Why You Get Stuck In Games, And What You Can Do About It

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Why You Get Stuck In Games, And What You Can Do About It

This article originally appeared in issue 294 of Game Informer magazine.

Anyone who plays video games has at least one “duh” moment to their name. We beat our heads against bosses for half an hour before realizing we’re supposed to lose the fight. We search every nook and cranny of a dungeon for a key to an unlocked door. Because of their interactive nature, even the most linear games are prone to grinding halts whenever a player misses a crucial cue, a developer sends conflicting signals about what to do, or both.

This common problem highlights how closely game design intersects with psychology. Psychologists have been studying games, problem-solving, and cognition for years to more firmly grasp what’s going on in our brains when we get stuck.

Six Cool Games For Holiday Travel 2017

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Six Cool Games For Holiday Travel 2017

If you're already a Switch owner, you're probably basking in some Zelda or Mario goodness as you travel around the country (or the world!) to snack on turkey, ham, or cheeseballs with your family, friends, or dog. Or maybe you're just staying in and kicking back with some games and pizza. I'm not going to judge. If you don't have a Switch, you're probably furtively trying to find a sold game to play before you board that flight, pile in for the road trip, or listen to Grandma Gwindleshins drone on and on about the good old days in front of the fire. Here are some great picks you can enjoy on the phone or your tablet as you traverse the holiday season.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Nintendo's mobile take on Animal Crossing lets players build up a camp. Sure, there are mobile timers and cooldowns that give pause, but you can feed a dog apples and he'll give you gifts. If that's not enough, you can also feed them oranges, pears, and fish. Maybe even have a cookout. So even with the "use this currency to speed up your timer" nonsense and few environments to explore, you can scratch that simmy-crafty-friendmaking-camp creation itch.

Opinion – Super Mario Odyssey Should Be 2017’s Game Of The Year

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Opinion – Super Mario Odyssey Should Be 2017’s Game Of The Year

Super Mario Odyssey is a happiness pill, and a celebration of gaming in its purest incarnation. While it would be impossible to find any escape or panacea that wipes away every frustration the world throws at a person, Mario’s latest adventure does an admirable job of trying.

With its colorful and playful art, whimsical tone, and boundless sense of joyful discovery, it’s a game that transports me back to why I fell in love with games in the first place. Is it perfect? No. It’s not even my personal favorite game of recent months. But it is the game that most captured what I needed in 2017 – a spirit of delight and simple, earnest heroism – and stood apart from so many of its competitors that offered a bleak or gritty reality. In a moment when the cultural conversation so often pulls us underwater, and even the discussions about gaming and its business practices can be toxic, Super Mario serves up a breath of relief when we need it the most. In so doing, it deserves to be celebrated as 2017’s game of the year. 

Opinion – Photo Mode Makes A Difference In Modern Gaming

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Opinion – Photo Mode Makes A Difference In Modern Gaming

Photo: Aaron Rossen

Aloy rushes between trees and through bushes, the massive jaws of a robot dinosaur snapping just a few inches from her back. Just as its teeth are about to rip into her flesh, she turns around, pulls out her bow, takes aim, and snaps a photo. Hey, it’s all worth it for the perfect shot.

Anyone who uses photo mode is probably familiar with a scenario like this. A feature that allows players to pause the game, take control of the camera, and capture their own beautiful in-game photographs, in-game photo modes have become more popular with developers over the past few years. Developers have learned that players want to express themselves in-game as well as in the real world. Photo mode bridges that gap. It might seem like an inconsequential feature, but for both developers and players it’s an important part of the modern gaming landscape. 

New Gameplay Today – Animal Crossing Pocket Camp

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New Gameplay Today – Animal Crossing Pocket Camp

If you need to know anything about Kyle Hilliard, it's that he's the biggest Animal Crossing fan in our office. When Animal Crossing Pocket Camp was released this morning, he was the first one to download the app. How could we resist tapping into that enthusiasm? Well, we couldn't. Leo and I roped Kyle into taking us on a virtual tour of his campsite, and it went really, really well.

Don't let the fact that we called it everything but Animal Crossing Pocket Camp fool you – Kyle absolutely lives and breathes this franchise! Watch our latest episode of New Gameplay Today to see Kyle and I guide Leo through the character-creator before skipping to Kyle's personal campsite. He builds a fence! He picks pears! He accidentally incurs a massive debt (not real money, don't worry)! It's all here for your viewing pleasure.

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The Behind-The-Scenes Story Of How Sonic 2 Became Sega’s Ace In The Hole

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The Behind-The-Scenes Story Of How Sonic 2 Became Sega’s Ace In The Hole

Despite an avalanche of entries since its original release in 1991, many still consider Sonic the Hedgehog 2 the pinnacle of the series. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was showered with praise upon release in 1992 and surprisingly, that sterling reputation hasn't faded 25 years later. We asked the people behind the game's success to share how Sonic's second outing became one of Sega's driving forces in its fight against Nintendo.

Coming off of the massive success of the Japan-developed Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega relocated development efforts for the sequel to the newly founded Sega Technical Institute in the U.S. Sega tapped Mark Cerny to lead the STI, who has since gone on to help create other mascots like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. Key members of the original development team, such as series creator Yuji Naka, moved stateside to work on the sequel to Genesis' flagship title.

"The development team moved to San Francisco when developing Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and we were able to recognize the great [power] of our title in the U.S. and hear opinions from children," Naka says. "I think it was good influence for the development team."

Science-Fiction Weekly – Star Wars Battlefront II, Solo, Justice League, Superman

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Science-Fiction Weekly – Star Wars Battlefront II, Solo, Justice League, Superman

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller apparently hold no grudges against Disney and Lucasfilm for being jettisoned as directors of Solo: A Star Wars Story. According to Vulture, Miller and Lord discussed leaving the Star Wars universe behind during a panel for their Clone High animated series. They seem completely comfortable with what happened.
“The experience of shooting the movie was wonderful,” Lord said. “We had the most incredible cast and crew and collaborators. I think in terms of us leaving the project, I think everybody went in with really good intentions and our approach to making the movie was different than theirs. That was a really big gap to bridge, and it proved to be too big. Sometimes people break up, and it’s really sad, and it’s really disappointing, but it happens and we learned a lot from our collaborators and we’re better filmmakers for it. We’re really proud of the work we did on the movie and we wish everybody the best.”

New Gameplay Today – Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris' Mercury Activities

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New Gameplay Today – Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris' Mercury Activities

Destiny 2's public events are a fun way to break up the game's action while you're out and about, Guardian-ing it up. With the upcoming Curse of Osiris expansion, those events are getting more involved. Don't believe me? Check out our latest episode of NGT and watch as Suriel Vasquez walks Leo and me through one of those events on Mercury, and also explore the world in general.

The same basic structure is in place – be at the right place at the right time, when a countdown begins – the actual tasks are a bit more complicated and ambitious. In this particular event, you'll get to see how you're not necessarily rooted to one general location, as you have to move through a fair amount of real estate to complete the task. 

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RPG Grind Time – My Coolest and Dorkiest Final Fantasy XV Comrades Snapshots

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RPG Grind Time – My Coolest and Dorkiest Final Fantasy XV Comrades Snapshots

Last Wednesday, the multiplayer expansion for Final Fantasy XV called Comrades launched. It made me put this column on hold, so I could you provide you with detailed impressions as quickly as possible. If you want to know what to expect from Comrades, you can find my thoughts right here. Spoiler alert: I'm having a lot more fun with it than I anticipated. I've reveled in creating my own avatar, buying new weapons and clothing, and beating the hell out of iconic monsters from the series, from Malboros to Treants. One feature I'm happy Square Enix brought over from the main game is Prompto's fun photography. After every mission, I go check my photos to see my character's skills in action – for better or worse. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to save some of my best and worst moments in picture form, allowing you more of a glimpse into my journey. Consider this a Grind Time bonus for waiting for my impressions. 

This is my avatar. Honestly, nothing feels more awesome than transporting a version of yourself into a Final Fantasy game.

To get my bearings, I had to practice on a giant Cactuar dummy. I've never felt so cool.

Should You Play Final Fantasy XV's Multiplayer Expansion Comrades?

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Should You Play Final Fantasy XV's Multiplayer Expansion Comrades?

After getting a delay, Final Fantasy XV’s multiplayer expansion Comrades finally launched last week. The long-awaited mode is included for those who purchased Final Fantasy XV's season pass, or can be purchased separately for $19.99. For a little context, Comrades allows you to create your own avatar and be a member of the Kingsglaive, the Lucian royal family's special forces unit. The expansion covers the missing 10 years of time near the end of the main story, so I recommend you play through Final Fantasy XV before touching it. However, if you don’t care about the story, you can still enjoy this new mode. After playing close to 20 hours of Comrades, I’ve learned the ins and outs pretty well. Here are my extensive impressions, which should help you decide if Comrades is a good fit for you.