March 19th, 2010
There’s been a few articles circling around in regards to the hopelessness of earning money in the enthusiast press. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs. Information yearns to be free, painting a rather bleak outlook for those professionals. Although the topic has very little to do with me personally, it has made me consider why I put such an effort into a production which offers no monetary rewards.
What I realised after thinking through this question was that money is entirely irrelevant. I’ve become addicted to writing about games, because it’s a form of education. An education that if left absent I’d never feel satisfied with putting a completed game on the shelf. Understanding, or at least an attempt at understanding, has become a pivotal point of my game playing process, and considering that I don’t wish to give up my favourite hobby anytime soon, I feel that the writing will therefore continue.
I guess this is what they call “writing for the passion”. I don’t think of it as a passion though, I write for purely selfish reasons and the fact that you might consider reading this is uhh…cool, so thanks for that! Talking about people who write for the love of it and those who write to survive, I have a killer collection of links to share with you this time. And hey, if they have ads on their website, toss ’em a bone and click through, I’m sure that it’ll help.
Kurt makes a strong argument against a contentious Gamasutra post which discussed the now clichéd topic of the death of the JRPG. Kurt lays it straight which is bloody good to hear, considering the number of haters fueling the largely unfounded cynicism. Specifically, his point on the current state of transition in the genre (I would love to read some game-specific case studies explicating on examples of the transition) and the decline of anime in western countries are very interesting and well substantiated.
The first time I landed upon Racketboy’s blog I was awestruck at the material on display, loved it. However, this kinda died out in my mind as the articles became a little too formulaic. The 8 or so podcasts that have recently been produced have rekindled my enthusiasm for the website. I’m just so floored by not just the selection of guests, but their appropriacy and the thoughtfulness of the entire production. Some great grassroots retro coverage right here.
There’s been hardly any coverage on the new Excitebike: World Rally title for WiiWare which is quite sad. Thankfully, Jeremy Parish showed the initiative and interviewed some of the key members behind the production. Typically of Parish, there’s some thoughtful questions thrown in and the interview as a whole does a good job at introducing the title. Well worth a read.
In this post, L.B. Jeffries discusses why Super Mario World is his favourite Mario platformer, referring to the game’s experimental nature, flexibility and devious exploration elements which individualise it from other Mario platformers. Quite a good read.
Jason Rubin freaking gets it. I’ve always enjoyed what Jason has had to say about the games industry and was very pleased to see him back on Bonus Round. This time though there was a bit of confusion regarding his comments made in the second part of the show and he later elaborated on his thoughts via Geoff Keighly’s blog based on angry responses from commenters. I don’t think that Jason needed to supplement what he said on the show with an explanation, it’s quite clear that his comments were washed around with the generalities which the show sometimes takes as given fact (eg. hardcore/casual gaming dichotomy, Wii 3rd party games not selling). It’s not all bad though, as Jason has started his own blog which is awesome, check it out.
The Iwata Asks interviews is like being given a golden ticket into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. I’m really digging this stuff! You can find a directory of articles here and the initial Wii interviews here. The interviews have a Japanese feel in that there is an undercurrent emphasis on relationship-natured subjects and the unity of the group. The translation of the interviews are fantastic, accompanied by video and picture footnotes. I encourage that you read them all. The Zelda handheld interviews, which I’ve linked to, are quite interesting. I’m very happy that Iwata addressed the individualism of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and the relationship with Flagship and Capcom with the later titles. Above all else though are included images of design docs for the original Zelda and Super Mario Bros. I guess I’ll leave it at that!
I’m just going to quote what I said about this article from Twitter:
Basically good games with strong marketing sell, Nintendo’s presence seems to be an excuse to pass blame for under performing in these areas. Even Nintendo have weak sellers like Battalion Wars 2, Walk with Me, Excitebots, Chibi Robo and Custom Robo – same reasons.
I’ve been quite fortunate in being able to discuss Zelda and Okami with Ishaan from Siliconera. Ishaan is very astute and has a great knowledge about games. I’m pleased then that our discussion evolved into a post which he wrote for Siliconera. There are a few points that he didn’t mention which I might churn out into an article myself.
November 15th, 2009
Thank you for your patience over this past week as I’ve been rounding out my last major university assignment (ever!). Fortunately, I’ve got no exams so I’m basically free for a week until I start my 4 week long TESOL course which’ll likely continue the disrupted flow of new posts leading into Christmas. *sigh* I have plenty to write, but little time to apply myself, so we’ll see how this next week fairs.
As tradition would have it, it’s been a long time between links (ZING!), so I’d like fix that for now:
Finally we get to see how the Prince of Persia movie is shaping up, and as the trailer clearly showcases it looks fairly promising. As another Hollywood blockbuster, that is, but for the same reasons I criticized the Sands of Time game, it looks like the movie will be another western parade though a superficial interpretation of the Middle East. Yay!
Otherwise, the film appears to draw most of its influence from The Two Thrones, things could be worse I suppose.
In keeping with the Prince of Persia theme, the following post is taken from the blog of Ben Mattes who you might know from his role as a producer on the later Prince of Persia games. His post, primarily regarding community forums, shares some interesting insight into the mindset of developers towards the enthusiast community.
I really wish there was greater interaction between the two parties as the analysis here and elsewhere around the interwebs is basically the type of well thought out feedback from concentrated play testing that most companies would pay money for. They can get it for free from us! Furthermore, considering the effort that some of us put into our writing, I think that most enthusiast writers (along this vein) would be profoundly motivated by any engagement with developers. I know that some of the people from Sony Bend have read my articles on Syphon Filter, which makes my heart skip a beat. Although, I’ll admit, I was considerably less enthusiastic about PopCap’s response. Still, any interaction is likely to have a positive effect.
I’m guilty of throwing Eurogamer a few too many links in this segment, but with such well articulated analysis and opinions (Simon Parkin’s powerful review of Modern Warfare 2 is one of the best pieces of writing I’ve read all year) it’s difficult not to be enthused. The above video chronicles the rise of the website from humble beginnings to it’s current state. The multiplatform, Australian equivalents such as PALGN will have to grow some serious editorial balls before they can attempt to contend with the likes of Eurogamer.
Battle Klaxon is my favourite new column over at GameSetWatch. Quintin Smith, who incidentally also works for Eurogamer, covers niche gems neglected by the mainstream games press, describing what made them so special for the people who played them. Valkyria Chronicles is an ideal choice for the column, I’ve played a bit of this Fire-Emblem-meets-Final-Fantasy-Tactics-SRPG-hybrid, but am yet to make enough headway to make any qualitative observations. What I can say though is that I’m an ardent, SRPG purist who adores both of the two previously mentioned titles, so Valkyria Chronicles will probably come to sit in the middle of those two titles. Almost every blog in my feed reader is now centred around retro and/or niche titles, so Battle Klaxon is a welcomed addition to the diet…
…as is Hardcore Gaming 101. Yes, this site is not new to me, I’ve been reading them for years, and yes I’ve known about their new blog since it had launched. For some unfathomable reason though I forgot to subscribe to the site the first time round back in July/August and it flew off my radar. Thankfully I spent a few hours whoring out the backlog recently and have left suitably impressed. I chose the above, Metal Gear article as my favourite post on the site so far as it reflects the exhaustive dedication that Kurt Kulata and his crew of contributors put into their work. Mega effort, well done folks. Kurt was also recently interviewed on the first episode of the Racketboy podcast, props to those guys too.
I’ve kind of strayed off the path myself when it comes to reading the Brainy Gamer blog, simply because my tastes have adjusted to more analysis/criticism-heavy reading, rather than Michael’s handful of general commentaries (great stuff, naturally, but very general, lacks explanation and example). With that said though, Michael is very good at summarising community consensus. His article reflects on his personal response to the mainstream rollercoaster of game release. Rather than playing the latest AAA blockbuster on the scene, Michael is finding that he prefers the smaller, older and perhaps even neglected titles of the industry. I can definitely sympathize with his feelings here. I stopped trying to chase the mainstream rat race years ago and it’s been wonderful because I save money and get to blaze my own path of writing, rather than bucking to popular trends. This is a superbly written post which intersects with the ethos of the site, so do take a read.
Considering it’s niche appeal, Demon’s Souls has been receiving a great deal of coverage from blogs and the enthusiast outlets. I’ve been following the conversations myself and I think Kat Bailey is the furthest ahead of the curve on her analysis of the title. In concluding on her one month play through of Demon’s Souls she draws on her analysis and discussions with others to explicate on the different viewpoints regarding the title—the split being that players find it either unrelenting in difficulty or a supremely rewarding experience—she backs the latter and uses her deconstruction of both perspectives to persuasively argue in favour of the title. It’s clear that much consideration has been put into dissecting the different interpretations and to this end I’m very impressed. The Mt. Fuji anecdote and bad Thai food metaphor (gosh, so true) are expertly handled and make the article personal and therefore meaningful. This is a good article to highlight the strengths of the medium.
Proof that Sony have some of the best marketers in the world. ^_^
August 24th, 2009
Talk about dated! Some of the articles of reference here were posted months, possibly years ago. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Still, despite my lack of timeliness this past month (3 months?) worth of links are quite good, I hope. I also decided to cull half the blogs in my feed reader due to a lack of time and a lack of authors actually discussing games. Narrative (secluded from gameplay), philosophy and unrelated anecdotes make for wonderful distractions, but are rarely ever insightful. You won’t find much of that here though;
I linked to some writing about Majora’s Mask in my last Link Out post, but this is much better. The author here concentrates on a handful of elements that made Majora’s Mask such a unique play experience. They focus on the overarching friction that differentiates Majora’s Mask from Ocarina of Time, deeply rooting itself in melancholy emotions.
There was another fantastic Time Extend article on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time which eloquently examined the game’s meta-narrative and purity.
Back in June/July there were reports that the Chinese government had banned gold farming which were rather dubious in their backing. I’d read reports on Eurogamer and Kotaku (perhaps on Good Game too) which all featured the same headline, but the details simply didn’t justify the headline.
I’ve been very much intrigued by the Monster Hunter series as of late, particularly in the way Capcom is marketing the latest PSP title in Europe. They’ve began a self professed push to get PAL players into the series, and considering they give a damn about us, I can’t help but give one back. Although I didn’t think much of their Resident Evil 5 campaign of finding body parts scattered around London, this move highlights inventive consideration geared towards the PAL market, which can only be a good thing.
The music in Return to Castle Wolfenstein is pretty meh, so throughout the romp I was exhausting a list of podcasts and eventually found myself listening to archived recordings from the site What They Play. The site is run by John Davidson and hence worthy of your respect and consideration, furthermore it’s a site targeted towards parents which sets the tone for some more mature discussion. The highlight of my run was podcast #18 regarding the 10th anniversary of the Columbine massacre. The conversation isn’t entirely related to video games but Columbine debate is interesting nonetheless.
Like many I presume, I started listening to Michael Jackson again following his tragic passing. After hearing some of the Moonwalker (Megadrive) music on Retronauts I started hunting down the original sound files. Coincidentally in turned out Matt from Press the Buttons posted some music streams, so I just listened to those. Very cool.
I don’t want be so trite as dare say this but; ’nuff said.
Sometime ago Eurogamer started a feature titled Digital Foundry which has now been given its own blog. The segment originated as a dumping ground for those shallow Xbox 360/PS3 comparison videos and has now expanded into something a little more technically driven as the above interview with Wipeout developers Studio Liverpool showcases. I’ve completed the new Fury expansion and am yet to talk about it, so take a squiz here in the meantime, it’s an entertaining read.
Digital Foundry also did some similar work interviewing the folks behind Super Stardust HD, inside includes some choice pro-tips too.
Metroid Prime Trilogy; what a great excuse to replay such a gorgeous selection of games. I’m currently attempting Metroid Prime 3 for the third time now, I haven’t finished it yet which is sadly disappointing. I have strong sentiments towards the series and therefore enjoyed this video piece.
And a bunch of Metal Gear comics…
Sometime ago I finished reading the comic series The Last Days of Foxhound which consists of 500 individual comics in a series format. I was surprised that I’d never heard of this series years ago. Furthermore, I recently found another, much smaller, bunch of hilarious Metal Gear comics. This series which summarises each of the MGS game is objectively superior to The Last Days of Foxhound but both are well worth a read for any fans. I really dig the way The Last Days of Foxhound covers its bases on the lead up to the Shadow Moses incident. How had I never seen these before?