My feet plant methodically into the dull, featureless sand as I count off each footstep.
Three… four… five…
Every few seconds I glance down at a small magnetic compass that shows me the direction of home. I’m not sure how far I’ve come, or how far I have left to walk.
I’m in the middle of a minefield, and I’m probably going to die.
If you want a game about the past, you need look no further than Gone Home.
I’m not talking about the past with swords and kings, or the past with Nazis, or the past with Romans. No, that’s not the past, that’s just stuff that happened a long time ago. This is the real past, a past I can remember.
Every Monday afternoon, I get just a little bit excited. At some point during the day I know that an email from the Indie Stone will drop into my inbox and let me know what the Project Zomboid developers have been up to that week. Sometimes it’s news regarding important bug squashing, other times it’s coding developments that I’m not even going to pretend to understand. Occasionally, however, it’s something that gets me all excited. This week was one of those times.
About a week ago, I read to my intense disappointment that GTA V will be very difficult, if not impossible to mod. News that much of the game’s data was encrypted meant that it seemed very unlikely that we’d ever be seeing the likes of Iron Man taking to the skies of GTA V, instead being limited to Rockstar’s admittedly expansive ambitions for their game. Whilst GTA’s a great game, it could never match the ambitions of a mod team unshackled by restraints such as IP infringement and, dare I say it, common sense.
For now it seems like I was right, but something else has appeared in the skies over San Andreas. No, it’s not Iron Man. It’s not Superman, Green Lantern, Batman or any other Marvel or DC hero. No, it’s something quite different.
So, Thunderbirds is back and to my complete astonishment I quite like it. Despite abandoning the traditional puppets in favour of more flexible CGI characters, I still found myself feeling just a little bit emotional the first time the trees flopped back and a redesigned Thunderbird 2 trundled down the runway.
Our trip started so well. With beautiful surroundings, good friends and plenty of beer it looked like being the start of a time to remember. Now, less than two days later my friends are dead, I’m hiding in a cupboard, my leg’s pouring with blood and somewhere nearby there’s a…thing trying to kill me.
Over the last couple of days, one publisher has been permanently dominating my Twitter feed and not in a good way. Jeff Minter’s announcement that Atari had brought down the hammer on TxK was made with frustration and anger, and coming from one of the industry’s most loved and longest running game developers, it spread like wildfire. Accusing him of stealing ideas and resources from Tempest 2000, Atari was demanding that Minter not only brought an end to TxK, but also that he not make any Tempest-like games in the future.
This week, Paste Magazine’s Austin Walker wrote a fascinating article about sanity systems in games. You can find it here and it’s well worth a few minutes of your time if you haven’t read it already. Having dozens of urgent jobs to do this evening, I decided instead to take a few minutes to think about how I’d deal with portraying a slow, uncontrolled descent into madness if I were a AAA game developer.
Modding. It’s the centre of many a PC gamer’s universe and arguably the reason for the continual success of Bethesda’s RPGs and Bohemia’s ArmA series. It’s the origin for games like DayZ and Red Orchestra, and it’s the reason I still play games that are over ten years old.
As a married man, I hate Valentine’s day. Actually, scratch that – as a sensible human being, I hate Valentine’s day. For singles, it’s a day of misery and loneliness and for couples, it’s a high pressure event where you just cross your fingers and pray you get things right. In many ways, it’s a roguelike. No reloads, no second chances and half the time you don’t know the effect of the words until you say them.
It’s still January, and I might just have found my game of the year.
“They all stare at you expectantly, like children waiting to be told a bedtime story. Who can blame them? You are, after all, Antoine Saint Germain, the great French detective. No criminal has ever been a match for you, and everybody is looking forward to a description of your brilliant deductions.
There is just one small problem. One tiny detail that makes it different this time. A mere trifle, really. This time you have no idea who did it.”
Are games art? I don’t know, probably?
But what about games about art – are they art, or are they games? I’m not sure about that one either. What about the art in games? Is a piece of art in a game still art? If I stumble across a painting on a wall in a first person shooter, is that painting still art, or is it game? Can art be games? What about if I paint a picture of a game?
Jesus, no wonder no-one likes to talk about this stuff, I’m confused already.
I struggle with horror games. Why? Because I’m a coward. I’m not embarrassed by it, but give me a game with a locker to hide in and I’ll probably quite happily sit in there until the evil horror lurking outside either dies of old age or goes to find a new career in chartered accounting. Part of me thinks my cowardice is a bad thing – I could never become Batman, for example, but then another part of me always reminds me that whilst I may be hiding in a locker, at least I’m not the one currently screaming in agony. Because of this, it’s a little odd, but I’ve been eager to try out Monstrum, a procedurally generated horror from Team Junkfish.
Ursula was dead.
I couldn’t be certain, but from the masses of vomit, the mysterious discolourations on her body, not to mention the fact that I’d just found half a bottle of poison left in a cupboard, I was pretty certain her demise was not the accident it appeared to be. No, this was murder, and as the resident Inquisitor it looked like it was up to me to sort it out.