Mouse Smash

JC Lau's blog about geekery, gender and other rants


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What to expect from Halo: Nightfall

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A couple Thursdays ago, about 100 women from the videogame industry gathered to watch a sneak preview of the first two episodes of Halo: Nightfall, a five-part digital series on the Halo Channel (available on Xbox One and Windows 8.1), which launched with The Master Chief Collection last week.

Halo: Nightfall is the product of 343 Industry’s first time working with Hollywood. Ridley Scott is listed as an executive producer, and according to Kiki Wolfkill, Executive Producer at 343 Industries, “it was an amazing experience to bring that creative voice to the universe.”

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Women in Gaming: an evening with Halo: Nightfall

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Last Thursday, at the Big Picture in downtown Seattle, I found out about the male-dominated history of the community for women in the videogame industry.

L-R: Jessica Shea, Marta Beck, Holly Barbacovi and Kiki Wolfkill, all of 343 industries. Image courtesy of Jason Pankow.

Bonnie Ross, CVP of 343 Industries, recounted how she and several other women organized a cocktail event at the annual Game Developers Conference as a networking opportunity for women in 2001. Considering that women only make up around 5-20% of their fields, and that on average they earned 86 cents on every dollar that men made in the US game industry, it was crucial for women to have an opportunity to meet others within their profession.

However, more men than women turned up to the event. Continue reading


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Review: Randal’s Monday

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Crammed with geek culture references, Randal’s Monday shows potential as a point-and-click adventure game, but fails to deliver an engaging or innovative experience. You play Randal, who, after stealing his best friend’s engagement ring, awakens to discover that the ring is cursed and his friend is dead. Randal is forced to live that Monday repeatedly, Groundhog Day-style, until he sets everything right. Continue reading


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Error 404: Ethics in Journalism issue arises; Gamergaters not found

I’m not sure if this article should start with something like YOU DON’T SAY.

Prior to the launch of Assasin’s Creed Unity, Ubisoft made reviewers agree to an embargo time set 12 hours after the game went on sale on the east coast of the US. An embargo is an agreement between the press and the publisher about when coverage for the game can be released to the public. What this means is that, in theory, reviews can’t be published before the agreed time, which is usually prior to the game’s release, so players can see if they want to buy the game.

By setting the embargo time to AFTER the game was released, consumers didn’t have any information about the game’s quality before they dropped their cash on it. It also doesn’t help that the game is incredibly buggy. According to this BBC News article, players have been posting screenshots online of characters missing parts of their faces, hanging onto invisible ledges, and bending to QWOP-like proportions.

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Review: Papers, Please

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Glory indeed.

Papers, Please occupies that uncomfortable space where your moral convictions affect your gameplay. Despite being a bureaucracy sim, it has engaging mechanics, a cracking pace and a tragic and revealing narrative.

Set in 1982, you play an immigration inspector in Arstotzka, a fictional, Soviet-like country. As would-be immigrants step up to your booth, you cross-reference their documents with your rulebook to ensure their papers are in order. If they are, you stamp their passport and return it. If not, you can deny their entry, or detain them for suspicious behavior. Continue reading


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Assassin’s Creed Unity lets you spend up to $99.99 to boost your character; internet gets mad

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Assassin’s Creed Unity will have an alternate in-game currency which you can buy with real-world money.

Along with the standard currency used by the characters, you can buy “Helix Credits”, presumably with your credit card. Helix Credits will allow you to access boosts or unlock certain customizations (that you’d otherwise have to save up for with your ingame money), or reveal hidden stuff on the map without having to go to a viewpoint. So, for at least some features, you’re paying for convenience.

However, you can also buy boosts which enhance your abilities for a short while or upgrade existing weapons by “hacking” them, for considerable benefits:

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Iron Sky: The Coming Race trailer

What’s better (or worse) than Nazis on the moon?

How about Nazis riding dinosaurs at the center of the Earth?

Maybe zombie Nazis riding dinosaurs?

Maybe zombie Nazis riding dinosaurs?

Yep. The team that brought you Iron Sky in 2012 are launched a new crowdfunding campaign today to make a sequel, which is available on Indiegogo.There are a variety of tiers of contribution, with $10,000 buying you the title of Associate Producer. Continue reading