Hard Project: Half-Life

That was a low blow, I know.


Half-Life is not one of the most voluminous franchises in existence.  It consists of the original game, a smattering of expansions for that game, the sequel, and two-thirds of an episodic follow-up to that sequel.  Oh, and a whole lot of talk, which puts me in the mind of paying money for an idea, but so long as there’s no Kickstarter my carefully cultivated rage gene doesn’t get activated by pretentious talk by people who cannot get a video game to launch.

Then again, I may be a little harder on Gaben & co. than they deserve.  I’ll snark endlessly at the fact that it has taken seven years without so much as a peep about Half-Life 3, but when you think about it, it’s a hard project to start on.  Not because of lack of money or licensing rights, but because the game has some pretty huge shoes to fill, and a whole lot of baggage that’s weight the hypothetical down.

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Demo Driver 8: Magic 2014

Consistent, at least.

This is as dramatic as it gets.

Usually, I play a demo all the way through to the end before I make a comment on it.  But not this one.  I passed the half-hour mark and I was already done, largely because I didn’t need a great deal of introduction to playing a card game that I had already played for several years and have opted out of continuing to play for a variety of reasons.

The easy verdict here is that this is the most recent version of the game, and if you’re looking for a version of Magic: the Gathering that works as close to a box set of the game could possibly work, here is your game.  Based on the demo, it provides exactly what it advertises on the tin, which is a faithful digital recreation of the card game as it stood when the game was made, frozen in time and yet with a clean visual interface and implementation of the rules.  It manages to hit enough of the genuine game’s notes without being the same game, which is noteworthy.  At the same time, it’s also a bit buggy, and it doesn’t exactly do the source material any favors.

You’re probably looking for a bit more, huh?

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DmC and the crossroad

Still kind of a cocky asshole, though.

Simultaneously a terrible, bland, generic protagonist and a protagonist of surprising depth and clarity.

DmC: Devil May Cry is a game trying to be two things at once.  If I thought it was intentional, it’d be brilliant.

It’s a game that wants to criticize the young male power fantasy and the utter silly emptiness of it while at the same time reveling in the trappings.  It wants to be an action film, it wants to be a drama of a war between demonic forces.  It wants to create a strong and self-sufficient female lead while at the same time making her a damsel in distress for the protagonist to rescue.  It wants maturity and then revels in exploitation, it wants depth and shallowness at once, it wants to be taken seriously and yet has a solid minute of characters yelling obscenities at one another louder and louder.

To say that it’s kind of all over the place even without touching upon the gameplay elements would be understating the matter.  And if there’s a game that more perfectly encapsulates the state of gaming and gamer culture at the moment, I certainly can’t think of it.

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Protected: Why don’t we finish?

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Telling Stories: Get wasted

Yes, I know, it's a horrible logo. I'm not always good at those.Show me a game setting without drugs of some kind, and I will show you a setting that is either intended for young children or one that has not been adequately developed.

Pretty much every setting has alcohol, and The Secret World by definition has all of the usual real-world chemical cocktails.  Final Fantasy XIV has somnus, milkroot, and presumably moko grass (it does turn into hemp, after all).  WildStar features beer and cigars as more or less background elements.  World of Warcraft has bloodthistle, and blood elves in general.  City of Heroes had superadine on top of real-world drugs.  That’s just scratching the surface.

Odd though it might seem, drugs are pretty important in roleplaying, even if you’re not playing a character who actively has a problem.  The cultural impact and overall implications have a major impact on your character no matter what, and you can use them to add a fair bit of nuance to your portrayals.  So with the understanding that you as a player should probably not be taking illegal drugs, let’s talk a bit about using drugs in RP.

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