Later today I will be disappearing into a pen-and-paper session of Numenera, to pretend to be a cross between E. Honda and B.A. Baracus. Unless those dice rolls fail me, in which case I will be Austin Powers-ing my way through it. In any case, better round up the week’s best games writing first.
Getting covered by a big-name YouTuber is now essentially the dream of many game developers. The publicity someone like TotalBiscuit, NerdCubed or Northernlion can bring you compared to mainstay consumer websites like IGN, GameSpot and Game Informer is becoming increasingly significant.
A year ago, I would have advised any developer to get in touch with as many press outlets as possible, as soon as possible. I still advise this now, but with the following caveat: You’re doing so to get the attention of YouTubers.
And then there’s the ever bubbling argument about WORDS VS VIDEO, which to be honest, breaks my heart. Mainly because I’ve spanned both professions in my seven year career in the games industry. I really don’t understand this need for division and boundaries, for the hatred and complaint. As a friend said recently – you get good writers and bad writers. You get good YouTubers and bad YouTubers. Please don’t tar us all with the same brush. I think that sometimes, it’s very easy for people to forget the amount effort, drive, passion and sheer hard work that goes into what we do. Communication is key. Why not talk to us, rather than snipe from Twitter accounts? People should always talk to each other, not at each other.
Money changed hands – “good money for Poland in 1997”, “ridiculous” by any other standards – and the licence was signed. Sapkowski took the money and kept to himself, which was something Chmielarz at first interpreted as ‘giving space’, and then – after a number of unanswered letters (Sapkowski didn’t do email) – as ‘he doesn’t give a s***’.
“Honestly, at that time, he just didn’t care about games at all. I think he thought something like this: ‘Extra money is coming my way. Nobody cares about games so it’s not going to destroy my character in any way. Yeah, let’s do it.’ All it was was extra money to him which is fine – totally fine! I don’t blame him. That’s actually pretty smart.” After all, he got his money regardless of whether the game appeared. And it didn’t.
This is a realisation that has slowly dawned on me over the last few years. Without really meaning to do so, I have been going around saying and doing things that demean women and casually downplay the importance of issues of gender discrimination all my life. It’s a horrible thing to recognise about yourself, gradually or not. I try to be a generous and caring person and I am pretty sensitive, so the idea that I have been ignorantly treating half of the people I know and love in this way makes me feel awful.
Unfortunately, as someone who has used Twine to teach and continues to promote it as a tool for classrooms despite his own frequent lack of faith, this means these issues comes up faster than they would for other tools, engines, or software libraries. The reality for most people using Twine is that there is often a very real cultural war being fought over who gets to create and how they label their creations. Many of the frontline battles for power to dictate and manipulate definitions have been, are currently, and probably will continue to be fought, discussed, and argued around Twine in the coming years.
That setting legitimizes the scrub’s complaint. They no longer have to learn. Instead they can say: “if the game lets you turn off seeking arrows, then it must be a valid way to play.” In their mind, they have made TowerFall a more expert game by removing auto-aim for babies. In reality, they have undermined a core design tenet of the game. Remember that TowerFall only wishes to be a game about positioning and head games. It does not wish to be about parabolic trajectory simulation.
When you allow players to undermine core design tenets, you fracture your player base. In TowerFall’s case, you get experts who play with seeking arrows and experts who play without. Every kill now comes with a caveat: “In my rules that wouldn’t kill me.” The statement drips with superiority. No middle ground will ever be found between these players, they are simply incompatible.
Iwanicki: One of the very first inspirations for SUPERHOT was to make it more like theatre. We knew we had limited resources, so that was the best reference. The modern artistic theatre is very strange; once movies were invented it had to go a different, more symbolic way. So, if you have a helicopter in a scene, you don’t bring the helicopter into it because you can’t afford to. You have a shadow, you have a sound, even shooting from the helicopter – but it’s told with subtle cues. It’s like the shark in Jaws.
Surma: Though sometimes you do have to show it. There’s one level with the helicopter where it’s not seen, but then this is a game about stopping time. The helicopter has a rotor that can move and then stop when you stop time – how could we not have that? You stand still and you see the blades, the shadow of it crawling through the geometry of the level – awesome stuff. Some sort of modelling is necessary there.
PCG: Are there going to be objectives other than hostage extraction?
Witts: It’s not going to be our only game mode. That’s not to say there won’t be different hostages. Right now we have a feature called the “living hostage,” so she reacts to the environment around her. As an explosion goes off, she shields herself a bit. Then a gunfight happens around her and she shields herself and stuff. She really reacts to the environment and we want to stress that further in further iterations. If we have any other type of hostages, we can call her [the hostage NPC shown at E3] Olivia, maybe we have a hostage named Bob or something, and Bob reacts maybe a little differently than her, but the gameplay’s overall the same. The hostage rescue, we can have some creativity there, but any other game modes we’re going to have, we are going to revisit previous game modes people love about the series and stress them and bring them to the forefront.
“I know it’s upsetting, what you’ve been through,” whispers another treatment figure to the heroine of Infamous: First Light, another game with a ponytailed heroine shown at E3 2014 last night. Like Lara, she wears a cozy hoodie, curls in on herself. We like to peek through the windows and behind the shower curtains and into the doctor’s appointments of our fragile heroines and voyeuristically thrill at their damage, looking forward to their moments of revelation and revenge.
It seems that when you want to make a woman into a hero, you hurt her first. When you want to make a man into a hero, you hurt… also a woman first.
Bush House, the Central London building that served, for some seventy years, as the home of the BBC World Service, was originally a trade center. Built in the early nineteen-twenties, it was commissioned and financed by the American industrialist Irving T. Bush, designed by the American architect Harvey Wiley Corbett, and dedicated “to the friendship of English-speaking peoples.”
During The Sims’s protracted development, the team had debated whether to permit same-sex relationships in the game. If this digital petri dish was to accurately model all aspects of human life, from work to play and love, it was natural that it would facilitate gay relationships. But there was also fear about how such a feature might adversely affect the game. “No other game had facilitated same-sex relationships before—at least, to this extent—and some people figured that maybe we weren’t the ideal ones to be first, as this was a game that E.A. really didn’t want to begin with,” Barret told me. “It felt to me like a fear thing.” After going back and forth for several months, the team finally decided to leave same-sex relationships out of the game code.