Devil’s Tuning Fork is an interesting exploration in design which seeks to weigh in on the classic question, “What is it like to be a bat?” (don’t worry, this will remain a game review and not an exercise in philosophical discourse) The game places you in control of a child who has fallen into a mysterious coma who must now explore a strange dreamscape in order to awaken. In order to escape what is eventually identified as a sort of dungeon you must rescue other children and traverse multiple platforming exercises/puzzles. And you must do this while experiencing what it is like to be a bat (sorry, I swear I’ll stop referencing Nagel’s paper.) The overall tone of the game tickles my love of horror and the surreal. But as it is with most things which I love, it isn’t perfect.
Before I get into any discussion I must first say that the game is wonderful and you should play it. If you have already played it, don’t plan on playing it, or just don’t care about spoilers, then you should feel free to read on. Otherwise you should go and play The Stanley Parable and then come back. Go ahead and read Jim Sterling’s review as a way to motivate yourself.
If you’re still unmotivated to go and play before I go into my analysis, then consider this: How much choice do you really have when you play a game? Do your actions truly affect whatever narrative you are participating in? Does deviating from the defined path truly do anything? The Stanley Parable experiments with these questions in a fantastically intimate way.
Many apologies for my hiatus. But I’m still around and thinking about games! In a rare occurrence I also recently finished one! The game is Broken Age by the amazing Double Fine. I think Double Fine’s strength is their writing, so an adventure game like Monkey Island or their own work Grim Fandango seems like a perfect fit.
This past week I saw The Hobbit: The desolation of Smaug (hereto referred to as Hobbit 2), and upon exiting the theater I am sad to say that my response wasn’t even a resounding “meh.” In fact, I didn’t much enjoy a great deal of it. This saddened me as I enjoyed all three of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, and even enjoyed the first Hobbit film where some others did not. But Hobbit 2 suffered some key problems which borked the overall experience for me. There were bits which I enjoyed immensely, but overall I must give the film a rather low rating, and the reasoning can mostly be summed up with K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid).
While we should be nice and altruistic all the time, we are now hitting the Season of Giving (I don’t care that this comes from Western tradition. Anything that advocates charity is a good thing, so let’s just leave it be.) Since this here is a nerdy media blog I thought I’d give you all a hand and share some amazing game-related charities that are floating around. There are definitely some which I have missed as well as non-game charities which are amazing. But if you would like to give and have no idea where to throw your dollar, then here at least you can find a short list worthy of your consideration.
https://www.humblebundle.com/ (you can choose for your money to go fully to charity, fully to game developers, or customize the spread yourself)
http://www.ablegamers.com/ Who are currently linked to a cool game bundle: http://www.wraithkal.info/bundle-in-a-box-ordinary-gamer/
This article is honestly me cheating a bit as I would have preferred to write a true analysis or something more comprehensive than a question, but I’m busy! So this is what you get. But don’t fret, I think this question is actually extremely interesting, and very important.
Why do we play games? I ask this because I recently got into a debate and one participant countered criticism about a game’s setup with, “I hear people play games for the story.” Now this very well may be true since many games have fun stories, but so do books and movies, and you don’t have to fight your way to the next bit of stories in those. You don’t have to spend hours jumping from one plot point to the next. So why do we turn to games for story when we have books and movies?
To me I think the answer is “participation.” Games allow you to participate in the story. But it is with this answer that I then begin to question certain games which don’t let me actively participate in the story, but instead just force me to do task after task that holds no real meaning in the overall narrative. Along this vein, should we forgive games with great stories for their bad gameplay? I could go on, but I actually wrote a bit about this previously in my article about games and art, but I think we can go further into this question.
Since I need to get going I’ll leave the floor open for you to counter, explain, extrapolate, divulge, or what-have-you in the comments below.
I love chiptunes. I have met few other people who love chiptunes as much as me. Hell, I have met few other people who can even sit down and listen to chiptunes without getting annoyed. It is arguable that my love for chiptunes comes from nostalgia. It is true that some of my favorite games are old enough that their soundtracks are chiptunes (and I do listen to them recreationally). But I would argue that my love of the genre is more than just a fond looking back at simpler times.
This article comes a day late because… I’m not going to offer an excuse. You’re just going to have to live with the mystery.
I assume that most of us who have played games have at one point (at least) come across a non-playable character that we became attached to. But sometimes we don’t become attached to characters who the game makers want us to get attached to, and sometimes we get more attached than we are supposed to. While quality narrative can do wonders for making a character appealing, I have found that players often base their connections on the mechanics of the character instead (and this sometimes causes problems).
Pokemon X/Y comes out tomorrow. So today I am going to talk about my favorite monster collecting game. No, it’s not Pokemon. In fact, my favorite game in the “collect, raise, and battle” genre is a spinoff of the well-known series Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest. The game is Dragon Warrior Monsters (DWM), and while I have not played it through as many times as I have the original Pokemon, I have loved it a great deal more, and spent more energy on it. It is rare for me to actually write stuff down in a notebook for a game, but for DWM I found myself recording my findings in a notebook for future use. This is due to its unique take on how you collect and battle your little monster minions, even if you raise them just like most other RPGs (yay grinding!)
The story for the first game (yes! There are more than one!) begins with your sister getting kidnapped by a strange monster. Immediately after another monster shows up and offers to help you get your sister back. He takes you to another world and introduces you to a king. Apparently there is a tournament soon, and the prize for winning is a wish. Before you can participate you must train up and qualify, and so begins your journey (which includes other stories as well). I am honestly terrible at plot-synopses because I don’t like to give anything at all away (I believe part of the joy of a story is going into it completely blind). So as per usual I am going to focus my reviews on mechanics.
Reading the title you may be thinking that I am going to talk about how characters evolve in a narrative in roleplaying games, but if you remember last week’s article you may note the subtle queue in my use of RPG instead of “roleplaying game.” That’s right; today I am going to talk about different styles of stat/ability progression in RPGs along with minor discussion on the role of progression in narrative.