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the nintendo switch

My normal policy for buying consoles is that I buy a new console when the game that I clearly want to play next is only on that console. Which means that I buy all of them eventually (well, all of them except for the portable Sony consoles) but that it sometimes takes a few years: […]

alien: isolation

For years now, I’ve been frustrated by games’ fixation on an anointed hero saving the world through mass slaughter; I’ve been talking about that most frequently recently in the context of Dragon Age: Inquisition, but of course anointed murderers are all over the place, the only reason why I bring the issue up in the […]

returning to okami

What a game Okami is. I loved it when I first played it, though in recent years, I’d started to wonder: maybe that game went on a little long, maybe I was thinking about it through rose-colored memories? As it turns out: yeah, sure, the game does go on a little long, but wow what […]

dragon age inqusition: stepping back

Preamble So: after that grab bag of impressions of Dragon Age: Inquisition, what do I think about the game as a whole? One question is: what do I wish the game was? Given the importance of relationships and romances in the game, “a dating sim” is a not outlandish answer. I don’t think it’s my […]

mass effect 3

The first two Mass Effect games were among my favorites of this console generation. Despite that, I’d been rather ambivalent about the approaching third installment in the series for the last year, ever since Mass Effect 2‘s Arrival DLC. Arrival took a series that had always allowed me to express optimism about doing the right […]

my mass effect 2 romance

I recently listened to the first episode of the Border House podcast (there’s also a transcript available if you prefer), which focused on romance in BioWare games, leading off in particular with a long discussion of the romance options in Mass Effect 2. I very much enjoyed their discussion, but I also got the impression […]

gdc 2010: saturday mass effect 2 talks

On the Saturday of GDC this year, I went to two talks on Mass Effect 2 and two talks on other subjects; since I have a fair amount to say on both pairs of talks, I’ll split them up into two posts. 9:00 am: Where Did My Inventory Go? Refining Gameplay in Mass Effect 2, […]

mass effect 2

The original Mass Effect was one of the games that pushed me into buying an Xbox 360. I played through it quickly and had a great time, though for whatever reason I haven’t spent much time thinking about it since then; BioWare seems to make games that push my buttons very well but don’t put […]

juvenile and adolescent games

When Michael reviewed MySims Agents, I knew I had to get it for my daughter for Christmas, and my hopes for the game weren’t misplaced: it looks both fun and charming, she loved it, my wife blazed right through it, and I’ll give it a spin as soon as I’m done with Mass Effect 2. […]

saving, ethics, and the slog

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about choices in games, and the effect that game save mechanisms have on the ethical impact of those choices. I won’t even attempt to link to the vast majority of the conversation, but two contributions (both involving Nels Anderson) particularly struck me today: slides for a talk by […]

margaret robertson on (no) story

One of the most interesting of the talks I attended at this year’s GDC was Margeret Robertson’ talk Stop Wasting My Time and Your Money: Why Your Game Doesn’t Need a Story to be a Hit. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any notes while listening to it, so my summary at the time was exceedingly sparse. […]

gdc 2009: friday bioware talk

At 4:00pm on the friday of GDC, I attended The Iterative Level Design Process of Bioware’s Mass Effect 2. I went because I loved Mass Effect and because I’m always happy to see the word “iterative” used, but the talk turned out to be an excellent final experience from the conference for a completely unexpected […]

deus ex, one week in

The Vintage Game Club chose Deus Ex as its second game. I think I’ll probably do most of my commenting on the game in the forum, but I’ll leave some notes here periodically, too. For me, the most interesting aspect of the first week of gameplay is watching how badly suited my brain is to […]

what is a narrative game?

In response to my earlier post on puzzles in narrative games, a couple of the commenters noted that contrasting the puzzles in Professor Layton with those in Grim Fandango isn’t fair, because the puzzles in the former game aren’t integrated into the game world in the the same way as puzzles in the latter one […]

half-life 2

I managed to avoid playing any of the Half-Life games in the past: I’ve been almost exclusively a console gamer since 1998, and the few computer games I’ve played since then are ones that can be played with a touchpad (my hands and mice really don’t get along), which pretty much means that PC FPSes […]

mass effect

Mass Effect is the latest RPG from BioWare, makers of the excellent Jade Empire. Like that one, it’s an action RPG: combat takes place in the middle of the environment you’re running around in, and different characters don’t take turns attacking each other. (Though the details are quite different: in particular, the combat is based […]

eternal sonata: first impressions

I just started Eternal Sonata. It’s a Japanese RPG on the Xbox 360 that takes place in the dreams of Frederic Chopin as he’s about to die from tuberculosis; how could I pass up a concept like that? A few hours in, I’m quite happy to be playing it. At the core, it’s a not-too-outlandish […]

a third of a way through the textbook

Sorry I’ve been so quiet recently; I spent most of my evenings for about three weeks playing Mass Effect. (Which I quite recommend, incidentally.) But I’m done now, so I finally have a bit of time to get back to blogging. (And to catch up with reading the things.) I’m a third of a way […]

xbox 360

I (correctly) didn’t think that I’d have enough video games on consoles I already own to get me through the holiday break, so I got an Xbox 360 a couple of weeks ago. Some notes: I messed up a couple of cables when installing; probably because I’m conditioned to think that they’re all broken, it […]