Categories
blog culture roleplaying

State of play

Dungeon World cover
Dungeon World cover. It looks like what I felt like as a kid playing D&D!

I was asked to write about where roleplaying is, locally, as I see it, in Finland right now. This came at an opportune time as I’ve thought hard about it recently. The objective of the exercise is to really get an idea of the state of Finnish roleplaying by asking bloggers for their perspectives. I don’t have any delusions of being a major component of that, but without any documented practice surely it’s impossible to form any sort of image. If enough people do the same, we actually can form an image.

Any honest – or rather, real – image of roleplaying as a practice or culture must be about the games we play. We can talk a great deal and I’m sure there are a couple of forums with people doing just that, but in the end it does come down to how we actually get on at the table. I can talk about that.

I’ve gone through a number of crises with my roleplaying. I have always been a gamemaster and always a system jumper; I’m leap frogging from game to game, chasing the elusive ultimate experience. Before Dungeons & Dragons, fourth edition (4E), came along, I felt lost. I was just not enjoying my old games like I used to. 4E re-ignited my love for the original game – Red Box D&D was my first love – and indeed it was the rather sketchy but adorable repackaging of the Red Box that got me in all over again. I stumbled on it waiting for a Gameboy concert to start in a comic book shop in Los Angeles. I then played in a 4E campaign and loved the mechanics of it, culminating in getting the then new 4E Essentials products and starting my own game in 2011. I vividly recall the planning sessions and the anxiety of starting a new game. We played that game for coming up on three years over something in the region of forty sessions and more than a dozen players. That campaign folded in a planned fashion in March 2014. We set out to cover levels one through ten, and we did just that.

My regular group was seven players, and most of the time we had the full seven players at the table. We painted miniatures and I pulled out all the classic D&D tricks from rust monsters to dragons. For much of the three years, it was glorious. Only towards the end, perhaps from level eight onwards, the mechanics just broke down, and with seven players and D&D 4E, the mechanics was almost the whole of the game. I didn’t enjoy the last couple of levels.

Around 2010, I think, myself and most of my roleplaying friends played in a mega campaign with some fifty-odd players, covering a hundred games. It was called Century, and I believe it changed most of us, at least the serious, life-sentenced GMs among us. It solidified a lot of ideas I had had kicking around in my head, mostly about narrative driven, meaningful mechanics and a decidedly anti-simulationist bent. Ever since then I’ve been getting seriously into Fate and “Powered By Apocalypse” systems. Last summer we played a short campaign of Heavy Gear to take a break from D&D. Heavy Gear is my all-time favorite game world and system, and now it felt too old school to bear. I just couldn’t function with a clunky system like that anymore. It got in the way. I can’t believe I’m saying this, with the amount of love I have for those books, but time has passed them by. I have outgrown them.

I suspect that’s the case with any of the dozens of books on my shelves. The defining, life altering works for me have been The Mountain Witch, Fiasco, Monsterhearts, Dungeon World, and Fate. The quality of experience you get out of those games is so decidedly, objectively better (yes) than with an old-school system that it seems foolish to go back. Why would you want to go back? Abandoning the simulationist approach doesn’t feel like an alternative, it feels like an evolution. These games deliver the sorts of experiences I was always looking for, and never could reliably reach. It sometimes happened, but more as a fluke or because of ignoring the rules. Now you can get to those places in a reliable, if mysterious, fashion.

It seems weird, then, that we’ve spent so much time with D&D 4E. But the circumstances have been different. Our group is very large, and you couldn’t run these other games with that group. We need the mechanics to carry the game wholesale. I’ve had to go back to my dungeon crawling roots, in a very real fashion back to my childhood and my formative years, and D&D was the only vessel that could carry me there. At the same time, as the campaign progressed, I started integrating more narrative devices and mechanics to get to the same kinds of places these new wave games could take us. Between our second and third season of the game, we played a few games of Dungeonworld, and going back to D&D after that felt like settling for an inferior experience. At that point it was all about spending time with the people, and attaining closure on the long game. My heart was lost to Dungeonworld.

I wonder what my next game is. It’s going to have four players and it’s going to run for perhaps four to five games, I think. My shortlist is my Pacific Rim inspired mecha thing running on Fate, Vampire (circa Revised) without the Storyteller system (again, Fate), more Monsterhearts and Fiasco, Trail Of Cthulhu. I’m thinking I’ll run Monsterhearts and Fiasco just for the narrative and player workout. Those games are great for massaging the storytelling muscles of any player, not just gamemasters.

We are still going back to the regular fantasy campaign thing, though. We ordered the Bones II Kickstarter’s several hundred euros worth of miniatures, so the next winter is going to see either D&D Next (it does sound pretty good) or Dungeonworld.

As a player I’m active in a modern horror campaign running on an extensively designed homebrew system (lots of Apocalypse World inspiration there). That’s unlike anything I’d run, with its thirst for very long form, unedited, uncut player interaction. Our group is comprised of very experienced GMs and we spend a good hour-plus after most games to debrief and discuss the systems, tone and developments on a meta level. Sometimes it feels like we played the session merely to gain topics for the post-game discussion.

Categories
blog

My GDC 2013

I like San Francisco. I like the western US, and SF is my second most favorite place over there, right after Seattle. I have gone there once a year for the Game Developers Conference for five years now. It’s enough to start to know my way around downtown.

San Fracisco downtown, morning fog, March 2013
View from the hotel room on an early morning.

This year I was staying at the Marriott. It’s an old hotel right next to the Moscone Center where the conference is held, in the middle of the other big downtown hotels. As a base for doing business at GDC, it’s great. The lobby is busy and the top floor bar, The View, is a popular and well-known site after hours, with its commanding, Death Star -esque view of the skyline. I was reminded of Blade Runner’s opening shot when first visiting it at night, five years ago. That scene has lodged itself in my brain as “the America experience”.

Looking at my schedule, I had two meetings at Game Connection, two meetings in another hotel – the Inter-Continental, on the other side of Moscone – and everything else inside the Marriott. It sounded like a sad, weak way to spend a week in San Francisco, but I was there to work, anyway. Later I heard that some Finnish folks had been even worse, never branching out from between hotels and Moscone.

Game Connection is a sister event to GDC, held in the Francis Drake hotel on Union Square. I hadn’t been there before. There’s a lot of tables for meeting people in the somewhat cramped, labyrinthine space. It was really warm, hot even, inside, and I got the impression it was mostly outsourcing companies looking for clients. The atmosphere was busy and positive. I ran into a bunch of friends and colleagues and potential business partners. I was happy to get out of there after my meetings.

The Marriott is run-down, with a loud, cold lobby, but the rooms are nice and quiet. I slept better than at any other conference I’ve been to. Most of my time was spent in a meeting space on the second floor, with three rooms our agents were cycling developers and publishers through. The meeting rooms were big and old, impersonal and uneasy.
The best feature of the meetings were the automatically shutting lights. Two thirds into my piece, they usually cut off, with our agents getting up and jumping around to re-light them. Maybe that says something about me needing to be more animated when presenting.

I really like talking about and presenting our games. I believe in the games and I want to make them. It’s so important to me that I spend a number of weeks before a big show to really buy into whatever we’re doing – meditating, projecting, self-motivating, daydreaming. I need to believe in it on an animal level – the actual memorizing of facts comes at the last minute and isn’t even important to how I do.

I prefer to present on my own, because then I don’t have to think about what my colleagues are thinking, and can just concentrate on the moment: the client and the game. Having the agent along to take notes frees bandwidth as you don’t have to think about stuff you need to remember after the fact. All told, this year’s set-up was ideal for me.

What I always do is make a presentation PowerPoint that is way too long and just doesn’t fit with the way I actually talk about the game, when sitting down with someone. This year was my best effort in that regard, but I still ended up skipping much of the material on the PPTs. I was really very proud of our videos – by far the best we’ve produced for these things, and something I’d love to share with everyone. As usual, getting any sort of audio playback was a pain – it’s weird how something like this doesn’t “just work” these days. One of these years I’m going to remember to buy a convenient portable speaker that’s powerful enough for a conference room.

A shitty presentation destroys your confidence. I’ve learned to get over those, as long as I can figure out what went wrong. Usually a botched presentation feels like you never connected with the client – sometimes the client can seem unwilling to tune into your frequency. I had none of those this year. I did have one stellar presentation instead. That gives you an insane high, it feels like you can do anything. The secret was an audience that paid absolute attention and got into the thing openly and not in that super reserved fashion you commonly see.

We didn’t have any no-shows, which is something of a miracle, actually. A couple of meetings ran so late we had to do with ten minutes instead of the planned thirty. To my credit I cleared those effortlessly.

On Thursday I spent a while in a lobby and a corridor with Ninja Theory’s Tameem Antoniades, who was there waiting for a meeting, like me. I really wanted to go over and be a fanboy, but didn’t. He should know people still appreciate Kung Fu Chaos.

Later that day I had a couple of hours off, so I went for a walk down to the Ferry Building at the end of Market Street and took the BART back. After the conference I found out that there was this awesome impromptu event – Lost Levels, a kind of shadow GDC – being held in the Yerba Buena Gardens, right under my hotel window. I feel so bummed for missing out on that! I read about it on Twitter but didn’t realize it was outside the show proper – which I didn’t have a pass for.

San Francisco waterfront by the ferry building, March 2013
At the waterfront by the ferry building.

The Marriott doesn’t have breakfast. There’s an expensive, loud, busy Starbucks in the lobby, but I preferred to use my mornings for taking a walk and finding something to eat further out. One morning I found a fresh, hot bagel, on another I had a craving for Denny’s – a huge mistake, the overpowering sugar rush left me wrecked until late in the afrernoon. Friday morning was the best. I had seen long queues outside all the downtown Super Duper Burger joints, but at eight in the morning I was the only customer on Market Street. It was really juicy, really messy, and really good.

A Super Duper burger, San Francisco Market Street, March 2013
A Super Duper burger. I get hungry, just looking at it, now.

On Thursday night I hooked up with an ex-colleague. We took a walk to a random party in a speakeasy style bar, unmarked black door and a further hidden door in a bookcase and all. The neighborhood was a little dodgy and put me somewhat on edge. It’s weird how fast it changes in a city like San Francisco, basically in a block you can go from a high street to something populated only by the homeless.

I had a day off on Friday and wanted to really see the town. I knew I wanted to visit the Pacific Pinball Museum again, like we did last summer with my wife (who turned out to be a pinball maniac – I had no idea), but aside from that I had no plans beyond taking in the city. I checked out of my room and left my flightbag at the hotel luggage storage.
Taking off walking, I headed for Telegraph Hill. It was a great walk in the rising morning temperature. I got to see quite a bit of SF sights I hadn’t seen before and got a much better idea of the city on the way. I realize it’s basically just a couple of streets’ worth, but that’s still much more than just the downtown. And while we did drive around last year a bit, walking is just different. You get a pulse you just don’t unless you’re putting soles on the pavement.

Downtown San Francisco, March 2013
Walking in downtown SF from Market Street towards Coit Tower.

By the time I found my way to the top of the hill, I was sweaty and positively felt like summer. Taking the elevator to the top of the Coit Tower was worth it for the postcard photos and just looking around. A small group of people were exercising on the lawn at the foot of the Coit Tower. Their old dogs relaxed in the sunshine. One was so weak his elderly owner carried him back down the hill after their slow, familiar walk up the hill. Time seemed to slow down.

View from Coit Tower towards Embarcadero. San Francisco, March 2013
View from Coit Tower towards Embarcadero.

I found a steep, mostly hidden staircase down from the other side of the hill, towards Embarcadero and the waterfront. It had an amazing area with a mostly vertical park combined with small houses. It felt like a quiet, idyllic suburb somewhere in a European garden city. Cobwebs covered the only streetsign in the park.

Napier Lane, San Francisco, March 2013
I guess it was called Napier Lane.

Finally reaching street level again, I found out I had stumbled onto the courtyard of the Levi’s headquarters campus. The 14-year old myself wouldn’t believe I’m here, when Levi’s basically symbolized the whole American way of life, something we all thought we aspired to.

Levi's Plaza, San Francisco, March 2013
Levi’s Plaza.

The goal for the day was the magical Pacific Pinball, located across the bay. I took the BART over there. Emerging on the other side, I was puzzled at the sudden sight of chicken on a backyard, followed by apparently drug addicts sleeping on cheap, plastic, stained garden furniture. The contrast to the downtown sights just some five minutes away on rail was striking.

I wanted to use a local bus to save money and to just feel better for getting around sensibly. After some half an hour of searching, I gave up trying to figure out the layout of the area and settled for a cab, found in front of a convenient hotel.

Pacific Pinball was great, as it always is. It was my third time there. I enjoy the 90s machines the most as that’s what I encountered in my own life – favourites being Elvira, Medieval Madness and Attack From Mars. As pinball halls go, Pacific Pinball is great, but the one you must visit if you’re a fan is the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. It is spartan (and unbearably hot in July), but their collection has to be seen (played) to be believed.

Pacific Pinball, San Francisco, March 2013
Inside Pacific Pinball.

There was a Japanese restaurant across the road so I had some ramen for lunch. An old guy sitting at a table across from me had obviously been coming there for a long time. The restaurant didn’t look that old, though. We were alone in the big hall.

I tried to hook up with a former colleague when I was ready to leave. Waiting for his plans to clear, I had a coffee in a nearby coffeeshop and marveled at the warmth, thinking back to the freezing winter still waiting for me back home. We finally agreed to meet back at the hotel downtown, so I catched a bus back.

I didn’t have any change on me and when I dug out a five dollar bill to pay, understanding that I wouldn’t get any change in return – it was still much cheaper than a cab would be – a young man sitting in front stood up to interject, offering to pay. He hated to see money go to waste, so he wanted to pay on my behalf on principle. That would never happen in Finland.

Back downtown I hooked up with my friend and we drove on his rental across the Golden Gate bridge to take in the sights. An unbelievably dense fog had risen up, covering all of the bridge save for the very tops of its supports, even when you were looking at it right from its end. The city looked like Cloud City from Star Wars. We drove up the mountain and didn’t really see much anything due to the extreme fog. The sunset was surreal, the sun a molten ball of icecream on a sea of painted clouds so dense they looked like you could jump on them.

Foggy Golden Gate, seen from Conzelman Road, San Francisco, March 2013
Foggy Golden Gate, seen from Conzelman Road.

***

With this somewhat off-topic post I am signalling a change in the blog’s direction. I have so many things on my plate right now that I am no longer going to be committed to a weekly update pace. The content is going to stay the same, covering my travels – whether literal or less so – in games, it’s just going to be less regular.

What are those other things, then? I want to get more writing done and the blog has forced me to prioritize games writing. I want to practice more guitar and write songs and that means less time spent playing games, thus having less to write about. Finally and perhaps most pressingly, I’m changing jobs after over five years and want to focus on the new challenges. Thank you Bugbear for these five years and the introduction to the industry, hello Remedy.

Helmet on top of an everyman class car in a garage, somewhere in Finland
I’ve been wanting to use this behind the scenes shot from “Next Car Game” somewhere, and this seems apt.
Categories
blog culture rant

In search of positive, responsible games

Zzap!64 magazine, cover of issue 41
Zzap!64, issue 41. My childhood in a picture.

I spoke at an event (hosted by Pelitaito) yesterday with the above topic. Some of this is stuff I’ve been talking and writing about for years, but it went down well so I decided to just rewrite it in English.

SOCIAL, RESPONSIBLE CULTURE

I reacted negatively to the topic given to me. Yes, you should expect responsibility from any form of publicly distributed media. But positivity? My aggravation tendrils quivered.

Games have a unique relationship with the playing masses – consumers, if you must – in that most of the audience does not think of them as culture, nor give them a status as influencers. When a musician writes lyrics or melodies to affect emotions in their audience, or when a movie director frames a scene in a given manner, it’s understood that it’s done for a reason. The artist has a motivation to evoke a feeling and line of thinking.

With video games it’s different. Many of their creators are not out to make an effect. This is (very) (slowly) changing, but as of 2013, most game makers say they’re making “just entertainment”. Something fun and harmless. The same attitude is evident in the production of many Hollywood movies and chart pop and crappy literature. These works make you question what should still be considered art. Surely when you don’t even think your audience remembers the work the next day, a line has been crossed.

And there is nothing wrong with that. Someone out to make entertainment does not need to sport any higher goals or aspirations. What is wrong is thinking that you can create entertainment in a vacuum where media does not have any sort of effect on its audience and thus no accountability for the message it’s conveying.

LIFE LESSONS FROM THE CHURCH OF CRT AND TAC-2

All media carries a message. The maker cannot control the way the recipient handles the message or how they consume the piece of entertainment. Let’s say you’re making an annual update to a by the numbers military shooter with a dodgy world view. For tens of thousands of kids it’s going to be the first game of its kind they play. They may play it for months, and it’s going to be very powerful, important to them. They’re going to eat up every word you put in that game.

I believe I can recall every game I ever played as a child. It’s both naive and dangerous to think that those games didn’t have an effect on me. (They most certainly did, and in many ways made me who I am today.)

GAMES THAT HAD A POSITIVE INFLUENCE OF SOME KIND ON ME

So the “positivity” in the header rubbed me the wrong way. The reason is that positivity shouldn’t be seen as a goal for game content. Quite the opposite, in fact, as games have huge and largely untapped potential to explore not-fun, difficult situations and contexts in very powerful ways, making players question their world views in a fashion that just doesn’t come easily in any other medium. If you’re wondering, that’s because it’s interactive and creative (self-expression) on the part of the player. I do agree that games need to be a positive, participatory, constructive part of culture. You need to claim your place and stand on it.

Games must not be in a vacuum. A game cannot and must not be forgiven for anything “because it’s a game”. On the contrary: games have a heavy responsibility about what they say and do precisely because they’re games. They’re powerful, and it’s about time we acknowledged that.

NO, SERIOUSLY, GUYS

Talking about this within the game industry – or scene, if you’re a sworn indie developer, I guess – is rather frustrating. There is a large contingent of developers saying blankly, stubbornly and unemotionally “it’s just a game” to any and all forms of accountability, critique and questioning.

It’s all just games growing up. First you spend years claiming how games are grand, important, effective experiences, and then you’re shouting how there’s no way they could have an effect on anything to the extent that the content would matter anything. How no developer is accountible for anything. You’re not responsible. I’m not responsible.

A good example would be last week’s God Of War: Ascension discussion. The game reviewer Adam Sessler took the exemplary measure of bringing up something he found  objectionable in the game content – in this case (and in his opinion), misogynous. The gaming audience’s reaction was not surprising in its stunned rage: you can’t take this as hostile, it’s just a laugh, but there’s stuff like this in some other media somewhere, how come you didn’t notice this in another game with similar content, and my favorite: you can’t lower a game’s subjective score just because you find its message disgusting. (Of course you can. You should.)

As an industry, we need a lot more of this.

At the same time, The Walking Dead game has been talked about. The non-playing audience is saying it’s a game in which you murder children. The Walking Dead is exemplary entertainment: it’s mature, it’s restricted from children as it should be, it’s a huge leap into moral, dramatic stories in game. It’s accomplishments are monumental and flaws very few. Yet it’s crucified by the ignorant masses who don’t bother to find out the first thing about the game or listen to its many fans – who have now cried for the first time with a video game and are moved in a major way by it.

It feels like even when you do everything correctly, you just can’t win.

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

When you’re getting these childish, knee-jerk reactions from both within and outside of your field, it’s very hard to stand proudly next to your chosen medium. Especially when you know that it is in many parts unacceptable to you – yourself, as a person.

Where I see a chance to grow and reach out to an ever wider audience in more meaningful ways, a great many only see a threat and an ugly, merciless, uncovering searchlight.

Standing in that searchlight is not nice. Games have so many problems with their content that nobody wants to publicly take responsibility for them – or even discuss them out of fear of association. But that dialogue must take place if we are to advance as a medium. I am going to make game well past retirement, and I am going to continue to be proud of them, both in dinner tables and in the media.

Appendix 1: SHIT I FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE ABOUT

  • Pretty much all fighting games, much as I love them. Yes, the boobs.
  • Pretty much every modern FPS. We’ve come a long way from Doom, and in a weird direction. I’m not sure how many more digital foreigners I want to kill.
  • The world view of every modern military themed game that’s not Spec Ops: The Line. It’s scary to say the least. Airborne Ranger had nothing on this.

Appendix 2: GAMES I WANT TO SHINE A SEARCHLIGHT ON

  • Spec Ops: The Line. The only game that actually acknowledges the mass murder taking place within, and deals with it in a human way.
  • The Walking Dead. Human drama, conflict, growth and – yes – responsibility over another. (And all the tears.)
  • Hotline Miami. A great example of making a superficially simple game that’s all about its mechanics but doesn’t shy away from owning its message.
Categories
blog culture DS miniatures PC PS3 PSP tabletop games XBLA Xbox 360

The best of 2009

My 10 best games of 2009
My 10 best games of 2009

For the most of 2009 I spent my gaming time playing games from 2008 – Far Cry 2, Fable II, Rock Band 2, lots of cheap PSP & DS titles, Company Of Heroes, Dawn Of War (the first one) – but I thought it could be fun to put together a list of what was the best 2009 had to offer. For future reference, see.

I have not played many of the big hitters of 2009 so there’s bound to be holes, but these days, gaming is too big a pastime for one man to wholly take in with his free time (and income). Major omissions include Halo: ODST, Modern Warfare 2, Resident Evil 5 and Dragon Age: Origins, to name a few.

My ten best games of 2009:

  1. Space Hulk (board game)
  2. Batman: Arkham Asylum. I haven’t written about Rocksteady’s phenomenal take on Batman (because I’ve been too busy playing it), but it ranks as one of my all-time favorite games. Play it.
  3. Demon’s Souls
  4. GTA Chinatown Wars (DS)
  5. Shadow Complex
  6. Torchlight. I’ve been playing this for most of the holidays, it’s crazy good. Too bad about the lack of variety and the still missing multiplayer.
  7. Killzone 2
  8. Plants Vs Zombies. This Popcap title stole a ridiculous amount of time this year. Probably the best value for money all year. [Update April 2018: looks like the original isn’t available anymore. This Flash version looks like it might work: http://www.crazygames.com/game/plants-vs-zombies]
  9. Street Fighter IV
  10. Rock Band Unplugged

I’m surprised by how many “small” games there are – mobile games and cheap PC games. Remarkably, the only one I was looking forward to before it hit was Killzone 2, the rest of these have been more or less very happy surprises.

Categories
blog culture XBLA Xbox 360

It’s complex

Shadow Complex
Shadow Complex

I liked Orson Scott Card’s original short story of “Ender’s Game”. I was looking forward to checking out some of the author’s other work at some point. When Epic’s 2D Super Metroid homage Shadow Complex was announced, I was mildly interested due to it being based on Card’s novels. The game came out, reviewed very well and I decided to buy it. Then I learned of the many people boycotting the game. I considered this for a day and bought the game for 15 USD.

I am strongly against Card’s world view. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue for me unless he was also an outspoken advocate of these beliefs. It looks like the developer of the game, Chair, and the game’s writer, Peter David, have made an effort to steer clear of Card’s controversial themes while making a kick-ass game. I’ve played the game for most of tonight and it is really, really good. Nothing in the content has jarred with me in any way.

So what we have here is an author I want nothing to do with, lending his name to an entertainment product I enjoy a lot. It helps that as far as I can tell, the author has not collaborated in a very meaningful way with Chair, but rather Chair has taken the fictional world and name from the author to get some PR.

This last bit is what really bothers me, beyond giving some small amount of money to Card through buying the game. According to an article in Gamasutra, Chair’s people are not homophobes to any degree. Maybe they didn’t know about the whole issue when they were working on the game – I know I didn’t. If they did, it bothers me a lot that they would give this publicity to Card, arguably more valuable than anything Card has published, as it’s reaching a new audience for him.

What I decided to do is enjoy the game for what it is (an excellent action adventure I would’ve loved to work on) and talk about my misgivings here. And no, I won’t be buying any books by Card.

Gaygamer’s take on the topic here.

Categories
blog

Here we go (Mass Effect, Christmas)

Oh god, I’ve been dreading this day. Mass Effect should be waiting for me at home, along with a couple of other titles. If I hope to get a review in, it’s going to be a lot of game time. I was just sick for three days and basically played through Call Of Duty 4 and Half-Life 2, with a lot of Call Of Duty 4 multi-player on the side. Of course it’s nice to play something apart from an FPS for a change and really, I’m so hot for Mass Effect, but I had hoped to finish some older games. Mostly Bioshock and Shadow of the Colossus. And it would be nice to play some more Project Gotham Racing 4 and Sega Rally, and… Being spoilt for choice is one thing, wrestling a press deadline is quite another matter. Now I understand why the gaming press moans about the Christmas onslaught of games and then the lack of releases in the following months.

I guess I should be happy that I got Mass Effect now that I just managed to clear COD4. But there’s still at least Assassin’s Creed to play through in the coming few weeks.

First impressions on Mass Effect coming in a few days. Personally, I can’t wait.

Categories
blog culture

Dreams of colossi

Last night I dreamt of a colossus. Of the kind you meet in PS2’s Shadow of the Colossus, which I finally bought last night from Gamestop. Beautiful cardboard box, too. I haven’t yet started on the game, but I’m itching to. Luckily I’m between deadlines and without a whole lot of review code to play through, so maybe next weekend I can get into it.

This is the first videogame dream I’ve had in a very long time – the previous ones are from my childhood, I believe. It was also very vivid. Waking up, I felt like I had been on a grand adventure. (Even though much of the actual content of the show was paddling along in a tiny boat without oars – I guess playing Phantom Hourglass just before bed does that to your subconscious.)

The reason for this is not that I’m looking forward to Shadow of the Colossus. I am, and very much so, but I look forward to almost every game I boot up. I think Wil Wheaton is to blame. Last night, during commute, I listened to his keynote speech from PAX 07, and was really taken back to all the great gaming memories from my childhood. Putting in for sleep, I guess I was a kid again, excited about a new game sitting on my table, much more so than ever as an adult.

You can find the keynote audio through the Gamers With Jobs review of his latest book, The Happiest Days of Our Lives.

Categories
blog

More on The Club (Xbox 360)

Eurogamer has a preview up on The Club. It’s sounding only better. In these days of “tactical” shooters, keeping moving all the time in a thirdperson shooter sounds like a blast of fresh air.

In completely unrelated news, it looks like that I managed to solve my problems with WordPress’ tendency to lose my paragraph tags by turning off the rich text editor, which is bizarrely hidden away on the user profile page of WordPress options.

Categories
blog

Link: Costume GET!

I just added a link to my link list: Costume GET!. It’s a rather cool blog by Wataru Maruyama, a videogame media guy from IGN who likes… costumes. And no cosplay in sight! He doesn’t seem obsessed about it either, just noting down his observations regarding costumes in videogames he plays.

I think this is a trend that we will see more examples of in the future: people focusing on a given facet of the complex tapestry that is a modern videogame. I believe the dozens of specialists working in the game industry might appreciate the limelight, too, considering how often the producer or director gets all the attention.

I could see sites about videogame cars, mecha, guys, chicks, weapons, levels, bosses and whatnot.

Categories
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Carnival of Game Production, second edition

Juuso over at GameProducer.net has published the second carnival of game production. There are quality articles on producing issues. Great stuff for wannabes, indies and full-blown professional producers alike, check it out if you’re at all into making games.

In case you’re new to this carnival business, Blog Carnival has the information you want. In essence, carnivals are a distillation of quality blogging on a given subject.