You may remember my interviews with Sandy Petersen a few episodes back. In case you missed them, here's what you need to know: This is the guy that did the Cthulhu games for Chaosium back in 1981--pen and paper games that are still being enjoyed today. Now he's back with a Kickstarter project called Cthulhu World Combat, a turn-based strategy game based on H.P. Lovecraft's twisted mindscapes.
A lot of people have been asking me about my thoughts on the new X-Com: UFO Defense game. Usually these are folks who loved the original game, which I reviewed two years ago on Matt Chat #60. Admittedly, that video was the first time I had played any of the original games, and I didn't play it much after that, so I'm not the person to speak to about how faithfully the new one captures the minutiae of the old series. At any rate, I wouldn't care about that anyway. After all, the old ones are still quite easy to get up and running on a modern system, so if you really want the authentic experience, it's not going anywhere. So, that leaves me with a more important question--is the new one any good? I have to say yes, even if it seems the designers seemed hell-bent on sabotaging their own game.
I have only managed to play through the single-player campaign once, and that was on normal difficulty. The fact that it has a difficulty selector (which it encourages you to change during the game if it gets too hard) was alone to get my hackles up. I really hate it when a game makes me answer that sort of question right off the bat.
I'm back this week with the show's first-ever double feature. In the first segment, I chat with Lori and Corey Cole about their Hero-U kickstarter. Then I switch to Dave Marsh, to chat about his Shadowgate kickstarter. I know people might be getting "Kickstarter Fatigue" at this point, but I think you'll agree that both of these projects are well worth your money.
You can download the video here. If you like the show, please do your part to keep the episodes coming.
It's taken me awhile to try to ferret out what actually happened here, but as far as I've been able to tell, one of Eurogamer's journalists has been fired over some vitriolic comments he made about high profile game reviewers being on the take. (A doctored, but still harsh version of his article is here. The journalist, Rab Florence, isn't someone I'm familiar with, but I gather from his description as a "comedy writer" that he's accustomed to shaking things up for the sake of attention. At any rate, his diatribe against game reviewers who blatantly promote products from the big companies...I mean we're not idiots here, right? We all know that the latest COD and Halo games are going to get four stars and the red carpet treatment on all the major sites. Meanwhile, anyone who dares question the superiority of the latest AAA darling gets (a) totally ignored by the mainstream and (b) bashed or looked at funny by everyone else. Apparently, the only thing it's safe for the mainstream journalists to bash are games like Duke Nukem Forever and Mass Effect 3. After all, standing up for games that are so reviled makes them "safe" targets, so naturally they go to town, making them sound like the Worst Games Ever. (Finally, we can take the gloves off! Now let's really tear into this one to prove we don't occasionally tear into one...)
By now, I'm sure everyone has heard about how Brathwaithe and Hall pulled the plug on their Shaker RPG Kickstarter. I had pledged $100 to this one, mostly because the rewards were great and I have a lot of respect for everyone involved in this project (though I've yet to interview either). The gist of it all is that they went into this with a plan to do something "old school," but didn't get into enough specifics about what their game would actually be like. Sure, we all remember how great the old days of Wizardry, Ultima, Pool of Radiance, and Bard's Tale were...but after whipping up everyone into a gonad frenzy, they ran out of the room before anybody got to cuddle.
They've promised to come back with a stronger pitch. I doubt that any of them give a rat's squeal what yours truly would like to see in that pitch, but what the hell. I know they (amongst others) have the talent and experience to make me a very happy gamer, so here's what I would like to see in the next big Kickstarter classic CRPG pitch.
One of my favorite all-time quotes from the much-maligned Karl Marx goes something like this: "mankind... inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation." When I first read this quotation back in the 90s, the internet was just beginning to evolve from a sort of "super BBS" inhabited almost entirely by academics, engineers, and plain ol' nerds. Everyone could see that something BIG was happening. Much BIGGER, even, than America OnLine--if you could possibly wrap your head around that! For most of this period, the internet was used by the common person mostly to send email and then go on to Yahoo to play some games or browse their extensive directories. Once money started to change hands, though, thanks mostly to eBay, there was an explosion of commercial interest. The web quickly evolved from the thousands of personal pages (dog, career, photos of gardens and some cute animated GIFs)...It soon became common, then expected, to see a URL even on your box of Mac & Cheese. "What are THEY doing on the internet?" we asked.
This week features a retrospective of Lucasfilm Games' The Eidolon, a 1985 game that builds on the fractal routines introduced in Koronis Rift and Rescue on Fractalus!. Unfortunately, this game requires a manual to understand, so many of us pirates back in the day couldn't make head nor tails of it. The story, detailed only in the manual, has us strapping into a sphere called The Eidolon and zapping off into the unconscious, mystical realm of the mind (it just gets weirder from there). The fairly complex gameplay has us shooting and collecting four different colors of balls, each with different effects on creatures (if shot) and ourselves (if hit or collected). It also boasts some of the best artwork at the time, especially animation.
Download the mp4 here.
I thought I'd mix things up a bit today with a list of my current 10 favorite cartoons (most of which are also my family's favorites, too), which I'd argue are among the short list of best shows on TV today, animated or otherwise. Interestingly, videogame culture/influence - not to mention, technology - has clearly made its way into all of these cartoons in one way or another, which I'll of course point out where relevant.
Here's the list, in no particular order:
A more thorough look at all the Pinball Machines that were out on display and ready for play on the Replay 2012 expo.
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