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“Wot I Think: Depths Of Fear – Knossos” – Adam Smith
Not everybody will be convinced by the atmosphere but the janky and incoherent assets remind me of a broken down theme park. Most of what could be called shoddy could also be called a clever manipulation of minimal resources – discovering the potential for surreal sculpture in a junkyard. The junkyard reference isn’t intended to be derogatory. Knossos, in its own small way, reminds me of art made from found objects. It’s a fabricated Chimera, stitched together by a digital Frankenstein.
So what am I saying here? That improving narrative elements in games is impossible and we shouldn’t try? No. But it is time to abandon the quest for the narrative equivalent of the Philosopher’s Stone (or the Sorceror’s Stone, if you read Harry Potter in the US) that will magically transform all it touches. Stop using the reductio ad absurdum announcements about GAME NARRATIVE (singular) that are really just lame clickbait. Instead, revel in the variety, and find ways to improve the narrative elements in the types of games you’re working on.
So if we assume that hyper-competence is the manifest destiny of machines, then we’re forced to ask a question that’s bigger than who they should crash into. If robots are going to be superhuman, isn’t it their duty to be superheroes, and use those powers to save as many humans as possible?
“Impressions: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Lost Alpha” – Matt Sakey
Enter S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Lost Alpha, released a couple weeks ago. It’s a combination of Build 1935 and original work from the mod team Dezowave, and like the foundation on which it’s set, it’s both immediately recognizable as a STALKER game and immediately different. For students of the iterative processes by which games are designed, Lost Alpha is an interesting specimen indeed, an ogres-are-like-onions pastiche of names, locations, and quests that any STALKER fan will know well, sandwiched between stuff that might seem, at first, completely new.
“Money Talks: An Interview With EVE Online’s Economist” – Rich Stanton
“And if I notice anything that is ongoing in the economy that I think is probably in the wrong direction, I have a meeting with the game designers about possible solutions, about sorting the problems. To give a real world analogy, it is very much like a central bank dealing with governments. Sometimes they agree, sometimes they disagree, but together they have to manage the economy and make it happen.”
LONG “High-tech Low-tech Authenticity: The Creation of Independent Style” – Jesper Juul
Independent Style is rather a deliberate attempt at going back in time, towards earlier representational styles – styles made from cheap materials – that now appear as less realistic than what is promised by console manufacturers and big-budget game development.
“How Elegy for a Dead World Coaxes Forth Creativity” – Ben Serviss
“I was at the point where I needed a break. You know crunch, right? You get burned out,” Lambe says. “So I said I need to take a break, and since I’ve been 10 years old, I’ve had this concept for a game where you walk to the right and that’s the whole game.” Popcannibal’s Ziba Scott and Luigi Guatieri joined to provide art, and after Scott suggested to theme the project in British Romantic poetry, a distinct atmosphere began to emerge.