Sunday, October 19, 2014


§§§§§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.

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)


Dink Smallwood
Katamari Damacy
Little Girl In Underland (Lively Ivy/Erin Robinson)
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

Dog of Dracula: Barbecue Densetsu/Dog of Dracula 2: Cyber Monogatari
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!!! (yes, all of them)

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.


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


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.


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.


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.


"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.


Elegy for a Dead World: A Game About Writing Fiction

The True Legend of Hyrule


Majora's African Roots pt. 1 (Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask) - Culture Shock


Extra Credits - Digging Deeper - Do Games Have Less Value than Other Media?


All Games Are Created Equal


Should League of Legends Be a High School Sport? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios


Why Does Mario's Jump Feel So Awesome? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios


James Recommends - Analysis! - Wasteland 2 - A New Old School Fallout Game?


Extra Credits - Big Bad II - What Makes a Good Villain?


Interplay Part 1: Meteoric Rise

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.


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.


“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.”


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?

No comments:

Post a Comment