“Of Orcs and Men” or “Of Story and Perspective”

October 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Consider the following primer:

The humans are in noble, righteous and peace-loving. Dwarves and Elves are hesitant and peripheral allies. Orcs, trolls, goblins, or some similar, vile, green-skinned, primal species is the main enemy. They are barbaric, unrelenting and murderous. The humans, guided by the light, must tame these wild beats if there is to be any hope for peace in the world.

Now pause here, and tell me which fantasy plot I am referring to. The reason most of you cannot, is because this is the typical tale that fuels the propagation of events in most fantasy books. When these norms are challenged, the result is stunning, unexpected and refreshing.

One example that stands out in my head is the fate of the Elves in Dragon Age: Origins. They were not the reclusive, noble, near-mystical beings that lived in an eternally protected magical kingdom. They were the lower class of citizens, occupying slums and begging on the streets in the game’s many locations. That was cool, it was different, that stood out.

Of Orcs and Men, an upcoming title from Focus Interactive is one such title. I can’t speak much of it, because I have an early access copy and I am in the process of finishing it. But what stands out to me is that it is a fresh perspective on an aging story. It is still humans allied with dwarves and elves against the green-skins, but you get to play and experience the world purely from the green-skin side, switching roles between a diminutive, conniving Goblin named Styx, and a hulking mass of muscle and nerve Orc named Arkail, in a world that shuns, hunts and subjugates green-skins with extreme prejudice.

Can’t wait to see how this story unfolds.

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“What Did You Do This Week?” or “Pandamonium”

October 5, 2012 1 comment

So true. This week I saved the Federation from the rebel fleet in FTL, I cleared entire towns of enemy presence in ARMA 2: ACR, discovered a grenade mod that made my explosives magically transforms into several explosives in Borderlands 2, and I stopped the Alchemist in Torchlight II. What did you panda lovers do?

Via Extralife.

Categories: Comic

(Rather Large) Quote of the Day: “Gamer Life” or “Why Gamers Rule”

October 4, 2012 4 comments

For all those that feel video games are a waste of time, that gamers are basement-dwelling shut-ins and losers who function socially, here is a scathingly appropriate response. My own coming soon.

I’ve been playing video games since I was five years old, starting with the Atari 2600. On the weekends, if I was lucky, my parents would rent a video game for me. I would always look through the art in the instruction booklets on the ride home, and it got me started with drawing.

In middle school and high school, I was in art classes. I was considered for several art programs throughout, and I graduated my senior year in an advanced placement course.

When I was in the fifth grade, I was pulled out of class to take a test. The proctor had a flip book of words and a stopwatch. She would turn the page, and I had to read the word aloud as quickly and as accurately as I could. The results of the test indicated that I was reading at the level of a high school junior, despite the fact that my parents always struggled to get me to read anything at all.

In my junior year, I tied for highest score in the school in our statewide writing examination.

I’ve had a tremendous imagination all my life. I can find stories, humor, and adventure in even the most mundane tasks. I’m rarely ever bored, and I find myself constantly dreaming up new worlds, characters and situations.

I have an insatiable hunger for learning. I often look into something that has piqued my interest and find myself in an entirely different subject hours later.

I’ve never been in a romantic relationship that didn’t last at least three years, and the friends I made during my formative years are still the very best I could ever ask for.

Now I’m an Intelligence Specialist in the United States Navy and working at the Pentagon.

You look at video games, and all you can see is noise and guns. What you don’t see is creative problem solving, critical thinking, moral choices, conflict resolution, relationship building, cause and effect, drama, comedy, tragedy, learning opportunities, fantastic stories, the rewards of overcoming adversity, attention to detail, music appreciation, understanding different perspectives, and more concepts and situations that run the gamut of all human experiences.

The fact that video games are played in front of a TV makes them no less impactful than literature, film, or any other medium.

Anything in excess is bad for you, and if you’re not putting these kinds of things into context for your children, then you are an example of bad parenting. That’s true of everything; not just video games.

If you don’t understand “so-called ‘gamers’” or video games in general, that’s fine. But passing judgement on the people who do is completely ignorant and unbecoming of someone looking to make a career of shaping young minds.

If I were in your shoes, I’d educate myself on video games to understand why they’re so appealing and how I could use them to relate to my students and enhance their learning.

But what do I know? I’m just a gamer.

An Answer to: “Videogames or Life?”, Please Enter Your Initials

 

Categories: Quote of the Day

“Guild Wars 2” vs “The Secret World” – Part II

October 4, 2012 3 comments

I received a ton of a comments, and although GW2 seemed to be winning earlier, TSW has seemed to creep up in the number of recommendations. The following are what some of the readers of this blog has to say about the two titles:

Guild Wars 2

“GW2 will entertain you for 80 levels.”
– Drew

“The fact it is buy once, play forever is certainly a draw.”
– Drew

“The sPvP is fun and engaging. The PvP [in TSW], however, is awful.”
– Drew

“It should certainly be noted that GW2 is far more “populated”. In the starter and ending zones, you will see lots of folks, and you’ll work with them without having to group with them.”
– Drew

“Hmm I actually think GW2 story telling is decent but more so in the open world, especially if you follow dynamic events and spend time listening to chatter in towns, villages and cities. Haven’t tried TSW yet due to advice from my gaming buds who warned me not to touch it with a shitty stick.”
– Pitrelli

“If I had to pick I’d go GW2 simply for nostalgia reasons as GW was my first ever online (MMO) game and I played the crap out of it- plus no subs is a winner imo.”
– Gank

“You must play GW2 because I am a GW2 fanboy.”
– anon4ec

“I pre-ordered GW2 before pre-ordering TSW.”
– Winged Nazgul

“[After switching to TSW, no] idea if I’m ever going back but at least the option is always there.”
– Winged Nazgul

The Secret World

“But if story truly is paramount for you – then go with TSW. GW2′s story-telling, quite bluntly, is terrible. The personal story is awful. Awful. The NPCs in general are completely forgettable.”
– Drew

“TSW, on the other hand, has a cool skill system and really good voice acting and story-telling.”
– Drew

“But from a pure “story” standpoint, the game is fantastic. Reminds me of a horror-version of Fallen Earth – the game with bar-none the best “world” I’ve ever played in. GW2 just feels ‘plastic’ in that regard.”
– Drew

“My suggestion – give the TSW free trial a shot when you have a good chunk of free time. It’s three days, but can be extended based on some parameters (30 quests or something) to five days. Try before you buy!”
– Drew

“I ended up getting the TSW lifetime sub because I feel this is an extremely good value for my money.”
– Winged Nazgul

“GW2 didn’t stick with me and I returned to TSW after about 2 weeks.”
– Winged Nazgul

“To cut a long story short I was bitterly disappointed in GW2 primarily due to poor storytelling and its extremely monotonous ‘heart’ quests.”
– Rob

“If you love storytelling then you honestly can’t go far wrong with TSW. As others have said it’s by no means a perfect game (actually Drew summed it up perfectly) but from a storytelling point of view there is no stronger MMO in the market right now.”
– Rob

“GW2 is a good game, but TSW is fantastic, and story-wise it really can’t be beat. In my opinion it’s the best written MMO out there, and this is from someone who previously thought SWTOR storytelling set the bar. But TSW just blows it away, I’m afraid.”
– MMOGamerChick

“But if you don’t mind something different, and you’re looking for some fun in a horror-themed story-driven MMO, I say go for it.”
– MMOGamerChick

“As for me, I’m still subscribed to TSW at the moment, though I haven’t been playing so much because I’m also juggling GW2 and WoW, but I know TSW is a keeper. My guild is having TSW nights, because every month Funcom updates the game with new content and new quests and there’s always going to be a ton of things for me to do.”
– MMOGamerChick

“Played TSW and loved it so much I bought the life time subscription. Try the 3 day trial first (which extends to 5 days) so you can give it a go.”
– OneShard

“Get TSW! Playing TSW for just a month (before subscription kicks in) will already allow you to live out a wonderful story. ”
– Phedre

“I’ve been playing MMOs since Ultima Online, and nothing has captured my interest and imagination like The Secret World has. I’m a Rank 13 Illuminati with 65% of the skill wheel completed. I’ve located every hidden lore item in the game, have several Quality Level 10+ (10.4 being the highest in the game) pieces of gear, and I have over 1,000 kills in PvP. Still, even in the end-game, I can recall the names and stories of NPC’s from the very first zone. I know every area like the back of my hand, not because of how frequently I’ve visited them, but because each zone I quested in was so unique and richly detailed that I couldn’t keep from exploring every inch. The dungeons are unlike any other. Each one features its own story, and the bosses are more like puzzles than tank-and-spank throwaways, requiring every member to pull their weight and work together. Few games have given me the same satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. I have the lifetime mebership, and I’ve never regretted it for a second. I bought Guild Wars 2 a few weeks ago because a few of my cabal members were giving it a go, but I don’t have a single character over level 5. Compared to The Secret World, Guild Wars 2 feels so bare-bones, rudimentary, and forgettable. But the price is right. The subscription model doesn’t sit right with a lot of people, but I think the monthly content updates absolutely justify it. This month’s update will add new missions, the games first raid, a theatre where players can put on shows while players in the crowd cheer them on or boo them off stage, and more. Try the trial. I don’t know you personally, but based on your post, I think you won’t be disappointed.”
– Landiien

“Guild Wars 2” or “The Secret World”

October 3, 2012 27 comments

I thought I could resist, I thought I was done with MMOs for a while. But I keep reading these amazing stories about both of these titles, on gaming websites, on peer blogs, at my local flower shop (don’t ask). The point is I am itching to play an MMO again, and I need your help to determine which one I should invest in. I only have enough time for one.

Story is paramount to me, so The Secret World is a clear winner. But I am also tired of the subscription model, and Guild Wars 2 has everyone beat in that department. Help me? And for the love of god, don’t confuse me with suggesting a third. I am looking at you Gank!

“The Walking Dead: Episode 4” or “Ask Not, For Whom the Bell Tolls”

October 2, 2012 4 comments

First, watch the trailer.


The fourth episode looks to continue building on the many relationships Lee has forged in his travels since the infection first appeared. Things were bad, got worse, and will only continue to continue that trend the closer we get to the conclusion of season 1. This is not just a game, it is an experience, it is an exercise in epic storytelling designed to immerse you into this world. I care for Lee. I love Clementine. When playing, I no longer make decisions that I would make if I was in that situation. I make the decision that I think would be best for Lee and Clementine.

And that, my friends, is how I know Telltale Games has achieved a monumental achievement in video-game storytelling.

Go play it.

Categories: The Walking Dead