With Earth Week taking place, we thought that it would be a good idea to bring gamers back to their roots with Dungeons and Dragons. Pen and paper D&D is one of the most green forms of gaming. Every game ends with only a little paper to recycle and some great memories to share.

There’s a fair number of gamers who aren’t familiar with how to play D&D or even where to get started so we put together a little guide to help you along your way to taking over as your group’s Dungeon Master.

If you’re unfamiliar with Dungeons and Dragons, Gary Gyax and Dave Ameson created the pen and paper RPG in 1974. The goal is for players to create an adventure using solely their imagination. Players construct characters that they take on an adventure to accomplish a goal set out for them by the Dungeon Master (often referred to as the DM). This DM controls the scenario and circumstances that players might encounter along their journey.

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Tags: Features

Street Fighter IV

Ask the average gamer how Street Fighter correlates to poker and chances are, you're probably going to get a puzzled stare. Before I attended Seth Killian's lecture on game design in fighting games last year, I was certain that people like Hevad 'Rainkhan' Khan, who placed sixth in the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event, and online legend Randy 'Nanako' Lew were flukes. Now, I'm not so sure.

Earlier this month, I called up professional Street Fighter player Arturo Sanchez to ask him about the similarities between poker players and professional Street Fighter players. He told me that I would have to learn the game first. That's how I got here. It's 7'o clock in the morning and Arturo Sanchez, his voice nasally from a recent flu, is breaking down his after-hours match from Evo 2009 over Skype.

"We were doing it just for fun, but people decided to make bets." Arturo Sanchez is one of the rare few who can comment so flippantly on an encounter with Daigo Umehara, the current Guinness World holder for 'most successful player in major tournaments of Street Fighter'. As 'The Beast' of the competitive Street Fighter landscape appears on the screen, Sanchez grins. "I think $20, 000 USD or so exchanged hands that night."

"Street Fighter is about position and space control." Sanchez explains as he draws a line across two thirds of the screen, the characters frozen in place; Umehara is playing Ryu, Sanchez has Dhalsim."See this? This is Dhalsim's optimal range. This is my sweet spot. Daigo can't cross this line without being punished and he knows this."

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Microsoft is ramping up available GamerScore points for Xbox Live Arcade titles from 200 to 400, and to celebrate its launch of the Arcade NEXT promotional jamboree. Starting today, four special titles will be released each week to commemorate a change that will have Achievement hunters cracking their knuckles in glee.

But they shouldn’t be the only ones excited. For a few years now we’ve been kicking up a fuss about the Summer of Arcade, the time of year Microsoft seems to choose to spotlight the very best XBLA games – but this time it looks like it’s coming early. The four games in the Arcade NEXT promotion are all looking full of potential, with one or two of them arguably likely contenders for end-of-year accolades. We preview the four games that Microsoft are collectively calling Arcade NEXT, but maybe it’s best to think of them as 2012’s Spring of Arcade.


Trials Evolution First Gameplay Trailer »


Trials Evolution

What is it? The long-awaited follow-up to Trials HD, the 2009 XBLA game that combined Excitebike-like 2D motocross with obstacle-swamped tracks to make for a brilliant physics-based puzzler/racer.

Why should I be excited? Ask those who’ve played it and they’ll tell you Trials HD is some of the most fun you can have with an Xbox controller. The game has such simple controls: one button to accelerate, one to brake, and gentle taps of the left stick to make your rider lean forward or back. The genius is how precise it all is; the slightest bit of movement can totally wreck your trajectory. This becomes crucial as the game slowly but surely ramps up the challenge and complexity of the tracks, throwing in all manner of huge jumps, explosive landings, fragile platforms, and watery graves between you and that all-important checkpoint. Yet the challenge isn’t just to complete tracks but to do so quicker than your Xbox Live friends. All of this comes together to make a very challenging puzzler/race and yet for all the punishment the one-more-go factor is astronomical.

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Video game characters might be able to escape death, but there’s no extra life when it comes to taxes. But as it turns out, there are a whole lot of cheat codes if you have enough money. This being Tax Day – you did remember to pay your taxes, didn’t you? – we’re going to check out the guys who get hit with the biggest bill from Uncle Sam, the rich. Virtual rainbow roads don’t just build themselves you know. The digital 1% needs to chip in their fair share as well.

As we count down the five riches video game characters, we’re going take a peek at their 1040EZ to see if they’re paying their fair share or will the Mushroom Kingdom need to cut back on their piranha plant demolition project.

Lara Croft going from Eidos to Square Enix in May 2009

Lara Croft – Tomb Raider series

Net Worth: ~ 700 Million

You can’t run around some of the most beautiful spots in the world and start smashing pots without dropping a few dollars. The Croft Family kept a few million in a handy trust fund since we rarely see the young Lara do any sort of menial labor. Sure, the her trademark khaki shorts and aqua tank top runs you only a couple of bucks at Target, but the amount of ammo she wastes in any given area could easily rearm a small country. You know that you have more money than God when you can turn a part of your mansion into an obstacle course.

Lara gets away with the lower taxes by gaining much of her income the old fashion way – through stealing it. As it turns out, the tax form doesn’t have a little box for “golden statues stolen from Peru.” Despite having to pay an inheritance tax and possible claims on interest, Lara gets away rather unscathed when it comes to Tax Season.

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With one of the most highly anticipated indie games finally hitting the virtual market, there’s only one question on everyone’s lips, “Who’s the next Fez?”

Actually, everyone’s asking, “Have you been to the observatory in Fez? What’s that about? I brought some of the notes I scribbled down real quick. Do you mind looking over them?”

But soon there after beating Fez, we’re off to look towards that next big indie title to pine for as the release date forever looms in the distance. Somewhere out there, someone is coding our next obsession. One of the great things about these smaller titles is that the next big thing might still be an idea in someone’s head just waiting to get out or a program someone’s tinkering with right now. Today, I don’t just want to give you the next big thing – I want to give you five of them.

Get ready to check out the next five great indie titles you need to wait for their grand release.

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The Witcher 2

While The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings finally makes it debut on the Xbox 360, beginners and returning fans of the series will want to check out all the tricks, tips, and tactics you need to know before buying this epic action RPG.

Featuring mature storylines and characters, challenging multi-faceted combat and a narrative that doesn’t lead the player by the nose, the Witcher 2 continues the story of Geralt of Rivia, a titular Witcher, or monster hunter.

Before you step into Geralt’s boots though, read through G4’s Beginner’s Guide to The Witcher 2 and learn some background on Geralt, what happened in the previous game, and how to best prepare for combat. After all, a good monster hunter is a prepared monster hunter.

Onward, to Temeria...

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As the technology behind video games continues to bring the most realistic graphics to your living room, a new kind of gaming has emerged in recent years that want to bring gaming back to nature.

Oddly enough, it's only been just recently has technology advanced to a level to allow gamers to blur the lines between reality and the virtual worlds through cameras, GPS tracking, and the rise of the mobile device. With this being Earth Week, maybe it’s about time that we reconnected with the world beyond our windows by integrating it into our passion for gaming.

The following games bring players out into the real world by using bits and pieces of what’s around you to incorporate them into the game. Sometimes the best way to start caring about the environment is by interacting with it.

Zombies, Run! – A Sweaty Apocalypse

Greetings, Runner 5. Welcome to a world where humans fight for survival and zombies lie around every corner. You are one of the few human runners left to the task of collecting packages in the real world. Lace up your sneakers and get ready to sprint to freedom. You never know when the zombies may be nipping at your heels.

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Guns of Icarus Online is the spiritual successor of Muse Games’ original turret-defense game Guns of Icarus. Stepping to the shoes of Captain Gabriel of the airship Icarus, players must transport across the world, gunning down pirates that try to knock you out of the sky.

Gabriel and his crew serve as supply carries between settlements in a post-apocalyptic world. Sporting an attractive steampunk aesthetic, Guns of Icarus allows up to four players to man the airship at once. No friends? No problem – Icarus lets you fill your ship with AI should you desire to play solo. As captain you as responsible for the ship’s maintenance, guarding its cargo, and giving orders during battle.

Players can form teams of up to eight airships and engage other teams in matches, scrambling to stay afloat in massive sky battles. When no locked in this PvP “skirmish mode” among factions, attempting to break air blockades or escorting important personnel to secret locations, players must disseminate information and technology to various parts of the world in an attempt to unify mankind. Using airships allows players to travel between pockets of civilization without braving the hostile environment or get caught in combat on the ground.

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Like any other entertainment industry, our hobby of choice has been plagued with some nasty trends lately. Chalk it up to growing pains, lack of diversity, or just plain bad decision-making, we can all trace a few crappy lines through the industry.

But this is no bloated rant or screed about how everything would be fixed if everyone would just go indie, man. We’ve got solutions – or at least, the beginnings of solutions – to each and every negative. Think of this as an exercise in creative problem solving.

It’s in our best interest to propose solutions. After all, we want to play awesome games – and killing lame trends helps us all in the long run.

Minecraft Sales Pass 1 Million Mark

The costs are out of control!

The problem: development costs are spiraling wildly out of control, causing studio closures, price hikes, and a variety of sub-problems, such as a lack of diversity in game content. AAA publishers are getting more and more conservative about the games they’ll greenlight – only “sure bets” will get funded, while lots of deserving IP and ideas get left in the cold.

On a related note, those costs get passed down to consumers, and we’re now seeing game content that “should” be included in a purchase carrying hefty DLC fees.

The solution: Run a tight ship, get creative, and embrace digital distribution.

AAA publishers don’t need to be the “gatekeepers” of gaming anymore, as the thriving indie community can tell you. One only needs to take a look at Steam and the mobile market to get a sense of what is possible when the barriers to entry are lowered.

Some games deserve the AAA attention and money, but that shouldn’t mean breaking the bank to get pretty graphics. Sound business practices, like making use of playtesting (not market testing but actual, iterative design) early in the process, incentivizing talent to stick with your company, and a dedication to good planning would go a long way in keeping costs down in the long run.

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Organ Trail

Everyone remembers Oregon Trail for the Apple 2. But what if instead of dysentery and drowned oxen, you had to deal with the constant threat of zombies?

The Men Who Wear Many Hats have brought about just that, marrying current zombie-loving trends with the classic Oregon Trail framework. The result is Organ Trail, a journey across the United States in your rickety old station wagon fraught with aggressive zombie action and the looming possibility of your party becoming infected.

Faithfully made to emulate the look and feel of playing on the Apple 2, Organ Trail is a hilarious and subtly chilling parody of the beloved childhood original. The game was released for free last year on the company’s website. Its popularity led the developers to Kickstarter, where a $3,000 request was met with an enthusiastic $16,000 response.

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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 mobile 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:




Finally, someone gets it. With Swordigo, we finally get a hack-and-slash iOS deserves. That’s a pretty bold statement, I know, but developer Touch Foo earns it handily with their beautifully crafted game. There’s a lot to love about Swordigo: a plucky Link-esque hero, lovely environments, some satisfying platforming and collecting action, and plain old, fun-filled adventure.

The controls in Swordigo really sing, and rarely was I angry at missed jumps or laggy response. You’ll often forget you’re experiencing the game without analog sticks or tangible controllers, which is a very good thing. I’m not sure how, but Touch Foo managed to cram around 6-8 hours of solid gameplay into Swordigo’s main story. If you’re a completionist freak like I am, you’ll spend more time than that, and that’s saying something for an iOS game. Any time you can get 5+ hours of non-repetitive gameplay on your iPad or iPhone, it’s worth mentioning.

Swordigo often feels like territory we’ve covered in gaming before; however, that feeling is also a comfortable assurance we’re in a place we know and love. It almost feels like coming home: you know what’s inside, but that’s okay, because its welcome and warm embraces fills you with contentedness.

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The booth at PAX East displaying Alexander Bruce’s mind-boggling psychological exploration puzzler was impossible to simply walk by. Trapped in a maze of white designed to look like an endless M.C. Esher drawing, players must follow the writing on the wall to navigate their way through. There is a catch, though: that writing is offers only vague nuggets of wisdom, not functional directions, and more often than not heralds the approach of a puzzle that proffers no hints for solving. It’s enchanting, incredible.

“It’s obviously very dense to try and learn – so the beginning of the game tries to make players unlearn all those pre-learned conventions you pick up from how other games work,” said Bruce. “There are new kinds of rules in play, and they don’t always follow themselves.”

The start of the game’s framework is a set of geometry puzzles. The first puzzle required me to pick up blocks and strategically place them to prop open trigger-activated doors.

“After thinking laterally for so long with these geometry puzzles, throwing a simple logical puzzle at the player will throw them off,” Bruce added. “It makes it intentionally harder to complete simple puzzles by reprogramming the way you think about them.”

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Assassin's Creed 3 will be the fifth game in the Assassin's Creed series. A lot has changed since Desmond first accessed the memories of Altair in the first Assassin's Creed. We've seen Desmond change ancestors, companions, and memories, but we're going to see the most amount of change this October when Assassin's Creed 3 is released. I recently had the chance to check out a small demo for AC3 at the Ubisoft booth at PAX East 2012. There were a few major changes being made to series with this installment. Here's what is different.

Assassin's Creed 3: Screenshots Leak

5. Clear Paths
Connor, Desmond's British and Mohawk ancestor, will have clear combat paths. Rather than deciding on the fly if you want to play stealth or go in hidden-blades blazing, you can make the choice before you begin. Prior to some missions there will be a stealth path or an action path laid before you. In past games, full synchronization occurred when Ezio or Altair took the most stealth path. This time around that may change. Ubisoft hasn't confirmed this, but my guess is there will be two different ways to reach synchronization; the stealth and the action. Maybe I'll finally be able to 100% missions if I'm rewarded for playing like Rambo.

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On the heels of the new Resident Evil 6 trailer, we weed through every frame and jump cut to find out what Capcom is really hiding. To the naked eye, it may look like any other trailer packed with action, drama, and a horde of zombies. Look closer and you'll find some of the secrets behind Capcom's next big blockbuster. Here is our "Top 5 Things You May Have Missed" in the Resident Evil 6 new story trailer.

If you need a refresher, check on the story trailer before moving on to the good stuff.


Top 5 Things You Probably Missed In Resident Evil 6 Story Trailer »


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Against the Wall

You’re stuck. You’re standing on a ledge protruding from a massive wall, a colossal work of stone blocks that extends to the horizon in all directions. In your right hand, a wand that thrums to life as you wave it over the blocks, pulling and pushing them out of the wall, arranging them to form a staircase for your ascent. In the distance you spot – it can’t be – a windmill rising sideways out of the mammoth structure, a pulley system running along its base that is sure to bring you farther up towards your destination. But what is that destination? Is there one at all? Does this wall ever end?

According to sole designer and programmer Michael Consoli, Against the Wall takes place against an infinite slab of stone. As you climb, the game generates itself, creating more puzzles for your brain to click through as you ascend.

Consoli made Against the Wall for the Ludum Dare game making competition, a challenge that asks participants to create a game in 48 hours with a particular theme in mind. The theme for Consoli’s Dare was, “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this!” The result was the wand the player holds in this first-person puzzler, which must be utilized to manipulate the blocks in the wall in order to reach a town an untold number of miles above where you begin.

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