The Brilliance of Dwarf Fortress – The New York Times

Dwarf Fortress is barely a blip on the mainstream radar, but it’s an object of intense cult adoration. Its various versions have been downloaded in the neighborhood of a million times… At bottom, Dwarf Fortress mounts an argument about play. Many video games mimic the look and structure of films: there’s a story line, more or less fixed, that progresses­ only when you complete required tasks. This can make for gripping fun, but also the constrictive sense that you are a mouse in a tricked-out maze, chasing chunks of cheese. Tarn envisions Dwarf Fortress, by contrast, as an open-ended “story generator.” He and Zach grew up playing computer games with notebooks in hand, drawing their own renditions of the randomly generated creatures they encountered and logging their journeys in detail. Dwarf Fortress, which never unfolds the same way twice, takes that spirit of supple, fully engaged play to the extreme

Source: The Brilliance of Dwarf Fortress – The New York Times

Fifa: the video game that changed football

On any given Sunday, the day on which it is played most often, more than 200 million matches of Fifa take place in living rooms, studies and bedrooms around the world. The series has sold more than 150m copies, its popularity extending far beyond the world of football. In 2013, the NBA star LeBron James, who features in numerous EA-made basketball games, posted a photograph to Instagram of his sons playing Fifa alongside the caption: “Game is fresh to death!” Celebrity endorsements like this on social media can cost more than £10,000 a go. Yet LeBron, alongside other athletes and pop stars (Justin Bieber: “@Drake: I’m getting nice at Fifa. Be prepared”), have, at least according to EA, expressed their fandom freely.

Are Guns in Video Games Holding the Medium Back? – IGN

The American Dream shines a hilarious light on our digital obsession with guns, but it also poses the question: why are we still obsessed? In 2016, is the ubiquity of guns in video games holding the medium back? In light of several recent AAA titles suffering from ‘ludonarrative dissonance’ – an academic term meaning a conflict between a video game’s narrative and its gameplay – due to their inclusion of guns, it’s surely a question worth asking.

Source: Are Guns in Video Games Holding the Medium Back? – IGN

A New Scholarship Aims to Inspire More Female Game Designers | The Creators Project

As the gaming industry matures and becomes an increasingly important form of cultural communication akin to painting or film, work created by both genders becomes ever more important. The Game Center, under the chairship of Frank Lantz, views their mission as primarily cultural and not strictly technical.

Source: A New Scholarship Aims to Inspire More Female Game Designers | The Creators Project

Why I’ve Been Replaying Undertale After the Election

It’s easy to see why Undertale spoke to so many people. It’s rare to find a game that so thoroughly embraces nonviolence not just in mechanics but integral themes (though of course there are plenty of games with pacifist routes, from indie offerings like Iji to big fish like Metal Gear Solid). It’s a truly special game. And yes, I know the wave of praise for this game and the ensuing backlash have already both come and gone. Most people have not only heard of it but either played it or seen all the salient spoilers. As much as I liked it, I’d stopped thinking much about it months ago.

Source: Why I’ve Been Replaying Undertale After the Election

How Women in Video Games Saved My Life | The Mary Sue

Even at that young age, I was crying myself to sleep, praying to wake up as a girl, with no memory of being a boy. Outwardly, I was just your typical roughhousing little boy, I didn’t ask to play with Barbies, I didn’t insist on being called a girl, I didn’t demand girl’ clothes. Those things were much much too scary to ask for at the time. The only way someone would be able to tell something was amiss was if they paid close attention to the way I used to play Super Mario Bros. 2. I used Princess Peach obsessively. I still have muscle memory for her floaty jumps and the longer length of time to pull up turnips, even to this day.

Source: How Women in Video Games Saved My Life | The Mary Sue

Wargaming Needs New Recruits to Save Lives

In fact, engagements in which wargames have saved lives — on one or both sides of a conflict — are not hard to identify. Wargaming is widely credited with helping the U.S. Navy prevail in the Pacific during World War II. Admiral Chester Nimitz, who commanded the Pacific fleet, is quoted as saying, “The war with Japan had been re-enacted in the game rooms [at the Naval War College] by so many people and in so many different ways that nothing that happened during the war was a surprise — absolutely nothing except the kamikaze tactics towards the end of the war; we had not visualized those.”

Source: Wargaming Needs New Recruits to Save Lives

Tyranny Review (extremely late)

Obsidian Entertainment’s Tyranny is a modern take on the classic role-playing-game genre of isometric games. Unlike most games where players follow the footsteps of the traditional hero, Tyranny takes place on the fantasy world of Terratus, where the evil overlord Kyros has all but taken over the many continents and countries of the world. The player takes up the mantle of a Fatebinder, one of Kyros’ highly ranked agents who is tasked to restore order and maintain Kyros’ rule throughout the world. Following the previous CRPG kickstarter success Pillars of Eternity, Tyranny’s gameplay and graphics is built upon the same engine with a greater emphasis on player choices and consequences.

One of Tyranny’s biggest and most interesting departures from traditional CRPGs is the inclusion of Conquest Mode at the beginning of the game. Here, players are able to craft the history of the world and possible achievements of their main character during the beginning years of Kyros’ takeover. This allows for different dialogues, favorable or unfavorable actions from different factions, and various unique abilities granted by actions taken during the Conquest. This allows for a high degree of playability whenever the player starts a new game.

 

 

 

As mentioned before, Tyranny uses the same gameplay and graphics engine as the previous title, Pillars of Eternity. I found this to be a favorable factor when playing the game, as I was shown beautiful, handcrafted worlds and characters. The dark fantasy world of Terratus felt alive and heavy, with the use of Iron Age weapons, lore, and mythology. The phenomenal voice acting in the game helped draw me in to the world and made it more believable, and the writing style used in the text-heavy dialogue is usually worth taking the time to read through. The stories and sidequests are wonderfully written as well. Obsidian uses the term dark fantasy and uses it well; these stories included themes of rape, murder, and near impossible choices to make without all the facts available to the player. This also adds some semblance of reality to the game, as it is a bit of a parallel to our world, and what humanity itself is also capable of doing.

 

 

Tyranny’s gameplay follows the traditional roles of the CRPG genre. The game plays out with the player’s small party of characters, each with their own abilities, personalities, and histories to explore. The player’s character and his interactions with the world influences the party members’ expectation and opinions of him/her, which can lead to more dialogue options, special combat abilities, influence in the game world, and possible departure from the party if their opinions of the main character is low enough. Of course, each companion’s personalities are different, meaning certain choices and dialogue options will affect them differently; for example, saving a tribal child from slaughter may gain certain affection from some party members, and negative opinions from others. This allows for a sort of dynamic play style, as some players may try to play differently in a way they are not accustomed to, in order to keep certain party members available.

 

During combat, Tyranny allows for players to pause the game at anytime to allow position and slot different abilities for use. This gives players the ability to analyze the battlefield and discern the best tactical response to lead them to victory. Of course, environmental factors are available as well. Dousing the area with a water ability before using an electric ability will damage all objects in the area, as well as being able to set up traps and bait to ambush enemies with wildlife or spells. The game also includes different difficulties and modes to keep the game interesting, including traditional modes such as permanent death or no advice modes for more advanced players.

 

 

Tyranny is a well thought out and interesting CRPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment. Although the game does suffer a bit from trying too large of a departure from traditional CRPG games, Tyranny still holds well enough to be enjoyed by CRPG fans.