It’s been a good couple of weeks for poor gamers. If you include Game/Gamestation falling apart its been a good month for poor gamers. I currently have a stack of games 12 deep sitting on my desk, all of which I managed to grab for less than £5 each, though will probably never have the time to play them. This week the list of games grew. I blame the guys at Humble Bundle and Indie Royal. When I’m offered games, soundtracks, and I can select the price, and money gets donated to charity, and the games are from indie developers, well, I just buckle under the pressure.
That’s just a long way to say… sorry for last week’s hiatus. Sometimes technology fails me, and sometimes that failure is my MacBook charger bursting into flames. It’s probably deserved. I shouldn’t have tried playing The Witcher 2 on a laptop.
Something to listen to
I make no apologies for my love of Ken Levine‘s games. He’s in the Kotaku Power 40, so someone must agree with me. In particular, Bioshock was a great demonstration of how his writing style and writing background allowed the game to tell a larger story, whilst having the very clipped writing style that is necessary in gaming.
At Irrational games Ken has a podcast, which not only gives insight into his process, but also enlists other industry professionals; this week it’s Amy Hennig, Naughty Dog’s Creative Director and writer. It’s really interesting to see how backgrounds of both writers affects their involvement; and also the startling revelation that games design is far more frantic that you’d believe — shock, horror.
Something to play
As a kid I loved to play Guess Who. So imagine my childish glee when I found 6 Degrees of Sabotage, a game that is pretty much a modernised version of Guess Who, with pixel art and a sniper rifle. 6 Degrees of Sabotage was made by Lucas Pope, a developer at Ratloop Games (multiple Indie Games Festival Winners). The truly game feels as though it was built and designed by one person, there are only 14 characters, though because of thoughtful and sometimes tricky gameplay there’s a lot of intrigue and replayabilty.
You can play the game on Lucas’ site.
Something to do
There aren’t enough games which interact with the real world. Sure we have LARPing, but very few games bridge the gap between virtual and reality seamlessly.
Graveyard Snuggle meshes the real world with gameplay. The name might sound cute, but it can be horribly disturbing or friend/partner-making depending on your company. Graveyard Snuggle is basically Twister, though far more touchy-feely and on an iPhone.
The rules are simple:
1. Sit in a circle with two or more of your dearest friends.
2. Summon the skeleton by tapping on the glowing skull. Listen closely for the skeleton’s commands.
3. Obey each command by placing one of your bones on another player’s bone. You might also be commanded to pass the device from one player to another.
4. Everyone must obey the skeleton’s commands — even those not holding the device! For example, if the skeleton orders you to place your left hand on another player’s skull, everyone in the group must person that action to the best of their abilities.
5. Do not take turns, and do not wait for the device to be in your possession before moving.
6. Continue knotting your bodies until someone moves the device too abruptly and ends the game.
Gamification has been growing for years, even before the days of Nike+, though games such as Graveyard Snuggle and Zombie, Run! ( one of the best running apps I’ve ever found), are not just making gaming more interactive, but also creating a bridge to non-gamers, which can’t be a bad thing.
Something to read
With games like Zombie, Run! you’re affecting your in-game story by performing real-world actions. So imagine if Triple A games started following this trend, maybe through real world stuff, or as the creators of Eve Online are doing with Dust 514, crossing between games.
This process is called Transmedia Storytelling — whilst that might sound like a gimmicky, meaningless phrase thrown out by an advertising consultant, it is considered (by some) to be the next stage of game development.
The concept could be a gold-mine for developers. Imagine if your little sister could play an Angry Birds clone and give you buffs in an MMO, or your partner could farm stars in a Mario mini-game whilst you’re saving the Mushroom Kingdom. As games develop more into services, Transmedia Gaming and Storytelling could allow you to branch out experiences from the same story line, meaning that once you’re bored with an FPS you could play the companion RTS, etc, etc. There’s an interesting little article from Lisette Vitter. If you’re interested int the idea of gaming stretching across multiple experiences, then it’s more than worth checking out.
You can read the article at nmincite.com.