Friday, November 11, 2005

The Mark of Quality

Have you ever went to buy a game, movie, album or book and wondered if it was an honest attempt to create art? Or, more likely, if it was just another product pushed onto shelves that, while may have had heartfelt effort behind it, and may even be entertaining, did not succeed in being special? How about a label that told you just that? One that said "Quality Book," "Quality Album," or the like? Well, Tadhg Kelly wants to give us that. And he wants to start with games. I recommend you read the article yourself here, where he's quick to point out that "The label is not a '5 star' seal. It's a label that says 'Discerning people might like this'."

I was a bit curious about the boundaries of his tastes, so I asked what kinds of games he felt would be worthy of the mark. I offered a short list of mainstream stuff that I felt was all quality; GTA 3, Spider-Man 2, Max Payne, the recent Shadow of the Colossus, and the not-as-commercially-successful, but still excellent Psychonauts. He countered back with a list of games that he would offer for vote, "Killer 7, Ico, Starcraft, Grim Fandango, God of War, The Neverhood, Cannon Fodder, Worms, Zelda."

Yeah, this is an idea I could get behind. Makes an interesting compliment to David Jaffe's recent critique of Games Journalism, as well.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sharing links

Just thought I'd take a minute to point out a couple of websites that I didn't know about, and you may or may not either. Firstly, is Raph Koster's. Sure he's had like three other blogs, but he seems intent on keeping this one updated. Seriously. He's even posted LiveJournal-esque quiz answers and poetry. But I'm sure we'll all be better for it in some way. (If you haven't read his book, A Theory of Fun, you're really missing out.)

Another is one that's been around a short while is that of Tom Buscaglia, which the author admits will be updated sporadically. He's not a developer, but an attorney who deals in video game law. He's even given himself the subtitle "The Game Attorney." Want cool points for an attorney? He's even part of a clan. He's shown himself to be rather unafraid about the industry. He's pointed out developers by name for being dicks. He's lamented the fact that 'we' (gamers) have lost Gaming to big business and can only save it via indie games. And while many hesitantly touch on unionization, he grapples the subject unapologetically with:

So, I gotta wonder…why is there so much hostility toward even discussing the idea of some of the bigger studios becoming union shops?

I have a few ideas…possibly it is snoberism. Being in a union is considered working class and most developers consider themselves to be “above” that. Though it is difficult for me to see much of a difference between making chevies on an assembly line and making Madden 2007 on an assembly line. Sure I get it for small creative teams. But not for a line workers and they are the ones getting screwed the most, with the least power, at a time in their careers when they are most vulnerable.

Too bad that senior developers don’t take a bit more responsibility for those on the lower tiers of the industry. I suspect that if Will Wright asked management at EA to please treat those working on his SIMS games a little better, EA would do it. Especially if Will said that if they did not he’d take his next game to Midway!
The Game Attorney is so hippo.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A novel abortion and Jeff Freeman.

There's this tricky thing about time, it doesn't stop for one second. In fact, in order to make good use of time, you have to take time to make plans about time management. It's insane, quite frankly. And I'm horrible at making good use of time. So, I'm quitting NaNoWriMo. After the first two days and three thousand words, I was feeling pretty good about it. Then I got in this beta for a forthcoming MMORPG, and decided to try it for three days. I mean, I could always make up the time by pulling all-day sessions on my days off of work, right?

Well, that MMORPG, like virtually all MMORPGs I've tried, did nothing for me. S'shame, really. (I'd like to see someone take note of Jeff Freeman's ideas, which you can read via Ole Bald Angus, here. Though, now that Freeman is "Lead Game Play Designer" on Star Wars Galaxies, maybe a few more folks will listen to him. More on him in a sec.)

The point here is that I'm thinking that this time novel-writing and particularly MMORPGing, would have been better spent programming. So I'm going to do more of that.

I mean, after over a week of not doing it, I probably couldn't even program pong efficiently. I'd end up having to google something. (Okay, bit of a stretch, but still.) As much as I want to take on a large project, but first I think I first want to do something small and fun that gives instant results to warm the brain back up.

I'm thinking overhead free-roaming shooter. I love spilling zombie guts.

Though on Mr. Freeman becoming LGPD, kudos to him. Despite his insistence "So don't get the crazy notion that I'm "in charge" here. "The Man" is a many-headed beast called Management. I just try to help it make good decisions. With regard to game mechanics, it even lets me decide, sometimes." He should remember the wise words of my crazy pal Eddie. To be The Man, you must beat The Man! Wooo!

Friday, November 04, 2005

A story from the Montreal Games Summit

Found a great post via Jurie of Intelligent Artifice. (Who got it via Robin of gewgaw.)

It's a recap of an incident at the Montreal Games Summit as blogged by Kim Pallister, a Microsoft employee of who-knows-what-type. Allow me to repost part of his blog, including the heavy French accent that somehow drives the point home.
"You talk about de need for critical acclaim. And you talk about de need for de big boodget. Der is a painting in France called de monah-leesah. It is famous. It might be very expensif too, if you can buy it, but you can't buy it."

Then he pulls out a peice of loose leaf paper from his pocket and unfolds it, holding it up in front of 600+ people, to show a cartoon drawing. Noticably choked up, he says, "Dis is a picture dat my son drawed for me. This drawing makes me cry, and de monah leesah doesn't effect me one damn bit".
Do yourself the favor of reading his post, here. I love blogs. Without'em we'd never hear these gems.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

NaNoWriMo, and a good reason to like David Jaffe

Crazy-happy-kill-yourself-fun-time. Yes, I also am participating in National Novel Writing Month, like fellow gaming bloggers Josh, Corvus, and Brinstar. Much like Josh, I'm thankful that NaNoWriMo isn't about winning, but about writing. I already know I won't be hitting the 50,000 word mark, but that won't stop me from writing anyway.

Sure it's not exactly gaming related, unless you count NaNoWriMo as a game which I suppose is possible. But it's not a game I'm playing to win. I know I won't be hitting the 50,000 word goal or anything, but I've always meant to get around to writing something of size, and this is as good as an excuse as I'm ever going to find.

On another topic, David Jaffe (dude who made God of War, Twisted Metal, etc.) made a good post today that berates the quality of gaming journalism. He argues that game journalists think that the line between Games and Games Journalism is a thin one. Rather, he argues that they are wrong. And if they truly want to help Games, then they should effectively put up or shut up. That doing their job and scrutinizing games with an honest eye is the best way to help Games. I think he's right.

Admittedly he reminds me of a movie I watched recently, a documentary on Z-Channel that I recommend to all. It talks about how a bunch of people who loved movies (and reviewed them,) were able to change film via distribution, rather than solely critique. (Costikyan, I'm looking at you here, pal.)

In addition to when Jaffe calls for "LESS FUCKING PREVIEWS AND MORE FEATURES!!!!" I find it kinda funny when he brings up their interviews.
Did you see ROLLING STONE with the BONO interview?!? Give me THAT but with KOJIMA....OR MIYAMOTO! And no more of this bullshit about how he plays the fucking banjo and likes to garden. Wow, that's hard hitting! Shit guys, dig into the man and let us know what makes him tick, what he really likes and dislikes, his political views, what his stresses are, what his vices are, does he feel stress to save Nintendo, know, go and WRITE something!
Seriously. If some anonymous blogger (me) can say 'Hey, I wonder what Alex Seropian thinks about this,' or have Mark Healey tell me "I would love to see all the corporate grey middle men banished from the industry, those that don't care about games, only about cashing in on factory produced crap." then a major magazine should have no problem not only getting big names, but big interviews.

Speaking of which, I should write a review of Rag Doll Kung Fu. In short: Worth the cash.