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[Video Link] Kirk Demarais (author of the great Mail Order Mysteries book) wrote a positive review of the PC train simulator Railworks, which is frequently derided for its lack of monsters, magic, aliens, or eastern european gangsters.

My respect for the Railworks community began to grow as it occurred to me that their passion does not require thrills, instead they are contented by life's subtleties. Their fantasies don't rely upon adrenaline or destruction, they just wish to peacefully command a Class 47 Triple Grey all the way from Oxford to Paddington. They bask in the sights of the uninterrupted countryside. Their serenity is found in the rhythmic valley echos of rumbling tracks. Hobbies are supposed to be relaxing, right? Most of my video gaming ends up driving me to internet walkthoughs in fits of frustration.

It wasn't just the Railworks state of mind that I envied, I also fantasized about having enough spare hours to leisurely delve into each sauntering level, gazing at my monitor blissfully, pausing only to adjust the camera angle every few minutes, or turn on the windshield wipers.

By the time Railworks 2 went on sale for eight bucks I was primed to join the ranks of the noble virtual conductors. I proudly bought a copy.

The cross-country journeys were as soothing as anticipated and I even felt like I was getting a pixelated glimpse into the United Kingdom where most of the missions take place.

Near the end of his review Kirk admits, "Such simple pleasures go a long way, but the truth is I can't say that I've been able to become one of them. I've played for twenty plus hours, but I rarely complete a level without acting on the urge to derail."

In defense of Train Simulator

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[Video Link] The upcoming SimCity looks cool. It uses something called the GlassBox Simulation Engine to run the simulation. I won't pretend to understand how it works, but here's Maxis' Andrew Willmott's GDG 2012 "Inside Glassbox" presentation that goes into detail about it.

Inside GlassBox

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Video Link to a short feature on the very popular "human sound machine" Hikakin, who has a growing following within and beyond his native Japan. His YouTube channel is here, and well worth a subscribe. Below, his take on the Donkey Kong theme song.

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A youth wasted on video games unexpectedly paid off for me in an assignment to profile the old dogs behind the newest gaming company: Innovative Leisure. Operating under the theory that the 99-cent download is the new quarter drop, a team of programmers from the original video game company, Atari, have reunited to make a new generation of games for the iPad. TIME gathered these self-described “grizzled old farts” together in the Supercade, a private museum in Pasadena, Calif., to photograph them alongside some of their greatest hits from the Golden Age of video games, including Asteroids, Battlezone, and Missile Command. Gone are their rockstar days of Friday beer bashes and weekend-long “gamestorming” retreats on the California coast, complete with naked hot-tub parties, fat doobies, food fights and broken furniture. Yet they retain every ounce of their countercultural creativity, as well as a youthful enthusiasm for inventing new games, new mechanisms of gameplay—possibly even new genres. Seamus Blackley, the owner of Supercade and the impresario behind the new company, calls them “the Jedi Council of video-game design.”

Gregg Segal is a photographer based in Los Angeles and shoots regularly for TIME. Most recently, LightBox featured Segal’s work on Civil War Re-enactors. You can see more of his work here.

Adam Fisher is freelance writer for TIME, Wired, the New York Times magazine, and Men’s Journal.

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Warco is a first-person game where players shoot footage instead of a gun. A work in progress at Brisbane-based studio Defiant Development, the game is a collaboration of sorts; Defiant is working with both a journalist and a filmmaker to create a game that puts you in the role of a journalist embedded in a warzone. Ars spoke with Defiant’s Morgan Jaffit to learn more about this political game disguised as an First Person Shooter.


arstechnica

The game was actually the brainchild of someone outside of the studio. Tony Maniaty, an Australian journalist who has reported from regions like East Timor and post-Soviet Eastern Europe, envisioned the game as a sort of training simulator. He then began working on the project with filmmaker Robert Connolly, who directed the film Balibo, a political thriller about the deaths of Australian journalists during the conflict in East Timor in 1975. Eventually Jaffit and Defiant were brought into the project.

The game itself — the title of which is actually short for “war correspondent” — follows the story of journalist Jesse DeMarco. Players will experience the process of filming conflicts, going into dangerous situations armed with nothing but a camera. They will then edit the footage into a compelling news story. The scenarios range from intense bursts of action to quieter moments as you discuss the events of the day with fellow journalists in a hotel. Though the main mechanic will be filming the action, Warco is also very much about choice.

“It’s also about navigating through a morally gray world and making decisions that have human impact,” he explained. “It’s about finding the story you want to tell, as each of our environments is filled with different story elements you can film and combine in your own ways. It’s both a story telling engine and an action adventure with a new perspective.”

The scenarios are designed to mirror the recent tumultuous events in the Middle East and North Africa, in situations cribbed from Maniaty’s real-world experiences in the field.

A game that looks a lot like a first-person shooter but doesn’t actually allow players to fire any bullets could potentially be difficult to market, and one unnamed publisher recently told the studio that “it’s a hard sell to executives to suggest an FPS with no shooting, but this is definitely the sort of game we should be making, as an industry.”

Warco has been in development for four months and Defiant is currently in talks with several publishers to try and bring the game to a wide audience. When that will actually happen, and on what platforms, hasn’t yet been determined.

“We’re optimistic that we’ll find a way to make the project work as a commercial reality.”

See Also:

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Finally, the Continue? gang gets their hands on the oft-requested classic Gunstar Heroes.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0kvUa-9kKE

In this episode of Continue?, the gang tries to figure out what it would take to make a Gun Star and become Heroes. Also, we play Gunstar Heroes.

Every week on Continue?, we sit down to play a random old school game for 30 minutes. We’re talking NES, SNES, Genesis old here. There is one question we are trying to answer - do we want to stop playing or continue?

Starring: Nick Murphy, Paul Ritchey, and Josh Henderson
Shot by: Paul Ritchey
Edited by: Nick Murphy

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Looking (and to some extent sounding) like a cross between Nancy Sinatra and Bridget Bardot, Lana Del Rey (aka Lizzy Grant) is all pouting lips, batting lashes, bouffant hair and whiskey-tipped vocals. She uses all those assets to incredible effect in the music video for “Video Games,” a slow barrage of clips from a disparate array of movies, cartoons, paparazzi footage, home videos and video games that combine to create one of the most mesmerizingly pretty videos of the year.

As for the song, Lana uses the verses to walk us through those little moments of a relationship where love lives (driving in a fast car, kissing in the dark, playing video games) freeing up the chorus for all the big proclamations (the world was built for two). It’s a beautiful love song delivered with deadly precision. Watch the video below.

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www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbxRp6Dg_VQ Freddie Wong is becoming something of a fixture on the site here, but as he keeps churning out great videos, I’m going to keep posting them, and he has yet to let me down. His latest exposes the word of PC hacking cheatery, and he shows what these sorts of glitch hacks might look [...]

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www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Bqq38WZctA Why do you game? Most will say fun, or enjoyment, or some other similar notion, but there’s a real reason that the vast majority of us do what we do: escapism. The fact is, the vast majority of us are very normal people with very normal lives. We will never get to steal cars or [...]

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