Monthly Archives: September 2013

#280 The Different Approaches to Costumes between the Bat and the Spider

Lets talk about costumes. This past week the Batman Arkham Origins announced the content for their season pass and it caused quite a stir online.

Batman Arkham Origins pass

As the promotional picture shows, the Season Pass for Arkham Origins, priced at 19.99, will give you; a few challenge maps, an additional plot, and 14 different outfits for the Dark Knight. I am going to refrain from talking about the gated story until more is revealed (and the idea of Day One DLC) but that does not stop me from giving my two cents about the decision to sell cosmetic goods in videogames.

Before we I go ahead with my opinion on the subject at hand I want to spin a tale about a few games I played before I seriously started playing PC games.

I think it is well established  from my past blog posts that I am a fan of comicbooks, but my favorite part of reading Superhero stories was the different and unique costumes the likes of Superman, Batman or Spider-man would wear for a certain story arc.

Thanks why I loved Scribblenauts Unmasked it had a ton of different costumes for every character.

Thanks why I loved Scribblenauts Unmasked it had a ton of different costumes for every character.

I always get a kick when games developers add homage to those stories by putting them into their products they made. The first game that introduced the idea of special costumes in games, for me, was the Spider-man game for the PlayStation 1.

This was before the rise of DLC so not only was all the costumes were unlock-able from playing the game, but some of the hidden costumes had some game changing mechanics. If I recalled correctly, there was an awesome Spider-man costume that gave you the power of sleath allowing you to bypass by any threat you might face in a level and you can even eavesdrop on idle chit-chats of the footmen, was way before Arkham City’s conversation.

Spider-man continued the trend  of delivering fan service with his multiple costumes but I did not get to experience it again until I got Spider-man Shattered Dimensions. Like before all the costumes for all the Spider-mans were also unlockable within the game, although that might have been because it was a physical disk release and not distributed on Steam.

The gmae had voice actors from the 60's, 90's, early 00's and the MTV CGI Spider-man shows The whole thing was Amazing, Spectacular, Superior.....Ultimate.

This game also brought back voice actors from the 60’s, 90’s, early 00’s and the MTV CGI Spider-man television shows to voice the four spider-men. To a Spider-man fan the whole experience was Amazing, Spectacular, Superior….um…Ultimate.

From that bit of personal history it easy to understand why I am hesitant about the costume packs for the Batman Season Pass, especially if they are only wearable after you completed the main story mode.

I have to admit that I bought the costume pack for Arkham City, back when I bought the game and all the DLC packs in the frenzy of one of the Steam Sale. I am starting to regret the purchase it mean I helped encourage the gaming companies to make this season pass. One challenge map, an additional story, and over a dozen costumes just does not feel right.

It seems that the people of Arkham Origins are forgetting what a Season Pass is supposed to be. I do not buy a Season Pass of Doctor Who from iTunes just for the special behind the scenes interviews, I buy it for the content.

Sure it is an investment into the unknown if you buy it before the show airs but if I understand the if you buy it if you love the series.

Sure it is an investment into the unknown if you buy it before the show airs but if I understand the if you buy it if you love the series. And in hindsight it is cheaper to go the path of a Season Pass rather than the pieces separately

Even if the people of Arkham Origins wants to put costumes with a DLC pack take a leaf out of the Amazing Spider-man game, they had unlockable suits in the game but Activision gave away the classic Spider-man costume with the purchase of any Spider-man DLC.

Looking back this is probably the best way to handle a cosmetic costume, have it be a bonus gift when buying another DLC for the game

Looking back this is probably the best way to handle a cosmetic costume, have it be a bonus gift when buying something else for the main game

If you have not figured it out I am not going to purchase any of  the costume packs when Arkham Origins is release, I will buy the game but I am not going to spend money to promote this sort of behavior. Especially when game develops makes season packs that give a character more outfit options than the most popular League of Legends champion.

Although I am also worried about the number of skins in the pack, that is an awful lot of outfits eating up a lot of options for any future Arkham games.

But what do you think, What is your opinion on the multiple costumes in the  Arkham Origin Season Pass? Have you or will you buy the Season Pass for the up coming Batman game? Leave a comment down below I want to know what you think.


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#279 An Open Letter to Valve

Dear Valve, do you know how difficult it has been NOT to talk about you for this entire week? You know that most gaming/technical companies takes only one day to make all their major announcements. You could have had a nice big, publicized event that lasts for a few hours and then leave while everyone on the internet goes into a frenzy about what you just announced.

You know like tradition these days, instead of teasing the entire internet with the infamous number three.

You know like tradition these days, instead of teasing the entire internet with the infamous number three.

 

That is not to say I did not like the announcement. It is a bold move moving away from the player’s bedroom’s or gaming stations and throwing your- TF2 themed- hat into the race to the living room. You have some steep and very well established competition that you have to fight against for literal screen time. 

But I think you handled it perfectly, announcing that your brand new Steam Operation System  and  publishing it for free (both distribution and free to tinker with everything under the hood). You threw everyone for a loop when you said that you were going to outsource the constructing of the actual Gabecube Steam Machines to other companies and technical people in the gaming community. It is as if you knew that elitist PC gamers would find any and all faults they had with the hardware of anything you would have created by yourself.

Aww you have been paying attention to us on the forums

Aww you have been paying attention to us on the forums

 

And it will be exciting to see how the controlled console companies and the console market will react to this free, open source, and hackable gaming platform showing up in the living room at the beginning of next year. You are definitely going to make me break out my old economic books for future posts, but if history has taught us anything the future might look eerily like the current smart phone market.

But if history has taught us anything it might look eerily like the current smartphone market.

While iOS has the hold as the most used platform the collective Android users holds the majority

 

The only thing that gave me pause was your new controller, I do not know how well the trackpad will work with a game that demands quick reflexes, but I will see how it will function once it is ready for the stores. I do appreciate that you gave us the option for other 3rd party controllers or a good old-fashioned mouse and keyboard.

But despite my concerns about the controller I wish you the best of luck for the you and your new career path. We should get catch up in person more often, maybe meet up for coffee at next year’s PAX East, what do you say?

 


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P.S this post has nothing to do with me trying to increase my chances of receiving a prototype of the Steam Machine….but Valve if you are listening, I wouldn’t say no to beta testing your system.

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#278 My first impressions with Scribblenauts Unmasked

Today I would like to talk about a game that was just release last night and that I fear might be overshadowed by other gaming news this week. That game today is titled Scribblenauts Unmasked or as I call it Scriblenauts: DC Comics edition.

2013-09-24_00004

 

I talked about Scribblenauts before, I wrote in a previous blog post (Be MOP #267)  and how at face value the Scribblenauts Unlimited is a point and click adventure game without the adventure but the real entertainment came from the subtle references and the creative alternative ways you could solve people’s problems.

For example, at the hospital there was a black knight that needed to reattached his limb. Don't worry though, it was a flesh wound a spawning a bit of glue made him as right as rain.

For example, at the hospital there was a Black Knight that needed to reattached his limb. Don’t worry though, it was a flesh wound, applying a bit of glue made him as right as rain.

 

I tried to complete Scribblenauts Unlimited this week in preparation for this next newest edition but despite my best effort I became too bored with it and  abandoned my project around 60% completion. One might ask, “if I could not complete the previous Scribblenauts game then why did I go ahead and downloaded this one?” I purchased this game because it promised me one thing, obscure comicbook references and boy did it deliver.

Because of its nature of switching writers, artists and responding to the current political and cultural trends comicbooks has created some interesting stories and characters that are laughable in hindsight. Remember that time where Superman was able to sneeze away an entire solar system? or when Superboy punched a hole in reality? And lest we forget the Wonder Woman villain Egg Fu, a giant evil egg that tied people down with his mustache and made them swear allegiance to the communist party for their freedom.

 Ahh the Cold War was a gold mine for crazy superhero stories

Ahh the Cold War was a gold mine for crazy superhero stories

 

Officially DC Comics’ policy has always been to hide questionable characters and stories from their history by way of universe reboots but I am proud to say that Scribblenauts celebrates all aspects of the DC comicbook past.

The game starts out with Maxwell and Lily using their magic notebook and globe to travel to the DC universe where they are confronted with a mysterious evil twin of Maxwell who is helping all the DC villains. Now you must team up with Batman and the other members of the Justice League to foil your evil twin’s master plans.

The game changes a bit from before, in the previous game there was  little to no main over arching story. You would zone into each location and help the set amount of people’s problems and move on once you are completed everything that can to be done.

In this game there is a main story mode in each of the major DC cities along with a handful of constantly changing random problems that can be solved before you move on. The motivation to complete the side quests is because it gives you points to unlock more locations and costumes for max to wear.

again the problems can be solved by just spawning what they want.

Just like before all these problems can be solved by just spawning what they want.

 

But as I mentioned before the best part of the game was its creativity and it’s references, when you first enter Gotham City your introductory quest has you to fix Commissioner Gordon’s car and then transport a criminal from the police station to the helicopter on top of the building.

If you paid attention to the comicbooks or the Arkham videogames you realize who he is and that he should not be anywhere near the a children game.

If you paid attention to the comicbooks or the Arkham videogames you realize who he is and that he should not be anywhere near the a child’s game.

 

From there you solve problems from everyone’s problems with all the resources this superhero universe has to offer you so naturally I challenged the game to come up with the oddest characters and it pasted with flying colors. When I wanted to spawn Catwoman it politely asked me if I wanted the Catwoman from the 40’s, 60’s or 90’s and it also gave me a choice on which robin to summon to fight alongside Hal Jordan on Oa.

Carrie Kelley all day everyday

Carrie Kelley all day everyday

 

Talking about fighting does segways very nicely with the two complaints that I have with this game. Because this is a Superhero game there is a lot of fighting in the plot, but the game’s engine does not handle combat every well. With any hand to hand combat consists of you and the bad guy taking turns punching/slashing/shooting each other until someone loses all their health.

I soon learned that every fighting confrontation can be solved by just spawning  your favorite superhero team, take a seat, and watch as your creations swarm the threat.

The Blue Lantern Corp is my personal favorite go to team

Nobody messes with the Blue Lantern Corp. but I am partial to the Teen Titans at time.

 

My second complaint is that while this game is filled to the brim with  lesser known heroes and villains in the DC Universe it does not have the New Guardians’ most noticeable villain, Snowflame. You know, the over the top bad guy that draws his powers from consuming cocaine.

I know that he debuted and died in New Guaridans #2 and that he might send the wrong message to the little ones but come on he's a fan favorite

I know that he debuted and died in New Guardians #2 and that he might send the wrong message to the little ones but come on he’s a fan favorite.

 

Besides those two small complaints I am quite happy with the game and after I am done with the main story plot I am going to find infinite replay value recreating some of my favorite moments in the DC universe.

and that is just the start of it

and that is just the start of it


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#277 My review/rant of Power Rangers Super Legends

Ladies and Gentlemen I have an amazing post for you all today. A while ago I was cleaning out my room and along with some rediscovered books and things from my past and one of those things were the only two PC games that I have physically bought and I think today I need to talk about one of them.

I think I'll save the Spider-man game for when I talk about delivering fan service in videogames.

I think I’ll save the Spider-man game for when I talk about fan service in videogames.

I was actually looking for the Power Ranger game for quite sometime because last month (August 28) marked the 20th anniversary of the first Power Ranger episode airing on television and what better way to celebrate the show than talking about a game that was released for the 15th anniversary and that I bought from a discount store two years ago.

On top of being a fan of videogames, Doctor Who, Pokemon, and comicbooks I am also a huge fan of the Power Rangers. I have been ever since I saw the first batch of teenagers with attitude and through thick and thin I can proudly say that I have seen every single Power Rangers episode.

There was this one time were Burger Kings stores, nationwide, were handing out photocopies of signed photos of tommy, the white power ranger, and I did not stop pestering my mom until I had a mighty morphin' kids meal.

There was this one time were Burger Kings stores, nationwide, were handing out photocopies of signed photos of the white power ranger as promotion for the first Power Rangers Moive and I did not stop pestering my mom until I had a mighty morphin’ dinner there.

With everything about my past that is why it pains me to say that Power Rangers Super Legends is the worst game I have ever played. Ever. I do not say this lightly, this games fails on almost basic gameplay aspect. As a special treat I am going to dissect each and every part and show those lucky readers who did not buy the game why it is so bad.

I had to not only initially play this game but re install it just for this post. You are going to suffer with me.

I had to not only initially play this game but re install it just for this post. You are going to suffer with me.

Right off the bat this game commits one of the greatest videogame sins of all time, locking exclusive gaming content behind different consoles.  The special selling point of this game is that you were able to play and unlock the different power rangers with in their locations and fighting against that season’s monsters. This game came out for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS and the PC. The PC and PS2 does not only have their own separate stages and unlockable rangers but a completely different plot in the DS game. That means you would have had to buy the game twice, for two different consoles, to get the full Power Rangers Super Legends experience. but trust me when I say would not want to.

The game starts and you are greeted with a motion comic cut-scene that quickly describes the plot of the game. In the PC/PS2 version of the game Lord Zedd have harvested crystals that allows him to travel through time and with that ability he is going to destroy all the rangers from history.

The only good thing I will say is that the plot is solid, at least passable for an excuse to have the Power Rangers of the past and present to meet. I also can not fault the motion comic style if you are on a budget, which it seems they this game was on, it is not the worst visual medium to use.

besides they already used the time traveling plot for several power rangers crossovers.

besides they already used the time traveling plot for several power rangers episodes, seasons and crossovers.

But while I can not criticize the plot or the cinematic I can shame the terrible script and worst voice acting. Every character has to announce what they are doing and the conversations are stiff, unoriginal, and downright cliché at times. I know it would be ridiculous to get back all the original actors back to do the voices but the developers should have at least hired people who actually tried to put effort into their lines. I found a YouTube video of some of the collection of the cutscenes, for fun see how far you can make it through.

Again this bad for the Power Rangers standards.

Again this bad writing from the standards of an average the Power Rangers show

After a few awkward conversations you are thrown into the stage accompanied with clunky jumping and movement controls and terrible camera angles. I can not count the times where I did not know if the monsters were going to get back up after knocking them down or if I was standing on a breakable floor tile.

Each level takes place in a past ranger setting and the level is divided into three parts, the first section you get to pick one of the two default rangers of that area and battle your way through that season’s henchmen that comes in three flavors; the small/standard size, the medium-sized one with a gun, and the large enemy with a cannon.

You are equipped with one melee attack and one range attack you are tasked to move from the left to right and fight through the same monsters over and over again while you also try to find floating bubbles,  collectables props, and floating letters that spell “RANGER” all to raise your score at the end of the level to unlock one of the other rangers from that season to play as.

Also if you throw enough punches you can use the special move where the Power Ranger poses and deals massive damage to everyone on screen.

and if you throw enough punches you can use the special move where the Power Ranger completes a silly pose and deals massive damage to everyone on-screen.

After you get through the first third of the level of dull-repetitive action platforming Guess what?  You are then dropped into another stage with the same monsters, collectibles and dullness as the first stage but with this stage being slightly harder and stretched out.

But that is not what everyone wants to play when they get a Power Ranger game it is the Megazord fights makes up the most exciting part of a Power Ranger episode. That segment could not be that bad, even it you are given the same clunky controls it would still be amazing to fight as a giant robot right?

If you think that big megazord fight sequence is synonymous with boring turn-based quick time events then prepare to get your mind blown because this is right up your alley.

EngineImplementation_Retail 2013-09-21 21-14-53-67

You and the level boss take turns attacking each other like some terribly slow fencing match. When you launch your attack you have to press the correct arrow button pattern and if you do it right you get to knock down the boss and a chunk of his health vanishes. When he attacks you have the option to complete another button sequence to try to reduce the damage coming your way, and if done correctly you can deflect all of the enemy damage.

But to keep you on your toes during the intense boss fight the boss will randomly start to body slam you and you have to mash one of the arrow buttons to stave off the attack.

I know BOP IT toys with better game play

I know BOP IT toys with better game play

But I did not want to notice all those flaws in my first play through. I was not going to quit this game until I got to the one stage that made me initially buy this game. I wanted to play as one of the original Power Rangers and fight Rita Repulsa’s putties in Angel Grove.

I would like to thank nostalgia for getting me to give me some type of enjoyment playing through that level, QTE zord fights and all. I even fought better than I did previously to unlock some of the other original rangers for my hard work I was reward with the ability to play as Billy, the Blue Power Ranger. But no amount of early-90’s-Saturday-morning nostalgia could get me to see past this flaw, can you see it?

He’s an image of the Red Power Ranger…

EngineImplementation_Retail 2013-09-21 21-08-17-84

and here’s an image of the Blue ranger.

EngineImplementation_Retail 2013-09-21 21-18-26-51

If you still cant see it look at this and scroll up to the sixth image from the top.

Eerily similar.

….Eerily similar

It is the same model but just a recoloring the outfit. The game developers could not even be bothered to change the red, T-rex helmet to the Blue Triceratops.  I did not realize it earlier because in the later series the helmet and designs were not that varied from the rest of the team. I also know it this is a smallest flaw in the grand scheme of things but the fact that the game developers could not be bothered to make that one change for an unlockable character was the straw the broke the camel’s back. After that moment I stopped playing the game, uninstalled it, and had it buried my sight and mind

This game was unrealistically bad, there was no redeeming points from this game that makes it stand out at all. It is boring, repetitive and no love or care was put into making this game. It is the only game that made my both angry and disappointed while I was playing it.

I would not be so mad if this was a run of the mill power ranger cash-in game, but this one was the 15th anniversary, the one to celebrate fifteen years of an ongoing television show. This should have been a better game and the sad fact is that it is a stain on the whole Power Ranger series.

I don't even think they are making a game for the 20th anniversary event

I don’t even think they are making a game for the 20th anniversary event

 

With that rant out-of-the-way my question to you is, “what is the worst game that you have ever played?” and why? I would love to know in the comments down below.

 


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#276 Riot Positioning themselves for the World Stage

If you are currently following the League of Legends scene you know that Riot is holding their 2013 World Championship, a week-long event that pits the best of the best teams from around the world to see who is the best.

You couldn't miss it, it was on the game's default launcher.

You couldn’t miss it, it was on the game’s default launcher.

 

I have also written before, that in my opinion, Action Real Time Strategy games like League of Legends are the games to pave the way for competitive videogame to be viewed as a legitimate sport in the eyes of the general population. (Be MOP #261)

Shortly after that post went live Riot announced that they teamed up with the credit card company, American Express, to offer a new reward program that gives in-game currency as cash back.

An interesting concept and I wonder if other free to play companies could follow through

An interesting concept and I wonder if other free to play companies could follow through

 

Then a few weeks ago I saw Riot posted this video that kicked off their promotional project called Teamwork OP that proposes and reinforces the idea that working together and cooperating with your teammate is more important than just heckling fellow teammates and playing alone. The whole promotional project is Riot’s answer to fix League of Legend’s notoriously bad in-game community.

It was not just this video I've heard the announcers quote this phrase a few times in the Worlds stream but Riot, if you are reading this I your definite answer right here (Be MOP #217)

It was not just this video I’ve heard the announcers quote this phrase a few times in the Worlds stream but Riot, if you are reading this I your definite answer right here (Be MOP #217)

 

Between that and the new segment, Analysis Desk, where member of Riot and other professional players predicts the outcome of the next major game by discussing in length the team’s strategy, history and individual player’s personal preference and stats.

just like those what football announcers do before a Sunday night game.

just like those what football announcers do before a Sunday night game.

 

Between reaching out to new sponsors, trying to rally their base and creating more content it looks like Riot is setting themselves for something big. I have seen this behavior pattern in politicians who want to seriously run in the next US Senate or Presidential election.

Interested politicians start by improving their own image by attending the right political events or proving that what they are selling have some depth to them (see Riot’s Analysis Desk). Then they start rallying or improving their established base supports (Teamwork OP) and finally the politicians starts to make waves outside their normal demographic to appeal to a wider audience (American Express’s cross promotion).

I could have used another example like an actor or singer trying to get back into the spotlight, but where I currently live (in the wonderful state of New Hampshire) I end up seeing more politicians act this way a lot more than any other type of public performer

Besides what else am I going to use this Political Science degree on? A Job? Ha!

Besides what else am I going to use this Political Science degree on? A Job? Ha!

 

Now the bigger question is, “What is Riot planning?” They already have a biggest name in competitive gaming and they host their tournaments in packed stadiums with cheering fans. What more could they want?

I half-joked in a previous post that Riot is going to team up with ESPN to create a eESPN sport channel for exclusively for competitive videogames but the more I think about it, a television slot might be exactly what Riot is currently eyeing.

But what do you think, Is Riot planning on doing something to advance their current comfort zone or am I just reading too much into this three, possibly isolated, events.


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#275 Blizzard Backing off from their Auction House

Yesterday Blizzard dropped the bombshell that the company will be phasing out both the Real Money Auction House AND the in-game Gold Auction House at the beginning of 2014.

Ouch, announced by way of a "Dear John" email.

Ouch, announced by way of a “Dear John” email.

This announcement came as a bit of a surprise to me because the auction house was the biggest and newest edition to the third Diablo installment and was the go to reason for Blizzard to justify the always on-line DRM that was also added in the game.

While I have not played Diablo III ever since I finished my first play through of the story campaign  (not because of anything wrong with the game itself, I just can’t find entertainment in replaying a game, but that is a blog post for another time) I have talked to proper Diablo fans and one of their major complaints with Diablo III was the Diablo Auction house changed how players obtained and viewed gear and weapons dropped during their dungeon runs.

Over all the web I am hearing that ending of the Auction House is considered a major win for the Diablo community by the fans but I am curious on what was the behind the major change in gaming direction.

My best guest is that Blizzard is letting the Auction House project time out because of the combination of the complaints from  the PC player base from day one and the critically acclaimed change to leave out the player run action house on the console edition of Diablo III, which I always thought it was because Blizzard did not want deal with the two companies online subscription fees.

But my own tin foil hat theory is that Blizzard is pulling the plug in-part because they can not risk another unexpected gold duping glitch that crippled the gamer economy for a few weeks. (The whole event can be read in Be MOP #222 where I also asked if Blizzard should consider regulating the gold economy as a response to the economic disaster)

 

But I want to know what you think, what was your initial reaction to the announcement of an Auction House in Diablo III? What do you think about Blizzard ending this project? and What do you think this will affect the game as it is preparing for its first expansion pack?

 


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#274 Witnessing the Fruits of Labor from Indie Developers at Boston Fig

Last Saturday I made my way to Boston for the 2nd annual Boston Festival of Indie Games, Boston FIG for short. During my time down there I was able to sit in on people from the gaming industry as they gave their talks about the problems they faces in their quest on making  and it made me glad that I have absolutely no desires or plans to produce my own game.

I would write and act as a member of their PR team for those games, but my skills are nonexistent when it comes to computer coding and making art for the game. and all the power to those who can and are doing so

I would write and act as a member of their PR team for those games, but my skills are nonexistent when it comes to computer coding and making art for the game. and all the power to those who can and are doing so

 

I also, and finally, got to attend my first videogame concert, the Boston Plays Indies event, and jam out to the works of Deadbeatblast, Control Group, DJ Cutman, and Video Game Orchestra live.

That's right I got a signed copy of DJ Cutman's album, it big deal.

That’s right I got a signed copy of DJ Cutman’s album, it may or may not have made my night.

Even with all of that, the best thing about the entire Boston Fig event was the expo hall where indie game developers showcased their prized games, and it is events like this that reminds me why I follow the indie gaming scene.

Did you want an in-browser PvP game where you get build custom spaceships and fight against other players across the world by using the same wonky controls as the original Asteroid game?

co.llide_logo_b480

Co.llide is for you

 

Are you interested in an on-the-go mobile jigsaw game with point and click adventure elements that takes place in a fantasy world where you have to stop your evil brother from destroying the kingdom? 

321616_324631480999279_1340566371_n

then keep an eye out for Puzzle Axe coming to iOS and Android soon

Or are you more angry about the idea that stateless companies and a select few billionaires are competing against each other by spending an incredible amount of money to influence members of government to persuade them to open up mines and factories in their name and rigging the free market so that those mines owned by those billionaires makes the right deals with factories in other nations (which are also owned by the same companies) in an ever-growing race to see who can manipulate the free market the most and walk away with the biggest pot of money at the expense of other?  – Oh I’m sorry, it seems one of my old college papers got mixed in with the notes I took for today’s post.

….what, I was mistaken and there is in fact a game that is exactly that and it’s called Neocolonialism?

 AH HA, YES! POLITICAL SCIENCE!

AH HA, YES! POLITICAL SCIENCE!

This is why I love indie games because most of those games that I just mentioned( and the many more that I didn’t mention) would not have been greenlit by most companies but that didn’t stop these developers from going out there and making the exact game that they wanted to make and delivering it into the world either by themselves or with a very small team.

 


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