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We’re stopping to smell the backlog at the following link.

The quiet interval between E3 and the holiday market rush really ought to be a sacred time for us who play games, even if it’s a bit dreary for those in the mood for new releases.  The doldrums don’t quite last as long as they seem, if we’re honest, and they aren’t really all that bare, either.  But the spectacle of news and marketing that immediately precedes the summer lull is matched only by the crush of new games that follows in the fall, and we spend the months in between disoriented, with our ears ringing and our nerves jangling.

As hosts, we’re forced to do what we’d have preferred to do all along, which is to talk to one another, and to you, about what we’ve played or wished we had, and how we felt about whatever we can remember.  Being starved for public relations messages, marketing hype, press releases, developer controversy, and endless other tabloid gossip is a strongly positive thing.  None of us first developed an interest in games for the drama, unless that drama was in the cartridge or on the disc.  Sadly, it takes a near total lack of triple-A news to remind us of this.  Maybe one day the lesson will stick.

 

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We’re fashionably late at the following link.

We’re spending time on things both old and new in this episode, as we invite to the long neglected interview one Karl Roelofs, co-founder of Zojoi and developer of Shadowgate in all its forms.  Karl takes us through the history of Shadowgate, and the imminent release of its newest incarnation due this summer.

Sadly, outside of hosting storied game developers and awaiting their newest wares, we’ve absolutely run out of things to say.  The passing of this years E3 and exhausting of every news item has left us with not a single healthy rumor or tabloid story to cover.  We’re within the summer doldrums again, and we expect it to be weeks before we see something worth getting in a fight about.  If this goes on long enough, we may actually have to play some games.

 

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We’re all dressed up with nothing to play at the following link.

E3′s annual blitz of showmanship and overpromises has come and gone and left a whole lot of nothing in its wake.  2015 will evidently be a good year for those of us with disposable income and a strong yen for gaming, but the outlook for this year remains tame.  There’s still a few things to look forward to, no doubt, and there’s always that backlog we’d like to address.  And, of course, it turns out that Bungie and Activision’s Destiny is turning our heads in a way we hadn’t expected.  The surprise alpha access was maybe the best thing on offer last week, and it looks like it will fill the sadly empty bill nicely this fall.

 

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We’re not remotely pessimistic at the following link.

Every one of us on the show knows better than to entertain our hopes and dreams for any particular game, or studio, or platform, or for E3 and the hobby of gaming as a whole. We know there are and always will be wonderful games to explore and a goodly number of surprises in every future, but we’ve learned what it means to maintain a wishlist and see it go unfulfilled. We’ve sworn in the past never to do it again…but that’s always been a lie, hasn’t it? It probably always will be. Every one of us is an optimistic twelve-year-old on the inside, and we’ll be damned if we let the hard shell of adulthood muffle our enthusiasm. At least not this year.

 

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We’ve crashed into a bollard at the following link.

So Watch Dogs is out, and even though we were never certain what we wanted from it, we’re pretty sure that this wasn’t it, and we’re very sure we just don’t care.  We’re actually exhausted from the effort of giving a shit about this game, and it’s neither good enough or bad enough to move us toward any particular emotion.  The only genuinely tragic thing is that it’s drowned several good ideas beneath a lot of poor story and derivative gameplay.  There’s not much here that we really want to be doing, which makes it all the more troubling that we can’t stop playing.

 

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We’re holding our breath and stamping our feet at the following link.

The hype and hoopla for the now current-gen consoles was pegging the meter for the better part of a year – and still manages to raise a lot of noise –  but aside from roaring of console warriors, there doesn’t seem to be much going on.  The first year of new hardware is historically slow to deliver games, but that first year has also tended to amaze or innovate at some perceptible level.  Anymore, “next-gen” may as well mean “keeping pace”.  But these boxes aren’t going anywhere soon, and we gripe and complain when we’re hungry for first-class exclusives.  We’ll revisit the bitchiness on the eve of next year’s E3 and see if we’ve managed any progress.

 

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We’ve been spun right round at the following link.

Following the course taken by the Xbox One over the the last year has been a bewildering experience.  It’s nice, we suppose, to have a cheaper console that’s less restrictive in its policies, and there are certainly people who are ready to become One owners once these changes take effect.  But there’s also something grotesque about Microsoft’s console now, as if it’s had every offending limb hacked off and other, mismatched parts bolted into place in an effort to fit into a certain mold.

This is without a doubt the result of the healthy competition we all want from the games industry, but it’s sad that the Xbox couldn’t have been designed to meet these expectations from the beginning, rather than being hectored and beaten into compliance.  It’s been a hard year for the Xbox, and a long one, but it’s a single year, and only half of that on the market.  They’ve made more changes in that year than most consoles would make in their lifetime, so for the sake of not looking too terribly foolish in the future, we’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt and wish them the very best of luck.

 

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We’re a podcast in harm’s way at the following link.

There are apparently always going to be weeks where we absolutely cannot exercise our boundless optimism and enthusiasm, no matter how hard we try.  Those would be the weeks where the most recent Call of Duty is announced and information dumps for a much-vaunted IP fail to materialize.  It’s clearly important that we preach to the converted about the shortcomings of any particular CoD release, and I think we’ve done what’s expected.  How else would you know what a sickening travesty the franchise has become?

Our responsibilities concerning Destiny are a little less clear, as we’re divided on whether Bungie have done anything wrong.  Or anything at all, really.  An ongoing project on our show is to roll our eyes and pshaw at the incredible power of the overpromise used in nearly all official communications between videogame developers and the fans of said videogames.  We have no doubt there’s a lot on the line when you introduce your half-billion-dollar baby to the world, but there’s quite a bit going on for the guy at the end of the line as well.  Since that’s us, we’re going to bellyache until they’ve delivered the goods.

 

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We’re down to our last save-ribbon at the following link.

No matter where we look recently we feel we’re being met by a horror game of every type and kind you can imagine.  Except the kind we used to love, that is.  It’s awfully hard to scratch the Resident Evil 2 itch without actually playing RE2, and sometimes that just won’t sate the hunger.  Something modern but very much in the same spirit would be welcome.  Sadly, a plodding adventure game with tank controls that’s as much about inventory management as it is about the zombie apocalypse doesn’t seem to be everyone’s idea of a good time, though it should be because they were awesome!  Says the old man.

 

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We’re live from a galaxy far, far away at the following link.

There are any number of satisfying outcomes that could have followed Amy Hennig’s departure from Naughty Dog, and as lifelong fans of the Star Wars universe we’ve found ourselves as satisfied as could be.  There are endless numbers of people who had some other dream job or personal project in mind for her, but we’re frankly glad they didn’t get their way.  Star Wars – as a universe in general and a universe of games, in particular – has always held a special place in several of In-Game Chat’s hearts, but the quality has dropped in recent years and by no small amount.  Star Wars is in need of saving, and we expect Amy will play a part in its rescue.

 

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We’re less than the sum of our parts at the following link.

We did our level best to present a lively discussion this week, but there’s no getting past how awkward the hosts are without Scott at the helm.  He was in hospital, flat on his back and high as a kite, suffering from a gruesome affliction.  Those of us in the studio were more than a little uncomfortable, like lost children who needed an adult.  Scott made it through his ordeal, somehow, and so did we, but our typically flawless (not really) execution wasn’t to be had.  In any case, we apologize for the lateness of this posting, but it couldn’t be avoided.

 

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We’ve raised no alerts and triggered no alarms at the following link.

We take real issue with a lot of Kojima’s shenanigans, and we’ve failed completely to understand the story material behind Ground Zeroes, but there’s something curious and wonderful about playing through such an exquisitely polished…something that’s probably almost a complete game, maybe?  We don’t generally think it’s a great idea to go on the record about the value of a game, unless we’re talking about ourselves alone.  But it’s hard to imagine anyone stumbling into a game like this unawares, and even harder to imagine that well-informed gamer being displeased by what they find.

Also we played inFamous and HOLY CRAP THAT GAME LOOKS GREAT!!

 

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We’ve got eyes in the backs of our heads at the following link.

It matters more than we can possibly say to invite one of our very best friends on the show for his first appearance ever, really.  It matters something extra that it might, in the future, be  more than a rare event.  To some degree, we all became who we are together – the ‘who we are’ on the show, at the very least – and at the ripe old age of late-ish thirties, you begin to wonder how you came to think and feel the things you do, especially as regards the vidja games.  It’s super swell, then, to touch base with someone else who knows where you’re at, because he’s been where you’ve been.  You, too, may one day have to reconcile the grey hair with the midnight launch, and when you do, you’ll be chuffed to find you’re not alone…so long as you’re not alone.

 

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We’ve seen the shape of things to come at the following link.

It’s not as though we ever imagined getting through the spring months without turning out our pockets, so the only comfort now is knowing exactly when, where, and for which games we’ll be going broke.  We’re all over menu as well, with triple-A product at a premium price, and mid-priced digital games that are damn near impulse buys.  And there’s a Steam sale out there, somewhere, no doubt, which puts our extensive wish lists in play as well.  We were recently, and fleetingly, sad to hear of more than one release date delay, but a quick glance at what we’re already due this month and the next has brought us to our senses.

 

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Claim your five-finger discount at the following link.

After long years of skeptical previews, rumors of development strife, and the unmatchable expectations of the elderly, Thief the Younger has been released to hilariously uneven industry reviews and community impressions.  There’s a good chance that without the marquee nameplate and the years of cloudy recollections this game would have been received to general acclaim, but there’s no fair shake for anyone who thinks they’re deft enough to follow in Garrett’s nearly silent footsteps.

Perhaps, though, in a year or two, Thief could conjure the embarrassing levels of praise currently being hurled toward Blizzard for making their game what it should have been at launch.  Diablo 3 has, with the surprise release of a not-objectively-horrifying loot system upgrade, banished a large part of the angry fog that’s clung to the game and subdued its legacy.  I’m not usually a fan of the idea that the customer is always right, but as one such customer who’s finally gotten his way, I’ll gladly cling to it in this case.

 

 

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