Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday afternoon tidbits-

Nobody's asked how NaNoWriMo is going, but I'll tell you anyway: I expect to cross the 50,000 word mark tonight or tomorrow, although the story itself will go on for a bit longer. It's been a rewarding, if taxing, experience, and I'd recommend anybody who's ever thought about writing a book give it a go next year. Or, hell, just try it in December! Writing is sweet.

-Kyle Orland has the definitive look at the Left 4 Dead 2 boycott. Not having paid attention to any of it while it was happening, I didn't realize there was a story with so many twists and turns. This just proves, once again, that Valve is one of the smartest companies around. But the boycotters made their point too, and overall the whole thing seems much more successful than the MW2 boycott.

-Speaking of MW2, I don't see a need to weigh in on the "No Russian" scene because so many others have already said basically what I would have, only better -- Kieron Gillen and Tom Chick chief among them. Nick Dinicola has a more sanguine take, arguing that Modern Warfare 2 accurately reflects the senseless state of warfare in the 21st century. He may not be totally wrong about that, but it's important to remember the extent to which we've sanitized World War II in our collective memory. Maybe there was a good reason for fighting it, but you can't tell that to the 50 million people who died, the majority of them civilians.

-Also at PopMatters, L.B. Jeffries stands up for the merits of linear narrative. He's right to frame it the way he does -- there's always a lot of excitement about emergent narratives and player-as-author design philosophies, but there's room for more than one approach. Well-scripted, linear games may not be sexy, but they'll never go out of style.

-Steve Gaynor puts together his picks for the definitive games of the decade, which he says "defined the state of the art in game design in the 00's." Good list with lots to think about. Like one of the commenters, I too think that Guitar Hero and Rock Band should be on that list in some form. They are simply too big a cultural and commercial phenomenon to ignore, and although music and rhythm games had existed in some form before, the original Guitar Hero is clearly the demarcation point between the genre as a niche and as a powerhouse.

-Sarah Palin may think she's going rogue, but it turns out to be a pretty weak build.

3 comments:

Tim Mackie said...

-I never really got into the whole L4D2 boycott thing, but not because I didn't think more content for L4D was necessary. I've mentioned this on a previous post, but I strongly feel that L4D isn't that great of a game, and I always felt that way. More content for it would have been nice, but it wouldn't have changed the fact that the gameplay itself, to me at least, is too bland and straightforward -- for lack of a better word, too FPS-ish. There's not much choice because there's too much ammo, no balance between weapons, and every level ends up the same because all the crescendo events take the same basic form. L4D2, in my mind at least, fixes all of these problems and provides more variety. I believe it's everything L4D should have been the first time around. So I'm not disappointed that L4D2 exists; I'm disappointed that L4D1 exists in what feels to me like such an unpolished form.

-Second the sentiment on WWII being sanitized in our collective consciousness. To anyone who disagrees, my response is Dresden.

-I agree with the sentiment that linear form gets a bad rap. However, I will say that some genres are much better suited to it than others. The more JRPGs I play (and believe me, I've played a ton, particularly when I was in junior high) the more I feel that linear form is unsuited to the RPG genre. In part this is due to the perhaps unnecessarily heavy dialogue in JRPGs, but also the gameplay itself is generally much slower-moving. JRPGs feel long. They take 40 hours to get through when it could have taken only 20-25 sometimes, very similar to Metal Gear (Solid) games in that respect. The longer I play games, the more I feel the Western approach to providing a plot and setting for games with RPG mechanics is appropriate. (Although I'm not sure what I think about the FPS-RPG, but that's for another time.)

avixe said...

System Shock 2 came out in 1999, and I think it clearly usurps Bioshock on that list. In fact, it's basically explained that Bioshock placed because it resurrects SS2. Come on.

Paul said...

I'm glad to see you linking to Kyle's pieced on L4D2 because it too surprised me.

I have to agree with Steve, however, in that GH/RB should have been left off the list as the only real influence they've had is in creating clones of themselves. He mentions in the comments that he feels the same about Wii Sports and I have to agree on that account. It's possible the influence of those games haven't been fully realized as of yet, so perhaps we can throw their omission back in his face a few years down the line. You know, when the motion controlled, rhythm sports games become popular.