Cardboard Children – Three Kingdoms Redux

By Robert Florence on March 24th, 2015.

“All great powers reunify after long periods of division, wane and break up after long periods of unification.”

Two years ago, in this very column, I wrote this:

“My dream is to design a Romance of the Three Kingdoms board game. What’s YOUR dream design?”

Today I review a Three Kingdoms board game. It’s called “Three Kingdoms Redux”, it’s by two first-time game designers, and I am completely stunned.

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Life’s Too Short: How I Learned To Embrace Easy Mode

By Jon Morcom on March 24th, 2015.

Jon Morcom ruminates – not entirely seriously – on trying to overcome difficulty spikes in games.

“Slick, you dozy prick! How can you miss with a shotgun from point blank range?” I recently shocked myself by saying this rather too loudly at some pixels on my screen arranged into the shape of a nondescript bald man firing a gun very badly. I’d bought Wasteland 2 [official site] off the back of some good reviews and approached it with no real pre-conceptions. Shock, horror I’d never played the original Wasteland, only a few hours of genre stable-mate Fallout and Fallout 2 not at all; please forgive me hardcore gamers (in the interests of full disclosure I’ve also never rolled a hoop with a stick or flicked a juggling diabolo high into the air). But I make mention of my futile, out-loud admonishment of a party member who just happened to miss, as the combat dice rolls in Wasteland 2 will occasionally have him do, to exemplify the degree to which I’d invested in the game.

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Wot I Think: Dreamfall Chapters Book Two – Rebels

By Adam Smith on March 24th, 2015.

Conspiracies, rebellion, prejudice and resistance. The worlds of Dreamfall [official site] are on the verge of cataclysmic changes and every decision could tip the balance of power. Dreamfall Chapters Book Two continues a fine story but something is lost between the page and the screen.

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The Complete History Of Gaming – Part One: Origins

By John Walker on March 24th, 2015.

Welcome to the first part in a groundbreaking four hundred part series on the complete history of videogames. If there’s one thing games coverage doesn’t do enough, it’s incessantly talking about the start of the industry, then hastily jump ahead twenty years and discussing GTA. We hope to put that right with this stunning new series, in which the complete, unabridged story of videogaming will be told, from its ancient origins, to the latest ventures in 3D SFX technology. We begin, of course, at the beginning.

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Premature Evaluation: Mordheim: City of the Damned

By Marsh Davies on March 23rd, 2015.

I’ve always enjoyed the mash of historical periods and technologies that occurs in Warhammer. It starts with a base layer of sub-Tolkien medievalism and dark age myth, but then, as it attempts to differentiate the factions, teeters into the Enlightenment and, at its most fanciful, veers into steampunk Victoriana. The human factions are a case in point. Bretons are drawn as though from the age of chivalry, as depicted in late medieval French romance: all jousting knights and noblesse. The Empire, meanwhile, is styled very much after 16th century Germany, with elaborate cannon and plentiful muskets, and a dash of 17th century dress-sense in their flamboyant feathered caps.

Each week Marsh Davies bleeds for you in the cold, accursed alleys of Early Access and comes back with any stories he can find and/or a repulsive corruption born of arcane mutagenic powers. This week he and his band of rat-men scuttle through the streets of Mordheim: City of the Damned – a turned-based tactics game set in the world of Warhammer. Fellow Skaven-fancier Adam had a slightly cool impression of it last November, but have the subsequent five months made a whisker of a difference?

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Pillars Of Eternity: The First Half Hour

By John Walker on March 23rd, 2015.

I have spent most of the last week doing little else but play Obsidian’s Pillars Of Eternity [official site]. But I cannot yet tell you wot I think, as such brainthoughtss are under embargo. I can, however, stream or “let’s play” the first fifteen hours of the game. But I’m not going to do that, because it would be the most awful shame for you to have such things spoiled.

Instead I’ve videoed and chatted over the first half hour, from the character creator to the opening scenes, stopping right before the plot kicks in. Because you don’t want to know the story before you play an RPG, because you’re not a complete clot.

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EVE Online’s Historian Talks Battlefleets And Betrayals

By Philippa Warr on March 23rd, 2015.

SPACESHIP history things

“Death to Taggart, Death to Ragnar, Death to the memory of this treacherous night.”

Thus it was that a character named Jade Constantine signed off an EVE Online forum post in 2003. Ragnar was the leader of the rival Taggart Transdimensional corporation and Taggart had declared war on Jade Constantine’s corp. Her overwrought posting – as role-played by an Englishman – commemorated the occasion. “I can’t believe these kinds of characters are just gifted to me on a silver platter,” says Andrew Groen. He’s the journalist writing A History Of The Great Empires Of EVE Online – an account of the first decade of politics, warfare and culture in CCP’s flagship game.

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The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on March 22nd, 2015.

Sundays are for something productive. If you don’t decide what soon, you’re going to spend all day tootling around in Cities: Skylines with the cheats on again. Quick, stall for time by reading and watching the week’s finest (mostly) games writing.

  • I like the impressive scope of this Ian Bogost article: Video Games Are Better Without Characters. It escalates from lamenting the demise of Maxis and celebrating systems-driven games, to setting those in opposition to identity politics, to essentially challenging people to grapple more with all the world’s biggest problems. I don’t agree with all of it but you should read it.
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    The RPS Bargain Bucket: Carebear Glare

    By Cassandra Khaw on March 21st, 2015.

    Iceland is, as you might have guessed, a cold place. I admit that, at the time of writing, I am still toying with the idea of asking Pip to sit in a bucket for me. She is almost adorable enough to be a plushie. But I lack intense witticisms to share today, thanks to a drastic absence of sleep. In lieu of thoughtful statements, have a bunch of cheap games – which is almost as good as bits of relative cleverness, ain’t it? (P.S: I can now segregate between ponces and fops, courtesy of British journalists.) Unfortunately, prices today will most likely be a bit (or incredibly) off, thanks to the absence of working Hola.

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    SteamVR: A Chat About What Worked And What Didn’t

    By Alec Meer on March 20th, 2015.

    Alec and Graham have both had a go on SteamVR, aka the HTC Vive (as described here and here). Yes, aren’t they glorious, beautiful, shining examples of humanity? You can touch them if you like. No, not there. And not for that long. What are you.. ew, no, no, get off.

    Actually, just stand over there and avert your eyes while they have a big old natter about what worked best, what might go wrong in practice, where this might all lead to, whether this is basically MAGIC, Valve vs Oculus and whether the hell we should let children use this thing.
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    Wot I Think: Ironcast

    By John Walker on March 20th, 2015.

    You may remember the recent news that a lorry, aeroplane and cargo ship all carrying gaming genres crashed into each other off the coast of the M4 near Swindon. What you may not have heard is that emerging Terminator-like from the resulting carnage appeared Ironcast [official site]. A turn-based match-3 roguelite steampunk resource-management RPG. Here’s wot I think:

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    File System Aging 4 – Game Of The Past Edition

    By Robert Florence on March 20th, 2015.

    Hey come watch Rab Florence’s new weekly video series, made just for us. Part one, part two, part three.

    In the fourth part of this series about games, time and loss, Rab remembers Unreal Tournament.

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    Have You Played… Diablo III?

    By Philippa Warr on March 20th, 2015.

    Look at this bony joker.

    Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

    Diablo III [official site] is a game I’m accustomed to playing on console while curled up on the sofa with another player. We savour the hammy (and sometimes nonsensical) dialogue, take turns examining our inventories for legendary items or tweaking our character builds, and we mash treasure goblins up REAL GOOD.

    But I’ve recently found myself wanting to play when I’m solo, tinkering with my inventory as much as I like rather than with a veneer of consideration for the other person in the room and exploring entirely at my own pace.

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