Sonic the Cheese Slice

When you say you don’t want story in games…

As a writer and a gamer, I tend to devote a fair amount of my online blathering to discussions of writing in games. It’s the point where my two main interests overlap, and also something I’m interested in as a writer and developer myself.

Of course whenever I talk about story and writing in games, I always encounter at least one person who will argue that story and writing have no place in games. Their argument is that games are primarily a mechanical medium and adding story just gets in the way of their mechanical purity.

To those people: when you say you don’t want story in games, I don’t think you mean that at all. I think what you mean is that you don’t want loads of text or dialogue in games, which is a completely valid desire but also a totally different one. Continue reading

Fields of Glass

Fields of Glass

Fields of Glass is an interactive love story set against the backdrop of the great Martian collapse.

This is my first foray into writing interactive fiction – a story that unfolds differently according to your choices and actions. It was put together using Twine, an open source tool for telling nonlinear interactive stories.

Click here to check it out.

You should be able to load it on just about any internet-enabled device, from PC to tablet to telephone – just open the link in your browser of choice.

One thing I discovered during the writing process is that it’s incredibly hard to error-check and edit something this sprawling, so there are about to be a few errors as of now. If you find anything out of place, please let me know, and I’ll get it updated!

DragonsCrown-29

Diversity, Censorship and Artistic Criticism

There’s a lot of debate right now about diversity and inclusivity in games. The fact that there is a lot of debate is good, the nature of a lot of the debate less so. Today I want to talk about a specific facet of one argument; the idea that feminism, or more broadly the general diversity movement, is out to ‘censor the artistic creativity‘ of games designers.

The idea is that by criticising sexist or exclusionist elements in videogames, proponents of diversity are actually seeking to control and censor the work of the artists designing these videogames by forcing them to adopt more inclusive, more ‘PC’ elements.

Now a lot of this argument can be boiled down to ‘actually I like chainmail bikinis, so everyone else should shut up’ which is simple enough to write off, but then I remembered the debate around the game Dragon’s Crown and thought that it might actually be worth having a discussion about artistic freedom, criticism, censorship, and the difference between those last two words. Continue reading

Flappy Benj

Adventures in Unity #2: Flappy Benj

Click here to play Flappy Benj!

One day I was noodling about on my phone, when suddenly I had an idea. An idea for a videogame. A completely original, ground breaking idea for a videogame. Deciding this was probably the kind of idea that could net me in the region, of, let’s say,$50,000 in ad revenue per day, I fired up Unity and proceeded to fail vigorously at coding for a long time.

Thankfully I found this helpful tutorial that just so happened to guide me through making a game very similar to my brilliant, original idea.

So here it is, my first venture into Unity development. I’ve dedicated it to Benji, a cat who always loved flying, but really hated pipes. Thanks go to quill18 for his helpful Flappy Bird tutorial, and to the guys at Unity who offer an admirably robust set of learning tools to help out even the rankest coding amateur.

Also thanks to Oscar the cat, and his owner Department64 who uploaded the sounds of Oscar the cat to Freesound.org.

So click here to enjoy the fruits of my labour. Post your high scores. My current record is a staggering 43. See if you can beat that before the sound effects drive you mad.

If you can’t play the game you might need to download the Unity Web Player, which is here.

You have to not hit the ground or the pipes. I mean, you probably know how this works by now, right?

You have to not hit the ground or the pipes. I mean, you probably know how this works by now, right?

rise of the planet of the tomb raider

Exclusivity; what’s the point?

I remember when exclusives were actually a thing. Sega and Nintendo used to rally their fan bases around Sonic and Mario, and their marketing departments made it clear that each offered an experience you simply couldn’t find on a rival platform. Genesis does what Ninten-don’t, etcetera, etcetera.

Even as not-that-long-ago as the Xbox 360 and PS3 launches, exclusives were actually a big deal. Buy an Xbox and you get Halo. Buy a Playstation and you get Metal Gear.  I remember that being a big decision. I remember I really used to care about exclusives.

Fast forward to now. Metal Gear Solid 5 is coming out on 5 different platforms, and so is Bungie’s grand new venture Destiny. Exclusives don’t seem to be that much of a big deal anymore. I certainly don’t care about exclusives anymore. In fact, if I’m honest I tend to find them annoying, like they exist just to make my life a bit more difficult. Xbox does…basically what Sony does, now ; or something. Continue reading