Not so long after my outing with S:S&S EP I planned to have a day with Journey. It was a lazy and quiet Saturday morning, my girlfriend was at work, my cup of tea was still hot, the sun was shining (behind closed curtains of course) and my surround sound system was cranked up and ready to go. I might still have been in my pajamas.
Ben Hoyt is an old friend and longtime industry veteran – he did a Celebrity Guest Editorial for us a while back, and has appeared as a guest star in some of my posts over the years. We’ve been meaning to do a sort of sweeping discussion of the Mass Effect series for some time now, and it’s ready at last!
My friends and I have a running in-joke about Infinium Labs’ cancelled “Phantom” console. I don’t mean to be cruel about a failed business model. It’s just that the whole story about a cancelled console that doesn’t exist, being called “Phantom”? You can’t really make that up.
But if Infinium had used Kickstarter in 2004, would we have funded the Phantom back then ourselves? How would things be different?
…a well-executed blend between old and new sensibilities. … Adventure game fans should definitely play this. If this was your first adventure game, you probably wouldn’t be disappointed, either.
By eleven in the morning I’m a sweaty, dizzy, panting mass of insect stings. Earlier, sliding down a rocky embankment, I lost my footing on the rolling stones and toppled, face-planting in the mud. I dropped my knife and saw it spin out into the bushes but I can’t find it. My stratospheric fever makes this bright day dim. The periphery is clouded by a dense black fog; my head pounds. I stumble again and fall, injuring myself. My throat is parched and I cannot find water. I am lost among unrecognizable landmarks. And I am dying. If I’m very lucky, I will die before it finds me.
Welcome to the first day of the worst days of my life.
The beginning is probably a good place to start.
Earlier in the year, I managed to find some time to play through Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP (in May), Journey (in June) and Dear Esther (in July). I’d heard nothing but exceptionally good things about them so, naturally, I was incredibly excited to finally be able to play them. S:S&S EP had until then been a tablet exclusive (and I didn’t have a tablet), Journey was something I’d sampled only briefly at the EG Expo 2011 and I had been aware of the original Dear Esther mod for Half-Life 2 for years but hadn’t gotten round to playing it, in which time, the astonishingly beautiful remake was on the horizon.
Anyway, recently in the staff forums where we talk about our readers in secret, I mentioned in the Journey thread that I found it ‘underwhelming’, and lumped it with S:S&S EP and Dear Esther. Understandably a few brows were furrowed. I’d only ever discussed why I didn’t get on with these games in a few comments and emails here and there, so rather than continue that trend I thought it was high time I spilled the proverbial beans.
With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!
My friend Colin McComb is trying to decide what to do next. He’s wrapped his work on Wasteland 2, and some other stuff coming down the pike still leaves him with a bit of spare time on his hands. If I had spare time on my hands, I’d stare at the wall, or fail to clean the house, or watch something I’ve already seen. Colin, on the other hand, might be a bit more productive…
After a rush on Black Friday, I am now the proud owner of a PlayStation 3 console. That allows me to pick up on some games that I have missed (more on that later). But it also allows me to watch Blu-ray movies, such as the Red Vs. Blue full series Blu-rays that I was itching to dig into, but unable to previously view.
Even though I got these at the start of the month, I’m actually a little glad I was able to watch them simultaneously with playing Halo 4. (And more on that, later, as well.) Halo 4 actually turns out to contain a surprising amount of Red Vs. Blue inspired throwbacks. And Red Vs. Blue slowly develops, over the course of the series, away from being a pure farce and more into being an actual wing of the Halo franchise. It’s an interesting symbiosis.
Below, some spoilers for Red Vs. Blue, all seasons. Very minor first-hour spoilers for Halo 4.
Captain’s Log, Final Entry
In my ongoing quest to find the best games attached to the Star Trek franchise, I’ve delved into the depths of history, the formative years of PC gaming, the “golden age” of the fifteen years ago, and the slow death of the franchise in gaming. Somehow, though, I always knew that we would come back to one of the earliest Star Trek games, one of the first I ever played.
The year was 1992. The company was Interplay.
The final episode of The Walking Dead, Season One, dropped onto Steam this week. Now that the series is over, I’d like to take a moment to review that experience with a particular focus on the game’s narrative choice system.
My previous review was careful about giving too much away, but, this analysis will contain spoilers for episodes One through Four. If you aren’t totally sure if you want to read further, I’d suggest picking up The Walking Dead Season Pass and giving it a play before joining me below the cut. If you’re on the fence, know that it looks to be a Game of the Year nominee. And though I don’t ascribe ultimate importance to that award, I voted for The Walking Dead this year without hesitation.
“So that’s your homework,” said Ben Hoyt of 47Games, then chuckled. This was Friday.
Ben’s been a good friend for years now. I met him back in 2006, when he was working for EA. I’ve never known anyone who can deconstruct a game as skillfully as Ben; he’s made for this industry. He’s a ludic genius. We don’t hang out enough – he lives in California and I live in Michigan and we only see each other at conferences. My homework was to get a copy of Halo 4 and play it, because we’re planning to record a podcast on the Mass Effect series and he wants to add a discussion of Halo to it, since they’re both epic sci-fi shooters and we’re going to contrast them.
I haven’t even completed the first part of my assignment (get a copy of Halo 4) – I was going to do so today. But last night I thought I’d fire up the old 360 and watch some Netflix, only to see a painfully familiar series of blinking lights on its display.
I’d been on-again, off-again about doing a Culture Clash article for the IGDA on the Kickstarter phenomenon. I mean, would my observations add that much? And what you’ll see below isn’t exactly a Kickstarter article, but a rumination on the nature and future of AAA games in general. The idea came from a remark by Ubisoft’s Patrick Redding, with whom I tend to agree on most things.
How is it all related to Cultures and the Clashing thereof? Gamer culture is constantly in flux, and I think it’s often more nuanced than anyone – developers, publishers, gamers themselves – give it credit for. If the rise of the Kickstarted game leads to major financial success, that means that AAA production values aren’t the only way to make millions. Heck, Minecraft already proved that. The lessons of what we’re seeing in new funding models may give us insight into the way gamers think, desire, and buy.
When Kickstarter really took off, I told myself that I wouldn’t use Tap as a forum to promote every single Kickstarter that our readers ought to support if they’re really our friends. And I’ve done pretty well thus far, I think!
But Cloud Imperium’s Star Citizen is, put simply, the most exciting game I can think of coming out in the next few years. It has the outstanding Wing Commander pedigree (courtesy of designer Chris Roberts) and aims to resuscitate a genre thought dead. And as we speak there are only days remaining to help Star Citizen reach even more outrageous levels of funding.
I’ve already said what I would have gone on to say about the starfighter sim genre, in my first ever article for Tap! (The circle, as they say, is now complete.) So if you need convincing, read that.
If you don’t, go ahead and show Star Citizen some love – before it’s too late!
Please forgive my indulgence in some backloggery-related ephemera today.
A game called Halo 4 is out! Perhaps you have heard of it.
I would be writing up my Impressions, but I have not gotten to play it yet. The reasons for this are myriad but could mostly be summed up with the words “money” and “time.” I have been busy this week. I’m working on a game! And I have another thing on my plate too.
See, I got another hit of the Red Vs. Blue for a review. It was sent post-hurricane and the review embargo on it is lifted. There is a small problem, which I must enumerate. We are, in fact, a Halo Household. That means …