Link Storm

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I haven’t done one of these for a while! Here’s some interesting gaming, game design and other random crap that I find interesting related links!

Games We Play

This video is a tad annoying in its approach (I don’t know why I just find it annoying) but it is some interesting food for thought about how we can make a game out of pretty much anything. Even the most mundane tasks or huge amounts of bordom can drive people to create a game to help pass the time.

Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse Kickstarter

What’s this? A new Broken Sword game that looks like it will be really good? And it has Charles Cecil on board too? Am I dreaming? I will be backing this if I can scramble the money together for a pledge before the deadline.

Voting Open For The Golden Joystick Awards 2012

A surprising amount of top quality games have made the cut this year but it is your votes that will stop Call of Duty from sweeping the boards! Any guesses as to how many awards Skyrim will win on the night?

The Making Of: Final Fantasy VII – Edge

One of the many look backs at Final Fantasy VII that have popped up since the PC Port Re-release came out a week or so ago. It goes into some detail about the production of the game and the advancements it made at the time but then like all look backs at FFVII it ends up focusing heavily on the characters and story.

So, Tell Me About Yourself, Video Game – Kotaku

A piece championing the underused story telling device of having a narrator (both first and third person) in video games. I find it can go a long way to helping create a connection between the player and the game. Making the experience a lot more personal.

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Hearthfire – Official Trailer

The second piece of Skyrim DLC is all about building a home and leaving your mark on the world of the game with it and your family. Basically it takes all the family and home mechanics from the Fable games and gives them a nice in-depth Elder Scrolls twist. YAY for rewarding time sinks!

The Video Game As Game Changer – Gail Simone

Comic book writer Gale Simone muses on the story and narrative structure of games and in particular their tendency to have protracted or indefinite second acts which make up the meat of the player’s experience with the game. She also points out that this is pretty much the opposite of what is happening in the rest of fictional media such as TV and Film where the second act is becoming shorter and shorter.

SPEC OPS: THE LINE!!!!

You may not be aware that I recently played through Spec Ops: The Line and fell in love with its dark, disturbing, mind bending and gut wrenching story and gameplay. So while I am still currently obsessed with it here are some interesting links about it:

Extra Credits – Spec Ops: The Line Part 1 & Part 2

The Extra Credits team take a brilliant two part look at the game. With the first part glossing over things and drawing your attention to key themes, concepts and moments while enticing you to try the game out with the minimum of spoilers. The second part goes into detail about everything basically and is spoiler central as it explores how every facet of the game works together to create the whole experience.

Spec Ops multiplayer is “tacked-on bullshit” – Edge

Interestingly this piece has been making the rounds about the game’s lead designer, Cory Davis speaking out about the game’s multiplayer and how the publisher 2K forced it into the game. Made by a separate team the multiplayer is a big departure from the main game and is one of the reasons why many reviewers scored the game at 7 or 8’s out of 10. Hopefully other publishers will take this onboard and stop trying to shoehorn multiplayer into every game they publish.

Spec Ops: The Line – Zero Punctuation

Yahtzee gives a rare mostly positive review for the game highlighting the story and character/player connection.

No Good Deed – Narrative Design in Spec Ops: The Line – Gamasutra

Finally, Gamasutra provides an in-depth look at the narrative design for Spec Ops which is well worth reading. A great behind the scenes look and good example how ideas can grow and change over time.

Schedule Update

First things first! I have decided on a day to do these schedule posts and that day is today, Sunday!

This week I should be getting the internet all setup and working in my new place so I will be able to post things from the middle of the week onwards. So here’s the plan for content for the next seven days:

  • Monday – Adventure Game Post [Cancelled] (I’m moving car loads of stuff around this weekend and bank holiday Monday so the adventure game is going to have to skip a post)
  • Wednesday – Weekly Link Storm (haven’t done one in a while but I’m sure I can find some interesting things to share with you)
  • Friday – Friday Post (still need to decide on what to write about but it should happen)

Finally here’s a blast from the past that I found in an old comic book the other day:

Man the Mario Bros. movie sure was a terrible piece of cinema and it began the longstanding trend of terrible game to movie adaptations!

Schedule Update

I’m going to try and post one or two things over the next week but (and it is a BIG but) I am moving and will not actually have what I term as “proper” Internet access until well into next week.

Like I said the next couple of week are going to be all over the place!

Anyway here’s a lovely Lupin image to tide you over:

Adventure Game Update: Coming Up With An Idea That Works

So I announced that I was going to start work on a game and then I’ve said nothing since and it has been over a month! Apart from the wedding stuff and my life generally be all over the place at the moment there is a reason why I haven’t posted anything until now: I went back to the drawing board.

I got around two thirds of the way through working out the concept for an adventure game set in and around a boarding school and in particular drawing from my experience as a student at Stonyhurst College to come up with the story for the game and its gameplay. It was a good idea but I think because I was drawing heavily from my own life I got a bit too ambitious with it. It quickly turned from a small adventure game into an indie epic. So rather than dumbing down I decided to shelve the work I have done on that idea so far and save it for later on when I am better equipped to realise that idea to its full potential. The idea for this project after all was to make an adventure game that would aid towards improving my game design skills in a relatively short timeframe.

So I spent a good couple of week bouncing around ideas in my head and a few on paper but I have finally come up with something that fits what I am trying to do perfectly.

The idea came from my love for older Japanese anime. You see I have a complicated relationship with anime. I used to love it. Like more than comic books love it (if you know me that is a big deal!). So before I go into the basics of the game idea it is time for a little history lesson.

I discovered anime in my early teens at 13-14 by way of Dragonball Z as most people my age in the UK did. It was on Cartoon Network and it was awesome. Eventually I wanted more than DBZ and the UK TV networks obliged by providing a surprisingly broad mix of styles and genres. Fox Kids (remember that channel?) had Escaflowne and Technoman (god I used to love Technoman!) and the Sci-Fi Channel back when it was still spelt correctly used to show anime movies and mini series late at night once or twice a week so I started setting up my VCR to record them and then watch them over the weekend. The films and mini-series on Sci-Fi blew my mind. Through them I saw some horrifically violent animation and sexual content well beyond my years (blame The Legend of the Overfiend!) I was also exposed to greats like Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Eventually my brother also wanting more found a guy through ebay who was selling CDs full of dubbed and subbed anime (this was before we had broadband so downloading anything was time intensive and expensive on a 56k modem!) so he bought a load. And by that I mean a metric shit tonne of anime. From retro classics to the contemporary hits of the time. I spent the next year or so watching the majority of these anime CDs.

While doing this my tastes in anime developed and solidified into what they are today. I was fond of the more stylish anime that harkend back to past animes or those past animes that inspired these modern twists. I did enjoy a lot of more modern stuff too like Naruto, Bleach and such but eventually they just got to long in the tooth for me to follow anymore. My favourites like I said were rooted firmly in the past. Lots of 60s-80s animation and design or shows that had a sense of style and “coolness” to them. Stuff like Cowboy Bebop which wears its inspirations on its sleeve proudly.

Cowboy Bebop is one of those shows that you watch that changes your outlook and tastes in  everything. It oozed cool effortlessly and pretty much ruined anime for me because few could match up to it in my view. The Cowboy Bebop creator’s follow-up anime, Samurai Champloo, comes close though. So with contemporary anime ruined for me I turned back to the past even more and watch a lot of older animes eventually though that well dried up and I stopped watching anime altogether apart from one or two movies or series every year or so. Even then they have to be highly recommended and suitable to my niche tastes within the medium.

So while I was coming up with ideas for my adventure game I turned to things that I love outside of games. One of the first things I turned to was Mad Men which as everyone knows is the current best TV show ever made. While the idea of an adventure game set in the world of advertising in the early 60s is appealing I starting thinking about stuff from the 60s and the decades either side of it that I could draw from. You had pulp adventure stories, cowboys & aliens. Loads of stuff going on in post-war popculture. All stuff that has been fed down to us today. I started thinking about how crazy the early James Bond films were and why they are still considered cool. They were these huge grand adventures. The bread and butter of things like Uncharted that see Drake and co. globe trotting and quiping to the end credits.

So I decided I wanted to do something set in the mid to late 50s or early 60s. I think the 50s will do best because it will give me distance from things like Mad Men and it hasn’t really been explored in games before and I can still fit a lot of that 60s style in there without red flags popping up saying it doesn’t belong. More importantly I can entrench the game in post-war history and play off that fact that the world was in recovery mode and everything to a certain extent was up for grabs. I couldn’t do spys though because they have been done to death, but I wanted the gadgets and cool factor spys can bring. I couldn’t do the brilliant idea of an archeologist or treasure hunter because those ideas seem really familiar for some reason (*wink* *wink*) but I wanted a reason to send my characters globe trotting and traveling to dangerous and exotic locations.

It was then I remembered all of many hours of anime watching in my teens and in particular one of the main influences on Cowboy Bebop, Lupin The 3rd. Lupin is one of my all time favourite animes and I found it because of my love for Cowboy Bebop. It follows the escapades of a master thief as he globe trotts with his companions and generally getting into trouble. It is just the kind of thing I was looking for! You can read more about Lupin here. The idea then basically leaped out of my head fully formed: A serialised adventure game that riffs on classic James Bond and spy stories but focusing on a thief and his adventures just like Lupin! As for the art style I want to go for something along the sharp angular lines of 50s and 60s animation, go have a play around with Mad Men Yourself and you’ll get the gist of the style I am talking about.

So that’s it. That’s my basic idea: An adventure game about a thief in the 1950s/60s.

While I’m coming up with my main gameplay ideas and the pitch for the game as it were I will be watching a lot of original Lupin The 3rd and its new series The Woman Called Fujiko Mine to get myself re-acquainted with the style and trappings of the format along with a healthy dose of classic Bond and 50s/60s history and popculture.

It’s going to be colourful and cool!

I’m Not Dead Yet!

Things have been very quiet around here the past couple of weeks. I could go into a long breakdown as to why I haven’t posted anything of note recently but that would be me making excuses. All you need to know is that Wedding Preparation, Job Hunting and moving again are taking up a lot of my time. So keeping this place and other online things going has fallen by the wayside a bit. But I have come up with a plan which is what I will share with you.

The reason I started this blog was to track my Uni Projects in my final year. It quickly grew from that to being my main portfolio website and a place for me to talk about game design, gaming and the games industry in general. At the moment though there are constant shifts happening in how much of a particular type of content is being featured on this site. Currently there is a lot of general gaming posts (mainly link posts) and not much else. The main purpose of this place is to promote brand me, my thoughts and ideas about game design & gaming and in the past couple of months I haven’t really being doing that. So I have decided to structure the site, the output of content a bit more and how it is produced. I have even come up with a schedule for the site on a two week rotation.

Not much for now but the plan is to add something for either Saturday or Sunday and more weeks to the rotation of content further down the line. Bare in mind though this is a plan for what should come out in a given week. It is not a guarantee that all content will be posted in a week. This is because my life is literally all over the place at the moment. I am constantly on the road between places sorting stuff out and doing things. I will post an update post on the Monday if some content will be missed in a week so you know what the situation is. I will also be sitting down at some point to write out a bunch of short posts that can and will be used to fill in the gaps when I miss posts or can’t do them. I have not really decided on what these posts will be about but they will be interesting and will fit in with the rest of the output of the site. Fair warning though there won’t be much for the next couple of week because of my wedding and honeymoon. 

All posts will be published between 5-6pm GMT/British Standard Time.