Browsing category: Speculative

Be warned, we’re getting into spoiler territory here from the outset. Turn back now if you’ve yet to finish the game.

For you can tie me up if you wish,

but there is nothing more useless than an organ.

When you will have him a body without organs,

then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions

and restored him to his true freedom

To Have Done with the Judgment of God, Antonin Artaud

LUCAH: Born of a Dream, from gamedev collective melessthanthree, thrusts you head-first into a world beyond any sense of logic or understanding. Everything around you coalesces into an undulating mass of incomprehensible action; the only thing that makes sense anymore is fighting. Some of the first words that greet you in this world: ”You can’t help but feel you’ve been here before. You can’t help but feel they only want to hurt you. But you know you must move forward. You must fight.” And fight you do, pushing back against the ever encroaching Darkness that blankets the land.

This Darkness exists as an extension of the world, to a degree, leading you to press ever-forward, unable to turn back. In it, we move toward a cyclical process in which this place eventually dies, destroyed one way or another, only to return once again to its original state of being. It’s an endless feedback loop; one that seemingly betrays no signs of stopping. You find yourself trapped in this place, fighting through loop after loop, attempting to enact change to no fruition. LUCAH’s world is one destined to fall, only to rise from the ashes again and again, a dark, undying phoenix. Decay holds no permanence here.

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Behold, the true face of horror (SOMA)

Horror, a genre known for having as many pitfalls as there are fall-prone protagonists, and one that is notoriously hard to integrate into video games. While there are countless examples of Horror done poorly across all media, games present a slew of challenges very specific to the medium which are far too often not taken into account during development, leading to lackluster Horror title upon lackluster Horror title. This is apparent enough that some commentators have even come to eschew the title of Horror game, opting instead for Horror themed game.

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Supposedly, this one sunk the Titanic.

Co-written with Yestin Harrison

In the past, it wasn’t unusual for projects to take 3-5 years, particularly in AAA or experimental IPs. Sometimes, the hype cycles were a strength, other times not so much. It’s not as though the development model that Infinity Ward popularized with Call of Duty hadn’t already been present in the industry. However, at the time, it was a strategy largely reserved for producing spinoffs and experimental gameplay.

Capcom were notorious for this, often sharing staff among multiple IPs. This is perhaps exemplified in the provenance of the original Devil May Cry, which began life as Resident Evil 4, but was deemed too incongruous with the Resident Evil series and eventually became the first installment in a series all its own. (The title actually known as Resident Evil 4, for reference, came several scrapped versions later.) DMC’s “air juggling” of enemies came from yet another title, being inspired by a bug in Onimusha: Warlords.

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Handelingenkamer, The Hague.

On the 25th of this month, Ross Scott of Freeman’s Mind and Ross’s Game Dungeon fame (both of which, by the way, warrant coverage of their own in the future) dropped a video essay, “Games as a service” is fraud. In the description, he writes:

WARNING: This is more boring than my usual videos.

Well, all right, it’s a dry topic touching on the technical, the philosophical, and the legal; but it’s important and warrants a conversation. I highly suggest giving the video a watch, even if it feels like preaching to the choir. That said, this article doesn’t require it. The springboard I’ll use for now is the following quote from 42:53:

Every once in a while, you’ll hear people ask if games are art. I don’t have an answer on that, but I think it’s pretty clear games are creative experiences often worthy of preservation, so I’ll say art just to keep it simple.

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VR is a controversial topic. For some, it’s a technological panacea, a wave of the future. Others, sometimes justifiably, see it as a hubristic cash grab whose saving grace is the occasional hardware innovation beyond pure novelty. After being subjected to a seemingly endless ouroboros of PR and hype campaigns, no one can be faulted for growing cynical or weary in the face of bold promises.

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A requiem for the unique and the whimsical.

Throughout the personal computer revolution, the landscape was awash with architectures. Z80. 68000. PowerPC. SPARC. MIPS. Everyone wanted a piece of the pie, and innovation looked radically different across the board. By the turn of the century, however, the market had collectively settled on Intel’s x86. At a stretch, one may buy an Intel machine distinguished by, one: having a picture of a fruit on it, and two: the ability to run an operating system with a picture of a fruit on it.

It was inevitable that game consoles would meet the same fate.

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Well, here we are again. There’s been a lot of talk lately about parasocial relationships, the type that we unilaterally form with artists, social media figures, writers, but I like to think that isn’t how you feel about me as a writer. I think that in the reading of this deconstruction there’s an unspoken overlap on some level going on, a trade of understanding. But we’ll get to that, for now let’s take that proverbial last strike of the hammer into Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy.

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Well, here we are again, I’m crossing my fingers that most of you made it this far, and I’m glad for each and every one of you who did. I have a lot left to say, and I hope you have a lot left to read, so without too much delay, let’s get right to the second section of our deep dive into Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy.

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Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy is a game by the titular Bennett Foddy that was released in the far-gone year of 2017 to much contemporary critical acclaim and analysis. Why then revisit an already well-explored game years after its release? Personally I find it almost poignant to talk about the game as a memory, as an experience that has stuck with you that you find yourself reflecting on years down the road, much as one reflects on tough times, challenges overcome, or mistakes that they’ve made. We engage in this all the time in our lives, and what is art, if not something that seeks in an ephemeral but present way to be part of our life experience?

Now, this article is going to be a long one, it’s not titled Volume I without reason. This isn’t our normal fare, it’s dense and a slow burn, after all this game has a lot to say and I’ll be touching on far less than half of it, but I hope you’ll find it meaningful. So go get some water and settle in, I won’t judge if you can’t finish this in one sitting so don’t feel pressured to, if you need to take a break this article will still be here, and you can pick up right where you left off.

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Contemporary games in the survival genre suffer from a severe, almost ubiquitous, design failure, that of Hunger & Thirst systems. It’s a necessary mechanic in the eyes of developers, and that view isn’t necessarily wrong, but almost every implementation of hunger and thirst I’ve ever seen lacks the finesse necessary to sell it as anything but a source of frustration.

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