chosen to pour your interests into. The more common story is however are of heartbreak and failure. It’s easy to look at the developers like Team Meat, Zeboyd Games and Polytron and think, “I could do that. I love games and have lots of great ideas.” It’s easy to say that, but the reality of game development is that most teams will never ship their product, or their product will fail. This isn't, and shouldn't be, the end of the story. This is an article all about the hardships of game development, and why it’s one of the best things you could choose to do with your free time.

One of the Cinderella stories of the indie scene

The first thing to keep in mind is passion. To success in game development you have to be willing to put in long, thankless hours to honing your craft. Don’t think of game development as a way to make money and support your lifestyle. You need a job for that. Instead look at it as a way of bettering yourself and the industry. If you happen to make money while developing games, consider it a bonus. That may be a bitter pill to swallow for some of you, but if you’re unable to accept this fact, then maybe indie game development isn't the right thing for you. Shawn Achor says it best in his talk on "The Happiness Advantage" when he says to put your target for happiness before your goal for success. That way you'll be happy, no matter the outcome of your project.

Be happy, no matter how your project goes

Now that's out of the way, it’s time to examine some of your peers in the industry. When someone asks you, “What are some of the most successful game companies and developers in the game industry?” ultimately you think of names like Peter Molyneux, Cliff Bleszinski, Shigeru Miyamoto or the folks at Blizzard Entertainment. These are people/studios that have shaped the way we see and play games. Now, think about this; these developers didn't start off making the amazing games we know today. Molyneux didn't create “Black &White” as his first project. His first game was “The Entrepreneur” and it sold a grand total of 2 copies. TWO COPIES! That’s a far cry from the millions he ships today. So the next time you get a little down on yourself because your game sold 20 units, realize that you shipped ten times the amount Peter Molyneux's first game did.

Despite how you feel about his work, the industry wouldn't be the same without him.

Something else to ease your pain, is knowing you’re not alone. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other indie developers out there to interface with. Just because you have a cool idea that you don’t want “stolen” doesn't mean you should shut yourself off from the rest of the indie community. Now, don’t go shouting your idea from the rooftops because someone can and WILL take that idea if it tickles their fancy. That being said, being part of an indie developer community can be of great help. Not only can fellow developers help teach and troubleshoot, but you’re also establishing friendships and business partnerships that can carry you to some great things and possibly a career.

Cliff's first game: "The Palace of Deceit: The Dragon's Plight"

Something you should keep in mind is that reviews are not what qualifies your game. Well, maybe they are... but not it's not what should define the game's quality for you personally. You need to qualify a game on more than just its review scores. You should look at how much you learned while making your game, contacts you made while promoting your game and skills you sharpened during development. If you submit a game to a site like this, and they give it a poor review score, don't let it get you down. Simply look at what they deducted points for, take note and move on. Reviewers never want to stymie creativity or passion of developers. They only want to offer constructive criticism while informing potential customers about your game. So, while review scores are nice, don't let bad ones keep you from continuing what you love.

"Raptor Resort" was a pretty bad game, but we certainly hope the developers keep trying!

Game development can be a dream come true. It's a lot of fun, you'll learn a plethora of useful skills and hopefully can make a few friends in the process. It's not for everyone. You'll need to have a lot of resolve, passion and drive to survive this industry. But if you stick it out and have your priorities in the right order, the experience is like none other. Get out there, start making games, be prepared to fail, and love every second of it.

Blizzard Entertainment's first game: RPM Racing   read

12:57 AM on 05.03.2010

Tropico 3 Video Review

A quick video review for the Xbox 360 version of Tropico 3. Hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think! All constructive criticism is much appreciated.

[embed]172681:29532[/embed]   read

11:42 PM on 04.23.2010

Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess Video Review

Hey all you sexy readers! Looking for a good PSP Mini game to slake your platforming lust? How about “Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess”? Is it fun enough to earn that $5 that has been burning a hole in your pocket? I guess you will just have to watch the video below and find out! COMMENT!

[embed]171922:29358[/embed]   read

11:21 AM on 03.27.2010

Final Fantasy XIII (13) Video Review

Well…here it is. I’m ready for your white hot nerd rage! BRING IT! I stumbled through the script in a few places and I apologize for that. I promise it wont be as bad in the future. I was just ready to get this review done already!

I know the review ran WAY too long, but I had a lot to say! I actually had to edit the piss out of it to get it as short as it is. Removed complaints like the game throwing WAY too many terms at the player at the start of the game, the unimaginative characters, horrible camera, unbalanced battles, etc.

I do not know why, but I decided to use a "stars" rating system. Don't worry, that is going out the window with this review.

On the good side of the things I did say that the story was unique…did not mention that it makes little to no sense is is stuck WAY up it’s own ass…but it was unique.

Please comment! If you agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your comments either way! Call me names! I don’t care!

Oh! And as always; all resources uses in the production of this video belong to their relative copyright holders and are used in a strictly parody, critical and educational manner. BOOM!

[embed]169082:28610[/embed]   read

11:58 PM on 03.24.2010

Something About Sex: Stop Buying With Your Junk!

These days the game industry is overrun with women all too willing to jiggle their naughty bits for your gaming dollar. While there is a place for this kind of thing, gamers really should not let this natural urge determine what games they would choose over another. I’ve been thinking about it and it seems that any time there is a female character in a game’s story, the fact that they are female tends to greatly define who they are.

Many hardcore gamers say they are sick and tired of the same old cliché characters and want something new. But when a game like Beyond Good & Evil with its practical lead Jade comes along, they would rather spend their money on games Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball. That’s right! Both games being released in 2003, gamers spent more considerably more money on the gimmick title DOA: EBV then they did a legitimately compelling and interested game like Beyond Good & Evil.

Too many times unique game heroines do not get their due respect. Even if in a successful game, they can often be overlooked. A perfect example is Hammer from Fable 2. Sure she did not exactly have a huge billing in the game but she was something that is few and far between in the game industry. She was a strong, independent woman with a less than perfect figure. Other than Hammer there is the rare occasion where a less than attractive female is cast into a video game. But then they are almost always used for comic relief or to signify ignorance.

But all hope is not lost. There can be a female character in games that earns the respect of gamers AND does not have to drop her pants when the player wants them to. I am of course talking about Alyx Vance from Half-life. Alyx managed to come across as a real character while not letting her sex define who she is. Perhaps this can be attributed just as much to the way other characters in the game act towards her as much as it does her own actions. A female character can act serious and be all business, but that behavior is pointless if all the other characters are still treating her like a sex object.

How do you feel about the topic? Do you feel a female character has to go to great lengths to NOT be attractive in order to be taken seriously? Taking Alyx out of the equation certainly seems to make that the case. Should us gamers just rub one out before we go game shopping? Comment!

Holes in my argument: I realize that I bitch about hardcore gamers not supporting the unique titles that come to market, but fail to recognize that “hardcore” gamers actually make up a fairly small percentage of the overall gaming populous.

Some argue that the only reason Alyx Vance comes across as a strong female character is because there is not a strong vocal male player character. Although I like the character of Gordon Freeman, I cannot argue with someone who hates a silent protagonist.

Yes. During the writing of this article I assume that the majority of readers are male. Sorry ladies.   read

5:27 PM on 02.14.2010

My Expertise: Getting Beaten Down

When scrounging around the game industry for a profession, I quickly realized that I cannot be the "best" at any of them. No matter what I did, who I befriended or how hard I worked there would be someone else that was better. I realize this is a very pretentious (and a far stretch) approach for this month’s assignment…but it was either this or how much I rock at masturbating.

Competitive Gaming:
I am a HUGE fan of the Smash Brothers series. So naturally I decided to challenge my skills. So I decided to attend my first Smash tournament. I was quickly found myself feasting on the butthole end of a SHFFLing Marth. I took my broken Ganondorf home and joined an online community of professional smash players. Over the next six months I tinkered with, relearned and mastered my newly acquired skills. I did not think that I was going to win, I KNEW I was going to win. Again, I traveled half way across the state to battle it out in the realm of professional gaming. I won! Next it was time to short hop spike my way through the state tournament. I finished 12th. It was at that crushing moment that I knew I was NEVER going to be the Smash Bros King of the world. But for some odd reason I still play smash brothers religiously. I still look up to those professionals and one day dream of being better than them…

Game Development:
With my excessive passion for the game industry, it was only natural that I would want to pursue a career in developing them. So I started like so many industry designers do, through testing. Over the nearly four years I spent in the Quality Assurance department of a major development studio, I learned so much about the in’s and out’s of game development that I deemed it naive that I ever thought I could be on the same level as Miyamoto or Molyneux . But I continued to build my skills hoping that one day receive my shot. After spending even more time in the development field I realized that even if I one day become a great designer, I will never surpass the greats of yesteryear. No matter what I create, it will have been on their shoulders. It is them that I must credit for the great state of the industry as we know it.

Game Journalism:
I now am trying to break into the overcrowded video game journalist field. I sadly do not have a college degree or even a strong writing background. Disregarding that still here I sit attempting to pieces words together to form a cohesive blog entry. Even if I do manage to become a blogger for a video game site, will I ever live up to those who precede me? Stephen L Kent and others have blazed the path that I would love to even step foot on. This is an exciting new side of the industry that I have loved all my life. Very scary, intimidating and infuriating but oh so exciting.

Why I keep going:
I think Jacques Lacan was onto something. No matter how many times I am beaten down, I will continue to come back. No matter what the insurmountable odds, I will always climb the mountain. These lofty goals are exactly what makes life worth living. Only in the pursuit of a dream will you find happiness. Obtaining the dream is when that happiness will begin to fade. So I will continue to refine my Smash Brothers game, improve my design and write this blog. Do I hope to achieve my goals? Of course! Will I ever reach them? Damned if I know. All I know is that in order to be truly happy, I must chase them.

And I’m awesome at fapping.   read

1:27 AM on 02.14.2010

Death To The Bald Space Marine!

Let’s face it. Video game male lead characters are looking more and more like penises with each passing game. Big, white, male, bald and gruff seems to be the checklist for making a lead character. I for one am tired of this trend and would love to see more developers challenge the paradigm and create a unique and interesting lead character…but they won’t…and I’ll cry myself to sleep while playing with my phallic space marines.

Why developers should…
If written, designed, and marketed correctly a unique character is able to establish a brand and carry a company for decades. Big names such a Mario and Sonic may come to mind, but I’m talking more about the true “characters” of the game industry. Gordon Freeman, Cloud Strife, Solid Snake, Travis Touchdown and the many other names that make you have a very specific emotional reaction when they are mentioned. We think of these characters and are immediately taken back to relish the time we spent with them. When is the last time someone mentioned the “Hero” from Fable and you though “I loved that character!”? Never…is the correct answer.

Why developers won’t…
Because it is too much work! To establish a great character the planets (talents) must align perfectly. They must be visually interesting, have a gripping attitude (while not being bothersome); they must be unique, have an appealing and cohesive back story and most importantly have a good story ahead of them. Yet another reason developers shy away from unique characters is that they tend not to sell millions of copies. The average frat boy gamer does not want to play as great characters like Jade from Beyond Good & Evil. He wants to play as Master Chief, Kratos and Marcus Phoenix. Like it or not, those twenty something “bros” are the sacred demographic (other than the casual crowd).

Wrapping up…
Do you know the reason your head is shaved when you enlist in the military? The reason is to remove your individuality. To help strip you of your personality. There are those who would argue that these “Bald Space Marines” are design to make you feel as if YOU are the lead. While this CAN work in player choice driven plots like Mass Effect, the vast majority of these character instances simply come across as boring and lazy. In the end, developers are not willing to spend the time, money and effort on a character that only appeals to those looking beyond the surface. In the rare event that they do wish to create a unique character, a publisher will swoop in and request something more “marketable”. Until the majority of gamers start to DEMAND more from their characters, we will be stuck with the “Bald Space Marine” for years to come.   read

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