Serotonin

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I moan about a lot of things, like how the traffic lights don’t sync up on Cook Street between Johnson and Yates. Or how much sunscreen I have to use during the summer, or even how the seagulls near my apartment seem to be practicing for the Sam Kinison choir, starting at 4 a.m. I’m sure we all have our little irks about life we want to change, and some are empowered enough to do so. If I were smarter, I would take a different route home from work, wear a hat when I’m outdoors and move away from mating birds.

Some grievances are beyond my help, or at least I can only do so little. The Snackbar staff are well aware that I’m a positive person, but when it comes to a lack of sequels for my favorite game series, I can turn from Mr. Rogers to Oscar the Grouch at the drop of a trash can lid. Lately, I can’t get Suikoden out of my head and how a Suikoden VI could knock it out of the park. READ MORE

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I’ve written about LAN parties before, but I’ve never been to anything like this. The International 2014, the championship tournament for Dota 2, was held in Seattle from July 18 to 21. It was easily the biggest spectacle in competitive gaming. It was certainly the most lucrative, as the collective prize pool was over 11 million dollars, with the winning team taking home almost half of that. But how was the event? Was it successful? What does it mean for gaming? And, of course, how did it make me feel? READ MORE

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It’s a column shake-up! Andrew Passafiume steps away from New Game+ for a week to explore his emotions in Serotonin.

I’m a sucker for good mystery novels, especially pulpy noir stories. I grew up reading Joan Lowery Nixon and eventually graduated to the big leagues: Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and many others. This is why I found myself eagerly anticipating the release of Murdered: Soul Suspect. I wasn’t optimistic about it, but it gave me the vibe of a cult classic in the making.

Playing through it made me realize why mysteries in games are even more satisfying than novels or films. Those stories are about the mystery, sure, but you are only a mere witness. Games, such as Murdered, make the act of solving these mysteries compelling in and of themselves. Sure, you want to know what’s really going on, but being tasked with figuring it out on your own is what makes the mystery truly shine.

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I’m not proud that I’ll probably go see the fourth Transformers movie. I could tell myself, “Henry, you’re an adult. You don’t have to go see a movie you don’t want to see.” It’s no use. I’ve seen the first three movies and everybody’s talking about how horrible it is. How dare I deprive myself of such collective misery?

The first movie was fine, in no small part to Steven Spielberg encouraging director Michael Bay to restrict computer-generated imagery and use more practical effects. The fight scenes were fun to watch because you could mostly see what was going on. There’s no accounting for taste, but giant, transforming robots fighting is a genuine treat to watch. But the key factor was perspective; I could see what was going on. READ MORE

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Sometimes we have no idea what we want, despite our vehement insistence that we do. This goes for nearly all aspects of life; our tastes change as the years go by, for food, friends, hobbies, athletics, television, books… you name it. Nearly everything and anything that you enjoy, perceive and think about will change as you get older. Nearly. But when it comes to some things, we stand firm and withstand any change life throws at us. We’re stubborn, even in the face of intelligent persuasion. READ MORE

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Realism in games is a touchy subject. There’s a distinction between praising a game for being “so realistic” and a game verging into “too realistic” territory. Make a game that mimics real life and you won’t have a very fun game. It must be a fine, wobbly line that developers walk to ensure there’s a mix of suspension of disbelief, a rational plot and a physics engine that will allow us to appreciate, but not critique too harshly.

Currency, or rather acquisition of currency, shouldn’t be as much of a chore in games as it is in life. What drives our society shouldn’t necessarily be present in games. Sure, we enjoy a different political world, or different sociological issues that mimic the near future of our own, but it’s a fine line. That being said, I truly believe that artists, animators and level designers should welcome our little planet with open arms when it comes to constructing levels and use its landscapes as a source of inspiration when creating new worlds. READ MORE

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I’m thankful my Snackbar duties don’t extend to reviewing games. I don’t have the objectivity to separate my feelings from actual game design. I’m a sucker for emotional impact and that is my greatest influence when discussing games. There are just too many factors to contemplate when considering an overall score. Would it really bother me if there’s clipping on level six? How about if the plot isn’t original? Is there multiplayer?

One of the weirdest aspects of a game to review, I would think, is the presentation.  Much like with food, with video games it really matters. What does the box art look like? Does everything “fit” with the overall theme? How long are the load times? My ultimate decision on presentation, however, boils down to the menus. READ MORE

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I’m currently trying to get through Valkyria Chronicles II. Note that I said “trying.” It’s certainly not a terrible game; the soundtrack and visuals are very similar to the first Valkyria Chronicles, which is nothing but a compliment. The music ranges from tranquil and relaxing to foreboding and intense. The world is a mix of fantasy, anime and historical fiction. At first, I couldn’t help but think how ridiculous it is that teenagers in high school are being trained for war, until you remember that children younger than these have been expected to fight for their countries for thousands of years. READ MORE

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I didn’t have much luck last week in the health department. I woke up one morning to find myself covered in hives (a disgusting first for me), only to visit the hospital a few weeks later with what felt like a broken toe. So, with my skin feeling like it had a mobile sunburn and my foot not letting me put any weight on it, I stayed home from work for three days. The first day was a blur; a combination of medication-induced hallucinations and not much food. But on the second day I started to feel better. I took a long, three-hour nap and woke up to a magnificent feeling. READ MORE

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At Snackbar Games, we spend a lot of time discussing core mechanics. Visuals, presentation, audio and gameplay are common topics we cover. However, more detailed analysis will yield our thoughts on the game’s longevity, emotional connection, progression, use of tech, multiplayer and a slew of other facets, providing an indication of a game’s quality relative to our experiences. Sounds pretty simple, right? READ MORE