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Found 20 results

  1. Vane, an upcoming indie game courtesy of developers who previously worked on The Last Guardian, thrusts players into the skin of a bird who can take the form of a young child to explore the ruins of a decrepit civilization. Created by the folks at Friend & Foe Games, players will have to delve deeper and deeper into the mystical ruins of a culture long gone (or is it?). The trailer seems to intentionally remind the viewer of minimalist titles like Ico and Journey. Vane comes to us courtesy of Friend & Foe Games, a studio founded in 2014 by several developers who have worked on titles like the previously mentioned The Last Guardian, but their pedigree also includes action-oriented games like Battlefield 3 and Killzone. Despite the impressive credentials, the studio isn't a large one. Their website only lists a team of eight who have worked on Vane. They also seem to have another project in the works; an arcade brawler titled Dangerous Men, though not much is known about it at this time. As far as the story goes, all we know is that a pile of mysterious, golden dust transforms a curious crow into a young child. Armed with curiosity and the ability to transform back into a bird form, the kid begins to explore a vast world filled with wonder, excitement, danger, and dread. Mysterious technology begins to churn to life at the child's approach, reshaping the world as they continue their journey to who-knows-where. As the journey continues, who knows what shape the barren desert might take as it awakens. If you ever wondered what Ico would be like if you could turn into a bird and were exposed to existential terror, Vane might be right up your alley. in many ways it reminds me of Rime, last year's indie game about a child exploring a strange world from Tequila Works. That's some high praise given that Rime was flippin' great. Also, the synth music buoying the action in the above trailer is just excellent. Vane will release on January 15 for the PlayStation 4. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. Vane, an upcoming indie game courtesy of developers who previously worked on The Last Guardian, thrusts players into the skin of a bird who can take the form of a young child to explore the ruins of a decrepit civilization. Created by the folks at Friend & Foe Games, players will have to delve deeper and deeper into the mystical ruins of a culture long gone (or is it?). The trailer seems to intentionally remind the viewer of minimalist titles like Ico and Journey. Vane comes to us courtesy of Friend & Foe Games, a studio founded in 2014 by several developers who have worked on titles like the previously mentioned The Last Guardian, but their pedigree also includes action-oriented games like Battlefield 3 and Killzone. Despite the impressive credentials, the studio isn't a large one. Their website only lists a team of eight who have worked on Vane. They also seem to have another project in the works; an arcade brawler titled Dangerous Men, though not much is known about it at this time. As far as the story goes, all we know is that a pile of mysterious, golden dust transforms a curious crow into a young child. Armed with curiosity and the ability to transform back into a bird form, the kid begins to explore a vast world filled with wonder, excitement, danger, and dread. Mysterious technology begins to churn to life at the child's approach, reshaping the world as they continue their journey to who-knows-where. As the journey continues, who knows what shape the barren desert might take as it awakens. If you ever wondered what Ico would be like if you could turn into a bird and were exposed to existential terror, Vane might be right up your alley. in many ways it reminds me of Rime, last year's indie game about a child exploring a strange world from Tequila Works. That's some high praise given that Rime was flippin' great. Also, the synth music buoying the action in the above trailer is just excellent. Vane will release on January 15 for the PlayStation 4. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. Jack Gardner

    The Best Games Period - Episode 77 - Journey

    Thatgamecompany had a deal with Sony in the late 2000s. The studio, founded by Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago, would make three games for the PlayStation 3's fledgling PSN service. The deal began with a remake of Chen's Flash title Flow which was then followed by Flower. The final part of Thatgamecompany's Sony trilogy was known as Journey and stands as perhaps the most well known art-house game on the planet. The title garnered a staggering number of awards for its visuals, unique, emotional gameplay, and player interaction, even earning the coveted game of the year spot from numerous publications. Austin Wintory's soundtrack catapulted the game into the mainstream consciousness as the only video game soundtrack ever to be nominated for a Grammy. Though it released five years ago and the game industry has covered a lot of ground since 2012, we now look back and ask: Is Journey one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro: Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal 'Journey's End' by pu_freak (http://missingno.ocremix.org/music.html) And while you're listening to our closing track this week, why not head over to check out Austin Wintory's discography? We promise you won't be disappointed! You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  4. Thatgamecompany had a deal with Sony in the late 2000s. The studio, founded by Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago, would make three games for the PlayStation 3's fledgling PSN service. The deal began with a remake of Chen's Flash title Flow which was then followed by Flower. The final part of Thatgamecompany's Sony trilogy was known as Journey and stands as perhaps the most well known art-house game on the planet. The title garnered a staggering number of awards for its visuals, unique, emotional gameplay, and player interaction, even earning the coveted game of the year spot from numerous publications. Austin Wintory's soundtrack catapulted the game into the mainstream consciousness as the only video game soundtrack ever to be nominated for a Grammy. Though it released five years ago and the game industry has covered a lot of ground since 2012, we now look back and ask: Is Journey one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro: Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal 'Journey's End' by pu_freak (http://missingno.ocremix.org/music.html) And while you're listening to our closing track this week, why not head over to check out Austin Wintory's discography? We promise you won't be disappointed! You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  5. Thatgamecompany, known for their artist-oriented projects like Journey and Flower, teased their next game with a series of tweets yesterday. The studio created a new Twitter account, called @Thatnextgame, and tweeted out a series of three images before confirming that Thatnextgame was the working title of their next project. The images reinforce cloud-like aesthetic and hint at a central theme of passing the torch on to future generations. The first image, a candle leaning over to light another came with the message that the upcoming indie title would be "a game about giving." This sentiment was repeated by Jenova Chen in the brief blog post announcing Thatnextgame. The next two images weren't accompanied by text. The picture to follow the two candles was an image of what can best be described as cloud-children holding hands. They flow together and appear to be skipping or playing. The final image takes a more grounded approach, depicting a mysterious archway with a starburst painted above it - a starburst mirrored in the sky above. Clouds roil above, hinting at where Thatnextgame might take players. A final tweet summed up all three images together and came with the message, "We hope you’ll enjoy @thatnextgame, and in the meantime we’re hiring." Thatnextgame's account describes it as a multiplatform, multiplayer game. Vincent Diamante, the composer who worked on Flower and Skullgirls, will be returning to lend his considerable skills to Thatnextgame's soundtrack. It's great to see Thatgamecompany back with another game. Following the release of Journey it was revealed that the company has bankrupted itself to create the indie game sensation. The future of the company was up in the air until they were able to secure $7 million in investment funds from a Chinese firm. Here is hoping they don't have to bankrupt their company again to finish Thatnextgame. View full article
  6. Jack Gardner

    Thatgamecompany Teases Thatnextgame

    Thatgamecompany, known for their artist-oriented projects like Journey and Flower, teased their next game with a series of tweets yesterday. The studio created a new Twitter account, called @Thatnextgame, and tweeted out a series of three images before confirming that Thatnextgame was the working title of their next project. The images reinforce cloud-like aesthetic and hint at a central theme of passing the torch on to future generations. The first image, a candle leaning over to light another came with the message that the upcoming indie title would be "a game about giving." This sentiment was repeated by Jenova Chen in the brief blog post announcing Thatnextgame. The next two images weren't accompanied by text. The picture to follow the two candles was an image of what can best be described as cloud-children holding hands. They flow together and appear to be skipping or playing. The final image takes a more grounded approach, depicting a mysterious archway with a starburst painted above it - a starburst mirrored in the sky above. Clouds roil above, hinting at where Thatnextgame might take players. A final tweet summed up all three images together and came with the message, "We hope you’ll enjoy @thatnextgame, and in the meantime we’re hiring." Thatnextgame's account describes it as a multiplatform, multiplayer game. Vincent Diamante, the composer who worked on Flower and Skullgirls, will be returning to lend his considerable skills to Thatnextgame's soundtrack. It's great to see Thatgamecompany back with another game. Following the release of Journey it was revealed that the company has bankrupted itself to create the indie game sensation. The future of the company was up in the air until they were able to secure $7 million in investment funds from a Chinese firm. Here is hoping they don't have to bankrupt their company again to finish Thatnextgame.
  7. Daniel Jones

    Review: Abzû

    With 2012’s Journey, thatgamecompany succeeded in creating a type of interactive tome, replete with all the self-reflective ambiguity of an abstract painting. Debates over video games as art notwithstanding, Journey could hardly be described as anything but. While it wove an astoundingly rich visual tapestry, the surprisingly effusive weight of its anonymous multiplayer carried the brunt of its artistic meaning. So it’s impressive that developer Giant Squid—founded by Journey’s Art Director, Matt Nava—has created a game in Abzû that not only sparkles with aesthetic brilliance, but also finds its own voice as an emotionally driven work of artistic expression. The fact that it occasionally feels slight in the shadow of Journey’s monolithic legacy is something I struggle to hold against it, especially when the overall experience feels so singularly divine. Abzû’s wordless story begins in a serene corner of its ocean setting, as your avatar, a wet-suit-clad scuba diver awakes on the surface. Subtle visual cues and camera tricks help to guide you along your trek through underwater caverns, dense kelp forests, and even some less organic structures that I dare not detail further. Along the way, you’ll interact with all manner of sea life from the smallest clownfish to blue whales the size of a naval submarine. It’s in the interaction with these creatures that Abzû sets itself apart from any game I’ve played before. Each of the game’s environments is its own mini ecosystem, teeming with aquatic inhabitants that interact with each other and the player in fascinating and believable ways. Sharks will chomp on smaller fish, dolphins flip and twirl in their pods, and giant squid spray ink when you come near. These interactions are rarely scripted, often relying on your input to trigger, such as enticing a massive humpback whale to breach the surface or hitching a ride with a turtle. Finding new ways to play around with Abzû’s wildlife proves fun and engaging, while nicely complimenting the game’s naturalistic themes. Just as playful is the game’s soundtrack from Austin Wintory, whose work composing Journey earned him a Grammy nomination. The lively strings, twinkling harps, and celestial choir simply sound exactly like Abzû looks. Wintory’s scores have an exquisite knack for capturing the essence of a game’s visuals and themes, and his work on Abzû is no exception. This inimitable, ever-present music ties into the gameplay and adapts appropriately to your actions, making it as vital a part of the experience as the vibrant visuals and the smooth controls. As you might expect from the art director behind Journey, Abzû’s visuals inspire awe, a true sight to behold. Each area exhibits a distinct color palette with what can almost be described as a bouquet of marine wildlife. Seeing thousands of fish all animated on screen at once is jaw dropping more so for its audacious beauty than its technological achievement. Abzû has much in common with thatgamecompany’s earlier title, Flower, as you spread life through the world, making each new area more vibrant and lively than it was when you first waded into its waters. This is more than just pretty visuals at thirty frames per second; it’s emotion through gameplay and gameplay through art. Abzû’s ocean is not all smooth sailing, however, as a few questionable design decisions muddy the otherwise clear waters. Each area has a few hidden shells that you can collect, much like the scarf pieces from Journey. But whereas those pieces granted your avatar with a longer jump and eventually—if you were able to find them all—a white robe with an infinitely regenerating scarf, Abzû grants the player no such rewards, besides a gold trophy. A sense of progression would have served Abzû well, and would’ve made the already enjoyable movement even more gratifying. Though it may seem unfair to hold Abzû to the standards set by its predecessor, the corollary couldn’t be more apt. Make no mistake about it, this game—though not designed by Journey mastermind Jenova Chen—is a clear successor to that modern classic. Though the visual stylings and game design present a unique twist on the sub-genre, the level structure and pacing are lifted almost wholesale from Journey. As someone who has played through that game more times than I can count, I often found myself predicting what would happen next. Though the beats are familiar, each new area still kept me engaged as the game floated towards its conclusion. It’s just disappointing that Giant Squid chose to stick so vehemently to a previously established formula for a game that otherwise presents wonders I had never experienced before. That statement’s not completely true actually; I do have some experience with the grandeur of our planet’s oceans. I have been snorkeling on a few occasions, off the coast of Maui and Hawaii, and though it was over a decade ago, the adventure has hardly faded from my memory. Never have I been so humbled by nature as when I found myself surrounded by all manner of sea creatures, from turtles to barracudas to massive manta rays that dwarfed my six foot frame. This is the type of feeling Abzû so deftly replicates; that of a stranger in a strange land, discovering wonders your eyes weren’t meant to see. I never expected a game to make me want to don the flippers and goggles again, but that’s exactly what Abzû has accomplished. Despite that, Abzû isn’t a scuba simulator, and it never attempts to be. You don’t need to manage oxygen levels, or worry about depth pressure, or fear any of the predators that lurk in the deep. While the fish are all modeled after real species in both design and behavior, this is a stylized version of underwater ecosystems, not a perfect replication. So in place of realism, Abzû fosters a wondrous sense of respect for the species that exist in our oceans, and it’s all the better for it. Conclusion: After my second playthrough, I still haven’t uncovered all of Abzû’s marvels, and I can’t stop thinking about my next dive in its magical world of color and life. I want to unlock all of the fish species, collect all of the mollusk shells scattered in the hidden corners of the world, and I want to find every last meditation statue. Mainly, though, I look forward to revisiting Abzû anytime I just need a break from the noise and bustle of human life on the surface of this Earth. The flaws that keep Abzû from being an unequivocal masterpiece are of little import when fully submerged in the adventure’s calming beauty and spectral wonder. Abzû was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and is now available on PS4 and PC
  8. Jack Gardner

    Journey Live Funded in Less than a Day

    Austin Wintory, the composer of the Grammy nominated soundtrack that accompanied 2012's Journey, and the Fifth House Ensemble are teaming up to bring a live performance of the thatgamecompany's PS3 title to venues across the United States. The shows will be performed alongside a live, full playthrough of Journey on stage. Sony has specifically created a soundtrackless version of Journey for these performances. Wintory has teamed up with Patrick O'Malley to create a new arrangement for the Fifth House Ensemble that will include bite-sized music pieces triggered by the live player's actions. The new arrangement will include new instruments not included in the game's original soundtrack. The project asked for $5,000 to make the tour a reality. In under 24 hours the Kickstarter managed to raise over $12,000. Players on stage will be selected at competitions held prior to the performances. The first competition will be held in Chicago by the Killer Queen Mercury Squad. Future competitions will be posted as updates to the Kickstarter page. Tour dates February 20, 2016 - MAGFest, National Harbor MD February 28, 2016 - Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago IL April 9, 2016 - Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton FL April 16, 2016 - University of Illinois - Springfield, Springfield IL
  9. Austin Wintory, the composer of the Grammy nominated soundtrack that accompanied 2012's Journey, and the Fifth House Ensemble are teaming up to bring a live performance of the thatgamecompany's PS3 title to venues across the United States. The shows will be performed alongside a live, full playthrough of Journey on stage. Sony has specifically created a soundtrackless version of Journey for these performances. Wintory has teamed up with Patrick O'Malley to create a new arrangement for the Fifth House Ensemble that will include bite-sized music pieces triggered by the live player's actions. The new arrangement will include new instruments not included in the game's original soundtrack. The project asked for $5,000 to make the tour a reality. In under 24 hours the Kickstarter managed to raise over $12,000. Players on stage will be selected at competitions held prior to the performances. The first competition will be held in Chicago by the Killer Queen Mercury Squad. Future competitions will be posted as updates to the Kickstarter page. Tour dates February 20, 2016 - MAGFest, National Harbor MD February 28, 2016 - Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago IL April 9, 2016 - Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton FL April 16, 2016 - University of Illinois - Springfield, Springfield IL View full article
  10. The composer of flOw, Soul Fjord, and Journey is facing a $50,000 fine from the American Federation of Musicians for going against its 2012 video game recording contract and pursuing work in the video game industry. The new contract was put in place without approval or input from any of the 90,000 union members. Since 2012, no video game developer or publisher has accepted the terms asked by the AFM. Austin Wintory has long been outspoken in his opposition to this agreement. When the new contract was adopted, Wintory was in the middle of his work on the kickstarted PC game The Banner Saga. Rather than dropping everything in the middle of The Banner Saga's development, Wintory continued to work on the project. Days before The Banner Saga's release, he received a letter that brought him up on charges for working on the game despite the new contract. "This contract has created an untenable situation," says Wintory, "because of course composers and artists and musicians have needed to continue to earn a living. And earn a living, no less, in an industry that we love to work in and feel grateful to be a part of, but we've had to do it, therefore, without union sanction for almost two years. [...] The union has failed to produce an agreement that the developers or publishers of this or any other game have been willing to sign." "Unfortunately employers have not signed the current agreement," admits AFM Local 47 Vice President John Acosta who represents the recording musicians of Los Angeles, "and the limited work we were doing before has all but vanished into non-union land." And now that Wintory has both been pursuing work in his field and been speaking out against the union, there has been a target painted on his back to make him an example. He has lawyered up to see what he can do about the hefty fine and in response some threatening comments made by the president of the AFM. "I am willing to risk the consequences of speaking up because ultimately I don't actually think this is about me," states Wintory, "This is about what's right. This is about composers and musicians being able to work in a medium that we love without fear of threats and intimidation." As far as what anyone can do to show their support for Wintory, all he asks is that if you feel compelled, share his video or leave a comment. View full article
  11. The composer of flOw, Soul Fjord, and Journey is facing a $50,000 fine from the American Federation of Musicians for going against its 2012 video game recording contract and pursuing work in the video game industry. The new contract was put in place without approval or input from any of the 90,000 union members. Since 2012, no video game developer or publisher has accepted the terms asked by the AFM. Austin Wintory has long been outspoken in his opposition to this agreement. When the new contract was adopted, Wintory was in the middle of his work on the kickstarted PC game The Banner Saga. Rather than dropping everything in the middle of The Banner Saga's development, Wintory continued to work on the project. Days before The Banner Saga's release, he received a letter that brought him up on charges for working on the game despite the new contract. "This contract has created an untenable situation," says Wintory, "because of course composers and artists and musicians have needed to continue to earn a living. And earn a living, no less, in an industry that we love to work in and feel grateful to be a part of, but we've had to do it, therefore, without union sanction for almost two years. [...] The union has failed to produce an agreement that the developers or publishers of this or any other game have been willing to sign." "Unfortunately employers have not signed the current agreement," admits AFM Local 47 Vice President John Acosta who represents the recording musicians of Los Angeles, "and the limited work we were doing before has all but vanished into non-union land." And now that Wintory has both been pursuing work in his field and been speaking out against the union, there has been a target painted on his back to make him an example. He has lawyered up to see what he can do about the hefty fine and in response some threatening comments made by the president of the AFM. "I am willing to risk the consequences of speaking up because ultimately I don't actually think this is about me," states Wintory, "This is about what's right. This is about composers and musicians being able to work in a medium that we love without fear of threats and intimidation." As far as what anyone can do to show their support for Wintory, all he asks is that if you feel compelled, share his video or leave a comment.
  12. Sometimes it can be hard for the average video game enthusiast to find interesting video game art to adorn the walls of their abode. Luckily, there are skilled artists in various corners of the internet willing to sell their work for a fair price. Etsy is one such corner. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Etsy is basically the arts and crafts hub of the internet. People make clothes, furniture, jewelry, art, etc. and put it up for sale on the site, usually at quite a reasonable price. Given the popularity of video games, it isn't at all surprising that a significant portion of the Etsy artists and craftspeople decide to put out products inspired by some of their favorite video game titles. As you scroll through these awesome artistic renderings, bear in mind that these represent a small fraction of the work available on the main site. Click on the images for a better look at the artwork, or visit the linked Etsy pages for more details. BioShock - Minimalist by CaptainsPrintShop - $20 BioShock - Watercolor by CaptainsPrintShop - $20 BioShock Infinite Poster from WestGraphics - $18 BioShock Infinite Elizabeth by WilliamHenryDesign - $20 Doom II Poster from Kitschaus - $30 Fallout - Minimalist by CaptainsPrintShop - $20 Final Fantasy Tactics Poster from Kitschaus - $30 Ico Poster from Kitschaus - $20 Journey Poster from Geeky Prints - Price ranges from $4.99 to $51.99 depending on print size Mass Effect Series by WilliamHenryDesign - $25 Mega Man Screen Printed Poster by InspirationxCreation - $19 Mega Man Buster Cannon by AndrewHeath - $10 Metal Gear Solid V - Snake by 2ToastDesign - $19.95 or $39.95 depending on size Minecraft - Life Goals by MrSuspenders - $39.95 PITFALL Atari 2600 Retro Vintage Classic by RobOsborne - $20 Pong-inspired 8-bit Poster by minimalpixels - $16.77 Portal - Hello by DirtyGreatPixelsUK - $16.77 or $33.54 depending on size Portal - The Cake Is A Lie by WestGraphics - Price ranges from $18 to $50 Secret of Mana Poster from Kitschaus - $20 Shadow of the Colossus by bigbadrobot - Price ranges from $17 to $38 depending on size Shadow of the Colossus from Kitschaus - $25 Smash Bros. Link vs. Mario by NukaColaFan - $11.99 Sonic the Hedgehog by VICTORYDELUXE - $6.99 Star Fox by NukaColaFan - $14.99 Street Fighter Character Sakura Alpha In Cubes by BITxBITxBIT - $30 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time from Kitschaus - $20 The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker from Kitschaus - $35 The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker by PoppyseedHeroes - Currently unavailable, but it still looks incredibly awesome! TRON poster from adamrabalais - $20 Yeah, I know this isn't a video game per say, but it's close enough in my book. XCOM Classic Ironman by MrSuspenders - $39.95 Let us know which ones were your favorites!
  13. Sometimes it can be hard for the average video game enthusiast to find interesting video game art to adorn the walls of their abode. Luckily, there are skilled artists in various corners of the internet willing to sell their work for a fair price. Etsy is one such corner. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Etsy is basically the arts and crafts hub of the internet. People make clothes, furniture, jewelry, art, etc. and put it up for sale on the site, usually at quite a reasonable price. Given the popularity of video games, it isn't at all surprising that a significant portion of the Etsy artists and craftspeople decide to put out products inspired by some of their favorite video game titles. As you scroll through these awesome artistic renderings, bear in mind that these represent a small fraction of the work available on the main site. Click on the images for a better look at the artwork, or visit the linked Etsy pages for more details. BioShock - Minimalist by CaptainsPrintShop - $20 BioShock - Watercolor by CaptainsPrintShop - $20 BioShock Infinite Poster from WestGraphics - $18 BioShock Infinite Elizabeth by WilliamHenryDesign - $20 Doom II Poster from Kitschaus - $30 Fallout - Minimalist by CaptainsPrintShop - $20 Final Fantasy Tactics Poster from Kitschaus - $30 Ico Poster from Kitschaus - $20 Journey Poster from Geeky Prints - Price ranges from $4.99 to $51.99 depending on print size Mass Effect Series by WilliamHenryDesign - $25 Mega Man Screen Printed Poster by InspirationxCreation - $19 Mega Man Buster Cannon by AndrewHeath - $10 Metal Gear Solid V - Snake by 2ToastDesign - $19.95 or $39.95 depending on size Minecraft - Life Goals by MrSuspenders - $39.95 PITFALL Atari 2600 Retro Vintage Classic by RobOsborne - $20 Pong-inspired 8-bit Poster by minimalpixels - $16.77 Portal - Hello by DirtyGreatPixelsUK - $16.77 or $33.54 depending on size Portal - The Cake Is A Lie by WestGraphics - Price ranges from $18 to $50 Secret of Mana Poster from Kitschaus - $20 Shadow of the Colossus by bigbadrobot - Price ranges from $17 to $38 depending on size Shadow of the Colossus from Kitschaus - $25 Smash Bros. Link vs. Mario by NukaColaFan - $11.99 Sonic the Hedgehog by VICTORYDELUXE - $6.99 Star Fox by NukaColaFan - $14.99 Street Fighter Character Sakura Alpha In Cubes by BITxBITxBIT - $30 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time from Kitschaus - $20 The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker from Kitschaus - $35 The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker by PoppyseedHeroes - Currently unavailable, but it still looks incredibly awesome! TRON poster from adamrabalais - $20 Yeah, I know this isn't a video game per say, but it's close enough in my book. XCOM Classic Ironman by MrSuspenders - $39.95 Let us know which ones were your favorites! View full article
  14. If there is one thing that I’ve learned from writing in the video game industry it is that people go bananas for top ten lists. Since console generations don’t come along every day, I thought I would take this opportunity to reminisce on the past few years of gaming history and write a list. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I present to you the top ten video games of the previous console age. 10. The Stanley Parable The strength of The Stanley Parable isn’t in its gameplay, which consists only of movement, or aesthetic, which is that of a bland office building. No, the strength of The Stanley Parable lies in the high-caliber writing and the fantastic voice acting by Kevan Brighting as the Narrator. The Stanley Parable explores the issues of game design in a hilarious fashion and makes its points by responding to whatever the player does. The difficulties of creating for an interactive medium are so clearly illustrated by what players decide to do that it is hard, or even impossible, to imagine The Stanley Parable in any other medium because so much of what it has to say is told through a player’s interaction with it. And that is something that I have never experienced to such a degree with anything else in this medium. 9. Sid Meier’s Civilization V It is by no means an overstatement to say that Civilization is one of the best turn-based 4X strategy franchises on the market. While Civilization IV also came out during this generation, the dramatic shift away from squares in favor of hexagons and the elimination of unit stacking opened up more interesting combat scenarios and paths to victory. The end result of revising these mechanics was a much more fluid and exciting game relatively free of massive stacks of units entrenched against each other. Smaller empires became more viable and more mechanics were added later through hefty expansions that deepened the gameplay and added unique paths to victory such as espionage and faith. Civilization V strikes a great balance between the various methods of victory: combat, culture, diplomacy, and science. Other turn-based 4X games that follow in Civ V’s footsteps will surely be taking cues from this shining example of strategy for the foreseeable future, which earns Civilization V a place on this list. 8. Red Dead Redemption One of the biggest problems inherent to the design of open world games has always been effectively conveying impactful stories. Allowing players to goof off or pursue side quests between important plot points often diminishes the effectiveness of an open world game’s storytelling. Red Dead Redemption seems to be the exception to the rule. While there are sidequests and plenty of distractions to keep the completionists busy for years, the main focus of Red Dead Redemption never wavers from protagonist John Marston’s quest to escape the specters of his checkered past and save his family. That dedication to story eventually pays off with what ranks as one of the best video game endings ever that is shocking, sad, anger-inducing, and ultimately satisfying all at once. The ending alone would be enough to elevate red Dead Redemption to a position on this list, but toss in solid third-person shooting mechanics and leaving it out would be a crime. 7. BioShock Infinite I’m just going to come out and say it: BioShock Infinite had the most interesting narrative of any first-person shooter released this generation. Some people might argue that the first BioShock was better in some respects, but Infinite had so much more to offer on a narrative level that it makes the original look like a pale reflection. Themes of racism, isolationism, overzealous nationalism, religious persecution, predestination, and more pervade the game and open it up for interpretation on numerous levels. Furthermore, carrying on BioShock’s tradition of meta-comments on gaming and gamers, the ending of Infinite not only takes into account all of the players of BioShock Infinite, but also retroactively the players of the first BioShock and provides a new perspective on the material in both games. On top of that, Infinite’s city in the clouds was astoundingly beautiful which provided a great contrasted with the horrific violence and bigotry that lurked just beneath the surface of Columbia. Remember, there is always a lighthouse. 6. Mass Effect 3 The culmination of the Mass Effect trilogy was the ultimate payoff for players who had spent years of their lives, two games, and several packs of DLC building up to the final conclusion of a galaxy in peril. After carrying over the same Commander Shepard from game to game along with the baggage of all the difficult decisions made along the way, the finale carried so much meaning for players. Mass Effect 3 was better for all the time spent developing the characters in Mass Effect 1 and 2. The ending left people so vehemently divided because they cared so deeply about the universe of the series and the ending wasn’t what they expected. Was it bad? Personally, I enjoyed the game before the extended ending was released and I enjoyed it afterward. The game was more than its ending, though. Mass Effect 3 was a vast improvement over the first and second entries in the series: the story was more focused, the sidequests were more interesting, and combat was drastically improved to the point that an enjoyable multiplayer could be built around it. More than any of that, though, I loved Mass Effect 3 because after all of the choices I made as a player over the course of five years, the story came to feel personal, like it belonged to me. And, well, that was special. 5. Braid Jonathan Blow’s masterpiece was one of the first big indie hits and became a symbol for what indie developers could achieve in a modern market via digital distribution. What many people found appealing about Braid isn’t hard to see: fantastic art design, interesting time warping mechanics, and an abundance of clever puzzles. At first glance, Braid appears to be a traditional 2D platformer in the vein of Super Mario Bros. However, anyone who believes Braid to be nothing more than a pretty game with cunning mechanics is sorely mistaken. Tim, Braid’s protagonist, becomes the most interesting element of the game by shrewdly playing with the commonly accepted conventions of the platforming genre. By the time the credits roll, Braid has introduced the concept of the unreliable narrator to video games (or would that be the unreliable avatar?) and left a feeling of uncertainty. I’ve played through Braid multiple times and I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand it, but I am sure that it is one of the most influential games of this generation. 4. Portal Portal is the textbook example of near perfect game design in the modern era of video gaming. Its simple-yet-complex gameplay slowly escalates in difficulty along with a gradually revealed antagonist who is delightfully sadistic and entertaining. The game world similarly reflects the gameplay design by going with a deceptively simple aesthetic. Sterile environments surround the player initially, but eventually cryptic warnings in nooks and crannies start to peel away the benign façade. One of the best parts about Portal is that it knows not to overstay its welcome. The game is long enough to be satisfying and feel like an adventure, but short enough so that the mechanics of the portal gun don’t start to feel overused or gimmicky. Portal isn’t just one of the best games of this generation, but it can hold its own as one of the best video games ever made. 3. Journey The minimalistic, “less is more” approach to game design has always appealed to me since Ico made waves back in 2001. Thatgamecompany has taken a similar design philosophy to heart with fantastic titles like Flow, Flower, and ultimately in their Opus, Journey. Journey is a simple platformer with some minor points of open exploration and only the barest hints of online play, yet its sophistication and subtlety set it so far ahead of most games that it feels transcendent. The animations and art direction are so well crafted that every time you jump you can feel the joy radiating from your character or the tense fear of being hunted. The musical score of Journey can touch even the stoniest of hearts and dredge up considerable emotion. All of these are great, but one of the most remarkable aspects of Journey is the inclusion of drop-in online co-op. Other players online can walk into and out of your game, drastically altering the experience with their presence. Some people are friendly and helpful, others lone wolves with no time to spare. Journey can be funny, sad, angry, lonely, and joyful all at once. Quite simply, Journey is a beautiful game in every sense of the word; a game that everyone should play at least once in their lives. 2. Bastion Developer Supergiant Games is one of the most amazing developers to spring into being this generation. They have a knack for crafting amazing games with a signature artistic and musical flair. Bastion’s quality is obvious from the first minute of gameplay. Playing through the shattered fragments of Bastion’s world is like stepping into a fantastical storybook unlike anything you’ve ever read. The similarities to a story book are further reinforced by the compelling narration that follows players’ every move, emphasizing the simultaneously wonderful and sad fairy tale feel. The amazing soundtrack by Darren Korb is a huge credit to Bastion and works with the other audiovisual components to enthrall players. The story takes unpredictable turns as it gradually unfolds and ultimately leaves players with a heartbreaking choice. Bastion is a fairy tale that spellbinds players and doesn’t let go until the credits roll. 1. Minecraft The sheer genius of Minecraft is that it gives players a set of tools and then unleashes them within a world that is practically infinite. That world, and by extension the game, can become pretty much anything the player wants it to be. Feel like building something without having to worry about pesky things like deadly monsters or dangerous falls? You can play in a creative world where you have the ability to fly and have access to infinite resources. Do you want a more adventurous experience? Start a survival world and brave the horrors of night and Nether to find the gateway to The End. Content update after content update have been added to the game for free since its release, leading to more blocks, more monsters, more… everything. While offline Minecraft certainly shines, playing online with friends and tackling a colossal project or deciding to journey together into the unknown begets a spirit of camaraderie and excitement unrivaled by many triple-A releases. On top of that, Minecraft’s simplistic aesthetic strikes me as incredibly beautiful, to say nothing of the endless supply of texture packs which add new visual effects. The massive popularity of Minecraft speaks to how much it resonates with its players, and while popularity doesn’t necessarily indicate quality in any form of media, in this case it is not hard to see why so many people have fallen in love with the title. No other games this generation come remotely close to what Minecraft offers its audience: The chance to unlock pure imagination. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am, agree with me, or even better share your own lists in the comments. View full article
  15. Jack Gardner

    The Top Ten Games of the Generation

    If there is one thing that I’ve learned from writing in the video game industry it is that people go bananas for top ten lists. Since console generations don’t come along every day, I thought I would take this opportunity to reminisce on the past few years of gaming history and write a list. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I present to you the top ten video games of the previous console age. 10. The Stanley Parable The strength of The Stanley Parable isn’t in its gameplay, which consists only of movement, or aesthetic, which is that of a bland office building. No, the strength of The Stanley Parable lies in the high-caliber writing and the fantastic voice acting by Kevan Brighting as the Narrator. The Stanley Parable explores the issues of game design in a hilarious fashion and makes its points by responding to whatever the player does. The difficulties of creating for an interactive medium are so clearly illustrated by what players decide to do that it is hard, or even impossible, to imagine The Stanley Parable in any other medium because so much of what it has to say is told through a player’s interaction with it. And that is something that I have never experienced to such a degree with anything else in this medium. 9. Sid Meier’s Civilization V It is by no means an overstatement to say that Civilization is one of the best turn-based 4X strategy franchises on the market. While Civilization IV also came out during this generation, the dramatic shift away from squares in favor of hexagons and the elimination of unit stacking opened up more interesting combat scenarios and paths to victory. The end result of revising these mechanics was a much more fluid and exciting game relatively free of massive stacks of units entrenched against each other. Smaller empires became more viable and more mechanics were added later through hefty expansions that deepened the gameplay and added unique paths to victory such as espionage and faith. Civilization V strikes a great balance between the various methods of victory: combat, culture, diplomacy, and science. Other turn-based 4X games that follow in Civ V’s footsteps will surely be taking cues from this shining example of strategy for the foreseeable future, which earns Civilization V a place on this list. 8. Red Dead Redemption One of the biggest problems inherent to the design of open world games has always been effectively conveying impactful stories. Allowing players to goof off or pursue side quests between important plot points often diminishes the effectiveness of an open world game’s storytelling. Red Dead Redemption seems to be the exception to the rule. While there are sidequests and plenty of distractions to keep the completionists busy for years, the main focus of Red Dead Redemption never wavers from protagonist John Marston’s quest to escape the specters of his checkered past and save his family. That dedication to story eventually pays off with what ranks as one of the best video game endings ever that is shocking, sad, anger-inducing, and ultimately satisfying all at once. The ending alone would be enough to elevate red Dead Redemption to a position on this list, but toss in solid third-person shooting mechanics and leaving it out would be a crime. 7. BioShock Infinite I’m just going to come out and say it: BioShock Infinite had the most interesting narrative of any first-person shooter released this generation. Some people might argue that the first BioShock was better in some respects, but Infinite had so much more to offer on a narrative level that it makes the original look like a pale reflection. Themes of racism, isolationism, overzealous nationalism, religious persecution, predestination, and more pervade the game and open it up for interpretation on numerous levels. Furthermore, carrying on BioShock’s tradition of meta-comments on gaming and gamers, the ending of Infinite not only takes into account all of the players of BioShock Infinite, but also retroactively the players of the first BioShock and provides a new perspective on the material in both games. On top of that, Infinite’s city in the clouds was astoundingly beautiful which provided a great contrasted with the horrific violence and bigotry that lurked just beneath the surface of Columbia. Remember, there is always a lighthouse. 6. Mass Effect 3 The culmination of the Mass Effect trilogy was the ultimate payoff for players who had spent years of their lives, two games, and several packs of DLC building up to the final conclusion of a galaxy in peril. After carrying over the same Commander Shepard from game to game along with the baggage of all the difficult decisions made along the way, the finale carried so much meaning for players. Mass Effect 3 was better for all the time spent developing the characters in Mass Effect 1 and 2. The ending left people so vehemently divided because they cared so deeply about the universe of the series and the ending wasn’t what they expected. Was it bad? Personally, I enjoyed the game before the extended ending was released and I enjoyed it afterward. The game was more than its ending, though. Mass Effect 3 was a vast improvement over the first and second entries in the series: the story was more focused, the sidequests were more interesting, and combat was drastically improved to the point that an enjoyable multiplayer could be built around it. More than any of that, though, I loved Mass Effect 3 because after all of the choices I made as a player over the course of five years, the story came to feel personal, like it belonged to me. And, well, that was special. 5. Braid Jonathan Blow’s masterpiece was one of the first big indie hits and became a symbol for what indie developers could achieve in a modern market via digital distribution. What many people found appealing about Braid isn’t hard to see: fantastic art design, interesting time warping mechanics, and an abundance of clever puzzles. At first glance, Braid appears to be a traditional 2D platformer in the vein of Super Mario Bros. However, anyone who believes Braid to be nothing more than a pretty game with cunning mechanics is sorely mistaken. Tim, Braid’s protagonist, becomes the most interesting element of the game by shrewdly playing with the commonly accepted conventions of the platforming genre. By the time the credits roll, Braid has introduced the concept of the unreliable narrator to video games (or would that be the unreliable avatar?) and left a feeling of uncertainty. I’ve played through Braid multiple times and I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand it, but I am sure that it is one of the most influential games of this generation. 4. Portal Portal is the textbook example of near perfect game design in the modern era of video gaming. Its simple-yet-complex gameplay slowly escalates in difficulty along with a gradually revealed antagonist who is delightfully sadistic and entertaining. The game world similarly reflects the gameplay design by going with a deceptively simple aesthetic. Sterile environments surround the player initially, but eventually cryptic warnings in nooks and crannies start to peel away the benign façade. One of the best parts about Portal is that it knows not to overstay its welcome. The game is long enough to be satisfying and feel like an adventure, but short enough so that the mechanics of the portal gun don’t start to feel overused or gimmicky. Portal isn’t just one of the best games of this generation, but it can hold its own as one of the best video games ever made. 3. Journey The minimalistic, “less is more” approach to game design has always appealed to me since Ico made waves back in 2001. Thatgamecompany has taken a similar design philosophy to heart with fantastic titles like Flow, Flower, and ultimately in their Opus, Journey. Journey is a simple platformer with some minor points of open exploration and only the barest hints of online play, yet its sophistication and subtlety set it so far ahead of most games that it feels transcendent. The animations and art direction are so well crafted that every time you jump you can feel the joy radiating from your character or the tense fear of being hunted. The musical score of Journey can touch even the stoniest of hearts and dredge up considerable emotion. All of these are great, but one of the most remarkable aspects of Journey is the inclusion of drop-in online co-op. Other players online can walk into and out of your game, drastically altering the experience with their presence. Some people are friendly and helpful, others lone wolves with no time to spare. Journey can be funny, sad, angry, lonely, and joyful all at once. Quite simply, Journey is a beautiful game in every sense of the word; a game that everyone should play at least once in their lives. 2. Bastion Developer Supergiant Games is one of the most amazing developers to spring into being this generation. They have a knack for crafting amazing games with a signature artistic and musical flair. Bastion’s quality is obvious from the first minute of gameplay. Playing through the shattered fragments of Bastion’s world is like stepping into a fantastical storybook unlike anything you’ve ever read. The similarities to a story book are further reinforced by the compelling narration that follows players’ every move, emphasizing the simultaneously wonderful and sad fairy tale feel. The amazing soundtrack by Darren Korb is a huge credit to Bastion and works with the other audiovisual components to enthrall players. The story takes unpredictable turns as it gradually unfolds and ultimately leaves players with a heartbreaking choice. Bastion is a fairy tale that spellbinds players and doesn’t let go until the credits roll. 1. Minecraft The sheer genius of Minecraft is that it gives players a set of tools and then unleashes them within a world that is practically infinite. That world, and by extension the game, can become pretty much anything the player wants it to be. Feel like building something without having to worry about pesky things like deadly monsters or dangerous falls? You can play in a creative world where you have the ability to fly and have access to infinite resources. Do you want a more adventurous experience? Start a survival world and brave the horrors of night and Nether to find the gateway to The End. Content update after content update have been added to the game for free since its release, leading to more blocks, more monsters, more… everything. While offline Minecraft certainly shines, playing online with friends and tackling a colossal project or deciding to journey together into the unknown begets a spirit of camaraderie and excitement unrivaled by many triple-A releases. On top of that, Minecraft’s simplistic aesthetic strikes me as incredibly beautiful, to say nothing of the endless supply of texture packs which add new visual effects. The massive popularity of Minecraft speaks to how much it resonates with its players, and while popularity doesn’t necessarily indicate quality in any form of media, in this case it is not hard to see why so many people have fallen in love with the title. No other games this generation come remotely close to what Minecraft offers its audience: The chance to unlock pure imagination. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am, agree with me, or even better share your own lists in the comments.
  16. If you are a fan of independent games, last weekend's IndieCade Festival was the event for you. Billing itself as the International Festival of Independent Games, the 2013 IndieCade Festival was held from Saturday, October 5 to Sunday, October 6 in Culver City, California. Every year the festival acknowledges the achievements of independent developers and serves as a gathering of independent talent for discussions of interests to indies. This year, in addition to the 36 games that have made it into the final rounds of judging, IndieCade selected 77 other titles to showcase at their event. Those selected include eight PlayStation 4 titles, a number of VR projects on the Oculus Rift, a handful of Ouya games, and a showing from Nintendo. All titles at the event should be playable. In addition to the games, a few notable events will be occurring throughout the weekend. There will be a small eSports tournament/exhibition of a variety of titles such as the minimalist DiveKick and Pulse of the Samurai. Speeches will be given from respected indie developers like Jenova Chen, creator of Journey. Finally, public discussions will be held between developers and industry honchos regarding the games on display and past games those involved have helped create. Did you make it to IndieCade? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments. View full article
  17. Jack Gardner

    IndieCade 2013 Honors Indie Developers

    If you are a fan of independent games, last weekend's IndieCade Festival was the event for you. Billing itself as the International Festival of Independent Games, the 2013 IndieCade Festival was held from Saturday, October 5 to Sunday, October 6 in Culver City, California. Every year the festival acknowledges the achievements of independent developers and serves as a gathering of independent talent for discussions of interests to indies. This year, in addition to the 36 games that have made it into the final rounds of judging, IndieCade selected 77 other titles to showcase at their event. Those selected include eight PlayStation 4 titles, a number of VR projects on the Oculus Rift, a handful of Ouya games, and a showing from Nintendo. All titles at the event should be playable. In addition to the games, a few notable events will be occurring throughout the weekend. There will be a small eSports tournament/exhibition of a variety of titles such as the minimalist DiveKick and Pulse of the Samurai. Speeches will be given from respected indie developers like Jenova Chen, creator of Journey. Finally, public discussions will be held between developers and industry honchos regarding the games on display and past games those involved have helped create. Did you make it to IndieCade? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments.
  18. The 13th annual Game Developers Choice Awards took place on the 27th and Thatgamecompany’s Journey won in every category in which it was nominated, earning itself six GDC Awards, including the prestigious Game of the Year Award. The awards ceremony was hosted by Tim Schafer, founder of the developer Double Fine. Schafer took the opportunity after all the awards were given out to reveal the Kickstarter-backed game, Broken Age, which had previously only been referred to as The Double Fine Adventure. The full GDC Awards results can be seen below, the winners are italicized under each category. Game of the Year Winner Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts) The Walking Dead (Telltale Games) XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Firaxis Games/2K Games) Innovation Award FTL: Faster Than Light (Subset Games) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mark of the Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios) The Unfinished Swan (Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment) ZombiU (Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft) Best Audio Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios) Hotline Miami (Dennaton Games/Devolver Digital) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Sound Shapes (Queasy Games/Sony Computer Entertainment) Best Debut Fireproof Games (The Room) Giant Sparrow (The Unfinished Swan) Humble Hearts (Dust: An Elysian Tail) Polytron Corporation (Fez) Subset Games (FTL: Faster Than Light) Best Downloadable Game Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mark Of The Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios) Spelunky (Derek Yu/Andy Hull) The Walking Dead (Telltale Games) Trials: Evolution (RedLynx/Microsoft Studios) Best Game Design Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mark Of The Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios) Spelunky (Derek Yu/Andy Hull) XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Firaxis Games/2K Games) Best Handheld/Mobile Game Gravity Rush (SCE Japan Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment) Hero Academy (Robot Entertainment) Kid Icarus: Uprising (Sora/Nintendo) Sound Shapes (Queasy Games/Sony Computer Entertainment) The Room (Fireproof Games) Best Narrative Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts) Spec Ops: The Line (Yager Entertainment/2K Games) The Walking Dead (Telltale Games) Virtue's Last Reward (Chunsoft/Aksys Games) Best Technology Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Treyarch/Activision) Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios) PlanetSide 2 (Sony Online Entertainment) Best Visual Arts Borderlands 2 (Gearbox Software/2K Games) Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Lifetime Achievement Winner Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk Pioneer Award Winner Steve Russell Ambassador Award Winner Chris Melissinos Audience Award Winner Dishonored (Arkane Studios) If you are interested in watching the award ceremony for yourself, you can watch the recorded footage over at GameSpot. Congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to seeing what lies in store from them in the years to come. Maybe we'll be seeing Broken Age at next year's GDC Awards? What do you think?
  19. The 13th annual Game Developers Choice Awards took place on the 27th and Thatgamecompany’s Journey won in every category in which it was nominated, earning itself six GDC Awards, including the prestigious Game of the Year Award. The awards ceremony was hosted by Tim Schafer, founder of the developer Double Fine. Schafer took the opportunity after all the awards were given out to reveal the Kickstarter-backed game, Broken Age, which had previously only been referred to as The Double Fine Adventure. The full GDC Awards results can be seen below, the winners are italicized under each category. Game of the Year Winner Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts) The Walking Dead (Telltale Games) XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Firaxis Games/2K Games) Innovation Award FTL: Faster Than Light (Subset Games) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mark of the Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios) The Unfinished Swan (Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment) ZombiU (Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft) Best Audio Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios) Hotline Miami (Dennaton Games/Devolver Digital) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Sound Shapes (Queasy Games/Sony Computer Entertainment) Best Debut Fireproof Games (The Room) Giant Sparrow (The Unfinished Swan) Humble Hearts (Dust: An Elysian Tail) Polytron Corporation (Fez) Subset Games (FTL: Faster Than Light) Best Downloadable Game Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mark Of The Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios) Spelunky (Derek Yu/Andy Hull) The Walking Dead (Telltale Games) Trials: Evolution (RedLynx/Microsoft Studios) Best Game Design Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Mark Of The Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios) Spelunky (Derek Yu/Andy Hull) XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Firaxis Games/2K Games) Best Handheld/Mobile Game Gravity Rush (SCE Japan Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment) Hero Academy (Robot Entertainment) Kid Icarus: Uprising (Sora/Nintendo) Sound Shapes (Queasy Games/Sony Computer Entertainment) The Room (Fireproof Games) Best Narrative Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts) Spec Ops: The Line (Yager Entertainment/2K Games) The Walking Dead (Telltale Games) Virtue's Last Reward (Chunsoft/Aksys Games) Best Technology Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Treyarch/Activision) Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios) PlanetSide 2 (Sony Online Entertainment) Best Visual Arts Borderlands 2 (Gearbox Software/2K Games) Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks) Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft) Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios) Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment) Lifetime Achievement Winner Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk Pioneer Award Winner Steve Russell Ambassador Award Winner Chris Melissinos Audience Award Winner Dishonored (Arkane Studios) If you are interested in watching the award ceremony for yourself, you can watch the recorded footage over at GameSpot. Congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to seeing what lies in store from them in the years to come. Maybe we'll be seeing Broken Age at next year's GDC Awards? What do you think? View full article
  20. Daniel Jones

    Feature: Review: Abzû

    With 2012’s Journey, thatgamecompany succeeded in creating a type of interactive tome, replete with all the self-reflective ambiguity of an abstract painting. Debates over video games as art notwithstanding, Journey could hardly be described as anything but. While it wove an astoundingly rich visual tapestry, the surprisingly effusive weight of its anonymous multiplayer carried the brunt of its artistic meaning. So it’s impressive that developer Giant Squid—founded by Journey’s Art Director, Matt Nava—has created a game in Abzû that not only sparkles with aesthetic brilliance, but also finds its own voice as an emotionally driven work of artistic expression. The fact that it occasionally feels slight in the shadow of Journey’s monolithic legacy is something I struggle to hold against it, especially when the overall experience feels so singularly divine. Abzû’s wordless story begins in a serene corner of its ocean setting, as your avatar, a wet-suit-clad scuba diver awakes on the surface. Subtle visual cues and camera tricks help to guide you along your trek through underwater caverns, dense kelp forests, and even some less organic structures that I dare not detail further. Along the way, you’ll interact with all manner of sea life from the smallest clownfish to blue whales the size of a naval submarine. It’s in the interaction with these creatures that Abzû sets itself apart from any game I’ve played before. Each of the game’s environments is its own mini ecosystem, teeming with aquatic inhabitants that interact with each other and the player in fascinating and believable ways. Sharks will chomp on smaller fish, dolphins flip and twirl in their pods, and giant squid spray ink when you come near. These interactions are rarely scripted, often relying on your input to trigger, such as enticing a massive humpback whale to breach the surface or hitching a ride with a turtle. Finding new ways to play around with Abzû’s wildlife proves fun and engaging, while nicely complimenting the game’s naturalistic themes. Just as playful is the game’s soundtrack from Austin Wintory, whose work composing Journey earned him a Grammy nomination. The lively strings, twinkling harps, and celestial choir simply sound exactly like Abzû looks. Wintory’s scores have an exquisite knack for capturing the essence of a game’s visuals and themes, and his work on Abzû is no exception. This inimitable, ever-present music ties into the gameplay and adapts appropriately to your actions, making it as vital a part of the experience as the vibrant visuals and the smooth controls. As you might expect from the art director behind Journey, Abzû’s visuals inspire awe, a true sight to behold. Each area exhibits a distinct color palette with what can almost be described as a bouquet of marine wildlife. Seeing thousands of fish all animated on screen at once is jaw dropping more so for its audacious beauty than its technological achievement. Abzû has much in common with thatgamecompany’s earlier title, Flower, as you spread life through the world, making each new area more vibrant and lively than it was when you first waded into its waters. This is more than just pretty visuals at thirty frames per second; it’s emotion through gameplay and gameplay through art. Abzû’s ocean is not all smooth sailing, however, as a few questionable design decisions muddy the otherwise clear waters. Each area has a few hidden shells that you can collect, much like the scarf pieces from Journey. But whereas those pieces granted your avatar with a longer jump and eventually—if you were able to find them all—a white robe with an infinitely regenerating scarf, Abzû grants the player no such rewards, besides a gold trophy. A sense of progression would have served Abzû well, and would’ve made the already enjoyable movement even more gratifying. Though it may seem unfair to hold Abzû to the standards set by its predecessor, the corollary couldn’t be more apt. Make no mistake about it, this game—though not designed by Journey mastermind Jenova Chen—is a clear successor to that modern classic. Though the visual stylings and game design present a unique twist on the sub-genre, the level structure and pacing are lifted almost wholesale from Journey. As someone who has played through that game more times than I can count, I often found myself predicting what would happen next. Though the beats are familiar, each new area still kept me engaged as the game floated towards its conclusion. It’s just disappointing that Giant Squid chose to stick so vehemently to a previously established formula for a game that otherwise presents wonders I had never experienced before. That statement’s not completely true actually; I do have some experience with the grandeur of our planet’s oceans. I have been snorkeling on a few occasions, off the coast of Maui and Hawaii, and though it was over a decade ago, the adventure has hardly faded from my memory. Never have I been so humbled by nature as when I found myself surrounded by all manner of sea creatures, from turtles to barracudas to massive manta rays that dwarfed my six foot frame. This is the type of feeling Abzû so deftly replicates; that of a stranger in a strange land, discovering wonders your eyes weren’t meant to see. I never expected a game to make me want to don the flippers and goggles again, but that’s exactly what Abzû has accomplished. Despite that, Abzû isn’t a scuba simulator, and it never attempts to be. You don’t need to manage oxygen levels, or worry about depth pressure, or fear any of the predators that lurk in the deep. While the fish are all modeled after real species in both design and behavior, this is a stylized version of underwater ecosystems, not a perfect replication. So in place of realism, Abzû fosters a wondrous sense of respect for the species that exist in our oceans, and it’s all the better for it. Conclusion: After my second playthrough, I still haven’t uncovered all of Abzû’s marvels, and I can’t stop thinking about my next dive in its magical world of color and life. I want to unlock all of the fish species, collect all of the mollusk shells scattered in the hidden corners of the world, and I want to find every last meditation statue. Mainly, though, I look forward to revisiting Abzû anytime I just need a break from the noise and bustle of human life on the surface of this Earth. The flaws that keep Abzû from being an unequivocal masterpiece are of little import when fully submerged in the adventure’s calming beauty and spectral wonder. Abzû was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and is now available on PS4 and PC View full article
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