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The day Tom McShae made reviews meaningless.

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The following is the comments I placed on the 4/10 review that Tom McShae made in retrospect about Bioshock Infinite and considered these to have a mirror on my blog since I feel very strongly about this change in GS review policy:

I understand the point of view and argument that Tom is making regarding Infinite not using its setting and story to its full extend, I also loved the original Bioshock and felt that everything about it from mechanics to story made a cohesive whole and somehow that did not translate properly into Infinite. That the presence of "Vigors" (Plasmids) don't make sense neither the behavior of Booker. But even taking all of that into account, that does not take away from the fact that Infinite is well crafted when it comes to being a game.

Under no circumstance Infinite should be cataloged as a 4, a score that I would reserve to games that have lacking production values, problematic mechanics or broken programming. By no means a game whose main fault, according to Tom, is its underdeveloped story and world have its gameplay aspects negated in such a way. A 6 or a 7 score would have gotten the point across, giving it a 4 simply misrepresents the quality of the craftsmanship that was put into the game and states that it is a game no one should be bothered with, I cannot agree with such an statement specially when compared to games that have been scored a 4 precisely because of shallow or broken gameplay.

And in what position does that leave Kevin VanOrth review? Basically if the same site is posting such polar opposite opinions about a game, the message that is being transmitted is that ultimately GS reviews are pointless and useless because these are just opinions with no valid backing as a technical assessment on the quality of a consumer product. Video games are as much of a consumer product as these are art but, at the end of the day, if Gamespot's reviews only serve to send mixed messages about what a game is then this tells me that opinions with no semblance of objectivity are the only thing that matters to the editorial staff. If that is the case the inevitable conclusion is that professional game reviews are meaningless, inconsequential and worthless.

Mr. Shae, you have shown me a new way to see game reviews, as in not worth my consideration nor as a means to make a judgement about any game. I should just base my game purchase decisions on my own likes and preferences because chances are any game that you have underscore is a game that I might have enjoyed playing regardless of your opinion.

Both Tom McShae and Kevin VanOrth are part of Gamespot as employees that receive a monthly wage for their work and contribution to the site, their opinions cannot be divorced from the entity of GS as a whole because their reviews had to go through editorial, be approved and therefore act as the sanctioned stance of the website. Otherwise this review should not be called so, instead it should have been an "Opinion piece" prefaced with a disclaimer indicating that Tom McShae's opinion does not reflect that of GameSpot or its editorial team and should have not included a score.

My whole take on reviews is that these have a part of opinion and a part of technical product assessment.

The opinion part should work on the subjective elements of the game and the reviewer should have free reign to express said opinion about the characters, story, thematic, lore or whatever issues he or she may find to his pleasing or distaste because this is the part of the game that is a work of art and a means of artistic expression and none of it should affect the final score. Then there is the technical assessment part where the game needs to be evaluated on the objective elements of its mechanics, control, sound design and overall visual technical performance because it must always be kept present that a game is also an engineered piece of software. Here is where a numerical value should reflect those specific elements of the game because a number is the briefest, most condensed expression of a technical assessment.

My understanding of what differentiates a professional game reviewer form a amateur one does not stop with simple game insight and proper writing skills, it is the capacity to understand and differentiate where his/her own biases are and how to keep these in check so as to it not to be in the way, understanding that objectivity while not fully attainable, it must be strove for, that consumers come to such review sites to be informed and guided into making a intelligent purchase decision by receiving as much as of an unbiased review as possible.

When a website has an original review that stated a remarkable opinion about Infinite, indicating than that is the official stance of the website's editorial team, only for months later post a secondary review with a deficient score negating the original review then that, not only speaks poorly of the original reviewer and review, it defeats the whole purpose of having reviews as a whole. Now every review that GS publishes from now on is going to be second guessed by the audience who visits this site to be informed if the game they want to buy will be a good investment or not.

I've been a GS user for many years but this is the first time I've realized that I will no longer pay attention to their reviews as a whole seeing as to how volatile, unreliable and fickle these can become is this is the trend we all can expect from the site in the future.

Recalibrating review scales and our understanding of these.

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Does the gaming review apparatus needs to take a step back and reevaluate what is the true meaning of the numbers it associates to its reviews? Using a 1 to 10 scale, as most review sites use, is rendered pointless when most of the gaming crowd consider that any game below a 7 or 8 is not worth their time, where a 6 is a death sentence for a game and half of the scale (1 to 5) is just five ways to tell you how bad the game is. So effectively for most people's perception, the scale is really a 6 to 10. Think about it, half of the entire scale is dedicated to explain the "degrees of bad", it simply is not an balanced method to grade games. Shouldn't in a 1 to 10 scale the 5 be the "Average" score? Is it so absurd to ask for a scale that reads as: 10 = Masterpiece 09 = Excellent 08 = Great 07 = Good 06 = Decent 05 = Average 04= Lacking 03 = Deficient 02 = Bad 01 = Mediocre In such a scale, a 5 would represent games that do everything right but don't do anything new or only includes features that are standard in other games in the genre, that are functional without being original, in other words, just average in the most literal sense possible. Not bad but not relevant either. A 4 would be for games that "lack" in options and features as other in the same genre but still enjoyable. Even a game scoring a 3 would be playable even if flawed (Yes, in this scale games that begin to show technical problems begin at 3! the kind of game that usually gets assigned 6s in current score systems.) I also fail to see the need in granularity in scores, does it really make a difference for a game to score a .5 decimals between 2 whole numbers, to change someone's decision to either buy or bypass any particular game? And it really doesn't help matters that there isn't a standardized review system across publications. Everyone understands what a "Four Star" film is, or what is the difference between a 3 star and a 5 star hotel. Shouldn't all reviewers adopt a universal system as well, one that is less granular and more definitive like a 5 star system? Or at the very least a 1 to 10 scale where public perception of it is changed to understand that a 5 just means "Average"? I know it sounds like a pipe dream to ask consumer criteria in such a hype driven industry as this is, but it seems the reaction from fans to review scores has gotten way out of hand as of late with flying accusations of all ilk. With claims of lack of professionalism, the demand of retractions or downright terminations of employment of reviewers just for the crime of having a "less than stellar" view of any particular game by scoring it less than an 8?

Shigeru Miyamoto honored with Principe de Asturias award

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1849773f2a3be69f840a8543d6dc0082_int470. Today, Shigeru Miyamoto has received the "Principe de Asturias" Award in the area of Comunications and Humanities for his life long achievement in the realm of video games as someone that has created a relevant contribution to universal culture. The other personalities and organizations to be awarded this year include: Martha C. Nussbaum - Philosopher Rafael Moneo - Architech Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernández - Football players Richard Lerner - Pathologist Greg Winter - Biologist Philip Roth - Writer Red Cross and Spanish Federation of Food Banks

Downfall of Survival Horror

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If you are reading this, chances are, you are a Survival Horror fan as myself, or rather tries to be a fan of the genre, because in this current generation such a genre has diluted into a mire of bastardized hogwash of game play mechanics and settings that have little to do with the words "survival" or "horror". As you all know the reviews for Resident Evil 6 are out, and it doesn't even really matter on which camp you stand on regarding the positive or negative scores, there is a fact about the game that all reviews agree upon: Resident Evil 6 is an action packed, 3rd person shoot fest that leaves no space for subtlety or prudence. You see enemies and you empty your gun's magazine on them with total abandon because the ammo is plentiful and a partner is always there to back you up. Now I ask you, what is scary about that? It is official, Resident Evil is Zombie, a sad parody, a shell of what it once was. Lumbering clumsily, bereft of the attributes that made it once great. Now it simply walks lunging at the passing opportunity to grasp the flesh and get a bite of that crowd of people that are only into running and gunning anything in sight. 605

Hey monster, explain to me again why should I be scared of you and not the other way around? And the problem is it is not only RE the one series to fault, this whole generation has seen the downfall or downright disappearance of previous survival horror franchises that were truly remarkable examples of the genre: Silent Hill has been degrading with each new entry, trying to recapture the magnificence that Silent Hill 2 was and has failed miserably, now transmogrified into the joke Book of Memories is; a co-op based dungeon crawler in the vein of Diablo or Torchlight Oh how fun! Here is a little secret: Silent Hill fans don't play to have fun, they play SH to have the hairs on the back of their neck stand on end and have their skin crawl! 632693_20120815_640screen001.jpg

I can see clearly around me and 3 other people are in my party, THE HORROR ;) lol j/k guys, let's get some lootz!! Fatal Frame (Project Zero) is another casualty. Last gen it was one of the most memorable and scary survival horror games to arise after RE and SH yet managed to create a brand of horror of its own. Tecmo really impressed with their approach, but after Fatal Frame 4 rights were purchased by Nintendo the game never saw a console release on the west and the only entry that made it after that was the mediocre and uninspired Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir on 3DS - a handheld system- probably the worse format and least immersive method to deliver a scary or unsettling experience. 944720_99328_front.jpg

Translation: Project Zero: Too good for barbarian foreigners Edition

"Have this instead..." 641696_20120117_screen002.jpg

ERMAHGERD, ERM A SCERE U, DEEEEERP! And then there are those rare Survival Horror games that, while less know, were worthy representatives of the genre but faded into nothingness never to be seen again: Forbidden Siren, Clock Tower (whose 3rd entry was greatly regarded) and even single entry attempts such as the disturbing Haunting Grounds or the bizarre and unnerving Rule of Rose. Most sad even is that truly next gen success stories into the genre such as Dead Space is already bound to fall into co-op action shooter territory by its 3rd entry. 672893_20120604_640screen002.jpg

Nothing heightens the excitement of achieving a successful strategic dismemberment than the possibility of a follow up brofist Did developers forgot how to make these kind of games? Or rather did they forgot the purpose of such games? Is there no hope for this situation? Yes there is: looking for those experiences on PC, but you have to open your mind to what is there. As it turn out, the Survival Horror genre has experience a renaissance thanks to the experimental independent nature of the PC platform and the rise of the online distribution model. If you have reached this far into this blog then take this opportunity and just let go of all previous knowledge of the franchises you associate to survival horror and give a try to the following titles instead, games that manage to deliver an experience that can really be described as scary because they reinforce the feeling of oppressiveness, of feeling alone, almost helpless. These tap on a basic and primal part of our brains to achieve fear while unveiling mysteries and stories worth discovering: (Links to Steam or GOG game pages) Penumbra Black Plague Penumbra Overture Amnesia The Dark Descend Cryostasys Lone Survivor Plus other games that while not purely Survival Horror these venture into themes that are more psychological and unsettling by their story lines alone: The Void The Path And last but not least, a game that needs no introduction because it has managed to prove that horror can be achieved by harnessing our fear of the unknown, the unsettling, by calling uon some of our most primal instincts and doing so more effectively than any other high budget title, and all for free: Slender

Slender-2012-07-27-17-00-34-36-590x331.j Pleasant nightmares.

Project S.A.U.R.

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project_s_a_u_r__by_scificat-d5ecstr.jpg Click for larger version Squad Autonomous Unmanned Robot Developed to function as a heavy weapons platform to work alongside the troops in the battlefield. It is equipped with a wide array of sensor and data gathering hardware such as radar, wide spectrum optical scanners from infrared to ultraviolet, night vision, telescopic cameras and specialized targeting sensors and lasers. One of its key features are its wide angle stereoscopic lenses, two mounted at either side of the head, giving the unit a complete 360º tridimensional field of vision, allowing it to maintain complete battlefield awareness. This is complemented with antennas for short range communication with the soldiers within the squad and other S.A.U.R. units and satellite antenna to relay mission status and orders to and from HQ. Acting as a "walking gunship" its armament is comprised of Vulcan cannon, Hydra rockets, head mounted quad chain guns and a retractable - hip mounted launcher capable of deploying different kind of grenade ordnance such as standard grenades, chaff and countermeasures. Other complementary equipment include a tail mounted grapling claw that serves as a battering ram and drill to take down and puncture entry points into structures and if necessary it is programmed to use it within close quarter combat situations. It is powered by a [***CLASSIFIED***] power plant outputing a maximum of [***CLASSIFIED***] It is armored with a special anti impact, anti heat [***CLASSIFIED***] alloy. Its versatile frame allow this unit to maneuver with ease in the enclosed scenarios of urban warfare while maintaining the capacity to run up to speeds of 40 MPH. ( aprox. 64KPH) [DISCLOSED SPEED] Height at hip joint: 6 1/2 ft. (2 meters) Length (variable): Aprox 14 ft. (4.25 meters) Weight: [***CLASSIFIED***]

Select a sketch

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UHHGG!! FINALLY! the constant construction and renovation activity has died down and while there are still some details here and there to iron out, I'll be able to finally get back to properly update my gallery in the next few days with some real illustrations.  But at least I had found some time between the whole mess to at least draw some sketches in my down time and with real pencil and paper! Boy has it been a while since I last did that.  Kinda crazy to think how everything gets done digitally now. I'm definitively going to make proper illustrations of all these pics but I haven't decided yet in which order.  Any ideas which one should I do first? Click on each to see a larger version of it.
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1. Project S.A.U.R.
aqua_armor_sketch_by_scificat-d54341y.jp
2. Aqua Armor
pistolera_sketch_by_scificat-d56pfkv.jpg
3. Pistolera
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4. Ruby Thorn Demonic Flight

What the HE3LL?!

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I have never been this letdown by an E3 in years, complete disappointment across the board. I could not believe my eyes, not a single conference from the big 3 delivered a worthwhile reason for me to get into any of their consoles this year. What the Hell happened!? I was only really interested on the third party offerings: Tomb Raider, Dishonored, FarCry3 and Splinter Cell. (probably all will be on PC so no reason to get a console for those.) Here are my personal highlights and low points of each of the big 3 conference: Microsoft: - Highlight: Halo 4 - Letdown: Trying to sell us Kinect for voice recognition for core games instead of using a headset. Sony: - Highlight: The Last of Us - Letdown: The Last Guardian nowhere to be found. Nintendo: - Highlight: Pikmin 3 - Letdown: No new 1st Party IPs, nothing about Retro Studios new game.

Art Update

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Just a sampler of some of the pics I've done lately, a simple diagram in honor of The Big Bang Theory, a bit of speed painting and a flash animation to show the steps taken and one illustration featuring Juri Han from Street Fighter IV. Also as you may have notice I added an animated banner to my profile as well. Sheldom Cooper made me do it: rock___paper___scissors___lizard___spock Speed painted Mora for Chalosan: (About 3 - 3.5 hours for pics like these) gift___mora_linda___speed_paint_by_scifi Here you can see a Flash animations of the different stages of the development of the pic: morathumb.jpg Annie for Jesonite: gift___jesonite__s_annie_by_scificat-d4v And finally a Super Street Fighter IV inspired pic of Jury Han: juri_han___feng_shui_engine_by_scificat- As always you can get bigger downloads of these files in my deviantArt profile: scificat.deviantart.com Observations, comments and constructive criticism is always appreciated.