FTL: Faster Than Light is a roguelike(-like) that puts you in command of your own ship and crew on a desperate mission to save the Federation – as long as you can survive countless hostile ships, assorted space adventures, and the capricious randomness that seems to decide your fate at every turn.
Due to circumstances outside of my control, I was away from the internet and most games this weekend (other than my trusty old DS Lite). While I was sitting in an airport terminal, waiting for our flight to board, a copy of the New York Times – Dead Tree Edition – happened its way across my lap. On the front page of the Business section, I saw an article about Slim Jim’s marketing strategy. It was presented without irony.
I implore you to read the entire thing, since it’s all painful. There’s an associated commercial on YouTube, but I’d rather not link it myself since it’s not so popular so far and I don’t really want to give Slim Jim the hits and satisfaction. But please do read the article.
I was casting about for a good topic to write about in this month’s installment of Culture Clash, my montly column for the International Game Developers Association, and this one fell into my lap. It is, after all, American Politics Season – and a completely irrelevant race in the state of Maine got my attention. Topic discovered!
In other news, this is actually the second time I’ve used a play on World of Warcraft in my title- wait… third time? I’ll have to check. In any case it’s not the first. Originality and me, we’re not always, you know, together. Enjoy!
UPDATE: The server work is complete and our path to world domination is clear. Thanks for the patience!
The third and final part of my coverage. Phew.
Last year the Indie Arcade was a narrow corridor with computers lining each side, on counters roughly above waist height, showcasing the various indie games. It got pretty cosy in there at the best of times. Additionally, it was positioned right next to a booming Just Dance 3 stand so talking was strained and anything coming out of the headphones connected to each computer was polluted by the Black Eyed Peas’ Pump It, which seemed to be on loop throughout the expo.
Well this year the corridor seemed a little wider, but the computers were on counters just above knee height with very few seats, if any. Kiss those knees or that back of yours goodbye. Furthermore, it was sandwiched between Just Dance 4, Dance Central 3 and the Scan Computers stand which had its own DJ and PA system. I love you Scan, but damn you Scan. The expo was very loud anyway so the added noise didn’t make that much of a difference, but the lower computers and the general lack of seating made playing much more uncomfortable than it really should have been, especially after spending several days lugging our bags around London.
This year’s Eurogamer Expo took place over the weekend and I, along with Mat C, Joel ‘Harbour Master’ Goodwin and a couple of other friends, had the fortune of being able to attend again and spend a few days bumbling about sampling whatever we could. And there was a lot more to sample this year.
I first started watching Red vs Blue in the DVD format, rather than on-line. It was at a party held by a friend. If I recall right – and it’s been years – alcohol and actual sessions of Halo were also involved in these festivities, because geek parties are awesome. I don’t think Red Vs. Blue itself needs much of an introduction: you’re probably at least passingly familiar with the series, a Halo-based mostly-comedy series done by Rooster Teeth Productions. What you may not realize is there’s already been ten seasons of it (with the newest season coming to DVD November 6).
With all the polished games I’ve managed to snag lately, last night I lost an evening to an unfinished alpha. Prison Architect, by Introversion Software, was released to early testers this week. Introversion is selling access to the alpha under a tiered “pay what you like” system (as long as what you like is at least $30). And thusfar, it seems to be doing quite well for an unfinished game.
The Art of Video Games is located, for just one more week, in Washington D.C., in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It is a few blocks away from the bulk of the museums proper, a bit of a jog from the central area surrounding the National Mall. It shares a building with the National Portrait Gallery. To actually see the exhibit, one must climb up to the third floor, sneak around past a coffee lounge, and enter a dimmed area that looks less like an art museum exhibit than it does a night club.
As gamers, boss battles are practically in our blood. They go back at least as far as 1975. They’ve long been the go-to climax for a game adventure, the final goal for players of all ages. Sometimes they are epic set pieces. Sometimes…not.
Recent years have seen several titles get criticized for weak boss battles, even become notorious for them. Has gaming outgrown bosses? Has the march of progress left boss battles as vestigial as so many instruction booklets? Dix and Steerpike clash in the bottommost dungeon to find out.
Captain’s Log, Supplemental
After a brief detour to a strange planet populated by sentient, shape-changing robots, I return to my original mission. Will I find what I seek in the star systems controlled by the entity called “Activision”?
My biggest game-writing project to date wrapped a while back, and I thank you who chose to explore even part of it. Like all things, the story grows in the telling. I never planned to publish the Dark Souls Diaries. It started as nothing more than an email series to disinterested friends. The first several installments were just heavily edited versions of those emails.
When I elected to put them on Tap, it stopped being a goofy thing and became a matter requiring a degree of journalistic integrity. As the Diaries grew in popularity, so also grew my responsibility to be accurate. As such, the evolution of the Diaries took place alongside the evolution of my knowledge regarding the game. This epilogue is the story of that journey, plus the final moments of the game upon which the Diaries are based, and a short look at the recent Prepare to Die PC port. It may not be the last thing I’ll ever write about Dark Souls. But it is the end of this particular (and for most of you, unendurably tedious) chronicle.
Chalk up another record-breaking Kickstarter… yesterday, Obsidian studios (makers of favorites such as Planescape: Torment, Fallout: New Vegas, and Alpha Protocol) started a kick for a new, original RPG, codenamed Project Eternity. This is perhaps the “spiritual successor to Planescape” project that’s been considered a theoretical possibility for some time in studio interviews.
Given the studio’s pedigree, even with a fairly vague pitch, it’s already gone on to make a million dollars in 24 hours.
Officially speaking, my job with Culture Clash, the column I’ve written for the International Game Developers Association for nine years now, is to talk about how gaming culture relates to, is perceived by, and can influence the “rest” of culture. Beyond that I have a pretty free hand it terms of selecting topics. Of course, back in 2003 when I started, there were a lot more differences between “gamer culture” and just “culture.”
Still, the culture of gaming does exist, and as terms and phrases come to define aspects of it, I occasionally like to pause and consider what some of the constructs of gaming mean to me. Here we’re doing “social gaming” – or, rather, what “social gaming” would mean if they’d asked me to define it.
Which they did not.