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    Apr 2nd, 2013 at 22:48:29     -    Antichamber (PC)

    ===INTRO===

    When you begin to play Antichamber, you are shown 2 things: a image, and a related caption. The image describes the world around you, and the caption contributes clarity and focus. I moved on from message and turned to see the controls for the game painted on the wall to my right, an exit blocked by a glass wall to my left, and a block telling me to "Click Here" on the wall behind me. As any good gamer, I explore my immediate surrounding before I move on (don't want to miss the easter eggs). I don't find an easter egg but instead find an appreciation for the environment. The floor is black with a white grid. The antechamber is silent except for what sounds like tuning forks being struck in no particular order. It seems profoundly simple. There are no pieces of environmental fluff; the world consists of you and what you need.

    I now turned to the wall to "Click Here," and when I put my mouse on the block, it grew to show an image inside it. When I clicked, I was transported. I was now where the image was. "Jump!" was written in the air above the gap in front of me. So, of course, I jumped and didn't make it to the other side. I fell very far, and I landed in front of another image. When I clicked on the image it told me, "Failing to succeed is not failing to progress."

    ===OVERVIEW===

    I'll consider this enough to really describe the spirit of the game. The game is designed to teach the player. It accomplishes this by placing the image/caption pairs throughout the world. You are constantly surrounded by puzzles, some of which you may not even notice. And as you learn, the world looks a little different. It is the same world, but you are different. You see paths where you used to see obstacles. This happens time and time again, so the longer you play the game, the game becomes increasingly connected. And by the end, you realize how profoundly close to the exit you were the entire time.

    ===MECHANICS===

    There are 2 major mechanical pieces to Antichamber. It has platformer elements, and block manipulation. The platforming is very simple and is basically just your standard first-person movement. Block manipulation is a mechanic that evolves throughout the game and is implemented by a gun that you receive and upgrade. The upgrades allow for more powerful kinds of manipulation and are required to beat the game.

    ===SUMMARY===

    Antichamber has quickly become one of my favorite games. The way the game very elegantly rewards the witty and educates the wit-less encourages players of all skill levels. The visual and aural elements deeply encouraged a solitary and pensive atmosphere.

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    Feb 28th, 2013 at 11:45:59     -    Half-Life (PC)

    Half life is a single-player FPS in which the player controls Gordon Freeman. If you are on this site, I have probably already wasted a sentence of your time. So, I'll just skip the setting and get to the analysis.

    The mechanical elements of Half Life are all very solid. The sights, sounds, and gameplay are all very satisfying. Of course, they are certainly showing wear by today's standards, but they didn't seem to make any serious design mistakes in these elements. I usually prefer primary/secondary/melee inventory model in FPS, but its mostly a flavor thing and I would certainly enjoy explore the consequences of Half Life's inventory model compared to the primary/secondary/melee model. As long as we keep the crowbar and gravity gun, right?

    Half life is probably best known for its storytelling elements. The Half Life world was designed to not only insight simple fear or wonder, but also intrigue. To contrast this, look at the world of the Doom franchise. The story and world of Doom were designed mainly to create an environment of fear. This creating for a very engaging, but superficial world. On the other end, some modern games leverage powerful graphics processing to create very wondrous worlds that create a sense of awe, but lack more engaging elements. Half Life created a rich world with plenty of questions for the player to think about. This set it apart from the rest of gaming in its birth and continues to set the franchise apart today.

    Overall, the Half Life franchise is very easily my favorite franchise in gaming. And as it doesn't contain weak links; the original Half Life is not one. I highly recommend it for recreation as well as study.

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    Feb 5th, 2013 at 13:25:54     -    Dungeons and Dragons, 3.5 edition (Other)

    My experience playing DnD 3.5 was very educational, as I've never played a tabletop rpg before this. We played a campaign created by our GM with game pieces found from small objects around the apartment (pen caps) and maps drawn onto blank printer paper.

    =Players=
    DnD players have a fairly extensive character creation process. As my entire party was made of first time players, the GM handled character creation for us by asking us simple questions about the general personality and functionality of characters we would like to play. It is almost difficult to create some reference for sake of example because DnD is THE traditional rpg. Orcs, humans, dwarves, warrions, clerics, rogues -- they are all here.

    =The Board=
    Our board was a piece of paper with features drawn onto it. I thought this was a very interesting thing to do, and I imagine this low barrier to "modding" encouraged the early gaming community to mod video games.

    =Game Play=
    The game was broken into 2 principal phases.

    There was a phase where we moved about relatively freely and had different rules applied to us than in the second phase (combat). The focus of this phase was exploration and advancing the plot.

    The second phase was a combat phase. In this phase we were bound to turn based actions. I don't know if there were really limitations on what abilities we could use, or if we just naturally used different abilities for this situation.

    The default phase was the exploration phase, and as soon as an enemy engages us the party would enter the combat phase.

    =Overall=

    There is far more to say about DnD than I can possible fathom from playing only 2 sessions, but there are some very strong features of DnD that seem to manifest itself in modern gaming.

    The first and most obvious feature is game design influence. Almost every rpg seems like it could be a mod of DnD on a fundamental level. It almost reminds of proving that machines are of equivalent power in FL. I feel like you could 'play DnD' in most of these games and vice versa.

    The second feature is artistic influence. The general personality of modern rpgs heavily resemble DnD. Of course, this is not entirely DnD's doing. Tolkien can take quite a bit of credit, but I would be interested to see how many rpg gamers played Dnd, read Tolkien, or both.

    My final observation was on the mod-ability of DnD compared to the mod-ability of video games. Modding DnD barely takes any effort at all at its basic level. In fact, if you want to consider "casually modifying rules to your taste" a mod, it can almost happen by accident. I would bet that the low barriers to modding DnD allowed a lot of creative expression for its fan base. It would be significantly more difficult to express creativity in a video game, especially during the early days. I imagine some would be discouraged and ignore video games, but I also imagine some would take on the challenge of learning new technical skills to express their creativity on the new medium.

    To summarize, I think DnD is tremendously deep and rewarding game that any video gamer owes a significant debt to.

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