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Ubisoft

Built to Play 65c/d: Sold Out

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Built to Play 65c/d: Sold Out

We visit a Malaysian theme park and discuss Internet Ethics

In this week's episode there are the following segments:

  • Daniel and Arman discuss Ubiland Malaysia. We return to the ancient TWIX-ON. Then we find our way to define ethics on the internet and Machinima's two-year-old advertising crisis. (0:00)
  • Colby Dauch tells us about building board games, and what building a board around the world of popular game BioShock Infinite meant for his company. (29:20)
  • A preview of things to come (54:55)

THANKS TO THE FREE MUSIC ARCHIVE FOR "hey ragdoll" by Boyscout Discovery, "Sunrises" by Adrianna Krikl, AND "the clouds were like lace" BY Ben McElroy.

BUILT TO PLAY IS A PRODUCT OF THE SCOPE AT RYERSON RADIO STATION IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN TORONTO. IT WAS PRODUCED, EDITED AND WRITTEN BY ARMAN AGHBALI AND DANIEL ROSEN.

IF YOU LIKE THE SHOW PLEASE SUBSCRIBE AND RATE US ONLINE. IT HELPS MORE PEOPLE FIND THE SHOW AND GIVES US AN IDEA HOW WE'RE DOING. FEEL FREE TO COMMENT DOWN BELOW.

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Built to Play 52: Winter Escape

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Built to Play 52: Winter Escape

Built to Play ventures into the harsh outside world to find games that take our mind off the cold.

It's fair to say that most summers end up squandered by the Built to Play crew. We rarely tiptoe onto the beach. We avoid the heat by strategically moving between air conditioned buildings. And our summer clothes match our winter clothes, just without the debonair jackets. Despite our lack of interest while the sun is burning our skin, we still get nostalgic for the time where hanging out with friends didn't require enduring blistering winds and protective balaclavas. Summer, though not our favourite season, has that on Winter. With that on our minds, we're exploring games where you need to get and go. They're games that can't be played in your home or on a console and might bring you closer to the city at large.

The Sheriff's Gauntlet is a really appealing idea that does just that. At its core, the game is simply a personalized scavenger hunt, but its 1000-year-old legacy add a sense of drama to it. Even the name makes you think of the Princess Bride, the Neverending Story or the classic Robin Hood, the last of which it might have influenced. Then there's games like laser tag, the game inevitably played in your thirteenth year. If you don't pick it for your birthday, one of your friends will. Eight years later you might laugh about it, but playing enough shooters has given us the impression that there might be some fun to be had running around with a fake gun. Battlegrounds ably satisfied that itch, devising a unique system that feels adult instead of adolescent. That the crew is local and have a lot of ideas on how to expand makes the game all that sweeter.

But you can hear all about that on this episode:

  • Iain Simons, director of the Game City, on running the Sheriff's Gauntlet and how to make a citywide game that's accessible to everyone. (1:15 - 12:00)
  • Daniel and Arman discuss the new New Nintendo 3DS XL, ongoing problems with a certain Assassin's Creed game, why drugs might show up at your home, and how the PlayStation ended up on Pluto. (12:00 - 35:20)
  • Miles Bossons, CEO of Battlegrounds, talks about building a new version of laser tag, and the moral considerations in making a game with guns, even when they're from space. You can back them so they can make a final version that everyone can play on IndieGoGo. (35:30-48:25)
  • Dave Ireland, Managing Director of Biodiversity at the Royal Ontario Museum, tells us about why Clash of Talons is his favourite video game, and what game developers can learn (and maybe teach) about the outside world. (48:25-57:40)

Oh and about Battlegrounds: Daniel and Arman went to check it out in mid-December, as you'll hear in the episode, and Katie McGuire was kind enough to provide us with some photos.


THANKS TO THE FREE MUSIC ARCHIVE FOR "Run for Canada" BY Min-Y-Llan, "Your Body in the Dark" BY Menion, "Money Talks" BY Luca La Morgia, "Nature Kid" BY Podington Bear, "rest (johnny ripper remix)" BY alphabets, and "Gray Snow Instrumental Version" by Josh Woodward. Our opening theme was "Erotic Robotics" by The Polish Ambassador. 

WE ALSO USED CLIPS FROM the Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and the song "Under the Olives" by Patrick Ellis on Soundcloud.

BUILT TO PLAY IS A PRODUCT OF THE SCOPE AT RYERSON RADIO STATION IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN TORONTO. IT WAS PRODUCED AND EDITED BY ARMAN AGHBALI AND WRITTEN BY DANIEL ROSEN.

IF YOU LIKE THE SHOW PLEASE SUBSCRIBE AND RATE US ON Itunes and Stitcher. IT HELPS MORE PEOPLE FIND THE SHOW AND GIVES US AN IDEA HOW WE'RE DOING. FEEL FREE TO COMMENT DOWN BELOW.

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Built to Play 50: Learning

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Built to Play 50: Learning

WE LEARN ABOUT LEARNING, AS WE DISCUSS GAME LITERACY, BROKEN GAMES AND THE WORLD OF THEATRE

Built to Play learns about learning in our 50th episode. We don't know how we did it, except through willful ignorance of the heavenly signs and our friends and family. At this rate, Built to Play will never die, although we offer no guarantees. 

People often forget about game literacy, like this article did in the previous paragraph. Once you know how to read or write, the expectation is that's the norm. How quickly we forget that near 100 per cent literacy is a recent phenomenon, and only then became fundamental part of our societies. When we run into people who are lacking these skills it can be shocking, and the first arrogant impulse is to blame it on their own lack of interest. It's equally surprising when we see someone who's never used an Xbox controller, or is intimidated by the sheer number of keys on a keyboard

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Built to Play 43: Trapped in Space

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Built to Play 43: Trapped in Space

THIS TIME ON BUILT TO PLAY, DANIEL VISITED XBOX CANADA AND ARMAN DISCUSSES CANADIAN GAMES AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS.

The Built to Play staff doesn't make it outside often. Sure we can see the outside from the windows in our studio, but we rarely experience it. Just kidding. Our studio doesn't have windows. Anyway, Daniel actually left the studio to talk to play some upcoming Xbox One games, while Arman talked to game designers about why they liked the outside. For Arman, it's baby steps.

At X14, Daniel played Sunset Overdrive, Fable Legends, The Evil Within, Mortal Kombat X and Alien: Isolation. Here's a couple samples of what he found:

Sunset Overdrive:

The problem mostly comes in when your weapon variety starts to show up. I had a flaming  gential-themed shotgun, a disc gun that fired vinyl records, and a massive hand cannon called the Dirty Harry. None of these guns really favoured the high speed, far away combat style that the grind-rails encouraged. The shotgun worked great for enemies nearby, and the hand cannon was perfect when I slowed myself down and focused on enemies, but otherwise, the disc gun’s bouncing records was the only weapon that worked at the high speeds the game wanted me to move at.

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Built to Play 40: Why Bother?

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Built to Play 40: Why Bother?

Built to Play is amping up the disappointment, as we take on failure. That's a failure to play and a failure to learn, starting with why play video games in the first place. 

We suck at video games, as a species. Yes, some of us are amazing at Street Fighter, and that Chinese team won five million dollars in Dota 2, but on average most of us lose more than we succeed. In Call of Duty, you likely failed more levels than you won. In Super Meat Boy, people come close to throwing their controllers across the room in frustration. Rage-quitting is a word most players recognize and have experienced. So why do we play?

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Built to Play 38: Delayed to 2015

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Built to Play 38: Delayed to 2015

We travelled all the way to our computer screens to watch E3 2014 unfold before our very eyes. For the most part, we were pleasantly surprised.

Last week was E3 with all three major press conferences, plus EA and Ubisoft. Microsoft showed off a shocking number of games. EA demonstrated that they understood what game was conceptually, and played videos about where game designers get drunk. Ubisoft had Aisha Tyler share a stage with a line up of exceptionally short men. Sony gave us a taste of Project Beast, and revealed that they also want to get into the TV business. And Nintendo thought we really liked Robot Chicken in 2009, plus the conference was only mostly cashing in on nostalgia. 

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You can catch our live tweets of those conferences on Twitter, or our storifies for more detailed coverage. However, in lieu of recapping every single press conference in this one page, here's a couple highlights.

Daniel and Arman were both impressed and slightly annoyed with Scalebound, which looks like Monster Hunter but made by Platinium and with a Shinjuku-esque protagonist.

We had very little to say about Call of Duty, but were interested in its attempts to distance itself from its predecessors. Also that new game from Playdead had a great aesthetic, but drew too much on the studio's last game Limbo.

We didn't have much to say about EA aside from the shocking number of games that didn't seem to exist beyond short videos and wireframe models. Their Mass Effect announcement was essentially playing the theme music to build up to excitement, only to drop that excitement off a cliff when they revealed that was all they had. The publisher had shockingly little to say about Dragon Age: Inquisition. Arman enjoyed the first one, while Daniel seems to like neither,

 Ubisoft had a few more games in concrete form, several of which piqued our interest. Neither had much love for Assassin's Creed Unity, especially thanks to the comments on the lack of female protagonists. Arman has some lasting curiosity about the Division, though after Watch Dogs, most of that has cooled. Ubisoft did seem insistent on making their gameplay trailers sound like radio plays, which both of us loved immensely. By the way, Valiant Hearts is probably the best looking game about the First World War we've seen.

As for Sony, both Arman and Daniel were pumped for Bloodborne, and but Sony showed off a couple games that seemed worth the while. No Man's Sky was an easy pick, although they didn't show much new from last year. Also Sony probably shouldn't have spent 20 minutes talking about Powers, before showing off the new crazy looking, but depressing sounding Metal Gear Solid V.

Nintendo had the best show for us, if only because it was the shortest. Take that as a lesson publishers. If you can just show games over and over again for 40 minutes, that will impress people. We enjoyed the new Zelda video, but that is not a game. That is a tech demo with a 10 second trailer. Splatoon and Codename S.T.E.A.M. were more impressive that they existed at all, and weren't another old retread Nintendo property. Daniel still wishes they were Metroid though. Nothing can fill the void.

Game of Show: Bloodborne and Splatoon

Game we will actually play: Valiant Hearts. 


We only used one song this week, from the Free Music Archive. It's called "Dream Land Attack" by Thiaz Itch. If you believe your music was used inappropriately, let send us an email.

This episode was written by Daniel Rosen and edited by Arman Aghbali. Please leave us a review or comment so we know how we're doing and can improve the show. Thanks for listening. 

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Built to Play 36: The Underdog

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Built to Play 36: The Underdog

We wrap up the Bit Bazaar, get our butts handed to us at the Toryuken tournament, and talk to a fan translator about his radical dream. 

Mare Sheppard and Raigan Burns have been working on the N series for almost a decade. N started as a flash game back in the mid-2000s, then N+ came out on Nintendo DS in 2008, and now N++ is in the works for Playstation 4. N is a platformer starring a ninja hungary for gold.

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Each level is difficult and requires precise timing and movement. Which is what makes play testing so important. Mare and Raigan showcased N++  at the Bit Bazaar two weeks ago, talking about the value of playtesting, and whether this is the definitive N game. You can hear from them starting 30 minutes in. 

Jon Remedios is not a narcissist, no matter what his shirt says. In fact, Jon was so worried about showing off his game, that he created a shirt that said "Jon Remedios is a Narcissist" to justify it. The Shoot Shoot Mega Pack began at the Global Game Jam in January. (A game jam is basically a weekend-long competition to create a new game). Jon wanted to create a game on his own, with as little outside help as possible. That meant simple graphic design, and simple mechanics. SSMP, once done, will be filled with four games based around a shooting mechanic, like in Asteroids. The game he had on display at the Bit Bazaar was Sync, a local multiplayer game where pushing shoot or thrust for your ship means everyone does. You are actually far more likely to be thrusted right into a wall than shot to death, which makes death fairly chaotic. You can find out why starting 34:52.

Courtesy Gavin McKinley on artbygavin.blogspot.com

Courtesy Gavin McKinley on artbygavin.blogspot.com

Meanwhile, last week was Toronto's largest fighting game tournament, so we visited Toryuken to chat with its organizer and its champion. 

Russell Ordona, better known as NeoRussell, has been running the Toronto-wide Toryuken fighting game tournament for three years now. It's one of the largest tournaments in Canada, running games like Street Fighter IV, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and Killer Instinct but it still pales in comparison to any American tournament. Canada just doesn't have the density of players like you might see in California or New York.  So we talked to Russell about the role of these kinds of tournaments, and what he does as an organizer to grow it every year.

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One of the things an organizer can do is bring top talent to the city to draw more competitors. This year that talent came in the form of Justin Wong. Justin is one of the top Street Fighter IV players in the world and famously lost against Daigo Umehara in 2004.  Justin came to Toronto primarily because he's friends with Russell, but he sees it as a way foster competition and find potential champions before they make it to the Evolution tournament. Hear both Justin and Russell chat about Toryuken starting 42:40.

Courtesy Metacafe and Gamespot

Courtesy Metacafe and Gamespot

Localization month continues as we chat with Steve Demeter about his fan translations of Final Fantasy II and Radical Dreamers.

Steve Demeter translated Japanese games ever since 1998, beginning with Final Fantasy II, but he's never done it professionally. Steve does it out of a need to help the underdog, find weird games that will never make it out of Japan, because they were too late, too big or too expensive to bring to the West. The game that's perhaps the epitome of this is Radical Dreamers, a non-canon sequel to Chrono Trigger that the creator officially disowned in favour of an equally contraversial game, Chrono Cross. Radical Dreamers is a bad game. It doesn't make a lot of sense, even in Japanese. It also plays completely differently that its predecessor, more a visual novel with some role playing elements. While Chrono Trigger is considered one of the greatest games of all time, Radical Dreamers is a mostly forgotten mistake, which is why it's perfect for Steve. Hear more about the process of fan translation starting 52:41.

We'll hear more from Steve next week, talking about Earthbound Zero.


The music we used this week all came from the Free Music Archive: "Flying Pea" by Daddy Scramble, "Street Fighter 5" by My Mind, "I've Got Nothing" by RoccoW, "Moonglow" and "Happiness Is" by Podington Bear and "Off to a Fighting Start" by ANAVAN.

Header Image by PascalCampion on DeviantArt.

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Built to Play 33: MAX PAX

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Built to Play 33: MAX PAX

Built to Play travelled to the distant world of Boston, Massachusetts, to attend PAX East. We collected a series of interviews about dancing, cannibalism, the fourth dimension and being the perfect gentlemen. 

One of our producer's favourite games was Bounden, which tricking you into dancing. Two people hold a phone and try to weave it around so that the gyroscope matches ups with markers on a ball. So as you swing the phone between each other, you end up moving in circles and pirouetting around each other.

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As it says on developer Game Oven's website, it's twister meets ballet. The ballet half of the game was actually choreographed with help from the Dutch National Ballet. So it might not surprise you that producer Arman Aghbali was caught dancing on the floor of PAX East, despite his agreement with the world at large not to after the Christmas Day Fiasco.

The Utrecht, Netherlands based team is no stranger to making players do uncomfortable things with a friend.  Fingle, an iPad puzzle game, is about following dots on the screen with your fingers, as they inevitably interweave and rub up against each other. All the while porno music plays in the background. It's like a whole game made out of the finger going inside the ring motion. 

Eline Muijres, a producer from Game Oven, had the misfortune to dance with our producer and, in spite of the trauma, told us more about it and her inability to not laugh at bad dancers.  You can hear her starting at 20:00

Bounden is out for iPhone and Android May 21st.

Meanwhile, features editor and noted potential cannibal, Daniel Rosen, found some solace in Gods Will be Watching.

The point and click adventure game about facing extreme situations, including torture, starvation and hostage negotiation, all in the life of a single man, Sgt. Burden. It's all about solving moral dilemmas that have no good outcome, with varying levels of gruesomeness. The game evolved out of an entry for the Ludum Dare competition, which turned out to be fairly popular.  The competition entry is actually still playable online though it only has you attempting to survive on a deserted island. 

Deconstructeam had their game right in the middle of the Indie Megabooth, coming all the way from Valencia, Spain. Director Jordi de Paco's favourite scenario, however, is the one they started off with. Once you're stuck on that island you can do your best to search for supplies, gain everyone's trust and escape. Or you can eat everyone. Up to you. 

Jordi de Paco tells us about his psychopath detection system starting 28:46.

Gods Will Be Watching comes out in June for at least PC.

Courtesy of Deconstructeam

Courtesy of Deconstructeam

But so long as we're thinking in extremes, let's think about the fourth dimension in the upcoming puzzle game, Miegakure. 

Inspired by feudal Japanese aesthetics and fourth dimensional geometry, Miegakure is hard to wrap your head around. The game exists in four dimensions. Inside the game's code, you'll find a 4d grid of where all the objects are. However, the game only renders three dimensions at a time, depending on where you're standing. This allows you to briefly cross into alternate worlds to find shortcuts, climb ledges, or cross rivers. 

The game looks at first glance like a simple platformer, but resembles Fez. What Fez did for turning two dimensions geometry into a 3D world, Miegakure does for three dimensions into four. It is more direct than Fez. The levels are short, and are about being able to navigate from one point on the map to another by flipping through different universes. The game will occasionally give you maps to help you visualize how the worlds overlap, but a lot of it is imagining where the barriers between ancient Japan, a desert, and a forest are laid out.

Miegak2

Marc ten Bosch, the San Francisco based designer, says that the most remarkable 4D shapes they've managed to render include the 20-sided dodecahedron, which has flexible 3D shapes as each of its faces. You can hear more about how it works, and whether Arman actually knows anything about physics, starting 36:38.

The game will be out for at least PC, Mac and Linux.

Taken from 2DX.com

Taken from 2DX.com

On the upper floor of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre lay the Diversity Lounge. The diversity lounge, appearing for the first time at PAX, was meant to provide a place for the LGBT community, women's groups, and other diverse members of the game playing world. 

Unfortunately, this area was only created after a number of controversies involving Penny Arcade founders Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. Most recently, Krahulik claimed that the dickwolves merchandise shouldn't have been removed from sale, despite the complaints that their comic strip it was based on encouraged rape culture. Whether or not it did, the two founders acted poorly in response and created a furor online that incited quite a bit of misogyny and homophobia.

Samson Romero helped run the Toronto Gaymers booth in the diversity lounge, so we asked him whether it made up for prior comments. You can hear him explain starting 45:15.

Samson had his own opinion, but he's not alone in discussing whether it's effective. Many have argued for and against. 

Courtesy Men Who Wear Many Hats

Courtesy Men Who Wear Many Hats

Lastly, Daniel and Arman discovered how to be the perfect gentlemen with the hat-stacking beer-guzzling game, Max Gentlemen.

Max Gentlemen is a free game about stacking hats on shirtless dudes, and Victorian dames, while drinking beer. The Men Who Wear Many Hats, who last created Organ Trail, had the game on display in an arcade machine. Ryan Wiemeyer explains how they reached the limits of hat-stacking gameplay thanks to a spam email about penis pills. Also, why he may be buying more body pillows in the future. You can hear him talk about it starting 52:45.

The game will be out for Ouya, iOS, Android, PC, Mac and Linux.


he music in this episode came from the Free Music Archive. We used "Lyly" by Violeta Pivnkakkara, "Hungaria" and "Songe D'Automne" by Latch Swing, and "Flying Pea v1" by Daddy Scramble. From the Ontario Independent Music Archive, we used "Diego Suarez" by Rimbombante. 

If you feel like your music was used inappropriately in an episode of Built to Play, be sure to send us an email.

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Built to Play 30: Speak for Yourself

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Built to Play 30: Speak for Yourself

This week on Built to Play, we wrap up Vector 2014, and Youtube channels get all bought up. 

It looks like Disney is in final talks with Maker Studios to buy up the extremely popular Let's Play and review producer for $500 million. Most notably, Maker contains PewDiePie aka Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, who has one of the most popular Youtube accounts in the world. It's unclear what Disney intends to do with Maker, but here's hoping it involves a new Disney theme park ride in which PewDiePie plays every game you love, but can't afford right now.*

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Warner Brothers seems to have the same idea, as they invested $18 million into Machinima, a Los Angeles-based video game network. Machinima has been struggling, and began last week by laying off 30 employees. Warner is likely looking to keep Machinima alive as a way to keep their marketing tendrils close to young boys, or so says Variety.

Meanwhile, ShiftyLook is shutting down, meaning an end for Namco High. It turns out ShiftyLook was a prolonged experiment to promote long dead franchises. Since everyone now knows what WonderMomo is, Namco decided the experiment was complete. 

In more bewildering news, King thinks they're worth $7.6 billion, which is seven times more than the cost of Instagram. This is despite losing their trademark claim in the US and Candy Crush Saga reaching its peak months ago. We aren't stock advisors and cannot give you stock advice, but maybe don't buy King stock? Oh and Ubisoft Toronto is developing five games at once and PlayStation Home still exists. You're welcome. 

Courtesy Team Vector

Courtesy Team Vector

In our features, we talk militarised violence, gender studies in World of Warcraft, and how to run a festival with only three people. 

Courtesy Alex Myers

Courtesy Alex Myers

Game design professor, Alex Myers was in the marines for a year and a half and despised it. But since he's left, he's kept having run-ins with the military and militarised violence. When he was working on his Master of Fine Arts, he played hours of Counter Strike, letting other parts of his life suffer. After getting a hold of himself and worrying about the psychological effects of the game, he made Winning, a CS modification in which players stood only a foot apart and must shot each other in the face. Since then he's become the director of the game design program at the Bellevue University, which is in a Nebraska town that's fairly reverent of the military. Alex talks about navigating his personal relationship between games and the military. Starts at 26:30.

Courtesy Angela Washko

Courtesy Angela Washko

From war to hearts and minds, Angela Washko began talking about feminism inside World of Warcraft when he father asked her why she liked feminism. Or how her father put it, "Feminism is just something butch lesbian angry dykes use to hate men." Angela was shocked and decided to start exploring spaces where people were less educated about feminism. She had played a lot of World of Warcraft and had encountered the usual internet vitriolic misogyny, so that seemed like a prime stop to get started. And that's when things became pretty intense, pretty quickly. Hear more starting at 36:20.

Courtesy Team Vector

Courtesy Team Vector

Lastly, I sat down with the Vector Game Arts Festival organizers, Skot Deeming, Diana Poulsen and Martin Zeilinger to talk about how they felt they weekend went. Vector was a festival that celebrated the intersection of contemporary art, philosophy, and game design over February 19th-24th. They talked to me about how it got started, the chaos of running between exhibits, and what they're thinking for next year. Starts at 46:50.


This week's music came from the Free Music Archive and Freesound. We used "Thumb Wars" by Hypersleep, "School Boy" by Pietnastka, "Fantasy" by Podington Bear, "Simon" by L'homme Manete and "Sea Battles in Space" by RoccoW. Our ending theme was "Great Recession Waters" by Fields of Ohio. Thanks to ermine and robinhood76 for their Freesound clips.

*We pronounce PewDiePie is a couple ways that is barely recognizable as his name, more out of a sense of distrust than accident.

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Built to Play 11: Stan Lee's Super Power is Tweeting

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Built to Play 11: Stan Lee's Super Power is Tweeting

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In another catch-up episode, we talk about Andrew Hussie on Namco High, Ubisoft's mandatory online franchising plan, and the virtual console release of Earthbound. Then there was the mountain of San Diego Comic Con news, namely Lego Marvel Heroes, a World of Warcraft storybook and a new Striders game. Plus we have an interview with Mike Gale, the designer behind the recent Kickstarter funded game, Soul Saga. He talks about his experiences working on a miniature horse farm in Michigan and why he went into video games. 

The thumbnail image is by Ryuuen and came in first place in the Soul Saga fan art contest.

The interview intro song is Home Above The Clouds by Avi Tran

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