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Plus; big robot spiders
After almost two years of wringing my sweaty little hands and looking at screenshots like a schlub, I finally got to take Watch Dogs for a spin last week. After hacking into steam pipes and blowing up cars for two hours, I took a moment to chat with the game's creative director Jonathan Morin. 

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Breaking: my hair looks great today
Here's your Tuesday Newsday for the last week or so! Today, we got a sexy new Dragon Age III: Inquisition trailer, some HD footage of Star Citizen out of PAX East, announcements of a new Fatal Frame on Wii-U as well as a bun...

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Back to basics
Sorry for the delay! Here's this week's episode of Farts 'N' Crafts, in which I draw something I've drawn rather compulsively since I was ten years old -- Boba Fett. Also, I show off some of the pictures you guys drew of Pokémon and Call of Duty! 

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Gaming news! Now with exciting motion graphics!
On today's hard-hitting debut episode of Tuesday Newsday, we cover some of the highlights from PAX East, like Cult of the Wind, where you run around pretending to be an airplane, or Rain World, where you're a big squishy slug...

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Tactical Monsters
In an effort to make myself relevant to teenagers everywhere, today's episode of Farts 'N' Crafts combines Pokémon and Call of Duty: Ghosts.Am I relevant now, teens? Hm?  *Puts on Kanye West™shutter-shades*

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Slow news day?
This week, we filmed a wonderful short piece in which Bill and I discussed the lack of video games that let us play as actual animals. Unfortunately, Bill's microphone cut out mid-discussion, and the camera's face-tracking started focusing on an animated GIF of some dogs having sex I had up on my monitor behind me. So, here's what we did instead. 

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Spoiler Warning: Hawaiian shirt
Hey gang! Here I am again, shouting about the dang news. Super Smash Bros. and Borderlands are making big piles of headlines, and The Last of Us is getting an HD re-release, so I guess we haven't seen the last of it just quite yet. Pokémon and Zelda are getting Monopolized, and The Evil Within is spooky.

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In space, no one can hear you turn into a bat
Between the Alien: Isolation release date the new Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC that features the Predator, it seems like we have enough of an excuse this week to draw some Alien Vs. Predator fanart. Also, both involved parties are Draculas, because I felt like it. Man, this series is stupid. Hope you enjoy it!

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You Goat Served
I have to go to the zoo for the rest of the week because my step-sister is getting married (that's not a stupid joke, that's actually where the wedding's being held) so here's some funky-fresh two-day old news for you regarding April Fool's Day 2014, and the amount of harm it caused our collective psyche.

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Harness your imagination
What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today. That's what the focus of this week's Dumb Idiot Ideas is the power of the cloud, and how it will change all of us as people.

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Fulgore Warning: Fulgore
Today, I can finally talk about my impressions of Batman: Arkham Knight, which I saw back and GDC. There’s some new stuff about Watchdogs that’s actually gotten my attention, Sonic has Zelda-themed DLC, Fulgore...

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Podtoid 285: Child-Child


Balls to the wall
Mar 26
// Max Scoville
This week on Podtoid, we talked extensively about video games, as well as Cheech & Chong, Tim Schafer, and Macauley Caulkin. But we also suffered some major technical difficulties, so we lost about an hour of the conversa...
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These make the Wii balance board look downright boring. Er, more boring.
There was a wonderful spread of strange and interesting indie games at GDC, including a special exhibit called Alt.Ctrl, focusing on projects that made use of unusual controllers. Bill Zoeker screwed around with these for a ...

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Devolvin' and Debauchin'
You guys might've seen the charming, casual, laid-back interview I did with Devolver Digital's Nigel Lowry. Here's the interview I did with Devolver's co-founder Mike Wilson, which took place several shots of tequila later and got slightly weirder. We discuss the company's roots, it's future plans, and where they intend to go beyond game publishing and movie producing. Porn? Sure, why not.

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Honk if you hate geese
Here's this week's Farts 'N' Crafts! I'm a little burnt-out following GDC, so today's topic involves children attacking a goose with a broom. If you'd like to hang this on your wall, you can buy a print here. If you'd like to make your own picture of kids fighting a geese, go right ahead and drop it in the comments here, or shoot me an email.

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Original Hotline Miami coming to the PlayStation 4
At GDC this week, I sat down with Devolver Digital's Nigel Lowrie, and we discussed what they're up to in 2014, between Hotline Miami, Luftrausers, and Bro Force, they're keeping busy. We also got the world exclusive that the original Hotline Miami is coming to the PlayStation 4 with cross-buy support. 

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Pietoid
Here we are again, my darlings. This week, Max Scoville, Jonathan Holmes, and Conrad Zimmerman discuss getting old, The Offspring, the collapse of society in the coming decades, and the fact that Spider-Man was touched as a child by a man named Skip. No, for real. Also, video games are mentioned briefly. Here's your direct download link, and here's the ol' iTunes link.

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Also, an explosion
GDC has come to a close, and it's certainly been a busy week for news. Sony announced Project Morpheus, their entry into the virtual reality race, as well as some crazy eye-tracking tech. The second Oculus Rift development ki...

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"Dolphin Lundgren." SOLD.
Literally the first thing I did at GDC this year was sit down with Capy Games president Nathan Vella and talk about their upcoming games Super Time Force and Below, as well as his hosting duties at this year's IGF awards. Also, a woman in the background knocked over a lamp and broke it, which I thought was pretty funny.

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GDC cocktail napkin edition
Hey gang! Here's a hot and messy GDC edition of Farts 'N' Crafts, brought to you by liquor and cocktail napkins, and also cocktails, made with liquor. Sonic The Hedgehog is covered in bandages and scarves in Sonic Boom, so I drew him barfing up SpaghettiOs. Because cocktails.

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Dumb Idiot Ideas: Max & Ben's virtual Oculus Rift game jam!


Anything is possible!
Mar 15
// Max Scoville
The future is here, right now! At least, it will be, once we get the Oculus Rift for realsies, but what kind of games do we want? Ben and I make use of our old virtual reality devices: our imaginations! Also, electrical tape.
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DTOID News salutes ursine iconoclasm
Everyone’s off playing Titan Souls or Darkfall or whathaveyou, so news this week is a lot of non-news. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt has been delayed, which sucks, but apparently won’t derail Cyberpunk 2077. Sony ...

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Podtoid 283: Maxine Legroom & 'A.F.' Massages


Plus, actual video game talk
Mar 11
// Max Scoville
After a longer-than-normal hiatus, the gang is back together this week to discuss Max's trip to Japan, Jonathan's old dirty magazines, Caitlin's casting choices for The Last of Us movie, and Conrad's beard compatibility. Get your direct download here, and as always, you can find us on iTunes.
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Groundzillas!
Today on Fart's 'N' Crafts, I'm drawing Godzilla and Big Boss fighting! Or hanging out. Or something. This suggestion comes by way of Nicholas Layne on YouTube, thanks Nick!  If you'd like to buy a print of this drawing, you can pick one up right here!

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I feel it in my fingers...
Man, you guys hear about Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn? That's a pretty great idea, but here are some even better ones, like a game where James Van Der Beek's head is a Hydro Thunder boat, or where the cast of Love Actually beats each other to death.

Infiltrating Outer Heaven: A tour of the Kojima Productions studio

Mar 07 // Max Scoville
Now, by no means am I complaining about getting to go on studio tours, but as someone who grew up watching behind-the-scenes features about movie special effects, there's a certain disappointment to know that videogames are created by a lot of hard-working people sitting at desks, doing stuff on computers, and not a bunch of crazy guys kit-bashing Halloween masks and blowing up model kits in a parking lot. Now, Kojima Productions is definitely an office. There are desks and conference rooms and water coolers, but some special effects work takes place there, too. Videogame magic, if you will. If you've been following coverage of Metal Gear Solid V, you're probably aware of the fact that in order to make it, Kiefer Sutherland had to have some balls on his face. You know, those little tiny balls they use for performance capture. Dozens of infrared cameras track the motion of each little ball from every angle, then a computer somehow turns that into a badass videogame character beating people up. Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain rely heavily on performance capture and motion capture, using it for the vast majority of characters. However, there's one rather fascinating exception: Code Talker. If you caught The Phantom Pain trailer (if you haven't, there are reasons why you might want to avoid it) you might recall getting a glimpse of the elderly Native American fellow named Code Talker. While there was undoubtedly no shortage of performers available for the more normal (and I use that word very lightly) looking characters, I can't imagine there are a whole lot of centenarian actors of indigenous descent working in Hollywood these days. So, Kojima and co. did the next best thing: they called up Digital Domain, the guys who helped turn Brad Pitt into Benjamin Button, and asked them to sculpt an old man's head from scratch. If you're unfamiliar, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a 2008 David Fincher film in which Brad Pitt's titular character ages backwards. The film won Academy Awards for both makeup and special effects, so it's understandable why Kojima would hire Digital Domain. The studio created an upsettingly realistic latex bust of Code Talker, which I got to see up close during my tour. The picture above doesn't do it justice, it's disturbing in person. If you're amazed that Hideo Kojima let me photograph him with his creepy rubber head, don't be. No recording of any kind was allowed during my tour, so everything you see here has been found online. The creepy rubber head was a good start, but it was up to Kojima Productions to turn it into a living, breathing videogame character made out of polygons and textures and math problems. To do this, they scanned the creepy rubber head, using the same performance capture technology they used for Kiefer Sutherland's performance as Snake. This is done in a completely white room, so there's as little lighting interference as possible, and the performer is filmed from every angle. The whole setup looks like the worst nightmare of someone who's afraid of having their picture taken at the DMV. After that, Jay Tavare (who you might remember for his role as Vega in the live-action Street Fighter movie) will have lots of little balls put on his face, and will play the part of Code Talker. Tavare speaks the Navajo Diné language, which, considering Code Talker's name, will probably be a big part of his performance. Tavare's facial movements will then be transferred onto the digital scan of the creepy rubber head. From there, animators will go through the character's movements and make necessary adjustments by hand. As Hollywood tries to fill live-action movies with as much computer-generated imagery as possible, developers like Hideo Kojima and David Cage are striving to put live actors into videogames. Go figure. In addition to the facial mo-cap studio, I also got to visit the full-body performance capture playroom that Kojima Productions has been using. Aside from the thousands and thousands of dollars of cameras and computer equipment, it reminded me a little bit of elementary school gym class. Blue mats on the floor, large foam pads for gymnastic tumbling. Normally, highly trained mo-cap actors don the silly-looking ping pong ball costume and do cool tactical karate movies and stuff, but during our tour, they just had one of the guys from the animation team come out and tiptoe around. On a nearby monitor, an uncolored but very detailed render of Snake mirrored his movements. It was one those very basic tech demonstrations we've all seen a million times in developer diaries, but seeing it happening in real life was still pretty impressive. Next, we were led into what seemed like an ordinary conference room, but which felt oddly familiar. Then I remembered why. Pictures of this very conference room had been released alongside screenshots of a photo-realistic rendering of it. These screens were primarily intended a demonstration of the Fox Engine's graphical capabilities, but also to show how funny it would be if a horse got into the conference room, as well as what it would look like if they spruced up the place with some tasteful hovering orbs and cylinders. On a more practical level, the reason Kojima Productions went to the trouble of rendering an entire conference room is as a means of calibrating the lighting within the Fox Engine. It makes a lot of sense, really. It's a bit like using a sheet of office paper to calibrate the white balance on a camera, assuming you went through the trouble of cutting down a tree and milling the office paper yourself. What's that Carl Sagan quote? "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, first you must invent the universe." If you wish to render a realistic horse, first you must render the conference room down the hall. It's not quite as thrilling as everything else I saw, but my inner ten-year-old basically exploded when I saw the wealth of reference materials Kojima Productions had amassed. An entire hallway was lined with shelves containing every type of media you could possibly need to look at while making a Metal Gear Solid game. Videogames, movies, comics, manga, art books, and encyclopedias of everything from tanks to motorcycles to horses. Around the corner from that was a corner devoted entirely to replica firearms. It looked like the bunker in Terminator 2 where Arnold finds the mini-gun. Possibly the most fun part of the tour was a visit to Kojima Productions' in-house recording studio and a demonstration of how the game's sound effects are made by their foley artist. Inside the booth, there's an array of microphones, and a pile of ordinary household items with a few pieces of army surplus gear scattered about. In the center of the floor was an odd little raised platform, divided into sections holding different materials. One with a slate flagstone on it, another a piece of plywood, and a third had gravel spread across the bottom. Next to all this was a pile of worn out shoes, like you'd find by a family's front door. Then, we were asked "who can tell which of these are Old Snake's shoes?" Someone suggested military-looking boots. The foley guy slipped his stocking feet into the boots and stepped onto the flagstone platform. He walked in place, and through the monitors, we heard what was definitely not Old Snake's footsteps. The cool cowboy boots with the straps turned out to be Liquid Ocelot's. The big frumpy grandpa sneakers were Raiden's. Appropriately enough, Old Snake's footwear of choice is a pair of worn-out Hush Puppies. What better footwear for stealth? Plus, this is Old Snake we're talking about, so clearly he's more concerned with comfort than fashion. Each character's walk sounded entirely different, partially because of the variation in footwear, but also because the foley artist would adjust his weight by holding onto a chin-up bar, with heavy footsteps with his full weight for big manly PMCs, and the softest pitter-patter for Sunny. Using footsteps to create the sound of footsteps is pretty obvious, but we got to see and hear some more creative means of creative sound effects. On the screen in the studio, one of the cutscenes from Metal Gear Solid 4 was playing, from the beginning of the mission in South America. In the scene, Old Snake is lying on the jungle floor, and we see an actual snake slither from under a bush and attack a guinea pig. Then, a centipede crawls across Old Snake's arm. We watched all of this without any sound. Then, we watched the clip again, accompanied by the sound of a wet rag being loosely rubbed on the flagstone panel, inches from a microphone. Done in synch with the footage, it made an incredibly believable slithering sound. The clip was rewound again, and we learned that the sound of a centipede can be made by running a crappy flip-phone up and down the bristles of a push broom. To think, I've been paying perfectly good money for gross centipede-noise ringtones when I could've been making them at home! In all seriousness, I've been a fan of Metal Gear Solid for over half my lifetime, which is a rather staggering realization. With that much anticipation and excitement built up, I could've very easily come away from this tour completely crestfallen, saying "eh, it's just a regular office" and sounding like a totally jaded douchebag. Thankfully, I got to see a creepy rubber head, learn how to make centipede noises with a broom, and stand in a conference room that looked just like CGI.
Kojima Productions tour photo
Also: Street Fighter's Vega is in The Phantom Pain. Sort of.
While in Japan to preview Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, I was taken on a tour of the Kojima Productions offices. In theory, there's a certain magic to getting to go behind the scenes of where videogames get made. In...

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Watch Snake shoot down his own chopper!
I'm sure by now you fine folks have seen the stuff I posted about Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, but I'm not done quite yet. Here's a quick rundown of what I thought about the game, as well as some responses to concerns you guys had.

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KAZAAM!
Sweet Christmas do we have some great news about video games today! Let’s see… My previews for Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes went up, a new Batman game was announced by Rocksteady, Batman: Arkham Knight...

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PSA: If you're looking forward to Ground Zeroes, don't watch The Phantom Pain's trailer


Tactical Public Service Announcement Action
Mar 05
// Max Scoville
No new Metal Gear Solid V spoilers or details here, I promise. Earlier today, I put up my preview for Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, and in it, I wrote a lot about the game. I was careful to steer clear of any s...

War Has Changed: What's NOT in MGS V: Ground Zeroes

Mar 05 // Max Scoville
Stopping Everything To Answer Your Codec: As much as I loved chatting with Master Miller about Alaskan field mice, discussing monster movies with Para-Medic, and hearing Colonel Campbell's funky beat poetry about scissors, there have definitely been moments when Codec calls have interrupted the flow of fast-paced Tactical Espionage Action™. However, I was pleased to discover that in Ground Zeroes, Snake has no qualms about putting Miller on speakerphone while he goes about his missions. This latest installment is fairly light on story, but if it truly is a demonstration of The Phantom Pain's mechanics, we're going to see a lot more integration between gameplay and story. And God willing, we won't have to watch any PowerPoint presentations from Otacon. Somersaults: Or "tactical dives," or whatever else you want to call them. That move where Snake does a little roll, which can be used to knock down enemies, or to look hilariously clumsy on stairs. This has been replaced by a much more serpentine maneuver, which is Snake's ability to dive into a crawl. It's a lot more fun in action than it sounds, I promise. Though I'll definitely miss rolling into guards like the fat kid from Hook. Rations: Look, it's 2014. It's time we accepted that it's just not realistic for video games to depict a man recovering from life-threatening injuries by eating several packages of freeze-dried food. It's much more realistic if the man's wounds go away on their own after he hides behind some cover for a brief period of time. The addition of modern regenerative health will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers, but if it's any consolation, Snake does have some kind of emergency health-spray for near-death moments, and based on his agonizing reaction when he applies it, it's a lot less enjoyable than a hot meal. Knocking: "What was that noise?" Well, it was probably the sound of the outrage of thousands of fans at the fact that banging on walls is no longer available as a diversionary tactic. You can still throw used ammo magazines, though, so distracting guards shouldn't be too much of a problem (knock wood). Tobacco Products: As functional in-game items, anyway. During my time with the game I encountered no interactive tobacco products. Then again, I also encountered no practical in-game use for such items, like laser tripwires or shaky hands during a tense boss battle with a sniper. If you want to make Big Boss look cool, you'll have to settle for reckless driving and blowing stuff up. Or, you can just stare at the menu screen, where he's puffing away at his cigar. The Cardboard Box: Yeah, I know. I wish I could say there's some innovative next-gen alternative to the Metal Gear franchise's trademark technique of hiding inside a cardboard box, like... I dunno, a Ghillie suit or maybe one of those giant paper bags people use for yard waste. But I guess for Ground Zeroes, Kojima wanted to think outside the bo-- I'm sorry, I can't even make bad puns right now. I loved that box. That box was like a container to me. Anyway, that's just some of the stuff that is NOT In Ground Zeroes. Bear in mind, there's plenty of familiar stuff that IS still there, and plenty more new stuff that's been added. Like JEEPS! Go read my full preview for the lowdown.
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Thinking outside "the box"
Dying to hear all the dirt but don't want to take the time to read my full preview of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes? Well, if you're not a fan of verbose explanations, I can't imagine you're much of a Metal Gear Solid fan. In any case, here's a quick rundown of some classic Metal Gear elements that you won't be finding in the latest release.


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