It was the final Guild Wars 2 closed beta last weekend before its highly anticipated release on the 28th. My brother, Lewis B, who left Tap a couple of months ago to write for MMOG site Ten Ton Hammer, invited me and fellow MMOG noob Steerpike to join him to see what all the fuss was about. Between the two of us, our combined MMOG experience before the beta weekend amounted to making a character in Ultima Online, killing a carrion spider in Dark Age of Camelot and spending eight minutes in Rift. We were surely destined for doom.
Former GSC Game World marketing director and rumor-guy Sergey Galyonkin, the fellow who broke the news of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. developer’s collapse a few months ago, has a new juicy rumor for us: that Bethesda Softworks, of Elder Scrolls and Fallout 3 fame, has acquired rights to publish another game in the STALKER franchise. Assuming the rumor’s true at all, it should be noted that Bethsoft hasn’t picked up ownership of STALKER IP. That, apparently, still belongs to former GSC honcho Sergei Grigorovich, the fellow who abruptly shut down the Ukrainian developer in the first place.
Franchise or publication rights, it still seems like an odd choice for Bethsoft to pick up, y’know?
Girls. That mysterious species. Do they play video games? What kind of video games do girls play? How can we get girls to buy our video games?
These seem like simple questions, but in an industry dominated by men, appealing to fifty percent of the population sometimes becomes a tricky proposition. It’s been proven statistically that girls (and women) are playing games. But what kind of games are they playing? This time, on Tap Vs. Tap: Games for Girls.
There are giants in this industry, and then there’s Ernest Adams. A developer, lecturer, scholar and teacher, Ernest’s book Fundamentals of Game Design is the essential text on the subject, while his newest work Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design, written with Joris Dormans, is a much-needed formalization of game mechanics grammar and understanding.
In his spare time, Ernest founded the International Game Developers Association and shipped 15 games over 23 years.
He’s also one of the nicest people you’ll meet, and I consider myself fortunate to be able to call him a friend; one who’s assisted me many times in my career. All that you need to know about Ernest in order to get along with him just fine is that he has no time or patience for people who are stupid or disrespectful – and that being one of the nicest people you’ll meet doesn’t mean he won’t be aggressive about subjects that anger him.
Ernest has written a column for Gamasutra since the place was founded over 14 years ago, with a largely free editorial hand. Unfortunately, that site chose not to publish this piece as it was written… something that makes me bite my tongue. Interestingly I went through a similar incident several months ago with my Culture Clash column for the IGDA. Perhaps wrongly, I elected to rewrite the piece to assuage the opinion of someone who frankly had no right to judge what I said.
Ernest chose another path, and here is his view, in his words, without dilution; because courage to stand up to wrongs (editorial and social) is another one of his qualities.
“We need to stop asking whether something is a game or not.” This was a point made by Dr. Daniel Pinchbeck, during his GDC Microtalk, “Things we need to stop talking about.” Likely, he was inspired by the reception to his own work, Dear Esther. The game is critically acclaimed, but critics can’t seem to decide if it’s “really a game” or not. Pinchbeck’s point was that it didn’t really, ultimately, matter.
In spite of this, it doesn’t seem like “what is a game?” is a conversation that we’re going to stop having any time soon. Game academics, or, ludologists, if you prefer, have been working on nailing down just the right definition for the fuzzy word “game” for decades.
Long ago, there was a time when single analog sticks ruled and Nintendo held the world in its 3D clutches…
The age of Nintendo 64…
What a difference a few years makes. In this latest installment of my monthly Culture Clash column for the International Game Developers Association, we’re talking about the steps, baby and otherwise, that a creative medium must take in order to ensure its own freedom of expression. As you might recall, in 2005 Rockstar Games decided to cross a creative Rubicon of sorts, hiding a sex scene in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and leaving it for haxx0rs to inevitably find. Known as the Hot Coffee scandal, it sent tremors through the entire industry as calls for censorship – which had until then been dying out – reignited with fury. Rockstar embarked on what I then quite wittily described as a “polymorphic campaign of bullshit,” going to ever more flamboyantly unbelievable lengths to deny their own culpability in the matter.
The dust did settle, eventually, and now seven years on, it’s only fair to concede that Hot Coffee – dangerous, selfish, and stupid as it was – did accomplish something. The censorship threat blew over and games have more creative license than ever before. Personally, I still don’t forgive Rockstar for what it did; in Vietnam terms, the company destroyed a village in order to save it. What I offer here is not a justification for the company’s misdeed, just a reflection on the fact that they cast a die and got a result. Enjoy!
Warning time. This is an Impressions post about a sexually explicit game. Text and images to follow beneath the jump will include depictions of sexual organs and acts. In addition, the text may be triggering for sexual violence. The article after the jump should be considered, at the very least, not safe for work.
As some of you around here may know, I like tower defence. I like tower defence because I’m a real-time strategy wuss; a turtler who loves nothing more than holing up, hunkering down and awaiting my eventual demise. Venturing out was never my thing. AND IN-GAME (sorry). Most of my favourite tower defence games however, have offered a lot more besides mere towers and defending. In this regard Gratuitous Tank Battles is no different. Tipped as an RTS/simulation/tower defence hybrid, GTB marks Positech Games’ follow up to the highly praised Gratuitous Space Battles. It’s hardly Gratuitous Hoverboard Battles but it’ll have to do.
If I could remember how many hours I sunk into Master of Orion II, I might be able to guess at how many Endless Space is destined to take. But I just can’t count that high.