Home > Gaming Link Dump, Links > This (Gaming) Week 01: November 18 2009

This (Gaming) Week 01: November 18 2009

I came across a bunch of worthwhile gaming links this week that I felt warranted being gathered together.  I don’t expect this will be a regular thing, but here’s the inaugural entry, featuring Left 4 Dead, de-makes, lame plot conventions, Tim Schafer, LucasArts, character design, and two posts about gaming journalism:

Pixelforce’s Left 4 Dead De-make – NES Version:

5 Plot Devices That Make Good Video Games Suck – It’s a tour of some of the annoying plot devices that can ruin video games, covering things like GTAIV, Halo 3, Mass Effect, CoD4, RE4, Infamous and more. No spoilers though, really. There’s also the older (middle of 2008) The 7 Commandments All Video Games Should Obey from the same site which makes some good points, though not they’re not always universally applicable.

The Plot-Driven Door – Related to the above article’s point about being forced on ridiculous quests for something simple as a reward, especially when the player can come up with multiple alternatives that the game doesn’t even let you consider because the developers want you to do some busywork.

SAY YES I NEED A JOB – Tim Schafer’s job application to LucasArts, which he sent in as a text adventure. It’s been on Double Fine’s site for a while, but I only recently read it through the first link.

Visual Clarity in Character Design (Part I) – There are a bunch of interesting articles on that site. This recent one is about the importance of making your characters distinctive in multiplayer, with some good examples (mostly from Valve, who are pretty much the experts on that subject).

Designing story-based games – Tips from Jordan Mechner (creator of the original Prince of Persia).  I particularly like point 8:

The longer the player plays without a break, the more his sense of the reality of the world is built up. Any time he dies or has to restart from a saved game, the spell is broken.

It’s an important point, because there are some developers (Rockstar’s approach to GTA being an example) that build most of their game around lengthy replays every time you fail, and it’s the same with games that are deliberately hard or fond of instant deaths that you can’t predict the first time.  Repeated dying breaks immersion and turns it into just a chore to slog through.

Games journalism: What Not To Say – From journalist and sometimes RPS-contributor Quintin Smith, a list of common mistakes games journalists (or people wanting to be games journalists) can make.  There’s some good stuff in there and in part two, such as:

So you’re reviewing an old-school RPG. For your concluding sentence you write “Fans of traditional RPGs will probably find some meat on these bones. The rest of you should probably steer clear.”

What you’re doing here is addressing everyone who knows they like traditional RPGs and telling them that they will probably like this because it’s a traditional RPG. See also: Mentioning a game is very hard, then saying people who love hard games will probably have a really good time.

Let’s say you were reviewing a pizza. At no point in that review would you point out the people who find pizzas delicious would probably enjoy eating this pizza. Nor would you mention that fans of spicy beef will take great pleasure in the spicy beef topping. So don’t do it in your games writing.

“I” versus “We” – In a more specific equivalent to the above link, RPS man John Walker talks about whether it’s acceptable to use personal accounts in review text, using ‘I’ and ‘We’, and there are some interesting points raised.  Over the years I’ve generally found myself drifting away from the big sites like the IGNs and GameSpots of this world in favour of those places where the writer’s personality shines through (places like RPS, VG247 and Eurogamer are good examples), and in these internet-heavy days of blogs and Twitter feeds and the like there’s clearly a lot of interest in personal opinions.

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