When is an Assassin not an Assassin?

When is an assassin not an assassin? When it’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

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Ubisoft’s flagship franchise has enchanted fans for years with its rich historical settings and exploratory freedom. We have wantonly butchered guards across several continents and have dived from sickening heights into miraculous hay bales and bushes. And after the successful revival of the franchise with Origin, this is set to continue this October with the newly announced Odyssey.

But is Odyssey an Assassin’s Creed game other than in name? While the series has always had a ‘stealth is optional’ approach, the games have always been about a lone assassin taking on the world in an eternal war. The hoods and the hidden blades are truly iconic and the pseudo philosophy that the games try to cloak themselves in is interesting. From watching the E3 reveal trailer, none of this is really present. Continue reading

Inclusion in games – More work is needed

Some of my earliest memories are of playing on the Sega Megadrive back in my old, tiny bedroom at the tender age of three or four. Games have always been a dominant part of my life, but they have been a core part of my being that I was never able to share with my parents.

My Dad was a lost cause. He is part of the old guard. A former miner with a love of gardening, he never really gave games the time of day. The few times I got him to sit down and play anything usually only enforced this division of our opinions.

On the other hand, my Mum has always been willing to watch me and my younger sister play, or take part when she can. And that is the trouble: She can’t play 99% of the time. You see, when she was born she suffered a stoke and lost much of the use of her right hand side. She can still walk and move her right arm but it is clumsy and she has no real control over its grip or independent finger movements.

As you can imagine, this is a problem for playing games because she can’t hold a controller. She certainly can’t manoeuvre her fingers to quickly and accurately press buttons. As such, she was never able to join in with our hobby no matter how much she may have wanted to. Continue reading

The Loot box Controversy: Dismantling the Defenders.

With Belgium’s announcement that it has found loot boxes in several games to be legally gambling, a large step has been taken in the loot box battle. Something that amazed me though when I read through several articles were the amount of people defending loot boxes in the comments.

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Why would people go out of their way to defend an exploitative and predatory practice? Do they genuinely enjoy the addiction and dopamine rushes that come with it? Do they feel that the poor publishers will have to stop releasing big budget games without the extra money loot boxes bring in? Do they truly believe they are just add-ons that don’t effect the fundamental design decisions of the game? I really don’t know. Continue reading

Rewards in Gaming

Rewards for consuming entertainment is a novel invention that is unique to the medium of games. By investing time into them and achieving certain goals players are given various gifts within the games to encourage further investment.

In more narrative games, the rewards are the experience the player gains in itself. Like in movies or books, we are rewarded with sentimental attachments to characters, resolving plot arcs and witnessing great events. Where games differ though is in the rewards tied to mechanics and gameplay. Continue reading

The continental split in gaming.

2017 was an interesting year in gaming. We had a strong first half that tapered off into a weaker second half. Mostly though, it highlighted a growing rift in the industry that I’ve been observing for a few years now: The commercial vs the creative.

As AAA game have dived further down the path of maximum monetization we are seeing a pushback. These games are, without a doubt, still massive sellers that dominate the charts, but gamer frustration at the poor business practices, lack of consumer empathy and drought of originality is beginning to show.

Look at any top games of the year for 2017 and you will see that the ‘top dogs’ are starkly lacking. Titanic games like Call of Duty, Destiny 2, Shadow of War and Star Wars Battlefront 2 had the budgets and talent to succeed but only achieved anger from the public, Battlefront 2 potentially having inadvertently drawing the battle-lines in the microtransaction war for the year to come as governments are now stepping in. Continue reading

Elder Scrolls in the new age of RPGs

Bethesda is the king of RPG games. The Elder Scrolls series was seen by many as the peak of the genre, with Skyrim becoming massively popular and rising to become the 11th highest selling game of all time. Anybody who has been to this site before knows my opinions on the game. It is enjoyable enough but lacks the depth that many RPG players look for in their games. Despite this, the figures speak for themselves.

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It has been over six years now since Skyrim’s release without any word on the next entry in the series. We know that it will be made, just not when. Can Bethesda retain their crown though when Elder Scrolls VI is released?
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A study of microtransactions in games

The business practice of selling small in-game content to players has become a reluctant norm of the modern gaming industry. The audience reaction to this varies widely between utter disgust to complete indifference. There are arguments for and against them but I am here to try and layout the argument for why they represent a very real threat to the medium that we all love.

The key argument I most often see in favour of microtransactions is that game developers and publishers are businesses that need to make money. The more impassive take the stance that if you don’t want them then nobody is forcing players to buy them. Both of these facts are true but don’t accurately reflect reality.

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Below is my evidence on why all players should take a stand against this business practice. Continue reading