Monday, May 25, 2015

In the process of moving this blog to Wordpress

Soon I'll be switching this blog over to wordpress. I'll make sure things are set up so that I can re-direct site traffic there when I'm through.

Apologies for the long wait, but I was finishing up my degree. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. I also got accepted into the MA program for my Uni, so that was also a lot of prep for the application process for that!

Will be back in action in a short while, but until then...

See you at the next save point!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Beyond: Two Souls' David Cage - Full Keynote Speech - D.I.C.E. SUMMIT 2013




 I forgot to upload this with that large video post as an appendix. Ah well, here it is. One of the videos I watched this past year that made me think a lot about where video games are headed. If you haven't already watched this, I think you'll enjoy it, and for those of you that have, I'm sure it's worth a re-watch.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hopeful Notes to Self

I've been struggling lately with a couple things:

1. What I hope to accomplish with this blog, because it's not as clear to me as it was when I started out. I suppose that's only natural though, given how distracted I can get from my personal writing goals. I want to continue this blog, but here comes the second point--

2. Format. I don't know if I trust Blogger as the best blog site for this blog anymore. I've read some stuff in the past little while that makes me a bit nervous about backing up copies of my articles. I want to continue blogging, but I think I might seriously consider moving this blog to another service. Wordpress perhaps...? It seems a bit more user-friendly as well.

I've actually been working on another article that's story-related for this blog, but I want to really draft this one a few times before posting it. I won't go overboard, but I feel that the subject is one I'd like to explore fully before sharing it with you guys.

Sorry for my absence, but believe me when I say I want to continue writing this blog. Even if I'm not sure of where I'm going with it at this point.

Friday, June 28, 2013

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron opinion piece

So I can’t excuse my absence from my blog too much. Although I have been spending some of time working at a creative writing magazine as an intern this summer, I haven’t been terribly busy outside of it. I’ve needed a bit of downtime since my finals ended, to be very honest. There was so much essay writing to do in the last little while that I got burnt out. However, I do plan on becoming more active on here in the next little while. I’ve been listening to video game-related non-fiction books and generally reading tons of all kinds of material in and out of my internship in the past while. If any of you follow my twitter @Natohamae, you’ll probably notice how many Goodreads updates there have been. I apologize that I’ve been rather absent from my blog, but I feel that I needed the mental break.

So, naturally, this post will be a quickie just to get back into the swing of things.


If you want to read my reviews of both Extra Lives: Why Videogames Matter and Reality is Broken: Why Games Matter and How They Can Change the World, check out the following links below. Both were rather underwhelming to me, but I appreciate what both authors first set out to do. Of the two, I believe McGonigal's was more successful in proving her thesis, even if a lot of the information she had to present was stuff that any hardcore gamer would probably be aware of. Her book struck me as a book you'd give to someone who's very skeptical of video game culture.

Extra Lives review
Reality is Broken review

If I had to choose a game that is a perfect example of how some games use their own unique aesthetics (and history) to refer to themselves in a Postmodern manner, it’d be hard not to pick El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. The game is full of self-aware moments. Its genre-switching/bending is a particular point of interest. For instance, one level will be a side scroller, while another a race course remniscent of Final Fantasy VII’s motorcycle chase scene. Speaking of FFVII, during that race course level (a fallen angel’s futuristic dystopian world in which you are decked out in armour complete with a tin-can helmet riding a high-tech motorcycle as you flee giant mecha locusts), there’s a wonderful scene that heavily references the infamous Sephiroth-through-the-flames scene in Nibelheim. Not surprising such a reference would be made, considering Takeyasu Sawaki's intention to make El Shaddai a traditionally Japanese-style game.

Check out the following video if you're not afraid of spoilers (not even sure if this counts as a spoiler since El Shaddai is not very linear in its storytelling at all).





Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Some Inspirational Videos

I have been naughty and have neglected posting for a week or so. It was willful neglect too, but as I have said before, my absence is school-related and not for lack of things to talk about. There is still much, much more I want to talk about.

For instance, I've only just now clued in that TED has some great Transmedia-themed talks, some of them by the likes of Rhianna Pratchett. I feel downright shameful that I was unaware of how involved she's been in the videogame writing community. She's contributed to Tomb Raider, Heavenly Sword, Mirror's Edge and Prince of Persia (PS3) to name just a few. Check out the video below of her TED talk about how storytellers are important to video game development. 



On a slightly different, but related note, Amy Hennig is a big inspiration of mine. I've always loved how tight her narratives weave into the games she's involved in (again, if you haven't already guessed it, I'm a big Soul Reaver fan) and the following interview with her only increased my admiration of her work.



Although, I don't completely agree with all of her argument (mostly where online gaming is concerned) Jane McGonigal has done some excellent research on how video games and video game culture can improve society. See below two videos of note on this.





For the record, I don't hate online games...I spent years on PSO I and II for Dreamcast and FFXI. I do, however, believe that the typical online experience is flawed. I've met some really obnoxious individuals and encountered elitism in the extreme in online communities. While McGonigal has made some excellent arguments for the bright side of online gaming, I feel that she's painting it a little too rosy. Also, World of Warcraft is a good example to use for online games, but I feel her future talks could do with a bit more variety. That last critique is just me nitpicking, however.

That being said, I finished Journey last weekend and I'm happy to say it's restored some of my faith for the positive aspects and potentialities of online gaming, both as an interactive art medium and as a wonderful gaming experience. See below a video on the theories and research Chen did for the making of Journey.



Alright, that's enough for now, I'll save the other videos I've watched for another post.

Let's meet at the next save point!

P.S. More of a note to self, but I need to compile a video games backlog and make a list of topics I'd like to discuss in the future. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Midterms

I'm sorry to say I cannot post this week as midterms are upon us (good luck to any students trucking along out there!). I may update by the end of this week, but I'm thinking it's about time I properly started using tags. If I don't update, I'll be working on that issue.


Let's meet at the next save point!

Classic Shinkawa from Creative Uncut

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

999 and Critical Thinking

I must first apologize for posting late, however, I have a good reason! I'm doing a bit of creative writing volunteer work at my university. So, towards that end, yesterday I had to attend a reading. I've also been crazy busy getting ready for a presentation at the end of the week. Ah well.

My sister suggested I do a post on 999: 9 Hours 9 Persons 9Doors, because it's awesome. If you're looking for a good DS title, pick this one up for sure. It's got a thriller/mystery/survival vibe, with some great puzzle gaming thrown in for good measure.

The story is simple at the onset, being of nine individuals that must complete grueling puzzles in a race to find an escape route from a cruise ship that's been rigged to sink in nine hours. However, as the game progresses this Saw-like concept gets increasingly intricate. There's multiple endings, so there's plenty of replay value, but more importantly there's character development.

Every character in this is distinct from one another and they all mix and mingle according to your choices (and in some cases) against your wishes. It is planted in the beginning of the game that one two of your group members is potentially untrustworthy, and once the guessing game starts you begin to reason that any of the group of characters suspect. Even yourself (Junpei). So there's a double aspect to the puzzles in the game. On the one hand, you must complete the puzzles on the ship or die trying. On the other hand, you have to figure out who are the bad apples of the group, because only a certain number are allowed to escape the ship according to the rules of the game.

The art style is perfect for the game. Not extremely complex at first glance, but distinct enough that none of the characters looks too homogenous. I'm actually quite impressed with the variety of the cast. There's punks and conservatives, androgynous and manly, young and middle-aged. A nice swatch of different cultures. It may be a more typically moe anime style, but the artwork is not uninteresting for it.

Let's meet at the next save point!






















P.S. I may E.T.A. some stuff later on. 

Images as always from Creative Uncut