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By Nate VanLindt On 28 May, 2017 At 04:24 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Opinion, PC Games, PlayStation, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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13,925.  693, no platinum trophies.  5,906 XP – Level 29.  These numbers are meaningless out of context.  The fact is, they’re pretty much meaningless in context as well.  Chances are, you already know what I’m talking about if you’re reading this, but for the few that don’t, the above numbers are gamer scores and achievement statistics.  Specifically my personal gamer statistics.  I had to look them up because I had absolutely no idea what they were and I didn’t really care.  They are from Xbox Live, Playstation Network, and Steam respectively if you’re wondering.  That’s the point, however.   Why have people become obsessed with their personal statistics?

Gamerscores and stats started almost at the same time as gaming with the advent of the high score.  The very first high score was in Sea Wolf, way back in 1976.  Most games of the early gaming era featured scoring systems of one kind or another, whether it be the number of points scored in a Pong game or the points from the number of alien ships shot down in Galaga.  High scores stuck around until the mid to late 80s, when the NES reigned supreme and longer, more complex games at home became the standard.  Even then, many games still had score tabulation functions, whether they were the game scores in R.B.I. Baseball or a run n’ gun like Contra by Konami.   In other words, high scores have always been kicking around, but as gaming advanced, high scores slowly disappeared and became less meaningful, excluding a handful of genres like SHMUPS (SHoot eM UPS such as R-Type, Gradius, and Raiden for those who aren’t familiar with the term). 

But then, something odd happened in 2005.  Microsoft introduced achievements on the Xbox 360.  All of the sudden, every time you completed a specific set task in a game, you got a digital attaboy.  A little notification would pop up on screen and tell you you’d completed a task that you didn’t even know you were working towards and it added to what Microsoft calls your “gamerscore”.  Suddenly people were trying to have the best gamerscore, competing with their friends, doing things they’d never bother to do in a game before and spending lots of extra time in a game to do it.  Companies noticed this.  Nearly every game had achievements in short order.  In 2007, Valve added their version of gamerscores, badges, to Steam.  The next year, Sony added Trophies to the PlayStation Network as well.  Suddenly, everyone had a scoring system to track how much better (or worse) you were than everyone else you knew.  People bought into it.  Companies offered rewards for the highest gamerscore and Microsoft even gave away a lifetime membership to Xbox Live Gold in 2013 to the player with the highest gamerscore.  The entire concept had entered the collective consciousness of gamers and they have accepted it as a standard.

Should we be paying attention to our gamerscore and our trophy list, however?  Perhaps we should not.  In 2006, Gears of War was released for the Xbox 360.  It was one of the first games I played that had achievements.  I’d seen the achievement notifications pop up before, but I generally just tolerated them.   As I played Gears of War, I reached the end of a section and defeated the Berserker the first time, earning the trophy “My Love For You Is Like A Truck”, a reference to a fairly obscure song called Berserker by a band called Love Among Freaks.  Unfortunately, the trophy notification popped up prominently onscreen in the middle of a cinema sequence, blocking me from seeing the cinema fully and destroying my immersion in the game instantly.  On top of that, I couldn’t go back and see the cinema again without replaying that entire section of the game.  From that moment on, I was dead set against gamerscore in all its iterations.

In case you didn’t know, you can actually turn off achievement notifications on both Microsoft and Sony consoles.  On the Xbox One, it’s under Settings,  All Settings, Preferences, Notifications.   For the PS4, the option is under Settings, Notifications.  I did this as soon as the option became available on each network (as far as I know, it still isn’t available on Steam unfortunately) and I never looked back.  As a gamer for over 30 years, I ask you to consider it this way.  Games are designed to have fun.  They’re a form of escapist entertainment.   We generally play games to try and either finish them or get a high score.  But with achievements, we play through tedious grinding activities just to get an ephemeral payout of gamerscore so we can brag to friends and strangers.  That’s not only weird, it borders on pointless.  Take Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End for example.  I played Uncharted 4 right after it came out.  I blew through the game in my spare time (about a week).  The pacing is fantastic, the story moves just the right amount at a go, none of the gameplay holds you up too badly, but you still feel challenged.  It’s one of the most well-crafted games I’ve played in years in terms of pacing and structure.  I finished the game, had a blast, and came away fully satisfied with my experience.  I can’t speak highly enough of the game (keeping in mind that to enjoy it fully you must play the entire series in order).   Now, take a look at my personal trophies on the PS4 for Uncharted 4.

That’s right.  I got a measly 14 bronze trophies playing through a game that I raved about as one of the best games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.  A game that I just stated I was ‘fully satisfied’ with.  There are sixty-eight trophies in this game.  Sixty-eight!  Essentially, I didn’t ‘play the game’ according to the current thinking in gaming.  How could I possibly call myself a gamer?  Obviously, I don’t take gaming seriously enough, right?  Wrong.  Gaming is for fun, and I had fun playing Uncharted 4.  A lot of fun actually.  I don’t want to waste my limited free time finding 109 treasures that have no bearing on the story in my well-paced story-based game.  I am not interested in spending hours hanging from ropes to get the trophy for making 20 headshots while hanging from a rope.  And I certainly don’t want to buy an apple just to let the lemur steal it in chapter 11.  Because that’s not fun.  It’s tedious make-work in a game I’m playing for entertainment.  And achievements, trophies, and badges get much more ridiculous than that, up to and including repeating a specific activity or action thousands of times just to get that pop-up payoff.   Let’s call it what it really is, a Pavlovian response pattern that reinforces obsessive-compulsive tendencies in a mostly antisocial social sub-group.   In short, they are a prize with no value.

And yet there is a large and vocal demographic online that openly mocks anyone who dismisses the value of achievements.  Gamers often minimize the impact of these psychological tools, resorting to simplistic responses such as ‘if you don’t like them, just ignore them’, or ‘only people that suck at gaming hate trophies’.  Who is missing the point here?  Obviously, games are designed for both types of gamers now, the trophy hunters and the purists.  There’s no arguing that.  But are game designers themselves compromising their vision to provide a game that appeals to a wider audience due to the frothing demand for achievements?  It seems like they are.  Adding online content, online trophies, and various other extras to games that don’t really need them seem like pandering.  Some games force you to go online to get some of the achievements, necessitating play against others as well as paying for premium network access in the form of Xbox Live or Playstation Plus.  And gamers are falling for it.  In a recent discussion with a colleague, he informed me that he was replaying a game after finishing it so that he could “platinum” it because he loved the game so much.  When I asked him about the achievements though, he related that many of them were tedious and difficult to achieve.  After this discussion, I asked him about his game backlog and he admitted that he has games that he hasn’t even opened yet.  In other words, achievements are artificially inflating the average gameplay and dissuading gamers from moving on to the next title, regardless of the next game’s quality, even after they’ve finished a game and have stopped enjoying it.

It seems to me like this is an issue that gamers should actually take seriously.  Not because it matters whether you play for score, but because game developers take it seriously and they design games based on the trends of the market and the input they receive online.  The best games, the ones that everyone raves about for years or even decades, are the ones that provide an uncompromised creative vision.  These games are at the top of everyone’s list for a reason.  They were designed to enjoy, not to appeal to every single person, and that makes them rise above.  Too few of those games exist these days, and fewer are released every year.  Maybe if we focus a little less on finding every flag or using every weapon for a thousand headshots or revealing every single tenth of a percentage point of every single map and a little more on just immersing ourselves in the fun a game can provide, we’ll all get a bit more enjoyment out of gaming.   Try turning off your notifications for a game or two and see if you have more fun.  If you don’t know you’re missing out…maybe you aren’t.

 

Source 1  Source 2  Source 3  Source 4

By Jonathan Balofsky On 18 May, 2017 At 10:10 AM | Categorized As News, News, News, NINTENDO, PC Games, PlayStation, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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SEGA has began rebranding itself for a new direction. The gaming giant is giving itself a new corporate identity  and it is centered around the concept of “Amazing SEGA”

The new corporate identity concept has been communicated through a bizarre video of an eye, an emotional clip featuring Toshihiro Nagoshi, who works on the Yakuza series, as well as a making of video.

SEFA has stated  that”Amazing SEGA” is an identity which is focused on providing more surprises than ever to the consumers and fans. As such, SEGA plans to turn this into a branding tool for all of their subsidiaries to use going forward.

 

 

 

 

This could be part of SEGA’s plans to revive their dormant IPs, and if that is indeed the case, it is a welcome change.

Source

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 12 May, 2017 At 02:02 PM | Categorized As News, PlayStation, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Sony has revealed a new PSN Flash sale that starts this weekend. details on games below.
PS4 Games:
DOOM – $19.79
DOOM Digital Deluxe – $39.99
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst – $9.99
inFAMOUS First Light – $5.99
Kerbal Space Program – $15.99
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime – $5.99
Risk of Rain – $3.49
No Man’s Sky – $23.99
Destroy All Humans! – $7.99
XCOM 2 – $23.99
XCOM 2 Digital Deluxe Edition – $29.99
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty – $4.99
Axiom Verge – $9.99
SOMA – $8.99
Battlezone – $23.99
Evolve – $7.49
Evolve Ultimate Edition – $12.49
Evolve Digital Deluxe Edition – $9.99
Hyper Void – $3.99
The Technomancer – $15.99
Zen Pinball 2: Aliens vs. Pinball – $3.99
Assault Android Cactus – $4.49
Shadow Complex Remastered – $5.99
Slain: Back From Hell – $5.09
The Little Acre – $5.19
Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark Gold Edition – $19.79
Zen Pinball 2 Mars – $0.62
2064: Read Only Memories – $7.99
Asemblance – $3.49
Crimsonland – $1.39
Doki-Doki Universe – $5.99
Galak-Z – $7.99
Lichtspeer – $4.99
Manual Samuel – $3.99
MouseCraft – $1.99
Nova-111 – $1.99
One Way Trip – $4.49
Paranautical Activity – $1.99
Red Faction – $4.49
Super Mutant Alien Assault – $2.99
The Fall – #3.99
Time Machine VR – $11.99
Alone With You – $3.99
Final Horizon – $3.23
Headlander – $5.99
Neon Chrome – $4.49
QUBE Director’s Cut – $2.49
Sky Force Anniversary – $3.49
Stealth Inc 2 – $2.49
Stealth Inc Ultimate Edition – $3.74
There Came an Echo – $5.09
The Swapper – $3.74
Titan Attacks! – $1.99
Tower of Guns – $3.74
Ultratron – $1.99
Unmechanical: Extended – $2.49
Xenoraid – $3.99

PS3 Games:

Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype – $2.99
Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype Complete Bundle – $2.59
Mass Effect Trilogy – $14.99
Red Faction: Guerrilla – $3.99
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – $1.99
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Gold Edition – $9.99
Doki-Doki Universe – $5.99
I Am Alive – $2.99
Mars: War Logs – $2.49
QUBE Director’s Cut – $2.49
Red Faction: Armageddon – $3.99
Red Faction: Battlegrounds – $1.99
Sky Force Anniversary – $3.49
Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark Gold Edition – $9.99
XCOM: Enemy Within – $5.99
Zen Pinball 2: Aliens vs. Pinball – $3.99
Zen Pinball 2: Mars – $0.62
Big Sky Infinity – $2.49
Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut – $7.49
Hyper Void – $3.99
MouseCraft – $1.99
Nova-111 – $1.99
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty – $4.99
Red Faction 2 (PS2 Classic) – $2.49
StarDrone – $1.19
Stealth Inc 2 – $2.49
Stealth Inc – $2.49
The Swapper – $3.74
Ultratron – $1.99
Unmechanical – $2.49
Velocity Ultra – $1.99

PS Vita:
Big Sky Infinity – $2.49
Doki-Doki Universe – $5.99
Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype – $2.99
Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype Complete Bundle – $2.59
Xenoraid – $3.99
Alone With You – $3.99
Axiom Verge – $9.99
Crimsonland – $1.39
Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart – $4.49
Lichtspeer – $4.99
MouseCraft – $1.99
Neon Chrome – $4.49
Nova-111 – $1.99
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty – $4.99
Paranautical Activity – $1.99
Risk of Rain – $3.49
Sky Force Anniversary – $3.49
Slain: Back from Hell – $5.09
StarDrone Extreme – $1.19
Stealth Inc 2 – $2.49
Stealth Inc – $2.49
Super Stardust Delta Interstellar Bundle – $5.99
The Swapper – $3.74
Titan Attacks! – $1.99
Ultratron – $1.99
Velocity Ultra – $1.49
Zen Pinball 2: Aliens vs. Pinball – $3.99
Zen Pinball 2: Mars – $0.62

The sale can be found here

By John Kinsella On 10 May, 2017 At 02:25 PM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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If you have played Persona 5, you know how great a game it really is. Though I’ve only had it a short amount of time, it seems like ages, and it has really become something I treasure. Having only played Persona 4, I was ready to try out the series next iteration. Jumping into this beautifully designed alternate world Tokyo, I was spellbound, and from the moment the game started up I had no doubt in my mind I would do anything to finish this game.

The game follows the story of a protagonist, fresh out of getting kicked out of his old school due to a scuffle and thrust into a whole new world.  The young man may look mild mannered, but he is a devious and cunning mastermind. Of course, that really is only when he needs to be, as usually he is able to keep peace. He meets a wonderful cast of characters, some who help him and some who harm him. As a Persona game it is up to you who you forge relationships with.

Persona 5’s story is certainly one worth playing to the end, as it really makes you think about the world. There may need to be some upheaval, and it is a shame the Phantom Thieves don’t exist. For the uniformed, The Phantom Thieves are the protagonist’s group. Honestly, I felt like I grew playing this game, and that I honestly do want to figure out something I can do to change our planet for the better.

Besides a wonderful story, the game itself is one of the best I’ve seen. Its battles flow brilliantly as do its cut scenes and tranisitions. Depending on where you are, the transitions change and that is something cool. As you travel all around Tokyo, you will see so many different things that it almost feels like you have been to Japan after playing it.

Back to the characters of Persona 5. They are all so unique it is hard to choose who you want to spend time with. Now, there are people who make guides where they max out everything in one run, but I personally just go with the flow. Though it does pain me that this first playthrough is clocking at 100 hours, and my main character didn’t end up with any of the amazing women. This just gives me an incentive to play the game again for a fuller experience. Seriously, it is difficult when you have a punk doctor, a teacher, a shut in hacker, and a student council president among others to choose from.

The characters themselves also have touching stories that make you feel like even though you may be putting in work, it isn’t for nothing. These people feel and live their lives, slowly becoming more and more attached to the protagonist. When you max any of the social links,  you feel this connection to the character, as you have experienced something with them that has changed them. It’s just like any real friendship, you go through something together and part of you is bonded to them forever.

Besides the wonderful story and characters, there are also have amazing dungeons, which the game calls palaces to explore. These Palaces are inside of the characters minds, and just like their outside self these worlds are distorted. You never know what kind of dungeon theme you are going to be plunged into next. They vary so differently that it is honestly shocking. One of the best parts of the game is simply to see how people see the world. I have to wonder what kind of Palace I’d have.

So, in conclusion, Persona 5 is hands-down one of my favorite games. It honestly is a contender for Game of The Year right now and will at least finish in the top 3 I’m sure. Persona 5 truly is its own game, so don’t feel like you need to play other Persona games to play it. If it sounds at all interesting, it is definitely worth picking up. When playing it, just play like you are the character it honestly makes everything all the more relatable, at least that is what I thought.

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 10 May, 2017 At 10:38 AM | Categorized As News, PlayStation, Playstation Vita, Portable/Mobile Gaming, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Revenant Saga_20170301104043

Kemco sent out the following

 

 

KEMCO proudly announces the release of Revenant Saga for PlayStation® set to hit the North American PlayStation®Storetoday. The game will be made available for PlayStation®4, PlayStation®3 and PlayStation®Vita supporting Cross Buy. Standard price is $14.99, but PS Plus users will have a special 10% OFF discount during the first two weeks! For more information, please visit the PlayStation Store.

Story

After his childhood friend’s parents are stricken with the plague, Albert meets one Dr. Moreau, and agrees to participate in a trial experiment for the promise of a potential cure. However, when the experiment itself proves to be a facade for turning humans into revenants and the Rystorian Order suddenly intervenes, Albert is left with the soul of a demon inside him vying for control of his body. Realizing the same mad scientist who tricked him is also responsible for his childhood friend’s death and many others close to him, he sets out on a journey alone to exact revenge on the man who ruined his life…
However, after crossing paths with revenant hunter slash potential valkyrie, Esther, and being pushed into joining her cause, Albert begins to seriously wonder if or how long he will be able to keep his secret from his new companion. To make matters worse, she has been endowed with the very powers capable of vanquishing those like him!

Stunning 3D Battles

Smooth controls and a fluid camera make 3D battles in Revenant Saga stress free and perfect for PlayStation! In addition, powerful skills with brilliant effects enhance the RPG experience like never before! And with auto and semi-auto functions, battles are as simple as the touch of a button!

Features

What you should know: Revenant Saga will incorporate over 30+ hours of gameplay woven around Albert’s elaborate journey. This includes a variety of unique subquests, in-battle transformation systems, as well as a weapon forging system allowing players to make entirely unique weapons! Also, Revenant Saga will provide an entirely brand new feature to the PS KEMCO gaming experience: players will be able to earn platinum trophies as a reward for progress and effort spent throughout the game!

 

Source: PR Email

 

Kemco’s RPGs , while not the most original, have been great games and a lot of fun.  Revenant Saga looks like it will continue this trend and be a great game to spend time on.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 30 Apr, 2017 At 04:42 AM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, Opinion, PlayStation, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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God of War for PlayStation 4  is coming soon and will be set not in Greek mythology but instead in Norse mythology. This is a great way to shake things up but I do have some concerns about this.  The previous trilogy was about Kratos’ vengeance against the gods, sparked by his vendetta against Ares, the Greek god of war. Given the way media often likes to make many mythological figures similar to ones in other cultures, it makes me concerned that the developers will try and give Kratos an enmity with the Norse god of war, Tyr.

In fact, many modern fictional portrayals of Tyr use him as a villain,, and this includes story arcs in the Marvel Comics Thor series. However, this is completely wrong, and usually is the result of writers using him as an Ares stand in. To be fair, the Romans did identify Tyr with Mars when they discussed the Germanic peoples and their beliefs, but there is another issue there. Ares and the Roman god Mars were not the same figure, and in many ways Mars is incompatible with Ares. Mars was the second most important god to many Romans and was a noble god of war, a protector god and a patron of farmers. Tyr is also incompatible with the myths of Ares, since among other things, in the original Germanic myths, he was king of the gods, and it was only centuries later that the cult of Odin got more prominent and Odin became the top god. The writings of the Romans about the Germanics clearly record Tyr, referred to as Mars, as King of the god, but did acknowledge, Mercury (Odin) as an extremely popular one, albeit  only among certain warriors.

Another key point is that Tyr wasn’t the only god of war among the Norse people actually. In fact, most of the Norse gods were war gods in some form, and Odin and Freyja were two of the other important war gods. Tyr had A domain in war, and that was as the patron of soldiers, the common warriors, and of personal combat. Tyr was god of a number of things besides this however, and these include wisdom, justice, law, honor, bravery, compassion. When it came to war, he was the incarnation of the noble and protective aspects of it, and in many ways was the Norse counterpart to the goddess Athena, the Greek goddess of war and wisdom.

An actual evil god of war for the Norse would actually be Odin surprisingly enough. Odin is thought of as the king of the god, but in truth was only really important to the nobility of the Norse people and  this was only centuries after the Germanic people met the Romans. bear in mind, most of the surviving Norse myths are from Iceland, and were written for the nobility. Odin being the top god was a result of the Nobles preferring him and having stories written accordingly. these stories were later Christianized by later writers, and many surviving stories only come from Christian sources.

The common soldiers did not generally prefer Odin and actually preferred Tyr and would dedicate their weapons to him. The farmers in turn worshipped Freyr and Thor,  who were the fertility gods of the crops. Of course Thor was also the protector god for many. Another thing that isn’t widely known about Odin was that he had many names and one of them was Oathbreaker. The breaking of oaths was big taboo is Norse culture and many sagas involved this and the damage it brought. Furthermore, as mentioned Tyr’s domain in war was of the common soldier, and the protective aspects of war, but Odin’s domain was the berserkers and the destructive aspects of war . The goddess Freyja was also associated with destructive aspects of war and was noted for her blood thirst, similar to the Morgana.

Odin just makes far more sense to be the overall villain right from the beginning of the new series.. He did many bad things in the myths that he later suffered for and can be easily argued as outright villainous.  His actions, many of which were to prevent Ragnarok, actually caused it, and he often made life worse for many. It should be noted, that he was originally a death god, but his domain there was not of honorable death. Tyr was noted for being the bravest of the gods and did the things no one else was willing to.

As a history buff, and a mythology nerd, I hope the writers have properly researched the myths and don’t just take the easy route. Norse myth is very interesting and full of grey and grey morality. It had a very different value system than the Greeks, but at the same time, a lot of it is misunderstood. I hope I have cleared up some of it here.

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I recently had the chance to speak with composer Samuel Laflamme. The composer for such games as Outlast, offered insight into game music composition and game design. Have a read and enjoy.

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JB:  What are your biggest influences in music?

 

 

SL:  I’ve grow up listening so many soundtrack scores tha choosing one is a real challenge. But Danny Elfman’s Batman was the first score I really touched me. I’ve always been in love with all the John Williams Star Wars series and also the Steven Spielberg/John Williams collaborations. As a teenager, I discovered Hans Zimmer’s action scores from the 90s, and it was my king of “rock” period, while my friends at the time were listening to Nirvana and Guns & Roses…Nine Inch Nails, Bjork and Radiohead were, for me, my electro-rock-pop-industrial influences. I really liked other bands like Board of Canada. Or electronic musician like Amon Tobin.

More recently I love what Johann Johannsson brings to Hollywood movies. I’m also a profound lover of old Bernard Hermann scores. To me Vertigo is one of the best masterpieces in Hollywood history.

 

 

JB:  Who inspired you to go into music?

 

 

SL:  Again, Danny Elfman’s Batman score was really important. I listened in loop so many times Descent into mystery. While I’m writing those words, I’m listening to it on a youtube video, and it gives me the chills.

Also John Williams with all his 80s scores, from E.T. to Star Wars, by Indiana Jones… Some tracks at the end of Empire Strikes Back were in my top revealing music experience of all time! (including Darth Vader’s march and Escape from Cloud city).

 

 

JB:  What have been some of the challenges for composing music for video games?

 

 

SL: I’m not a hardcore gamer, nor an intense horror fan… So Outlast was my first video game score, and the reason why I was on this project is that Philippe Morin (co-founder of Red Barreld Games) and I shared the same vision on the role of a score in a movie or a video game. It adds something to the story, or the gaming experience, that you don’t see at the screen. I love to create a score that tells something else beyond the information given to us by images. For example, if you’re only walking in a quiet corridor, I would love to add a strange, uncomfortable score that make you imagine that anything could happen at any moments… Phil named it “free gameplay development” because they didn’t have to invent events to create fear. Another good example, is creating a quiet, soft score in middle of a gory scene. It makes you feel so weird that this amplifies the strangeness of the moment. The Cliché of it is childish music box score used to create something really scary from a music that is supposed to be a lullaby.

 

 

JB:  What styles do you like to experiment with in your work?

 

 

SL: I don’t have any preference on the style, but what’s important for me is to be creative. If I’m forced to compose music from temp tracks, or strongly loved references, I really don’t like it because I will struggle to be inventive with something so restrictive. The most important key is working with creative collaborators who aren’t afraid to let me try new things. I can always step back, but I prefer to try new things and push the limits than just stay within the references.

 

 

JB:  Related to the above, what styles would you like to bring in to your work?

 

 

SL:  Again, it’s all about how creative a score can be to tell the story of a movie, video game, etc. I’ve done so many styles in TV shows during the 10 years before doing Outlast. I had chance to explore all those styles but the greatest music I’ve done was when I was allowed to create something surprising and new. In music for image, you can use whatever kind of music for almost whatever image you’re scoring for. And that’s the beauty of it. The only important thing to consider is what story we want to tell. Do you remember “A Knight’s Tale” using rock music in a medieval movie? It worked well! Or whatever Tarantino movies using surf guitars… Or Hans Zimmer Joker’s theme… Or Bernard Hermann using only strings for Psycho (because of the monochrome aspect of the image) and at the time, strings made reference to love scenes… Now using high pitch staccati strings in cluster is a cliché. All of it is about being creative. How can I use music to tell the story.

Bernard Hermann used Brass in his Vertigo Ouverture to imitate the fog horns of San Francisco. How could I be creative in Outlast 2 compared to Outlast 1, by inspiring myself by the new locations, caracters, etc and then being conscient of all the elements that stay from Outlast 1 to Outlast 2 in the game.

 

 

JB:  What are some of your favourite video games soundtracks?

 

 

SL:  I’m a guy from the 80s. I still REALLY love the Zelda theme. It’s one of the classics I know, but still so, so, so good!! I really liked the Mortal Kombat music during the 90s. It’s might be funny but I do remember some good themes from Echo The dolphin on Sega Genesis.I really liked Joel McNeely’s Shadows of the Empire. To me, he’s the one who should be hired for the next Star Wars when John Williams won’t be able to continue. I do remember the excellent music of the first Warcraft and Starcraft.

 

 

JB:  What would you like to see done with video game music going forward?

 

 

SL:  I think we are in the golden age of video games right now. Movies aren’t as interesting as in the past, We have all those super hero movies, or all those really indie movies that employ more radio tunes then scores. Arrival was a revelation for me, but it is in a rare zone for film industry right now. I think tv shows are more originals than movies, and also some really good games. Because I’m a movie fan, I love great storytelling. I love so much the Paolo Sorrentino’s movies (La Grande Bellezza, Youth). But I know it’s marginal in this whole Hollywood world. I think more cinematic video games are fresh air in the freedom of writing and Outlast is right there. You wouldn’t see this kind of edginess in movies now… I don’t think so. I’m not talking about the goriness, but more about the freedom of the form. The freedom of creating something that good, without asking to the rest of the world their opinion like all those screen test and focus groups. I feel like games and TV shows take risks right now that are really interesting in new avenue of story telling and experiences.

 

 

JB:  Do you feel video game music is held back still by anything?

 

 

SL:  It always depends on the creative people who work on a project. I’ve been really lucky with Red Barrels, they let me try things, and I really appreciate this!

It’s fundamental for me to push out limits and find new way to express myself musically.

The only thing that could stop my ideas would be the small amount of music scoring knowledge a creative director, a game developper or a movie director could have. Then I have to educate what I try to do and it’s really daunting.

 

 

JB:  What are some of the challenges in composing for a horror game?

 

 

SL:  The first main challenge is to be new and original. There are so many clichés it’s so difficult to create something new especially in that genre. I have chance to work with collaborators who invite me to explore and push boundaries. This is the only way I can find something new. It so rare you wake up in the morning with the eureka idea! You have to struggle, explore pitch ideas, and see what’s still strong and stand out at the end.

The second is to be “musical”. It’s easy to just make chaotic music to create fear. The real challenge is to create something scary but hooky and memorable. I think you have to have a tune at the end. What makes the Joker’s theme in The Dark Knight so memorable? It’s a clear, bold and original idea. And it’s repeated a lot in the movie so you can associate it easily to the awesome character. I try to make a brilliant use of the most strong and memorable sounds I could find during the creative process, then I try to make you associate it to whatever I need to. For example, my cymbal sound from Outlast 1 was the icon for me, and I tried to push it at some important moment in Outlast 2.

 

 

 

JB:  What is the mindset that goes into composing for a horror game? How do you get the right ideas to put into your work?

 

 

SL:  I don’t know how the other composers work, but for me it’s a very personal and intimate journey into my deeper feelings. I have to refer and connect to my own fears and emotions. Like an actor probably. If I cannot connect to this, you won’t believe or be touched by what I try to tell. I don’t know why actually, but every time I composed too much using only my intellectual knowledge (analyzing my music), I didn’t keep those ideas at the end. Another good tester for me to see what works, or not, is the time. Because the creation of a game like Outlast 2 can take 2 years, it gives me the chance to see what’s still good after having listening it all this time.

 

 

JB:  Do you feel that horror game music is more intrinsically a part of the games?

 

 

SL:  Yes of course, but not because it’s horror, but because it’s a huge part of the gameplay. It’s part of the core, the DNA of the game. Any romantic movie without excellent score would look like cheesy. When the emotion is a key element of the story or gameplay, the presence of an excellent score or music is fundamental to complete the experience!

 

 

 

JB:  What are some of the ways you innovated with the soundtracks for your games?

 

 

SL: By choosing different instruments for Outlast 2, I based my choice on the locations in this new game. I wanted to try something else. I’m a strong believer that I could tell whatever emotion with whatever instrument. It’s always depend on a good interpretation of the instrument. A good musician can tell the whole range of emotion with his instrument, or at least can try to be creative enough to interpret it. In the case of Outlast 2, I tried to get out of my comfort zone by using guitars and basses, and banjo. I know it can sound ridiculous, but for my, as a non guitar player, it’s a challenge to experiment those instruments and trying to find new original tones and sounds that are iconic and scary. I did use some iconic sounds from Outlast 1 at some key moments where I felt it was important to brand something associated to Outlast sound palette. Also, at one point, I thought I told everything I could with those instruments, my assistants and I had to think about how creating new sounds still familiar to the guitars, basses sound palette but adding something new. After a year and half using the guitars and basses samples, I got rid of them and wanted something new for the next levels… So we invented a simple instrument that we called “the Redneck bass”. A simple piece of wood, with metal string attached on it. And it was captured by a contact microphone. It allowed us to explore a new large variety of scary sounds using a bow. “11 bring back our messiah!” in the album is a good example of the use of this instrument.

 

JB:  What would you like to be able to do with your composing that you cannot do yet?

 

 

SL:  Good question!! There are so many things to do. I don’t think it leads to one specific idea. I hope I will continue to have original ideas though out my career. I only wish to work with tremendous talented people who have confidence in me and let me explore and discover new way to approach my music in storytelling . Again I’ve been lucky with Red Barrels so far, they are real genius and the most important thing is they let me explore ideas. One thing I would love is to explore more Sci-Fi projects or more dramatic stories projects. I’m a fan of great script, original ones like the movie “Arrival” and would love to work with people like the ones on the story driven projects from Naughty Dog or Quantic Dream.

 

 

………………………

 

 

Thank you again to Samuel Laflamme for doing this interview. You can follow him on twitter at @Samuel_Laflamme    

By Jonathan Balofsky On 10 Apr, 2017 At 08:52 AM | Categorized As News, News, PC Games, PlayStation, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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Bethesda sent out the following

 

We’re thrilled to announce that Bethesda will host a Free Play Week for The Elder Scrolls Online starting tomorrow and running all the way through April 18 across all platforms, including PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac. That’s seven full days for players to adventure through Tamriel, build and grow characters, conquer Delves and Dolmens, and unravel another incredibly epic Elder Scrolls saga.

 

Maybe you’ve been reading about our enormous new Chapter, The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, coming June 6 or you’ve heard about how players at Game Informer, MMORPG.com, and MassivelyOP.com all voted ESO the ‘Best MMO of 2016’ and wondered what you might be missing. This is the best  chance to find out for free and hone your skills before heading back to Vvardenfell in June.

 

The Free Play Weekend will include:

 

  • No Restrictions: Access to the full The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited base game. Go where you want, when you want, and with who you want in the massive open world and build your hero however you see fit.
  • 500 Free Crowns: Everyone receives 500 Crowns to spend in the Crown Store on fun costumes, unique pets, helpful scrolls, and more.
  • Progress Retention: Any characters created, Crown Packs purchased, or Crown Store items bought, as well as any progress made during the Free Play Week will carry over when you purchase the game.
  • Try and Buy … At a Discount: During the Free Play Week, you’ll enjoy a discounted price on either The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited (the base game) or The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Edition, which includes the base game as well as the four major DLC packs: Imperial City, Orsinium, Thieves Guild, and The Dark Brotherhood.

Whether you’re looking to quest online with your friends, or just want to head back to Tamriel by yourself for another epic Elder Scrolls adventure, ESO provides you the freedom and flexibility to play how you want to play.

 

How and When to Get into the Free Play Week

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam players can begin downloading tomorrow at 10am eastern.

 

Players should navigate to The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited on the PlayStation Store, the Xbox Store, or Steam and download the game. Once the game is downloaded and players have created an account, they can login and play immediately.

Source: PR Email

The Elder Scrolls Online is a truly unique MMO. It started out with a rocky launch but has truly come into its own as a worthy entry in The Elder Scrolls series. I fully recommend checking out this free play week. Now is the time to try it out if you were ever curious, or if the upcoming Morrowind expansion stoked your interest.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 7 Apr, 2017 At 01:44 PM | Categorized As News, Otaku Music, PlayStation, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Atlus sent out the following

 

 

Atlus Co., Ltd. (Setagayaku Tokyo, Chief Executive Officer: Akira Nomoto) announced that following the launch of the critically acclaimed Persona 5 in North America and Europe, the game has shipped more than 1.5 million copies worldwide.

To celebrate the launch of the game, there will be a Persona live concert event on Aug. 2 at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan. Please stay tuned for upcoming news on Persona 5 and the Persona series in the future!
Persona 5 is a game about the internal and external conflicts of a group of troubled youth who live dual lives. They have the typically ordinary day-to-day of a Tokyo high-schooler – attending class, after school activities and part-time jobs. But they also undertake fantastical adventures by using otherworldly powers to enter the hearts of people. Their power comes from the Persona, the Jungian concept of the “self;” the game’s heroes realize that society forces people to wear masks to protect their inner vulnerabilities, and by literally ripping off their protective mask and confronting their inner selves do the heroes awaken their inner power, and use it to strive to help those in need. Ultimately, the group of Phantom Thieves seeks to change their day-to-day world to match their perception and see through the masks modern-day society wears.
Persona 5 is now available in the Americas and Europe, for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. The game is rated M by the ESRB.
It is great to hear that Persona 5 has done so well. The game is amazing and deserves a large audience. Hopefully it will continue to sell well. Let us hope that the upcoming mainline Shin Megami Tensei game also sell well.
Source: PR Email.
By Jonathan Balofsky On 6 Apr, 2017 At 09:59 AM | Categorized As News, News, PC Games, PlayStation, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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Bethesda has released a new trailer for Prey. This trailer details the gadgets and hardware used within the game.

Welcome to the Hardware Labs aboard Talos I. It’s here that many of the station’s gadgets, gears and weapons have been built. Take a look at just a few of the items you’ll have at your disposal when facing the alien threat in Prey. Along with a wide range of abilities (both human and alien), Morgan Yu has a full arsenal of killer gear. From his simple wrench to a powerful shotgun to more exotic devices, Morgan has more than enough options to suit his needs.

Prey will be available on May 5, 2017, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Prey is looking absolutely amazing. The game is set to be a big hit this year, and will hopefully be the start of a new franchise for Bethesda. Will you be getting the game?