Apr 132014

“I have a feeling Zoe’s healthy reaction to the crash is a mixture of childish naivete and a general sense that life is an adventure to be savored…like the games we’ve played together since she was 3. I can’t prove that playing games has made my daughter a more adventurous soul. I’m sure many factors contribute. But I have a strong feeling that accomplishing difficult things together, relying on each other, and welcoming unexpected circumstances – typical game activities – have helped condition us in useful ways.”

Read the whole story by Michael Abbott on his wonderful blog “Brainy Gamer”…

Apr 012014

“Despite all of this, there was a wonderful thing that happened. That community that I hold so dear banded together. As individuals, we were insulted and hurt, but as a group we were able to stand up and support one another in a way that I truly appreciate.
Our night, once the production was officially deemed dead, consisted of hanging out, forming new friendships, and reinforcing existing friendships – exemplifying the environment that should have existed all day.
Some developers began to devise ideas on how to film a game jam that would properly capture the spirit of game development. Some developers discussed potential future game design ideas. Some developers simply played games.
No matter what everyone was doing, however, we were all in this together – sharing, collaborating, talking, and creating.”

Read what this is all about here on Adriel Wallick’s blog

or in this article from Eurogamer.

REALLY, do it! Read it! It’s beautiful. What wonderful people. Humans can be so awesome! And it’s the video game community who shows it the best right now. I LOVE ‘EM!

Apr 012014

Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression. You are given a series of everyday life events and have to attempt to manage your illness, relationships, job, and possible treatment. This game aims to show other sufferers of depression that they are not alone in their feelings, and to illustrate to people who may not understand the illness the depths of what it can do to people.

Depression Quest is a game that deals with living with depression in a very literal way. This game is not meant to be a fun or lighthearted experience.


Zoe Quinn: Writing, Coding, Game Design, Photography, Lead Insomniac.
Patrick Lindsey: Writing, Editing, Lead Grumbler.

Music/sound by Isaac Schankler

Also read this very interesting article by Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer on “Why we need more developers like Zoe Quinn”…

Mar 032014

by marufura fufunjiru

Imagine you’re a 14-year old girl (or boy – doesn’t really matter) who grew up in a violent environment. In order to survive you had to learn some fighting skills, you know how to use weapons and you were strong and lucky enough to still be alive to help a friend who’s critically wounded. You went out to search for medical supplies and having found enough of them you are on your way back to him. Only one last door keeps you from reaching him when a bunch of soldiers with firearms attack you from behind. What would happen? You’d be dead in a second, right? Damn right, dead – game over!
Left Behind, the DLC for The Last Of Us, for the most part did so many things right. Much better than the main game. There was a lovable main character who I really cared for (not the asshole from the main game because of whom I several times considered quitting the game for good). When Ellie stood in front of that door she couldn’t open and the only possible way was through water (in freezing winter) I spent a long time trying to find alternatives. I looked for other routes. I tried to blow up the door with a molotov. I was so immersed that I really really tried to avoid walking through that ice-cold water. One part of me cared for Ellie that much. She was my friend. The other part of me was her. I didn’t want to wade through that fucking cold water, damn!
Left Behind did so many things right. It told a story about a vulnerable human being. A believable human being. Someone like you and me. Ellie was silly, funny, dumb, full of fear and hope. She was a strong young woman now and a careless teenager then. In a dangerous, hopeless world she found her moments of joy and love (that kiss was one of the best, most touching scenes ever in a video game).
How I loved this DLC!
Until she became a walking battle tank that is. Really, Naughty Dog? Are you fucking shitting me? Isn’t immersion one of the biggest strengths of video games compared to other art? How can you do that? How can you kick me out of your game like this? If I want to be a god of war I can always play, well, God of War for example.

Imagine you’re playing Call of Duty and there is a mission where you have to collect flowers to decorate the grave of your late hamster…..
I don’t give a shit about realism in video games. I love the Katamari series where you roll up skyscrapers and even whole planets. I love the Tales series where you have powerful spells to defeat invincible opponents. They are all not realistic. But they play in a coherent world. I roll up shit from beginning to end, I destroy the most powerful foes throughout the whole game. Nothing breaks immersion.
How can a young, inexperienced, vulnerable, in no way combat trained Lara Croft kill dozens of soldiers? Tomb Raider was a very good game. But without this immersion breaking nonsense (and with a lot more puzzles) it could have been a great game – game of the year material. And how can my beloved Ellie become such a joke of a weapon of mass destruction?
Really, dear game developers, this immersion breaking bullcrap must finally be left behind!!!

Jan 082014

“Yet no sensible person would ever call Tomb Raider ’96 a shooter. It had shooting, yes, but that didn’t define the game. Those encounters, whether with humans or wildlife encountered along the way, acted as punctuation. They existed to liven up Lara’s journey, whose essence was about exploration, not combat. The original Tomb Raider saw players navigating complex labyrinths, navigating ancient traps and puzzles, and picking her way though a vast underground space in search of answers to an ancient mystery.
On its surface, the new Tomb Raider seems much the same. But the balance is skewed, and the game’s elements exist in very different proportions. Lara engages in nearly as much combat as she does exploration, and the traversal aspect of the adventure feels greatly stripped down. Where some found Tomb Raider ’96 dull because of all the wall-climbing in solitary caverns it entailed, the reboot’s crime is in making the act of exploration nearly non-existent — boring in its simplicity. The game text makes a cheeky reference to “tomb raiding,” which after all these years comes off as a little too self-conscious for its own good (like when Star Trek finally referenced its own title three decades after its debut). The irony, though, is that no other game in the franchise has contained less of its namesake tomb-raiding than this year’s. Quite the contrary; Crystal Dynamics quarantined anything resembling the cave-diving of yore into optional “tomb challenges,” carefully sealing away the need for any skill besides those revolving around combat neatly out of sight.
Don’t be afraid, they reassured players. Those scary parts where you’re not killing things can’t hurt you anymore.”

“Lowering barriers to entry is the watchword of contemporary large-scale pop culture, even as the tremendous success of intricate works like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones demonstrate a thirst for complex, serialized narratives. But those are “premium” shows — read “niche.” To really soak up maximum dollars (instead of merely a whole lot of dollars), IP holders have to break things down to their most easily digestible form, which has translated in practice to constant reboots and endless retellings of the same iconic tales.
Tomb Raider slots neatly into this trend. Here we have a new origin story for Lara Croft, which is totally unlike the previous origin stories of Lara Croft, yet ends up creating the same Lara Croft we used to know (except less cartoonish in appearance, and much grimier). And it all makes for a pretty damn solid game; it simply stinks at being Tomb Raider.”

Read the complete article by Jeremy Parish of USGamer…

Jan 052014

“I think this explains why certain games get overrated.
Or at least certain aspects of games. Take the first season of The Walking Dead for example. That game did a great job of making you care about its characters, and every chapter featured predicaments and decisions that really got people worked up. Anxiety, fear, regret, and melancholy were frequent visitors during my time with that game. And the game did a fantastic job of strategically spacing emotional story beats right before and after action and exploration sequences. As a result, I’d often be emotionally aroused while searching through cupboards or fumbling through QTE sequences. And like those bridge crossers meeting the woman at the most nerve-wracking point of their trek, I was predisposed to attribute my intense emotions to “having fun navigating dialog trees” or “Looking through every drawer in this dilapidated kitchen.” Even though those sequences sometimes sucked.”

Read the whole very interesting article by Jamie Madigan…

Jan 052014

“There is no better tool to pull at the heartstrings than music. From the superb arrangement to Debussy’s classic, “Clair de Lune” as its main theme to various other original pieces, the music in “rain” is superb and hits all the right notes to fit the mood of the scenes presented.
The ambient sounds of the constant showering of rain to the echoing sounds of tiny footsteps in an empty hallway lends itself to build an atmosphere so rich, it’s difficult not to get pulled in.”

“The big game play hook of this title stems from the idea of only being visible while in the rain. This applies to both the protagonists and the various creatures that lurk in the night. It opens up a myriad of interesting scenarios where the children must either run and hide from the beasts or create a trap to overcome them altogether.”

Read the review by Jae Lee of ZTGD…

Dec 262013

A Dystopian Document Thriller.

The communist state of Arstotzka has ended a 6-year war with neighboring Kolechia and reclaimed its rightful half of the border town, Grestin.
Your job as immigration inspector is to control the flow of people entering the Arstotzkan side of Grestin from Kolechia. Among the throngs of immigrants and visitors looking for work are hidden smugglers, spies, and terrorists. Using only the documents provided by travelers and the Ministry of Admission’s primitive inspect, search, and fingerprint systems you must decide who can enter Arstotzka and who will be turned away or arrested.

“Papers, Please’s genius is that it tricks you into role-playing. Should I play by the book, granting entrance into Arstotzka only when papers are present and correct? Or should I show compassion, letting a mother who is desperate to see her family through border control despite the fact her lack of an entry ticket means I’ll be charged 10 credits for the trouble? Should I work with my paranoid superiors as they weed out a shadowy organisation hell bent on overthrowing the government? Or should I work against them, risking my family, my job, and maybe even my life in the process? Papers, Please challenges the player with some truly troubling moral dilemmas that make it much more than a puzzle game. Pick one: do this terrible thing or this other terrible thing. The choice is yours.”

Read the complete article by Wesley Yin-Poole of Eurogamer…

Game website

Lucas Pope’s website