Hard to believe the year's almost over. I've got Assassin's Creed II still to play, and then that's probably it, even though there are several intriguing games I missed from 2009. The year-end period is always hectic and exciting, this year more than most. But there's always time to spotlight some blog posts that are worth reading.
-Ben Abraham's Permanent Death series is now available in collected form. Permanent Death - The Complete Saga is a 341-page PDF, complete with screenshots on every page, and a foreword by Clint Hocking. It's a great package, wonderfully presented, and I know it was a labor of love. I'm sure there would be all kinds of legal thorny issues involved with trying to profit off of this, but if you enjoy it there's no reason you can't chip in to fly Ben to GDC.
-Chris Dahlen's best of the decade list turns into a paean to Valve, which the company richly deserves. I agree with everything he says, and I would add that Valve seems to have internal quality-control standards that they ought to be sharing with other companies. Not only has the company never released a bad game, but they've also never released a game before it was ready, and when the waits for their games have seemed interminable, they have always also been justified by the end product. I have to think that's due to the corporate culture as much as anything.
-I enjoyed Brandon Sheffield's interview with Tetsu Takahashi about localizing Western games for the Japanese market on its own merits, but mostly I appreciated it alerting me to Ratchet's giant eyebrows in Japan.
-Jorge at Experience Points writes about the trend of setpieces in games, which replaces continuous, repetitive gameplay segments with shorter, self-contained, and scripted scenes. The setpiece approach is one I always like, even if it does result in shorter single-player campaigns. Also interesting to note is that watching just a minute-long clip of Uncharted 2 provokes an uncontrollable urge to play Uncharted 2.
-I liked a recent Hardcasual post titled "Samus Checks Map Again," but you should also read Chris Dahlen's Edge column about Hardcasual. Strangely, it lacks any mention of my publicly shaming them into relaunching the site last year.
-Tom Armitage pulls a lengthy Dave Eggers quote about the importance of creating art, and the pernicious influence of the critic. I can't argue the substantive argument, that sometimes you should put your nuts on the tracks and have the courage to create something. But there's always an undercurrent to comments like this that criticism serves no useful role, which I don't agree with. More to the point, I get the sense that somebody said something mean about something Dave Eggers did, and rather than deal with it he wants to invalidate the person's right to say it. Especially the part about "do not dismiss a book until you have written one," and so on -- that is the laziest, most kneejerk defense against criticism that I have ever read, and I would have thought that Dave Eggers was too smart to make it. Presumably you're allowed to praise a book even if you haven't ever written one, and specifically Dave Eggers' books.