Gaming this Week: PAX, GDC, and the Uncanny Valley

I’m back! Since my last post on here I’ve had another winter bug, and course deadlines have kept me away from things. It’s first world problems, but not conducive conditions for blogging.

But now, I am back, with renewed enthusiasm!

So this has been the week of cons for the gaming world, with PAX last weekend and GDC this last week. I didn’t follow them that closely, but I have found a few things interesting.

PAX

I particularly enjoyed the Game Station panel at PAX, as I follow those guys’ individual channels on YouTube and they’re just great personalities. If you don’t watch their videos, I highly recommend them! They do “let’s plays” and all sorts. A bit (very) sweary at times, but overall pretty entertaining to watch. I’m not a big fan of the TGS channel itself though, a bit too… I don’t know, cheeseball? It comes across that way to me anyway.

The Gamers with Jobs panel was also good, with some talk about how they got into games journalism. I really like how these PAX panels were limited to one hour each (even if fans were miffed), as I tend to burn out beyond that. I can’t do those 3-4 hour podcasts!

Also DiveKick. Because DiveKick. I get the impression that was the game of PAX. It certainly seems to distil the essence of fighting games down into a very compact package (jump and kick), and it actually looks sort of fun (also infuriating, but then I always find that with fighting games!).

Transistor screenshot

Behold, Transistor! Source: Supergiant Games blog

For me the game of the con had to be Transistor by Supergiant Games. I really enjoyed Bastion having played it for the first time recently, so I was glad to see that their next iteration is well under way. Story-driven gaming for the win!

GDC

I haven’t followed much from GDC as I was unaware that it was on until it was half finished (duh!). And as I write, the videos etc haven’t all been published.

I’m not a fan of Battlefield at all but I was intrigued by this new face technology Activision are using. It looks like the next step along from the facial expressions we saw in Half-Life 2. Very impressive, and more than a little bit creepy. It’s another step towards virtual acting in film. I do find it disturbing seeing faces that move so realistically in a virtual space – maybe it’s just because it’s not what I expect, but it actually feels a bit threatening to me! They call this effect the uncanny valley, and it’s definitely getting very uncanny.

I also saw a video about the Oculus Rift, which is like a fancy modern Virtual Boy. And it really looks, if anything, MORE stupid than the Virtual Boy did in my opinion. Apparently the experience is really something else, but I’m very skeptical about such a ridiculous piece of head equipment catching on. 3D glasses were annoying enough, but an ugly black box strapped to your face? I don’t think so.

And apparently, NASA wants to put gamers in space, for real. It would be kind of cool to find a use for some of the skills that we’ve learnt in video games but this sounds a bit… crazy. Maybe it’ll work!

Terraria on the Indie Steam Sale

Terraria screenshot

Purple power! You can craft so much cool stuff in Terraria.

I was pleased to see that there was a big indie Steam sale this week, including the more mainstream titles. In particular Terraria was up for grabs, which was a 100 hour game for me, so I hope you were able to get it. Even for its usual price it’s a bargain. If you don’t normally like randomly generated adventure games, this is a good first one to try. It’s also on XBLA and PSN as of this week, so there’s no excuse for not owning it! I may do a post about this game soon, though there’s plenty out there already I’m sure.

Game Releases this Week

A number of games were released this week, most of which do not interest me. The biggest one of course is Bioshock Infinite, a continuation of the Bioshock series.

I’ve never played Bioshock. This is partly because I don’t like horror games (though I realise it’s not hardcore horror), and I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of killing children in games. I realise that you don’t have to, but I don’t like that it’s even possible. Maybe it’s not as bad as I think, but it just seems a bit OTT to me! I’m not sure if this is in Infinite, but I wouldn’t like to play it without knowing the background story first.

Rolling the blogs

I’d normally include a blogroll in this post – maybe next time! Because it’s been a while I haven’t been keeping a proper record of interesting stuff that I’ve read.

My gaming

Anno 2070 screenshot

Anno 2070: the game for OCD city builders.

I’ve been playing Anno 2070 and Torchlight 2. They’re old games (well, ish), but not ones that I’ve played yet. Anno 2070 grabbed me by both shoulders after I picked it up in sale and I’ve accrued over 50 hours in it already (being ill helped!). It’s the first RTS city building game where I actually feel motivated to learn the mechanics and get involved in the deeper gameplay (rather than getting bored after the first few hours). It helps that there’s hours of excellent YouTube help out there for people who are interested (‘ware much swearing).

Torchlight 2 is an ongoing title for me, partly because I have a couple of friends who play it which gives it extra appeal. I quite enjoy soloing in it too, though the story leaves much to be desired. The loot system and the gameplay in general makes Diablo 3 look like a bit of a joke… this is a much more worthy successor to Diablo 2 than that game ever was for me.

I haven’t touched any recent releases, and probably won’t for a while. I still got other stuff to play that I missed!

Click here to see my other posts!

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5 thoughts on “Gaming this Week: PAX, GDC, and the Uncanny Valley

  1. Bioshock Infinite is NOT a sequel to Bioshock 2. It takes place before both Bioshock 1 and 2 but it’s not a prequel either because it pretty much has near nothing to do with those two games. It doesn’t take place in the same city and it doesn’t have the same characters.

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