On Telltale and the failure of episodic gaming

The USE knife ON person action had disastrous consequences

Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands is, by all accounts, a funny and exciting adventure game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but I’m not going to play it. Not yet anyway. I want to. I played The Wolf Among Us and both seasons of the Walking Dead and enjoyed them immensely, especially TWD’s sorely underlooked second season. I didn’t play any of these the first chance I had though. I waited until the final episodes were released and then played through whole seasons at once and enjoyed them all the more for it.

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The Top 10 Best Friends in Gaming

Atlas and P-Body

In honour of the 24th of July I’m going to take a look back at some of the bestest of best friends in video games. Having a buddy makes those long, cold nights staring at a screen that little bit more bearable. These are the relationships that have helped us get through the good times and the bad times.

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Far Cry 4-Escape From Durgesh Prison-Fear and Permadeath in the Himalayas

FarCry4 2015-07-16 17-33-21-94

It’s rare that a game will make me feel tense. Normally I needn’t be afraid if I bump into a small pocket of resistance. I always have numerous means available to me for dispatching them. But in Far Cry 4’s Escape from Durgesh Prison DLC when I’m moving through the undergrowth, narrowly avoiding a rhino, and I see a squad of Pagan Min’s loyalists, complete with a heavily armoured machine gunner in the back, I’m worried, worried that my knife and pistol won’t be enough to take them out. When I bungle a stealth takedown and the big guy spots me I don’t have a choice. I run, making a dash for the nearby cliff edge and diving into the river below, making sure to be wary of the demon fish beneath the surface.

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Pretentious Graffiti

Near Lancaster University in an abandoned car repair building there’s a lot of graffiti. This is not just any graffiti however, this is some of the most pretentious graffiti in the world.

Words are useless without context. Presumably the tagger thought the surroundings were all the context they needed to get their message across with their fancy words.

Words are useless without context. Presumably the tagger thought the surroundings were all the context they needed to get their message across with their fancy words.

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The First Person Shouter-A radio show about video games

Video game podcasts are like spleens, everyone has one but no-one really cares. With that in mind, here’s another one. But this one’s different, I swear! This one goes out live on Lancaster University’s student radio Bailrigg FM. Sure, that means it’s unedited and has the occasional awkward pause but it also means that listeners can interact with the show as it goes out, as well as listen to and suggest some of the best music in games. It’s hosted by myself and my friend and PUBLISHED JOURNALIST Matt Cox, along with a number of guests*. We aim to offer insightful commentary on what’s happening in the world of games and discuss what you should and shouldn’t be playing right now. Here’s something of a trailer

During term time the show is weekly, with the new time slot being confirmed in September. You can listen live here:

or listen to our archived episodes here

There’s even a Facebook page

*Yes, the guests are also just our friends.

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Pure Ecstasy:A Science Fiction Short Story

I thought this post had best have a nice picture at the top. It's tangentially linked to the story

I thought this post had best have a nice picture at the top. It’s tangentially linked to the story

I wrote a short story for the Wells Literature Festival competition. Chances are I’ll never hear back so in the interests of getting my work recognised to some small degree I’m posting it here. I fear some of the important points of the narrative may have been lost when I had to mercilessly cut the word count to less than 2000. Similarly, some points may have been under-explained. Let’s hope not though. I present to you ‘Pure Ecstasy’.

“Do you believe that happiness can exist without suffering, A-Mov?” Alma asked as she slumped across the table, staring at the tissue box on her desk, contemplating why she had allowed it to remain when she no longer sneezed.

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Morality Plays-Being the Good Guy in Tabletop RPGs and the Trouble of GMing for Psychopaths

Never let the GM force you to be a terrible person

Never let the GM force you to be a terrible person

Much has been said about the fun one can have whilst embracing their darker side in an entirely fictional setting, be it in a choice-driven video game or a tabletop RPG. As the old adage goes, it can be good to be bad, especially when your insistence on flamethrowering the knowledgeable prisoner actively hinders your fellow players’ mission. I speak here though in defense of the saint, the hero, the martyr, those characters so committed to doing what they feel is the right thing that they would sooner surrender themselves than see people hurt. Making people that are ‘nice’ goes against our usual fantasies of no nonsense badasses and in any other fiction an impossibly noble hero would be criticised, but in an RPG the narrative can adapt to exploit their conscience. It’s up to the GM to challenge the moral compass of the character, and often the player.

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My Games from the Year Awards 2013


Last year I attempted to write a series of articles about the new game releases that held my attention in 2012 before eventually crowning an ultimate winner and three runners-up.  I ended up writing so much before reaching those runners-up that I burnt out and coursework came along (that’s my excuse anyway). For the record, since I never wrote about them, my GOTY was Mass Effect 3 and my three equally placed runners-up were Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3 and Dishonoured.  2012 was a fantastic year for games, both in the big and little scenes. 2013 was strange. I was ready to decry it as a comparative big disappointment until I played a number of little gems over the Christmas period. And now, to sum up in what will hopefully take much less time than last year’s effort, my Games from the Year awards.

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What I Thought of Dishonored’s Downloadable Content

You'll have a whale of a time with this DLC

You’ll have a whale of a time with this DLC

Dishonored was one of my favourite games of 2012. While it had a number of flaws, at its core was an intelligent, liberating immersive sim (though I hate that genre label). DLC has left a bitter taste in the mouth of many gamers in the last few years but it seems that people are finally starting to be turned around. With developers like Arkane offering packages as substantial as the games they’re expanding on these additions get more and more tempting. The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches can contend with almost everything the original game has to offer, whilst also managing to avoid repeating many of its mistakes. Continue reading

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Who are the real Rancors?-A look at the questionable ethics employed by the ‘good guys’ of Star Wars

jar-jar-binks terrifying

This is perhaps too deep an analysis. After all, the films of George Lucas themselves were presumably never meant to inspire deep philosophical debate or be complex character studies.  That side of Star Wars is better seen in the other media that surrounds its universe, such as the many books and comics and in Bioware and Obsidian’s series of games set in ‘The Old Republic’. Within the first half hour of the first film* the world is polarised between the evil dark side and the good light side. Regardless of this, there are still some pretty blaring ethical quandaries and, after all, it never hurts to tear apart the things we love (unless you do it literally).

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