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Worth Reading 03/15/2013

With a two-week break for Worth Reading on the horizon, grab yer coffee and sit down for an afternoon of plenty to read and play.

Hope to see some of you at PAX East next week! As per usual, we’re mostly there to say hello, hello, hello, and hang out. We don't obsess over a bunch of games we’ll see through the year. Plus, with the Game Developers Conference kicking off as soon as PAX East closes out (we land on Sunday night, and GDC starts on Monday morning), we gotta conserve our energy.

I’m taking a new approach to my PAX coverage this year, and this should extend into GDC, as well. Being a writer for most of my career, I’m almost always looking for ways to flip what I’m seeing, hearing, or playing into a feature story. But...I’m not sure that makes much sense for the what the Giant Bomb audience reacts to and wants. Giant Bomb stuff gets the best response with good stories and good people, so while a supremely interesting panel may merit a writeup of some kind, it also requires an incredible amount of time and energy that may be better spent elsewhere. So here’s my idea.

Instead, I’m going to float around and talk to interesting people and try to have interesting conversations. Our new podcast tool makes it easy to dump audio files onto the site, so the plan’s to dump(truck) interviews onto the site not long after they physically happen. It’s not the fancy editing that Vinny and Drew do so well, but it also doesn’t require that, and it means you’ll get a sense of GDC on the fly. This won’t come at the exclusion of some other video coverage and our regular GDC-timed podcasts.

Sound good? I’m excited about. I’ve already booked Brad Muir, obviously.

Hey, You Should Play This

Maybe it’s just because I spend so much time with words, but that someone turned ideal typographical spacing into a game tickles me in exactly the right way. It reminds me of a seemingly ditched demo from the original Wii U unveiling, in which players competed to draw lines. It sounds really simple, right? Deliciously so. The game would ask you to draw four inches, and two people would try to...draw four inches. Have you ever tried to do that? It seems incredibly easy--just draw four inches! Turns out it’s really hard, and what our mind thinks of as four inches is so much harder to produce on the page. That’s a roundabout way of saying this game helped me better appreciate the work done by typographers.

And You Should Read This, Too

QTEs are such an oddity of modern game design. It’s understandable why QTEs exist. A developer has come up with a story for their game, and some part of that story cannot be communicated through the standard gameplay players spend most of their time with. Rather than having these moments play out devoid of any interactivity whatsoever, QTEs allow a small amount or player-driven involvement with the story beats. I’d make the argument that designers dreaming up stories that cannot be communicated through gameplay represent the larger problem, but Raph Koster articulates problems of a feature here to stay.

“In the case of AAA tentpole titles, narrative plus QTE therefore becomes the default gameplay mode. Often, we see highly varied stories where the protagonist can perform a huge array of actions, all condensed into the single mechanic. The story advances, the player feels powerful, and the systemic gameplay is tissue-thin. This then gets interrupted periodically with richer game interludes, such as combat sequences — still pretty simple, but rich enough to allow things like advancement and preparation and some degree of strategy, all of which are required to keep the player invested. So QTE’s are there to help big titles reach the mass market, and to do better storytelling. But there is one huge irony. Reaction time is not a mass market skill.”

Since I’m not usually assigned reviews here at Giant Bomb, I also don’t spend much time thinking about the review process--or even reading many reviews, to be honest. Every once and a while, though, one review really sticks out, and JC Fletcher’s take on Ridiculous Fishing is both inspired, intriguing, and thoughtful beyond examining the mechanics of a video game. Ridiculous Fishing has an interesting history, having been released in a simpler form as a Flash game, then copied by another developer as Ninja Fishing and released in the App Store far ahead of Ridiculous Fishing’s then-planned proper release. Fletcher doesn’t make Ninja Fishing a footnote in a review of Ridiculous Fishing, and instead presents Ninja Fishing’s own problems as reasons Ridiculous Fishing is a much better game. That doesn't make sense for every review, but Fletcher makes it work effectively.

“Vlambeer wouldn't want me to start my Ridiculous Fishing review by bringing up Ninja Fishing – and I kind of don't want to either – but Gamenauts' well-publicized clone actually works as an example of why Vlambeer's iOS update of its own browser game (which "inspired" Ninja Fishing) is so excellent, and so necessary. Playing Ninja Fishing and Ridiculous Fishing in quick succession illustrates what a difference it makes to care about your audience. The concept may be similar, but Ridiculous Fishing outclasses its would-be competitor in every way. It's just better.”

If You Click It, It Will Play

Kickstarter Has Promise, Hopefully Developers Don't Screw It Up

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

I’d wager that 98% of all the really compelling creative decisions in videogames have derived from workarounds for technical limitations.

— Jason Killingsworth (@jasonkill) March 11, 2013

Given All the Discussion About Woman in Games, This Quote is Interesting

"I will tell you this. In this movie [Iron Man 3] we play with the convention of the damsel in distress. We are bored by the damsel in distress. But, sometimes we need our hero to be desperate enough in fighting for something other than just his own life. So, there is fun to be had with "Is Pepper in danger or is Pepper the savior?" over the course of this movie."

-- Marvel Studios producer Kevin Feige about the next Iron Man movie.

Hexels is a Nifty Art Program Helping Artist Make Beautiful Stuff

(If you're interested in seeing more, make sure to follow http://madeinhexels.tumblr.com.)

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
78 Comments
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Posted by Kieran_Smith5

wub wub

Posted by Seedofpower

Wow Mode7 made a tactical football game! NICE!

Edited by Graham_Nix

Sweet!

Great you got the Frozen Endgame trailer in there, considering it was announced hours ago. Frozen Synapse was exquisite, so I'm really pumped for that Frozen Endzone, despite it's horrible title.

Edited by teh_destroyer

wub wub

Edited by Hailinel

@patrickklepek: Given how strongly you feel about the women/games debate and your oft-stated position regarding it, I find your opinions expressed on the God of War QL earlier this week a bit odd. Is the fact that the game is about such a stupid male power fantasy really make the depiction of women in those games excusable? I've always felt that God of War's characters are pretty much terrible across the board (Kratos being among the worst), so where do you draw your line?

Posted by PersonaUser

Brad Muir booked.

Edited by Nightriff

That Iron Man quote doesn't even make sense

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Posted by GreggD

I got into like, the fourth paragraph of that Wired article about microtransactions. It was hard to read.

Posted by CommodoreGroovy

Haha. That tweet by Jason is so true.

Edited by Peanut

I'm so happy that after all these years a fair number of people are finally getting into how incredible GameCenter CX is. I remember scouring the Internet for YEARS looking for anything I could get my hands on and coming up empty handed. Awhile after my search I found the TV Nihon dudes subbing episodes at a rate of about 1 segment quarterly, which was brutal. Now in the last year or two the SA guys popped off like crazy and we even got the Retro Game Master DVD set over here.

Really excited to hear what their "big" NA announcement is going to be. Hoping on another DVD set.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@hailinel said:

I've always felt that God of War's characters are pretty much terrible across the board (Kratos being among the worst), so where do you draw your line?

I'd say the line's gotta be in a weird place (or at least a weird place for us). I'd give an example, but it'd feel like pointless bitching without much context.

Posted by FunkasaurasRex

Aaron Swartz's passing really resonated with me, so it's great seeing people like Andrew Huang honoring his memory.

That response to Ms. Sarkeesian's was also really great. It's nice seeing some real crticism/analysis that actually expands the debate a little, as opposed to the dizzying vitriol that often dominates the discussion.

Edited by RecSpec

Wow Mode7 made a tactical football game! NICE!

Posted by mpgeist

@peanut said:

I'm so happy that after all these years a fair number of people are finally getting into how incredible GameCenter CX is. I remember scouring the Internet for YEARS looking for anything I could get my hands on and coming up empty handed. Awhile after my search I found the TV Nihon dudes subbing episodes at a rate of about 1 segment quarterly, which was brutal. Now in the last year or two the SA guys popped off like crazy and we even got the Retro Game Master DVD set over here.

Really excited to hear what their "big" NA announcement is going to be. Hoping on another DVD set.

Right now GCX is my favorite show. I don't buy cable or watch network tv but I love watching GCX on Youtube. I think I've watched all the english sub ones at least twice.

Posted by SuicidalManiac

One of my profs last semester showed us Kern Type in my design class for my Web Design program.

Completely forgot about it until now, always meant to play it.

Edited by FLStyle

Glad everything worked out for Knives, felt really bad when that happened. Shout-out to Knives, shout-out to the FGC, shout-out to Patrick, shout-out to shout-outs.

Edited by mrfluke

@mpgeist said:

@peanut said:

I'm so happy that after all these years a fair number of people are finally getting into how incredible GameCenter CX is. I remember scouring the Internet for YEARS looking for anything I could get my hands on and coming up empty handed. Awhile after my search I found the TV Nihon dudes subbing episodes at a rate of about 1 segment quarterly, which was brutal. Now in the last year or two the SA guys popped off like crazy and we even got the Retro Game Master DVD set over here.

Really excited to hear what their "big" NA announcement is going to be. Hoping on another DVD set.

Right now GCX is my favorite show. I don't buy cable or watch network tv but I love watching GCX on Youtube. I think I've watched all the english sub ones at least twice.

mind if i ask one of you guys whats this show about? always been hearing about this show and how people love it, curious to give it a shot, but if you guys can give me a idea of what to expect.

Posted by beard_of_zeus

Man, I'm totally into that Kern Type game, I find that process of kerning to be weirdly interesting. Way harder than you would think! From playing through that once, I find that I never squish the first two letters together as much as the solution does; I always try to make equal distances between most letters unless they are complementary and seem to fit together.

I was really hoping that the fonts and words picked were random, but alas, that does not seem to be the case.

Edited by slot9
Posted by Animasta

@mrfluke: this japanese guy plays old video games (to completion, so dif than a QL), and is somewhat bad at it. It's entertaining, but I haven't watched a whole lot of them.

Edited by Soapy86

GCCX mention. Nice!

Also, I don't get how Patrick can shit on MGS2 one moment, and then wish more developers fucked with their fans' expectations and preconceptions like Kojima does the next.

Posted by Kerned

I've definitely come across Kern Type before! I was (thankfully) excellent at it on my first attempt. Kerning type is a big part of my day to day job (see username). It's awesome to see the gamification of something I view as an overlooked, under appreciated, but extremely important aspect of graphic design.

Posted by mrfluke

@animasta: ah, sounds interesting, ill give it a look then, thanks

Posted by MarkWahlberg

That Iron Man quote doesn't even make sense

Ben Kingsley threatens Iron Man and his affiliates --> Iron Man fights to protect his --> Iron Man gets fucked --> Gwyneth Paltrow puts on the suit, does other stuff to help.

I just wrote the Iron Man 3 script, y'all. Where my paycheck at.

Edited by paulunga

I have a bit of a problem with some people selling their games as 8-bit tributes and doing it wrong. They usually adhere to the right palettes and color depths but they completely ignore resolution. Shovel Knight has sprites and screens that have way too much detail simply because they can afford to make their character sprites the size of a SNES character like X or someone from Final Fantasy 6. It doesn't really matter if the game looks good, but it's a bit disingenous.

Posted by bunnymud

LAWD! I hate Pepper Pots

Posted by ch3burashka

Holy shit, I didn't think Adventures of Dash would tank that bad. For those not in the know, does "Danny Baranowsky as composer" entice you? It should. Donate - I really want to see it happen (looks more interesting than Human Element [then again, we've seen nothing of it, but the concept's tired]).

That @jasonkill quote is spot on, from what I understand - the recent Game Informer continues its multi-part article on David Crane and Atari et al, and he mentions rewriting a bunch of code because their 3KB program was too big for the 2KB RAM/ROM buffer/thingy/whatever. I don't have it in front of me, but the gist is the same.

Posted by StarvingGamer

@hailinel: RRRRRGH MUST... BITE... MY... TONGUE...

Edited by nate6858

That Gamecenter CX video was fun, never heard of it before. I will definitely be watching more of them though.

Posted by Nekroskop

Every time Patrick mentions anything about feminism in video games, I take a drink. I think I might get an acute organ failure one of these days if he keeps upping that quota...

Edited by fartGOD666

Awesome article as always, although I really can't understand who hexels would be useful for. It's neat that artists are having fun within the limitations of it, but it's just not relevant in the age of having computers that can easily handle and manipulate high res images.

Edited by mr_shoeless

Well, I enjoyed watching that GameCenter CX show more than I expected at first. Although I think they need to break up the main gameplay segments with a little more variety than they currently do. Still, seems worth a subscription on Youtube.

Edited by Phished0ne

@flstyle said:

Glad everything worked out for Knives, felt really bad when that happened. Shout-out to Knives, shout-out to the FGC, shout-out to Patrick, shout-out to shout-outs.

QFT for sure. Just a shitty situation all around but it was great to see the community band together to help out a member.

Posted by Damodar

Patrick, the link is incorrect for the article about dyslexia. It's the same link as the Kenji Eno piece above it.

Edited by Hailinel
Edited by KDR_11k

XKCD has an argument against playing Kern Type: http://www.xkcd.com/1015/

Posted by UnderWing

Heh, funny to read bunnie's normal name here; "Andrew Huang" is *barely* his name, really; he goes by "bunnie" (lower-case intentional) everywhere, including in-person in professional settings. He's an odd gent, but incredibly (scary) intelligent and the book is a great read for anyone who's interested in reverse engineering.

Posted by DanteFaustEsq

On the subject of Quick Time Events, I have to look back to earlier this year and parrot something a few of guys on the bombstaff mentioned about DmC. The lack of QTE's in it especially three sequences which I won't mention because of their some what spoilerish nature. However I noticed the game's almost deliberate non-use of them pretty early on, something that I found rather refreshing over the course of my time with it, and a point that I didn't find that many people commenting on considering the fact that they seem to be so reviled by the gaming community at the moment.

Edited by JoshS

@fartgod666 said:

Awesome article as always, although I really can't understand who hexels would be useful for. It's neat that artists are having fun within the limitations of it, but it's just not relevant in the age of having computers that can easily handle and manipulate high res images.

It can be used for more stylized games. The trixels mode is perfect for doing something that looks like Ridiculous Fishing. I have been playing around with it, and it is very fun to create scenery in the skewed perspective it puts everything in. For example:

Edited by StarvingGamer

@hailinel said:

@starvinggamer said:

@hailinel: RRRRRGH MUST... BITE... MY... TONGUE...

Jesus, it's an honest question.

Oh, no, not because of your question, but because of how I might choose to answer it.

Edited by MistaSparkle

Shovel Knight seems like it could be something right up my alley and the Kern Type game was also something I really enjoyed! Wouldn't have found them without Worth Reading, thanks Patrick!

Edited by LegendaryChopChop

I've always loved QTEs. I know that makes me "weird", but I enjoy the quick reactions and coordinated button presses. I think Heavy Rain did them best in that the entire game was a QTE, but in terms of games that use it without running on it, I think Resident Evil 4 did them best in the more modern era of gaming. I've always liked their inclusions in action-horror games.

However, it's not so cool when they infinitely punish you for getting something wrong (like Lords of Shadow where you have to redo the whole last boss sequence), but if you start back a little bit before you failed it, it's much better.

Edited by dropabombonit

Great stuff again this week, really enjoyed the QTE and Koj articles

Posted by DeF
Edited by JohnLocke

Frozen Endzone looks pretty awesome, shame it seems to be a long way from release. Could be a good game.

Edited by DedBeet

<p>Patrick, have you considered doing some user/fan interviews at PAX as well? Maybe not individual interviews, but one article that contains some quotes and impressions from some regular attendees could be interesting. It'd be really nice to get some feedback from gamers that represent our pasttime in a good way as a counter to the stories about human garbage at PAX that are likely surface.</p>

Posted by Inquisitor

@hailinel said:

@patrickklepek: Given how strongly you feel about the women/games debate and your oft-stated position regarding it, I find your opinions expressed on the God of War QL earlier this week a bit odd. Is the fact that the game is about such a stupid male power fantasy really make the depiction of women in those games excusable? I've always felt that God of War's characters are pretty much terrible across the board (Kratos being among the worst), so where do you draw your line?

Hypocrisy? Never.

Edited by FloppyDog

I am not trying to come across as defending microtransactions, but the article criticizing Cliffy B wasn't very good. It uses poor arguments that make little sense. That said, microtransactions in full retail priced games kinda blows.

Edited by monlo

the URL for dyslexia is mis-linked

Edited by SatelliteOfLove

Ooooh, I like this Helen Lewis woman. That's the kind of outside wisdom we need now.

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