What Are You Playing Wednesday

Bell gargoyle from Dark Souls.

Bell gargoyle from Dark Souls.

Happy midweek everyone!

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

This week has been a busy one for me again. In my free time I played a little bit of World of Warcraft and went back to Dark Souls.

What have you been playing?

What Are You Playing Wednesday

Otter battle pets in World of Warcraft.

Otter battle pets in World of Warcraft.

Another week has come and gone and it is midweek question time.

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

I have been so busy that all I have done is play some World of Warcraft here and there. I don’t know how, but this game gotten its claws back in me.

What have you been playing?

Maelstrom – Unscheduled, Inclusive and now with Sponsorship

There is a new gaming convention coming out soon called Maelstrom, April 4th to April 6th. I want to mention it here because as taken from the website this is something that people here would be really interested in as it’s got a focus on being unstructured and inclusive. They got a lot of attention last year with their Diana Jones Nominated play-testing convention Metatopia for being a great spot to talk about design, as well as being inclusive to their guests with lots of discussion based around queerness, mental health, and social change in games.

That said, maybe Morristown NJ is a little too far for you, and the money isn’t there? Thankfully for this new convention, the people to the IGDN are providing a sponsorship to a designer from marginalized communities whose work supports the discussion and exploration of issues that affect marginalized communities. The best thing, for those who are still worried about it, is that having published material isn’t a pre-requisite to get the sponsorship.

There are more details on the IGDN website.

 

 

What Are You Playing Wednesday

Sheep Wreck Island in Skylanders: SWAP Force.

Sheep Wreck Island in Skylanders: SWAP Force.

Happy mid-week!

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

My life has been hectic so I haven’t been doing much relaxing via gaming recently. But, I have played some Skylanders: SWAP Force. I got the expansion stage/adventure pack Sheep Wreck Island and will be trying it out tonight.

What have you been playing?

What Are You Playing Wednesday

My gnome mage and her Terrible Turnip companion pet.

My gnome mage and her Terrible Turnip companion pet.

Happy late Wednesday!

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

This week has been ridiculously hectic for me so the only thing I played was a little bit of World of Warcraft. What have you been playing?

What Are You Playing Wednesday

Lightning wearing a red dragon winged outfit while riding a white chocobo.

Lightning wearing a red dragon winged outfit while riding a white chocobo.

Happy Wednesday!

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

In a repeat of the last few weeks, all I have been playing is Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. I just find this game to be a lot of fun.

What have you been playing?

 

What Are You Playing Wednesday

Lightning wearing the Cloud (FFVII) outfit/armor.

Lightning wearing the Cloud (FFVII) outfit/armor.

It is already Wednesday again so it is time for our question session:

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

I have been playing Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. The battle system is a lot of fun and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some of the stories told in the side quests. But, for me, the game both shines and fails in the outfits that Lightning can pick for her schemata. The outfits vary from full armor to pieces that look more like lingerie than battle gear. All of them allow color customization and you get to wear accessories like beach hats, sunglasses, and bunny tails. For the most part, it is ridiculous and fun. Right now I have Lightning riding around on a giant white chocobo while wearing an outfit with little dragon wings. Unfortunately, the bottom of the outfit fails to protect her thighs in ANY WAY. It is mostly adorable and then the bottom half makes me roll my eyes during battles or cutscenes.

So, what have you been playing?

 

What Are You Playing Thursday

Lightning from FFXIII-2, wearing a metal breastplate and a feather skirt.

Lightning from FFXIII-2, wearing a metal breastplate and a feather skirt.

It is past time for our weekly question session:

  • What games are you playing this week?
  • Would you recommend those games to other Border House readers?
  • What games have you ranting?
  • Are any of those games listed ones that you want to see covered on the site?

I have been sick this week and literally slept through Wednesday so this post is a day late.

I’ve been finishing up my replay of Dragon Age: Origins. It is such a great series. Otherwise, I started Final Fantasy XIII-2 in anticipation of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.

What have you been playing?

Gone Home review

Samantha Greenbriar's room in Gone Home.

Samantha Greenbriar’s room in Gone Home.

Gone Home invites you to step into an empty house and uncover its stories. It isn’t a game that focuses on battle systems or outlandish weapons. Gone Home asks to player wander around, remain curious, and discover what they can about the lives of Greenbriar family.

 

Gameplay:

You enter the world of Gone Home as Kaitlin Greenbriar. After traveling abroad, she arrives to find that there is no one at the house to greet her. Your first task is to find the spare key and enter the dark home. Once inside you can turn on the lights and wander around, exploring every nook and cranny.

You discover intimate details about your family members by interacting with the environment and rummaging through the items in the house. One item will give you a hint where to look next. Interacting with an important item will open up a journal entry written by your sister. These journal entries are both voice acted and presented as text and can be accessed at any point after finding them. The main mechanic of the game is simple: explore by clicking on various items in the house.

 

Atmosphere:

There is a haunting tone to the game. When you enter the home it is dark, secluded, and silent aside from a thunderstorm raging outside. The game intersperses a quiet score with Riot Grrl songs (played via cassette tapes found within the house).

The place is littered with personal items from the Greenbriar family. Tapes of X-Files episodes, boxes full of copies of your father’s books, Nintendo cartridges, and other items serve to tell the story of the members in the house. The details are more than window dressing; they tell the story.

 

Characters:

While the player is controlling Kaitlin Greenbriar, she is not the focus. Gone Home is primarily the tale of the younger sister, a teenager whose tale you slowly learn through diary entries, letters, and scattered items. You are shown Samantha’s desires, flaws, insecurities, fears, struggles, and triumphs. The intricately designed details make her story feel real. Glow in the dark star stickers above the bed, a couch cushion fort in the living room, and boxes of short stories written in elementary school all inform the player about Samantha.

While Samantha’s life is the focus, the rest of the family is not ignored. You witness details of the parents’ marriage. You get a glimpse of a trauma haunting Kaitlin’s father (a man obsessed with writing stories where the main character changes the past). The details of these tales are fuzzier than that of Samantha’s. The player is left uncertain and making assumptions. But for players who explore the house in detail, those characters have a lot to say despite never being present within the home. The items that are hidden away in drawers act as evidence of the lives of their owners, painting  incomplete but striking pictures of Kaitlin’s parents and her great-uncle.

 

Emotional impact:

At the end of the day, Gone Home is a relatively short game. It can be completed in roughly 4 hours. But this focused experience is a gem. Months after completing this game I still think about the characters and the story. While the player never meets or interacts with Kaitlin’s family members in the house, the details of their lives are abundant. Their tales had me crying more than once.

Gone Home harnesses the power of a well written story. Developer The Fullbright Company created a game that I will not forget for quite some time.

Robert Yang on Flappy Bird

This week in online harassment: over the weekend, Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen pulled his game from the Apple App Store and Google Play due to harassment from players and games press. If you haven’t heard of it, Flappy Bird is a mobile game in which the player taps the screen to make a bird flap its wings; the goal is to pass through as many narrow gates as possible. Supposedly, one of the reasons gamers were angry about the game is that the graphics–particularly the green pipes that form the gates–were “ripped” from Super Mario. Closer examination reveals that they aren’t actually ripped from the game, but even if they were, that really doesn’t necessitate death threats and harassment.

Game designer Robert Yang has a post up at his blog explaining why this happened:

[T]he internet hate toward Nguyen was, or is, partly racist / first-world biased.

Conceptually, the game resembles an undergraduate game dev student’s class project, though the execution is actually very tightly tuned and well-made. I suspect that if Nguyen were a white American, this would’ve been the story of a scrappy indie who managed to best Zynga with his loving homage to Nintendo’s apparent patent on green pixel pipes and the classic “helicopter cave” game genre.

Instead, Dong Nguyen committed the crime of being from Vietnam, where Electronic Arts or Valve or Nintendo do not have a development office.

Definitely read the whole thing. (The article does not contain examples of the abuse, for those concerned about clicking through.)

An alternate history of Flappy Bird: “we must cultivate our garden” — Robert Yang