I just finished watching expert-level Spelunky player Bananasaurus Rex finish establishing a new world record in Spelunky, having accumulated more than $3 million by the end of his lengthy run.
That might not sound crazy to you, but that's because you don't play Spelunky. And I now have a better understanding of why people get so fired up about big game tournaments like EVO or The International. Spelunky is a deeply competitive game, it just doesn't happen in a single arena.
I don't want to take too much away from the thoughts I'm starting to gather for an eventual piece on Spelunky, one I'm hoping to publish next week, but the thrill of watching a true virtuoso play at an extremely high level is mesmerizing. Bananasaurus Rex spent more than nine hours on his record-setting run, and while it's easy to look at his record as a depressing reminder of a high you will never yourself reach, I find it inspiring. It shows there's still room to grow in Spelunky.
Hmm, hmm, hmm.
This is slightly off-topic, but also want to thank the Giant Bomb community for some of the rigorous debate that's taken place in both my review of Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom Cry, and the podcast I recorded with Kotaku writer Evan Narcisse about the game's touchy content. We may not all see eye-to-eye on the matters I find important, nor the conclusions I draw about them, but that we have such varied conversations is a testament to what makes this site great. I'll cheers to that.
Hey, You Should Play This
And You Should Read These, Too
- "Irrational Games, journalism, and airing dirty laundry" by Leigh Alexander
Being a reporter covering the video game industry is a weird thing. Most of the time, it's not exactly about life-or-death, leading to occasional existential crisis moments of "what am I doing this for, exactly?" Leigh Alexander touches on one of entertainment journalisms biggest issues in a nakedly honest fashion, especially as it relates to how we balance the info we gather with the info we disclose. This piece is both a form of reporting and an editorial, the mix of which does a great job of conveying some of the stressors I deal with every day, as well.
"No one talks to the games press officially. I wish they did, but I get it. They want to keep their jobs. Let's just say multiple people within a studio were willing to risk their careers to confirm to me that yes, in fact, if their game didn't sell extremely well, like exponentially more than its predecessor or "well" according to a matrix of time and cost investment and desired profit, that their studio would be closed in a year.
What good does it do anyone, the story about the conditional but likely imminent closure? Who does it help and serve? What good does it do to risk my friends' jobs and their confidence to patch together the plausible but potentially biased story about all the extra unfinished or un-implemented content from the wildly over-budget and over-scope game? The story about the high stress, the high turnover, the difficult-to-work-with creative lead?"
- "Games by Humans" by Brendan Keogh
The faces we associate with the games we play are largely the result of a targeted marketing campaign. Yes, Ken Levine is the chief creative behind his games, but he didn't build them on his own, and we rarely hear from those people. Yet, those are exactly the individuals being fired with Irrational Games shuttering. Brendan Keogh's experience meeting the grunt-level developers behind Spec Ops: The Line helps reinforce points made in Leigh's piece, as well. Games are made by people--lots of people. It's easy to forget that when we only think of one.
"It’s not a problem unique to videogames. In any creative form, as we instinctively try to picture the creator behind the artwork, and it’s much easier as an audience to boil the author down to a single person: the director, the lead singer, the conductor. But this obscures the realities of how that work was produced and why it is the way it is.
Often, when we play a game and lament about an obviously terrible design decision in one stage and ask nobody in particular “Urgh, why would they design it like that?” the answer isn’t that the creators were idiots, but something much more mundane such as: two level designers worked on different floors of the studio, or a post-it note fell off a monitor."
If You Click It, It Will Play
Some Crowdfunding Projects Worth Considering
- Treachery in Beatdown City is a 2D RPG brawler that was part of a story I wrote last year.
- Lana Polansky is raising funds to attend the GDC talk she's supposed to give next month.
- Tim W is hoping to spend more time writing about independently made video games.
- Pixel V2 is an updated version of a rad-looking, smartphone-controlled pixel art LED screen.
Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"
videogames are not games. The similarity is just a misnomer, like ‘koala bear’. This is why videogames can also be ‘not-games’.— Bennett (@bfod) February 15, 2014
I still think the big win of next gen is about lowering the 'optimisation barrier of entry' to indies, for now at least.— Mike Bithell (@mikeBithell) February 17, 2014
I, as a chap who can code, but could never get a job doing it, can release a game that runs solidly. That is a big equaliser.— Mike Bithell (@mikeBithell) February 17, 2014
'why wouldn't he just go out on his own with 15 colleagues he liked' is a very good question that probably has a bigger answer.— Leigh Alexander (@leighalexander) February 18, 2014
Nine out of ten projects don't work out, but luckily people only care about the one that does. I guess the trick is just to try ten things.— Max Temkin (@MaxTemkin) February 19, 2014
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Todd Harper examines the fourth wallness of the Saints Row series.
- Kate Cox muses on what we consider to be "real" games and "real" gamers.
- Paolo Pedercini has uploaded his recent talk about the entanglement of games and capitalism.
- David Gaider writes about how being gay has impacted his role as a game developer.
- Christian Nutt has deeply considered how the next Zero Escape game might get made.
- Robert Briscoe explains the lengthy, frustrating process that landed Dear Esther in Unity.
- JC Fletcher explores the controversial worth of the game Senran Kagura Burst.
- Jaremy Rich looks at the interesting data we can glean from King's IPO proposal.
- Patrick Miller considers why he's spending so much time watching Twitch Plays Pokemon.
- Wesley Yin-Poole talks to Creative Assembly about the backlash to Total War ome 2's DLC.
- Danielle Riendeau writes about how developers can avoid gay stereotypes in their projects.
- Brendan Sinclair speaks to Tim Schafer about dealing with jerks on the Internet.
- Good Games Writing has its writer of the year nominees for 2013, and it's an excellent list.