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3:30 PM on 10.17.2014

Confessional: I make up my own stories for games

So here is a dumb thing I do: I make up my own stories in games. No, I'm not just talking about RPGs like Fallout or Skyrim where the entire point is to go out and make your own mark on the world. I'm talking about just about...

Nic Rowen


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Is classic Survival Horror considered old fashioned now? photo
Is classic Survival Horror considered old fashioned now?
by Dale North

I like to be scared. I'm not some kind of dark-obsessed weirdo, though. I just really enjoy the feeling of being tense or terrified, so much so that I used to think that there was something wrong with me. Maybe there is.

A few years back, after a nearly year-long kick of reading freaky books, watching horror movies, and replaying some of my favorite survival horror videogames, I decided to do some digging into why I like to be scared. It turns out that the typical reasons are fairly tame; some folks like the huge pile of satisfaction feels they get from being able to work through tense or scary moments. It's a break. An escape. Something new and different. 

Being armed with the knowledge behind these feelings out doesn't change that I'm still drawn to them. And I've found that survival horror games are still the best way to get that high. I regularly replay the classics. I chomp at the bit for new ones and devour them when they're finally released. I'm hooked.

But I'm starting to feel a bit old-fashioned in my love of these games.

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Bored of the things: Shadow of Mordor should've been a dating sim photo
Bored of the things: Shadow of Mordor should've been a dating sim
by Steven Hansen

I was reading Weird Dad Andy Astruc's loving look at Shadow of Mordor's menus, which is basically praise for Mordor's Nemesis system. The same system left our own Nic Rowen giddy and, uh, shitfaced. Nemesis' mechanics, with its ironed out Final Fantasy XII target lines and mind control induced revolt, ties neatly into Mordor's story as you set about rounding up an army and organizing a coup d'état. 

And playing insurrectionist is fun. It's fun for the personal stories that can come of it, like Nic's. It's fun for the neatly designed system that makes you feel grand orchestrator parallel to individual acts of [Peter Frampton talk box voice] assuming direct control. But then you leave that cool little laser sight trisected screen and have to Assassin's Creed yourself over to the next random bit of Middle-earth, Red Dead some local fauna along the way, and then Batman counter a bunch of uggos. Because, as Chris Carter noted in his review, the Nemesis mechanic is the only original bit in an otherwise standardized, cannibalized game. 

Yes; slick, competently made. Maybe even fun. But still cannibalized, standardized. 

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The game trailers with the most feels photo
The game trailers with the most feels
by Dale North

I'm easy. And I think you are, too. Those debut game trailers get me every time. It usually goes like this:

Stirring, slow beds of strings and woodwinds underlay a dramatic shot; an extreme closeup of some unknown character. Or, maybe a well-known one. Just the eyeball, or just the face. Pan out. Wide, lush landscapes that take the breath away. Maybe sunny and bright. Maybe foggy and mysterious. The music increases in tempo and loudness. Quick cuts! Sword slashes. All-white flashes. Strings crescendo as they build via agiato. The heart rate quickens. Fast. Faster! Then, boom. Quiet. Black screen. Some sounds, or maybe some dialogue. Slow, slow text. Subwoofers do something. Fade...

Logo. 

[breathlessness]

AAAAAH!

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Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis system signals the true beginning of this generation photo
Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis system signals the true beginning of this generation
by Nic Rowen

It's bad enough dying a humiliating death at the hands of some random orc, but "Azdush the Dung Collector?" Really? He couldn't have been "Azdush the Shield Breaker" or "Azdush the Invincible?"

I could have taken a bit of consolation dying to someone with a straight-up badass name like that. But The Dung Collector? I knew I'd never live it down, and his constant taunting certainly made sure of that.

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The best stuff on Destructoid this week [10/4] photo
The best stuff on Destructoid this week [10/4]
by Steven Hansen

I'm playing a lot of ping pong this weekend. Remember Ping Pong: The Animation? It has saved anime. I'm in some unfathomable cabin with a pool, pool table, ping pong table, tequila, and just enough wifi to post this. My hair is alive with olive oil. Maybe it will attract the bears.

This weekend, you should call your mother. See how she's doing. Mine wants to hang tomorrow but I'm in the woods.

Hang out with your mom and watch Ping Pong: The Animation with her. Cook some food.

Here's last week's post. Let's begin anew.

[We post a lot of articles here at Destructoid. The endless, ouroboros news cycle has us burning the snake at both ends, which will ultimately push big news, thoughtful original pieces, and all sorts of other great content off of the front page. Check here every Saturday for my attempt to rectify that.]

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What gaming locations would you want turned into a Smash Bros. stage? photo
What gaming locations would you want turned into a Smash Bros. stage?
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

I was driving home from having lunch with Dale North the other day when I got to thinking about Super Mario RPG, aka the best game ever. I think about that game a lot, and it tends to pop into my head quite often for one reason or another. This time I was thinking about how fun it would be to stream the game. It's pretty stupid to say it like this, but I'm pretty MLG in that Super Nintendo classic. It's okay, I groaned at myself for writing that too. 

Then I got to thinking about the pseudo-sequels for the game, specifically the Mario & Luigi ones for the Game Boy Advance and beyond. The last one I played all the way through was Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. Then it clicked. How awesome would a level set inside Bowser be in Super Smash Bros.?

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If I made my own racing game... photo
If I made my own racing game...
by Dale North

With both Driveclub and Forza Horizon 2 hitting the streets this month my mind is fully in racing game mode. We racing fans are spoiled this month with two very nice titles, and I'm racing my days away in them. As of late I am this close to getting a speeding ticket IRL.

I think about racing games a lot. While I'm Destructoid's resident JRPG guy, I've always loved racing games. I've been playing them regularly since Pole Position (yeah, I'm old), and I'm perfectly open to racers of all sorts, from casual kart games all the way up to full-on simulations. 

But lately, after spending time with Driveclub and Forza Horizon 2, I'm hung up on what my ideal racing game would be. Both of them hit positive marks for me, but there are plenty of things I'd change or do differently. And I have some ideas of my own that no one has managed to work into a racer yet. 

So here's what my racing game would look like.

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Super Smash Bros. on 3DS is missing one thing photo
Super Smash Bros. on 3DS is missing one thing
by Steven Hansen

Tripping. Kidding. (Sort of).

Nintendo is good about making Super Smash Bros. entries distinct, even if, so far, that just drives the competitive crowd back to Melee. And in going beyond iteration, it's easy for a new Smash game to feel in some way not quite right (hence everyone that went back to Melee).   

I arbitrarily used a Simpsons screenshot of sad Darryl Strawberry as a temporary header for this post, which began as an innocuous enough thought: Super Smash Bros. (3DS) lacks any sort of character-specific modes, which is kind of a bummer. Of course, it's not entirely fair to compare a handheld Smash to previous console versions, but it's the first new Smash in years -- I couldn't help it.

As I stared at sad Strawberry and teased out these thoughts, I got more and more nostalgic -- using formative-era Simpsons might have contributed -- for past Smash (mainly the original and Melee) and what they had that 3DS Smash doesn't. Which is why the maudlin subheader.

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Here's what you'll get in the Super Smash Bros. 3DS demo photo
Here's what you'll get in the Super Smash Bros. 3DS demo
by Jonathan Holmes

Nintendo released a demo for Smash Bros. 4 on the 3DS to Club Nintendo Platinum members last week. Pandemonium in the Smash Bros. community ensued. It's a relatively small piece of the game -- five characters, one arena, two modes (solo or group), and a little sandbag action during loading times on multiplayer matches. Don't let that fool you though. It's still got enough content to keep you busy for days, maybe weeks.

Last week's version of the demo has unlimited plays. The public demo releasing on the eShop tomorrow morning does not. That's going to be a problem for a lot of you. Unless you plan to keep the demo running on your 3DS until the game comes out on October 3, chances are you'll run out of plays before you've gotten your fill.

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The best stuff on Destructoid this week [9/6] photo
The best stuff on Destructoid this week [9/6]
by Steven Hansen

What are you going to cook this weekend? I've been on point. Parmigiana di pollo, arroz y salsa verde para tacos, carne asada tacos, guacamole, pesto, roasted chicken and bell pepper, burgers. Going to do up some more fresh pesto this weekend because I don't want the pine nuts to go south ($20 for a bag!)

You should cook something, too.

Lot of post-PAX previews and general clean up this week, along with a follow up piece of ace investigative reporting. 

Here's last week's post. Let's begin anew.

[We post a lot of articles here at Destructoid. The endless, ouroboros news cycle has us burning the snake at both ends, which will ultimately push big news, thoughtful original pieces, and all sorts of other great content off of the front page. Check here every Saturday for my attempt to rectify that.]

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The best stuff on Destructoid this week [8/23] photo
The best stuff on Destructoid this week [8/23]
by Steven Hansen

Some fine young patriots are planning to save games journalism with a protest at PAX Prime this year. I am disappointed I will not be able to be there in person to chronicle their ground breaking protest, which involves using web 2.0 ("social media," to lay persons) "hash tags" such as, "#gamesjournalism or...whatever other hashtag that spawns as this whole mess goes viral."

I just hope some of you will be there to lend support. Perhaps stock up on milk at local grocer's. These historically oppressed folks, brave as they are in speaking out, will likely see major opposition from the authorities (and other equality/diversity agenda havers). Expect to lather them good in layers of cow product to counter the teargas.

Stay safe, record everything. 

Here's last week's post. Let's begin anew.

[We post a lot of articles here at Destructoid. The endless, ouroboros news cycle has us burning the snake at both ends, which will ultimately push big news, thoughtful original pieces, and all sorts of other great content off of the front page. Check here every Saturday for my attempt to rectify that.]

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World exclusive Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare preview photo
World exclusive Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare preview
by Kyle MacGregor

Activision is upset with us, you know. As it turns out, publishers love revealing things. So when someone leaks something before a publisher intends on tipping its hand, well, it gets angry. And you aren't going to like a publisher when it gets angry. That's when certain invites to certain preview events start getting "lost in the mail."

Missing out on a hot ticket like that sucks, but it's not really the end of the world. Everyone's played Call of Duty. And lord knows we've done a preview or two in our time. Hm... Actually, you know what? With a little imagination and some assumption of false optimism, I think we can make this work. You're going to get a damn Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare preview, dammit!

Even if it's a totally fake one.

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The best stuff on Destructoid this week [8/9] photo
The best stuff on Destructoid this week [8/9]
by Steven Hansen

Terror in Resonance has been disappointing, but I keep watching it. Partly because it is very pretty (expensive), partly because every time I make pasta my roommate just puts it on and I groan and think, "Fine, I will watch." The most recent episode finally gets at some things, at least.

Anyways, start pronouncing Los Angeles correctly, please.   

Here's last week's post. Let's begin anew.

[We post a lot of articles here at Destructoid. The endless, ouroboros news cycle has us burning the snake at both ends, which will ultimately push big news, thoughtful original pieces, and all sorts of other great content off of the front page. Check here every Saturday for my attempt to rectify that.]

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Does Snowpiercer feel like a game because all games are surreal? photo
Does Snowpiercer feel like a game because all games are surreal?
by Steven Hansen

I loved Thirty Flights of Loving, the beautiful fifteen-minute game I sometimes think about when I read press releases that exclaim, too happy with themselves, "hundreds of hours of gameplay!" Among its good qualities was its use of French New Wave-inspired editing, quick jump cuts that played with its temporal explorations, leaving the act of mental closure to stitch together anything from the last two seconds to the last two weeks. 

Yes, I studied film once and watched Breathless. The influence of movies on games is easy to point out without reaching for black-and-white French films with frenetic editing, though. Look at any major releases' cutscenes full of inscrutable, same-y action sequences, and then watch a Michael Bay film (and read this), or the nerd-appeasing superhero flicks we now have to live with because we made the honest mistake of liking Iron Man

On the other hand, videogames' influence on film is harder to spot, as you wade past Gamer or Pixels or Michael Cera fighting other human beings as combo meters tick overhead in the live-action Scott Pilgrim

Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer, however, shares structural elements with games (as well as an interest in the dystopic).

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Do you refer to players online by their callsign or real name? photo
Do you refer to players online by their callsign or real name?
by Chris Carter

I was playing Final Fantasy XIV the other day, engaging in my weekly static raid group (we just beat Turn 7!) when I realized something -- I refer to most of them by their callsigns and not their real names. In fact, I stopped calling a few friends that I've known for years (and went to college with) by their given names, just to uniformly refer to everyone as their in-game character.

It got me thinking on the etiquette for asking for players' real names online, and the reasons why someone may not want to divulge that information.

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