Inside Sunset Overdrive's Fabulous Virtual Fashions

Sunset overdrive fashion main image
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Gita Jackson gets it -- or should I say, she gets us. Jackson is a games writer with a passion for virtual fashion, and she understands the role it can play in how we understand a game's characters, attitude, and landscape. Hot on the heels of her recent post about the fashion and design decisions behind Final Fantasy X's Yuna, she's interviewed a few of the folks responsible for the vibrant, arresting fashion of Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive over on Paste. (Full disclosure: I am also a regular contributor to Paste.)

Jackson spoke with Insomniac Games Art Director Jacinda Chew and Carin Cronacher, an LA-based fashion designer who creates stagewear for Alice Cooper in addition to designing for her own brand. While Cronacher's experience gave her a unique perspective that aligned well with the game's intended visual style, as she explained to Jackson she still had to make sure she'd be putting together designs that people would actually want to wear:

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Starved for Fun: Don't Miss These Top Posts from Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Survival Week

RPS Survival Week Eidolon
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Last week gaming site Rock, Paper, Shotgun ran a series of features for their rather brilliant Survival Week, a week devoted to survival games and mod conversions. With a full week's worth of articles published it can be tricky to catch up, but here are four recommended starting points:

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Don't Panic: New Survival Horror Game in Second Life (If You Can Survive the Setup)

SL survivor horror game

Don't Panic is an intriguing-looking survival horror game worth checking out this weekend before Halloween. First thing to survive: The long, involved technical setup instructions, which are still a necessary part of pretty much any interactive experience in Second Life. (But don't panic.)

Learn About the Details Behind the Striking Design of Upcoming Game Firewatch

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Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Firewatch is an upcoming game from Campo Santo, a small studio made up of a group of friends and industry veterans. Since the game is still in development material about it is stillpretty sparce, but this week they shared a post on their blog that is fascinating whether or not you've been following their progress. It's part two of a Twitter Q&A with fans where the developers responded to questions about the game's art and visual design, and it's an interesting look at what it takes to make a game look as striking as Firewatch.

There's a lot to take in (and some of the answers are admittedly a bit "inside baseball") but they're still an incredibly interesting read... Especially if you're looking for a little artistic advice yourself. For example, when asked if it's hard to design dozens of distinct rocks and trees, they write:

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The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo is Not Your Father's (Brother's) Indie Horror Game

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Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Everyone had that friend... Maybe a friend of a friend.... A friend of a friend of a friend (they go to a different school, you wouldn't know them) with an uncle who worked for Nintendo. They knew things, they'd seen things, they'd played things that you could only imagine. They could tell you how to get a level 99 Mew as your starter Pokemon, how to play as Zelda rescuing Link, how to save Aerith -- oh, did they forget to mention he used to work at Sony too?

It might seem like a strange premise for a horror game, but The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo is guaranteed to send a chill down your spine. Here's why:

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Pokemon Art Academy Won't Make You Color Inside the Lines

BitBlock Pokemon Art Academy
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you read the late August round-up I wrote about the games I'm most looking forward to in the last quarter of 2014, then you probably have a very good idea of why you're staring down the barrel of a crudely drawn otter demon right now.

Pokemon Art Academy is due out this Friday and previews are already popping up to show what the game has to offer. For example, this video from The BitBlock (from which I grabbed the screencap above) is an entertaining example of what the first few minutes of play will be like. Even if you have zero interest in sketching up a Pikachu for yourself, it still might be a good way to get well-earned Monday laugh:

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It's Critical to be Critical, Whether You Like This Hyper-Violent Game Trailer or Not

Hatred trailer
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Yesterday, a developer released a trailer for a game they're working on. That's not news. It's a very violent game. That's not news either. What is news is just how negative its reception has been among gamers and games writers; within hours, op-eds were springing up about how repulsive, tacky, and frankly pathetic the trailer for the game (bluntly and blandly named Hatred) seems. Of course the trailer has spread like wildfire as a result, and on YouTube it still has more "dislikes" than "likes".

There's a lot of grossness to deal with when you're talking about Hatred. It claims to be a response to the trend towards "political correctness" in games. Its developers may hold some very disturbing political beliefs. It depicts a mass-shooting days after Anita Sarkeesian and the school hosting an event for her were threatened with one. But if nothing else, the responses to all of that grossness have been very insightful and well worth reading -- especially if, like me, you've ever tried to reconcile your enjoyment of some violent video games with your utter distaste for others.

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Return of the Deep Sea Dad: Octodad's Free DLC Doesn't Disappoint

Octodad DLC Shorts
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

As much as I enjoyed Octodad: Dadliest Catch when it first came out last February, I didn't expect to be anticipating its free DLC pack as much as I was 8 months later. I thought the game's charm and the glee I felt when I played it would fade over time as these things often do.

But it didn't.

I'd been awaiting the promised free DLC for months, and when it was finally released this week I leapt at the chance to play it. In short it does exactly what the best parts of Octodad did, placing the player and the titular cephalopatriarch in everyday scenarios and essentially "letting the magic happen". Take the screenshot above for instance, shared by @mattshea369 on Twitter. That patient sure did not start out wedged in a hospital vending machine, and yet here we are. If that's not enough to demonstrate what the Octodad DLC is all about, take a look at this stream I did on Tuesday:

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Lenna's Inception: Classic Gaming Style With a Modern Gaming Twist

Lenna's Inception
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you're into indie/alt games these days then you're probably already aware of itch.io, a streamlined indie marketplace that makes it ultra-easy for developers to deliver their games to customers. Itch.io has become host to a boatload of interesting games in the past year -- some paid, many free -- and deserves some serious coverage.

It's with that in mind that I'll be reaching into my own itch.io library much more often here on NWN, starting today with a retro-inspired story of a teacher's revenge: Lenna's Inception.

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter May Be The Most Gorgeous Game of 2014

Vanishing of Ethan carter PC Gamer gallery
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is one of the most gorgeous games I've seen in my entire life, and PC Gamer has the massive, high-resolution screenshots to prove it. Just take a look. While screenshotter James Snook uprezzed the game and applied a 3rd party visual effects mod, in this case that's almost excessive. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter doesn't need either of those things to look utterly stunning.

I've already watched The Vanishing of Ethan Carter played from start to finish. I know the characters, I know the locations, I know the story, I know the twists... So why do I still feel compelled to play it all again for myself?

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