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Found 14 results

  1. BioShock Infinite, the swan song of Ken Levine's now defunct Irrational Games studio, released in 2013 to critical and commercial success. Over the years it has been subject to countless think pieces and theory articles diving into its esoteric world and thick layers of semiotics. It also found itself in something like a controversy surrounding criticism of its use of graphic violence. Despite it all, many point to it as a milestone in game design and praise the depth of its narrative. Now that it has been half a decade since its release, does BioShock Infinite stand as one of the best games of all-time? Is it the best BioShock of the series? Listen in to find out! 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: Dragon Warrior VII 'Deeper in the Heart' by Bluelighter, Arvangath, Chris ~ Amaterasu, and Katamari (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03762) 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!
  2. BioShock Infinite, the swan song of Ken Levine's now defunct Irrational Games studio, released in 2013 to critical and commercial success. Over the years it has been subject to countless think pieces and theory articles diving into its esoteric world and thick layers of semiotics. It also found itself in something like a controversy surrounding criticism of its use of graphic violence. Despite it all, many point to it as a milestone in game design and praise the depth of its narrative. Now that it has been half a decade since its release, does BioShock Infinite stand as one of the best games of all-time? Is it the best BioShock of the series? Listen in to find out! 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: Dragon Warrior VII 'Deeper in the Heart' by Bluelighter, Arvangath, Chris ~ Amaterasu, and Katamari (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03762) 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
  3. Irrational Games, the developer behind the BioShock series, made a colossal change three years ago when it laid off most of its employees and became a small studio. Since then, Ken Levine and his team have been quietly working on... something. No one is quite sure what they've been up to in their Westwood, Massachusetts offices, but they've been hinting at a quieter, more thoughtful story-oriented game. Their mission, that quest for a more personal game, didn't quite seem to fit with a studio name like Irrational Games. To bring their name more in line with their goals, the studio's new name is Ghost Story Games. The studio describes their new studio in a way that acknowledges their past pedigree, but looks forward to something new and exciting: Ghost Story was founded by twelve former Irrational Games developers and our mission is simple: to create immersive, story-driven games for people who love games that ask something of them. While we believe our new games will have strong appeal to fans of BioShock, our new focus allows us to craft experiences where the gameplay is as challenging as the stories. The Irrational Games Twitter has become the Ghost Story Twitter and while the Irrational Games website remains up, the team has moved their focus to a new website under their Ghost Story Games moniker. Best of luck to Levine and his team as they officially bring to a close one of the most successful periods in game development history and move into a clear future yet to be written. View full article
  4. Jack Gardner

    Irrational Games Is Now Ghost Story Games

    Irrational Games, the developer behind the BioShock series, made a colossal change three years ago when it laid off most of its employees and became a small studio. Since then, Ken Levine and his team have been quietly working on... something. No one is quite sure what they've been up to in their Westwood, Massachusetts offices, but they've been hinting at a quieter, more thoughtful story-oriented game. Their mission, that quest for a more personal game, didn't quite seem to fit with a studio name like Irrational Games. To bring their name more in line with their goals, the studio's new name is Ghost Story Games. The studio describes their new studio in a way that acknowledges their past pedigree, but looks forward to something new and exciting: Ghost Story was founded by twelve former Irrational Games developers and our mission is simple: to create immersive, story-driven games for people who love games that ask something of them. While we believe our new games will have strong appeal to fans of BioShock, our new focus allows us to craft experiences where the gameplay is as challenging as the stories. The Irrational Games Twitter has become the Ghost Story Twitter and while the Irrational Games website remains up, the team has moved their focus to a new website under their Ghost Story Games moniker. Best of luck to Levine and his team as they officially bring to a close one of the most successful periods in game development history and move into a clear future yet to be written.
  5. 2K has confirmed a report from a Kotaku source that it will be shutting down its Australian studio in Canberra. All employees have been laid off, though the publisher has stated it is looking to help those affected find additional opportunities. 2K Australia was one of the final AAA developer based in Australia. Originally a part of Irrational Games as Irrational Canberra, it was spun off into 2K Australia after 2K purchased Irrational in 2006. It worked on all three BioShock titles and most recently released Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! to critical and commercial success. Unfortunately, it appears that the costs of operating out of Australia was a significant factor in the studio's closure. 2K offered the following statement to help clarify the situation: We can confirm we have taken steps to begin the studio closure process for 2K Australia in order to better manage ongoing development costs while improving the working proximity of our creative teams. We are very grateful for the team’s valuable contributions to numerous 2K projects, and are working with affected staff to explore reassignment opportunities where possible. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who've lost their jobs. View full article
  6. Jack Gardner

    2K Australia Shutting Down

    2K has confirmed a report from a Kotaku source that it will be shutting down its Australian studio in Canberra. All employees have been laid off, though the publisher has stated it is looking to help those affected find additional opportunities. 2K Australia was one of the final AAA developer based in Australia. Originally a part of Irrational Games as Irrational Canberra, it was spun off into 2K Australia after 2K purchased Irrational in 2006. It worked on all three BioShock titles and most recently released Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! to critical and commercial success. Unfortunately, it appears that the costs of operating out of Australia was a significant factor in the studio's closure. 2K offered the following statement to help clarify the situation: We can confirm we have taken steps to begin the studio closure process for 2K Australia in order to better manage ongoing development costs while improving the working proximity of our creative teams. We are very grateful for the team’s valuable contributions to numerous 2K projects, and are working with affected staff to explore reassignment opportunities where possible. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who've lost their jobs.
  7. To those of you still clinging onto some hope that BioShock Vita might still be happening, I'm sorry. To the rest of you, prepare to visit Rapture once more on iOS sometime this summer. Despite the recent shuttering of Irrational Games, 2K Games retains the rights to make more BioShock titles, including re-releasing past BioShock games. Thus, 2K tweeted today that BioShock will be coming to iOS sometime "soon." Screenshots have also appeared on the web, which you can check out on the Extra Life Facebook page. Even though BioShock came out seven years ago, 2K Games' China studio clearly had to make some sacrifices in the graphics department to fit within Apple's size limits. While Extra Life hasn't had any direct hands-on time with the mobile title, Endgaget has a great preview that details their brief stint with iOS BioShock. View full article
  8. Jack Gardner

    The Original BioShock Goes Mobile

    To those of you still clinging onto some hope that BioShock Vita might still be happening, I'm sorry. To the rest of you, prepare to visit Rapture once more on iOS sometime this summer. Despite the recent shuttering of Irrational Games, 2K Games retains the rights to make more BioShock titles, including re-releasing past BioShock games. Thus, 2K tweeted today that BioShock will be coming to iOS sometime "soon." Screenshots have also appeared on the web, which you can check out on the Extra Life Facebook page. Even though BioShock came out seven years ago, 2K Games' China studio clearly had to make some sacrifices in the graphics department to fit within Apple's size limits. While Extra Life hasn't had any direct hands-on time with the mobile title, Endgaget has a great preview that details their brief stint with iOS BioShock.
  9. Jack Gardner

    The End of Irrational Games as We Know It

    Yesterday, Ken Levine, the head of Irrational Games, announced that following the release of the final DLC for BioShock Infinite he would be massively down-sizing his studio to focus on smaller, replayable, digital-only games. For those of you interested in Levine's goodbye letter, you can read it over on the Irrational website. For those of you wondering what happened, I'll try to break down the situation. Bear in mind that no one right now knows what went on behind closed doors between Ken Levine and publisher Take-Two Interactive and that some of this analysis will dip into speculative territory. Here are some of the things we do know: Irrational Games was the studio that created BioShock and BioShock Infinite, two of the most widely acclaimed titles of the previous console cycle. About 90% of Irrational will be out of a job when all is said and done, leaving Ken Levine and about fifteen other people with a place in the studio. Ken Levine wants to be a part of a smaller team with more creative freedom and not just be a BioShock IP machine. Finally, 2K now has the rights to the BioShock series. What initially struck me about this announcement wasn't excitement regarding Ken Levine's next project or that we can expect to see more games like BioShock 2. I just couldn't stop thinking about how huge Irrational Games was and how over 100 incredibly talented programmers, artists, writers, and scripters will now be looking for work and contemplating relocating their families because... well, we don't really know why. Taken on a surface level, it could seem like Ken Levine and his creative desire to return to a smaller studio might be the reason so many people are out of work or that Levine saw the writing on the wall and decided to jump ship with his closest development leads. However, I don't think that's the case at all. I don't know Levine, but I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt and think that he genuinely cares about his employees. In his farewell message, Levine mentions that he had been planning on striking out as an independent developer. After meeting with publisher Take-Two Interactive the company convinced Levine to stick with them along with the smaller team he desired. I find it likely that Take-Two Interactive saw this as a way of keeping their high-profile industry auteur while also drastically cutting costs. Maybe BioShock Infinite didn't make back quite as much money as the publisher would have liked, given the AAA budget and massive marketing campaigns. Perhaps the commercial failure of other projects like XCOM: Declassified put pressure on Take-Two to save money elsewhere. Whatever the case, Take-Two probably saw this as a win-win business scenario and gave Levine the go ahead to work on his smaller project. Ultimately, the reason these talented game makers and world builders will cease to be a part of Irrational isn't, as I'm sure some fanciful journalists might like to believe, the result of one man's creative callousness or hubris, but rather a cold, mundane business decision. Someone somewhere crunched the numbers and they stacked up against the continued existence of Irrational Games as we know it. This is how the video game industry works these days. Take-Two has every right to make this move. At the same time, business decisions like this that lead to the difficult and often harsh working conditions that plague the people who make the games we enjoy. Irrational's situation is just the most visible symptom of a larger problem. As for Ken Levine and his remaining team, what kind of a game can we expect to see out of them in the next few years? Reading between the lines, Levine wants to make a game that focuses on telling a compelling narrative while also being replayable and digitally distributed. This might seem a bit odd because most games that focus on narrative aren't necessarily the most replayable games. However, if you played BioShock Infinite, you might remember that throughout the game you made a handful of small choices. Admittedly, those choices had little impact on the overall story of Infinite, but what I thought was awesome about those few moments was how well they were woven into the core game. If I were to go out on a limb, I'd say that Levine wants to make a game similar to The Stanley Parable, a game whose narrative changes organically depending on how you play the game and respond to scenarios rather than with onscreen prompts or pauses in the gameplay. To me, that seems to fit with the ideas being highly replayable while also focusing on its narrative. It would also explain why such a long period of design would be required. I would also hazard a guess and say that it might be an FPS, given Levine's history with that genre. It really sucks whenever a studio loses so many great people, especially when it is one of the most talented game developers in the AAA gaming space. My heart and prayers are with those people and their families. As one of my colleagues put it, "Maybe the next great indie developer will rise out of the ashes of Irrational. Good could come out of this yet." What do you guys think about Irrational's ending? Also, here is a link to one of my favorite "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" covers.
  10. Yesterday, Ken Levine, the head of Irrational Games, announced that following the release of the final DLC for BioShock Infinite he would be massively down-sizing his studio to focus on smaller, replayable, digital-only games. For those of you interested in Levine's goodbye letter, you can read it over on the Irrational website. For those of you wondering what happened, I'll try to break down the situation. Bear in mind that no one right now knows what went on behind closed doors between Ken Levine and publisher Take-Two Interactive and that some of this analysis will dip into speculative territory. Here are some of the things we do know: Irrational Games was the studio that created BioShock and BioShock Infinite, two of the most widely acclaimed titles of the previous console cycle. About 90% of Irrational will be out of a job when all is said and done, leaving Ken Levine and about fifteen other people with a place in the studio. Ken Levine wants to be a part of a smaller team with more creative freedom and not just be a BioShock IP machine. Finally, 2K now has the rights to the BioShock series. What initially struck me about this announcement wasn't excitement regarding Ken Levine's next project or that we can expect to see more games like BioShock 2. I just couldn't stop thinking about how huge Irrational Games was and how over 100 incredibly talented programmers, artists, writers, and scripters will now be looking for work and contemplating relocating their families because... well, we don't really know why. Taken on a surface level, it could seem like Ken Levine and his creative desire to return to a smaller studio might be the reason so many people are out of work or that Levine saw the writing on the wall and decided to jump ship with his closest development leads. However, I don't think that's the case at all. I don't know Levine, but I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt and think that he genuinely cares about his employees. In his farewell message, Levine mentions that he had been planning on striking out as an independent developer. After meeting with publisher Take-Two Interactive the company convinced Levine to stick with them along with the smaller team he desired. I find it likely that Take-Two Interactive saw this as a way of keeping their high-profile industry auteur while also drastically cutting costs. Maybe BioShock Infinite didn't make back quite as much money as the publisher would have liked, given the AAA budget and massive marketing campaigns. Perhaps the commercial failure of other projects like XCOM: Declassified put pressure on Take-Two to save money elsewhere. Whatever the case, Take-Two probably saw this as a win-win business scenario and gave Levine the go ahead to work on his smaller project. Ultimately, the reason these talented game makers and world builders will cease to be a part of Irrational isn't, as I'm sure some fanciful journalists might like to believe, the result of one man's creative callousness or hubris, but rather a cold, mundane business decision. Someone somewhere crunched the numbers and they stacked up against the continued existence of Irrational Games as we know it. This is how the video game industry works these days. Take-Two has every right to make this move. At the same time, business decisions like this that lead to the difficult and often harsh working conditions that plague the people who make the games we enjoy. Irrational's situation is just the most visible symptom of a larger problem. As for Ken Levine and his remaining team, what kind of a game can we expect to see out of them in the next few years? Reading between the lines, Levine wants to make a game that focuses on telling a compelling narrative while also being replayable and digitally distributed. This might seem a bit odd because most games that focus on narrative aren't necessarily the most replayable games. However, if you played BioShock Infinite, you might remember that throughout the game you made a handful of small choices. Admittedly, those choices had little impact on the overall story of Infinite, but what I thought was awesome about those few moments was how well they were woven into the core game. If I were to go out on a limb, I'd say that Levine wants to make a game similar to The Stanley Parable, a game whose narrative changes organically depending on how you play the game and respond to scenarios rather than with onscreen prompts or pauses in the gameplay. To me, that seems to fit with the ideas being highly replayable while also focusing on its narrative. It would also explain why such a long period of design would be required. I would also hazard a guess and say that it might be an FPS, given Levine's history with that genre. It really sucks whenever a studio loses so many great people, especially when it is one of the most talented game developers in the AAA gaming space. My heart and prayers are with those people and their families. As one of my colleagues put it, "Maybe the next great indie developer will rise out of the ashes of Irrational. Good could come out of this yet." What do you guys think about Irrational's ending? Also, here is a link to one of my favorite "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" covers. View full article
  11. Despite the fishy locale, don't expect the continuation of the Burial at Sea downloadable content to be watered-down. Episode Two will put players in the role of Elizabeth, the heroine/sidekick from BioShock Infinite and Burial at Sea: Episode One. Developer Irrational has also promised an appearance from pretty much every major player from both BioShock and BioShock Infinite. One of the complaints leveled against Episode One was that its short length left some gamers wanting more content. Ken Levine tweeted that Episode Two will take five or six hours for completionists and hardcore fans to finish. Burial at Sea: Episode Two hits March 25 and will retail at $15 for people without the Season Pass.
  12. Despite the fishy locale, don't expect the continuation of the Burial at Sea downloadable content to be watered-down. Episode Two will put players in the role of Elizabeth, the heroine/sidekick from BioShock Infinite and Burial at Sea: Episode One. Developer Irrational has also promised an appearance from pretty much every major player from both BioShock and BioShock Infinite. One of the complaints leveled against Episode One was that its short length left some gamers wanting more content. Ken Levine tweeted that Episode Two will take five or six hours for completionists and hardcore fans to finish. Burial at Sea: Episode Two hits March 25 and will retail at $15 for people without the Season Pass. View full article
  13. If you haven’t played BioShock Infinite and care about spoilers don’t read this. *WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD* In Burial at Sea, players take up the role of Booker DeWitt once again only this time he’s in a pre-calamity Rapture, the magnificent underwater city featured in the original BioShock. Booker won’t be alone. He teams up with a more grown-up and world weary Elizabeth to find a way out. The new adventure will merge BioShock with BioShock Infinite, granting new weapons, powers, and Big Daddies. Players will be able to see what Rapture was like before the civil war which ripped it to pieces. Irrational Games also promises the return of some familiar faces and the introduction of some new ones. Personally, I can’t wait for another BioShock-ian adventure to find out how and why Elizabeth and Booker find themselves in Rapture. View full article
  14. If you haven’t played BioShock Infinite and care about spoilers don’t read this. *WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD* In Burial at Sea, players take up the role of Booker DeWitt once again only this time he’s in a pre-calamity Rapture, the magnificent underwater city featured in the original BioShock. Booker won’t be alone. He teams up with a more grown-up and world weary Elizabeth to find a way out. The new adventure will merge BioShock with BioShock Infinite, granting new weapons, powers, and Big Daddies. Players will be able to see what Rapture was like before the civil war which ripped it to pieces. Irrational Games also promises the return of some familiar faces and the introduction of some new ones. Personally, I can’t wait for another BioShock-ian adventure to find out how and why Elizabeth and Booker find themselves in Rapture.
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