Blog Archives

The Bard vs Next Generation Gaming

“To PS4 or not to Xbox, that is the question:
Whether ’tis better, another console in mind —
Nay a Nintendo. Forsooth a PC?
All be it in gravitas for what
Divine Janus may offer in the New Year.”

— Ed “The Vintage Tempest” Sum

Sony’s PS4 has some impressive specs and interesting features like using an iPad for a second screen, but that’s not enough to convince me to own a unit yet. The Xbox One has an improved Kinect but that’s not a huge selling point. The videos of various games demos for both look great in high-def, but the list of games available during launch week are scant. They are not as wide and varied as I hoped.

The current line of exclusives are not all that interesting, and there will no doubt be some hardware and software kinks that need to be ironed out. There were reports over the weekend about the PS4’s ‘blue light of death,’ an analogy that brings to mind Microsoft’s infamous ‘red ring of death’ back when the Xbox 360 released. At least .4% of the people who bought the system were affected. I suspect the figure is larger but when considering the number of units that flew off the shelves in stores on launch day. That is not a good start. Read the rest of this entry


Link Roundup for Oct. 9th: Gravity’s Gaming Inspirations; Switching to Trevor; Consequences in Video Games; and more…


Link Roundup is a collection of links from gaming (and non-gaming) sites all over the internet we hope will spark discussion, keep you informed and up-to-date, and broaden your gaming horizons. It will publish each Tuesday and Friday (and sometimes Wednesday, apparently). Readers are encouraged to send link suggestions to

Does Gravity borrow its best moments from video games?

Inside the “bibles” of Halo, Tron, Splinter Cell, and more.

The funniest switching to Trevor moments in GTA V.

Ten principles of good level design.

The rise of consequences in video games.

WB Montreal is opening up a wackload of new jobs.

Game Informer grades the fake PS4 designs.

3D Gaming’s Future – Part Three: The Oculus Rift, Virtuix’s Omni, and Other Potential Game Changers


The Oculus Rift is getting plenty of press lately. Many are calling it the next big thing in video games. The device is a large piece of eyewear that can comfortably fit over glasses (which is a good thing) to give players a sense of being in a 3D virtual world. Despite all appearances, the device is light; it weighs roughly 380g. Don’t worry, you won’t feel like Ray Charles at the piano. But with excitement building over the pairing of this device with motion sensors and treadmills, immersive virtual reality environments are nearly here. There are still a few hurdles to overcome — namely replicating every single movement a player can make like jumping and making him believe he can fly — but that’s only a matter of time for an innovator to invent neural interfaces.

For the time being, the devices being offered are exercise machines in disguise. Virtuix’s Omni is a treadmill product that offers players the sense of walking through a virtual space. When the Rift or similarly styled products are worn, a user can get a fuller immersive experience. The only thing missing is an interface suit with built-in pressure pumps to let players know that they have been hit by a bullet, slammed into a tree or brushed at. Added stimuli in games are good, and they are essential for becoming part of that virtual environment. All of the five senses really must be considered instead of three or four. In a talk with Ray Latypov of VirtuSphere Inc., he hinted that an olfactory sensor is in the works. This pioneer has been in the field of developing and testing VR products for at least 20 years. Read the rest of this entry

Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers Review

Tiny and Big Logo

Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers is a quirky puzzler/platformer from the small German indie collective known as Black Pants Studio. The game demonstrates an abundance of creativity in everything from soundtrack to gameplay mechanics, as well as a striking technical mastery of physics. But despite its many compelling elements, Tiny & Big comes up just short of its great potential due to simple mistakes and a failure to follow its considerable strengths. Read the rest of this entry

Dark Souls: Why is it Still So Effective?


By Tristan Rivard

In today’s casual player oriented market, Dark Souls stands as a monument to the unforgiving, unnerving, unrelenting games of earlier generations. Prepare to die. Over and over.

From Software’s title, a follow-up to 2009’s Demon’s Souls, is sort of an anachronism in an age where game difficulty is often suited to the broadest audience possible. You can kiss goodbye to manual saving, contextual tips, button-mashing, regenerating health and the likes. Dark Souls makes no concession to the player, whom, in the face of ruthless enemies, is left to rely solely on his wits, reflexes and adaptability. Even then, death is inevitable. Read the rest of this entry

Looking to 3D Gaming’s Future: Use Augmented Reality! Part Two

Augmented Reality (AR) may have come of age with its implementation in Pedigree Books coming line-up of comic book annuals for 2013. Readers can access new content and activities through their smartphone or tablet. Now the big question is will it catch on? The money is currently with this company’s acquirement of video game licenses Angry Birds, Angry Birds Star Wars and Sonic the Hedgehog. Hopefully, players will be able to toss virtual birds around and have them bounce off walls and ceilings of the real world with pool-table geometry just to knock some pigs around.

In video games, the use of AR has been a complete novelty. With games like Face Raiders on the Nintendo 3DS, Wonderbook: Book of Spells on the PS3 and Skylanders on the Wii, the limitation is what programmers are realizing with AR. And depending on who you talk to in the entertainment industry, the application varies from talking to an imaginary figure to manipulating graphic displays a la Iron Man. Read the rest of this entry

Link Roundup for July 23rd: Eidos GM resigns, Ready at Dawn disses GameStop, Last of Us unstoppable, and more…


Link Roundup is a collection of links from gaming (and non-gaming) sites all over the internet we hope will spark discussions, keep you informed and up-to-date, and broaden your gaming horizons. Readers are encouraged to send link suggestions to

Eidos Montreal founder/general manager resigns, citing a “lack of courage” at Square-Enix. This might explain the last few Final Fantasies.

Ru Weerasuriya, founder of Ready at Dawn (God of War: Ghost of Sparta, the upcoming The Order: 1886), trashes GameStop’s business model.

Ubisoft takes a cue from its “other” series: you can totally fight sharks in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

The Last of Us tops UK sales charts for the sixth week in a row. Holy.

Kotaku’s Jason Schreier has your Pacific Rim gaming fix since the two Pacific Rim games, well, suck.

Bloody Disgusting lists 6 horror movies that might make great video games. (Although a couple of them have already made the leap.)

Rethinking Open World Games


The post-E3 news has been all about the new consoles, the Xbox One controversy, DRM, just what the heck Nintendo execs are smoking, and, of course, how painful the wait is going to be. Most of the big news came from differences: how each company plans to distinguish itself from the others and make their product the one you want to drop big bucks on day one. If there’s one thing they could all agree on, though, it is this:

Open worlds are totally sweet.

Seriously. A HUGE chunk of what was announced or shown off at the expo is planned to be “open world” — to the point that I’m not totally sure what it even means anymore. See if I figure it out after the break.

Read the rest of this entry

Link Roundup for July 2


Link Roundup is a collection of links from gaming (and non-gaming) sites all over the internet we hope will spark discussions, keep you informed and up-to-date, and broaden your gaming horizons. Readers are encouraged to send link suggestions to

  • I think most people expected Don Mattrick to (undeservedly) take the fall for all Microsoft’s poor business and marketing decisions over the last few months, but his newly-announced move to Zynga is a big surprise. What this means for the social gaming company’s future is anybody’s guess.
  • Bioshock 2 creative director leaves Take-Two Interactive to “pursue a passion project.”
  • A little late, but Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, once again, gives his hilarious — and oddly lucid — take on the announcements at E3.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV mods are getting a little played out, but this script by JulioNIB might get you in the mood to… smash.
  • It hasn’t been announced yet, but Thatgamecompany’s post-Journey title will appeal to a broader audience while still remaining a “natural evolution” of what came before. No doubt they hope this one will also clean up at GOTY ceremonies.
  • Students managed to solve nearly 400,000 algebra equations using the DragonBox App during the Washington State Algebra Challenge.
  • Quick reminder: only 4 more hours (as of 3 pm ET/noon PST July 2nd) to take advantage of the Android Humble Bundle. Get it while it’s hot!

Links to Think About for June 27th


Indies will drive this field forward.

But are they becoming too popular?

Nice looking (and already pretty successful) crowdfunded game — inspired by early Final Fantasy RPGs — adds a Wii U port to its $80,000 goal.

Roll reversal? Microsoft has to prove Xbox One’s premium price is worth it.

From the other camp, IGN reveals Sony cut the PlayStation Eye from the PS4 to keep the price down.

Just what kind of potential does the second screen have?

In “Whuuuuuut?” news, Seth Rogen reveals that he and his screenwriting partner have been approached multiple times to write an Uncharted movie.