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August 16, 2019

Life lessons from the Souls series, Part One: How to let go of that thing you wanted.

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Ahh, Dark Souls...

FromSoftware's seminal 2011 title combines elements of RPG, metroidvania, and darkest-timeline Zelda to create something greater than the sum of its parts.  The game is brutally difficult, insufferably opaque, and often quite frustrating.  Nevertheless, this is action-adventure at its best. 

Despite its brutalist presentation,...

July 8, 2019

Not on purpose, I mean.  More like a last-minute switcheroo.

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2017's The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild shows that a series can reinvent itself by going back to its roots.  As a game, it's a modern masterpiece.  As a narrative experience...  It's fine, but a little disappointing. 

Of course, Breath of the Wild's focus is not really on written narrative.  The stories that players carve out for themselves as they expl...

July 5, 2019

How Breath of the Wild went back to its roots in order to reinvent itself.

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Since its release in 2017, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has stolen our hearts and comfortably established itself as a modern classic.  It's one of the best Zelda games ever, and maybe one of the best games of our generation.  In troubled times, Breath of the Wild's peaceful, albeit melancholy, atmosphere provides a welcome respite, or so I've heard.  Two...

January 8, 2018

A closer look at Shadow Complex reveals a narrative rife with controversy, tropes, and propaganda.

In my previous post, I wrote about how any game project can learn from the careful planning, deliberate execution, and focused vision of ChAIR Entertainment's seminal metroidvania shooter, Shadow Complex.

Most praiseworthy of all is how Shadow Complex Keeps It Simple regarding its feature set and intended gameplay experience.  In a world wher...

November 21, 2017

A game should strive to do one thing, and to do it really well. 

When it first released in 2009, Shadow Complex completely passed me by.  I had heard that it was good, but there was a lot that I didn't know about it. 

I didn't know that it was one of the best-reviewed games of 2009, or that its sales numbers broke records for the time.  I didn't know about the controversy over the developer's collaboration with famed homophobe/author...

October 19, 2017

Much like ThatGameCompany's Journey, RiME by Tequila Works puts the player in a particular state of mind.  With a gorgeous visual style, mesmerizing sound design, and an intriguing, mysterious game world, RiME induces a relaxing, trance-like state in the player that too few games try, or are capable, of achieving.

I just love this type of game and I wish there were more of them.

But there was one aspect of the game that felt a little... off...

July 2, 2017

The Arkham Series from developer Rocksteady is special.  I think we can all agree on that.  If nothing else, it's hard to think of a successful marriage between a singular franchise and carefully-crafted game design that worked quite so well.  And it has Batman!

The series means a lot to me, both as a fan and as a game developer.

There’s so much to love about the games: graceful combat, tactical stealth, clever puzzles, thrilling...

May 4, 2017

How big is your pile of shame?  You know, the games you mean to play, but just don't have time for?  You'll play them eventually, of course.  Just, after you finish this other pile...

One game I recently finished was Batman: Arkham Knight, but I have trouble explaining why, of all the games on my pile of shame, this was the game that took priority.

It made me wonder about the motivations players have in deciding to play one game instea...

March 6, 2017

We live in a time where the games industry expands more by the day.  Audiences for games are getting more numerous and more diverse.  When we ask ourselves what we as developers, designers, writers, etc. what we can do to help our audiences expand, we need to acknowledge the awesome power and responsibility of representation.  That is,  creating in-game characters, protagonists, antagonists and more who accurately represent the incredible...

February 26, 2017

Back in 2011, when Uncharted 3 was still new, I remember having a bit of an epiphany as I was battling my way through a seemingly endless boatyard.  I thought for the first time about the layers of awareness and motivation that are at work when players experience a game.  

You see, on the one hand, I was just a player in a game.  An governable entity in a system that allows me to make inputs that result in particular outcome...

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