New New News

I’ve been making some adjustments regarding my relationship to social media lately. I talk about it a little bit in my critique of Mountain, the new work from multimedia artist David OReilly. There is nothing to “do” in Mountain, and as such it provides me immense relief.

I’ve finished a draft of a new ebook, a sort of diary of my thoughts and conversations on the game industry, pinned to a week of traveling to and from this year’s Game Developers Conference. I’m editing it now and as I’m self-publishing this time I’m not sure yet when it’ll launch, but the exciting thing for me is I’ve hired Liz Ryerson to contribute art for the cover. My long-term plan involves self-publishing long-form work that also allows me to pay people whom I admire and want to promote, and I’ll be able to tell you more about that soon.

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve been able to do a new Lo-Fi Let’s Play — the last one was on Chuck Sommerville and Joseph Dudar’s Gruds in Space, where we watch the Apple IIe draw lonesome, Saturnine landscapes and learn to manipulate teleport controls. There’ll be a new one as soon as I have spare time, but in the meanwhile I was lucky to get a second-hand copy of Bob Redrup’s classic Adventure Gamer’s Manual, and have been digging into the fascinating design of traditional adventure games (the complicated text puzzles which preceded the “put souffle on atomizer” school of LucasArts and Sierra stuff that people normally think of as “adventure games”). I’ll be doing more coverage of these designs because I think they’re amazing, along with interviews from folks that worked in that era.

I have been revisiting Final Fantasy X, and wrote a piece on the JRPG heyday and what all us stormy kids got out of these pretty-looking games about running around the world map and opening treasure chests. 

Not long ago I went to Brighton to visit The Chinese Room, who’s currently developing Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. I learned a lot about the studio — brilliant folks who have a great attitude to culture — as well as the game itself. It’s melancholy, “very very English” “cozy catastrophe fiction.”

In this interview I talked with Michael “Brainy Gamer” Abbott (making a much-welcomed return to the writing space!) Robin Hunicke and Ricky Haggett about creating joy in games — Michael did some interesting research of the imagery shown at E3 and found a predominance of violent imagery as a sort of shortcut to intensity and “maturity”, but can joy be another quality of adulthood?

Current obsession: Blendo Games’ Quadrilateral Cowboy. It’s so excellent — read this interview. And it’s not the only game about coding and hacking within the game world I’m excited about. This is kind of a “thing” right now — although driven heavily by story, Erik Svedang & Niklas Akerblad’s Else Heartbreak uses a similar “feature”. Read that one, too. I can’t stop looking at Else Heartbreak’s imagery — I want it, in a sort of “it’s 1999 and I have a Dreamcast and I saw some pictures in a magazine” kind of way, and that almost never happens to me anymore.

Pitched in on the news at Shut Up & Sit Down earlier this week. It’s summer in London and I just want to go to the pool, but the Yelp reviews for the one near me are very depressing.