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Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition: So What?

Blizzard announced that they have begun working on a new iteration of Dungeons and Dragons. Even more important than that – they have told the public that they want our help in designing the new rules. They will be collecting feedback from playgroups who will be play testing different iterations of the rules throughout the design process. This is an unprecedented level of public involvement in the franchise and it has generated a lot of interest in the product (which I’m sure was on their mind).

The real question we are left with is… What do we, as fans, think will happen?

– Could this just be lip service? Are they going to box up all of this play testing feedback and do whatever they want?

– Is it possible that the dedicated efforts of a serious play group could have a significant impact on the rules?

I think its too tell to make an educated guess, but we are free to have wild and baseless speculation!

Personally, I think this is going to go well. When all is said done Wizards of the Coast knows how to reinvigorate failing brands and set them up for future success. (Look at Magic: The Gathering. It is enjoying records sales and is bringing in new players consistently.)

Wizards must recognize that the way they handled the 4th edition release fragmented the community in an unacceptable way. The only way to really recover from that would be for this effort to be legitimate.

What do you think? Are you doubtful? Hopeful? Excited beyond words?


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Holy Crap! Resident Evil 6!

So, I’ve got a serious confession to make. I’m simultaneously excited and terrified at the idea of Resident Evil 6. Capcom officially announced it the other day and showed off a pretty flashy trailer. (It even included in game footage!) The internet is abuzz talking about it today. Reading Twitter this morning was even more of a headache than usual.

There were articles breaking the trailer down frame by frame.
There were articles attacking it for being all “Gears of War.”
At the same time, there were articles defending it for being a glimpse at something awesome.

I don’t know folks. I watched the trailer. I saw what looked like a pretty promising action game. But, it came at a price. I saw zombies. Flesh eating… moaning… groaning… zombies.

I know. I know. It’s a Resident Evil game. I shouldn’t expect anything else, and I really don’t. But, everyone has that thing that scares them that makes no real sense. Zombies are that thing for me. I’ve tried to play Resident Evil games in the past. I always start off strong, but I always chicken out half way through and never finish.

It’s a difficult situation too. Resident Evil 5 looked like an awesome game. I was excited to play it. I even had it in my hand at my local GameStop. But, then I put it back because I didn’t want to face those zombies again.

I can’t be the only one with this issue. Is there anyone else out there with an irrational fear that prevents them from enjoying a popular game?


What Exactly Am I?

Some of the buzz on Twitter today revolved around an open letter to Penny Arcade from a writer on a website called GameRanx. The letter was directed to Penny Arcade’s new video game news editor Ben Kuchera (formerly of ARS Technica). It sounded as if the letter was saying that all successful video game journalism ends up being swift reports of information with branded spin and any attempts to deviate from that norm could not hope to be successful.

Ben’s response was… well… rather pointed. He told them where they could shove it. He even went so far as to claim that Penny Arcade’s first day of coverage would beat GameRanx’s month. (I wouldn’t doubt it either. I know I’m very excited to see what they have coming!)

I read responses back and forth from the editors of different websites and magazines until I felt like I was swimming. It took a tweet by Jim Sterling to set me straight.

His tweet read, “95% of Games Journalists would be happier if they admitted they weren’t journalists and just did their F***ing thing.”

I have to say. The man has a point. The vast majority of websites and blogs out there are staffed by people who are claiming to be more than they are. True journalists have contacts in the industry and report news directly from the source. Some people… not so much. Think about it. How many copies of the same story are posted as soon as a piece of news breaks?

I have to say. I fall into the “not so much” category. I don’t write news. I don’t really know anyone in the industry. But, you know what? I’m ok with that. It’s what I want to do, but I have to be patient. In the meantime, I just need to accept that I’m not writing news about games. I’m just writing about games… and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

Thanks Jim. You’re right. I am happier now.

Stay casual everyone!


Fact: Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures is the Truth

Santa Claus brought my son Skylanders; Spyro’s Adventures for Christmas (much to his excitement). I am pleased to report that it has seen more than its fair share of play since Christmas day.

On the surface, it looks like Skylanders is just a devious marketing ploy. The game only comes stock with three of the thirty two playable characters and each level contains a “soul gem” which is little more than a trailer for another character (that is sold separately for about eight bucks). It has a very “Pokemon” feeling to it all.

It turns out that all that “shifty marketing” doesn’t really hurt the game at all. Sure. I know that every character costs money. I know that it would cost me a couple hundred dollars to build the entire collection. But, none of that takes away from the game play.

I’ve been telling everyone that will listen to me that the game plays like Gauntlet with Pokemon and I’ll repeat it until I die. Skylanders has proven itself to be simple enough to pick up that my five year old can pick it up and enjoy himself, but there is enough depth in the game play to keep me interested.

The bottom line here folks: This thing is the truth. Don’t let everyone barking about it being a “devious marketing scheme” stop you from experiencing this game (especially if you have younger kids). Period.

Beginning Anew.. Anew

This blog has been awfully neglected in the last year or so. I’ve spent most of my time publishing articles over at my column on Examiner.com.

I’ve written about some amazing things, but I’ve missed the opportunity to talk about some of my more personal experiences with the games that have come out. This blog is a great chance to do just that.
I can’t promise that I’ll be writing here every day, but I can guarantee that I’ll be sharing every humorous story and interesting insight I have.
I’m going to get back to Skyward Sword now… but in the meantime: STAY CASUAL!

Why I am Smiling Today: Darksiders Sequel News

 War

     I recently listed Darksiders and one of the reasons I am excited for 2010. I was clearly not disappointed (and neither were a lot of people). The game has sold 1.2 meeeeeeeellion (/Dr Evil pinky) copies in the first four weeks after release. Things have been so successful that THQ has announced plans to release a sequel in the fiscal year 2012.

  darksidersdiscs

  So if you haven’t gotten into the God of War meets The Legend of Zelda meets Portal mash up of awesome, then you have until 2012 to crack into it before the sequel.

Stay Casual!

Stephen

Source

Doing Their Part: The Gaming Industry Helps Haiti

 

     On January 12, 2010 a 7.0 earthquake sent shockwaves of devastation through some of the most heavily populated areas in Haiti. Millions were effected. Thousands were left dead and countless numbers were injured. Within an instant the standard building blocks of life were stripped from millions who were left without food, clean water, basic medical care and shelter.

     Within 24 hours the usual suspects had already responded or were in the process of responding. The American Red Cross, Church World Service and other organizations were leveraging their resources to lend aid to those in need. Since then we have even seen Celebrities and Athletes taking up the cause and helping where they can (which, in some cases, can be very significant). None of this would come as a shock to anyone. These organizations were formed to react to their problems and to lend aid, and some celebrities are naturally philanthropists.

     This time they are not acting alone. Despite all the controversy surrounding their industry and its impact on society we are seeing several players in the Video Game industry coming and and raising funds to help with Haiti’s Earthquake relief efforts. Here are some of the notable contributions:

Bungie logo

     Bungie, the company behind the HALO franchise, have started the "Be A Hero" campaign. They have dedicated 100% of the proceeds generated until 02/28 from the apparel on their website to the American Red Cross. As an integral part of the promotion they have designed a special edition of their Superintendant t-shirt in red and blue (representing the Haitian flag) and have dedicated 100% of the proceeds to go to the American Red Cross even after 02/28. One would think that this was a very good gesture in and of itself, but they went even further. On 01/20 and 01/21 they offered to donate up to $100 for every 1000 players who played in an online rated match in HALO 3 or HALO: ODST with a special HERO emblem visible. So far their efforts have raised more than $100,000.

 

White Corn

    

     Zynga, the company responsible for Farmville, Mafia Wars and several other popular social networking games, offered a small in game token to its Farmville players in exchange for a $5 donation. Each player received a 1 week license to grow White Corn (which was overpowered) and in the end Zynga was able to raise $1,000,000 for their Zynga Haiti Relief Fund. Seriously, That is a LOT of White Corn.

     PvZ

 

     Pop Cap Games is well known for their online sales of games like Plants vs. Zombies and Zuma’s Revenge. They offered to donate all of the proceeds from their online sales from January 16th to Partners in Health. This was definitely the best reason to buy Plants vs. Zombies EVER.

Behemothdonations

 

     Behemoth, who we all know and love as the developer for Castle Crashers, has offered to donate 100% of the revenue for any of the XBLA titles to the American Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development fund. They take this even FURTHER when their employees offer to 100% match that amount out of their own pockets. (Wow!)

     This tragedy is showing us that we are definitely all one people. We are witnessing evidence that in the face of tragedy their really is no corner of our society where we will not see some sort of support. Personally, I think this sort of thing is pretty uplifting.

     Has anyone else heard of any unexpected outpourings of support for this tragedy? I would love to hear about it.

Stay Casual!

Stephen

www.casualbychoice.wordpress.com