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Posted by patrickklepek (3398 posts) -

It’s been a wild couple of weeks, and it’s hard to believe the end of the week is already here, too.

I’ve been attending GDC and PAX for years now, but I’ve always been conflicted on the best way to spend my time there. Since joining Giant Bomb, both have largely been about community, whether it’s interacting with developers and getting to know them on a more personal level or getting face-to-face time with the great people who give us the chance to work at Giant Bomb. Those have been and are worthwhile pursuits that pay dividends down the line, but I always left the events feeling like there was a way do them a little bit better. How can I get what I want out of the event, while also providing for the people who can’t be there? Enter Interview Dumptruck.

Interview Dumptruck was conceived during the beta site, even though the idea has been kicking around for longer. I record my interviews so they can be transcribed, but the MP3s otherwise gathers dust on my hard drive. Giant Bomb’s audience has always shown a keen interest in transparency and accepting the weirdness of raw, behind-the-scenes looks, so it made sense to take those interviews and put 'em online.

Then GDC and PAX rolled around, and I wondered about how I “cover” them. Sites like Kotaku, Polygon, and others have more people to throw at each event, so does it make sense to be competing to write up panels? Does anyone even care about panel write-ups? Instead, doesn’t it make sense to listen to a panel, the chat with the person who was presenting? That’s the approach I took for both events, and tried to capture moments from conversations I was happening with developers, critics, and other interesting members of the games industry. It’s been gratifying to see how people have responded to it.

The future of Interview Dumptruck is unclear. For now, it will continue to function as a spot to place my interviews from features (see: Papo & Yo's Vander Caballero), but I’ve always wanted to do a longform interview series akin to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast but for video games. I want to make it happen.

Anyway, that’s where my head’s at right now. Plus, I’m trying to figure out how to operate a PC.

Everyone remembers Jurassic Park 3D comes out this weekend, right? You know where I’ll be.

Hey, You Should Play This

I attended plenty of interesting panels at GDC this year, but one stuck with me longer than others. One struck a chord about the way I cover video games, and the ones I chose to cover. Super Hexagon designer Terry Cavanagh and fellow designer Porpentine convened to discuss the website the two founded, freeindiegam.es. If you’re tired of games riffing on the same mechanics, if you’re tired of games being focus tested to death, if you’re tired of not feeling anything when you play a game that isn’t adrenaline, freeindiegam.es should become one of your new regular stops on the Internet. Not every game will click, and you won’t like every game. You might dislike most of them, but you won’t be able to say they’re familiar. Cavanagh and Porpentine highlighted a series of mostly overlooked games from the past year during their panel. Many of them were made for very specific audiences, or at least aren’t concerned with appealing to a very wide one. Not all of the games they chose to who would fit traditional definitions of fun. Instead, they’re hoping to invoke empathy, push at your expectations, and often make you uncomfortable. Bookmark this site.

SoundSelf was the trippiest game I played during GDC. It was also my favorite. It’s from Robin Arnott, the designer of Deep Sea, and takes the opposite approach. Whereas Arnott was once focused on making you fear for crapping your pants, SoundSelf’s goals are more along the lines of...meditation? It’s hard to say, since the game will provoke different feelings in different people. It sent me to a zen-like state within moments of strapping on a pair of headphones, and I began humming into a microphone. Making noises and manipulating the visuals is the player’s primary way of interacting with SoundSelf (right now, anyway), and it’s unlike anything I’ve played.

And You Should Read These, Too

Tevis Thompson’s latest column at Grantland is as poignant as his first. Thompson, who became known for his dissection of modern Zelda games, has pointed his critical eye at the nature and attraction of casual games in the past, and continues to do so here. In this column, Thompson downloads some of today's most popular games on mobile platforms, games that specifically engage with the nature of in-app purchasing, and tries to dissect not only what makes them tick, but whether they're also exploitative.

Yes, another piece from Grantland. There may be no one better suited to having a conversation about writing a game than Tom Bissell, who most recently helped write Gears of War Judgment. Bissell was invited to talk with Ken Levine after playing BioShock Infinite, and my favorite exchange between the two is when they discuss their structural approach to storytelling. Bissell is convinced the three-act arc used in Hollywood is not helpful for games, while Levine has largely relied on the structure his entire career.

If You Click It, It Will Play

Consider Making This If You Have Time

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

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

fun thought experiment: imagine you’ve been put in charge of Doom 4 and you have to somehow make the concept interesting again

— Bennett (@bfod) April 3, 2013

GDC Prompted Some Emotional Responses From Its Attendees

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Staff
#2 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10384 posts) -

The triumphant return!

#3 Posted by mlarrabee (2875 posts) -

I'm so excited to read that Ken Levine interview!

And, yes, that is the best game ever made.

#4 Posted by takayamasama (438 posts) -

Holy shit was that the best game ever made.

Nostalgia trip!

#5 Posted by Bishop113 (191 posts) -

Okay the kotaku article on violence in Infinite? Come on, the entire premise for the game's setting is racism and race on race violence. What a stupid article.

#6 Edited by AuthenticM (3695 posts) -

Did you guys know Giant Bomb is mentioned in Romero's Wives ?

#7 Edited by Soapy86 (2619 posts) -

RE: That Doom 4 tweet.

Make it like the originals. Similar gameplay, similar graphics, just with a few modern design and technical flourishes. It would certainly set itself apart from anything else on the market.

The Mega Man 9 of Doom, basically.

#8 Posted by Video_Game_King (35849 posts) -

Wait, what? Another Ecco game? Why? They weren't that good in the first place.

#9 Posted by jakkblades (397 posts) -

Koooool

#10 Posted by DrDarkStryfe (1079 posts) -

While I believe that the PAX East/GDC stretch could end up being one of those big watershed moments for the industry, is does not mean a thing if the publishers do not get on board.

It is refreshing to see that the development community has started to look deep into themselves to see how this industry can move forward, but in the end it is the suit and tie executives that decide what will get made. Kickstarter and its similar services can only do so much, and will never fund something that needs a AAA budget.

And oh my god at that Solitaire page. Things go insane when you hold in the mouse button and go wide with moving the mouse.

#11 Edited by BeachThunder (11649 posts) -

Wait, what? Another Ecco game? Why? They weren't that good in the first place.

No they weren't, but they had dolphins - and everyone loves dolphins.

#12 Posted by Video_Game_King (35849 posts) -

@beachthunder:

Not so sure on that one. I know about a game where you can make a dolphin leap out of a pool and pee on/sexually molest people with his massive dick. I am not at all kidding.

#13 Edited by BigD145 (175 posts) -

I tend to play female characters in games because I don't want to watch the backside of a man throughout the entire game. I get to view a pleasing set of hips running around in the world and she gets to be a hero and save the world. win-win

#14 Edited by enxb (4 posts) -

Goddamn Watson actually made me jump

#16 Edited by Phatmac (5720 posts) -

Yay this feature isn't dead!! :D

#17 Posted by Parsnip (1075 posts) -

There were times in Infinite where Elizabeth had some Watson like qualities.

#18 Edited by OllyOxenFree (4970 posts) -

Okay the kotaku article on violence in Infinite? Come on, the entire premise for the game's setting is racism and race on race violence. What a stupid article.

Kotaku:Stupid Articles::Chocolate:Peanut Butter

#19 Posted by jakob187 (21642 posts) -

OH MY GOD! IF YOU HOLD DOWN YOUR MOUSE, IT RAINS DOWN VICTORY!

#20 Edited by nERVEcenter (162 posts) -

Thank you for Winning Solitaire. Thank you. That just made me so happy it hurts.

Other than that, I have to hand it to The Blaze. As much as I listen to Beck's radio show and side up with him on more points than not, his organization and his associated organizations sure run a hell of a tabloid business. Not unexpected for them to write up an article examining whether or not Infinite is an attack on conservative ideals, though I must say that I'm glad such an article exists. Those questions need to be asked. In fact, all sides should be asking those questions. Ken Levine set out to explore that time in America rather than comment on and challenge today's issues, and we need to hold him accountable to that, so that his next game might blow us away just that much more.

It is quite funny to watch the mass-media coverage expand, though. First, a game explores issues. Then an article challenges it on a socio-political basis. Then, more articles attempt to poke holes in the argument and challenge it on their own socio-political basis. Then it's no longer about the game, it's a bunch of liberal and conservative journalists having a pissing contest. Every time.

#21 Posted by ArtelinaRose (1831 posts) -

@bigd145 said:

I tend to play female characters in games because I don't want to watch the backside of a man throughout the entire game. I get to view a pleasing set of hips running around in the world and she gets to be a hero and save the world. win-win

I always thought this was a really lame argument. Why are you watching your character's backside and not where you're going or what you're doing? If you really only play a lady to stare at her butt, that is awfully shallow.

It's okay to prefer feminine qualities or prefer expressing yourself that way with no further psychological meaning behind it. Nobody is going to judge you for playing a girl. There's no need to construct some sort of defense for the idea because it is okay.

#22 Edited by hughesman (312 posts) -

@nervecenter said:

Thank you for Winning Solitaire. Thank you. That just made me so happy it hurts.

Other than that, I have to hand it to The Blaze. As much as I listen to Beck's radio show and side up with him on more points than not, his organization and his associated organizations sure run a hell of a tabloid business. Not unexpected for them to write up an article examining whether or not Infinite is an attack on conservative ideals, though I must say that I'm glad such an article exists. Those questions need to be asked. In fact, all sides should be asking those questions. Ken Levine set out to explore that time in America rather than comment on and challenge today's issues, and we need to hold him accountable to that, so that his next game might blow us away just that much more.

It is quite funny to watch the mass-media coverage expand, though. First, a game explores issues. Then an article challenges it on a socio-political basis. Then, more articles attempt to poke holes in the argument and challenge it on their own socio-political basis. Then it's no longer about the game, it's a bunch of liberal and conservative journalists having a pissing contest. Every time.

Just so i understand, did you read/like the article on the blaze?

I went into that not really knowing what to expect but damn if they didn't come up with a decent article that was interesting to read and to see them come down on the "No, this game is not a wide sweeping attack on conservatism" was a little surprising. Also to answer the "Is this game corrupting my kids?" question with a "Well this game is rated M so your kids shouldn't be playing this game in the first place" was also nice.

#23 Edited by Pudge (862 posts) -

Who the hell doesn't think old school Doom isn't still interesting?

#24 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (5139 posts) -

That Pokemon Snap trailer was pretty rad.

Snap, " I can't capture them all!!! "

Oak, " I Chose YOU!!!"

#25 Edited by RadixNegative2 (510 posts) -

I really enjoyed the article by Leigh Alexander. Very well written and I found myself relating to a lot of what she was talking about.

It's also just great to read about how much someone loves video games.

#26 Edited by nERVEcenter (162 posts) -

@hughesman: Definitely liked that article, but the fact that the headline and each segment is such "gotcha" seems a little misleading. What's great, though, is that each is posed as a question (e.g. "Is Bioshock Infinite anti-Tea Party?"), as if to pre-empt the harder-core conservative values machine with ridicule, and shut them down before it happens. As if to also say, "Are You an Idiot for Immediately Assuming It Is, Just at Face Value?"

Definitely a good piece, with lots of Ken Levine's thoughts and research anecdotes.

#27 Posted by Nekroskop (2786 posts) -
Patrick Klepek bleats again

#28 Posted by TheMasterDS (2009 posts) -

Holy crap, that Solitare. I think stuff like that, Soundself and things like the Oculus Rift Crazy Phil Fish proposed will be the next wave of "Is it art?" It is totally art.

#29 Edited by Aaron_G (1610 posts) -

Saw Jurassic Park 3D in IMAX and boy was it awesome.

#30 Edited by GunstarRed (4997 posts) -

But...but... I don't want another Ecco game.

Online
#31 Edited by fiberpay (282 posts) -

Why would he not agree with reviewing the Ouya? If the system wasn't done then they should not have sent out.

#32 Edited by mrfluke (5051 posts) -

@bishop113 said:

Okay the kotaku article on violence in Infinite? Come on, the entire premise for the game's setting is racism and race on race violence. What a stupid article.

yeaaa, i read that article, i dont agree with people's views on the violence being excessive either.

as that game is a dark world and to me there is enough story justification for it.

kind of sick of the complaining going on on the internet also.

let games just be games, whether you agree with how they did their game or not.

(also bothers me that people get to rage about the violence in bioshock and wished that game had less of it.......but the people that didn't like the ending to mass effect 3 got shit from the internet, talk about hypocrisy )

#33 Posted by Draxyle (1780 posts) -

Reviewing a console seems like a really silly thing in the first place. How do you give a number grade to something so diametrically based on what the consumer wants out of it? And how do you do it before it's even out? It just comes across as extremely dirty click-bait (that might unfairly destroy the potential of the console in the process).

As for the Doom thing.. that is a very good question. There have been other games that have tried, but none seem to be able to capture the spirit of those original games. It might be like.. pong or a lot of classic arcade games; too many other, newer games already provide much more than any re-imagining of Doom can ever hope to be (though I'd welcome to be proven wrong).

#34 Posted by ch3burashka (4994 posts) -

Sherlock Holmes isn't a very good detective - his best friend and right hand man is actually England's most notorious (and magical) serial killer.

#35 Posted by Swimm (16 posts) -

Great roundup as always, Patrick!

I appreciated seeing a thoughtful, respectful counterpoint to the first episode of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. It seems like most of the responses out there are more interested in attempting to discredit Sarkeesian than engaging on her arguments, so it was nice to see a constructive response.

#36 Edited by Sergio (2038 posts) -

It shouldn't come as much surprise how big the pay gap is between men and women.

This doesn't provide enough information to show "how big the pay gap is." It splits wages into brackets based on years of experience, then based on gender, but not the two at the same time. We constantly hear about the game industry being a boys' club and not enough women in game development. If the industry is slowly increasing that number, then they will also be at the low end of the experience charts.

There are also factors that aren't discussed. With constant layoffs happening and contract work, I'd think the duration one has spent at a company also factors into the equation. Another is what affect any leaves of absence such as maternity/paternity leave have in the advancement and increase of salaries. Then there's just skill, regardless of experience.

What it does show is the lack of women represented in the game industry - or at least those who read Game Developer Magazine.

#37 Posted by Xymox (2056 posts) -

Tried playing the prototype for Soundself but it just crashed. It also tried to launch explorer.exe which is windows... wha? Prototypes.

#38 Edited by dvdhaus (354 posts) -

Wow the Verge/Polygon/whatever that site is called reviewing the Ouya already, because one of the guys was a backer and got their system already. Guess they could always change the review once the system is released to the public in June. And when the majority of the developers are targeting their releases for on the system.

#39 Edited by bitchypixels (67 posts) -

My Saturday mornings are complete again. Welcome back, Patrick.

#40 Posted by dr_mantas (1761 posts) -

Great props to Patrick for putting the response video on here!

#41 Edited by TheHT (10812 posts) -

#42 Posted by Magicallystoopid (467 posts) -

@beachthunder: I know I do, they taste great in a sandwich with some mayo...

#43 Posted by Smokey_Earhole (473 posts) -

Fucking Candy Crush Saga...anyone here have an issue on their iPhone whereas browsing something suddenly sends you to the app store, to look at the page for this game?

It's beyond annoying, oh crappy ads how I hate thee.

#44 Posted by SleepyDoughnut (1194 posts) -

As a sports fan along with a video games fan, I have to say Grantland is a great goddamn website.

#45 Posted by Smokey_Earhole (473 posts) -

Bioshock Infinite mocks traditional conservative values? Probably because there's something to be mocked about them.

And Ken Levine is (possibly) a marxist? Who really gives a shit??

#46 Posted by Vuud (1943 posts) -

Ah, it's like Patrick goes out on his rickety rusted little trawler and dredges up the most foul sludge from the nightmarish alien abyss that is video game journalism. A mighty haul this time, but every time he goes out he knows he may not come back.

#47 Posted by FesteringNeon (2158 posts) -

Thank you for the write up, Scoops! ET link! So awesome.

#48 Posted by OneFreeman (80 posts) -

@vuud said:

Ah, it's like Patrick goes out on his rickety rusted little trawler and dredges up the most foul sludge from the nightmarish alien abyss that is video game journalism. A mighty haul this time, but every time he goes out he knows he may not come back.

lol wut?

#49 Edited by Sweep (8793 posts) -

The CG in that Pokemon Snap trailer....

Moderator
#50 Edited by evanomeara (79 posts) -

Great 'Worth Reading' Patrick. It is interesting to read that you aspire to do a WTF style interview series. I would be very interested in hear this if you ever make it.