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The Preacher Loop

Half-Life 2: Episode One Screenshot

In a recent commentary on Valve's Half-Life 2 Episodes, Marsh Davies criticizes much of Episode One for its "failure to make your navigation comprehensible, either spatially or narratively." He goes on to praise Episode Two for remembering to provide the player with an overview of its regions, so that the spaces allow the player to see the places he has been, or is going to. As I was reminded in my own recent replay of the original Half-Life and its companion games, this is not a recent improvement by Valve, but a return to form.

Interview with Shellrazer's Jesse Turner and Nick Waanders

Interview with Shellrazer's Jesse Turner and Nick Waanders

While at the most recent Seattle Indie Expo (SIX), I had the chance to meet Jesse Turner, artist for the recent iOS release, Shellrazer. I was blown away by his energy and enthusiasm, and there's no question he's a very talented artist. Dude can draw the hell out of turtles, yo. Although I didn't have a ton of time at the show, Jesse was quite gracious and willing to follow up with me afterwards, and here's what he (and his teammate Nick Waanders) had to say.

The invisible hands

Spec Ops: The Line Screenshot

In Spec Ops: The Line, the natural forces that oil money has so far kept at bay have struck back against the city, burying the modern towers in the red sands of its desert. In the shattered metropolis, a new society has been built, one that breaks the game's protagonists and shows the foolishness of their heroic pretensions.

Poo Dragon

Blue Dragon Screenshot

Released in 2006-07 as an Xbox 360 exclusive, probably with the goal of helping establish the console in Japan, Blue Dragon has inexplicably spawned sequels and a minor multimedia empire. It's reasonably fun, if you like turn-based role-playing games, but Blue Dragon is clearly a bad game.

Cage Kane Payne

Max Payne 3 Screenshot

In a short period of time I have played three games that may not seem to be similar or related. The co-op shooter Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, the straight-up cover shooter Max Payne 3, and the thriller Heavy Rain share a third-person perspective, though, one that reflects their central cinematic aspirations. Although their critical reputations vary, each of these games is an interesting failure in the project of creating a playable movie.

Extra Credits: Hard-Boiled

Hiroshi Yamauchi (former President of Nintendo of Japan) once famously said that "gamers like to sit alone at home playing dark, depressing games?" Yamauchi was criticizing the industry and even gamers at the time for embracing dark, gritty, CGI-heavy, and mature-oriented games over the more cheerful, family-oriented titles. He felt that it was making games less inclusive and too much like movies. But his words were largely dismissed as the ravings of an old exec upset that fewer people were buying games on his platform. Extra Credits is taking a similar tack, only it makes a better argument than Yamauchi.

Extra Credits: Hard-Boiled

Extra Credits: Spectrum Crunch

The guys at Extra Credits look at something that you've probably never heard about: we are running out of bandwidth. All of those videos of cats being adorable and marathon sessions of Angry Birds and Call of Duty are taxing the current bandwidth sources leaving us in need of more sources or risk running out in a couple of years. It may not seem applicable to gamers, but just watch the video and you'll see that this could be an issue especially with newer game consoles and game-playing media devices coming online at about the same time.

Extra Credits: Spectrum Crunch

Interview with Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman

Interview with Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman

As soon as I saw the Ouya, I knew that for better or worse, I needed to know more. In the media whirlwind that followed over the next few days, I managed to pitch a few questions to Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman. Here's what Julie had to say.

Extra Credits: EC Fund Update

With so many platforms and the influx of new funding sources, Indie game development is looking like a surer bet than it ever has. However, as the guys at Extra Credits repeatedly point out in this video, once you actually attempt it, you might have to temper your expectations.

Extra Credits: EC Fund Update

Armchair Analysis: The correction period continues

Prototype 2 Screenshot

Between Sega Europe's painful restructuring and Activision's dismantling of Radical Entertainment, this past week has been another one of those weeks that we'd rather forget. It's always unfortunate when people lose their jobs, and downsizing doesn't often instill confidence that the affected industry is moving in the right direction. These moves are a continuation of the state of correction that the video game industry is in—especially in the console sector.

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