Latest Blog Posts

by L.B. Jeffries

20 Apr 2010

One of the most interesting shifts in MMO design compared to single player gaming is moving from an emotion centered design to something oriented around social spaces. Rather than focusing on making a game fair and fun for one person, you have to orient it around thousands. T.L. Taylor’s book Play Between Worlds is a careful study on the effects of design in Everquest over an extended period of time. Detailing her observations as a Gnome Necromancer, the book relies on academic research and interviews to paint a broad picture of how the design of the game interacts with the culture.

Taylor starts by pointing out that academics initially treated the relationship of real life and virtual worlds as a hard divide. There was your digital life, and then there was your real one. The approach emphasized the novelty of becoming an entirely new person independent of your old self. That proves to mostly not be true in the sense that the two spill into one another. Taylor writes, “What seems more to be the case is that people have a much messier relationship with their off- and online personas and social context . . . we have phenomena that are unique to both spheres and also occupy spaces of overlap” (18-19). Everquest and most other MMOs are a merger between the social aspects of forum culture and video game elements. Over time people get to know other players and develop relationships that go beyond mere in game rewards. She comments, “People create identities for themselves, have a variety of social networks, take on roles and obligations, build histories and communities. People live and through that living, play” (28).

by G. Christopher Williams

19 Apr 2010

There are the stories that developers want to tell us, but there are also those stories that just seem to crop up because of how we choose to play.

In our fifth episode of the the Moving Pixels Podcast’s six part series on storytelling in video games, we move away from the more scripted experiences in video game stories and consider the way that stories emerge as a result of our interactions with game worlds.  We consider how video games are seemingly partly plotted by the performance of their players.

by Nick Dinicola

16 Apr 2010

When Bayonetta was released, it sparked discussions in many blogs, news outlets, and podcasts about the portrayal of women in games. When WET was released no one really seemed to care. Buy why? Why did Bayonetta incite such discussions, both defending the overt sexualization of her character and condemning it, whereas nobody paid any attention to Rubi Malone, a similarly strong female character that (despite the name of the game) isn’t sexualized at all?

I believe that there are two reasons.

by G. Christopher Williams

14 Apr 2010

Finally, a video game adapted from another work that does justice to its source material.  Okay, well, it isn’t really a game, but it looks like one.

Doctor Octoroc’s adaptation of Joss Wheedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog into an 8-bit video game is really only a video itself (but that’s okay, the “blog” was really just a video as well).  Nevertheless, the “game” is a clever re-imagining of Wheedon’s successful experiment in transforming his televisual sensibilities into web video.

by L.B. Jeffries

13 Apr 2010

Fable 2 breaks tradition in the RPG genre by de-emphasizing combat to create a very robust play area for the player. The closest parallel that I can think of would be the Quest for Glory games, which layered a simplified RPG and character system onto the Sierra Online adventure game formula. Like the QfG games, Fable 2 is essentially driven by its story elements. The combat is an example of a simple but deep system that allows you to play just want to bash things with a store bought mace but adds enough that is interesting if you feel like coordinating weapons and magic. The story itself is a bit uneven because of the way that all of the sidequests are presented in an off beat or comical way while the main story has lots of tragedy and tear gushing moments, but then again, I just described the problem with every Western RPG of this generation. What makes Fable 2 interesting is how it grafts a simplified economy game into the usual combat and quests to blend together a full-scale hero simulation.

The basic principles of how Albion’s economy work goes like this: good economy = low cost and low rent, bad economy = high cost and high rent. The player is able to effect this in several ways. Buying goods from a store raises its value and the economy of the region, stealing from the shop or killing the owner lowers it. Just about every piece of property in the game can be purchased and the rates adjusted as the player sees fit. Houses and shops can be rented out to produce an annual income. Any extra terror or do-gooding that you add to the region also factors in. At the start of the game, you’re not going to have enough money to purchase anything except the cheaper stalls or gypsy wagons. You’re encouraged to just give it a try by buying one of these locations and then slowly noticing the benefits of rent being paid every 5 minutes. This is the basic foundation of the entire game and how you will be procuring goods until you hit the higher levels. You don’t harvest gold by killing monsters like you normally would in an RPG. Money can only be acquired by working a job, finding a chest, digging it up, selling crap, or through rent. So while at the beginning of the game you don’t really have to pay attention to anything except bashing stuff and grinding away as a Blacksmith, eventually you’re going to realize that it’s a lot more efficient to own property.

//Mixed media

Notes, Hoaxes, and Jokes: Silkworm's 'Lifestyle' - "Ooh La La"

// Sound Affects

"Lifestyle's penultimate track eases the pace and finds fresh nuance and depth in a rock classic, as Silkworm offer their take on the Faces' "Ooh La La".

READ the article