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Jack Gardner

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Jack Gardner last won the day on August 2

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  • Birthday 08/22/1991

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  1. Namco Bandai has announced that they will be offering Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War in its entirety as a pre-order incentive for Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. It will be available for both digital and physical editions of Ace Combat 7, though those who opt for the physical copy could miss out on a dynamic theme. Here's what's included in the pre-order bundle: Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown dynamic theme - only available for digital pre-orders A McDonnell Douglas F-4E plane and three aircraft skins Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War Ace Combat 7 will be a full $60 at launch with a season pass available for $25 that includes three extra planes, three new stages, and an in-game music player. A deluxe edition will be sold digitally that packages the game with the season pass and will include the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter plane. Presumably, this means that Namco Bandai has updated Ace Combat 5 for modern systems, which might be worth the price of admission on its own. The hightlight of the PlayStation 2 run of the Ace Combat series, 5 puts players in the middle of a fictionalized version of our world, dubbed affectionately Strangereal, that has its two major superpowers on the brink of turning its Cold War into a hot one. The characters, flight controls, and scenarios are all excellent as each mission escalates in intensity. It's one of the best arcade flight sims out there, so seeing it in the air once again will be a real treat. We got some time to play with Ace Combat 7's VR features hands-on last year and it was a really amazing experience. Despite being the seventh numbered title in the Ace Combat series, 7 will be a direct sequel to 5. Sunau Katabuchi, the writer of Ace Combat 5, will return to write for Skies Unknown and has left open the possibility that characters from The Unsung War will return to fly again. The story will focus on the political conflict over the construction of a massive space elevator that spans multiple nations. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown will release on January 18, 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The VR version will be exclusive to the PS4 version. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. Namco Bandai has announced that they will be offering Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War in its entirety as a pre-order incentive for Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. It will be available for both digital and physical editions of Ace Combat 7, though those who opt for the physical copy could miss out on a dynamic theme. Here's what's included in the pre-order bundle: Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown dynamic theme - only available for digital pre-orders A McDonnell Douglas F-4E plane and three aircraft skins Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War Ace Combat 7 will be a full $60 at launch with a season pass available for $25 that includes three extra planes, three new stages, and an in-game music player. A deluxe edition will be sold digitally that packages the game with the season pass and will include the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter plane. Presumably, this means that Namco Bandai has updated Ace Combat 5 for modern systems, which might be worth the price of admission on its own. The hightlight of the PlayStation 2 run of the Ace Combat series, 5 puts players in the middle of a fictionalized version of our world, dubbed affectionately Strangereal, that has its two major superpowers on the brink of turning its Cold War into a hot one. The characters, flight controls, and scenarios are all excellent as each mission escalates in intensity. It's one of the best arcade flight sims out there, so seeing it in the air once again will be a real treat. We got some time to play with Ace Combat 7's VR features hands-on last year and it was a really amazing experience. Despite being the seventh numbered title in the Ace Combat series, 7 will be a direct sequel to 5. Sunau Katabuchi, the writer of Ace Combat 5, will return to write for Skies Unknown and has left open the possibility that characters from The Unsung War will return to fly again. The story will focus on the political conflict over the construction of a massive space elevator that spans multiple nations. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown will release on January 18, 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The VR version will be exclusive to the PS4 version. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. Over the next few days, PlayStation Now subscribers will start seeing the ability to download PlayStation 4 compatible games onto their PS4 systems. This move will allow players to choose between streaming titles via a stable internet connection or playing them locally, though Sony is careful to point out that the system will have to "check-in" every few days to verify the PS Now subscription for games downloaded through the service. This could be a gamechanger for the service that has typically been flamed for having too much lag when used with less than ideal internet service providers. The only catch is that players can only download games that can be run locally by the PS4. That means that any PlayStation 2 classic or PlayStation 3 game that hasn't been remastered for PS4 cannot be downloaded and played locally. Every downloadable PS Now game will "support" DLC, microtransactions, and add-ons. "Support" in this case meaning that players will be able to buy all of those things for games they have downloaded. Games that have been downloaded will continue to support multiplayer without PlayStation Plus, just like their streaming counterparts. In kind of a weird decision, if you have been making use of cloud saves via PS Now and want to transfer those saves to a downloaded version of the same game, you will need a PlayStation Plus membership to enable that transition. Essentially, players will need to move the save file from their PS Now cloud saves to their PS Plus cloud saves and from there download the files to their PlayStation 4. It seems a bit of a convoluted way to go about the transfer, but maybe it's due to technological limitations and not simply a scheme to grab up some more Plus subscribers. Overall, this is a very interesting move that could further the cause of subscription gaming by opening up that model to downloaded games. However, it also seems a bit like trying to have cake and eat it too with the enabling of microtransactions and DLC on top of the PS Now subscription and a PS Plus subscription necessary to transfer saves. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  4. Over the next few days, PlayStation Now subscribers will start seeing the ability to download PlayStation 4 compatible games onto their PS4 systems. This move will allow players to choose between streaming titles via a stable internet connection or playing them locally, though Sony is careful to point out that the system will have to "check-in" every few days to verify the PS Now subscription for games downloaded through the service. This could be a gamechanger for the service that has typically been flamed for having too much lag when used with less than ideal internet service providers. The only catch is that players can only download games that can be run locally by the PS4. That means that any PlayStation 2 classic or PlayStation 3 game that hasn't been remastered for PS4 cannot be downloaded and played locally. Every downloadable PS Now game will "support" DLC, microtransactions, and add-ons. "Support" in this case meaning that players will be able to buy all of those things for games they have downloaded. Games that have been downloaded will continue to support multiplayer without PlayStation Plus, just like their streaming counterparts. In kind of a weird decision, if you have been making use of cloud saves via PS Now and want to transfer those saves to a downloaded version of the same game, you will need a PlayStation Plus membership to enable that transition. Essentially, players will need to move the save file from their PS Now cloud saves to their PS Plus cloud saves and from there download the files to their PlayStation 4. It seems a bit of a convoluted way to go about the transfer, but maybe it's due to technological limitations and not simply a scheme to grab up some more Plus subscribers. Overall, this is a very interesting move that could further the cause of subscription gaming by opening up that model to downloaded games. However, it also seems a bit like trying to have cake and eat it too with the enabling of microtransactions and DLC on top of the PS Now subscription and a PS Plus subscription necessary to transfer saves. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  5. The trio embarks on a nighttime manhunt for the thieves that stole Sean's divine gear. Their search brings them face-to-face with the criminal underbelly of Riverton. We Wanted Adventurers is a liveplay Dungeons & Dragons podcast that follows a motley trio of unlikely heroes as they bumble into adventures both big and small across the fantastical continent of Nevarrone. For the uninitiated, a liveplay podcast features an unscripted recording of a traditional tabletop roleplaying game, with all of the goofs and drama that comes with the territory. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. You can follow the show on Twitter for updates. Let us know what you think of the show! We know that some parts of it are a bit bumpy, but I hope it doesn't get in the way of your enjoyment as we all learn and grow together. Thank you for listening! New episodes of We Wanted Adventurers will be released every Wednesday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  6. The trio embarks on a nighttime manhunt for the thieves that stole Sean's divine gear. Their search brings them face-to-face with the criminal underbelly of Riverton. We Wanted Adventurers is a liveplay Dungeons & Dragons podcast that follows a motley trio of unlikely heroes as they bumble into adventures both big and small across the fantastical continent of Nevarrone. For the uninitiated, a liveplay podcast features an unscripted recording of a traditional tabletop roleplaying game, with all of the goofs and drama that comes with the territory. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. You can follow the show on Twitter for updates. Let us know what you think of the show! We know that some parts of it are a bit bumpy, but I hope it doesn't get in the way of your enjoyment as we all learn and grow together. Thank you for listening! New episodes of We Wanted Adventurers will be released every Wednesday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  7. How does one make something new while retaining the weight of lore and history that comes with a premise that has been reborn again and again countless times in fiction? Marvel has certainly struggled with this question in their cinematic universe and various game developers have their own takes on classic superheroes. Often each iteration retells the heroic beginnings of the headlining hero or makes some connection with a popular continuity of said character. Insomniac Games seems to have been answered the question by skipping the iconic moments of the wall-crawler's origin story altogether in order to tackle the sophomore issues of being a hero. "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" - Everyone even remotely familiar with Spider-Man knows the final commandment of Uncle Ben, Peter Parker's father figure who dies early on in his origin story. Usually, when a piece of media starts off with this, we see Parker struggle with figuring out exactly how much responsibility he has to be using his power to help others. Given that Marvel's Spider-Man takes place roughly eight years after the events that made Peter Parker into a superpowered webslinger, it needs to address a different idea. There aren't any quotes delivered on the dying breath of a beloved old man, but the game tackles the issue of what happens to people who have accepted that responsibility but find forces beyond their control pushing them, perverting that sense of duty. How does someone good go on to commit brutal and evil acts despite the goodness they displayed and what does it take to stop them? When Marvel's Spider-Man roars to life with all cylinders blazing, it captures how much larger-than-life everyday struggles can feel sometimes. Clashing with the colossal force of Rhino or dodging the blasts of a villain whose on-the-nose name is "Mr. Negative" can be seen as a fight against the worst parts inside all of us. And part of what makes that resonate so much is that Peter Parker doesn't walk away unscathed. Over the course of the game, these fights take their toll. He is slashed, burned, stabbed, blasted, and crushed. At one point he has so many broken ribs that his allies tell him he shouldn't be standing. Peter, despite all the impediments thrown into his way, continues to do his best to stand by that responsibility, sacrificing himself at every turn. All of this he does while having ample opportunities to walk away and spare himself. In many ways, the way Peter fights as Spider-Man fits into the classic mold of a hero who does what is right no matter the cost to himself. If that's all one is looking for in a game about superheroes, then Marvel's Spider-Man will fulfill that desire. If, however, you're looking for a game that has things to say about the myriad of issues that those acts of heroism touch upon, Marvel's Spider-Man might fall a bit flat. For a super genius with a heart for justice, Peter Parker seems surprisingly unwoke about the systemic issues around him, focusing on the symptoms of various problems instead of the root causes themselves. All of this would be fine if this was a story about a Spider-Man just getting the hang of the hero business, but the game makes a point to show Peter has been at this for a long while now. Of course, one could argue that this version of New York is one without any systemic issues, but the text of the game indicates that's not true. The opening scene has corrupt cops attempting to murder Spider-Man (something that isn't really seen as abnormal by anyone involved); Oscorp routinely poisons the air and water in the name of profits (which Spider-Man fixes, but also doesn't report, effectively letting the billion dollar company off the hook); and both Peter and Aunt May work at a local homeless shelter. However, during all of Spider-Man's running monologues as he traverses the city, he never talks about the systemic issues that lead to those things being problems. Where are his comments about trying to reform the police in some way so as to discourage cops taking bribes? Why doesn't Spider-Man hold the billion dollar corporation responsible for being so focused on profiting that it is willing to allow people to be poisoned? How does Peter Parker not even consider the reality of income inequality staring him in the face when he moves between the world of Norman Osborne and that of FEAST, the homeless shelter at which he volunteers? The omission of any opining comments from Peter on these topics and issues certainly stems from the desire to keep Marvel's Spider-Man as uncontroversial as possible. Clearly, Peter as a character would care about all of those issues, but the game goes out of its way to avoid topics that might be touchy in the current context. Though the in-game world is presented to us as a version of New York City, you won't see Spider-Man or Peter Parker attending a rally against police corruption or breaking up a gathering of Neo-Nazis. There won't be talk about the forces that evict people out onto the street, though the game implies that rent prices are out of control and the care provided for mental health issues is inadequate. Ultimately, its desire to avoid saying anything that might be even slightly seen as controversial leaves Marvel's Spider-Man feeling a bit hollow once the dazzling feeling of swinging between skyscrappers wears off. To clarify, since this topic has become something of a sticking point for the game since its release: The decision to tiptoe around most of its relevant social issues doesn't make Marvel's Spider-Man bad. It's simply a noticeable narrative decision that might lead to its story being forgettable over time. To Insomniac's credit, that shine doesn't wear off quickly. Easily the best parts of Spider-Man are when the game leaves the player to traverse the city and do street-level hero things. Stopping a burglary in progress, disarming a bomb threat, or saving people from the wreckage of a car accident are all thrilling in their own way, but getting to the scene stands as the best part of any of these encounters. Swinging through the city, right from the beginning, feels amazing. The game knows this and has players shooting webs onto buildings within five minutes of booting up the game. As players progress along the three skill trees, new traversal abilities will unlock, making Spider-Man faster, giving him new abilities to keep up momentum, and it results in this gentle learning curve that keeps things fresh from the beginning of the game until the credits roll. However, once I hit the credits scene, complete with clips teasing what future games in this series will be about, I felt fully and totally done. The side content, while enjoyable based on the traversal mechanics alone, isn't terribly interesting. It serves as a decent distraction while going through the main game, avoiding the charge of being bloated fluff by virtue of the overall solid gameplay mechanics and the various tokens you get from doing them that can be used to upgrade gear or unlock new spider suits. However, the stories relegated to the side missions just aren't that interesting even when drawing on fun bits of lore. (Also, Insomniac, make Mysterio a proper villain, you cowards) It's a bit of a missed opportunity because one of the most intriguing decisions Insomniac made with regards to their Spider-Man game is that there are a number of missions where you take on the role of Mary Jane and Miles Morales and need to use stealth and trickery to sneak through different areas. These segments actually had a lot of potential for expansion into interesting side missions, but are only used in the main story under tightly controlled circumstances. Early on, there is a great section where Mary Jane sneaks into a facility owned by Wilson Fisk to collect some evidence and must do some sneaking and puzzle solving. It's fun and a breath of fresh air; seeing more iteration on that idea would have been really neat, maybe adding a social element to it and some more fleshed out stealth options. Miles is given some extreme hacking abilities that would make for awesome stealth gameplay, too, but that never fully pays off in any satisfying way. The little touches around the edges of Marvel's Spider-Man really give it a lot of character. Subtle musical call backs to The Avengers thrum through the most climactic moments. Gaining momentum while flipping through New York City results in a flurry of stringed instruments adding to the sense of speed and wonder. Different camera options in the obligatory photo mode (something no modern game should be without at this point) give players a lot of different options with which to play and get those perfect shots. The diverse array of suits are also really nice, and it was a great idea to tie them to specific powers that are then unlocked on every other suit. Heck, the game even has a Stan Lee guest appearance which was absolutely lovely. Conclusion: Marvel's Spider-Man might just be the best Spider-Man game ever made. It's gorgeously realized, cinematic as heck, for better and worse, and delivers a powerhouse of a final act. It also isn't perfect. Its side missions are dull, saved from mundane boredom by some rock solid traversal mechanics and adequate combat. Seriously, swinging through a city has never been as fun as it is in this particular Spider-Man game. All of that is built on a story about heroism; what it truly means to not just become a hero, but to live like one, too. While it misses the opportunity to be about a much more encompassing and larger idea of what heroes should be outside of the individual, punching-bad-guys level, that core conceit should be enough for just about anyone to enjoy Marvel's Spider-Man. Here's hoping that the sequel builds off of this simple foundation for a significantly bolder narrative that tackles some of the more grounded problems of our current times. Marvel's Spider-Man is now available on PlayStation 4. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  8. Jack Gardner

    Review: Marvel's Spider-Man

    How does one make something new while retaining the weight of lore and history that comes with a premise that has been reborn again and again countless times in fiction? Marvel has certainly struggled with this question in their cinematic universe and various game developers have their own takes on classic superheroes. Often each iteration retells the heroic beginnings of the headlining hero or makes some connection with a popular continuity of said character. Insomniac Games seems to have been answered the question by skipping the iconic moments of the wall-crawler's origin story altogether in order to tackle the sophomore issues of being a hero. "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" - Everyone even remotely familiar with Spider-Man knows the final commandment of Uncle Ben, Peter Parker's father figure who dies early on in his origin story. Usually, when a piece of media starts off with this, we see Parker struggle with figuring out exactly how much responsibility he has to be using his power to help others. Given that Marvel's Spider-Man takes place roughly eight years after the events that made Peter Parker into a superpowered webslinger, it needs to address a different idea. There aren't any quotes delivered on the dying breath of a beloved old man, but the game tackles the issue of what happens to people who have accepted that responsibility but find forces beyond their control pushing them, perverting that sense of duty. How does someone good go on to commit brutal and evil acts despite the goodness they displayed and what does it take to stop them? When Marvel's Spider-Man roars to life with all cylinders blazing, it captures how much larger-than-life everyday struggles can feel sometimes. Clashing with the colossal force of Rhino or dodging the blasts of a villain whose on-the-nose name is "Mr. Negative" can be seen as a fight against the worst parts inside all of us. And part of what makes that resonate so much is that Peter Parker doesn't walk away unscathed. Over the course of the game, these fights take their toll. He is slashed, burned, stabbed, blasted, and crushed. At one point he has so many broken ribs that his allies tell him he shouldn't be standing. Peter, despite all the impediments thrown into his way, continues to do his best to stand by that responsibility, sacrificing himself at every turn. All of this he does while having ample opportunities to walk away and spare himself. In many ways, the way Peter fights as Spider-Man fits into the classic mold of a hero who does what is right no matter the cost to himself. If that's all one is looking for in a game about superheroes, then Marvel's Spider-Man will fulfill that desire. If, however, you're looking for a game that has things to say about the myriad of issues that those acts of heroism touch upon, Marvel's Spider-Man might fall a bit flat. For a super genius with a heart for justice, Peter Parker seems surprisingly unwoke about the systemic issues around him, focusing on the symptoms of various problems instead of the root causes themselves. All of this would be fine if this was a story about a Spider-Man just getting the hang of the hero business, but the game makes a point to show Peter has been at this for a long while now. Of course, one could argue that this version of New York is one without any systemic issues, but the text of the game indicates that's not true. The opening scene has corrupt cops attempting to murder Spider-Man (something that isn't really seen as abnormal by anyone involved); Oscorp routinely poisons the air and water in the name of profits (which Spider-Man fixes, but also doesn't report, effectively letting the billion dollar company off the hook); and both Peter and Aunt May work at a local homeless shelter. However, during all of Spider-Man's running monologues as he traverses the city, he never talks about the systemic issues that lead to those things being problems. Where are his comments about trying to reform the police in some way so as to discourage cops taking bribes? Why doesn't Spider-Man hold the billion dollar corporation responsible for being so focused on profiting that it is willing to allow people to be poisoned? How does Peter Parker not even consider the reality of income inequality staring him in the face when he moves between the world of Norman Osborne and that of FEAST, the homeless shelter at which he volunteers? The omission of any opining comments from Peter on these topics and issues certainly stems from the desire to keep Marvel's Spider-Man as uncontroversial as possible. Clearly, Peter as a character would care about all of those issues, but the game goes out of its way to avoid topics that might be touchy in the current context. Though the in-game world is presented to us as a version of New York City, you won't see Spider-Man or Peter Parker attending a rally against police corruption or breaking up a gathering of Neo-Nazis. There won't be talk about the forces that evict people out onto the street, though the game implies that rent prices are out of control and the care provided for mental health issues is inadequate. Ultimately, its desire to avoid saying anything that might be even slightly seen as controversial leaves Marvel's Spider-Man feeling a bit hollow once the dazzling feeling of swinging between skyscrappers wears off. To clarify, since this topic has become something of a sticking point for the game since its release: The decision to tiptoe around most of its relevant social issues doesn't make Marvel's Spider-Man bad. It's simply a noticeable narrative decision that might lead to its story being forgettable over time. To Insomniac's credit, that shine doesn't wear off quickly. Easily the best parts of Spider-Man are when the game leaves the player to traverse the city and do street-level hero things. Stopping a burglary in progress, disarming a bomb threat, or saving people from the wreckage of a car accident are all thrilling in their own way, but getting to the scene stands as the best part of any of these encounters. Swinging through the city, right from the beginning, feels amazing. The game knows this and has players shooting webs onto buildings within five minutes of booting up the game. As players progress along the three skill trees, new traversal abilities will unlock, making Spider-Man faster, giving him new abilities to keep up momentum, and it results in this gentle learning curve that keeps things fresh from the beginning of the game until the credits roll. However, once I hit the credits scene, complete with clips teasing what future games in this series will be about, I felt fully and totally done. The side content, while enjoyable based on the traversal mechanics alone, isn't terribly interesting. It serves as a decent distraction while going through the main game, avoiding the charge of being bloated fluff by virtue of the overall solid gameplay mechanics and the various tokens you get from doing them that can be used to upgrade gear or unlock new spider suits. However, the stories relegated to the side missions just aren't that interesting even when drawing on fun bits of lore. (Also, Insomniac, make Mysterio a proper villain, you cowards) It's a bit of a missed opportunity because one of the most intriguing decisions Insomniac made with regards to their Spider-Man game is that there are a number of missions where you take on the role of Mary Jane and Miles Morales and need to use stealth and trickery to sneak through different areas. These segments actually had a lot of potential for expansion into interesting side missions, but are only used in the main story under tightly controlled circumstances. Early on, there is a great section where Mary Jane sneaks into a facility owned by Wilson Fisk to collect some evidence and must do some sneaking and puzzle solving. It's fun and a breath of fresh air; seeing more iteration on that idea would have been really neat, maybe adding a social element to it and some more fleshed out stealth options. Miles is given some extreme hacking abilities that would make for awesome stealth gameplay, too, but that never fully pays off in any satisfying way. The little touches around the edges of Marvel's Spider-Man really give it a lot of character. Subtle musical call backs to The Avengers thrum through the most climactic moments. Gaining momentum while flipping through New York City results in a flurry of stringed instruments adding to the sense of speed and wonder. Different camera options in the obligatory photo mode (something no modern game should be without at this point) give players a lot of different options with which to play and get those perfect shots. The diverse array of suits are also really nice, and it was a great idea to tie them to specific powers that are then unlocked on every other suit. Heck, the game even has a Stan Lee guest appearance which was absolutely lovely. Conclusion: Marvel's Spider-Man might just be the best Spider-Man game ever made. It's gorgeously realized, cinematic as heck, for better and worse, and delivers a powerhouse of a final act. It also isn't perfect. Its side missions are dull, saved from mundane boredom by some rock solid traversal mechanics and adequate combat. Seriously, swinging through a city has never been as fun as it is in this particular Spider-Man game. All of that is built on a story about heroism; what it truly means to not just become a hero, but to live like one, too. While it misses the opportunity to be about a much more encompassing and larger idea of what heroes should be outside of the individual, punching-bad-guys level, that core conceit should be enough for just about anyone to enjoy Marvel's Spider-Man. Here's hoping that the sequel builds off of this simple foundation for a significantly bolder narrative that tackles some of the more grounded problems of our current times. Marvel's Spider-Man is now available on PlayStation 4. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  9. From humble beginnings as a Kickstarter project to becoming one of the biggest indie darlings of 2016, Hyper Light Drifter has quite the history of defying expectations. Gorgeous pixel art animations and vistas, dialogue-less storytelling, and a fantastic soundtrack by Disasterpeace came together to tell a gripping tale about a lone wanderer in a sci-fi apocalypse. While all of the pieces come together for a solid game, do they gel well enough to create something considered one of the best games of all-time? 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: A Link to the Past 'Chamber of the Goddess' by Disasterpeace (http://ocremix.org/album/33/25yearlegend-a-legend-of-zelda-indie-game-composer-tribute) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! 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 Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  10. From humble beginnings as a Kickstarter project to becoming one of the biggest indie darlings of 2016, Hyper Light Drifter has quite the history of defying expectations. Gorgeous pixel art animations and vistas, dialogue-less storytelling, and a fantastic soundtrack by Disasterpeace came together to tell a gripping tale about a lone wanderer in a sci-fi apocalypse. While all of the pieces come together for a solid game, do they gel well enough to create something considered one of the best games of all-time? 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: A Link to the Past 'Chamber of the Goddess' by Disasterpeace (http://ocremix.org/album/33/25yearlegend-a-legend-of-zelda-indie-game-composer-tribute) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! 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 Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  11. Technology develops at a rapid pace, but sometimes it can be hard to appreciate just how quickly things can move. This can be easily seen in the history of hard drive growth. Weighing in at a monstrous 550 pounds, IBM created the first 1 gigabyte hard drive in 1980. Less than a year ago, Sony worked with IBM to develop a magnetic storage system that can save up to 330 terabytes—330,000 times the storage capacity of that fridge-sized device in the palm of your hand. That’s also 330,000 times the amount of data being stored—data that can be obtained in a large-scale data breach. To keep pace with the escalating need to secure that data, cybersecurity has grown from a practically unheard-of industry in the 1980s into a multibillion dollar industry, ballooning in size from $3.5 billion in 2004 to over $120 billion in 2017. The cybersecurity industry develops alongside the wider tech world to meet its ever-evolving needs. Increasingly, recruitment has become one of the biggest problems facing the industry. It’s not necessarily an issue of budgeting or technical infrastructure, though both of those can become concerns. The Black Hat conference, a yearly gathering of cybersecurity specialists, has routinely ranked the inability to bring in new talent as the number one reason digital security measures fail and an overwhelming majority of conference attendees felt as if they lacked the means to refine their abilities. In other words, cybersecurity has emerged as a technological necessity so quickly that many programmers, both inside and outside the field, feel that they lack access to the skills required to compete. One of the most unexpected solutions to the pressing question of recruiting promising cybersecurity talent has been the turn toward video games. McAfee conducted a recent survey of 300 senior security managers and 650 security professionals from across a wide variety of major corporations. Of that pool of 950 cybersecurity experts, 92% believed that skills fostered by games, such as tenacity, logic, and predicting hostile strategies, could make the gaming community an ideal, untapped reservoir of candidates. Why, exactly, do these professionals believe gamers make such attractive candidates for cybersecurity positions? Michael McKeirnan, a Security Consultant at Deja vu Security, offered an explanation, translating the industry’s unexpected assessment. “To me, the skills developed by gaming could be arguably summarized as practice obsessing over digital problems. I think anyone who has seen both a hacker and a gamer obsessing over something can immediately understand the relationship. That ability to completely lose yourself in the problem is a valuable skill in the industry—partially because of the work ethic that comes from that obsession, and partially because of the comprehensive knowledge that type of person usually has in their domain.” When it comes to skills, there seemed to be some degree of overlap, a similar line of thinking that gives a certain type of gamer a mindset with many applications in cybersecurity. “I'm personally not much of a gamer,” said McKeirnan, “but in my experience there's a small, intangible reward for every goal reached, or level cleared; the same can be said of finding bugs in code. That similarity means that the mindset transfers pretty fluidly from gaming to hacking.” When asked specifically about the McAfee survey, McKeirnan found himself split on the issue. There are compelling arguments to be made on behalf of gamers, but the mindset and skills many cite as making gamers good candidates for cybersecurity aren’t necessarily unique to gamers. “With regard to the survey question, I certainly agree that the two have many similarities and that a certain type of gamer may make an excellent computer security engineer, but I'm not sure I'd buy in to the degree of hiring a gamer with no security training or experience,” he explained. He went on to describe what Deja seeks out in their hiring process, saying, “During our interviews, one of the qualities we look for is the ‘attacker mindset.’ The goal is to find that dogged problem-solving, goal-oriented mentality that we believe makes excellent hackers. In my experience, this mentality is shared by many excellent gamers; but I think that it's certainly possible to be a gamer and not have that mindset, and to have that mindset but not be overly excited about video games. As such, I'd say the candidate's drive and interest in our field, coupled with that attacker mindset, is much more important to me.” However, despite any reservations regarding gamers, senior managers at cybersecurity firms across the industry find themselves turning to more drastic measures to fill their short-term needs. The McAfee survey found that 75% of senior managers at cybersecurity firms reported that they would hire a gamer with no experience in the field and train them internally just to meet their projected short-term needs. The talent shortage in cybersecurity poses a large, persistent, and growing problem for both private and public interests in the long-term. Luckily for those managers, there’s no shortage of people who play video games. The medium has become the most popular form of entertainment on the planet, grossing record-breaking profits year after year. In 2016, 1.8 billion people played video games to some extent, a number that’s only expected to go up as technological infrastructure spreads around the world and the population increases. Having identified a large and growing field of potential talent, tech firms have been puzzling over how to break into gaming to snag some of the most qualified candidates. Offering bug bounties to anyone who can find an exploit that leaves sensitive information vulnerable stands as one of the oldest and most generalized approaches to digital security. While it certainly works to fill in unknown vulnerabilities, the process is often too vague to engage anyone outside of a niche community of hackers or enthusiasts and doesn’t cast a wide enough net to recruit talent to the company itself. Not to mention there are emerging concerns over the uncontrolled nature of such programs that can alert those outside of proper communication channels that data breaches have occurred. Framing cybersecurity as an evolving puzzle can change public perception of the industry, gamifying it in the eyes of future professionals. Meeting that changed perspective with competitive initiatives can create a game-like atmosphere around the industry. The most popular of these competitions are Capture the Flag (CTF) events. These trials test the ability of participants across a wide range of skills relevant in the security industry. Often these competitions are sponsored by companies like Uber, Walmart, Raytheon, Snapchat, Amazon, or IBM, and are used to recruit promising talent. The two most popular formats of CTF are called jeopardy and attack-defend. Jeopardy presents teams with several categories of challenges that require technical answers to problems facing areas such as cryptography, hacking, forensics, networking, and programming. Attack-defend challenges pit two or more teams against each other to use any means necessary to take and maintain control of an isolated network of computers. Competitive CTF events can be found throughout the industry, with notable examples like the US Cyber Challenge, the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, or at larger tech meetings like Google’s Chromium Conference. Those who rise to the top of these competitions become highly sought after by the companies who watch them intently. Rather than a job interview, excelling at a major competition can prove to be a method of entering the industry for those who find it engaging. “[The founders of Deja] were on a team that won the DEFCON CTF several times and subsequently ran that competition for a number of years afterwards,” Deja vu Security’s McKeirnan explained when asked about these competitions. “We love to talk about CTFs and CTF problems with our candidates, but we also sympathize with people who aren't overly fond of them. Some CTFs have a few ‘guess what's in my pocket’-type problems that can really rub some bright folks the wrong way.” Thankfully, the competitive space has become more varied with time. More variations on the traditional CTF types appear frequently and McKeirnan offered that a more equitable type of challenge could be found in wargame simulations. “There are some public wargames and challenge sets that we really like, and we love to chat with candidates about how they solved these problems and what they learned by doing them.” McKeirnan’s two favorite wargames of note are The Matasano Crypto Pals published by Matasano Security and the Over the Wire problems. “These types of wargames don't generally have a leaderboard or anything, but most people in the industry are familiar with them and they're a great way for folks to show some serious initiative and play some games at the same time.” While those exercises aren’t flashy and won’t win prestige in a public setting, they will teach valuable skills in a gamified format that will leave potential employers in cybersecurity eager to hire. While these initiatives are often aimed toward adults, some competitions are designed to educate the ever more technologically literate youth and offer scholarships to talented youngsters who excel. Programs like the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot aim to make cybersecurity problem-solving fun for kids grades K-12. Introducing the next generation to a world of competitions is framed as a long-term investment by the public and private interests sponsoring these initiatives. They seek to secure a steady stream of talent for years to come. The creative solutions to reach gamers have taken many forms over the last few years. Information security companies often make use of low-tech games that are meant to demonstrate skills such as codebreaking. Deja vu Security, for example, makes use of cards printed with different bite-sized challenges. McKeirnan explained that “puzzles like the cards are somewhat common in the industry, though certainly not ubiquitous. They provide excellent signals about how motivated and skilled candidates are before they even show up to an interview. Typically, if a candidate has completed or made significant progress through a challenge, they're an excellent fit.” These pocket-sized challenges can be easily distributed, and they offer a wide range of puzzles from simple codebreaking to deciphering elliptic curve cryptography. This makes them ideal for identifying competitive candidates in the wild at job fairs, though they aren’t the only options available. “Lately we've using an in-person ‘find the bug’ challenge instead [of the cards]. For that one, we post a sample of code at the booth with some known security vulnerabilities and direct anyone who's interested to ‘find the bug.’ This one is a big hit at career fairs.” McKeirnan said. “We consistently have crowds [of people] blocking off the whole area, just staring at the code until they think they've figured it out. Even recruiters from other companies usually come over near the end of the event to try and give it a go. We really like that type of challenge because it gives us a chance to talk over the problem with our potential candidates; we can see how they're thinking, and get to know them a bit better before we've even added their resume to the pile. Better still, many folks who wouldn't have submitted their answer online will come talk to us about it because we're right there.” This type of approach brings in new types of people with gamified challenges, though it operates on a small scale. Larger solutions loom on the horizon. If it’s difficult to train people up to dealing with the current level of complex technology, maybe it is possible to streamline complicated cybersecurity functions down to meet new talent on their own level with a game-like setting. In an announcement issued earlier this year, McAfee’s Chief Information Security Officer Grant Bourzikas stated, “With cybersecurity breaches being the norm for organizations, we have to create a workplace that empowers cybersecurity responders to do their best work. […] Keeping our workforce engaged, educated, and satisfied at work is critical to ensuring organizations do not increase complexity in the already high-stakes game against cybercrime.” Bourzikas makes a good point about streamlining the protection process on all fronts, and that includes recruitment. ProtectWise CEO Scott Chasin builds on that idea with the assumption that attracting new talent will be easier with a less daunting interface that feels more intuitive. What better way to do that than with a gamified digital environment to make the positions more attractive? To that end, Chasin’s company developed a tool called ProtectWise Grid, a UI overlay that creates a virtual city within which all devices connected to a given network appear. The software represents each device as a building that varies in size and shape depending on the kind of device, connection, and amount of data being used. Chasin believes his software holds at least part of the key to solving the cybersecurity shortage facing the industry by using a game-like model to lower the skill level necessary to enter the industry. The goal of the technology is to meet incoming talent in a manner they intuitively understand, skipping a lot of the technical know-how that traditional candidates require currently. "Level one analysts today require very advanced skillsets. In a UI like this, we can remove that," Chasin said. Given the ubiquity of gaming in the tech world, this could be a great help in bringing in entry level candidates. Of course, those who move up to leadership positions in cybersecurity will really have to know their stuff, but as Chasin notes, “You don't have to be a pilot to fly a drone.” By 2019, some organizations like Symantec, ISACA, and Cybersecurity Ventures predict a global shortage of over two million digital security specialists. However, the numerous gamified solutions to the ongoing cybersecurity shortage offer hope to those struggling on the frontlines against cybercriminals. An increasing emphasis on gamification techniques, both the tried-and-true methods of companies like Deja vu Security and the seemingly sci-fi solutions on the horizon, might just help us thwart the next big data theft or cyberattack. --- This piece has been cross-posted on the Deja vu Security blog. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  12. Technology develops at a rapid pace, but sometimes it can be hard to appreciate just how quickly things can move. This can be easily seen in the history of hard drive growth. Weighing in at a monstrous 550 pounds, IBM created the first 1 gigabyte hard drive in 1980. Less than a year ago, Sony worked with IBM to develop a magnetic storage system that can save up to 330 terabytes—330,000 times the storage capacity of that fridge-sized device in the palm of your hand. That’s also 330,000 times the amount of data being stored—data that can be obtained in a large-scale data breach. To keep pace with the escalating need to secure that data, cybersecurity has grown from a practically unheard-of industry in the 1980s into a multibillion dollar industry, ballooning in size from $3.5 billion in 2004 to over $120 billion in 2017. The cybersecurity industry develops alongside the wider tech world to meet its ever-evolving needs. Increasingly, recruitment has become one of the biggest problems facing the industry. It’s not necessarily an issue of budgeting or technical infrastructure, though both of those can become concerns. The Black Hat conference, a yearly gathering of cybersecurity specialists, has routinely ranked the inability to bring in new talent as the number one reason digital security measures fail and an overwhelming majority of conference attendees felt as if they lacked the means to refine their abilities. In other words, cybersecurity has emerged as a technological necessity so quickly that many programmers, both inside and outside the field, feel that they lack access to the skills required to compete. One of the most unexpected solutions to the pressing question of recruiting promising cybersecurity talent has been the turn toward video games. McAfee conducted a recent survey of 300 senior security managers and 650 security professionals from across a wide variety of major corporations. Of that pool of 950 cybersecurity experts, 92% believed that skills fostered by games, such as tenacity, logic, and predicting hostile strategies, could make the gaming community an ideal, untapped reservoir of candidates. Why, exactly, do these professionals believe gamers make such attractive candidates for cybersecurity positions? Michael McKeirnan, a Security Consultant at Deja vu Security, offered an explanation, translating the industry’s unexpected assessment. “To me, the skills developed by gaming could be arguably summarized as practice obsessing over digital problems. I think anyone who has seen both a hacker and a gamer obsessing over something can immediately understand the relationship. That ability to completely lose yourself in the problem is a valuable skill in the industry—partially because of the work ethic that comes from that obsession, and partially because of the comprehensive knowledge that type of person usually has in their domain.” When it comes to skills, there seemed to be some degree of overlap, a similar line of thinking that gives a certain type of gamer a mindset with many applications in cybersecurity. “I'm personally not much of a gamer,” said McKeirnan, “but in my experience there's a small, intangible reward for every goal reached, or level cleared; the same can be said of finding bugs in code. That similarity means that the mindset transfers pretty fluidly from gaming to hacking.” When asked specifically about the McAfee survey, McKeirnan found himself split on the issue. There are compelling arguments to be made on behalf of gamers, but the mindset and skills many cite as making gamers good candidates for cybersecurity aren’t necessarily unique to gamers. “With regard to the survey question, I certainly agree that the two have many similarities and that a certain type of gamer may make an excellent computer security engineer, but I'm not sure I'd buy in to the degree of hiring a gamer with no security training or experience,” he explained. He went on to describe what Deja seeks out in their hiring process, saying, “During our interviews, one of the qualities we look for is the ‘attacker mindset.’ The goal is to find that dogged problem-solving, goal-oriented mentality that we believe makes excellent hackers. In my experience, this mentality is shared by many excellent gamers; but I think that it's certainly possible to be a gamer and not have that mindset, and to have that mindset but not be overly excited about video games. As such, I'd say the candidate's drive and interest in our field, coupled with that attacker mindset, is much more important to me.” However, despite any reservations regarding gamers, senior managers at cybersecurity firms across the industry find themselves turning to more drastic measures to fill their short-term needs. The McAfee survey found that 75% of senior managers at cybersecurity firms reported that they would hire a gamer with no experience in the field and train them internally just to meet their projected short-term needs. The talent shortage in cybersecurity poses a large, persistent, and growing problem for both private and public interests in the long-term. Luckily for those managers, there’s no shortage of people who play video games. The medium has become the most popular form of entertainment on the planet, grossing record-breaking profits year after year. In 2016, 1.8 billion people played video games to some extent, a number that’s only expected to go up as technological infrastructure spreads around the world and the population increases. Having identified a large and growing field of potential talent, tech firms have been puzzling over how to break into gaming to snag some of the most qualified candidates. Offering bug bounties to anyone who can find an exploit that leaves sensitive information vulnerable stands as one of the oldest and most generalized approaches to digital security. While it certainly works to fill in unknown vulnerabilities, the process is often too vague to engage anyone outside of a niche community of hackers or enthusiasts and doesn’t cast a wide enough net to recruit talent to the company itself. Not to mention there are emerging concerns over the uncontrolled nature of such programs that can alert those outside of proper communication channels that data breaches have occurred. Framing cybersecurity as an evolving puzzle can change public perception of the industry, gamifying it in the eyes of future professionals. Meeting that changed perspective with competitive initiatives can create a game-like atmosphere around the industry. The most popular of these competitions are Capture the Flag (CTF) events. These trials test the ability of participants across a wide range of skills relevant in the security industry. Often these competitions are sponsored by companies like Uber, Walmart, Raytheon, Snapchat, Amazon, or IBM, and are used to recruit promising talent. The two most popular formats of CTF are called jeopardy and attack-defend. Jeopardy presents teams with several categories of challenges that require technical answers to problems facing areas such as cryptography, hacking, forensics, networking, and programming. Attack-defend challenges pit two or more teams against each other to use any means necessary to take and maintain control of an isolated network of computers. Competitive CTF events can be found throughout the industry, with notable examples like the US Cyber Challenge, the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, or at larger tech meetings like Google’s Chromium Conference. Those who rise to the top of these competitions become highly sought after by the companies who watch them intently. Rather than a job interview, excelling at a major competition can prove to be a method of entering the industry for those who find it engaging. “[The founders of Deja] were on a team that won the DEFCON CTF several times and subsequently ran that competition for a number of years afterwards,” Deja vu Security’s McKeirnan explained when asked about these competitions. “We love to talk about CTFs and CTF problems with our candidates, but we also sympathize with people who aren't overly fond of them. Some CTFs have a few ‘guess what's in my pocket’-type problems that can really rub some bright folks the wrong way.” Thankfully, the competitive space has become more varied with time. More variations on the traditional CTF types appear frequently and McKeirnan offered that a more equitable type of challenge could be found in wargame simulations. “There are some public wargames and challenge sets that we really like, and we love to chat with candidates about how they solved these problems and what they learned by doing them.” McKeirnan’s two favorite wargames of note are The Matasano Crypto Pals published by Matasano Security and the Over the Wire problems. “These types of wargames don't generally have a leaderboard or anything, but most people in the industry are familiar with them and they're a great way for folks to show some serious initiative and play some games at the same time.” While those exercises aren’t flashy and won’t win prestige in a public setting, they will teach valuable skills in a gamified format that will leave potential employers in cybersecurity eager to hire. While these initiatives are often aimed toward adults, some competitions are designed to educate the ever more technologically literate youth and offer scholarships to talented youngsters who excel. Programs like the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot aim to make cybersecurity problem-solving fun for kids grades K-12. Introducing the next generation to a world of competitions is framed as a long-term investment by the public and private interests sponsoring these initiatives. They seek to secure a steady stream of talent for years to come. The creative solutions to reach gamers have taken many forms over the last few years. Information security companies often make use of low-tech games that are meant to demonstrate skills such as codebreaking. Deja vu Security, for example, makes use of cards printed with different bite-sized challenges. McKeirnan explained that “puzzles like the cards are somewhat common in the industry, though certainly not ubiquitous. They provide excellent signals about how motivated and skilled candidates are before they even show up to an interview. Typically, if a candidate has completed or made significant progress through a challenge, they're an excellent fit.” These pocket-sized challenges can be easily distributed, and they offer a wide range of puzzles from simple codebreaking to deciphering elliptic curve cryptography. This makes them ideal for identifying competitive candidates in the wild at job fairs, though they aren’t the only options available. “Lately we've using an in-person ‘find the bug’ challenge instead [of the cards]. For that one, we post a sample of code at the booth with some known security vulnerabilities and direct anyone who's interested to ‘find the bug.’ This one is a big hit at career fairs.” McKeirnan said. “We consistently have crowds [of people] blocking off the whole area, just staring at the code until they think they've figured it out. Even recruiters from other companies usually come over near the end of the event to try and give it a go. We really like that type of challenge because it gives us a chance to talk over the problem with our potential candidates; we can see how they're thinking, and get to know them a bit better before we've even added their resume to the pile. Better still, many folks who wouldn't have submitted their answer online will come talk to us about it because we're right there.” This type of approach brings in new types of people with gamified challenges, though it operates on a small scale. Larger solutions loom on the horizon. If it’s difficult to train people up to dealing with the current level of complex technology, maybe it is possible to streamline complicated cybersecurity functions down to meet new talent on their own level with a game-like setting. In an announcement issued earlier this year, McAfee’s Chief Information Security Officer Grant Bourzikas stated, “With cybersecurity breaches being the norm for organizations, we have to create a workplace that empowers cybersecurity responders to do their best work. […] Keeping our workforce engaged, educated, and satisfied at work is critical to ensuring organizations do not increase complexity in the already high-stakes game against cybercrime.” Bourzikas makes a good point about streamlining the protection process on all fronts, and that includes recruitment. ProtectWise CEO Scott Chasin builds on that idea with the assumption that attracting new talent will be easier with a less daunting interface that feels more intuitive. What better way to do that than with a gamified digital environment to make the positions more attractive? To that end, Chasin’s company developed a tool called ProtectWise Grid, a UI overlay that creates a virtual city within which all devices connected to a given network appear. The software represents each device as a building that varies in size and shape depending on the kind of device, connection, and amount of data being used. Chasin believes his software holds at least part of the key to solving the cybersecurity shortage facing the industry by using a game-like model to lower the skill level necessary to enter the industry. The goal of the technology is to meet incoming talent in a manner they intuitively understand, skipping a lot of the technical know-how that traditional candidates require currently. "Level one analysts today require very advanced skillsets. In a UI like this, we can remove that," Chasin said. Given the ubiquity of gaming in the tech world, this could be a great help in bringing in entry level candidates. Of course, those who move up to leadership positions in cybersecurity will really have to know their stuff, but as Chasin notes, “You don't have to be a pilot to fly a drone.” By 2019, some organizations like Symantec, ISACA, and Cybersecurity Ventures predict a global shortage of over two million digital security specialists. However, the numerous gamified solutions to the ongoing cybersecurity shortage offer hope to those struggling on the frontlines against cybercriminals. An increasing emphasis on gamification techniques, both the tried-and-true methods of companies like Deja vu Security and the seemingly sci-fi solutions on the horizon, might just help us thwart the next big data theft or cyberattack. --- This piece has been cross-posted on the Deja vu Security blog. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  13. Being a buster of ghosts without a proton pack takes a lot of work. HellSign tosses players into a dark and spooky world filled with hauntings and supernatural beings out to make the world a living nightmare. Each new case will have players tackling a new kind of monster; it'll take some sleuthing and preparation to correctly identify the spirit take it down successfully. As a paranormal investigator, players will create their own characters from scratch. Initially armed with nothing but some rust-covered hunting gear, players will work their way up the ranks of ghastly entities. Each case will help further open up the non-linear narrative, making each journey through HellSign unique to that investigator. HellSign takes place in Australia where players earn a living by fighting ghosts n' ghoulies. The game was created with the intention of mimicking monster-of-the-week television shows like Supernatural or The X-Files. Not gonna lie, the idea of becoming an Australian ghost hunter with an RPG framework and intriguing mysteries to solve is an easy sell for me. Players will explore locations like abandoned houses, barns, warehouses, etc. as they try to figure out what happened to draw a supernatural creature to that area. While exploring these spooky locales, various clues can be discovered, like blood spatters, tracks, or mysterious relics, that will help point toward what kind of apparition might be present. Everything a player discovers and identifies will be recorded in the Cryptonomicon for future reference. Once players have figured out, or believe they have figured out what sort of being haunts the area, it's time to gear up for battle. Players can only hold so many items at a time, so there's an element of inventory management and survival gameplay going on. Do you take the silver bullets or do you need a specialized scanner to see the creature? How you answer questions like that will mean the difference between victory and defeat. HellSign manifests on November 7 via Steam Early Access. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  14. Being a buster of ghosts without a proton pack takes a lot of work. HellSign tosses players into a dark and spooky world filled with hauntings and supernatural beings out to make the world a living nightmare. Each new case will have players tackling a new kind of monster; it'll take some sleuthing and preparation to correctly identify the spirit take it down successfully. As a paranormal investigator, players will create their own characters from scratch. Initially armed with nothing but some rust-covered hunting gear, players will work their way up the ranks of ghastly entities. Each case will help further open up the non-linear narrative, making each journey through HellSign unique to that investigator. HellSign takes place in Australia where players earn a living by fighting ghosts n' ghoulies. The game was created with the intention of mimicking monster-of-the-week television shows like Supernatural or The X-Files. Not gonna lie, the idea of becoming an Australian ghost hunter with an RPG framework and intriguing mysteries to solve is an easy sell for me. Players will explore locations like abandoned houses, barns, warehouses, etc. as they try to figure out what happened to draw a supernatural creature to that area. While exploring these spooky locales, various clues can be discovered, like blood spatters, tracks, or mysterious relics, that will help point toward what kind of apparition might be present. Everything a player discovers and identifies will be recorded in the Cryptonomicon for future reference. Once players have figured out, or believe they have figured out what sort of being haunts the area, it's time to gear up for battle. Players can only hold so many items at a time, so there's an element of inventory management and survival gameplay going on. Do you take the silver bullets or do you need a specialized scanner to see the creature? How you answer questions like that will mean the difference between victory and defeat. HellSign manifests on November 7 via Steam Early Access. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  15. The beleaguered adventuring party spends its first night relaxing in the safety of Riverton until a dastardly crime leads them astray. We Wanted Adventurers is a liveplay Dungeons & Dragons podcast that follows a motley trio of unlikely heroes as they bumble into adventures both big and small across the fantastical continent of Nevarrone. For the uninitiated, a liveplay podcast features an unscripted recording of a traditional tabletop roleplaying game, with all of the goofs and drama that comes with the territory. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. You can follow the show on Twitter for updates. Let us know what you think of the show! We know that some parts of it are a bit bumpy, but I hope it doesn't get in the way of your enjoyment as we all learn and grow together. Thank you for listening! New episodes of We Wanted Adventurers will be released every Wednesday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
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