14 Days of EVE Online

2013.07.05.05.50.58EVE is a notoriously perilous universe where corporate espionage is intensified by real-world money scams and the innocent act of farming space rocks leads to “suicide ganking” as non-consensual PVP griefers unabashedly toy with the unwary, fully exploiting the game’s clone and security mechanics. The MMO’s developer, CCP, staunchly defends all duplicity and piracy falling under the open-ended software agreement, so no amount of clapping will restore the wings to billions of stolen ISK or real-world dollars. Knowing of its reputation and [entertaining] tales of dev-endorsed greed, I downloaded the trial and jotted notes during all 14 days of my experience within the villified EVE (Everyone Vs. Everyone).

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Classic Adventure Games

sam-and-max-surfingI must admit a mere passing interest in Adventure gaming over the years. They were never the flashiest, never the most exciting. I would become awestruck by a new release in all other genres, rushing out to pick up a copy of an Action title or the latest RPG. In contrast, I would sometimes stumble across an Adventure game even a decade after it was originally released, purchasing the promises of mind-bending puzzles and twisting narrative with only a bemused chuckle as I embarked on something “new” to me, something different than my current library of shooters and relatively shallow challenges. In this list, you’ll find a series of games that helped define “Adventure” as I know it, and are a great change of pace from your typical blockbuster titles that have unfathomable budgets.

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“Monster Hunter [2] Freedom Unite” (VG)

cg36(Or “Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G” in Japan.) Branded with a bizarre string of Engrish, this game is centered around near-impossible, bland, and repetitive boss fights. But then why am I so utterly hooked?! My workflow goes something like this: mash the square button until I have collected all the plants/rocks from my Pokke farm, have my Felyne Chef dance while I scarf down a Frozen Apple Rib Roast, stock up on potions and paintballs, hunt down the monster, die in a frustrating way, rinse and repeat.

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Disturbing Trends in Gaming

Steam-ValveI love it all. From text-based adventure games to grand strategy to puzzle to full-fledged RPGs. I cut my teeth on the ridiculously-hard 8-bit horrors of my youth, lost hundreds of dollars to the Arcade, marveled at the “golden age” of gaming’s ingenuity, was floored by the graphical power of modern platforms, and cheered at the sheer variety of ways that I can now enjoy the experiences, old and young, refined and rough, mobile and non, social and single player. Sifting through the generations that I’ve witnessed, however, I’m starting to see some emergent trends that I’m not very enthusiastic about in contrast to the bright future that video games seem to hold.

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A Valley Without Wind (VG)

Arcen Games is full of great ideas. I want to get that out there. This indie company is going places and I want to see it happen due to brilliant contributors, great support, and creativity that pours into every product. That said, I’d love to report that I was floored by how amazing A Valley Without Wind is, but that just isn’t the case. This title is chock-full of promise, a real amalgamation of classic gaming archetypes merged with modern technological scale, but I ultimately set my hopes a little higher than the watermark that it did achieve. An emphasis on breadth cuts into the depth of the game’s core foundation, an unfortunate sacrifice for a game that could be one of the “greats” with more effort.

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AI War: Fleet Command (VG)

See, when a game concept loves another game concept very much, they do a “special hug” to produce an even cooler and more interesting gaming genre. Back in the day, a spreadsheet was impregnated by a roving atlas only to sire a long line of Paradox Interactive’s unique brand of complex Grand Strategy. Elsewhere, the classic board game of Chess mated with a ‘roided Real Time Strategy to produce a little guy named “Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance”, whom went on to have a fling with Marketing to ultimately dilute its lineage. “Sins of a Solar Empire” was the coddled love-child of a long string of “4X” games whom ultimately decided to go rogue and get rid of the Turn-Based element to their family’s chagrin, and continues with body modifications and facelifts to this day while flirting with and inspiring new types of games. Anyways, Grand Strategy, Forged Alliance, Sins of a Solar Empire, and an internet whore called Turret Defense (who has enough bastard offspring to invade China) all had the notion to have a group orgy and produced the under-appreciated indie game known as “AI War: Fleet Command”.

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Catherine (VG)

Why do we punish ourselves? I’m not here to debate that. Instead, let me offer up two titles: Catherine and Dark Souls. Both are unique and deceptively simple video games. Both will challenge you beyond the point of frustration. Both come quickly and easily with my heartfelt recommendation…. but then again I don’t know your personality or skills well enough to distinguish between “passing along great games” and “wishing them upon you”. Why would you want to subject yourself to redundant and teeth-grinding difficulty? For the accomplishment and bragging rights, of course. Not to mention the total gaming experience that you will not find anywhere else.

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Dark Souls (VG)

Why do we punish ourselves? I’m not here to debate that. Instead, let me offer up two titles: Catherine and Dark Souls. Both are unique and deceptively simple video games. Both will challenge you beyond the point of frustration. Both come quickly and easily with my heartfelt recommendation…. but then again I don’t know your personality or skills well enough to distinguish between “passing along great games” and “wishing them upon you”. Why would you want to subject yourself to redundant and teeth-grinding difficulty? For the accomplishment and bragging rights, of course. Not to mention the total gaming experience that you will not find anywhere else.

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Diablo III: Special Class Dropped? (VG)

Well, the 12-year wait for a sequel is over and Diablo fans are dusting off their criticism caps for another jab at industrial snob Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard as you may know, is the poorest, most under-funded, and most “indie” niche developer in the video game market due in no small part to the fact that they have created exactly 3 playable games (none of them popular) since their founding in the early 90’s. It would seem that these most recent gripes might prove to be substantiated, however, since pics of a special character class leaked from an internal source has yet to be discovered by even the most hardcore of nerdaholics stuttering their way through the various other classes and game modes.

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A Thought on Meta Games

The term “Meta” is synonymous with the Big Picture nowadays. It represents an idea within an idea, or two ideas connected by an interesting line of thought. It ties things that may not have been previously related, or dials back the scope to a degree that a larger network becomes the focus. I’ve been playing video games for a “reasonable” amount of time, thinking I’ve seen everything the industry has to throw at me, every trick in the book. But I came across an idea that blew my mind.

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