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.
… I’m giving The Walking Dead a high recommendation. I’m doing this for the story alone, and, if I said any more than I have, I’d be spoiling the experience. I admire a game with the guts to force me to make bad decisions. … If you want to take actions in a game that will really make you hate yourself, believe the buzz and try out The Walking Dead.
Earlier on in the year, Harbour Master and I got together to play Terry Cavanagh’s dithered local co-op curiosity At A Distance (which you may remember me mentioning in my Eurogamer Expo coverage last year). It’s an enigmatic oddball that few people have played — despite it appearing at countless game shows and indie shindigs — and one that even fewer have experienced through to the very end. You see, most people who finish At A Distance, don’t really finish it; they see just the beginning. We saw the end, and we’re not afraid to talk about it.
While you’re over there, you may notice that changes are abreast. Until now the good ship Electron Dance has been a solo affair, captained by
part-man, part-machine Joel Goodwin aka Harbour Master. Well today HM has welcomed Eric Brasure aboard, a man who, according to his about page on Charles Wallace on Camazotz, ‘used to do stuff at SecondQuest.vg’. For more information on him and a brief primer on his Dialogue Tree podcasts (which is what originally attracted HM’s attention and what will be re-appearing on ED over the coming months) I recommend reading the welcome post and having a listen to the short four minute chat between the two of them.
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We’re fans of the Steam platform here on Tap. Yesterday saw the launch of its new system for submitting and discovering indie games: Greenlight. Being a fan of both indies, and of Steam itself, I figured I’d check it out. Here, generally, is how it works: developers submit a game to Greenlight, including sample screenshots, promo videos, and whatever else they have handy. Then the community votes on which games they’d like to see end up on Steam.
So far, great idea, but there are a few problems that I can see…