This link drag features contributions from Paolo Pedercini, Eric Swain, Robert Yang and some guy called Eric Brasure. What should indie developers aspire to? What was Dear Esther about? And Frog Fractions?
"Toward Independence - Indiecade 2012" by Paolo Pedercini (Molleindustria), 23 Oct 2012. Some readers may be aware that I've been finding the "indie" label increasingly troublesome, with A Weaponized Machine bringing these issues to the fore. Here is an inspiring presentation given at Indiecade where Pedercini tackles these issues head-on and redefines independence as a process, an aspiration. Please read this one.
Corporations say: “So you want to be independent? You want to make your own game? That’s cool with us. You take all the entrepreneurial risk. We’ll just make sure you have to be still dependent on us for its distribution so we can claim a big chunk of the revenues.”
"The Haunting of Dear Esther" by Eric Swain (Pop Matters), 09 Oct 2012. This is what I would have liked to have written about Dear Esther and Swain does a much better job than I did at finding some meaning in the game.
Except, he begins his journey anew at the lighthouse. He haunts the island as he now begins his repeated journeys going over the same false, meaningless data he possessed in life. All the artifacts of his solitary existence are there, but he cannot interact with them. He cannot touch the letters, open the books, or move the furniture. He is a ghost forever wandering, his own quiet, subdued existential nightmare in search of meaning.
"A People's History of the FPS" by Robert Yang (Rock Paper Shotgun), 19-21 Oct 2012. An alternative reading of FPS history that puts the mod community centre stage. I sense Yang had problems finding a way to wrap up but it is still crucial reading. It is in three parts: The WAD, The Mod and The Postmod. (I was a big follower of the aborted Nightwatch HL1 mod.)
I was 15 when I joined Nightwatch, an epic Half-Life 1 mod made by a dream team of veteran modders, replete with new weapons, voice acting, monsters, scripted sequences, and a 10 hour single player campaign with 99% custom art. We were the Black Mesa Source of the Half-Life 1 community, except we never released anything.
"Retro/Grade: If I Could Turn Back Time" by Justin McElroy (Polygon), 23 Aug 2012. A warning for indie developers about work/life balance.
"When the day was over my wife looked so happy and she said she had such a great a time; it was eye opening." Gilgenbach's speech slows as he starts to choke up. "I'm sorry ... but it made me realize that I am not the husband that I want to be or the person that I want to be. The fact that my wife was just so thrilled to spend a day with me, really showed me that my priorities are kind of wrong."
"Through the Lens of Gaming" by Richard Clark (Unwinnable), 24 Aug 2012. One for the writers. Clark drags out some of my deep-seated fears about the work I do for Electron Dance. Am I writing what I see? Or do I see something so I can write?
The key danger in writing personal essays about videogames is that the writer might read into a game in order to have something to write about. This is not bad writing – it is a lie.
"The Marshmallow Study Revisited" by Susan Hagen (EurekAlert), 11 Oct 2012. The marshmallow test is an established experiment in children's self-control and the depressing evidence shows that those who "fail" it are less successful in later life. A team at Rochester University have just demonstrated that the question actually tells us something about nuture and not nature. I can see a game design connection in this one.
"I was astounded that the effect was so large," says Aslin. "I thought that we might get a difference of maybe a minute or so… You don't see effects like this very often."
Additional. The IMF have admitted that austerity in the current climate is self-defeating. This all comes down to the fiscal multiplier, a number that indicates how much is lost from GDP versus government spending reduction, which has turned out to be far higher than expected.
Four suggestions this week:
And please please stick with it, don't give up after a few minutes like some of us. You'll need around an hour probably. Most of Twitter has already played it and I think it's about time you did too.
Eric: So I got this new podcast going!
HM: Okay... wait, is this going to distract you from Dialogue Tree?
Eric: And it's about Star Trek.
HM: Are you ignoring my first question?
Eric: It's basically Richard Goodness and myself watching every series and film of Star Trek. The Cartridge Blowers guys do Star Trek!
HM: What's Cartridge Blowers?
Eric: Anyway, have a listen if you've got time.
HM: Alright. I'll give you a pity listen. But Star Trek? Are you fucking serious?
Trekabout is Eric Brasure's other podcast where he steps away from being serious interviewer and embraces his crazy side. That crazy side is Richard Goodness, who comes across like a 6-year-old trapped in an 14-year-old's body. An important campaign on GoFundMe explains exactly who Richard is.
Okay, so I've become hooked on Trekabout which is not at all what I expected. Wanted, even. Mixed in with thoughtful discussions on each episode, Eric fights Richard on his obsession with Gay Sulu Watch and I find myself laughing out loud on a busy train when Richard makes a comment about a simultaneous handjob and blowjob from a salt-eating monster. Cutting edge media analysis for the end-times.
Trekabout is posted weekly.