BaltimoreGamer http://baltimoregamer.com Anything and Everything About Video Games in Baltimore Fri, 16 Sep 2016 14:05:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Big hair is back- it’s time to save the 80’s http://baltimoregamer.com/features/big-hair-back-time-save-80s/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/big-hair-back-time-save-80s/#respond Fri, 16 Sep 2016 14:05:24 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=1109 Washington D.C. area developer Michael Cowden is a jack of all trades. He’s a software engineer, entrepreneur, composer-and now, he’s diving head first into the gaming industry with his upcoming mobile game, Super 80’s World. A one-man project with an iOS release date of November 2016, Super 80’s World promises all of the campy, nostalgic goodness of the movies and television shows of the decade. Some of its features include “neon, synthesizer music, and awesomeness,” according to the official game synopsis.

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[padding type="small_left_right"] Washington D.C. area developer Michael Cowden is a jack of all trades. He’s a software engineer, entrepreneur, composer-and now, he’s diving head first into the gaming industry with his upcoming mobile game, Super 80’s World. A one-man project with an iOS release date of November 2016, Super 80’s World promises all of the campy, nostalgic goodness of the movies and television shows of the decade.  Some of its features include “neon, synthesizer music, and awesomeness,” according to the official game synopsis. Today, it can seem like retro is everywhere, from television shows like Stranger Things to a recent rise in the popularity of synthwave music. To Cowden, the trend towards retro helped spark the idea for a game about the 1980’s. “I saw a trend towards retro-style games and decided it would be fun to take it one step further: making a game that makes a parody of the decade itself. I knew I wanted to make a game and had two ideas at the time:  a) the 1980s as a game and b) Baltimore, the game.  I'm not sure how the second one would have worked, so here I am now, working on Super 80s World. It's really fun to see young people reinterpreting and reinventing the decade. I love synthwave and the whole retro / retro-futurism movement.  Sometimes I wonder if the game is just an excuse to get me writing cool synthwave tracks,” says Cowden. [/padding] 80s_world_3[padding type="small_left_right"] Of course, one of the biggest parts of a game about the 80’s would be nostalgia, and with nostalgia comes all of the 80’s pop culture references that we know and love, right? According to Cowden, it’s not so cut and dry. “I'd say [the game] is a combination of atmosphere and inside jokes.  The original concept was replete with pop culture references and characters.  There's obviously a whole host of legal issues that come along with that.  I'm now trying to be more explicit with the atmosphere (the level themes, backgrounds, etc.) and more implicit with the references. I think that ends up working on two levels. While the art and music sets the overall mood, the more subtle references give those really into the nostalgia a bunch of little easter eggs to enjoy throughout the game.” Tap Tap Good, the development company that is responsible for Super 80’s World, is a one man show based out of Washington D.C. that Cowden started in September 2015. While the game is a part-time solo venture, there are “a couple of other folks helping out on a contract basis with art and music,” Cowden states. [/padding] 80s_world_2[padding type="small_left_right"] With his first game being a solo project, there are many lessons that Cowden has learned that he hopes to capitalize on in future endeavours. “First, start small.  Whatever your big idea is?  Don't do it yet.  Do something smaller first.  For instance, a video game about an entire decade? That's too big. Start smaller. If I had to go back and do it over I would have released a very simple game, timeboxed to three months for release.  There are a number of reasons for this: from giving yourself a chance to learn to giving yourself a sense of accomplishment to limiting your losses if it doesn't work out. The next thing is: put it on the device you're building for and have others play with it. Do it early - really early. I probably invested 9 months of development on a full platformer before realizing how terrible it was to play on a mobile device. Fortunately, all was not lost and I'm able to reuse most of the art assets I created over that time. Still, had I just put it in the hands of a few more people in the first couple of months (and listened), I might have saved myself six months.” Of course, we saved the best question for last: what is Cowden’s favorite retro console? “[T]he Sega Genesis. As far as a favorite retro game is concerned, I'm gonna have to go with the old Wizardry series.  I put a lot of hours into that one.” Be sure to sign up for early access to Super 80’s World, and check out the Spotify playlist here. [/padding]

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This local retro video game store is a gem for old school games http://baltimoregamer.com/features/regen-old-school-games-store-baltimore/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/regen-old-school-games-store-baltimore/#respond Tue, 30 Aug 2016 18:15:20 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=1079 The walls are lined with art consisting of eevee evolutions, metroid collages, and classic video game posters. Arcade games of varying shapes and sizes are placed throughout, and on the shelves sit games older than many of the store’s patrons. This is re:gen games, a used game video store run inside of the White Marsh Mall.

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[padding type="small_left_right"] The walls are lined with art consisting of eevee evolutions, metroid collages, and classic video game posters. Arcade games of varying shapes and sizes are placed throughout, and on the shelves sit games older than many of the store’s patrons. This is re:gen games, a used game video store run inside of the White Marsh Mall. The store has been open for almost two years now, according to co-owner Colin Eason, with whom I spoke earlier this week. “It’s very quick, it’s very odd,” said Eason in regard to the store’s growth since it first opened. Eason and the other owners, Kat Huffman and Jacob Marino, originally worked together at another video gaming store. Eason was eventually invited by the other two to branch out and open their own shop. Originally, the store was filled with games simply from their own collection, and “some old guy’s collection from Nova Scotia,” Eason said with a laugh. This is why many of the store’s manuals are also found in French. [/padding] regen_sign[padding type="small_left_right"] Since the store first opened, re:gen has already been forced to move within the mall several times. “Arcades are heavy,” said Easton, who had to move the entire Mortal Kombat arcade up to the second floor on a trolley. “We deal pretty much with exclusively used games,” says Eason, “otherwise we’d have to get pre-orders.” The store’s focus on used games is part of both its charm and its business model, as a large part of their business deals with trade-ins. When it comes to pricing, re:gen keeps it simple: “Our pricing comes from a mixture of eBay and other sources. Me personally, I like eBay,” says Eason. In order to sell the games for a profit, the store obviously cannot take in the games for more than they’re worth; however, their return prices seem more reasonable than many mainstream gaming companies. Eason described that a game like Goldeneye turns over a lot more quickly than some others, so since they know it’s going to sell, they can offer more to buy it. “I’ve never had someone say ‘That’s it?’” Eason said about pricing. In addition, the walls are lined with art, much of which is on consignment from local artists. This allows re:gen to decorate their store while also profiting both them and the artist. In the corner there are a number of “grab-bags” with prices listed. The bags contain a number of games for classic consoles, and the surprise is intended to be part of the fun. “There tends to be one solid game per bag,” says Eason. “And people sometimes don’t realize that rare doesn’t mean expensive.” [/padding] regen3 [padding type="small_left_right"] re:gen is not just on the move within the mall. The store tends to go three conventions a year: Magfest, Too many games, and Smashcon. At these conventions, re:gen seeks to take the environment of the store on the road: a place for retro game lovers to meet. Going to these conventions not only helps re:gen spread the word of their business, but shows what the store is really all about. While I was there, the number of people browsing grew from a small handful until the place was packed. Maybe this is because re:gen creates creates an environment where there is always someone, customer or owner, interested in talking games. [/padding]

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Mobile gaming advancements, time wasting, and full games with storylines. http://baltimoregamer.com/features/mobile-gaming-advancements-time-wasting-full-games-storylines/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/mobile-gaming-advancements-time-wasting-full-games-storylines/#respond Mon, 22 Aug 2016 21:46:40 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=1072 In the not so distance past, mobile gaming’s focus was on mindlessly entertaining its users to pass the time. No complex plotlines, no need to focus on anything except maybe beating your high score. The Farmville craze and its copy cats had us waiting on things, from crops to soldiers, and the Flappy Bird craze had people practically throwing their phones out of the window. It was fun, time consuming, and pay to play. Now it has a changing face.

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[padding type="small_left_right"] In the not so distance past, mobile gaming’s focus was on mindlessly entertaining its users to pass the time. No complex plotlines, no need to focus on anything except maybe beating your high score. The Farmville craze and its copy cats had us waiting on things, from crops to soldiers, and the Flappy Bird craze had people practically throwing their phones out of the window. It was fun, time consuming, and pay to play. Now it has a changing face. In recent years, the games we love are getting revamped to fit in our pockets. Minecraft: Pocket Edition, Lara Croft Go, Kingdom Hearts Unchained, the list goes on. What does this mean for the future of mobile gaming? It sounds ridiculously redundant, but this affects standpoints for players and production on both sides of the fence. This could cause our usual fare of apps to die out, and with that, alter expectations for the apps that are produced. Speaking for myself, I was excited to see Kingdom Hearts coming to mobile play. After observing game play, I felt a change in my expectations from the games I play on my phone. Do not misunderstand, Candy Crush and games like it are still something I enjoy because there is no commitment to remembering storyline. Perhaps there will be a balance and a place for both on all devices. Earlier this year, Cartoon Network made Steven Universe: Attack the Light available for free in the App Store. Between the shows popularity and the game being free (I mean FREE, not just with downloads, but never having to pay for lives, upgrades, or additional currency), it is actually a quality turn based game with the voice actors. The game proved popular enough to make Free App of the Week, nixing its $2.99 purchase price.  Bethesda’s Fallout Shelter takes the original game’s concepts that we know and love, and pairs them with a higher graphic quality than what we are accustomed to seeing. Apps, as they progress, are advancing in quality. This is a typical process for technology, and right now it seems that it’s reached a point for advancement. Though Fire TV didn’t catch on as well as some had hoped, it’s become quite clear that companies are not only looking to expand their game’s availability on other platforms, but developers are attempting to showcase compatibility for evolving audiences and promising platforms. It may take plenty of work in terms of data and storage usage, but the years to come may yield plenty of fond memories for players who grew up with the titles making the leap to mobile. [/padding]

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Mobile game market more profitable than PC and console http://baltimoregamer.com/features/mobile-game-market-profitable-pc-console/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/mobile-game-market-profitable-pc-console/#respond Mon, 22 Aug 2016 21:36:23 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=1067 Mobile games have become a phenomenon lately. Apps like Game of War, Clash of Clans, or even games like Fallout Shelter spawned from the idea of earning money from micro-transactions. Unlike their console or PC counterparts, mobile games typically are free or cost less than five dollars and are available to anyone with a smart phone. However, the companies have started using micro-transactions as a way to earn the money that they spent to develop the game itself.

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[padding type="small_left_right"] Mobile Games: Microtransactions as a Phenonemon Mobile games have become a phenomenon lately. Apps like Game of War, Clash of Clans, or even games like Fallout Shelter spawned from the idea of earning money from micro-transactions. Unlike their console or PC counterparts, mobile games typically are free or cost less than five dollars and are available to anyone with a smart phone. However, the companies have started using micro-transactions as a way to earn the money that they spent to develop the game itself. Micro-transactions can cost ninety-nine cents to ten dollars. Due to the micro-transactions being a major part of these games, people end up spending more on the mobile games than they do on console games. One of the most popular mobile games is Game of War, which has some players spending close to six-hundred dollars on a game that is supposedly “free to play.” It seems that players are more willing to pay for content that is less than one dollar compared to content on consoles or PC that cost more than eight dollars each. In addition to mobile game content being less expensive initially than their console/PC counterparts, mobile games rely on a mixture of celebrity endorsements, for example Game of War features celebrities such as Kate Upton in their advertisements. These celebrities ease the non-gamer into thinking that the game is just as good as the console/PC games.  The endorsement might make them more willing to download and play the game.  It would also result in a new user who will most likely spend a small amount of money over long periods of time so that he can upgrade his towns, soldiers, and infrastructure. Another reason that microtransactions may cost gamers more money long term compared to consoles involves downloadable content. Console games tend to have more season pass sales which allow the buyer to access all the future downloadable content for a lower price than a person who buys the downloadable content individually. Mobile games do not have this season pass, and as a result, people will pay for items as they come out since they cost much less upfront than their console/PC counterpart. Overall, if mobile games keep content at the low prices they are already selling at instead of the higher prices of their console/PC counterparts, the mobile game market will keep on rising with the profit they make. References: http://segmentnext.com/2016/04/07/mobile-game-microtransactions-earn-pc-consoles/ http://www.usgamer.net/articles/does-anybody-really-like-microtransactions [/padding]

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The world needs a Michael Phelps VR simulator http://baltimoregamer.com/culture/world-needs-michael-phelps-vr-game/ http://baltimoregamer.com/culture/world-needs-michael-phelps-vr-game/#respond Wed, 17 Aug 2016 14:00:38 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=1024 With the Olympics underway and Baltimore legend Michael Phelps winning gold medals, one can only wonder when the Michael Phelps VR game will be released.

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[padding type="small_left_right"] With the Olympics underway and Baltimore legend Michael Phelps winning gold medals, one can only wonder when the Michael Phelps VR game will be released. Since the Oculus VR allows for users to view live events through their headsets, the Rio Olympics are streamed through the Oculus headset. Other media can be used as well in conjunction with the Oculus's VR technology. Movies like Suicide Squad have a free game to use, and many of the games that can be purchased for VR come at a reasonably low price. With that said, is it time for a VR Michael Phelps game? One can only imagine the joy people would have over being able to control the greatest Olympian of all time. The VR experience could consist of going through the warm up cycle that Phelps goes through before he gets on the starting platform. Then the user would have to get in the starting position and hold until the starting sound goes off. The logistics of how a person would start the race would have to get ironed out before the game is released. The idea of a person jumping from their couch onto the floor might cause some broken bones or concussions and the VR headsets aren't waterproof yet. However the idea of a Michael Phelps VR game could be good for workouts considering the mixture of cardio as well as leg and arm exercises. The last time Phelps had a game it was on the Xbox 36o and it used the Kinect. The game was as good as it could have been because the Kinect was not as accurate as VR is today, so maybe Phelps can a new game that people really enjoy playing. https://www.oculus.com https://www.oculus.com/experiences/gear-vr/1060798067370326/ http://www.ign.com/games/michael-phelps-push-the-limit/xbox-360-14306089 [/padding]

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Old School Graphics: Charmingly Nostalgic or Agonizingly Antiquated? http://baltimoregamer.com/features/old-school-graphics-charmingly-nostalgic-agonizingly-antiquated/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/old-school-graphics-charmingly-nostalgic-agonizingly-antiquated/#respond Wed, 17 Aug 2016 14:00:18 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=1047 Recently I visited a classic video game store, that sold everything from the Sega Genesis to more recent Playstation 3 games. After spending time browsing original Gameboy titles and SNES favorites, I gravitated towards the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube. This gave me the idea: do all of these classic games hold up? Or do the antiquated graphics get in the way of gameplay?

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[padding type="small_left_right"] Recently I visited a classic video game store, that sold everything from the Sega Genesis to more recent Playstation 3 games. After spending time browsing original Gameboy titles and SNES favorites, I gravitated towards the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube. This gave me the idea: do all of these classic games hold up? Or do the antiquated graphics get in the way of gameplay? After buying some games that haven’t been on my radar in years, and revisiting some of the classics I still have lying around, I have found that whether or not aged graphics make older games feel outdated varies from game to game. OCARINA OF TIME This Zelda classic is often perceived to be one of the best games in the series, and sometimes considered one of the best games ever made. But does the controller for the N64 get in the way? In fact, one website rated the N64 as the worst Nintendo controller. Some may find the three handles difficult to return to, especially after modern controllers have been adapted to be more comfortable to hold. However, nintendo recently re-released the game on the 3DS, and, according to IGN, the game is even an improvement upon the original. SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE Arguably one of Mario’s best adventures, Sunshine expanded on Mario in a three-dimensional universe. The graphics, though perhaps slightly outdated, still hold up very strongly. The only difficulty comes from the sensitivity of the joystick. I often found myself falling off the edge of a building or roof, after spending a long time getting up there in the first place. SUPER MARIO STRIKERS I had only played the sequel for the wii, so when I found the original for the Gamecube, I wanted to compare the two. I found the second, Strikers Charged, to have more detail and more in depth game modes. On the Super Mario Board, people chose the second game overwhelmingly as better. That being said, I find the simplicity of the first game endearing - it even plays like a FIFA Street game. POKEMON RED/BLUE Especially with the recent online release of Gen. 1 for the 3DS, and the release dates of Pokemon Go, Sun, and Moon, it’s interesting to take a look back at the originals. The first region still holds up. On GAMEFAQs a number of people discussed the change of pokemon over the years. Many people seemed to think that the only reason the games don’t seem to age well because of how the “speed of the game” gets faster and faster. This may be why the remakes (FireRed, LeafGreen, HeartGold, SoulSilver, OmegaRuby, and AlphaSapphire) are successful. On the other hand, gameplay has changed so drastically that the original pokemon games have their own styles of play, making them unique sources of entertainment within the franchise. If nothing else, the music is still timeless. SLY COOPER The classic series originally debuted on the PlayStation 2, but someone had the foresight to rerelease the games in the Sly Collection on the PS3. The original games remain in their first form, graphics and gameplay unchanged. This allowed gamers to play the games on an updated controller as they remembered them, without altering the memory. Video game stores like the one I visited may become more common, as long as people continue taking care of their games and understand the value they continue to hold. Regardless, the memories of the games seem just as valuable as the copies themselves. http://www.ign.com/articles/2011/06/17/the-legend-of-zelda-ocarina-of-time-3d-review http://kotaku.com/5983569/lets-rank-nintendos-controllers-best-to-worst http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/997614-nintendo-3ds/72828936?page=7 [/padding]

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On the Brink: A Feature on Brinkbit Games http://baltimoregamer.com/features/brink-feature-brinkbit-games/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/brink-feature-brinkbit-games/#respond Wed, 17 Aug 2016 14:00:03 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=1037 After HTML5’s initial release in 2014, Baltimore-based independent game company BrinkBit welcomed a switch to the latest version of Hypertext Markup Language with open arms. Flash had proven to be problematic for them, leaving BrinkBit founders Bryan Bamford, Evan Fuller, and Justin Livi to navigate sluggishness and stability issues as they created computer and smartphone games....

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[padding type="small_left_right"] The switch from Flash to HTML5 is not an easy one. After HTML5’s initial release in 2014, Baltimore-based independent game company Brinkbit welcomed a switch to the latest version of Hypertext Markup Language with open arms.  Flash had proven to be problematic for them, leaving Brinkbit founders Bryan Bamford, Evan Fuller, and Justin Livi to navigate sluggishness and stability issues as they created computer and smartphone games like Playing Favorites. HTML5 promised to help streamline the game creation process by combining three kinds of code in one: HTML; Cascading Style Sheets (CSS); and JavaScript. However, when Brinkbit started researching the language further, they realized that there was one major problem with using HTML5 – there were no decent unified development tools. [/padding] [quote_colored name="" icon_quote="no"]I wanted to log in, and have my homework right there.  I wanted to be able to create and ship from one interface[/quote_colored] [padding type="small_left_right"]So, Bamford, Fuller, and Livi decided to put games like Playing Favorites behind them, and looked toward creating an HTML5 tool that could develop, distribute, and even provide game analytics for its users.  Essentially, the trio planned to make Brinkbit the complete HTML5 game platform. One of Brinkbit’s components is a tutorial interface to introduce users to HTML5 or basic coding in general.  The idea is to create simple games by breaking them down into easy-to-follow tutorials, but with a twist: the tutorials will have their own narratives, making people feel like they are playing an ongoing game as they learn to code games of their own. [/padding] [quote_colored name="" icon_quote="no"]We wanted to build a bunch of components and have them all ready to use instead of building one simple thing and getting that ready for market [/quote_colored] [padding type="small_left_right"] According to Evan Fuller, “shortening the distance between the visual and emotional results of achieving something will help get people over the learning give. If the process of making a game doesn’t have any of the elements that they loved about playing games, then they are going to fall off at some point. We want to give that excited feeling of attachment with our tutorials.”  By gamifying game development itself, it will help make the process more accessible to a wider range of people. So far, the idea has been fire.  In 2015, Brinkbit received a $25,000 grant to develop the software as part of the Accelerate Baltimore program, as well as a $100,000 award from TEDCO’s Technology Commercialization Fund.  Now, a few dozen people are testing out Brinkbit’s closed beta, and nearly 1,000 more people are on a waitlist for Brinkbit’s open Beta, reaching out to the company daily about when the tool will be ready to use. And it will be ready – soon.  “Hopefully before Half-Life 3,” Fuller says with a laugh.  After all, it takes time to build the complete HTML5 gaming platform. [/padding]

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The Killing Joke Movie Review http://baltimoregamer.com/culture/killing-joke-movie-review/ http://baltimoregamer.com/culture/killing-joke-movie-review/#respond Tue, 02 Aug 2016 15:04:44 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=1010 The movie is inspired by the critically acclaimed graphic novel of the same name written by Alan Moore and published in 1988. In addition to the original source material, the filmmakers opened the film with an extended story focusing on Batgirl. Furthermore, fathom events presented two short documentaries along with the screening. The first, occurring before the film, was a short interview with Mark Hamill, voice of the Joker, filmed in London in 2016.

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[padding type="small_left_right"] Some jokes have punchlines that are so memorable we carry them with us long after they’ve been told. Whether the punchlines are simple and easy to remember, or make us laugh more than we have in a long time, powerful jokes make can make huge impacts on our lives even if they only take a few moments to tell. Monday night I went to a special screening of Warner Bros. new animated batman film: The Killing Joke presented by fathom events. The movie is inspired by the critically acclaimed graphic novel of the same name written by Alan Moore and published in 1988. In addition to the original source material, the filmmakers opened the film with an extended story focusing on Batgirl. Furthermore, fathom events presented two short documentaries along with the screening. The first, occurring before the film, was a short interview with Mark Hamill, voice of the Joker, filmed in London in 2016. Hamill discussed the course of his career from his first audition for Star Wars to when he received the role of the Joker for Batman the animated series to when he announced his retirement from the role. The second short documentary occurred after the film, describing how the score for the film was made. [/padding] Batman_Joke3[padding type="small_left_right"] The opening minutes of the film concentrated on Batgirl were action-packed.  They provided the audience with more context for her character, which helped raise the stakes later on in the movie. While the story definitely added to the film, some scenes took away from the main story, as side characters needed to be introduced, but didn’t show up in the main story. Overall the scenes should have focused on the relationship between Batgirl and Batman even more, as to not take away from the joker’s story arc. The voice performances in the film do the source material justice. Mark Hamill, who had retired after the Batman: Arkham games . . . multiple times, finally returned, as he had promised he would if the graphic novel were ever made into a feature film. Hamill turns in one of his greatest performances, as he tries to convince Batman he’s no different from anyone else, and everyone is one bad day away from madness. Hamill voices the joker prior to his conversion, a meek, failed comedian. Somehow, the two voices sound exactly the same, yet one is weak and frightened, and the other is menacing, making Hamill’s final bow a strong one. [/padding] BATMAN_JOKE1[padding type="small_left_right"] Hamill is joined by his classic counterpart Kevin Conroy, who reprises the role of batman for the umpteenth time. The two have great chemistry in perhaps the story that examines the relationship between the characters best. Tara Strong also performs well as batgirl, making the transition between the two story arcs well. The animation is strong and frequently makes visual references to the graphic novel, such as the famous joker laugh, hands on his head. The images shown can be terrifying at times, but also remain visually appealing. A defeated Gordon sitting still, hugging his knees in a cage, while the joker sits cackling above him, triumphant on his throne, comes to mind. At the end of the film, a few people were laughing, but most were sitting quietly in horror, as the credits rolled to only the sound of rain hitting the ground and thunder in the distance. It was the kind of joke that sticks with you, despite not being so funny. The film Batman: The Killing Joke is available on amazon and itunes. [/padding]

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Deliverance: The post apocalyptic pizza delivery game http://baltimoregamer.com/features/deliverance-post-apocalyptic-pizza-delivery-game/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/deliverance-post-apocalyptic-pizza-delivery-game/#respond Wed, 27 Jul 2016 21:36:40 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=1001 In a post-apocalyptic world where every store’s shelves have been raided and every farm has been destroyed, what is there to eat? Pizza, of course! At least that’s what’s for dinner in Deliverance, the latest mobile title from Ellicott City-based developer and UMBC graduate Paul Tschirgi. Following the release of his first major title, Tschirgi shares with BaltimoreGamer his biggest inspirations as an animator, his experience with working on the game, as well as what the future holds for him as an artist and developer.

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[padding type="small_left_right"] In a post-apocalyptic world where every store’s shelves have been raided and every farm has been destroyed, what is there to eat? Pizza, of course! At least that’s what’s for dinner in Deliverance, the latest mobile title from Ellicott City-based developer and UMBC graduate Paul Tschirgi. Following the release of his first major title, Tschirgi shares with BaltimoreGamer his biggest inspirations as an animator, his experience with working on the game, as well as what the future holds for him as an artist and developer. DL: What was your biggest inspiration in becoming an animator? Did you always have a specific interest in video gaming? PT: I always loved movies, especially ones with twists and in-depth characters and story. As I grew up and played more games I realized that the really big games made by huge studios were the ultimate media/entertainment medium. A combination of cutscenes and storyline and characters that you actually get to know in an episodic way through missions and levels where you interact with other characters. paul_tschirgiWhen I was in high school I made short films in 3d animation and focused on special fx in live action movies. By the time I got to college I realized that in a movie you have about 2 hours to tell the story you want to tell, but in games you can make the story personalized to the player and explore characters and twists for 10 hours or even more at levels of depth that you could never get to in a movie. Combine that with working with beautiful soundtrack compositions that play themes throughout and the most important element: what the player does from jumping and fighting to persuasive dialog options and puzzle solving. 3D animation quickly became my favorite way to make characters and tell stories. I wasn't limited by anything in the virtual world and I could make much more fantastic things by myself on a computer than with a bunch of friends, a green screen, and a camera. DL: Having finished school at UMBC, and staying local to the Baltimore area thereafter, does the area in general or work by local dev companies like Big Huge Games or Mohawk Games, both based in Baltimore County, influence your work in any way? PT: Big Huge, Mohawk, and Pure Bang and a few other smaller local game developers influenced how I decided to pursue my goals in a big way. I saw the rise and fall of Zynga with Farmville and many other In App Purchases. It was really great luck to be able to go to local meetups of the studios and hear their insight on what kind of game they most want to make, which games they can build with what kind of team, and what kind of game the players want. They all cared so much about making something they could be proud of that brought fun or happiness to someone else. That core goal has stuck with me and I really try to find out what makes the games I make fun for other people. With any luck I share a lot of the same tastes in fun and stories as the people who buy my game and the process for making it fun is also making it fun for myself. [/padding] deliv2[padding type="small_left_right"] DL: On a big game like Deliverance, how is the work divided amongst your team? You are an animator and artist by trade- do you also have input on other aspects of your games such as storyline? PT: I started Deliverance right after a programmer friend of mine landed a professional job at EA and I decided that I needed to learn coding for myself. I had been teaching myself 3D animation for about 8 years by that point and was confident I could make all the 3d models, textures, and animations I would need for the game. Thanks to the Game Developer's Club at UMBC I had the perfect learning environment for picking up programming in Unity, the game engine I was using. The great joy and difficulty of the project is that I was in charge of everything. I wrote and re-wrote the story for the game about 4 times and I even scrapped whole animated sequences from the game when I felt like it dragged on too long and didn't put the player in the action soon enough. On my best days working on the project I would wake up write a daily journal about the Greece level I had finished making and how I had to paint it and then test driving around in it. On my worst days trying to boost my motivation to work on a project that took 3 years to complete, I would try to bribe myself with fast food or breaks if I could finish just one more monument for a level. The first two years my organization was great, filling a whole 2 journals with notes about the project, how to make it fun and still tell a story I liked. The last year was haphazard. I became desperate to finish the game and move on. I had finished working on all the "fun" parts of the game like characters, weapons, and levels. I now had to make the game save and load properly, add more controls such as touch screen. I worked on a mini-game to make pizzas that was fraught with glitches and crashing. I used up all my savings to contract voice overs and music, which I absolutely love and never regretted, but I ran out of money all when working on the game became a chore. I had to figure out how to setup the game on the app store and google play store and fit all the required settings. It felt amazing to get to choose at every crossroads, but it gives me a great appreciation for projects where other people are involved and I don't have to. [/padding] deliv3 [padding type="small_left_right"] DL: Having played Deliverance, it is a great mobile game that has the feel of something bigger, like a PC game. As a developer, do you plan to focus on creating and releasing mobile games, or are there plans to develop something for PC or even a console application? PT: I have always loved PC and console games. For their intense and sometimes complex controls/gameplay as well as their occasionally groundbreaking stories and cinematic experiences. I have one big console/PC game project that I started my freshman year of college that is too large in scope for me to complete on my own like Deliverance was made. My goal is to generate enough interest in Deliverance to be able to hire on a few people to pursue that game. In the meantime I want to write a novel based on the game's story and find some way of financing this dream as a completed game in the future. I sell my 3d models online and also make youtube tutorials and videos, but so far I can barely pay my own bills. Forget paying other people on the side for now. You can learn more about Deliverance and several other of Tschirgi’s projects here. [/padding]

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Pokemon Go breaking records and changing how we play games on mobile http://baltimoregamer.com/features/pokemon-go-breaking-records-changing-play-games-mobile/ http://baltimoregamer.com/features/pokemon-go-breaking-records-changing-play-games-mobile/#respond Wed, 27 Jul 2016 03:09:44 +0000 http://baltimoregamer.com/?p=991 People have been flocking to shops, museums, and churches to discover Pokemon and Pokestops. The app has become far more than a game, and more like a social and cultural movement. I personally have found myself interacting with people more frequently through the game than I would otherwise, and others have expressed the same to me.

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[padding type="small_left_right"] Pokemon Go is now in full swing! If the non-stop posting on social media about the game wasn’t enough to show its popularity, the game also broke the record for most downloads in the first week of its release, according to The Verge. People have been flocking to shops, museums, and churches to discover Pokemon and Pokestops. The app has become far more than a game, and more like a social and cultural movement. I personally have found myself interacting with people more frequently through the game than I would otherwise, and others have expressed the same to me. One article in Forbes discussed how the game is “bringing people together” and described it as a “phenomenon.” The game has truly transformed the world into a massive Pokemon region. Trainers of all different shapes and sizes are catching and comparing Pokemon all over the world. And perhaps what is most fascinating is that there seems to be little competition, at least on a trainer-to-trainer level. While some social media posts have jokingly insulted the intelligence of members of opposing teams, ultimately people seem more interested in the shared experience of capturing Pokemon. From the highest leveled trainers, including one individual who has already caught them all, to the people who pick up the game casually, the game has acted as more of a social media platform than a contest. [/padding] [caption id="attachment_994" align="aligncenter" width="1280"]pokemon-go Image Credit: TheVerge.com[/caption] [padding type="small_left_right"] But the competition is still real, it just appears more passionate than mean-spirited. And the well-meaning competitive nature may grow, according to some updates reported in an article published by N4BB. The article states that Niantic has already released plans for major updates to the game, not just for fixing bugs. Added updates include trading, which will help players who don’t get to travel as far fill their Pokedex; customization of gyms and Pokestops, though it is unclear what that fully entails; and a leader board truly capturing who is the very best that no one ever was. Along with these added updates are an additional 569 Pokemon who have not appeared in the game or even been hinted at yet, and that is not including the legendaries who have not yet been spotted. Though the game is still only in its infancy, it appears its popularity will continue to move upward as Niantic and the Pokemon Company find new ways to bring people together.
  1. http://www.theverge.com/2016/7/22/12258874/pokemon-go-apple-ios-app-store-record-most-downloads
  2. http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2016/07/11/pokemon-go-is-more-than-just-a-game-its-a-phenomenon-thats-bringing-people-together/#77b14eea4743
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