Sundays are for watching yet another episode of Married at First Sight Australia, perhaps some of the most dramatic TV I've ever seen. Before we turn on the telly, let's read some of the best writing about games this week.
For Polygon, Patricia Hernandez wrote about video game historian Kate Willaert's hunt for Ban Tran, a developer that's responsible for the first depiction of a female protagonist in video games.
She’s been working on this project for a decade now, which is also about as long as she and other internet sleuths have been trying to find Tran. So far, despite tapping other gaming historians, putting out a call on social media, and sending many physical letters, the search for Tran has hit a wall. We can’t ask Tran if Wabbit was influenced by the existence of Space Invaders, or what her other wild ideas apparently were. We don’t know what she went on to do, or if she’s still in tech at all. We don’t even know if she’s still called Ban Tran.
For Ars Technica, Sam Machkovech remembers "All Your Base", one of the internet's first memes. I had no idea it was born from a Sega Genesis game called Zero Wing, and its terrible (depends how you look at it, I suppose) Japanese to English translation. But now I do. And I think I'm glad about it.
That was the first step to exposing the world to Zero Wing's inadvertently hilarious text, translated from Japanese to English by an apparent amateur. Classic Japanese games are littered with crappy translations, and even mega-successful publishers like Nintendo are guilty of letting bad phrases slip into otherwise classic games. But Zero Wing soundly trounced other examples of wacky mistranslations thanks to its dramatic opening sequence pitting the generic "CAPTAIN" against a half-robot, half-demon creature in a robe named "CATS."
Over on Medium, Kitfox Games praised messiness in game design. Turns out I really like both "shaggy" and "baggy" games, and the way they shock and delight.
Maybe we are jaded or lazy. Maybe we’re just too far on the Openness to New Experiences axis of personality. But I don’t think so. Perhaps elegance has reigned supreme for too long, and it’s time for inelegance to get some time in the sun. As much as elegance also has value, I believe that games and their players benefit from ‘messiness’.
Bear with me on this one. It's in the form of a Twitter thread, but, it's a really good one, I promise! Jason de Heras takes us through what makes a combo feel powerful. It never fails to surprise me just how much I take for granted in games, and this look at fisticuffs in God Of War was an eye-opener.
CADENCE - Combos are a TOOL the player uses to make PROGRESS on an enemy. The cadence/tempo of a combo gives the player a sense of progression and anticipation towards a satisfying climax or FINISHER. "Even" or linear feeling combos tend to be less exciting.
Music this week is Keys N Krates ft. Ambré Perkins - Glitter (Netsky Remix). A bit of smooth drum and bass for those after something that'll simultaneously raise your heart rate, and help you fall asleep.
I read a piece by Michael Paterniti about Ferran Adriá, a man he considers the world's greatest chef. There's this one bit where he's using bike pumps to explode tomatoes in his garage. All in the pursuit of finding a new texture, a new take on the tomato. Outrageous yes, but genius.
And I'm off. Hope you're having a great weekend all.