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Category Archives: Random

Published on November 22, 2012 in Games, Random. 0 Comments

(or ‘The Power of Bubble Witch Saga Compels Me! The Power of Bubble Witch Saga Compels Me!’ Seriously… Help!)

In the past, my game-playing habits have been described as similar to how you read a good book. Every now and again, I immerse myself in a game for a few days (okay… a few weeks – stop peering over my shoulder, Bride of Mungo!) exploring every inch of a game world and then resuming my footloose and fancy free status for a while before I find my next big title to binge on.

Sure, that’s kind of an addiction. But only in a completionist sense – like when there’s just a few Chilli Heatwave Doritos left in the bag and, even though you’re full, leaving them until tomorrow seems like the most ridiculous thing in the universe. (Please Note: Other brands of savoury snack are available) Sorry, what was I saying? Ah yes.

My habits seemed to have changed. I’ve stopped binging but started grazing with Casual games my new snack fodder. Bubble Witch Saga in particular.

So why is such an old-fashioned gamer so compelled to keep bursting bubbles? It’s tricky to put into words, isn’t it! Some of the most compelling and addictive games are the ones that sound really weird and actually not particularly fun when you’re trying to describe them. But they are!

I think this is why a lot of the discussion of games has gone to ideas with a more narrative bent – they’re easier to talk about (after all, we’ve had thousands of years practice telling stories to one another). For the record, I am a huge, huge fan of narrative in games and the potential of story worlds, emergent storytelling yadda yadda yadda. But I think there can often be a danger of liking a ‘narratively bold’ game as a concept just by having read about it -but without ever actually having played it.

I used to play Diamond Dash quite a bit too. Why did I move to Bubble Witch Saga? Well, honestly, it’s probably because I find the satisfied meows of the witches’ cats quite pleasing and I can tell how well I’m doing because ghosts and spiders appear more frequently.

There’s a modicum of skill involved but mostly I’m like a lab-rat that’s learned to press the button to get the treat. And, even if that implies some sort of sinister overlord in a white coat masterminding your experience, there’s also something kind of comforting, pleasing and pacifying about knowing what you’re getting.

I can rationale other forms of game or entertainment in general as more challenging (and therefore more worthwhile?) but then don’t I go back to the same trusty authors, film-makers, bands and restaurants for something the same but different all the time as well?

I don’t really want to share my scores. I don’t want to challenge my friends to try and beat me. But, if it’s been a rubbish day in our laboratory and those corpses just ain’t re-animating, I want to get some positive feedback for vaguely clicking at something for a bit and some polished UI going ‘ting’ at me in a satisfactory manner. So, that’s my little love letter to casual games.

Also, I’m addicted to coffee.

Published on September 26, 2012 in Games, Random. 0 Comments

… or ‘Can Game Concepts Just Be Plain Old Weird And No One Really Cares As Long As The Gameplay Is Good?

Perusing the internet in search of yet more ways to trigger FBI flagging software (one day I’ll meet my beloved Agent Scully … sigh…) I lurked upon this article at Pixels or Death about the dreamlike qualities of divisive oddball survival horror game ‘Deadly Premonition‘ – one of my most favouritest games ever.

For anyone who hasn’t played Deadly Premonition, it’s an unashamed homage to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, centring around an offbeat FBI agent investigating a young woman’s murder in a scenic town. Due to acknowledged flaws in gameplay but captivating scenarios and character dynamics, the game’s reviews ranged from 2 out of 10 on some sites to being Game of the Year on others.

The game features playable overt dream sequences, combat scenes that may all be all your character’s delirium as well as a general Lynchian dream-like quality throughout that allows for your character’s imaginary friend, receiving telepathic messages from cups of coffee and the general oddball behaviour of the townsfolk.

But while Deadly Premonition might have a vast open world story that incorporates dream logic, many narratively ‘simpler’ games are also share a dreamlike quality. Games like Limbo (pictured above) often get drawn into the ‘games as art’ debate – but, expressionist artwork aside, is there really much difference between the boy searching for his sister and overweight Brooklyn plumber Super Mario travelling from left to right to rescue the Princess? We don’t really care whether any of it makes real sense because finding your sister or rescuing a princess seems like a nice/fun thing to do!

Obviously not everyone likes David Lynch stories, often because his use of dream logic (or random weird stuff) is too disruptive for some tastes. But, on the flipside of that, does narrative ruin the inherent dream logic of games? As game narratives grow more complex, by adding more details and rules not just to the gameplay systems but to the reality of the gameplay world, are we actually making the worlds less realistic and plausible? As the level of realism goes up, does our suspension of disbelief go down?

Just as comic books can use the time and space between panels to let the reader’s mind make leaps of logic, perhaps dreams (and therefore the more ‘surreal’ games) seem all the more vivid, profound and memorable because they don’t even bother to try and make sense.

Or maybe, as this cartoon strip detailing how Pac-Man is as if ‘Kafka wrote a Lovecraft story‘ brilliantly shows, the joy is in letting people interpret things how they want to and leave something to the imagination. Even those of us who think about these things too much :D

Published on August 5, 2011 in Random. 0 Comments

After a long delay of seemingly no activity, we are now just about ready to launch some of our new projects.

More announcements to come soon!

Published on January 6, 2009 in Random. 0 Comments
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A friend sent me this link today.

Genius.

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