Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

29Oct/150

Talos, 3: Where The Words End, The World Ends

This is the final part of a three-part essay on The Talos Principle which includes commentary from writers Jonas Kyratzes and Tom Jubert. The first part and second parts were posted earlier this week.

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“There was nothing here when I first arrived. Did you know that?”

After completing The Talos Principle, I immediately bought The Road to Gehenna. Whereas I played Talos over nine months, I was more aggressive in working through Gehenna, tearing through it in a matter of weeks... although I fear the word “tear” has overstated my skills. It would be more accurate to write I “oozed through it like syrup”.

Gehenna is incredible. It’s so good that I now tend to think of Talos as a prequel to Gehenna.

Spoilers for The Talos Principle and The Road to Gehenna follow.

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28Oct/154

Talos, 2: I Am The Words

This is the second part of a three-part essay on The Talos Principle which includes commentary from writers Jonas Kyratzes and Tom Jubert. The first part was posted yesterday.

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“I see now that none of us are yet ready. The cycle exists so that we may improve ourselves. But the one who reaches the summit is not our superior, for they stand on our shoulders to reach it.”

-- The Shepherd v82.6.0174

When I first saw the QR texts, I sighed. Jesus, not another game with it’s-not-exposition-honest-guv graffiti on the wall! I initially paid little attention to them, reading them out of a completist need to do everything. But gradually I realised the walls held stories.

Spoilers for The Talos Principle follow.

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27Oct/153

Talos, 1: The Words Made The World

This is the first part of a three-part essay on The Talos Principle which includes commentary from writers Jonas Kyratzes and Tom Jubert.

Talos Beams

“In the beginning were the Words, and the Words made the world. I am the Words. The Words are everything. Where the Words end the world ends. You cannot go forward in an absence of space. Repeat.”

The most glorious moment in The Talos Principle (Croteam, 2014) is one that comes again and again. The moment occurs when a “sigil” is liberated from a devious puzzle, but the sigil itself is an empty token of advancement, the kind of dull trinket that games thrive on. No. The sigil has no power.

Turn around. Don’t speed on to the next challenge, just stop. Turn around and survey the glorious red and blue stitchwork you've sewn across the puzzle. Look at this ingenious thing you have made and be proud.

Spoilers for The Infinite Ocean and The Talos Principle follow.

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19May/156

Side by Side: Bloop

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is episode 17 of 17.

In the final episode of the first series, Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly twist their fingers around Rusty Moyher's Bloop. A game so simple it makes you wonder why no one did it before.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

  • "It has a lot more depth and play to it than we thought."
  • "Now there's not much to this, but it's remarkable how enjoyable that was."
  • Bloop is available on iOS, Android and Kindle.
  • Side by Side hasn't done stunningly well, but we're not about to throw in the towel yet. We're planning on a second series which will start later this year.
  • If you enjoyed the series, please like our videos and subscribe to our channel.

The series theme is the delightful "Adventures in your sleep" by The Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra.

14May/156

Side by Side: Shot Shot Shoot

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is episode 16 of 17.

This week Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly try to make every shot count in the amazing Shot Shot Shoot by Erik Svedang. With an aesthetic that's much closer to the Atari 2600 than the NES style that passes for "retro", Shot Shot Shoot challenges players to fire a barrage of missiles at their opponent to level all their bases. It's like a two-player missile command and it's bloody good.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

The series theme is the delightful "Adventures in your sleep" by The Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra.

14Apr/153

Side by Side: Duel

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is episode 15 of 17.

This week Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly tackle head-on a game called Duel written by relative unknown Joel Goodwin. Uh, what? Did we just actually cross an ethical line there? Gregg and Joel are "reviewing" their own games now? Brilliant! I bet you can't wait for the next episode where they shill for Satan.

In Duel, two players have to ram each other into oblivion - if they get the timing right. And if they can see each other. Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

The series theme is the delightful "Adventures in your sleep" by The Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra.

24Mar/1510

Counterweight 16: Leaving Las Videogames

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It's the final episode of Counterweight which also means it's goodbye to Eric Brasure, co-host of Trekabout and the award-nominated (and defunct) The Next Stop Is... podcast.

As Eric hangs up his videogame cape for good, we take this moment to reflect on why anyone should bother in the videogame space. You won't make money and everyone will hate you. Our last conversation lurches from topic to topic but the common theme is a lingering, sad sigh over everything videogames.

It's been two and half years since Eric joined the site and I'm sad to see him go, but it was my decision to end the podcast. I like the way Counterweight turned out and I think our best podcasts were the ones on Bioshock Infinite (oh the anger) and Banished (how technical can you get), but Counterweight was one of the few dissenting voices on Papers, Please (we felt it had problems).

Thank you to the devoted few who enjoyed listening to Eric and myself talk into the mic.

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:

 

19Dec/141

Counterweight 15: Banished

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In this penultimate episode of Counterweight, Eric Brasure of Trekabout and Joel Goodwin discuss fiendish resource management game Banished (Shining Rock Software, 2014). Eric has 70 hours of Banished play under his belt, so he knows what he's talking about.

Contents

02:20 "You just like seeing the numbers going up and everything doing well"

03:40 "At it's core, it's very much a keep-these-people-alive sort of game"

04:40 "I like the fact there is no combat, it's not about fighting or defending territory"

07:20 "I was very concerned... that the other shoe was going to drop at any moment."

09:00 "So it is a very, very unforgiving game, but I think that's one of the reasons why I like it"

10:40 "It's amazing that this game was made by one person, frankly"

13:30 "That's a very controversial design decision actually"

19:20 "The game can collapse on you at any point, though"

25:30 "I never felt that it was the game's fault."

32:30 "I didn't tend to think of people as individuals but I tended to make stories of the town."

35:20 "You suddenly realise this little walk they do... is a significant amount of game time."

39:30 "And the game is just saying You know what? You're going to have to suck it up and learn."

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:

References

You can subscribe directly to Counterweight via iTunes or RSS.

13Dec/142

The Conversation, 4: Turn Off The Recorder

The Conversation is a retelling of my meeting with Dan Stubbs, who is developing the probably-too-ambitious-for-its-own-good game, The Hit. In part one, we discussed the squandered promise of the GTA open world model, in part two, the restrained ambitions of AAA. and part three touched on financial success and multiplayer. This is the final part.

Moiety

Moiety

While we headed towards his flat, Dan Stubbs made a stray observation that perhaps Mike Bithell is “betraying” his audience making a Metal Gear Solid game when they probably bought into him for more Thomas Was Alone. But we didn’t discuss the problem of developers trying to buck their stereotype (like Chris Park from AI War to Tidalis) and focused instead on Metal Gear Solid, because Stubbs loved that game, even though it is well-known for, er, cutscenes.

Metal Gear Solid is pure opera,” he mused. “It has events that are so much larger than life and is fantastic because of it. People moan about the insanely long cutscenes but they're as much a part of it as anything else.”

“It's why people buy it,” I added.

“I think Metal Gear Solid is one of the best narrative games because it is so self-aware about what it is doing, about the fact that it is so completely ludicrous and over the top. But it's playful - and I think this is one of the most important things - there's far too many cutscenes that aren't, just portentous doom-laden things, where Very Serious Things happen.”

We crossed the road.

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24Nov/140

The Conversation, 3: Win Cash Prizes

The Conversation is a retelling of my meeting with Dan Stubbs, who is developing the probably-too-ambitious-for-its-own-good game, The Hit. In part one, we discussed the squandered promise of the GTA open world model and in part two, the restrained ambitions of AAA.

conv3-minecraft

What is The Hit?

When I originally arranged to meet Dan Stubbs I thought of it as a GTA open world with a bit of dynamic narrative trickery, but as time went by, I realised I was trying to visualise a ten-dimensional object in my head: all I could see was a three-dimensional slice of the whole. Stubbs had said that giant AAA projects were “like a collection of different things” but that’s all I really appreciated of The Hit.

“I'm taking development at my own pace,” he told me, still in the coffee shop, forced to listen to an endless torrent of the 80's greatest hits. “So if you make your own world, I want you to put your own money up so that if people can beat your own story or win whatever goal you set, they actually have a reason to play it.”

Beat your own story. Or win whatever goal you set? This didn’t sound like the GTA open world with emergent narrative system I had pictured in my head... it sounded more player-authored?

“Whether they are winning pennies or a fortune, whatever, it doesn't matter. But I love the possibility of advertisers being able to have a ‘Cokeworld’ and you actually go there because you think you can win money. Or film tie-ins or something.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Time to talk about money. And ethics.

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