Welcome back to the second part of our interview with Jonathan Blow, creator of the indie smash Braid and the upcoming The Witness.
In this episode, we begin the discussion of what it means to spend our time playing games. Paramount to this: our discussion of "achievements" and how they feed into creating structures that presuppose challenging design.
I have a lot to say about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and indeed I've already said some of it. Some of it has been said for me, for instance in Shamus Young's takedown of the Thieves' Guild quests, which after a promising start became too intolerable for me to bother completing. Uneven writing quality is almost a certainty in a game this large, though, and perhaps it was the Thieves' Guild's time, after being one of the best sidequests in Oblivion.
In a cinematic action game, the player needs to keep moving forward because the intent of the game is to both tell a story and excite the player. Viewed as a question of design alone, difficulty that forces several replays of any section is undesirable because it gates progress and converts the game into a movie that is merely very inconvenient to watch.
There is a certain muddiness here between "narrative" components and "systems". Would I have loved Agro as much if he were a lizard? A featherless chicken? A square with four squares sticking out of it? Perhaps I would not have. At the same time the graphical (i.e. narrative) depiction of Agro as a horse serves to contextualize the system he presents and make the game's rules intelligible.
We've been seeing a gradual shift in software sales in the last couple of years towards digital distribution. Full retail games have been available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 over that time and, although the digital library is but a fraction of the retail library, digital has been catching up.
The idea of a game world typically appears in the context of immersive games like Far Cry 2 or Grand Theft Auto IV. Games of this type use attractive graphics to imitate reality, making the idea of a virtual world a natural one.
The news about Ridge Racer for the PlayStation Vita and its dearth of content in favor of downloadable content (DLC) reignites the discussion about how DLC affects retail games. Issues with weak content versus numerous DLC offerings is nothing new for Namco.
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