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    Nov 9th, 2012 at 09:39:14     -    Rayman Jungle Run (iPd)

    Mobile games are probably the fastest growing game medium at the moment. Nearly every device these days is capable of connecting to some form of app store where thousands of games from platformers to shooters. Every type of game is now imagined on a mobile platform. There is a problem with the development of mobile games however; some developers donít fully know the device their working on. They take a genera they want to work on, take a shooter for example, and Ďdumb it downí so it can be played on a phone. That doesnít work. All it leads to are a clunky control system and your thumbs taking up 60 percent of the screen. It flat out doesnít work. When making a game for a mobile device, you canít simply use the same control scheme as you would on a TV with a controller, you have to reimagine it. The developer that has done this the best is Ubisoft and Pasta Games with the platformer Rayman Jungle Run.
    Many other platformers on mobile devices have attempted to be controlled in two ways. One is the familiar way, a D-pad on the screen with a button or two for the characters actions, or they take advantage of the accelerometer and have the player tilt the screen to make the character run. While these two ways work, they run into the familiar problem of not being able to see the screen because your fingers are in the way or the screen is tilted. The Rayman developers looked at platformers on mobile devices and found a constant: players are always moving forward. Usually the games are simpler than the platformers on consoles, so there is little to no need for backtracking. So Ubisoft and Pasta Games made a decision that mobile platformers should have made a long time ago, always have the character in motion. Platformers have taking advantage of this style before, but not many mobile ones have. It make the game seem more fluid, you donít have to worry about precise movements on the touchscreen D-pad, it add a layer of replay ability to the game because if you miss an item thereís no turning around to get it, and it allows the screen to be seen which is great for what is arguably the best looking iOS game out there.

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    Nov 1st, 2012 at 19:22:17     -    To the Moon (PC)

    Not very often is the sole purpose of a game to bring out the emotions of the player. To make them feel for the different characters, to not have the goal of the game be finishing your quest, but making the characters in the game world happy. To The Moon is a game like no other that I have played before. The game is set in what can be assumed as the near future, and a special agency has invented a device that can alter the memories of dying people, so their last memory is a dream they always had. At its core To The Moon is a love story. While itís fairly simple, its characters are very compelling. You control Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalene who spend the game granting the patient, Johnny, his last wish: to go to the moon. The game is very simple point and click game, but the mechanics can be overlooked for what youíre really here for, the story. I was thinking back on this game after I played it and was wondering, why did this game have more of an effect on me than other pieces of media with sad storylines? Then hit me, the interactivity. Movie and books have had great stories with great character before and you get very involved with them. You begin to care for them, but you arenít them. You donít control their every move. They arenít an extension of your body like a game character is. In a sense, youíre not playing Dr. Watts and Roalene, but their figures that represent you within this story. You, not the characters that you look at or read about, care about the outcome. If anyone asks me for proof of games as an art form Iím now glad to have two examples: Journey and To The Moon.

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    Oct 26th, 2012 at 10:23:04     -    Dishonored (PC)

    A selling point for a modern game is nonlinearity. For some games a linear story, like the Uncharted series, carries it along, but for one reason or another developerís feel that games need to be more open. Often this lead to a thrown in good or bad choice system to make the experience Ďyour owní, and it usually feels pretty cheap. If your game is going to leave many choices up to the payers, you have to design around that, not throw it in because the developer says nonlinear sells. The newly released Dishonored have Ďleave it up to the playerí in mind throughout the whole development cycle, and it shows. While the game has a take on the Ďgood or badí system, where freedom shines is how to approach your target.
    The development team at Arkane Studios spent a lot of time coming up with a variety of ways the player can infiltrate the domain of their next assassination target. This could be strolling through the front door, shooting a guard in the face, and then slowing time to knife everyone before they have a chance to sound the alarm; or by taking control of a fish and swimming through the sewer drain to reach the room of your target and quietly planting some infringing evidence on their person. Take for example a level where you must go to a bath house to assassinate two targets. The three level mansion has numerous widows to enter undetected, there is a storm drain you can swim through, or thereís always the front door. Those are the only three that Iíve found without doing too much snooping around, but experience from other levels tells me that there are at least three more. This game truly exercises the belief that the obvious answer is not always the best, and the developers implemented that with several paths the player can take.

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    Oct 18th, 2012 at 12:56:05     -    Civilization V: Gods and Kings (PC)

    Balancing is something that can easily be taken for granted in games. If done right, no one should necessarily know it. People day the game feels good to play. If done wrong however, it can completely ruin the gaming experience. Balancing in day to day situations only comes up if a game is unbalanced. Itís unfortunate that this is often the case, because balancing a game well is one of the hardest things the developers have to do. It requires constant play testing and changing to get the game just right. Balancing needs to be more recognized when done right. Civilization V is the fifth full installment release of the Civilization series, and while many balancing traits that will be discussed have also been in other Civilization games, this one is the newest and the first one I have played. Civilization V features 34 unique civilizations to play, each with different traits. These traits give the civilization a special bonus depending on the play style that is intended for that civilization. For example Queen Elizabeth of England has the special bonus of +2 movement for all naval units and receives 1 extra spy. As you can see these bonuses are influenced by the culture of the actual civilization itís playing off of. They then also get two extra components that take the form of a military unit, special tile improvement, or special building. The game handles the balance of this system very well. No one unique ability overpowers another. One might better counter act another, but itís not outright better. The developers looked at the play-styles of the players and made different civilizations fit those play-styles, and balanced them very well. They are bonuses for a reason, not game changers, and the game still requires skill for you to win.

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    1Black & White (PC)Playing
    2Black Mesa (PC)Playing
    3Blacklight: Retribution (Arcade)Playing
    4Civilization V: Gods and Kings (PC)Playing
    5Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PC)Playing
    6Dishonored (PC)Playing
    7Guild Wars 2 (PC)Playing
    8Half-Life (PC)Playing
    9Hotline Miami (PC)Playing
    10Journey (PS3)Playing
    11Rayman Jungle Run (iPd)Playing
    12Saint's Row: The Third (PC)Playing
    13Spec Ops: The Line (PC)Playing
    14Specter Spelunker Shrinks (PC)Playing
    15To the Moon (PC)Playing

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