Hey Everyone, It’s Tuesday: Saying Goodbye to Ryan Davis, and Thank-you to Giantbomb.

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“Hey everyone it’s Tuuuesday!”

It’s strange to say that a website has changed your life. In more ways than one, the crew behind Giant Bomb have shaped the direction of my life profoundly. Tomorrow, I leave for a three week trek though Iceland, a trip that in many ways was sparked by Patrick Klepek’s stories of his own trip to Reykjavik; I recently changed my degree after being inspired by the video production work done by Vinny Caravella and Drew Scanlon; Jeff Gerstmann’s enthusiasm and criticism for videogames has kept me interested in the medium, even in times where I felt my interest in them waning; Brad Shoemaker introduced me to the strange, terrifying microbes and insects of the world; and for five years of my life, I, like thousands of others, waited each and every week to hear a funny, exuberant, sincere, and just plain awesome man named Ryan Davis assure us that it was, in fact, Tuesday.

And, like numerous others have said, today I cried over the loss of one of the closest friends I never met.

I can’t imagine what Ryan’s friends, family, and colleagues are going through. While I never had the pleasure of knowing him personally, I did get to spend a few hours each week listening or watching Ryan speak, and it was always a joy. He was someone I respected immensely. To have Ryan be a part of your life personally must have been something truly special, and I am sincerely sorry for the loss his family and friends are facing. If by any chance any of the Giant Bomb crew or extended family are reading this, I feel I speak for all fans of Ryan and of Giantbomb when I say we all loved that big duder and we are all with you in this difficult time. To Jeff, Brad, Patrick, Vinny, Drew, Dave, Matt, Alex, Alexis, and any and all past/current members of Giant Bomb, I hope you know that your work has touched so many of us in ways we can never fully express, and we are all so grateful of how much effort you put into the content you create for us. No other site, podcast, or community is quite like Giant Bomb, and we are sincerely thankful for what you do.

I hope Ryan knew that too.

Pour one out.

-Brendan

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Gatecrash Spoilers: Batch Number 1

It’s that time of year again! That’s right, it’s spoiler season! While the first batch of spoilers admittedly came out about a month ago with a curious Craigslist sale I wanted to wait a bit longer so that I had a little more to sink my teeth into and then along came Cipher and all of the sudden I had more than I could chew. Let me start with those first five mythics which were spoiled first and from there move onto the guild mechanics.

So it now is official. It cost 8UUUU to win the game. So for 12 mana you don’t only get to draw your whole library but you get an extra turn to untap and go nuts. If you cast this card and don’t win, you are doing something wrong. This card just wants to be played with Omniscience. Cast Omniscience, play Enter the Infinite for free and play the rest of your library for free. There is potential for this combo to become a threat in Standard and Modern but Enter the Infinite is clearly going to be abused the most in Legacy where cheating Omniscience into play is much easier with cards like Show and Tell and Academy Rector. Either way, Enter the Infinite is a ridiculous card that will definitely see play in constructed somewhere.

This card is interesting. A flying 6/5 trampler is pretty amazing in Limited but I doubt that it will be powerful enough to do anything in Constructed. With that being said, this is going to be an EDH and casual all-star. Like I have mentioned, his stats are nothing to scoff at and that ability could break games when put in the right deck.

We have seen ‘take an extra combat phase” effects in the past but we have never seen it on hasty, flying and vigilant body before. I think everyone knew that Boros was going to be an archetype to watch out for and Aurelia just gave the deck a win condition. Aurelia is going to let you go turn five Thundermaw Hellkite, bash you for 5 followed up by turn 6 Aurelia bash you for 16. By herself she is alright but the kind of decks that do play her are going to be fast and aggressive and when she hits the field games are going to end. Keep an eye out for this one.

So Seismic Assault grew some legs and is now throwing bigger rocks. This card makes me feel like RG Wolf Run ramp is still a very viable option in the format. Even though Borborygmos doesn’t do anything upon hitting the field, even if he gets hit immediately by some instant speed removal you can still respond by dropping your extra lands and blasting a couple of threats or even just your opponents face. This card is just perfect for ramp decks. Decks like that can now justify running 27-30 lands no problem because in the late game they aren’t going to be flooded with mana but with extra cards to bolt your opponent with. The Seismic Assault ability is sweet but the fact that this Cyclops gets you more land every time he attacks is awesome. I realize the ability only triggers when he deals damage but he is a 7/6 trampler and as of right now towers over most other threats in the game. This card will unlikely see play in eternal formats but is definitely a viable win condition in Standard and is going to an absolute blast in EDH and casual.

Domri Rade is so awesome. Three drop planeswalkers traditionally have a plus one which yields no card advantage. For example Liliana had each player discard a card, Jace Beleren each player draws a card.  Domri breaks this format. In the right kind of deck his plus one might as well read ‘draw a card most of the time’. Not only does his plus one rock, but he also passes the planeswalker test because he is able to defend himself. Admittedly, he does need a creature in play to be able to do so but again in the right deck he will be amazing. Now for a planeswalker to be awesome enough to catch my attention it needs to have an ultimate that ends games. For example, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad has always felt a bit underwhelming simply because his ultimate could potentially do nothing. That is not the case for Mr. Rade here. As we have made clear at this point, Domri Rade wants to be played in a creature based deck and because of that his ultimate is definitely going to win games. Hell, even if the emblem only gave your creature’s double strike and hexproof it would be ridiculous, but the fact that it gives your guys trample and haste as well is just almost too good to be true. If you ultimate this guy and don’t win, then you are doing something wrong. This card is amazing and definitely will see play across the board. Definitely in Standard and Modern and I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up in Legacy somewhere too. Three drop planeswalkers are good and Domri Rade continues to prove this paradigm.

So now for some new mechanics.

So Boros has a very powerful history in Constructed so it is interesting to see Battalion, which at least in a constructed environment sucks balls. The fact that you have to have two other attacking creatures is pretty steep for an ability trigger so for this mechanic to see play it better do more than just a Lightning Helix. Maybe it will end up doing something big, but as of right now I am fairly underwhelmed.

Now Extort is a fun one. While one life and one damage doesn’t seem like a lot let’s not forget that we still have Flashback in Standard making cards like Lingering Souls and Think Twice that much more powerful when they can chip away at your opponent’s health while simultaneously increasing your own. Admittedly this Thrull feels like a completely inferior Sun Titan in almost every regard but still the Extort mechanic isn’t something to brush off just yet.

Bloodrush is cute. It kind of feels a bit unnecessary with Wolf Run still around but that doesn’t mean it won’t see play. Rubblehulk especially seems viable, by being either a really Giant Growth or being just a big body in the late game. In the end it really does just make your cards a bit more versatile which is always awesome despite the abilities slightly redundant effect. It really wants to grant Trample too though again demonstrating Wolf Run’s superiority here

Fathom Mage debuts the Simic ability, Evolve. I love how they have kept the same +1/+1 counter theme from the first Raniva block except Evolve is significantly better than Graft. Especially in creature based decks, your creatures getting bigger is going to incredibly powerful especially when they have ridiculous additional abilities like the Fathom Mage here. Oh my god this card is going to be fun. This card with Scavenge and Corpsejack Menace are going to be gross. Creatures that trigger the Mage’s ability as well as have an ability which can put even more counters on the Mage subsequently meaning you will draw even more cards. I have mentioned before that I am very much a Johnny, and this card appeals to my inner Johnny very much so. Not only do Scavenge creatures work well with the Mage but the Innistrad block gave us quite a few spells that placed a handful of counters on your dudes as well such as Blessings of Nature, Hunger of the Howlpack, and Increasing Savagery which all work incredibly well.

Now for the single most exciting part: Cipher.

This mechanic is scary. There is the single most potential here with the presence of Invisible Stalker also available in Standard for Type 2 to become broken. I mean this mechanic could just break the game. There were so many rumors about Dimir getting a mill based mechanic that I am incredibly excited for something a bit more diverse. With that being said, Invisible Stalker and Whispering Madness together make for a quite efficient milling strategy. So turn four you cast your Whispering Madness and each player discards their hand and draws five and at this point you encode the spell onto your Invisible Stalker. Your Stalker then attacks and triggers another Whispering Madness and each library gets another five cards smaller. Now that you have another copy of Whispering Madness going on, you then encode that copy onto the same Stalker. That’s right; you get to encode the encoded copy. That means that each turn you will be getting exponentially more triggers. Now admittedly while quickly milling your opponents face off you will be doing the same to yourself, but as long as you draw one or two of your Thought Scours while drawing your entire deck you should be good to go.

That is just the shenanigans you can get into with one card. Imagine what other Cipher spells we are going to get though! Cipher is a blue and black mechanic meaning perhaps we will be getting some sort of Cipher draw or discard spell subsequently turning our Stalkers and other fine gentlemen into super specters and super Ophidians. If Cipher only got a draw and discard spell it would be the single best mechanic in Standard but we are sure to get even more crazy spells in the other 210 unspoiled cards yet. Cipher being released when we have Invisible Stalker is absolutely terrifying and we are sure to only get more crazy unblockable and evasive creatures from Dimir. Just look at their Keyrune!

Cipher is one of the best and the scariest mechanics to hit the game for a while and I cannot wait to see what else comes out of this set. For all of your Gatecrash news stay tuned into… Uhh, the site?

Also Watery Grave looks amazing. I love you and your glorious sharp art Mr. Swanland.

Am I the only one who is reading all of these quotes from Zarek as a confirmation that he is showing up in Dragon’s Maze?

Shootin’ the Shit: 2013 is going to be nuts.

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2012 is just about over. The holidays are wrapping up, the new year draws nearer by the minute, and we can start getting excited about the coming year. I’ve got plenty to say about everything from games to music to movies, so let’s take this one at a time. First off, games!

Games in 2013

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2012 had some awesome games, but 2013 is going to be a big year. We’re all anticipating announcements from both Sony and Microsoft regarding new consoles; Valve is hard at work on a mysterious “Steam box”; The Ouya promises to give independent creators a new open source platform; and Nintendo begins their first year of the Wii U’s life cycle. But none of that matters if the games aren’t good. We’ve got a year left with our 360s and PS3s, and my oh my, what a year it will be.

Obviously, the first quarter of 2012 is going to be insane and I could list a ton of great looking games here that will be dropping between now and March (Bioshock Infinite, Deadspace 3, Tomb Raider, Crysis 3) The rest of the year is shaping up quite nicely as well. However, I’d be lying if I said those were the games I’m most looking forward to. My interests lie in the slightly-less-than-mainstream sector of the videogame market, and these five in particular have me literally jumping for 2013.

Castlevania: Mirror of Fate – My love of Castlevania has been well documented on Power Cords. I love Symphony of the Night and its sequels, and the entire series is filled with great, memorable games. Even though I have some reservations about Castlevania: Mirror of Fate, I’m optimistic. A new 2D Castlevania is almost as exciting as a new 2D Metroid, and beggars can’t be choosers.  Definitely on my radar.

Sir, You are Being Hunted – It’s really hard to describe this Kickstarter-funded indie game. So instead, I’ll show you the video that got me excited for the game in the first place. Keep in mind this is an extremely early build, but it still shows what the game is going for.

Double Fine’s Projects – I’m gonna cheat — instead of talking about just one game, I’m going to talk about THREE! Ever since Psychonauts and Brutal Legend, Double Fine Productions have remained a favorite studio of mine. Thanks to an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, the studio is now hard at work on a brand-new adventure game. But that’s not all! In just a few days, they will be releasing their 2D adventure The Cave on Steam. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! The company recently lifted the veil on their internal design contest, Amnesia Fortnight. Aside from being an amazing community- and charity-building event, Amnesia Fornight gave birth to new projects. One in particular from a previous internal event, Brazen, is a Monster Hunter-esque action game where Greek-inspired heroes battle mythic beasts. All these games look great, and further cement Double Fine as an important and special studio. Actually, speaking of Monster Hunter…

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate – While a lot of people (many Power Cords contributors especially) get into capturing and training pocket-sized monsters, I spend my time hunting and trapping giant ones. Monster Hunter is my Pokemon — or at least it used to be. I haven’t played Monster Hunter since the gen 1 games (Monster Hunter Freedom, specifically) but I cannot wait to get back into the series with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. And with Monster Hunter 4 hitting in Japan this year and hopefully North America soon after, there are plenty of epic hunts in my future.

Dark Souls II – The announcement of Dark Souls II took me by surprise; I wasn’t expecting a sequel to one of my all-time favorite games so soon. In fact, I wasn’t really expecting one at all. While some fans reacted harshly to early details about the game, this article put many of the concerns I had about Dark Souls II to rest. I don’t want an easy mode as much as the next guy (I sincerely doubt there will be one, just for the record) and I wish Miyazaki had a stronger presence in the design, but I haven’t been this stoked for a game in years. By far my most anticipated game of 2013.

One man's despair is another man's joy.
One man’s despair is another man’s excitement.

While those five may be the big ones for me, there’s more out there to be excited about. Phantasy Star returns with Phantasy Star Online 2. Retro Studios is working on a still-unknown project, and there are rumors of new Zelda, Donkey Kong Land, and Yoshi’s Island all on 3DS. And, if the promise Everquest Next pans out, it could be a truly revolutionary MMORPG. 2013 is going to be absolutely nuts. Oh, and there’s going to be another Castlevania game next year, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2So, yeah. Nuts.

Movies and Television in 2013

Movies and television are kinda Marshal’s bag, but I dabble. A while ago, I made the conscious decisions that film would take a back seat to my preferred entertainment medium, videogames. However, there are still some big movies and tv series I look forward to seeing. First off, Game of Thrones returns in April, and season 3 officially marks me not knowing what happens next in the series. Then, of course, the final season of Breaking Bad. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best crime drama series I’ve ever seen, and I’m eager to see the end. For films, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is my big one. It’s a year away, sure, but An Unexpected Journey was really good, and I’m excited for part 2. Finally, Guillermo del Toro’s next big-screen hit, Pacific Rim hits next summer. It may look like just another summer tent-pole blockbuster, but the Kaiju Monster fan in me sees something more…

Oh, and maybe show off more of the new Godzilla? Please?

Music in 2013

2012 was a pretty good year for music, but not amazeballs like 2011. In fact, it was kind of a lukewarm year, and I spent a lot of time with bands that weren’t the uber-extreme-disgustingly-filthy metal I’ve been blasting into my skull the past few years (check out my top 21 albums of 2012 here). I rediscovered my love for prog rock, stoner metal, and electronic music. In the past couple years, I’ve become a much more casual listener of music overall. Still, a bunch of great bands will be releasing new music next year, and I plan on reviewing and talking about these releases more actively.

New Year’s Resolutions

I want to read more. I was given a large stack of new books for Christmas, including a few new graphic novels. I enjoy reading quite a bit, and could really stand to spend a few more hours each weekend with a book. So that’s my new year’s resolution. I’m also making an effort to write consistently, but with so much excitement and what is sure to be a news-packed year, I doubt that’ll be much of an issue.

Power Cords in 2013

We’ve mentioned it before, but we’ve got big changes coming up soon. In fact, we’re just a few days away from finally making our announcement. What will it be? You’ll have to wait and find out, but I can assure you we’ll have plenty of new things to talk about next year. There will be more features, more reviews, more videos, more podcasts, new topics, new voices, but the same passion and identity we do our best to create. I’m really excited.

And with that, thus concludes regular posting on Power Cords for this year. Marshal’s got a list or two saved up for you guys, so stick around for those. But don’t take our silence for laziness — we’re hard at work on our next venture, and can’t wait to finally unveil it!

Happy New Year, and best wishes,

-Brendan, and the Power Cords crew.

Kingdom Death: Monster looks amazing

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One thing I really enjoy is a good board game; be it traditional games like Risk or Stratego, or table top ones like Warhammer and Magic the Gathering. There’s something great about the immediacy and physicality of games like that. When it comes to Warhammer specifically (and I would assume D&D, though I’ve never actually played it), a large reason of why I enjoy the game so well is the miniatures themselves. Painting and assembling an army of Space Wolves or a squad of Nergal worshiping Chaos Marines is very rewarding, and gives a sense of personality and attachment to your  army.

That enjoyment and appreciation for plastic figures is one of the reasons this Kickstarter project caught my eye.

Aptly named “Kingdom Death: Monster,” the boardgame is something of an amalgamation between card-based boardgame and strategic, figure-based combat. There are a few videos on the page that explain the basic gameplay, but the really impressive element here is the figure design. These things look amazing! The boxed game comes with quite a few of great looking figures, and there are upgrade options and expansions you can get as well.

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Admittedly, a large part of the appeal comes from the Dark Souls-esque dark fantasy atmosphere and grotesquely cool creature designs (though I’ll be honest, most of the female figures are pretty ridiculous…), but the whole package looks well-made and the game seems like a very fun RPG/resource management hybrid. Color me interested.

Luckily, the game has been fully funded — and then some. Currently the Kickstarter has raised $596, 724, when their goal was only 35, 000. That’s a successful fund if I’ve ever seen one.

There are several levels for backing that include some great rewards, however if you want the game you’ll need to pledge at least $100 (higher amounts net expansions and extra figures). Despite my interest and excitement for the project, the college budget and the holidays has stretched my wallet thin, so I have yet to back it. Thankfully, we’ve still got time:  the project still has 27 days worth of funding to go, closing on January 7, 2013.

Anyway, I’ll stop chatting about it; head to the Kickstarter page and see for yourself just how excellent the game looks!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/poots/kingdom-death-monster

Shootin’ the Shit: Dec 8 2012

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Heyoo!

Yeah, hi, long time no see. Things have been kinda crazy and I’ve been meaning to write to you all, but I haven’t found the time… Until now!

So, a lot’s happened since last we spoke. I have a few things I want to chat about  but first let’s talk about some big-picture stuff.

There’s been some new games like Far Cry 3, and a new Skyrim DLC pack; There’s been a lot of  Halo 4 being played by Marshal and me; We reviewed Hotline Miami and Cloud Atlas; Nintendo even released a brand new console. Oh, and Dark Souls II was announced!

…There’s also been things like projects, tests, jobs and the abyssal darkness known as “finals week” descending upon us. But we emerge, stronger  smarter — better. But also missing several weeks worth of Shootin’, Gaming Journal, and The Low Down. To add insult to injury, my laptop died last week, hamstringing my ability to write and record. I apologize for that delay.

But perhaps the most exciting thing to happen is the formulation and announcement that our tiny little blog is evolving into something new and exciting in the near-future. You can read more about it here; we’re still moving forward and thankfully things are moving relatively smoothly. When we have new stuff to share, we’ll let you all know.

I know there’s usually a lot more in the Shootin’ posts, but it’s been a crazy couple weeks, and I really just wanted to get something out there, let you all know our schedules are opening up, and we’re gonna be posting plenty more (about Dark Souls II).

See you next week!

What? Power Cords is EVOLVING!?

Guys, guess what? You know all those subtle, brief allusions to “being busy” and “working on stuff” that seems to make their way into… well, basically every post I’ve written in the past two months or so?

Well, I was serious.

Power Cords is evolving, expanding — basically just becoming even more awesome, taking yet another step towards “legitimacy.” There’s a whole mess of reason as to why we’re doing this, but basically what it comes down to is we were brainstorming one day, and it suddenly dawned on us that not only did we have other topics we wanted to explore, but we also wanted to find new voices, and really just restructure the entire way we run the blog. What came out of this brain storming was essentially an entirely new website.

So what’s this mean for you, readers? Well, honestly, we’re not 100% sure yet. But here’s what you can be certain of: we’ll keep talking about games, movies, comics, and music. In fact, we’ll be talking about them more than we already are thanks to a new batch of contributors. But we’re also gonna talk about new stuff — specifically, we’ll be covering things unique to our beautiful native land, Cascadia (aka the Pacific Northwest.

Secret’s out — we live in Skyrim.

Things like snowboarding, mountain biking, and backpacking; living in awesome region cities like Portland, Seattle, Eugene, and Vancouver; and the almighty MLS rivalry, the Cascadia Cup. Like I said, the nerdiness will remain — we’re all nerds, and I can confidently this new crew of nerds is awesome and you’ll enjoy what they have to say. But while we love our joysticks and film reels, we also enjoy snowboarding, drinking local brews, and running barefoot through the woods while lifting extremely heavy rocks… errm, maybe that’s just me. Anyway, we want to be able to tell you guys about those things, too.

As I mentioned earlier, we’re completely re-structuring the way the blog works. Because of this, we’ve come to a rather stark realization that we may have to switch blogging platforms. We know that isn’t exactly the easiest thing — for us or for our followers — but in the long run, it’s for the best. We hope each and every one of you follows us on over to wherever we end up. We’ve got a bunch of crazy awesome ideas, and you can expect to see standbys like The Lowdown and Shootin’ the Shit on the new site. We love all of you guys and gals who read our words and watch our videos, and we want to keep providing you with great content, so you can be sure that the moment we know where we’re going, you will too.

We’re shooting to launch this bad boy sometime in late December/early January. As such, things will probably remain a bit inconsistent for a couple weeks. However, we’re not gonna just drop the ole ‘Cords unceremoniously; we’ve got a proper send off in the works, and hopefully it will be a fun week (or two) and an excellent way to ring in the new year and new blog.

Alright, I’ve blathered on enough. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more news — there’s plenty more on the way.

-Brendan, EIC

 

Shootin’ the Shit – November 2, 2012

Where the hell were we this week? So much happened, so many big pieces of news hit the internet. But we weren’t here. It’s possible we were just busy with Halloween stuff.. or perhaps there are other forces at work and secret plans being hatched… hmmm….

We weren’t completely silent though; we had an awesome new Halloween-themed episode of The Low Down featuring Casper, the friendly ghost! And I reported on my weekly gaming with this week’s Gaming Journal entry. But that’s not all that happened on the internet this week…

Things I Read

Obviously, first and foremost: Disney bought Lucasfilm, and the entire Lucas empire(Skywalker Sound, Light and Magic, LucasArts), for like a gajillion dollars; with the aquisition came the news that an entirely new trilogy — episodes VII, VIII, IX — were on the way, with Episode VII scheduled to hit sometime in 2015. Included in this annoucement was the news the George Lucas would be only filling an advisory position.  The internet went fucking NUTS over this news; People’s reactions have ranged from ecstatic  to scared, to pissed, to totally ambivalent because ho my god, Star Wars is old news. Personally, I’m kinda interested in three news movies. I like Star Wars, I dig the fiction and the universe, and I I’m excited to see what some new minds could do with the property. We’ve got no word on what to expect from this trilogy-trilogy, and probably won’t for a while. I wonder if it will be anything as good as KOTOR, though…

I read a bunch of Halo 4 reviews. I’m really looking forward to the game, and the universal praise is both reassuring and exciting.

Early PS4 dev kits have reportedly hit developers this week. Word is, Sony is insisting on calling the system “Orbis” instead of the somewhat obvios “Playstation 4.” I’ve already talked about my feelings on a new console generation, but between this, Microsoft “Durango” devkits being leaked a few months ago, and the Wii-U hitting in just a couple weeks, we might as well start getting excited for this new round of hardware.

Things I Watched

I watched the finale for the Halo: Forward unto Dawn live-action series. It was awesome. Watch the whole series here, and peep the finale below.

Speaking of Halo, the latest episode of Red vs Blue ONCE AGAIN knocks it out of the park. What’s gonna happen next? What do Church and Carolina have planned?

Converge, who released one of the best albums of the year last month, gave us a tour of one of the most disgusting venue bathrooms ever.

I watched a baby do kung fu and kill his stuffed dragon.

Awesome games that came out this week

The big one is Assassin’s Creed 3 — The reviews have been decent-to-good, and seeing as how I’ve only been marginally interested in the series before, I’m probably gonna hold off on this one until next year. Still, if Assassin’s Creed is your jam, pick it up!

Painkiller HD Painkiller is the modern-day DOOM. Guns, monsters, and non-stop action —  no more, no less. It’s over the top, and insane, exactly my kind of shooter (unless it’s Halo or Half-Life, of course).

Misc

There isn’t really all that much more to report on. Like I said, some big news but we’re nearing that part of the year where announcements slow down, games start coming out non-stop, and we start thinking about year-end lists, and our plans for next year. And my oh my, what plans we have…

See you next week dudes!

 

Shootin’ the Shit: The Unfortunate Process of Disillusionment

We’re going to do things a little different this week. Some big things happened in the games enthusiast press (“journalism”) scene that has opened up a dialogue regarding games criticism, corruption, and the place of PR and marketing. I feel it is an important issue for anyone remotely interested in a career (or at least having a voice in) the games press. If you’re not interested in that whole mess, you can always check out our newest episode of The Low Down for some other news. Here’s what happened on the internet this week:

Things I Read

What I want to discuss is the recent controversy over Rob Florence’s criticism of the gaming press, specifically the UK-based Games Media Awards (GMAs), and fellow writer Lauren Wentwright. In his original post for Eurogamer, Florence called out the the press — and more importantly, public relations — for the way in which the industry presents and runs itself. It resulted in a polarizing and wide spread criticism of the GMAs, games journalism as an institution, the role of PR and Marketing in games writing, as well as a backlash against Florence and Wainwright. From there, Florence stepped down due to pressure from higher-ups. Two Botherer articles — one from Rock-Paper-Shotgun’s Jon Walker, and the other a response from Florence on the massive reaction to his Eurogamer piece — further the story, give background to the event, as well as show an in depth and disheartening look at the truth behind the corruption in games journalism.

Had I not read Florence’s post, I would have never heard about this; I came upon the entire things day after it happened. But the real issue here isn’t the events themselves so much as the meaning behind them: they are a clear and sad indication that the gaming media is corrupt in some way. Walker points out, more than likely, every review or article you’ve read is un-bought and unbiased. However, that doesn’t dismiss PR people and, as Florence puts it, their manipulation of information to support their own narrative.

Sound familiar?

This all comes at a very strange time for me, and all of us here at Power Cords. We’ve got some big changes and exciting announcements coming in the ever-nearing future — things that have me more excited about the direction of this blog and my own path as a writer than I have been in years. These changes stem from a simple realization from myself and my ever-stalwart editorial duo Marshal and Evan: we’re bored trying to live up to (and break into) the video game journalist “club.” This whole “scandal” just added fuel to the fire; I don’t want to break into an industry run by the whims of PR, where lavish parties, unnecessary freebies, and selective information is the method by which I am able to indulge in the one thing I’ve ever been good at: writing. I would feel not only restricted, but uncomfortable taking part in such press events. So, the simple answer is to just not be a part of it.

Beyond that, this discussion of corruption underscores my issues with game development — specifically the AAA blockbusters that are now nothing more than linear, gore-soaked “interactive movies” that betray the very things videogames are about: exploration, problem solving, mystery, artistry, and truly interactive narrative (as discussed in an unrelated, but still highly relevant Kotaku article by writer/videogame and comic book artist Tevis Thompson). That’s not to say I’m against graphically powerful games with high-quality content and and polish. Any reader of this blog knows my adoration for Skyrim, and Dark Souls — expensive games that had their fair share of marketing and hype. What I take issue with are the massive tie-in campaigns for annual titles where big-name snack foods are adorned with the likeness of Master Chief, or where giant, disruptive ads cover articles completely unrelated to what I’m reading. It’s frustrating and disgusting, and makes me feel guilty for loving Halo.

It’s unholy alliances like this that affect journalistic integrity

Of course, the issue at hand is the role of the press and PR people in the delivery and presentation of information. It would seem like a simple solution to just gut the whole system entirely, but that can’t happen. The enthusiast press is a tight-knit community of writers and marketers, many of which are close friends. After reading Florence’s thoughts and experiences, it’s clear this isn’t something I want to be a major part of — at least in the sense that this “club” just isn’t for me. But that doesn’t mean I need to stop doing something I love.

In his response on Botherer, Florence explains how he felt like he wanted to stop writing about games all together, but that this issue wasn’t about videogames or PR — it was about writing:

I am furious. I am furious because yesterday the games PR and marketing men flung a few people under a bus, and today they’re probably sipping drinks at the Golden Joystick awards. I am furious that some people think we should all just “move on” from this, allowing the PR people to get back to their narrative. I am furious that some are saying that it’s “just games”. It’s not games. It’s writing. And writing matters. Writing always matters.

He concludes his piece by saying:

Those who have been angry about all this – don’t investigate the people, investigate the system. Please write about games. Don’t go to any parties. Don’t go on the trips. Don’t care about exclusives. Just write passionately about games. You can contribute hugely to the scene without ever once speaking to a PR person. Cut them out of the equation.

And that’s exactly what we’ll do: Power Cords will continue to write about games in our own way; but we’re also going to expand and shift our focus, so that we can write about our lives and passions beyond our controllers and computer screens. This week has reminded me that don’t love writing about games, I just love writing. And that’s what we’re going to do here: write. We’re not going to copy the big sites, and we’re not going to languish for their audience or viewers. We’re going to create our own identity, and stake a claim to our own little corner of the internet, and we’d be honored if you joined us.

A final word on the industry as a whole: I don’t feel the need to write off games journalism at all. There are names and personalities I trust — people like Jim Sterling, Jonathan Holmes, Athur Gies and the entire Giantbomb crew. I trust in their abilities to call “bullshit” when necessary, and know they take no issue in having opinions that may go against the zeitgeist or the filtered information being presented else where. It’s also more than likely that the overwhelming majority of writers and their work are genuine. However, until the “club” like exclusivity of the whole institution changes, and until the roles of criticism and those who give it are clearly defined in the industry, I see no point in striving for something I wouldn’t be comfortable with even if I was lucky enough to break in. These are changes we as audiences (and as writers, and gamers) should all be asking for, and demanding from, those we respect enough to read.

 

 

Shootin’ the Shit, Oct. 19, 2012

Guys, Power Cords had it’s first birthday this week! While it was a rather busy week this week for me in terms of college and my “real job,” we still got a good batch of articles up for you guys. We also had a new episode of The Low Down!

I’d also like to take a moment to say publicly: Holy shit, The Walking Dead is good again. The season 3 opener made up for everything season 2 did wrong in 42 glorious, gore-soaked minutes. I’m definitely back on this show’s band wagon. Anyway, here’s what happened on the internet this week:

On the site

First and foremost, as I already mentioned, Power Cords had its 1 year birthday this week. Thank you to all the readers and followers for making the past 12 months so worthwhile and fulfilling!

Ch-ch-check out this week’s episode of The Low Down!

I wrote about the return of the old-school RPG. I’ve been rediscovering much of what I love about the genre, and thanks to evolutions in the gaming industry, the old-school RPG looks to be making a comeback.

Marshal gave us his impressions of David Fincher’s excellent Halo 4 live-action trailer. It’s got me even more excited for the game now, plus getting a look into the Chief’s backstory was great. It is clear 343i is pulling out all the stops.

I also started a weekly gaming journal. The first post went up to day, and chonicles my weekly game playing and completion. This week, I eek closer to the end of Dark Souls and jump into Doom 3: BFG Edition.

Things I read

I wasn’t able to read as much this week as I would’ve liked, but (once again) this piece by Giantbomb’s Patrick Klepek about video game authorship is fascinating. It’s part of a larger running feature Klepek has been doing on games criticism and reviews — something very much in line with my interests and my plans for the future.

Videos I watched

The latest episode of Red Versus Blue ended with yet another emotional punch to the gut. I find myself wondering where the series is headed; big changes seem to be occurring weekly. I was mistaken when i said this week was the season finale — we’ve still got a few more left before closing out season 10.

Like pretty much everyone else, I watched a dude jump from outer space back down to Earth. Awe inspiring.

Cool games that came out

Doom 3: BFG Edition — This sci-fi action/horror FPS is one of my personal favorite games of the past decade. The collection includes Doom, Doom II: Hell on Earth, Doom 3, Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, and a brand new mini-campaign Doom 3: The Lost Mission.

Misc.

At my other writing gig, I did a review for the math rock duo Cleft’s new EP Whale Bone. Dig it here.

This Bioshock Infinite table top game looks kinda cool.

Fact: Sleep have been opening their shows with clips from Carl Sagan’s The Universe series before plunging into “Dopesmoker,” “Dragronaut,” and other beastly jams. Heaviest. Fucking. Band. Ever.

 

 

 

Power Cords: One year later

Today is the one year anniversary of Power Cord’s creation. A year ago today, our first post — a review for Dark Souls — went live, and since then we’ve been slowly building the blog, delivering news, reviews and opinions on videogames, movies, comics, and much more.

It’s a little hard for me to believe. On the one hand, it feels like I’ve been doing this forever; on the other, it’s only been a year and I still feel like we’re in the early days of the blog. When we started, we had a goal in mind — to carve out our own little section of the internet, and offer a unique voice for those who’ll listen. One day, I’m confident we’ll reach the goals we’ve set for ourselves with Power Cords, but for now I’m extremely happy with what we’ve accomplished, and humbled that there are so many of you reading.

So what can you expect over the next 12 months? Well, first of all, more comic articles. We’ve get some new voices on staff, and I know I’ve been reading a bit more sequential art, so you can be sure we’ll be expanding and bolstering the comics section over the next few months.

The videogame and film/television sections will remain essentially the same. I’ve got some new ideas as far as formatting and some specific content, but you’ll keep seeing the same type of content you have since day one. But we’d really love to give you more, and that’s why I want to encourage you all to comment of email us at askpowercords@gmail.com with ideas of the type of articles you’d like to see!

Of course videos, specifically The Low Down, will remain the consistant. I’m super excited about what Marshal is doing on the video end and I think I speak for everyone when I say I look forward to seeing what the iron-jawed daredevil comes up with next.

Finally, the Podcast. we’re working hard on getting The Power Cast to be a mainstay of the blog. We love doing them, and when they’ve worked they’ve been pretty successful. For now, new episodes will be infrequent and spotty, but as I said on the post for episode 10, the podcast WILL become a regular part of our weekly content; it’s just a matter of when. All I can say for now is that keep your eyes out for new episodes as they materialize. You’ll know when the ‘cast will finally make the transition to full-time, which at this point you can expect sometime in 2013.

2013. If 2012 was any indication, it’ll be an interesting year. I look forward to seeing what it brings and excited to think about where we’ll be come October 18, 2013.

Thanks to Marshal, Evan, Graeme, Nick, and Kyle for all the great content. But most of all, thank you, dear readers, for sticking with us, commenting, and making this a dream come true.

Thanks for reading.

-Brendan, Power Cords EIC