Latest Blog Posts

by G. Christopher Williams

12 Sep 2016


Fans of Kentucky Route Zero have waited two years for the penultimate chapter in the episodic game series.

This week we discuss the slow winding journey of The Mucky Mammoth down the Echo River, the slow dissolve of the game’s former protagonist, and speculate on where this journey to 5 Dogwood Drive will end.

by Nick Dinicola

9 Sep 2016


One of the most common words used to describe No Man’s Sky (common, at least, when being positive about it) is “lonely”. PopMatters’ own Erik Kersting wrote a piece just last week about its “vast loneliness”.

But for a game that’s supposedly so lonely, there’s a crap ton of life everywhere you look. There’s a space station in every galaxy, and every planet is littered with crashed ships, outposts, transmission stations, and ancient monoliths—markers of intelligent life and civilization. Not to mention all the plants, every planet has some plant life, so there are no truly dead worlds. In fact, I’d say there’s too much life in No Man’s Sky. No matter where you go, you can never escape the presence of the three big spacefaring species. I think the review by the A.V.Club has the best description I’ve read of the game, “Your traveler is not really an explorer—you never visit a planet unknown to the galaxy’s intelligent species—they’re a pilgrim, traveling towards their sacred destination slowly and alone.” This universe was discovered, charted, and colonized long before we ever showed up. We may be traveling alone, but we are also never truly alone.

by G. Christopher Williams

7 Sep 2016


When you see a sundial or a water-clock, you see that it tells the time by design and not by chance. How then can you imagine that the universe as a whole is devoid of purpose and intelligence, when it embraces everything, including these artifacts themselves and their artificers?
—Cicero, De Natura Deorum

This post contains spoilers about the ending of No Man’s Sky.

Perhaps, the most famous version of the teleological argument for the existence of God is William Paley’s description from his 1802 book Natural Theology:

by Kym Buchanan

6 Sep 2016


What is learning? Last week in the first part of my discussion of how games represent learning, I framed this question by asserting that a simulation often has a rhetorical slant. Therefore, if I literally interpret systems and gameplay, I can infer game designers’ answers to this question. Here are some further answers to the question, loosely grouped by theme, with some possible implications.

1. Learning is repeating the same task over and over. Like many MMO games, Albion Online‘s gameplay is centered on grinding. If I want to improve in fire staff, I need to defeat many, many enemies using a fire staff. If I want to improve in crafting pickaxes, I need to craft lots and lots of pickaxes.

by Nick Dinicola

2 Sep 2016


One surefire way to ruin the drama of any story is to have a protagonist that doesn’t care about the drama of the story. Unless you’re making a comedy, the protagonist of any story should take that story seriously and should not actively undermine the dramatic tension of climactic moments. Having a character who does this consistently in an otherwise straight-faced drama is just poor storytelling.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

The Thoughtful Absurdity of 'Spaceplan'

// Moving Pixels

"Spaceplan is a goofy game that still manages to pack a potent emotional punch.

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