Rhythm Heaven: Blind Beats and Brotherly Bonding

First, a little pretext: I'm the oldest of four brothers. All of us play games to varying degrees, and as with any family and any medium, our tastes vary. For whatever reason, the only game that's ever resonated with all four of us in equal measure is Rhythm Heaven on the DS. I couldn't tell you why, but every single one of us got completely obsessed with that game - so much so that when I first put it my brother Porter's hands two summers ago, he played it for four hours nonstop, determined to Superb each song before moving onto the next one. True story: the night I introduced it to him, we went on a trip to the grocery store, and he brought the DS with him and walked around the store playing it. Like, it hit our family that hard.

So late last year, I set out to get my brothers an import copy of the Wii's Rhythm Heaven installment - a game that, at the time, hadn't been announced for a North American release yet - as a Christmas gift. I won't get into the details, but suffice it to say it was a lot harder than I expected! Despite that, they were able to open a new Rhythm Heaven game to play on Christmas morning, and that surprise was totally worth it. I'm only a couple months away from college graduation, and after that, I'm not sure how many more chances I'll get to hang out with my literal bros for extended periods of time, so it was important to me that I make this happen, and I'm really glad it all came together!

All that stuff aside, though, I'm pretty much here to say one thing, and that thing is this: Rhythm Heaven is fucking awesome, you guys. Like, it's seriously the best! No kiddin'!

First of all, let's talk about how it's a Wii game with no motion controls. Like, none at all. As a first-party Wii game, the temptation to shoehorn motion controls into this game must've been strong, but they resisted, and I couldn't be more grateful. The decision to entirely forego waggle is a huge part of makes this game so brilliant. There are things that motion controls are perfect for, but precise, timing-based rhythm game mechanics are definitely not it. This seems like a lesson learned from Rhythm Heaven Gold on the DS, whose mildly controversial sliding/flicking mechanic rubbed (heh) some people the wrong way. While the touchscreen stuff was never enough to make me feel cheated, I can understand the frustration of futzing with analog movement in a game that requires digital precision. Rhythm Heaven can be pretty brutal and demanding, and the last thing you want is to feel like you lost a minigame for reasons other than your own nonrhythmic tendencies. Trying to incorporate the Wii remote's gyroscope and accelerometers in a Rhythm Heaven game would have made a small problem huge, but luckily, they opted not to do that.

Actually, they went just as far in the opposite direction as possible. A lof the minigames in this package exclusively make use of the A button. If it weren't for the occasional (judicious) use of the B button, Rhythm Heaven Fever would probably be the most brilliant one-switch ever conceived. Every minigame uses between 1 and 2 buttons, which is already crazy - what's crazier is that they manage to eek out over 50 unique ideas from the game.

Instead of getting increasingly more complex by stacking on more ideas like many sequels do, this game is the simplest, purest Rhythm Heaven yet. This is the barest input they've ever pared down to in a Nintendo SPD Group No.1 game (much less a Nintendo game), and the the game is better for it. I spent some time playing my copy of the original Rhythm Tengoku for the GBA earlier today, and while it's still totally amazing, it's also less elegant than Fever in a couple pretty crucial ways. The obvious way is that the GBA game used up to 6 inputs (all four D-pad directions, plus A and B), which seems pretty excessive compared to Fever's two-button approach. But the second difference is a lot more subtle and a lot more interesting.

In most games, the sound is an inessential bonus to what's going on visually. In Rhythm Heaven, the opposite is true. Unless I'm mistaken, every single minigame in Fever could be literally played blind, which is insane! The visuals are there as a bonus, but you could use just the audio cues and get through the entire game just fine. There are a few exceptions to this in Rhythm Heaven GBA (and, as SpunkyHePanda pointed out to me, at least one in Gold), but even most of those minigames hold up just fine to the eyes-closed test.

Actually, Fever plays a lot with obscuring your vision. It's an idea they touched on a little bit in the original GBA game and barely played with in Gold, but the later minigames in Fever often go out of their way to force you to rely more on what you hear and less on what you see. It really helps to hit home the fact that, again, every single one of these could be played without the use of your sight.

Actually, playing with your eyes shut makes a lot of the games easier. Rhythm Heaven minigames often ask you to accomplish impossibly precise feats of timing that would be impossible if they weren't aligned with music. Here's a great example from the GBA version:

Imagine trying to play a non-rhythm-game version of that. You couldn't do it! And I find that a lot of times, that psyches people out. Specifically, the Hole In One minigame that Fever opens with tends to frustrate people who are relying too much on their eyesight, but invariably, if I suggest they try it again without looking, they crush it. Weird how that works!

Still, given the option, it's not a game you'd want to play blind, as it's pleasant as hell to look at. Rhythm Heaven has made the transition to HD ED really well. In lieu of the previous portable entries' pixel art, they've opted this time for a clean-looking, thickly-bordered, minimally animated look. It's resembles a somehow-even-more-colorful take on the Panty & Stocking art style, and all it fits the gameplay perfectly. The extra screen real estate is used to fantastic effect, too - there is a lot more panning and zooming going on here, and it's always in ways that wouldnt've worked especially well within the portable entries' rigid pixel art. Basically: the visuals are yet another category where they hit it out of the park. I think you see where I'm going with this.

There's a lot of other stuff I could talk about: the fact that the first week we had Rhythm Heaven Fever, I woke up most days with its music playing in my head; the fact that this is the first entry with multiplayer, and that they somehow nailed that, too; the fact that there's a remarkable consistency to the Rhythm Heaven universe, ranging from minigames evocative of previous ones to straight-up cameos; and the fact that the pacing is better than its ever been, with practice sections that have cute little visual differences, not to mention killer chiptune versions of the upcoming song... and, yeah, just a million other things. I could talk about that, but I'm not gonna. I'm just gonna be like "Buy this game when it comes out here, you idiot," and leave it at that.

Like, it'd be an easy enough game to recommend importing if they hadn't chosen to bring it here (the language barrier is pretty much a non-issue), but they totally did! And it's only thirty dollars! Whether you've already played it or not (and I have it on good authority that most of you haven't), I think it'd be great if we all, like, just did our part and bought an English copy or two. Can we do that? Let's do that.

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Looking Back: Reactions From IGF 2011's Nominees

Patrick put up a great article this morning sharing the reactions of a few indie developers to the news that they are main competition finalists for the 2012 IGF. Which reminded me: I did the exact same thing last January! I published a series of articles on now-defunct indie games site Bytejacker chronicling the reactions of (damn near) every 2011 IGF nominee. Let's revisit those responses!

Some of these games have already come out, and others have yet to be released. Others still have changed the name of their game or dropped the project entirely. But that mix of incredulity and excitement that indie developers tend to react with is still marvelously fun to read. When folks work their asses off to make something good and receive commendation for it, it's something we can all feel good about.

Oh, also: keep in mind that a year is a long time, so try not to be freaked out when you read Greg Kasavin talking about Bastion in the future tense or Notch telegraphing his excitement for Cobalt.

Anyways, yeah! I've compiled all those micro-interviews into one mega-article. Enjoy!

Notch, Mojang Specifications

Game: Minecraft

Nominated for: Technical Excellence, Excellence In Design, Seumas McNally Grand Prize

“Getting these nominations means a lot to me, and it’s a great to see so many Swedes getting nominated with awesome games like Amnesia and Cobalt! Go Sweden!”

Greg Kasavin, Supergiant Games

Game: Bastion

Nominated for: Excellence In Visual Art, Excellence in Audio

“It’s an honor to be nominated both for Excellence in Visual Art and Excellence in Audio in the 2011 Independent Games Festival, especially considering the many outstanding games we were up against in those categories. One of our goals with Bastion is to create a deep and original gameworld that players can lose themselves in, so we take care to use narration, artwork, music, and sound effects to create a rich and specific atmosphere. We’re very happy to be recognized for what we’ve managed to accomplish so far.”

Brian Provinciano, Vblank Entertainment

Game: Retro City Rampage

Nominated for: Excellence in Audio

“It’s a great honor to see Retro City Rampage nominated for the IGF. The composers (Freaky DNA, Virt, Norrin Radd) have done an amazing job, I can’t say enough great things about them and their work. I especially hope that the exposure will lead to many opportunities for Matt ‘Norrin Radd’ Creamer. RCR is his first gig in the industry, but you wouldn’t know it from his incredible talent. Hopefully this will mark the start of a long and successful career in the industry for him with contracts shooting at him left and right when he’s not busy at work on future projects with us.”

Nicolai Troshinsky, Plural Games

Game: Loop Raccord

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“What the nomination means to me? Well, taking in account that I am not a game developer, that it’s not even my goal to be one, and that ‘Loop Raccord’ is just my second game, I feel a bit like an intruder. At the same time, I am deeply interested in video games as a way of expression and I think it’s a vastly unexplored medium, so the nomination somehow proves me that I’m right, and encourages me to keep exploring!”

Alexander Bruce, Demruth

Game: Hazard: The Journey Of Life (now known as Antichamber)

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“Getting into the IGF is like finding out that you’ve won a million dollars. You have to check the results a couple of times, walk away, come back, and learn how to breathe again. At least, I THINK that’s what winning a million dollars would be like. Ask Notch… he’d know.

On a more serious note, this nomination is quite important to me. When you’re creating something radically different, there’s a very high risk that it doesn’t work and you’ve wasted your time. Many times I’ve questioned whether what I was doing was working, but now I know for sure.”

Jake Elliott, Cardboard Computer

Game: A House in California

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“I’m totally thrilled to have the game next to some other awesome finalists like The Cat and the Coup, Dinner Date, Nidhogg & some others new to me that I can’t wait to play. I also feel very honored to know that the game was played & appreciated by the Nuovo Award jury, whose roster reads like an art games syllabus.”

Alex Neuse, Gaijin Games

Game: BIT.TRIP RUNNER / BIT.TRIP BEAT

Nominated for: Excellence In Visual Art / Excellence in Audio

“Gaijin is very excited to have reached the finalist list for the IGF. It’s almost hard to believe; when you work on something so closely, you start to become unaware of its quality, and to be validated like this by the community in which one rolls is such a joy. All of the other finalists are such talented groups of people that we are honored to be considered their peers. I wish every one of us the best of luck!”

Niv Fisher and Sagi Koren, SpikySnail Games

Game: Confetti Carnival (now known as The Splatters)

Nominated for: Technical Excellence

“For us – being just 2 guys working on a game out of Israel, this is just phenomenal! We’re thrilled at the opportunity to have so many people come by and play Confetti Carnival with us.
It’s still really early to say what kind of effect it will have (but we’re very optimistic) – for us, it’s always been about putting the best we can out there and we’ll keep doing just that. See you at GDC!”

Niki Smit, Monobanda

Game: Bohm

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“It’s not everyday that you get recognition for such a strange and personal piece of work. We made Bohm as a sort of experimental homage to themes and feelings we love. It’s was more about expressing ourselves than about making ‘the best new game.™’
We get energized by strange new experiments. So to get recognition from other like-minded artists is equally humbling and honouring. Together with Cannibal and Claynote we got the chance to realize an idea that’s very close to our hearts.So this nomination doesn’t necessarily mean we succeeded, but it does mean that other people ‘get’ the idea. And that’s just insanely good news, because it means we are not crazy.”

Rami Ismail / Jan Willem Nijman, Vlambeer

Game: Super Crate Box

Nominated for: Excellence In Design

“Rami from Vlambeer says: ‘Holy poop!’ Jan Willem from Vlambeer says: ‘I hope we get a free phone this year!’
We’re really honored the IGF jury was able to appreciate a small game like Super Crate Box, though. That’d be all.”

Erik Zaring, Cockroach

Game: The Dream Machine

Nominated for: Excellence In Visual Art

“I called my Father yesterday to tell him that we’d been nominated for the IGF. I was so happy. Ecstatic almost. But he just calmly replied: “Well son, tomorrow’s another day and you should still be looking for a proper job.” Thanks dad. At the age of 35 my parents are still waiting for me to get a proper job. But I know they are happy for me somewhere deep, deep inside of their hearts. I love my parents and thank them! Also, a big thanks to the jury who nominated us! We’ve been working hard on this game for two years now, and boosts like this really help! See you all at GDC hopefully! For anyone attending, please drop by to play our game if you can spare the time. We are friendly people and smell real nice. I’m the tall blonde guy who talks a lot and Anders is the short, shifty looking fellow. Buy him a drink and he’ll tell you all his secrets.”

Calvin Goble, Robot Loves Kitty

Game: Neverdaunt:8Bit

Nominated for: Technical Excellence

“Having the game that I poured my life into(no dev was harmed in the making of this game) get nominated for the Technical Excelence Award really gave me this overall “Woot” feeling. It’s suddenly not just me that thinks my game is awesome anymore, and it has really validated all of the deep thought, effort, and struggle (and copious amounts of coffee).-Calvin Goble, That guy that made that game all by himself and stuff.”

Douglas Wilson, Copenhagen Game Collective

Game: B.U.T.T.O.N.

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be at IGF this year! We showed an earlier iteration of B.U.T.T.O.N. at Kokoromi’s GAMMA IV party last year, so it feels both strange and rewarding to be returning to GDC one year later with the same game.
In late 2009, after months of concept work and prototyping, we received a grant to develop a wizard dueling game for the Nintendo Wii. A larger team from the Copenhagen Game Collective – which includes most of the B.U.T.T.O.N. team – spent the first six months of 2010 refining the idea and developing a vertical slice. However, that isn’t the game that was selected for IGF 2011. Instead, the game that we’re showcasing, B.U.T.T.O.N., is a silly “wouldn’t-it-be-funny-if…” side project, initially prototyped in just a weekend or two.
The takeaway lesson here is that the design ideas that look sexiest on paper don’t always translate (at least not immediately) to the games that are catchiest in practice. The corollary lesson is, sometimes the stupidest games are the most memorable ones.
Our experience with B.U.T.T.O.N. shows us that it can be productively refreshing to blow off steam on small side projects while working on a larger production. You never know – a silly side project might unexpectedly turn out to be the real gem.”

Ricky Haggett, Honeyslug

Game: Hohokum

Nominated for: Excellence In Visual Art

“At last year’s GDC in San Francisco, after the Gamma party which was easily the conference highlight, Dick Hogg and I spent three days on the show floor, manning the Gamma stand where our One Button Game, “Poto & Cabenga” was on display. We had a great time at GDC, and met a bunch of people in the indie games scene who have since become good friends of ours.
The setup in 2010 was that the IGF area was over on one side of the conference hall, and almost all the way over at the other side was the Gamma stand: two small islands of indie, adrift in a sea of mainstream industry stands: physics middleware, QA Databases and abrasive publisher booths pushing their latest AAA title or recruiting staff with offers of free beer (well okay, the free beer wasn’t so bad).
It was an honour to be picked for Gamma, and we had loads of fun hanging out at the stand, watching people stray into our orbit and play the games, but it was hard to escape the level of buzz over at the IGF stand, with crowds of people gathered around what turned out to be some of the games of the year. We spent the last few hours before the Pavillion shut on the final day over there, playing and chatting, and afterwards Dick said to me – in a joking kind of way – “next year we’re gonna be over here”. At the time I would never have imagined we would be, but last year turned out to be a good one for Hohokum – although we’ve been working on the game intermittently for 3 years, 2010 was the year we finally figured out what the game actually is, and we’re now really glad that we persevered, and delighted to be selected for the IGF of course!
It’s especially cool that a bunch of our fellow Gammapals from ’09 have made it to the finals with us this year – the Copenhagen Game Collective with BUTTON, Mikengreg with Solipskier and Steph Thirion with Faraway. Gonna be a fun week!”

Greg Wohlwend, Mikengreg

Game: Solipskier

Nominated for: Best Mobile Game

“It’s just nuts. In past years I would stay up and refresh web pages to read the nominations ASAP, but this year I had pretty much decided there was no chance we’d make it in. I woke up Monday to twitter beeping at me about it and my heart hasn’t stopped pumping since. It’s likely I’m still dreaming.”

Marc ten Bosch

Game: Miegakure

Nominated for: Technical Excellence

“I think the jury system the IGF implemented this year was a very good thing. I was especially looking forward to the nominees in the Technical Excellence category as it is difficult for non-programmers to judge the technical merits of a game.”

Jeroen D. Stout, Stout Games

Game: Dinner Date

Nominated for: Nuovo Award

“It is a very promising thing to find Dinner Date nominated for the IGF. I am acutely aware of how Dinner Date takes quite a different angle compared to most games and it is after the time I spent developing it very heart-warming to see it is finding such an audience! Knowing that the Nuovo Award is specifically for the advancement of the medium it is quite an exhilarating thing to realize one is part of such advancements. I look forward to presenting it at the GDC tremendously and have equal anticipation for meeting interesting people there. It will be rather dashing, I am sure.”

Zach Gage and Kurt Bieg, stfj

Game: Halcyon

Nominated for: Best Mobile Game

Zach: “I’ve been making niche artistic apps and games for a few years now and although they have all been critically acclaimed, I’ve never had anything close to mainstream success. Getting a nomination for Halcyon is incredibly exciting for me because it means that the audience of gamers who enjoy abstract artistic and experimental games is growing. And its not just Halcyon, each of the games that was nominated for Best Mobile Game are innovative, unique, and beautiful.”
Kurt: “Working with Zach was a really fantastic opportunity. Halcyon was a chance to really try some new ideas and try to mesh sounds and music with a simple and elegant mechanic. Looking back, it was really a lot of fun developing. Being nominated really came as a surprise and I am super honored to be nominated along side the best mobile indie games of 2010.”

Messhof

Game: Nidhogg

Nominated for: Seumas McNally Grand Prize

“i cannot wait to beat everyone mercilessly at nidhogg.”

Frictional Games

Game: Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Nominated for: Seumas McNally Grand Prize

“IGF? We cannot seem to remember applying for that…”

Man, it was fun reading through these again. Particularly Erik's story about his dad's reaction to his nomination. Bittersweet, I guess!

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SORRY.

Happy New Year, everyone!

To kick off 2012 proper, I got you guys a little something: another dumb Bombcast video in the same vein as "NEVER." and "STRAP IT ON." It's called "SORRY.", and if you've listened attentively to the Bombcast over the past few months, you probably already know what it's in reference to.

This is pretty exciting for me, as its my first remote upload to Giant Bomb's YouTube channel. If you guys dig it, who knows, maybe we'll see more of these in the future! I've got a pretty modest list of classic Bombcast moments goin', but if anyone's got suggestions, I'll be happy to take 'em. Thanks, everyone!

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The Lost Metagame Episodes: Kessler vs. Ben!

So it's been over two months since I was a Whiskey Media intern. That's not gonna stop Mr. Domino new Metagame videos from happening! Time travel!

Alright, fine. Here's what's actually going on here: I was going through old files on my computer and found a few unreleased Metagame videos we shot during my last week at Whiskey. This is the second installment of a three-part finale I'm choosing to call Metagame: The Lost Episodes. Hope you guys enjoy it!

By the way, in the time since we first did these videos, a lot has happened in the world of the Metagame. When we last checked in, they had just taken Kickstarter donations from folks who wanted a deck of their own. You can keep up with their updates yourself on their Kickstarter page, but basically, the non-copyright-violating card redesigns have been done for quite some time and the cards themselves are at the printers! They should be done by December, and once that happens, I'll probably make a video or something showing them off for you. Here's a sample of what the new, redesigned cards look like:

As always, you should leave a comment letting us know who you think won the debate and why. Wanna see the rest of the Metagame videos? Check out the playlist right here!

25 Comments

The Lost Metagame Episodes: Jeff vs. Ben!

So it's been over two months since I was a Whiskey Media intern. That's not gonna stop Mr. Domino new Metagame videos from happening! Time travel!

Alright, fine. Here's what's actually going on here: I was going through old files on my computer and found a few unreleased Metagame videos we shot during my last week at Whiskey. This is the final installment of a three-part finale I'm choosing to call Metagame: The Lost Episodes. Hope you guys enjoy it!

By the way, in the time since we first did these videos, a lot has happened in the world of the Metagame. When we last checked in, they had just taken Kickstarter donations from folks who wanted a deck of their own. You can keep up with their updates yourself on their Kickstarter page, but basically, the non-copyright-violating card redesigns have been done for quite some time and the cards themselves are at the printers! They should be done by December, and once that happens, I'll probably make a video or something showing them off for you. Here's a sample of what the new, redesigned cards look like:

As always, you should leave a comment letting us know who you think won the debate and why. Wanna see the rest of the Metagame videos? Check out the playlist right here!

39 Comments

The Lost Metagame Episodes: Patrick vs. Jeff!

So it's been over two months since I was a Whiskey Media intern. That's not gonna stop Mr. Domino new Metagame videos from happening! Time travel!

Alright, fine. Here's what's actually going on here: I was going through old files on my computer and found a few unreleased Metagame videos we shot during my last week at Whiskey. This is just installment #1 of a three-part finale I'm choosing to call Metagame: The Lost Episodes. Hope you guys enjoy it!

By the way, in the time since we first did these videos, a lot has happened in the world of the Metagame. When we last checked in, they had just taken Kickstarter donations from folks who wanted a deck of their own. You can keep up with their updates yourself on their Kickstarter page, but basically, the non-copyright-violating card redesigns have been done for quite some time and the cards themselves are at the printers! They should be done by December, and once that happens, I'll probably make a video or something showing them off for you. Here's a sample of what the new, redesigned cards look like:

Just like before, you should leave a comment letting us know who you think won the debate and why. Wanna see the rest of the Metagame videos? Check out the playlist right here!

59 Comments

B.U.S.S.I.N.: Brutally Unfair Strategy Showcases Ingenuity Nicely

Driver: San Francisco is a brilliant game - that much I'm certain of. Nailing down exactly why it's brilliant is proving to be hard, but not for the usual reasons; there's just too damn many interesting things going on in this game, and I'm not sure what to talk about first! The poor, unfortunate souls who follow me on Twitter have been made to endure my incessant tweets about the game these past couple of days. To be fair, there's a lot to talk about: the writing is clever and genuinely funny, the story is remarkably strange for a mainstream tentpole release in an established franchise and the title song is the best video game theme in years (actually, the whole soundtrack is great). This is a game heavy with smart ideas, but I figure it'd be best to focus on one for now: the shift mechanic.

And showing is always better than telling, right?

For those unfamiliar, the shift mechanic allows you to (through a brilliantly bizarre story contrivance) effectively teleport out of your car and into any other vehicle on the road virtually anytime. It's an exhilarating ability, doubly so when you combine it with Ubisoft Reflections' proprietary game engine that allows you to zoom out far enough to see practically all of San Francisco at once. The consequences of shift are extreme and often amazing. Not a lot of games have the chutzpah to equip the player with a game-breakingly potent superpower right off the bat, and even fewer will pull it off with as much balance and finesse as is seen here.

Just to give you an example of what shift can do for you, here's a video I made earlier today. I'm in the middle of an off-road buggy race, doing poorly, when suddenly I bungle a corner and end up flipping my car onto its side. Suddenly, I'm in fourth place! Out of four drivers! What to do?

In most racing games, I'd have to either restart, or keep racing and pray that the rubber banding was severe enough to give me a fighting chance. In Driver: SF, however, I was able to do this:

Why, yes, I totally did just leave my body, float a quarter mile away, retrieve a goddamn city bus, swerve it onto the dirt course and use it as a makeshift barricade to hold every racer but myself back. How fucking awesome is that?!

The answer you're looking for is "pretty fucking awesome." And for those of you concerned about whether or not this is unfair: I wound up winning the race, but it was a close one. One of the many ingenious things about shift is that once as you leave a victim's body, they resume control of the vehicle - so the bus driver unstuck himself and resumed his route, giving the other racers a chance to catch up with me.

What an apt subtitle this game had!

Tactics like this are never explicitly taught to you by the game - it's simply a beautiful consequence of what happens when developers give you godlike powers and let you roam free. They're what you'd call examples of emergent gameplay(a wiki page Jeff soullessly deleted), and they are one of my favorite things in video games.

Polished, open-world-y games whose possibilities feel endless are, without a doubt, my favorite type of game. That's why Just Cause 2 made me happier than almost any other game last year: you could connect a decapitated statue head to the back of a car with rope and use it as a makeshift flail to take out enemies. I played the original Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction for dozens (maybe hundreds) of hours, and my 12-year-old brother just finished playing through the game for the third time earlier this year. Like, he played it on Xbox 360! How crazy is that?

Concept art for Driver: San Francisco

Not that crazy, actually. These games that actively cultivate emergent gameplay are truly special, because every time you pick them up, you're guaranteed at least a couple of completely unique experiences that you've never had before. They're weird, explosion-laden storytelling engines. And I think they're great! Which is why, three years later, I still catch myself occasionally playing fucking Saints Row 2.

Back to my point, though: shift is awesome. It irreversibly alters every single mission type you encounter. Car chases, races, escort missions: every type of basic variant an open-world car-drivin' game can throw at you plays completely differently with the power of every car in San Francisco on your side. Each mission turns into a kind of puzzle, and they're super rewarding to solve. I'm only a few hours in, but the game has done a great job of throwing a variety of shift-incorporating gametypes at me faster than I can outsmart them.

And that's without even mentioning the multiplayer.

Basically, what I'm getting at is this: fucking play Driver: San Francisco. It's fun / polished / unique as shit, and absolutely worthy of your attention.

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Wrapping Up the Internship: Photos, Anime and Kingtern Status!

Look. I know my internship ended three weeks ago, okay? I know that. But I promise, there's a really good reason this post took so long.

I was developing these photos.

Okay, now that I've got that out of the way: my Whiskey Media internship ruled. It was the most fun, exhausting, and productive summer I've ever had. Going in, I was a bit nervous for about a trillion reasons, not the least of which was the fact that I'd never worked a full-time, nine-to-five job in my life. My concerns were unfounded (in this case, at least), because the time flew. Coming into work every day was a treat - I got to share a desk (and an awesome boss) with three really passionate, hilarious co-interns, none of whom I knew when I began but all of whom I was joking around with within hours of arriving.

Like I said in my Day 1 post, the other 'terns went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I had no idea whether or not I'd get along with Ethan's other hires (except Ben, whose username is a Tim and Eric reference, so we were destined to be BFFs), but things turned out beautifully. I've got mad love for all these fellas and I can't wait to see 'em again.

Looking back over my two months on the Best Coast, I feel incredibly proud of what we got done. In case you aren't aware, we churned out quite a bit of content this summer in addition to our typical behind-the-scenes site duties. All of our videos, podcasts and more have been organized for your convenience in this thread by user alistercat. Thanks, alistercat!

Readjusting to school life has been pretty painless - I loved SF, but I also love it here in Asheville. Really, the two cities are remarkably similar: Asheville's kind of just San Francisco, except smaller and with awful public transportation, less to do, and worse food. Okay, I'm mostly kidding, but this last year of college is shaping up to be just a little bit less exciting than working at the greatest place in the world. There is light at the end of the tunnel, though.

Basically: San Francisco is an amazing city, Whiskey Media is an amazing company, and I can't wait to get back to both.

What am I getting at? Ben totally let slip that both of us are coming back in Summer 2012 as Kingterns. Kingterns! Unbelievable! I've never really been clear on what it means to be a Kingtern, exactly, but rest assured that this means there will be, among other things, more Internal Affairs on the way.

As for me, I'm doing everything I can to stay sharp against the doldrums of public university education. For me, right now, that means writin' about anime. You heard right: I'm a guest contributor to Anime Vice now! I've written two articles so far (my first-ever written material for a Whiskey site!) chronicling my journey through a show called Bakemonogatari, and it's seriously been a blast. I'm also still tweeting like a motherfucker, so if you've been aching to hear me say a bunch of words about playing Mass Effect 2 twenty months after the rest of the world finished it, that'd be the place to go, I guess.

Lastly, I can't say enough how much I appreciate you guys giving us a chance this year. The response to the podcasts, the Metagame videos and everything else we did was positive far beyond our expectations. You like us! You really like us! For that, we will keep you in our hearts forever.

All right, I've got a undergraduate research class to get ready for and some goddamned anime to watch, so I guess I'll end this here. Thanks to Whiskey for a kickass summer and all of you for being the best damn video game community I even know of. Peace, homies!

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Romancecast #4

It's over! For realsies this time! 
   
Download (MP3)  
 
This go-round, we talk about kimodo dragons, Foursquare, Crystal Castles, moonshine, chipmusic drama... you know, just whatevs. 
  
I'm gonna reiterate how completely insane it is that over a thousand of you have listened to this goofy-ass thing we made. Y'all rule, and I will keep you in my heart like basically forever. If I find myself in San Francisco again someday (and I plan on it), I give you my word that I will hunt down Sara, a laptop and two microphones and make like a trillion more of these. These were fun as hell to record, and unless one of us dies or something, I'm sure we'll make another one someday. 
 
 BYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEE<3
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Internal Affairs: The Whiskey Media Intern Podcast! 08-19-2011


LOOK. I'M SORRY, GUYS, OKAY? I'M SORRY. HERE IT IS.  

  

iTunes link / RSS /  Download (MP3)

Yup - it's the final episode of Internal Affairs (for the foreseeable future, at least)! It has been a wild, loud, frequently pretty funny (and frequently pretty unfunny) ride, and it's totally crazy that something like 1,400 of you have stuck around for every episode. You guys are amazing, and I love each and every one of you specifically and individually. And internally! (Ew!) 
 
As for the super-tardiness: there's no excuse. Wait, actually, there's like a bunch of excuses: in the past 48 hours, I've been in San Francisco, Dallas, Chapel Hill and Asheville. Without telling you my entire life story, today was my first day of my last year of school, only they aren't done with the dorm I'm staying in yet, so I'm stuck in a hotel room with no internet this week. Also, my phone's dead. It's the worst! But I'm still getting this podcast up! Because I care so much!
 
Anyways, yeah! This podcast was a blast to do, and was one of the many highlights of my internship. I hope you guys enjoy this last one, plus the slow trickle of remaining intern content you'll see posted to the site over the next week or so. Thanks for letting us into y'all's hearts this summer! we'll miss u <3333
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