Okay, I killed it last year. But it’s back with a simpler format. Instead of doing painstaking write-ups for each link, I’m sticking to Name – Author – Quote. Click if you want, click if you don’t want. I’m also not going to structure the links at all – the old Sideways links are now mixed in with all the game ones. The upside is that it’s easier for me to knock these out.
In this episode: Stuart Campbell moans about digital distribution (a man after my own heart). Pippin Barr finds Thomas Was Alone dreadfully dull. Joe Martin has the skinny on the original Deus Ex design document.
Here Be Links
More recently, though, and primarily on Apple’s iTunes Store, we’ve started to see a more insidious hazard of trusting companies with your money – outright fraud.
I have been stewing on something to say about Journey. I played it a few days ago and like everyone else I loved it but I think I loved it like a good Hollywood film. It was a downright manipulative game… a veritable Field of Dreams for the indie and artsy game set.
That’s one reason the school of design that focuses exclusively on abstract ideas of gameplay is rather misguided: the presentation is as much part of the experience as the mechanics are. Take your life as an example: having sex with a beautiful partner and having sex with an animatronic doll made of jelly and petroleum, if looked at in purely abstract “gameplay” terms, is exactly the same. And yet any human would agree there is a world of difference.
“Let’s hope it is over now and that order has been restored. We welcome everybody to Aberystwyth, and for us to be able to be open to the world, we have to be accessible. That is why the return of the traffic wardens has to be a good thing.”
Do players buy energy? What sorts of players buy energy? The short answer is: actual idiots. The long answer is: people who don’t understand why they have so much real-world money.
“Why did they stop the movie again?” Beatrix, asks. Thus leading to essentially the same conversation as before. She just does not understand why one would want to watch anything this way. It’s boring and frustrating. She makes it through the end of the movie but has little interest in watching more. She’d rather play. The television is never turned on again during our stay.
That’s right, we have officially reached the point where our dominance is so complete the only thing we have to fear is our own weapons in the wrong hands. It should come as no surprise that CODBLOPS scribe David S. Goyer also penned The Dark Knight, in which the world needs a quasi-fascist vigilante to monitor everything and beat people shitless, and Dollman vs. Demonic Toys, in which inhuman objects battle for the future of the human race.
I finished Thomas Was Alone the other day and it is a very polished and well-executed game. However, I finished it only after turning it off in extreme and crippling boredom several times, I played several of its levels with the sound off just to escape the story, and I left the experience wondering about the use of platformers as an expressive form.
Taking me to one side in the newsroom and casting a glance over his shoulder, the news editor told me, sotto voce: “Ian, get yourself to northern Cyprus. When you get there, don’t do anything. Don’t talk to anybody. Do nothing. Zilch. I’ll try to get you back by the weekend.”
Can you really be expected to understand Day Z without some time in the heartland of first-person games? Even experienced gamers baulked at its difficulty, and at Arma 2′s arcane controls and interface. No, it was the people who wanted to learn, and made the effort to learn, and usually had plenty of existing experience, were actually rewarded for their time, or understood what that story-free sandbox of horror and survival was actually about.
So, okay, BioShock, I get it. But maybe playtesting has shown that by this point in the game only sixty percent of people get it, and the game still needs to keep catching the other forty up, so it’s going to repeat that story bit one more time. BioShock Infinite isn’t about training people who read books to play a game. It’s about training a person who plays games to maybe consider reading a book.
Examine Warren Spector’s personally annotated copy of the first Deus Ex design document and you can immediately tell that production wasn’t entirely smooth. The pages are littered with alterations and strikeouts, the only section left unmarked the marketing spiel in the preamble. It refers to the game by its working title, Majestic Revelations.