Nikola Tesla Museum Donations

Just made a donation for the Nikola Tesla Museum. Apparently the original land he created and experimented on is up for sale, and has an offer on it from both a group who wants to build a museum to the man’s genius, as well as a retail group. Personally, I think we’d benefit a lot more from a museum, but there could be a need for more Best Buys and Starbucks for some people. For those who don’t know who Nikola Tesla was you should really check him out. If you want to donate, please visit the link below.


Deadlight Review

What an awesome premise for a game. Take the silhouetted atmosphere of Limbo and add zombies and guns and survival aspects to it — genius! With the rise of indie games it’s nice to see someone putting the time and effort into many aspects of a game, especially one as hyped up as Deadlight was before launch.

Unfortunately, the hype, like many circumstances, wasn’t warranted. The dialogue here is awful. It is narrated by a gruff former cop who is trying to find his family, and most of the exposition is like something out of a high-school philosophy student’s journal. The story isn’t terrible, but the elements of it border on the ridiculous. What was marketed as a side-scrolling survival/zombie game simply becomes a series of pitfalls and shoddy controls. The jumping missions in this game are painful, and the scenery disguises a lot of impending death, but not in the way that makes the game challenging. Instead, it becomes irritating.

Games like Dark Souls play with death from the unexpected, but it does so in a way that makes the game dangerous and makes dying a real threat. In Deathlight, it is mostly from you not being able to tell which environmental aspects are interactive or not. The grab controls are also frustrating, and the game seems to have a very specific set of action points that you have to control in real time. To try and explain further, this game might have been less irritating had their been action prompts and the character was running on rails.

The cut-scenes steadily grow more painful to sit through as the game progresses. Which is unfortunate, because Deadlight starts off well. Sadly, once you hit the sewers it’s a downhill experience. Your character might eventually climb out of the depths, but the game doesn’t. By the time you reach the end you’ll realize that on-the-spot thinking and survival is non-existent and that you are required to perform a specific set of actions in a specific order to progress. This really takes you out of the atmosphere of the game and more into the process of just finishing it.

I was really looking forward to this game, and my disappointment came after many efforts to try and find the good here. The art direction and scenery were very well crafted, but everything else just became a major let-down. I wouldn’t even suggest this game to major fans of the zombie genre since I happen to be one myself.

5 Games That Are Also Art

Let me start by saying I’m sure all games are considered art in some form or another.

I’m not even going to try and put a concrete and universal definition on “art,” as this is a topic that has been debated by better-educated people than myself for years. However, what I think most people can agree on is that art is supposed to play with what you know and create a series of emotions and reactions, and often times the best uses of art are in the simplest evocations of a person’s feelings. I’m not going to go into Rothco or anything like that, but what I’ll show is a group of games that I feel do an amazing job at taking the established notion of “game” and separate it from the mainstream FPSes and Football games into “art.”

This list is not ranked, merely a survey, and I am leaving out a lot of other choices for length’s sake.

5) Limbo

If you haven’t hopped on the indie game bandwagon yet you really should. There is a LOT of crap out there, but there is also a lot of innovation from a lot of talented independent developers. Limbo stands amongst the top spots of my favorite indie games. Genius level design, puzzles that are challenging yet fun, moments of terror, anger, sadness, as well as an odd sense of joy tinged with a bit of loss; this game runs the gambit.

The story is minimalistic. You awake in a forest and your goal is to progress. Later, you realize that there is a girl you are searching for, and she appears as if discovering a memory. Because saving the princess is such a common and recognizable theme for side scrollers you immediately know what you have to do. This sense of purpose, added about halfway through the game, allows you to get the feeling like a memory had just returned to you, and not just the character you’re playing. The black and white and use of these colors makes this much more than a game. It’s meant to evoke something from you, and does so brilliantly.

4) Dark Souls

A fair warning to anyone who hasn’t played this game yet: It is, quite possibly, one of the most difficult games you’ve ever played before. And it’s supposed to be. The tagline itself reads “Prepare to die,” and die you will. It is inherent, guaranteed, and mind-blowingly frustrating. What the game does well, is create a real sense of loss and suspense because of this. Boss battles can be lost with one misstep or unblocked attack. Gauging distance and enemy body movement is extremely important, because if you die, you lose all the souls you have, your humanity, and have to start back at a point that probably won’t be super close to where you died. Not only that, but the enemies have respawned, and you’ll have to fight through them to try and recover what you’ve lost. Can’t make it back? Guess you just lost all that hard work because you looked down at your cell phone to see who was calling.

Like I said, this is tough, but also ridiculously rewarding. I challenge you to think back to a game where you let out such a sigh of relief and had a feeling of such accomplishment after you beat the first boss in this game. Or the second. Or third. Let’s just lump it all into one. This game makes you fear death. It’s not an annoyance like it is in Skyrim or some FPS’, where dying only means going back to your last save. Death is punished, and you want to live. A lot.

The combat system is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Visually the game is amazing, and also uses a minimalistic story much like Limbo, allowing you to craft your own universe as opposed to watching someone else’s.

3) Shadow of the Colossus

You’ll start to notice a trend with these games when it comes to minimalistic narrative history and story-line. Without a huge overarching narrative sitting on top of you then a player can often just focus on a directive. This is a really powerful tool in that with this simple directive the developers can craft creative ways to achieving what is seemingly a very simple and cliche technique. In Shadow of the Colossus your job is to save the princess. However, it is also to reach that goal by climbing and killing towering enemies on a scale which you’ve never seen in this kind of platform before.

Oh yes, and like the others, you don’t talk. The art here comes from a couple places. One is, definitely, from the character design. Imagine Assassin’s Creed but the buildings move and try to kill you. This was also done before Assassin’s Creed was ever made. The other is from the visuals. SOTC incorporated motion blurs and streaks before Xbox and Playstation could handle higher frames per second. It also made you feel sad for the beasts you were trying to kill. How? By having you as the aggressor. These creatures were just existing in this area before you arrived. Now the POV is from an invader, but one with a noble goal. It really makes you question what makes a villain and what makes a hero by the end of this. I can’t speak more highly of this title.

2) Geometry Wars

Remember that video of Donald Duck teaching you angles with billiards from when you were a kid? Now add explosions, vibrant colors, aggression, kill off the duck, and you have Geometry Wars.

There is a lot of visual creativity in this game. The way the shapes interact and mesh depending on their design is brilliant in a way that I’m sure someone who does math could quantify.

There really aren’t a lot of words I can use to illustrate how fun and captivating this game is for such a simple premise. With an industry saturated with guns, upgrades, giant robots, girls with cleavage in their tactical armor, and dialogue that borders on the literary skills of George Lucas, a game like this is refreshing. Another indie title; these small-time developers are doing what big studios are failing at with 1/100th of the manpower and money. Given the time, I’m sure they could come up with someone as engrossing as Dark Souls or SOTC.

1) Duke Nukem: Forever

Just kidding.