The Wasteland CommentariesThis week we find our hero in bed, laid up with a serious head cold. But This Week In Videogame Blogging goes on ahead regardless.

Lyndon Warren finishes his 11-part pacifistic play-through of the original Fallout. Highly recommended game diary.

Here's another Fallout related idea: this time it's Gerard Delaney's 'Wasteland Commentaries' which are going to act something like valve's in-game developer commentaries, but for game criticism and discussion instead. I was intrigued by the prospect, and plan to record some excerpts of my Fallout 3 essays for the project, and I emailed Gerard to get a bit of his reasoning behind the Wasteland Commentaries. Via email he told me that,

My intention with this mod is to place commentary that exists in Fallout 3 into context, the areas of the game that gave rise to them, which is why I requested that contributors elect where they wish their audio to be placed. I hope that there will be a multitude of viewpoints expressed, and I hope to avoid confusion by clearly labelling the notes in-game as well as encouraging clear and largely self-contained responses. Two possibly unrelated viewpoints near each other in the game might not speak to the same ideas but they will show how Fallout 3 provides for a broad scope of interpretations.

It's almost a wonder why no one has thought to do it before.

New videogame criticism blog 'Form 8' talks about why 'You Can't Count on Me'. I'm usually quite excellent at being mediocre at online games, so I can empathise with this.

The creator of Half-Life 2 mod 'Radiator' talks about underlying homophobia in society and game playing audiences in a piece for The Escapist called “Handle with Care“.

RPS' Fifth Beatle Quintin Smith writes about Fable 2 and communicates many of the things that made me dislike the game so much. It also lead me to Shamus Young's 5-part dissection of the narrative inconsistencies that made the Fable 2 story rather inconsistent.

Conversation is Conflict: Lyndon Warren again, this time talking about Tarrantino, dialogue and what games designers stand to learn from cinema about conversation, etc.

But conversations are never like this in games. Most of the time NPCs serve as exposition dumps cheerily telling me everything I want to know at the drop of a hat. Why don't NPCs ever try to withhold information, or deceive you? Or better yet have a goal that they're trying to achieve? I want the conversations in games to not be something you skip to get to the game but actually the game itself.

This week I was made to play Photopia, a decade old Interactive Fiction story that really is quite moving. The article about it at Necessary Games is from a few weeks ago, but I'll let it pass since it's the first I saw of it. I have a few reservations about basing an article around an offhand comment someone made about the game, but otherwise it's entirely worth reading.

What Photopia demonstrates, is that there is a big difference-somewhere, somehow-between something that is barely interactive, and something that is not interactive; that allowing a person to step through a story is not the same as letting them read it straight out.

Steven O'Dell puts the hard yards into discussing a bunch of the inconsistencies present in the Australian Classification Board. Worth a read.

I must confess that I haven't had the time to read all of these yet, but I will as soon as I kick this illness in the face and feel like doing some real reading. The Moving Pixels Blog ‘Plays Telephone’ all week and considers the effect of breaking, changing and usurping game rules. Part One is here. Did you know that I never even knew it could be called Telephone? I’ve only ever known it as ‘chinese whispers’. You learn something new every day.

Jorge Albor at the Experience Points blog writes about “Dead Ends“: videogame endings that feature deaths. Hey Manveer, are you reading this?
Matthew Wasteland writes about Meat and Conversation: a 20 year old Indie Art game. Was something in the digital waters this week to make everyone talk about old art games?

It also seems there was something in the water making everyone write game diaries, for Trent Polack's Demon's Souls game diary is last for the week before I collapse into a TV show watching stupor, only to have to valiantly head off to work somewhat later. In his 3 part diary he goes through the game's first few areas and writes about them, with intriguing results.