Jack Gardner

The folks at Mondo have recently started creating board games based on the film world's most iconic movies. Their first project resulted in the well-received The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 earlier this year. For 2018, the Alamo Drafthouse company plans to expand their foray into gaming with a trifecta of tabletop games.
Not much is currently known about the first or second titles. Mondo has a team working on a completely original game that focuses on delivering a narrative experience, but isn't quite ready to lift the curtain on what exactly that might be. The Fight Club adaptation hasn't been fleshed out much more, either. It will be releasing first next year, but Mondo has been keeping their lips sealed as to the specifics of the game itself. We do know that it will be a card game, but when asked by film site Birth.Movies.Death what a card game based on Fight Club would look like, the cryptic response from Mondo brand director Jay Shaw was, "you've never played a game like this, I assure you. It won't be comparable to any game in existence." In response to a question about Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk being involved with the game's creation, Shaw laughed saying, "I can't talk about that. That's the first rule, man."
The Jurassic Park game has been set up to be the company's largest release in 2018. As part of the effort to drum up excitement, Mondo has been much more vocal about what players can expect from everyone's favorite tale of dinosaurs and science run amok in board game form. What's been revealed seems pretty interesting. 
Each player will take on a different role in the world of Jurassic Park each with different motivations and ways of interacting within the game. One player controls InGen and spends time creating dinosaurs, harvesting amber, and overseeing the park. Several people become park visitors who each have a different objective to accomplish while staying alive and escaping. Then you have the velociraptors and the Tyrannosaurus Rex, both of which are player-controlled. The raptors focus on killing other players while the T-Rex simply eats and destroys... everything. 
When pressed for additional information, Shaw made it clear that fans of the film will find a lot to enjoy about the upcoming tabletop experience, "If there's a character from the movie that you love, you're probably going to interact with them in some way (while playing the game). If there's a piece of something you love, or a dinosaur you love, or you just like the way the film's visitor center looks, you're going to see all of that. This is a Jurassic Park game for people who adore Jurassic Park."

No hard release dates have been put in place, but if the releases at all resemble The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31, tabletop gamers have reason to be excited.

Jack Gardner

After a poorly received attempt to revive the Wolfenstein franchise in 2009, many expected the franchise to wither away into obscurity. That is, until MachineGames, a developer formed from ex-members of Starbreeze Studios, took charge of the series and attempted to breathe life into the series one more time in 2014. They succeeded and created the adrenaline-fueled game (with a surprisingly tender heart) about a brain damaged soldier kicking off a new resistance movement against the Nazis in an alternate timeline where the Nazis were able to conquer the world. 
Is Wolfenstein: The New Order one of the best games period?
Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative.

Outro music: Wolfenstein 3D 'My Loved Ones Are Gone' by Psycho Crusher (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02508)
You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! 
If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod 
New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday

Jack Gardner

Electronic Arts has announced that they are in the process of acquiring Respawn Entertainment in exchange for $315 million in cash and stock, with a bonus of $140 million if Respawn meets certain conditions. To be more specific, Respawn agreed to a buyout of $151 million in cash, $164 million in long-term stock grants, and the incentive targets that could bring in an additional $140 million. That's almost half a billion dollars for an independent studio helmed by one of the creators of Call of Duty. 
This deal means that Titanfall would join the roster of EA tentpoles alongside the likes of Battlefield and the burgeoning Battlefront franchise. Also, since EA has been granted the rights to develop Star Wars titles by Disney, EA revealed that Respawn would be working on an original game set within the Star Wars universe - but beyond that, no details have been revealed as to what that game might contain. 
While the acquisition of Respawn might come as a bit of a shock to some, the deal merely solidifies the working relationship EA and Respawn had for the past several years. Talking with VentureBeat, Respawn cofounder and CEO Vince Zampella said, "[Respawn and EA] have worked together a long time from the inception of the studio. [An acquisition] has come up from time to time. The question was, where we are in the industry, how do we take the next step in making bigger, better games. We see the need for bigger resources to make bigger games.”
In an effort to confirm Zampella's statement and allay fears about Respawn's future given the recent closure of EA's Visceral Games, EA executive vice president Patrick Soderlund offered this statement, "We want to have the best games. We have a good relationship. The creative freedom is still here: DICE, BioWare, our studios have creative freedom and creative integrity. That’s what gets those studios to make great games.”
There has been some speculation that EA has been angled toward this studio purchase for quite some time. Titanfall sold relatively well, but Titanfall 2 underperformed despite receiving critical acclaim. One of the deciding factors in sales that many have pointed to was that EA, Titanfall 2's publisher, chose to release Titanfall 2 one week after the release of their other, heavily marketed title, Battlefield 1. That could certainly have put Respawn in a tough place, making it easier to bring the company into the fold.
That tactic wouldn't be out of the question. Obtaining the creative powers of a studio led by devs who helped to create the most successful FPS shooter franchise of all time was a big win for Electronic Arts.  Respawn was founded by Jason West and Vince Zampella after the duo were fired from Activision. Activision alleged that the two were planning to leave the company to create a new studio at EA. The ensuing lawsuit actually brought Activision and EA into a legal clash that resulted in a settlement for all parties in 2012. EA has since published all of Respawn's titles, with the exception of a Titanfall mobile game published by Nexon. 
Despite the bumps that come along with a studio changing hands and leadership, Respawn continues to work on a variety of projects. They are working on the next entry in the Titanfall series, their Star Wars title, and an untitled Oculus Rift VR game. Zampella encouraged Respawn fans not to worry too much about this shake up, saying, “For fans, my message is we are still Respawn and we are going to make things better. It doesn’t change the future of Titanfall. Only positives come from it, like more resources.”
The deal should be finalized before the end of the year. 

Jack Gardner

Electronic Arts has hinted that they are looking for a way to transition away from yearly releases like Madden and FIFA to a single title that can receive updates and would operate as a subscription service.
Andrew Wilson, EA's CEO, made an appearance on Bloomberg TV to talk about the angle that EA hopes to pursue in the near future. "There’s a world where it gets easier and easier to move that code around -- where we may not have to do an annual release,” Wilson said, “We can really think about those games as a 365-day, live service. [...] The greatest disruptor to the consumption of entertainment media in the last five years has been the combination of streaming plus subscription. It’s changed the way we watch television. It’s changed the way we listen to music. It’s changed the way I read books.”
This proposed vision of EA's potential future in the games-as-service model of business falls in line with their overall business decisions in recent years. EA Access has been going strong for the past three years, allowing subscribers access to a library of EA games for $5 per month. Recent titles like Star Wars Battlefront have emphasized ongoing support and microtransactions as a way of continuing to pull in money beyond an individual title's initial release. It even falls in line with the general trend of game purchases slowly moving over from physical to digital. 
Perhaps the proof of concept in this idea can be found in the mobile Madden game that EA released three years ago. No new version of the game has reached mobile as of yet, but that hasn't affected its longevity. In fact, the user base for mobile Madden has only grown with the game itself receiving regular updates. 
Wilson seems to recognize that the mobile model doesn't directly translate to console or PC gaming, but the success of the mobile title certainly put EA on the track to try designing a Madden or a FIFA for the streaming age. In the not too distant future, we may simply have one game of each franchise that receives updates and requires an EA Access or possibly a completely separate subscription. 
What do you think? Would that be a positive move for the sports titans that dominate the industry? Let us know in the comments!

Article written by Ben Gerber, a sixth-year participant who plays for Boston Children's Hospital.

I first learned about Extra Life six years ago from an online post from a fellow gamer. It means an awful lot to support the patients at Boston Children’s Hospital. My daughter was one - my daughter will be one again early next year.

My youngest daughter was born with a right unilateral cleft lip. Her first surgery happened at age 2 and two weeks ago, she had her fifth surgery at age 8. Her surgeon is the best in the world and to him this is a walk in the park, but for us it’s a biggie, and for her, it was a stupendously huge deal.
The surgery was two and a half hours, and we were able to take her home that night. She was very tired and after four hours had passed, she had her first tentative sips of apple juice.
“Dad?” she asked.
“Yeah hon,” I anxiously replied, expecting a request for some pain medicine, or another ice pack.
“Can we play a game?”
While she was confined to the couch by doctor's orders, we wrangled up a breakfast tray and my copy of Love Letter and something pretty amazing happened. For the fifteen minutes we played this simple little sixteen card game, she forgot she was just hours out of surgery. There was laughter as she got the first three points before I scored even one, and she concentrated on the game and the enjoyment it offered to the point where her mind was off of her face and what had been done to it.

Over the next several days, I would see this again and again. Despite being tired we would keep on playing games. The next day it was more simple games. We tackled Zombie Dice, more Love Letter and my squirrel game prototype. While sleeping was an issue for her, and she would spend some time zoned out into a movie, her best avenue of escape was gaming. I think she started to realize this as well.
Towards the end of any pain medicine cycle, she’d make a point of asking to play a game. There’s something very amazing about the mind’s ability to focus on a task that’s enjoyable and literally exclude the stuff that’s not. How often have you played a game and managed to push off that unpleasant task looming at work? A night’s gaming for me is an escape just as total as a wonderful movie or an enthralling book.
On her second full day of recovery, she put her hands on her hips and insisted on something a little stronger than a ten-minute game. She was also at the point in her recovery where swelling was going down and noticing the pain was taking a front seat. No one likes to watch their kid suffer through a painful experience, and that kid wasn't too keen on it either. So we distracted each other with Castle Panic and Forbidden Desert.

We upped the difficulty on Forbidden Desert for the first time and managed to construct our air ship and get out of that parched landscape just before we ran out of water! Next, we defended our castle as it was besieged by wave after wave of nasty monsters and giant boulders. We managed to pull off another victory, even the at the end we had to sacrifice the Wizard’s tower to do so. That was several hours mixed in with some smaller games as well that passed so quickly for her.

It was great to see - greater to be a part of it. It also did amazing things for my peace of mind as well, distracting me just as thoroughly as it distracted her.

After that, her body was exhausted and her mind tired from a good mental workout. She did something she hasn't done in years – she took a nap. A lengthy one at that.

Consider what happened here – pain medicine would take the edge off but wouldn't make her forget the experience. TV was distracting but that distraction faded fast. Games though, well there was something else entirely going on here. We’d strategize together. She’d laugh over her wins and has begun to take her defeats with grace and good sportsmanship. We’d discuss what happened afterwards and allow the game to make a story that she’d bring up throughout the day. Using her mind to focus on something so completely, she forgot – sometimes literally, entirely forgot what she was going through.

Every day since that day has been better for her and today is the day that things start returning to normal. I’m back at work, she’s back at school and life is going on. No more pain medicine is needed in her case, and when she smiles, she can do so without it turning into a grimace.

She did make me promise though that tonight we’d play another game. Who am I to say no?

I am STILL dragging from nearly a week ago. Need. More. Coffee. 
But every minute was worth it. 
Extra Life weekend (Nov 4-5) brought in over $1.8 million for CMN Hospitals, bringing the overall fundraising total of Extra Life close to $7.8 million as of 11-9-17. We are stunned! Amazed! Honored! That is what we like to call, a success!

The donations are STILL coming in too! We know that many of you are playing in the coming weeks, so we have a good feeling about 2017. If you came up short of your goal, no problem! There's still time to collect donations until 12/31/2017. Grab that loot too! Extra Lifers still have time to raise more funds and unlock some cool incentives! 
The end of Game Day weekend also brought forth the winners of the ESA Foundation Challenge . Congratulations to Seattle Children's Hospital for winning top fundraising hospital, and Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation for winning top hospital per capita!
We are so proud of this community. You have really come through once again for the kids at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals across the US and Canada. Keep up the good work, we still have plenty of time to play games and heal kids!

Jack Gardner

Bluehole Studios announced a new MMORPG today during the G-Star media showcase in Busan, South Korea. The upcoming MMO will be developed by Kakao Games, a subsidiary of Bluehole, as well as published by Bluehole, which made a name for itself with Tera and the stratospheric rise of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Their new title goes by the name Ascent: Infinite Realm (A:IR) and offers a world of fantasy mixed with steampunk with a heavy emphasis on vehicular combat. 
One of the selling points of A:IR definitely seems to be the ability players will have to board massive flying ships to traverse the world and wage war in the Realm vs. Realm combat, A:IR's take on PvP. Players can rely on their vessels or take to the ground in hulking fantasy mechs to continue an offensive or perhaps defend their territory using anti-aircraft weapons. In order to prevails, players will have to use cunning strategies and equipment like mines, hand-to-hand fighting (players can board enemy ships by using jet packs), or cannons. 
While the aerial combat and mechanical take on fantasy are clearly angled to be the main draw of A:IR, customization and building will also be a focus for the MMO. Each airship can be customized to change its type, color, appearance, and performance. Players will be able to construct bases to share with their friends, opening up different professions, like cooking or alchemy. Kakao Games hopes that allowing players to create quests, change game difficulty on the fly, and basically just giving players the flexibility to play how they want will allow players to have a good time regardless of where their interests lie within the scope of the MMO.  
Minsung Kim, CEO of Kakao Games gave a statement as part of the announcement saying, “All of us at Kakao Games are very proud to be able to work with the remarkable talent at Bluehole and bring their new AAA MMORPG to Western audiences. We are confident that we can localize their creative vision effectively and help make A:IR into a massive global success.”
Ascent: Infinite Realm will see a worldwide release, and people interested in checking out the upcoming beta test scheduled for the first half of 2018 can enter to win a spot by signing up for the A:IR newsletter on the official website. No official release date has been announced.

Jack Gardner

The episodic adventure game developer behind the video game adaptations of properties like The Walking Dead, Fables, and Guardians of the Galaxy has announced that they would be undergoing a massive restructuring. As part of that business shift, they let go of over 90 of their employees, roughly 25% of their workforce, effective immediately. 
The chance was announced as part of an effort to "make the company more competitive as a developer and publisher of groundbreaking story-driven gaming experiences with an emphasis on high quality in the years ahead," according to a representative from Telltale. In case you're worried that this move might push back Telltale's ongoing episodic projects, don't be. As part of their statement, Telltale assured their fans that all previously announced games will not be affected. 
This restructuring comes on the heels of a series of leadership shake-ups at the independent studio. In 2015, co-founder and CEO Dan Connors stepped down from his position citing that the studio's boom in growth had introduced new challenges. Fellow co-founder Kevin Bruner took Connors' place as CEO with Connors supporting the transition and remaining on Telltale's board of directors. Earlier this year, Bruner stepped down from the CEO position and handed operations of the studio over to Connors, while remaining on the board of directors. Telltale then brought on Pete Hawley, a former vice president at Zynga, to replace Bruner as CEO. 
Pete Hawley offered a statement on the move that cut nearly 100 jobs from Telltale: 
The studio plans to invest more resources into "more proven technologies that will fast-track innovation in its core products as it works with new partners to bring its games to new audiences." That extremely corporate sentence indicates that Telltale might finally be putting more development emphasis on the engine that runs its games, which has been criticized in the past for lagging behind its contemporaries. It could also indicate a shift in priorities for the game developer - maybe we will see a more action-oriented game from the studio in the near future? Perhaps the long-rumored original IP that they've been working on for years?
Here's hoping that all of the affected members of the Telltale team land on their feet.

Article written by Jack Strider, a third-year participant who plays for Ann and Robert Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

About two years ago, I was in Boston studying mechanical engineering at a small tech school. I hated everything I was doing with my life. Boston was an angry city that I didn't vibe with, my major was difficult and it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. Not to mention the oppressive amount of work it came with, and on top of all of that my college was horrible at dealing with mental health issues. I ended up slipping into a pretty deep depression.
Unfortunately, it didn't get magically better once I started going to counseling like everyone hopes. I would spend days in bed, barely eating anything and completely drained of energy. The only thing that could get me to smile, even though that was the last thing I wanted to do, were YouTubers and Twitch streamers.
Once I finally started to get footing on my depression, I realized what a massive help watching the content creators were to me. In the same way they helped me, I want to help others. I was already doing YouTube videos at the time, but I didn't like how I had no way of instantly communicating with my audience. It felt very one-sided. I started my Twitch channel with the goal of creating a positive community based on supporting those in a dark place or suffering from mental health issues.
I know there are so many people in the world going through exactly what I did or worse and I want to do everything in my power to help them. If that means being live and a goofball just to put a smile on their face, then so be it. I hope that by spreading my story I can not only spread awareness for these issues, but also let them know they aren't alone, that they have a home in my community with people who understand what they are going through. I want them to know that people are here to listen.
I knew I couldn't stop there, I had seen people streaming for charity as well and knew that was perfect for my stream as well. I can help people in my community while raising money for children in need. My first year with Extra Life I was able to raise over $1,000 and was so incredibly proud of my community. My goal is to raise another $1k in 2018 and every year from that point on.

Jack Gardner

In May of 2016, the development arm of Paradox Interactive released a brand new strategy title called Stellaris. The sci-fi 4X game thrust players into a galaxy full of mysteries and conflicts. Players could construct their own species and society and pit them against the unknown in a bid for galactic dominance using strategy, diplomacy, and conquest. Stellaris became a record breaking success for the indie company that has since put together multiple expansions for the game. 
With schedules being what they are, sometimes coordinating a full episode of The Best Games Period can be difficult. When we can't have a proper discussion, we will be breaking off to do these shorter mini-casts, Honorable Mentions, to talk about fringe games that we might not otherwise be able to talk about on a full episode.

Outro music: 3D Pinball: Space Cadet 'Inter5tellar 5a5uke 5ever' by Sir Jordanius (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03132)
You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it!
If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod 
New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday

Article written by Laura Andrews, a third-year participants who plays for KU Medical Center in Kansas City. 

I've been doing Extra Life for three years now. My friend, Lora, was working hard and promoting the KC Guild. I couldn't help but get sucked into it eventually. I love to game and my first daughter was even named Zelda, and my second child Alleria, named from World of Warcraft.
At time of my recruitment I was freshly dealing with Alleria's illness. You see, my daughter was born November 9, 2014 with three holes in her heart. They spotted only one before she was born and we were informed it was nothing to worry about because many ventricular septal defects (VSD) close on their own and most go unnoticed.

Unfortunately, the biggest hole that was the VSD was not the problem, nor was the tiny atrial septal defect. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) was the problem. That hole is something we are all born with and it closes after birth. Alleria's hole did not. Other than the fact that she wouldn’t sleep, she seemed just like a normal baby for the first couple weeks.
It got worse, she started screaming and suffered weight loss. She was failing to thrive. Four weeks after she was born the doctors knew this was a problem. I won't lie for a while I couldn't take pictures. I didn't want to remember how thin she was. Her chest would sink in as she was breathing, she had to be at an incline to sleep, and she cried non-stop.

I was devastated and I felt like I had somehow failed a parent. I was going between two hospitals and one began saying that I just must be starving my child. They didn't want to listen to the children's hospital literally across the street.
I ditched the normal hospital angry and hurt. The children's hospital told me to stop breast feeding and to start giving her bottles with extra scoops of formula. I was fattening her up so that they could perform the best possible procedure.   
She was lucky. By the time of the procedure, she was in heart failure, her heart taking up ¾ of her chest cavity. Without that procedure she wouldn't be the curly haired little cutie she is today. She isn't doctor free at this point. The VSD is still slightly open and she has an abnormal aortic valve with mild stenosis, and possible COA. It seems like a lot but it isn't affecting her quality of life at this time and she is running around like a mad woman.

I can't imagine what my life would be like without the people and the doctors who supported me during this time. So when I learned of Extra Life I needed to be a part of this. My child might not have been seen at a Children's Miracle Network Hospital but that does not matter. What matters is giving back so that the love and care that my family got will reach those families who need it. I am part of the Kansas City Guild and I play for children just like mine at KU Pediatrics.

Article written by Jeremy Woodbridge, also known as Kiyakou, a second-year participant who plays for OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

My life completely changed two weeks before my 16th birthday. I had a pain in my stomach, that no matter how much I vomited, kept getting worse. We left for the nearest general hospital where they discovered a bowel blockage. For the rest of that week they only allowed me to suck on sponges for water as they painfully installed a NG tube in my nose to remove the loose blockage from my stomach.
The tests and x-rays were painful, the surgery was long and painful, and I felt like it would never end. On my 16th birthday, a doctor came to my room and delivered the news to me that the blockage was caused by inflammation due to Crohn's disease. My parents were in tears. I was too weak to cry from the news I was hearing. My life was had turned upside down.
When released they gave me no aftercare advice or medicine to help me in preventing future flare ups. One month later I was already experiencing a flare up and I can remember begging my parents that I was not ready for another 2 weeks of hell with the hospital. My parents decided right there we needed to change hospitals.
When I arrived at Doernbecher Children’s hospital, I was treated with such kindness and sympathy and I could see the relief on my parents faces when they saw how I was treated. I was in less pain and felt hopeful again. This was everything to me. In the hospital, I used video games as therapy to remove myself from my current situation and would love talking to the nurses of what I was playing at the time. I felt like I could be a kid again. I got the care that lead to my remission today thanks to them.
I started streaming  in March of 2016. When I was slowly building a following, I started to understand that I could impact the lives of those who watched me. I thought maybe a charity stream would be the best way to promote positivity and help people in need. I remember asking my friend “HAVOK” who was a partner at the time what he suggested for charities, that was when I learned about Extra Life.
I was excited to learn that I could select specific hospitals. To my discovery I found one that impacted my life the most as a child, Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. At that moment, I knew this charity was perfect for me. I played my 24 hours and although I was exhausted, I felt a great sense of victory. The money I raised would go to a hospital that if they didn’t exist, I would not be here today.
Within a few months of streaming, I made friends with a few other small streamers “RLrichey” and “SakuraTsubasa”. We made a stream team called “Captains O’ Booty” and raised $2.5k for charity. Knowing what we just accomplished meant the world to me.
Thanks to Extra Life, I now have the chance to give back to a hospital that cared so much for me and helped me be here today. Thank you Doernbecher and thank you Extra Life for this opportunity.