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Interview with Pagoda West's Jared Kasl and Tom Fry

Major Magnet Screenshot

Pagoda West are a small independent studio who rose from the ashes of now defunct fan-game Sonic 2 HD. If that wasn't strange enough, they've just released their first game—poles of attraction platformer Major Magnet. I spent some time talking to two thirds of the team, Jared Kasl and Tom Fry, to hear about the process of making a first game, how magnets work, and why The Ren & Stimpy Show is such an influence.

Extra Credits: Differences in Scale vs Differences in Kind

Extra Credits looks at employing scale (i.e. more enemies) and tone to break up gameplay and maintain a player's interest level. Extra Credits' example of a game that got this right was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare—who knew that Call of Duty could be the game to actually teach us something?

Dungeon Hearts Review

Frayed at the Edges

Dungeon Hearts Screenshot

HIGH Pulling off a screen-clearing, game-changing combo is especially awesome when lives are on the line.

LOW Matching three chargers into an attack gem…right before it hits the edge of the screen and disappears. (This happens a lot.)

WTF I have enough power to use the Fighter's super move on this dinosaur twice! WHY WON'T IT DIE?!

Sparky's Games of PAX East 2013

Guacamelee Screenshot

I typically go to a lot of panels at Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East, but this year relatively few of the offerings interested me (and some of the interesting ones were on simultaneously). So, I spent a lot of time on the show floor. The only major publisher I really visited was Ubisoft, where I learned that Might & Magic X will be coming this year and has a huge, wasteful UI. I spent most of the rest of my time in the Indie Megabooth and environs, both because this is a more efficient use of time and you're more likely to actually see the games and talk to somebody interesting there.

GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 88: A New Era, Monster Hunter, and Broken Games

Where one story ends—sorry Aliens: Colonial Marines Wii U—another begins anew. Welcome to the new, but pretty damn familiar GameCritics.com podcast with brand new co-host Sinan Kubba of Joystiq—yes, co-host—more details inside... Join Sinan and regular ruffians Mike Bracken, Richard Naik, Chi Kong Lui, and Brad "The Guy You Know" Gallaway as they summarize GDC and PAX East in two seconds, explore the depth of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, sink to the depths of Aliens: Colonial Marines, and fathom how the growing prevalence of broken-at-launch games is hurting the industry. All this and more in a GameCritics.com podcast episode that will rewrite history, woo-oo.

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Extra Credits: Global Games—Brazil

Extra Credits is trying a new feature where it introduces viewers to burgeoning video game markets. The first one tackled is Brazil and while I see the country's potential, this particular presentation doesn't do the best job of selling Brazil as a great new game market. Sure you can still buy a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive—brand new—and who doesn't want that? But video game piracy seems to still be pretty rampant there. It also looks like one of those territories that isn't the least bit interested in fixing things from a consumer, governmental and industry standpoint.

Extra Credits: The Beast Macabre

In this response piece, Extra Credits expands on the subject of horror in games. This time the crew talks about the three types of "monsters" available to developers shedding a little insight into why some fall flat.

Extra Credits: How To Start Your Game Narrative

The gist of this particular Extra Credits presentation is that developers should focus on the gameplay first and then wrap their story around that. It sounds like a no-brainer until you realize that a practice of de-emphasizing story at the onset is standard operating procedure in the video game development community. The result have been unoriginal and unsophisticated stories. Maybe we need more developers taking a stand and pushing through those barriers to focusing on story and come up with something that can really move the medium forward.

Extra Credits: Depth vs Complexity

This time, it's the ratio of depth vs complexity that Extra Credits seeks to explain.

Extra Credits: God Does Not Play Dice

Extra Credits has a response-episode to feedback for a recent episode about religion and games. As usual the guys do a great job challenging those that blindly worship science.

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