For Dishonored 2, Former Kidnap Victim Emily Kaldwin Becomes Playable Damsel Causing Distress

Right on the heels of E3 2015, here's the spectacular teaser trailer to Dishonored 2, sequel to the immersive, open world RPG that's a favorite of this blog, featuring a great reveal at the end:

Rare to big budget games, one of the two playable characters is female, and a significant one at that: Emily Kaldwin, the daughter of royalty whose kidnapping and rescue drove the entire plot of the first game. In the sequel, however, she becomes an active participant in a larger story, whose choices the player can shape. (Players can also be Corvo, the silent assassin/bodyguard from the first game.) As such, Dishonored 2 comes across as a direct response to Anita Sarkeesian's famous complaint against the "Damsels in Distress" trope used in so many games, from early 2013. I even wonder if lead Dishonored designers Harvey Smith and Raphael Colantonio made Emily playable partly in response to that very video.

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Why Virtual World Fans Will Want to Play Wattam

Wattam! Wow, we want Wattam. Why? Watch, watch:

One of the most anticipated games this year (and debuting at E3), it's from Keita Takahashi, the genius who brought us the zany classic Katamari Damacy, Robin Hunicke (who helped develop Journey and many other acclaimed titles), and their team at Funomena. I've known and admired Robin for roughly forever (she even did some consulting for Second Life when I was at Linden Lab), so I asked her to explain what fans of Second Life, Minecraft, and other virtual worlds will most like about Wattam:

"In Wattam," Robin tells me, "you can control all sorts of unique, interesting people - helping them work together to​ connect with each other, build great stacks, and explode with joy! A lot of the gameplay is about experimenting to see what happens when different people interact, and figuring out how they can achieve new heights together. So you're connecting and exploring, in a world that's ripe with possibilities. That core experience of​ connection and exploration is something that both games really nailed!

"But the real draw for me, " she adds, grinning, "is the characters.​ ​Keita's character designs are just super, hella cute." Which is definitely true. 

For Playstation 4, at least to start, but hopefully Wattam wattles over to other platforms. And if you're still wondering what the what Wattam is, read more from Robin on the Funomena blog:

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Play This Weekend: An Indie Pug Speed-Dating Simulator

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

Got any plans this weekend? How about a hot date? With a hot pink pug?

I've been seeing gifs and teasers for Hot Date on Twitter for a while now, and with scenes like the one above you can probably understand why I was excited to see that the pay-what-you-want indie game finally launched earlier this week. There are Mac, Windows and Linux builds available, and you can pay as much or as little as you want for them. 

The premise is simple, and a bit absurd. You're speed dating and trying out conversation starters on your current partner, a floppy-eared pink pug with a downcast gaze. It's not the most exciting "date" you'll ever go on, but it will probably be among the more... Unique. The game's itch.io page gives precious little in the way of details about the game, but with gifs and screenshots like theirs what is there that really needs to be said?

As I mentioned, Hot Date is available as a pay-what-you-want release on itch.io. This means you can downloaded it for free if you want. If you do download the game for free, remember that there's nothing stopping you from going back to the page and using the pay-what-you-want checkout to pass the game's creator a tip for a job well done. Either way, enjoy your "hot date"!

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Twitch Bans Second Life as Adult-Only Because Twitch Understands How Second Life Actually Works

  Twitch-SL
Twitch has officially classified Second Life as Adults-Only on its website, therefore prohibiting anyone from streaming Second Life on its game video sharing service. (The company discussed this with NWN last March.) SL blogger Ciaran Laval is upset:

Yes there are adult themes in Second Life, but there are many parts of Second Life with Doctors, universities, hobbyists, sci-fi fans, artists and inexplicable curiosities if you look.

This is all true, but Twitch, which actually has former Linden Lab staff working for it, knows how Second Life actually works. I didn't explain this very well the last time the topic of Adult content in SL came up, and there's still clearly some confusion among the community, so let my try explaining again:

Due to griefing and other factors, extreme, pornographic, violent, explicit and/or offensive-to-many content often appears everywhere in Second Life - no matter what the region rating.

This point is often missed by longtime SLers with an established community who know how to instantly Mute/eject/block/ignore griefers and other offensive content, which sometimes leads them to get confused and offended by Second Life's (unfair) outside reputation as a weird sex land. But social media tells a different story. For instance, the most notorious incident of pornographic griefing in Second Life happened in a G-rated corporate sim:

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Consider Kickstarting: Explore Immersive, Haunted House as Blind Woman Using Echolocation

Via the Facebook feed of BioShock lead creator Ken Levine, here's an intriguing game on KickStarter from fellow development team members - Perception, a survivor horror game with a unique twist: While it's first-person, the person you play is a young blind woman who explores a haunted house through echolocation. Watch (and listen!):

I'm simultaneously admiring, supportive, and personally NOPE NOPE NOPE-ing at the idea of playing this myself, because it looks and sounds too freaking freaky:

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Play: My Garbage Cat Wakes Me Up at 3am Every Day

Garbage Cat (1)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I have to believe that this game comes from a place of love. It might not sound like it from the name, or they way you play, or the message you get when you "win", but I just have to believe that the creator of My Garbage Cat Wakes Me Up at 3am Every Day loves the titular garbage cat if he took the time to make a little game about the creature's late-night hijinks.

Then again, maybe it's just the culmination of more than a few sleepless nights.

Garbage Cat (2)My Garbage Cat Wakes Me Up at 3am Every Day is short and to the point. With graphics and a greenish tinge reminiscent of the original Gameboy, it puts the player in control of a restless little garbage cat. They can hop around the room, knock things to the floor to destroy them, clamber up tilted lamps and mewl incessantly, even pause to purr and knead their paws on whatever surface they're in the process of destroying. The ultimate goal is to wake up garbage cat's master, with a meter on the top of the screen tracking their success.

It's a small game with a pretty good sense of humor. If you're a cat-lover (or even the distinct opposite of one) My Garbage Cat Wakes Me Up at 3am Every Day is certainly worth a sliver of your time this weekend. Play it on creator Will Herring's itch.io page here.

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Kickstart This: Das Tal, an Innovative MMO Where Regular Server Wipes are a Feature

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

Typically, character wipes are a nightmare. When a game wipes everyone's characters for whatever reason (usually during its beta phases) all that hard-won loot and all those hard-earned levels evaporate into thin air, and everyone from the most hardcore to the most casual players are dropped right back at square one. Together.

It's infuriating.

Which is why it might seem a bit baffling that an MMO currently seeking development funds on Kickstarter is advertising its regular character wipes. They're not a grim necessity or an unfortunate by-product of development, but rather a feature. Something intended to improve the overall experience of playing. That's what PVP sandbox MMO Das Tal is promising, and that promise itself is fascinating.

Here's the heart of their pitch:

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Seek: Find your Friends -- New Immersive World for iOS

Seek: Find Your Friends is a free new iOS game I haven't played yet, but offers us an immersive world ready to be explored:

According to Touch Arcade, it comes with heavy promise:

Seek, the winner of, among other awards, the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Game Award 2015, came out of the 7-week long international gaming competition Dare to be Digital, one of the premier video games development competition for University students and recent graduates. At the game's heart lies the idea of experiencing a colorful, vibrant island through the window of your iOS device. By utilizing the device's gyroscope and accelerometer in addition to the touch screen, Seek lets the player experience the island by moving the device in the same way one would move his or her head.

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I'm Disappointed That Steam's Paid Mods Are Off the Table (for Now), and Here's Why

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

Steam's nascent paid mod system has been scrapped (at least for the time being) in a shockingly quick reversal after its launch late last week. Naturally the Skyrim community, the test group for the system's initial roll-out, has been celebrating enthusiastically and oh wait, I'm lying. People are still very upset, myself included. 

I'm actually more disappointed than I am upset, for two very specific reasons.

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Kickstarter to Avatarize Yourself for 3D Worlds, Printing

Via Robert Thomas, here's an ambitious Kickstarter which brings high-end 3D motion capture to the masses, enabling anyone with $159 or more to avatarize themselves for 3D worlds or 3D printing, watch:

Slight catch: You need to be available and on-hand in various US cities during the project's tour to do the 3D capture process, but if you can do that, you're working with technology currently being used in VR:

We've already used the xxArray to develop a number of groundbreaking commercial projects, including the first-ever interactive 3D campaign for Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX to promote Relativity Media's "Earth to Echo," and Nurulize’s "RISE" demo, a 4K VR experience created for the Oculus Rift's DK2.

Pretty cool, if you really want to see yourself in full digitized 3D, though I sort of suspect the market self-avatarization is pretty limited. Also, to judge by the above video, this technology can capture the physical body, but not the soul -- i.e. facial expressions, emotions, etc. (At least at the asking price point.)

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