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the shenmue 3 kickstarter

I’ve been surprised at how much negative reaction to the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter has appeared in my twitter feed. Maybe not so much in the quantity of the reaction as the tone: it seems like the Kickstarter is a flashpoint in a culture war, while I don’t really understand why there has to be a […]

tweaks i’d like in rocksmith 2017

I’ve been playing Rocksmith 2014 ever since it came out a year and a half ago, and I was playing its predecessor for a year before that; so obviously I like the game and the series a lot, and I imagine that I’ll still be playing it two and a half years from now. Or […]

blogging about my netrunner decks

I’ve been enjoying one of my Netrunner decks recently, and I figured it would help me take notes about what’s working in my decks and what isn’t. So I’m reviving my gaming scenes blog for something other than Minecraft pictures: I’ll add decks there as they change or evolve, and I’ll also backfill a couple […]

returning to ico

I really enjoyed Dragon Age: Inquisition, but it was a bit of a mess. That mess was, however, not specific to that game: it’s entirely typical for a AAA game to throw in a kitchen sink of gameplay mechanisms. Some AAA games manage to escape that pitfall: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are particularly […]

ascension: realms unraveled

Ascension: Realms Unraveled showed up hot on the heels of the previous expansion, and, like its predecessor, it turned out to be surprisingly fun to play. I actually was not sure about it at the start: for one thing, the art style changed dramatically, to the extent that it wasn’t even immediately obvious what class […]

the rock band 4 announcement

So: Harmonix announced Rock Band 4. I had mixed feelings when I filled out the survey: on the one hand, I claimed that pro instruments were most important to me, because that is after all how I spent most of my time in Rock Band 3, but, on the other hand: “pro instruments” probably really […]


Hoplite pushed my buttons in an interesting way. It’s a roguelike, which is a genre that I respect in the abstract but I don’t play much of; but it’s a roguelike with small levels, with no hidden information within a level, with only four types of enemies, and where your build options, while somewhat random, […]

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 […]

dragon age inquisition: miscellaneous thoughts

Dragon Age: Inquisition. It’s glorious, but it’s also a bit of a mess, in a AAA-ey way. Which means that I have no idea how to talk about the game in a coherent manner! So, in absence of that, a randomly ordered list of topics: The Scale of Its Story In Dragon Age II, you […]


For people who aren’t familiar with it, Framed is a puzzle game where each screen is a page of a comic, with a character running through the panels in that page in sequence. And you can rearrange the panels: so, instead of running straight into a guard, you can move a panel with a ladder […]


I’d been impressed by (and am still impressed by) Hoplite, and one of the things I like about it is that it’s a roguelike where you have a relatively large amount of control over your build. And I’d been hearing about 868-HACK for a while, so I figured I’d give that game a try as […]

ascension: darkness unleashed

Ascension: Darkness Unleashed has the same energy mechanic as the prior iteration; on that, it layers a second kind of energy (“dark energy shards”) that let you banish cards in your discard pile (and occasionally trigger other card-specific effects), and a transformation mechanic whereby many cards permanently become more powerful if you’ve acquired a specified […]

tomb raider

I’d never played a Tomb Raider game before the 2013 iteration of the series; that playthrough was also the first time I’d played a newish AAA game in something like two years, so I’d gotten a bit unused to that sort of polished spectacle. And, I will say: it was a very well-done polished spectacle, […]

morality play

Single-player narrative games frequently put you on the side of somebody actively fighting for justice: I’m in the middle of Dragon Age: Inquisition right now, for example, and that game has the all-too-familiar RPG plot of a chosen one saving the world. This means means that, of Jane Jacobs’ two moral syndromes from Systems of […]


So: Hearthstone. Gameplay-wise, it seems like a stripped-down Magic; and while it’s probably unfair for me to compare the games to Netrunner, it looks like Hearthstone has a lot fewer options for how to approach the game. And it’s designed to make you spend money to get better cards; the first time I was playing […]


Our November VGHVI Symposium game was Antichamber. It’s a game that had been on my radar for years (I saw an early version of it under the name Hazard: The Journey of Life at GDC in 2010); I avoided it for platform reasons when it got released, but I was happy that Dan gave me […]

freecell and addictive games

FreeCell is, in its own way, one of the best games ever designed. I am not aware of any other puzzle game which does such a good job of balancing three factors: The game should be based on random seeds. Almost all random seeds should be solvable. The search for that solution should be rewardingly […]

is it time to upgrade consoles?

When the new consoles came out, I had zero interest in getting one: I hadn’t been playing AAA games much, and nothing on the new consoles caught my eye at all. And that continued for quite a long time: until I started playing Tomb Raider a few weeks ago, I hadn’t played a newish console […]

desert golfing

I really don’t know what to make of Desert Golfing. I spent a while playing it, it has the sort of “one more level” feel that games based on micro levels lend themselves to. But the levels veered around so much: most are straightforward, a few require frustrating repetition, and there’s just not that much […]

phoenix wright 5

Before playing Phoenix Wright 5, I replayed the first four games in the series. And it’s an excellent series, one that I’m glad I replayed! The fifth game in the series is a good game, too. It’s changed mechanically, though: they dramatically reduced the number of situations where it was possible to be stumped about […]