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Most months, "We Are Data" would have produced a resigned nod and shake of the head, but people visiting it now have fresh reason to feel like their data is being weaponized against them. PRISM and other revelations weren’t just about what was seen — they were about the fact that when confronted with the leaks, the administration drove home how little it thought of public outrage. Watch Dogs promises a solution — but so far, it’s one that occupies an uncomfortable place between commentary and escapism.

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Keep an eye on that meter on your wrist... it's pretty important.

The world of Metro: Last Light isn’t pretty. To escape nuclear war, millions of the game’s Russian citizens descended into subway stations the instant the air raid sirens cried out, forced to leave their lives on the surface behind. Below ground, life is bleak. The irradiated world above means no access to fresh air or sunshine. Money means nothing, and ammunition is currency. Fathers nearly break down when sons ask where Mom is and when she’s coming home—and they have to repeat a variation of the same lie they’ve told for countless years. Radioactive mutants attack the subterranean train-station-based encampments.

The setting is easy to buy into because few blinking indicators and status updates slap you in the face, offering constant reminds that you’re playing a video game. This is deliberate, according to Andrey Prokhorov, creative director and co-founder at 4A Games, the studio behind Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light.

“If you look at your monitor (or TV set) as a gate into the world of the game, the heads-up display (HUD) elements become the bars keeping you from entering that world,” he told Ars in a recent interview. And it's part of a trend.

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As a game developer, your project can have the potential to have infinite longevity, offer a much richer experience of gameplay and not leave you in a state of emptiness after you finish that usual linear scripted game that you used up fast anyway.

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As game designers we want to give players agency, but we also have to decide what players can't do. How can we position the experience of passivity--of non-agency--in a way that adds to a game instead of subtracting from it?

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An anonymous reader writes "Game designer Tadhg Kelly has an article discussing the direction the games industry has taken over the past several years. Gaming has become more of a business, and in doing so, become more of a science as well. When maximizing revenue is a primary concern, development studios try to reduce successful game designs to individual elements, then naively seek to add those elements to whatever game they're working on, like throwing spices into a stew. Kelly points out that indie developers who are willing to experiment often succeed because they understand something more fundamental about games: fun. Quoting: 'The guy who invented Minecraft (Markus "Notch" Persson) didn't just create a giant virtual world in which you could make stuff, he made it challenging. When Will Wright created the Sims, he didn't just make a game about living in a virtual house. He made it difficult to live successfully. That's why both of those franchises have sold millions of copies. The fun factor is about more than making a game is amusing or full of pretty rewards. If your game is a dynamic system to be mastered and won, then you can go nuts. If you can give the player real fun then you can afford to break some of those format rules, and that's how you get to lead rather than follow the market. If not then be prepared to pay through the nose to acquire and retain players.'"

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Tim Haywood writes candidly about the release of a new album on itunes, inspired by the music he wrote for Horror Action RPG Shadow Man.

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Fear and Tension are two powerful emotions that games can elicit. However with less games being designed for horror, there seems to be some confusion separating the two.

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In space, no one can hear dual screen.

Death has always been a significant part of video games, but in recent years, he's had to settle for a relatively minor role. His mortal enemies, the checkpoint and the regenerating health bar, have relegated him to bit-part status. No longer feared, he's a minor inconvenience, a small bump on an otherwise smooth road to the finish line.

But some developers aren't prepared to let Death shuffle around in the wings, promoting him to a crucial role as both fearmonger and educator. Demon's Souls and its imminent follow-up hark back to a time when games weren't afraid to kill the player. You die, you learn. You take better care. You improve.

There's arguably no finer proponent of this old-fashioned mentality than WayForward, whose most recent game, Bloodrayne: Betrayal, set blood boiling with its brutal difficulty level. WayForward's Aliens: Infestation is slightly easier, but still punishing: reach a save room and you'll exhale deeply. When your life meter is but a single swipe of a xenomorph's tail away from empty and you're a long room full of motion signatures away from safety, the elation and relief as those metal doors slide shut is euphoric.


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