Minecraft May Not Be the Best Candidate for Telltale's Next Episodic Adventure Game

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

Today Telltale Games announced that they'll be doing another of their signature narrative-driven games with yet another phenomenally popular license. Hot on the heels of both Tales from the Borderlands and their take on HBO's Game of Thrones, the next property that they'll be working on is... Minecraft. I first read that news in a post-nap stupor, and I wasn't sure that I was properly awake. Maybe this is a strange joke. Maybe Clickhole dipped into videogame humor again and -- look, I don't know. There were a million things you could have told me that would have made more sense than that particular arrangement of headlines did.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Telltale's games and I think they're very good at what they do. I welcome just about any news I hear about what they're working on, especially when it comes to franchises I hold near and dear. But Minecraft is a strange, even ill-fitting choice for their particular narrative-driven formula, and here's why:

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Play it This Pre-Holiday Slog: Words for Evil, a Punchy Little Word Game Inspired by Classic Roguelikes

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

It's pretty hard to get work done at this time of year. There's a lot going on, a lot to prepare for and a lot to look forward to, and sitting down to focus on just one thing can be a serious challenge. When I picked up Words for Evil a few days ago on a whim, it was a couple bucks on Steam and iOS and it looked cute and, most important of all, I was desperate for a bite-sized distraction.

And you know what? This simple, roguelike-inspired word puzzler turned out to be exactly what I needed.

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Janine "Iris" Hawkins for Paste on the Problem of Feminine Fashion in Roleplaying Games

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In case you missed it (and you really shouldn't) our own Janine "Iris" Hawkins has a new gaming piece on the major media Paste Magazine site -- this one on the problem of "feminine" fashion in roleplaying games, specifically Dragon Age: Inquisition, which she's also written a lot about here. She even takes the time to define feminine versus masculine fashion:

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There's an Ugly Side to Dragon Age: Inquisition's Most Beautiful Virtual Fashions

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

Why is it that feminine fashion in video games always seems to indicate something about the character wearing it? Why is it never just a matter of taste? It's the case in countless games, including BioWare's Dragon Age: Inquisition, and the subject of my latest article for Paste. As much as I love Inquisition and its stunning fashions, the way those fashions deal with femininity fits a little too well into some all-too-common media tropes.

Beyond the usual handful of narrowminded people who think dissecting a game's style and design choices is more "superficial" than writing a list of its most obvious mechanical elements would be, I've already gotten a lot of interesting feedback about this post. Pleasantly enough, one of the most insightful comments yet has come from a BioWare employee...

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Romance in Dragon Age: Inquisition is Better Than Ever, No Matter What That Guy Thinks

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

Few people who know me would accuse me of being a romantic, at least not in the modern sense. I don't think much about stealing kisses at the top of the Eiffel tower or cuddling up under a heavy blanket on a rainy day. I have little patience for breathless musical numbers and, to be perfectly honest, I think The Princess Bride is no more than adequate. But even so, there's something about romance in Dragon Age that turns me into a sappy, squeaky mess. It melts my frigid heart every damn time, and while it's not the only reason I enjoy the series, it's certainly a slice of the pie.

Maybe that's why a rage-filled GameFAQs forum thread that's been going around tickles me to the degree that it does. This thread ( titled "This was the last straw Bioware. I am done.") is a real gem, and it reveals a lot about what some players feel entitled to when it comes to romance in their games. Roll up your sleeves, because we're going in:

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Must Watch: Feminist Frequency's 25 Invisible Benefits of Gaming While Male

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

A new Feminist Frequency video is typically the highlight of my day. Even if I don't always agree with every single item presented, I believe strongly in Tropes vs. Women's message and above all (and unlike an alarming number of people) its right to exist. There's a new video up on Feminist Frequency's YouTube channel today and although it isn't the next installment in the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series, it's no less worth watching. 

In it, prominent men in the games industry (developers and press) read points from a list presented previously in an opinion piece for Polygon by Tropes vs. Women in Video Games producer Jonathan McIntosh about the invisible benefits of gaming while male. Some of them may be obvious, like the disproportionate amount of abuse that women receive regularly in the community. Others may be less obvious. For example...

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Play it This Long Weekend: Framed, a Smoky and Stylish Noir-Inspired Puzzle Game for iOS

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

A narrow corridor, guards at every door, a peculiar arrangement of stairs, and a briefcase. In their default configuration they will lead the hero to a swift defeat, but with some juggling, a little dragging and dropping, they lead him to freedom instead. At first glance Framed looks like a motion comic with rather limited interactivity, but when the action stops and the player takes over a world of diverging, puzzly scenarios opens up.

If you have room left in your heart (or on your phone) for one more ridiculously stylish mobile game then you absolutely need to pick up Framed, and here's why:

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The Power of Plaid: Dragon Age: Inquisition's Customizable Crafting System Offers More Than Just Stats

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

On of my favorite features in Dragon Age: Inquisition (and there are a lot to choose from) is the ability to select the materials you'd like to use for an item you're crafting and have that choice reflected in the end result. You'll see it not just in its stats and bonusses, but in how it actually looks. Just as important as picking materials with helpful characteristics is picking a leather for my overcoat that won't clash with the muted blue samite of my sleeves, or making sure that Cassandra isn't running around in bright red and green-tinged metal plate.

It's a fascinating system, but it has a benefit that I'm not sure even its creators intended. There's one thing you can do with these materials that makes every aspect of the game immeasurably better...

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Linden Lab Pulls Minecraft-Esque Patterns from Steam

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Dorito boy, we hardly knew ye. Linden Lab has pulled Pattern, its inventive, Minecraft-eseque sandbox game, from Steam:

While “extremely grateful” to the players who bought an Early Access copy of Patterns, features relying on server connections, such as world-sharing are going to be turned off and the there will be no future updates. The offline content released so far will still be playable, however. “Patterns had early promise,” the team say. “And while Linden Lab focuses our efforts on our other offerings, we are still evaluating the future of the Patterns technology.” Patterns players are angry at the sudden announcement. There’d been no updates to the game since May but there had been nothing written to suggest the team would take the money and run.

That's disappointing news, because Patterns showed a lot of potential. Even Minecraft creator Markus Persson was digging it, while a well-known developer admired the hell of it on New World Notes. But apparently it wasn't gaining enough traction/sales to justify more effort on it, besides the company's core focus:

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Watch Iris Play: Goat Simulator's Latest Update, a Hilarious Take on Your Least Favorite MMO Tropes

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

Remember Goat Simulator? I don't think there's any other game that I enjoyed as much but played so little of. When it first came out it was a genuinely entertaining diversion, but even when they released a new map I didn't feel much of a need to return; it all just wore thin too quickly. That's likely why their latest piece of DLC (released yesterday) has taken me by surprise. For the first time ever, I'm playing Goat Simulator and seriously planning to play more

The Goat MMO Simulator DLC is absolutely free, and brings multiple new maps and atcivities into the game. It's simultaneously a snarky response to all the fans who speculated that it would be easy for the developers to patch in online multiplayer and a legitimately purposeful parody of your typical MMORPG.

Yesterday I tried Goat MMO Simulator out for the first time live with a couple of friends, so if you want a taste of what this DLC has in store just watch for yourself (above).

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