Slay the Spire: good or goodest?
My big piece on Spec Ops: The Line is up! PDF link included in the article.
Hope you enjoy this essay on nationalism, military exceptionalism, and the complicated relationship between player and developer.
Hey everyone. I wanted to pop in and share my new endeavor which is a monthly online journal dedicated to micro genre writing about games called Capsule Crit: www.capsulecrit.com.
But also! To let you know with the launch of issue one, I’ve opened submissions!
I hope you’ll check it out, and if you’re interested submit some work!
This was fantastic! I’m really excited to see where Capsule Crit goes!
Thank you! Hope you’ll consider writing for us someday if you’re interested!
Hi all, I’m getting into writing on my blog again and I’ve decided to fold in some games writing/criticism into my monthly schedule!
I just did my first video game post yesterday about the weaknesses of mainstream games’ traditional storytelling and alternative modes of storytelling that I’ve gravitated towards recently.
I’m looking forward to writing more about games, so I figured I’d share with the waypoint community
New IndieCent! A July 4th special with a friend of mine from my bad anime podcast.
We played three old, very American Sierra games and shared our thoughts (and what have you been playing took a reasonable amount of time for once).
The Gabriel Knight section is a little sparse, but we got a ton of talk from Willy Beamish and Police Quest III.
I wrote about Blizzard the eternal trash fire
A look back at the earliest known gay and lesbian adventure game, Caper in the Castro. Also a discussion about how who we exclude in our stories is just as important as who we include through some history of the Castro District in San Francisco.
Feedback is always appreciated! [English subtitles are available.]
It’s been two weeks so here’s a new episode of The Writing Game. This time it’s all about what can be learned from soap operas when writing video games:
I wrote about not being much a fan of captain spirit and the problem with (recently very popular) video game narratives about abusive dads here:
I produce a Game Club podcast and we celebrated our 1-year anniversary & 35th episode by playing through Vanquish!
In addition, I also write for Scholarly Gamers regularly. My next review is posting early next week, so I’d like to share my last piece. It’s a review of Yoku’s Island Express! It’s a great game.
Been running a monthly game review group at my office for a few years now. We played Cultist Simulator for June and it was a very split response. Ended up writing up something on my experience with the game.
Having played ‘Cultist Simulator’ for our monthly game review, our crowd was split on the game. A few loved it, many disliked it.
‘Cultist Simulator’ is a prime example of the creators choosing form over function at every development junction. Scoffing at what many modern ‘AAA’ games would consider basic quality of life elements. The way cards sloppily find homes on the play space, defiantly not returning to their stacks when their refresh timers restore the card. The choice to not include a tutorial or journal or cult-o-pedia or any internal tracking for game knowledge. We will give ‘Weather Factory’ the benefit of the doubt and assume all of this was intentional design and not forced limitations of a small indie studio.
All these choices shift the responsibility to the player to set their own goals while learning the mechanics of the game and simultaneously internalizing the secrets of the game’s world. This transfer of ownership of knowledge to out side of the game is an a tall ask for many players, while I can easily memorize spacial layouts of dungeons from 1980s RPGs, the names and formulas for cultist simulator wash over me without taking root. For most the requirement to progress in cultist simulator requires the physical act of note taking, scrawling down drops lore along side the threads to multiple mysteries, multiplied across varies sessions. This external requirement has a visceral element that delivers a more artisanal cult experience, to succeed in the simulation the player must bring the simulation off the screen and go through the motions of a potentially deranged cultist.
Had ‘Weather Factory’ built the game to address my individual needs the experience would have been intimately changed. Adding prefixed goals and objectives into the UX would have stolen player attention away from the story and redirecting it to just checking off a list of boxes. Providing a codex of known formulas would have the side effect of placing bounds on the mystery. Improving the level of automation for card organization would have removed the frantic experience of searching for a lost resource at a critical moment. Even the tedium of having to go to work regularly cements the narrative that keeping up a facade of normality is needed, despite the desire to concentrate on cult work instead.
This fervent focus on form does come at a heavy cost, the players who loved the game were completely swept away by it, but it was a fraction of our group. The game allows players to get stuck in a state where progress is no longer possible but a menial existence can be maintained forever. Another likely outcome for one perusing a dark path, but a tap on the shoulder by the game to move on would have been welcome. Using ‘spinning plates’ mechanics upped the feeling of the fractured self needed to juggle multiple lives. That choice slashed at the narrative cohesion by breaking stories lines into card size chunks that needed reassembly by the player to achieve impact.
A discussion of whether or not a game is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is generally meaningless, and for ‘Cultist Simulator’ it would be fundamentally futile. This game targeted a specific audience and crafted the ideal experience for them. Having gone into the game with the high hopes that quickly came crashing down I walk away from it knowing that it is a perfect game, just for someone else.
When Does a Compelling Game Become Nefarious?
Hi! I write stuff at https://medium.com/@vsasztalos. Most recently, I did an article on sex work and my history of it! I also do game stuff!
Following some of Austin Walker’s advise on a recent podcast about “not working for free”, I recently quit Wikia Fandom’s unpaid writing thingy. At some point over the years I ended up one of the most senior people there and yet got no real opportunities or development. (In 2014 we went to E3, 2016 I ran the coverage of PAX East, 2018 I think they forgot I even existed.) The only feedback I ever got was “keep it under 1000 words”. So I’m done, and this is my last piece there.
Not sure where I’m going next or if there even is a next. Might just write for my blog and keep working a well-paying day job for awhile.
I’ve written a review of Mario Tennis Aces and talked a bit about its strategic depth.
My feelings about Sonic Mania are quite complex, so they took a long time for me to put together in to this 30 minute video. In addition to, y’know, my life kind of falling apart for like six months and delaying production.
It’s marked as “Part 1” because technically it only covers the original release, and not Sonic Mania Plus which was just released today. But, given I’ve had a review copy of Mania Plus for a few days now, I can safely say it does not invalidate most of what I have to say here.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Metal Gear lately, so I ended up writing this: https://medium.com/@mattfazekas/how-mgs4-broke-metal-gear-for-me-3fefec765d54
My Wadjet Eye Retrospective continues with Technobabylon by James Dearden!
The latest episode of The Writing Game is about comedy in relation to games and writing, and what it means to call something a comedy. TL;DR - Comedy’s a tool and doesn’t travel well.
You can also find the podcast version here: