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Rick Lane

1 year ago

Feature: User approved?

Why users write Steam reviews

One of the most interesting and controversial features of Steam's user reviews is the system's open-ended nature. Reviews can can range from a couple of lines to thousands of words, can adopt virtually any style, and only need to possess passing relevance to the game in question. What results is a system where thoughtfully written reviews reside alongside jokey one-liners, incoherent rants, and political rallying…

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Feature: Mostly positive

What developers think of Steam reviews

Since 2013, Steam has allowed its users to leave reviews on the Steam page of games they have purchased. Using the system, players can leave a written description of the game in question, and then award it a binary “Recommended” or “Not Recommended” rating. These reviews are then aggregated into “recent” and “overall” ratings for the game which are displayed on the game's Steam page.…

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2 years ago

Feature: Slick

Have you played… Puddle?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time. Puddle is a simple but inventive puzzler about fluid dynamics. You play as a small pool of liquid which you must navigate through an environment by tilting the screen from side-to-side. Between you and your ultimate goal is a variety of hazards that can trap, evaporate…

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Feature: Grim peaks.

Have you played… The Vanishing of Ethan Carter?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time. Watching walking simulators evolve from the waffling emptiness of Dear Esther into remarkable narrative adventures like Firewatch and What Remains of Edith Finch has been one of my favourite spectator sports as a games journalist. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is one of the better stepping…

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Feature: Boots on the ground

Have you played… ArmA 3?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time. I've long possessed a fondness for Bohemia Interactive's military simulators, ever since Operation Flashpoint invaded my hard-drive back in 2001. But ArmA 3 is the first Bohemia game since OpFlash to successfully modernise that that initial concept, striking a pleasing balance between ambition, accessibility, and stability…

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Feature: Silent storm

Have you played… Thief: Deadly Shadows?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time. I always feel a bit sad when I think about Deadly Shadows. Ion Storm Austin's spin on Looking Glass' landmark stealth series is an embodiment of frustrated ambitions. The developers had basically planned for Deadly Shadows to be an open-world stealth game, a sort of medieval…

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Feature: We chat to the devs

Total War’s free Mortal Empires DLC merges Warhammer 1 and 2

Total War: Warhammer is a big game, and the recently released Total War: Warhammer II [official site] is even bigger. But in the eyes of the Creative Assembly, that still isn't big enough. To remedy this, they've come up with the Mortal Empires DLC, a free download that will essentially merge the two games' campaigns together in one huge map, letting players assume command of…

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Feature: Three to one

Making The Orange Box: how 3 Valve games became 1

The Orange Box is one of the strangest quirks of gaming history. Never before had a developer released three brand new, entirely separate games at the same time in one package, and thanks to digital distribution, it probably won't happen again. What makes The Orange Box truly remarkable though is that it contained two of the most-anticipated games of 2007, and what proved to be…

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Feature: Big Boss

“If you treat them as the enemy, it’s not going to be a good relationship.” Obsidian’s Feargus Urquhart on publishers

Since its foundation in 2003, Obsidian Entertainment has worked with seven different publishers. Commencing with LucasArts on Knights of the Old Republic II, Obsidian has since signed contracts with Atari, SEGA, Bethesda, Square Enix, Ubisoft and most recently, Paradox Interactive. In fact, up until Pillars of Eternity [official site], every single game Obsidian had made was funded and distributed by a different publisher. This is…

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Feature: A matter of perspective.

Beyond Infinity: Obsidian on modernising the art of the isometric RPG

When Obsidian Entertainment started work on Pillars of Eternity [Official Site], the studio had two goals in mind. First, it wanted to recreate the style and tone of the classic Black Isle RPGs – particularly Baldur's Gate. Second, it wanted to modernise that style, taking advantage of today's technology, and avoiding mistakes made the first time around.

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Feature: Sic semper Tyrannis

Obsidian on Tyranny’s expansion & writing believable evil

Most games that put you into the shoes of the bad guys are about reveling in evil, gleefully causing havoc and destruction like a toddler who's got into the stationary box. Obsidian's RPG Tyranny [official site] is different. “I find a lot of fiction that centers around good versus evil tends to be unsatisfying, as evil always exists as a strawman for the ill-prepared underdogs…

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Feature: Father bullet-time

Have You Played… Max Payne 3?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time. The farther time drifts away from the release of Max Payne 3 [official site] the more I appreciate what Rockstar tried to do with it. I hated the idea when it was announced. “Max in Brazil? BALD?!? WITH A BEARD?!?!?!” I don't think I've ever been…

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Feature: Kharak to the Future

Have You Played… Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time. Confession time! I'm not the biggest fan of Homeworld. I played it on original release and bounced off it like a meteor off a deflector shield. I liked it more when the HD remakes landed a couple of years ago, but it was still more admiration…

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Feature: Starship bloopers

Have You Played… Helldivers?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time. Helldivers [official site] is probably my favourite cooperative game after Left4Dead. A playable pastiche of Starship Troopers from the developers of Magicka, its procedurally generated missions provide great flexibility for of arranging quick or longer games with friends, while its relentless alien enemies and ridiculous weaponry…

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Feature: Dealer’s choice

Have You Played… Hand of Fate?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time. I love games that try to bring the notion of character into the act of play. Mass Effect 2, Crusader Kings II, Shadow of Mordor, all these are games which view characters not merely as agents to propel the story forward, but as…

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Feature: Fill your boots

Have you played… NEO Scavenger?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time. There are lots of things I love about NEO Scavenger [official site]. I love how, despite its lo-fi visuals, it conveys the fickle fortunes and indifferent cruelty of a wilderness better than many technologically superior survival games. I love its ridiculously detailed combat system that lets…

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Feature: Railly good

Quake Champions Beta: a revitalised classic with some modern ideas

Here’s the most important thing you need to know about Quake Champions [official site]: I shot a man to death with a railgun while we were both flying in mid-air. As we passed each other like trains in the night, he exploded into jelly, and a very deep voice bellowed “Impressive!” into my ear. For a split-second I felt like a god, a pure, unstoppable…

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Feature: And you thought nu-Lara had it rough.

Have You Played… Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time. Ten years before Crystal Dynamics began making Tomb Raider games, they were making rivals to Tomb Raider games. Technically a spinoff from the Blood Omen series, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver saw fallen vampire Raziel on a path of vengeance against his lord…

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Feature: Alma rater

Have you played… F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time. I’m still annoyed at F.E.A.R. 2. The first F.E.A.R probably has the best shotgun in any game ever. It’s a masterpiece of virtual ballistics, a simple black tube that, when fired, has the force of a punch from Mars himself. All F.E.A.R 2…

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