Posted on June 29, 2015
Being the guy who put over 300 hours into the PC version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I (obviously) found the whole experience enthralling and entertaining, if not deeply revelatory. Sure, it was another Elder Scrolls game, but opposite the lush and almost cartoonish greenery of its predecessor Oblivion, Skyrim looked like an interactive travel guide through Norse mythology with its snow-capped crags and frozen caverns.
Last week I welcomed Nick to the fellowship of aimless wanderers of Tamriel–he’d just told me the day of this recording that, after nearly four years, he finally sat down and finished Skyrim. That wasn’t the remarkable part–rather, it was that Nick liked the experience.
Nick’s not adverse to open world games, to be fair. Just Cause 2 is among the few series he cherishes. Bethesda, for all its ability, just struggled to capture his attention with Skyrim. (We get into the reasons why in the show.) The question of “Why now?” begged to be answered, and so we did! Listen to us divulge our unique oral histories with open world exploration.
Did you always have a soft spot for Skyrim? Are you the person still logging hundreds of hours testing countless mods? We’d like to hear from you, even if you despise the game. We want to know why! Send us a note: ludonist -at- gmail -dot- com.
Posted on June 22, 2015
Another E3 has come and gone. The yearly tradition of glitz, glamor and games brings with it a lot of promises–and a lot of hype.
In this episode we’re getting real about E3 2015 and detail what we’re excited for and what, quite frankly, disappointed us. Listen in for our take on conferences from Bethesda, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA and whatever the hell that PC Gaming Show was.
Posted on June 15, 2015
E3 still isn’t officially underway for another day or so, but Bethesda sure wasn’t gonna wait around for other companies to break their news. The developer and publisher took to the stage last night to promote its upcoming games, including sequels to Dishonored and Doom. But for many people, those games paled in importance when compared to Fallout 4 — the long-awaited sequel to Bethesda’s revival of the classic Interplay-developed computer RPG series.
(Yeah, I know: a sequel to a sequel that revived a series that already had a sequel. Games have a convoluted history — bear with me.)
When it comes to Bethesda’s style of immersive, open-world, and wildly popular RPGs, Aaron and I come from very different schools of thought. Aaron’s the type who loves to get lost and forge his own story in the fantasy wilderness of The Elder Scrolls or the knowing satire of a nuked-out America. To me, those things sound great on paper, but Bethesda’s quality can never keep pace with its ambition.
But now Fallout 4 is coming. And you know what? It actually sounds like a really good idea whose time has come. Again.
Let’s figure out why.
Posted on June 8, 2015
Video game fans are a notoriously opinionated bunch. Picture the acerbic, humorless affect of The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy and toss in a lot of strong opinions about player progression systems and you’ve got the makings of a gaming Subreddit.
Aaron and I have a pretty diverse range of interests, so we keep up with news and conversations in all kinds of media. That’s probably why we’ve both noticed the dry sarcasm and exclusionary discourse that defines gaming more than anything else in the mainstream media. But where does it come from? And what can we do about it?
In this episode, we study the sharp tone of gaming discussion and question where it comes from and why it’s largely seen as normal. What is it about the relationship between PR and consumers that keeps this cycle of brash opinions and grudging purchases in constant motion?
Posted on May 25, 2015
Our first segment opens on a retro game store, which got us thinking about the past and the present. So we ask ourselves a not-so-simple question about taste: Have we changed, or have the games changed us?
Taste is subjective. That much is obvious. However, we’ve been playing and critiquing games since we can remember–at some point these actions blended together. Is our taste influenced by industry trends, or do we continue to seek out the same experiences that we’ve always loved? Is it easy to tell the difference between influence and preference?
If this all sounds about reminiscent, well, it is! But we think you’ll find entertainment, maybe even commiseration, in our inward search to figure out why we play certain games as our priorities shift and obligations increase.
The second segment is our roundup of games we’re currently playing, anticipating or find disappointing (sorry, Ubisoft): Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Assassin’s Creed Unity.
Posted on May 18, 2015
“What is dead may never die.”
So say the followers of the Drowned God, and frequently repeated by House Greyjoy of Game of Thrones fame. And, for the purposes of this episode, an apt phrase for the sudden resurgence of formerly powerful franchises like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Rock Band and Guitar Hero.
In this episode, we postulate and prognosticate about the reanimation of these formerly deceased franchises (brands that apparently never received the memo announcing their demise), and what such zombification says about the state of today’s games industry.
“What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger.” The publishers sure hope you’re right about that, Drowned God.
Posted on May 11, 2015
Here at The Ludonist, we do our best to bring you a fresh, topical episode every week. We think we’ve got a pretty good system down that accounts for unexpected changes to a story, but there’s always the risk that a topic will become irrelevant within 24 hours of a recording.
What can I say? We sure didn’t expect that Valve would pull the plug on its brand-new paid mod support just days after launching it. And Skyrim’s thriving and well-established modding scene seemed like it had real promise for community investment!
But what can you do? That’s what happened, and we’ll just have to roll with it.
So here you have it: 35 minutes of discussion examining the flaws, pitfalls and promises of a brand-new means of monetization within the gaming world. Consider it a time capsule from a more-optimistic period when anything seemed possible.
Rest in peace, paid mods. You never got the chance you deserved.
Posted on May 4, 2015
It’s been a couple months since the 2015 Game Developers Conference took place in San Francisco, and we’re just beginning to feel the repercussions of some major changes in game-development tech that were announced at the show. With engines simultaneously becoming faster and cheaper and virtual reality hitting the retail market in a big way later this year, it’s an exciting time to study the way games are made — and an even better time to get started making your own.
Nick and Aaron dissect the news from GDC and make some projections about what the broader impact on the established games industry will be. How does proprietary tech (like Bethesda’s id Tech, EA’s Frostbite Engine, etc.) stay competitive with the accessible and popular Unreal and Unity engines?
Nobody really knows, but it couldn’t hurt to make an educated guess.
- 0:05:10 – Watch the Unreal Engine 4 apartment walkthrough demo video that we mentioned.
- 0:19:45 – Call of Duty’s engine is the IW Engine, which is built on id tech.
- 0:31:54 – Here’s too much information about Croc: Legend of the Gobbos.
- 0:34:05 – Student project from Pax 2013: Untitled. Here’s more information from the Lake Washington Institute of Tech, who did the demo.
Posted on April 27, 2015
In our first episode, we set out to do the impossible: define what the games industry looks like in 2015.
As it turns out, things aren’t as simple as they used to be. For example:
- What does “triple-A” game development mean?
- What constitutes an “indie game”? How do you distinguish between Frozen Synapse and Frog Fractions?
- Where do consumers and creators fit into this complicated ecosystem?
We hope you enjoy this first episode and encourage you to stick around — we’ll have new episodes every week. In the meantime, please let us know what you think.