Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

Games to Watch in 2013

I apologize for the lateness of this blog post. My computer of six years died last weekend, and I’ve been scrambling to recover my data to my laptop and arrange a proper viking funeral.

Despite beginning on a personal sour note, I see 2013 as a year of hopefulness. After a sluggish end to 2012, there is a deluge of compelling PC titles set for release in the year of the snake. I’d like to highlight a few games that have specifically caught my attention. For those of you who regularly frequent the blog, none of these should be a surprise.


Terraria ate a month of my life that I’ll never get back. When I heard that a spiritual sequel was in development by Team Chucklefish, I was simultaneously enthused and distressed.

Starbound thrusts the premise of Terraria into outer space. The game trade’s Terraria‘s single world for numerous procedurally generated planets. Every planet has unique flora and fauna to explore and catalogue. The player can eventually declare one planet as their homeworld, opening up options for terraforming and populating their new home.

The game is still in early development, but the early screenshots are brimming with potential. Still, I’ll have to wait and see if Starbound can live up to the reputation of its predecessor.


Gnomoria is a sandbox village management game that is unapologetically inspired by Dwarf Fortress. The player takes control of a cadre of ragtag gnomes, builds an expansive city for them to live in, and guides them in the development and defense of their fledgling civilization. However, unlike its ASCII predecessor, Gnomoria totes fully rendered isometric graphics.

Simple as these graphics are, they address the main hurdle that prevented me from ever attempting the original Dwarf Fortress. The alpha is already out, but after enduring the highs and lows of Minecraft‘s bloated alpha and beta period, I’m waiting for an official release before touching Gnomoria.

Legend of Dungeon

Legend of Dungeon is another game that has entrenched itself in a prolonged alpha. The game is half arcade beat ’em up and half rogue-like dungeon crawler. The player (and up to three of his or her friends) ventures forth into the depths of a seemingly bottomless dungeon, brawling with slimes, skeletons, and orcs along the way.

The graphics are what really sell the premise. The game boasts dynamic lighting and real-time shadows – on pixel art. It’s simultaneously dazzling and demented. Coupled with the online multiplayer and randomly generated levels, Legend of Dungeon looks like an easy buy.


It’s been a long time since a game gave me the same goosebumps that vanilla World of Warcraft did. WildStar has stood out on the MMO horizon for both it’s innovative takes on player housing, combat, and levelling as well as the developers’ keen community building efforts.

More than anything, the game has character. Too many MMOs have sabotaged their success by adhering too closely to the World of Warcraft formula or the sacred lore of whatever major franchise they’ve adopted. WildStar is a blank slate, and the developers at Carbine Games have demonstrated the willingness to try anything and everything.

Beta couldn’t come sooner.

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By Mathew
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer