Round Table, September of 2009: The Sight and the Fury

Isn’t That Spatial? Every video game has certain benefits and constraints in the way it represents space. Interaction fiction, arcade titles, 2D side-scrollers, isometric RPGs, and first person shooters all have advantages and disadvantages to how they deal with space–some technical in nature, some design-based. This month’s topic invites you to explore the ways games have represented the spatial nature of their storyworlds and what this does for the audience experience. Is it possible to ignore the constancy of spatial relationships in a graphical game? What would such a game look like? Are there ways of representing spatial relationships that we haven’t explored? Do you have ideas for games that could intentionally twist the player’s perception of space, or do you want to write about a game that already has?

Ah, the round table starts again! As good an excuse as any to start posting again, I suppose.

One thing that always fascinated far more the actual space of a game was how that space was presented. The simple fact is since most videogames are very strongly related to each other* there is already a very informal understanding of how different mechanics interact with the space that they are placed in. Indeed, there are several games now that could not exist without the developers having a solid understanding of the spatial relations of their systems**. While this is a fascinating topic, I would like to talk about something that is often lost amid all the talk of level design; camera design.

To most, the camera is a throw-away detail, another bulletpoint on the back of the box to further refine it's genre and clarify just what it's competing against in the market. This attitude is, to be blunt, fucking incompetent. That's a like a fucking movie buff coming out and saying, 'Movies aren't about camera's, they're about STORY'. fucker would look like a damn idiot. How we presented with something is just as, if not MORE, important than what that thing actually is***. To wit; God of War, as a system, is pathetic. The combat is shallow at best, and relies on QTE's to achieve even a semblance of the visceral quality of, say, DMC3. Yet, it is an inarguably brilliant game. It flows brilliantly, knows when to accelerate, when to de-accelerate, when to stop, to turn, and even to go in circles. This is caused by many factors****, but the one that EVERYONE ignores is how God of War presents itself. I'm not talking about the context; the gods, the myths, the monsters and whatnot. No, I mean the way that GoW allows you to see it. Let me put it like this;

God of War is the ONLY game that has a good camera.

What does this mean? It means that God of War knows HOW TO PRESENT ITSELF. It makes sure that you only capture it's 'Good Side'. God of War is a self aware game, not in the post-modern Lost Levels/MGS sense, but in the craftsmanship sense. Here is a game that is aware that people OTHER than the level designers will be looking at it, It takes pains to remove the camera control from you, not to put it in fucking worthless positions in the name of 'horror', or 'tension', but in the name of letting you have on less thing to worry about. To be clear, one can make a game that is all about wrestling with what it is possible to seen on-screen. This game has been made, and it is called Space Giraffe. However, every other game is NOT about wrestling with the camera/colors on-screen. God of War realized this, and thusly had the balls to move past the Miyamoto kludge of player-controlled camera.

Imagine that. A game that improves on a Miyamoto construct.

There's another post there...somewhere.

*The much derided 'Lack of Innovation'
**Imagine Gears without cover.
***The Moral of Advertising. Use it. Know it. Hate it.
****A respect for the player, an understanding of the shallow-ness of their combat, a legitimately interesting story and characters, COLORS, etc.


Three things...

In the Imagine Cup again.

Making a game about taxes.

I think I like Giga Wing better than DoDonPachi and Mars Matrix.


Wrote an ABDN review...

On Space Giraffe! YEAH!

Here it is!


Blue Skies in Videogames

I really like blue skies in videogames. They are a path, not a destination.


All our dreams are over now...

Both summer goals are gone. God Hand hard is to much. So is KH2.

Need a 360 joystick.

SF4 is a great videogame, but a cowardly design. This is the follow up to SF3? Pathetic.

Mark of the Wolves is also great.

DoDonPachi is also great.

Mars Matrix is brilliant.

God Hand, alas poor God Hand...

We knew thee far to well. Indeed, who amongst us has not played God Hand? For you need not to have put the physical disc into physical hardware to have played this sweet game.

Has thou played A Brawler?
Thou has played God Hand.

Has thou played A Fighting Game?
Thou has played God Hand.

Has thou played Mario?
Thou has played God Hand.

Has thou played an Honest to God Videogame?
Thou has most definitely played God Hand.

To play God Hand, to truly PLAY it, to see it's intricacies, to TASTE it's punches, it's kicks, is to KNOW it.

Here stands a game you know without playing.

Some do not get God Hand. We dare not speak their names, not in it's presence. For other games, for dare we say, LESSER games, the Player 'Not-Getting-It' is a Grade-A Design Flaw; indeed, it is a flaw bordering on a felony, and even the best of us are guilty**. But here, for God Hand, Not-Getting-It speaks ill not of the Game, but of the Gamer. For you see, God Hand is enlightenment; there is nothing to get. The meaning is clear. There is no obtuseness, to hidden messages*, no meaning in the 'artistic' sense. And yet, it is art.

But we digress.

God Hand is game, a game about a Dude with an Awesome Arm That Can Beat Up Everyone. And so he does. He punches, kicks, and punches his way through demon after demon after super-demon after demon.

Has thou read xkcd? Between the half-clever math jokes, underneath the Calvin-and-Hobbes-lite, just to the left of the Lonely Geek, there is an idea for a videogame. River Tam Beats Up Everyone.

GENTLEMEN! BEHOLD! The Power of God Hand! Having never played it, this man, this Guy-Who-Makes-xkcd UNDERSTANDS GOD HAND. Such is the power of God Hand.

But wait...it occurs to us that this game...this game that the Guy-Who-Makes-xkcd has thought about...it might even be BETTER than God Hand. Think of it man; the sprawling city of GTA, the delicious mechanics of God Hand.

"But what of Level Design?" you ask?

LEVEL DESIGN IN GOD HAND!?!?! You miserable, insufferable fool! It is the Halo of Brawlers; it needs no level design! Just throw dude/ette(s) into a room, THAT's your fucking level design. Just place a 'checkpoint' at every intersection of streets, and at every door, and that's plenty of 'level design'

Even while we ponder a videogame superior to God Hand, we must marvel at the POWER OF GOD HAND. A game so AWESOME, so BRILLIANT, it contains WITHIN IT, the keys to a STILL BETTER GAME. Some ask for the Citizen Kane of Videogames; gentlemen, we have been gifted with the Deep Thought of Videogames***.

And it was outsold by Kingdom Hearts 2.

*At least, none where there should not be.
**Fighting Games, I'm looking at you. Mark of the Wolves, you are excused.
***Alas, Douglas, you were taken from us far to soon!


So I got around the playing The World Ends With You...

So here I am. Listenin to Funcrusher Plus, and thinking about The World Ends With You. It wasn't supposed to be like this. I was supposed to mock TWEWY. I tried. I mean, fuck, I hated Kingdom Hearts 2. I hated it soooo hard. I played that game to like, 89% completion, that's how hard I hated it. I needed to be sure that there wasn't shit left. I needed to be sure that there was nothing there.

And TWEWY shows me that there was.

So let’s back the fuck up, and start with...eh...coin says KH2. Let’s roll with that. I guess I can try, but fuck, what hasn't been said? Calling that game shit is an affront to Tubgirl. I mean really, there are games that are simplistic, and then there's KH2. There simply NOTHING GOING ON. Yes, I hit X. Yes, sparks flew. Sure, occasionally I hit /\. Sure, fancy sparks flew. But did shit really happen? Did anything really go down? Did the world feel me? Did the enemies feel me? Fuck, did I feel me? No. Nothing was felt be ANY agent that was within that system. There was only empty smashing of worthless buttons, to propel characters noone likes through environments noone loves, to fight enemies that envy the compelling design of the CUBICLE.

But the thing is...when you start to look...and I mean REALLY REALLY look...there's some shit there. There really is. Like the secret reports. Don't know about those? I didn't either, till like, 60% completion or whatever. I didn't keep a journal, but that number sounds about right, so let’s just say I did.

Anyway, these secret journals, they're like exposition. Now true, it's exposition about KH2, but still, there's no reason that other, good games couldn't implement this. I mean, it's almost like the end sequence of Braid, where you're hiding Tim to reveal the 'truth'. You see, the genius of that sequence is simply the fact that, at that point, the games has you by the metaphorical tits. Oh sure, you think that it's just your own curiosity...but lets be frank. Those books outside those levels. You don't HAVE to read them...but you always do. Even when you know what they say, you read them. BECAUSE THEY'RE FUCKING THERE. And shit, once that game has got you reading the books inside it, it's over baby. The ghost has more than simply given himself up, the fucker has taken a fucking plea deal and is getting off with some motherfucking probation.

You see, the secret reports are like Braids books. There if you want them, and sooner or later, you want them. To quote a man of infinite wisdom

"Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday. Later that day..."

Now once again, the chief problem with KH2 implementation of the secret reports is simply the fact that IT'S EXPOSITION ON KINGDOM HEARTS 2 STORY. I mean, if you thought the main game was turgid, man, wait till you get a full frontal blast of the EXPOSITION.

But let’s link this to TWEWY. You see, the thing is that the people in TWEWY? You actually care about them. You really like them. Unlike the characters in KH2, whom only grow like a tumor you wish wasn't there, the characters in TWEWY grow like a fungus you learn to love. Shit even Joshua, the snobby shit who winds up being like, God or something, you kinda like by the end of the whole thing. And while the game certainly doesn't end with a cliffhanger, it does kinda leave you wondering, not WHAT happened, but rather, HOW. And that’s what them reports are all about. The HOW. Sure, there's some world building shit, and you lap it right up, cause you're caught by the tits, etc., but you're there to find out how that ending went down behind the scenes.

So how do you unlock these reports? Here's where the shit starts to get REALLY sharp. You see, you unlock them by replaying the same levels you just beat, but now you have to find some secret shit, or face some secret bosses, or other shit like that. The REAL kicker is that you get to keep all your badass leveled up shit! The secret items always have cute clues, eliminating the Pig Noise is actually kinda fun once you realize that it's more a bonus level than free shit, and the bosses...okay, some of the bosses are REAL motherfucking pains. And this is because of...


Oh man, they nearly had it. I mean really man, they were like 2 fucking yards from the Inzone of Awesome Combat*. So combat is crazy. Basically, since the whole theme of the game is friendship, you control two character at the same time. On the bottom screen, you get to play as Neku, your emo protagonist who learns to open up eventually, yadda-yadda, anyway, that game stays the same at all times. You run around, and attack, USING ONLY THE TOUCH SCREEN. Basically, you can equip pins, and each pin uses different touch command to do its thang**. For the most part, these motions are not problematic; The scratching is kinda a pain, the press ones take to long, etc., but these aren't major. Naw, the REAL problems come with moving Neku. Like I said, you can only use the Touch Screen, as your partner needs the buttons. So what you gotta do is drag Neku. Now, the thing is that the arena you're in is ISOMETRIC. Look, can we just stop making Isometric games already? I mean, the fact is that they made Neku so small, so they could fit more shit on screen, and sometimes when you got drag him, you can't hit him cause his hitbox is fucking retarded...and when you factor in the perspective fuckery that can happen when you miss a drag...argh. Just argh.

So hey, the top screen. It's got your partner. Now each partner technically has their own separate little subgame, but each one is basically the same. Navigate through a combo map to reach the panel you want. One has you play memory, one has you playing it 'High or Low' and another has you play a 2d hexic. Each one is nice and satisfying, at least when the enemies don't get in the way...

And so we come to the enemies. Both the games' weakest and strongest element. Much like DMC3, the best enemies can more or less be classified as two types; heavy and light. Light enemies can be interrupted by really an attack. The best strategy against these guys is to keep the hits coming, which is convenient, as keeping the hits coming is kinda what I'm there to do. Anyway, the second type of enemy is much harder to interrupt. Heavies simply don't go down like no bitches. If you wanna interrupt these guys, you gotta work for it. You’re thinking to grizzlies, and the annoying as fuckall rhinos. And the Elephants, ohgod, the Elephants.

Once again cribbing from DMC3, some the best bosses can probably be easiest to classify as 'light'. The Uzuki fights, the Beat fights, the Koki fights, the Uzuki AND Koki fights, the Megumi fight...all these are in essence 'mirror matches'***. you face an enemy this more or less you. You got a Partner? They do too! You got a light puck that multiplies your attack? They do too! You can interrupt their attacks with really basic shit? They can do the same to you! It's these fights that keep me coming back, isometry notwithstanding****.

But alas, all cannot always be well. There are some enemies that, while not BAD are certainly lesser. The boomerang crabs are super fucking annoying, what with the quick ass knockdown that they spam like fucking hell. The frogs that get healed by all attacks Neku uses...the last boss, with it screen-spanning faggotry...the Iron Maiden boss fight...the Elephants, ohgod, the Elephants...so terrible. To be honest, if it wasn't for these bosses I would honestly not believe that the dude who did KH2 did this game too. I mean, they just are soooo reminiscent of the worst of KH2 bosses. Flashy, showy, and coated in a thick layer of fecal matter.

And yeah, I didn't mention the Trends system, or the pin evolution, and that's because both those concepts are kinda stupid. The Trends simply don't give enough benefit or penalty to really bother with, and the pin evolution is really just a goddamn hassle. Just something as easy as letting me STOP THE EVOLUTION OF A PIN would go miles.

So it's not perfect. It misses tons and tons, AND TONS of details. I mean, I haven't really gone into some of the REALLY bad enemies, haven't talked about the spritework, the soundtrack, the overworld map...each one of varying quality. Shit I haven't even touched the leveling system, which is nothing short of motherfucking brilliant, and should be stolen RIGHT FUCKING NOW by EVERY RPG FOR THE REST OF TIME. You can LOWER YOUR LEVEL TO GET BETTER LOOTZ!!!1 JESUS CHRIST, if that’s not at least HALF as sharp as ONE LEVEL of Bangai-O Spirits, I don’t know what is.

But I get ahead of myself. The important thing is that, if the KH2 dude doesn't totally get it yet, which he probably doesn’t, he knows someone who does.

And that alone is reason to hope. Maybe FF13 won’t be all that bad…


…I mean…12 almost kicked ass…



*SEE: Godhand, DMC3, SF3
**Not at all related to its thing.
***SEE: DMC3 Vergil boss fights, holy shit those were great.
****Dodging some of Beats moves is a real hassle without any good perspective. AOE is hard to determine in Isometric games.


I wrote a really bad Space Giraffe review. I am tempted to post it, simply to motivate myself to write a better one.

I also wrote a review of The World Ends With You. That one is better. I will post that one right after this.

I am playing KH2 to 100% completion. I will then review it. This is summer goal number one.

Summer goal number two is to beat God Hand on hard. I might write a review before that though.

BONUS: Guess which review will be positive, and which one negative!

I love punk music. I really, really do.


So I got around to playing Space Giraffe...

And I'd love to publish the review!


Blogger doesn't support Wingdings as a font!

Anyway I get Wingdings, or an equivalent symbol font to work?


So anyvay...


Also, DMC3 post...maybe...


This is how videogames should be/

"What did Washington say to his men before crossing the Delaware?"
"Get in the boat."

Round Table, April '09: I gotta game for you...

DISCLAIMER: I'm coming off a sugar high, and haven't slapped the wonder weasel in three days. Also, this. Can you fucking believe that? I can't. Not really. I need to come to grips with it. And whatdaya know, you want a game. And I, as a game designer, come to grips with my world by making video games.

We can work this out.

Okay, so it's called Betrayal. It's in three (3) acts. Three, because if it's good enough for Miyamoto, it's good enough for our sorry asses. So three acts. Grab your blow, this is gonna get silly.

ACT 1:

You're in your apartment. Your character is watching TV. You are looking through the eyes of your character. Two people on the TV are talking. Text scrolls all over them, under them, on top of them, beneath them. The information is coming, not in floods, but in worthless pittances, enough to keep your head just informed ENOUGH so that your character knows what they are talking about. You don't. The text is in a nonsense language. The people are talking nonsense words, but man, they're talking that nonsense with such passion. Your character mumbles their nonsense. Maybe he agrees with the one on the left? The right? What about the guy who they occasionally cut to? What's that fuckers problem? His nonsense words seem different from everyone else's nonsense words, and fuck if they don't know it, and hate it. They hate their nonsense being intruded upon by this other fuckers nonsense, and it seems like after a while, they (the initial fuckers) ignore him (the fucker-they-sometimes-cut-to). Your character mumbles their nonsense, laughs, mumbles, YELLS, mumbles.

You hit space.

Your character groans.

You hit space again.

Your character stands.

Your character finally says something that makes sense. "Need some food."

You walk to the fridge. Your character trudges along, mumbling the nonsense, yelling the nonsense, laughing the nonsense. E to interact with fridge. E to eat from fridge.

There is a knock on your door.

"Your building is burning down."


Your character walks to the door, no nonsense pouring forth from his mouth, only the slight flip of his flops to fill the void.

The TV is silent.


"A while." says the man at the door. He hands you an extinguisher. "You take the left side."

The camera pulls out. Your character is in his boxers, with willy pink and blue flip-flops. Not attire with which to fight a fire. You turn around, to get decent, and see your apartment in flames, the TV completely wasted.

"Let's GO!" the impatience in clear.

And so you go. As you move down the halls together, you fight the fire, but only in a Rear-Guard action it is to pervasive, to massive to truly take down, with only the two of you. As you two move on, he knocks on doors, and invites you to do the same. Sometimes you can here the nonsense coming full blast from behind the closed doors.

These ones you learn not to waste time on.

Some you can here knocking on their own doors.

These ones you learn not to pass up.

The more people you get, the more your party grows, and the more extinguishers you have to wield. But alas, the hallways grow to, from narrow corridors, to sweeping arches. Soon, they are not even hallways, but rather ballrooms, with pillars falling, and fires consuming. You fight, back to back, shoulder to shoulder, cheek to jowl, any body part to any other fucking body part, as long as the fucking fire stays back you don't even give a fuck. The fire must be halted.

And above all, no nonsense. From anyone.

You make it out.

And when you do, there she is...THE FIRE HYDRANT. The initial dude, the one that saved you busts out some hoses**, and yall take that motherfucking fire down. It fights, it wimpers, and it rages, but you kill it slowly, surely, and inexorably. It feels good.

"This will never happen again." No one said it. Everyone said it. No one disagrees.


You're in your knew, awesome, high-end apartment. Everyone you saved is there, and man, things are looking good! You just gotta keep the drinks flowin, and the food cookin. Awww yeah. It's gonna be a party toNITE!

People are talkin, but man, ain't no nonsense to be heard. They're talkin about real shit, about fire safety, and lax building standards, and poor fire department equipment. REAL SHIT.

So you do your host thang, keepin on keepin on. You can't really join in on a talk, but man, the sound to no-nonsense is just so beautiful, it a wonder simply to be near it. Eventually, when your score is high enough***, everyone huddles around the TV. When you approach, they let you get to your seat, right in front of the BIG SCREEN TV BABY! YEAH!

You sit, and wait.

The people are back on, back with their nonsense. You grin. Their time is short.

On come the Man-With-The-Equipment. The Man-With-The-Plan. Your man.

Their nonsense reaches historic proportions. It's as if they can sense that their world is about to come crumbling down. The moment of truth is at hand. He opens his mouth.

Out comes nonsense.

You hit space.

Your character groans.


So hey, Obama released some DOJ memos today. But he all but swore not to prosecute the CIA officials responsible...but he seems to have left the door open to prosecution of Bush officials...hmm...I'd add a new act, but I really just wanna wait to see where this goes.

*As of this moment, there's like, one RPG in the Round Table? Tops? WAY TO GO PEEPS! Also, this design is soooooo good. Seriously, I think I'm love with a game that hasn't been made yet.
**Man, this motherfucker comes prepared! Endless extinguishers, and hoses?
***It'll be a simply but deep system of combos and the like. Something crunchy.


Just like a real RPG!



You know what I fucking love? ACT Uno!

Me: PAC-MAN. Holy shit, I love Pac-man. I mean jesus. Fucking Pac-man. Have you played that shit? Fuck yeah you have, or at least, if you haven't, you'd never admit it*, CAUSE IT'S MOTHERFUCKING PAC-MAN. You know what was great about Pac-man?

Some Dude: The pellets?

Me: FUCK NO**! Not the pellets. That shit was stupid. Fuck the pellets. Seriously, what did they ever do for you man?

Some Dude: Weren't they how you got score?

Me: Well yeah, but shit, it was the 90's. You can't hold it against Pac-man for making fucking pellets raise you score. Sheesh man, you're cold, holding pellets against Pac-man.

Some Dude: I'm not holding it against Pac-man, I'm just saying that they were awesome. Like, the big ones we the best-


Some Dude: but the small ones were awesome too. They were the point of the game!

Me: No they fucking weren't! They were incidental, like some stain on your favorite shirt. I mean, you're not going to fucking throw away the whole damn shirt over one stupid fucking stain, are you?

Some Dude: Yeah, actually I would.

Me: Man, you're fucking cold. You'd throw away all of Pac-man, just over the pellets?

Some Dude: What? No! I don't think the pellets are bad at all, they're just-

Me: You know what, why don't you just shut the fuck up! You wouldn't know good game design if it came up to you in a tea cozy and asked you find the Light of Zarthon! So just sit down, and shut up, cause you're about to get some motherfucking GAME DESIGN.



Some Dude: -stains on a shirt, you went through this-

Me: -SHUTIT! They are like stains on a shirt! They are meaningless! Pac-man is about one thing, and one thing only. And that thing is...drumroll please.

Some Dude: **Stare blankly**

Me: The huntER, becoming the huntED! It's about that interplay, that fascinating dynamic that exists, TO THIS FUCKING DAY, only in Pac-man. I mean, what the fuck? You've got like, a metric fuck-ton of games about fucking JUMPING but like, two (2)
about the HuntER-ED dynamic. I mean really. What the fuck?

Some Dude: Well shit Me, people got lot's of fond memories of Mario. They spent large parts of their childhoods with that plumber. You can't discount that.

Me: And so what, people didn't spend time with Pac-man?

Some Dude: Well no, I'm not saying that, I'm saying that when you, like, look at what those respective properties have become, I mean shit, they're still making Mario games! They probably always will! But Pac-man, I mean shit, even he's gotten into the platforming biz! That's where the money is man! People want to be happy, they want to play like they did as kids, and jumping in videogames does that for them.

Me:...so that's what this is about.

Some Dude: What's about?

Me: Money. You filthy fucking whore. MONEY!? We've got a fucking GOLDMINE of GAME DESIGN, and you're concerned about how it's going to look for your Q4 profit margin? Are you smoking something shit for brains? I'm talking about a quantum motherfucking leap, and you're sitting here pissing your pants about your margins! FUCK YOU MAN!

Some Dude: That's not what it's about Me, you know tha-

Me: NO! You do NOT get to tell ME what this is about! You are not worming your way out of this one! Just because you love videogames as I do, you think I'm going to fucking forgive forever? You think I'm going to ignore the savage RAPING you are giving MY medium? Are you for real? Are you cereal? ARE YOU MOTHERFUCKING CEREAL, SHITFORBRAINS!?

Some Dude: Now hold the FUCKING PHONE, when the the hell did it become YOUR medium! We're in this shit together man!

Me: It became MY fucking medium the same second it became your fucking medium: SOTC, second boss, across the narrow bridge. You remember that shit?

Some Dude: Well yeah-

Me: Do you motherfucker? Cause I'm still talking about that shit, and you're talking about your fucking margins, like our medium gives a flying fuck about your MARGINS.

Some Dude: Well shit, if we go the fuck outta business, there won't be no medium will there?

Me: Fuck yes there will still be medium! You think you're necessary for videogames? You ain't shit! You and me, we're going to be fucking footnotes to this shit, you dig? If we pull this off, we'll be nothing more that fucking scholar-wank fodder? You think your MARGINS are gonna save gaming? You think you damn TPS REPORTS are gonna drag our ass into the spotlight, were we can start doing real shit? What the fuck are you on? You're up here **Point to the skies** while I'm down here **point to the Earth**. You're over there with your TPS-DICKHAT, while I'm trying to advance our fucking medium into the future, but talking about a long fucking forgotten piece of brilliance, and your shit-faced-face is over here talking about how that won't sell to our demographics! I'm talking about how Pac-man was a fucking, and still is mind you, was a fucking revolution! I'm talking about how we can use that BRILLIANCE, and distill it to use into our GAMES now, so we can ADVANCE, and move FORWARD, and start doing some FUCKING CRAZY-AWESOME SHIT, and you're up there **Sky again** in fucking CEO land, pissing you pants over how you're gonna market this shit? I fucking hate you!

Some Dude: If you hated me, you wouldn't talk to me.

Me: ...



Some Dude: **Offer kleenex**

Me: **Take kleenex, wipe tears** Wanna talk about Pac-man?

*We gamers are a funny lot, are we not?
**Imagine I say that w/ a Scottish accent. It's 73% more funny.


Just to get this outta the way;



GOW2 post forthcoming. That is all.



Gotta get this outta the way...

First thing; see that post down there? The one that ends with the whimper? You know the one I'm talking about, it's like 2 posts down. For the record, I had a bitchin' ending to that one, but when I hit submit, FUCKING BLOGGER ATE MY FUCKING POST. No really, it was sooooo bad-ass. Argh, it frustrates us!

Also, have you seen Add-Art? This is suck a fucking good idea, I wanna make sweet, sweet love to the dude/ette(s) who thought it up. Seriously.


Did you know...

That despite being fascinated by Mirror's Edge when I saw some real early screen shots, I haven't played it yet, and I'm not really interested in doing so anytime soon?

Am I this fickle? Have my tastes evolved/transfigured so far in what seems like such a small amount of time?

Or did PA's talking about it make me realize that it was yet another case of a game not knowing what made it good, and thus uninteresting to me? Maybe I should play it anyway, to see how you move through that world, because shit, that's why I was interested to begin with?

...When does it hit the bargain bin?

Oh. Poop.

My previous post referenced my Braid post. I have not posted this Braid post. Like many posts, it lies in my drafts folder, forgotten. It is forthcoming.

Wait. No. I did actually post it! So why the fuck was it in my drafts folder?


Just real quick...

I wanna apologize for all those small little nothing posts. I'm trying to change my habits you see, and I figure the best way to do that is to take myself outside of my comfort zone.

But anyway, this post has a real point. No seriously. I just now came to a realization; The reason I love Braid.

Now, normally* I would start talking about the fucking beautiful environments, or the fucking incredible level design, or any of that shit. Basically, I'd start talking about all the shit I talked about in my Braid post.

That post is now obsolete**.

I love Braid because, LIKE Shadow of the Colossus, it is undeniably brilliant, but UNLIKE Shadow of the Colossus, it is NOT undeniably awesome.

Think about when you played SotC***. Think about the overwhelming awesome. Everything was so perfect, not even the crappy frame rate could bring you down****. You saw Wanderer put the chick on the altar, and BAM!, voice from the skies. You got your freedom, and OHSHIT!, you found a Colossus. You shanked the bitch, and FUCK!, you killed it. Each point, you lacked the words to properly describe. You couldn't put this in terms of the other games you've played*****. You were used to games where explosions were GOOD. Where killing bosses was AWESOME. WTF was up with all this feeling bad shit? Fuck these EMOTIONS. FUCK THEM...

Why can't you put this shit down?

...why wouldn't these SOB's just fucking die already? How many times you gotta shank a fuckers magical weak point before s/he gets the message?


...and lastly...


SotC man, it was just to much. I mean, I remember playing it and thinking, Shit, this belongs in my Pantheon of Awesome Games(tm)...but where? Shit, it makes everything else look like crap coming outta monkey's head!

But Braid ain't like that, is it? It's manageable. See, SotC was all about making you feel small. It was about a BIG land, with BIG monsters, and SWEEPING vistas, and shit like that. It was COLOSSAL*******. Every time you killed one of those colossal fuckers, man, it felt like something between a miracle, hard work, and crippling sadness. Compared to them, you were just some random fucker with a magic sword, some arrows, and a horse.

Braid was more...familiar. You weren't small. You weren't puny. You were TIM! The whole fucking world bent to your whims. It was like Mario man! Not just the surface shit, about princesses and crap like that. It was the guts; the fact that the whole world really rotated around YOU. It was made for YOU. YOU were in the drivers seat. YOU had the power...or rather...TIM had that power. You controlled Tim, true, but you WERE NOT TIM. You watched him. You ordered him around. You killed him. You brought him back to life. You shared some of his trials. But you were not at all Tim. You were looking for the princess, sure, but only because that's what Tim happened to be doing when your bitch ass came along. The fucker could want a god-damn sandwich for all your sorry ass cared. As long as you got that sweet, sweet level design lovin', it was all good baby.

But SotC? You WERE Wander. You had to become that motherfucker, you had to take up his cause, just to keep on keeping on. When Wander died, you died. When he fell, you fell.

And when Wander killed, you killed.

*ie, a couple of minutes ago.
**Not really, just a little bit. How can something be little obsolete you ask? YOUR FACE, that's how.
****This is one (1) of the only two (2) complaints I will listen to concerning SotC and take you seriously. See if you can guess what the other one is! It's like a game where you have to associate yourself with a vulgar, chronic-masturbating 19 year-old! Just like Xbox Live!
*****Unless you've played Another World, in which case, nice. Very nice.
******If we figure this out, ladies and gentlemen, we will be fucking golden.
*******Do you see what I did thar?


Turning Over a New Leaf

Turning Over a New Leaf: (We’re trying something new with the topic this month, so please read carefully.) February’s BoRT invites you take a game design suggested by another blogger in last month’s Round Table and build upon it. You should ignore the literary source of the original design, but attempt to communicate the same themes and/or convey the same mood as the proposed game. This means you can alter the game genre, change the setting, and add new layers to the game mechanics. This is not an opportunity to critique a previous design, but to honor it by striving to reach the same goals, while adding your own personal touch.

It's that time of month! No, not cry-into-ice-cream-with-The-Cure-on time, but Blog of the Round Table Time!

So, hey, nice topic. No really. It'll really get more of that yelling at other people feel that I love, as opposed to now, where it's mostly me yelling at...well, you I guess.

So hey, let's see what the submissions were for last round...what do I like...



FUCK YES. OH SWEET MERCIFUL ALLAH, YESSS!!! If that's the god-damn future, sign me the fuck up. I mean look at that design. Holy shit, that's clean. That some fucking antiseptic shit right there. No waste. No fluff. No goddamn mini-games, or power-ups, or anything. Just a nice clean...everything!

...I really have no way to improve upon it...I mean, as an idea, it all simply comes down to execution. If someone hasn't made this by the end of the Imagine Cup competition, which is what I'm doing right now, I WILL make this. Or at least, I'll try. Seriously, this needs to get made, like, NOW PEOPLE.

Okay, moving on. Another post I like, another post I like...hmmm...


O. M. G.

Who wrote this? A professor? Holy shit. This egghead knows more about fucking game design than most damn game designers! I mean, holy shit, it's like Dead Rising meets, Interesting Story. Now, I took a gander at his gamercard, and it doesn't even look like this guy has played Dead Rising. Shit on a motherfucking biscuit. I gotta put this guy in my Outlook RSS feeds man. Seriously.

But alas, we got ourselves some problems. The biggest one is the NPC's. Now I know that the whole point of last months round table was to imagine a game without current technological limits, but to me, that's a cop out. Games need to be played, and if they can't be made, then they sure as hell can't be played. Endless dialogue options? And we would need some kind of 'reputation' system, so the NPC would eventually realize the the player is being an annoying shit by asking all these questions...sounds like a whole can of worms. You're making work for yourself. Games are hard enough to make as is. DON'T MAKE MORE WORK FOR YOURSELF.

Another is your character. Does s/he have a family? Friends? I'm assuming the player has been a citizen of Thebes all his/her life. What about them? Another damn can of worms. It's the kind of design that starts to really fall apart when you really start asking questions. But nonetheless, I like where this is going. A lot. Let's see what we can do.

First thing, the character. I don't like having him/her be a citizen of Thebes. The plague thing I also don't like. Both seem like elements one MIGHT get right, if the stars were aligned, but it seems like you're making work for yourself. Both would take endless tweaking, and some real disbelief suspension from the player. Instead, lets have the player be some kind of messenger from the gods, or something.

No, wait. Not a messenger. Let's go with an entity sent by the gods to...do....what? I don't like the original designs 'hide the task' mentality, because once again, it's an element that you have to get EXACTLY right to pull it off. Once again, you're making work for yourself. Maybe some kind of vague instructions? Like 'find the truth?'...hmm....

Yeah, let's roll with that. Okay, so you're sent down from the heavens. What's our game gonna be. How's the player gonna move? What interactions, if any, will be available to the player? I always wanted to make a game where the only thing the player could do is LOOK...so lets make that the whole mechanic! You're this disembodied camera, floating around*, finding evidence of the truth. You start out in Thebes square, with the whole oracle scene, and then go from there. If you stick to the square, you'll more or less be treated to the whole play, start to finish. BUT, if you start moving around, you'll be able to follow the characters throught their day, see their interactions. See some 'off-stage' stuff that would obviously have to be handled carefully. you know, well-acted, well-written, well-animated, etc. I get the feeling that THIS will be the hardest part. So anyway, as you follow people, or not, you'll acculmulate EVIDENCE. Now obviously, you won't physically pick up this evidence, but you will sorta file it away. I'm thinking something along the lines of Assassin's Creed's whole sub-mission before the kill thing, where you ran around collecting information from people, only this time actually relevant and good and interesting, as opposed to fucking incompetent ass 'Collect the Flags!' shit the AS put you through**.

Now note that depending on who you follow, you could wind up with completely different, and even contradictory notes! This would be the whole point, as when the moment of truth arrives, the Gods will come down and ask you what really happened. You can either tell them what you think, or instead, tell them you need to see the whole thing again. They will oblige you, and send you back into time to the beginning, but this time with all your old notes. Now, you can follow through on leads that you didn't have time for last time around.

So yeah. Not really an RPG anymore, but shit, it never really was one to begin with. More of an adventure game really, only interesting. No stupid, FIND THE BLUE KEY shit. Once again, it's all in the execution. The events that give you notes, the dialog, etc. To be frank, this is probably not a game I would ever make, for that reason alone. It would require a shit-ton of non-design work. A lot of acting, a lot of writing...actually, it doesn't sound that bad when I think about it. Short story of my life man.

*Much like the death cam in Counter-Strike
***I don't actually want to headbutt each of the designers of AS in the gut. But really. Flags?


Did you know that you can use the numbers 1,2, and 3 to change lanes in audiosurf?


Also, blog of the round table post coming.

Also, 360 has returned! Commence Space Giraffe!

Also, buttsecks. Heh. Buttsecks.

Also, Matt Taibbi is hardcore.

Also, I ran out of things to say.

Also, I am on a roll, and don't want to stop.


Putting the Game Before the Book, Part 2: Revenge of Bone

So hey, did ya hear? Blogs of the Round Table are allowing another post for this months theme! Yeah. Sweet, I know. This allows significantly more pontification on my part, with an air of legitimacy!

But wait! This fever/nausea! Will it spell doom for our intrepid blogging hero, in his quest to make the most awesome blog posts of all time? Yes.

Yes it will.

No seriously, you don't wanna be anywhere near this blog bro/bro-ette. I got like a mad case of sore throat/fever/nausea. It might be contagious.

But before you go, I was gonna probably talk about Bone. You know. BONE! Seriously, have you not read it? It's fucking sweet. Like ridiculously sweet. It's goddamn intimidating is what it is. While you got all these postmodern/dada/whatever-they-want-to-call-themselves-I-don't-give-a-fuck-anymore shitheads, and other fucks running around putting toilets in museums, or Brillo pads, or whatever the fuck they're doing now, I don't give a rat's ass, the thing is that you got THEM over THERE, with their MUSEUMS and CURATORS, and DEGREES and shit, from FANCY COLLEGES with their fucking TWEED JACKETED-PROFESSORS* and whatever other goddamn stereotypes you wanna perpetuate, I don't care, the point is that THEY are over THERE. You can't tell, because you can't see me, put I'm pointing off in some random fucking direction, it doesn't really matter, the point I'm trying to get across is that there are so far removed from REAL SHIT that they think they matter.

No wait. I think that's my point. Yeah. Yeah it is.

You got all these fucking shitty ass artists going nowhere and calling it POST-MODERISM** and whatnot, or SNARK, or whatever, I really don't care, the point is that they're stupid, and noone loves them. Oh yeah, people will buy their shit at auctions and whatnot, and they'll put that crap up in their fancy houses and sip FINE WINES and be all CULTURED and shit, but those fucks don't love the artist. Shit, they don't even love the art! They just love the STATUS, the DICKHAT, if you will, of having POST-MODERN or CONTEMPARY art in their emtpy lives, so that they can pretend that they have some kind of soul to thier existence. After all, they're involved in CULTURE.

Enter: Bone.

Bone is so goddamn intimidating, in much the same way that Shadow of the Colossus is intimidating. Both of those works are just so...


Think about that. In this fucking ''POSTMODERN'' age with the fancy ''INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY'' when was the last time you actually some a real thing that was...



No really. I'm not saying that our lives our over saturated with advertising, even though they are***, I'm just saying that there's not alot of calm in our lives. Now sure, some people blame the Internet, or TV, or whatever, but I propose something more simple; this is the way it's always been, only know someone actually bothered to write it down.

So anyway, you got our non-calm***** culture, our way of life if you will, and then you SotC, and Bone.

You see, one of the symptoms of this whole culture shit, is that so much of our art is also non-calm. Now some can pull this shit off. Like Bangai-O Spirits. Bangai-O Spirits can pull off not being calm. It's a fucking game ALL ABOUT blowing shit up. That's not a terribly calm activity******. But some shit, some shit just can't. It gets all neurotic and shit, and starts worrying and stressing about difficulty level, and about 'flow' and about 'are there enough power-ups?' and 'do we have an ice level?' and just stupid shit that gets them off track.

But Bone? Nah man. Bone ain't like that. Bone knows where it came from. Bone knows where it's going. Oh it's tense at times. At times the reader feels panic about what's going to happen next. But the piece as a whole doesn't stretch itself like most videogames, save SotC, do. It doesn't try so hard, and it doesn't make you feel almost bad for not liking it. Bone just does it.

Loving videogames sometimes feels like loving your kids kindergarden scribbles. Sure, Timmy couldn't color in the lines. So the kid likes blue. Big deal. I mean, come on, we should encourage creativity right?

And so you do. You just encourage little Timmy to just keep on bringing you those scribbles and whatnot, knowing that one day he'll grow out of it, and start bringing home better scribbles, till he moves on to stuff he really cares about, or finds that scribbling is what he loves, and just becomes and animator, or whatever.

But games, games feel like they're just not trying anymore. I mean Timmy, Timmy tries ya know? He's your kid, he wants to make you proud. But videogames, man, they do really even give a fuck about us anymore? I mean really. Another World War II shooter? Kingdom Hearts 2? For real? Are the serious? I mean, have these fucking developers played SotC? Have these shit-humping publishers even seen...like...shit, even fucking Dead Rising. Seriously, have these shit-for-hearts motherfuckers even once seen sum GOOD GAME DESIGN? Ever?

...oh shit, I was supposed to make game. Crap.

Okay so, Bone the Game...you know what? FUCK IT. To me, Bone isn't about the story*******, or the art********, or the characters*********, or any of that shit. It's about the aura a work of art can project. That self-assuredness without being a dick, that calm without being aloof, that relaxation while being tense. That's Bone. And I don't want to make ONE game that exhibits those traits. I want a million fucking games with those traits. I want to sing about those kinds of games from the rooftops, I want to run naked through the streets shrieking about those kinds of games, I want to cry myself to sleep playing those kinds of games, I want to SHOVE those kinds of GAMES under the NOSES of EVERY SINGLE SON OF A BITCH WHO DOESN'T UNDERSTAND VIDEOGAMES AND TELL THEM THAT THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE ABOUT.

Also, 'Inside the Actors Studio' has Conan O'Brien on, and there's no way in hell I'm gonna miss that.


*Note to self: Get tweed jacket. And monocle. And pipe.
*** They don't have to be, just do what I do and watch PBS. Seriously, Bill Moyers has the fucking biggest balls in journalism this side of Jon Stewart. And Kieth Olbermann. And Rachel Maddow****
****On an unrelated note, I am GAY FOR RACHEL MADDOW. Your regularly scheduled footnotes section will now return.
*****NOT anti-calm, mind you!
******Note to self: Make game where blowing shit up is calming.
*******Which is incredible.
********See: *******
*********See: ********


There already is a Bone videogame...crap. But wait! It's and adventure game! So I probably WOULD hate it, since the whole genre was merely a placeholder to begin with! So there.



My 360 Red-Ringed
Got Wii Fit.
Megaman 9 could be better.


Putting the Game Before the Book

Putting the Game Before the Book What would your favorite piece of literature look like if it had been created as a game first? In a time when bits of Dante’s Divine Comedy are being carved out and turned into a hack-n-slash game, I find myself longing for intelligently designed games–games with a strong literary component–not merely literary backdrops. So rather than challenge you to imagine the conversion of your favorite literature into games, I challenge you to supersede the source literature and imagine a game that might have tried to communicate the same themes, the same message, to its audience.

Another month, another Round Table. The joy cannot be contained!

So hey, this one is about LITERATURE, SO YOU KNOW IT'S FUCKING SERIOUS. So hey, let's go. Favorite book eh...hmm...

1984. Yeah, 1984. Either that, or Malcolm X, and I, as a stupid white dude, really shouldn't touch that from a game design perspective.

So, what's 1984 about? Most people would say 'Big Brother' and be done with it. These people would also make a game that's basically MGS on an endless mode, with a never-ending city that one constantly had to avoid police and the like in.

BUT 1984 IS NOT ABOUT BIG-FUCKING-BROTHER*. If you think 1984 is about Big Brother, there are two (2) possibilities

1) You have never read 1984. SHAME ON YOU. YOU CALL YOURSELF A CITIZEN OF A DEMOCRACY!?!?!11/?1*****
2) You have read 1984, and are merely and idiot. SHAME ON YOUR ENGLISH/LITERATURE TEACHERS.**

1984 is about LANGUAGE***. It's about how the easiest way to control thought is by making the thoughts you don't want thought IMPOSSIBLE TO PUT TO WORDS. If you don't have the WORDS for something, you can't TALK about it, and if you can't talk about your idea, you can't get it anywhere at all, can you****?

So now, we're not talking about Big Brother anymore. Forget it. Fuck the fucker. He's gone. We've moved on to LANGUAGE. So now, how do we make a game about language?

Lot harder now. Can't just rip off Kojima on a good day now, can we? Can we? No. We can't. This calls for some hard work. Some perseverance. Some INNOVATION.

Some motherfucking game design, bitches******.

So hey, make a game where you make a language. Not hard...right? I mean, first we would have to make some kind of system for understanding all current languages...aw shit. Sounds like some linguistic major shit.

You know what? Fuck it. 1984 is about Big Brother.*******

Lets go back to MGS endless, cause that just sounds awesome. I mean really, that's what I always hated about MGS. They just started moving so far from the STEALTH aspect. And moving through world. Man, that was some bullshit. I mean, look, just LOOK at how Snake moves. Does that say 'STEALTHY!' to you? No, it says 'I can't think of a better way for this dude to move, because my design is based off of a top-down MSX game.' Now I'm not saying that bringing ye-olden games into the modern age is a bad thing, but REALLY? You can't update the design to accommodate some better animations? REALLY?

So that'll be 1984. Just you, running through an ideally endless, randomly generated city, avoiding detection. But...what happens when you get detected? I mean, that's the REAL problem isn't it? Making the game react in a way that is internally consistent. So how, about when you get found, you can't take cover anymore. Instead, you character just starts running around and pissing his/her pants. Your control of them rapidly deteriorates as your avatar's panic rises. Like, you can point them in a given direction with your stick or whatever, but man, they're running so damn fast you can barely control the fucking camera, let alone that actual character!


Yeah. That sounds kinda nice...but it's not 1984...

Okay, back to language. 2-players. They agree on a 'neutral' sentence, pulled from the headlines or something.

'Today in the United States, there were widespread anti-abortion protests.'

So each player is given a position on this issue, and now has to make the headline support their cause, changing 1 word at a time. So the pro-abortion dude would have to make the headline say something like

'Today pro-life supporters rallied in support of human life.'

Okay fine, the first sentence has 9 words, and the second one has 8, but you see where I'm going right? You see, the problem with this is that while it kinda gets at some of the themes of 1984, it does so within the framework of a pre-existing language. There is no real potential for making up your OWN language to convey your OWN ideals, as given to you at the beginning of the game.

So maybe a game, where people are given a set of ideals, some words, and they each take turns shifting the language more towards their ideals?

But how would you measure that? Maybe you're given some kind of criteria for what words the language HAS to have, and you're given bonus points for having certain words...

But then, you've got the language, but not the applications of it. At this point, we're almost TO abstract.

So you would need two games running in parallel. One where people are making the language, another where people are using it. This would almost necessitate teams.

Oh shit! I accidentally arrived at an RTS I always wanted to make! Where each faction has both a commander and a resource-gather person. So like, in our language example. The language former person would be playing this kinda slow, tactical game where each move must be made carefully, because everyone uses the SAME language, and you only get one chance a round to change the lexicon as it were. But the other dude, he's playing this more intense game where the language in question is actually being used, and he needs MORE FIREPOWER CAPTAIN!

So hopefully you'll get this kinda nice tension within the team and between teams across both games.

So yeah. 1984, made into a party game, meets chess.


I think I lost something in the translation...

*But that game idea is solid. Really, endless modes in general are solid.
**After all, it's not your fault you're an idiot...is it?
***Yes, it's BOOK about LANGUAGE. And you thought Kojima was self-indulgent.
****Incidentally, this is a HUGE problem in gaming, but that's for another post.
*****NOTE: Ignore this sentence if you don't live in a democracy.
******I wish to apologize to my female readers for that one. I was merely attempting to sound like a action-movie-hard-ass. Man, that was a lot of hyphens.
*******No, it's not.