(Thanks to Zaktius for the above).
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:
- Reddup 4: Move Cautiously by a developer I can't say because it's not listed (help?).
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:
- Vicodin Visions by Tom Bissell for Grantland
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:
- As E3 approaches, Sony appears to be a company at a crossroads. How did we get there?
- Leigh Alexander has filed the best reporting on the downfall of 38 Studios thus far. (Be nice.)
- Christian Nutt breaks down why Street Fighter X Tekken failed to connect the way other Capcom fighters have.
- I still haven't played DayZ, but stuff like this is what makes me super interested in its potential.
- I've become more concerned about the preservation of our medium's history, and it ain't easy.
- Discover the ups and downs of playing games with your kid with Chris Dahlen.
- A horror game where you're a 2-year-old crawling on the floor? Sign me up.
- Activision combat designer Derek Daniels (he worked on God of War) ruminates on productivity.
- The classiest way to exit your Kickstarter and admit it's just not going to work.