+ CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR: M. Green
Many games allow or even require the use of an avatar. An avatar is a graphical representation of the user that is displayed on a game. Avatars may be two or three dimensions but, in general, they are just visuals that tell other people something about the person using the avatar. Many games have a default avatar that may just be a simple outline or a clip art. Few people choose to leave the default in place, but many choose their first avatar without much thought.
There are several good reasons to put some thought into choosing a custom avatar. If your primary goal in a game is just to improve, you may enjoy ranking on leaderboards as a solo player. Others will come to recognize your avatar if you choose something unique and interesting. If your primary goal is to be better at the game and it’s a game played with others, your avatar can tell people something about your play style.
If you are drawn to games that are associated with something specific, your avatar may tell others something about your profession or affiliations. Gamers who like word games might want an avatar that tells others they work with the written word. Those who like action games, and are also members of the military or police force, can use an avatar to find like-minded players.
If you play multiplayer games and hope to join groups, your avatar can be especially important. You may choose to play with people who are of a certain gender or in a particular ethnic group and your avatar can signal that. If you are looking for friends to game with, you may want to show your hobbies or interests. Someone who rides motorcycles may want to find other riders and someone who has dogs may prefer to play with dog lovers. Those with strong religious or political beliefs may want to find friends who share those beliefs.
If you only game occasionally, your avatar may not matter and a default or simple one may be just fine. A favorite color could be plenty to show a little personality. If that fits you, that’s great! If you enjoy gaming more, though, give some thought to your avatar.
Smartphone/Tablet Games to Notice
Best “Cult” Classic
Let’s start out with a game that had a quiet start but became a cult hit when the enhanced upgraded version was released earlier this year. It all started with a little game called Planescape: Torment that was originally released way back in 2011. The game was set in the multi-verse of Planescape. The buildup was well-established since most gamers still recognize Dungeons and Dragons as a gaming classic. It was played on a tabletop with just paper in the pre-internet days. Planescape: Torment used familiar settings but was a plot-driven role-playing game that was highly immersive.
The expanded edition, just released this year, is known simply as Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition. It’s exciting because it works on so many platforms. It can be played on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android making it a top choice for those with multiple devices. The original storyline remains intact and the game takes players on a wonderful journey. The Protagonist, known as the Nameless One, is an immortal with limited memories of the past. He joins other characters as he travels, not unlike the famed Roland of Stephen King’s literary Dark Tower series.
Best Merged Game
Gamers young and old have probably played some version of the Space Invaders arcade game. Some may still remember feeding quarters into a machine and playing for hours to get the highest score! Another popular game at the time was Arkanoid. Players still port both games using emulators or re-written versions. As of 2017, gamers can play Arkanoid vs Space Invaders, a merging of both mobile games that can power hours of fun on your device. The game combines ideas from both original arcade classics. The player maneuvers a spacecraft along the bottom of the screen, just like they did in Space Invaders, and has to avoid incoming fire. The player can level along and move through different worlds to acquire power-ups, just like the old-style Taito games. Another great thing about this game is that it’s free and has no ads or pop-ups. It can even be played offline.
Best Multi-Player Game
For those who love to play with friends, Clash Royale is free and, though the popular original came out in mid-2016, the recent 2017 re-release is out to impress. It has elements from collective card types like Hearthstone, standard fortress defenses, and multiple arena battles. What makes this game important right now are the heavy additions included in this new release. The game now has options to play the standard “fed-ex” quests and other task-completion experiences. Quest points can be used to gain new rewards. A new game mode has been added. Touchdown mode has elements of a classic flag-capture multi-player experience but, instead of flag-capture, player troops must gain entry to the enemy zone to win control of a crown.
A Look at Aesthetics Environments for PC Gamers
Aesthetic environments tend to call to PC gamers more than to mobile or console gamers. With mobile games, this especially makes sense. The screen size is limited and it’s hard to enjoy immersion and world-building on a smaller screen. Some gamers simply don’t care about beautiful details or realism but there are many that do. For gamers who love immersion, the realism of the environment is important because it gives that inside-the-game feel. Gamers who like survival horror will find more detailed blood and gore important. Those who enjoy deep fantasy will enjoy the artwork in fantasy races and those who play to escape may love realistic terrain and architecture.
If you haven’t given much thought to the look and feel of a game, consider these enhanced details to add fun to your gaming experience. Gamers who are already addicted to realism are always on the hunt for games like this, whether they are new or old. Some games focus more on characters and animation, some on outdoor scenes, some on architecture and furnishings, and some do it all.
Gamers who are looking for the detailed action, first-person-shooter, or horror/mystery genres might be interested in Layers of Fear or the Amnesia series. Both games feature elements of Gothic horror that can be very entertaining. In Layers of Fear, the player controls an artist who is psychotic but very involved in trying to finish the best artwork of his life. He must use stealth to navigate through a creepy mansion. There are two games in the older Amnesia series. It was released in 2013, but the game is still a great play in terms of depth and it has the advantage of being available for PC or console.
Gamers hoping for nature and outdoor scenery still cannot go wrong with the well-known MMORPG gaming classic World of Warcraft. Everything from the water to the trees is beautiful. The game also allows players to fly and the birds-eye perspective offers breathtaking views. WoW is best known for action but the fun of crafting, farming, and even cooking can be a pleasant distraction for players who need a break from the real world.
For gamers who want a choice between online or single-player mode, the Far Cry series cannot be beat for outdoor scenes. In the early series games, the best part was the detail in the natural environments and the animals. In later series games, from Far Cry 4 to Far Cry Primal, players will find meticulously detailed indoor scenes as well. In FC4, the Far East-inspired monasteries are lovely as well as animated. The game is technically classified as a shooting/action/war game (first person) but a player can spend countless hours hunting for animal skins or wandering through trippy, colorful, almost spiritual scenarios.