New on Steam: It's a Robo-Dog-Eat-Robo-Dog World in Indie Action Platformer The Sun at Night

The Sun at Night
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

After the long and arduous greenlighting process, dog-lead indie action platformer The Sun at Night is finally on Steam. 

I haven't covered this game before, and it's not because I don't love the idea of Soviet cosmo-dog Laika being refitted with robot parts to fight alongside humans in a strange Cold War alternate reality. It's also not because I don't think the game is well made, clever, or challenging enough to keep fans of the "Metroidvania" genre happy. It's certainly not because a friend of mine works for developer Minicore Studios and recently presented me with a couple screenshots of a conspicuously named NPC he wrote; an NPC with a sense of humor who also happens to have Sailor Moon on her mind.

... Wait no, it might actually be that last one.

Obviously my word on this game is going to be anything but impartial, so all I'll say is that if The Sun at Night sounds like something you would be into, you can check it out for yourself on Steam

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Fun and Games: Grand Theft Auto V's Enduring Appeal Has Little to do With its Violence

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

Gamers don't need guns to have a good time; they might not even want them. That's the premise of Chris Plante's latest opinion piece over on Polygon, where he's written about the success of Grand Theft Auto V (and what the industry should learn from it.)

For some, Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series is practically synonymous with videogame violence, and it's certainly garnered its fair share of media attention over the years for just that. But GTA's appeal to those who keep playing long after the release-window zeitgeist has passed often has little to do with guns and slaughter, and everything to do with using each game's world as a grown-up virtual playground. Plante writes:

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Rock the Boat in Free to Play "Dramagame" Velvet Sundown, Now on Steam

 

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

I load into the world, immediately greeted by some of the absolute silkiest beats I've heard in a while. I'm a redheaded bartender of Irish origin by the name of Boyle, though my middle name might be "Stereotype" (mum was very postmodern like that.)

I'm briefed on my missions, both personal and professional, before I step out on deck to greet the other guests. My first conversation is polite but probing. I know that there are spies on board -- I'm one of them, and I have a strong interest in finding the others. I offer a passenger a tumbler of whiskey as she tells me about her career in Hollywood. She offers me her autograph but I politely decline before asking her if she'd heard anything about the local oil concerns who have been in fierce competition lately. Instead of exchanging autographs, we then exchange identification devices.

I overhear another conversation nearby. My coworker aboard this yacht, a smartly dressed and thin-lipped woman named Mary, has approached a wealthy European playboy and demanded...

"Ass, gas or grass."

Welcome to Velvet Sundown.

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Iris Wants to Know: Why Have You Stayed in Second Life?

LISP Reader's Choice
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The more I wonder about what Linden Lab has in store for SL 2, the more I wonder what exactly has kept so many players in Second Life itself. For SL 2 to be a success it will not only have to attract new users and veterans alike, but give them a reason to stick around -- and it's not as simple as it would be for just about any other MMO. There's no level caps to consider, no end-game content, no raids, no dungeons... But SL isn't a simple thing in the first place.

So why do we stay?

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A Month from Release, Modders Are Already Sinking Their Teeth Into The Sims 4

Sims 4 CAS Demo  (16)

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

There's good news for Sims players who have been worried about the number and variety of mods that will be available for The Sims 4 come September. Fans have already started modding the Create-a-Sim Demo released earlier this month, and you can download and install a plethora of new and tweaked content. There are custom animations, new eye textures, skins, clothes, and my favorite of the lot: A lightweight program that will let you recolor just about any piece of content from the demo to your liking.

If you want a complete list what's available, fan site SimNation is regularly updating theirs to include the latest and greatest custom content. These mods are built for the demo and it's hard to say how things will change once the full game is releases a little over a month from now, but even so it's absolutely a good sign for anyone (including myself) who was worried about how long it would take modders to fill the gap left by The Sims 4's apparent limitations.

(Hat tip: Kat Nye)

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Forget the Map: Gaming With a Brain Injury

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

"KEVIN. WHY DO YOU EVEN LIKE VIDEO GAMES. YOU ARE SO BAD AT THEM.” That's what a friend asked Kevin Simpson, the author of this piece, as he fumbled through one of that friend's favorite games. It's unclear whether or not Simpson's brain injury was diagnosed before or after this encounter, but he'd been feeling the injury's effects on functions like logic, time and direction for a while -- both in his gaming and his life.

Simpson recently shared his experiences as a gamer with a frontal lobe disorder and, much like the IGN article about gaming while color blind that I shared earlier this month, it's a very interesting read if you're looking for a different perspective on worlds and experiences many of us take for granted. He writes:

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Follow These Clear Tips to Get the Perfect Fit from Your Second Life Mesh Avatar Enhancements

Tutorial-meshitemsandsettings-01-600x213
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you've ever worn specialized mesh body parts on your Second Life avatar, you know how hard it can be to get the perfect, seamless fit. Even if you have experience with these incredibly popular add-ons, it can feel like there's always something wrong with yours.

And everyone can see it.

And they're judging you.

But there's still hope, my patchwork friend, and it comes in the form of a tutorial from one of Second Life's most experienced fashionistas...

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Hot Pepper Game Reviews Are Merciless, Just Not in the Way You Might Expect

Hot Pepper Gaming Anthony Carboni
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I'll preface this by saying that it's not like I enjoy watching people suffer 90% of the time, but Hot Pepper Gaming fits harmlessly into that remaining 10%. The premise is pretty simple: YouTube gaming personalities review a recently released game... Immediately after devouring a single hot pepper of their choosing. Every episode has a predictable arc: The early moments of calm, followed by the first real hit of the pepper's heat, then the mounting desperation, and finally a soothing glass of milk when the review has been delivered in its entirety.

This week it's congenial science-lover Anthony Carboni's turn, and whether or not you're interested in his thoughts on extreme off-road trucking simulator Spintires, you'll probably want to watch:

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A Taste of the Wastes: Fallout-Inspired Fashions Arrive in SL

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

What's the best way to play a Fallout game? With the music dialed up to 11? Yes. Rocking your Pip-Boy like a particularly bulky Rolex? Mhm. Tearing through the wastelands with a pack of ridiculously stylish corgis? Always. But what about when you're not playing Fallout? What then?

Thanks to FATEplay's latest releases you can now bring a piece of the nuclear apocalypse with you wherever you go in Second Life. Damien Fate posted a set of outfits inspired by the Fallout franchise to celebrate his costume-focussed brands first anniversary, so guys and gals can now roam SL in faded leather dusters or shabby-chic vault jumpsuits, listening to their favorite oldies and shooting any sniping radscorpions from as far away as possible because have you seen those things? They're disgusting.

Visit FATEplay in world [SLURL] or on the Second Life Marketplace for more, and be sure to leave a comment with your favorite SL wasteland destinations for any particularly inspired virtual world photographers to visit.

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The Best Things in Life Are Free, Including The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection

The_sims_2Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Just shy of ten years after its initial release, EA announced that they will no longer be offering support or patches for The Sims 2, the second installment in one of the most popular gaming franchises ever. In an interesting twist, they also announced that The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection, which includes all of the games expansion packs, would be available for free to anyone with an Origin account. 

This is good news for a lot of players. For some who bought The Sims 2 on disc way back before digital distribution had gained the foothold it has today, it's a chance to revisit a game we remember fondly. For others who lack experience with the franchise, it's a cheap and easy way to see what all the fuss is about before The Sims 4 is released this September. 

No matter which camp you fall into, here's what you need to do:

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