Not that they were much of a software house after giving up on point-n-click adventures, but it’s a loss nonetheless.
The first book I read this year was Anna Anthropy’s Rise of Videogame Zinesters.
It’s a short book on a very good topic: democratization of videogame creation.
In the age of expensive, publisher-driven, minimum-risk AAA games, there’s clearly a niche for interesting, topical alternatives written by a minimal team.
And that’s exactly what this book promotes: an era when videogames have been taken back from the few big publishers, when the barrier of entry has been lowered and the barrier of discovery kept really low symmetrically.
However, behind the admirable aims, the execution leaves quite a bit to be desired. Currently the outlook of gaming is far from the bleak present laid out in the initial chapter – the indie games movement has significantly expanded frontiers, and the era of the appstores has eliminated the need to court publishers for an audience. Even the basic premise “games are for white males interested in shooting each other in the face” is increasingly less valid even in the mainstream – apart from the annual Call of Duty-dose (and its colleagues), it’s quite a varied world out there (especially outside the consoles where both development and distribution costs are orders of magnitude lower).
The answer to the dearth of interesting games is for the gamers to create new ones and distribute them.
Certainly a noble target, and the author both describes quite a few tools to get started with as well as laying out her own experiences.
The former is an eclectic selection – it covers the obvious (Scratch and a few commercial toolkits), not-so-obvious (Inform and Twine) and downright awkward (ZZT, which doesn’t even run in modern machines without emulation). The role of programming (and even understanding the basics of the art) is not really described that well (and a golden opportunity for tools like Processing is missed altogether).
As is the latter – the author’s quite keen on highlighting the queer (her word, not mine) agenda of her games thus far. But in quite shallow fashion, she doesn’t describe how she crafted the games, but lays out her biography via them.
The book is short and quickly read.
It provokes the reader in many ways.
And while hardly a real manifesto for changing the industry, it’s definitely a worthy read.
ResidualVM, the virtual machine supporting post-SCUMM LucasArts games, has had its first public release.
With 0.1 Grim Fandango is completable (though compatibility is nowhere near 100%), and the work on Curse of Monkey Island has an even longer road ahead of it.
In an unexpected first time for everything (I guess), there’s a verbatim novelization of the Planescape computer game.
Good old Games has quietly opened its gates for Mac games.
As the initial selection includes classics such as Master of Orion, Ultima Underworld and Star Control, now is definitely a good time to check out the quality of the porting effort.
Venus Patrol is a “video game culture” site created by Brandon Boyer, the guy who ran the much-appreciated (and terminated too soon) Offworld at Boingboing.
I never finished the game back in the day, and now, 25 years later it’s high time to attempt it again.
With SCUMMVM, obviously, as it provides an extra layer of comfort.
Telltale Games, who have been snapping up licenses to abdandoned game franchises, films, television series and whatnot, have picked up one more.
After all, the take on fairy tale characters’ continued existence in 21st century does provide an almost infinitely extensible milieu for additional adventures.
Necessity of a tutorial: quite high.
Games played: two.
Appreciation: growing, but I still wonder about the popularity.
Unexpected event #1: a bona fide snow crash of the Macbook. Quite an accomplishment by a windowed java program.
Unexpected event #2: inability to respawn in a normal game.
I’ve never played it, so this ought to be an interesting experience. One which will be documented here in some fashion (been way too lazy with game reviews lately).
Pinball Arcade, an extensible collection of pinball tables from multiple eras is set to hit iOS devices on Thursday.
Sadly, the web page is more or less useless, and the description and updates are available on Facebook only.
The game ships with four tables, with more to be released as DLC on a monthly interval.
The visuals are impressive, but as usual, a pinball game either lives or dies on how it feels.
retropelit.fi, for the local retrogaming community.
The reviews are on the short side, but it is nice to see the good old games featured on the ever-expanding list.
An unofficial archive of the LucasArts Adventurer magazine is missing just three issues.
Sadly sold out already.
The game is undergoing evaluation right now, and hopefully will be available during september.
King of Dragon Pass is a kingdom simulation game, but deftly avoids the traditional drudgery of micromanagement, and places the player into the boots of an Orlanthi chieftain, leading the tribe through troubled times.
The game should fit the touchscreens well, and this looks definitely like one of the highlights of the gaming autumn. The development blog has provided good insight into what the porting has been like.
The first iPad2-only game has been announced.
Too bad, was kind of looking forward to Machinarium.
Then again, the current backlog is ridiculously long already.
TinyHack is the most abstract game in a long while. It boasts the largest pixels in a roguelike, ever, and that’s about it, everything else is hidden inside the large colored squares. The red is a monster, the yellow a treasure, and the white the player character.
It’s been a very low-impact gaming summer thus far.
One of the things on the table to be picked up sooner or later is definitely Dwarf Fortress.
Unsocial social games by Greg Costikyan highlights the issues in the persistently booming social games scene. Which ultimately isn’t social, and most of the games aren’t really games either.
URL hunter turns the address bar of the browser into a gamefield. A very limited gamefield, but an interactive exercise nonetheless.
… is imitation, as Gameloft’s Star
craftfront is about to prove.