Posts Tagged ‘dead end thrills’

Little China Doll: How Spicy Horse Imagined Alice: Madness Returns


This is the latest in a series of articles about the art technology of games, in collaboration with the particularly handsome Dead End Thrills.

Alice: Madness Returns is a very special action game, a piece of Lewis Carroll fan fiction conceived by an American (named American, naturally) and illustrated largely by the Chinese, a people not known for their absurdism. Unfortunately it’s also a classic victim of checklist game criticism and marketing, not to mention it’s the worst possible thing to reviewers working under deadline: long. Make no mistake, the business of game reviewing is a lot like the business of eating large amounts of Jacob’s Cream Crackers in hot and rowdy East End basements. To put it another way, all games get tiring when you play them past your bedtime.

The sequel to American McGee’s Alice isn’t great (8/10), solid (7/10), flawed (6/10) or average (5/10) – it’s none of that nonsense. It’s a living art book, an Alice novel with the ratio of words to pictures spun around. Inspired by such wild and offbeat things as Burning Man, Dave McKean, Zdzislaw Beksinski, The NeverEnding Story, The Dark Crystal and the Brothers Quay, more than anything it’s a tribute to the mechanical and the handmade. Dolls, miniatures and puppets crowd the dreams and nightmares of its Wonderland, while its ‘real world’ Victorian London would be right at home in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. Read the rest of this entry »

X Marks The Spot: Fun With Microsoft Flight Simulator


This is the latest in a series of articles about the art technology of games, in collaboration with the particularly handsome Dead End Thrills.

I promised myself I wouldn’t do how-to guides because there’s seldom much to say, but this one doesn’t count: I don’t actually suggest you do this at all. It’s a how-not-to, then. A how-ton’t. See? Even the jokes are a mistake.

You get used to this kind of logic when playing with Flight Simulator X mods, where the mods aren’t quite mods and the playing isn’t quite playing. Not in the case of Tileproxy, anyway, which is so special and problematic a thing that I just had to remind you it exists.
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The Suite Science: Paul Weir Talks Generative Music


This is the latest in the series of articles about the art technology of games, in collaboration with the particularly handsome Dead End Thrills.

When Paul Weir gave a talk at GDC 2011 about GRAMPS, the generative audio system he designed for Eidos Montreal’s Thief, the games press took notice. Not so much of the contents, though, or indeed the subject, just Thief. Here, finally, was a chance to get something on this oh so secretive game. Maybe, while prattling on about ‘sounds’ and stuff, he’d toss them a headline or two, get ‘em some clicks. Suspecting as much, Weir recommended to his audience that anyone just there for Thief nooz should probably leave the room. Some people did.

We can often seem deaf to game audio in the same way we’re blind to animation. Maybe it’s because the best examples of both are so natural and chameleonic that they blend into a game’s broader objectives. Maybe it has to be Halo ostentatious or Amon Tobin trendy just to prick up our ears; or make the screen flash pretty colours. Or maybe Brian Eno has to be involved, as we’ll come to in a minute. Read the rest of this entry »

Sound Garden: The Aural Landscape Of Fract OSC


This is the latest in the series of articles about the art technology of games, in collaboration with the particularly handsome Dead End Thrills.

In the Tron-like synthesiser world of Fract OSC, dead code awaits the healing touch of the user. Towering polygonal geodes hide the tools for making music, and somewhere in each vast structure is a way to power it back up. Bringing it back to life, though, is often the other half of the puzzle. For that you’ll have to compose.

Phosfiend Systems’ first ‘proper’ game comes via an IGF award-winning prototype, backing from the Indie Fund, Steam Greenlight, but most importantly creator Richard Flanagan’s passion for synthpop and its hardware. His background in web and analogue game design doesn’t hurt, either. Indeed, perhaps the most striking thing about Fract OSC is how its synaesthesic interface – text and prompts are swapped for directional lasers and electro power chords – gets equal billing to its puzzling and exploration. Read the rest of this entry »

The Beautiful Game: Inside OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast


This is the latest in the series of articles about the art technology of games, in collaboration with the particularly handsome Dead End Thrills.

How better to celebrate 25 years of Mega Drive than on a site dedicated to PC games, via a game synonymous with Xbox-powered coin-ops? Not so fast, RPS! This copy of the seldom-bought PC version of OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast protects this feature. [Holds up empty hand.] No, wait, these copies! [Turns to empty shelf.] Aha! These copies! [Fires up empty web page.] Nngh! They were right here! Get this straightjacket off me!

Okay, so it’s not actually possible to buy this game any more due to expired Ferrari licensing. Not that it matters here. There’s always a fistful of reasons to talk about OutRun, not just the coincidence of Mega Drive’s birthday which I only heard about this morning. Read the rest of this entry »

On Edge: A Chat With Robert Briscoe


This is the latest in the series of articles about the art technology of games, in collaboration with the particularly handsome Dead End Thrills.

Robert Briscoe is obviously not the only great environment artist in games, and it’s a bit weird to say he has a singular portfolio after working on just two titles. What makes it a lot easier is if you think in terms of levels: The Shard, Jacknife, Reflex, Velocity (from Mirrors Edge and its DLC); The Lighthouse, The Cave, The Beacon (from Dear Esther). All masterpieces up there with BioShock’s Welcome To Rapture, Half-Life 2’s Point Insertion and – quick, think of something slightly less distinguished to prove worldliness – that level in Robocod made out of Penguin bars. Read the rest of this entry »

The Blind Night: Discovering MirrorMoon EP


This is the latest in the series of articles about the art technology of games, in collaboration with the particularly handsome Dead End Thrills.

The most baffling thing about my favourite game in recent yonks, MirrorMoon EP, is that its creators haven’t played Mercenary. Or Driller, Captain Blood, or any other those great computer games it so resembles. That the likeness is accidental is one thing, that it finds meaning in the game’s title and events another. On a strange planet in an unknown universe in what never seems less than a dream, your eyes keep returning to the MirrorMoon, a distant, identical world. Activating a series of strange relics and beacons, you build a bridge between the moons and start to walk across. As you approach the halfway mark, perhaps to meet a MirrorYou, the ‘dream’ is engulfed in light and back to your cockpit you go. Well, someone’s cockpit.
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