Sunday, October 26, 2014

26/10

§KICKSTARTER
The Black Glove
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theblackglove/the-black-glove
http://dayfornightgames.com/black-glove-gameplay
http://dayfornightgames.com/maze-space-minotaur






§PLAYED
Zest

Be a good samaritan and go to the church in this game. That part has quite a wonderful sermon, where as Emily Short writes, "The loaves and fishes weren’t multiplied because God miraculously violated the law of the conservation of mass, but that the people in the crowd were shamed or persuaded into donating their own food which they had formerly been selfishly reserving for themselves". As the priest in Zest says - "That instead of an audience, they had become a community". Let's top it off with a nice prayer:

    Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    Where there is injury, pardon;
    Where there is discord, harmony;
    Where there is error, truth;
    Where there is doubt, faith;
    Where there is despair, hope;
    Where there is darkness, light;
    And where there is sadness, joy.

    O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
    To be consoled as to console;
    To be understood as to understand;
    To be loved as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive;
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
    And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

§

Bernband (Tom van den Boogaart)
It fascinates me how lo-fi experiences such as this and Slave of God can immerse and mystify me so strongly. At the surface level, there doesn't seem very much to these experiences, yet just walking around there - no aim in sight, exploring stuff - can feel more compelling and exciting than exploring a town in a high-end RPG, say Wasteland 2. Well, for some time at least - I guess making larger areas with more substance is where it gets really tricky to sustain my attention. Immersion in these walking simulators (paradoxically?) probably has something to do with the lack of objectives, lack of "agency", lack of pressure put on me as a player to perform, lack of uncanny valleys, lack of too high expectations on what the game might be simulating and how finegrained the system is for that simulation. It thus probably has something to do with simulation fever. By painting in broad strokes, it leaves more to the imagination. This reminds me of Chris Bateman's Imaginary Games, and some ideas there: "The movie dictates almost everything about the accompanying game of make believe, and thus the movie is more intrusive in the viewer's game than for example a book, the authorial vision stronger. The props (things mandating specific imaginings in games of make-believe) do not leave much room for the imagination of the player, which explains why the experience of a movie can be quite unconvincing and non-immersive when the props are of poor quality." Yes indeed, and the psychological locks upon you may be as such that you deem the movie to be of bad quality ("at the surface it seems like nothing much, really"), to be cliched or stupid, and you could still be moved emotionally by it, or in this case, immersed.

§

NaissanceE is all about architecture and atmosphere. Shadows cast on white and grey. Well, not only - it is also about breathing, and running, and jumping. But without any context. Sort of. What do I know, I only played it for an hour and watched the last chapter on youtube. The soundscape is very unsettling and wonderful too. It's like an alien Blade Runner running around in the abstract love child of Tarkovsky and Kubrik.

I'm hoping when these darn walking simulators flood the VR-market people will become too seasick to jump around, and instead just opt for, well, walking. Or autojumping. Or something.

§

A City Sleeps
I've been a fan of Harmonix ever since FreQuency and Amplitude, and although their kickstarter video pitch was awesome, the game pitched seems to be the same game which was released almost ten years ago, only with new songs. This interests me as little as yet another Rockband, and the music video game genre in general lays dormant for me right now. But Harmonix seem to be trying some different stuff too, both in Chroma and A City Sleeps. Shmups are another genre which I've been a big fan of, but which I'm really not into these days, so the music game-shmup-breed that is A City Sleeps comes at me from a very specific angle. I didn't expect much, and after the initial hour I was very pleasantly surprised, only to be disappointed when venturing further. I've come to the conclusion that the shooting and scoring in the game isn't very deep. The potential was there to let the music guide your dodging, to let your secondary weapons be placed in different areas of the screen and let your dodging follow a natural rhythm since you'd want to be at specific places when the beat hits or whatnot, but I just couldn't find any good flow at all while playing. When the game was at its easiest it also felt the most relaxing and rewarding, graphics and music in unison with the cool backstory. But soon enough things started to get more difficult, and I quit because nothing made sense to me. It just didn't feel graceful. I thought I'd just play breeze through the game to get the really good writing and story out of the way, but realized that quite fast the game became too hard for me, like 3/5 difficulties in! Seems I'll be waiting for a playthrough to get the rest of the story. A real shame. Seems to me the universe they built up (and mostly allude to) for the game is a very interesting one, but I just can't progress much further due to sucking too much, which says a lot considering I've played these types of games a significant amount of time...

§

Devil's Dare
Sidescrolling beat em ups are awesome. And yet, where are the really good ones? Where are the Turtles in Time, Super Double Dragon and Final Fight of our era? Or Streets of Rage, or Three Dirty Dwarves, etc? I remember Alien Hominid made a splash, yet I didn't find it very appealing. Well, Devil's Dare plays a bit like Streets of Rage and feels very old-school, in the sense that movement is quite limited. Disappointing, but since there is the possiblity of co-op play for up to four players, I will definitely return to this when I have the friends available for it.

§

Laza Knitez!!
I played this back when it was a prototype in a homemade arcade cabinet, and it was as awesome then as it is now. Aw hell yeah. The roster of action-packed party games keeps growing. Towerfall, Nidhogg, Samurai Gunn, Laza Knitez, Starwhal...

§

Dragon Age 2
I started playing it! Suddenly I'm anticipating the third installment, because I realized I have a friend who will play it and it seems quite cozy to sit beside hir and watch hir play, even though I'm skeptic to the game and probably won't be seeing it through to the end. Maybe that will be the case with Dragon Age 2 - it all depends on the characters and the story...





§MISC
Pulling all these tools together, we have a flexible system for authoring Ice-Bound stories that lets them adapt to the particular context the system decides to use them in, without becoming overwhelming for us as authors.
http://ice-bound.com/news/shifting-story-text-combinatorial-narrative-part-three/

§

Like so much horror, Silent Hill 2 is about the failure of things – of nerve, of compassion, of organs, of machinery, and of mind and body as a whole. Everything is in a process of decay, a town that has aged decades overnight and still carries traces of lives continuing just around the next corner or through the next door. It’s unclear if James himself is the ghost, walking through lives in process but failing to see them through the shadows of his own state.
/.../
I still can’t play certain sections without company – I am the world’s most cowardly horror fan – but the lasting sense is of sadness rather than spooks. Tragedy requires flaws and the game’s narrative of decay is built upon human failings of every kind. It’s a more sorrowful experience than a stack of melancholy ‘art games’.
http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/10/12/silent-hill-2-review-pc/

§

Game Theory: Five Nights at Freddy's SCARIEST Monster is You!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th_LYe97ZVc
§

Are Videogames About Their Mechanics?
| Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsybY6dcXAQ

§

What's Wrong With Duck Dynasty?
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/imb33e/the-final-bosman-what-s-wrong-with-duck-dynasty-

§

Extra Credits - Plan, Practice, Improvise - Understanding the Three Types of Play in Games https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9xkfPLJWf0

§

Maximum Hertz: The Value of Gaming Beyond 60fps
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DMWmKitqM0

§

Thoughts on Game Mechanics vs. Story | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-nkZANzikQ

§

Shooting Down the FPS: Team Fortress 2 vs. Far Cry 3 | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJGIg1JksQA

Sunday, October 19, 2014

19/10

§§§§§THIS WEEK§§§§§

Cave! Cave! Deus Videt – Episode 0Who would have thought, a game where you explore the paintings and the secrets therein of artist Bosch? Both music and graphics are unique and exciting. The narrative reminds me much of the works of Joestin Gaarder, an old childhood favorite of mine. It's The Matrix and Alice in Wonderland and Sophies World set in a world of intriguing history, art, religion and the potential growth that comes with the alienation of youth.

Dog of Dracula: Barbecue Densetsu/Dog of Dracula 2: Cyber Monogatari
Wonderful neo/cyberpunk noir pastiche which is both hillarously funny and dead-serious as the same time. Despite its very short length, it managed to draw me in and care about the world and its inhabitants which left me wanting more, much more, and also to consider what video games I've played gave me the most laughs (list below.

East van EP/Oracle (ceMelusine)
I love the people behind Silverstring (ceMelusine is part of Silverstring), because of Glitchhikers, and because of Azraels Stop. This game wasn't as interesting, although more evocative than increpares newest "let your mind fall to rest", which too is a form of tarot-reading. Imagery is quite sublime, but it's not something I'm prone to return to, nor give much thought in retrospect, as opposed to the aforementioned games.

Girls Like Robots: NerdfestHey, a girls needs to have fun, right?

Niddhogg (Messhof)
Played it with a friend. Crazy, wicked fun I haven't had since Samurai Gunn! Hopefully will be seeing much more of this. I hate to say this, but I enjoyed it more than Johann Sebastian Joust (and I hate to say it beause I'm all for physicality in video games, alternative controllers and folk games).

Octodad: Dadliest CatchThe second really funny game this week I played! Humor is a rarity when it comes to video games, especially humor which isn't all scripted and script, but comes from the interaction with the world. Seems like a worthy successor to the original game. The coop is killer.

Rehearsals and ReturnsNow when it's finally free to download, I gave it a spin. It is interesting in the way that it feels compelling without having very much there to begin with, but it probably could be realized better somehow. Even just by letting people choose whom to interact with. Since the game is so much about player input, it could have gone further yet and probably be more cathartic for it.

Spelunky
Yeah. So it came out on the PS4 and me and my friend thought we'd give it a try. I can sort of image us sitting there, playing it a month from now, cursing ourselves and the game. But honestly I just don't think it's for me - too frustrating. But I do love cooperative video games and although they seem to be all the rage right now, I still feel there is a shortage on good ones.

Stopped playing:  Wasteland 2. Yes, the second part of the game is better. And yet, I started to grow tired well before the second part, and now that I'm like 80% in, I'm giving up for now. I'd give it a 7/10, probably 8 if I'm in a good mood, which I'm not anymore since I feel it doesn't do the things it sets you up to believe it will do. Well, some of that surely is my own fault, but still - I'm tired of wanting to roleplay and act as if the things I feel and do carry weight, only to realize that they indeed do not, and I was a fool for thinking so. The only recourse then is to play a game parallel to the video game in front of you, where the motivations of your characters make sense. But try to mesh this world of fantasy in your head with the one on the screen in front of you and the world of your imagination gives way to the two-dimensional illusions of programming. I get the choice to pick a character which has kids and I can enter the age of this character, say 50+. Do the kids make any appearance of any kind in the game? No. And people still call me "youngster". Sure, I use this person to talk with people, because in my mind this character is the leader of my ranger pack. But it doesn't make any difference. Yeah, I can add more charisma to this character so that they gain levels faster and thus become "more experienced" ("older") than my other party members, but meh. A couple of levels of difference after 50 hours?

I just wish I'd come across an RPG where after playing it I wouldn't feel that I tried to give way too much credit to its ambitions, expected way too much in terms of reactivity to the way I play and feel and act and roleplay. There are other problems with Wasteland, such as the fact that "choices" don't seem to matter, and I don't only mean that in the way that there doesn't seem to be any gravitas to ones interaction with the world (although that too is true, since the characters aren't well-developed enough for me to care all that much, basically the same problem I have with Bethesdas games and the former Fallouts, although Fallout 1 & 2 made up for that with a really mysterious, interesting and alive world and its open-ended system of exploring it), but that many of the choices that you'd think matter (do I choose repair mechanic or computer science) seem to come down to... whatever. It just doesn't matter. It doesn't matter for my character which has perception as a skill, because it doesn't matter who has perception as a skill, and because my character isn't changed by being perceptive in any way, and me being perceptive barely matters for other characters as well - mainly it gives me the opportunity to spot more digging grounds where I can dig for buried scraps which means more money. In the end it doesn't matter also because there is probably another way of solving the problem in front of you, and it doesn't matter which one you choose. Chances are you have both options available in the party anyway, unless you want to roleplay and not game the system by having each party members specializing in certain fields, but then you'd just go back to playing that parallel game in your mind, which at least I need some small input from the outside world (game system) in order to stay interested in. If you don't have the skills in the party, eh, just blow the wall up instead of kicking it down. It will just cost you some money. In the end skills become cash. Everything becomes cash. And loot. Loot everywhere. And the numbers don't add up, either, seeing how I've maxed skills and still see the "impossible" icon on chests and locks and whathaveyou, which according to the explanation of how the skills are implemented in the game just doesn't make sense. Sure, it's interesting that you can play "on the fly" and just roll with the punches as superbunnyhop would have it, and fail at half the things you try to do. But eventually I just stop caring due to everything being random - contents of chests and such - and just feel that opening stuff is a waste of my time.

I am disappointed. Planescape seems to be a game about something else entirely, so I do hope Inexile deliver on those promises (every combat encounter will count, etc) even if they believe that what they did with Wasteland 2 was good for Wasteland 2.




Funny/Humoristic Games

That's funny...Day of the Tentacle
Conker's Bad Fur Day
Deadline, or, Being Douglas Adams (Gunther Schmidl)
Grim Fandango
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams/Steve Meretzky)
Sam & Max Hit the Road
Slavoj Žižek Makes A Twine Game (Cameron Kunzelman)
The Apprentice II: Knights Move (Herculean Effort Productions)

LOL

Dink Smallwood
Katamari Damacy
Little Girl In Underland (Lively Ivy/Erin Robinson)
Psychonauts
Sam & Max Season 1&2
The Journey Down: Over The Edge/The Journey Down: Chapter Two (Theodor Waern)
Thirty Flights of Loving/Gravity Bone (Brendon Chung/Blendo Games)
Warioware Inc: Minigame Mania

XD
Dog of Dracula: Barbecue Densetsu/Dog of Dracula 2: Cyber Monogatari
Jazzpunk
Portal 1 & 2
Soviet Unterzögersdorf (Monochrom)
The Secret of Monkey Island (and the rest of them)
The Stanley Parable HD Remix/The Stanley Parable Demo (Galactic Café/Davey Wreden)









§PATHOLOGIC!!!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1535515364/pathologic/posts (yes, all of them)








§INTERACTIVE FICTION
Ice-Bound: A Novel of Reconfiguration
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1850151847/ice-bound-a-novel-of-reconfiguration

§

Our design for Ice-Bound rejects both branching-path models of interactive story as well as overly simulationist approaches
, targeting a middle-road aesthetic of sculptural construction that marries a focus on quality output with the player's exploration of both an emergent expressive space and an AR-enabled art book.
http://www.fdg2014.org/papers/fdg2014_paper_23.pdf

§

This paper introduces a new set of design-time visualizations for combinatorial interactive narrative authoring. By using these visualizations during thd creation of Ice-Bound (an interactive narrative iPad game) we were able to author content within a large combinatorial possibility space, and achieve both desired player freedom and content responsiveness
http://fdg2014.org/papers/fdg2014_paper_10.pdf

§

First up is combinatorial narrative, as we think this is the heart of what sets Ice-Bound apart from other story-games. It’s fairly complex, but we’re going to try and distill it down into something easily digestible.
http://ice-bound.com/news/combinatorial_narrative/

§

Riffing on the dramatic concept of Chekhov’s gun, which states that everything introduced into a story should serve a narrative purpose, we’ve taken to calling our model “Chekhov’s dollhouse.” Do you put the spotlight on the gun over the mantelpiece, and bring it (and the violence it implies) into your story? Or do you put the focus somewhere else? Unlike branching path models, where making a choice is usually irreversible and high-consequence (even if the consequence is only wondering what you missed), with our model you can freely rearrange the story as much or little as you like before committing to a single configuration, as easily as rearranging the furniture in a dollhouse.
http://ice-bound.com/news/combinatorial-narrative-part-two/

§

Conventional game design often denies players the act of interpretation./.../
I just want to raise the question as to why there isn’t a lot of interpretation going on in games. My hunch is because of the canonized idea of games mostly being composed of rules that need to be fairly communicated to the player, vagueness is discouraged.
http://www.mattiebrice.com/further-thoughts-on-the-tarot-and-interpretation/

§

"You are Kickstarting Ice-Bound; an interactive piece of sculptural fiction and, uhm, what is sculptural fiction?"
"It's a term I've started using to describe a break away from the "branching path" model of interactive narrative. I also sometimes call this the "rat in a maze" model, because a) you can't usually see the big picture, b) often have no way of knowing what, if anything, you're missing when you make a choice, and c) it's usually difficult to go back and try again: you either have to restart from scratch, or laboriously retrace your steps. "Some of my recent projects, including Ice-Bound and 18 Cadence, are experiments towards a different approach: one where you can see the whole story at once, and make small, reversible decisions about its form, rather than big, high-consequence choices. The analogy is to the act of sculpting: iteratively making changes, large and small, until you arrive at something you're satisfied with. This is interesting to me because it pushes the player away from being an "actor" within a story, to something more like a "director" or "editor." I've always wanted my players to feel like they're collaborating with me in telling a story, and sculptural fiction is a move closer towards that ideal.
http://indiegames.com/2014/10/aaron_a_reed_on_ice-bound_and_.html

§

Elegy for a Dead World: A Game About Writing Fiction
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dejobaan/elegy-for-a-dead-world-a-game-about-writing-fictio








§OTHER VIDEOS
The True Legend of Hyrule
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/qsso4i/the-final-bosman-the-true-legend-of-hyrule

§

Majora's African Roots pt. 1 (Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask) - Culture Shock
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Un1iv1Ws5XU

§

Extra Credits - Digging Deeper - Do Games Have Less Value than Other Media?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lPUlN0dnKk

§

All Games Are Created Equal
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/r270r0/the-final-bosman-all-games-are-created-equal

§

Should League of Legends Be a High School Sport? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ypx5rbkAzpk

§

Why Does Mario's Jump Feel So Awesome? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2oV2DQ2dEA

§

James Recommends - Analysis! - Wasteland 2 - A New Old School Fallout Game?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpSA7MAQxlE

§

Extra Credits - Big Bad II - What Makes a Good Villain?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyDx5nG7koA

§

Interplay Part 1: Meteoric Rise
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srdR55V7D-s







§OTHER ARTICLES
Alien: Isolation is an interesting game. It is the latest entry in a lineage of games that I refer to as horror simulators. It does an excellent job at creating tension and uses a lot of the knowledge built up over the years to great success. But, because it has such a laser focus on a certain type of play a bunch problems arise and other parts of the package suffer. It is a great game in many ways, truly excellent really, but there are some fundamental problems. These lead to, for me at least, a devastating flaw: At its core it fails to be a faithful emulation of the original Alien (1979) movie. Before we can properly discuss the game, we need to talk some video game history and design theory. Over the past, there has been two different schools of horror games. One that has a horror wrapping on top of standardized gameplay (horror wrapping) and one that tries to recreate the happenings of a scary movie/novel (horror simulation). The former is quite well known and started with games like Lurking Horror (1987). Mechanically, the game played like other contemporary adventure games, but took place in a scary setting with events meant to frighten the player. The latter one is a bit harder to nail down precisely, but I would say it started out with a 3D Monster Maze (1982), a game that is neatly captured in its name: the player is trapped in maze and needs to escape a monster (in this case a heavily pixelated T-Rex).
/.../
Just as the horror genre stagnated in the mid 2000s, because horror was merely a wrapping, the same might happen if we fail to move beyond "chased by monster" scenarios. While there is nothing wrong with these sort of games, I think it would be foolish to be satisfied with just that. There is so much more to explore in horror, and the success of recent horror simulators gives me hope that video games can handle it.
http://frictionalgames.blogspot.se/2014/10/thoughts-on-alien-isolation-and-horror.html

§

Just as there are real contradictions to the exercise of sovereign exception, the use of such power within the rules of a video game, even one whose trademark is branching-path storytelling, remains a technical impossibility. Mass Effect seems to solve this problem by making the agency of Shepard rather illusory. As players, we are meant to feel that we share Shepard’s sovereign power, but the intrinsic contradictions of that power, mirrored by our subordination as consumers to the game design, give the Spectres a deeper, if more problematic, meaning.
http://www.firstpersonscholar.com/blasto-sacer/

§

“The project that ended up on the shelves would never have been signed off by anyone up front,” Barlow says of the total overhaul of the classic Silent Hill formula. “It wasn’t like right back at the start we just pitched what became the game and everyone came on board. It very much just kind of meandered.”
/.../
“The driving thing was exploring different ways of using interactivity,” Barlow says. “There’s so much data that games take on board about their player – we know where you are, what you’re looking at, how long you spend looking at things, what you’re doing – but 99 per cent of games don’t use any of that.”
http://www.edge-online.com/features/the-making-of-silent-hill-shattered-memories/

§

Water Temple Analysis: Part 1
the design of the Water Temple is incredibly flawed on both large and small scales. But perhaps this also achieves an effect that matches up with what the Water Temple is trying to achieve in the context of the game’s narrative?
http://hapticfeedbackgames.blogspot.se/2014/10/water-temple-analysis-part-1.html



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

7/10

§VIDEOS
Errant Signal - Glitchhikers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMqfFWQgzZY

§

Extra Credits - Free to Play Is Currently Broken - How High Costs Drive Players Away from F2P Games
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwI0u9L4R8U

§

Extra Credits - MMO Economies - How to Manage Inflation in Virtual Economies
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W39TtF14i8I

§

Are 50% of Gamers Women? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILMiw9KGJd8

§

Review: Wasteland 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnxdNncArdo

§

Game Reviews Are Weird
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/59gebk/the-final-bosman-game-reviews-are-weird

§

Japan's Commercials Are Better
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/vfm6qp/the-final-bosman-japan-s-commercials-are-better

§

Would You Want To Live In Sword Art Online? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32DwPB15a0M

§

Damn, That's Romance
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/49q706/the-final-bosman-damn--that-s-romance

§

This One's For the Pervs
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/w1j40q/the-final-bosman-this-one-s-for-the-pervs







§ARTICLES
The news that Mojang is to be sold to Microsoft undoubtedly causes a lot of upset for some. Minecraft, more cultural phenomenon than game at this point, has had a breadth of appeal unlike almost any other game. And Microsoft aren’t exactly at the top of most PC games player’s Christmas card lists. It’s very easy to see the news and immediately consider it bad news. But perhaps we should pause, and wonder if this might be something worth celebrating?http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/09/15/opinion-maybe-microsoft-buying-mojang-is-a-good-thing/

§

Thoughts on Microsoft Buying Mojang | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp_A0NUpM3M

§

Destiny‘s story fails because it tries to employ the evocation effect to a database.
http://thiscageisworms.com/2014/09/15/destinyandwriting/


§

The hand-drawn fighting game background is a fading art, kept alive by the crew at SNK Playmore, keeping the lights on in the King of the Fighters series and the tireless hardcore savants at Arc System Works.
http://www.joystiq.com/2014/09/29/scenes-of-calm-and-chaos-artists-on-fighting-game-backgrounds-w/

§

Treachery has long been an important aspect of competitive boardgames, but in videogames there seems to be far less betrayal between players.
http://blog.ihobo.com/2014/09/treacherous-play.html

§

something I think Metal Gear Solid asks us to consider constantly: the very nature of interactivity means there is no fourth wall to break. A video game story necessarily exists in a world that includes the player, not just the character they control, and you can’t simply pretend they don’t exist.
/.../
Metal Gear has a reputation for extremely long sequences of passive acceptance as waves of chatter and floods of cutscenes wash over the player, but it is to be commended for proudly stating that the player is an important part of the puzzle. From the moment Colonel Campbell tells us about the Select button, the game is making a statement. You are not controlling Snake, you are Snake; and this universe only exists because you interact with it. The burden of the player’s role is exactly why games have the power to tell stories unlike anything you can find elsewhere.
http://www.electricphantasms.com/self-awareness-interactivity-and-metal-gears-three-walls/

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

2/9

§GAME SERIES
§SILENT HILL§ That's what has been missing from the series. The manipulation. The off-kilter madness. The worlds within worlds on top of worlds, in Silent Hill itself and between the player and the game, all tied together in an elaborate metatextual knot. The sequels, particularly those developed in the west, saw only the gore and the monsters. They saw Pyramid Head as an iconic slasher movie villain rather than a very specific Jungian symbol. They saw the fog, the meat and the rust, heard the sirens, and slavishly copied them while spectacularly missing the point.

Finally, that may be about to change. Hideo Kojima has long said he'd love to make a Silent Hill game, and since this is the guy who made Psycho Mantis taunt you with the contents of your memory card, I'm confident he sees the potential for more than just a gonzo splatter game.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-08-17-why-silent-hill-2-is-still-the-most-disturbing-game-ever-made

§

§BIOSHOCK§
Bioshock 2 is the best Bioshock. It has the best gameplay and story, yes, but it also is the best at being Bioshock.
/.../
 Bioshock is about extreme philosophy, parenthood, and the subversion of flesh, mind, and environment. Bioshock 2 is the purest instance of this formula.
/.../
The other Bioshock games present philosophies of abuse and ask you to lend them credibility. Bioshock 2 hands you apparently-nurturing altruism and asks you to see the darkness in it. Not only is that more interesting but it’s also more ethical.
http://ludusnovus.net/2014/08/29/the-sublime-bioshock-2/







§COMMUNITY

We, “video games,” do not “take care of our own.”

On the contrary: We expect freelance professionals to function as our avatars, to say and do what we ourselves wish we could say and do. And when the battle becomes too much—when the fight is too great, the baddies too numerous—we absolve ourselves by shutting off the Xbox.

http://infinitelives.net/2014/08/31/you-have-to-protect-yourself/
§

Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn & More
| Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO8Cck3vm_o

§

Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 - Tropes vs Women in Video Games
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5i_RPr9DwMA

§

The News is Ruined
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/qc6a91/the-final-bosman-the-news-is-ruined

PC vs Console: Why the Hate?
| Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XH1UuxxmiQ4

Design Club - The Blue Shell - Why Mario Kart's Most Hated Item Makes It Better
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFfga8-3SZI







§DESIGN
Extra Credits - First Move Advantage - How to Balance Turn-Based Games
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRHdIScOMWQ
§

Castlevania & History Special - Did You Know Gaming? Feat. Markiplier
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WY1TUJal0E

§

Games typically want to communicate the importance of the power to choose, while pieces like Benthic Love have you contemplate the function of choosing anything in the first place.
http://www.mattiebrice.com/benthic-love/

Thursday, August 21, 2014

21/8

§HISTORY LESSON
A few years ago Kirk Battle, going under the pseudonym L.B. Jefferies, was one of the most prolific critics of the burgeoning amateur bloggers arising from the boom of 2007 and 2008.

http://www.critical-distance.com/2014/08/15/episode-19-a-critic-by-his-window/

§

43 hours after the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter launched it was funded. Fargo was at inXile's office outside Los Angeles at the time. The team was "doing a little jig" he says. "It was like a New Year's Eve countdown. The first 10 years I couldn't even get the trademark. Then another eight years of hardcore pitching getting nowhere. It was a great moment."
/.../
"It was amazing to me," Fargo recalls. "When you do contracts they come from anywhere but trust. You have 10 pages of pain about how to get paid. What happens if you're not on time? They could take your project away from you. They could take your trademark. They could shut down your company. They could take over your company. They could sue your company. You can have damages that are related not just to that but to their stock market price dropping. You can be on the hook literally for a billion dollars for screwing up a contract. I came from that world to, 'here's the money up front, Brian. We trust you.' What a difference."
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-08-05-the-long-journey-of-wasteland-2

§

The Secret History of Videogames & The Military
| Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsNrHwPdIDc







§ZELDA


Some could argue that, because Yuga is the one who patronizes and objectifies women, and because Link eventually kicks Yuga’s ass, the game itself is presenting these behaviours as unacceptable. I disagree. Just as a text is not feminist just because its heroine is strong a game does not become un-sexist when it features a villain rather than a hero acting in a sexist manner. Let’s face it: The Legend of Zelda’s history does not do it any favours.
http://big-tall-words.com/2014/07/28/my-last-princess-women-as-objects-in-the-legend-of-zelda-a-link-between-worlds/

The Zelda series is a garden you can keep inside your drawer, not a wide, expansive landscape that absorbs you. The environment in Oracle of Seasons, and to a less direct extent, in other Zelda games, is both an enemy and a lover. It’s the uncomfortable source of conflict, theme, plot — it’s something to be feared and understood and respected, but also something to overcome. It has authority over me as the game system, but it can also be gamed. It can destroy me, and it can also be destroyed. It has a precarious but learnable pattern. Master that pattern. When it swings left, go right. Harmonize with that pattern, like Din’s dance. Master the dance, and master nature.
http://www.pushselectmagazine.com/2013/07/17/man-vs-dungeon-ecology-in-zelda-and-the-conquest-of-nature/





§VIDEOS
Game Theory: World of Warcraft will SAVE the Economy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDfNoCjtXvQ

§

Queer Mechanics in Tabletop Games
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1vxuNdMCF-dlHcWFf5mYAGw55FwqNFtSYPYk83zB8O8I/edit#slide=id.g24620197_09

§

PlayStation Now Is Here. Streaming is Popularizing. God Save Us.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeX38RD52-4

§

How Are Games Biased Against the Disabled? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyASY5wv_Qo








§DESIGN
Wayward Manor goes most wayward in terms of game design, such that the possibility of interacting inside a Gaiman story in a meaningful way becomes impossible. We are left with a game that, rather than immersing us in story, stands as proof that games don’t just need better writer to make game stories better.
http://killscreendaily.com/articles/how-does-wayward-manor-fit-neil-gaimans-ouevre-it-doesnt/

§

Violence is seldom framed for what it is: uncontrollable, self-perpetuating and unpredictable. Games treat violence as a stable fuel for their ambitions.

http://big-tall-words.com/2014/08/13/everything-looks-like-a-nail/

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

5/8

§NOW AND THEN
Extra Credits - Episode 200! - How Far Have Games Come Since 2008?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKmNzujz-Aw

§

Is Minecraft the Most Important Game Right Now? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkKNt6Xq1dY

§

Retro Review: System Shock 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vnh0l_Ecpx4






§DESIGN
SWT - Inputs and the Rift
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEht8W6w2Rc

§

Players sit up and pay more attention when they think they might die. Permadeath games and the like don't even bother with the fake-out; if you make a mistake, boom, goodbye, thanks for playing.
/.../
Quicksaves, regenerating health and other sorts of developer generosity are well-intentioned but often diminish the experience. These systems make no demands, so the player sleepwalks through the game. Let's call it: some of these shooters are just walking simulators with a bit of colourful pizazz. There's nothing to lose, so there's nothing to play for. This isn't to say all games need extraordinary challenge, but how risk compensation affects player behaviour is not something that should be ignored. Tricks to simulate risk might work but it's all too possible players will figure them out after which point they begin to relax. Suddenly, it's a walking simulator.
http://www.electrondance.com/how-to-stop-making-players-lazy




§QUEER
Kim Kardashian is surfing this wave of male tears all the way to the bank. In a world with limited opportunities for famous women as they age, Kardashian broke the Internet simply by lending her likeness to a single mobile game. And to read Kardashian as a vapid figure who does not deserve her fame is to fundamentally misunderstand the ways in which women exercise agency within the sexist constraints of celebrity culture.
http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/hating-kim-kardashian-makes-her-stronger/

§

Let’s talk about how folks in fandom were rewriting [Mass Effect 3] in a massive variety of creative and clever ways for over a year before that one dudebro did it, in horribly out-of-character quasi-prose, and was the subject of front-page Kotaku articles showcasing his devotion to the series.

Let’s talk about how female-dominated fannish spaces have been around for decades. Let’s talk about how “fans brought back Star Trek in the 70s!” always brings to mind stereotypical Trekkie dudes and not the women who were actually organizing and running conventions.

Let’s talk about how women are over 50% of moviegoers. Let’s talk about how women make up nearly 50% of gamers. Let’s talk about how, despite all this, the industry is still almost entirely guys making content for guys.


I’m just saying. Let’s fucking talk about this.
http://eponymous-rose.tumblr.com/post/84698057207/wait-wait-wait-while-im-still-having-my-grumpy


Sunday, July 27, 2014

27/7

§DESIGN

Sequelitis - ZELDA: A Link to the Past vs. Ocarina of Time
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOC3vixnj_0

§

Extra Credits - The Fighting Game Problem - How to Teach Complicated Mechanics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_xG1Yg_QoM

§

Design Club - Super Mario Bros: Level 1-1 - Game Analysis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH2wGpEZVgE

§

Design Club - Portal: Test Chambers - Tutorial Mechanics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_AsF3Rfw8w

§

Design Club - Mark of the Ninja - Stealth Games and Visual Cues
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vJNqseX-rs

§

Extra Credits - Choices vs Consequences - What Player Decisions Mean in Games https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iklM_djBeY

§

Let's Talk About Boring Upgrade Systems
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TR-EuyU2hb8

§

Errant Signal - Civilization
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBlEscMLjy0


§MISC VIDEOS
Can We Ever Stop Toxic, Racist, & Abusive Gamers?? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yvISdKG7Ng

§

Why Do People Do Sick and Twisted Things in DayZ?
| Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3B2s-wswcM

§

Extra Credits - The Waiting Game - Why Weird Games Become Cult Hits
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptk93AyICH0

§

Why is SEX So Terrible in Videogames? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vASCpg8TetY





§MISC ARTICLES

Zelda: Sales Numbers in Context
http://www.zeldainformer.com/articles/zelda-sales-numbers-in-context#.U7qOVbGA91S

§

If “Rugby is a beastly game played by gentlemen and soccer is a gentleman's game played by beasts,” as the age-old sports quote playfully asserts, then Call of Duty is an adult game played by children and Super Smash Bros. is a children’s game played by adults.
http://killscreendaily.com/articles/melee-masterpiece-melee-demon/

§

Lovecraft’s protagonists are always men of learning, the brightest sparks of all that we have built; their understanding makes their fall so much the greater.

The terms used to illustrate this dark realization are many. The scholar Timothy Evans (in his essay “A Last Defense Against the Dark: Folklore, Horror, and the Uses of Tradition in the Works of H. P. Lovecraft”) describes the structure with reference to the tropes of a detective story, in that the Lovecraftian narrative “leads not to a solution (like a detective story), but to a realization of the illusory nature of truth and the unknowability of the cosmos.”
/.../
In this vein, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is an almost textbook Lovecraftian horror. The creeping darkness that hounds the cultured protagonist – remember, he is an archeologist – is a profoundly alien and horrifying presence.
/.../
But Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is a very different beast.

/.../
What A Machine for Pigs presents us with is moral cosmic horror – that the universe, despite the walls and roof of laws and morals and the illusion of progress, is a ravenous and bloody place; that the world’s turning is predicated on suffering; that time and time again, despite whatever moral window-dressing we put up to improve the decor, we cannot bleach away fresh bloodstains.
http://gamesarenotart.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/a-machine-for-pigs-and-cosmic-horror/

§

A secret box is a game which is built around some form of content and challenge is trivial or absent. The emphasis is on conveying moments or ideas to the player rather than testing the player's abilities.
/.../
So screw your “walking simulators”. I've got a mountain of secret boxes over here that I'm anxious to explore.
http://www.electrondance.com/screw-your-walking-simulators

§

Hollywood needs a love story. It’s hard to imagine a film like Her without one. But love stories assume not only that direct, sensual connections between beings is possible, but that such relations are our ultimate goal. Mountain imagines Her as if the film been titled It instead. It offers a subtler version of what a life attached to unfamiliar things might feel like. Not comfort or intimacy, but estrangement and confusion, mixed with curiosity and wonder. But most of all, while Her depicts a future on an alternate timeline we must struggle to believe, Mountain reminds us that we need not wait to commune with things. They’re everywhere, overwhelming us, sticking to us, piling up around us. And they are here not to save you, nor to destroy you. They are just here. What if that were enough?
http://bogost.com/writing/mountain/