First things first: read Zach Gage’s Evolving the IGF and then come back. He argues that the IGF could be highlighting more games in general, and more interesting-if-not-perfectly-executed games specifically, by changing the judging categories. This is an idea I wholeheartedly support. I think there’s room for discussion about what exactly the new categories should be, though.
I respond to his proposal directly at the bottom of this post. However, I’ve been wrestling with my own thoughts on the IGF and how it might be improved for a while now. I haven’t said anything because I couldn’t think of any good potential solutions to the problems I saw. With Gage’s great idea in my face, however, I want to try to work through some of the thoughts that have been simmering on my brain’s backburners.
Downwell surprised me by being so awesome that I felt a strong need to make it the subject of my first Let’s Talk About [GAME] video, but this is the game I originally planned to do first. Mini Metro is my personal favorite game of 2015. Script is below.
It’s been forever and a day since I posted anything here. Fall is busy in general for me as a JET ALT who is very involved with her schools. I was also working on and releasing my first finished video game, Ultra Hat Dimension. It was a great, if stressful experience. Check the game out and look for a postmortem in the near future.
Now that’s finished, I’ve begun making videos besides my critical/reminiscent long-form FFX let’s play. My first one is about the terms “roguelike”, “roguelite”, and “procedural death labyrinths” — both how the terms came about and how I use them. It’s a lead in to a series of one-offs about games I’ll be doing. The video script is below the embed.
I’ve finally figured out how to talk about the root of my deep love for Dragon Age: Inquisition without spending an hour or more spoiling the story and lore of the setting for the listener. I stumbled upon this during a Skype call with someone completely unfamiliar with anything Dragon Age. My fumbling explanation gave him the mistaken impression that Inquisition went back on the lore established in the first two games, retconning things better left alone. But that’s not true. No, Inquisition gave us an extraordinary gift uncommon in any fantasy setting: it taught us that everything in the established lore is suspect.
I can’t recall if I started Dragon Age: Origins with the knowledge that romance with party members was possible. I do recall falling in love with Alistair from the very first. A snarker with a heart of gold, he was. Together we endured betrayal and then trekked through a dangerous land with Morrigan, the ill-tempered apostate daughter of a kooky old woman. As the last two Gray Wardens in Ferelden, we waded through dwarven politics and darkspawn blood in the deep roads, slaughtered werewolves for some beleaguered elves, and took care of the bastard who got our king and our fellow Grey Wardens killed in his bid for the throne, all so that we could gather the armies we needed to fight a threat to all of Thedas and save the known world.
Our love affair wasn’t all sunshine and roses, though. I bedded Zevran, the charming and sexually free elf assassin who had joined us after he failed to complete his assignment to kill me, in a moment of weakness*. Alistair confronted me about that while we were in a dungeon, both of us spattered with the blood and gore of our enemies. “This probably isn’t the best time for this,” he acknowledged before telling me how much I’d hurt his feelings. I promised it wouldn’t happen again and we continued our slaughter of the not-so-innocent.
*The chat interface was underdeveloped in Origins, a far cry from the illustrated chat wheel we have now, and I accidentally had sex with him. I decided not to save scum.
I’ve loved Dragon Age since the beginning, sinking a not inconsiderable amount of time into the first game, Dragon Age: Origins. Dragon Age 2 was a bit disappointing in comparison, having been rushed out and clearly suffering for it, but the story was still good. Dragon Age: Inquisition, however, has blown my mind. It captures my brain’s every spare moment, making me go back over everything that’s happened in all three games over and over again. I could probably rant for days about the complexities of the setting that this game has cracked open, and I’ll probably write a lot about it over the next couple of years, but today I just want to talk about magic.
Since I’ve kinda abandoned the Sims 3 Legacy Challenge spreadsheet, someone else asked me if she could start distributing an updated version she made. I think it’s awesome that she wanted to do that and said yes. You can find her version on her site.
Five years later edit (April 21, 2019): That link still works!
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (hereafter ARR) officially launched last week. The developers aimed to make a game that was renowned for being terrible into something good. Square Enix didn’t anticipate so many people wanting to play, though. There are not nearly enough servers for us all.
There’s been so much demand for the game it took me four hours of trying to log in yesterday. They’ve capped the number of people who can log on to a given server at any given time. This makes it hard to actually get in to play the game. Once you do manage to log on to a character, though, the experience is great. This way, Square Enix has managed to avoid the problem of lag, lag, lag that usually plagues highly-anticipated MMOs (and their expansions) when they are first released. This excellent gameplay experience comes, however, at the cost of angry customers.
This is a long article, so here’s my TL; DR: It’s like Final Fantasy XI, but with some modern MMO conventions. I recommend it, but if you want to play it you should wait a bit before doing so.