What a week it has been. From Langdell to PAX and everything in between: it's time for This Week In Videogame Blogging.
Early this week David Carlton posted some thoughts about a game that has largely passed the critical blogosphere by: Puzzle Quest Galactrix. I came to the demo without ever playing the first Puzzle Quest game, so it was largely a novel experience for me. David, however, has his own views.
What better way to introduce this next piece than by the ringing endorsement of hot-shot Edge columnist Chris Dahlen. “This made me laugh,” he says, “but also bummed me out“. It's a piece of satire from the Hardcasual dudes, titled 'Loser kid on playground still talking about Shadow Complex'.
…Jeremy realizes he's missed his chance. Maybe next year. He slinks away, his mind already drifting to the indignities due over another year at P.S. 120. He dreamed that night about one day being a real big-time game blogger, where people would always be interested in what he had to say, and he would never be stuck worrying about dealing with what other guys were playing. He knew that one day, if he just tried hard enough, he could do it.
Eric Swain thinks-out-loud about what he wants to do with his videogame blog: something I think we've probably all done once or twice. It's the kind of activity I think can be valuable to do every so often, particularly when struggling with motivation or direction.
Martin Nerurkar of the Game Architecture blog hypothesizes that “Level Design is Game Design” and makes a compelling argument.
I'd been wondering what happened to indie game publisher Gamecock for a while now, back in early '08 they looked like they were about to become the next indie game publisher and critical darling. Coming across this first person account from a Gamecock contractor of what went down, I now see they've had a particularly rough twelve months;
Near the end of 08, it was blatant and clear that one particular representative was intentionally lying to me. At this point, I was confident that SouthPeak [who now owned Gamecock] had no intention to pay me. In fact, that one representative accused me of making the invoices up in one email and threatened me in another email. It's that sort of thing that, when it happens, you start to feel like you want to vomit. You wonder why anyone would treat someone else like this. So, I disconnected and handed all communications over to legal counsel. That was early this year, and we're still working for a resolution.
While researching the situation a little bit more, I came across this Joystiq article that focuses on much of the non-payment and distraction tactics new Gamecock owners SouthPeak Interactive has been using. Did you know that Velvet Assassin was a Gamecock published game? I certainly know I didn't, and it makes me wonder how much the game development (and by inference it’s critical reception) suffered because of all the legal shenanigans. The above Joystiq article mentions an anecdote – apparently the Dialogue Editor on Velvet Assassin “was denied payment simply because he had waited “too long” to accept a settlement.” That’s not exactly a healthy development environment.
While we're talking corporate brouhaha, the big news of this week is that Tim Langdell has bowed before the onslaught and rather than face the indignity of being properly voted out of his position on the IGDA board, has resigned. I'll add my own little editorial here: I don't think this will be the last we hear of Mr. Langdell. The chances that he's “learned his lesson” from this episode are, to use a piece of Australian idiom, “Buckley's and none”. However, his influence over the IGDA is now at an end and in no small part thanks to the efforts of one person, who now deserves your unreserved congratulations and thanks. Simon Parkin couldn't do it, TigSource couldn't shame him into it, but Corvus worked within the established system and made a tangible difference. I sincerely hope that doesn't get lost in the midst of all the celebrations. You can read Tim Langdell's farewell statement here, but beware; it's liable to make one dizzy from all the spin.
David Wildgoose talks to Need For Speed: Shift producer Jesse Abney about the connection between Mirror’s Edge and the new EA racing game. It boils down to cross pollination of talent with DICE (Mirror’s Edge developer) founder Patrick Soderlund being both a professional endurance racer and now vice president of EA's Eurpoean branch.
The Brainy Gamer Podcast is doing a mid-year round up for its 25th episode and Michael talks to a whole cast of intelligent people about the first half of 2009. Episode 25 Parts One, Two and Three are all out as of the time of writing. (Bonus Trivia: This week marks the 25th installment of TWIVGB if you count the first two that weren’t posted on CD)
Jim Rossignol, who I would consider Eve Online's most loquacious advocate, wrote what is possibly one of my favourite pieces on the game in a long, long time. “The Five Year Spree” comes in five parts and I highly recommend them all: Part One is here. Also at Rock, Paper, Shotgun this week is John Walker's lengthy treatise on Quests in RPG's.
Justin Keverne and Travis Megill had a bit of a cross-blog discussion this week talking about how the just-released Batman: Arkham Asylum game depicts it's mentally ill inmates. I haven't had a chance to read them both yet but here's what Mitch Krpata said about the conversation in his Friday Afternoon Tidbits:
Both are concerned with the game’s portrayal of mental illness as something to be stigmatized, instead of the health problem it actually is. Although I did take note of the shrieking “Lunatic” enemy type, none of this occurred to me while I was playing. It’s a fair point. Even though the majority of the foes are garden-variety criminals, Batman does lay a beating on a good number of inmates who’ve committed no crime, and may understandably be freaked out by a six-foot bat in their midst.
Inspired by Mitch Krpata's criticism (as featured last week's TWIVGB) of Game Informer and its puff-piece on Metacritic, Bitmob blogger Rob Savillo does an analysis of 30-odd games over a ten week period and compares sales numbers to Metacritical reception.
Simon Ferrari has created a nifty little tool for us critic types: A Game Blogger search engine. As Ferrari says,
…by selecting against commercial sites we cut down down on the number of press releases and product reviews that typically clog searches.
Now how do I add it to my Firefox search bar?
Continuing the podcast trend, the Experience Points bloggers put out a ‘cast of their first day at PAX. And thus, the circle is complete.
Except for this – lastly for the week, via Kate Simpson's twitter stream comes the crazy, crazy game 'Fruit Mystery'. I love it. So does Ellie Gibson. Game of the year? In ’08 Randy Balma: Municipal Abortionist was only edged out in my personal GoTY awards (unofficial) by Far Cry 2, and with the dearth of any Clint Hocking developed games in the ’09 calendar year Fruit Mystery’s chances are looking good! But wait, Ellie even goes one better – Game of the Decade. That’s quite a lot of hyperbole for one little flash game. You’d better check it out.