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Latest Topics

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The state of single-player games

It seems to be a somewhat awkward time for the single-player experience in AAA games. Recently EA recently shutting down Visceral Games and "pivoting" the design of their planned Star Wars game to something seemingly more multiplayer. At the same time, smaller games on platforms such as Steam and Itch.io are, more often than not, single-player. Are games of this scale filling a gap that is becoming increasingly difficult to financially justify in the AAA space, or are games such as last year’s Doom or this year’s Legend of Zelda indicators that there’s still a place long-term for more focused experiences?

  • I think that some of the best recent games, even if not story-focused, have great single-player experiences. In a year where we can have a timelessly incredible Mario game (Super Mario Odyssey), an arguably superior sequel to an already enjoyable game (Wolfenstein: The New Colossus) and a formula-switching - at least a little - Assassin's Creed game released on the SAME DAY, I think it's fair to say that the single-player experience probably isn't going anywhere. Upcoming PS4 titles such as Insomniac's Spider-man and The Last of Us Part II are set to expand the genre further. – CallumBenson 2 weeks ago
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Auto Battle in JRPGs - An Upgrade or a Shortcut?

You’d be strapped to find a gaming review that doesn’t address grinding. Grinding is usually a process of gaining character experience, including repetitive tasks such as farming items or engaging in enemy battles. Over and over and over again – ad nauseam. In recent JRPGs, the concept of auto-battle has been introduced. In games such as Square Enix’s Bravely Default and Atlus’ Persona 4, the player is granted the ability to create an enemy-shattering battle strategy. This strategy, once plugged into the game’s battle system, can be automated. No more memorizing moves or smashing X. The game plays itself.

By eliminating the need for grinding, does the inclusion of auto-battling present an upgrade for JRPGs? Or does automating battle systems cheapen the game and ultimately result in developer-condoned cheating?

Possible approach: Comparing and contrasting auto-battle in other games.

  • I think this topic will be particularly interesting to pursue considering the general focus on the story in JRPGs. Is it the case that JRPGs care more for story than they do for gameplay and does this affect whether we view Auto Battle as an upgrade? The option to Auto Battle in some entries in the Fire Emblem series seems particularly interesting, considering the series is notorious for its difficulty and strategy elements. – Lbrook4 1 month ago
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Co-operative gaming has changed the face of table top games

With the increased market share of Euro Style table top games (TTG), which typically emphasize collaborative and strategy based game play, a mainstreaming of TTG has occurred. The success of launching independent or related games through crowd founding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo indeed appear to support that a tangible popularity in TTG can be mapped financially and through social media. This can also be seen in the rise in popularity of streaming shows such as ‘Table Top’ hosted by Wil Wheton, which rather than more niche gaming such as RPGs has placed an emphasis on "family" appropriate and collaborative game play. Even low level concept games such as ‘Cards Against Humanity’ have become known as "gateway games" that encourage non-gamers into becoming avid TTGs. However, is the rise due to this increased popularity of collaborative gaming or simply due to the social media format of sharing in common activities? Have co-operative games really changed the face of TTG or is this just a fad?

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    How do you think eSports will effect the video gaming industry?

    eSports and competitive video gaming competitions have become a serious industry in recent times and are poised to change the overall video gaming industry in big ways. Attracting the attention (and funding) of corporations primarily involved with traditional sports, eSports is set up to not only affect the way future games are developed, but is also set to make some serious revenue. What’s your take on how the involvement of large sporting corporations and the rise of elite gamers will effect the overall video gaming industry?

    • It would also change the current social stigma around gaming, popularizing it more and creating a more serious community. – LaRose 3 months ago
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    • Egad. Timely. Especially since Elon Musk's AI just crushed human DOTA players (https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/12/ai-beats-top-dota-2-players/). Great idea. – Paul A. Crutcher 3 months ago
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    • In some sense I think it's stifling to game design. It seems that every multiplayer game that comes out is automatically assumed to be trying to be the latest eSport. This is not necessarily healthy for game design if there is a shift from developing fun multiplayer games to developing grueling and complex games with the potential of being an eSport. For example, PUBG is in early access and was still a buggy mess when people were already discussing its potential as an eSport and how the game would need to change to fit into the eSport world. Esports are only now at a stage where it is conceivable that a developer might design a game with the goal of being an eSport as the sole consideration, and that could have interesting results. – MarcoMorgan 2 months ago
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    How Many Times Can We Get Them To Buy It?

    With recent repacking and re-releases of old titles, what are the most egregious examples of bringing out the same versions of games for that yankee dollar?

    • Final Fantasy X. I own that game four times over. First PS2 disc got scratched, so I bought another (nothing to do with corporate greed, but it explains the four); I bought the remaster on PS3 then a couple of years later got it again for ps4. – AGMacdonald 3 months ago
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    Is it important for video games to have well-written plot and dialogue?

    Break down how important well-written plot and dialogue are to video games. While obviously pure action games like Smite and Overwatch don’t need much of a plot, and nothing resembling dialogue, what about games with a campaign mode? Does steering away from Hollywood cliches, poorly-constructed storylines and so on significantly improve the quality of a game? Or does gameplay/cinematography/etc. always trump the quality of the writing?

    • I would love to read an article about this. It's like when CG just became popular and every movie wanted to use it as much as possible, sacrificing the writing and characters for it. – NBlumenthal 10 months ago
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    • Narrative can be a powerful tool and if that's missing from contemporary video games, its definitely worth exploring. In film, the standard narrative is the traditional trope, so maybe talking about how narrative works in different mediums would also be helpful. – mazzamura 10 months ago
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    • Absolutely important, especially considering that some of the consumers of video games are children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities, such as autism, who may have difficulty with social interactions. Many of these children spend a significant amount of time playing the video games. While this may not be intended use, video games can help to these children to improve conversational skills and ability to communicate. – Vaishnavi 10 months ago
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    • This article would make for a wonderful read! While game-play, AI, graphics and other technical features are often dissected in detail, few reviews take a genuine in-depth look at the plot of video games. Many are just happy to set up flimsy 'Shoot 'em up' plotlines. – Vishnu Unnithan 9 months ago
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    • I feel that the trends are changing, and people are realizing more and more that games as a medium have a new perspective to offer when it comes to how to tell a story. As for how "important" it is for a game to have good plot + story...well, it's certainly becoming more important that it used to be. Overwatch certainly fulfills a certain need - and therefor story isn't as relevant - but on the other hand, The Last of Us didn't have people singing its praises because of it's *gameplay*. I'd be interested to see a piece written on this topic. – Tina Thai 9 months ago
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    • Absolutely. We already have to fight against the notion that video games have no plot and should only be played by kids. I treat video games like books. If there's no well written story, I lose interest very quickly. – AGMacdonald 6 months ago
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    • Games, like any medium, tell a story. The difference being, the story told in games is far more interactive, and this should definitely be considered. Even in games like Mortal Kombat, there is a bit of a story-- simply look at the way characters interact with each other. And as far as campaign mode is concerned, if the campaign for Mortal Kombat X was poorly written, I certainly would never have been interested beyond the opening level. Good dialogue and good storylines are essential to games that are more than just pure action. – Caspian 3 months ago
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    • This is a really interesting topic. The idea of necessity should be the focus here: video games are as broad a medium as film and books, that is, a huge spectrum is produced. We have dialogue-heavy, atmospheric games that are less reliant on graphics or flashy elements, such as Life is Strange, Until Dawn and Heavy Rain. All games should emphasize immersion (the measure of its success is how absorbed the consumer is), but these particular games are praised for their story more than anything else. It would be nice to juxtapose these with games with obviously paper-thin plots, like PVP games such as Mortal Kombat, etc. – Matchbox 3 months ago
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    Gaming's controversial move into the world of TV on a professional level.

    As esports and professional video gaming become a much bigger part of the wider world, there seem to be many people that show resistance.
    A tournament of an online game (can’t remember which game) was televised on ESPN recently and I was shocked by some of the comments. "These people weren’t bullied enough in school," took the cake from the pool of negative comments.
    Do you think gaming should make it’s way into the mainstream world via television broadcasts? Should it stick to game-centered shows and websites rather than leak into the professional sporting world?

    • I don't necessarily believe video games should be recognised as a sport, but it's definitely worth looking into why kicking a ball back and forth is somehow more social than playing an MMORPG with friends online. – AGMacdonald 4 months ago
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    • AGMacDonald. Great point. I laughed at this. This a wide debate that has been going on for years. I even attended a conference where para-professionals delivered their papers on video games as a sport, how gender controlled the video game world can be, and how gamers perceive the concept of gender. It is an goimg, and interesting quetion, why is ghe gamer world still gender centered even though the LGBTQ is very much present in the gamer world. Back to video games beung considered a sport, honestly, a sport requires the movement of the body. It doesnt require a heavy focus on being socially active during the action of doing a sport, but it does mean that you get out of your seat and do something recreational. Interesting topic though. – breeyabrown 4 months ago
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    • When I read the topic I initially thought about the move of games/gaming into action movies. Perhaps a comparison of how films such as Hitman 47 and the new Assassins Creed movie are received as entrants into the wider public sphere with that of more traditional "sports" approach would be interesting. One could even work to tie in the mixed format aspects of current online media such as Twitch (which admittedly I know little about) or Web series such as Video Game High School. – derBruderspielt 3 months ago
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    Games as Multimedia Storytelling

    Approached from the perspective of being an interactive story, what is unique to games like MMORPGs (esp. sandboxes), metroidvania, war games or survival games, as stories? What are some of the ways that gaming has innovated new ways of telling stories (think non-linear, interactive etc). Games can pull together disparate storytelling techniques like visual, auditory and interactive in a way that books, comics or film alone can’t. Has the gaming industry harnessed this potential?

    If you want to narrow it down to a specific category i’d recommend visual novels and RPGs, as they feel a lot closer to the question.

    • It would be very helpful to mention Final Fantasy XV, which one could argue spread itself too thin with the multimedia storytelling. It was a double-edged sword: People could access the series through the anime, the feature length movie or even the retro style gaming experience of A King's Tale.For someone like me, who was heavily invested in the series already, it was wonderful and got me excited for the game in the lead up; but for a casual gamer who just wanted to play the game, or a movie-goer just wanting to watch the film, it would make it difficult for them to grasp the entire story without turning to the internet to fill in the blanks. – AGMacdonald 4 months ago
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    Taken by LucasLacamara (PM) 1 month ago.