Kickstarter 2013 - The year Kickstarter became the most important RPG website
RPGs have had a small resurgence lately. Local RPG stores have always been the main distribution network for most RPG companies, but during the last decade or so, this network has become increasingly small. When I was in my early teens, Orange County had close to twenty game stores that I can think of, but these days I know of only one dedicated game store and three comic shop/game store hybrids - keeping in mind that hybrid stores may only have a single bookcase of RPG product at most. The good news is that with the help of the web, Kickstarter in particular, I am starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. That being said, not all lights are good, and as such, the following is separated into highlights, mixed-lights, and lowlights. This being year's end, we are going to take a look at some of the events that made it an interesting 2013 for RPG companies and players alike.
A look back at my favorite moments in games reveals just how far the industry has come. The year ended with the launch of new consoles from Microsoft and Sony, but to no one's surprise the best games were not on them. (Having said that, I am looking forward to replaying Tomb Raider on my PS4 or Xbox One next month!) Sure, I would have loved a prettier version of GTA V to play on them, but with the highlights I'm about to go on about it hardly matters.
Whether adorable outfits on beloved characters were beyond adorable, or my weeping like a little girl happened way too much, I stored a ton of amazing memories while I was plugged in.
My favorite moments in gaming were...More >>
All right. That was a good discussion. Having gone through all of your suggestions for new features, I have a lot of thoughts, and rather than list honorable mentions and such, I want to respond to some of the more recurring themes. Please consider this an ongoing conversation rather than the last word.
Some of the suggestions that were made were good but would not work weekly, or on any completely controllable schedule. Review a great new Kickstarter every week, or a new nerdy cocktail every week, new Lego machine, etc....I'm certainly not opposed, but there's no guarantee one will come out every week. As it stands all those things do get mentioned here as part of the general course of things.
Suggestions for new comprehensive features, like a guide to every nerdy show on TV, or every great online deal, simply require more time to do than I have. I'd love to cover everything comprehensively, but without the ability to stop time, I have to filter some of it out. Blu-rays - and specifically, Blu-rays of interest to us - are still a small enough quantity each week that they're manageable in a way many other forms of media aren'tMore >>
Look, in the world of Nerdery, dragons are a pretty big deal. They're among the archetypical monsters of the human narrative tradition; something that passes for a dragon can be found in the folklore of peoples from all parts of the world. They're in both the Asian and Western zodiac, and the Archangel Michael and St. George each famously kicked a dragon's ass. And they hold a special place in the hearts of nerds, in fiction ranging from Eddison's Worm Ouroboros to the Chronicles of Narnia to Game of Thrones, and movies from Dragonheart to Reign of Fire to Eragon. They are, for that matter, what just naturally comes after the phrase "Dungeons and..."
But even within the world of Dragon-dom, Smaug is a pretty big deal. Indeed, the hoarder dragon from Tolkien's The Hobbit is the all-but-undisputed heavyweight champ of his kind. He was depicted fairly well in the 1977 Rankin-Bass animated version of the tale, voiced by the oddly but effectively cast western star Richard Boone. But he has now been realized, almost more spectacularly than could have been hoped for, in Peter Jackson's current The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
So even if Jackson's movie has fallen short of last year's Hobbit at the box office, it still seems like an auspicious time to recognize a few of Smaug's runners-up. But understand that I'm well aware that this is a personal, whatever-comes-to-mind list, and that even if it ran to 30, 50 or a hundred examples, there would still be entirely worthy dragons omitted. The dragons here, however, though rooted in classical mythology or literature, have all been through the pop culture filter - movies, TV, comics, video games. To make this list, in other words, a dragon has to be a commercial sell-out.More >>
Somewhere in its show-tuney middle, Disney's animated musical Frozen throws a bone to the young monster geeks in the audience. Elsa, the magically (and literally) frigid young Queen who can freeze fjords and cause climate change and sculpt ice palaces out of the brisk air with a few waves of her hand, conjures up a personal bodyguard: "Marshmallow," a formidable giant made of snow and ice.
He's cool, no pun intended, but only the latest in a long list of terrifying pop-culture monsters confined either to wintry seasons or chilly climes, or both. Some are just grotesque version of arctic or Antarctic fauna, or aliens comfortable at equivalent temperatures on their own planets. A few are actual snowmen, monstrous supernatural versions of Frosty, as in the low-rent 1997 horror favorite Jack Frost or the even creepier wholesome "family" film of the same title that came out a year later. You may recall that even the slow-witted "Abominable Snowman" that affectionately plagued Bugs Bunny melted when he got below timberline.
But most of what falls into the category of "Abominable Snowmen," sometimes known by their Himalayan name of Yeti, are shaggy, burly giants that haunt the cold places, and are generally quite content to be left the hell alone. They're rarely a danger to humans so long as we're sensible enough to stay where it's warm.
Here are 13 of pop culture's most memorable hyperborean horrors:More >>
YouTube's "Numberphile," Brady Haran, has it all figured out - if you play a perfect game with no mistakes, going first and dropping your token in the center spot assures victory every time. It's a mathematical certainty. He also runs the numbers of many other scenarios.
Maybe that's why the hideously ugly new version pictured above now has multiple methods of play?
Continue for the video proof...More >>
Jason K. Helton
There's nothing quite like a console launch to get gamers riled up. At the start of the 2013 holiday shopping season we're graced with not one but two major console launches: the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. This is great news for gamers, because having the two dominant console companies throw down at the same time means innovation, inventory and affordability. It also means that if you've been telling the kids no to the Wii U thus far, you won't have any problems finding one this holiday season.
In recent years, a large part of the excitement of console launches is seeing who can actually get one. With the wonders of Internet shopping, it was pretty easy to ensure that you got the console of your choice on launch day, provided you made the leap to pre-order before you actually knew the specs. Even still, it was possible for some time to ensure that your system would be arriving at your home on launch day, but where is the fun in that? Why sit in comfort at home waiting for the UPS truck to arrive with your bundle of electronic joy when you can instead freeze your collective asses off waiting in line in hopes of being one of those lucky, procrastinating (or poor) few who couldn't or wouldn't pre-order, who end up walking out victorious?
Really, though, doesn't EVERYBODY win when you do that?
(If the answer is "no," you just need more practice.)
In the game of Slash - or as it should be called, SLASH! AHHHHH-AH! - you draw cards with names of personalities from "History, Mythology, Literature, Film, TV, Comic Books, Video Games, I don't think we have any think specifically from poetry but I could be wrong." You then get to make your case as to who their best fictional partner would be, and why.
Five of the cards are left blank for you to add your own names, so if you really want to block your opponents, feel free to write in Tupper.Adam. Hypothetically. Because the game doesn't exist in mass-produced form yet...but it's very close to meeting its Kickstarter goal.
I know you've been playing this unofficially for years - but now you get to claim that it's a "game" with "rules" that isn't merely "boner fuel."
Pitch video after the jump.More >>
Since 2007, Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed franchise has redefined the third-person adventure game. For the uninitiated, the series thus far has told the tale of Desmond Miles, a bartender who is forced to explore the genetic memories of his ancestors using a device known as an Animus. Through this genetic wayback machine, he's explored the lives of several relatives who were members of the Assassin's Brotherhood through the Crusades, Renaissance, and more recently, Colonial America.
The latest in the series, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, deviates from this formula in that instead of controlling Miles in the real world, you instead are at the helm of an unnamed new hire at the mysterious entertainment arm of Abstergo Industries, tasked with exploring the now cloud-based genetic memories of Desmond, specifically the Pirate/Assassin Edward Kenway. With the forthcoming avalanche of new gaming systems on the horizon, Ubisoft has pulled out all the stops to make Assassin's Creed IV relevant for both current-gen gamers as well as those who've already pre-ordered their Xbox One and/or Playstation 4. The question is...did it work?More >>
Back in 2009, I read all the raves reviews and scoured the message boards in excitement for Batman's big intro on the current generation of consoles, Batman: Arkham Asylum from developer Rocksteady. Like most, I am a fan of the caped crusader. Further, I love Batman: The Animated Series which the Arkham games shares DNA: the writers, the indispensable Kevin Conroy as the voice of Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker and an art style that borrows heavily from the Burton films.
I was thrilled at the opening of Asylum. Batman is escorting Joker into the asylum, but the Bat knows something is up. "It was too easy," he mutters. In the first few minutes, all the player does is walk Batman down long hallways. Simple, yet with Paul Dini's writing brought to life by Conroy and Hamill's verbal sparring I was enthralled. Then the gameplay took over. After about thirty minutes, I was still just beating up goons over and over with the square button to attack and triangle to counter. Make no mistake, the gameplay was tight, but I wasn't having any fun. Two years later Arkham City arrived, but only managed to keep me engaged for a few hours.
Looks like third time's the charm.More >>