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State of Play with Brandon Bales: Jonathan Blow, Part Two

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.

Skyrim: The Alduin/Dagon dichotomy

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Screenshot

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.

State of Play with Brandon Bales: Jonathan Blow, Part One

Welcome back to State of Play with Brandon Bales!

Here's the first part of our interview with Jonathan Blow, creator of the amazing indie hit Braid and the upcoming The Witness!

In this episode, we dive into Mr. Blow's history in the industry and into the genesis of Braid, one of the breakout hits of the new Download Renaissance.

Cinematic action gunplay

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception Screenshot

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.

The crying game

Shadow of the Colossus HD Screenshot

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.

State of Play with Brandon Bales: Kellee Santiago, Part Three

Here's the final piece of our interview with Kellee Santiago of thatgamecompany, creators of Flower and the upcoming Journey!

In this episode, we discuss not only their forthcoming and beautiful new game, but also the workings of their unique company and their relationship with Sony.

Thanks again for watching! We've a new blog up at stateofplayshow.com; and come back in January for our interview with Jonathan Blow!

Consoleation: The future is digital

Xbox Live Dashboard Update Image

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.

Engagement and storymaking

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Screenshot

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.

Consoleation: Wrong direction

Ridge Racer Vita Screenshot

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.

State of Play with Brandon Bales: Kellee Santiago, Part Two

Here's our second episode of State of Play with Brandon Bales!

In this episode, we discuss with Kellee Santiago more about thatgamecompany's "Big Idea," as well as pretty much everything there is to say about their last hit game, Flower.

And next week: we discuss their delicious upcoming PSN-exclusive, Journey!

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