Making the rounds today is Depression Quest, a new indie, uh…
“game” is not exactly the word.
As I allude in the body of this column, I didn’t intend to write anything about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school. In fact I kind of instructed myself not to. What could I say? That I’m sorry, but I still don’t think video games had anything to do with it? Or just that I’m sorry? Nothing at all seemed best.
But in the end I buckled, I guess, though this month’s column for the International Game Developers Association is less about Sandy Hook than it is about our society and how we react to things. I don’t know what the long-term fallout will be for the games industry; it has weathered such storms in the past. But maybe it can still be a wake-up call, about the medium’s content, and whether it’s all it can (or should) be. Enjoy!
For those who’ve read and commented on my medical adventures and subsequent musings, my thanks and an update. It’s been a little over a year since I walked out of the hospital and I can report that readers of Tap-Repeatedly know more about my medical history than the medical professionals treating me. Seem odd? Tag along on my most recent doctor visit and judge for yourself.
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.
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…
With the yule tidings of the holidays upon us, it’s once again time to reach into your wallets, your couch cushions, and your hearts to support Child’s Play, the charity started by Penny Arcade founders Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. The purpose of Child’s Play is to gather toys, books, games – any entertainment – and donate the stuff to children’s hospitals.
Hard truths after the jump.
So, last I heard, STALKER developer GSC Game World had shut down. Most employees moved on to create a new studio, Vostok Games, which is working on a STALKER-like online shooter called Survarium. GSC had been developing STALKER 2 when the company’s owner, Sergey Grigorovich, abruptly shut the place down. No official reason was ever given.
Then, what appears in my inbox yesterday? A curt, almost bitchy press release about the STALKER intellectual property.
I wrote a lot of words about Halo 4 that might have amounted to a proper review. But, while I liked Halo 4, I didn’t really like all the words I ended up writing about Halo 4. I feel as if in my overview I didn’t say anything that hadn’t already been said about the game by the rest of the internet.
To sum up briefly: great action, beautiful artwork, slightly flawed level design. There is a review on Clever Musings l ended up mostly agreeing with, so check that out for a good rundown. I played Halo 4’s campaign for the action, the “shooty bits,” and in that sense it was a marvelous good time. It did suffer a little from weird spikes in difficulty on certain segments, and there was never as much ammo as I might have liked.
But in spite of it being a strongly action-focused game, I find that what I really want to discuss about Halo 4 is the game’s story and themes. Mostly, I want to talk about Cortana. From here on, I must spoil all of the single-player campaign, right up until the end. I realize that means I may lose some readers here. Catch you next time, then.
Not so long after my outing with S:S&S EP I planned to have a day with Journey. It was a lazy and quiet Saturday morning, my girlfriend was at work, my cup of tea was still hot, the sun was shining (behind closed curtains of course) and my surround sound system was cranked up and ready to go. I might still have been in my pajamas.
The beginning is probably a good place to start.
Earlier in the year, I managed to find some time to play through Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP (in May), Journey (in June) and Dear Esther (in July). I’d heard nothing but exceptionally good things about them so, naturally, I was incredibly excited to finally be able to play them. S:S&S EP had until then been a tablet exclusive (and I didn’t have a tablet), Journey was something I’d sampled only briefly at the EG Expo 2011 and I had been aware of the original Dear Esther mod for Half-Life 2 for years but hadn’t gotten round to playing it, in which time, the astonishingly beautiful remake was on the horizon.
Anyway, recently in the staff forums where we talk about our readers in secret, I mentioned in the Journey thread that I found it ‘underwhelming’, and lumped it with S:S&S EP and Dear Esther. Understandably a few brows were furrowed. I’d only ever discussed why I didn’t get on with these games in a few comments and emails here and there, so rather than continue that trend I thought it was high time I spilled the proverbial beans.
With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!
My friend Colin McComb is trying to decide what to do next. He’s wrapped his work on Wasteland 2, and some other stuff coming down the pike still leaves him with a bit of spare time on his hands. If I had spare time on my hands, I’d stare at the wall, or fail to clean the house, or watch something I’ve already seen. Colin, on the other hand, might be a bit more productive…
Captain’s Log, Final Entry
In my ongoing quest to find the best games attached to the Star Trek franchise, I’ve delved into the depths of history, the formative years of PC gaming, the “golden age” of the fifteen years ago, and the slow death of the franchise in gaming. Somehow, though, I always knew that we would come back to one of the earliest Star Trek games, one of the first I ever played.
The year was 1992. The company was Interplay.