"Don't be a dick." That simple notion is the first of Victor Lucas' 3D rules. The others? Don't dick around and don't hang out with dicks. Some would lead you to believe the games press is filled with dicks. It's not. With this in mind, I seek out the best games writing - from news to interviews to reviews and beyond - and highlight it here.

Theme by Andy Taylor, modified by Aaron Hudspeth.

 

The Mushroom Tyranny

We’ve seen loads of articles about Mario potentially being a bad guy of his world, but Jason Rice’s humorous take on the matter is that Mario has been had. So who’s the big bad, then?

None other than Princess Peach.

Hmm.

On Dark Souls' Tutorial

Much has been said about Dark Souls, but I enjoyed this read on its opening stage. At times I’d argue the limitations of the game—the challenges faced—come from it not being inherently modern (probably a good thing).

Tutorials today are hand-holdy affairs of mind-numbing scale like no other. Dark Souls’ eschews this:

 If you’re of the ilk that prefers a large spotlight be thrown on controls and mechanics then you’ll find the Asylum lacking. Rather it adopts a more subtle approach; it exhibits the minimum of text information and allows you to hone your skills organically. Then, once you’ve proven yourself, the real Dark Souls can begin in earnest.

Waldron, Chris. “How Dark Souls’ Tutorial Communicates More Than Just Controls” (Pixels or Death:  March 14, 2013) <http://pixelsordeath.com/features/how-dark-souls-tutorial-communicates-more-than-just-controls>.

Incredipede: The Incredible Journey

Here’s a profile of husband-and-wife developers Colin and Sarah Northway and their game Incredipede. I asked Joshua Dennison, the author of the article, to summarize it in a sentence, and it’s an apt summary:

Making games is about the journey, and the Northways prove that journey doesn’t have to be a drama-infused nightmare.”

Their journey started by selling off their possessions and traveling permanently. That’s bold. My take away is that amazing people can do amazing things.

And hey, at least their journey wasn’t unexpected, right?

My Ascent to Ascension

It’s hard to classify this as an article on Ascension. Indeed, if that’s what you’re after, this is not the article for you. Instead, Joshua Dennison offers a personal essay on his experience with board games. And it’s fantastic.

I have loved board games my entire life, and certainly owe much of my love of gaming in general to them. They’ve always been – and always will be – fun respites from the tedium of everyday life.

So why did I almost forsake them!?

That question and more answered by following the link.

Dennison, Joshua. “My Ascent to Ascension” (Pixels or Death: September 13, 2012) <http://pixelsordeath.com/features/my-ascent-to-ascension>.

The Art of Videogames Galore

You say videogames are art, yes? Well, this post is for you then, as the Smithsonian agrees (though not everyone does). Three updates, one post, just for you.

With The Smithsonian’s new exhibit about games, I’ve seen lots of praise aimed their way. Pixels or Death is a bit more cautious in their assessment:

If one cannot truly experience games as an art form without playing them, the absence of more playable titles limited the exhibit’s ability to serve as outreach to a population that still doesn’t understand the feeling we get when picking up a controller.  It is akin to an exhibit of paintings in which the works are described in detail, but never shown.  It was this missed opportunity that assured the Art of Video Games would be a very good, but short of great exhibit.

Nightmare Mode have an interview with an artist who doesn’t refer to himself as an artist at all. An interesting read:

Despite his accomplishments as an illustrator, sculptor, game designer, and (at one point) dessert chef, Hofmeier hesitates to call himself an artist; when forced to qualify himself, he opts for “naïve idiot.” But his respect for the works of others is apparent. During our conversation, he praises interactive fiction luminary Emily Short (“an incredibly good writer”), indie developer Anna Anthropy (“she walks the walk”) and even film critic Roger Ebert (“He’s got a lot of love to give”). Yet the artist we spend the most time on is also, within the world of video games, the most famous: Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima.

And, to wrap it up, a preview of Diablo III…or a Diablo art-book, I’m not sure…examining the work going into the bosses of the series:

Because Blizzard knew they would have a close-up of Azmodan in the Black Soulstone cinematic, the team worked to create a unique facial structure for the demon. “We needed to have an interesting facial silhouette. I’m not talking about the outside of the face, necessarily, but the interior,” said Lichtner. “The placement of the eyes and mouth. We wanted to push it outside the norm a little bit more.” 

Potts, Mike. “Pixels or Death Visits the Art of Video Games Exhibit” (Pixels or Death: March 21, 2012) <http://pixelsordeath.com/article/pixels-or-death-visits-the-art-of-video-games-exhibit>.

Holmes, Dylan. “The Artist: A Conversation with Cart Life’s Richard Hofmeier” (Nightmare Mode: March 23, 2012) <http://nightmaremode.net/2012/03/the-artist-a-conversation-with-cart-lifes-richard-hofmeier-17504/>.

Onyett, Charles. “Diablo III: Designing a Demon” (IGN: March 26, 2012) <http://pc.ign.com/articles/122/1221557p1.html>.

Submissions: Darkness II & Changing Beyond Recognition

A couple of submissions I’ve been mulling over for the past few days here. Let’s talk about them, shall we?

In the first, Nolan Mcbride of Pixels or Death talks about a sense of intimacy in The Darkness II.

These New York streets are sometimes difficult to navigate. The game’s map features no waypoints or directions; the HUD provides no assistance either. Instead, players must rely upon the same mechanisms as real inhabitants of the Big Apple. Traversal becomes less difficult through repetition and familiarity. The more intimate Jackie becomes with the various districts, the more players become comfortable with locations. New York City rewards its residents with a sense of closeness that tourists and passersby cannot possess and The Darkness does the same. After becoming familiar with the game’s world, both Jackie and the player come to call this place home.

In the second, Peter Eykemans of IGN examines those videogame series that have changed beyond recognition, including juggernauts like Metroid and Grand Theft Auto. He concludes by saying:

A lot of these genre shifts are simple continuations of popular series’ that utilize the best available technology, built within a genre that makes sense. As we’ve seen, not all of these flips made sense and not all of them succeeded. But the imagery is striking and worth noting that a successful formula doesn’t have to keep repeating itself. 

McBride, Nolan. “A Case for Intimacy:The Darkness” (Pixels or Death: February 22, 2012) <http://pixelsordeath.com/features/a-case-for-intimacy-the-darkness>.

Eykemans, Peter. “10 Series That Changed Beyond Recognition” (IGN: February 17, 2012) <http://games.ign.com/articles/121/1218958p1.html>.

More on Skyrim: Sea of Ghosts

Skyrim is responsible for some fantastic games writing* - testament to just how engrossing it is to those that love it. What impresses me most is that, finally!, we are getting a several tastes of Gillen’s semi-antiquated not-manifesto of New Game Journalism. Travel writing is so very unique and so very fitting for video games. Here’s but one example:

[I]t seems particularly wasteful to allow the open water — the setting with the most potential for terror throughout the entirety of Tamriel — to remain lifeless. It is here, in Skyrim’s Sea of Ghosts that the most horrifying denizens should dwell.

McGeady, Sean. “Sea of Ghosts: Skyrim’s Wasted Potential” (Pixels or Death: February 6th, 2012) <http://pixelsordeath.com/features/sea-of-ghosts-skyrims-wasted-potential>.

*Am I the only one that’s noticed that, to anyone else, these complaints would be trivial? We gamers are a strange lot.

[Oblivion’s] meaning is derived solely from the sum of its parts, that we must put together to develop our own associations.

Lindsey, Patrick. “Searching for Meaning in Oblivion” (Pixels or Death: February 3rd, 2012) <http://pixelsordeath.com/features/searching-for-meaning-in-oblivion>.