So I wrapped up Lightning Returns and in the process I had some thoughts about how the history of the FF13 meta-series has gone down. Thus I just sort of sat down and poured them onto the page. In the absence of having any new or interesting critical commentary to post, I figured I’d just throw it up here in case any of you were interested.
The following warnings apply:
- Spoilers for FF13, FF13-2, and Lightning Returns
- This was not meant to be a coherent blog post; it’s more Exposition-Fu. Just bear that in mind.
- WALL OF TEXT.
With that in mind, feel free to jump in after the cut:
This has been a long time coming. It’s time… to blog about Saints Row. Specifically, the latest game in the series, Saints Row 4. We’re going to get there in a roundabout way, however, so bear with me until this is over.
From SR4 mission “Millerspace”
I want to talk about how Saints Row 4 is a game, about games, about games. If you’re interested in hearing more about this topic, feel free to join me after the cut. Definite (though not Earth-shattering — puns!) spoilers for Saints Row 4 and potentially for Saints Row: the Third ahead. (more…)
So earlier today on Twitter, Denis Farr and I were discussing how mages in the Dragon Age universe have a lot of queer readings, especially in the sense of political queerness in the 70s/80s. In the process I mentioned that I got a similar vibe from the much-maligned cast of Final Fantasy 13, specifically the relationship between “fal’Cie” (power supernatural beings in the setting) and “l’Cie” (e.g. the heroes of the game). In keeping with a drive to shorter stuff more often, I figured I’d delve into that tonight.
REMINDER: This blog is a no-FF13-hating-for-the-sake-of-hating zone. If you don’t like the game and aren’t interested in criticism of it don’t roll up in here telling me about how it’s awful, I’m awful, and especially not how Final Fantasy is dead. We’ve already covered that ground. So my rule is: if you’re going to read/comment on this, do me the favor of backing your assertions up with examples instead of inarguable affective things like “it’s awful.”
Right. Ground rules set, let’s begin. Spoilers for FF13 and FF13-2 follow: (more…)
I’ve realized I probably do too much Mega Buster charging when it comes to blog posts: I wait until I’ve got so fucking much to say that it pours out in a sometimes untempered flood of nonsense that people excusably stop reading 10% of the way through. So today I’m trying an experiment in just getting a quick post out there.
I’m gonna write some stuff about being fat. You were warned. (more…)
So Bryce Mainville wrote a short piece last week about suggestions for overhauling the design of Street Fighter 4‘s main cast. It’s a quick read, and not all that controversial; most of the suggestions are relatively mild changes, but I found the entire post thought-provoking and wanted to elaborate on my thoughts on the subject in general, despite Recent Events™, because regardless of what people think of me, my work, or my book, I actually enjoy fighting games a lot and I’d like to see them do better, much as I’d like to see MOBAs — another genre I enjoy — do better too.
She really loves hippos you guys. LOVES THEM.
From this post’s subject you probably expect this post to be about sexualized designs, but to be honest, I don’t necessarily think that’s the problem here. Certainly, the sexualization of some SF characters and their outfits — Cammy’s ridiculous bikini/camo leg paint and Viper’s “hot businesswoman stripper” top — gets on my nerves, but character designs in fighting games in general (SF nor Capcom aren’t especially guilty compared to anyone else) tend to invoke very specific ethnic and gender stereotypes in their designs that sometimes also get on my nerves. And not always for reasons of ZOMG RACISM/MISOGYNY, as I’ll discuss after the cut, but it’s still a thing we need to consider. (more…)
So, this semester I’m teaching a course on “Game Design for Expression.” It’s really more of a class on how students — especially students with no technology or game background — can make small, personal games. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of guest speakers willing to talk about their work, including Mattie Brice, Samantha Allen, and most recently, Will O’Neill, the creator of Actual Sunlight.
That game, like Depression Quest, is one that I deeply respected based on what I’d heard about it, but in the end couldn’t play, because I wasn’t in an emotional place where doing so would have been healthy. But I assigned it for my students this semester to play and discuss because I thought they would get a great lesson out of doing so. And because I’m their professor, I had to play it too, which I finally sat down to do on Tuesday night to be ready for Wednesday’s class.
This post is the story of how that went. Insofar as Actual Sunlight can be spoiled, this post will have them.
I had a brief conversation with Kris Ligman this evening about the Game Church, which led to me reading an interview they did with Steve Gaynor of Fullbright about Gone Home. In reading it, I had what the kids are calling “some feels” and while it won’t make a very long blog post (sorry America), it’s too longform for Twitter, and thus I resort to writing what should be a pretty short blog post.
As I am endeavoring to protect people from GH spoilers as far as I can, the rest comes after the cut:
Alright. So thanks to a gift from Maddy Myers, I went home. I had no plans to buy the game, mostly because “mansion games” (thank you Robert Yang) or “first person experiences” (thank you Cameron Kunzelman) aren’t my thing. I don’t really enjoy point and click adventures, or games where you progress by turning over every little thing until you discover the tiny clue that opens the secret staircase on level 5 that leads to the Haunted Donut Shop or whatever. I find them hard to engage with since I get little feeling of mastery from drudge work, and the payoff is almost always narrative information that I could easily read off a wiki page.
Now, before the pitchforks and torches come out, I am saying the game is not in my strike zone, NOT that the game is inherently bad. Please don’t roll up in my comments telling me how I’m an awful human being for not liking mansion/point-click games. I am begging you.
Right. That’s out of the way.
So the whole point of this genre, as I said on Twitter, is to find narrative things out through a carefully-crafted obsessive-compulsive disorder simulation. By necessity, discussing it without revealing any spoilers thus becomes impossible and has very real potential to deeply affect the game experience even for people who normally don’t have a real problem with spoilers (like myself).
Thus, vague impressions? Interestingly put together, ventures into territory not frequently touched by mainstream AAA games. Cohesive. This is the same response I had to Kentucky Route Zero and that seems pretty apt, all things considered. As I said on a recent Gayme Bar podcast, I found KR0 to be engaging but not necessarily fun/enjoyable. Gone Home made me feel similarly. I was pulled through it by powerful inertia but I wasn’t having a strong emotional response either way.
If you want to know more – SPOILERS ABOUND AHEAD — then check after the cut:
So Polygon reviewed DuckTales Remastered and then Twitter got ahold of it and, you know, stuff has happened. Since I’m trying to keep in the habit of blogging, I figured I’d write something about it, especially after I had an extended convo with Matt Bremner about it on Twitter earlier. Matt was pretty unhappy with the review, and on a few of the points he brings up I am totally with him on not being happy with the review. Of course on a few other points I differ, and that feeling of division is writ pretty large in the comments section of that review where nobody can make up their minds about anything other than the people on the other side being jerks.
But I feel like my now-boring-to-everyone battle with the death of Final Fantasy is orthogonal to what I have lovingly termed “Ducknado” because they both seem to deal with this notion of console nostalgia, what it does to us as consumers and to the industry as producers, and both its perils and its promise. If you want the short version, I’m scared that nostalgia is going to make DT:R “immune” to legitimate critique in the eyes of many, which is a dangerous place to be. If you want the long story, then check out what I’ve got to say after the cut.