Hi, I'm 18 years old and live in England, just outside London. I grew up in India, and grew up in PC gaming (as well as handheld Nintendo consoles) thanks to my older brother. The games I have fondest memories of were Worms, Counter Strike, Mortal Kombat and Pokemon. And Super Mario 64.
All in no particular order:
Favourite Music Artists Pink Floyd
Jeff, Who Lives At Home
Favourite TV Shows
Avatar: The Last Airbender
how i met your mother
Favourite games: Anodyne
The Curse of Monkey Island
Indie games don't often get heavy marketing. Word of mouth is usually the largest way for Indie games to garner financial success. A game like The Witness deserves and will most likely get such success. This is primarily because it's being designed by Indie game guru Jonathon Blow. For those of you that don't already know, Mr. Blow designed XBLA (and now Steam and PSN) game Braid (which Destructoid, and specifically, reverendanthony, seem to absolutely love), a time-manipulation based platformer which boasts stunning visuals, a brilliant soundtrack, clever puzzles and an enigmatic yet thematic narrative.
I loved braid. And I'm going to love The Witness. In fact, if GTA V isn't released this year, Iím certain The Witness will be my game of the year.
Well, thatís enough about Blow and Braid. Witness is an exploration-based puzzle game set on a fully-3D beautiful uninhabited island. When Blow created the game, he designed the puzzles first and kept the buildings and/or areas the puzzles were in very primitive, often just as placeholders until a further point in development when he would know what to do with it. From the beginning he didnít just want the island to be a setting for puzzles, but rather a rich island with deep stories waiting to be told. Because of this, Blow has hired two architectural firms, FOURM design (for buildings and such), and David Fletcher Studio (for landscape architecture), to help create an island that feels genuine with a history to each area and building.
And all this architectural work is completely relevant to the main story - the detail to the island will reflect the many times civilizations has been at that island, embodying their various philosophies and beliefs. This way, backstory of the game can be presented non-verbally, imbued into the architecture and landscape of the world. Different styles on the island may represent different inhabitants; Blow essentially hired architects so that the island feels deeper and so that it would be brought alive. He says, "the game is constructed so that the more you pay attention to tiny details during your travels, the more insight you will have to the central story".
The Keep, before and after the architects' work.
The only criticism with Braid was itís short length; I thought the gameís value was so high that the length really wasnít a problem. However, Blow has said that The Witness will be three to four times the size of Braid. He believes in to-the-point puzzles, so donít worry, the game wonít be full of filler material.
One of the reasons The Witness caught my eye is because of itís similarity with Myst, or at least as far as I remember. I was very young, too young, to have remembered what Myst was about at all. I do although have vague memories of Myst, as this was one of the first games that my dad played after the arcade days. I remember watching my older brother, cousin and dad play through the game, and even now, if I look through the garage, Iíd be able to find a notepad full of scribbling; a mix of numbers, diagrams and words - notes for the many hard puzzles that Myst had.
Knowing Braid, I'm sure the game will be incredibly atmospheric with a great soundtrack. The art, as you can see from the screenshots, are brilliant. It's a colourful, deep, rich world that looks great, as far as Indie or retail games go.
For those of you that don't already know what Mother 3 is, it's a JRPG that was released for the GBA in 2006. It has only ever been released in Japan, but if it is ever released on the 3DS eShop, that'd be the day that I (finally) buy Nintendo's latest handheld console. It wasn't released outside Japan for two main reasons: Earthbound (Mother 2)'s poor sales in the west, and that the game was released a year and a half after the Nintendo DS was released in the US (15 months in Europe), which meant sales would be fairly poor, as all the attention had been shifted to the DS.
For some odd reason, I have all 552 blank Mother 3 maps on my computer
One thing that intrigued me about Mother 3 are the mature themes that are present in the game. The main plot is about an army from a different time coming to the protagonists' innocent, simple, and colourful world and transforming it into a commercialist, mechanised world. The game presents themes of corruption, brainwashing, dysfunction, and destruction, as well as evoking emotions of rage, sorrow, guilt, and love through the brilliant writing of Shigesato Itoi. At one moment, the game will have you chuckling to yourself at its iconic tongue and cheek humour, and at others, will have you crying over the deep meaningful stories. Personally, I was astounded at the games' themes, given that it's a Nintendo game.
One particular scene that had me arrested, less than an hour into the game, was when Flint, a primary character, is consumed by rage, lashes out on innocent townfolk, and put in jail, all in front of his two young children. Their family is torn apart by a devastating loss, and this very-realistic reaction is something that affected me. It was all brilliantly written, and it wasn't just the writing that did it. It was the timing. After the horrifying news is told to Flint, the music (or rather, the sounds of the forest and the fire) cuts, a lightning strikes, and Flint's sorrow turns into rage, as he starts pounding the ground with his fist, lashing out, all in front of his two young boys, with the perfectly fitting "Gentle Rain" now playing in the background. This scene (spoiler) comes together in perfect harmony, delivering a touching start to the wonderful world of the Nowhere Islands.
The game itself is very quirky and surreal, as you'll find yourself fighting enemies such as a Candle, a Carpet Monster, a Balding Eagle, a Baked Yammonster, a Dung Beetle, a Naughty Mushroom, a Really Flying Mouse, and a variety of musical instruments. You get the idea. Although they may be flat on screen, the characters feel real and three-dimensional, with actual motives and feelings. That said, the sprite-work really is brilliant; the game has some of the most pleasing-to-look-at graphics, 2D or 3D, boasting wonderful watercolour-esque 16-bit graphics.
Mother 3 is laid out in several chapters, and these chapters are told from various characters' points of view. The multiple playable characters not only give different gameplay styles, but it gives a spin on events, creating a new found perspective on previous seemingly insignificant events. The multiple perspectives intertwine to create a richer, more dynamic narrative. You may be surprised at how a game with such simple sprite-based graphics can make a great story-telling experience. There's a 3 year leap between two of the chapters, and on the other side, a lot has changed to the world, including a new monetary system in place for the first time (creating a heavily consumerist society, from one where everything was free), a railway, a club (Club Titiboo) in the north, and the happy boxes being put into people's homes as an act to brainwash them. Above all, Lucas, Flint's son, is more grown up, and is now ready to take on the world.
The music plays a big part in the whole Mother 3 package, and I can (almost) guarantee you that anyone who has played the game would agree that the game would not be the same if not for the brilliantly masterful music, composed by Shogo Sakai, who is known for other games such as Virtua Fighter 2 and Super Smash Bros. Melee. It really is a magical experience, and the various meticulously crafted melodies reflect the various events and things in the strange world of Mother 3.
Since the game has a little more of a modern setting, instead of spells, swords, and bow and arrows, you'll be using thief tools, psychic powers, and baseball bats. And the combat isn't your typical JRPG affair, as there is a rhythm based element involved - there are several different battle themes, for various sets of enemies. If the player is able repeatedly tap A to the beat of the song playing after the initial attack selection, one would be able to rack up higher combos and deal additional damage, which really helps, as this game is considerably hard in some areas. Possibly my favourite boss-battle in the game is against Mr. Passion, a ghost classical composer, in Castle Osohe. The battle is accompanied by wonderful classical music, and this battle was the first time that I was able to keep with the beat and successfully rack up a great combo, which feels exhilarating the first time you pull it off.
You can enjoy the magical experience of Mother 3 (using an emulator) by downloading a ROM (or acquiring it through legal means) and applying the fan translation found here. The fans of this cult classic continue to amaze me; the dedication put forth is astounding. A fan-game, Mother 4, is in the works, and is shaping out to be quite excellent, as it retains the quirky humour that is iconic of the previous entries in this series.
I learned about Winterhold College through a tweet from reverendanthony, saying "Winterhold College is like Hogwarts for adults, yaaaaay". Obviously, I was immediately intrigued. At the time, I spent most of my time in Whiterun, the trading city of Skyrim. Keep in mind, this was fairly early in my game; I hadn't even visited the Greybeards yet, and this being my first Elder Scrolls game, I did not know about the pseudo fast-travel Horse and Carriage system. As a result of this, I manually rode all the way to Winterhold, which, simply put, was a breathtaking serene journey.
So, as soon as I came into Winterhold, which I expected to be a major city, as opposed to a smaller town like Morthal, I found my way to a bridge, where an elvish woman was standing. I engaged in conversation with her, and found out that Winterhold is selection-based. I was told all about the College, it's background, professors and the Five Schools of Magic; I also learned that if I wanted to be a master of the arts, I had to pass a few tests. While I was talking to Faralda, I could hear dragon roars in the background. Since this is a magic school, I thought the dragon was the test I had to face. Naturally, I was pretty scared, this being the second (or first random) dragon that I had seen (or heard) after the initial maingame dragon.
I was pumped, and I was ready for Faralda to give the go ahead to some mage to release the dragon so I could have an epic fight on the bridge to the College. As she continues to talk to me, she is literally set on fire right in front of me (I was experiencing a WTF moment). Surprisingly not dead, she starts to run back to the main part of Winterhold, spell in hand, body still burning. At this point I've realized that this wasn't a glitch, but was in fact, my first random encouter dragon. I quickly scrambled, furiously clicking to get Sparks and Healing in my right and left hand, ready to take it down. Some townspeople had started to don bows and arrows, and inflicted minimal damage. My magic was draining quickly, so I had to take shelter and heal myself from the pursuing dragon. I drank a few magic potions, healed myself, and got back out there. The dragon swooped down, grabbed a man with it's teeth, and threw him out, killing him. It subsequently roared fire, shaking it's head, burning more people. I got my two-handed axe out, ran behind it, where it wouldn't eat me, and started swinging away.
After absorbing it's soul, many walked up to me and said things like "So you're the Dragonborn," or "I can't believe you took it down all by yourself". As I said before, this is my first Elder Scrolls game, and I'm astounded at the amount of work that's put into "side quests", which in my opinion, are so detailed that they can be considered the main story. After the initian Helgen mission, you're free to roam all of Skyrim, and do whatever you want, and call that your main story. Many of my friends haven't touched the main story, doing whatever the hell they want to, which just shows the level of freedom that this game offers. I'm still playing Skyrim, and will be for a long long time, as I'm thoroughly enjoying all that it has to offer. And yes, I am now the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold.
Digital distribution is awesome, or more specifically, Steam is awesome. In this blog I'm going to talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages of Steam, and also other platforms of digital distribution, such as XBLA or the PS Store.
No one can say that at least one form of digital distribution is bad. For example, downloading a game demo is one form of digital distribution (try saying THAT five times fast) that benefits us. People often complain of how terrible a game is, or rather how dissapointed they were with the game. Game demos solve that problem - play a slice of the game, and your level of doubt over whether to purchase the game suddenly diminishes.
Having said that, many people (sometimes myself) would be displeased with a digital copy of a game, as they would rather buy a physical copy, with it's glorious brand new smell, manual, box art and all. For many, this seemingly simple factor can be a deal breaker, especially with all the different kinds of collector's/special editions that are available for all major releases today, as well as the physical game-world maps that are included with games like Age of Conan, GTA IV or Red Dead Redemption. On top of that, many franchise fans are filled with anticipation, and to many, counting down the release of a game on Steam isn't as exciting as waiting in line for the midnight release of the "next" game.
One notable disadvantage of digital distribution (or advantage for the developer) is that after having bought and played through a game, you haven't got the option to sell it back to the digital store, which also means you haven't got the option of buying a pre-owned copy for a cheaper price.
Usually on Steam, I'm reluctant to purchase a new multiplatform game when it's released, because even if the game is probably better on PC, and is £10 cheaper, buying the game from Amazon would be a lot cheaper. However, when there's a Steam sale, be it a Summer, Christmas, or Halloween sale, I fall in love with digital distribution all over again - I mean, the prices at which you can buy these games are mind-blowing. In this recent sale, although I didn't buy as many games as I did during the Christmas sale (Mafia II, Mirror's Edge, Super Meat Boy, GTA IV Complete Edition, Left 4 Dead 2), I'm still brimming with joy at the 66%-80% deals on the games I've purchased - Amnesia: the Dark Descent, Aquaria, Bioshock, Bully: Scholarship Edition and Sims 3: Complete Pack.
Personally, the ability to download a game, old or brand new, just makes life easier. I don't own a single physical copy of a PC game, and that's because downloading something off Steam, is easy, quick and generally a lot less bothersome than going out and buying a game from a store, or even ordering a game off Amazon. One reason downloading old games on Steam is such an obvious choice is because they're so cheap - much cheaper than games on services such as Xbox Live's Games on Demand (which is why I buy all retail games for my 360 through GAME or Amazon.
Another major advantage is that digital distribution is a blessing for indie game developers, giving them the tools to spread the word of their game, to easily have access to a large market, and ultimately the potential to have a hit on popular distribution services like Apple's Appstore, the Android Market, XBLA, Steam and the PSN Store. Online markets are huge today, and indie developers are given the opportunity to get their concepts and ideas out to the world, so that it may be ridiculed, or so that it becomes a worldwide phenomenon.
So in conclusion, I believe that digital distribution is amazing, and minor disadvantages shouldn't sway you from what is inevitably the future of gaming. You can't not love Steam Sales, and promotional sales give players further motive to download games. The fact of the matter is that retail copies of games are gonna be around for a very long time, so if you want to get the soundtrack, art book, character figure from the Collector's edition of [insert game name here], you still can for a very long time.