Sparky Clarkson's blog
By Sparky Clarkson on October 13, 2013 - 6:16pm.
Playing Tales of Xillia made me think of Final Fantasy, which was probably not the intended effect.
By Sparky Clarkson on October 8, 2013 - 2:37am.
A while back I took a quick swing up to MIT to check out the Boston Festival of Indie Games, which was a neat little show I really enjoyed visiting. Of course, as an indie show it had its fair share of games that needed tons of work or were just hopeless, but I got my hands on several really neat games, too.
By Sparky Clarkson on August 14, 2013 - 8:00am.
I hate Firefly pendants. I don't really hate anything intrinsic to the pendants, of course. They're much too boring for that.
By Sparky Clarkson on August 7, 2013 - 7:14pm.
In the wake of Microsoft's unpopular and ultimately reversed turn towards invasive DRM and daily activation requirements, there has been a renewed discussion of the economic challenges of AAA development and the supposed danger that used games posed to the industry. The standard excuse that it's too great a challenge to create games that achieve players' graphical expectations while still selling enough games to be economically viable in the context of a console exclusive has been trotted out, and as usual it is false, or at least lacking in perspective.
By Sparky Clarkson on July 22, 2013 - 1:16pm.
Mars: War Logs is a confusing game on many levels. It's set on another planet far in the future, but most of the fighting involves whacking dudes with a glorified stick. The player never sees the game's only real "war," and instead deals mainly with an internecine conflict concerning the main character Roy's guild. Yet, in the end, even the internal power struggles turn out not to have been the driving force for the game's violence.
By Sparky Clarkson on June 29, 2013 - 8:02pm.
The discussion around BioShock Infinite's combat doesn't just involve the question of whether its quantity of violence is essential to the story (yes), or whether telling a story where its quantity of violence is essential is interesting or worthwhile (no). Some of the discussion has centered around the question of whether the combat mechanics are any good. Eric Schwarz has written a fantastic post that describes most of the combat mechanics, and I want to expand on it a little. Even though I think violence helps to express the kind of character Booker is, I don't think the combat systems of BioShock Infinite do much to help characterize him, and in some ways actively oppose that characterization.
By Sparky Clarkson on May 20, 2013 - 7:35pm.
BioShock Infinite is a violent game, and it has to be. That's a contrast to BioShock, an equally violent game where combat conveyed nothing about its main character and had little to do with the game's themes other than spurring the player to engage in its various economies. Any stimulus—using plasmids to solve environmental puzzles, for instance—would have sufficed. That's not so in Columbia. Violence is essential to who Booker DeWitt is, and what Columbia is. Their story cannot be told without it.
By Sparky Clarkson on April 28, 2013 - 6:43pm.
One of the things I found most striking about BioShock Infinite is how sloppy it was. The ending, as I already discussed, is a self-contradicting mess held together only by sharply-timed revelations and plonky piano music. The quantum morass of its final moments is only one of the game's problems, though.
By Sparky Clarkson on April 24, 2013 - 11:42pm.
One of the problems with stories that use the concept of multiple universes is that the word "multiple" doesn't even begin to describe the scale of existence. Consider, for instance, the universes in which I just reached through the internet and handed you a cookie (hope you like pistachio sandies!). Now, in the context of known physical laws, this is an extremely unlikely event, so much so that if you were to try to write out the probability by putting down a 1 and writing zeroes in front of it, you could go the whole lifetime of our universe without ever reaching the decimal point.
By Sparky Clarkson on April 7, 2013 - 7:08pm.
I typically go to a lot of panels at Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East, but this year relatively few of the offerings interested me (and some of the interesting ones were on simultaneously). So, I spent a lot of time on the show floor. The only major publisher I really visited was Ubisoft, where I learned that Might & Magic X will be coming this year and has a huge, wasteful UI. I spent most of the rest of my time in the Indie Megabooth and environs, both because this is a more efficient use of time and you're more likely to actually see the games and talk to somebody interesting there.
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