September was filed under “busy” but the first week of October got put in the special “exhausting” folder. I went to the Expo, prepared two Expo podcasts, both children got sick on different days bringing about epic sleep deprivation and someone came to stay. Oh and I also lost a day to illness.
Long story short, I’m out of gas. This week I’m putting up a post which is shorter and more shooting from the hip than usual.
I’m going to share two things with you today. First, I was interviewed on another site. Second, I want to add a few more reflections on the games I played at the Eurogamer Expo.
Games We Have Known And Loved
I’ve been following George Buckenham’s occasional podcast series “Games We Have Known And Loved” for some time. George grabs writers and game developers to ask them about a game they have… known and loved. It’s meant to remind us of the positives of games. Why do we play these things?
So after I interviewed George for the Expo podcast on his game A Bastard, he then interviewed me for Games We Have Known And Loved. The result was a three-minute monologue about World of Goo. I’m expanding on a particular level which was important to me.
If you’re going over there to listen to me, then why not listen to a few of George’s other victims? Always listen to the longer version of the podcast if available. Here are some of my favourites, all of which have LP versions:
- Rami Ismail of Vlambeer on Gorillas. Rami is hilarious because he can’t stop talking.
- Jenn Frank on Atari 2600 Berzerk. Jenn fires up Berzerk on the podcast because the game is that important to her; you will discover this is because she does not play it properly.
- Bennett Foddy of QWOP and GRIP on Pyro 2. I like this one because Bennett has a real go at the conceit of attributes in RPGs.
There’s more, of course. Terry Cavanagh on Dark Souls. Quintin Smith on Pathologic. A drunk Robert Yang on Thirty Flights of Loving. Go forth and rifle through the whole series!
Further Reflections on Expo Man 2012
My initial reaction to The Button Affair, particularly as I had no sound, was OMG LONG CUTSCENE. That was a downer compared to team’s previous game, The Cat That Got The Milk, which is no-nonsense and jumps you straight into the action. Then the actual game started and my ludological brain compartment exploded with the realisation this wasn’t ten million miles away from Cat; a reaction-based game with a couple of keys. I should be fair – it has another key to “accelerate” or, more accurately, “DIE NOW, YES?”.
But despite that, there’s something charismatic about it, something modern yet nostalgic. It won me over and all those negatives became positives. As I said on the podcast, there’s a slight disconnect between the actions of your upmarket thief and whether he makes it through the game’s hazards – but I’m confident that’s something that will be ironed out. I was very interested to discover they were going to “point-and-click” the world because I had pangs of wanting to see more of the background of the first episode. It reminded me of some of game worlds I played as a younger person, places that taunted detail but were constructed from ghosts; beautiful backdrops that had no projection in the mechanics.
Seeing Zineth was interesting. Thing is, I’d played Zineth before. The game is about the exhilaration of constant motion but the tutorial is a bit punishing if you don’t “get” the controls. After replaying bits of tutorial too many times, I threw in the towel. I feel a bit bad for not “getting” Zineth, although I wonder if it was wholly my fault because I wasn’t the only one to give up on it. Seeing the game running post-tutorial made me want to go back.
Very sad about not playing BariBaraBall enough. The game is in that Nidhogg state; unreleased and only playable at expos and the like. If you want to play it, you need to follow the game’s blog to find out where it is going to be on show next. Yes. Very sad.
Doctor Entertainment’s alpha tank deathmatch Gear Up rekindled my love of deathmatch. I don’t play nowadays because I find the online environment off-putting and, as Gregg pointed out, playing a great deathmatch game is endless – the cycle of constantly learning and finding better opponents can keep you in the game for years. As I mentioned with Rehabilitation a few weeks back, I don’t really want to get sucked into “one long game” due to writing requirements. But still. I miss deathmatch.
Hypersloth’s Dream could go either way. There were a few aspects which bothered me. The team explained they were moving away from their original vision because Dear Esther had staked out that territory; there is a danger here that what they end up with is original vision plus cruft.
The maze sections at the start quickly became irritating. In each maze, you need to extinguish all of the lights. If you miss just one light, you will spend an inordinate amount of time searching for it and if you happen to run into the maze’s “ghost” then it’s boom – out you go – with your mental map potentially disrupted. One maze would be sufficient. But there were four of them.
The team also talked about adding collectibles (such as the dream bible extracts) which suddenly struck me as a bit old. Collectibles are a cheat; they give explorers something to look for when the environment isn’t actually that exciting. Explorers love the environment. Dear Esther doesn’t need collectibles. Neither does Proteus. Nor Kairo. If Dream is to be a modern exploration game, then I’d advise against overdosing on collectibles.
The game was also filled with overt instruction and reflection (“Maybe I should get out of here”) and I believe the game would be better off without it, if the team is willing to be brave.
But it’s early days for Dream. The final product is likely to be quite different.
Last up, Dirac. I absolutely did not get this game when I was sitting before it and really want to give it another go. On a more positive note, it made me fiddle around with the developer’s 7dfps game Obsolete again and I’m going to write something about it in the near future.