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Jack Gardner

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  1. Yesterday, Blizzard implemented a new feature to StarCraft II called “Spawning.” Essentially, spawning allows players who have purchased the latest version of StarCraft II to invite friends to their game who have an older version, or free version, and spawn them in, upgrading their content to the latest version for the duration of their gameplay session. This means that if a Heart of the Swarm player invites a Wings of Liberty player to their party, the Wings of Liberty player is instantly upgraded to be able to access Heart of the Swarm content. The same applies to players with free Starter Edition accounts who are invited to a Wings of Liberty or Heart of the Swarm party. What content is unlocked for spawned players: - All vs A.I. modes, including team games - Ranked and unranked team games - All custom game maps - Access to the arcade (user-generated mods) Spawned players cannot access certain content: - Single-player campaign - Certain social features, like clans and groups - Can only play as a pre-selected race in multiplayer (currently Terran) This is a great day if you have friends that own StarCraft II. Party sizes are capped at fifteen players, meaning that one game owner could invite up to fourteen people who own the Starter Edition and give them access to those higher features from Wings of Liberty or Heart of the Swarm. Also, if you own Heart of the Swarm, playing with friends earns you a 25% experience bonus, so this is a perfect opportunity to play with friends who have never been able to fully check out Heart of the Swarm or Wings of Liberty. For more information on Spawning, you can watch this handy video. For more information on the Starter Edition, you can watch this other handy video. To download the Starter Edition and start mooching off your friends, click this link.
  2. Yesterday, Blizzard implemented a new feature to StarCraft II called “Spawning.” Essentially, spawning allows players who have purchased the latest version of StarCraft II to invite friends to their game who have an older version, or free version, and spawn them in, upgrading their content to the latest version for the duration of their gameplay session. This means that if a Heart of the Swarm player invites a Wings of Liberty player to their party, the Wings of Liberty player is instantly upgraded to be able to access Heart of the Swarm content. The same applies to players with free Starter Edition accounts who are invited to a Wings of Liberty or Heart of the Swarm party. What content is unlocked for spawned players: - All vs A.I. modes, including team games - Ranked and unranked team games - All custom game maps - Access to the arcade (user-generated mods) Spawned players cannot access certain content: - Single-player campaign - Certain social features, like clans and groups - Can only play as a pre-selected race in multiplayer (currently Terran) This is a great day if you have friends that own StarCraft II. Party sizes are capped at fifteen players, meaning that one game owner could invite up to fourteen people who own the Starter Edition and give them access to those higher features from Wings of Liberty or Heart of the Swarm. Also, if you own Heart of the Swarm, playing with friends earns you a 25% experience bonus, so this is a perfect opportunity to play with friends who have never been able to fully check out Heart of the Swarm or Wings of Liberty. For more information on Spawning, you can watch this handy video. For more information on the Starter Edition, you can watch this other handy video. To download the Starter Edition and start mooching off your friends, click this link. View full article
  3. Yesterday, someone used the back-end services of Traquility, the database of the EVE Online, Dust 514, and a host of web servers, to initiate a distributed denial-of-service attack. Jón Hörðdal Jónasson, COO at CCP the developer of EVE and Dust 514, described the incident in a statement released to the public. After becoming aware that an intrusion into their systems had occurred, CCP immediately shut down the game servers, taking the space-faring MMO universe offline for several hours. After reopening the servers, additional problems were discovered and Tranquility was taken down once more to reevaluate its integrity and that of its various parts. After a day of exhaustive testing, CCP determined that the hacker’s entry point has been secured and the galaxy-spanning MMO was restored to full functionality. The developer stressed that “at no time was customer data compromised or accessible in any way” and that, “We will be looking at ways to compensate players in both EVE and DUST for the outage and expect to announce what that compensation will be very soon.” Jónasson concluded his statement with a hearty thank you to fans and players, “We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our players on EVE Online and DUST 514 for their patience and understanding during this unexpected downtime and the investigation. We are grateful for your support, as always.” You can read Jónasson’s full statement here.
  4. Yesterday, someone used the back-end services of Traquility, the database of the EVE Online, Dust 514, and a host of web servers, to initiate a distributed denial-of-service attack. Jón Hörðdal Jónasson, COO at CCP the developer of EVE and Dust 514, described the incident in a statement released to the public. After becoming aware that an intrusion into their systems had occurred, CCP immediately shut down the game servers, taking the space-faring MMO universe offline for several hours. After reopening the servers, additional problems were discovered and Tranquility was taken down once more to reevaluate its integrity and that of its various parts. After a day of exhaustive testing, CCP determined that the hacker’s entry point has been secured and the galaxy-spanning MMO was restored to full functionality. The developer stressed that “at no time was customer data compromised or accessible in any way” and that, “We will be looking at ways to compensate players in both EVE and DUST for the outage and expect to announce what that compensation will be very soon.” Jónasson concluded his statement with a hearty thank you to fans and players, “We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our players on EVE Online and DUST 514 for their patience and understanding during this unexpected downtime and the investigation. We are grateful for your support, as always.” You can read Jónasson’s full statement here. View full article
  5. Nearly four years after being announced for PS3, and after scrapped release date after scrapped release date, Team Ico’s newest title shows signs that it might have a appear during the Electronic Entertainment Expo. An observant NeoGAF poster happened across a posting for the game while looking through the pre-show information on E3 Insider. While no direct details are revealed in the posting, it is implied that there will be new screenshots and videos available on June 11th. The Last Guardian was officially unveiled at E3 in 2009. Since then, it has been scheduled to release in 2011 and 2012, before disappearing almost entirely. Rumors circulated for a while that the project was dead after the departure of the game’s director and Ico creator Fumito Ueda, despite the fact that Sony had contracted him to complete The Last Guardian. The last anyone heard of the title was shortly after the PlayStation 4 reveal from Shuhei Yoshida, the president of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, who stated that, “We are waiting for the right time to re-introduce [the game.]” This could mean that The Last Guardian is going to be a launch title for the PS4, or might be the final swan song of the PS3. Either way, it looks like we might finally hear more about this elusive title come E3 in a little over a week. What do you guys think? Are we going to hear all about the game? Nothing? Will it be for the PS4, PS3, or both?
  6. Nearly four years after being announced for PS3, and after scrapped release date after scrapped release date, Team Ico’s newest title shows signs that it might have a appear during the Electronic Entertainment Expo. An observant NeoGAF poster happened across a posting for the game while looking through the pre-show information on E3 Insider. While no direct details are revealed in the posting, it is implied that there will be new screenshots and videos available on June 11th. The Last Guardian was officially unveiled at E3 in 2009. Since then, it has been scheduled to release in 2011 and 2012, before disappearing almost entirely. Rumors circulated for a while that the project was dead after the departure of the game’s director and Ico creator Fumito Ueda, despite the fact that Sony had contracted him to complete The Last Guardian. The last anyone heard of the title was shortly after the PlayStation 4 reveal from Shuhei Yoshida, the president of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, who stated that, “We are waiting for the right time to re-introduce [the game.]” This could mean that The Last Guardian is going to be a launch title for the PS4, or might be the final swan song of the PS3. Either way, it looks like we might finally hear more about this elusive title come E3 in a little over a week. What do you guys think? Are we going to hear all about the game? Nothing? Will it be for the PS4, PS3, or both? View full article
  7. Mojang, the company behind the incredibly popular and influential Minecraft, has revealed an open beta release date for Scrolls as well as gameplay info and a snazzy new launch trailer. Scrolls is a card-based strategy game meant to be played against other players online. The object of the game is to destroy three of your opponent's five magic idols. Each player makes use of their scrolls (i.e. cards) to summon monsters, cast spells, create structures, or enchant their creatures. Cards are acquired simply by playing the game's various modes and by using in-game gold to purchase new scrolls. A smaller selection of scrolls can be purchased with shards, the in-game currency that can be purchased with real money. Scrolls launches in open beta on June 3rd for PC and Mac and will come with a price tag of $20. For more information on Scrolls, you can read this handy mini-guide on the official website.
  8. Mojang, the company behind the incredibly popular and influential Minecraft, has revealed an open beta release date for Scrolls as well as gameplay info and a snazzy new launch trailer. Scrolls is a card-based strategy game meant to be played against other players online. The object of the game is to destroy three of your opponent's five magic idols. Each player makes use of their scrolls (i.e. cards) to summon monsters, cast spells, create structures, or enchant their creatures. Cards are acquired simply by playing the game's various modes and by using in-game gold to purchase new scrolls. A smaller selection of scrolls can be purchased with shards, the in-game currency that can be purchased with real money. Scrolls launches in open beta on June 3rd for PC and Mac and will come with a price tag of $20. For more information on Scrolls, you can read this handy mini-guide on the official website. View full article
  9. Contrary to popular belief, machinima (pronounced muh-sheen-uh-muh) is not just the name of one of YouTube’s largest content publishing channels, it is also the name of a specific film genre. Created by combining the words “machine” and “cinema,” machinima refers to movies or short films that are animated and recorded within a video game engine. While certainly unconventional, machinima films share many elements with traditional film making. Actors are used to manipulate in-game avatars while cameramen move and record the actions of the actors. Voice-over artists provide vocalization for the characters and animators create non-traditional animations for character models. Filming requires coordination and often involves using in-game glitches to achieve unique and compelling camera angles. The idea that meaningful, independent narratives might be told using a video game might seem laughable to some people. However, creative filmmakers have been able to bring up important questions on topics as diverse as: disability, escapism, loneliness, the costs of war, vigilantism, fate, individuality, and more. While some of the machinima on this list make use of a more lighthearted tone and others have a darker emphasis, they are all well-made, engaging, and fun to watch, providing new perspectives on the games in which they were made. The genre, though certainly very niche, has much to offer those who can accept such a non-traditional storytelling method. 10. Ignis Solus Two forts stand on either side of a body of water, a single bridge connects them. One Pyro wanders aimlessly between the two. He stops, looking at the sky, and sighs. Ignis Solus tells the story of a lonely Pyro in Team Fortress 2 who experiences loss. It is beautifully made and features an original song of the same name as the video. Ignis Solus was made by Lit Fuse Films, a talented studio that specializes in machinima filmmaking. Be sure to check out more of Lit Fuse Films’ work over on their website. 9. Deviation As a Counter-Strike team prepares to go up through a manhole, one member begins to wonder if they’ve done this before. Created by Jon Griggs in 2006, Deviation deals with questions of fate and blindly following orders. The fact that the film is self-aware and riffs on the repetition inherent in online multiplayer shooters just makes it that much more enjoyable and pertinent, as such game mechanics are still used today. To see more of Griggs’ work, head over to his website. 8. The Journey What do you get when you combine an Orwellian dystopian future, stick-figures, Unreal Tournament, and poetry? I don’t really know, but I’d imagine it would be something very much like The Journey. Filmed in Unreal Tournament 2003, The Journey won the “Make Something Unreal Contest” put on by Epic Games. It very abstractly tells the story of a stick-figure person that breaks away from the norm and by doing so finds a unique voice, vision, and heart. For more information, feel free to visit journey.machinimag.com. 7. Portal: A Day in the Life of a Turret This short film focuses on the lives of two turrets in the game Portal. There isn’t much to say about this one, almost the entirety of the short is spent watching the stationary turrets talking with each other. They share jokes, insults, frustrations, discuss the meaning life, and then... well, you will just have to watch. A Day in the Life of a Turret is brought to you by the same people behind the well-known series The Leet World, a parody of The Real World that places the terrorists and counter-terrorists from Counter-Strike in a house together. 6. Mercy of the Sea A high fantasy adventure filmed using World of Warcraft, J. Joshua Diltz’s Mercy of the Sea focuses on a mother’s quest to retrieve her child from the clutches of her former husband. The voice acting and action are top-notch and supplemented by a genuinely creepy atmosphere. Though there are a few terms used in the film that those unfamiliar with the lore and gameplay of World of Warcraft might find difficult to understand, but they aren’t terribly important to the narrative. Finally, the visuals are stunning. How the various shots and effects were made in-game, I will never understand, yet Mercy of the Sea pulls it off. 5. Better Life Creator Rob Wright perfectly captures the power of escapism in this short film shot within Second Life. Better Life tells the story of a paraplegic stuck in a wheelchair who escapes into a virtual world free of his disability. The film is directly complemented by the song “Better Life” by the band Angry Man. I know people who play video games for this exact reason, people who have disabilities that physically prevent them from doing everything they want to accomplish. For them, video games (and MMOs in particular) allow them to feel free and not be defined by their physical limitations. You can see more of Rob’s work over at his blog Digital Double. 4. 6 Days J. Joshua Diltz makes this list for the second time for his collaborative work with artist Joseph DeLappe in the experimental documentary 6 Days. Recorded over six consecutive days within Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the film is a tribute to the military and civilian lives lost during the second battle of Fallujah. Though lacking a set narrative, this short, nine-minute video winds up packing a surprising emotional punch and raises questions about the costs and gamification of war. Three cameras show events unfolding simultaneously. One camera focuses on the action, another gives an overarching view of the battlefield, while the last rests on the rising death toll of the conflict. 3. Red vs. Blue Easily the best known Machinima series around, Rooster Teeth’s groundbreaking show is what introduced many people to the genre. Fun, light-hearted, and accessible, Red Vs. Blue is a comedy series about two warring factions in the boxed canyon of Blood Gulch filmed within Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo: Reach, and most recently Halo 4. Though the series officially ended with its 100th episode in 2007, the Rooster Teeth team has continued releasing content and are currently gearing up for an 11th season. Just a heads up that the series does contain some strong language. Check out the series on Rooster Teeth. 2. Maintenance Man Ever wonder how members of the Overwatch act behind closed doors in Half-Life 2? Lit Fuse Films’ second movie to make this list, Maintenance Man answers that question with equal parts comedy and action. While Gordon Freeman and a group of rebels are attacking the Citadel, catastrophic damage is done to the facility’s energy core. Only one man can prevent a total disaster and that man is Hank... the janitor. There are plenty of references that will have you laughing and some well-executed slapstick humor as well as some really nicely done action sequences and character building. As before, be sure to check out more of Lit Fuse Films’ work over on their website. 1. The Trashmaster All of the other machinima films on this list have been short films, but The Trashmaster takes things to the next level with a full-blown feature film with an 88-minute running time. This would be impressive by itself, but the fact that The Trashmaster is well executed and compelling for the entirety of those 88-minutes is astounding. If anyone doubts that full-length movies can be made inside of a game, The Trashmaster will prove them wrong. Set in New York City, the film follows a garbage man who moonlights as a vigilante. The movie features some pretty intense violence, more than you would expect even within the GTA IV engine, and winds up nailing the gritty crime thriller vibe. Matthieu Weschler produced something really special with this project. Any machinima projects that you feel deserve to be on this list? Let us know in the comments! Top 10 Machinima Films Contrary to popular belief, machinima (pronounced muh-sheen-uh-muh) is not just the name of one of YouTube’s largest content publishing channels, it is also the name of a specific film genre. Machinima is a combination of the words “machine” and “cinema” and is used to refer to movies or short films that are animated and recorded within a video game engine. Machinima is similar in many respects to traditional filmmaking. Actors are used to manipulate in-game avatars while cameramen move and record the actions of the actors. Voice-over artists provide vocalization for the characters and animators create non-traditional animations for character models. Filming requires coordination and often involves using in-game glitches to achieve unique and compelling camera angles. The idea that meaningful, independent narratives might be told using a video game might seem laughable to some people. However, the films bring up important questions on topics as diverse as: disability, escapism, loneliness, the costs of war, vigilantism, fate, individuality, and more. While some of the machinima on this list make use of a more light-hearted tone and others have a darker emphasis, they are all well-made, engaging, and fun to watch, providing new perspectives on the games in which they were made. The genre, though certainly very much niche, has much to offer those who can accept such a non-traditional storytelling method. 10. Ignis Solus Two forts stand on either side of a body of water, a single bridge connects them. One Pyro wanders aimlessly between the two. He stops, looking at the sky, and sighs. Ignis Solus tells the story of a lonely Pyro in Team Fortress 2 who experiences loss. It is beautifully made and features an original song of the same name as the video. Ignis Solus was made by Lit Fuse Films, a talented studio that specializes in machinima filmmaking. Be sure to check out more of Lit Fuse Films’ work over on their website. 9. Deviation As a Counter-Strike team prepares to go up through a manhole, one member begins to wonder if they’ve done this before. Created by Jon Griggs in 2006, Deviation deals with questions of fate and blindly following orders. The fact that the film is self-aware and riffs on the repetition inherent in online multiplayer shooters just makes it that much more enjoyable and pertinent, as such game mechanics are still used today. To see more of Griggs’ work, head over to his website. 8. The Journey What do you get when you combine an Orwellian dystopian future, stick-figures, Unreal Tournament, and poetry? I don’t really know, but I’d imagine it would be something very much like The Journey. Filmed in Unreal Tournament 2003, The Journey won the “Make Something Unreal Contest” put on by Epic Games. It very abstractly tells the story of a stick-figure person that breaks away from the norm and by doing so finds a unique voice, vision, and heart. For more information, feel free to visit journey.machinimag.com. 7. Portal: A Day in the Life of a Turret This short film focuses on the lives of two turrets in the game Portal. There isn’t much to say about this one, almost the entirety of the short is spent watching the stationary turrets talking with each other. They share jokes, insults, frustrations, discuss the meaning life, and then... well, you will just have to watch. A Day in the Life of a Turret is brought to you by the same people behind the well-known series The Leet World, a parody of The Real World that places the terrorists and counter-terrorists from Counter-Strike in a house together. 6. Mercy of the Sea A high fantasy adventure filmed using World of Warcraft, J. Joshua Diltz’s Mercy of the Sea focuses on a mother’s quest to retrieve her child from the clutches of her former husband. The voice acting and action are top-notch and supplemented by a genuinely creepy atmosphere. Though there are a few terms used in the film that those unfamiliar with the lore and gameplay of World of Warcraft might find difficult to understand, but they aren’t terribly important to the narrative. Finally, the visuals are stunning. How the various shots and effects were made in-game, I will never understand, yet Mercy of the Sea pulls it off. 5. Better Life Creator Rob Wright perfectly captures the power of escapism in this short film shot within Second Life. Better Life tells the story of a paraplegic stuck in a wheelchair who escapes into a virtual world free of his disability. The film is directly complemented by the song “Better Life” by the band Angry Man. I know people who play video games for this exact reason, people who have disabilities that physically prevent them from doing everything they want to accomplish. For them, video games (and MMOs in particular) allow them to feel free and not be defined by their physical limitations. You can see more of Rob’s work over at his blog Digital Double. 4. 6 Days J. Joshua Diltz makes this list for the second time for his collaborative work with artist Joseph DeLappe in the experimental documentary 6 Days. Recorded over six consecutive days within Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the film is a tribute to the military and civilian lives lost during the second battle of Fallujah. Though lacking a set narrative, this short, nine-minute video winds up packing a surprising emotional punch and raises questions about the costs and gamification of war. Three cameras show events unfolding simultaneously. One camera focuses on the action, another gives an overarching view of the battlefield, while the last rests on the rising death toll of the conflict. 3. Red Vs. Blue Easily the best known Machinima series around, Rooster Teeth’s groundbreaking show is what introduced many people to the genre. Fun, light-hearted, and accessible, Red Vs. Blue is a comedy series about two warring factions in the boxed canyon of Blood Gulch filmed within Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo: Reach, and most recently Halo 4. Though the series officially ended with its 100th episode in 2007, the Rooster Teeth team has continued releasing content and are currently gearing up for an 11th season. Check out the series on Rooster Teeth. 2. Maintenance Man Ever wonder how members of the Overwatch act behind closed doors in Half-Life 2? Lit Fuse Films’ second movie to make this list, Maintenance Man answers that question with equal parts comedy and action. While Gordon Freeman and a group of rebels are attacking the Citadel, catastrophic damage is done to the facility’s energy core. Only one man can prevent a total disaster and that man is Hank... the janitor. There are plenty of references that will have you laughing and some well-executed slapstick humor as well as some really nicely done action sequences and character building. As before, be sure to check out more of Lit Fuse Films’ work over on their website. 1. The Trashmaster All of the other machinima films on this list have been short films, but The Trashmaster takes things to the next level with a full-blown feature film with an 88-minute running time. This would be impressive by itself, but the fact that The Trashmaster is well executed and compelling for the entirety of those 88-minutes is astounding. If anyone doubts that full-length movies can be made inside of a game, The Trashmaster will prove them wrong. Set in New York City, the film follows a garbageman who moonlights as a vigilante. The movie features some pretty intense violence, more than you would expect even within the GTA IV engine, and winds up nailing the gritty crime thriller vibe. Matthieu Weschler produced something really special with this project.
  10. Contrary to popular belief, machinima (pronounced muh-sheen-uh-muh) is not just the name of one of YouTube’s largest content publishing channels, it is also the name of a specific film genre. Created by combining the words “machine” and “cinema,” machinima refers to movies or short films that are animated and recorded within a video game engine. While certainly unconventional, machinima films share many elements with traditional film making. Actors are used to manipulate in-game avatars while cameramen move and record the actions of the actors. Voice-over artists provide vocalization for the characters and animators create non-traditional animations for character models. Filming requires coordination and often involves using in-game glitches to achieve unique and compelling camera angles. The idea that meaningful, independent narratives might be told using a video game might seem laughable to some people. However, creative filmmakers have been able to bring up important questions on topics as diverse as: disability, escapism, loneliness, the costs of war, vigilantism, fate, individuality, and more. While some of the machinima on this list make use of a more lighthearted tone and others have a darker emphasis, they are all well-made, engaging, and fun to watch, providing new perspectives on the games in which they were made. The genre, though certainly very niche, has much to offer those who can accept such a non-traditional storytelling method. 10. Ignis Solus Two forts stand on either side of a body of water, a single bridge connects them. One Pyro wanders aimlessly between the two. He stops, looking at the sky, and sighs. Ignis Solus tells the story of a lonely Pyro in Team Fortress 2 who experiences loss. It is beautifully made and features an original song of the same name as the video. Ignis Solus was made by Lit Fuse Films, a talented studio that specializes in machinima filmmaking. Be sure to check out more of Lit Fuse Films’ work over on their website. 9. Deviation As a Counter-Strike team prepares to go up through a manhole, one member begins to wonder if they’ve done this before. Created by Jon Griggs in 2006, Deviation deals with questions of fate and blindly following orders. The fact that the film is self-aware and riffs on the repetition inherent in online multiplayer shooters just makes it that much more enjoyable and pertinent, as such game mechanics are still used today. To see more of Griggs’ work, head over to his website. 8. The Journey What do you get when you combine an Orwellian dystopian future, stick-figures, Unreal Tournament, and poetry? I don’t really know, but I’d imagine it would be something very much like The Journey. Filmed in Unreal Tournament 2003, The Journey won the “Make Something Unreal Contest” put on by Epic Games. It very abstractly tells the story of a stick-figure person that breaks away from the norm and by doing so finds a unique voice, vision, and heart. For more information, feel free to visit journey.machinimag.com. 7. Portal: A Day in the Life of a Turret This short film focuses on the lives of two turrets in the game Portal. There isn’t much to say about this one, almost the entirety of the short is spent watching the stationary turrets talking with each other. They share jokes, insults, frustrations, discuss the meaning life, and then... well, you will just have to watch. A Day in the Life of a Turret is brought to you by the same people behind the well-known series The Leet World, a parody of The Real World that places the terrorists and counter-terrorists from Counter-Strike in a house together. 6. Mercy of the Sea A high fantasy adventure filmed using World of Warcraft, J. Joshua Diltz’s Mercy of the Sea focuses on a mother’s quest to retrieve her child from the clutches of her former husband. The voice acting and action are top-notch and supplemented by a genuinely creepy atmosphere. Though there are a few terms used in the film that those unfamiliar with the lore and gameplay of World of Warcraft might find difficult to understand, but they aren’t terribly important to the narrative. Finally, the visuals are stunning. How the various shots and effects were made in-game, I will never understand, yet Mercy of the Sea pulls it off. 5. Better Life Creator Rob Wright perfectly captures the power of escapism in this short film shot within Second Life. Better Life tells the story of a paraplegic stuck in a wheelchair who escapes into a virtual world free of his disability. The film is directly complemented by the song “Better Life” by the band Angry Man. I know people who play video games for this exact reason, people who have disabilities that physically prevent them from doing everything they want to accomplish. For them, video games (and MMOs in particular) allow them to feel free and not be defined by their physical limitations. You can see more of Rob’s work over at his blog Digital Double. 4. 6 Days J. Joshua Diltz makes this list for the second time for his collaborative work with artist Joseph DeLappe in the experimental documentary 6 Days. Recorded over six consecutive days within Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the film is a tribute to the military and civilian lives lost during the second battle of Fallujah. Though lacking a set narrative, this short, nine-minute video winds up packing a surprising emotional punch and raises questions about the costs and gamification of war. Three cameras show events unfolding simultaneously. One camera focuses on the action, another gives an overarching view of the battlefield, while the last rests on the rising death toll of the conflict. 3. Red vs. Blue Easily the best known Machinima series around, Rooster Teeth’s groundbreaking show is what introduced many people to the genre. Fun, light-hearted, and accessible, Red Vs. Blue is a comedy series about two warring factions in the boxed canyon of Blood Gulch filmed within Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo: Reach, and most recently Halo 4. Though the series officially ended with its 100th episode in 2007, the Rooster Teeth team has continued releasing content and are currently gearing up for an 11th season. Just a heads up that the series does contain some strong language. Check out the series on Rooster Teeth. 2. Maintenance Man Ever wonder how members of the Overwatch act behind closed doors in Half-Life 2? Lit Fuse Films’ second movie to make this list, Maintenance Man answers that question with equal parts comedy and action. While Gordon Freeman and a group of rebels are attacking the Citadel, catastrophic damage is done to the facility’s energy core. Only one man can prevent a total disaster and that man is Hank... the janitor. There are plenty of references that will have you laughing and some well-executed slapstick humor as well as some really nicely done action sequences and character building. As before, be sure to check out more of Lit Fuse Films’ work over on their website. 1. The Trashmaster All of the other machinima films on this list have been short films, but The Trashmaster takes things to the next level with a full-blown feature film with an 88-minute running time. This would be impressive by itself, but the fact that The Trashmaster is well executed and compelling for the entirety of those 88-minutes is astounding. If anyone doubts that full-length movies can be made inside of a game, The Trashmaster will prove them wrong. Set in New York City, the film follows a garbage man who moonlights as a vigilante. The movie features some pretty intense violence, more than you would expect even within the GTA IV engine, and winds up nailing the gritty crime thriller vibe. Matthieu Weschler produced something really special with this project. Any machinima projects that you feel deserve to be on this list? Let us know in the comments! Top 10 Machinima Films Contrary to popular belief, machinima (pronounced muh-sheen-uh-muh) is not just the name of one of YouTube’s largest content publishing channels, it is also the name of a specific film genre. Machinima is a combination of the words “machine” and “cinema” and is used to refer to movies or short films that are animated and recorded within a video game engine. Machinima is similar in many respects to traditional filmmaking. Actors are used to manipulate in-game avatars while cameramen move and record the actions of the actors. Voice-over artists provide vocalization for the characters and animators create non-traditional animations for character models. Filming requires coordination and often involves using in-game glitches to achieve unique and compelling camera angles. The idea that meaningful, independent narratives might be told using a video game might seem laughable to some people. However, the films bring up important questions on topics as diverse as: disability, escapism, loneliness, the costs of war, vigilantism, fate, individuality, and more. While some of the machinima on this list make use of a more light-hearted tone and others have a darker emphasis, they are all well-made, engaging, and fun to watch, providing new perspectives on the games in which they were made. The genre, though certainly very much niche, has much to offer those who can accept such a non-traditional storytelling method. 10. Ignis Solus Two forts stand on either side of a body of water, a single bridge connects them. One Pyro wanders aimlessly between the two. He stops, looking at the sky, and sighs. Ignis Solus tells the story of a lonely Pyro in Team Fortress 2 who experiences loss. It is beautifully made and features an original song of the same name as the video. Ignis Solus was made by Lit Fuse Films, a talented studio that specializes in machinima filmmaking. Be sure to check out more of Lit Fuse Films’ work over on their website. 9. Deviation As a Counter-Strike team prepares to go up through a manhole, one member begins to wonder if they’ve done this before. Created by Jon Griggs in 2006, Deviation deals with questions of fate and blindly following orders. The fact that the film is self-aware and riffs on the repetition inherent in online multiplayer shooters just makes it that much more enjoyable and pertinent, as such game mechanics are still used today. To see more of Griggs’ work, head over to his website. 8. The Journey What do you get when you combine an Orwellian dystopian future, stick-figures, Unreal Tournament, and poetry? I don’t really know, but I’d imagine it would be something very much like The Journey. Filmed in Unreal Tournament 2003, The Journey won the “Make Something Unreal Contest” put on by Epic Games. It very abstractly tells the story of a stick-figure person that breaks away from the norm and by doing so finds a unique voice, vision, and heart. For more information, feel free to visit journey.machinimag.com. 7. Portal: A Day in the Life of a Turret This short film focuses on the lives of two turrets in the game Portal. There isn’t much to say about this one, almost the entirety of the short is spent watching the stationary turrets talking with each other. They share jokes, insults, frustrations, discuss the meaning life, and then... well, you will just have to watch. A Day in the Life of a Turret is brought to you by the same people behind the well-known series The Leet World, a parody of The Real World that places the terrorists and counter-terrorists from Counter-Strike in a house together. 6. Mercy of the Sea A high fantasy adventure filmed using World of Warcraft, J. Joshua Diltz’s Mercy of the Sea focuses on a mother’s quest to retrieve her child from the clutches of her former husband. The voice acting and action are top-notch and supplemented by a genuinely creepy atmosphere. Though there are a few terms used in the film that those unfamiliar with the lore and gameplay of World of Warcraft might find difficult to understand, but they aren’t terribly important to the narrative. Finally, the visuals are stunning. How the various shots and effects were made in-game, I will never understand, yet Mercy of the Sea pulls it off. 5. Better Life Creator Rob Wright perfectly captures the power of escapism in this short film shot within Second Life. Better Life tells the story of a paraplegic stuck in a wheelchair who escapes into a virtual world free of his disability. The film is directly complemented by the song “Better Life” by the band Angry Man. I know people who play video games for this exact reason, people who have disabilities that physically prevent them from doing everything they want to accomplish. For them, video games (and MMOs in particular) allow them to feel free and not be defined by their physical limitations. You can see more of Rob’s work over at his blog Digital Double. 4. 6 Days J. Joshua Diltz makes this list for the second time for his collaborative work with artist Joseph DeLappe in the experimental documentary 6 Days. Recorded over six consecutive days within Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the film is a tribute to the military and civilian lives lost during the second battle of Fallujah. Though lacking a set narrative, this short, nine-minute video winds up packing a surprising emotional punch and raises questions about the costs and gamification of war. Three cameras show events unfolding simultaneously. One camera focuses on the action, another gives an overarching view of the battlefield, while the last rests on the rising death toll of the conflict. 3. Red Vs. Blue Easily the best known Machinima series around, Rooster Teeth’s groundbreaking show is what introduced many people to the genre. Fun, light-hearted, and accessible, Red Vs. Blue is a comedy series about two warring factions in the boxed canyon of Blood Gulch filmed within Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo: Reach, and most recently Halo 4. Though the series officially ended with its 100th episode in 2007, the Rooster Teeth team has continued releasing content and are currently gearing up for an 11th season. Check out the series on Rooster Teeth. 2. Maintenance Man Ever wonder how members of the Overwatch act behind closed doors in Half-Life 2? Lit Fuse Films’ second movie to make this list, Maintenance Man answers that question with equal parts comedy and action. While Gordon Freeman and a group of rebels are attacking the Citadel, catastrophic damage is done to the facility’s energy core. Only one man can prevent a total disaster and that man is Hank... the janitor. There are plenty of references that will have you laughing and some well-executed slapstick humor as well as some really nicely done action sequences and character building. As before, be sure to check out more of Lit Fuse Films’ work over on their website. 1. The Trashmaster All of the other machinima films on this list have been short films, but The Trashmaster takes things to the next level with a full-blown feature film with an 88-minute running time. This would be impressive by itself, but the fact that The Trashmaster is well executed and compelling for the entirety of those 88-minutes is astounding. If anyone doubts that full-length movies can be made inside of a game, The Trashmaster will prove them wrong. Set in New York City, the film follows a garbageman who moonlights as a vigilante. The movie features some pretty intense violence, more than you would expect even within the GTA IV engine, and winds up nailing the gritty crime thriller vibe. Matthieu Weschler produced something really special with this project. View full article
  11. On Thursday, Electronic Arts announced Need for Speed Rivals, a racing title from one of EA’s newest studios, Ghost Games in partnership with Criterion Games, the team behind the Burnout series. The game will be built on the Frostbite 3 game engine. It will be released on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on November 19 this year and it will also be coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Rivals allows players to take on the role of either a police officer or a racer, pitting the two sides against each other. Each faction has its own goals and challenges. Racers aim to make names for themselves by making the most daring escapes and evading more and more cops. More escapes will earn players more points with which they can unlock new cars and items. As a cop, players make use of teamwork to pursue and capture the racers and earn points for every racer busted. Officers will also rise through the ranks and unlock exclusive vehicles and pursuit technology. The game will make use of a new online feature called AllDrive, which will provide players with smooth transitions from single player to co-op to multiplayer. Friends and enemies will be able to enter races as they unfold, lending an amount of unpredictability into every situation. Need for Speed Rivals will also come with the features fans have come to expect: High-fidelity graphics, stat tracking, customizable cars, and upgradable tech for both the cops and the racers. Pre-orders at select retailers will come with the Ultimate Cop Pack which provides access to powerful items, cars, and customization options.
  12. On Thursday, Electronic Arts announced Need for Speed Rivals, a racing title from one of EA’s newest studios, Ghost Games in partnership with Criterion Games, the team behind the Burnout series. The game will be built on the Frostbite 3 game engine. It will be released on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on November 19 this year and it will also be coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Rivals allows players to take on the role of either a police officer or a racer, pitting the two sides against each other. Each faction has its own goals and challenges. Racers aim to make names for themselves by making the most daring escapes and evading more and more cops. More escapes will earn players more points with which they can unlock new cars and items. As a cop, players make use of teamwork to pursue and capture the racers and earn points for every racer busted. Officers will also rise through the ranks and unlock exclusive vehicles and pursuit technology. The game will make use of a new online feature called AllDrive, which will provide players with smooth transitions from single player to co-op to multiplayer. Friends and enemies will be able to enter races as they unfold, lending an amount of unpredictability into every situation. Need for Speed Rivals will also come with the features fans have come to expect: High-fidelity graphics, stat tracking, customizable cars, and upgradable tech for both the cops and the racers. Pre-orders at select retailers will come with the Ultimate Cop Pack which provides access to powerful items, cars, and customization options. View full article
  13. Remedy Entertainment’s Sam Lake issued a video statement that addressed this week’s Alan Wake Humble Bundle sale, explained why the studio was working on the upcoming Xbox One title Quantum Break, and apologized for putting Alan Wake 2 on the backburner. “From a creative perspective, it would be awesome if we could just create cool stuff and not worry about minor details like money,” Lake said, “but we all know that’s not the case.” While Lake lamented the fact that Alan Wake 2 will have to wait because “the time is not right” he expressed his hope for the future, now that they have received full backing for Quantum Break. Perhaps after Quantum Break releases, he and his team can go back and finish the work that they started on the Alan Wake sequel. For those of you unfamiliar with the Humble Bundle program, Humble Bundle is an effort undertaken between developers and charities like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child’s Play. Gamers have the option to buy games put into the bundle and pay whatever they want for them, then decide how much money each organization involved with the bundle should receive from their purchase.
  14. Remedy Entertainment’s Sam Lake issued a video statement that addressed this week’s Alan Wake Humble Bundle sale, explained why the studio was working on the upcoming Xbox One title Quantum Break, and apologized for putting Alan Wake 2 on the backburner. “From a creative perspective, it would be awesome if we could just create cool stuff and not worry about minor details like money,” Lake said, “but we all know that’s not the case.” While Lake lamented the fact that Alan Wake 2 will have to wait because “the time is not right” he expressed his hope for the future, now that they have received full backing for Quantum Break. Perhaps after Quantum Break releases, he and his team can go back and finish the work that they started on the Alan Wake sequel. For those of you unfamiliar with the Humble Bundle program, Humble Bundle is an effort undertaken between developers and charities like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child’s Play. Gamers have the option to buy games put into the bundle and pay whatever they want for them, then decide how much money each organization involved with the bundle should receive from their purchase. View full article
  15. After enduring a two month long closed beta, PopCap Games released Adventures around the world. The game has players making road trips with their friends during a zombie apocalypse. “We’re thrilled to bring new ‘Adventures’ to Plants vs. Zombies fans around the world, challenging them to use new strategies to defeat zombies as they come from all directions in a range of cool new settings,” said Curt Bererton, Executive Producer at PopCap. PopCap was also careful to reiterate that Plants vs. Zombies Adventures is not Plants vs. Zombies 2, which will be coming to retail later this summer. Plants vs. Zombies Adventures boasts a slew of new features including: path-based tower defense, multi-directional zombie onslaughts, new locations to fight the undead hordes, additional power-ups, the promise of monthly updates, new types of zombies, leaderboards, and the ability to unleash a zombie attack upon your friends (or enemies). You can check out Plants vs. Zombies Adventures for the low cost of free via this link.
  16. After enduring a two month long closed beta, PopCap Games released Adventures around the world. The game has players making road trips with their friends during a zombie apocalypse. “We’re thrilled to bring new ‘Adventures’ to Plants vs. Zombies fans around the world, challenging them to use new strategies to defeat zombies as they come from all directions in a range of cool new settings,” said Curt Bererton, Executive Producer at PopCap. PopCap was also careful to reiterate that Plants vs. Zombies Adventures is not Plants vs. Zombies 2, which will be coming to retail later this summer. Plants vs. Zombies Adventures boasts a slew of new features including: path-based tower defense, multi-directional zombie onslaughts, new locations to fight the undead hordes, additional power-ups, the promise of monthly updates, new types of zombies, leaderboards, and the ability to unleash a zombie attack upon your friends (or enemies). You can check out Plants vs. Zombies Adventures for the low cost of free via this link. View full article
  17. Today in a streamed Nintendo Direct, Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata was pleased to unveil a business partnership with former rival Sega. Cementing this new connection was the revelation of a new Sonic title called Sonic Lost World for WiiU and 3DS, a new WiiU Mario & Sonic at the Olympics title for this year’s Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and the announcement that the Nintendo E-Shop would soon be selling Sega GameGear titles. From that starting point, the Direct broadcast went on to divulge more information on various upcoming titles. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages will be sold via the E-Shop beginning May 30 for $5.99 each, but will be on sale for first month for 4.99 apiece. A couple minutes were devoted to discussing Mario and Donkey Kong Minis on the Move’s level creator and level sharing systems. Nintendo also announced a video series on Animal Crossing: New Leaf. The new Animal Crossing releases on June 9. More info was shared on Game and Wario (something involving creatures called… Fronks). The latest WiiU Wario title will retail at a $39.99 price point on June 23. In a surprise move, Nintendo also announced that New Super Luigi U, previously DLC only for New Super Mario Bros. U, would also be receiving a standalone retail version. The DLC content will be priced at $19.99, while the version available in stores will be $29.99. Also showcased was the addition of a new character called Nabbit, who will help ease the difficulty of the title for less experienced players. Iwata also hinted at upcoming info for the mysterious Platinum Games title The Wonderful 101, which will be released September 15. Reggie Fils-Aime, president and COO of Nintendo of America, concluded the Nintendo Direct by revealing that during the week of E3, people will be able to play select unreleased WiiU titles at Best Buy stores. You can view the full Nintendo Direct broadcast below.
  18. Today in a streamed Nintendo Direct, Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata was pleased to unveil a business partnership with former rival Sega. Cementing this new connection was the revelation of a new Sonic title called Sonic Lost World for WiiU and 3DS, a new WiiU Mario & Sonic at the Olympics title for this year’s Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and the announcement that the Nintendo E-Shop would soon be selling Sega GameGear titles. From that starting point, the Direct broadcast went on to divulge more information on various upcoming titles. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages will be sold via the E-Shop beginning May 30 for $5.99 each, but will be on sale for first month for 4.99 apiece. A couple minutes were devoted to discussing Mario and Donkey Kong Minis on the Move’s level creator and level sharing systems. Nintendo also announced a video series on Animal Crossing: New Leaf. The new Animal Crossing releases on June 9. More info was shared on Game and Wario (something involving creatures called… Fronks). The latest WiiU Wario title will retail at a $39.99 price point on June 23. In a surprise move, Nintendo also announced that New Super Luigi U, previously DLC only for New Super Mario Bros. U, would also be receiving a standalone retail version. The DLC content will be priced at $19.99, while the version available in stores will be $29.99. Also showcased was the addition of a new character called Nabbit, who will help ease the difficulty of the title for less experienced players. Iwata also hinted at upcoming info for the mysterious Platinum Games title The Wonderful 101, which will be released September 15. Reggie Fils-Aime, president and COO of Nintendo of America, concluded the Nintendo Direct by revealing that during the week of E3, people will be able to play select unreleased WiiU titles at Best Buy stores. You can view the full Nintendo Direct broadcast below. View full article
  19. Remember that game that came out a while ago? You know, that one with the cute little plants and the looming threat of a zombie invasion? Released in 2009, Plants vs. Zombies was a fantastic game that tasked players with defending their home from encroaching zombie hordes by strategically planting whimsical shrubbery. Many had thought that PopCap had moved on to other projects and left Plants vs. Zombies behind for good... until now. After four long years, PopCap Games is gearing up to release a long awaited sequel. Unfortunately, the details surrounding Plants vs. Zombies 2 are a bit hazy. No gameplay has been revealed or information about how it will differ from the 2009 release. At this point, all that is known at this point is that Plants vs. Zombies 2 exists and that it will be releasing sometime this July. Hopefully we will be able to dig up some more information about the defensive gardening title around E3 next month. For now, you can watch the teaser trailer PopCap released earlier this week.
  20. Remember that game that came out a while ago? You know, that one with the cute little plants and the looming threat of a zombie invasion? Released in 2009, Plants vs. Zombies was a fantastic game that tasked players with defending their home from encroaching zombie hordes by strategically planting whimsical shrubbery. Many had thought that PopCap had moved on to other projects and left Plants vs. Zombies behind for good... until now. After four long years, PopCap Games is gearing up to release a long awaited sequel. Unfortunately, the details surrounding Plants vs. Zombies 2 are a bit hazy. No gameplay has been revealed or information about how it will differ from the 2009 release. At this point, all that is known at this point is that Plants vs. Zombies 2 exists and that it will be releasing sometime this July. Hopefully we will be able to dig up some more information about the defensive gardening title around E3 next month. For now, you can watch the teaser trailer PopCap released earlier this week. View full article
  21. Yesterday, Twitch.tv launched their long awaited app on Xbox Live. Nearly a year after the application was announced at E3 2012, Xbox Live Gold subscribers can finally get their hands on a console-based streaming app. Gamers can browse by game, featured content, and the most popular channels at any given time. The app is also compatible with the Kinect motion and voice controls. For people who are very into watching livestreams of gaming content, the app might seem a bit lacking in a few departments. Notably, there is no cross platform functionality, meaning you can’t connect the Twitch app with an existing Twitch.tv account. You also can’t favorite channels or bookmark them for future use. The inability to see offline channels is also a bit perplexing. Perhaps with time, more features will be added to the app. However, if you are simply looking for a service that streams live video game content like tournaments, speedruns, or Let’s Plays, the Twitch app will get the job done. Just to reiterate, the service is only available for those with an Xbox Live Gold membership. You can check out Twitch.tv to see what kinds of content you'll be able to view with the new app.
  22. Yesterday, Twitch.tv launched their long awaited app on Xbox Live. Nearly a year after the application was announced at E3 2012, Xbox Live Gold subscribers can finally get their hands on a console-based streaming app. Gamers can browse by game, featured content, and the most popular channels at any given time. The app is also compatible with the Kinect motion and voice controls. For people who are very into watching livestreams of gaming content, the app might seem a bit lacking in a few departments. Notably, there is no cross platform functionality, meaning you can’t connect the Twitch app with an existing Twitch.tv account. You also can’t favorite channels or bookmark them for future use. The inability to see offline channels is also a bit perplexing. Perhaps with time, more features will be added to the app. However, if you are simply looking for a service that streams live video game content like tournaments, speedruns, or Let’s Plays, the Twitch app will get the job done. Just to reiterate, the service is only available for those with an Xbox Live Gold membership. You can check out Twitch.tv to see what kinds of content you'll be able to view with the new app. View full article
  23. There are two things in this life that I love: Great games and free things. Usually the two don’t coincide with each other. Most great games come with a price tag and those that don’t eventually sucker you into microtransactions or a subscription. It is incredibly rare to find worthwhile games that are completely free that provide a full gaming experience that you can sink hours into and feel satisfied. As a service to those of you who are strapped for cash or just looking for a great game to play, I scoured the corners of the internet for fantastic free games. I sorted through all kinds of shovelware and viruses, but emerged with a precious handful of gems. Here are the unsung wonders that I found, enjoyed, and whole-heartedly recommend. Exit Fate The first of two games on this list that spawned as a result of tinkering with RPG Maker software, Exit Fate, created by Dutch indie game developer SCF, is a gigantic love letter to old-school RPGs like Suikoden II. Random encounters with enemies make up the bulk of this title’s gameplay. Combat takes place in a traditional, turn-based style with the player’s party consisting of up to six characters arranged tactically over a 3x3 grid. To spice up the combat, SCF included a relationship system where characters have certain attitudes toward one another that affect their stats in combat if they are both in the party at the same time. There are 75 recruitable party members each with their own sidequests, personalities, relationships, and abilities. There is more to Exit Fate than grinding through enemies for experience. Occasionally the game will allow players to flex their strategic muscles by presenting them with large-scale battles. These play out over sweeping grids as armies take turns maneuvering troops. The player’s army can be customized depending on which characters have been recruited. There are several different kinds of troop units to master including: infantry, cavalry, scouts, and sorcery. These sequences serve as a welcome interlude between missions and offer a nice challenge for even veteran strategy gamers. However, no RPG can stand on its own without a compelling storyline to keep players interested. On this front, Exit Fate delivers one of the more original RPG stories I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Players are put in the role of Daniel Vinyard, a Colonel in the Kirkgard Army. Kirkgard and the nearby Zelmony Union, though technically at peace, have been at odds with each other for years over the ownership of Helman Island, a point neatly between the two nations. Kirkgard has assembled an army in secret and plans to take Helman Island and use it to stage an invasion of Zelmony. As the fighting begins, something goes horribly wrong and a twist of fate places Daniel on a course to meet his destiny. The fact that this incredibly solid game was crafted by one person should intrigue anyone interested in game development or indie games. The amount of time and detail that went into creating Exit Fate is staggering. The average runtime of a full playthrough of Exit Fate clocks in at around 40 hours. You are never left without something to do, there is always one more party member to recruit or secret boss to defeat, and the story keeps throwing out enough political intrigue, memorable characters, and plot twists to keep the average player engrossed for its entirety. Exit Fate is truly excellent and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to play a refreshing old-style RPG. You can download Exit Fate for free over on SCF’s personal website. For more information and strategy guides, here is a handy fan-made website dedicated to the game. Note: This is an RPG from a bygone age. Bosses are difficult and there can be long stretches without a save point. If you find that you have gone a significant period of time between saves, go out of your way to save your game and always have a backup save so you don’t get stuck in an impossible area. Wing Commander Saga For people unfamiliar with the Wing Commander series, this will be a bit of a gaming history lesson. The original Wing Commander released in 1990 for the PC and focused on a conflict in the 27th century between the human race and a cat-like alien species known as the Kilrathi. Players took on the role of a starship pilot using a variety of space fighters to engage the Kilrathi in large-scale space wars. It turns out that this kind of thing appealed to gamers (who would have guessed?) and the game was a huge success, eventually getting ports to several other systems. Wing Commander proved incredibly popular from 1990 until 1996 when the series went dormant. The core Wing Commander entries are famous for their extensive use of FMV cutscenes to convey their stories with well-known actors such as Mark Hamill, Christopher Walken, and John Rhys-Davies. Though Wing Commander has been gone for nearly seventeen years, fans of the series have by no means forgotten it. A group of enterprising and talented people who had enjoyed it during its heyday got together in 2001 to begin working on a tribute to the games they loved. After developing Wing Commander Saga for more than a decade, the team finally released their labor of love in 2012. Wing Commander Saga stands as fully-fledged campaign called Darkest Dawn which takes place during the events of Wing Commander III. This amazing product of dedication contains fully voiced dialogue, beautifully rendered cutscenes, and engaging in-game squad chatter. Players take on the role of a fighter pilot, call sign Sandman, stationed on the carrier-class starship Hermes. Gamers will be treated to lengthy missions involving eliminating Kilrathi fighters, bombers, capital ships, enemy carriers, defending human vessels, and general awesome space-shooting-explosions kind of stuff. A word of warning for new Wing Commander Saga players: plug in a controller or joystick and tailor the controls to be a bit more playable. The keyboard control scheme is convoluted at best and extremely unintuitive for newcomers. Mapping the controls to a controller feels much more familiar. You can download Wing Commander Saga from the official website. Doom Roguelike Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a space marine fighting the forces of evil from a top-down perspective with randomly generated levels and turn-based movement? If you answered yes, you’re in luck! Doom Roguelike is a remake of the original Doom, but placing it within the wildly different roguelike genre. Players select one of three initial classes: marine, technician, or scout. Each class has different starting stats and abilities that affect the way players can best approach the challenges that await them. Movement through levels occurs one tile at a time, slowly revealing darkened areas that are out of the character’s line of sight. Monsters that appear within character’s visual range begin attacking, either by closing in for melee attacks or by firing lethal projectiles. With each enemy neutralized, characters receive experience points which go toward unlocking new skills that will help players progress further. Numerous secret arenas are scattered throughout the 25 levels of the game world that push player abilities to the limit, but provide new weapons, upgrades, and healthy chunks of experience. The main hook of Doom Roguelike is the implementation of permadeath; if the player’s character dies, the game restarts at the beginning. Permadeath and the randomized elements in each of the levels result in a unique experience every play session. As a nice treat for fans of the classic Doom, enemies retain their original artwork and sound effects. Overall, Doom Roguelike isn’t a terribly nuanced game. However, it succeeds in providing an original twist on a classic gaming formula. Doom Roguelike feels like a well-designed breath of fresh air. As a free game that can run on practically anything, Doom Roguelike is definitely worth your time. You can download the full game on chaosforge.org. Star Stealing Prince Using RPG Maker VX, a person under the name Ronove created a surprisingly refreshing RPG experience. Clocking in at about ten hours in length, the mechanics, puzzles, beautiful hand-drawn artwork, and most of all the story never once left me bored or unsatisfied. In terms of gameplay, there is more depth than you would expect. Combat occurs in a traditional turn-based fashion, with characters gaining experience and leveling up to increase their stats. New skills are learned by finding magic tomes and determined by the weapons and armor characters have equipped. While magic skills use MP, skills that come from your equipped gear can be accessed when a character has built up enough TP by attacking or being hit by enemies. Outside of combat, exploration is almost always rewarded with a new piece of armor, weapon, or useful item. The crafty and entertaining puzzles that crop up from time to time were an unexpected pleasure. One riddle in particular takes place during a tense boss battle and requires you to brush up a bit on your astrology knowledge. The best way to describe the story of Star Stealing Prince is to equate it with a fairy tale. Like a fairy tale, Star Stealing Prince isn’t overly complex and there isn’t an overabundance of characters, but it doesn’t need those things to tell the story it wants to convey. To sum up the basic premise of this indie gem: On a remote island there is a kingdom shrouded in perpetual winter ruled by a prince named Snowe. The prince’s parents died when he was small, but they left behind a great many pieces of magic. One of their most powerful spells binds all of the citizens of the kingdom to the prince, making them feel what he feels. If he is happy, they are happy. The spell also shields the people from the cold, keeping them warm and dry in a land of harsh winter. After being wracked by a strange nightmare, Snowe discovers his parents trapped a girl within a tower for an unknown purpose… And so begins the gripping adventure of Star Stealing Prince. If I could only recommend one game out of these four, it would be Star Stealing Prince. It is a short, rewarding and game that has a lot to offer if you take the time to download and play it. It feels intensely personal and real. When you play Star Stealing Prince you just know that someone was putting a part of themselves into it, which isn’t a feeling you get from many AAA experiences. Since this game is free, you have no excuse not to play it. Do yourself a favor and download Star Stealing Prince over on the official site. I suggest that you download it with RTP if you want it to function properly on your computer. Honorable Mention: Candy Box I can’t really explain Candy Box without ruining what makes it so great. Just follow this link, leave it open in a tab for a few minutes, forget about it, and come back. Then your descent into obsession epic quest for glory can truly begin.
  24. There are two things in this life that I love: Great games and free things. Usually the two don’t coincide with each other. Most great games come with a price tag and those that don’t eventually sucker you into microtransactions or a subscription. It is incredibly rare to find worthwhile games that are completely free that provide a full gaming experience that you can sink hours into and feel satisfied. As a service to those of you who are strapped for cash or just looking for a great game to play, I scoured the corners of the internet for fantastic free games. I sorted through all kinds of shovelware and viruses, but emerged with a precious handful of gems. Here are the unsung wonders that I found, enjoyed, and whole-heartedly recommend. Exit Fate The first of two games on this list that spawned as a result of tinkering with RPG Maker software, Exit Fate, created by Dutch indie game developer SCF, is a gigantic love letter to old-school RPGs like Suikoden II. Random encounters with enemies make up the bulk of this title’s gameplay. Combat takes place in a traditional, turn-based style with the player’s party consisting of up to six characters arranged tactically over a 3x3 grid. To spice up the combat, SCF included a relationship system where characters have certain attitudes toward one another that affect their stats in combat if they are both in the party at the same time. There are 75 recruitable party members each with their own sidequests, personalities, relationships, and abilities. There is more to Exit Fate than grinding through enemies for experience. Occasionally the game will allow players to flex their strategic muscles by presenting them with large-scale battles. These play out over sweeping grids as armies take turns maneuvering troops. The player’s army can be customized depending on which characters have been recruited. There are several different kinds of troop units to master including: infantry, cavalry, scouts, and sorcery. These sequences serve as a welcome interlude between missions and offer a nice challenge for even veteran strategy gamers. However, no RPG can stand on its own without a compelling storyline to keep players interested. On this front, Exit Fate delivers one of the more original RPG stories I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Players are put in the role of Daniel Vinyard, a Colonel in the Kirkgard Army. Kirkgard and the nearby Zelmony Union, though technically at peace, have been at odds with each other for years over the ownership of Helman Island, a point neatly between the two nations. Kirkgard has assembled an army in secret and plans to take Helman Island and use it to stage an invasion of Zelmony. As the fighting begins, something goes horribly wrong and a twist of fate places Daniel on a course to meet his destiny. The fact that this incredibly solid game was crafted by one person should intrigue anyone interested in game development or indie games. The amount of time and detail that went into creating Exit Fate is staggering. The average runtime of a full playthrough of Exit Fate clocks in at around 40 hours. You are never left without something to do, there is always one more party member to recruit or secret boss to defeat, and the story keeps throwing out enough political intrigue, memorable characters, and plot twists to keep the average player engrossed for its entirety. Exit Fate is truly excellent and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to play a refreshing old-style RPG. You can download Exit Fate for free over on SCF’s personal website. For more information and strategy guides, here is a handy fan-made website dedicated to the game. Note: This is an RPG from a bygone age. Bosses are difficult and there can be long stretches without a save point. If you find that you have gone a significant period of time between saves, go out of your way to save your game and always have a backup save so you don’t get stuck in an impossible area. Wing Commander Saga For people unfamiliar with the Wing Commander series, this will be a bit of a gaming history lesson. The original Wing Commander released in 1990 for the PC and focused on a conflict in the 27th century between the human race and a cat-like alien species known as the Kilrathi. Players took on the role of a starship pilot using a variety of space fighters to engage the Kilrathi in large-scale space wars. It turns out that this kind of thing appealed to gamers (who would have guessed?) and the game was a huge success, eventually getting ports to several other systems. Wing Commander proved incredibly popular from 1990 until 1996 when the series went dormant. The core Wing Commander entries are famous for their extensive use of FMV cutscenes to convey their stories with well-known actors such as Mark Hamill, Christopher Walken, and John Rhys-Davies. Though Wing Commander has been gone for nearly seventeen years, fans of the series have by no means forgotten it. A group of enterprising and talented people who had enjoyed it during its heyday got together in 2001 to begin working on a tribute to the games they loved. After developing Wing Commander Saga for more than a decade, the team finally released their labor of love in 2012. Wing Commander Saga stands as fully-fledged campaign called Darkest Dawn which takes place during the events of Wing Commander III. This amazing product of dedication contains fully voiced dialogue, beautifully rendered cutscenes, and engaging in-game squad chatter. Players take on the role of a fighter pilot, call sign Sandman, stationed on the carrier-class starship Hermes. Gamers will be treated to lengthy missions involving eliminating Kilrathi fighters, bombers, capital ships, enemy carriers, defending human vessels, and general awesome space-shooting-explosions kind of stuff. A word of warning for new Wing Commander Saga players: plug in a controller or joystick and tailor the controls to be a bit more playable. The keyboard control scheme is convoluted at best and extremely unintuitive for newcomers. Mapping the controls to a controller feels much more familiar. You can download Wing Commander Saga from the official website. Doom Roguelike Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a space marine fighting the forces of evil from a top-down perspective with randomly generated levels and turn-based movement? If you answered yes, you’re in luck! Doom Roguelike is a remake of the original Doom, but placing it within the wildly different roguelike genre. Players select one of three initial classes: marine, technician, or scout. Each class has different starting stats and abilities that affect the way players can best approach the challenges that await them. Movement through levels occurs one tile at a time, slowly revealing darkened areas that are out of the character’s line of sight. Monsters that appear within character’s visual range begin attacking, either by closing in for melee attacks or by firing lethal projectiles. With each enemy neutralized, characters receive experience points which go toward unlocking new skills that will help players progress further. Numerous secret arenas are scattered throughout the 25 levels of the game world that push player abilities to the limit, but provide new weapons, upgrades, and healthy chunks of experience. The main hook of Doom Roguelike is the implementation of permadeath; if the player’s character dies, the game restarts at the beginning. Permadeath and the randomized elements in each of the levels result in a unique experience every play session. As a nice treat for fans of the classic Doom, enemies retain their original artwork and sound effects. Overall, Doom Roguelike isn’t a terribly nuanced game. However, it succeeds in providing an original twist on a classic gaming formula. Doom Roguelike feels like a well-designed breath of fresh air. As a free game that can run on practically anything, Doom Roguelike is definitely worth your time. You can download the full game on chaosforge.org. Star Stealing Prince Using RPG Maker VX, a person under the name Ronove created a surprisingly refreshing RPG experience. Clocking in at about ten hours in length, the mechanics, puzzles, beautiful hand-drawn artwork, and most of all the story never once left me bored or unsatisfied. In terms of gameplay, there is more depth than you would expect. Combat occurs in a traditional turn-based fashion, with characters gaining experience and leveling up to increase their stats. New skills are learned by finding magic tomes and determined by the weapons and armor characters have equipped. While magic skills use MP, skills that come from your equipped gear can be accessed when a character has built up enough TP by attacking or being hit by enemies. Outside of combat, exploration is almost always rewarded with a new piece of armor, weapon, or useful item. The crafty and entertaining puzzles that crop up from time to time were an unexpected pleasure. One riddle in particular takes place during a tense boss battle and requires you to brush up a bit on your astrology knowledge. The best way to describe the story of Star Stealing Prince is to equate it with a fairy tale. Like a fairy tale, Star Stealing Prince isn’t overly complex and there isn’t an overabundance of characters, but it doesn’t need those things to tell the story it wants to convey. To sum up the basic premise of this indie gem: On a remote island there is a kingdom shrouded in perpetual winter ruled by a prince named Snowe. The prince’s parents died when he was small, but they left behind a great many pieces of magic. One of their most powerful spells binds all of the citizens of the kingdom to the prince, making them feel what he feels. If he is happy, they are happy. The spell also shields the people from the cold, keeping them warm and dry in a land of harsh winter. After being wracked by a strange nightmare, Snowe discovers his parents trapped a girl within a tower for an unknown purpose… And so begins the gripping adventure of Star Stealing Prince. If I could only recommend one game out of these four, it would be Star Stealing Prince. It is a short, rewarding and game that has a lot to offer if you take the time to download and play it. It feels intensely personal and real. When you play Star Stealing Prince you just know that someone was putting a part of themselves into it, which isn’t a feeling you get from many AAA experiences. Since this game is free, you have no excuse not to play it. Do yourself a favor and download Star Stealing Prince over on the official site. I suggest that you download it with RTP if you want it to function properly on your computer. Honorable Mention: Candy Box I can’t really explain Candy Box without ruining what makes it so great. Just follow this link, leave it open in a tab for a few minutes, forget about it, and come back. Then your descent into obsession epic quest for glory can truly begin. View full article
  25. On Monday, Maxis and EA announced that The Sims Studio, the dedicated Sims development team, was currently working on The Sims 4 for both PC and Mac. The next official entry in The Sims franchise is scheduled for a release sometime in 2014. Only a few scant details are known about the upcoming title. Gameplay will resemble previous Sims games, while adding the ability to share player creations with other Sims 4 gamers. For those of you worrying about another always online debacle like Maxis’ SimCity, never fear. The Sims 4 is promised to focus on the single player experience and will have no always online requirement. If you are a Sims super fan and want the latest updates on The Sims 4, you can head over to the official site and sign up for their newsletter. Or you can keep reading Extra Life. You know which one you’d prefer (the second one, obviously).
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