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Lola's Best Reads of the Week - 09.07.2012

Amongst the noise and clutter that makes up the staggering volume of videogames journalism, I bring you five pieces whose quality and value makes it impossible to ignore.

The reason we write is to communicate meaning. These articles each either conveys a message about our gaming culture or it captures the essence of a game, or it is simply a masterpiece in gaming journalism. Join me every Monday morning for a brief tour in the best of videogames journalism from around the globe.  

Up first we have a deeply moving interview with the creator of Heavy Rain and the upcoming Beyond Two Souls

“Games "will die" if industry doesn't do more to innovate”


James Brightman from gamesindustry international interviews David Cage from Quantum Dream studios and creator of Heavy Rain, Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy) and the much anticipated Beyond. Cage captures the essence of “Why we play video games” in a way that will resonate within the heart of every gamer.  Read the full article here.

“I'm interested in using this medium to express something and to trigger deeper emotions. It's a fantastic medium. It's crazy what you can do with this thing, because the relationship you have with experience is so different from what you have with anything else. You watch a movie, you're just passive. You watch a story, and it's a story that's told to you. But when you're in a game, you can tell the story. You can decide what you want to happen. And you can make up pretty much your own story based on your choices and your moral decisions. That's fascinating.” ~ David Cage

While we are talking about the emotional bond that can form between a game and a player, let's take a look at an article from one of our local journalists.

RPG Mind Bender    


Yolanda Green from Telkom do Gaming beautifully captures the sentiment gamers all over the world feels towards the Mass Effect series.  Read the full article here.  

“I remember when the Mass Effect 3 demo launched. I immediately downloaded it and the second I started playing it I was overcome by an immaculate wave of emotion, like seeing your long lost best friend or family again that you have missed so dearly and never knew the intensity of affection you feel for them. I wasn’t the only one. All over the net die hard fans of the franchise had exactly the same experience and I could breathe a sigh of relief that I wasn’t some kind of gamer freak. Mass Effect not only provides a great role-playing experience but achieves what the majority of role-playing games fail to do, creating an actual emotional bond between the game and the gamer. Your crew become your friends, family, lovers and it all bridges the gap between fiction and reality very well. Mass Effect is nothing less than a reflection of the brilliance video games contribute to society and the very moral fibre of mankind.” ~ Yolanda Green  

Up next is an opinion piece about a game which filled the hearts of fans with expectations and longing that has been unparalleled in the history of videogames.

Diablo 3 Swallows the Spider to Catch the Fly


In this blog post Neil Soren gives brilliant insight into the woes of “Inferno difficulty and the Auction House.” Read the full article here.

“Diablo 3, though more technically advanced in many ways than its predecessor, makes one questionable design decision that inevitably led to more bad design: using the real-money auction house (RMAH) as a post-purchase revenue stream.  And just as the old lady kept swallowing larger and larger animals to deal with the fly she initially ate, the RMAH forced Diablo 3 designers to implement game design that is giving its players a severe case of indigestion. In short, game balance predicated on a need for auction house use to progress has caused a series of design decisions that, while making sense in and of themselves, aren't good for the overall game. Diablo 3 forces players to upgrade gear substantially for the Inferno difficulty mode with radically increased damage from enemies and "enrage timers" that basically kill off the player if certain enemies essential for acquisition of good loot aren't defeated quickly enough. As a result, there is a "grind" for upgrades (or for the in-game currency of gold to buy the upgrades on a gold-based equivalent of the RMAH) that begins on Inferno difficulty and makes the RMAH more tempting. I can understand why Diablo 3 swallowed the fly; nevertheless: perhaps she'll die.”~  Neil Soren  

I included this next piece for the shocking insight it provides into what went wrong with Homefront developer Kaos Studios.

Kaos Descends: How Homefront's Developer Met its End


In this exclusive Leigh Alexander from Gamasutra publishes the result of talks with scores of former employees about the death of their studio -- assembling what's ultimately a fascinating cautionary tale about how lethal mismanagement and culture problems can be. As gamers we only get to experience an end product, read the full story here of what people who work on games sometimes have to endure.

“The staffer describes "inhuman, combative" leadership and labor under a system of fear. Many employees say their health and family relationships suffered -- and hearing THQ execs tell the media that crunch was reasonable and expected felt like a slap in the face, as the crunch came from poor management and an unhealthy environment, not because the work ethic dictated it. In the studio's last days, the team felt worked half to death and wrung dry, and there was a prevailing sense that there was no way a publisher THQ could keep a studio like Kaos open after Homefront, even though the publisher -- and Bilson in particular -- vouched for the team's talent till the end.” ~ Leigh Alexander  

Amongst promises of a Massively Multiplayer Online game revolution, The Secret Word finally entered our pc screens. Read this well balanced review before you purchase the game.  

The Secret World Review - The Next Step For MMOs?  


Robert VerBruggen from Cheat Code Central gives an objective review about this highly anticipated game. Read the full review here.

“The Secret World might set the tone for the next generation—or it might crash and burn, if players decide they like the old way of doing things better. It's still early yet. The story of an MMO's success or failure is told in years, not days. And there are certainly things about The Secret World that could be better."

Some of his key thoughts: " Character creation isn't too elaborate... If you don't know what you're doing, you can easily spend hours building a character whose blend of abilities just doesn't work.”   He points out that the game interface isvery cumbersome”, that “quest management in general is kind of a pain...but that the graphics are a high point. Every MMO has a rocky launch in some way or another, though. On the whole, The Secret World is an amazing experience that's easily worth your $50, especially if you're willing to spend a lot of time on it during your free one-month subscription. Whether it will be worth its subscription fee after that remains to be seen. Only time will tell whether a large community will develop around this eerie and fascinating universe. “ ~ Robert VerBruggen

I hope you will join me next Monday for another pick of the best in videogames journalism.

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