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Games as Art

The Year of the Games 2013

A screenshot of The Last of Us

The simple fact is that picking the best game released in a given year is impossible. Even if someone managed to come up with some way to soundly measure an experimental 7-day FPS made by a small team against an open-world AAA game, nobody has the time in their lives to really give every possible candidate a chance. It's certainly a task that's beyond me, so I asked Mattie Brice, Michael A. Cunningham, Denis Farr, Darren Forman, Brad Gallaway, Brendan Keogh, Cameron Kunzelman, Kris Ligman, Gene Park, Lana Polansky, Eric Swain, Zolani Stewart, John Vanderhoef, and Dan Weissenberger to lend a hand. Here, without further adieu, are the games of the year.

Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut—The Official Visual Companion Review

Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut—The Official Visual Companion Screenshot

I'm certain there's a great story to be told about the troubled six-year development of Deadly Premonition, and I'm even more certain that this interactive guide isn't the place to find it. It does, however, offer a degree of insight into the mindset of the man behind its madness, Hidetaka "Swery" Suehiro, and in places is every bit as esoteric as the game itself.

The Mirage

Remember Me Screenshot

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.

Coin Opera 2: Poetry in video game form (or vice versa?)

Coin Opera 2: Fulminare's Revenge Image

Video games struggle with transposition. There have been some great games made out of films, but the statement seldom holds the other way round. There are some novelizations based around the more successful sagas, but these rarely reach out to an audience beyond the original fans. Other than that, few books are written which communicate with the gaming world.

Shooting and missing

BioShock Infinite Screenshot

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.

The Constant Monster

BioShock Infinite Screenshot

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.

Extra Credits: Counter Play

Extra Credits discusses the design concept of "Counter Play." The idea here is that in a multiplayer game, there should be interesting abilities or weapons that a player can use on another player that is also interesting for that player on whom the weapon or ability is being used. It's a seemingly simple idea that upon discussion appears to be something the industry hasn't wrapped its head around yet.

State of Play with Brandon Bales: Tommy Refenes of Team Meat

Here's our interview with Tommy Refenes of Team Meat!

In this interview, we discuss everything Super Meat Boy, Tommy's appearance in (the excellent) Indie Game: The Movie, his new game, Mew-Genics, and the act of tessellating someone's face.

Please enjoy this honest, insightful chat with a great developer.

Extra Credits: "My Name Is Ozymandias..."

Points go to the Extra Credits crew (and basically anyone who talks about preserving old, landmark games), but a lot of this just seems "pie in the sky." As mentioned in the video, a lot of the technology that ran and interfaced with these early titles do not even exist any longer. The only solution would be an industry-wide investment, resurrecting arcades, building kiosks, museums, you name it, just so some kid can play Battletech or Space War as was originally intended. When you really think about it, it seems that these treasures are doomed to obscurity.

Invisible indies: David Cage is right

Beyond: Two Souls Screenshot

At the recent DICE conference which just took place in Las Vegas, David Cage gave a speech which outlined nine points supporting his message that "the industry needs to grow up." Predictably, his comments angered many people and I've been seeing comments across the gaming spectrum disagreeing with him or trying to prove him wrong in various ways.

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