Latest Blog Posts

by Sean McCarthy

6 Dec 2011

Be it writing online user guides for software programs or writing news articles, I’ve come to accept that the majority of what I write is disposable. An article for the newspaper will soon become the liner for someone’s bird cage. Another article will be quickly skimmed over and then forgotten as yet another article gets someone’s attention. It’s all part of the profession.

I could have worse jobs. As for others in the writing profession, I can’t think of a less enviable task than the writers for the 300-plus books that are scattered throughout the vast land known as Skyrim, the latest in the Elder Scrolls series. Last month, Bethesda’s massive, immersive role-playing game racked up more than $400 million in first week sales.

by Nick Dinicola

2 Dec 2011

A good menu can set the tone for the rest of the game to come, or when done poorly, it can be a nuisance that players try to skip as fast as possible every time that they boot up a game. I’ve written twice before about some innovative menus, and since then, I’ve played three more games that I feel deserve special mention for how they handle this normally bland part of a game.

by Nick Dinicola

18 Nov 2011

A lot of games this year have had great writing, from Portal 2 to L.A. Noire to (of course) Uncharted 3. But last year’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West remains one of the best written games I’ve ever played. Much of that stems from a script that goes out of its way to avoid exposition, always making sure to imply more than it explains. Two moments in particular stand out, and I still remember them vividly even a year after playing the game.

by Nick Dinicola

11 Nov 2011

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare did a lot of things right, and many of those things have gone on to become staples of the military shooter genre. One such staple is “the AC-130 level” or some equivalent, a level that places you high in the air, above the action, away from danger, and enables you to rain down detached and impersonal destruction on your enemies. It was a wonderfully innovative level when it was first done and innovation can’t be copied, though many have tried. Most recently, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and Battlefield 3 both tried their hand at this kind of level. One of them succeeds because it knows imitation can only take you so far, the other one fails because it copies all of the aesthetics but none of the substance from Call of Duty 4.

by Nick Dinicola

4 Nov 2011

Character animation is a good way to evoke sympathy, display character, or define relationships. The best (or at least my favorite) example of this is 2008’s Prince of Persia. While cut scenes and optional bits of dialogue help convey the growing relationship between the Prince and Elika, most of these conversations are just for the sake of exposition. The real character development comes from their animations—specifically, how they interact with each other: How they move around each other while climbing and fighting suggests a couple that have an excellent working relationship, they know each other’s movements and can jump around without getting in each other’s way, the way they lock arms and spin around to switch places on a beam is more playful, suggesting more of their working relationship, etc.

//Mixed media

Con Brio: The Best New Live Band in America?

// Notes from the Road

"There’s a preciousness to McCarter and the rest of the mostly young band. You want to freeze the moment, to make sure they are taking it all in too. Because it’s going to change.

READ the article