Let's sit down with some coffee and talk about games!

Noble readers! As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted in a little while. The reason for my temporary abandonment of this blog has to do with my current objectives. I started this blog for two reasons: To exercise my writing, and to discuss interesting games. As things stand at the moment, I very much wish to continue to practice my writing skills, as well as continue to discuss gaming, but I’m not sure if this blog is the adequate way to proceed. Throughout these first few months of my blog’s life, I’ve had to face the ever-looming question of what direction to follow. For example, I’ve thought about writing exclusively about independent games, or about writing for other blogs as a contributor rather than have my own. I’ve also fought with the question of whether to write a parallel blog in Spanish.

But then there’s the issue of my game design endeavors  Game design is something I’ve always wanted to pursue, but only now have started to seriously consider. As things stand, maintaining this blog takes a considerable amount of time, which may be better spent if I focused it towards game design.

This all ties together with the most recent edition of IndieCade, which I was lucky enough to attend. I had a blast! I met a lot of developers, played many fascinating games, and attended a few eye-opening conferences. Keeping in line with the tone of this blog, I think it would be a great idea to write a few articles about some of the games I checked out at IndieCade. This is the immediate future of the blog. After that, I’m not sure what will happen. The only thing I know for sure is that I’ll be diving deeper and deeper into the art of playing and making games. So, be it as as an amateur writer or an indie developer, you will certainly see more of me.

For now, expect to see some posts coming up soon. Sorry for the downtime!

 

 

 

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Super Hexagon is designer Terry Cavanagh’s latest brainchild (you might remember him from VVVVVV, which I wrote about recently). It’s a minimalist action game about dodging obstacles, set in a 2D plane viewed from above. At the center of the plane lies a hexagon, and the game consists of other larger, concentric hexagons collapsing into the inner hexagon. Some of their edges are blocked while others aren’t. Your objective is to dodge each incoming hexagon by positioning yourself on the right place. It’s very hard to visualize with a mere description, so I suggest you watch the trailer.

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Unfortunately, you’ve probably all heard of Temple Run. I say “unfortunately” because seeing these types of games gain such popularity makes me cringe a little bit. Specially when I hear people say it’s good. Let me tell you right off the bat: it’s not good. In case you don’t know what it’s about, let me tell you. In Temple Run, all you do is watch your character run endlessly, and your task is to turn left or right, and jump or duck in order to avoid obstacles. It’s designed specifically to have the players keep coming back for more, in the hopes that some of them will purchase coins.

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Fez and me

After all this time, I finally decided to get Fez. From the first time I heard of it, the concept seemed thrilling: A 3D world experienced in chunks of 2D? That sounds intriguing! I could already see myself flipping through the different angles, playing with perspective, trying to make sense of Fez’s universe. I’m still not entirely sure why the premise fascinated me so damn much, but it’s hardly surprising given my love of Flatland and the inordinate amount of time I’ve spent trying to imagine hypercubes (unsuccessfully).

This looks like porn to me.

But then I forgot all about Fez, partly because I never imagined I would be in possession of an Xbox, and partly because it took forever to come out. As luck would have it, though, I saw the movie Indie Game shortly after I chanced upon an Xbox. The universe wanted me to play Fez!

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No, this is not a confession. In fact, I don’t believe I did anything wrong by playing such a game (except of course, for pirating it!). Many of you might be scandalized by such a claim, and that’s precisely my motivation for writing this post.

Imagine a game where the player is given the role of a rapist. Throughout the game, the player will undoubtedly carry out unspeakable acts of horror against innocent victims. What would you think of such a game? I’m sure you’ll all agree that rape is a terrible, terrible thing. I happen to be close friends with a rape victim, so I’m particularly sensitive to the topic.

But what about murder? Is murder not as bad as rape? Much worse, even? Yet everyday we play games where the main characters are cold-blooded murderers! Does anyone see a contradiction in this? How come it’s ok for most games to involve murder in some way, yet rape is out of the question?

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Random Roundup

I’ve been reading a bunch of interesting stuff lately, so I thought I’d share. There’s no relationship between these items, and they come from diverse sources, from the minds of the pros to those of the aficionados.

Piggybacking – This article by MTG designer Mark Rosewater explains the concept of piggybacking in game design. To quote from the article, “Piggybacking is the skill of building design around an already known and understood concept. […] Instead of teaching someone your game from scratch, use things the player already knows.” It’s a great read altogether, and it includes some examples that will blow your mind. For example, remember Plants vs Zombies? Think about why the designers chose plants and zombies as characters. Because it’s funny and quirky ? Think again.

Games as Medium, not as Art: Performative Beauty in Videogames – In this piece from the blog Nightmare Mode, Patrick Lindsey explores the beauty in watching someone else play a game. Is it not inspiring, even hypnotizing, to watch an expert play a game? From the article, “While sports may not themselves be art, there is something undeniably artistic about the performance of high level sport. […] With that in mind, is not the same true of videogames?” A provocative read with links to some very cool videos.

Mechanics as Metaphor – The Extra Credits folks manage to stir up controversy yet again by discussing meaningful game mechanics. In one of their latest episodes, they encourage the viewers to play the provocative Loneliness, a simplistic game made around a single, very interesting mechanic. Suffice it to say that the (very short) game will leave you thinking, which is exactly what the Extra Credits guys want. The forum discussion got heated, with some haters going as far as to spew these sorts of gems: “Welcome to the (for lack of a better term) “art game genre.” A mess of shitty flash games with limited color palettes and boring gameplay that has you simply move in one direction, accompanied by a sad piano score and an ambiguous ending. The preferred medium of hacks who think they’re far more intelligent than they are.” Good times! Don’t forget to check part two of the episode.

Rezzed: My Indie Picks – Someone asked me recently about upcoming indie games, and well, it doesn’t get better than this! Ben Rose tells us about some interesting indie games he got to check out at Rezzed back in July. One of the games is said to be “like Pong, but really violent.” What more do you want?

 

fusionchamberlain likes slippery handrails, Pink Floyd and games that make you think. When he encounters such games, he usually writes about them here.

Indie Munch is a column where I briefly discuss three indie games I played recently. I usually spend an afternoon devoting one or two hours to each game, hoping to discover some little gems.

Since this is only the second edition of Indie Munch, I’m still figuring out a lot of things. For example, how to choose which games to play. Right now, I pretty much just take a look at my Steam/Humble Bundle libraries and pick out a game from the many that I’ve yet to play. Obviously, I tend to give preference to games I’ve heard a lot about, or games that I’ve looked forward to playing. Occassionally, though, I’ll pick out a game completely at random. I’m telling you all of this because in the future, I’ll probably be looking for suggestions of particular games to play, as well as deciding in advance which ones I’ll pick, in order to choose titles better suited for the purposes of this column. Hit the break to see what I played this week.

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