Quiplash's Arnie Niekamp Shares His Top Games of 2015

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On the lead up to Game Informer's Game of the Year awards of 2015, we've invited a number of the video game industry's influential figures to share their favorite games of the year.

Arnie Niekamp is a director at Jackbox Games, the developer responsible for the immensely enjoyable Jackbox Party Packs. Niekamp is a writer on both Quiplash and Drawful, games included in those packs. 

Here's Niekamp with his picks for the year in no particular order:

Opinion – Episodic Gaming Needs To Change

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Episodic video games took a long time to catch on. Developers had been experimenting with the concept for decades, but the advent of digital distribution made it possible for the format to truly take root. We saw the early experiments of episodic pioneers in 2005 and 2006, like Telltale’s Bone and Sam & Max series and Valve’s Half-Life 2 episodes. In the 10 years since, episodic gaming has taken off, but the industry’s current approach to this structure is doing more harm than good.

To be clear, the content of the games isn’t the problem; I love how many of these titles are experimenting with narrative and choice. The real damage is being done by inconsistent and uncommunicated release schedules, making it difficult for these unique and innovative games to put their best attributes forward.

You may point to popular series like The Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands and say, “Those are doing well, so everything is fine!” However, just because some high-profile episodic series have done well doesn’t mean that copying their release formula is the only (or best) way for similar games to succeed.

Edge Of Nowhere's Brian Allgeier Shares His Top Games Of 2015

about X hours ago from

On the lead up to Game Informer's Game of the Year awards of 2015, we've invited a number of the video game industry's influential figures to share their favorite games of the year.

After making Hanna Barbera's Cartoon Carnival for Phillips CD-i, Brian Allgeier went on to work on some of the biggest titles for PlayStation 2, most notably as the creative director of Insomniac Games' Ratchet & Clank series. He also was the creative director of Insomniac's co-op shooter, Fuse. He is now working on Edge of Nowhere, an exclusive VR title for Oculus Rift.

5 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Fallout 4 (And 5 You Shouldn't)

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Video games are often viewed as a fun but ultimately trivial use of one's time. However, just like other forms of fictional entertainment, games can teach us important lessons that apply to the real world as well. Although you (hopefully) won't find yourself scavenging your way through a post-apocalyptic hellscape anytime soon, here are some helpful life lessons you can learn from playing Fallout 4...and a few you probably shouldn't.

Lesson #1: Don't Judge People By Their AppearancesWe've all made assumptions about people based on how they look, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. After all, sometimes a super mutant turns out to be a pretty cool guy. Like in the real world, characters in Fallout 4 frequently have more going on with them than it would appear at first glance. That might not be enough to prevent you from headshotting a raider a thousand yards out the moment you spot him, but it's a good reminder to occasionally check your preconceived notions – especially since there's a very good chance that you look like a horrendously dressed idiot yourself.

Chris Avellone Talks Games, Obsidian, And Christmas Sweater Etiquette

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Chris Avellone is known across the industry for his visionary work on PC role-playing games while at companies like Interplay and Obsidian. His resume includes impressive titles like Icewind Dale, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout II, and Pillars of Eternity. Avellone has recently gone rogue, leaving Obsidian to take on new adventures with Divinity: Original Sin II.

The PC RPG scene is coming back in a big way – do you have any insight on why this is happening now after years of decline? Is crowdfunding responsible for the resurgence?

Partly. It felt like there was a perception that some PC games simply weren't... well... worth publishing, and if so, only as a SKU of a primarily console title. Even if not expensive, it wasn't worth a larger publisher's time to bring them to market because many small games versus a few larger games is a bit easier for a publisher to wrap their head around, especially from the ROI angle. Plus, having a few larger games ends up being less distracting. If I was to make a poor example of why, it's like having to count a hundred pennies vs. counting four quarters. They might be the same value in the end, but the larger titles "chunk" together easier without needing to expand your QA and marketing teams to deal with all the noise. 

Our 10 Most Anticipated RPGs Of 2016

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Our 10 Most Anticipated RPGs Of 2016

This last year was an interesting for role-playing games. While some showcased exciting innovation, such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, others, like Tales of Zestiria and Xenoblade Chronicles X, remained complacent and didn't move the needle. A dearth of quality RPGs on handheld also didn’t help, as in past years that has been a place for niche games to shine. Thankfully, 2016 looks to be a more varied and solid year, giving us new entries in popular series, while also finally offering niche games that dedicated fans have long been pining for. As a staff, we discussed which RPGs we have the most fervor for that are coming in 2016. Without further ado,  here are the games we're most happy to see on this year’s release schedule.

Note: List is in alphabetical order. 

Bravely Second (3DS)Release: 2016

I Quit: Why I Stopped Playing A Bunch Of Games In 2015

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When you play a lot of games, it also means that you stop playing a lot of games, too. Sometimes it’s because you finish the campaign and there’s nothing else to do. Other times, the round is over and it’s time for bed. Then there are those other times where you just have to put the controller down – out of rage, frustration, boredom, or some combination thereof. That last scenario certainly happened to me several times over the course of 2015. Here are some of the reasons I gave up.

UndertaleNearly everyone I’ve talked to about Undertale raves about the game. Well, almost everyone. I caved in and bought the game, and ended up playing for about half an hour. Then I accidentally killed an enemy instead of sparing it, thanks to an overzealous attempt to skip through some text. The game’s gimmick is that it’s apparently possible to play through it without killing anything, and that you get the best ending by taking that route. After that mistaken kill, I shut it down. Sure, I can play through it, get another ending, and then watch the best one on YouTube, but that seems completely unsatisfying. Almost as unsatisfying as playing through the first 30 minutes all over again. I’ll wait a few months and give it another shot. For the time being, I don’t want to slog through that opening again.