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Beyond the shoot-em-up: how gaming got killer stories

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Excerpt from an article by Simon Parkin in the Guardian...

Beyond the shoot-em-up: how gaming got killer stories

In Invasion of the Space Invaders, Martin Amis's 1982 treatise on the emergent video game medium, the British author wrote: "The video game tells a story. The better you get, the longer the story lasts. And we all know how children feel about stories." In the early 1980s, video-game stories were laughably straightforward: the aliens die in Space Invaders, the dots are eaten in Pac-Man, the ball is batted in Pong. And yet the compulsion for players to see what happened next – and, indeed, to ensure that the story would never end – was irresistible. It's proven to be an infinite saga played out by a cast of millions. As Steven Spielberg wrote in the foreword of Amis's book: "The world can never be the same again..."

Read more here... http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/20/storytelling-in-videogames-walking-dead-tomb-raider-papers-please

Call to Alms: Proven Lands

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Currently on Kickstarter...

Developer's pitch...

"PROVEN LANDS is a 3D science-fiction sandbox survival game.

We've been working on PROVEN LANDS with a super small team for some months now, creating a game in you become an explorer - not just another sandbox item collector. Packed with the real mysteries of physics, biology and chemistry, plus tons of (hopefully) reasonable science-fiction, influenced by Star Trek, Don't Starve, Project Zomboid and Starbound.

Keep in mind that the pre alpha tech demo is more a proof of concept, after some months of dev. Eat, drink, chop trees, destroy stones and kill enemies. Enjoy an endless procedural terrain with 30+ different types (only desert biome yet). Fight hunger, thirst and diseases.

The story engine of PROVEN LANDS has two sides -- a main story and an AI-driven meta game.

The main story is thrilling but also a little bit philosophical too - about friendship, bravery, responsibility and even a pregnancy. It is optional, don't worry. You assume the role not of a scientist or a soldier, but a a working class hero or heroine. You're named after the real-life Teruo Nakamura - a soldier of the Japanese Imperial Army who did not surrender until 1974, for an exciting reason.

Think of the AI meta game engine as a pen & paper game master who gathers all the randomly generated elements unique to each player's experience and weaves these components into an one-off adventure. You'll be kept busy battling thirst, hunger, oxygen deprivation and dwindling energy supplies .... but as soon you've gathered enough resources, seek out for new civilizations!"

Some reactions...

  • "The catchiest way to describe it would be “sci-fi Don’t Starve,” but that’s far, far, far too simplistic." -- Rock Paper Shotgun
  • "Fortunately, there's Proven Lands, a roguelike sandbox that hopes to scratch that '70s sci-fi itch." -- PC Gamer
  • "Still here? Good, because Proven Lands looks freakin’ awesome." -- PCGamesN
  • "Take the best bits of Don't Starve and Project Zomboid, and add a pinch of "real science" to the pot, and you have Proven Lands." -- PocketGamer
  • "someone finally gets the potential of procedural alien worlds" - Pascal Blanche, Art Director at Ubisoft Montreal
  • "my children loves Prov.Land not only Minecraft." -- Tsuyoshi Azuma, Lead Modelling/Motion in Lord of Vermilion/Square Enix

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thesetales/proven-lands

Greenlight: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=236563162

Titanfail ( or, "Cloudburst delays play")

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FYI for those contemplating the purchase of a game that might perform poorly due to local infrastructure (and/or inadequate support from Microsoft in that regard), you can check average latency to Azure servers here...


With around 200-250ms on average (minimum during weekends), I personally will not bother until such a time as Microsoft deign to provide us with dedicated local servers (i.e. when Hell freezes over).

Banished - Elder-Geek Video Review

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For those left disappointed by the latest in city simulations offered by the "big boys" (let's not point fingers, and preserve anonymity by just calling them 'Extravagantly Advertised'), take a gander at this one-man entry into the genre...

Silence - The Whispered World 2

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Was just made aware of this...

More details:


In additional news (and continuing the theme of Silence), the final episode of Joypod was broadcast recently.

It can be heard here: http://spong.com/podcasts/joypod/612/Joypod-85-RIP

And archived episodes are available: http://spong.com/podcasts/joypod/

Ta muchly to those lads.

Lamespot, and the Art of Media Manipulation

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Gamers may not know Cliff Harris by name, but chances are they may have come across one or more of the games in his portfolio... Gratutious Space Battles, and it's terran counterpart, Gratutious Tank Battles; the parodical Redshirt...

or perhaps the latest from Harris' Positech Games studio, Democracy 3.

Not heard of it? If one relies on Gamespot for games coverage, then I wouldn't be surprised - the following is a recent post from Cliff's blog over at http://positech.co.uk/cliffsblog/2013/12/09/the-games-industry-has-weird-taboos/


The games industry has weird taboos…

I tried to advertise with a BIG game-advertising agency through their self-service system to place this ad on a major US games site:








I got this:

Message from the publisher: I’m sorry, but your ad banner is inappropriate.


so… why exactly?

Or do I just spend my money elsewhere?


I apologize, but we can not promote any politics as this is a sensitive topic.

WTF? I bet ads for games like hitman, or GTA, or games where you get slow-mo closeups of people’s skulls being blasted apart by high-caliber bullets are just fine. But discuss income tax? OH NOES THE WORLD WILL END! I saw a clip of mortal kombat on that charlie brooker doumenatry that made me feel sick, but apparently we as an industry are just FINE with that… It’s stuff like this that sometimes makes me ashamed to be in this industry. Half of the industry wants to be grown up and accepted as art, the other half have the mentality of seven year olds. I’m pretty cynical, but I never expected my ads for a game about government-simulation to be too controversial to be shown (for money no less…).

My next game will be gratuitous homicide battles. I bet everyone will let me promote that one eh?


No prizes for guessing which "major US games site" refused to run with the ad, but [hint] you'll not see any articles here covering the news story.

Frankly, I've been increasingly appalled by many of the policies enacted by CBS Interactive (in cohorts with it's advertising arm, CBS Network Sales) over the past 4-5 years, but this takes the cake - any shred of loyalty I may have felt for this site has now completely evaporated.

Further coverage:





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Apparently some fixes have been made in regards to blog publication.

Let's see how that goes, shall we? :|


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One of the Great Kiwi Institutions has just announced a brand-new ARG, touted as the first 3D shooter on a pizza box...

"Kill Zombies. Win Prizes. Play the world's first 3D interactive game on a pizza box with Hell Pizza.

Zombies from Hell uses Augmented Reality technology to overlay the game's playing platform (a cityscape of Auckland, Wellington, or Christchurch) on top of a HELL double pizza box when the game detects that you're pointing your phone or tablet at the 'target image' (the specially designed image on top of the box).

Download the game for free from the App Store or Google Play."

For more info go to


All the ingredients for a satisfying gaming experience... if you live in Godzone! ;)

I know what I'll be having for dinner tonight.

Bon Appétit!

World's first Xbox One guarded by sharks

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World's first Xbox One guarded by sharks

A shipping slip-up may have seen some released early, but Kiwis who attempt to grab the Xbox One could end up as shark bait.

Xbox's first new gaming console in eight years is closely under guard by 20 resident sharks at Kelly Tarlton's SEA LIFE Aquarium in Auckland.

It was meant to be the first Xbox One on the market, but a slip-up with shipping overseas meant a number of pre-ordered consoles went to customers before the official release date.

“Due to a retail partner’s system issue, a very small number of Xbox One consoles were shipped to consumers before the November 22 street date," Microsoft said in a statement today.

"We’re pleased to see the initial response to Xbox One has been so positive.

"But given we are still putting the finishing touches on our games, UI and online services, as well as confidential partner and media agreements, these console units will be restricted from connecting to Xbox Live until closer to our launch date.”

Meanwhile New Zealand's Xbox One is safely sealed in a water resistant container in a tank full of fierce sand tiger sharks.

The sharks will guard their treasure for a week, giving the public time to come and view the device before it's official release.

The sharks' fearsome appearance is equal to their reputation, with the seven-gill shark famous for pack hunting. They are able to single-handedly take down 350 kilogram fur seals, and out-swim dolphins and kingfish.

The hunter feeds by sawing through its prey, but luckily for gamers, Xbox One is off the diet.

Xbox is throwing a party for the hundreds who pre-ordered the consoles from EB Games, with celebrations at Auckland's Shed 10 the night before the launch.

The event will follow the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards of which Xbox is a gold sponsor.


Source: Fairfax NZ News - http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/games/30003133/worlds-first-xbox-one-guarded-by-sharks