Don’t allow JKR’s beliefs to rob you of something you love

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Photo by Rae Tian on Unsplash

I want to implore everyone who has ever found something inspiring, something heroic, something worth teaching your children, or even a reflection of themselves in the Wizarding World: please do not set aside the books you love as a reaction to their author’s statements. Regardless of how you feel about her stance on trans-rights, don’t punish yourself in an attempt to punish Rowling herself.

I’ve seen so many people say they can’t read the books anymore, that they’ve taken posters and memorabilia from their walls but kept them in their house because they can’t bear to part with it in a permanent way. …


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Are smaller stories within existing game worlds the wave of the future?

I recently, finally, finished Insomniac’s superb PS5 launch title, SpiderMan: Miles Morales. As one of the biggest games to have accompanied the launch of the PlayStation 5 console, it was always going to be a smashing success for Sony. But the devs went above and beyond to craft a great story and solve the thorny problem of making combat fun from the very start. Throw in a well-acted and likable lead, and heaps of loving detail included in the game’s Harlem neighborhood setting, and the title shines even with its shorter-than-the-original length.

Speaking of that length, many fans expressed at least a bit of disappointment when it was revealed that this would not be a full-fledged Spidey sequel. But this type of release has been in keeping with Sony’s strategy regarding some of its biggest IP over the last several years, creating what I have dubbed the “Sony half-sequel”. Standalone DLC, follow-ups, whatever you want to call them, they leverage assets and ideas from their original games to produce a new game in roughly half the time and for far less budget than a full sequel. …


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How will the sequel compare to the original?

One of the surprise hits of 2017 was a horror-tinged puzzle platformer from Malmo, Sweden-based Tarsier Studios, called Little Nightmares. The game literally dripped with atmosphere, telling its story through the environment you were tasked with traversing. Terrifyingly-proportioned humans pursued your character relentlessly through a claustrophobic nightmare of a ship, gorgeous and vile at the same time. Brief blissful moments of safety punctuated the overall feeling of dread you faced throughout the adventure.

All of this made the original an instant classic, and more than 2 million copies later, we are on the precipice of the sequel. I’ve written about the first game and interviewed a co-founder of the studio, so the sequel has been at the top of my most wanted list ever since it was announced. …


How do you prepare when the rules are still being written?

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Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

The process of building a startup company is always fraught with trials, tribulations, and risks. But when the rules are still being written for how you will actually be able to conduct your business, the issues can multiply quickly. Add in a global pandemic and the task can seem gargantuan.

Despite the challenges, this is exactly what Dreamfield has done over the past 12 months, preparing to be first-to-market in the emerging Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) marketing field for college athletes. …


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Studio co-founder Ryan MacLean gives us insight into the creation of hits like Guacamelee and Severed

One of the gems of the indie game development scene is DrinkBox Studios, creators of the Guacamelee franchise, the hit touch-based title Severed, and the Tales From Spaces games. Having discovered Guacamelee a few years back, I fell in love with the mix of intense platforming action, couch co-op mode, and off the wall humor. Though platformers are in no shortage these days, there’s nothing else quite like it on the market.

We recently reached out to the studio to get a peek behind the curtain of their design process, find out where the crazy jokes come from, and try to get an idea of what is coming for their next project. Co-founder Ryan MacLean was kind enough to take a break from the grind of development during the COVID era, providing us with some fantastic insight. …


Companies will face risk from uncertain regulatory conditions, but the opportunities will be lucrative

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Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

There’s a wave coming. What started last year with the NCAA’s new guidelines on how student-athletes can profit from their names, images, and likenesses (NIL) is set to continue early in 2021. It’s a wave that grew even bigger this year as COVID-19 helped give voice to players now concerned with both their health and their wallets. And, as with any emerging market, companies are lining up to profit from the practice.

By January, the three athletic divisions under the NCAA governing body are required to draft rules that will govern how their players can use those newly-acquired rights.

Simultaneously, six other states — California, Florida, New Jersey, Colorado, Michigan, and Nebraska — have passed NIL bills through their state legislatures, thereby clearing the road for the practice to become legal. Florida’s law will go into effect in July 2021, while the others will become law between now and 2025. …


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Living it up in The Downside

Supergiant Games is one of the gaming industry’s most beloved and dependable indie game studios. Their catalog is filled with titles that have been critically and commercially acclaimed, with nary a misstep to be seen. Headed by former games journalist Greg Kasavin, the studio has released just four games, but they have achieved success most would kill for: 2011’s Bastion, an action RPG; Transistor, another action RPG that released in 2014; Pyre, a party-based pseudo action RPG that hit the market in 2017, and finally the rogue-like Hades that left early access this year.

Bastion and Transistor were instant classics for their non-traditional structure, rich world-building, and incredible soundtracks and voice-acting. Hades also became a mega-hit with its visuals, story, and action jumping on the bandwagon of the popular rogue-like genre to garner attention for Game of the Year honors. If you were to ask an industry watcher about the studio, those are likely the only three titles that would be mentioned. Pyre is often forgotten, different as it is in structure and mechanics from the other three, despite having critical success and qualities that match its brethren. So today I want to highlight this forgotten gem, in hopes that others will no longer bypass it on the Supergiant Highway between Transistor and Hades. …


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A few from off the beaten path, and Blade Runner

The Big One is coming. To be fair, any game CD Projekt Red released after The Witcher 3 was going to be huge, but going with a cyberpunk theme made this a megaton release. Media of all forms have been obsessed with this genre for years, and fans gobble it up. It lets people like you and me glance luridly into the corners of our imagination where fears of shadowy evil governments, the horrors of technology, and the worst excesses of humanity all combine into a vile soup. Then you can turn the power off and pray that we never end up in that dystopian world. …


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A lifetime of designing industry-leading RTS games for everyone

Ask any devotee of the Real-Time Strategy (RTS) genre what game they credit for their love affair and you will likely hear Command & Conquer somewhere in the answer. Created in 1995 by Westwood Studios, it is widely credited as one of the first, and best, examples of modern RTS gaming. As with many games in the genre that owe their DNA to Westwood’s creation, it was easy to pick up but impossible to put down, combining a wide array of exciting units and technology with relatively simple tactical models.

After releasing more than a dozen expansions and sequels, in 2003 some of Westwood’s developers broke away to form their own studio, Petroglyph Games. Among them was Joe Bostic, one of three developers credited with imagining and creating the universe in which the Command & Conquer games exist. Since the studio’s founding, they have crafted nearly a dozen new titles, all with the RTS genre at heart but with inspirations ranging from Conan the Barbarian to Star Wars and many more, across multiple consoles and PC. …


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All the things I want to see and do during my time at Hogwarts

Even though fans of the Harry Potter universe have seen some above-average games in the last 20 years, Hogwarts Legacy still has a “first-of-its-kind” feel about it. This has much to do with the fact that this will be a new story, eschewing the much-loved but well-trod tales from the books for something the player will tell through their actions with a character of their own creation. It’s also down to this being the first true RPG based in the Potter-verse, and as games like The Witcher 3 have raised the bar for what is possible in the genre, the possibilities feel endless. …

About

Bryan Finck

A thought isn’t an idea until you write it down and share it with the world. So I write thoughts about video games, and a few other things. Twitter: @htb390

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