As if in punishment for last week’s trifling length of links, today’s This Week In Videogame Blogging is of a mammoth size. Let's see if we can get through it all without being crushed by its staggering weight. As a small incentive, there’s a link to a cool new trailer from indie-art-game maker Messhof waiting for you at the end!
From a week-or-so ago comes this interesting piece of commentary taken from a review of the game Call of Juarez at ActionButton.net.
Who am I kidding. Anymore it seems you're allowed one interesting idea per game and it's made a bullet point on the back of the box, possibly the whole game's concept is built around it even, with every PR release hyping it up, going on about how innovative it is (then later all the reviews talk about this innovative(®) new feature(^^¢â€žÂ¢) with the same wording from the press release like they suddenly just hit upon the idea themselves for the first time while playing the game and must now report it you). Then this incredible new feature and every other possible behavior and action in the game is explained in terms a kindgartener would find insulting in the mandatory tutorial, so forget about anything unexpected ever happening in a videogame ever again.
The Blue Casket has some observations on “Where to next” for writing about games in the kind of game diary/personal story style in a post called 'Thoughts: The Next Step'. The author asserts that 'Metagaming has a lot of work to do before it becomes a genuine form of entertainment. Here are some things it could do to change for the better.' A particularly salient point from the article was the its suggestion that:
When you look at gaming communities, the key thing is that they're all tightly linked. Fansites for a particular game all link-share and collaborate on large projects; blogs like Rock, Paper, Shotgun reference their fellow bloggers and receive references in return. But gaming diaries don't really have anywhere. There's no unified portal. A lot of the writers I feature on The Blue Casket are surprised to find that other people have written diaries: they assumed it was so obscure that only they had thought to do it.
Matthew Wasteland's 'Excerpts from the secret diary of President Eden' is an interesting way of presenting the plot holes in Bethesda's Fallout 3 with respect to what the player can convince President Eden to do.
Alec Meer talks a little about Anne Anthropy's 'When Pigs Fly'. I'm including it here not because it's news (that's not what TWIVGB's about, yo) but because his analysis is spot on about the game to the point of being rather insightful.
It's hard, it really is. Someone will say [in the comments] that it's not and that the rest of us are a bunch of wimps, but it's hard. Sometimes to the point of frustration, frankly, which is perhaps a little surprising given Anthropy's extensive analysis of platformer design in the past, but then by sticking it on Newgrounds I guess she's talking to a wider audience than with her previous fare, and one that often enjoys bragging about mastering tricky webgames.
Which makes an interesting point about a games sales portal (I'm talking in broad terms: When Pigs Fly is free) and its intended audience.
Time for some heavy reading: Dan Amrich, some kind of writer/editor for Official Xbox Magazine wrote about the delay between “revealing” information about an upcoming game in the magazine, and the major news blogs hearing about it.
When I found out that OXM was going to break the news about 360 players using their Avatars in Guitar Hero 5, I realized it was also the perfect time to pay attention to some details. This is exactly the kind of small-but-significant info that the daily blog sites love to report on, so I wanted to see how long it would take between the arrival of our magazines in subscribers' mailboxes and the appearance of this news on Joystiq and Kotaku.
The result was that the Kotaku, et al.'s didn't actually pick up on that little detail until it was sent out to them by PR people for the game. Tom Chick puts an interesting spin on the story, adding that:
It’s a sad reminder that no one expects to find anything new or exciting in print anymore (they’re mostly right). And it’s a classic example of how blogs are an echo chamber (also mostly right). It’s not an official bullet point in a videogame until its ricocheted among the usual suspects, usually with the help of PR folks.
Chris Dahlen is back with his Edge Online column this week, talking about games, how we communicate with mars, and the chances of ever paying WoW on the Red Planet.
Jim Rossignol writes a good ol' Love Letter to the Personal Jetpack for his Offworld column.
David Wildgoose writes about his first hour with Ashes Cricket 2009, and it's remarkable for his ability to turn it into an interesting enough tale. Cricket is a bit hit and miss when it comes to the real thing, and doubly so for computer games based on the sport. Semi-related anecdote: a mate of mine and I used to play Shane Warne Cricket '99 on the original Playstation. He's still got the disc.
We haven't featured a post from Hard-Casual in a while: here's their way of telling us at Critical Distance that “Hey idiot, you're talking too much on your podcasts!” Sorry guys, we'll try and keep them shorter!
David Carlton talks about save games, permanence and ethics, in a rather in depth manner in his post on 'Saving, Ethics and the slog'.
This was interesting: someone on the Steam forums has attempted to piece together the Left 4 Dead story and how each campaign relates to the next. Seriously good research and some fairly good assumptions in there.
Denis Farr talks about Assassin's Creed's intimations toward the homosexuality of one of its characters, hinging upon a brief, tender touch. It made me realise that it had completely gone over my head when I played that scene: too subtle for me, but perhaps that's how they wanted it. Personally, I quite like that kind of ambiguity as I think it leaves more room for people to read in a multiplicity of possibilities in a character like that.
Tom Francis of Pentadact suggests a good way to tell the story of Oblivion while still doing away with the entire main quest line.
And well done to you if you've made it all the way to the end: as promised, here's a little treat for you: Indie art-game designer Messhof has a teaser out for his next game: “an untitled game about racing”. And that's This Week In Videogame Blogging.