I've been playing inFamous, and will continue to do so this weekend. So far, I'm not terribly impressed, more for reasons of concept rather than execution. But that will all have to wait for the review! Let's get to some links.
-Seth Schiesel had a nice write-up about Dan Aykroyd and the new Ghostbusters game in the New York Times. What I liked about this piece was that it wasn't just about the video game: it covered Aykroyd's biography, the history of the Ghostbusters franchise, and the new game, and made it all of a piece. Just a good piece of journalism here, and not specifically "games" journalism.
-Matthew Gallant takes a look at the approaches some games take toward guiding the player's eye, and focuses on the masters of the craft, Valve Software. I always knew I liked that aspect of the Half-Life games, but I never knew why until I played through Half-Life 2: Episode 1 with the commentary on. One of the developers explained how they put an enemy on a platform who started shooting at you, so you'd turn in his direction just in time to see some kind of massive ship fly up out of the water. They play you like a fiddle, Valve Software, but their real trick is convincing you that you're the one who makes everything happen.
-Another week, another great read from Jeremy Parish. He reminisces about the "noble failure" of the horizontal pan in Super Mario World. As usual, Jeremy's scholarship is immediately challenged by pedantic commenters. It's true, though -- the shoulder buttons were a great idea, even if it took people a little while to realize why. The same thing happened with the Nintendo DS. For the first year, no one -- gamers or developers -- knew what to make of the touchscreen. These days it's hard to imagine how we ever played portable games without one.
-Gamers with Jobs is looking for writers. They're one of those sites that often gets overlooked when we decry the lack of an outlet that consistently publishes thoughtful, mature game writing. They've been doing it for years! I can think of several bloggers who'd fit in well there.
-Yep, I'm skeptical about Tony Hawk's Ride, too. It's easy to point to the success of peripheral-based games like Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Wii Fit, but I don't think the lesson to be drawn from those games is that consumers like expensive software that requires extra hardware to play. I would love for this game to work, though.