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Archive for the ‘Game Reviews’ Category

Seven Wonders By Darwin Geronimo
My love for games extends not only to digital games but tabletop games as well. Companies such as Sony and Microsoft spend millions of dollars developing and designing controllers comfortable to the player’s hands but no video game can replicate the feel of rolling dice in your hands or shuffling a deck of cards or moving pieces on a game board. I look forward to every new tabletop game I receive as much as any video game.
My love for tabletop games arose right around the time I became interested in designing games. I bought my first and still my favorite tabletop game about two years ago after I played it at a convention. The game is called 7 Wonders and to this day, I still consider it the most well-designed tabletop game I have ever played. Thematically, you are the ruler of a civilization based around one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and your goal is to create the greatest civilization in the world. Throughout the course of the game, you build structures that enhance one of your civilizations traits such as military might or available technologies. The beauty of the game lies in its draft mechanic. Each player chooses a structure to build from a hand of cards and then gives whatever cards they do not build to another player while also receiving a new hand of cards from a different player and the process is repeated. The most interesting part about this mechanic is that all players perform this step at the same time. Therefore, rather than the game lasting as long as the sum of all player’s turns like in a typical turn-based game, it is only as long as the sum of the slowest turns amongst up to seven people making for a rather fast-paced strategy game.
What truly interests me about 7 Wonders and tabletop games in general is the communication of the rules of the game. Tabletop games do have many of the same liberties as video games do. A video games programming will often restrict players from breaking the rules of the game, though kudos to speedrunners for finding holes amongst the rules of the game. The thing enforcing the rules of a tabletop game is each player’s understanding of the rules outlined in the rule book. Designing a rule book is one of the most crucial parts of creating a tabletop game. All your mechanics from your game are derived from the rule book. If a player fails to understand what is written in the rules, then they are not playing the game you had intended them to play. It is an excellent exercise for beginning designers to create a tabletop game and to effectively communicate the rules of said game. That is why as an aspiring designer, I will hold tabletop games in the same regard as video games.


About the Author

Darwin Geronimo
Darwin Geronimo is a 21-year-old senior from California State University East working toward his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Physics with a minor in Mathematics. His specialties include scripting, game physics, data analysis, and critical problem-solving. He hopes to one day break into the industry designing systems and mechanics.

Sunless Sea Has Few Rivals

Posted by Sarah Howell

Sunless Sea BannerBy Sarah Howell
Sunless Sea is a spin-off of a popular browser game called Fallen London by the same company, Failbetter Games. Sunless Sea is based in the same universe and the player takes on command of an Unterzee steamship as their captain, whose background and goals are customizable. The player only wins when they achieve the goals they set at the beginning of the game, or when they discover their calling along the way.

In terms of story, Sunless Sea has few rivals. The setting is alternate history in 1800 and London has fallen underground, the soil overhead closing and leaving New Londoners in a subterranean archipelago. The Zee and Underzee (navigated by Zailors) is filled with danger and meaningful choices that will determine your followers, crew’s mood and general well-being in the world. The player will find quickly that no Captain can survive without trade but the legality of that trade is up to the player. The risk of shipping Souls for Echoes, the currency of Underzee, might outweigh the gain if the police of New London get a hold of the ship. All this and more, important crew members, smugglers and crime lords, hinge on the player’s pull and influence that they gain in their travels. More than items can be sold; stories and news also fetch a tall price from isolated islands but getting there is risky, but necessary.

A character’s death is permanent, Sunless Sea even warns you that many captains will die before the player fulfils their ambitions and masters the game. A captain’s passing, however, lends perks for the next captain to reap whether it’s in the form of knowledge, connections or treasures. In this top-down rogue like game, players must navigate the Zee, avoiding pirates and monsters and maintaining their crew’s sanity in the pitch blackness of the Underzee. The game’s map is built on a tile system and few islands are permanent fixtures between games, adding another challenge to the Unterzee. In SUnless Sea, you are expected to embrace the challenge; you are even expected to die (several times). The only question that you have to answer is this; how?

 About the Author
sarah_howellSarah Howell is a 25-year-old graduate with a Bachelor’s of Art and Science degrees in Entertainment Design and Game Design and Development, as well as a minor in writing. She is skilled in story creation, management, 3D modeling and multimedia design.

HatredBy Brian Massey

After the release of Hatred, a lot of people were angry about the whole game; In fact, the game was removed from Steam Greenlight but was brought back a few months later. With a goal to kill as many people as possible, the game started people wondering “what kind of game am I playing?” It started a lot of controversy – shouting about real life events that are similar to this game – and describing it as a serial killer simulator. After looking at the game I can certainly agree with that analysis.
At first I saw it as some arcade style shooting game playing some bad guy. But the more I saw of the gameplay, I found a lot of disturbing things about Hatred. And I can understand why some people compare it to actual incidents that are similar to Hatred, which offend them. So now the question is, when it comes to video games should there be a limit in regards to Moral and Ethical terms?
I agree that there need to be a limit as to what the designer does. Sometimes the designer can get his research wrong which can be insulting to a group depending on a past or recent event which led to a lazy design in game development. Extra Credits went over this topic a few times on several games whether made by a famous publisher or just a few designers.
The sad part about this is that some people who design such horrible games don’t care how everyone reacts to it or who it offends. There have been Top Ten about these kinds of games all over the internet with even more disturbing ones out there. I even took part in a class talking about some of them and describing how loathsome they are.
It’s the job of the developers, designers, and programmers to stop and think about what they put in their games otherwise there will be conflict with a lot of people that will be offended with what kind of game is put out there. Now, I’m aware that not every game is perfect; even though other games people are familiar with also got a bad recognition like GTA and Payday. However, in those games you don’t have to kill people at random, and in Payday the game takes away points if you will, from a random citizen.
But there are times when a game company or a few designers do it because they think it’s a good idea; but a lot of times it isn’t and there will be consequences. I know that there are better games with smart developers that avoid ways to make a game raise controversial questions.


About the Author

Brian MasseyBrian Massey has been studying game design for 4 years now. He is 21 Years Old. He earned the Deans Honors List last semester. He has learned game design aspects such as 3D Modeling and Special Effects. He went to Japan to Form Software in a study aboard program to learn more about the company. He hopes to not only be a part of a large game design company but also that one of his game ideas be created and shown in the real world.

Persona Golden 4 BannerBy Darwin Geronimo

My favorite video game is Persona 4 Golden for the Playstation Vita.

Released in 2012, Persona 4 Golden is an enhanced port of the Playstation 2 game, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 originally released in 2008. It is the fourth installment of Atlus’s Persona series, a spin-off of their mainline series, Shin Megami Tensei. It has since evolved into Atlus’s most popular series, spawning multiple spin-off games and anime adaptations.
Persona 4 follows a group high schooler’s and a mysterious murder case in the small, fictitious town of Inaba. You, the protagonist, are a transfer student from the city and are staying with your relatives in Inaba for a year. It is not long after arriving in Inaba that you begin to hear strange rumors of a phenomenon known as the Midnight Channel. The rumor goes that on a rainy night, if you stare into a blank TV at exactly midnight, you will see your soulmate. You quickly learn that the Midnight Channel is connected to the bizarre string of kidnappings and murders that have been going on in Inaba since your arrival and it is up to you and your group of friends to unravel the mystery behind the murders using the powers of Persona, a manifestation of the user’s psyche.
Building on the success of its predecessor, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, Persona 4 is critically acclaimed primarily for its integration of dating sim and RPG mechanics. You as a player alternate between maintaining high school relationships, such as clubs and girlfriends, and typical RPG dungeon crawling with a pokemon-esque combat system. It lacks the fast-paced action of RPGs of recent years in favor of more strategic, decision-making. It is the successful marriage of these two genres, dating sim and RPG, that has given the Persona series mass appeal along with an incredibly devoted following.
Much in the vein of its progenitor series, the Persona series implements many ideas and themes unique to the genre of RPG. The series forgoes the high-fantasy setting typical of the genre in favor of a more realistic and modern setting akin to our own world. This serves to create a stark contrast with the numerous mythologies the game invokes. Use of mythological figures as combatants has been a series staple for generations of consoles and encourages tangential learning. Particularly for Persona 4, the game delves much into the themes of identity and the Jungian school of psychology, quite befitting for the name, Persona.
Lastly, the overall aesthetics of the game can be best described as “stylish”. What it lacks in graphical fidelity compared to its main competitor, Final Fantasy, it more than makes up for with its anime-style character portraits, interesting Persona designs and eye-catching menu design. Similarly, instead of scores of orchestral pieces, the game opts for a slew of some rather catchy J-pop music and particular kudos to the phenomenal voice-over work in the game. The English localization is regarded by many as one of the best localizations ever.


Darwin Geronimo
About the Author

Darwin Geronimo is a 21-year-old senior from California State University East working toward his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Physics with a minor in Mathematics. His specialties include scripting, game physics, data analysis, and critical problem-solving. He hopes to one day break into the industry designing systems and mechanics.





sunset_overdrive_wondertown_environmentbannerBy Dominique Paige
This Christmas, my main mission is to get an Xbox one. You’re probably wondering why. Well, there is one game that makes me want to buy an Xbox one, and that’s Sunset Overdrive. And if you haven’t seen the game play or trailer, it is awesome. Insomniac Games has done it again. In case you don’t know, they were the makers of the Ratchet and Clank series for Playstation. This game is about a guy who has loads of weapons in a futuristic city taking on zombie mutants who drink a contaminated energy drink. It’s like Deadrising and Ratchet and Clank, because it has that open world and third person feel to the game, which is amazing. That is why Sunset Overdrive after game has sold many copies. It may end up being the best seller for 2014. I have to say that when the makers made this game it was like they didn’t even care, they made game. And the game made an overall success for Xbox One.

Fans may have questions for example: If you have made Ratchet and Clank games for Playstation, why didn’t you release the game for Playstation and for Xbox One? The answer for me, don’t know and don’t care. Insomniac made the great decision to release it for Xbox to beat out the competition. When it comes to great games along with Assassins Creed, Batman, Halo, Shadows of Mortar, and Evil Within, you have to make games for the console to beat your rivals. So far, in my belief, Xbox One has a lot of games releases and bundles unlike Playstation. So, what’s beating the competition for right now? Maybe Xbox, in my belief, but with Christmas coming up and Playstation and Xbox games being released, we will find out as time passes on.


Dominique Paige
About the Author

Dominique Paige hails from Houston, Texas. He is 22 years old. Paige is an upcoming game designer who specializes in graphic design, level design, and sound editing. Currently, he is studying the world of game design at Houston Community College. Ever since he picked up a controller of a sega genesis game, his dream was to become a game designer and to create innovative and new ideas for the future of gaming.




advanced warfareBy Christopher Pearce

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare is an all new game that was created by Sledgehammer Games and Activision. In this game, you play an Atlas soldier trying to defeat the KVA. The new in-game features are the “Exo Suits,” which gives the player enhanced abilities such as double jumping and armor abilities. The Exo suit provides all new fighting strategies while playing the game including the multiplayer. You start off playing the multiplayer of the game. You will be told to play the single player campaign because in this Call of Duty game, the gameplay mechanics have changed because of the Exo suits that change the way the player gets around and maneuvers throughout the game. The game developers suggest this only to help players get used to how to play with these new mechanics.
Call of Duty’s campaign has a very amazing storyline to it. Not to spoil too much of the story; the game starts out with two friends, “Will” and “Mitchel” as they fight off the KVA troops in South Korea. As the first chapter progresses, they talk about the Atlas company and how much better their weapons and equipment are. Mitchel later joins the Atlas organization to finish the fight against the KVA, but the story gets way better after the first mission.
I would highly recommend playing this Call of Duty because it’s definitely better than the previous game that Activision came out with. The campaign itself was fun and the multiplayer is even better.


Chris Pearce

About the Writer:

Christopher Pearce is 23 years old, and specializes in 3D modeling and animation. He has an Associate degree in Digital Media Technology, and a Bachelors degree in Game Design. His goal is to become a great 3D modeler and work at a great game company. He lives in New Jersey.