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The End

Thank you to everyone that has ever been a fan of Pixelpine or any of our amazing writers over the years. After starting this in 2013 as an experiment of my own in both webdesign and journalism it is now the official end of

I’d like to thank all of our writers:

Chris Ryan, Logan MacGillivray, Samuel Sharpe, Michael Tatar, and Ben Volpe.

And also a thank you to all other contributors including:

Joseph Coluccio, Quint Austin, Chris Har, Imran Haji, Matthew Kiel, and Antonio Guillien.

This website wouldn’t have been so amazing without all of you. Thanks for sharing in this journey with me. I love you all.

For anyone interested in my future endeavors head to and follow me on twitter @zombiexsp

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Things to look for at E3 2016

E3 2016 is coming at a time where it seems like calling the Xbox One and the PS4 the “new generation” sounds crazy at this point. Now developers are fully in the swing of this iteration of hardware and though the excitement of the first few years of the new generation is dying down, a new excitement for high quality games is building.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what the gaming giants are coming out with in the next week when E3 starts on June 12.


Most gamers are familiar already with the idea that Microsoft is poised to announce a new “slim” Xbox along with perhaps an Xbox One “Scorpio” — an upgraded version of Xbox with potentially 4x the power of the 2013 Xbox One. These news stories are the biggest bombshells for Microsoft at E3, but beyond this the games that they’ve got in their arsenal are just as exciting.

Gamers have long deserved a quality Pirate game and very few have even attempted to create an original game in this style for over a decade. Rare is back in action looking for redemption and this comeback tour starting with Sea of Thieves is an incredible starting point. An open-world, multiplayer-focused adventure game set on the rugged seas is well deserving of some new information that gamers will certainly be privy to during Microsoft’s conference on June 13.

ReCore is another lesser known title just starting to come to the forefront since being announced at last year’s E3. This action-adventure game comes from some incredible minds — Keiji Inafune, the designer of the first 3 Mega Man games is teaming up with Armature Studio another developer who has plenty of high quality games behind them like Metroid Prime 3 and Batman: Arkham Origins.


ReCore deserves to be brought to the spotlight with such prestigious developers working on it and an incredibly unique concept powering it.


Just like Microsoft’s next version of the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4.5 is expected to be the highlight of the show with the more powerful version of the console being prepped for more extensive use with the PlayStation VR. VR is certainly the future of gaming at least in some facet. The immmersion created is incomparable to previous gaming experiences and if Sony can capitalize and market their PS4.5 as a way to bring those VR experiences closer to life they’ll find success despite the not-totally-favorable idea of releasing an upgraded console midway in it’s life cycle.

The Last Guardian looks like it will finally come out with a definitive release date as well.

An infinite number of beautifully unique worlds seems impossible. But it's the reality of No Man's Sky.

No Man’s Sky is a bit of a concern with some having expected the game would be here by now, Sony and Hello Games will have to be careful if they intend to show any footage of the game — so as to avoid any bad publicity or resentment fans may have for its late release.


Is Nintendo even a real giant anymore? It’s certainly incredibly successful and has the greatest characters and history in gaming behind it, but with so little excitement being centered around it today it’s tough to imagine them having an overtly “successful” E3.

The Legend of Zelda Wii U 1

Pokemon has taken center stage for the last year and The Legend of Zelda WiiU continues to be the biggest talking point for them. But is that enough to keep fans excited? Or will they actually release a more comprehensive breakdown of what the Nintendo NX is? Most signs point to no, but Nintendo always seems to have a knack for surprising people.

Check out The Platinum Achievement Podcast for a greater breakdown of E3 predictions along with a lot of other nonsense.

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What Games Need a Remake?

Renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci once stated that “Art is never finished,only abandoned.” This is especially true as many movies, television shows, and games from the past have gotten a remake or reboot of some sort this past decade. Last year, the trailer for the remake of Final Fantasy VII was revealed, to great applause. This year, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess received an HD remake.  Each entry seeks to improve the original’s design, as today’s technology allows designers to tweak past creations.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time was a Super Nintendo classic that was remade in 2009.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time was a Super Nintendo classic that was remade in 2009.

However, many within the community debate: Are these projects the attempts of publishers trying to generate profits off of preexisting properties? Or, are they Art that has been abandoned as Da Vinci once observed?

Let us know your opinions in the comment section below.

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Making sense of Microsoft’s recent controversial news

As of late Microsoft and the Xbox division have had some controversial news surrounding them.

Here’s a quick recap of what’s happened and a reasonable thought process making Microsoft’s decisions seem less crazy.

First is a major change to Xbox Live’s staff —

Eric Neustadter, one of the guys who made Xbox Live awesome serving as an architect for the platform left Microsoft.

Over his 14+ year career, most notably as Xbox Live’s main architect, Neustadter was a great asset making Xbox Live what it is today, but the online service has been running generally smoothly since the Xbox 360 and the platform has been stable enough where those around him can continue to keep the service at a high quality level without Neustadter being around.

Yeah, Microsoft has had some DDoS problems and other minor issues, but the Xbox Live service is generally reliable — plus free games are always cool, eh? (Except you Pool Nation FX.)

Next issue!

For the entire life of Xbox Microsoft has always reported and measured the success of their consoles through sales numbers and the amount of consoles shipped.

Friday it was revealed that Microsoft would be taking a different approach — using Xbox Live subscribers to measure success.

Microsoft’s decision to use Xbox Live membership rather than sales is said to be done to measure “active users.” People that have turned on their consoles and signed in within the last month are the only ones included in that metric. It’s done primarily because Xbox 360 sales are declining with the new generation in full swing and showing active users makes them look better. (The only thing gripe I have is that they could still just show Xbox One sales specifically instead of packaging it in with the 360.)

What else?

A little less than a month ago, Phil Spencer commented saying that Xbox doesn’t need to catch the PS4 to be considered a success.

This is technically true considering the Xbox has objectively been a success from Microsoft’s stand point. They make a f*** ton of money from it and it’s generally viewed positively by those that play on it. From a financial perspective it kind of makes less sense though to be okay with stagnating, but Spencer is definitely correct saying they’ll be okay if they aren’t ahead of the PS4 by the end of this console generation.

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Four great games that will be overshadowed this holiday season

The 2015 holiday season is shaping up to be one of the most exciting ever with games like Star Wars Battlefront, Halo 5, Call of Duty Black Ops 3, and Fallout 4 on the way. But this huge surge of incredible AAA games on Xbox One, PS4, and PC is making the market tough for other games to record a more than solid Q4.

The aforementioned games may very well be fantastic, but there are others coming that would be top selling games any other year. Here are just a few that gamers can’t forget about.

Just Cause 3

Avalanche Studios seems to have finally perfected the Just Cause formula over the nine years the series has existed. Just Cause 3 (which I got the change to play at NY Comic Con) takes a good look at what fans of the franchise have loved and turns them into more refined features.

The first Just Cause game was on the fringe of being a good game with solid ideas that were made infinitely better in Just Cause 2. The sequel offered better grappling hook mechanics, more destruction in the environment, and a larger world.

And this upcoming third game? It offers better grappling hook mechanics (three-way grappling hook), more destruction (fully destroyable bridges, refineries, and more), and a larger world… and a new feature to keep the gameplay fresh and evolving. A wing-suit has been introduced and in conjunction with the parachute and grappling hook players can virtually fly — pulling themself across the terrain as they glide by.

Just Cause 3 launches December 1 on Xbox One, PS4, and PC retailing at $59.99.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Ubisoft has bordered on the line of oversaturating the market with Assassin’s Creed games, but the quality of them is (normally) worthy of being mentioned in this list. Syndicate brings a slightly darker feel to the excellent Assassin’s Creed engine running things.

Now set in Victorian London just as the industrial revolution changes the landscape of western society, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate looks to have an interesting narrative taking on another setting seldom explored in gaming. Despite the enjoyment fans of the series surely will find in it, this is a prime game to miss it’s target sales numbers (especially considering gamers seem to be growing tired of the year-after-year releases of the games).

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate launches October 23 on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Rainbow Six: Siege

Though the recent beta has done a decent job creating some excitement for the first Rainbow Six game since Vegas 2 back in 2008, Rainbow Six: Siege is flying relatively under the radar despite it bringing back the classic realistic/intense style of the franchise to the new generation.

Rainbow Six thrives around player communication and strategy, and gamers looking for something that contrasts to the casual Call of Duty/Battlefield games. Rainbow Six is not a game in position to reach the same level as those games sales-wise simple because of the nature of the game, but any other year this game could be a top 3 game being sought after by way more gamers.

Rainbow Six: Siege is coming to Xbox One, PS4, and PC on December 1.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Microsoft was banking on Rise of the Tomb Raider giving it an advantage in exclusives this holiday season, but with so many multi-platform titles it’ll be tough for Tomb Raider to make a significant dent in the market. There’s no question though that the quality of the game will be fantastic. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition currently available on Xbox One offers one of the best most exciting narratives.

The adventure game has been a consistent icon in gaming — especially with it’s prevalence on the PlayStation 1, and Microsoft would have struck gold if this game was not poised to be overshadowed by other games this holiday season.

Rise of the Tomb Raider releases November 10 with timed exclusivity on Xbox One.

Which of these games are you looking forward to the most during this holiday season?

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Phil Spencer looking for more outside devs to utilize cloud computing

After the recent Crackdown 3 demonstration showcasing the “power of the cloud” as Microsoft likes to say, fans and critics alike were impressed by the system’s capabilities. Crackdown 3 was able to utilize up to 13x the power of a single Xbox One through cloud computing, and now the head man at Xbox, Phil Spencer, wants to see more developers take advantage.

While Crackdown 3 is the first game from Microsoft it’s a certainty that more first party games will take advantage of it as well, but there were still question marks of how available the system would be to other devs working on Xbox. Spencer has confirmed on twitter that the tech will be open to others.

The point of innovation flourishing provided there are more people taking advantage of the tech is correct, but for third party developers releasing games on multiple consoles/platforms it becomes much less likely when the tech isn’t also available on those consoles/platforms.

If the power of the cloud continues to have success from first party developers on Microsoft’s console it would make sense for Sony to address it head on with a similar system, however their current infrastructure would not be capable of supporting it. But if this new way of implementing cloud computing is successful enough Microsoft may leave them with no choice but to match it.

What franchise would be best paired with the cloud computing used for Crackdown 3?

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What makes a game great?

The line between an art and a science is a bit weird with video games. In an odd way the industry meshes the two together so intrinsically the games we get from the process ends up with some of the most incredible pieces of work that any medium could produce. Typically we think of coders hard at work, but then there’s also the artists who deliberate constantly on the design of every fine detail. Then there’s those who work the story; creating a tale of adventure, action, love, death, and almost everything else.

But how do we get there? Triple-A titles establish mass collaborations putting so many minds together that so much wide-spread thought is put in to making the most successful game possible.

However, indie games are a bit different. These small tight nit teams are reminiscent of the classic studios behind the vast majority of games before the 2000s. Some aren’t even teams. Lone developers handle everything to make a game that — while less visually impressive that the triple-A games — plays amazingly. For all these creative and skilled developers only a few seem to make it out and really hit it big.

Indie teams and triple-A developers can both offer great games — albeit very different types of games.

For these indie teams each developer have something special that triple-A titles simply can’t match — personability. Top indie games like Braid, FEZ, The Binding of Isaac, Don’t Starve, and many more all share common ground in that they’re made by small teams but the quality of each of these games is astonishing when you look at some of the massive disappointments that the major developers and publisher roll out. The biggest key for these games to become successful is the devs making the game they simply want to make. They have no one to answer to but themselves — and for many that’s often the harshest critic. In turn, the amount of attention to detail and care that these basement-dwelling geniuses can input into their creative process is simply incredible.

Everything is followed closely and with developers working alone or in small groups, the envisioning of a project can change as they make the game. This is what makes indie development special. This is what can lead to great outside-the-box games like FEZ or Braid.

But one of the most critical factors that almost all popular indie games and popular triple-A games is the focus on a character; a primary protagonist for players to follow and observe or manipulate the story of.

Iconic characters are crucial to long-term success.

Mario and Luigi are one of the greatest duos ever serving as an icon for the Nintendo brand since the 80s.
Mario and Luigi are one of the greatest duos ever serving as an icon for the Nintendo brand since the 80s.

The idea of having a stand out character has long been a crucial part of game success. Since the early 1980s Nintendo has led the industry with its collection of iconic characters like Link, Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Samus, and many more. Every one of these characters has been the star to incredible stories and flourishing franchises that has helped shape the entire gaming industry. Today, the best stories come from those that can incite an emotional level of caring from the player towards the character.

An iconic character alone doesn’t bode too well though. Next comes the quality that most people impart their highest level of standards — gameplay. Most triple-A developers have this down to a science of following successful formulas and trends to create the highest-selling game they can. Franchises like Call of Duty, Halo, Grand Theft Auto, all sports-related franchises, and many others have games that are realistic or have high graphical fidelity.

Another quality that these top games all have that is also broken down into a repetitive formula by the triple-A devs is ‘challenge.’ The balance between hard and easy is one of the most critical design aspects that any dev must deal with. Some push the envelope in both directions with games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne being prime modern examples of this as the game teeters a careful edge between frustrating gameplay and challenging but rewarding gameplay. Many mobile developers trend the opposite way offering mindless games to kill time and not take very seriously. While these devs have success they are still the outliers as most need to find the perfect middle ground where a challenge is faced, a reward is given, and progress is felt to be made.

Challenge must be met with a sense of accomplishment and success.

Bioshock Infinite has one of the greatest stories in all of gaming.
Bioshock Infinite has one of the greatest stories in all of gaming.

But for truly popular games the most popular aspect always comes back to a story. Even in multiplayer games like Call of Duty or Halo, setting the environment, narrative, and mood of the world bleeds over into how players can approach the online experience that is quickly gaining more traction than the standard campaigns or single players that used to be the keystone of everything in a great game; not to say a story is important anymore though. It’s simply that players enjoy having an experience to be shared with friends. However, the prevalence of a game story/lore will always be important in the creation of a franchise. Giving players the opportunity to get attached and captivated by the world they explore helps the game expand beyond just a fun game and grow into a universe to be immersed in.

So there’s clearly so many ways to approach making a game, but there is a systematic approach to the creation of art. Sometimes boundaries can be bent or even broken with success, but from almost the entire history of the video game industry the the same trends have been followed among the greatest games to ever release. And it’s clear that even if you aren’t part of a triple-A team you can still make a game that’s just as enjoyable to play.

Though it’s important to keep in mind — this industry is only 30 (perhaps 40 depending on your view) years old. It’s very young in this world of video games, and maybe a developer will find a way to successfully break one of these “rules” to make a great game that stands out and breaks the confines of what is expected of a prototypical video game.

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Top 4 video game art styles showing you don’t need realism to look good

With so many games attempting to do their best at recreating reality with detailed like-like representations of human faces, and a natural environment, some developers have proven that having a unique art style that stands out can be just as graphically incredible as the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, or other top AAA games today.

The designers behind these titles often don’t get the praises they deserve — when more often than not an art style can make or break a game.


bioshock infinite 1
An advanced city among the clouds during the Progressive Era in the United States. (Bioshock Infinite)

Bioshock’s fantastic story meshes perfectly with the art deco style. The story of American-exceptionalism is told extraordinarily well, and the series stretches across two contrasting settings, but the developers at Irrational Games/2k Games are able to make it work very well.

With all games taking place back in the early-mid 1900s and Bioshock infinite being the earliest of all of them (1912) the style of both the art and the game strays from hyper-realistic graphics and instead goes for a re-envisioning of world designed in the 1940s-50s art style.

Rapture is one of the most iconic settings in all of gaming.
Rapture is one of the most iconic settings in all of gaming.

When the first Bioshock hit it was known immediately for its incredible graphics and visuals in Rapture, and after a relatively underwhleming second release the franchise came back as strong as it could in Columbia.

The two settings offer so much creativity to any designer with Rapute being an entire advanced city under water and Columbia, a city floating among the clouds.


Valiant Hearts

Valiant Hearts provides perfectly balanced emotional stories in a beautiful 2D comic book style.
Valiant Hearts provides perfectly balanced emotional stories in a beautiful 2D comic book style.

Valiant Hearts tells such a heart-felt story with deeper characters than many triple-A games, but with a 2D art style that looks a bit silly at first glance, but ends up being a very fitting contrast for how dark things could get at times.

The comic style is entirely hand drawn and matches well with no in-game dialogue. Speech and thought bubbles with simple pictures display to help the puzzle aspect of the game become a bit clearer.

The director of the game, Yoan Fanise, had spent 14 years with Ubisoft working on games like Beyond Good & Evil, Assassin’s Creed, King Kong, and Rayman Raving Rabbids. Valiant Hearts ranks on the same levels for him as it brings “the whole range of emotions that you feel in your life, from real sadness to really joyful moments.”



Borderlands alternates between a bland base environment and bold pops of color.
Borderlands alternates between a bland base environment and bold pops of color.

Borderlands is another game with a comic style, but the developers at 2k elected for a cel-shaded design to make a “flat” 3D world. The franchise offers an off-beat and crude humor that many other games simply don’t have. The open-world planet of Pandora is host to rundown encampments outside of the mineral mines, but also to other locations that display more environments.

Perhaps the best part of Borderlands’ creative direction is the variety of character models. With playable characters ranging from a hulking giant in Brick and a slender rogue in Lilith. And, of course, who can forget the fan favorite, Clap-trap? All those characters and their stand-out styles help Borderlands stand out from the rest.


Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead & The Wolf Among Us

Telltale Games' great success with The Walking Dead has led to even more great story-driven games from the developer.
Telltale Games’ great success with The Walking Dead has led to even more great story-driven games from the developer.

Over the last few years the Telltale Games’ art style has become one of the most immediately recognizable in the industry. Exaggerated contrast and thick character outlines approach gives both The Walking Dead games and The Wolf Among Us a unique look.

With both games originating as comic books, Telltale Games was able to evolve that medium into an interactive form while maintaining everything about the style of the IPs. Even the way the game plays combines extremely well with the way the story is illustrated. While Telltale has explored more variations of their art style in the Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands games the way their art style meshes with the comic books IPs is still superior to all else.

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The best to come from the GTA V PC Editor

Rockstar’s PC release of Grand Theft Auto V had much more than just improved visuals and technical capabilities. The major new film-capture feature, Editor, has already gotten extensive use by fans with some high quality clips already being put together. Here’s some of the best to be made within these first few weeks.


Super Clown

A violent rampage, physics defying stunts, an eerie mood, and a creepy clown — what else could you need to make an awesome short clip in GTA V?

Trevor Philips in Jackass

On the other side of the coin some light-hearted chaos centered around the insane mind of Trevor Philips. All of the bone-breaking jumps are very believable for Trevor’s meth-fueled world.

The Epic Meth Lab Shootout

This is one of most well-made clips that takes a cinematic approach to a mission that is actually already in the game. The “Quentin Tarantino style” approach to the destruction of the O’Neil brothers’ operation looks fantastic with some nice special effects and kick-ass music.

Franklin – Time

With a dark-stormy backdrop and a narrative to fit it, Franklin – Time is able to actually convey a fairly deep story in just a four minute video. The director, Jack Hunt, does an extremely good construction of tracking shots with great lighting effects throughout the clip.

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3 Games to Buy for Next Gen in 2015

Don’t know where to spend your gaming budget in 2015? We’re here to help.

After being released in 2013, Next Generation Consoles are nearing two and a half years old. With release day games like Titanfall and Killzone Shadow Fall the consoles had some very mixed reviews. The general consensus was to wait a year or more and just stick with the users old console so next gen gaming can have some time to improve and have some better titles.

Well now here we are in 2015, so how are Xbox Ones and PS4‘s doing?

So far this year we have had some mediocre games with a few highly notable ones. Titles such as Bloodborne, Mortal Combat X, and Dying Light show us the excellence, beauty, and potential next gen offers where games like The Order remind us that maybe it’s only… beauty.

There is still about 8 months left in the year and that means plenty of upcoming releases. With plenty of time but only a limited amount of spending money, Pixelpine has taken the courtesy of helping you figure out where your money should be going when buying your Xbox One or PS4 games for 2015.

Here are the 3 top options coming out on Xbox One and PS4 at some point this year:


Star Wars: Battlefront 3 – November 17, 2015

Making a surprise appearance at E3 in 2013, publisher Electronic Arts rocked the gaming world by announcing that the start of the third instalment of the Battlefront series was underway. Almost two years have passed and now the millions of fans who have waited since 2005 for another Battlefront title only have to wait until November. Whether you are one of the decade old fans or new to the series this game will be a must buy.

The unique third or first person shooter portraying a cultural classic lets you relive the old Star Wars battles from both sides of the force and gives you the option to even change the course of the galaxy.


Tom Clancy’s The Division – TBD, 2015 

It was tough putting this up as a must buy because there is such little information available about the title but what information there is gives it a very appealing edge.

Based from the story in the Tom Clancy series, The Division sets us about a month after a black friday resulted epidemic in New York City. You, the player, are a part of a last resort unit called The Division. You’re mission is to live among the people of what is left of New York and do whatever necessary to prevent the fall of society and help piece it back together.

This game is an MMO and the map is HUGE. It lengthens throughout all parts of New York City. Although very little gameplay has been revealed for the game this video will give you a good idea of what to expect when the title is released:



Batman Arkham Knight – June 23, 2015

So far the Batman series have been very successful and there are many reasons to believe that his title will be the best of the series.

The map is bigger, the weapons are better, the villains are harder, emotions are strong and the bat mobile is more badass than ever. With improved next gen graphics and fighting mechanics Batman Arkham Knight will be the most action-packed and exciting of the series.

A Game That Could Go Either Way


No Man’s Sky

As a bonus here is one game worth checking out this year:

From small studio producer and developer Hello Games, No Man’s Sky is an incredibly unique game. It is a game of exploration and the only game where the exploration is truly unique to each player. Why is this? Because each player can be exploring a part of the game no other person in the world has ever explored, literally.

Hello Games has developed an engine where the map is self creating: infinite.

The game takes place in the universe. Each player is set in a spaceship on a random planet. Players can fly and explore this planet and its vegetation but have the option to leave and fly out into the universe where thousands, millions of planets are waiting to be explored due to the self creating world. The more you play the more chance you will have to progress and increase your ships weaponry, armour, and engine.

With such a unique concept for a game and coming from a small developer No Man’s Sky is a wildcard at the moment to whether it will be the game of the decade or a game not worth buying. Your best bet will be to wait until it comes out and to watch reviews and gameplay to see if the game will suit you.


We hope that this article helps you in deciding where your gaming budget will be going for the rest of the year and stay tuned to Pixelpine for reviews for each of these titles.