BaltimoreGamer http://baltimoregamer.com Anything and Everything About Video Games in Baltimore Wed, 27 Apr 2016 19:42:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Madden is ultimate cash cow and we are all being milked http://baltimoregamer.com/features/madden-is-ultimate-cash-cow/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/madden-is-ultimate-cash-cow/#respond Tue, 26 Apr 2016 20:28:02 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=850 Madden Football, a franchise which celebrated its 27th installment with Madden 16, continues to produce updated games every year, and boasts multi-million numbers in copies sold. But as a Madden fan, do you truly need to buy Madden every year it’s released? Normally, a new video game costs around $60, not including any potential add-ons, […]

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Madden 16 Screenshot

Madden Football, a franchise which celebrated its 27th installment with Madden 16, continues to produce updated games every year, and boasts multi-million numbers in copies sold. But as a Madden fan, do you truly need to buy Madden every year it’s released? Normally, a new video game costs around $60, not including any potential add-ons, downloads, or extended features. For limited franchises, a sequel to a game may be long awaited. Developers have to spend time on a story, in addition to the production of the game itself. Purchasing the second or third game in a story arc is worth the $60 because of the continuation of the adventure. A game like Madden, however, sees annual releases and updates of a different variety. If you’re an online Madden-player, someone who needs to play as a team with an updated roster, or simply a collector of the franchise, obviously the costs may be worth it. But for others, how much do game modes and graphics update annually? In the early 2000s, Madden was updating their games rapidly, with improvements in graphics, gameplay, and modes. Recently, however, players may find the changes to be more stagnant. Since the 20 year anniversary in 2008, year-to-year improvements on the game may be difficult to notice. Roughly every two years, Madden introduces something that can add to the game more drastically. These include ways improving the speed and flow of the game, an updated graphics engine in 2012, and the emergence of Ultimate Team as a main game mode. For those who don’t play online frequently, Ultimate Team will not provide as much entertainment. Yet, when Madden 16 was released, it boasted Fantasy Drafts, it’s Ultimate Team mode, playing as the General Manager of a team, and updated controls. These game modes have already been present in several previous iterations, and players who found the controls for the previous game satisfactory may not find updated controls fit the $60 value. From this information, it seems that Madden truly updates, and even overhauls, the game every two to three years. With that, players may even want to give Madden a year or two, as an updated graphics engine may not have been perfected. Furthermore, building a multi-Super-Bowl-winning franchise with your favorite team, or creating the next NFL superstar with a Hall of Fame career can take longer than one calendar year of casual playing. That being said, somewhere around three years seems like the best time to update your virtual football experience. Perhaps most important is that the best Madden for trash talking, settling arguments, or simply beating your friends is whichever Madden is available. References: https://www.easports.com/madden-nfl/museum-exhibit http://www.latinpost.com/articles/64863/20150708/madden-nfl-16-release-review-gameplay-graphics-visuals-ea-ignite-plus-changes-in-defenses-will-be-in-upcoming-game.htm https://www.easports.com/madden-nfl/features

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Local indie game publisher Versus Evil announces release of Banner Saga 2 http://baltimoregamer.com/news/local-indie-game-publisher-versus-evil-annouces/ http://baltimoregamer.com/news/local-indie-game-publisher-versus-evil-annouces/#respond Tue, 19 Apr 2016 20:54:42 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=811 Stoic teamed up with Versus Evil, a Baltimore gaming and indie publisher studio to release its follow up to the highly successful “Banner Saga.” The sequel, “The Banner Saga 2,” is available to gamers on Mac and PC starting today. Games will hit the shelves for consoles later this summer. Stoic received acclaim for the […]

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Stoic teamed up with Versus Evil, a Baltimore gaming and indie publisher studio to release its follow up to the highly successful “Banner Saga.” The sequel, “The Banner Saga 2,” is available to gamers on Mac and PC starting today. Games will hit the shelves for consoles later this summer. Stoic received acclaim for the first in the series, both from fans and critics alike. The first game was an award-winner, and even received a BAFTA nomination. The Banner Saga is a viking-themed Role Playing Game, wherein decisions made my characters affect gameplay down the road. Being an indie game, the creators of “The Banner Saga” knew to turn to fans for the sequel. “The feedback and excitement we received from Banner Saga 1 really helped us work to make The Banner Saga 2 even better,” said Arnie Jorgensen, a founder of Stoic. “Huge thanks to the community!” the Art Director added. For fans who are curious if the viking roleplaying aspect of the game will influence the game as much, GM of Versus Evil Steve Escalante said, “There is more of what everyone wanted plus more gut-wrenching choices.” He added, “...we hope fans enjoy it as much as we do.” Perhaps Stoic producing this indie game allows them to cater to fans wants more. The Game is currently available on STEAM, and will be made available through standard gaming stores, like GameStop, in the summer. In addition, a Deluxe Edition will be released with the full soundtrack from Austin Wintory, a Grammy-nominated and BAFTA-winning composer. Gamers will be able to purchase the game ranging from $19.99 on STEAM and other sites, to $24.99 for the Deluxe Edition.

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SparkyPants release trailer for upcoming title Dropzone http://baltimoregamer.com/news/sparkypants-release-trailer-upcoming-title-dropzone/ http://baltimoregamer.com/news/sparkypants-release-trailer-upcoming-title-dropzone/#respond Tue, 19 Apr 2016 20:19:02 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=800 Local company SparkPants announced it’s newest game titled “Dropzone”. Here is the description from the website:

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Dropzone Trailer Screenshot

Local company SparkPants announced it's newest game titled "Dropzone". Here is the description from the website: [quote_box name=""]Dropzone for PC is a Free-to-Play-Game that combines intense action with deep strategic planning and customization. Players control squads of three mighty war machines in an explosive 15-minute battle for dominance. Powered by the Sparkle Engine, a game engine built from the ground up for competitive online play, Dropzone is the Next Generation of RTS.[/quote_box]

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Videogames and the Baltimore Gamer Symphony Orchestra http://baltimoregamer.com/news/videogames-baltimore-gamer-symphony-orchestra/ http://baltimoregamer.com/news/videogames-baltimore-gamer-symphony-orchestra/#respond Wed, 13 Apr 2016 16:00:18 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=795 The power of music is something that is pure and reaches just about everyone. Combine the unfiltered joy of creating a beautiful sound with, well, a passion for video games, we get the Baltimore Gamer Symphony Orchestra.

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[padding type="small_left_right"] The power of music is something that is pure and reaches just about everyone. Combine the unfiltered joy of creating a beautiful sound with, well, a passion for video games, we get the Baltimore Gamer Symphony Orchestra. Performing arrangements from well known video game soundtracks, the orchestra welcomes people of all ages and skill levels to join in the fun.  Modeled to be non-competitive and a stress free environment, the Baltimore Gamer Orchestra keeps an open door to all who wish to join the ensemble. If you have never sung or touched an instrument long enough to not remember what an eighth count looks, it’s ok. They will work with you because it’s the passion and commitment that matters. If you’d like to flex your musical chops, the only positions that require an audition are solos. The entire drive behind the formation of the orchestra is to bridge the love of gaming with the love of music. No one can deny that many games have beautifully composed soundtracks. In a way, it brings attention to a crucial aspect of gaming that we often overlook. We often don’t take time listen to the music while back tracking through a dungeon or level grinding, but we can recognize the pattern and identify the music when we hear it somewhere else. Music for video games is constructed in such a way as to not distract from the game, supplement the mood, and create a unique identifiable sound. The amount of care that goes into the musical structure of a game is worthy of dedication alone. The Baltimore Gamer Symphony Orchestra offers free performances and work together with companies in Baltimore. The orchestra has played for TigerCon, the Chesapeake Art Center, and with the Maryland Zoo to provide a concert and petting zoo for children and parents. The orchestra performs free concerts a few times a year and works with video game developers to showcase their music. Catch the Baltimore Gamer Symphony Orchestra at the May the 4th Be With You in 2016 on Wednesday, you guessed it, May 4th. The event will take place all afternoon starting at 2 until early evening, starting with gaming, leading to a costumes contest, and the orchestra performs at 7. Tickets are available online for pre-order. The event will take place at the Chesapeake Art Center. Tickets are free to the first 10 people to provide a console, and $5 to play and see the concert. [/padding]

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Don’t Play—Press Play http://baltimoregamer.com/features/dont-play-press-play/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/dont-play-press-play/#respond Tue, 12 Apr 2016 06:00:28 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=788 As YouTube gaming videos rose in popularity, we started to see the rise of live-streaming services such as Twitch.TV. In 2014, Forbes called online streaming a $300,000 career choice...

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[padding type="small_left_right"] Being a gamer is expensive. With this generation of consoles leading to gamers shelling out over $400 apiece, the price of the last generation of consoles still selling for over $200 each and the cost of actual games breaking well past the $50-mark (not to mention gaming accessories, extra controllers, DLC and the cost of a good HDMI-ported television or PC so you can see what you’re doing). It has never cost more to sit down and enjoy a few hours of art. So with the cost of button-mashing flying through the roof (a roof you can no doubt barely afford to live under after buying last week's new releases), it is no wonder Let’s Plays and Twitch live-streams are enjoying a steady rise in popularity. Taping and streaming gameplay didn’t really kick off until the Recession. One definite reason for the rise of their popularity was the possible payout— YouTuber PewDiePie’s net worth was estimated to be around $4 million in 2013. As YouTube gaming videos rose in popularity, we started to see the rise of live-streaming services such as Twitch.TV. In 2014, Forbes called online streaming a $300,000 career choice, naming streamers like Jeffery Shih, better known as “TrumpSC,” who has climbed upwards of 697,000 followers at the time of this article, streaming games like Hearthstone and Starcraft. Looking at these numbers, it is no wonder more people are trying to make a living as an LPer or streamer. Even so, it might be that the strong audience that follows LPing and streaming may be even more vital to the survival of the trend than the profit. Being a gamer is expensive, but watching a stream or an LP is absolutely free. Take a gander at some of the titles predicted to be the most popular and highest-selling games on the 2016 market. A few of them definitely have streaming or LP potential, and that will no doubt contribute to their following. The highest streamed games on Twitch include fast-paced, highly competitive games, such as League of Legends and Dota 2, where the tide of battle can shift with lightning fast developments any second—the high pace keeps the audience excited and full of things to talk about, similar to a heated sports match. From the list referenced above, Tom Clancy’s The Division is now currently in the top 10 of Twitch’s most popularly streamed titles, despite being released only a month ago, and receiving reviews from critics.
[/padding] [caption id="attachment_793" align="alignnone" width="960"]Pewdiepie Pewdiepie is listed on Fortune's Richest YouTuber list with an estimated $12 million earned in 2015[/caption] [padding type="small_left_right"] When it comes to games that are optimal for LPs, however, the most popular titles are often games with slower mechanics with which more people are familiar, so as to allow more attention to be paid to the commentary of the LPers, such as Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto. This makes games like The Legend of Zelda for Wii U, also anticipated to be a huge seller for 2016, a great choice that will leave LP audiences clamouring for more. Two of the largest LP-based YouTube channels, GameGrumps and TheSw1tcher, are currently streaming Legend of Zelda titles at the time of publication. Zelda games provide a familiar enough route that LPers can put energy in entertaining commentary, and the new Zelda will likely provide just enough new material to add to each YouTuber’s LP format. The Legend of Zelda for the Wii U will be around $60. The same can be said for a copy of Tom Clancy’s The Division. On the other hand, subscribing to a YouTube Account or watching a stream is absolutely free. Sure, viewers can buy a popular LPer’s merchandise on a website, send in patreon donations, or subscribe to their favorite Twitch channel for $5 a month, at least half of which goes to the streamer themselves depending on their viewership, but none of these expenditures are necessary to stay a part of a game’s fan base. Twitch and YouTube are also game changers for the gamers with the disposable income to enjoy new games whenever they wish. Before, reviewers acted almost as a gatekeeper for which games were considered great, and the only way to really see for yourself if it suited your tastes was through buying the playing the game or waiting for a friend to buy it so you can watch over their shoulder. But now, that age is starting to pass. With the click of a button, you can see if a game looks fun without spending a cent or waiting on a reviewer’s opinion. Gamers don’t need to spend a fortune to be gamers anymore. They just need to love games, even if only vicariously. [/padding]

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How eSports turned into an 800 pound gorilla http://baltimoregamer.com/features/esports-800-pound-gorilla/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/esports-800-pound-gorilla/#respond Tue, 05 Apr 2016 14:00:19 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=757 The League of Legends season last year was followed by more fans than the NBA finals.

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eSports Helena Kristiansson, ESL Flickr

[padding type="small_left_right"] Competitive video gaming aka eSports has skyrocketed and continues to bring in enormous amounts of money annually, so much so that these events can now be followed on such prestigious channels as BBC or ESPN. Only few years back, it was hard to imagine that one day competitive gaming would be able to bring masses to stadiums. Now, we can see those competitive gamers (or we might as well call them athletes) immersing themselves in what seems to be fierce battles. With their headsets on, they command their customized keyboards with speed that seems unbelievable to mere mortals, all while tens of thousands of fans, boys and girls alike, cheer them on. While competitive gaming has been around for a while, eSports has made the next – and previously thought to be impossible – step, garnering so much attention that these events can now be profitable. [/padding] [caption id="attachment_769" align="aligncenter" width="760"]Dota 2 on ESPN Dota 2 on ESPN[/caption] [padding type="small_left_right"] In the beginning only hardware manufacturers were interested in supporting these competitions, but with the increased popularity, giants like Nissan, Nike, McDonalds and Coca-Cola have all joined the cause, forever changing the landscape of professional gaming in the process. With these changes in mind, we can now legitimately wonder about eSports and the profits companies make, and just how far this whole thing can still go. Numbers don’t lie. During 2014, as many as 205 million viewers have watched some kind of eSports event and that number had increased by 20 percent by last year. If they would come together and establish a new country, eSports viewers would make the fifth most populous nation in the whole world in front of Japan and Russia. [/padding] [caption id="attachment_774" align="aligncenter" width="960"]Credit: Helena Kristiansson, ESL Flickr Credit: Helena Kristiansson, ESL Flickr[/caption] [quote_colored name="" icon_quote="no"]The League of Legends season last year was followed by more fans than the NBA finals[/quote_colored] [padding type="small_left_right"] These days, it’s not uncommon that an eSports event gets more viewers than a traditional sporting competition. The League of Legends season last year was followed by more fans than the NBA finals, which is why it’s not a surprise these days that these events can fill up stadiums. The industry is such a force to be reckoned with that these organizations are not interested in booking stadiums anymore; they want to build their very own eSports arenas. On YouTube, there are more people following gaming channels than news, movie and educational ones combined. This popularity is nothing new, but the effort in which they manage to bring those fans together is nothing short of remarkable, and definitely a trend that will only get stronger in time until it is not just a trend anymore, but the new way things work. Supporting links [/padding]

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Our recap video of the MagFest Indie Video Games http://baltimoregamer.com/features/our-recap-video-of-the-magfest-indie-video-games/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/our-recap-video-of-the-magfest-indie-video-games/#respond Wed, 30 Mar 2016 05:31:31 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=749 During MAGfest 2016, BaltimoreGamer head out to the Indie Games Showcase and interviewed a handful of developers. Here are some of the coolest ones we saw!

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During MAGfest 2016, BaltimoreGamer head out to the Indie Games Showcase and interviewed a handful of developers. Here are some of the coolest ones we saw!

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Gretchen LeGrand talks games and education http://baltimoregamer.com/features/gretchen-legrand-code-in-the-schools/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/gretchen-legrand-code-in-the-schools/#respond Tue, 29 Mar 2016 13:00:01 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=719 Gretchen LeGrand has taken her place in the Baltimore tech and gaming education world. LeGrand, who joined her husband Mike Legrand in founding Code in the Schools, is a beacon of change for the city and its digital community.

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[padding type="small_left_right"] Gretchen LeGrand has taken her place in the Baltimore tech and gaming education world. LeGrand, who joined her husband Mike Legrand in founding Code in the Schools, is a beacon of change for the city and its digital community. She is an example for young men and women on the progress being made as the tech community tries to become more accepting of female leaders. LeGrand isn’t the type of person to make a big deal out of it, but BaltimoreGamer had some time to sit down and talk about her work and her role in the Baltimore ecosystem. Sean: “We know the big reason is educating kids, but why did you get involved with Code In The Schools?” Gretchen: “My husband and I founded this organization three years ago. He is a programmer in the video game industry for the past 15 years or so. I was a social worker in the non-profit sector for a while. We kind of combined our interests and thought that it’s crazy that nobody is teaching kids to code because theirs is such a need for computer programmers.” Sean: “Before this you weren’t really into the game world at all?” Gretchen: “So, I had sort of taught myself how to code and made a couple of my own video games, but pretty amateur hour ones.” Sean: “Besides teaching teaching yourself how to code, what were your hobbies before all of this?” Gretchen: “I’ve definitely always been into games for a long time. I played some old school games. Growing up I was really into theater and puppeteering. I’ve always been into reading and arguing and debating, things like that. I definitely enjoy gaming but I don’t know if I’d call it a hobby of mine. I’ll do it occasionally like if a really good game comes out. Like back in the day when I had time to play I would play games like Mist or Journey. I really liked the Portal games when they came out. I think for us, video games are a big thing for what we do here at Code in the Schools because it’s such a great way to get kids into computer programming. I think if you just start teaching kids how to code with no context it can get very tedious. I think it’s something that they wouldn’t be as into if they didn’t get a chance to create something from it.” Sean: “So they’re playing games in order to learn?” Gretchen: “Yeah, I think any time you can teach kids through doing something instead of being passive it is better. Everything we do here is project based and hands on so they’re always involved in the process. We’re teaching them how to Sauder and create circuits and they learn basic programming through doing that.” Sean: “It sounds that you are very relaxed about all of this, but do you feel any sort of special tie to this being a female leader in the gaming community.” Gretchen: “Well as you know women are really underrepresented in the computing careers and the gaming industry. Our staff is very diverse, we have a lot of women who work for us and a lot of minorities who work for us. I think it’s important that when they go out teaching for us that kids see themselves represented as having these jobs and being able to do it. So certainly I think as a woman when I go and teach a class, for the girls in the room it’s really important to see female leaders doing these things.” Sean: “Have you ever shaped your message [to the kids] as not just one of learning, but of inclusion as well?” Gretchen: “Oh yeah. We have programs that are specifically for girls only as well. We have a program called technovasion, it’s a global one but we participate in it as well, where we have a group of girls participate in it. We are not shy in intentionally trying to get underrepresented people into these careers.” Sean: “Why do you think it is that women are underrepresented or not really accepted?” Gretchen: “I think it can be a very hostile environment sometimes, for women. Particularly the gaming community. Whether it’s hostile or not it isn’t a very welcoming world for women. I think women a lot of times just aren’t comfortable being in a community that doesn’t want them there.” Sean: “Moving forward, not just with your organization but the technology world all together, what specifically would you like to see change?” Gretchen: “There are lots of things that could change. I think we’re missing out by having the gaming community and technology center be dominated by such a homogenous group. There’s a lot of potential that women and minorities can bring to the table. I think that’s why we are doing what we’re doing. Because we’re not getting the value those people could bring to the table yet.” Sean: “Do you want to see this organization grow on a larger scale or stay local?” Gretchen : “We’re definitely committed to Baltimore. If we were to ever expand our programs we would never leave our home base here.” While it is possible to think that a woman like Gretchen LeGrand could be forced into a more public role, she has managed to lead a pretty normal life. There’s no crazy backstory, nothing that made LeGrand want to pick up the mantle and search for the spotlight. Three years ago she took a risk and joined her husband in his dream of starting a non-profit for coding education; the role model label just came with the territory. [/padding]

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This tribute video to Nintendo’s Iwata will make you cry http://baltimoregamer.com/news/tribute-video-nintendos-iwata-will-make-cry/ http://baltimoregamer.com/news/tribute-video-nintendos-iwata-will-make-cry/#respond Thu, 17 Mar 2016 22:45:00 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=713 The Game Developers Choice Awards remembered Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.

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The Game Developers Choice Awards remembered Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.

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Interview with Journey composer Austin Wintory http://baltimoregamer.com/features/interview-journey-composer-austin-wintory/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/interview-journey-composer-austin-wintory/#respond Mon, 14 Mar 2016 15:25:10 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=701 Austin Wintory Interview During MagFest 2016, BaltimoreGamer’s video team had a chance to catch up with Journey composer Austin Wintory. Austin’s work is featured in numerous AAA titles including Saints Row, Assassins Creed, CounterStrike, and the 2012 smash hit Journey. In the interview he talks about player immersion compared to films and the best advice he considers […]

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Austin Wintory Interview

During MagFest 2016, BaltimoreGamer's video team had a chance to catch up with Journey composer Austin Wintory. Austin's work is featured in numerous AAA titles including Saints Row, Assassins Creed, CounterStrike, and the 2012 smash hit Journey. In the interview he talks about player immersion compared to films and the best advice he considers important for aspiring composers.

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