This link drag features contributions from David Kanaga, Phill Ash, Chris Dahlen, Jimmy Maher, Rami Ismail and Rami Ismail. Let's begin...
"@-dance w/EXO \\ Tabor Robak & Gatekeeper" by David Kanaga (Wombflashforest), 10 August 2012. EXO is another attempt at combining music and exploration. It sort of fails, because I found the thing bloody frustrating. But what did the maestro of Proteus and Dyad think?
The soundtrack's implementation is static, suffering from the same alienated attitude to the relationship between music and play that we've come to expect in so many of these pop-game projects, like Pitchfork/Killscreen's recent INTEL Soundplay stuff, that assume a fixed soundtrack is enough. The guiding question here: games function like music videos? As a simple answer to this question, Exo works. It's the dance idea-- we can dance even to music that doesn't bend to our wills, right? True to a certain degree, and in many ways I enjoyed the direction of freedom in the game more than I did the live performance (and both as dances).. but something is lacking...
"Road riding tactics and the peloton - what happened to the men's Olympic Road Cycling team" by Phill Ash (Total Inner Tubes), 1 August 2012. Phill, someone I have the misfortune of working with in real life, explains the importance of drafting in peloton racing and why communication is key between the race leaders. Has any cycle racing game attempted to simulate this need for co-operative tactics?
"That also answers the question of why other riders seemed to be talking and helping each other. On their own they would almost certainly fail and return to the peloton but as a group they can take it in turns to bear the brunt of the effort and maintain their lead to the finish leaving it to a best sprint wins; Which happened to be Marianne Vos to few peoples surprise."
"Dad, I Sacrificed The Babysitter" by Chris Dahlen (Unwinnable), 31 July 2012. The headline tells all, but it drags the reader towards to an important point about game morals and children.
"I asked her about what happened. She explained that he told her he wanted to pick her up and carry her around, “so he could ‘protect me.’” Though she plays a lot of videogames, the babysitter is new to Spelunky. She had to rely on my son for guidance on how to survive."
"Deadline" by Jimmy Maher (The Digital Antiquarian), 11 July 2012. I could probably link every single thing that Jimmy is writing about the beginnings of home computing but I'll restrain myself. Here, Jimmy talks about Infocom's Deadline, which was the first interactive fiction where things happened off-camera; NPCs would interact with the environment and each other even if the player wasn't present.
Indeed, the sheer difficulty of the task in the face of the still absurdly limited technology at hand was the main reason that no one had created a more dynamic, story-driven adventure before. Even leaving aside the more advanced world-modeling that would be needed, telling a real story would require a lot more text than the bare stubs of descriptions that had previously sufficed. Given the limited disk and memory capacities of contemporary computers, that was a huge problem.
"How much will your first indie game make?" by Rami Ismail, 08 July 2012. Rami, the businessy half of Vlambeer, talks about a seminar Vlambeer helped devise called Monetize That $hit.
We explained to them that the goal of the seminar would be to recreate that: students had to design a game, produce it and get to serious negotiations with any interested party. All of that had to be done within the seminar, or they’d fail the course. Failing the course would negatively affect their chances at passing the year, so that was anything but an empty threat. This seminar was going to be high stakes and that’s exactly how we needed it.
"The Serving Order of Grandma's Breakfast" by Rami Ismail, 29 July 2012. Yes, I know, it's Rami again but I couldn't pass up this confessional post about how Vlambeer almost died.
By the time we handled everything, we were overworked, overstressed and exhausted. Vlambeer felt like it was in the spotlights: interviews, questions, requests for advice and ‘collaboration opportunities’ kept coming in. Jan Willem was suffering from increasing amounts of migraine episodes. I woke up as tired as I went to bed. We lost velocity and our creative output took a nosedive steep enough to be useful for a zero-gravity training.
"The Other Barbarians at the Gates" by Jessica Pressler (New York Magazine), 29 July 2012. Not all billionaires are created equal. Jeff Greene thinks he's running out of time to change the attitudes of his fellow 1%ers.
“This is my fear, and it’s a real, legitimate fear,” Greene says, revving up the engine. “You have this huge, huge class of people who are impoverished. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we will build a class of poor people that will take over this country, and the country will not look like what it does today. It will be a different economy, rights, all that stuff will be different.”
"Inside Iraq: the British peacenik who became key to the US military" by Nick Hopkins (The Guardian), 15 July 2012. Long but absolutely fascinating story about Emma Sky, an academic who was against the war in Iraq but ended up being a key figure in the CPA. Incredible. Note that Part 2 is not linked directly from the first so you might want to come back here for that second link.
"I was against the war and I had this idea that I was going to go out to Iraq and apologise to the Iraqis for the invasion, and everything they had experienced, and I would do whatever I could to help them get back on their feet." A few days and one short phone call later, Sky was told to report to the military air base in Oxfordshire. The Foreign Office did not give her a formal interview or briefing before she left, and she was given no detailed instructions about what to do when she landed. "I had a phone call from someone in the Foreign Office. It wasn't a long conversation. They said 'you've spent a lot of time in the Middle East, you'll be fine'. I was told that there would be someone at the airport waiting for me, carrying a card with my name. When I got to Basra, there was nobody there, and nobody seemed to know I was coming."
If you've ever wondered what Jesse Schell's achievement-saturated dystopia might look like, well here it is. The out-of-leftfield ending kind of screws up the message but it's most definitely worth a spin.