BioShock Infinite is a violent game, and it has to be. That's a contrast to BioShock, an equally violent game where combat conveyed nothing about its main character and had little to do with the game's themes other than spurring the player to engage in its various economies. Any stimulus—using plasmids to solve environmental puzzles, for instance—would have sufficed. That's not so in Columbia. Violence is essential to who Booker DeWitt is, and what Columbia is. Their story cannot be told without it.
Extra Credits discusses the design concept of "Counter Play." The idea here is that in a multiplayer game, there should be interesting abilities or weapons that a player can use on another player that is also interesting for that player on whom the weapon or ability is being used. It's a seemingly simple idea that upon discussion appears to be something the industry hasn't wrapped its head around yet.
Points go to the Extra Credits crew (and basically anyone who talks about preserving old, landmark games), but a lot of this just seems "pie in the sky." As mentioned in the video, a lot of the technology that ran and interfaced with these early titles do not even exist any longer. The only solution would be an industry-wide investment, resurrecting arcades, building kiosks, museums, you name it, just so some kid can play Battletech or Space War as was originally intended. When you really think about it, it seems that these treasures are doomed to obscurity.
At the recent DICE conference which just took place in Las Vegas, David Cage gave a speech which outlined nine points supporting his message that "the industry needs to grow up." Predictably, his comments angered many people and I've been seeing comments across the gaming spectrum disagreeing with him or trying to prove him wrong in various ways.
I've learned a few things after reading about what's happened during the DICE Summit and Awards event that's taken place this past week. The industry seems to be crying out desperately for maturity. David Cage (Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls) says that games need to grow up. Warren Spector (Epic Mickey) says that games like Lollipop Chainsaw shouldn't be made. The industry wants more Journey and The Walking Dead experiences, as evidenced by these games winning 99.5% of the awards given out. The definition of "fun" is changing.
Just like Handel, the digital craftsman Hidetaka Suehiro seems equally excited, baffled, and reluctant to continue work on his most successful game yet, Deadly Premonition—a game that, dare I say it, could be a similarly-praised work hundreds of years from now. The game is being re-released this March as a PlayStation 3-exclusive entitled Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut. I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with the man and his producer, Tomio Kanazawa, last week to discuss the details. It was an event that was sometimes as intentionally mysterious as the goings-on in the game's fictional hamlet of Greenvale, but thrilling nonetheless.
British publisher Titan Books has decided to celebrate the gorgeous artwork that provides the basis for our favorite digital adventures in two new books: The Art of Assassin's Creed III and Awakening: The Art of Halo 4. If you've got a finicky game-lover on your holiday shopping list, both of these books could make fantastic presents.
We're still playing catch-up on the latest videos from our friends at Extra Credits, but thanks to their fondness for two-parters we'll be caught up in no time. This two-part presentation is about the often maligned and often underappreciated Spec Ops: The Line. It's an interesting listen given how much the Extra Credits crew seems to have really bought in to what Yager was selling.
The guys at Extra Credits discuss mechanics as a metaphor or "mechanics with meaning" and for a visual aid, they use an interesting game or non-game called Loneliness. A description wouldn't really do the game justice, but it is well worth your time to try it for yourself considering the game is free.
One of the more interesting things brought up in this two-part series though is the lack of trust game creators show the player. Modern game creators simply do not trust the player to fail, experiment or uncover any meaning (assuming the creators intend for there to be any) while playing. After playing Loneliness you might understand why. It is a pretty gutsy thing to attempt in a free game, imagine how it would be received should you require payment for a similar experience.
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