To Leave expresses the emotional heartache of aspiration

toleave01-780x426I saw this game at last year’s GDC (2014) and really wanted to push us to cover it, but I couldn’t get both ends of the conversation with the developer and GamesBeat to connect. Some times, that’s just how shit goes.

Finally, however, I was able to make things right with this article. I highly recommend keeping an eye out on this one. It’s forming into a great example of “expression through gameplay”.

Balancing isn’t easy: Team Ninja interview part 1

doa5-780x230During the last year or so of leaping back into video game writing, Koei Tecmo has provided some of the more personally interesting behind-the-scenes discussions.

Tom Lee, creative director for Team Ninja, is an especially cool guy to have a conversation with. I last shot-the-shit with him about action design and the game industry while checking out Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z (which, unfortunately, I did not turn into an article). This time around we spent a good chunk of time discussing fighting game design and Dead or Alive 5’s battle for relevance in the competitive community. Fortunately, this morphed into a larger, 2-part, 3-way interview with Team Ninja’s Yohei Shimbori and Yosuke Hayashi.

In part one, we discuss how Dead or Alive is doing in the competitive scene, their take on sexual fantasy, and possible future products.

Alone in the Dark reinvents itself as a co-op RogueLike

aitd-ill-04-780x439November was a great month for my GamesBeat side gig. I didn’t get a lot of articles published, but it was filled with a ton of productive behind-the-scenes work. Also, what did make it out was pretty solid.

First up is this article on Alone in the Dark: Illumination.

I hate using the preview article cliche of, “this game has promise”…but fuck, it does!

The series desperately needs its Resident Evil IV moment, where it cherry picks things that keep the audience grounded in an “Alone in the Dark” game, but completely changes the experience into something engaging. The RogueLike element in Illumination is going to be the key do-or-die change. If Pure FPS can execute something clever with that portion of the design, they’ll have their gameplay hook that will keep people talking about the series.

If not, well…Atari can shelve Alone in the Dark for another five years then try again.

Long time since I’ve sat behind the Cintiq


Although I haven’t had a ton of GamesBeat output lately, it has taken a lot away from my art side the last few months. The Aliens feature, especially, really took a toll on me. I spent so much of my time and resources researching and playing games for those two articles. What you see on GamesBeat is the edited down and chopped version of the work. There are so many more games and things I had to say that were taken out. All for the reader’s benefit, because let’s be honest, the average person doesn’t want to read 10K words on Alien(s) games.

When the GamesBeat work gets heavy, I wind up totally skipping my art related work. This time, I was pulled away from my drawing board for at least two months. Art is like exercise. You may be ripped as fuck after a couple months of working out at the gym, but if you don’t keep going in and pushing iron — even if you’re not looking to bulk up anymore — your strength starts to get weaker and weaker and your stomach gets fatter and fatter.

Right now, art wise, I’m a lard ass (although in real life, my torso is shaping up like a pregnant male…so I need to start lifting/biking to fix that as well). It’s time to start hitting the art gym again.

I’m posting up one of my quick doodle warm up pages just so my site has a break from article stuff. Like all my sketch work, it isn’t the best or worst of anything. It’s just a thing, period.

Games of the Alien(s) franchise part 1: The bad, the canceled, and the weirdly cool

In case you didn’t know, I’m a huge fan of the Alien(s) franchise. HR Giger’s creature design ruled my nightmares as a young child that was accidentally exposed to images of from Alien. As I grew up watching horror films, no other monster, visually, ticked the primal fears lodged deep in my brain in the same way that this phallic-with-fangs space bug did.

So predictably, I am excited to check out Alien: Isolation. As everyone chatters about the concept of this game, one topic keeps leaping out in the conversation: the Alien franchise hasn’t had any good games.

I call bullshit.

These people are being lazy. There’s a ton of Alien(s) games out there, people just aren’t even trying to scratch the surface.

So I approached GamesBeat about running a two part series about the franchise. Listing the bad/odd, but most importantly, listing the good. My editors warned me to not take a deep dive, but honestly, it’s a mother fucking deep dive. Although technically, I had to omit another article worth of games from both parts in order to keep readers interested (deep dives are futile if readers don’t have the patience to take them with you).

So here is part 1. In this session, we cover the games that are bad yet noteworthy, canceled, and the odd-yet-cool. The list cheats in some places and lists competent games that are neither bad, canceled, or odd…but were not good enough to go into part 2.