The Element of Surprise

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm
In Webster's Dictionary, this photo is shown next to the word, "surprise."

There's nothing like being surprised. Having something sneak up on you tends to amplify whatever emotion you'd regularly feel given any situation. For instance, how would you feel if you saw a grotesque, slimy squid-monster crawling toward you slowly from a great distance?  Probably a little freaked out, maybe generally uneasy, perhaps a little confused.  But what about if, instead of gradually inching closer , it fell out of a hole in the ceiling right in front of you?  You'd feel all those emotions you felt before, but way more!  You'd be extremely freaked out, superlatively uneasy, and monumentally confused.

This works for good emotions as well. If as a young child you were politely informed by your parents that you would be receiving that Lego spaceship you wanted for your birthday, you would be pretty happy when your birthday rolled around and that gorgeous box of blocks and grinning yellow space-dudes emerged from the wrapping paper. But if your parents kept their mouths shut and waited, you would have no idea that instead of a big box of underwear and socks, that present was actually your ticket to outer space adventure. And instead of a calm drawn-out period of happiness, your joy would be a sudden, violent explosion, much like the explosion of a Lego astronaut without a spacesuit in a terrible pressurization chamber accident.

My point is that Lego space-faring is nasty, dangerous work, but somebody's got to fucking do it.

Wait, no! I don't think that was my point, actually.

Right, my point was that usually the games I feel strongly about are the games that are capable of surprising me in some way or other. When I know what a title is going to do and it does exactly that, even if it's a very effective game, I'm left without that burst of emotion, that shock that stirs me from the button-mashing trance. Alternatively, when it happens, there's nothing quite like it.

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A Classic Comes to XBLA [Dragon's Lair Review]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm

By my count, there are roughly 70 different versions of the original Dragon's Lair, so asking why the world needs another one is a fair question. The answers, of course, are easy. First off, it's a classic, a true innovator that was unlike anything else when it was released in 1983. It was hugely influential, introducing the video game world to Full-Motion Video (for better or for worse). And finally, the new Xbox Live Arcade version shows that there are still ways to add new features to a game that's been around for decades. 

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Will Diablo III's Auction House End Gold-Farming?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

JD homie Greg Voakes has sent us many a tip over the last couple years, many of which have ended up on this page. And now our friend has found himself a gig at a pretty prestigious gig of his own: We will always support those who have supported us, so we're happy to bring his new piece to your attention. In it, he speculates on how Diablo III's auction house feature could effectively end the practice of gold farming. Check it out right here, good folks. 

Building Character

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 10:00 am


Video games have reached what I like to think of as a renaissance, writing wise. Writers are getting smarter, narratives are becoming more finely structured. Games are becoming smarter, and they're becoming smarter because the writing in the general entertainment world has been rising on the intelligence curve for the past decade. The audience is smarter, and so the writers compensate, creating better experiences for all.


Characters have rich, fleshed out back stories that some professional book writers would envy. Villains are no longer one-dimensional. Heroes are no longer straight-and-narrow good buys. Stories are no longer simple go-here-do-that quest adventures.


Characters are becoming a driving force behind certain games; the player character is drawing a gamer into the story, into the world, into the game itself. This person, this creation of a team of writers, is becoming the face, the presence, the representation of a game. Characters are pushing games forward, and it's truly a joy to behold and play.


Then again, there are elements of this excellent writing and characterization that are starting to wear thin.

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Rusty Hearts is Pretty Dang Rad

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 10:00 am
Rusty cover.jpg
One of the things I dig most about this gig is having the opportunity to share something that catches my eye with my fellow gamers. As of late, said super-awesome thing has been the free-to-play action adventure MMO, Rusty Hearts.

I'm taking a break from the typical rant this week to give you folks a hands-on rundown of the title. I hesitate to call this a review because, even after sinking more than a dozen hours into Rusty Hearts, I'm still only just scratching the surface of what the game has to offer.

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Totally Forgot To Post This Ghost Recon Short Movie

Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 10:00 am
They say it's a trailer -- a teaser that is supposed to give fans the smell of blood in the water. We circle in anticipation for the game's release. Yadda yadda yadda. This is a thing about Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Trailer is a stretch. When I see trailer I think a few minutes of gameplay footage and a gruff narrator.

Ubisoft, here's a hint. Don't make live-action trailers. No one gives a shit about them, and they don't really tell us anything about the game.

What you gotta do is make this sort of shit, label it "a short film inspired by the events within Ghost Recon" and market it as collateral storytelling. That's interesting, and the production value on this is pretty awesome.

The Last Of Us Gets Another Trailer

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 10:00 am
Pretty much, Naughty Dog's track record of excellent game creation effectively forces us to keep our eyes on what they've whipped up for us next. The Last Of Us is that next. And it is, at the very least, a gloriously crisp looking game.

Now, this isn't gameplay footage, so don't get too high on it, but the real potential of the PlayStation 3 is showcased, and we're happy to watch.

Check back for more later -- this one is still young.

Adventurers and Ailments

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm
Adventure and deathly illness go hand in hand.

Adventure is a double-edged sword. I mean, sure, everybody loves adventure in theory. It sounds so thrilling and sexy, a word that signifies the kind of endlessly exciting lives we all wish we could lead. We imagine adventure as a crazy series of high-stakes events that helps our true selves to emerge, that makes all the powerlessness and pettiness of living in a nice, boring society drop away, that reveals the stoic hero underneath. Therefore, we all kind of wish we could drop everything and go on an adventure.

So why isn't everyone quitting their day jobs to comb the ocean floor for shipwreck salvage or to collect rare rainforest spiders? When I tell my friends a story about an "adventure" I had recently, the end of the story usually less like, "And then I sunk my sword deep into the traitor's heart!!" and more like, "And then it just scrambled off into the night... if it wasn't a possum, it was a really nasty-looking cat, you guys." Why is that?

Well, it's because real adventures are fucking dangerous.

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Tags: Adventure

What Class Are Your Playing In Diablo III?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 10:00 am
Thumbnail image for diablosoangry.jpg
Okay, so that day is upon us. It is Diablo 3 release day. Did you think you'd ever hear that? I did once StarCraft 2 finally up and released, but even still it was hard to conceptualize.

We've been waiting like a decade for this monster to drop, and the last year and a half has had IV drip of trailers, betas, demos, and screen shots to get the eager fan base buzzing. And with the edition of a few new character classes, the game has a new spin of appeal to those who delight in a sophisticated, diverse class system.

So who do you intend on going to penetrate Hell with? The new Witch Doctor? The Monk? How about the Barbarian, like me? Yeah I know it's safe but Leap is the most best.
Tags: Diablo 3

It's Not Just A Game Anymore

Monday, May 14, 2012 at 10:00 am


When it comes to video games, the real world is usually cast to the side, ignored, and left in the corner as if it were in trouble. Usually, in-game, the real world (or some variation thereupon) is in trouble, but as gamers, we like to be able to escape, and pretend that the real world doesn't exist for a short time. It's partly why I like games so much. Games keep me from going mad every single time I step outside.


When real world elements pop up in video games, it can be jarring, but it can also be a pleasant shift into something new and interesting. It can bring an assurance to a certain type of gamer that using your brain when you game is not at all discouraged. Bringing your interests and hobbies outside of gaming to your personal experience is one of the best ways to get more out of your games.


Consider your interests. Are you science person? A philosophy enthusiast? Perhaps you love poetry and literature. Are you a history buff? Trust me, there are elements of your non-gaming interests littered throughout this current console generation. You might have to dig a bit, but you will find them, and you'll gain so much more.

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