Out of Hiding, [out of nothing]

Don’t call me no Punxsutawney Phil, but I just poked my head out of a hole in the ground and asked the question, “Is it spring already?” Then I covered my whiskery face with my tiny little marmot paws in shame.

No, I ain’t no whistle-pig, and no, it isn’t technically “astronomical spring” for another couple of weeks, but it feels as though the cold dead earth is going through changes. This being my first update since winter drove my solar deities underground in search of spectral spouses, it’s like a little green word-shoot poking up out of the ice as far as this sciurid’s concerned (a particularly flowery, weed-like word-shoot, perhaps). Am I back for good? Only time and sunshine will tell.

My (tentative) return’s not the only meteorological change worth reporting. You may have noticed a trend in my last few updates having to do with the fact that I was spending nearly every waking moment down in my burrow-hole writing for Rant Gaming. Well, folks, it’s the end of an era, because Rant Gaming rants no longer. It was fun while it lasted, and I appreciate the opportunity to work with all the snazzy and enthusiastic writers there, but for now, I’ll have to find some other venue for my gaming diatribes. More on that soon.

I’m also ecstatic to announce my short story, “Cycles,” appearing in the latest issue of online multimedia publication [out of nothing]. I’ve been a fan of [out of nothing]‘s it-could-only-work-in-digital presentation and curation since I first laid eyes on them, so I’m frankly stoked to be included in the new issue, subtitled “in the mirror, a sleep, a spectral nothing.” I’m even more excited to appear alongside writers such as friend and fellow alum Seth Blake, Andrew Choate (whose work I have rambled enthusiastically about before), and emcee Douglas Kearney. I haven’t had a chance to delve deeply into the new issue yet, but I expect nothing less than the cool rabbit-hole impenetrability of an art-house flick.

That’ll have to do for now; I can feel my land-beaver nose starting to chill.

Rant Gaming Round-Up: 11/03-11/09

Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb.

My bomb this past week was Assassin’s Creed III. I’ve been carrying it around with me, wondering when it was going to go off. It’s been getting hot, and I can hear the fuse hissing, but it’s like it’s glued to my hot little hands.

Not that it’s a bad game. In fact, words cannot describe how pleasantly surprised I was with it–actually, words CAN describe it, and you’ll see how in my full review, to be included in the next update. It’s just that, with a game like Assassin’s Creed III, little things like eating, drinking, and sleeping can tend to fall by the wayside.

I was able, however, to squeeze out two features for Rant Gaming while my review sizzled in the pan. The first was a Not So Old School Special Edition: Classic Board Games in Assassin’s Creed III. As the name implies, it’s a short catalog of the traditional board games available to play in the game’s rendition of Colonial America. As if collecting feathers wasn’t distracting enough, now you can play Checkers?

I also did a short write-up about the Indie Game of the Week: Miasmata, which got a new trailer around the time the article went up. In it, I also hinted at some upcoming changes in format to the Indie Game of the Week, so be sure to take a look.

And that, aside from working and mandatory sleep sessions, was my week. Now if you’ll excuse me, I only have a few more Homestead missions to complete. See you on the other side.

Rant Gaming Round-Up: 10/27-11/02

What a week!

It started out on a high note with Boss Monster: A Not So Old School Review. Not So Old School is by far my favorite thing to write about at Rant Gaming, and it’s even better when I get an advance review copy of an excellent crowdfunded game! Be sure to check this one out–we’re nearly at the $100,000 stretch goal!

Next, here’s a bit of historical speculation: Top 10 Historical Figures to Watch For in Assassin’s Creed III. I’m currently in the midst of this game, with four sequences to go before the end, and I have yet to meet some of these folks, so it’ll be interesting seeing how well my predictions play out. Of the ones I’ve seen so far, I’m 4 for 5 (I was promised more bawdy Ben Franklin!).

Perfect timing for Halloween, here are the Top 10 Costume-Wearing Video Game Heroes. Dressing up is always something special, even when it’s in a video game, and I had a lot of fun writing this list.

The Indie Game of the Week this past week was Katabasis, because it just Would Not Do to publish an article ON HALLOWEEN and not have it be about a horror game. As horror games go, though, this one is an odd duck, focusing more on mystery and suspense than on any real and present danger. If you’re a fan of experimental games like Dear Esther, and have a few hours to spare (there doesn’t seem to be any way to save your progress), give this one a try.

Everything You Know Is Wrong in Assassin’s Creed III. It’s true. Not only does it show you a side of the American Revolution you didn’t know existed, it also subverts many things you’ve come to expect from the Assassin’s Creed series so far. Here are a few of the biggest surprises. Once you get past these changes, it’s a game like no other–keep an eye out for my full review, hopefully coming this week!

Rant Gaming Round-Up: 10/20-10/26

Welcome back to the Rant Gaming Round-Up, your weekly update on the new video game and board game content written by yours truly.

Well, almost weekly updated. As you may have noticed, this Rant Gaming Round-Up has an end date of 10/26, while the current calendar date is 10/31 (as long as you have a current calendar, that is). What’s my excuse? Only that next week’s Rant Gaming Round-Up is going to be a doozy. I’ve been so busy playing games, and writing about them, that I haven’t had a chance to keep up with the housekeeping side of things.

What can we expect from the week to come? I’ll give you a little hint: it involves knocking people’s wigs off with the sharp part of your tomahawk. Excited yet?

Speaking of getting excited, here’s the new(ish) content for the past week (and some change), beginning with 5 Reasons to Get Excited About the BioShock Infinite Board Game. Yes, Virginia, I will be playing this the moment it comes out.

Continuing with the board game theme, take a gander at If I’m Going Down: A Not So Old School Review. Do you like zombies? No? Get the hell off of my internet!

Finally, we have last week’s Indie Game of the Week – Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Even if you don’t like zombies, surely you must enjoy pretending to bash each other with swords. What could be more integral to human nature than that? Pretend decapitations and burning oil? Count me in!

You’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for next week’s update, coming a little sooner than you might expect!

Rant Gaming Round-Up: 10/13-10/19

Now THIS is what I’m talking about! A week that started out with a sort of consolation prize for poor people (Not So Old School’s list of the Top 10 FREE Board Games for Halloween) ended up delivering a few unexpected, but not unappreciated, gifts to gamers great and small. For example….

Sony Announces Deadly Premonition Director’s Cut; Whistling Commences. THAT’s a headline I can get behind! If you don’t have this game pre-ordered, you haven’t discovered time travel. Why do my most anticipated games always end up being the ones where people talk to themselves and enjoy delicious turkeys?

Then there was the Indie Game of the Week: Flightless, Nitrome’s Little Puzzle Platformer That Could. Do you have any interest in intelligent game design that doesn’t condescend to the player? Of course you do. In that case, go play this demo right away. That’s an order, magic ladder bandit duck thing.

Boss Monster: 8-bit “Dungeon Building” Card Game Terrorizes Kickstarter. I’ll be reviewing this game next week, if you can wait that long to put in your pre-orders. But seriously, for $20? You don’t need to hear my opinion. The pixel art alone is worth that price.

What bounty from the heavens will next week bring? Ta ta for now, gamers and other interested parties.

Rant Gaming Round Up: 10/6-10/12

This was a slow week for Rant Gaming articles, but I have a good excuse! Training! That’s right, I’m now (training to be) a certified member of the workforce! Economy get! So, let’s see what I was able to squeeze into my busy, busy schedule….

The main bulk of the week’s posts went to Not So Old School, my weekly take on board and card games from a video gamer’s perspective. That’s because this week, Not So Old School featured a terrifying triptych of articles, all focused on helping you find the perfect game to play on Halloween. In Roll 1D10 for Terror – Horror Board Games of 2012 (Part 1), I looked at top-secret government bases, zombie-infested cities, and even more zombie-infested cities during my overview of Level 7 [Escape], City of Horror, and the prolific output of Twilight Creations. In Horror Board Games of 2012 – Part 2, I talked about 5-minute dice game Chupacabra, the newest edition of the Resident Evil Deck Building Game, and my unspeakable yen for Mansions of Madness. Finally, Horror-themed Board Games of 2012 – Part 3 wrapped up loose ends, mummification style, with coverage of Cthulhu Gloom, Fantasy Flight’s Arkham Nights event, and the new Ticket To Ride mini-expansion, the adorably orange Halloween Freighter.

That was it for me this week…unless you count the most awesome part of all. On Wednesday, I introduced a new weekly feature with Rant Gaming: the Indie Game of the Week. Every week, I’ll be looking at a downloadable, browser-based, or mobile game that I consider to be the Indie Game of the Week. It could be free, or not; it could be on the PC, phone, or home gaming console; all that matters is that it’s the product of a small, independent developer. The first IGotW was a love letter to my childhood, a wondrous amalgamation of all things 1980s–the inaugural Indie Game of the Week: Retro City Rampage.

Next week: slideshows!

Rant Gaming Round-Up 9/29-10/5

In the gaming world, we’re entering what I like to call Interesting Times. Christmas is, from the point of view of retailers and publishers, just around the corner, which means that we’ll be seeing a solid three months of hotly-anticipated, ridiculously overhyped titles, lauded with superlatives such as “THE Game of the Year 2012!” (conveniently eclipsing all of the better games that came out around February and March). Dishonored hits stores on Tuesday, and I’m waging an internal battle about whether it’s worth pre-ordering just so I can write an article about how disappointing it turned out.

This past week, the overfed pigeon known as Capcom dropped Resident Evil 6 on our unsuspecting heads, and I was lucky enough to avoid the splash damage. Here’s what I was doing instead:

  • I was playing Tokyo Jungle, that weird PSN game where you play as a Pomeranian let loose upon an urban landscape devoid of humanity (but conveniently overflowing with hippos, gazelles, panthers, crocodiles, and prehistoric reptiles). I was able to tear myself away just long enough to enumerate some of Tokyo Jungle’s Biggest Fumbles.

What will I get up to next week, I wonder?