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The Hidden Gamers

Where are all the board gamers hiding? And why?

I’ve been playing games for a very long time – about 30 years for both video and hobby tabletop games of various kinds. I rather immodestly think of myself as being intimately familiar with most of the genres, and of being representative of the more obsessive end of hobby gamers generally. It therefore came as something of a shock when, shortly after discovering boardgamegeek.com in 2002, I realised that my taste combat-heavy, thematic and fairly random games was considered niche. It seemed that modern gamers generally preferred these new-fangled “European” games coming out of Germany.

I was further mystified when I learned that the foremost modern-day purveyor of the sorts of games I particularly enjoyed, Fantasy Flight Games, had become one of the largest game publishers in the world, ranking behind only mass-market producers like Hasbro and streets ahead of any other hobby-focussed companies. If my taste in games was considered niche amongst a community of board game hobbyists, how come the publisher that best suited that taste had grown so large? Who on earth was buying all their games?

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Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is PC-bound

I loved the original Rocketbirds from Ratloop Asia, so you can imagine my disappointment when Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken was announced as a PS3-exclusive. The scales of justice have tipped in my favor! Hardboiled Chicken is coming to the PC and can be pre-ordered at Rain Digital Games and GamersGate for $9.99.

Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is also slated to hit Steam, although customers who pre-order through the above outlets will also receive a four-track EP from New World Revolution, which includes a remix of “Once I Was Lost.” I purchased the original New World Revolution EP two years ago, and it is most definitely worthy of a pre-order bonus.

Check out the Rain Digital Games or Rocketbirds websites for more trailers and screenshots.

Double Fine Goes Free to Play with Middle Manager of Justice

Free to play is all the rage with the kiddies these days, as witnessed by everyone and their mother throwing their hat in the free to play ring. The latest developer to make a stab is Double Fine with their newly announces iOS game, Middle Manager of Justice. In it, you play a middle manager in charge of recruiting, training and deploying a team of eight superheroes. As this is a Double Fine game, I’ll be more than happy to give it a try and see if they can avoid the same pitfalls as other free to play efforts, namely the brick wall players run into when they figure out that they can’t get any farther without dropping some serious coin.

Middle Manager of Justice will release “soon” for the iPad and iPhone.

Bastion Ventures to iPad Tomorrow

If you haven’t adventured with the Kid yet, or you just have a thing for gaming on mobile devices, Bastion from Supergiant Games is landing in the App Store for iPad tomorrow, August 30. This release of Bastion will include Stranger’s Dream (DLC for PC and Xbox 360), retuned weapons and Proving Grounds, Retina compatibility, and options for either gamepad-style controls or touchscreen controls.

You can check out the trailer after the break.

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Indie Megabooth at PAX Prime

I won’t be at PAX Prime in Seattle this year, but if I were, I could tell you exactly where most of my time would be spent. 10 games will still be showcased in the PAX 10, but no longer will other indie video game developers be confined to the peripheral tables wedged between vendors selling trinkets of dubious quality.

The Indie Megabooth will host 30 developers displaying 32 games, including Super Time Force, Mark of the Ninja, Snapshot, Yata, Chasing Aurora, Guacamelee!, Monaco, and Antichamber. If you’re heading to PAX and you get the chance to try out some games at the Indie Megabooth, let us know what you think. You can find a full list of games and developers at the Indie Megabooth website.

Calendar Man – Week of 8/27

It’s the last week of August, which means preseason football is wrapping up here in the States and Madden is on the horizon. I remember a time when the release of Madden was a big deal. At one point, EA made these sick day scripts you could use when calling in sick on Madden’s release day. Nowadays, the release of Madden doesn’t seem all that important. Granted, it was never important, just hyped more. The times, they are a changin’.

In other news, Guild Wars 2 comes out, Sony  releases collections of a bunch of their first party titles and Mass Effect 3 has some underwater DLC tomfoolery.

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Madden 13 Early Hours Impressions

I have had a retail copy of Madden 13 for about a week now and while my time has been limited of late I have managed to play about 10-12 games and fiddle a little with the Connected Career mode.

So, below are some rapid fire style impressions, certainly not a “review” as I’m not ready to write that yet.

My impressions thus far are based solely on All-Pro level, no slider adjustments.

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Empty Dungeons

Legend of Grimrock - a brilliant game in an empty setting

My current gaming time is being spent entirely on indie dungeon-crawler Legend of Grimrock. It’s a sadly neglected genre which done right (as Grimrock is) is capable of delivering a sublime mixture of puzzle solving, twitch combat and the addictiveness of RPG item and level collecting. Almost all games in the category belong to utterly generic fantasy worlds which they spend little or no time elucidating. So far, five levels down, Grimrock seems no different.

Indeed the wider world of fantasy computer and board games boasts relatively few examples of any settings other than boilerplate ones. Given that perhaps the most wondrous thing about fantasy is its potential for open-ended, imaginative worlds, this seems a sad and unfortunate state of affairs.

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XCOM: Enemy Unknown “Casualties of War” Trailer

More footage from XCOM…and this is still firmly in the “gotta play” category.

Oh, yes, I do have Dark Souls…which I am about to play right now. I’ve also had a retail version of Madden 13 for a few days and will offer up some thoughts later as today is embargo lifting day.

The Case for Guild Wars 2

On Jumping the Shark #139, while talking about upcoming releases, we rather clumsily stumbled around next week’s release of Guild Wars 2. I say “clumsily” only because none of us have really paid enough attention to the mechanics of the game to really know what it’s supposed to be all about. We know it’s an MMO, and in a time when most of the big MMO’s are barely modest derivations of every other MMO/WoW, what else is there to know? The game not having a monthly subscription model isn’t remotely reason enough to buy it. So, Garion333 helpfully posted this link in the podcast’s comments section. It leads to a page loaded with Guild Wars 2 info written for people who aren’t familiar with Guild Wars. This one might really be different, folks. Watch the video above and check the site if you want details that are actually detailed.

For me, here’s the thing – I’m not sure it’ll matter…

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