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2011, A Year in Review: Features


Given that you read the site each and every day, we know it’s not very likely that you missed any of our best articles in 2011. Still, on the off chance that you may have overlooked any of our most popular items over the past year, we’re spending this entire week counting down the most popular stories and videos we’ve done all year. Today we’re kicking things off with a look at the top ten features, based on reader interest. Be sure to come back tomorrow and all through the week for more.

The Terrifying Tale of Amnesia


The story of Amnesia: The Dark Descent starts just as we were hard at work with Penumbra: Black Plague, a project that had been close to doom only a few months before. After various financial problems, Paradox Interactive had stepped in to provide the funds needed to complete the game. We knew that in order to keep the company stable we had to make sure our entire work force (four of us at the time) would be be able to start working on a new project as soon as Black Plague was completed. (Read More)

Where Have All the Cheats Gone?


Cheating. It’s a practice looked down on in almost every profession, sport, and activity on the planet. Videogames used to be the exception, and gamers far and wide once enjoyed built-in secrets that let them act like the hand of God. Those fortunate enough to have enjoyed the 8- and 16-bit eras will fondly remember typing cryptic codes and complex button combinations into title screens to get a leg up, while onlookers sat slack-jawed in amazement. (Read More)

The Accidental Lesbian


It was a bug report about a piece of Echo Bazaar content. Polite and well-argued, but blunt. “Thanks,” it said, “for deciding my character is a lesbian or something.” As bugs go, that’s pretty alarming. What’s the worst a bug gets, normally? You tell the player they’ve been awarded twenty-four moon-pearls, but actually give them two. So they’re down a few pretend moon-pearls. Big deal. Or a particular screen looks a bit wonky on their web-browser. So what? Squinting builds character. (Read More)

2011 Holiday Buyer’s Guide


We’ve come to that time of year once again, dear friends. That time when you’ll lose many of your sanity points not only trying to figure out what to get the nerd in your life, but also what to suggest your clueless loved ones procure for you. To the rescue comes your friends at The Escapist! (Read More)

A Farewell to Galaxies


Returning to Star Wars Galaxies for the first time in five and a half years, I couldn’t help but think that all of us launch day veterans stayed in Galaxies for all the right reasons, and then left the game for all the wrong ones. There’s nothing unfair in arguing that Sony Online Entertainment and LucasArts didn’t understand what made Galaxies special when they released the New Game Enhancements in 2005 and pulled the rug out from under the 200,000 subscribers who had kept the game alive and vibrant. (Read More)

After the Apocalypse: A Dead Island Retrospective


For the feature article Dead Inside, author Russ Pitts examined the narrative subtext of the popular zombie action game Dead Island, and what the game’s creators were trying to say about the sociological and economic implications of a zombie apocalypse, as seen through the lens of survivors in the South Pacific. Following publication of this article, the author began a conversation with Dead Island writer Haris Orkin, about what went right with Dead Island, what went wrong and what he would do differently next time. (Read More)

Evolve or Die


Back in the ancient times of the late 1990s, 3D graphical MMOs were these fantastic worlds you could inhabit only if you paid a monthly fee. Games like Ultima Online and EverQuest were expensive undertakings, but their makers became extremely rich from the fees they charged. Then, in 2004, one world was created whose success quickly eclipsed the rest. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft stole time and money away from the creators of the other worlds; games like Age of Conan and Warhammer Online tried to gain enough subscribers to stay afloat but ultimately they were unable to compete. Developers looked to Asia and Europe, where games fueled by microtransactions had flourished, for inspiration, and the evolution to free-to-play saved many MMOs from destruction. The games that evolved survived in the new ecosystem, while those that did not still struggle. (Read More)

MMOs Need More Bastards


Let’s be honest. Most of today’s successful MMOs are basically the same. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but that probably includes the one you’ve been playing for years as well. Now, before you send your max-level goblin berserker to hunt me down and change my mind with a mace-to-brain high-five, let me be a bit more clear. I’m not talking about the revolutionary epic armor sets or the groundbreaking numpad combat systems that people use to distinguish these games from one another. I’m talking about the pervading rule set that governs them, the core philosophy that defines them. MMOs today don’t give players the free will they once did. They just don’t. (Read More)

The Customer Doesn’t Care About Your Burglar


I managed a gaming store. No, I won’t tell you its name. This was the late 90s, when collectible card games (CCGs) were like unto tiny cardboard gods and the internet hadn’t quite succeeded in changing retail forever. We sold board games, tabletop RPGs and card game ephemera from a small mall store in the UK. The building was 1970s concrete classic, the kind of place that hadn’t been designed either with customers or shopkeepers in mind, so the architect probably won a design award. Our customer base was university students and young professionals with money to burn. (Read More)

1988: The Golden Age of Game Piracy


It was 1999. The Sega Dreamcast was brand new, Tori Murden was crossing the Atlantic, and I was about to have a terrible revelation. Napster had launched in June of that year, and would last 22 months before being shut down by a court order. The RIAA had begun its legal assault on digital music sharing a year earlier, and by 2007 would be suing individuals (infamously including a deceased grandmother) and corporations like Napster, Kazaa, and Usenet for as much as $150,000 per downloaded song. (Read More)

Throughout the rest of the week we will be giving you more of the Top Tens. So please, for your own sake, come back for more entertainment.

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