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Rich Gallup's Top 10 Games of 2012

Keene, New Hampshire's prodigal son and 38 Studios survivor Rich Gallup farts out a list of his favorite games of 2012.

Rich Gallup (@rich_gallup) is Live Producer for Disruptor Beam, currently working on Game of Thrones: Ascent. Recently he founded Summer Camp Studios, creators of the doofy iOS game Fart Cat!, and before that he had a front row seat for one of this year’s more unfortunate stories in gaming as Lead Producer at 38 Studios.

Hello everybody!

As with any personal top ten list, below you will find a reflection of my gaming habits and tastes, so allow me to start off by spelling them out. This was a busy, frantic year for me, one where I had less time than ever for my favorite style of gaming experience--comfortably lounged in my living room, controller in hands with my TV and a console. Many of my friends were abruptly spread across time zones, while others saw their families and careers grow to the point where our schedules never seemed to line up for multiplayer. It was also an intense year of staring at computers, whether work or while looking for work. For me, computers became so linked to work that when I wanted to get away from it (e.g. to play) I got away from computers. And finally, I’m terrified of zombies. So, without further ado...

10. Fairway Solitaire

Now that we know each other so well, I feel comfortable telling you I play Fairway Solitaire every day. It’s my Minesweeper. My Freecell. My Solitaire, but with golf scoring and the requisite annoying gopher. This solid, polished, comfort-zone puzzle game is my first stop when I have a few moments to spare, and the folks at Big Fish Games happily feed my habit by releasing new content every day. Just let me go! No, please don’t. I’ll never quit you, Fairway Solitaire.

9. Gauge

Many great iOS games seek only to entertain for short periods of time by presenting you with a challenging, unwinnable experience. You have fun for a bit, eventually get sick of dying, and then put it away until you have another couple minutes to play it again. For some folks Punch Quest scratches that itch, for others it’s Super Hexagon. For me, it’s Gauge by Etienne Perin. With graphics reminiscent of a PSP launch title, solid controls (all you do is tap) and a quirky spirit, Gauge is weird, captivating fun. I’m awful at it and I love it.

8. Mark of the Ninja

Once upon a time, my internet handle was ThugNinja, based on the awful rank I earned in the tutorial for Tenchu: Stealth Assassins on the PlayStation. In the spring of 2000 I made a junior thesis film titled Curse of the Ninja. What I’m saying is I have a deep and storied love of ninjas. Mark of the Ninja makes this list for being the first game ever where if I get pummeled to death by alerted guards, I feel it’s my fault and not the game’s.

7. Journey

Every game collection needs that title that lets you take a break from being crazy and awesome and flipping out all the time. Journey provides a gorgeous, relaxed, and (mostly) stress-free play session that I recommend everybody experience in one sitting. I did, and when I compare it to equivalent binge sessions with Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Assassin’s Creed III, I find myself vastly preferring Journey’s understated, wordless tale and simple, clean controls. My imagination was given room to breathe, and that’s rare for a console title. Journey also earns bonus points for leading to the following exchange between me and my wife:

“I heard about this game on NPR today called Journey.”

“Oh yeah? What did they say about it?”

“You have a scarf.”

“That’s about right.”

6. Dishonored

I have the best birthday. Loving video games and being born in mid-November means one can be buried in all of the great fall releases right when they’re coming out. None of this waiting for Santa Claus malarky. My 360’s calendar is booked solid well into 2013, but I had to perform a solid sit down with each of my gifts to see what I would play through first. Dishonored is officially waiting on deck. Don’t ruin it for me, but it seems the game is British BioShock, with canned whale meat stacked as high as a Loyalist’s eye. I could be completely wrong, but first impressions have me more excited about the potential for this game than many of 2012’s big name sequels. Great visual style, too!

5. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Yeah I went there. Initially, I didn’t know where to put Reckoning to properly reflect the love and effort put into it by my friends and colleagues at Big Huge Games. Solidly in the midst of the year’s best feels like the perfect spot. I played Reckoning for over 100 hours, and some day I’ll be ready to play it all again. An open-world fantasy RPG with slick, fluid combat is truly special, and to pull it all off with so few bugs is a rare thing to be appreciated. Apologies if you feel this is a bit of a homer pick, I promise to never do it again for a 38 Studios title...

4. Far Cry 3

See what I did there? Picking the mood back up, have you played this game?!? When I’m not stabbing goats in the name of holsters I’m getting eaten by sharks in pursuit of a bigger wallet, and there are signs I can finally break the bloody stalemate in my war with the Komodo Dragons. My, this world is certainly full of things - that I want to kill and craft into other things. Just like Dishonored, I have barely started Far Cry 3 but this game has its hooks into me deeeep.

3. WarGames: WOPR

Henceforth, Be-Rad’s WarGames: WOPR shall forever be included on any list of the best games based on a movie license. This is a fun, strategic puzzle game with balanced, progressive game mechanics, a sweet art style, and boss fights against Ally Sheedy and Dabney Coleman. Plus, at least one of the game’s music tracks fits right into that driving sound that’s been making the fine gentlemen at this site pause and appreciate in many a 2012 Quicklook.

2. McPixel

I have no clear rationale as to how this game got so high up my list except that Sos Kamisnki’s McPixel is stupid, stupid funny. I feel less of myself for having laughed at certain parts. Can I justify my enjoyment by claiming that this game is not sophomoric, but witty? There’s a Dexter’s Lab reference, that’s a thinking man’s cartoon! All I know is the quick pace, hidden jokes, countless explosions and relentless music egged me into getting a gold on every single level, all within 24 hours of purchase.

1. 10,000,000

Luca Redwood’s 10,000,000 could my game of 2012 solely for its fresh and addictive combination of those ubiquitous game elements of match-three puzzles and endless runners, with a nice layer of basic RPG levelling on top. It’s that good. But to me, as somebody who took a stab at starting their own mobile gaming company, 10,000,000 means so much more.

We are living in an exciting and scary time for video games. Studios with decades of history have been forced to dramatically scale back on headcount or close entirely for one costly decision or another. Traditional publishers would rather risk their giants budgets on proven, money-making sequels. This makes sound business sense but potentially limits the opportunities to innovate for some of the greatest developer talents in the industry and risks boring the consumer. Will the looming new console cycle return the game development world to “normal”? Or will every game company just hire former Zynga analysts to chase the exploding free-to-play demographic, fueling an analytical-driven chase after a video game market that may no longer be dominated by the traditional Giant Bomb reader and their friends?

While the big shops sort all of that out, I don’t get worried. Because in today’s world, one dedicated guy, with a little help from his friends, can make a fun and captivating game that can be easily accessed by tens of millions of people and be rightfully named Game of the Year. Luca Redwood’s 10,000,000 is why I am eternally optimistic about the future of gaming. We’ll see you there!

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Posted by Ryan

Rich Gallup (@rich_gallup) is Live Producer for Disruptor Beam, currently working on Game of Thrones: Ascent. Recently he founded Summer Camp Studios, creators of the doofy iOS game Fart Cat!, and before that he had a front row seat for one of this year’s more unfortunate stories in gaming as Lead Producer at 38 Studios.

Hello everybody!

As with any personal top ten list, below you will find a reflection of my gaming habits and tastes, so allow me to start off by spelling them out. This was a busy, frantic year for me, one where I had less time than ever for my favorite style of gaming experience--comfortably lounged in my living room, controller in hands with my TV and a console. Many of my friends were abruptly spread across time zones, while others saw their families and careers grow to the point where our schedules never seemed to line up for multiplayer. It was also an intense year of staring at computers, whether work or while looking for work. For me, computers became so linked to work that when I wanted to get away from it (e.g. to play) I got away from computers. And finally, I’m terrified of zombies. So, without further ado...

10. Fairway Solitaire

Now that we know each other so well, I feel comfortable telling you I play Fairway Solitaire every day. It’s my Minesweeper. My Freecell. My Solitaire, but with golf scoring and the requisite annoying gopher. This solid, polished, comfort-zone puzzle game is my first stop when I have a few moments to spare, and the folks at Big Fish Games happily feed my habit by releasing new content every day. Just let me go! No, please don’t. I’ll never quit you, Fairway Solitaire.

9. Gauge

Many great iOS games seek only to entertain for short periods of time by presenting you with a challenging, unwinnable experience. You have fun for a bit, eventually get sick of dying, and then put it away until you have another couple minutes to play it again. For some folks Punch Quest scratches that itch, for others it’s Super Hexagon. For me, it’s Gauge by Etienne Perin. With graphics reminiscent of a PSP launch title, solid controls (all you do is tap) and a quirky spirit, Gauge is weird, captivating fun. I’m awful at it and I love it.

8. Mark of the Ninja

Once upon a time, my internet handle was ThugNinja, based on the awful rank I earned in the tutorial for Tenchu: Stealth Assassins on the PlayStation. In the spring of 2000 I made a junior thesis film titled Curse of the Ninja. What I’m saying is I have a deep and storied love of ninjas. Mark of the Ninja makes this list for being the first game ever where if I get pummeled to death by alerted guards, I feel it’s my fault and not the game’s.

7. Journey

Every game collection needs that title that lets you take a break from being crazy and awesome and flipping out all the time. Journey provides a gorgeous, relaxed, and (mostly) stress-free play session that I recommend everybody experience in one sitting. I did, and when I compare it to equivalent binge sessions with Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Assassin’s Creed III, I find myself vastly preferring Journey’s understated, wordless tale and simple, clean controls. My imagination was given room to breathe, and that’s rare for a console title. Journey also earns bonus points for leading to the following exchange between me and my wife:

“I heard about this game on NPR today called Journey.”

“Oh yeah? What did they say about it?”

“You have a scarf.”

“That’s about right.”

6. Dishonored

I have the best birthday. Loving video games and being born in mid-November means one can be buried in all of the great fall releases right when they’re coming out. None of this waiting for Santa Claus malarky. My 360’s calendar is booked solid well into 2013, but I had to perform a solid sit down with each of my gifts to see what I would play through first. Dishonored is officially waiting on deck. Don’t ruin it for me, but it seems the game is British BioShock, with canned whale meat stacked as high as a Loyalist’s eye. I could be completely wrong, but first impressions have me more excited about the potential for this game than many of 2012’s big name sequels. Great visual style, too!

5. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Yeah I went there. Initially, I didn’t know where to put Reckoning to properly reflect the love and effort put into it by my friends and colleagues at Big Huge Games. Solidly in the midst of the year’s best feels like the perfect spot. I played Reckoning for over 100 hours, and some day I’ll be ready to play it all again. An open-world fantasy RPG with slick, fluid combat is truly special, and to pull it all off with so few bugs is a rare thing to be appreciated. Apologies if you feel this is a bit of a homer pick, I promise to never do it again for a 38 Studios title...

4. Far Cry 3

See what I did there? Picking the mood back up, have you played this game?!? When I’m not stabbing goats in the name of holsters I’m getting eaten by sharks in pursuit of a bigger wallet, and there are signs I can finally break the bloody stalemate in my war with the Komodo Dragons. My, this world is certainly full of things - that I want to kill and craft into other things. Just like Dishonored, I have barely started Far Cry 3 but this game has its hooks into me deeeep.

3. WarGames: WOPR

Henceforth, Be-Rad’s WarGames: WOPR shall forever be included on any list of the best games based on a movie license. This is a fun, strategic puzzle game with balanced, progressive game mechanics, a sweet art style, and boss fights against Ally Sheedy and Dabney Coleman. Plus, at least one of the game’s music tracks fits right into that driving sound that’s been making the fine gentlemen at this site pause and appreciate in many a 2012 Quicklook.

2. McPixel

I have no clear rationale as to how this game got so high up my list except that Sos Kamisnki’s McPixel is stupid, stupid funny. I feel less of myself for having laughed at certain parts. Can I justify my enjoyment by claiming that this game is not sophomoric, but witty? There’s a Dexter’s Lab reference, that’s a thinking man’s cartoon! All I know is the quick pace, hidden jokes, countless explosions and relentless music egged me into getting a gold on every single level, all within 24 hours of purchase.

1. 10,000,000

Luca Redwood’s 10,000,000 could my game of 2012 solely for its fresh and addictive combination of those ubiquitous game elements of match-three puzzles and endless runners, with a nice layer of basic RPG levelling on top. It’s that good. But to me, as somebody who took a stab at starting their own mobile gaming company, 10,000,000 means so much more.

We are living in an exciting and scary time for video games. Studios with decades of history have been forced to dramatically scale back on headcount or close entirely for one costly decision or another. Traditional publishers would rather risk their giants budgets on proven, money-making sequels. This makes sound business sense but potentially limits the opportunities to innovate for some of the greatest developer talents in the industry and risks boring the consumer. Will the looming new console cycle return the game development world to “normal”? Or will every game company just hire former Zynga analysts to chase the exploding free-to-play demographic, fueling an analytical-driven chase after a video game market that may no longer be dominated by the traditional Giant Bomb reader and their friends?

While the big shops sort all of that out, I don’t get worried. Because in today’s world, one dedicated guy, with a little help from his friends, can make a fun and captivating game that can be easily accessed by tens of millions of people and be rightfully named Game of the Year. Luca Redwood’s 10,000,000 is why I am eternally optimistic about the future of gaming. We’ll see you there!

Edited by Atwa

MCPIXEL SAVE THE DAY

Posted by Phatmac

Fart Cat!

Posted by Phantomvirus

Rich mofahking Gallup!

Posted by MildMolasses

My mom plays Fairway Solitaire everyday as well. I should introduce them, somehow

Posted by VoshiNova

@Phantomvirus said:

Rich mofahking Gallup!

Posted by mrfluke

rich should join giantbomb as a features producer, his style would fit PERFECTLY

Posted by Tesla

Mahpicsell!

Apologies if you feel this is a bit of a homer pick, I promise to never do it again for a 38 Studios title...

Rich Gallup is a funny guy.

Posted by august

I was promised farts.

Posted by Kraznor

Love that optimism, this is indeed a fascinating time for games.

Edited by Master_Funk

Rich should record a version of ' cop knife' replacing the words with fart cat. That would awesome.

Also love that Journey is so well represented on ever list so far.

Posted by sub_o

Man, it's sad that 38 Studios is no more. I really enjoyed Kingdoms of Amalur early this year. Anyway, this is a good written top 10 list.

Posted by MarkWahlberg
“I heard about this game on NPR today called Journey.”
“Oh yeah? What did they say about it?”
“You have a scarf.”
“That’s about right.”

Man, I fucking love video games sometimes. Nice list!

Posted by mcmax3000

I grabbed Fairway Solitaire a little while ago when they were offering it free on iOS. Really enjoy it.

Solitaire on Windows 8 has a game mode that's similar as well.

Posted by LarcenousLaugh

I put over 70 hours into Reckoning myself, and even though it didn't quite reach everything I wanted it to, it still scratched an itch. Thanks for working on it, and really bummed I won't get to see a second effort from 38.

Nice list all-around... I'll forgive that it doesn't look like you've played Dishonored and added it anyway lol.

Posted by granderojo

McPixel was in my top 10 as well Rich, glad to see it's getting love.

Posted by artofwar420

Thanks for the iOS recommendations Rich!

Posted by KoolAid

Great list! And his closing paragraphs sum up my sentiment exactly. Sure, the AAA games don't solely target the 'Hardcore' gamer anymore. And the freemium games are way outta left field for us. But there are some many games being made for us! From AA to indie. From XCOM to FTL to Fez to The Walking Dead. You want your insanely complicated RPG or stratgey game? There a small team in Iceland or Poland or someplace working on that. Or some small indie team in the midwest. It's awesome!

Posted by Napalm

MACPIX-ELL!

Posted by Chango

I should really try out DIshonored. It's coming up on quite a few lists.

Nice list, Gallup!

Edited by SoothsayerGB

Great list and "Hey" to Rich's Mom.

Edited by TooWalrus

Any content involving Rich has been making me terribly uncomfortable ever since he cussed at the PAX panel. IT SHOOK ME TO THE CORE, GALLUP! I don't know what to believe anymore.

Edited by tescovee

When I kick it back to NH, we should debate your list at kilkenny's! :P

Posted by Grissefar

Wow thanks for making Kingdoms of Amalur, man. It was actually pretty good.

Posted by XplusY

@rich_gallup Great list, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was awesome. I put damn near 100 hours in it and loved every minute. KoRA would easily be in my top ten, and probably top five games this year. It's just a shame there won't be more from the series, or that such (a) great studio(s) broke up.

Posted by probablytuna

Always nice to hear from Rich.

Posted by RetroVirus

Rich "Big Pimpin'" Gallup!

Posted by Tesson

OOOOONNNNN THE SPOOOT!

Posted by wrathofconn

Just for everyone who seems to be confused on this point: Rich did not work on Reckoning. He was working on the MMO.

Posted by Pop

Scary thoughts there at the end Rich, I hope that won't happen.

Posted by Cold_Wolven

It's understandable that for someone who's constantly working throughout the year that smaller IOS games would have a bigger impact on Rich.

Posted by jakob187

"I promise to never do it again for a 38 Studios title..."

I laughed harder than I should.

Posted by fots

My finger, is on tha button!!! Thanks for the list Rich!

Online
Edited by fluxbit

I am profoundly and deeply distressed that Rich was not named as Richard K. Gallup. That headshot cries full-name-with-middle-initial.

Posted by MasturbatingestBear

Dude, how is it the third day of GOTY awards and we only just got the first 05-07 GameSpot guy? Hopefully we get some more people like Carrie, Greg, and Brian on here as well.

Also everyone loves Dick K Gallup.

Posted by 20183242

That conversation recap about Journey made me laugh my ass off. Its one of those conversations that you can only fully appreciate in retrospect.

Posted by Cretaceous_Bob

Fart cat!

Posted by ocdog45

I wanted to be so mad at him for the plug. Reality is there is no harm in loving your work. LOL at saying he'd never pick another 38 Studio title.

Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles

@Tesla said:

Mahpicsell!

Apologies if you feel this is a bit of a homer pick, I promise to never do it again for a 38 Studios title...

Rich Gallup is a funny guy.

Posted by Red12b
I promise to never do it again for a 38 Studios title...

ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh dude!......................................

Posted by I_am_Lono

So far the only person to list his own work. Frankly, if it were a good game I could over look it, but as it stands this is unacceptable. I really used to bloody like this bloke too!

Posted by Fattony12000

GIDDYUP GALLUP!

Posted by HalfDane1975

I like your number one pick Rich ! Great game !

Posted by MisterWaingro

Stay classy, Rich!

Posted by Grimluck343

Good luck at the new gig Rich!

Posted by Ryan

@I_am_Lono said:

So far the only person to list his own work. Frankly, if it were a good game I could over look it, but as it stands this is unacceptable. I really used to bloody like this bloke too!

Rich didn't work on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. That was developed by Big Huge Games, which had been purchased by 38 Studios, but Rich was, by my understanding, working exclusively on the unnamed, unreleased 38 Studios MMO. Voting for your own game is kinda sleazy, but that's not quite what's happening here.

Posted by DrLove

OOONNNNN THE SPOOOOOOOOTTTTTT!!

Posted by lord_python

This guy is missed round these parts

Posted by I_am_Lono

@Ryan said:

@I_am_Lono said:

So far the only person to list his own work. Frankly, if it were a good game I could over look it, but as it stands this is unacceptable. I really used to bloody like this bloke too!

Rich didn't work on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. That was developed by Big Huge Games, which had been purchased by 38 Studios, but Rich was, by my understanding, working exclusively on the unnamed, unreleased 38 Studios MMO. Voting for your own game is kinda sleazy, but that's not quite what's happening here.

Ah, my bad. Cheers for the clarification, Ryan, this puts him back in my good books :)

Posted by dropabombonit

Rich's list is hood as shit

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