By James Pinnell on December 4, 2013 at 1:57 pm
One of the things I generally complain about to fellow journalists and friends is that lack of “surprise” that increasingly comes from entering a new game.
Developers and publishers constantly promise new mechanics, experiences and technology, but generally fail. As games become more expensive to produce, bigger studios start to feel the pinch from their overlords — niche systems, ideas and creativity don’t sell franchises, and those franchises that make incremental changes rather than wholesale overhauls allow for players who want to be comfortable. After 20-odd years of gaming, I don’t want to be comfortable anymore — which is why I’ve been enjoying the flood of new indie experiences that actually attempt to work against the status quo.
But it’s not just new experiences — it’s also refined ones. These five games were the titles I played this year that delivered those surprising moments — whether improving on classic systems, creating new ones or just making great use of creative prompts, such as humour, sadness or even politics. We’re coming up on the end of the year, and GON’s official GOTY awards are not far away – but this feature is designed to reward those titles that may not be showered in kudos, or simply forgotten on top of all the BioShocks and Last of Us‘s that whitewashed Metacritic this year.
By James Pinnell on September 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm
When you’re 30 years old, married and bringing up a rambunctious two-and-a-half year old, time to yourself is indescribably precious. After I run through the post-work routine of dinner, bath, bedtime and wife time, what’s left is a crucial few hours where I can play a few games for business or pleasure. On those nights where I’m not torching the midnight oil in order to produce stellar content for you, the reader, I indulge in personal gaming time. The problem lies in the sheer number of titles that flood across my desk, from debug codes, to developers begging me to try out their new F2P beta.
The issue I was faced with about a week ago was not only that Grand Theft Auto 5 came out, but I was finally offered a majestic place in the elite club of Hearthstone Closed Beta testers. Frankly, I didn’t think that a F2P CCG could ever really compete with Rockstar’s epic.
I was very wrong.
By Alex Walker on September 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm
Hearthstone might not be the next expansion for World of Warcraft, an upcoming patch for Diablo 3 or the fan’s wet-dream Starcraft: Ghost, but that hasn’t hurt its popularity one bit. Thousands of you flocked to GON for our Hearthstone giveaways alone, and that’s not counting the tens of thousands who tried to get into the beta for Blizzard’s upcoming free-to-play CCG.
To better understand how the beta is panning out, Alex Walker sat down with Hearthstone designer Eric Dodds and the game’s production director, Jason Chayes.
By El_Funko on September 6, 2013 at 6:00 pm
When Blizzard announced Hearthstone at PAX East six months ago, the news was met with a potent geek cocktail — one part confusion, one part anger, poured over forum posts and served in YouTube comments. “Why is Blizzard making a digital CCG? Don’t they already have a CCG that no one plays? Hearthstone, more like Barfstone!”
Fast forward to the present day with the game in closed beta, and many of those same smug critics are willing to shave all the hair off their body in return for a single precious beta key.
By Alex Walker on June 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm
When I came out in defence of Hearthstone a couple of months ago, I figured I’d be vindicated sooner or later. Most of the negative commentary surrounding Blizzard’s upcoming collectible card game was rubbish, since it was largely obsessed with the idea (based on no evidence) that Diablo 3 or StarCraft 2 could have been better games if it wasn’t for this random free-to-play side project.
Absolute tosh. And after spending an hour and a half with an alpha build of Hearthstone, my bet’s paid off.
Blizzard’s out-of-nowhere announcement that they were making a World of Warcraft-themed TCG caught many by surprise, and provoked some quite unwarranted backlash from people who thought Blizzard could better direct their resources elsewhere. Given however that Blizzard tend to make…
By Alex Walker on March 25, 2013 at 1:03 pm
Well, at least I now know why all the Blizzard staff had such cheeky looks on their faces at Federation Square whenever someone brought up PAX East. We figured it wasn’t going to be Blizzard All-Stars, since everyone was happy to talk about that.
People look at Blizzard and see this rich, vibrant history of deep, long-lasting PC games. They look at games that changed the industry, games that created careers for gamers. Then they see a card game and go “what the hell is this Blizzard can you go back and make an actual game already”.
What elitist rubbish.