Nov 21, 2011

Heavy Rain: a heap of broken images

Game mechanics are evil...Mechanics are a limitation...Forget video game rules. Mechanics, levels, bosses, ramping, points, inventory, ammo, platforms, missions, game over, cutscenes ARE THINGS FROM THE PAST.
                                                                -Heavy Rain writer/director
 David Cage's GDC 2011 talk

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after, 
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
-W.H. Auden, "Epitaph on a Tyrant"

Hate's a strong word. But after careful consideration, I realize that I hate writer/director David Cage--but only in the same proportion that he hates the medium he works in. Cage pedals in cheap misery (for his characters) and hate (of his “audience,” the players.) His most recent game "interactive cinema," Heavy Rain, bears more in common with sleaze porn Night Trap than it does Fincher's Zodiac. 

Heavy Rain's chief problem? Not the plot or the holes in it, although God-as-author Cage should not go without some criticism for that since he focuses so much on it, but in its aesthetic presentation. Namely, that its visual and mechanical design are muddled. 

Nov 17, 2011

Writing Updates #2

Let me be brief:

-next update will be up Friday EDIT: a bit late, but it is coming soon.
-is about Heavy Rain, as per it winning the previous poll
-not exactly my most positive piece

Also, since it won the recent poll, in the future there will be a Resident Evil remake piece that I will collaborate with on someone who has never played a game before other than Doom (original).

Nov 9, 2011

Shooting History: COD Black Ops, Film, and Reality

Featured on Critical Distance and Gamasutra.

All images copy
TV screens with numbers shooting across them. That's one of the first images that greets players of Call of Duty: Black Ops, but minimal attention has been paid to what this image is actually doing in the game beyond its obvious plot function as a trigger for Soviet sleeper agents.

Any music, book, and game creator will tell you: your beginning is everything and second only to your ending. It's your hook, it's where you declare what you are, it is the location of key images (or sounds) in the text. Before we find ourselves stomping about, reliving the back room of the Cold War and Vietnam as Sam Worthington avatar Alex Mason, we have the numbers.

The numbers are repeated so much that it is hardly a surprise to see that the most-repeated bit of dialogue from the game—“The numbers, Mason. What do they mean?”—has been turned into an internet meme. Strings of at-first meaningless numbers are present in the interludes between stages, adorning the monitors in your interrogation room; referenced in that above line of dialogue; appear in the pause screen, altering it during the last two missions until the player's objectives are just rows of numbers; and at the climax, when they take over the screen itself.

Nov 5, 2011

Writing Updates

EDIT 2: As of Wednesday 11/9, the new update is out.

EDIT: There will be multiple updates this week to make up for the gap between October 24 and today. One, tomorrow. The second, hopefully by Friday night.

My next article will be up soon, but I have been side-tracked by coming down with the flu. I had wanted to put it out by Halloween, but I'd rather focus on writing when I can think semi-clearly (I will never claim complete transparency in that regard.)

What will it be?

If you voted on the poll, maybe not what you think: it has equal chances to be an article on Silent Hill: Homecoming/Shattered Memories, Heavy Rain, or Call of Duty: Black Ops. The first two I have half-written or more, the last I have a clear idea on and is short.

Whatever it is, it will be out by Monday, November 7th. In the meantime, if you have a game or issue you want me to look into, drop me a line.