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Matteo Muscas is a Sardinian born writer, and he likes words. Also, he speaks of himself in third person more often than he should.

(Now switching to first person).
I recently graduated in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, UK, where I specialised in creative non-fiction and poetry, surrounded by the general uninterest of the public.

I write mostly about indie video games and portable consoles.

I am a tech geek; pop culture aficionado; graphic novel/movie/tv series/book lover; video game expert. I could talk and write endlessly about anything that the internet generation is on hype about. I likes pizza and penguins.
Once, when I was a child, I've been a velociraptor.
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Dear all,

I would love to create a new community podcast, and I would like to do it with the European Destructoid community.
I am looking for eager video games fanatics who are keen to share their views with thousands (or more realistically, dozens) of listeners.
The perfect candidate is:

[li]A European with a[/li]
[li]extensive video game industry knowledge and possibly[/li]
[li]extensive knowledge of a platform of choice. Someone who[/li]
[li]dreams of a career in video game journalism and[/li]
[li]doesn't fuck around too much - meaning, we need someone reliable.[/li]
[li]Someone who has a good grasp of the English language and[/li]
[li]a good microphone and[/li]
[li]a decent internet connection[/li]

I would like to make it a long term project, so I'm looking for seriously interested individuals who can spare an hour per week to talk in front of a microphone.

In a perfect world, if you have artistic or design skills, or if you are IT competent, it would be even better.
I'm looking for three cast members, each of them potentially coming from different countries.
And if you're based in London, we could record it face to face rather than over the internet!

Interested? For more details contact me via PM, or twitter, or via telegram, or via carrier pigeon.

2:06 PM on 08.18.2014

A lazy afternoon.

I sit on the couch and fire on my PS Vita. I open Proteus and get lost on an island.

I do actually come from an island, Sardinia. It is a place in the middle of the Mediterranean. A sunny, warm place. I used to live by the sea. I watched it on my trips and admired the severe gray-purplish colour of the ocean in winter time, and how it shines and reflects the sky in spring, when warmth hits you from the windscreen of the car, and you pull the windows down just a little bit and breathe wind and sea and sand.

I press the start button on my Vita, and I find myself immerse in water, a small island is in front of me. I swim towards it and step on a beach. The game is in first person, so I donít really see what I look like. I just assume I look like myself from behind the screen and move on, without knowing what to expect from the game.
Exploration, is all it is. Proteus is a blocky, pacific world, in which all you do is walk, and look around, and get lost in the woods, and climb up mountains and admire the view from up above. There is no confusion with the controls. You walk around and not much more, but it isnít a problem. I find myself surrounded by butterflies, and flowers, and the music around is mellow and soft. The sun sets, and I stay on the beach looking at a progressively darker tone of blue and orange and red. It looks like a LEGO sunset on acid, and it works. It is a beautifully digital sunset.

When the sun rises again, I wonder if there is more to Proteus than I could find, and I keep on walking around an island that on second thought is way bigger than I predicted, to discover than the beauty of the game is not in the destination but in the journey itself. Proteus is beauty for beautyís sake.

Meanwhile, in London, it rains, slowly at first, then progressively harder. Iím not gonna go out tonight. In game, it is a nice summer afternoon, one I wish I could be gifted with where I live.
Seasons change, slowly but steadily, and colours, stilly minecraftly blocky, become heavier and darker, and leaves fall on the ground. Then winter comes, but not like in Martinís book. It arrives, †quiet, like a ballerina dancing to the sound of no music.

After some time I reach some stones, ruins in a circle, and as I get inside the circle everything around me comes alive, and all the energy of the island comes flying in and spins in a vortex, and seasons change in seconds, and again I simply stand and look at chunky blocks of colour paint the sky with snow and sun and rain and wind.
As I step inside the vortex, everything stops, and Iím left with a new summer.
Outside my window, it still rains.

I press circle and the eyes of the protagonist close, and Iím back on the main screen. When I go back in, everything is still the same and yet slightly different. The island has changed.

Outside my window, in London, it still rains. But it doesnít matter.
Photo Photo

Or at least, it is for me. Letís admit it: Iím not getting any younger. I have a day job and I write silly editorials while commuting back and forth from it, and I find myself scribbling things like ďI really need to remember to buy milk from the grocery store tonight, if I donít want to skip breakfast for the third day in a rowĒ (hint: I wouldnít want to).

In the past four years at Uni, I focused on studying narrative techniques and fell in love with the endless possibilities that video games can offer. Itís a road barely walked on the way it deserves, and I would like to be part of those who will get there first. More recently, Gone Home, Journey, and The Walking Dead - alongside many other titles - showed me radically different ways of delivering strong narratives and innovative gameplay. Or think about The Stanley Parable, or the newly released playing teaser for Silent Hills, P.T. What all these games have in common are 1) a strong narrative and 2) they maximize such narrative aspects in a short time. Of all these games, TWD is possibly the longest, and yet it clocks out at less than 5 hours of gameplay. Iím not gonna argue about the whole more-bang-for-your-bucks thing (though I have strong opinions about it, this is a discussion we can leave to another time). When I was in high school, the longer a game was, the better. I also had the fortune of growing up in the golden age of JRPGs - I played the shit out of Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Suikoden, all the Final Fantasy andÖ No, wait. Not all the Final Fantasy. As a matter of fact, I stopped after playing FFVIII, which is when I graduated from high school.

Things have changed, and now I not only donít physically have enough time to play a 60+ hours game, but mostly, I donít really want to. My approach is to get the most out of what a game has to offer and move on to something else, and Japanese RPGs just donít excite me anymore the way they did in the past. Iím writing this with a sort of melancholic, sad attitude, as I would love to fell in love again with the genre, but what thrilled me in the past, I now found borderline disgusting.
When I came back from my holidays last month, I decided it was finally time to sit down and play Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. I bought it last year and never found time to play it. It was finally time. Being a long time fan of Studio Ghibli, I was sure this game was going to be the one who changed my mind about the genre. The game, developed in collaboration with Level 5, has stunning visuals. Iím not usually one of those fellas who play a game for its graphics, but this is different. Ni No Kuni looks like an anime, and plays like one. It is narratively brilliant, and it offers the same wonderful feelings Mihazakiís studio is famous for. As a plus, there isnít an endless character creation process, and itís obvious that the developers want the players to experience a strong, linear story in a very specific way. Itís cool, and the game starts with the right foot, but I stopped playing it slightly after five hours.
Once you finish the first main mission, the world map unlocks, and with it, an endless streak of random encounters. Damn, I hate them in such a visceral way that after a full 45 minutes of stupidly pointless repetitive battles, I took into serious consideration the idea of moving in a country in which video game consoles are banned. But then again, Iím not sure if pizza is available in North Korea and decided to stay where I am.
I donít need grinding in my life. I donít have time for it. I donít have patience. I want to get going and see what happens next.
My experience with Ni No Kuni ended up there. And itís a shame, because I was connecting with the narration, and I loved the magical world it is set in. I heard that in Bravely Default there is an option to shut the random encounters down and focus on the story. It is great, but Iím not sure I have the strenght for another JRPG in my life.
I feel like one of those couples that split up not because something went specifically wrong, but because they fell out of love for each other. Maybe it is simply time for me to move on to different genres.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you think there are JRPGs still worth playing? Is there something wrong with the genre? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear the communityís opinion about it.

Luftrausers chewed me and spit me on the floor, but I always went back for more. I played it until it wasn't fun to play, and became plain frustrating. I kept on playing it until I hated myself, the developer Vlambeer, the publisher Revolver, Sony, frozen pizzas, London's notoriously bad weather, and the fact that I chose video games as my main hobby instead of, let's say, banging my head against a brick wall.

War has changed.

The premise of Luftrausers is easy. Get on a plane and shoot everything on sight. It's a 2-button shooter that uses an interesting physics. With one button you accelerate, with another one you shoot. Easy? Yes. Until you actually realise there are no breaks and that if you don't understand how the controls work you ended up being a sitting duck for the hundreds of enemies that appear on screen, eager to blow your guts up.
Here is the thing: Not only war sucks, but whoever is in charge of your life has decided that the best option to win the war is by sending airplanes one at the time against an enemy evidently stronger.

You won't get out alive. You know it beforehand. Maybe because the game only ends when you get killed in action, or maybe because life is unfair, or maybe because the strategist behind this majestically fought war gets an erection every time he has to knock at the door of the pilot's widow to communicate the sad, sad news (though this is only my assumption, as none of this actually happens on screen). And in Luftrausers, just to be clear, you easily die in less than a minute, over and over again. The game uses sweet, minimalistic 2D flat graphics, and I highly appreciated Vlambeer's idea of showing an aura around the airplane instead of an health bar that recharges if you don't get hit. It allows for interesting strategies and push you to be slightly more defensive than you probably would otherwise. It's a nice touch, that doesn't save the game from a serious issue: your plane is minuscule, and the screen gets very crowded very fast. Missiles and bullets are as big as the airplanes, and once you get dozens of planes and ships shooting at you, you lose sight of where you are. It happens way too often, and all the times I died because of it, I felt the game was being unfair on me.

I knew I shouldn't have trusted this guy.

After a while all I cared about was the sake of the world peace and began to considered that maybe, just maybe, that man shooting at me from a ship has a family who is expecting him at home, worried, anxious. Maybe they signed up for a mortgage few months before the war started. And now he's in front of me, and I wish for peace and love and then I blow the motherfucker up with my cannon right before being killed for the nth time.
I go back to the hangar and modify my aircraft, which is one of coolest feature of Luftrausers. Different engines, armours, and weapons, that gives completely different feels to the game. Well balanced, too. I choose and go back to the addictive receptiveness of the chiptune music, ready to kill and to be killed. Because, if you didn't notice, war sucks.†

Final thoughts.
Luftrausers is a game worth your time, but only up to a certain point. It's fun, but with evident flaws that block it from becoming a true success. Luftrausers shines as a on-the-go game. It's easy to pick up and impossible to master. In some cases it's unfairly difficult and sometimes confused, but the addictive design makes you want to come back for more every single time.