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August 30, 2014 / Andrew Nino

Game Informer Magazine Analysis

Demographic –

  • 88% of readers are male, 12% female.
  • 21% of readers are below the age of 17, while 64% are between the ages of 18-34, 15% are aged 35 and above.
  • 73% of readers are single, with 27% married.
  • 5% of readers listed video games as their top interest.

Departments –

  • Features
  • Game Previews
  • Game Reviews
  • Industry Interviews
  • News
  • Guest Articles
  • Reader Questions

Advertisers –

  • Progressive
  • Splat Color Gel
  • Federal Drug Administration
  • AMC
  • Netflix
  • Disney
  • Full Sail University
  • University of Advancing Technology
  • Five Gum

Example Stories –

  • New game Assassins Creed: Unity feature story.
  • Current event discussion: Net Neutrality.
  • Industry Professional Adam Boyes interview.
  • List: The top Mobile Games of 2014.

Circulation –  

  • Circulation is provided by GameStop. Signing up for a GameStop membership comes with a subscription to Game Informer.
  • As of June, 30 2013 the circulation was 7,829,179.
  • This was a 4.2% decrease from 2012 where the circulation was 8,169,524.

Staff –

  • At least one guest writer per Issue.
  • Little to no freelance work.

Article Style

  • Articles vary greatly in length, with some spanning a single page to ten pages depending on the subject matter.
  • Tone in the magazine is informative while being understanding that the majority of readers are much younger than the magazine staff.

Number of Pages

  • The September, 2014 edition of Game Informer had exactly 100 pages.

Subscription statistics were received from the Alliance for Audited Media, as well as the Game Informer 2014 Media Kit.

  1. http://www.auditedmedia.com/news/blog/2013/august/the-top-25-us-consumer-magazines-for-june-2013.aspx
  2. http://media1.gameinformer.com/images/site/advertising/2014_WebMediaKit_5.pdf

In Depth Analysis

Despite showing all the sign of a struggling publication, Game Informer has managed to not only survive the trend of waning interest in paper magazines but has also managed to thrive. This success is due mostly to the partnership Game Informer has with gaming juggernaut Game Stop.

In order to incentivize customers to subscribe to their rewards program, Game Stop has begun to offer a yearly subscription to Game Informer in addition to the rewards benefits. So as Game Stop membership has grown, so too has Game Informer circulation. Additionally with the funding of Game Stop, Game Informer no longer relies on advertisement revenue exclusively for profit. As such, while there are some advertisements it’s a far cry from the pages and pages of advertisements found in most mainstream magazines.

As for the staff, they seem happy in being in the game journalism industry. However, the fact that their audience skews so young and male seems to take its toll on them. I say this based on some of the digital content that the staff creates. In an effort to maximize reader/writer interaction the staff sets up interviews with prominent figures in the industry and allows the readers to ask their own questions.

While this is a great idea, even after screening the questions they aren’t great. The writers know this and are clearly a bit bothered by how silly the pen names of readers are as well as the questions which are generally about topics that have already been discussed, or have been prefaced as being off limits. Hearing the general embarrassment of the staff during these segments is a bit uncomfortable. However, given the partnership they have with Game Stop it seems unlikely that they could do anything about it. Trying to rebrand as a more mature magazine would most likely have dire consequences for their current (successful) advertising model.

Even then, having a more diverse and mature audience doesn’t seem to be a top priority for the publication. Digital publications have reigned supreme in recent years, and Game Informer has not been oblivious to the fact. Game Informer is one of the only remaining print gaming magazines, and it’s by far the only one as popular as it is.

As such, there has been a conscious effort to transition readers to a digital version of the magazine, which includes support for most tablets, and computers and provides exclusive content as an incentive to switch.

The management at Game Informer seems to be spread a bit thin, with the staff tackling multiple fronts. These range from the magazine, website, podcasts, YouTube videos, and the digital version of the magazine. This long term effort to transition readers to a digital version could consolidate all of those fronts into one, greatly reducing the effort and manpower needed to maintain it. At a cursory glance I believe this attempted grouping is the best course of action moving forward for the publication.

May 15, 2014 / Andrew Nino

Trader’s Tale Art

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Art by Ethan Persico

March 19, 2014 / Andrew Nino

Trader’s Tale Storyboard First Draft

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March 1, 2014 / Andrew Nino

Trader’s Tale Design Doc

Title

Trader’s Tale

Abstract

A dark force has swept the land. It’s up to you to supply the defense.

Concept

Fantasy setting. The game takes place in your small shop.

Overview

Using your shop, you must use your stock of weapons and potions to supply the various townspeople, and warriors. They in turn will defend the village your shop is in from an ever spreading darkness. The game is a top-down trading game.

Background Story

You live a simple life in a town and have contacts with nearly all the towns people. Unfortunately, a dark force has begun spreading through the land intent on destroying anything and everything. Thus, the townspeople turn to you, in their time of needing supplies to fight.

As you enter the game players will find that it’s a balancing act of either giving individuals weapons so that they can fight, or forcing people to pay so you can invest that money in better fighters and items.

Objective(s) Is to support the townspeople in pushing the darkness all the way back where it came from, and then finally eliminate it. Trader’s Tale is a top down view that allows you to speak with customers as well as town’s people for trading and town concerns.

Outcome(s)

There are three different outcomes to Trader’s Tale

Town Saved – Poor – When trading, the darkness is pushed back and eventually vanquished, though the town has long ago run out of money. As such, you have been simply donating items and weapons to individuals with no expectation of getting that money back. Your shop is saved, though you’re poor, and while you supplied the heroes with items, they are heralded as heroes while you are left on the sidelines.

Town Saved – Rich – The townspeople manage to push the darkness back and vanquish it. The town had run out of money, but while they pleaded with you for weapons, you forced them to earn it. They sacrificed their homes, their lives, and in some cases their families to pay for the weapons. While the town is saved, the town is in ruin and you alone hold all of the wealth.

Town Destroyed – You failed to help the towns people enough to fight the darkness. You enter the store one day and dark goo begins to spill into the store. Fade to black.

Gameplay

Top down view. Click on shelves to stock them from your “warehouse” a back room represented with an open door leading to darkness. Click on characters to speak with them. Speaking with a character will begin an interactive cut scene.

Character(s)

You: Capabilities include speaking, trading, and investing in the town. Depending on your actions, such as ripping off the townspeople or being charitable your character may end up overweight but with many riches, or gaunt and in rags. The players’ motivation is keeping their business alive.

Towns People: Individuals with various roles in the town, with various incomes. For example, a woman may discover her child is missing. In her time of need she’d come to you to help her equip herself for her journey to find them.

Warriors: Wandering adventurers out for an adventure, usually better equipped to fight, and with more money. These characters adventure for the fame and fortune it brings. For them it isn’t about what is right and wrong. It’s about what will get them the most cash and fame.

World

A shop, the arrangement of the shelves is fixed. However, stocks can be placed and arranged by clicking and dragging items from the warehouse.

Controls

Touchscreen or mouse used to manipulate the world.

Gameplay Aids

A daily newspaper shows the progress, the newspaper appears at the start of each day and can be accessed by clicking the newspaper icon on the top left corner of the screen at any time.

-Daily Newspaper with daily progress

- The “Darkness”

- The shop/town and Player Character

Audio

Sound Effects

Humans speak in gibberish like-language, and have written text for the player to read.

Music

The game starts with slow, peaceful music, but as it progresses the music speeds up and gives a sense of urgency to the game. Depending on the ending, there will be different tracks. Death (Slow piano playing) Poor (Cheerful piano playing), Rich (Fast and menacing piano playing).

 

February 22, 2014 / Andrew Nino

BattleField 4 Lives

For this topic I’ll be discussing Battlefield 4. Battlefield 4 is by far the most traditional shooter in recent years in that aside from it’s massive scale, it’s absolutely average. It has a story mode and a multiplayer component, but what I want to look at is the story found within the multiplayer.

As with most shooters (Call of Duty, Halo) there is no actual story in Battlefield. However, what the massive scale battles do offer is a venue for some of the most fantastic emergent stories I’ve had in recent years.

Games like Rust, and DayZ popularized emergent stories in which a series of gameplay events serves as the characters story.

With Battlefield this couldn’t be truer, every respawn in Battlefield is a new opportunity for a new story. Rivalries are formed at objectives, and surviving in a firefight feels like a respectable accomplishment in its own right.

A simple example of a typical multiplayer life in Battlefield goes along the lines of: Respawn in the Battlefield on a helicopter, your pilot circles around the top of a skyscraper with a heavy encampment of enemies, your allies unload clips of bullets into the enemy and they are returning fire. You take the chance to secure the point and drop out of the helicopter onto the roof. When on the roof you assist the helicopter on the ground, and manage to chuck a grenade into their corner of the rooftop. Once you manage to secure the point, and enemy tank blows the supports of the building and it begins to fall. You take the opportunity to jump off the roof, activate your parachute and glide down as a skyscraper falls besides you. You land at the base of another objective, and see an enemy running towards a building. You give chase, he enters an elevator and as he closes the doors to the elevator you squeeze in, and stab in the back. Once the elevator reaches the top floor you’re greeted by two enemies with their sights on your head, and like that your battle is over.

While not every life will be that exciting, the fact that events that would feel at home in a traditional cinematic single player experience could even occur in a multiplayer environment are very exciting to say the least. So in that sense, I’d argue that story and gameplay really do intersect, even if it wasn’t the developers’ intent.

Unfortunately as with most shooters Battlefield is a zero sum game. You either win or lose, but as with newer shooters like Titanfall, some non-zero sum game elements are incorporated. For example, if you’re riding in a helicopter and it is then shot down by an enemy player, the enemy player is rewarded with experience for destroying the helicopter. However, if you manage to escape and land safely, you’re given the satisfaction of having foiled those players’ plans. Though it’s not intentionally built into the game, these non-zero sum elements give the game a more rewarding feel, even for losing players.

Some examples of explicit challenges are obvious, such as the types of vehicles you’ll be fighting against, the terrain you’d need to traverse quickly and safely, and the accuracy in which you can fire your weapon against enemies.

Some example of implicit challenges could be deciding whether to pursue an enemy vehicle, or an enemy squad. Even positioning, like whether to focus on being a land based solider, a pilot, or a sailor. When surviving a falling helicopter, your ability to navigate in the sky to a safe destination could also be considered an implicit challenge.

February 16, 2014 / Andrew Nino

Character Sheet

Character’s full name: Bernard Brunel

● Type (class, race, archetype, fantasy/mythic/historical): Human/Archer/Machinist

● Gender: Male

● Age: 19

● Physical appearance (hair, eyes, body type, etc.): Tall/Slender/Missing right arm

● Education: Rudimentary, couldn’t afford school

● Occupation: Carpenter

● Social status: Moderately poor

● Marital status: Single

● Ethnicity: French

● Accent: French

● Other relationships:

● Home (where does he or she live?): He lives with his family in their carpentry

business

● Possessions: A prosthetic arm, with a crossbow attached. An aiming mechanism

allows for accurate shots.

● Beliefs: Has a love hate relationship with carpentry, he sees how it could help those

who are hurt with prosthetic limbs, but it also led to him losing his own arm. He also

believes land is important, but because they have to take down forests for an

income he fears what will happen when the land around them is destroyed.

● Ambitions: He always wanted to be a knight, but since he lost his arm he was then

relegated to being a bowman.

● Superstitions: Knocking on wood is a good luck charm.

● Fears: His arm failing at a critical moment, and his arm being set on fire while he

sleeps.

● Attitudes: Determined and generally positive

● Weaknesses: Fire and close quarters combat

● Strengths: Quick witted, and long range combat

● Talents or special skills: Carpentry, archery

● Vocal characteristics (vocal tone and pace): Slightly slow pace, and higher than

average tone. Speaks with a rural sort of dialect.

● Unusual physical characteristics (e.g., scars, limp, birthmarks): Prosthetic arm

● Relevance to story: He would be a supporting character who could function as a sort

of crafting table as well as a fantastic cross­bowman.

Scenario

Bernard and his father work late into the night, before they hear a sound coming from one of the

storage rooms. Bernard approaches the door, puts his hand on it and feels warmth. He opens

the door to find that the storage room is on fire. Fire being Bernard’s biggest fear he turned away,

only to see someone running away from the scene. Shouting to his father to grab water and help

rescue their burning supplies, Bernard gave chase.

The two ran through the forest with the shadowy figure dodging and weaving between the trees.

After falling further behind, the pair emerged in a large field, the shadowy figure was now trapped,

running in the open. Bernard reached into his carpentry apron and pulled out a crossbow bolt. He

inserted the bolt into the crossbow attached to his mechanical prosthetic and began turning a

crank at his elbow to precisely aim where the bolt would hit. After winding up, Bernard let the bolt

fly and hit the figure in the foot. There was no running for them now.

Sketch

Untitled

February 4, 2014 / Andrew Nino

Cemented – First Draft

The man watched as the boy took their water bowl and poured it on the brick wall behind them, only to soak up the puddle in his shirt, pour it back into his bowl, and repeat the process over again.

The man bobbed his head and said, “Stop wasting our water like that, it’s not going to make a difference. Hand it over, I’m thirsty.”

The boy didn’t stop, only setting down his slice of bread and butter, “If you want something take this.”

The man rolled over, slapping the piece of bread back to the boy, “You know I don’t want that.”

Looking at the boy, the man grew embarrassed and frustrated. “Just take the water for yourself.”

“What?” the boy asked.

“You’re not going to erode a wall with water and a t-shirt.”

“Maybe not, but it beats staying here with you.”

“You can’t blame me for this.”

“I’m not trying to!” the boy yelled.

The man rolled over and looked to the front of their cell. The iron bars at the front of their cells gave way to a long tunnel. There was no sound, besides the sporadic pouring of water on the wall beside him. He closed his eyes for what he thought to be a second, only to open them to an entirely new scene.

The man looked to see the boy sat against the wet wall, with his hands up looking ahead at the guard. The guard stood straight, with what looked like a well-worn uniform. Dirt was smeared onto the soldiers knees. His face was barely visible beneath his hat, but where it was you could see that the soldier had recently been bandaged. Whatever was happening out there, it looked like it wasn’t going to be over anytime soon.

The man followed suit as the guard yelled at the pair in a foreign language. Once the two were against the wall, the guard opened the door to their cell and placed a new water bowl and two slices of bread.

As the man looked hungrily towards the food, his vision went black as he recoiled from a kick from the guard.

The boy continued to sit motionless, while the guard left the cell, locking the door behind him. The boy grabbed the bowl of water as though it were a key, and began pouring the new water on the wall like clockwork.

The man, lay in pain holding onto his throbbing head.

“Why were you trying to make a move on that guard?” the boy asked, not looking away from the wall.

“Shut up.” the man said as he tried to regain his bearings, “you’re hardly making any progress. You realize they’ll have us killed before you make a dent in the wall.”

“It’s better than just sitting here and waiting to die.”

“This isn’t waiting to die, it’s trying to survive.”

The man got up and began pacing around the cell, as the boy continued to work. Pausing each time he turned around to see how much progress the boy had made.

The boy continued working, continually trying erode a way out of the prison. Though, the boy would have to pause from time to time. Having to use the water bowl to escape meant the boy hadn’t had anything to drink for what felt like days, maybe weeks. To hide the evidence of their escape, each time a guard entered the hallway the boy would drink the old water. By the time new water was brought to them, the old water looked foggy and filled with sediments. Everytime, the boy felt as though he’d choke as he swallowed what was practically mud.

Though with the old water out, new water came in from the guards. Freshwater worked much better for the boy, it fell smoothly and quickly down the bricks, and seemed to take more of the mortar with it.

The man sat down beside the boy, trying to wet his mouth enough to speak. He said, “You should rest. You’ve been wasting your time with that since we got here.”

The boy rolled his eyes, continued working, and said, “You’re not the boss of me. I’m keeping busy here.”

The pair fell silent, as the boy continued to work. What felt like ages passed, until suddenly the boy yelled, “We’re free!”

The man, startled by the sudden noise, jolted up and whispered, “Shh, what happened?”

The cement between the bricks had become wet enough that the boy pressed his finger into the cement.

“I’m going to kick the bricks out of the way,” the boy said.

“No you’re not,” the man said, “they’ll catch you and you’ll be shot!”

“Are you coming or not?” the boy asked, “I’m leaving with, or without you.”

The boy began kicking at the wall and the bricks began to give way. Light poured into the cell, as the boy continued kicking. The man looked around, unsure of what to do, whether or not to join the boy. When at last the boy kicked a hole big enough to crawl through, the man said one last thing to the boy.

“Son, please don’t do this.”

The boy looked back, and said, “I’m sorry Dad, but if you’re going to stay here that’s your choice.”

The boy then crawled through the hole, and towards some trees growing nearby.

The sound of a nearby gunshot made the boy’s choice to leave permanent.

A guard then came into the cell, through the hole, and with a second gunshot cemented the man’s choice of staying permanent.