April 14th, 2015
As is probably evident by now, I’m currently on a writing hiatus. I’ve stopped writing since September last year and will probably remain inactive for the near future. I’m currently doing a masters so that I can teach Mandarin in Australian schools. I’m also taking advantage of the opportunity to improve my Mandarin and bring it up closer to a native speaker level. It’s the right time for me to be taking these steps, so I’ve had to put writing aside for the time being. Such is life.
The good news is that I still have time to play games and take notes as I play. I’m also sitting on about three issues of copy for the new zine project, Adventures in Games Analysis. Daniel (Stolen Projects) and I were ready to release the first issue a bit less than a year ago, but I had trouble banging out the preface (which I’d left to the last minute) and decided to put it on hold as I stew over the direction of the series. The problem was that in the time between writing the original copy and being ready to publish it, I published GDC: A Critical Analysis of Wario Land 4, edited the Starseed Observatory, designed The Cave of Atman, and had been working to support a small group of critical gamers. These engagements changed my perspective on my own writing, and that change wasn’t reflected in the first issue of the zine. The actual analysis in the zine is great and doesn’t require much modification. Rather, I just need a few weeks to sit down and make some sensible cuts, additions, and tweaks.
Speaking of content and copy, here is a list of everything I’ve finished or have in draft copy for the first few issues:
- a breakdown of arcade racing and top-down racing fundamentals
- a comprehensive overview of Wipeout’s racing dynamics, weapons, and game modes
- a design-focused photo diary of God of War: Chains of Olympus
- an exploration of the social sim aspects of Animal Crossing
- collected insights on Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
- a technical breakdown of DK: King of Swing’s unique mechanics
- a comparison of Other M and the original Metroid
- a Let’s Play take on The Graveyard
- a comprehensive breakdown of Syphony of the Night’s combat system
- a look at a small, but hugely destructive weakness in Wario Land 3’s metrovania design
- a 300-word review of Trauma Centre 2
- a 300-word review of Bit.Trip.Runner
- lots on Uncharted 2 and education and mastery
- an experiment in designing games in Twine
- a post-mortem of some of my best classroom games
- a discussion on learning and the path of least resistance
- a poem on LocoRoco
- collected insights into Super Monkey Ball Deluxe
- a deep dive into Crossword design and the augmentations of Crosswords DS
- a complete analysis of classic Resident Evil design through the lens of Code Veronica
- a complete analysis on Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Bros, including map, progression, battle, and RPG design
And there’s a few more things that are in various stages of completion. Just typing out this list makes me super excited to get back into the writing game. I’m doing all that I can at the moment to make my transition into Chinese teaching a smooth and successful one. The way I see it, any effort that I invest now is going to go a long way in freeing my time and energy in the future, so it’s worth putting in the hard yards now.
If you’re absolutely dying for your fix of games analysis, though, I recommend checking out Joe Rothenberg’s game Nobody Said it Was Easy. Joe studied Game Design Companion: A Critical Analysis of Wario Land 4 and then applied the concepts to his own game. Each level is short and communicates its ideas succinctly, so playing with a critical eye is a great way to review your understanding of the concepts covered in the book.
See you soon,