Table of Contents

  1. December 2020

    1. My year in books

      I have participated in Goodreads’ Reading Challenge since 2011 and last year failed to read my usual annual goal, 10 books. This year I hit a new record of reading 30 books.

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  2. August 2020

    1. The many platforms of Microsoft's Xbox

      Recently, Microsoft has released more information about their upcoming games and plans for the next generation. The overarching strategy of Microsoft seems to be to make Xbox a service and having Xbox not just anywhere, but everywhere. Examples of this strategy are Halo Infinite, the return of Microsoft Flight Simulator and challenges in bringing xCloud to Apple’s devices.

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  3. July 2020

    1. Power of platforms

      We are soon approaching the launch of the next generation of video game consoles, a generation that very well might be the last one, as predicted among others by Ubisoft’s Yves Guillemot. This development is separate than the games as a service model, although both have their roots in general availability of high-speed broadband and mobile networks. There’s some overlap, both Sony and Microsoft advertise backwards compatibility on their next-gen and how the successful multiplayer games you play today are available also on the next gen. This an example of how the platform is today more important than the device: neither Microsoft or Sony want you to “switch” to the other platform, which would the only way for you to “lose” your games library.

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    2. Transition from product-based game development to service-based games

      One of the biggest changes in the game industry has been the transition to service-based games, or games as a service (GaaS). The big enabler for this was digital delivery of games, or penetration of high-speed internet connections and “always online”.

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  4. March 2020

    1. Setting up an internet radio with a Raspberry Pi and Icecast

      In these uncertain times where I suddenly have a lot of time at home, I remembered that I have an assortement of MP3s forgotten in a corner of my NAS from a time before Spotify and other streaming services. What better use of a likewise abandoned Raspberry Pi than making it blast these beats from around the turn of the century to soothe one’s nerves? To go back to those halcyon days of circa 2005, way before any global economic crises or pandemics… when we only had more localized events like the dotcom bubble and the first SARS.

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  5. November 2019

    1. Attempting to clean link rot on the blog

      As Wikipedia describes it, link rot is “the phenomenon of hyperlinks tending over time to cease to point to their originally targeted file, web page, or server due to that resource being relocated or becoming permanently unavailable.”

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  6. September 2019

    1. Human shareable codes

      Back in the NES era, one’s progress in games unlocked passwords that allowed you to continue the game from a certain level instead of the beginning. These codes have seen less use now that random access storage is more available.

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    2. Further adventures with walking simulators

      Another year, another dump of light adventure games that focus heavily on exploration and less on the pixel-hunting of the yesterdecades.

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    3. Building an asset pipeline for Jekyll with Gulp

      With the recent release of Jekyll 4.0, it was a good time to revisit how I manage my blog’s assets. The web and its tools continue to move in a break-neck speed and new versions like to break things so finding up to date best practices and code samples was a bit difficult. This is one reason why I’m writing this post.

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  7. March 2019

    1. How game streaming can affect the game market

      The launch of Google’s game streaming Stadia and its preceding rumors have made many wonder and speculate how games will be delivered in the future. I have recently written a bit about platforms, and game streaming can potentially cause a huge shift in the power balance as the underlying hardware (or even storefronts) becomes irrelevant. There are many new hopeful entrants wanting to get a piece of hopefully an increasing pie.

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  8. February 2019

    1. The next hype: Games as a Platform

      Bubbling under the Games as Services (GaaS) phenomenon are platforms (GaaP). I previously on these subjects in my post on Games as Services and on platforms in general. In business terms, it is the next evolution in the attempt to capture the added value of long-running games and recoup the investment in the massive virtual worlds.

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  9. January 2019

    1. Epic Games Store and the value of platforms

      In my previous post, I talked about games as services and other game business model topics. Here I will go a layer below to the platforms that offer these games, specifically in the context of Epic’s brand new game store that is seen as yet another challenger to Valve’s Steam. I remain skeptical on Epic’s ability to meaningfully challenge Steam for reasons I will go through below.

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  10. July 2018

    1. What I talk about when I talk about Games as a Service

      Back in 2013, I wrote briefly about Games as a Service on this blog, again last year with Destiny as an example and by now this business model is quite dominant everywhere. I also gave some presentations on this and generally ranted about this to anyone who didn’t immediately run away. Meanwhile, a new hip buzzword has arrived and that’s Games as a Platform (GaaP).

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  11. January 2018

    1. More walking simulators I have known and loved

      Previously few years ago I listed some games that I had enjoyed in the exploration game genre usually mockingly called “walking simulators”. Between then and now, the genre has expanded with more games and more experimentation. So, here’s a list of games that I have enjoyed since.

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    2. How to use email as login in CakePHP 3.5 with CakeDC Users plugin

      The CakeDC organization behind CakePHP has created the Users plugin, that has all the features a usual web app has - user login, registration and so on. However, the plugin by default assumes that the user logins with a username and password. For simplicity, some websites might prefer that the user logins with their email as their username.

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    3. Using Restic to backup a web application's website and database to Backblaze B2

      One aspect of having a website is to make sure there are backup if and when something goes terribly wrong. Backing up a traditional web application (fe. a WordPress installation) requires backing up both the files and the database (usually a MySQL/MariaDB one).

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  12. December 2016

    1. The incomplete history of the hashtag

      As ubiquitous the hashtag is in today’s web, its full history is surprisingly sparsely documented. Most histories mention Twitter and the creator of its modern usage there, Chris Messina. He famously wrote back in 2007 “A Proposal for Twitter Tag Channels”. This was back in the day when people on the web also used terms like “folksonomy” with a straight face.

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  13. September 2016

    1. Destiny: Rise of Games as a Service

      Now that the probably last paid expansion to Destiny, the Rise of Iron, is out before a probable full sequel coming out next year, I’d like to talk about my favorite topic, Games as a Service.

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  14. April 2016

    1. MOBAs and class based team shooters of 2016

      This year is going to be an interesting year for the shooter genre. There are many attempts in widening the wildly successful MOBA genre not only to shooters but also to the consoles.

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  15. February 2016

    1. The walking simulators I have played and loved

      Although the term “walking simulator” is mostly used in a derogatory way to define games that focus on exploration, and do not have action elements or a clear opponent/enemy, it’s also something that has stuck as an umbrella term for the genre.

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  16. August 2015

    1. No, Blizzard doesn't lose money on Hearthstone

      It’s sometimes really frustrating to read Gamasutra because the articles are very uneven even in the “featured” category. Case in point is this piece of gem, Hearthstone on Phones is Costing Blizzard Millions of Dollars where author tries to make the case that Consequently, the above graph actually conceals a damning fact: Hearthstone’s phone release is losing Blizzard millions of dollars.

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    2. Using Discourse onebox with Jekyll

      In my previous posts, I have shown ways to add a lot of metadata to a Jekyll blog’s posts. However, the use of the metadata shouldn’t be left just for the search engines and social network sites. You too can benefit from the added metadata many sites expose these days.

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    3. Smartly cropped thumbnails for blog posts with Jekyll

      Good blog posts have images that can be used as thumbnails for the posts inside and outside of the blog itself.

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  17. April 2015

    1. The million ways to markup your content

      One of the more interesting directions the web has been taking is the so called semantic web, which essentially means helping computers figure out what humans have written on the web. The most practical reason to do this is, naturally, to help the almighty search engine bot overlords better index one’s site in hopes of a better ranking on the only list that matters, Google’s search results.

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    2. Making Markdown more HTML5 with Kramdown

      Markdown dates back to 2004, incidentally the same year the WHATWG started working on HTML5. Now that HTML 5.0 is a a W3C Recommendation, it would be awesome if the popular Markdown converters would also support the new stuff that the new markup brings with it.

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    3. Creating the perfect blog platform

      A long time ago, in a neighborhood far away, I was wondering on which blogging platform to relaunch my blog on. This is not a question that I took lightly.

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  18. February 2014

    1. Valuating Steam trading card booster packs, part 2

      Previously, I wrote about the pricing of booster card packs for Steam’s trading card market from mainly from the seller’s perspective. However, somewhat more interesting is how much should I pay for a certain booster pack considering I already have some cards of the set. How much am I willing to pay?

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  19. January 2014

    1. Valuating Steam trading card booster packs

      Steam’s trading cards are an interesting phenomenon in Steam’s wider Community Market economy. Valve’s Gabe Newell has said that his interested in creating markets where players can exchange items cross-games, he would like to see the value that the player has created one game to carry over to another.

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  20. December 2013

    1. The new web log is go

      It took a while, early this year on my previous site I did promise “something new coming up, hopefully soon”. Well, it’s still 2013.

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  21. July 2013

    1. The rise of games as a service

      The free to play (F2P) phenomenon has, in its shadow, hid another big shift that’s facing the game industry: more and more, games are becoming services.

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  22. December 2012

    1. Free to play is the new Shareware

      Free-to-play is the new Shareware. Shareware was a neat distribution license back before internet, where the product (fe. a game) had a limited feature set and the user had the right to further distribute the copy. Here, the author banked on the features of her product and the goodwill of her potential customers to create a customer base for her product. If the potential customer was pleased with the product, she could pay for the complete version of the software.

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  23. February 2012

    1. The gaming reach of Apple

      There was some moaning when some forgettable instance claimed that Steve Jobs was the best ever that had happened to games ever. What about Shigeru Miyamoto, Gabe Newell or the best-selling console of all time, PlayStation 2? There weren’t even any games for the Mac, the neckbeards were screaming on the top of their keyboards.

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    2. A DoubleFine adventure

      Some time ago, Tim Schafer (who needs no introduction, unless you hate ponies and kittens) said in an interview that he’d love to do Psychonauts 2 but no publisher has shown any interest so far (probably because game publishers hate kittens). Then the Nordic gaming viking, Notch tweeted to Tim that “Let’s make Psychonauts 2 happen”. Then, the man behind responsible for Psychonauts for Mac a reality replied he’s in as well. So… let’s see what happens on that front.

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  24. September 2011

    1. Portal 2 and a love letter to Gabe

      I really love everything that Portal 2 is. It’s gorgeous, doesn’t spell everything out, has an athmosphere and shows that you can have engaging experience without shooting things to a gory mess.

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  25. August 2011

    1. The A-Bit-Shorter Journey

      The page on GOG.com for The Longest Journey promised A truly epic story and gameplay with more than 50 hours of play time and while the first part is inevitably true, the game fell quite short on the promise beat the 41 hours I poured on Mass Effect 2 and I was done with Stark and Arcadia in less than 20.

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    2. The lure of the Starter Editions

      The crack dealers of gaming, Blizzard, changed their marketing tactics with its two games, World of Warcraft and Stracraft II. Instead of the 15-day trial, the WOW Starter Edition allows players to freely play with some limits to level 20. The 3 level demo without multiplayer for Starcraft II is likewise expanded into 4 level Starter Edition with multiplayer.

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    3. Gamification is not about games

      As neologism go, I have a thing for “gamification”. Not only is term totally misleading, it also acts as a vague umbrella for all kinds of ethically questionable practices. The buzzword bingo is strong with this article from MIT’s Technology Review, which goes and overextends the term to pretty much everything, including the Internet. Because, after all, what doesn’t benefit from making things fun and rewarding?

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  26. July 2011

    1. Team Fortress 2: The Second Encounter

      I originally got Team Fortress 2 with my cheap Orange Box and tried to play it for a while. I played as a stereotypical W+LMB Pyro and not knowing any of the maps which was not really fun.

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  27. May 2011

    1. Data is pretty

      This video of death locations in Just Cause and that heatmap of kills and deaths in Assassin’s Creed are my two favorite visualizations.

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  28. April 2011

    1. Developer commentary in Valve's games

      Last night I decided to for the first time give it a go and the developer commentary feature in Valve’s games is actually pretty great. Sure, it’s just for superfans like the DVD commentaries are but it really gives a new view on the game. It’s a bit of behind scenes, where the developers explain about all the different things that went into delivering the experience to the player.

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  29. February 2011

    1. Jonathan Blow on the evil of social games

      In an interview on PC Gamer, Jonathan Blow answered if he believed that “social games are evil”. His answer, “Yes. Absolutely.” Blow, of course, frequently talks about how he feels that many current games are unethical.

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    2. Neologisms and game metagenres

      I ended my previous rant on social games with dismissing the classification of games to social, casual and hardcore. I feel the need to rant a bit more and flesh out my argument and to link to that video of that guy “playing” that Kinect racing game.

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  30. January 2011

    1. DeathSpank

      One of my planned acquisitions from last year’s Steam Christmas sales was [DeathSpank](https://web.archive.org/web/20110131100021/http://www.deathspank.com/. It’s what these days called an action-RPG, like all games these days, but I think a better description is that it’s a bit like the various Diablo II followers, Torchlight and Titan Quest - with a bit of Monkey Island in there.

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    2. Female protagonists are not to be feared

      An interesting take on the female protagonist thing on InnerChildGamer. It takes a bit of a different view than my previous article. The author argues that the female gamer demographic is actually quite large and has presence in the game retail space and this would mean the publishers’ fear of female protagonists failing to capture large audience is wrong.

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    3. Portal, Mirror's Edge and female leads

      Portal and Mirror’s Edge were both games that I wanted to like and play, but for some reason I just put them off until I got Portal for free when Steam launched on Mac and I bought Mirror’s Edge about a year ago for some ridiculously low amount of money. They both wanted to show something new and exciting.

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  31. December 2010

    1. One Chance and player types

      Sure, One Chance was a nice little game but it probably doesn’t deserve all the attention it is getting. It is frightfully simple game with decisions. It is the how the players react, that I think is much more interesting. This of course wouldn’t be possible unless the game was well designed to evoke these reactions. My argument is that the game is genius because it messes up with our animal spirits, not because of any technical limitation or feature.

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    2. Valve's Steam and Mac gaming

      I was attending a LAN gaming session (aka. real “social gaming”) with a group of friends a while ago. Last time, we spent a lot of time installing (and updating) games and trying to get computers to find each other and I had to borrow someone else’s computer. This time, we were quickly up and running and I could proudly play on my MacBook Pro.

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    3. Synchronous gaming on social platforms and other buzzwords

      For reasons unknown to me, Silicon Alley Insider decided to publish a marketing piece by CEO of a Facebook clone titled Facebook Has It All Wrong When It Comes To Social Games. That post was for a while the top one at TechMeme. The stupid - it hurts.

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    4. GTA IV

      Grand Theft Auto IV™. You will never play through this game. Forget about the expansions.

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    5. Kingdom of Loathing

      I quit Kingdom of Loathing recently. I guess I was a bit hooked to the game, as I did play it almost daily. Sure, I did earlier say that I didn’t play RPGs, but I guess KoL was something else to me.

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    6. Team Fortress 2

      In my continuing series of Valve games I’d need friends for, Team Fortress 2 is a pleasant surprise. While it’s probably great at a LAN or with friends, you can just as well play it on the net with strangers.

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  32. October 2010

    1. An inconvenient truth: game prices have come down with time

      Ars Technica figures out inflation: An inconvenient truth: game prices have come down with time.

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    2. FarmVille - the casual RPG

      In my opinion, FarmVille is a role playing game (RPG). And pretty bad one at that. Like most social RPGs, you don’t actually need any skills or develop any skill playing it yourself as your success is solely dependent on the amount of time you sink into it. You can get pretty good at FreeCell, but no matter how much time you spend in FarmVille, you won’t get “better” in it.

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    3. Need for Speed World

      Technically, EA’s Neeed For Speed: World is an MMO, but it’s not really the World of NFS-craft. It’s a bit too boring and it seems grinding is the only MMO element they bothered to implement.

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  33. September 2010

    1. My definitive guide to LAN games

      Here’s my list of the definitive games to play at a LAN session. We have played all the listed games during one session, but I recommend concentrating on just few of these. Also, many of the games listed are quite old and have by now worthy successors; we just stuck with what we liked back in the days.

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    2. Duke Nukem Forever

      Duke Nukem Forever, the perennial Wired’s Vaporware Awards winner, is now closer to release than ever. This is truly mind-boggling.

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  34. August 2010

    1. Quake Live

      Quake Live is either a testament to the longevity of Quake’s DM mode or to how powerful new computers are when you can run a real game as a web browser plugin. Quake Live probably offers the least friction to just go and frag random people on the net. And not only on Windows, the game also runs on a Mac (and Linux!), which is totally mindblowing. This should be my go-to instant FPS deathmatch game, but it just isn’t.

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    2. Plants vs. Zombies

      If I could only tweet about this game it would be: Left 4 Dead for people with no time and no friends. Well, not really. But, really.

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    3. Playing Half-Life 2 for the first time

      So, well, yeah… I’ve never played Half-Life 2 before today. I did play the original Half-Life and both expansion packs, Opposing Force and Blue Shift, and I guess when Half-Life 2 came out my computer was so woefully out of date to even think about running it.

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    4. Tales of Monkey Island and Telltale's episodic gaming

      It’s safe to say that I learned some of my English from the great adventure games from LucasArts and Sierra. In addition, I think these games gave me a huge part of my sense of humor and knowledge of American popular culture. There was something magical about the Space Quest series, Indiana Joneses, Maniac Mansions, Monkey Islands and, yes, even Leisure Suit Larries that I’m afraid is lost to that era and can’t be resurrected.

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  35. July 2010

    1. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

      Many claim that Chaos Theory is the pinnacle of the Splinter Cell series. It was also one of the very few games with pretty effective copy protection scheme, as a proper warez version did take an awfully long time to surface. In an ironic twist, the Splinter Cell: Conviction’s always on DRM scheme was broken pretty quickly in comparison. I originally missed this game because my then PC couldn’t handle this game at the time. Today, the tables have turned and the odd shading system in Pandora Tomorrow means no new system can run that.

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  36. January 2010

    1. The iPhone as Human-World Interface

      The media seems to be a bit obsessed with hardware, iPhone and its “killers” and software (“apps”). This is technology after all. For me, much more interesting phenomenon are applications. I’m not talking about software but more generally what we use the technology for.

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  37. November 2009

    1. Google's Building Maker and the importance of fun

      I’m starting to think that I’m wayy too interested in maps and geographical coordinates. Things like Google Maps and GPS just make me want to make something great out of all the information we have lying around and put in a map context. I think this is also the reason behind all the location based services, everyone is trying to see what would work. Most of them are fun experiments, but let’s see what sticks.

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  38. May 2008

    1. Another look at Nintendo's blue ocean strategy

      Nintendo released the new channel, Nintendo Channel, for Wii recently in Europe. It was released about a week after WiiWare, the channel that enables online shopping and downloading of games. WiiWare is interesting in the sense that we can easily expect some really amazing stuff coming out through that channel, while Nintendo Channel is something that exemplifies why Wii is different from other consoles.

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  39. August 2002

    1. Adventure games are not dead!

      Adventure games are not dead! LucasArts have announced that in addition to the sequel to Full Throttle, they are also starting to work on a sequel to Sam & Max: Hit the Road. The leatest Monkey Island game was somewhat of a disappointment, the plot was even worse than the previous and the 3D graphics were not able to give the same feeling as the traditional 2D.

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