Too Long; Didn't Play: Car Mechanic Simulator 2014
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 May 2015, 6:02 am

Sponsored By: Aristophan

Labor bill: 99 minutes, but we don't bill you for estimates.

Estimate

Customer reports no knowledge of how cars work at all. Repair with a copy of Car Mechanic Simulator 2014 and an undefined number of hours.

Oh, and while you're at it, tell him you replaced the zwieback lubricator and that it costs four grand, plus labor.

It was a lot harder to play than we thought it'd be ... .

The automobile has always been something of a mystery to me. I'm not a stupid man – I'm an electrical engineer for crying out loud. Ask me to design a stripline band-pass filter for 10% around 12.5 gigahertz, and I'll draft it, fab it, and slap it on a network analyzer to prove to you that I just did what you asked.

Cars, though? I might as well be a frog trying to comprehend, well, an internal combustion engine.

That's for mechanical engineers.

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GWJ Plays Dread - Part Two
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 April 2015, 11:44 pm

One of our 2014 Donation Drive stretch goals was for us to record an RPG session at rabbitcon so you could finally see what all the fuss was about! We've brought together some of the finest roleplayers around along with master GM Kevin Kulp to take you through a complete game of Dread.

Daring adventure! Space! A Jenga tower! Horrible visions that will keep you up at night! Stay tuned next week for the final part of our three part series!

Starring Lara Crigger, Karla Andrich, Graham Rowat, Rob Daviau and Shawn Andrich as the players.

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Employee Profile: ukickmydog
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 April 2015, 6:07 pm

Hey, kids! I just found this profile sitting on my desk. Turns out this guy's been on payroll for years, though I can't find him in the org. chart anywhere. Anyone know who he reports to?

Maybe I'll bring this up with HR. This could be one of those "Milton" issues.

Anyway, here's ukick.

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April 27 – May 3
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 April 2015, 8:00 am

Gazing into my magical 8-ball reveals that there is no treasure to be found within this week's releases, not for me at least. Yet I feel compelled to put forward Omega Quintet as my "pick" of the week before Wordsmythe has the opportunity to throw me once more beneath the bus with some damning commentary about me and panty shots.

From what I can gather from the trailer, Omega Quintet takes the aesthetic of your typical post-80's space opera anime with monstrous alien creatures, and swaps the characters out with a J-Pop Idol Group, plus token boy wielding a heavy sword. Why is he there? I don't know, as it is most certainly not to be a cipher for the Otaku male this game is clearly targeting.

Here and there these seemingly obvious panderings have also been acting as deconstructions of Otaku culture and obsession, so I'm going to throw the game (and likely community member Mantid, who eats this sort of stuff up as a midnight snack) a bone in hopes that there is more to this particular book than the cover suggests.

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Want to Be a Guest on The GWJ Conference Call?
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 April 2015, 11:10 am

As part of our 2014 Donation Drive we reached the goal of having special community guests on the podcast. This will be a draw so everyone gets a chance! All you have to do to enter is post in the comments below and we'll collect all the names and draw them out of a hat on one of our planned live shows.

What do you need to be on the Conference Call?

- A solid microphone. A good headset or even newer laptop mics are doable. A $20 headset or webcam mic isn't going to cut it.

- The ability to record your local audio track. We can help set that up, no biggie.

- Ideas for topics you're interested in!

- Availability to record on an evening over a weekend. Talking North America here, but we can figure out overseas stuff too.

Comment in this post if you'd like to be on the show! We'll leave it for a few weeks before we start to draw names. Good luck!

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Want a Custom GWJ Forum Icon? Enter The Draw!
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 April 2015, 11:42 am

Another one of the cool benefits of not locking prizes behind big individual donations is giving everyone a shot at a fancy custom forum icon done by the amazing Elysia. We have the usual tiers based on years donated of course, but you may notice some community members have unique, one of a kind icons. Want one of those? Of course you do!

All you need to do is post in this comment section what kind of icon you'd want and we'll do a random draw of six winners! Only thing to keep in mind is that these icons are really small and gold in color, so if you want something too detailed it may end up being unrecognizable. Like a companion cube looking a bit like an owl. *cough*

Good luck! We'll do the draw in a couple weeks so everyone has a chance to enter.

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Too Long; Didn't Play: Akane the Kunoichi
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 April 2015, 6:05 am

Sponsored By: Mr. Rojan

Time Played: 41 Minutes

Short Review

Remember back when every game had a ninja in it? I do, and so do the people who made this game. It's $3 and, for a competent Shinobi clone like this, you can't go wrong.

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A Home Among the Star Wars
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 April 2015, 9:03 pm

I first saw the original Star Wars the week after I turned four years old. My dad took me, and I have only the vaguest, most foggy recollection of this event.

When Darth Vader appeared on the giant screen, I’m told I took refuge under the seat, spending the next few minutes there as the great Dark Lord of the Sith lifted a man off the ground and broke his neck, and then accused a woman of being a part of the rebel alliance and a traitor. My initial fear, however, rapidly sloughed off me as the magic of what was happening on the big screen replaced my gut-level fight-or-flight response, and, by the time Luke Skywalker appeared, I was back in my seat and utterly transfixed.

Like many people, Star Wars holds a relevance in my life that is likely far greater than it deserves. I’ve bought the movies in various formats and various states of enhancements more often than I care to admit. The soundtrack makes a periodic appearance in my listening schedule, and to this day I get dopamine-induced goosebumps when I listen to the final two minutes of music from the Death Star trench run.

In a way, when I revisit the universe of Star Wars, I feel like I'm home.

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The Pile
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 April 2015, 9:17 pm

There are three types of game in my world:

  • Games I play and trade in right after I decide to be done with them,
  • Games that I keep until it's literally impossible to play them anymore, and
  • Games I finish and keep for years until I decide to trade them in
Well, okay. There are four kinds if you count games I never buy in the first place. Or five if you count the games in my Steam library that I'll never play again but can't get rid of. Do you mind? I'm trying to generalize here.

So: three. Three types of games. I suspect you have a similar grouping of categories, based on whether and how often you trade in old games. Maybe you have:

  • Games that you store in the basement
  • Games you store in a box in the closet under old issues TV guide that you think will be valuable someday, and
  • Games you keep near the entertainment center in case you want them again.
Perhaps you group your Steam library into Games you don't want to play again, games you think you really should reinstall one of these days, and games that you never uninstall.

The point is you have games you play again, games you think you'll play again but won't, and games you don't want to play again.

I brought up trading games in because there's a finality to it that isn't there with the basement-closet-bookshelf sorting. Once you decide to trade a game in, it costs actual money to get it back if you change your mind. Since I still do some console gaming that involves refined petrochemicals, I have to think about this, and I have to think about it hard.

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GWJ Plays Dread - Part One
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 April 2015, 3:42 pm

One of our 2014 Donation Drive stretch goals was for us to record an RPG session at rabbitcon so you could finally see what all the fuss was about! We've brought together some of the finest roleplayers around along with master GM Kevin Kulp to take you through a complete game of Dread.

Daring adventure! Space! A Jenga tower! Horrible visions that will keep you up at night! Stay tuned next week for part two.

Starring Lara Crigger, Karla Andrich, Graham Rowat, Rob Daviau and Shawn Andrich as the players. Thanks to Julian Murdoch for producing and editing all the footage!

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April 20-27
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 April 2015, 6:43 am

Once upon a time there was a child named Reemus. A long time ago, when people slept on mats because the beds used to bite, Reemus lived in wild Frontera. This was long before the wizard wars, so there wasn't yet a second dungeon in the land of Ziggurat. One day Reemus received a note from far-away Kavkas. It read simply "WE ARE DOOMED." Reemus immediately set out upon the Fermi path to consult the monks of Kiai Resonance, who were learned in scrying and other mystical arts. It seemed that a terrible dragon, named Dragon, had slaughtered an entire village.

"I must go at once and stop this beast!" Reemus cried.

"Slow down, bull," the monks replied, urging caution. They counseled Reemus to Journey first to Kalimba and then to Siralim, where Reemus must seek the aid of the leaders of the twin clans of Hypt. "They are fierce warriors, and will fight for food."

Owing to Reemus' age, one of the monks volunteered to travel with him as far as Kalimba. They hired two mules, and together made a convoy. In the highlands of wild Frontera, they encountered Alice, who was laying mind snares to trap escaped dreams. As it turned out, the dragon was a feral nightmare that had been accidentally freed by a careless novice while using a resonance pool. She assured Reemus and the monk that there was nothing to fear, that the bloodbath at Kavkas had never occurred, but until the loosed nightmare was returned to its resting place, the resonance pools all across the world would bear false witness of savage dragon attacks.

So the five of them – Reemus, Alice, the monk and the two mules – set forth to capture the dream once again and tame it once and for all. This is their story.

But first, a word from our sponsors:

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Too Long; Didn't Play: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 17 April 2015, 6:16 am

Sponsored By: Humble's Squeenix Bundle Sequel

Time Played: 53 minutes

Lara's Pants review

Dual-stick shooting mix with platforming and puzzle-solving in this cooperative genre mash-up featuring everyone's favorite grave robber, Lara Croft.

Lara's Hair review

I want to make a confession: I've never played a Tomb Raider game.

Well, okay, maybe that's not completely accurate. I played five minutes of the original PS1 game at a Toys "R" Us demo kiosk. Beyond that, my experience with Lara Croft comes mainly from watching the movies.

My impressions of things featuring the character are, needless to say, not the best.

My thoughts on the game were that those controls were better suited to the 2600 game Combat rather than a game about an agile explorer. Given my love for Indiana Jones movies and my respect for Angelina Jolie as an actress (Girl Interrupted was one of the best movies I never want to see again), the movies should have been like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

They were not.

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Blind Eyes
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 April 2015, 6:57 am

For the longest time I thought open-world style games weren't for me. I never really enjoyed frolicking about such a large and directionless environment until Assassin's Creed. One might consider it odd to call that game "open world." Despite the motto, "Nothing is true, everything is permitted," echoed throughout the series, the games also limit the player in a lot of ways. Ride too fast on a horse, and guards will begin chasing you down. Hop around on rooftops long enough, and a sentry will surely spot you. Spend your days on the streets, and prepare to get harassed by beggars and lepers. Assassin's Creed may have an open world, but it certainly isn't a "sandbox" environment for most players.

While the term "sandbox" is more likely to describe a game like Minecraft today, it was once used for titles such as Grand Theft Auto III. You could even argue that Grand Theft Auto III's mainstream success is why open-world and/or sandbox style games have become so common.

The idea behind the sandbox game is that the player inhabits a world where they can follow their impulses and do whatever they wish. To me, however, if Grand Theft Auto III were a sandbox, then it was a sandbox built of rotting wood with rusted nails jutting free of its cracked surface. A strange and reddish family of insects would crawl around the grains of sand, their bites itching feverishly for days. Over in the corner some child (oh dear God I hope it was a child) had chosen to defecate without even the cat-like decency to bury their own poop. Yes, it was a sandbox, and there's plenty you could do in such a sandbox, but it always just looked like a rather uncomfortable place to play in.

When I first played inFamous, I thought I had found my perfect open-world game. It wasn't a "sandbox", per se. It wasn't even a LEGO set. It felt like I had finally gotten one of those awesome, expensive playsets they showcase on television, such as the Technodrome from Ninja Turtles. It couldn't do everything, but it excelled at everything it sought. "Finally," I said to myself, "a developer that understands a well-polished experience". Whenever I read complaints leveled against the game, I was confused and couldn't understand why they weren't having as much fun as I was.

Or perhaps I always could understand, but chose not to. I finally got myself a Playstation 4 recently, and the first game I went and purchased was inFamous: Second Son, prologued by inFamous: First Light. I hungrily devoured the content of both titles, completing them in what felt like record time for me. It's easy to conclude that I greatly enjoyed the experience of both games.

But I couldn't ignore their faults this time. The Technodrome wasn't the perfect toy after all. I could feel myself thinking the many complaints I once dismissed. inFamous: Second Son and all of its predecessors could have been better if they had only made a few adjustments here and there.

How many other games had I turned my blind eye towards, I wonder?

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You'll Never Make It Out Alive
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 April 2015, 10:45 pm

Back when the world was young and Nutting Associates was still trying to figure out how to get people to give them quarters, a game was usually something competitive. Chess, football, Barrel Of Monkeys: These were things called "games" that pitted two sides against each other, which mathematically and empirically designated one side as the winner by the end of the game.

That's because games used to be a metaphor for war. Let's not forget that the first marathon race was a single messenger running twenty six miles with an invading army at his heels. Let's also remember that the winner of that particular race died because of it, which is why I spend Patriot's Day indoors. It's no accident that the Olympic Games largely favor martial skills – the javelin throw, the 100 meter dash, and rhythmic gymnastics all have rich military traditions and clearly defined martial allegories. They all represent how well you can attack, run from or befuddle your enemies on the battlefield.

One can imagine the conversations during a siege at Thebes:

"I say, Sergeant, why is that chap flapping a ribbon at us? And why is he in his underwear?"

"Couldn't say, sir. He seems to be having a jolly good time, though."

"Yes, but ..."

"Javelins incoming! Run!"

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April 13 – April 19
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 April 2015, 10:41 pm

Cesarano is out this week. Let's say he's "on assignment." I mean, maybe not anything I assigned to him, but one feels there must be some compelling reason for him to cross into New Jersey.

I'll just go ahead and assume he would have picked the longest title for this week, because that fits his trend. Looks like that title is The Reject Demon: Toko Chapter 0 — Prelude.

I'd like to take this moment to note that we at GWJ dropped down to spaced en dashes, rather than our previous spaced em dashes, which I was starting to feel were far too extravagant, despite the technically unlimited space that digital publishing allows.

Anyway, Toko is a visual novel. I don't know if Chris is into that genre, but it's adjacent to some genres he does like, so I'm calling my longest-title choice appropriate.

But there's plenty of other interesting stuff out this week. Let’s have a look!

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No Such Agency
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 April 2015, 7:11 am

I've come a long way to be here. I've crawled through vents. I've punched through a few very specific walls. I've attempted to silently incapacitate sentries and, when that failed, murdered the crap out of waves of security guards.

I've even managed to get a man with a machine gun for an arm hung up on some level geometry, allowing me to then repeatedly shoot him in the face with a shotgun until he fell down.

This is it now. This is the payoff. Every choice I've made, every path I've taken, every NPC I talked to, it's all led to this moment.

Now I see the message. "Push the button on the right for an ending that's marginally different from the ending you get by pushing the button on the left."

&$#%!

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Asking Legacy of the Void Out to the Prom
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 April 2015, 3:49 pm

Recently I was a presenter at a professional conference, which has become – in a way I don’t fully understand – an increasingly fundamental part of my day-to-day job.

The fear of public speaking is called glossophobia. If Wikipedia is to be remotely believed, it is a condition suffered to varying degrees of severity by as much as 75% of the population. As I sit alone, getting ready to spend the next 45 minutes on my own in front of a room full of suits and lanyards, telling them why they probably thought they were pretty good at creating and marketing content and also why they were almost definitely wrong, it occurs to me that the vast majority of people in my situation would probably be ready to vomit out of their crushing anxiety. I, instead, just feel kind of hungry – looking forward to leaving the microphone and heading to lunch.

As the conference moderator introduces me, I take a calm sip of water from my glass, stand, and step behind the podium. As I pick up the clicker to advance through my slides, which are now projected up on a screen three times larger than me, it again strikes me that my hand is steady and smooth in its motion to pick up the tiny object. "There should be tremors," I think. There aren’t.

I settle into position as a few dozen people – every single one with postgraduate degrees – wind down their polite applause and look up expectantly. I take a breath and plunge headlong into my presentation. Almost instantly, I am in cruising gear. The next hour sails past as I connect dot after logical dot in my talk and draw what feels like just the right conclusions at just the right times. I field some interesting questions, get a few laughs, and conclude. It couldn’t have gone a whole lot better.

Coming out of the conference, I'm feeling pretty damn cool about myself and my level of confidence in challenging situations. So why the hell is it that just a few weeks later, my hand trembles as I first click the “find match” button to play some anonymous opponent in the StarCraft 2: Legacy Of The Void beta?

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Too Hard; Didn't Play: Bloodborne
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 April 2015, 6:27 am

Sponsored By: My own flesh and blood

Time Played: Probably 2 hours. Three if you count load screens.

White Cell Review

I understand now.

When I played Dark Souls, I thought I understood, but it was as a child who thinks he understands the world. I was cocky. The first hour of combat in Dark Souls provided little real challenge beyond figuring out how the Xbox 360 controller worked with the game. Provided I didn't try to counter, which seemed to me a mechanic broken by the PC port, Dark Souls was a matter of hiding behind a shield and waiting for an opening.

"Oh yeah?" Bloodborne said. Try it without the shield.

I am undone. This game is the Peace Corps; the toughest game I'll ever love.

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April 6 - April 12
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 April 2015, 7:21 am

Did someone get the license of that truck? It was filled with all the big budget, highly marketed releases of the season. It was coming in so fast and so loud, striking like a demon free from Hell for the first time in millennia, that now the road is empty and quiet save for this rusted over Ford Ranger hobbling along, with lower-budget indie games that I'd otherwise never hear of sliding around in the truck bed. Is that a dead raccoon in the back?

… Are we sure it's dead?

The only game I can claim to be worthy of my attention this week is Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, a rerelease on a handheld that I don't even have yet of a game that I'm still playing on the Wii. What can I say? It was actually my favorite execution of a call to adventure in JRPG's recently, it looks gorgeous even without the HD treatment, and it's a lot of fun. So my pick goes to ol' reliable.

What do the rest of the staffers think?

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Too Long; Didn't Play: Uriel's Chasm
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 April 2015, 6:11 am

Time Played: 33 minutes

Sponsored By: Lake23

Genesis Review

A game that is pretending to be a bad port of a Bible game for the Sega Genesis isn't nearly as bad as it thinks it is. I don't know if that counts as more fail or less.

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RevieWii-Uing the Situation
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 March 2015, 9:58 am

I haven't bought a new console since 2007.

Back in 2007, I could see an ad announcing a $100 price drop for a PS3, blithely assume that it would be backwards compatible, run out and impulse-buy the dern thing that day – even in a non-pay week. Then I could gnash my teeth and wait for games to come out. Oh, "everybody knows" the consoles time their big releases for November? Over here, "Black Friday" is the anniversary of some things burning down. I remember the Games Drought of 2007 and how it led to the Succession of Poor Gaming Purchases of 2008, and the Surprisingly Low Trade-In Prices of 2009.

Good times. I won't even talk about the Second PS3 Purchase of 2012, because I regard that as replacing some failing parts in my old PS3 and putting it in a slimmer box.

So, early adoption didn't work so good for me last time, and I didn't upgrade in 2013. I swore to hold off until prices dropped and there were enough good games out. Besides, I still had so many PS3 games to play.

I've noticed recently that prices are dropping into the realm of "Hazza's Stag Party" (regrettable but affordable, as long as it's a one-off), there's a few games to choose from, and I'm running out of PS3 games. Like the fan whose toe was squashed by Prince's original support band's tour bus, I can feel the time pressing near.

As a PS3 owner, I just assumed that when the time came to upgrade, I would get a PS4. But my impulse-purchasing days are over. I've got a wife and two credit cards kids to support. Now I have to think before I buy. This ... "thinking" has provided room to question my assumption. Into this room, doubts and even perhaps a modicum of product research have crept.

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March 30 - April 5
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 March 2015, 6:32 am

Spring is in the air, and so is another inch of snow for those of us on the east coast of the United States. We don’t sweat it, though. It’s just that whole lion/lamb thing you read about.

If this week’s release list had happened a mere month ago, you’d be reading about Project: CARS right now, followed by typing in a comment to the effect of how Axiom Verge was robbed, but this is the New Week Crew you’re dealing with! We live to bounce your expectations around a bit, but we’re not heartless: You’ll still get to say Axiom Verge was robbed.

First, though, let’s play a little Truth Or Dare. I choose truth, because any dare I take that’s videogame-related is bound to disappoint.

My dirtiest nerd-secret is that I don't like Star Wars. I find the storytelling to be incoherent after the original 1977 release and the technology appears to be following some kind of backwards Moore's law where everything gets crappier every year. Also, the existence of midichlorians means the rebels are just fighting to replace a divine-blood monarchy with a divine-blood oligarchy, and at that point it just becomes about what color the people blowing up planet-sized objects full of people are wearing.

My second dirtiest secret is that I like Star Wars games, because who wouldn't love to be a space-wizard?

Son of Nor, then, gets my Game of the Week nod. It offers all of the fun of being a Jedi without any of the messy philosophical questions like "Ok, Yoda. Up, your mind make. Is fear a bad thing or a good thing?"

What else we got, crew?

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Too Long; Didn't Play: Insecticide
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 March 2015, 6:17 am

Sponsored By: Mantid (I GET IT!)

Time Played: 89 Minutes

Fruit Fly review

Like L.A. Noire, but fun.

Cockroach review

One of the awesome things about this community is that I get to be surprised by games again. I have a stack of games in my Steam library that were generous gifts from you lot, many of which weren't a blip on my radar until they showed up in a little green envelope. I get to be surprised by the gift and then I get to be surprised by the game. It's a two-fer!

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Bait Expectations
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 March 2015, 6:18 am

I've written a lot about how, as consumers, it's important to manage our expectations in order to avoid disappointment: You buy a game expecting it to have flaws, and you will yourself to have a good time with it. You'd be surprised how often that works.

What about the other side of the coin, though? Expectations aren't formed in a vacuum. Expectations, rather, are a combination of two things: preconceptions and communications. Each party has control over only one of those factors.

As customers, we have experiences which color how we view the world. Everything we've seen, everything we've heard, everything we've done affects who we are in this moment. Also this moment.

Yep. This one too.

Yes, I'm very clever. Yes, it's working out quite well for me.

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GWJ Conference Call Episode 441
Posted by Articles [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 March 2015, 12:08 am

Episode 441 - March 25th, 2015
Captain Forever Remix, Battlefield Hardline, Cities: Skylines Mods, Majora's Mask 3DS, Dean Tate on Indie Developin', Your Emails and More!

Right Click Here and 'Save As' to Download!
(A Fantastic 46 MBs, 1:20:24)

This week Julian, Cory, Allen and Sean Sands are joined by Captain Forever Remix dev Dean Tate!

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