Worth Reading: 06/01/2012

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Posted by patrickklepek (3398 posts) -

(Thanks to Zaktius for the above).

Just thinking about this sequence from Amnesia is making me sick to my stomach. Ugh. UGH.

I finally pulled the trigger on Amnesia: The Dark Descent. My thoughts on that nightmare will come in a piece after E3, let me make it clear that in no uncertain terms, Amnesia is terrifying.

Can someone give a thumbs up or down on the Penumbra games? Seems all of them are just $10 until the Humble Bundle is over, so maybe it doesn’t matter if they’re any good. At $10, who cares?

Which reminds me that Amensia is in the latest Humble Indie Bundle. That’s going for the next two weeks, and includes Amnesia, Psychonauts, Limbo and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. That's one hell of a package, and I'm tempted to bite a second time. The average contribution, as of now, is just $7.71 (!!!), and paying anything above that also nets you a copy of Bastion. Soundtracks are included for all of the games, in addition to versions for PC, Mac and Linux.

I don’t feel ripped off for having spent $20 just a week ago, though. What’s $20 for the the scariest experience I’ve ever had? I don’t think I’ve been this numb with horror since Paranormal Activity, a movie I knew nothing about before walking into the theater (this was two years before it was released and became a phenomenon, at a tiny theater in San Francisco). Prior to that, it’s definitely The Blair Witch Project, which continues to haunt me.

Hey, You Should Play This:

It’s been a busy week leading up to E3, so I haven’t been doing much else but waiting until the sun goes down, pouring a glass of scotch, and sprinting through the dark corridors of Amensia. That said, I’ve spent more time than I want to admit dicking around with Reddup 4: Move Cautiously, which puts the concept of player-driven risk/reward front-and-center. You’re dragging an arrow around the screen and must avoid the other arrows, but as you move, the arrows becomes bigger and bigger and bigger. I managed to make it over the 100 mark after a few tries, but the game’s simple enough in the run-up to 100 that it’s easy to become arrogant and suddenly find yourself boned.

Don't think about it--just click. Seriously, though, you should start clicking.

And You Should Read These, Too:

This isn’t the first time Tom Bissell has been mentioned, and unlikely to be the last. I’ve been mulling on Max Payne 3 since the credits rolled last weekend, conflicted on the choices Rockstar Games made regarding the balance of cover and bullet time, and whether the story was one that needed telling. Bissell spends several hundred words raking Max Payne 3 over the coals for its obvious ludonarrative dissonance (in short, the disconnect between narrative and gameplay), and Bissell’s walks us through (in his seemingly effortless conversational tone) why he thinks that’s maybe okay, even if it’s not really okay, and what that says about the developers, the player, and Max Payne himself.

“Let's also not kid ourselves about what happens even to a sane, well-adjusted person after an entire day of watching faces get shredded by bullets. I played Max Payne 3 in two long sittings. After the end of my first sitting, which lasted around six hours, I went to a dinner party with my girlfriend. I was, she reports, "mouthy" and "agitated" during our dinner, and she wondered what had gotten into me. What had gotten into me was that I was shooting people in the face all afternoon.”

As games became more sophisticated and stories seemed more important, an early idea was to import writers from Hollywood. It hasn’t really worked. TJ Fixman has been a writer at Insomniac Games for years, and become intimately familiar with his role in the development process. In his blog, Fixman breaks down what people think a writer does and how that actually translates. His insights into why games writing sometimes devolves to the point of parody in service of instructing the player is informative, even if it makes you weep at the role of playtesting.

“The primary goal of every game story, from Mass Effect to BioShock to Ratchet & Clank, is to provide context for gameplay. Why am I here? What am I doing? How do I succeed? Why did I fail? The answers to these questions are both critical and unpredictable. At Insomniac we test and rework every level, setup, and boss encounter to ensure the player understands what they’re doing while (most importantly) having fun. Often times, this can mean modifying characters, rewriting VO, or even cutting full levels – and as a writer, it’s my job to make sense of it. It doesn’t matter if your hero wouldn’t go through that door without backup. Those NPCs were cut, and gameplay says he needs to go through that door. Make it work!”

Oh, And This Other Stuff:

Staff
#1 Posted by patrickklepek (3398 posts) -

(Thanks to Zaktius for the above).

Just thinking about this sequence from Amnesia is making me sick to my stomach. Ugh. UGH.

I finally pulled the trigger on Amnesia: The Dark Descent. My thoughts on that nightmare will come in a piece after E3, let me make it clear that in no uncertain terms, Amnesia is terrifying.

Can someone give a thumbs up or down on the Penumbra games? Seems all of them are just $10 until the Humble Bundle is over, so maybe it doesn’t matter if they’re any good. At $10, who cares?

Which reminds me that Amensia is in the latest Humble Indie Bundle. That’s going for the next two weeks, and includes Amnesia, Psychonauts, Limbo and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. That's one hell of a package, and I'm tempted to bite a second time. The average contribution, as of now, is just $7.71 (!!!), and paying anything above that also nets you a copy of Bastion. Soundtracks are included for all of the games, in addition to versions for PC, Mac and Linux.

I don’t feel ripped off for having spent $20 just a week ago, though. What’s $20 for the the scariest experience I’ve ever had? I don’t think I’ve been this numb with horror since Paranormal Activity, a movie I knew nothing about before walking into the theater (this was two years before it was released and became a phenomenon, at a tiny theater in San Francisco). Prior to that, it’s definitely The Blair Witch Project, which continues to haunt me.

Hey, You Should Play This:

It’s been a busy week leading up to E3, so I haven’t been doing much else but waiting until the sun goes down, pouring a glass of scotch, and sprinting through the dark corridors of Amensia. That said, I’ve spent more time than I want to admit dicking around with Reddup 4: Move Cautiously, which puts the concept of player-driven risk/reward front-and-center. You’re dragging an arrow around the screen and must avoid the other arrows, but as you move, the arrows becomes bigger and bigger and bigger. I managed to make it over the 100 mark after a few tries, but the game’s simple enough in the run-up to 100 that it’s easy to become arrogant and suddenly find yourself boned.

Don't think about it--just click. Seriously, though, you should start clicking.

And You Should Read These, Too:

This isn’t the first time Tom Bissell has been mentioned, and unlikely to be the last. I’ve been mulling on Max Payne 3 since the credits rolled last weekend, conflicted on the choices Rockstar Games made regarding the balance of cover and bullet time, and whether the story was one that needed telling. Bissell spends several hundred words raking Max Payne 3 over the coals for its obvious ludonarrative dissonance (in short, the disconnect between narrative and gameplay), and Bissell’s walks us through (in his seemingly effortless conversational tone) why he thinks that’s maybe okay, even if it’s not really okay, and what that says about the developers, the player, and Max Payne himself.

“Let's also not kid ourselves about what happens even to a sane, well-adjusted person after an entire day of watching faces get shredded by bullets. I played Max Payne 3 in two long sittings. After the end of my first sitting, which lasted around six hours, I went to a dinner party with my girlfriend. I was, she reports, "mouthy" and "agitated" during our dinner, and she wondered what had gotten into me. What had gotten into me was that I was shooting people in the face all afternoon.”

As games became more sophisticated and stories seemed more important, an early idea was to import writers from Hollywood. It hasn’t really worked. TJ Fixman has been a writer at Insomniac Games for years, and become intimately familiar with his role in the development process. In his blog, Fixman breaks down what people think a writer does and how that actually translates. His insights into why games writing sometimes devolves to the point of parody in service of instructing the player is informative, even if it makes you weep at the role of playtesting.

“The primary goal of every game story, from Mass Effect to BioShock to Ratchet & Clank, is to provide context for gameplay. Why am I here? What am I doing? How do I succeed? Why did I fail? The answers to these questions are both critical and unpredictable. At Insomniac we test and rework every level, setup, and boss encounter to ensure the player understands what they’re doing while (most importantly) having fun. Often times, this can mean modifying characters, rewriting VO, or even cutting full levels – and as a writer, it’s my job to make sense of it. It doesn’t matter if your hero wouldn’t go through that door without backup. Those NPCs were cut, and gameplay says he needs to go through that door. Make it work!”

Oh, And This Other Stuff:

Staff
#2 Edited by kingof8bit (14 posts) -

E3

edit: Yes I know shameless. I'll go buy the Humble Bundle as punishment.

#3 Posted by patrickklepek (3398 posts) -

E3?

Staff
#4 Edited by Cyrisaurus (455 posts) -

Mysteries

#5 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -
@patrickklepek said:

E3?

E3 ALL UP IN THIS MOTHAFUCKA!
Also, i'm thinking about posting a blog about Max Payne 3, from a brazilian perspective.
#6 Posted by Napalm (9020 posts) -

#e3mysteries

#7 Posted by Hockeymask27 (3683 posts) -

E3

#8 Posted by kerse (2100 posts) -

no half life 3

#9 Posted by Video_Game_King (35827 posts) -

EEE.

Online
#10 Posted by patrickklepek (3398 posts) -

@MikeGosot said:

@patrickklepek said:

E3?

E3 ALL UP IN THIS MOTHAFUCKA! Also, i'm thinking about posting a blog about Max Payne 3, from a brazilian perspective.

Please do! I'd like to read that.

Staff
#11 Posted by zeekthegeek (381 posts) -

Tom Bissell says that playing this game made him be a dick. I don't really see how that is even remotely a thing that can happen - you are almost definitely probably already a dick before hand.

#12 Posted by Vegetable_Side_Dish (1723 posts) -

Slick black. 
 
The best games. 
 
ETripple 

#13 Posted by Bboboo (81 posts) -

E3

#14 Posted by Phatmac (5720 posts) -

LOVE YA TRICKY "SCOOPZ" KLEPEK!

#15 Posted by DFSVegas (350 posts) -

There's something bizarre to me about seeing Grantland cited on Giant Bomb. Kind of surreal, two very distinct worlds I love, colliding.

It's been a weird day.

#16 Posted by CornBREDX (4754 posts) -

Yes. I am a big fan of frictional because of Penumbra. You should play it. I haven't played it in a bit (couple years now), so maybe it doesn't age well- I don't know. The story is great, though.

I will say in the first part of penumbra (overture) they attempted to add a weird kind of combat to it. It sucks, i'll tell you straight out. They realized this and removed it from the follow up (black plague). Luckily the game barely requires it and there is maybe one or two parts only you actually have to use it. I recommend running or hiding other wise.

But ya, I love Frictional's stuff. Maybe that clouds my opinion a bit, but I think you should check the penumbra games out (I have all 3 but you really only need to play Overture and Black Plague- requiem is not part of the story and is not really very good. It's mainly a bunch of 3rd person platforming puzzles, and not good ones).

#17 Posted by Typographenia (57 posts) -

Penumbra is okay, but the only one of the three worth playing was Black Plague. Requiem is just 2/3 hours of additional puzzles with no real story relevance or worthwhile narrative. The first part (Overture) is okay, but the combat turned me off of it. You might check it out or just read a wiki entry on it to have a little bit of context before playing Black Plague.

I accidentally played it out of order (2,3,1), but I still really enjoyed Black Plague. It did away with combat, the narrative was more interesting, and it was just a more exciting experience than the other two.

#18 Posted by psoplayer (237 posts) -

@patrickklepek said:

conflicted on the choices Rockstar Games made regarding the balance of cover and bullet time,

Is that what you meant? Because it didn't make sense to me otherwise.

#19 Posted by Dixavd (1291 posts) -

That indie bundle is really good. I am still planning on getting Bastion some day anyway and getting Amnesia and Sword and Sworcery with it would be great (I like Limbo too, but I have already played it).

That is going to be gnawing at me for a while.

Nice article though (and I do seriously hope the Vitality Sensor gets mentioned - especially if it is used with whatever Quantic Dream's next game is (if it isn't a sony exclusive that is). I would love a thematical sequel to Indigo Prophecy (fahrenheit) with a vitality sensor (hopefully they put the obligatory going-crazy-scene where you have to tap buttons and keep a vitality sensor in certain levels to keep the main character from losing their mind).

#20 Posted by Cloneslayer (1620 posts) -

X off no half life 3

:(

#21 Posted by KaneRobot (1397 posts) -

Argh. Was so ready to post something and then I saw "(be nice)."

Fine. Never mind.

#22 Posted by Getz (2986 posts) -

I love that Patrick has to warn people to be nice to Leigh. 'Tis true, when she's mouthing off about politics or talking condescendingly about what it means to be a gurrrl I can't fucking stand her. But when she buckles down and acts like a professional she can get it fucking done. What I'm saying is; don't let the obnoxious personality cloud the good writing. It's a good piece.

#23 Posted by Brodehouse (9519 posts) -

The developer end of 'preservation' is concerning, but not the consumer end. It's hard to imagine a more Wild West scenario when it comes to game software than the mid 80s, and the people who care can still find all that stuff today. The industry is a little older, people understand what makes money nowadays, you can feel safe that capitalism will try to resell you the thing you lost 25 years ago. Despite all the "WE WON'T BE ABLE TO PLAY THE DLC WHEN THE SERVERS GO DOWN" like don't worry. In 20 years, they'll give you everything they ever made for the damn thing plus some half-broken stuff they never finished for 10 space bucks.

#24 Edited by Chadster (326 posts) -

That Kanye Twitter game is some good stuff, and the tweeting music is great. Don't ever stop, Yeezy, keep on tweeting forever!

#25 Posted by KillyDarko (1888 posts) -

@ patrickklepek The first two Penumbra games are pretty awesome, particularly the second (Black Plague), which alongside Amnesia, is one of my favourite horror games ever. The last one in the trilogy (Requiem) is pretty much "just" a puzzle game though, so it's obviously not as good as a horror adventure game.
Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Amnesia after E3 ;)

#26 Posted by Nekroskop (2786 posts) -

That first image could have been better looking. Just saying...

#27 Edited by Christoffer (1742 posts) -

The twist in Half-Life 3 is that there is no Half-Life 3. It's the mother of all twists. The aliens invaded, and just like Psyche Zenobia, Freeman kept on being aware of the fight even if he died a while ago.

Just a thought.

Edit: NIce read, btw, Patrick.

#28 Posted by SpicyRichter (499 posts) -

Crop that Sly picture from the preservation article slightly differently, and you get a VERY different image:

#29 Posted by Milkman (16483 posts) -

This Kanye Twitter game is blowing my mind. What is even happening?

#30 Edited by Neurotic (631 posts) -

I got the Humble Bundle yesterday (for $15). The problem with choosing what you pay is that they ask you to pay how much you think is deserved. Surely the only way to know that is to play the games? I saw one dude paid $3000 or something though. That's bananas.

I'll confess I don't know anything about Limbo or Psychonauts and all I know about Amnesia is what was said on the last Bombcast. So basically, I'm really nervous to play Amnesia. I'm not really a fan of horror but I'll be damned if I pay for a game and don't play it. I've already played Bastion so I'll give a friend the Steam code for that. As many people as possible should play that game.

I thought it was fairly self-evident that game writing and screenwriting would be different. Judging by how often that guy said he gets asked about it, I guess not.

#31 Posted by Slow_pC (241 posts) -

Another great weekend worth of reading ... and tweeting.

#32 Posted by Potter9156 (939 posts) -

I can't say I'm a fan of Reddit tripe making its way into GB content.

#33 Posted by FinalDasa (1452 posts) -

Alexander's article is really good. Helps wrap your head around everything that has happened with 38 studios.

#34 Posted by Nicholas (368 posts) -

@MikeGosot said:

@patrickklepek said:

E3?

E3 ALL UP IN THIS MOTHAFUCKA! Also, i'm thinking about posting a blog about Max Payne 3, from a brazilian perspective.

I'd be very interested in reading your observations.

#35 Posted by Benny (1947 posts) -

My prediction on total number of times vitality sensor will be mentioned: once, as a jokey reference in a microsoft press conference that is used to slight nintendo for being peripheral focused, only to be followed by the 2012 holiday kinect lineup.

#36 Edited by golguin (3832 posts) -

Bought the humble indie bundle so I'm ready to see what all this, "Amnesia is scariest game ever" thing is all about.

EDIT: Just checked the humble indie bundle donations counter and its up 1 MILLION MORE than what it was when I bought the thing last night. It's currently at $2,213,854.87.

#37 Posted by TheGlitchmaster (68 posts) -

Mad proud of my friend Shiny/Zaktius, he's a really funny dude and I'm glad to see he's getting respect.

#38 Posted by jillsandwich (762 posts) -

"Leigh Alexander has filed the best reporting on the downfall of 38 Studios thus far. (Be nice.)"

Oh, Patrick. You know us far too well.

#39 Posted by geekbot (110 posts) -

Some good reads as always. I particularly enjoyed "Discover the ups and downs of playing games with your kid with Chris Dahlen." seeing as I hope to introduce my kids to video games some day. :)

Also, Among the Sleep looks really cool. I love the concept! I'll have to keep an eye on that one.

#40 Posted by cmblasko (1108 posts) -

lol @ (Be nice.)

Grabbed the new Humble Bundle last night, great purchase. Looking forward to jumping into Amnesia and seeing what all the hype is about.

Bingo card made me laugh several times. I am printing that out and hanging it at my desk for next week!

#41 Posted by CookieMonster (2414 posts) -

That Kanye game made no sense.

#42 Posted by Brackynews (4039 posts) -

I would create a new Facebook account just to Like the Vitality Sensor.

#43 Posted by CaLe (3897 posts) -

The Penumbra games are definitely worth playing. There is one particular character named Red who I remember to this day when I think of good video game characters.

#44 Posted by Animasta (14633 posts) -

@CookieMonster said:

That Kanye game made no sense.

I know! It's great. I finally got to follow everyone, took me 4 tries.

#45 Posted by ZmillA (2257 posts) -

Tom Bissell is too good at writing about video games.

#46 Posted by Bummey (604 posts) -

@CookieMonster said:

That Kanye game made no sense.

Well, yeah, duh. That's a pretty accurate representation of Kanye's twitter account.

#47 Posted by verysexypotato (207 posts) -

@MikeGosot said:

@patrickklepek said:

E3?

E3 ALL UP IN THIS MOTHAFUCKA! Also, i'm thinking about posting a blog about Max Payne 3, from a brazilian perspective.

You should! I think that would be a fascinating read.

#48 Posted by verysexypotato (207 posts) -

@CookieMonster said:

That Kanye game made no sense.

You're a monster.

#49 Posted by MarkWahlberg (4577 posts) -

The Humbliest of the Bundliest

#50 Posted by Aarownd (59 posts) -

"No Half Life 3"...Half Life 3...Life 3. LifE3...Coincidence?

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