All posts by Brendan Keogh
Max Payne 3

By on July 2, 2013 at 12:27 pm

You know what I love? Characters that visibly holster their weapons. I love looking at my character’s body in a third-person game and seeing all the weapons and gadgets they have available actually attached to their body somewhere. Instead of guns and grenades disappearing into an invisible, TARDUS pocket, I love seeing that inventory of available equipment there in front of me. It isn’t just something that looks good, though; often it actually adds something to how the game feels to play.

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By on May 28, 2013 at 10:08 am

You know what I love? Games where I don’t have to save the world. Or the universe. Or the country. I love games where the stakes are something more personal and mundane. Games that have a story that just has me deal with one person’s problems as they go about their life. Rather than being uneventful or boring, it is these stories that I feel most emotionally attached to.

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Binary Domain

By on May 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

You know what I love? Rough games. The games that have a personality bigger than their budget. The games that are by no means ‘perfect’ but which are full of great ideas. The games that, instead of being polished to a fine sheen, still have some jagged edges and, consequentially, a unique shape and a personal feel.

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By on April 30, 2013 at 2:52 pm

You know what I love? Acting. I love games that encourage me to treat the world like a stage and my playable character like a role to perform. I love not using my character as a mere tool to do what I want to do, but doing what I think my character would do.

When a game makes me feel like I should act out the role of the character, it gets me out of the mindset that I should play in the ‘perfect’ or ‘most efficient’ way, and instead makes me feel like I should play in the way that best strengthens my own version of the story.

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Half-Life 2

By on April 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm

You know what I love? Simulated physics. I love watching objects fall and tip and fling and crash and crumple in dynamic and believable ways. Simply by implementing a believable (not necessarily realistic) system of physics and gravity that affects the objects in the game word, a game is given a literal and figurative weight, and is opened up to all kinds of dynamic and exciting outcomes.

Half-Life 2 is nine-years-old. Nine years! Since then, simulated physics have become so common-place as to hardly be noticed.

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Deus Ex

By on April 2, 2013 at 9:40 am

You know what I love? Having a body in first-person games. I love looking down and seeing legs. I love feeling like I actually have a body inside the virtual world, like I have a material presence.

In most first-person perspective games, I just feel like I am a camera flying effortlessly through a space. The movement is usually frictionless, determined to make the translation of my intentions as direct and transparent as possible. In multiplayer shooters, this makes sense, as the competitive play is all about my skill as a player. But in a single-player game, I want to feel like my character has a real presence in this world. I’m more concerned about feeling like I am part of something than I am with being able to play ‘perfectly’.

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Far Cry 3

By on March 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm

You know what I love? Unreliable narrators. I love stories where I can’t trust the storyteller. I love how such stories draw attention to the way they are presenting me information, the way they insist that I be critical and suspicious, and the way they show me that every story is presented from a particular point of view. In videogames in particular, I love how this unreliability of the narrator (usually the playable character) feeds into everything I experience in that world.

I love being forced to wonder if I am seeing this world as it really ‘is’ — or just how my character wants me to see it.

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BioShock Audio Diary

By on March 5, 2013 at 10:28 am

You know what I love? Finding journals scattered around a game’s world that reveal fragments of a story and help me better understand that world and its inhabitants. These days, such journals are most commonly audiotapes of some kind, but they can also be written material like emails or newspaper clippings. When implemented properly, I don’t just feel like I’m exploring a physical space as I move through it, but I also feel like I am discovering a lived-in place as I come to understand the relationships of the people that live — or used to live — there.

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BioShock Infinite

By on February 18, 2013 at 10:59 am

At a recent preview event, had the chance to sit down with Bioshock Infinite‘s Bill Gardner, Director of Design at Irrational Games. We spoke about gear customisation, linearity in gameplay, how to handle the colourful racism of the 1920′s, and striking the right balance between ‘gamey’ and immersive.

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BioShock Infinite

By on February 15, 2013 at 10:00 am

Bioshock: Infinite starts, much as Bioshock starts, atop a stormy ocean with the player approaching a lighthouse. This time, though, we aren’t descending into the deepest, darkest bowels of the ocean. Instead, as we’ve all known since that fish tank was symbolically smashed in the first Infinite trailer, we are ascending into heaven.

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Borderlands 2 Goliath

By on February 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm

You know what I love? The Goliath enemy in Borderlands 2. While initially it might seem like just a slightly larger bullet-sponge than all the other bullet-sponge enemies in the game, the Goliath allows several unique engagements from the player that greatly mixup Borderlands 2’s base gameplay.

Perhaps more accurately, the Goliath demands the player engages with them in unique ways. They force the player to think, and they can become an embodiment of the player’s self-defined goals.

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Thirty Flights of Loving

By on January 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm

You know what I love? Short games. Games that aren’t bloated with content simply because games are apparently meant to be long. Games that know they can say what they want to say in a matter of hours or, sometimes, a matter of minutes, and are all the more powerful for it.  I love the games that are only as long as they need to be.

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Halo 4

By on November 27, 2012 at 1:06 pm

You know what I love? Endings. I mean real endings. Not just that point where the game peters out before the credits roll, but proper conclusions that actually wrap everything up, grabbing the narrative loose ends and tying them together in a pretty bow. A proper ending to a game can increase just how significant all my actions up to that point felt. It can give them meaning: “This is what I was fighting for all this time.”

But so many modern videogames don’t end. So many videogames have to leave the ending open for the inevitable sequel that will be made when it sells well enough. Consequentially, so many videogame stories render my actions throughout them meaningless. Not because they are bad stories, but because they lack endings. They lack finality. In the end, I wasn’t fighting for anything.

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Spec Ops: The Line

By on November 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm

You know what I love? Violent videogames about videogame violence. I love the trend over the past few years (and the last year especially) to examine the various ways that violence functions in videogames. I love the way that these games aren’t so much trying to claim that videogame violence is simply ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but the way they simply want to understand it better, the way they simply want to respect its power more.

Of course, I am talking about games like Bioshock, Spec Ops: The Line, Far Cry 2 and, more recently, Dishonored, Mark of the Ninja, Hotline Miami and the still upcoming Far Cry 3. All of these games, in their own way, ask questions about the ways violence is both depicted and deployed in videogames — the way violence is used against the player, and the way the player uses violence. They want to help us as players have richer and more nuanced understandings of just what violence is doing in these games.

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Retro City Rampage

By on October 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm

You know what I love? Nostalgia. I love it when a new game makes explicit or implicit nods to a previous generation of gaming, be it through subtle references or blatant, pixel-art aesthetics. I get an immense satisfaction from playing these games and suddenly being reminded of not just what those games were like, but what it felt like to play those games ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. Not because games were any better or worse back then, but just because it was different, and I was different.

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FTL Faster Than Light

By on October 2, 2012 at 2:10 pm

You know what I love? Dying. In those games where death is both probable and permanent, death might not be the victory I was striving for, but its inevitability gives a sense of intensity and foreboding while I still live, and a powerful narrative closure once it overcomes me.

Several games of late (and countless games throughout the years) have depended on the inevitability and permanence of death to create powerful, gripping experiences. Most recently, I’m thinking of DayZ and FTL

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