This Week In Videogame Blogging is going to have to tend ever-so-slightly towards brevity I’m afraid, as I’ve got exactly two hours to bash this out before I go to a charity event organised by a friend called ‘Drawtism’. I’ll let your ample collective imaginations fill in that one.
First thing I spotted this week was Jim Rossignol’s ‘Fuel: Around the World in Eight Hours‘, which is exactly what it sounds like. Rossignol drove around the post-apocalyptic world of Fuel, taking him pretty much all day. I’m a sucker for open worlds and exploration so this is officially on my ‘must play someday’ list. Also spotted at RPS, Alec Meer is on a Morrowind bender all this week and the diary-like entries make for some excellent reading. I often say I enjoy writing about games more than playing them, but in this instance I think I also enjoy reading about the game more than playing it.
Indie Gaming Bingo’s Dustin Gunn makes some poignant criticisms of… a fictional future indie game? Or is Night Game an actual game and it’s just written from the perspective of the enlightened future? Either way, colour me both confused and impressed.
Iroquois Pliskin is back on the blogging bandwagon, writing about how Mirror’s Edge came perilously close to being a fantastic videogame. Read about how “the designers of Mirror’s Edge apparently managed to mistake [the] core pleasures that their game offered.”
Matthew Gallant reminded me to make sure I check out a piece in Resolution Magazine called ‘Good things about Bad Games: Kane and Lynch‘. It reminds me that L.B. Jeffries always defended that game’s poor image, talking about some of the good things he appreciated about the game in The Brainy Gamer podcast, episode 13 (way back in May ’08, no less!).
RPS tipped me off to the next one, a discussion of the impossibility of role-playing religion in The Sims 3, with a specific focus on Christianity as more than just church attendance. Apparently there just aren’t any options to pick that make your sim appreciate non-materialism or spirituality. The discussion of how games can represent, model, reflect or simulate religion is one that I think is largely lacking from videogame discourse. It is my pick for this week’s must read.
Over at The Reticule, Chris Evans interviews the World of Goo developers 2D Boy. When asked what, if anything, they would change in World of Goo, Kyle Gabler responded by saying,
There are tons of curious little mistakes and quirks in World of Goo. Sometimes Goo Balls suicide themselves off cliffs. Sometimes players can squish balls past the giant red robot head in that one level to rescue almost everyone in the level. Some levels allow clever players to win with zero moves, using sneaky ball-flinging tricks. But I think I like that unusual things happen here and there. We are not a big shiny game studio with dozens of layers of QA. Players seem to enjoy discovering tricks, and hopefully the slightly rough edges show that our game was duct taped together with love.
Matthew Wasteland’s brain wonders what it would be like if Shakespeare was a game developer, and his fingers type the wonderful piece of satire ‘Elsinore Baby! New Hamlet Preview!‘ My favourite part – “We suggested some kind of skip function, and the Bard seemed to like our idea”.
PixelVixen makes an interesting point this week by noting that no one can really decide if Jason Rohrer ‘selling out’ is actually a bad thing or not… A man’s gotta eat, after all.
There’s a temptation with ‘Best Of’ lists towards a dry, sterile recitation of the sure-fire hits, but this top 10 list of architecture in computer games strikes a note-perfect tone by mixing tongue-in-cheek seriousness with some really insightful observations. My favourite? The Halo 2 comments, saying,
The prevalent use of local sandstone and homogeneous approach to design make for an environment that is comparable to the Regency spa towns of Harrogate or Bath. The indigenous material is ubiquitous – whether left rough in rural settings (to encourage the growth of moss and lichens) or finished smooth for urban environments, it lends a sense of grandeur to the to local buildings.
Comparing the Delta Halo and New Mombassa levels to grand old English cities? Yes please! (I found this first via Christopher Hyde’s excellent 25timesasecond and then again via Jim Rossignol’s twitter feed.)
This has been well linked already, but I’ll give them another shout out because it’s more games-journalist bashing (although with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek). Hard-Casual goes all out on the news of Michael Jackson’s death, Twitter, and hackneyed games journalists in ‘Anxious Nation waits for Games Journalists Twitters about Tragic Death‘.
Michael Abbott wrote a post on photo-tourism in Africa, via the PS3 game Afrika this week. He also mused on why upon playing games a second time we are often able to appreciate them more and on their own terms. In the comments, he reaches some interesting conclusions, saying,
[A commenter] also notes above that he feels like he’s not part of the audience reviewers are writing for, and I definitely share that experience. More and more, the hype machine sounds like a big blabbering idiot to me (Mitch Krpata has written eloquently about this), and I find myself doing all I can to disconnect myself from it, if only to keep my vision unclouded.
And that’s this week in videogame blogging as I found it. Hopefully I left it in the same, or nearly as good condition as I found it.
P.S. Gregory Weir has a new game out. It’s about Dragons.