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Ellen McLain & John Patrick Lowery (Zenkaikon 2017)

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John Patrick Lowery & Ellen McLain

Ellen (GLaDOS, Portal Series) and John (Sniper, Team Fortress Series) were my very first interview at Zenkaikon 2017. It was my absolute pleasure to be a bumbling nervous fan before them. They strolled in from the elevator and after a moment of asking where they should sit, I smiled and told them how nervous I was to be meeting them.

They both delighted in this fact. John said, ‘Well, let’s make it worse!’ and immediately shook my hand & gave me hugs. John took my hand and looked me in the eye and told me that this was a pivotal moment in my future and began making jokes as if he’d known me for ages.

I had read so many interviews with them that I had nothing to ask! Well, I had a few things. I knew how they met already, how they helped shape video game voice acting as we know it, and that they have also been pushing for video games to be recognized as the art form they truly are. Those were just reiterations of what I already knew about them but they were items that I felt so important that I wanted to hear them out loud and keep that flow of information.

I feel that they are both pivotal to video games as we know it. I loved hearing about the growing understanding and relationship between voice actor and engineer. When we still had a lot of instructional computer programs out there, where you could just spout out lines on paper in pops Voice Acting! and it’s no longer reading lines off a page. You need to understand what the motivation is, what’s happening in the scene, what will be the characters next step, what is their thinking. You need to convey so much to the player. Flat voice acting (I.E. Peter Dinklage in Destiny.. personally I disagree but that isn’t the point) is detrimental to the experience. So many people complained about Destiny that they had the entire script redone with another voice actor. Because it wasn’t contributing to their experience.

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During Interview

To that point, John Patrick Lowery has been a part of my life, my story, for a very long time. Let me explain. John voice acted in a little known game called Betrayal at Krondor. It was in the era of adventure games and the original Kings Quest. My father bought the game for us to play; we loved adventure games and RPGs and the like. Now this was in 1997; I was 16 and loved video games.

Voice acting was not typical in games then. These games made such an impact on me that I started writing my own stories, even to the point where I used Krondor as the last name of one of my many fantasy characters. These were also very special moments that I spent with my father, we both loved video games and the stories they told. I often wonder at how he would react to the changes that have been made in the 15 years he’s been gone. So for a small thing that John did 20 years ago it had a positive influence on me, on my life, and on my relationship with my father. Maybe after I read one of John’s wonderful books, he will read one of my mediocre short stories.

With all that being said, Ellen and John are too precious for this world. I wanted to pick them up and put them in my pocket, however impossible that is. I wanted to listen to every story they had to tell me and I am sure there are so many. I wish I could even convey to you the feeling of sitting there listening them. It was one of the only times I wanted to talk as little as possible and just be present.

They were incredible. I adored them and I pray this isn’t the only time I get the pleasure of speaking with them. The highlight of my convention!

5 Classic PC Games that are Still Worth a Play

5 Classic PC Games that are Still Worth a Play

Guest Post by: Caroline from Culture Coverage

I would like to thank Real Women of Gaming for publishing this article. They cover everything related to gaming, including conventions and reviews. Check out their Indie Spotlight section if you’re looking for some great new titles to pick up. 

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There’s never been a better time to get into PC gaming. Not only does PC get a majority of the best titles, it also boasts one of the largest catalogs available to users. With hundreds of new games released daily on sites like GOG and Steam, it can be difficult to choose which ones to buy. If you’re not quite sold on the latest releases, why not revisit some of these classic PC games?

StarCraft

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Although not the first real time strategy (RTS) game, it remains one of the most popular PC games even today and has sold over 9 million copies worldwide. It gained a huge following in South Korea, leading to the rise of eSports and the pro-gaming scene. The reason StarCraft stands out against other RTS games of the time is its focus on offering three distinct play styles with the different factions: Zerg, Protoss and Humans. Each faction had different strengths and weaknesses, yet somehow the gameplay managed to be balanced and challenging.

Besides the competitive multiplayer mode, you can also create your own challenge maps or download them if you feel like the game isn’t replayable enough. Before you consider downloading maps off other sites, however, you should first connect to a VPN such as IPVanish as it will encrypt your data and protect you from spam sites. Unfortunately, that has been a problem for some users.

SimCity 2000

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There’s something to be said about SimCity 2000. While not the first of the series, it took the original concept and expanded upon it with new features such as different elevations, underground layers for pipes and subways, and a diametric view. All of these changes improved the overall gameplay experience, making it one of the best simulation games on the market even when compared against more recenttitles. Maxis brought in deeper gameplay and strategy with their improved budget and finance controls. They also included the ability to connect to other cities.

If you get tired of just building up your city, you can also jump into scenarios to rebuild a city after some disaster. Most of these scenarios are based off of real events such as the Oakland firestorm of 1991. The main building mode doesn’t necessarily have an ending, but you can move on to work on a new city. Alternatively, you can unleash your wrath and destroy it with monsters, floods and fires. SimCity 2000 is still incredibly fun to play and even the graphics are acceptable by today’s standards. While not the most realistic game, the pixel art is incredibly detailed and still some of the best in the style.

World of Warcraft

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Say what you will about the game, World of Warcraft remains the most subscribed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) around. Building off of the lore in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (and other games in the series), World of Warcraft continues the story between the Alliance and the Horde. One of the reasons the game remains so popular today is because of its rich story, great balance and ability to play casually or more seriously. As with other MMORPGs, players can customize not only the appearance of their character, but their class and skills as well.

Regardless of what you choose, you can always find other people who have the same interests in terms of gameplay. Many people have started friendships with other players and some have even forged romances in real life. World of Warcraft continues to update their game with expansions and patches to increase and expand content, update graphics, and balance the various classes. While its subscribers might have dropped since its maximum of 12 million players, there are still millions of people playing the game.

Doom

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With the remastered version of Doom now available, you might want to check out the original game that started it all. The graphics definitely don’t hold up to the test of time, but the gameplay is just as frantic and fast. Generally considered the game that pioneered the first-person shooter, Doom introduced a pseudo-3D first-person perspective. This affected both level design and the overall gameplay experience as well. Players can gauge how far away enemies, obstacles and alternative paths are from their position.

Besides the “3D” aspect, Doom also introduced the ability to equip various weapons from a shotgun to rocket launcher, another feature that has become typical for other games within this genre.

Half-Life

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Half-Life 2 might be the more acclaimed game in the series, but if you want to understand Dr. Gordon Freeman’s back story, you’ll want to check out the first in the series. Debuting in 1998, Half-Life took the framework of first-person shooters from Doom and improved upon it with actual 3D graphics and more realistic gameplay.

Although technically a first-person shooter, Half-Life also integrated puzzles for players in order to progress through levels. This differentiated it enough from many other shooters whose sole focus was on defeating enemies. In another departure, the game did not use cut scenes to tell the story. Instead, it used scripted sequences seen through Gordon’s eyes. Many other developers have used a similar mechanic to make the story more immersive and seamless.

There are hundreds of other classic games that still stand the test of time in terms of gameplay. Which ones did we miss? Tell us in the comments below.

About the Author: Caroline is a freelance writer who enjoys all things related to tech and gaming. She’s excited to see how games will change with the advent of new technology like virtual reality, but also doesn’t want to forget the classics.