Nov 062013


Empowerment is real. Lots of games are about exerting power over something, but that something is typically only in the game. “Once you’re out of the game, what difference did it make to you?” she asked. Often, empowerment in games is short-lived and has no real impact on players. “Give them real empowerment in life,” Pavlovic said.”

New experiences matter. “Interactive entertainment is content with potential to feed the soul,” Pavlovic said. “You could even say the best job in the world is to be a game developer.” Game developers have power to create worlds and experiences for millions of people. “Games should allow us to love each other, to care about each other,” Pavlovic said.”

Read more about Sunni Pavlovic’s thoughts about experimental game design…

Nov 062013

“What I can’t recall seeing in a game yet is the player dying, and then black screen. But you hear muffled sounds, and flashes of light. After a while you eyes “open” and you see some of the enemies are gone, others have their backs turned and so on. In other words the enemy think you are dead.

Basically you are playing out a “hero comeback” scene.

Now this can quickly become just a mechanic after a while.
So variants on this like mentioned in the article is a must.

Maybe you are left to die and then you gotta rescue your companions.
Or some NPC nearby finds you and heals you (this could easily be tied to a checkpoint save even where you would respawn/exit, the NPCs door could be nearby), and you might even get a amusing comment by them if you die near there twice or more.

Other possibilities is that you wake up in a jail.

Or you get a cold awakening when you find yourself floating in the ocean or drifting down a river.

Or you might “come to” in the bushes or trees somewhere and you hear the enemy shouting and looking for you (but fail to find you), after a while you emerge out of hiding.

You might even get rescued by some NPC (it could be another unknown hero just “passing through”).

Or maybe one of the bad guys has a change of heart and say “No wait, don’t kill him!”

Possibilities are indeed endless.”

From a comment to this very interesting article by Ferdinand Joseph Fernandez

Basic infos on Non-Standard Game Over

Also read: No ‘game over’ in Beyond: Two Souls, but Jodi can die

Nov 022013

“But I also never wanted to experience it again. Earlier in the game, I had done things, chose responses, that I felt were proper (for example, I “shrugged” every single time I was given the option), and I was planning on going through some of these chapters again to see what I was missing. But seeing the way “Homeless” changed, I realized that doing so would break what I remember Beyond to be. What I think Beyond is. The game has a 2,000-page script, and I saw at most two-thirds of it and probably quite a bit less, but aside from the likelihood that the rest of the script isn’t particularly well written, it’s that I wanted to keep my story the way I had seen it unfold.

And it’s not just Beyond. In Mass Effect 2, I never went to the Citadel. I skipped a massive chunk of content. I have no idea what happens in that section of the game, and I think that’s amazing. Hundreds of hours of work went into content that I gleefully skipped. The fact that the vast majority of players did go to the Citadel (I told a friend that I had done that and he didn’t even believe it was possible) means they had a very different experience with that game than I did.

In my Mass Effect 2 universe, nobody actually knows that Commander Shepard is still alive, and that’s the way I wanted it. I’ll never get the achievements for going both Renegade and Paragon (Renegade all the way, baby), but I have my consistent character that I kept across both games (never played ME3, for various reasons). It’s my little version of the games that nobody else saw in quite the same way.”

Read the article by Alec Kubas-Meyer…

Nov 012013

“I went into Saints Row 4 expecting a time-killing goofy lark that I would promptly forget about the moment the end credits rolled. Instead, what I got was one of the smartest, most heartfelt games I’ve seen from a triple A release in ages. But best of all it proves that you don’t need to make a so-called “serious game” to make a point about gender equality, sexual attraction or interpersonal intimacy. On the surface these themes might seem like the opposite of a silly action romp about blowing up aliens, but you know what Paula Abdul would say about that.”

Read the article by Jeffrey Matulef…

Sep 092013

“Hate Plus is cosmetically prettier,” [than Analogue: A Hate Story] “and plays with real time. At the end of each part, in order to ‘recharge’ the ship’s batteries which are running on emergency backup, you have to shut down the game and return 12 hours later. You’ll need three real-time days to play this game. At first this seems like a tyrannical gimmick, as most games would use this as a cynical move to extend play time. But I started to realise that the game was attempting to seep into my actual life; when I started up to read again 12 hours later, I was refreshed and more interested in the archives again, and I was more receptive to chatting with my AI companion.

Later, there’s a bit where your AI will ask you to bake a cake. No, actually bake a cake. Have you got the ingredients? Go and check your cupboards for them. Nope, you didn’t take long enough checking for the ingredients, I can tell you didn’t actually do it – and so on. The game timed my responses, eventually actually goading me into thinking I had to make a cake of some sort. You can send Love a picture of your real-life cake to gain a Steam achievement.

It’s an adorable joke, and yet the insistence on the player baking a cake is thematically and mechanically interesting. Within the context of video games, Christine Love is the closest we have to the author Margaret Atwood. Both writers touch on the themes of unreliable memories, the fallibility of people, gender relations. Is the often feminine-coded act of baking an attempt to bring the oppressive gender ideas of the Mugunghwa right into the player’s reality? Is it an extension of the thematic emphasis on the fertility of women – that there should always be a ‘bun in the oven’, so to say? Perhaps it’s just that Christine Love is being playful, finding ways to include her enthusiastic community? Everything is done with a little feminist wink, rather than the usual video game sledgehammer: Here is an ironic statement. Here is that ironic statement several more times.”

Read the review by Cara Ellison from Eurogamer here

Find Christine Love’s website here

Jul 072013

“Joel, a gruff, middle-aged Texan with a brow more knitted than a woolen tuxedo. He is accompanied by a precocious teenager, Ellie, whose hobbies include swearing and not being able to swim. Together, they must fight off hordes of jabbering homicidal lunatics, which they call “the infected” but which anyone will recognize as zombies. Joel and Ellie are also at risk from other survivors who have abandoned their moral principles in favor of blowing people’s heads off for a jar of Miracle Whip. Life in this desolate world is nasty, brutish, and short, and it is nigh-on impossible to get a half-fat hazelnut Frappuccino after 6 p.m.
It is not the most original premise, as Cormac McCarthy would probably agree. And to start with, this feels like Just Another Video Game, following the formula of run-hide-shoot-repeat, with occasional breaks to find ammo in lockers. But as it gathers pace and confidence, The Last Of Us reveals itself to be a refreshing and remarkable game. It is by turns poignant and thrilling, scary and surprising. It could even be described as innovative, if Sony and Microsoft hadn’t bought up all the rights to that word for their E3 press conferences.”
(from Ellie Gibson’s review)

Leading the charge is Ellie. Smart, brave, sweary Ellie, who is sometimes strong, sometimes vulnerable, but never a cliché. The game sets her up as a damsel in distress but then subverts the whole concept. Ellie is perfectly capable of saving herself – not to mention Joel, some other dudes they bump into, and the entire human race. Here we have a female character who is neither a helpless hostage nor a space marine with tits. This is as rare in video games as tedious bolt-on multiplayer modes are common.
But Ellie is not the protagonist. That honour still goes to a man, as critic Chris Suellentrop pointed out in his recent New York Times review. He argued that because the player only controls Ellie for a small portion of the game, “The Last of Us casts her in a secondary, subordinate role… It is actually the story of Joel, the older man. This is another video game by men, for men and about men.”
It’s true that Ellie’s role in the game is secondary, but I don’t think it’s subordinate. She argues with Joel. She has the power to challenge his decisions and change his mind. At numerous points in the game, she is the one in charge. She is the protector. At the end, it’s Joel who is revealed to be the weaker character. He needs Ellie more than she needs him. Because of this, he makes a selfish decision that will have catastrophic consequences. Then lies to her about it. What a wanker.
(from “The Last of Us isn’t the solution to sexism in games, but it’s a start” by Ellie Gibson)

In the Same Boat, but Not Equals” by Chris Suellentrop

The Last of Us and Grading on the Gender Curve” by Carolyn Petit

Jun 032013

“In general, making an indie game takes an incredible amount of persistence and mental stamina. I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be to sit in a room by myself for over a year and work on a game that no one knew about, without the camaraderie of a team or constant encouragement from coworkers. It can be really hard to stay focused every day and maintain the enthusiasm you had at the start of the project. Over the course of working on the game I’ve printed out a number of motivational messages and reminders to myself and hung them above my monitor so that I can always look up and get a boost.

The biggest challenge, though, has been emotional. When you’re part of a team, nothing is ever completely up to one person. It’s a collective effort, and while people are hopefully invested in the project you never have a sense of complete personal accountability and identification. With The Novelist, it’s all on me. If the game is bad, or if people think the concept is a waste of time, that’s entirely my fault. If people reject the game, they’re rejecting the best work I know how to do. It’s impossible to separate the game from my own creative ability and self-confidence.

When I started out I wasn’t prepared at all for such an incredible amount of emotional risk. My sense of personal accountability is total. It’s the biggest emotional roller coaster I’ve ever been on, and there’s no way to get off now; the lap belt is locked down and all I can do is stay on til the end of the ride. Here’s hoping it stays on the tracks.”

Read the interview with Kent Hudson…

Jun 032013

“What then is special about these characters? What qualities, if any, do they share? Some people may be familiar with the term kawaii, which is usually rendered in English as “cute,” and is often used to describe characters. Actually, it is not as simple as just being “cute”; my understanding of kawaii characters is that they are expressive, endearing, and easy-to-read. Large heads and eyes, simple, colorful designs, and exaggerated emotional reactions are some recurring stylistic elements of kawaii characters.

A term less well known in the West which is also very important is sonzaikan, which literally translates to “the feeling that something exists.” In terms of characters, it means that they seem real — not necessarily that they are just like real people with complex personalities, but more that they feel full of life, and provoke an emotional response from the viewer. In this way, people can feel a personal connection with their favorite characters, almost as if they were real friends.”

Read the whole article by Zack Wood…

Zack Wood’s blog “Game Make World”