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.
In my current dayjob I cover a travel territory that reaches through Pennsylvania, out to Baltimore and outside of the DC area. I have met a lot of cool developers through Philly Dev Night who like to come out to Philadelphia every week to create, discuss, and play indie games. I’ve also met some students and researchers doing some fascinating things with game technology to make the world a better place for gamers and non-gamers alike. So, I’m starting a new series of articles. For the next few months, I, AJ, am going to be traveling around my neck of the world talking to indie developers about the work being done in the Philadelphia/Pittsburgh/East Coast gaming scene. I meet interesting people every day, and I want to share their work and words with you!
I’m kicking off the series by talking to Shawn Pierre, the sole proprietor of OriGaminc in Philadelphia, PA. He’s just coming off of a successful Kickstarter for his card game These French Fries are Terrible Hot Dogs and has presented his games at IndieCade East, the Boston Festival of Indie Games, and the Indie MEGABOOTH at Pax East. I asked Shawn a few questions about his current work and future plans. Check out our interview below the jump:
I’m not someone you’d want around in a survival scenario: zombies, tribulation, camping, the park. Frankly, I possess very few skills and many undesirable qualities. If I were placed in an environment containing more than 65% Nature, I would die. I bring middlin’ genetic value to the table, but honestly, you could do better. I have no aptitude in engineering, construction, basic math, unarmed combat, logistics, celestial navigation, tool use, or athletics. I can’t operate a chainsaw, drive a motorcycle, construct an igloo, butcher an animal, or dress a wound. A slurry of cynicism, negative affectivity, and acute anhedonia give rise to a personality best described as “unpleasant.” I’m freakishly resistant to cold, but that power comes at a high price: my cognitive abilities begin to break down above 85°F/29°C, collapsing completely soon after.
You may be curious why I’m telling you all this.