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Category Archives: video games

First Time Play Resident Evil 1

This is a difficult one for me to really express appropriately because at when I was around nine years old, I wasn’t familiar with the genre of horror in video games. Horror, to me, was something associated with film and Stephen King Novels. I think the scariest game I had played at that age was been Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition for the Sega Genesis. It was a fun kind of scary. Imagining myself as Dr. Allen Grant, placed on this island full of giant lizards that could murder me in a myriad of ways.

Then I spent the night at my cousin’s house and we had made the usual plans, stay up all night and play video games, drink soda, and generally be fools. Then I noticed a game I had never heard of before, in a strange looking case for a PlayStation game. It was long, thick, and had some rather gnarly cover art. It looked like something out of a comic book page. I had to play it.

A DESCENT INTO TERROR

My cousin told me it was a game about zombies. I thought that sounded very cool as a child who enjoyed games of all sorts. I was warned that the game was scary but I always thought my cousin was a bit of a baby anyway. Turns out he was right.

Resident Evil was the first game I had ever played that truly disturbed me. When I say disturbed, I’m putting it lightly. Resident Evil shook me to the very core of my adolescence. That’s not to say that I hadn’t been truly scared before. I saw Puppet Master when I was six and I still hate dolls of any kind because of it.

This was a different kind of fear. To this day, I still have trouble explaining what I felt that night. The closest I could come to describing it is with the word “altering.”. That’s exactly what the opening of that game did to me, it altered how I saw video games from that point forward. It had removed me from the realm of childish innocence where you were a cartoon mascot and thrust me into a new world where video games could be more than just something you did to play in silly little worlds with wacky characters. As it turns out, They could be something you do to raise your heart rate, feel terror while in the comfort of your own home, and showed me games aren’t exclusively for children.

NIGHTMARES THAT LINGER

I can recall my first steps in the mansion as if they were happening this very moment. The chilling atmosphere, the creaking of the rickety doors, and the feeling of dread that loomed over you always. I wouldn’t call this game an experience so much as it was an experiment on my psyche. This kind of mentally abusive horror had been toyed with in the past but developers were never able to quite hit their mark. Yes, that is specifically a call out to the Sega CD, Night Trap It tried and failed to force emotional turmoil. This is where Resident Evil shines.

No matter which character you choose to traverse the halls of this dreaded mansion with, you could never truly feel safe. The first few zombies you come across aren’t so much a threat as they were a shock, Considering the amount of times you needed to shoot one to put them down. No, the true terror in this game comes later.

Hunters, Crimson Heads, and to a lesser extent of fear the dogs. The dogs had two shining moments in this game, but the window and patio scenes were simply jump scares that never affected me beyond the first time it happened.

A NEW VISION OF THE ART

Resident Evil altered my view on games, but in truth, it did something more than that. This was the first time a game had forced me to quit playing and go back to other games. I was not capable of dealing with the Crimson Heads upon my initial encounter with them. The first time I heard that stomping coming down the hallway I felt a strange mixture of fear, confusion, and then the urge to poo. One slash to the back and I was down.

That was the end for me. Fast forward to the era of the GameCube and I was around 14 years old. Resident Evil had been remastered and I simply couldn’t resist. This was finally the first time that I would complete a Resident Evil game, in this beautiful remaster. A game that I still believe it’s one of the best looking titles on the GameCube. I was never scared but I certainly had an incredible amount of adrenaline rushing through me throughout the entire game. I suppose this is simply because I was too old by the time this game was released to really be frightened by things anymore.

By the time, I had reached the Tyrant at the end and found out that this entire thing was a plan devised by our leader, Wesker, I was equal parts excited and infuriated. Overall this was one of my favorite experiences as a child and undoubtedly one that shaped the way I appreciate games as an artistic medium to this day.

Play the game. If for some reason, you haven’t at whatever point in your life, you owe it to yourself to play both the original on PS1 and the remake on GameCube. The remake is also available on PS4 and 3. However, I find it best to stick to the classic consoles for that authentic feel.
Protip: If you want to be consumed by fear treat Resident Evil as you would all great horror, enjoy alone, in a dark room with the sound turned up.

Everything we know about Destiny 2 so far

2 Destiny 2 Furious! While Destiny original flavour bids farewell to a legion of Guardians today with the Age of Triumph, the next big chapter in Bungie’s grand ol’ space opera kicks off this September. All eyes will most likely be cast towards that sequel in the months to come, but Bungie is keeping mum for the forseeable future/E3.

This is the internet however, an ascendant realm where nothing stays secret for very long. Here’s everything we know about Destiny 2 so far.

The Cabal are back in force

Mars was a stronghold of the Cabal in the first Destiny game, a base of operations that the hulking warlike race had annexed for the glory of their empire. Unlike the Hive who could retreat to their Ascendant realms or the nomad-like nature of the Fallen that made their hit ‘n run tactics so lethal, the Cabal are a bit more straight forward in their motivations and abilities.

Unrelenting in their quest for galactic domination, the Cabal always press the advantage and never retreat…most of the time. In The Taken King, the Cabal stationed in our solar system were utterly devastated by the approaching Taken armada. The Skyburner legions on Phobos were wiped out entirely, while the Sand Eaters, Blind Legion and Dust Giant armies lost half of their troops within the first few hours of Oryx’s invasion.

THE CABAL HAVE SIX WORDS FOR ADVANCE, AND NONE FOR RETREAT.

Thing is, even though Oryx shattered the Cabal on Mars, we’ve only experienced a full taste of the Empire. In a last-ditch effort to save face, Primus Ta’aun rammed his flagship into Oryx’s main vessle and sent a message to the Cabal Emperor. When the Guardians prevented Primus Shield Brothers Valus Mau’aul and Valus Tlu’urn from detonating the core of the Dreadnaught, they also uncovered the transmission that was transmitting an SOS to the rest of the Empire.

A message which had been heard loud and clear.

The Last City falls

This is most likely where Destiny 2 picks up. After hundreds of years in a war of attrition with the Guardians and other hostile races in the solar system, the Cabal aren’t f***ing around this time. The Emperor is clearly throwing everything at the Last City that he has, and not even the Traveller can protect the Guardians from the onslaught.

The sequel will heavily focus on chronological events set after the 2015 Expansion The Taken King. The cabal forces attack the city leaving the civilians and mentors of the tower defenseless. It is the guardian’s job to fight back the cabal and reclaim the city. While doing so the guardian will discover the long lost stories of Queen Mara Sov and The Exo Stranger’s motives.

The story will culminate with the tower and city fighting back the Cabal empire resulting [in] the guardian defeating the leader of the Cabal in the new Raid.

Back to square one

That’s according to a MegaBloks set that leaked out a couple of months ago, that revealed the Cabal invasion and a story where Guardians would have to fight back to reclaim the last stronghold of humanity. The attack won’t just see the Tower invaded, but Guardians will also start from square one as the disruption to the Traveller most likely resets their Light powers. New skills will have to be earned and learned, your arsenal will be lost to the sands of time and your good looks will remain intact.

All of which circles back to some concept art that made the rounds last year before Activision quickly removed the spoilery images:

New engine on the block

One of the biggest problems that Destiny had when it first launched, was the fact that Bungie was apparently using an engine that was a pain in the ass to develop on and slower than Nick’s response to this burn when he finally clicks. Destiny 2 will allegedly make use of an engine that is geared towards more consistent content updates:

Bungie already have a small team working on the first major expansion to be released in Fall 2018. Details are limited but it is aimed to be centred around the Vex and the Origins of Kabr and Praydeth. Bungie is scheduling for an event release every 1-2 months centring around a theme similar to Overwatch while also delivering new narrative paths and new game play mechanics.

And that’s all we know for now. Sorry guys, Bungie security knows my face…for now. Pass me that blowtorch, a tub of movie-grade silicone and a DVD of Face/Off.

The Franz Kafka Videogame – Where adventure meets absurdity

Years ago, I stumbled into an English translation of one of Franz Kafka’s works (you can find somehere). I can still recall how fascinated I was with the absurdity of the world he created. Most of what I read was beyond me, but there was a ‘feeling’ to the words that slipped right into my soul. Kafka lodged himself into some corner of my mind where a question remains to this day.

I have been “Kafkaesque,” and whenever I encounter that feeling, I am reminded of everything that is wrong that you cannot explain. I know, sounds mad. Someone finally made e a videogame about a surreal world from the mind of Kafka, and you can play in on April 6th.

“The Franz Kafka Videogame is an original puzzle/adventure game inspired by the writings of Franz Kafka. The protagonist named K. gets a sudden offer of employment. And this event changes his life, forcing him to make a distant voyage. To his surprise, the world beyond his homeland appears to be not as normal as he would think. Together with K. you will experience an atmosphere of absurdity, surrealism, and total uncertainty,” reads the official description.

Denis Galanin (mif2000) is the mind behind The Franz Kafka Videogame, (distributed by Daedalic Entertainment), you might recall his previous game, Hamlet, which was praised as a work of genius. His latest creation not only looks incredible, but it’s sure to provide hours of mind-boggling entertainment. The Franz Kafka Videogame is described as a place of “adventure and absurdity,” and “puzzles and surrealism.”

I am already in love with the art and music. The above picture reminds me of a scene from Twin Peaks’ Red Room and promises a place “both wonderful and strange.” The music in the trailer immediately tugs at the heart, and one can feel that pull towards this bizarre world.

According to the developer, The Franz Kafka Videogame has “No inventory. No Boss battles. No RPG features. Only Absurdity and Surrealism.”

I am so in. The Franz Kafka Videogame already won a few awards, including the 2015 Intel Game of the Year Award. I’ve added it to my Steam wishlist, and I hope pre-orders open soon. It is a must play for lovers of the absurd.

Seems Like Overwatch Players Are Making A New Type Of Competitive Match

Overwatch can become a very stressful activity especially if players are trying to climb ranks in competitive matches. However, some fans have seemingly found a less stressful yet strange competition in the game.

Speedrunning In Overwatch Is The New Craze

The Hero Gallery is a staple feature in the game, as it not only allows players to customize their characters but also pass the time when searching for a game. In the latter cases, fans would usually scroll through each hero screen and randomly check up on a certain hero. However, due to some strange turn of events, fans are now making a competition around it.

According to PCGamesN, players are tracking their time on the screen and posting the best ones on the internet. One fan started the trend by uploading a video wherein they successfully dragged their mouse across the thin line between the two rows of hero cards without actually hitting one. Because of this, they supposedly held the very first world record for doing this at 32.12 seconds.

Their “challenge” managed to draw the attention of other netizens as they also began doing the “speedrun.” Now, one player beat the previous world records with his 53-millisecond run.

The Current Meta And Various Tools

Since its recent popularity surge, some fans have claimed that the hero gallery UI makes an invigorating sport as it often changes every few months, as per PVP Live. They have even talked about the possibility of a “drag method meta” and the differences when using either the controller, mousepad or touchscreen.

Overall, the simple game is just a way for players to simply unwind after the stress that comes with every competitive season. For players, there are times when they take their activities a bit too seriously and forget that games are there to help them unwind. With this in mind, it seems like this new Overwatch “sport” might be taking over the game soon enough.

New Vanilla World of Warcraft Server is Growing Fast!

A new fan hosted server for vanilla World of Warcraft went live a couple of months ago, and since then it has been growing rather popular. For those of you that are unaware with the common dispute among new and veteran WoW players alike, there has been quite a divide between the fans of Blizzard Entertainment’s heavily updated version and the ones who miss how it used to play in its golden years.

World of Warcraft is a very different game to how it was before later expansions were released, and the mechanics were drastically altered. Whereas reaching the level cap in Vanilla (original version) was something that took a huge time investment and a lot of learning and dedication, in the current and official version of WoW this can be as easy as buying a max level character to enjoy the end-game content almost instantly.

In addition, many of the raids which are high-level dungeons meant for groups have been toned down and made much easier.

These reasons amongst many others meant fans were left to their own devices when it came to reliving the glory days of the still ever popular MMORPG. This fan hosted server titled Project Elysium, allows PC users to enjoy WoW in it’s purest and most cherished form in the eyes of many. What makes this even more interesting is that this isn’t the first unofficial server to do the same thing.

The Nostalrius server was WoW’s biggest private server until it was eventually shut down by Blizzard on April 10th 2016, a landmark event for players, most of which all met up with their in-game characters to attend the server wide disconnect at 11 pm. Nostalrius reached a pretty huge 150,000 active accounts before its demise and there were petitions made for Blizzard change their rules to allow the server to continue, but this was ultimately to no avail.

Project Elysium popped up shortly afterwards and has been gaining quite a bit of traction. According to the Elysium Project’s twitter, they reached a peak of “20,685 players” all online at once just yesterday. However, with the abrupt shutdown of the Nostalrius server in 2016, this might not be around for too long if Blizzard has anything to say about it. Let’s hope Blizzard realises that this fan collaboration shouldn’t be seen as a negative. If they really don’t want their IP out of their control, then why not release an official server of Vanilla WoW?

Why Andromeda’s Sex Scene Animations So Much Better?

Mass Effect: Andromeda’s array of strange and incompetent facial animations are now so well-documented that they already seem to be a part of gaming lore. It’s been written off by plenty, which is a shame – once you can live with its jankiness, Andromeda is actually a pretty good game.

While the landscapes and scenery of the Andromeda Galaxy are usually captivating, the facial animations belong on the other end of the spectrum. It’s especially bad for Sarah Ryder, who seems to forever be either grimacing or storing food in her cheeks for winter. Bizarrely, the female characters receive the brunt of the jank; most male characters are untouched, though hardly realistic. Addison’s blank stare and emotionless expression is already a meme.

So, after completing the story and ending up with Cora (she has nice hair), I have one question.

Why are the sex scenes in Mass Effect: Andromeda animated so much better than the rest of the game?

I can’t believe I’m about to analyse a sex scene in a video game, but here it goes.

During the romantic encounter with Cora, Ryder walks through the door and a spike in animation calibre is immediately obvious, so much so that I had to sit up and pay attention and not because I am a teenage boy who doesn’t understand how a search engine works. It was so confusing that I wasn’t even watching the act itself, moreso looking to see how the models interacted with each other. It actually, as weird as it to say, looked quite good.

When the pair greet, Ryder’s eyebrows emote in a believable (but pretty slimy) way. Likewise, Cora’s raising of her shoulders is a far cry from the sometimes robotic animation found throughout the game. Their expressions before kissing even look like they might have been mo-cap – the smiles and, erm, “looks” aren’t seen anywhere else in Andromeda. Even the kissing itself is halfway decent. I’m not going through the next steps of the scene; hopefully you get the gist.

Why is it that special care seems to have been taken with Andromeda’s sex scenes? When searching for a reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about a series of tweets by animator Jonathan Cooper, who actually worked on the very first Mass Effect.

Cooper suggests that such a large and expansive game would be hard animate in painstaking detail, so an algorithm takes care of the basics. That’s what you see for a lot of Andromeda, the bare minimum. Perhaps knowing that sex scenes in video games are almost always laughably bad, Bioware paid extra attention to those in Andromeda so that it didn’t go down in that infamous crowd.

It isn’t that hard to believe, either. During sidequests and some non-essential NPC sidequests, the animations are at the worst. When the game is going big, however, the quality rises and its scenes become more impactful. Maybe the idea was to cover the essentials first and get around to the polish later, something Bioware evidently couldn’t follow through with in time for its hurried release date.

The Nintendo Switch launch, in many charts

The Wii broke the Nintendo Co. Ltd. 7974, -2.62%   curse of having every new console sell less than the one before it, and early returns from the Japanese gaming giant’s latest release, the Switch, suggest it could happen again.

With strong early sales for the Switch, investors like what they see so far, with Nintendo’s stock rising almost 15% since the console launched on March 3. But that kind of bounce actually might seem tame for Nintendo after the past year, which included a dramatic 112% rise after the July release of the PokemonGo mobile app and the 29% bounce after Super Mario Run was released for Apple Inc.’s AAPL, +0.03%  iOS. Both of those gains were short-lived, though.

Since the Wii’s successful 2006 release, Nintendo has continued to try to innovate with interactive hardware elements, such as wireless motion and touch controls, rather than attempt to compete with Sony Corp. SNE, -2.10%  and Microsoft Corp.MSFT, -0.47%  on processing power and high-end graphics.

While that worked well with the Wii, it wasn’t such a success with Nintendo’s follow-up, the WiiU. That system ended up being Nintendo’s worst-selling home console to date as a puny lineup of original games and inability to attract desirable third-party releases kept hard-core gamers away.

With the Switch, Nintendo has once again ignored the arms race of computing power and is focusing on an innovative form factor that combines a home-gaming console and mobile device.

The 6.2-inch LCD tablet with detachable controllers can be used on the go, but it can also be inserted into a docking station for use on a television. Initial reviews aremostly positive, though some complain about battery life, storage capacity and lukewarm performance compared with devices built solely for home or mobile gaming.

Nintendo has also bucked console convention by making the Switch a gaming-only gadget. Like the Wii and the WiiU, people can’t use the Switch as an all-in-one home entertainment unit to watch movies and television shows, unlike the Sony and Microsoft consoles that offer Blu-ray disc players and the ability to watch online content from services like Netflix NFLX, -0.07%   and Hulu.

But Nintendo does have a few aces up its sleeve, most notably its catalog of original games.

While PS4 and Xbox One fans mostly have access to the same game titles on either machine, if you want to play a Mario or Zelda game on your TV, you need Nintendo hardware. “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” for instance, was launched along with the Switch to universal acclaim.

However, given the new Zelda game is also available on the older WiiU console, with nearly identical graphics, some are left wondering if fans will want to run out and plunk down $299 for the Switch.

Since its release on March 3, the Switch has been hard to find. A senior director from GameStop has called the early sales “phenomenal” and says it could eclipse the Wii in sales. But the WiiU debuted to solid sales numbers, as well (3 million units in the first quarter) before quickly falling out of favor.

Nintendo fans, while not as rabid as, say, Apple devotees, are always good for a system launch. The Switch will have to maintain that excitement like the Wii did a decade ago to make it a true hit.

The Other Side, Fizzles & Dies With Kickstarter Funds

In 2015 Indonesian game studio, Artoncode ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for their new project.Winterflame: The Other Side was planned to be an exciting puzzle adventure game with a complex emotional story. Over 600 backers pledged CA$ 70,832 to help Artoncode bring the project to life, but in the end it just wasn’t enough. A recent update has revealed that it probably was never going to be either.

Winterflame got off to a great start. Not only did the campaign raise slightly more than its goal, but the game also got on Steam Greenlight. Artoncode never explicitly stated how far along the game was during the campaign, but they did have a presumably working prototype available at the time. Combined with their assertion that the project’s biggest challenge would be designing the puzzles, backers had every reason to think the game was well underway.

In truth, despite updates to the contrary, Winterflamewas already facing difficulties. Backers were told, “We ensure you that we have progress very well until now,” in updates. Meanwhile, the project was actually experiencing numerous design and technical issues. Information which remained hidden from backers until the team’s most recent Kickstarter update.

After only two “backer only” updates throughout the whole of 2016, Artoncode has finally (10 months later) come clean with backers about the state of the project. Namely, that quite unexpectedly, they have canceled the whole thing.

The setbacks at the end of 2015 significantly slowed down the team’s progress. To counter this they attempted to split up the content going into 2016, but they had already used up a considerable chunk of the budget. With only 3 months of funding left they decided to build a working demo to pitch the project to publishers. By the end of May 2016 the demo was done, but it had depleted all of the team’s remaining financial resources.

Rather than come clean with backers about the complete suspension of the project, a few members of the team tried to keep things going. However, after several months of desperately trying to secure additional funding the company went under and the team dispersed.

The update notes that as the team is currently without resources they have no means of refunding the backers who’d supported them. Instead they are planning to release all the progress they’d made to their backers. Particularly, the Winterflame: The Other Side demo, which for CA$ 70,832 doesn’t seem like much.

Backer Backlash

Naturally, backers are angry. Not just about their lost money, but also about how Artoncode hid the problems. As backer, Tyler Bledsoe commented, “What upsets me most is that the team knew 9 months ago that things were going downhill & this may be the end result, & yet they did nothing to warn us. They even posted updates in May & June saying ‘Look how great things are going! I hope you’re all still excited about this great game we’ll have to you soon!’.”

It’s always disappointing when a project fails, but even more-so when developers try to be sneaky about it. Kickstarter might not be an ‘official’ investment platform like Fig, but when people believe in you enough to give you money to create something, common courtesy suggests that you be honest with them. It seems like CA$ 70,832 should have bought at least that much.

Rise of Iron – Crota’s End Deathsinger Challenge Mode Guide

There was a lot of speculation what the challenge would be. Some expected it to be winning very fast, while suspected some new mechanics. Since Crota’s End received a number of changes, several good, others bad, the Deathsinger challenge is a lot harder than you might expect.

Advised Build

For the Deathsinger I strongly suggest four people with a sword, ideally Raze-Lighter and two people with a Gjallarhorn or a rocket of equal power. You want Raze-Lighter to quickly kill enemies and the Gjallarhorn due to its amazing to destroy the shrieker at range. Things like Golden Gun and bubbles help, but these are mostly what you need.

Challenge

The Deathsinger challenge is killing her with the Swordbearer’s sword. While this sounds quite simple, it really isn’t. To get this person to spawn, you need to kill all the enemies besides the Deathsinger. If you do this, she will shriek and you need to kill another wave of enemies. This will cause the Swordbearer to spawn and you need to go from his location to hers within the time limit.

Strategy

Start by assigning someone with a Nova Bomb, Fist of Panic or something similar to kill the first two knights running up. Quickly clean up the acolytes, followed by going up the stairs. Kill all the enemies and then jump to the upper area on the right or left and kill the knight.

Doing this should spawn a wizard and some enemies. Kill these enemies, run inside, destroy the shrieker and quickly exit. When both are destroyed another wave of enemies spawn. At this point you want to assign two people, ideally Nightstalkers, to go to the left and right upper area. They’ll wait for the remaining people to destroy the knight and thrall that spawn. Make sure the other four people are doing something or you’ll be at a disadvantage.

A notification will appear, see above, telling you the Deathsinger is shrieking. This will spawn three ogres, some acolytes and three knights. The two people at the top need to quickly kill the three knights. With a 400 Raze-Lighter and Shadowshot I could kill them in one hit with an uppercut, though lag might prove to be a problem. Kill these three enemies and join the remaining four.

The four people who went to the middle need to attack the ogres and other enemies. They don’t have a lot of health, but you want to kill them as quickly as possible. Several times I was able to kill my knights, jump over the ledge and finish off the ogre. Once all these enemies are dead, you’re at crunch time.

The Swordbearer spawns in the middle, under Crota, where he normally spawns when you fight Crota. The first thing you want to do is wait for him to exit. I’ve wiped because people threw a grenade or rocket too early and it’s frustrating to say the least. He has very little health, which should be low enough for someone to quickly solo him. At most you want three people there and three people rushing back to the Deathsinger. Take the sword, make sure the people near the Deathsinger don’t kill her and then finish her off with the sword.

Rewards

Those who accomplish this on hard should get a normal drop, one ornament, one legendary engram, Silence after Song emblem and an exotic primary. No one in my group failed to get an exotic in either challenge, so they’re either guaranteed or absurdly likely. Those who use the Eao item will get another STANDARD drop.

Game developers who run together, succeed together

Meet Jason Brackman, a game developer who works at Relic Entertainment in Vancouver, British Columbia. Most notably, Relic makes the Company of Heroes series of RTS games.

Jason doesn’t look like your stereotypical soft-bellied, junk-food-eating game developer. Jason is thin and tough. He’s good natured and obsessive.

Jason doesn’t drink, the way that devs typically do. Rather, Jason does have a drink-just one drink-once or twice a year, usually at the Relic holiday party. Drinking makes him childlike and terribly endearing.

Instead of drinking, Jason exercises.

Jason is an avid exerciser. He climbs Grouse Mountain on a regular basis, doing what’s known in the Vancouver vernacular as “The Grouse Grind.” The Grind is a grueling hour-long hike up vertical rocky terrain. Grouse Mountain is 20 minutes outside of Vancouver’s downtown core. If you haven’t done it before,you should try it.

Jason invites other devs to join him on The Grind. At the top, doubled over and occasionally dry-heaving-Grouse is absolutely merciless, especially for first-timers-the devs almost always promise that they’ll be back. The endorphin rush at the top is genuinely thrilling and addictive. (Note: I’ve climbed Grouse with Jason, and I’ve felt it.)

Despite the promises, few of the climbers actually return.

Regardless, Jason extends invitations to everyone at Relic, and sometimes to devs at other studios in Vancouver.

The older, more mature people on your team

In time, a core exercise-positive group of devs, including a studio head, were climbing Grouse two and sometimes three times a week thanks to Jason. Jason himself occasionally did a Grind twice, or sometimes three times in the same day, back-to-back, which is challenging, and, frankly, a little dangerous.

Without a doubt, Jason is a geek. He has an easy-going gravity about him. He has the mysterious ability to pull other geeky, non-athletic devs up Grouse, or on long runs or lengthy bike rides. He gets stubborn, out of shape coders at his studio-and devs from other studios-moving in healthy directions.

“Exercise hasn’t always been part of my career,” he says. “For me, when I was first starting out [as a developer], it was difficult to think about anything other than making our games. You spend your mornings, your weekends, and your after-work hours thinking only about development. Being a new developer is like eating birthday cake for the first time. You’re going to eat as much of that cake as you can.”

Jason recommends courting the older, more mature members of the team first. “The people who I worked with who were the veterans? They were usually the first to figure out that exercise wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. So, when I invited them, they were always the first ones to say yes.”

Short races are good benchmarks for success

He also suggests red-flagging shorter, seasonal races and using the races as goals to aspire towards. “No matter where you live, there’s always a 5 or 10K to sign up for,” Jason says. In Vancouver, the race for Jason’s studio is the Sun Run in spring. “In January, emails go around the studio, asking who’s signing up for the Sun Run. This is the lead-up to how you’re basically going to get into shape for the year. Those races serve as a starting point for people. This is an occasion for us to rise to as a group.”

Living in a city like Vancouver, where being healthy is a borderline universal value, certainly makes things easier for Jason. “Because we’re in Vancouver, there are a ton of outdoor activities,” he says. “We’re close to Stanley Park and the Sea Wall, for a quick run or a roller blade-yes, I used to roller blade. For me, I’d always think, ‘I’m getting an hour to talk to other game devs. This is our chance to talk about geek culture.'”

Conversations, he says, are about games, or an episode of Dr. Who, or whatever superhero movie is in theatres at the time. “Exercise, more than anything else, is about interacting with each other,” he says.

Rarely, however, do Jason and his exercisers talk about production challenges at Relic. Instead, they talk about things like Wolverine, or Harley Quinn, or gossip about the new Zelda.

So, can we talk here? (actually, we can…)

That interaction, that socializing, is arguably more important now than it’s ever been before. Why? Because game-dev teams today stay unified for unprecedented stretches of time. “Back when I first got into the business 15 years ago,” Jason says, “making a game took about 9 months to two years. Now, in 2017, it takes about four years to make a game. You have to work together for longer periods of time. When you’re out on the run or on Grouse, especially when you’re exerting yourself on a daily basis behind a desk, you’re leaving the stress of the job behind. When you run together, you get to know the people [on your team] in a more humanistic way.”

Jason and Relic have entered the homestretch on their latest project, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III. (It’s due in April.) “As a group, we know each other so well now,” he says. “I know what my colleagues can do, and will do, in a more intimate way. The work is easier when you’re both distracted and exhausted not by the work itself, but by exercise. It’s a way of unblocking the road ahead for us.”

Sometimes people in marketing or programming or HR departments at Relic join. And sometimes people from other Vancouver studios would join. “The shared experience of group exercise is good for all of us,” Jason says. “That’s a major part of it for me-that group conversation, that communal sharing. Out in the open, breathing fresh air, bringing people together to do something other than what we are doing at the studio.”

Jason keeps his expectations reasonable and his exercise outings relatively low-impact. “People always think that exercise is going to be a grim task,” he says. “It’s not… I never design a run to hurt anybody, or scare anybody. I’m not trying to ‘break’ them. That’s never the point. The larger purpose is to get them to feel good about themselves, to create a moment that they can walk away from and feel good about.”

Smiles, everyone, smiles

Jason also recommends taking pictures of the activity-lots of pictures. Feeling proud of their accomplishments, participants will post the pictures on social media. “All people really see [in those pictures] are the happy faces, the bright colors, people outside having a good time,” he says. “Other people see [the pictures] and they want to be part of that.”

Jason says that exercising isn’t an exception at Relic; exercise is, instead, an extension of the typical nerdy, studio culture that already exists. “Do we do the usual game-dev things, too? We do. We have Street Fighter tournaments. We play Magic: The Gathering and ladder systems,” he says. “Exercise isn’t something that people usually associate with game developers.”

After a moment of thought, Jason adds, “And exercising is also a healthy alternative to alcohol.”

Jason mentioned a friend who makes indie games, and how he was spreading himself thin as he tries to ship his latest game. “The indie guys usually don’t exercise enough,” Jason offered. “They’re on their own. Exercise is an easy thing to drop. It’s usually the first thing to go. But doing so is costly.”