It was with no small amount of relief that I decided not to write this piece as a review. At first I thought maybe I would, but I realized, quickly, that I might not like what I had to say in it – not always. Not everything.
Hi everyone! Welcome back to Local Flavor!
I’m taking another broad interpretation of local and traveled to the opposite side of the state, to Pittsburgh, PA and the Schell Games studio. I have a history with this studio as I spent about six months working with the company last year. I was eager to check out their brand new space in Pittsburgh’s Station Square, and talk to the team behind one of their releases this year, Enemy Mind. Photos and interviews below!
The most obvious place to start – one of the only obvious qualities it has, really – is that The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is unquestionably the most visually spectacular game I have ever played. Even if there weren’t anything else to say, that might be enough. If your computer can run it (and it’s punishing, but not too punishing) you probably need to buy it just to see the incredible technology The Astronauts bring to bear on this indie mystery. It’s simply jaw-dropping. Your jaw will drop. Which is harder to do than you think. Have you ever tried to drop your jaw? I just released my jaw muscles and my jaw stayed more or less where it was. It moved a little. But I wouldn’t call it a “drop.” You have to actively drop your jaw. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter will make you do that.
Foreword from the author,
Sometimes writing things is difficult. Not literally, like pushing keyboard buttons, that’s usually not difficult, except when coke spills in your keyboard and really messes up the Alt key, that makes pushing the buttons difficult because Alt is really underrated and oft-used. But I meant difficult like, the space in my brain that would normally come up with things to say to the computer word processor is absent. Or filled with noodles. And my brain doesn’t have a way of eating the neighbor noodles so they just have to live together. The noodles are useless too, it’s not like they do something.
You know, when I first heard this rumor yesterday – that Microsoft was in talks to buy Mojang Specifications for a cool $2.5 billion – I just rolled my eyes. Sure, I could see Microsoft wanting to do so, and anyone would like to have two and a half billion… but the Minecraft developer isn’t exactly low on funds. And, frankly, given Markus “Notch” Persson’s evident dislike of large-scale corporate buyouts, it seemed against character even if they were nearly bankrupt. And yet, it’s true. Even Mojang says so, and says also that Notch is leaving the company, along with its two other founders.
This edition of Local Flavor takes me out to Boston. Quite by accident, really. I originally met Michael Silverman on a message board set up for Philadelphia game developers. I really enjoyed his game Don’t Shoot Yourself, which is currently on Steam Greenlight and playable on iOS. But before I could nail him down for an interview, I discovered he was moving to Boston, to work out of the Fire Hose Games incubator! Though I couldn’t check out his physical workspace, I still snagged him on Skype to ask some questions about Silverware Games, his design process, and his newest project. Check it out!
…other than being a member of the cruel killer point-and-click genre, which is inherently retro, I would say this Shadowgate is thoroughly modern in most other ways. What I came into this wanting to be able to say about Shadowgate is: It Is Shadowgate. What I actually really have to say is, “It’s Shadowgate, but it’s Shadowgate made in 2014.” And every change that that implies.
I’m continuing with my series of visiting local indie developers around Pennsylvania and the East Coast! This trip took me just outside of Philadelphia, to Woodbury, New Jersey, where I visited with indie development house Island Officials. Island Officials makes mobile experiences: from Android, iOS, and Windows Phone to the DS and 3DS. They also create analog games, working in the back rooms of the Tiki Tiki Board Games shop. In their business, they make new games, and sell old ones too.
While I was visiting, I checked out some of their newest mobile app store offerings, and asked CEO Ryan Morrison a few questions about the Island Officials brand of game development. More info after the jump:
Destructoid posted this awesome little news article announcing that Atari (the company that got me started in the gaming industry) is not only bringing back two titles from the past, but adding a few to their arsenal as well. While the article focuses on Alone in the Dark and Haunted House (which will hopefully give us all the horror games we need), it’s really games Minimum and Roller Coaster Tycoon (for PC) that are of interest to me here.
It’s been a big week for World of Warcraft. The cinematic trailer for Warlords of Dreanor went live last week, and the usual updates regarding subscription numbers and future plans that we’ve all come to expect have been circulating through our Twitter feeds. On such article by IGN featuring a spread on WoW’s traditional, pre-expansion dwindling subscriber count, Game Director Tom Chilton discusses the plans for future expansions. The interesting thing about this article (listed below) is that Chilton expresses that the plan was for expacs to be released more frequently with shorter gaps in between. We all know that for the past expacs the rollout period has been approximately every two years, with a sizeable patch in between to break up the wait.