Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We Need to Talk

You may have noticed that we've been less attentive of late. We just want you to know that it's not your fault. Our eyes aren't wandering to other projects because we don't like you. You're the best, you really are. In fact, you deserve better. I hope we can still be friends.

And who knows? Maybe we'll be back some day. It's possible. But let's not build up unrealistic expectations. Things change, people change. We're moving on. If we come back and you've found other blogs, we won't be angry. We hope you find happiness.

Thanks for all the memories. The archives will stay, but comments are closed.

Monday, June 7, 2010

No Need to Explain

by Daniel Bullard-Bates

Alan Wake is the creator and the protagonist of the world he inhabits. Whether he is living through one of his own stories, dreaming, or insane, his personality informs every element of the narrative. After playing Remedy’s Max Payne games, I expected Wake to be more two-dimensional than he is. He is impatient and quick to anger with his wife but his devotion to her is clear. More interesting is the fact that his writing is riddled with clich├ęs which are then reflected in the world he inhabits. In another context, I might call the Taken (shadowy figures controlled by darkness) poorly written, but Remedy has pulled a little trick to remove themselves from this criticism: They are Wake’s creation, so their cheesy design can only be blamed on him.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Collect Everything

by Daniel Bullard-Bates

Collectible items have become standard fare in video games. If you haven’t collected all the flags in Assassin’s Creed or shot all the stars in Resident Evil 5, there’s still some meaningless task left to be accomplished. As irritating as those two examples are, however, it is possible to make collectible items a valuable part of the game experience.

Let’s talk about how:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Red Dead Refreshing

by C.T. Hutt

In true Rockstar tradition, Red Dead Redemption is an open world free-for-all third person shooter with copious gunplay and significant adult themes. Instead of taking place in an urban jungle, Red Dead Redemption is set in 1911 in the untamed American South West. Gameplay-wise, aside from a great deal more cattle rustlin’, varmint shootin’, bronco wranglin’, and roamin’ across the open prairie, this title mimics many of the themes found in the much loved but highly controversial Grand Theft Auto series. Unlike GTA, Red Dead Redemption also incorporates a roleplaying element which allows the player to decide what type of range rider they wish to be. Rockstar has also made the collection side quests and achievement based rewards a seamless part of the game. These factors, combined with a vast array of interesting characters, a massive world to explore, and some of the best environmental graphics I have ever seen make this title a definite step in the right direction for Rockstar.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Violence Is Not the Problem

by Daniel Bullard-Bates

Fair warning: the following post contains descriptions of brutal violence, as well as spoilers for God of War 3 and the movie Irreversible.

We return, time and time again, to the problem of violence in video games and other media. Does watching a gory movie make the viewer more comfortable with gore? Does murdering countless innocents in a fictional airport inspire real-life terrorism? Can a bit of the old ultraviolence permanently scar society?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Addiction or Entertainment?

by Daniel Bullard-Bates

Some video games are designed to deliver a complete, finite experience. Sometimes these games deliver story and character arcs, other times merely a series of levels with little to no narrative coherency. These can vary in length, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to many hours, but at the end of that play time, the game is over.
Other games are designed to be played eternally. Even their so-called endings are frail veneers of finality. There is always something more to do. Games like The Sims, World of Warcraft, and Peggle are frequently referred to as “addictive,” which is not a quality one normally seeks out in a product. Still, these games hold a powerful allure. They demand a great deal from the player. A truly addictive single player or multiplayer game can eclipse all other games.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Humble Beginnings

by C.T. Hutt

I’d like you to imagine a major game developer. Are you picturing Activision or EA? Good choices. They work together for months creating the next blockbuster release. Like good little addicts you and I and hundreds of others line up around the block near a major retailer to be the first to put our hard-earned cash on the barrelhead and walk out of the store with a shiny new game in our clutches. However, after saving all your pennies and standing in line for hours, when you finally reach the cashier and they scan your intended purchase the price comes up as a question mark.

“What does that mean?” you ask the clerk.

“It means you can pay whatever you want,” says she.