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VideoGameGeek February Vlog!

Jess Damerst
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Today I have a Guest Star, Shane Meyer! She is a bonafide, sexy, gamer girl. We talk about what we're playing, reading watching, as well as our thoughts on Bioshock Infinite. However, the most important thing you should take from this vlog, is the tips we offer on dating a gamer girl on Valentines day, or how to score yourself one! Please enjoy and thanks for watching!
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Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:53 pm
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The Weekend Gamer - #5

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THE WEEKEND GAMER (#5)


The part where I rant about something . . .


The latest Humble Bundle offering is about to close in the next few hours. This most recent iteration was known as The Humble Bundle for Android (and Windows, Mac and Linux!) - including copies of the games for a mobile platform for the first time.

The first Humble Bundle was launched on May 4, 2010, with the second iteration going up a little over one year ago (December 14, 2010). Since then there have been seven more Humble Bundles. Here's a quick rundown of the Humble Bundles to date:

Humble Indie Bundle #1 - May 4, 2010
Humble Indie Bundle #2 - December 14, 2010
Humble Frozenbyte Bundle - April 12, 2011
Humble Indie Bundle #3 - July 26, 2011
Humble Frozen Synapse Bundle - September 28, 2011
Humble Voxatron Debut - October 31, 2011
Humble Introversion Bundle - November 22, 2011
Humble Indie Bundle #4 - December 13, 2011
Humble Bundle for Android (and Windows, Mac and Linux!) - January 31, 2012

As you can clearly see, the frequency of Humble Bundles has been increasing. In fact - after 4 bundles in the first 14 months, we are now on a streak of 5 straight months with a new Humble Bundle.

And it's not just the guys from Wolfire Games (Jeffrey Rosen and John Graham - a.k.a. the creators of Humble Bundle) that are using this method to promote the cause of indie gaming. Check out Indie Royale, LittleBigBunch, The Indie Bundle, and Indie Games Pack for other examples/opportunities (...and I am surely missing some others).

The cause of promoting indie games is noble and charitable in and of itself, and many of these bundles take charity to a whole new level. The Humble Bundles allow you the opportunity to decide precisely how your money is directed. You can go with the default setting -- which gives 55% to the game developers, 30% to charity (i.e. Child’s Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundation) and the remaining 15% as a “Humble Tip” (to the guys running the whole thing) -- OR you can decide exactly how much you want to give to each party. Additionally, the latest Humble Bundles have offered extra games and soundtracks to everyone that pays more than the current average purchase (usually in the $5-6 range).

I think it’s fair to say that one of the primary factors of the Humble Bundles’ success is the selectivity of the games offered. As a consumer, there has always been an assurance that, even knowing little to nothing about the games included, I could give my money and support without worrying about the quality I would receive in return.

So maybe you’ll understand a little when I say I’m beginning to be concerned with the number and frequency of these bundles... I would hate to see the the Humble Bundle (and the other indie bundle programs) coming out too often and becoming watered-down in quality. Then again - is that concern of mine valid? Are these indie bundles in danger of losing their importance and mystique?

I think I'm coming to the conclusion that I shouldn't be concerned about dilution (...at least not yet). There are just so damn many great indie games out there that don't get enough exposure. Still, I am anxious to observe the future of the indie bundle phenomenon and this is an issue that will be on my mind as we see more and more bundles... And I can guarantee that as long as I have the chance to name my own price for a selection of great indie titles, my wallet will remain light!



Snippets and Tidbits . . .

Tweet(s) of the Week:

The following chain reaction occurred last week - resulting from an article on RockPaperShotgun about Tim Schafer wanting to make Psychonauts 2, and Notch (creator of Minecraft) offering (via Twitter) to help fund it...

Tim Schafer is willing to make Psychonauts 2.http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/02/07/double-fine-schaf... All he needs are a few million dollars...

Notch wrote:
@rockpapershot How many millions exactly?

Notch wrote:
@TimOfLegend Let's make Psychonauts 2 happen.

It's always unsettling to wake up to five text messages that say, "You'd better check your Twitter."

Oh wait. Hm. This is interesting.

Notch wrote:
Me and @TimOfLegend are talking to each other via email, and he's cool with me saying whatever I want about it. He's, like, super awesome.

Notch wrote:
Nothing has been decided either way, but he asked me if I'm going to GDC. I assume he's going to rob my apartment when I'm gone.

Notch wrote:
Anyway, please don't get your hopes too high yet. Everything is extremely vague!

Hey, @notch, here are the other sequels we need you to fund. http://bit.ly/yTDrYN. By Monday, please.

Notch wrote:
@rockpapershot You have no idea how many emails I'm getting now.

If you're wondering about @notch’s generous offer to help Psychonauts 2 happen, all I can say is that we are having a lovely chat about it!

These things take time to figure out--if they can be figured out--so please don’t expect any Psychonauts 2 announcements any time soon.

(Or “PsychoNotch” as he’s insisting we call it. The guy is a hard negotiator, let me tell you. And that ego!)

Notch wrote:
@TimOfLegend You know I can read the stuff in parenthesis too, right?


...and would you believe that this exchange didn't remain the top news story regarding Tim Schafer's Double Fine Studios for long...?!


Video(s) of the Week:




What I played last week: Minecraft, Minecraft, Skyrim... and more Minecraft (I’m working on an aircraft carrier!)
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Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:00 am
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The Weekend Gamer - #4

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THE WEEKEND GAMER (#4)


The part where I rant about something . . .


The rumors are thickening...

For the past several months, there has been a generous amount of speculation about when the next iterations of gaming consoles from Microsoft and Sony will be announced and released. Some rumors have reported that developers are already using the next-generation Xbox dev-kits, with an expected release in 2012. Other reports point towards a 2013 release. Still, others say that both Microsoft and Sony are holding off until 2014. Most recently (and despite speculation to the contrary) a Microsoft France executive has said that there will be no news of the next Xbox at E3 this year.

I don’t know about you - but I don’t really feel the need to have the next generation of consoles yet.

With The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim still occupying most of my gaming time (and still stunning me with its graphical beauty) - and Mass Effect 3, Bioshock Infinite, and Halo 4 to still look forward to in the next year - I’m quite content to stick with the status quo for at least a couple more years... And that’s before even mentioning the seemingly endless supply of cool indie games coming to XBLA and PSN!

Perhaps way more substantial than the when though is the what - and recent reports that the next Xbox will not play used games have created quite a stir. Clearly it is still too early to know whether this is true. If it is true, I will be very curious to see how this will be accomplished - and what other features the system will have.

Not that I don’t understand why Microsoft would want to limit the console to only playing games that were bought new - because I think it is quite easy to see why this would benefit them. Rather, the question I’m currently weighing internally is how I should feel about this proposition... Should I adamantly oppose it, ardently support it, or apathetically acquiesce to it...?

I am inclined to say it’s not that big a deal - and perhaps even support it. I feel strongly that the people (and companies) that develop and publish the games we love should be able to fully reap the rewards of their creation. In the past several years, I have probably purchased about half of my console games second-hand at GameStop. But it’s hard to deny the unfortunate truth that the developers and publishers get no benefit from my used game purchases.

I have been very intrigued in following your discussions on this issue and I am anxious to hear your comments below. I am still pondering the potential pros and cons of having my next console be designed to only play games I purchased new. Perhaps there aren’t really any pros - but the cons might not be that big a deal either...



Snippets and Tidbits . . .

Tweet(s) of the Week: courtesy of @cwgabriel

”Mike Krahulik” wrote:
I'm not saying you can't buy used. I'm saying don't blame publishers for trying to incentivize you to buy new.

. . .

and don't tell me the publishers are greedy fat cats. At least they made a game. Gamestop is a greedy fat cat that didn't do shit.


Video of the Week:



What I played last week: I was sick and stayed home from work for half of the week, so I played a lot of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim along with a little Halo: Reach and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.

Parting thought: "Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author."
-- Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
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January VideoGameGeek Vlog

Jess Damerst
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My SECOND vlog! Woooo! This time I brought toys to share while I talk about my awesome January. I'll ramble about what I have been reading, watching and playing. Not to mention I'll fill you in on what I ended up getting at Christmas and how my February is shaping up. Please enjoy!
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Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:54 pm
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The Weekend Gamer - #2

Scott Anderson
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THE WEEKEND GAMER (#2)


The part where I rant about something . . .

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about video game franchises that need to be resurrected. I’m a big proponent of encouraging game developers to take the risks in developing original IP rather than just rehashing sequels to tested and successful franchises. At the same time, however, sales numbers prove that we all love a good sequel.

The first reason this has been on my mind is due to the recent announcement of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The original X-COM: UFO Defense is very highly regarded, especially here at VideoGameGeek (currently ranked the 5th best video game of all time, having previously held the #1 spot). We already knew about the XCOM first-person shooter in development by 2K Marin, so it was a surprise to hear about this separate project (currently in development by Firaxis) that will share similar aspects to the original such as RTS-style gameplay. Game Informer has the exclusive, and for those of you not familiar with their “hub” coverage of games, they will be releasing news and other info about the game all month. Head to this link for fresh info, updated a few times a week.

The other reason I’ve been thinking about video game franchises that need to be resurrected is because of an idea that my wife recently had (that she’s already begun to regret)... She decided that in order to share some more of our interests, we could take turns picking movie marathons that we would force the other to watch -- like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and James Bond movies (my choices) and Harry Potter, Doris Day movies, and Alfred Hitchcock movies (her choices). Well, we started with Star Wars -- and that brings us to my #1 video game franchise that I want to see resurrected right now...


Star Wars: Battlefront

As I’ve been re-watching both trilogies, I can’t help but be nostalgic of all the time I spent playing Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars: Battlefront II. At the time of their releases, they were the best-selling Star Wars games of all time. And for good reason.

These games placed you right in the middle of some of the most expansive and important battles from the movies, along with a few that weren’t in the movies. In each level you would choose from different classes of soldiers (infantry, sniper, heavy weapons, etc.) and the objective was usually to capture a number of command posts (capture the flag/king of the hill-style) or kill enough of the enemy that their reinforcements dwindled to zero.

Battlefront 2 introduced the ability to play as heroes like Yoda, Mace Windu, Darth Vadar, General Grevious, etc., for a limited amount of time based on your performance. I don’t think it takes much persuasion to convince anyone that playing as Yoda, fighting alongside the Wookies on their home planet during the Clone Wars is a very satisfying gaming experience.

Battlefront 3 was in development at one point - and may still be in development for all we know. Free Radical Design was reportedly developing the game, but after two years of working on it their deal with LucasArts fell through in October 2008 and Free Radical closed down two months later. The latest rumors are that Spark Unlimited is developing the game, but even that evidence is pretty thin so far. The fact that the Battlefront series has been so successful, combined with LucasArts’ eagerness to milk their IP for all it’s worth, give me great hope that we’ll see Battlefront 3 soon(ish)!


Marathon Trilogy

It’s probably no secret to many of you that I am a big fan of The Marathon Trilogy. I mean, Doom was cool and all, but Bungie’s version of the FPS from that generation was superior in every aspect.

Marathon’s multiplayer was far ahead of it’s time and many of today’s Halo multiplayer features and gametypes trace their roots to Marathon. Marathon is also credited as being the first game to include modern “mouse-look” (using the mouse to rotate character view up, down, left and right). But what really made Marathon special - especially when comparing it to other FPSs of the time - was its focus on the story. The story, told by accessing terminals throughout each level, is intricate and an essential component of the gameplay.

Hardcore Bungie fans have been clamoring for a Marathon reboot for years and the desire has only been amplified by the inclusion of subtle tie-ins to the Marathon universe in the Halo games. Although Bungie still hasn’t announced specifics about their newest project post-Halo, all signs are pointing to something completely new and different (...and awesome).

So... if I found a magic lamp today and a genie popped out offering to grant three wishes, Star Wars: Battlefront 3 and a Marathon reboot would be the first two. But I won’t be greedy... I’ll save my last wish for you guys! Let me know in the comments below which video game franchise(s) you would like to see resurrected and why. There may be some free geekgold and/or microbadges in it for you if I like your response!



Snippets and Tidbits . . .

Tweet of the Week: courtesy of @michaelpachter
”Michael Pachter” wrote:
Love that when I say no PS4 at E3, I take a lot of flak, but when Kaz Hirai says no PS4 at E3, my doubters go radio silent.


Video(s) of the Week:







What I played last week: Just iOS and analog gaming last week since we had family in town for the weekend. :-/ Hopefully this week will be more digitally satisfying!

Parting thought: “Friendship is unneccessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
-- C.S. Lewis

I saw this quote and, although it is technically about friendship, it made me think of gaming -- one more of those things which don’t have much survival value, but give much value to survival.
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The Weekend Gamer - #1

Scott Anderson
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THE WEEKEND GAMER (#1)


The part where I rant about something . . .

Welcome to my weekly column! The title isn't very imaginative, but I think it gives a sense of the perspective from which my gaming is presently confined. I'm a 28 year old attorney with a wife and 2.5 kids (a 5 yr old girl, a 3 yr old boy, and another boy on the way - which I conveniently timed so that he would arrive right in between GDC and E3)! I long for the days when I could come home from school and play video games. For better or worse, I am now at a time in my life wherein I get home from work with just enough time to eat dinner, help put the kids to bed and try to watch one or two TV shows with my wife, trying to stay caught up with the TiVo. I occasionally find the time to fit an hour or two of gaming in on a weeknight, but most of my real game sessions occur on the weekend. Hence the lame title of this column - “The Weekend Gamer."**

**I reserve the right to change the title at any time if one of you suggests - or I come up with - something cooler!

As a correlation to my limited gaming time, I have also developed an ever-growing affinity for indie games. As I sit here and try to figure out how to sum up what draws me to indie games, I think I can boil it down to the following generalizations (which I will be expounding upon in future columns):

Innovation - Indie games are typically innovative in one form or another. Whether it’s due to a unique gameplay mechanism or just the way the game is presented, indie games often challenge the status quo and our gamer preconceptions.

Art Style - I'm over-generalizing here, but indie games seem to have a higher quotient of 'prettiness.' I should probably qualify that to say unique prettiness. CoD:MW3, Uncharted 3, Halo: Reach, Crysis, Forza 3, etc. are the epitome of gorgeous, high-end graphics.; but what I'm talking about here is different. Just look at some of the top indie games of 2011 - Bastion, Trine 2, Limbo, Outland... The visual styles of these games are fascinatingly unique.

Digestible Length - Don't get me wrong - I've loved every minute of the ~30 hours I've put into Skyrim so far (and I know I'm just scratching the surface and can't wait to pour another hundred hours into it) - but one of the greatest things about indie games is that I can generally play one from start to finish in a week or two of my weekend (and occasional weeknight) gaming.

Although I don't want to over-generalize our fascinating, awesome, diverse user base here, I feel it's safe to say that many of you are similar to myself in some of these regards. Many of us are out of school and working in careers. Many of us are especially interested in either older classics, or the more innovative titles that can be bought in Steam sales or Humble Bundles and can be easily digested in the precious time we have left after fulfilling our professional, familial and other responsibilities.

I believe that we are in the midst of a great transitive period of gaming. The days of grown-ups... "growing up" and giving up video games are over. We are the generation that grew up playing video games and a large percentage of us aren’t just going to stop because we’re getting older. I cannot imagine that I won't be playing video games the rest of my life, and I'm sure many of you feel the same.

So I hope you’ll find this column interesting and worth your time. You can expect to see it here every Monday morning. I look forward to your input in the comments below!




Snippets and Tidbits . . .

Tweet of the Week: courtesy of @CPCharity

Video of the Week: College Humor’s Battlestar Galactica RPG (Sorry - I can’t embed this one, but it’s definitely worth clicking on the link if you’ve seen BSG!)

What I played this week: Ico (PS3), Trine 2 (Mac and XBLA), Portal (Mac), League of Evil (iPad), Crimson Steam Pirates (iPad)

What I hope to play next week: I hope to finish Trine 2 (or at least get close) and get back into Skyrim after taking a week or two off from it (only because I know as soon as I power it up, I won’t want to play anything else for a while).

Parting thought: “Games make us happy because they are hard work that we choose for ourselves, and it turns out that almost nothing makes us happier than good, hard work.”
-- Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Happy and How They Can Change the World
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December VideoGameGeek Vlog

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Hey!

So I just posted my FIRST vlog. I am very excited about this. I may have said one to many "um's" and the images flicker (I'm workin' on it). Other than that, I think it went OK! In this vlog I talk about my top games of 2011, my Christmas wish list and my Gamer New Years Resolutions! Please go check it out for me

What are your Gamer New Years Resolutions?
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Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:25 pm
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Trine 2 Gameplay Footage - VideoGameGeekTV

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Last week, Trine 2 launched on the PC, Mac, XBLA and PSN. Scott Anderson and I were lucky enough to get to try out the co-op! Scott played the original Trine, but I was a newbie to the series. Of course, he had to show off a bit with some acrobatics and magic, but after a while I started to get the hang of it. We decided that it might be fun to record our co-op session, so, voila! I wouldn't call the video riveting, but it certainly gives you a feel for the game. Which is beautiful, with so much to offer. I particularly was blown away by the quality of the graphics. It has such a great look and feel. The co-op also adds a great social aspect to the game, reminding me of the co-op in Little Big Planet.

Overall I really loved the game. It was fairly easy, and generally enjoyable. There were times were we both got stumped and others where it was a piece of cake, giving the game a nice balance and allowing it to be thought-provoking without being frustrating. The story adds a nice element to the game as well, offering insight into the heroes and their journey. With such amazing aesthetics and an intriguing plot, it comes highly recommended for a care-free, fun, co-op game by me.

This was our first attempt at recording a gameplay session, and while I wasn't particularly satisfied with the outcome (because I am too picky), I hope it demonstrates the game well. We just wanted to do right by Trine 2. It's another work in progress and a proof of concept. In the process, we've learned some valuable lessons we can't wait to put to use in our next sessions! We do hope you all enjoy this one, in the meantime!

What sort of games would you like to see us to play next?

Jess
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Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:01 am
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