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Extra Credits: Starting Off Right

Extra Credits talks about hooking the player within the first five minutes. Honestly, this sounds like something all developers would understand to be necessary in capturing the attention of the average person. Television, movies, music, texting, the Internet and other games are all waiting to steal a consumer's attention (and dollars) should a game fail to immediately hook a gamer. But it's hard to argue that this isn't the case. Why else would we still hold up older games like God of War, BioShock and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare as examples of doing it right? Why else would so many great games languish on "To be Played Later" shelf and sit there long after the hardware they were made for has been discontinued?

Extra Credits: Mailbag #5

A rare mailbag episode has appeared. This brief video has Extra Credits answering fan questions like what they think of Nintendo's Wii U, the Ouya, the Oculus Rift and Electronic Arts advertising guns to Medal of Honor players.

Extra Credits: Digital Rentals and the Online Arcade

Coincidentally, I'm posting Extra Credits video the same week that it was leaked that Sony filed a patent for technology that would ban used or second hand games on its hardware. If true it is evidence of how tightly game companies are still holding onto the old ways of doing things oblivious to newer options. This Extra Credits presentation doesn't criticize such a practice, but it does talk about monetization of games and stress how the industry has moved beyond static price structures. Companies like a Sony (and by extension a Microsoft, a Nintendo and countless third party publishers) would best take notice and evolve with the times.

TouchTalk, Volume Five

Nano Ninjas Screenshot

Welcome back to a semi-regular feature here at GameCritics.com: TouchTalk. While this series was inspired by one of my old features, the Bargain Basement, I've got an all-new focus for an all-new phase in gaming. Rather than highlighting discounted gems in the used section of a retail shop, I'll be reviewing downloadable mobile games and apps that you might want to check out… and maybe some that you'll want to avoid.

Extra Credits: Energy Systems

This is another interesting episode from the guys and gals at Extra Credits. This time they cover "limitation systems" or "energy systems," systems used to actually extend playtime or the life of a game. Things like this sadden me only because it makes me more aware of how games (and their creator's) these days are trying to manipulate you into spending more money without realizing it.

GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 84: Fifth Annual Holiday Awards Spectacular

Awards, contest winners, and Dan Weissenberger? This can only be our Fifth Annual Holiday Awards Spectacular! We dish on the best and worst of 2012, Brad's son drops in to share his best and worst of the year, and we give out some fabulous prizes based on a really cool random number generator. Featuring Dylan Collins, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, Dan Weissenberger, Richard "It's not really a spoiler" Naik, and Tim "The Brett Farve thing is getting old" Spaeth.

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Please send feedback and mailbag questions to podcast (at) gamecritics (dot) com.

2012: The Year of the Games

Journey (PSN) Screenshot

2012 has been an amazing year for games. I had meant to put together a post extolling the virtues of the top candidates for game of the year, but the list kept getting longer and longer, with more and more games that would have been obvious choices for a top-five list in any other year. The task was clearly beyond me. So, I enlisted the talents of Michael Abbott, Brandon Bales, Mattie Brice, Kate Cox, Denis Farr, Brad Gallaway, Brendan Keogh, Justin Keverne, Cameron Kunzelman, Kris Ligman, Eric Swain, and Dan Weissenberger. With my superteam thus assembled, let's look at some of the year's super games.

Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia Review

As Addicting as Halflings' Leaf–or Pie

Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia Screenshot

HIGH Addicting tower defense gameplay to while away the hours.

LOW Trial and error scenarios and bland high fantasy package.

WTF Does every fantasy character have to sound like Sean Connery?

Extra Credits: On Game Schools

One thing that the video game industry needs to be more proactive in is the education of the general public with regards to video game schools or game design programs. When people think of gaming schools, they might think of the ones that get the most coverage like a DigiPen Institute of Technology or Art Institute of Vancouver. However, not everyone gets to attend these shining examples. Some aspiring Shigeru Miyamoto's and Ken Levine's might wind up wasting four years and tens of thousands of dollars at a less than reputable institution. That's where Extra Credits comes in to give some advice for anyone thinking about attending a school to actually become a game creator.

My wife, my life... and games

Emergency Room Sign

If you follow me on Twitter, then you're probably aware that my wife became very ill Sunday and had to be taken to the ER. I know that it's difficult to follow any given story from beginning to end in tweet format, so I just wanted to give a quick update on the whole thing for anyone who was wondering.

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