After writing about how my lack of preconceived opinions impacted my response to Lugaru HD, I’ve spent some more time thinking about expectations and how they impact players’ experiences and games’ receptions. All of it leads me to conclude that while the hype cycle keeps the medium’s business side running, it is usually bad for the artistic side. Realistically, no one can be expected to keep themselves hermetically sealed off from a game, but hasty comparisons and preconceived notions can easily hurt both players and developers.
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I noticed that the Grasshopper Manufacture logo that appears in the opening screens of Suda51 and Shinji Mikami’s new game, Shadows of the Damned, is not the version that includes the motto, “Punk’s Not Dead.” While I don’t feel like Suda51 has fully intended to step away from his infamous “punk rock aesthetic,” this latest game does leave me wondering a bit about the viability of that approach in the climate of contemporary gaming culture.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered their decision on Brown v. EMA (formerly Schwarzenegger v. EMA), a case arguing the strict regulation of mature-rated game titles in California. The 7-2 decision to overturn the California law in favor of the game industry was hardly an upset to perhaps anyone but Senator Yee, but I would ask a larger question: what, if anything, has changed?
The tower defense game is not a genre that is often given much attention in the critical discussion of video games. Usually light on the narrative qualities that game critics enjoy focusing on and often assumed to be a slightly more casual genre, there’s still a lot to be considered in this type of game’s appeal and in its most successful examples.
Our discussion, of course, touches on Plants Vs. Zombies, but we also look at a few other fresher titles like Anomaly: Warzone Earth and Defense Grid: the Awakening.
This post contains minor spoilers for Alice: Madness Returns
Alice: Madness Returns is not a technically impressive game. The landscape is blocky, filled with sharp edges and screen tearing. Textures don’t load properly, turning what should be a stylized rock into a brown/grey blob. Amongst all this poor quality, Alice herself shines. Her dress is always detailed, its every stitch and fold noticeable, and it flutters with every gust of virtual wind. But it’s her hair that stands out most. It looks like every strand is modeled separately, and based on how realistically it moves, one might assume that every available programmer was working on hair physics, ensuring that every strand would fall over her shoulder rather than through it. Their attention to detail is commendable; in a level that takes place underwater, Alice’s hair floats around when you stop moving.
However, what’s most interesting about Alice’s hair tech is how much it supports the gameplay and character development in this title.
// Moving Pixels
"From the charmingly trashy to the more artistically inclined, there is a wide variety of gaming options in the free-to-play market.READ the article