It’s turning to summer here in Atlanta, which means soon it will be so humid that you will be able to look out your window and see schools of fish swimming by. For most folks, summertime makes them think of dreadful things like beaches and cookouts. For me, it takes me back to the summer of 2006 when the game shop I owned and operated with two partners , Atlanta Game Factory, was going strong. I think of scorching hot days driving through Atlanta rush hour traffic in my beloved and airless ’82 Chevrolet Scottsdale, trying to get to a local distributor to pick up Magic cards for the Friday Night Magic booster draft. I remember sitting out back priming Warmachine figures and shooting the shit with Peter, Mike, and Elliot. Waking up every warm morning and not caring one lick that I had a twelve hour work day ahead of me. It was my favorite time with the store, the best summer I ever had. Continue Reading…
In case you didn’t get the memo, Microsoft just revealed its new $500 (?) television remote control/cable box called the Xbox 361. It also may play some video games, according to some suit in a blazer and jeans for the special occasion.
The new Call of Duty game was shown and it will be a Durango exclusive for a couple of days. As long as you pretend that games like Thief, Vanquish, and Brink never existed it will provide innovative new gameplay experiences like the ability to lean and slide. Also, for the first time ever in a video game, there is a dog. What is most impressive though, according to the video I watched, is how the Xbox Infinity will simulate Captain Price’s arm hairs better than ever before. There were also some wireframes that show how your dudebro entertainment experience will come alive like never before with the NextBox. I thought it was pretty touching seeing those soldiers cuddling up. I hope my bros will purchase the Xbox instead of the PS4 so that we can share the man-love a couple of days early.
You might call them “Risk-style” or “take over the world” games. You may even call them “garbage”. But myself and a lot of other folks writing and thinking about board games have taken to referring to those in which you control and conquer spatially arranged territories on a map with on-board pawns and engage in conflict resolution to determine placement or removal of pieces with other players as “Dudes on a Map” or DoaM games. I’ve been thinking a lot about the genre lately since it is one of what is really a very small number of distinguishable macro-genres among board game classifications, and also because there have been so many damn good, damn innovative games in this genre over the past ten years.
Last night, I was playing the much-ballyhooed Bioshock Infinite. I had rescued Elizabeth, a dead-on cross between a Disney princess and one of the kids from Akira voiced by someone that sounds straight out of drama school, from her towering monument. We wound up on a beach. Sunbathers relaxed in the warm, Maxfield Parrish-like glow that blankets virtually every visual in the game. It was a peaceful scene after a hectic action sequence. As I’ve done in System Shock 2, Bioshock, and Bioshock 2, I dutifully looted everything in sight. Right there on the beach, in a picnic basket, I found some machine gun bullets. Suddenly the world of the sky city Columbia- which is really described mostly through advertising posters and cute graphic design- fell apart and I was just playing another idiotic shooter with tedious looting, ho-hum gunplay, and pointless bloodshed that does nothing for the story but provide the player with something to do in between the movie parts. Continue Reading…
Last night, like any iDevice-owning Talismaniac could be expected to do, I dutifully downloaded the long-awaited Talisman: Prologue IOS game just minutes after the download went live in the App Store. Five dollars and a few minutes later, I was finally playing a quite polished, complete and specially tailored edition of Talisman on my iPad. For years a digital version has been in the works under the auspices of many different publishers and developers including an XBLA project with Capcom at one point. But here it was in the flesh, the quest for the Crown of Command in the palm of my hand.
I’ll talk about the usual gaming stuff in a minute. I feel a bit of a heel for titling a post as a celebration after what happened in Boston yesterday. This is gaming blog and that’s a tragedy that I’ll only speak of to say that what terrorists –those born within our borders or those without– want is to create fear. You want to beat these people? Keep living your life the way it works for you. Don’t let them make you afraid to walk down the street or board a plane. They are few. We are many. Also, this.
Anyway, the celebrating part is a personal note because I’m happy and excited and that only happens like once or twice a year. (No, not really.) If you’ve been listening to JtS for the past year, you’ve probably heard me drop Michelle’s name here and there. For awhile it’s felt much too small to call her my girlfriend. It was a situation in need of rectification. I had a ring and a plan and it all almost came apart when, after a nice one-year anniversary dinner, we were attacked by a flock of (two) wild geese. I was afraid for my life, but I had a job to do and my bravery must have impressed because now I’ve got myself a fiancee. I’m a happy, lucky man and there’s no question I’ll be marrying above my level.
So… wooooo! Now, let’s talk games. (Thank you for indulging me.)
As you all here know, I recently moved. I used to live not very close to Atlanta, now I live even less close. There’s Inside-the-Perimeter, there’s Outside-the-Perimeter and then there’s me. The county I live in isn’t totally rural but at the same time, the guy who trained my dog used to work for the sheriff’s department in this county and the most excitement he ever had while on duty was lassoing a bull with an extension cord. If I want to get to Atlanta, I can be there in about 40 minutes, provided it’s not rush hour or a day with a Brave’s game, a Falcon’s game, a Tech game or a day with any of the various festivals and summer going-ons that happen in the city. I know it sounds like I’m out in the boonies, but trust me, it ain’t all like that. My buddy Hodge lives even further out than I do, like cow-country far out.
Michigan lost. I’m in mourning. Except not really, because it was an amazing, wonderful season and that team did the school and its fans proud. Also, subs. Craziness. You know the drill. Mostly I’m just hungover. Off of three beers. I’m not sure how that happens. I’m a lightweight. Anyway. This week’s ramblings consist of a large bag of half empty as Disney realizes what we all already knew, EA demonstrates itself to be as tone deaf as ever, and an MS employee gets in trouble for being honest about the wrong things. But first, something wholly awesome.
X-COM versus XCOM. Adam Sessler of Rev3Games did a sit down with the co-creator of the original X-COM, Julian Gollop, and XCOM lead designer Jake Solomon. As a fan of both games, it’s just neat to see two of the principles behind them congratulate each other on being so awesome. And I’m not even being sarcastic. They are awesome for doing this:
The recent Tomb Raider reboot, mistakenly cited by Tom Chick as one of the best games of this generation, is bullshit AAA games-making at its worst for a number of reasons. But the moment where I decided to check out of it was when I was tasked with guiding Lara Croft across a girder spanning a chasm. The camera tilted forward to show me the danger of the fall. Lara’s arms went out to balance, and I assumed that I would need to carefully nudge the stick, moving her slowly so as to maintain footing and overcome the perilous obstacle. I stopped halfway and I watched her, fidgeting and nervous, feeling that strange fear of ersatz death that video games can sometimes create for us. And then I just started jamming on the stick to see what would happen. Continue Reading…