Q& A: Soldak’s lessons learned in 13 years of making RPGs

Steven Peeler has been developing RPGs as Soldak Entertainment for 13 years now, from his first title Depths of Peril up to last year’s Zombasite. Here, he opens up about the things he’s learned. …

from Gamasutra News http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/290915/Qamp_A_Soldaks_lessons_learned_in_13_years_of_making_RPGs.php

The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Ep. 3: Above The Law Review

Late zombie mayhem and a cliffhanger conclusion can’t quite save Above the Law. The third episode of the New Frontier makes great narrative strides, but it runs too much on autopilot along the way. While the story itself is satisfying to watch–especially in how it ups the stakes for protagonist Javi Garcia–this is one of those Walking Dead episodes that’s much more of an interactive movie than an adventure game.

Like this season’s first episode, Above the Law kicks things off with a flashback. This brief look into the past helps establish the leading foursome as something of an alternative family unit for the zombie apocalypse. It’s also oddly hopeful in contrast with the present, which is full of hardships and unexpected curveballs.

The themes about the importance of family ties in a world where nobody can be trusted aren’t exactly subtle here, but they work, thanks mainly to the advancement of the relationship brewing between Javi and Kate. Now that their predictable mutual attraction is finally addressed, we get to see the group dynamic shift in meaningful ways.

Seeing these events transpire is gratifying, despite feeling overly predictable. Richmond is exactly the cesspool it appears to be. Clementine returns at the most opportune moment and is every bit the pint-sized badass she was last time out. David is a serial abuser and blowhard practically begging you to steal his wife. Jesus is wise and cool. Tripp is gruff but lovable. And, yes, Above the Law features speeches from corrupt people about how you have to do whatever it takes to survive in a world where the dead walk around and eat people.

Most of the above is Walking Dead 101. Nobody will be surprised that those elements are big parts of this episode. Nonetheless, the superb quality of the script, voice acting, and animation (which is smoother and more lifelike than in previous episodes, with no jarring jerks or hiccups that have been relatively common in the past) makes everything compelling to watch even though you get the sense that the story is pretty blatantly maneuvering everyone into place.

The lack of meaningful choices proves to be the bigger sin–you might as well get some popcorn out for the first 45 minutes or so of Above the Law.

The lack of meaningful choices proves to be the bigger sin–you might as well get some popcorn out for the first 45 minutes or so of Above the Law. It’s easy to forget you’re doing anything but watching an animated movie…and then you wind up getting killed when zombies show up after the midpoint and you’re sitting back from the keyboard or with the gamepad in your lap as a spectator. A fair number of dialogue options appear in the early stages of the episode, but none of them seem to really impact the direction of the story. Most result in typical Telltale feedback like “Kate will remember that” and have no immediate effect on other characters.

The action heats up toward the end of the episode when the truth about Richmond’s leadership is revealed through a nod back to what happened to Prescott in Episode 2. Also, a handful of challenging battles with humans and zombies require multiple clicks of keys in order to avoid a chomp or shot in the face. Although the surprise of having to twitch-click your way through battles is tough to handle at first, given the lightweight first two-thirds of the game, nothing here provides any serious obstacles.

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Everything concludes with a revenge-fueled fight that, while somewhat satisfying, ends in such a copycat way that it takes you right out of the game if you’re familiar with the TV show. Instead of something original and natural, you get a forced (and all too familiar) scene that immediately recalls a series-famous trope. As a result, the scene is more derivative than shocking (although you’ll still need a strong stomach to endure the entire thing–at least if you go for the most extreme final stroke.)

In other words, bring on Episode 4. As much as Above the Law advances A New Frontier’s narrative and sets up what will inevitably be a chaotic battle for Richmond, there just isn’t enough to do this time around. Telltale’s Walking Dead series always treads the line between interactive fiction and adventure game, but here the whole production tips over the edge to the point where you feel like you’re watching a movie. Granted, it’s a pretty good movie. It’s filled with realistic characters, intense scenes, and some of the most brutal violence depicted in the franchise thus far. But it’s essentially a movie nonetheless, with too many compromises made to manipulate the plot and characters into position for the upcoming finale.

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/the-walking-dead-the-telltale-series-a-new-frontie/1900-6416647/

Why depicting gruesome historical moments in games can be a tough call

The Great Whale Road tries hard to present a historically accurate vision of early medieval Europe. How did its developers grapple with some of the uglier aspects of that era? …

from Gamasutra News http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/295031/Why_depicting_gruesome_historical_moments_in_games_can_be_a_tough_call.php

Spontaneous Battlegrounds Friendship Quickly Turns Tragic

In PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ default mode, it’s every person for themselves. That does not mean, however, that people don’t form alliances. It just means that they tend to end poorly, sometimes with tears.

CamCANTRUN highlighted a moment in which he became pals with another player while they were holding down a house they’d converted into a makeshift fort. There weren’t many players left alive, and the play space—that is, the region of the map not awash in a sea of electrified death air—had become enclosed. They both knew they didn’t have much time.

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Their temporary alliance began as one of necessity, but between taking shots at other players, they got to talking.

“We could be like Peeta and Katniss and just live forever in this circle,” said the other player, jokingly.

“We could,” replied Cam. “If you want, we could make it there.”

A pause.

“[The thing] in this game is, ‘Don’t trust fucking anybody,’” said the other guy after a moment.

“That’s fair,” said Cam. “I respect you, and I look forward to dying with you, my friend.”

“Same here,” said the other player. “Same here.”

Then, with moments left until shit invariably hit the fan, they had a pleasant conversation about PUBG’s gun physics, because video games are just really good sometimes.

“What’s your name, man?” asked Cam after they finished talking about gun physics.

“It’s Hunter,” replied the other player.

“My name’s Cameron,” said Cam. “It’s nice to meet you.”

At this point, there were only five players left alive, Cam and Hunter included. Then Cam took out a dude on a nearby hill. Four. Cam pointed this out and also noted that the Death Circle on the map was closing in. Hunter, in turn, said nothing. When two people are operating with the knowledge that one might have to put a bullet in the other, deathly silence is not a great sign

“You just gonna go silent on me, Hunter?” asked Cam.

“I don’t know what to do!” replied Hunter. “I’m scared!”

They both laughed.

Three players left. At this point, the stakes were clear: if one of them left the building, they would try to kill each other, and some rando would swoop in and sweep up the remains. Cam, though, decided to go for it. He sprinted out of the building and made it to cover behind a tree. Nobody shot at him.

Then: gunfire. The game’s “alive” counter indicated that somebody went down.

“Oh no, Hunter!” whispered Cam. “Noooooo!”

The guy who shot Hunter was visible. He hid behind a car, and Cam couldn’t get a clean shot on him. Eventually, they both rushed each other and ended up playing ring-around-the-rosie with a boulder. Finally, they came face-to-face. Both sprayed fire at each other, but when the dust settled, only Cam was left standing.

“Aaaaaaaaa,” he yelled, half-joking, but probably also a little bit serious, while firing rounds into the air. “Hunter, I miss you so baaaaaad!”

He’s discussing wonky gun physics with angels now, that beautiful, precious soul.

You’re reading Steamed, Kotaku’s page dedicated to all things in and around Valve’s wildly popular PC gaming service. Games, culture, community creations, criticism, guides, videos—everything. If you’ve found anything cool/awful on Steam, send us a message to let us know.

from Kotaku http://steamed.kotaku.com/spontaneous-battlegrounds-friendship-quickly-turns-trag-1793911346

Gizmodo Watch This Industrious Badger Bury an Entire Cow by Itself | Deadspin Coastal Carolina Suspe

Gizmodo Watch This Industrious Badger Bury an Entire Cow by Itself | Deadspin Coastal Carolina Suspended Their Entire Cheerleading Squad And Won’t Say Why | Jezebel Fellow Dirt Bags: Turns Out It’s Okay If You Don’t Wash Your Legs | The Root Sean Hannity Is Garbage, but Not All Opinion Shows Are Trash |

from Kotaku http://kinjaroundup.kinja.com/1793908750

A Southern California Tournament Curse Plagues Top Smash Bros. Players

Call it a curse. Call it a jinx. Something is currently afflicting a series of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U tournaments. The Saga events are run by a group called 2GGaming in Southern California and are typically named after a player or players who have been flown in to compete. The problem is that, but over the course of 13 separate tournaments, none of these individuals have been able to win the competitions bearing their names.

And it all happened again, pretty much, just last weekend when the team leaders playing in an off-shoot event called Civil War lost earlier than expected.

Established in late 2015 2GGaming is an outfit dedicated to organizing and broadcasting some of the most exciting Super Smash Bros. for Wii U events in the world. Like others, they provide weekly competition for players looking for more regular play, but what truly sets them apart is the Saga tournament series.

Starting with Fatality Saga in December 2015, 2GGaming established a trend of naming their tournaments after specific competitors or regions and flying them out to the event. Fatality Saga was named after high-level Captain Falcon player Griffin “Fatality” Miller. But this first event established a different kind of trend, one that would see the featured player or players miss out on taking home the grand prize.

The winner of Fatality Saga was Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios champion, who was well into his run as the undisputed best Super Smash Bros. for Wii U player in the world. Fatality finished his tournament run at a respectable seventh. Little did the Smash community know what horrors awaited them.

  • The next event, ESAM Saga, borrowed its name from Eric “ESAM” Lew, a top Pikachu main from Florida. After making the trip to Southern California, he placed fifth in singles and second in doubles.
  • After that, Corey “False” Shin came in second at The False Awakens.
  • Phil “EE” Visu, who is known more for his broadcast skills than gameplay, picked up a single win in EE Saga’s special commentators round robin.
  • And in the most surprising turn thus far, Marcus “Pink Fresh” Wilson failed to crack top 16 at Fresh Saga.

In case you think this is all coincidence, it doesn’t just apply to one player at a time. A total of 11 players visited the United States from Mexico for the aptly named Mexico Saga; only three cracked the top 48. Cristian “Hyuga” Medina, the most successful Mexican competitor at the event, bowed out in 4th place. Midwest Mayhem Saga, which acted as a prelude to the 2016 installment of the Chicago-based tournament series, was a disaster for Midwestern players outside of Nicholas “Ned” Dovel, who barely missed making top three.

This curse has survived to present day, and made its presence known most extraordinarily at Civil War earlier this month. While not an official Saga event, Civil War was perhaps the most important Super Smash Bros. for Wii U event to date. With almost every top player in attendance as well as a high-level crew battle acting as the marquee matchup, it was, simply put, massive. The main draw was a showdown of two teams, one led by ZeRo and one by Elliot “Ally” Carroza-Oyarce. Too bad for those guys.

Both players, often considered the top two in terms of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U competition, picked up early losses. ZeRo’s came in the winners finals of his pool against Matthew “Xzax” Liberatore, a strong Fox from Northern California, while Ally fell to fellow Canadian Mason “Locus” Charlton soon after. Ally eventually made it to top 32 before being eliminated by ESAM, but ZeRo’s tournament run came to a shocking end at 49th, just two games after his first loss. According to his SSBWiki entry, this was ZeRo’s worst finish since 2011, spanning all the way back to the days of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

By flexing its muscles at Civil War, the Saga curse claimed its most high-profile victims to date. It’s very real, and it wants everyone to know it.

Lots of competitive scenes have curses. The NFL has the Madden curse. Until last year, the Chicago Cubs suffered under the century-old Curse of the Billy Goat. Rapper Lil B has the proven ability to curse any NBA player that gets on his bad side, most famously when Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder flubbed a 3-1 lead against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Western Conference Finals, missing out on championship glory. While it doesn’t have to do with mysterious injuries or eerie proclamations, the Saga curse is just as inexplicably persistent as any other you’d find in the world of sports.

2GGaming’s next event is unique in that it will focus on a character instead of a player. Greninja Saga is scheduled to pay homage to Smash’s most recent Pokémon addition, and it’s likely the organizers plan to invite strong Greninja players, such as Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto and Dennis “iStudying” Kwarteng, to take part. That said, it may be smart for them to sit this one out. The curse doesn’t play games.

Ian Walker is a fighting game expert and freelance writer. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.

from Kotaku http://compete.kotaku.com/a-southern-california-tournament-curse-plagues-top-smas-1793909897

Welcome to Fusion on Kinja

Hello, bienvenidos, welcome to Fusion.net.

I’m Dodai, the EIC of this thing. Some of you may know me from a previous Kinja site. And now, in a cinematic twist, I’m back—and I’ve brought the Fusion editorial crew with me.

Fusion’s website began, as many things do, as an experiment. And now, two years after launch, we’re joining our new Gizmodo Media Group family on Kinja. We’re also part of a TV network, and you can watch all the stuff they’re doing here (they’ve got a new look too)!

What is Fusion?

We’re really into news, politics, investigations, and justice, whether that’s for Standing Rock, for Flint, for women and their reproductive rights, for Latinx folks charged with crimes, for people in the Bronx who like to read, for trans people and their voice therapists, for brown girls on scripted shows, for black people on The Bachelor, for people learning to orgasm after sex reassignment surgery, or for women in comics. Speaking of comics, we’re into those too.

We’re dedicated to giving a platform to underrepresented voices—the young and the broke, people in the military, the disenfranchised, indigenous people, artists and writers excluded from the canon, and women, whose bodies are constantly policed.

We also translate some of our stories to Spanish, and do original reporting en Español también, because our readers are really into that. And we make videos across a bunch of platforms, whether that’s being on the scene and broadcasting live from protests, or traveling to Mexico to talk to some “bad hombres,” or chronicling the fight of water protectors in North Dakota.

Who are we?

Dodai Stewart—I write about issues of culture through the lens of race and gender and I’m obsessed with KDrama.

Jorge Rivas follows the national conversation on immigration. He recently ran next to a 13-year-old girl finishing the LA Marathon, just days after her father was taken away by ICE.

Nidhi Prakash writes about underrepresented communities far and wide, from Syrian refugees in Greece to Chinese immigrants in Mexicali.

Katie McDonough covers politicians and policy as they intersect with other things: power and identity, labor and how we work, media, and culture.

Charles Pulliam-Moore is a professional nerd who writes about inclusion and representation in the geekier pits of pop culture.

Ashley Feinberg is the author of the best story you will ever read about Trump’s hair.

Jack Mirkinson blogs in a pinch and has many opinions about musicals.

Isha Aran opines on pop culture, representation in media, and your new faves.

Rafi Schwartz covers everything from the inspiring educators of Standing Rock to subway-based cricket crimes.

Katherine Krueger blogs about politics and national news, with the occasional piping hot take about movies thrown in for good measure.

Molly Osberg went inside a “millennial rehab” for 20-somethings who don’t know how to be adults.

Hamilton Nolan has reported from glamorous places like a KKK convention and a Berkshire Hathaway annual convention.

Carla Javier looked at how strict voter ID laws make it harder for trans people to make their voices heard at the ballot box.

Anne Branigin profiled the ways two very lit women are redefining the Bronx.

Aleksander Chan likes to write about men who are white.

Nona Willis Aronowitz just spent a month in Texas, and also has an inbox clogged by confessions of woke misogynists.

Alex Pareene will run the politics desk at Fusion, and is into saying “Fuck everything and blame everyone.”

Edgar Reyna is a translator and writer connecting Fusion’s digital bridge to Mexico.

Rafa Fernandez edits Fusion en Español, and is our Mexico correspondent.

Jen Sorensen is an award-winning political cartoonist. A fan of visual storytelling about the world we live in, she’s based in Austin, Texas.

Felix Salmon’s greatest wish is that his adopted U.S. avoids the fate of his native UK.

David Boddiger is our weekend soldier and a card-carrying member of the Anti-Bigot Squad.

Joyce Tang is into thoughtful essays about race, reporting that challenges how we think about class, and “scandalous women” getting new narratives.

Alexis Madrigal has spent the past few months (OK, more) obsessing about shipping containers, which are really just a metaphor for how capitalism works right now.

So that’s us in a tl;dr nutshell. What’s new with you?

from Kotaku http://fusion.net/welcome-to-fusion-on-kinja-1793844505