After the amount of yammering on I’ve done about Star Trek games, I would be remiss to not review Star Trek: The Video Game, based on JJ Abrams’s version of the franchise and bridging (some of) the gap between the 2009 movie and this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness. The game was described at E3 as a “bro-op,” alluding to the highly cooperative nature of the Kirk-and-Spock-centered gameplay the game intends. To adequately explore this, I called on my friend and fellow Trekker Kristine Chester of Fanboy Comics to help protect New Vulcan from Gorn invaders.
Brandon Sheffield, Senior Contributing Editor at Gamasutra and Editor Emeritus of Game Developer magazine, has announced in a recent op-ed that it’s time to retire the word “gamer.” This meme comes up once in a while – don’t call them games, don’t use the word gamer, etc. – always with the same basis. It’s derisive. It minimizes the medium and the hobby. Yadda. These articles, including Sheffield’s, usually leave something out, though: what “gamers” should be called, if they can’t be called “gamers.”
This month’s Culture Clash column is inspired in part by a chronic affliction of mine: every twelve months or so, I undergo a strange frenzy of attention-paying to the work of Ice-Pick Lodge, the inscrutable Russian developer of Pathologic, Cargo!, and The Void. The studio’s website rarely sees substantive updates, but nevertheless I always tend to find something new there – though it rarely is anything about their activities. This time around I found a series of papers and lectures on game development, the translation quality of which was… quite poor.
Still! I like that stuff and it formed the basis of what I have to say in this month’s column. Despite it making complete sense to me, I have a feeling this is one of those installments that will make the eyes of other readers cross. Like Penny Arcade’s Twisp & Catsby comics, I try to only do that once a year or so. Enjoy!
Now you’re thinking with portals … proverbs, and a light show.
Here’s the first article in a planned few-parter on shooters. Think of it as a preamble. To keep my ambition in check for this first installment, I’ll just talk about two shooters in particular that have piqued my interest.
The new Neverwinter MMORPG is in open beta starting today! I mentioned when I was in the closed beta that I had some additional coverage to offer, so as part of the beta announcement, I’m going to share with Tap readers a Q&A that I did with Craig Zinkievich, the Executive Producer. I had a few pre-beta questions for the developers about Dungeons & Dragons lore, classes, and character customization plans. Those answers for you, after the jump!
So a couple weeks ago I’m minding my own business when the email dings – it’s a rep from the New York Film Academy’s School of Game Design, asking about the possibility of one of their people doing a guest piece. Technically it was from their marketing department, which always makes me suspicious since I get about eleventy-five of those a week and eleventy-four of them wind up trying to sell me Cialis™, which I’m told is for Whenever the Time is Right®. Every now and then I bite though, which in this case was a great thing since it turned out to be both legit and totally worth it.
Thus do I introduce Iron Man Mode Blog Overlord, freelance writer, Guitar Hero master, and NYFA staffer Zeke Iddon, who for reasons soon to become clear is slightly less than overjoyed to share with us his feelings on Tale of Tale’s latest nongame Bientôt l’été, which I just know is going to mess up the site’s text display. Despite the pain, he even made us a video. You gotta watch the video, it’s freaking awesome.
Take it Zeke!
If you like reading excerpts then this may not be the review for you, because after you click the ‘Read More’ button there are no more excerpts in this article. I know, right? “Just one excerpt?! What was he thinking?” Who the bloody hell knows?
Good news! Hidden Path Entertainment CEO Jeff Pobst and CFO Jim Garbarini took to the vide-webs today to announce that Defense Grid 2 is not just “happening,” development has been underway for a while and we can expect the game early next year. Full announcement and more below.
I am failing at the most fundamental tenet of this game. I am failing the title of the game.
Someone at Rock, Paper, Shotgun described Don’t Starve as “Minecraft meets Edward Gorey,” but I can’t find the article. That pretty much sums up Klei’s new buildy-scavenvival game, out today on Steam. Luxuriant, inky hand-drawn graphics and Saint-Saëns musical score meet industrial revolution science in a wilderness adventure that I SUCK AT.
It consistently amazes me that I’ve written this column for over ten years now. Not the length of time, the fact that they haven’t wised up and fired my ass yet. After all, aside from my unique ability to employ unnecessarily laborious and Byzantine sentence structure, the only thing I bring to the table is a crushing inability to stick to my thousand-word limit. There are actual people with actual things of value to say, yet the folks at the IGDA keep me around, like the weird but tolerated uncle. Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t complaining!
I missed last month because I was knocked out by a cold. I’m back now, though, with an unnecessarily laborious and Byzantine 990 words (hah!) that basically say “games can be about things.” So there you go. I guess… I guess that means you can skip the column, then. I wouldn’t blame you, but our SEO demands that you at least click the link. Otherwise it’s all for nothing. Enjoy!
This is a barely legible meditation of how chasing Hollywood audience and Hollywood dollars (but without having the advantage of Hollywood accounting) is absolutely killing AAA games. At this rate, there won’t be any left mid-next generation. Remember, you read it here first.
Retro City Rampage is the Meet the Spartans of video games.
The Twitch TV stream from PAX East this year included some coverage of a little-known fighting game. The game is called Divekick. It looks like a joke. It kind of is a joke. It kind of isn’t.
Divekick. Dive, Kick. Dive dive dive kick kick, kick dive, Divekick. Kick, dive.
I chat with the developers on the floor. “Everyone says this is either the most ridiculous game they’ve ever seen, or the most brilliant.”
Thirty minutes later I’m siding with “brilliant.”
Our own Mat C reviewed Alan Wake in 2010, producing a definitive, thoughtful piece of work. I agree with basically everything he said and the way he said it, so I don’t mean to just regurgitate. Mat took care of a lot of the heavy lifting for me by doing the Reviewer’s Job; my intent is to look with the space of years, a platform change, and perspective between the game’s 2005 announcement, its 2010 self, and its now self. Alan Wake is an exceptional effort that could have been even better. Yet to reject it as just a missed opportunity is unfair. There’s more to it than what we got, but what we got is still a superb game.
And I made a video! You gotta watch my video. Click the button! CLICK IT!