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The History of Revolutionary War Games -- Moving Beyond Assassin's Creed 3

The American Revolution will make for an interesting backdrop to the Assassin’s Creed series, and the franchise’s fiction maps onto the Revolution nicely. The Assassins believe in individual freedom and rights. The Templars believe in providing order and control. Of course, Connor will be giving the hidden blade to Templars to either side of the war so that’s as far as that train of thought goes.

While Assassin’s Creed III doesn’t touch on all aspects of the American Revolution, there have been video games that used the Revolution as more than just a setting but as the heart of the game.

The Japanese developer Koei might be best known to modern-day video game audiences as the studio behind Dynasty Warriors, but since the mid-1980’s Koei has been producing and became famous for its “historical simulations” series. Liberty or Death is a turn-based Revolutionary War game released in 1993 for MS-DOS and in 1994 for the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

The History of Revolutionary War Games -- Moving Beyond Assassin's Creed 3

The player can fight for the American Continental Army or the British Army. The Colonies are broken down into 53 districts that either side may seize and control. The Americans win if they hold out until 1820 or seize all 53 districts, but the British can only win by seizing complete control of the Colonies.

While military conquest is the means to seize districts, the player also has to manage the war effort through either the Continental Congress or the British House of Commons. Officers have to be paid in gold, and the Americans need to build their navy from scratch. The British begin the game with a navy and can hire mercenary regiments like German Hessians from the outset.

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Gamification Summit 2012: Gaming Beyond Gaming With Leaderboards, Klout, And Chamillionaire

We gamers were, in a way, some of the prototypical test subjects for what is now known as gamification. With the introduction of achievements (and subsequently, trophies), we found ourselves 'gaming beyond the game', where it’s not enough to beat a game's story mode; we now had to get 50 headshots so we could get an icon and some status points.

Actual gamification today goes beyond consoles and PC games of course. It's letting your friends know you've checked into a restaurant, watched a TV show, or completed a yoga session. It's the addictive nature of ranking on a leaderboard in an intentionally short-lived car promotion Flash game.

Many minds and entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of gamification as well as folks interested in lessons and success stories met recently in San Francisco for the annual Gamification Summit. Beyond the standard panels and booth showcases, this gathering featured a day devoted of in-depth workshops, underscoring the collaborative emphasis of this young form of business. From gamifying e-commerce to curing diseases through gaming, this was where folks from a wide spectrum of industries shared knowledge and learned best practices from each other.

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Lego Batman 2

LEGO turned what many have scoffed at as just another kid’s game into a powerhouse that has proven itself often – but not every time – to be a a fantastic experience shared by old and young alike. As one of great bits of nostalgia gone digital, I feel that it’s time to take stock of what makes the Lego series of games great as well as look at how it can be improved on it.

First though, my apologies for taking the role of armchair developer. I don't live and breathe the realities of hectic development schedules, and I don't know what sort of effect they have on the production process. Speaking as a gamer, I can tell something's not working when I see the same old criticisms chasing release after release after release. Even in the case of sterling examples like LEGO Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The beauty of LEGO the toy is that it is never a static construct; they're always changing, always being reconfigured by the fans that love them. So why should your games be any different?

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Nerdsourcing finds you the best crowd sourcing projects from Kickstater, Indiegogo, and other such sites and brings them straight to your wallet. Give, help spread the word, or just find out what’s going to be the hot new thing in the future; nerdsourcing is there to help support the dreamers out there looking to make the impossible a reality, or those looking for the next big thing an edge on the competition. Time is limited to fund these projects, so don’t wait too long.

Shadowrun Online

As we reported earlier, one of the most popular pen-and-paper games wants to hit the digital world in a big way. Shadowrun Online looks to take the turn-based tactics of the tabletop game online with new visuals, co-op play, and some PVP for gamers looking to rough up the competition. While this might seem like a little like deja vu, you’re probably remembering that Shadowrun Returns, the single-player adventure based in the Shadowrun world, garnered over a million dollars from fans looking to get back into the land of magic and technology.

One of the cool aspects of the online game comes from the fans being able to affect the tabletop story through the online mode. With players choosing which corporations rise and fall in this neon soaked land, the writers of the tabletop game will change the story to reflect those choices.

The bottom line is that this game really needs your help. The project is half way into its Kickstarter and not even at half of what they need to keep this thing alive. If you are looking for an MMO with fewer dragons and more motorcycles, drop a couple of bucks on this great project.

Rewards: Just $30 bucks not only gets you into the game early, but you’ll also be rewarded with in-game gear and a premium 3-month subscription.

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Nuka Break Pt 1 - Turning Fan Fiction Into Reality

Nuka Break, the wildly popular fan-made live-action series set in the Fallout universe recently scored a huge victory with a $130,000 Kickstarter campaign for their second season. To find out just what Wayside has in store for the next season, I called up Wayside Creations co-founder and creative director Zack Finfrock to talk shop. If you missed the first part of my interview with Zack Finfrock, make sure to check it out to understand just why so many people want more Nuka Break.

Kickstarter success stories have become ubiquitous in the video game world. Consequently it seems that too many independent companies now turn to the popular crowdfunding site expecting the type of overwhelming success achieved only by a select few; namely Double Fine Adventure. However, Nuka Break season two is entirely deserving of the success and support it saw last month, receiving over $130,000; 205 percent of their $60,000 goal.

Mo’ money, less problems

Finfrock was equally surprised and grateful for the wealth of support Wayside received and is excited to use that money to make an even more badass season of Nuka Break. When I asked him off the top of his head what they were looking to add now that they were so generously funded, he responded simply, “I want to say more details.” He went on to state, “for season two we’ll have more money for production design.” This includes more props, actors, and sets.

Though the set that hosted the delightful town of Eastwood burned down during filming of season one, Wayside still has their eyes on a number of other great locations in which to shoot. They’re looking at locations close to Los Angeles, and some as far away as the border of California and Nevada. Regarding places to shoot, Finfrock explained, “as cool as Eastwood was, we couldn’t put a lot of money into it.” However, the large amount of funding Wayside received has opened the door to any number of possible locations and sets.

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Batman: Arkham City

When the curtain rises on last time today The Dark Knight Rises, one of the greatest series to ever put superhero to celluloid will be complete. But at the same time, we are seeing a rebirth of the Dark Knight in the digital world that will forever be known as the new high bar of Batman games. Both Christopher Nolan and the team at Rocksteady Games tackle in such and honest and unique way, we cannot help but think that there may be some similarities in their approach.

The Dark Knight movies have a very different take on Batman compared to the comics. The Joker isn’t a criminal who fell into a sewage drain, which dyed his skin white, and his hair green and then lost his mind. He’s a raving psychotic who gave himself a scarred smile and badly applies clown makeup. Christopher Nolan was able to make such changes to the story while still remaining true to who Batman is by honing in on the essence of what defines Batman.

This is precisely what Rocksteady Games did when they produced Arkham Asylum, and why it‘s generally considered the best Batman video game ever. Establishing things like Batman’s collection of gadgets and Bruce Wayne’s wealth are easy. Delving into his psychology and character are more challenging, and that’s what Nolan’s Dark Knight movies and Rocksteady’s Batman games have gotten exactly right.

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Nuka Break Pt 1 - Turning Fan Fiction Into Reality

Nuka Break, the wildly popular fan-made live-action series set in the Fallout universe recently scored a huge victory with a $130,000 Kickstarter campaign for their second season. Curious to know just what it was that gave season one that special spark I called up Wayside Creations co-founder and creative director Zack Finfrock to talk about avoiding lawsuits, flaming swords, and super mutants.  

I share a special kinship with Wayside Creations creative director Zack Finfrock. We are both enormous Fallout fans who didn’t necessarily fall in love with the series playing the first game, but the seminal Fallout 3.

“It was one of the first games where I would sit and lose an entire day and not realize it,” Finfrock explained. “To this day one of my favorite gaming moments of all time is walking out of Vault 101.” This iconic flash of light would signal an obsession not soon shook off.

His passion for Fallout, stemming from the hundreds of hours spent with Fallout 3 prompted Finfrock to suggest a Fallout fan film to his coworkers at Wayside Creations. “I’d always brought up the idea of doing fan films to our group but the general opinion on that was ‘why don’t we just do original content,’” Finfrock told me. However, when he brought up Fallout, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

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Welcome to G4's Knuckle Up, where we bring you a byte-sized view of our five favorite mobile games every week. The phone and tablet space is filled with incredible games that will keep you busy for minutes, hours, or even days -- we'll let you know what we're playing and why we're playing it. Here are our top five games this week:

GAME OF THE WEEK

TINY WINGS 2

iPhone | iPad

The best part about Tiny Wings 2 is if you purchased the original, you now have the full, upgraded sequel on your iOS device. That’s right, Tiny Wings 2 is a fully free sequel disguised as an “update” from its creator, as a thank you to everyone who made the original such a success. Sure, if you want an HD version, you’ll have to pick it up separately, but that’s a-okay by us, for reasons we’ll get into later in this short review.

It’s a brilliant sequel, playing to the strengths of the first Tiny Wings without changing the game too much (or not changing it enough). You’ll still have access to the first Tiny Wings via “Chapter 1: Day Trip,” so you won’t miss out on the charm of the original, but the real fun begins when you head over to “Chapter 2: Flight School.” Now, you’ll be able to choose from four birds to race as, and the ones you don’t choose become your AI opponents, flying and bobbing through the land and air. The maps are far more uneven and interesting compared to the first game, and it makes for a far more strategic experience as you attempt to keep your bird flying high.

Any iPad owners wondering why they should drop the extra $2.99 for the HD version of Tiny Wings 2 will be delighted to hear the graphics look extra stunning on a Retina Display, and even more importantly, you’ll receive a special iPad-only local multiplayer mode (“Chapter 3: Hill Party”). And let us tell you, there are few things more fun that playing Tiny Wings 2 against a friend.

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Cleaning Up With Smudged Cat Games -- The Adventures Of Shuggy, Gateways, And Being Indie

You might not know Smudged Cat Games, but you’ll be hearing more about them soon enough. This very small development team is better known for their highly imaginative yet challenging games such as The Adventures of Shuggy and the new Gateways. Rising from the depths of XBLIG, they’ve made a name for themselves and a place on the Steam market page.

Pick up Shuggy and you begin to get an idea of what this small team is capable of doing. One room, one screen, and over a hundred of ideas later; Shuggy pushes the limits of creativity by creating room after room of fresh challenges that use mostly the same simple platforming mechanics. Each stage brings a refreshing blend of old-school mechanics as well as a twist that often has you thinking before you leap.

With this new title, Gateways, Smudged Cat Games goes after two different properties – Portal and Metroid. In this 2D puzzle platformer, you must make your way through your lab to collect parts to upgrade your portal opening device. New abilities make traversing through the enemy territory easier and allow you to access additional areas along the way. While borrowing from some well-known titles, Gateways feels completely unique with new challenges behind every corner.

I was lucky enough to catch up to David Johnson, the man behind Smudged Cat Games, to talk about developing Shuggy, how he tackled the expansive world of Gateways, and what it means to work indie.

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More often than not, comic books fail to get their due in the world of video games. Most comic book video games are just obligatory tragedies designed to pimp an equally bad accompanying film. The solution, of course, is to cut out the middle man. Rocksteady learned this and made two of the greatest comic book-based games of all-time based on Batman.

With Comic-Con behind us and the Dark Knight rising in the distance, it’s a great time to dream about which comic book characters deserve a game to bring them to life and into our living rooms.

Top 5 Comic Book Characters That Need A Video Game -- Following In The Footsteps Of The Dark Knight

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Daredevil – Seeing is Believing

Video games are always looking for a new way to bring an experience to players. Playing a game as Daredevil would definitely fill that role. Blinded at a young age by radioactive waste, Daredevil’s other senses became heightened to an extraordinary level. He uses a sort of sonar in place of vision, allowing him to see in the same way bats do. What this means for a video game is an entirely new way of looking at gameplay.

Whereas in other games, certain rooms are dark in order to build suspense; in a Daredevil game those same rooms would be silent or odorless in order to disorient the player. Further, Daredevil’s signature weapon—an augmented billy club with a length of high strength cable—can be used both for travel and for simply beating the snot out of thugs. Finally, Daredevil has a fantastic, deep, and dark backstory (as any superhero that has been touched by Frank Miller usually does) that would lend itself to a 15+ hour video game.

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With one of the best superhero movie series coming to an end with The Dark Knight Rises, we thought now would be the perfect time to look back at some of the worst Batman iterations to ever hit the digital world.

We haven't always been able to reference Batman: Arkham Asylum or Arkham City as the epitome of a superhero games -- or the best Batman game, for that matter. While Batman games have never really fallen to the level of Superman 64, his colorful entertainment history over the years has produced some real stinkers. For those of you fellow die-hard Dark Knight fans about ready to nerd out over The Dark Knight Rises, we've got the most awful Batman video games -- to appreciate what you have now, you have to see the trash we had to wade through to get here.

Here are the top five bad Batman games we’ve counted down for you. Be careful when recommending these to fellow fans. It might get pretty ugly.

Top 5 Worst Batman Games

5. Game: Batman Forever

System: SNES/Genesis/Game Boy/Game Gear/PC

It wasn't a masterpiece of a movie by any means, but watching Jim Carrey gallivanting around as The Riddler is preferable in any capacity to playing this Super Nintendo adaptation. The side-scrolling beat-'em-up wouldn't have turned out to be such a tragedy had it not employed awkward control schemes (why should anyone need to hold down two different buttons to jump down from platforms?) and bland core mechanics.

The co-op system allows players to take up the mantle of either Batman or Robin, and that's one aspect it did well, but considering how difficult it was to employ gadgets or pull off different moves. The focus shifted from what Batman Forever tried to offer to everything it screwed up, which was a lot across the spectrum: Genesis, Game Gear, Game Boy, and PC. Perhaps this side-scroller should be locked up forever. See what we did there?

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Spec Ops: The Line

NOTE: This feature assumes that you've either completed the campaign in Spec Ops: The Line or know about how it ends. Consider this your one and only spoiler warning. This is a post-mortem and there's explicit discussion of major plot points. It is highly recommended that you complete the game before reading. Continue at your own risk.

Spec Ops: The Line accomplishes a rare feat for a video game: it tells a story that matters. Really matters. It hasn't happened often in video games. BioShock is a great success story example, a game that got us all thinking about the truth and consequence behind player choice in video games. It didn't definitively pose and then answer a question. Instead, it made a very simple, very clear observation with its shocking plot twist and then left players to ponder how that line of thought reflected back on them.

It's really not so different from Spec Ops' crowning narrative achievement. In the final analysis, we clearly see the ties to Joseph Conrad's novella, Heart of Darkness, in the story from lead writer Walt Williams. Something's off though. Conrad's tale exposes the shadowy horrors of war against the backdrop of the period and the region in which his story is set. Spec Ops is a lot less socio-political and a lot more internally focused, as Williams told G4 during a recent post-mortem interview.

Questioning The Heart Of Darkness

"Heart of Darkness is very much about the character," he explained. "It was about the ivory trade and this view of the British, the way they were treating the locals. [It was the same with] Vietnam, obviously, for [the Heart of Darkness-inspired] Apocalypse Now. They were very much making a statement about a particular point in time."

"[With Spec Ops], we were really trying to shine a light on the darkness in us as gamers and the types of games we choose to enjoy for entertainment. WHY we go into those games. We wanted people to be thinking about the inherent darkness of sitting down and playing a game where you kill thousands of people. What does it say?"

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SimCity Social On Facebook Builds On EA's Previous Sims Online Attempts

The SimCity Social beta launched just recently, kicking off a Facebook-wide meeting of virtual mayors for the top-down city planning franchise. This, however, isn’t the first game in the Sims universe in which you could interact with other Art Vandelay wannabees. From last year’s The Sims Social on Facebook to 2002’s The Sims Online for the PC, EA has been tinkering with Will Wright’s creations to mixed results for years. SimCity Social brings a more “core” franchise to the casual gaming platform and, more importantly, demonstrates that the company has learned from a few of the mistakes of its past online Sims games.

Doesn’t Bulldoze Core SimCity Gameplay
The first thing that SimCity Social gets right is that it keeps intact the gameplay mechanics of 1989’s SimCity and its colorful sequel SimCity 2000. You’re still building a small town that, over the course of many hours and several hundred mouse clicks, can turn into a bustling little city.

You’ll begin by building roads, houses and farms and eventually work your way up to erecting museums, stadiums and iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. Your power as mayor is only limited by your imagination and game-essential resources like materials, money, and energy. EA, like Zynga, encourages you to purchase these resources with real-life money when you're low or just want to speed up the wait times. Thankfully, with enough time and a little bit of help from friends, you'll never feel compelled to take the easy way out if you can handle classic SimCity gameplay.

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Gamers might have gotten a bad rap in the past, but Pro Online Gamer Athene has over a million reasons why gamers are not slackers. Thanks to donations from gamers around the world, as well as Razer and DC Comics, Athene raised over $1 million to support Save The Children, an organization dedicated to helping children in Africa, America, and around the world.

He called it Operation Sharecraft. While this was not Athene's first foray into charity, it would turn out to be his biggest, with over 20,000 donors and with the help of Razer and DC’s We Can Be Heroes organization matching all donations up to $1 million. We were lucky enough to get a few words with the world renowned gamer about what it takes to raise such an impressive sum of money to help children in Africa. 

G4 Interview with Professional Gamer Athene »


If you are looking to make a difference in your community or any place around the world, you can start by visiting the Save The Children website where you can learn more about ways to donate or give a bit of your time to make a difference in someone’s life. You can also check out We Can Be Heroes to learn more about the organization or check out their Darkness & Light exhibit that supports the origination through art.

It’s not always about moving mountains in order to save the world. Sometimes, it just takes one gamer to make a difference.

Nerdsourcing finds you the best crowd sourcing projects from Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other such sites, and brings them straight to your wallet. Give, help spread the word, or just find out what’s going to be the hot new thing in the future; nerdsourcing is there to help support the dreamers out there looking to make the impossible a reality, or those looking for an edge on the competition. Time is limited to fund these projects, so don’t wait too long.

Super Techno Kitten Adventure

Listen, I know you aren’t supposed to start with a showstopper, but Super Techno Kitten Adventure is too great to pass up. Released in August of last year, Techno Kitten Adventure quickly became a fan favorite with its cute and quirky design. The game is simple enough as you use one finger to guide your kitten through the techno adventure of its life.

Now they’re back with Super Techno Kitten Adventure, and are looking to bring the game to PC and Mac. They’ve amped up the techno and adventure in order to live up to the Super name. After seeing hundreds of Kickstarter videos, there’s no contest; Super Techno Kitten Adventure has the most random and brilliant Kickstarter video I’ve seen. I’m not even sure if it can be explained. So please, take a look.

Reward: The game and a whole bunch of random goodies can be had for only $15.

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