Developer Znavit Games and international conservation charity World Land Trust (WLT) are about to cast gaming in a whole new light with ‘SEEDS: The Magic Garden’ an upcoming puzzler that tasks players with rescuing and growing magical plants.
The twist? Players who manage to complete the game will have a real tree planted on their behalf!
In the magical world of SEEDS, join friendly beetle-cat Arni on a quest to save nearly-extinct plants by matching different colored stones. Use a variety of boosters and create “root paths” to help grow 30 extinct plants – but watch out for toxins, explosions, and other hazards! If you complete the game, you’ll not only be saving a tree, but you’ll also receive a certificate that can be saved to your device and shared on Facebook
Residents in the Heartland, rejoice! Boss Key Productions’ Tramell Isaac and thatgamecompany’s Jacky Ke Jiang will keynote the first ever XPO Game Festival, which will be held Sept. 23 – 25 at the Cox Business Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
XPO Game Festival is the first ever full-scale game festival to be hosted in America’s Heartland. Featuring a retro lounge, Indie Alley, panel speakers, tabletop games, film screenings, LAN party areas, a laser tag arena, concerts, and after-parties, there’s something to do for everyone!
Isaac and Jiang join a star-studded list of industry professionals who will be speaking at XPO, including: Susan Arendt (GamesRadar), Candace Brenner (Daybreak Game Company), Nick Chester (Epic Games), The Coster Brothers (Butterscotch Shenanigans), Charles Cox (4Gency), Jake Baldino (Lead Producer/Host, Gameranx), Craig Kaufman and Steve Spohn (AbleGamers), Richard Mitchell (XPO, Joystiq), Monika Lee (Blizzard), Chris Rickwood (Rickwood Music), Paul Yoskowitz (WinterLeaf Entertainment), noted game journalist Robert Workman, and many more.
“We’re thrilled with the warm reception we’ve been getting from the gaming community. It goes to show that there’s a huge demand for events like XPO Game Festival in the Heartland. I’m honored to have such talented gaming legends come speak at XPO. Hearing their stories and learning from each speaker first-hand will be quite a thrill for both our guests and XPO Game Festival organizers.” – Ray Hoyt, President, VisitTulsa and Office of Film, Music, Arts and Culture
RETRO GAMING’S “HOLY GRAIL”
Dan and Terry Diebold will be showing off the mythical Nintendo PlayStation — the product of a failed partnership between Nintendo and Sony that’s considered by many to be the “holy grail” of retro gaming. The father and son duo will be showcasing the console throughout the convention and will also host a panel discussion where they’ll share the story behind the discovery. If you’re a fan of retro games, this is something you won’t want to miss!
Friday & Saturday, September 16 – 17th
9:00pm: Pre-event film screening at Circle Cinema in Tulsa
Thursday, September 22nd
Kickoff Party featuring Brentalfloss
Friday & Saturday, September 23 – 24th
* After parties with live music in downtown Tulsa
* Live music throughout the festival, featuring Bit Brigade and Mega Ran
* Virtual Reality setups including Oculus Rift and HTC Vive
* $10k Rocket League Tournament produced by LegionBattles in conjunction with XPO
* Fabled Nintendo PlayStation prototype on display
* Live escape room presented by Escape Tulsa
* Retro lounge packed with vintage arcade games and consoles
* Laser Tag Arena
* Console tournament with thousands of dollars in prizes
* Cosplay contest and nationally recognized cosplay guests
* Indie Alley featuring intra and international indie developers
* LAN Party areas
Saturday, September 24th
12:00pm: Tabletop game tournaments presented by Alien Games — including a Magic the Gathering pre-release
Weekend passes grant access to XPO Game Festival and all of its attractions for the whole weekend — including the kick-off party on Thursday, Sept. 22 – and feature full access to XPO, including the virtual reality showcase, Indie Alley showcase, retro lounge, tabletop gaming, fighting games, Magic the Gathering tournaments, panels, and the expo floor. In addition, attendees will also get access to that day’s concert and afterparty in downtown Tulsa. More information and a full price breakdown can be found at the XPO Game Festival official website!
See you in Oklahoma!
Smaller experiences, or “indies” as they are called, are the heart of the video game industry right now. Over the years we have been blessed by the gamer gods with experiences such as Journey, Brother: A Tale of Two Sons, Gone Home, Ori and the Blind Forest, and more recently Firewatch. Now we are bestowed Inside upon us. Inside is an Xbox One console exclusive (also available on Steam), and if you own an Xbox One, you are required to play it…it’s just that simple.
Inside comes from the studio, Playdead, who brought us all Limbo back in 2010. Limbo was known for its ambient storytelling, interesting art style, and clever puzzles. Inside is the obvious step forward for this studio as they take everything they learned from creating Limbo, and implement those lessons and new ideas into what is easily one of the greatest gaming experiences I have played this year…nay…this generation.
Inside starts off very much like Limbo. You are a young boy, in a dark forest, running to the right of the screen as you complete simple but smart environmental puzzles. The ambient story telling that was in Limbo returns here and it works even better this time around. Right off the back I get the conflict, and I understand the story. My goal is to survive in this dystopian world by any means necessary. Strange men in masks chase the young boy, sending dogs after him, and hunt him down using vehicles and flashlights as a sense of tension is created that not only has me caring about my survival, but has me clutching my controller as I make close calls, and quick escapes. “Go, go, go go, go!” seems to be my inner mantra as I run daringly across the levels and make leaps of faith into the unknown, in hopes for a brief respite. The sense of atmosphere is so cleverly pieced together, as the hauntingly beautiful aesthetic works for the bleak story they are trying to convey. Part of that tension building is accompanied by the outstanding soundtrack that again is more ambient than it is present. The game is all about having the story pieces on display, but making you put them together by being observant. The environment tells a better story than most games with spoken word, which this game lacks completely. The implementation of color is also noteworthy. What starts of as muted blacks and whites we are then slowly introduced to more colors as the pallet expands itself out but never to the point of being colorful. The game retains its tones through its implementation of these muted colors and this works majorly to its themes, and tone.
The game controls are simple and smooth. Directional joysticks control you character, and one of the face buttons act as your jump while another acts as your “interaction” or “grab.” At no point did I ever find myself fighting against the control layout or the mechanics themselves. The puzzles are frequent but never overbearing. I am not a puzzle fan at all, and not once did I ever find myself checking my watch for how much time I spent on a section or even worse, getting bored. I found myself using the word, “smart,” over and over again. Smart is the way I felt when I completed a puzzle, and it was what I kept saying out loud when seeing the mechanics and layout of said puzzles. The design of this game is just brilliant, in every sense of the word. The Inside experience had a stranglehold on me, and has me rethinking how I feel about the puzzle/platforming genre in general.
It took me about two hours to complete Inside, and the average seems to be in that range, or around 3 hours for those who take in the sights a bit more or get caught longer on a few of the less hand holding puzzles. It is an experience I highly suggest you play in one sitting, so you get the full immersion of what the story has to offer.
While this game is very much about the journey, it is equal parts about the destination. Thankfully, Inside’s ending delivers in every way. No worries, I refuse to spoil it here because it needs to be experienced, heck I doubt I would do it any justice. What I will say, is that the ending is thought provoking, head scratching, WTF inducing, and very much so open to interpretation. I suspect people will be talking about the end of Inside much like gamers talked about the ending of Journey for years after its release. Even right now, there are thousands of discussions happening between players of Inside who are bouncing theories, ideas, and their own interpretations off one another. If a game can spark so much conversation, then to me that makes it more than the sum of its parts. All the praise and accolades this game has gotten from players and critics alike are warranted. If you own an Xbox One, or are part of that ever so loving PC Master Race, you need to do yourself a favor and drop everything you are doing and purchase Inside. You want to be part of this conversation because this will be a game that inspires many, inside and outside of the industry.
Our Sub Cultured team is gearing up for New York Comic-Con, and we want you to join us in a more interactive kind of game — an NYCC Instagram challenge! It’s like a scavenger hunt meets photography. Take a photo that falls under one of the prompts, post it to Instagram, and use the hashtag #NYCCSC to join in!
Want to play along but worried you wont remember all the prompts? Easy! This image is conveniently square, so save and upload this photo to Instagram to serve as your handy dandy reference guide — and encourage others to take photos, too! Make sure you caption your photos with #NYCCSC, and don’t feel bad if you miss one of the prompts. There’s so much to do at NYCC and we want to make sure you remember it! Happy hunting!
Recent #NYCCSC Posts!
Hearken to me, ye olde Homedudes and Handmaidens!
Steve Jackson Games, the brilliant minds behind table-top hits such as Ogre, Munchkin, and it’s hundreds of spin offs, breathed new life into their 1980s adventure gamebook series Sorcery! written by Steve Jackson and illustrated by John Blanche, and have thrust their classic story into a new era in the best way currently known. Making an app for it.
Billed as an innovative blend of RPG, table-top game and interactive story, Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! from developer inkle is a blur of epic fantasy adventure genres in which every decision counts and you are the hero.
“You have walked the wilds of Kakhabad: throught Khare and the spiteful Baklands, all the way into Mampang.
You have survived traps, thieves, serpents and vengeful Gods,
And now it is here.
The Crown of Kings!“
Well that sounds awesome. Why can’t I play through that stuff?
Some crown, which is referred to as “The Crown,” was according to lengend never actually forged. By a happy chance for him, some solider called Chalanna found it and decided, “Hey, you know? I don’t really feel like being on the low end of the monarchy, our wages suck and I’d really just like to rule everything.” So he takes this crown (“The Crown”) and suddenly became Emperor of the Eastern World.
The sense of things not boding well in this land are apparent. Crowns are dangerous things to covet, you guys.
Like it’s paperback predecessor, Sorcery!s story has a natural flow that never feels forced and progresses through your own choices that, for good or ill, affect the world and your place within it. Sprinkled throughout with touchscreen sword fights, an interesting magic system with 48 different spells in your arsenal, and tabletop tactics make Sorcery! worthy of at least three play throughs to master the Spell Book alone.
That isn’t to say that Sorcery is without it’s drawbacks, because what game doesn’t have at least one instance that leaves the player frustrated? Cue several instances of the game crashing straight out of choosing my adventurer. “Sorcery! Isn’t responding. Would you like to close it?” was the phrase plastered across my screen that had me seriously considering chucking my mobile device at the wall.
Couple a few crash issues with the fact that, like its 80’s storybook predecessor, Sorcery!s app version is just one book of four parts rather than a means that the player should not be too hopeful for a conclusion within the few hours of gameplay.
However, with most mobile games fizzling out of a daily ritual about a month in (I’m looking at you, Words With Friends), Sorcery!s decide your own adventure theme and thousands of choices for every different motive have the added bonus of replay value, which makes Sorcery! a rare gem in it’s genre.
Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is available to purchase for Apple and Android devices. And be sure to keep an eye on their Facebook page for Sorcery 2!