This has been percolating for about a week now, but it’s official - Epic Mickey creator Junction Point Studios has been shut down by parent company Disney, putting Warren Spector and about 140 others out of work. Coming as it does so quickly on the also-anticipated-but-also-sad THQ fire sale, one can’t help but feel that attrition seems awfully high for early 2013. Hopefully it’s not a harbinger of things to come.
Last year around this time Mat C started a project where we all confessed to our “backlog” sins. This was particularly useful for me, since at the time, I had also made a sort of New Year’s Resolution with my husband. “No new games, until you beat games you already own.” Seemed simple enough, and with the Log of Shame I did my best to tally my ratio of new games to games completed.
But there were some problems.
A completely rhetorical question. The answer is obviously “no.”
But Square Enix spent a lot of energy last week trying to convince people that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, was a game that they wanted. Many game journalists were invited to attend a press conference to this effect. There, they asked questions like “Why exactly is Lightning returning?” and “No, seriously, is that the real reason why?”
I was not at any of these press conferences. I do get press releases from Square Enix, where I have been getting information for a few months now about an “epic return to Lightning’s saga.” This generally passed me by, because it was not a saga I was personally invested in. However, I can offer some insight anyway.
2012 was a lot of things, as most years are. My colleagues have discussed most of these things quite entertainingly, and so I will spare you from further use of the words “Kickstarter,” “Greenlight,” “Entitlement” and so on. Except for right there, just then.
If you’re intensely plugged into the independent gaming scene then you probably consider 2012 a banner year for the continuing rise of the indie. I’m only slightly plugged into that scene, so I consider 2012 an okay year in which The Last Guardian still saw no light of day and increasingly slight hopes for a new Half-Life could be taken off life support with rumors buzzing that Valve intends to focus their energy on entering the console market.
However, those disappointments have been quelled almost wholly by my games of the year…
I love writing my monthly Culture Clash column for the IGDA… except when I’m trying to think of topics. As I might have mentioned before, my entire mind immediately goes blank when I’m asked to think of things. Like, “Steerpike, where should we eat?” or “Steerpike, what are your games of the year?” My jaw goes slack and I can’t think of my name, let alone anything else. The solution? Plagiarism! At least, the liberation of ideas others came up with first. So thanks to Dix, AJ, and Harbour Master for getting this story started. You guys complete me.
In other IGDA news, the Board of Directors has named Kate Edwards of Englobe, Inc. as the organization’s new Executive Director. This is Very Good News. Kate is super-cool and incredibly dedicated; an absolutely fantastic choice who’ll do amazing things for the group. I couldn’t be happier. Though now that she’s technically my boss, the chance of getting her to do a Celebrity Guest Editorial for Tap seems more remote…
When I read Brandon’s post on ‘gamer’s block’ I took a step back to consider whether I’d suffered from it at any point and, truth be told, I don’t think I have. Like many others around here, I’ve got an absurd backlog of games and while the size and my distinct lack of time to make even a dent in it intimidates me, it also excites me, especially when I’ve finished off whatever it is I’m currently playing and have the time to pluck something else from my virtual shelf.
In the dawn of 2012, I tore a leaf from my Starcraft 2 Jim Raynor Wanted Poster keepsake notebook (best thing about that game, really), determined to write down great titles as I played them. I always draw a blank when people ask for stuff I should remember, and Games of the Year articles are too important to leave to memory… especially mine. For twelve months that increasingly defiled sheet survived the chaotic sluice of cords, bills, beer cans, notes to self, and discarded gaming mice that is my desk. I exhumed it the other day.
Now, I admit this hasn’t been the best year for games, but there were more titles scrawled on there than I have medals for. After all, we don’t hand out awards like candy around here. So a whole lot of thinkin’, and even a fair amount of replayin’, was to come before the tally was in. This year I humbly offer five titles worthy of Tap-Repeatedly Special Achievement Awards, plus a handful of mentions of the honorable variety.
It’s 2013, which means we all survived the end of 2012. Despite those rumors we might not! So break out the bubbly, as it’s time for some of us to discuss our games and game trends of the past year.
This year I have the honor of being the first Tap contributor to write a Games of the Year list. My list starts with five games that stuck out to me personally this year. This isn’t just games I enjoyed (though it’s all games I enjoyed). It’s also a list of games that I feel represent some important trends that happened in 2012.
After the game list, I’m going to talk briefly about looking at games from the developer side in 2012 also, so you can get the full perspective of where I lived this year!
Can games mean? How? And when they do, who’s responsible? AJ and Dix take on authorship. Read on!
Has this ever happened to you?
You’re a player of video games – what one might call a “gamer.” You’ve probably built up a backlog because of Steam sales and fall release schedules and not having time to play video games because of the rest of your life interfering. So you have some free time, you take the game off the top of the stack (or proverbial stack, as the case may be) and start playing. For the sake of argument, let’s call this hypothetical game Alan Wake.
So it turns out you don’t really dig this game that much, which is too bad, but it happens. Still, you’re desperate to fill the endless holidays hours (hypothetically) somehow or other, and this is the perfect time to check some things off the list, so you choose another. And another. Nothing clicks. This one is deeply flawed; that one just isn’t your thing. You give up on new titles and boot up a mainstay, a known quantity, maybe more than one. (Let’s call this game Endless Space. Or maybe Soul Calibur. Even Dark Souls.) And despite the glories of past sessions, the record of unbridled enthusiasm that can set you on logging embarrassing numbers of hours on a game, you can barely stand to play it. (Or them.)
You’ve got gamer’s block.