Concern regarding violence in games is nothing new. Usually the conflict comes from outside of the industry in the form of congressmen, parents and lawyers claiming games have a severely detrimental effect on society. Yet every time their arguments have proven impotent and erroneous. Lately however the conflict is coming from within the industry as many of us ask the question, “Is violence really necessary?” It’s an impossible question to answer with a simple “Yes” or “No”. Just like any other topic worth discussing, trying to reduce it down to simple black and white variables is misguided and pointless. This is a piece discussing how violence is simply another tool in a game developer’s tool belt, and not worthy of being the current taboo hot button in games.
Jack Thompson was one of those ignorant people who believe games were the source of all youth violence
First off let’s separate the terms “Violence” and “Gore”. Violence can be portrayed in a plethora of ways while gore is simply the bloody and visceral mangling of a living being. While Gore is not always needed, Violence sometimes is. The need for violence is the same as the need any other game mechanic. It’s the same as including a soundtrack, dynamic lighting, ETC. Violence is simply a basic form of conflict and is perfectly suited for the medium. Why is it necessary? The answer is pretty obvious if you think about it. Imagine one of your favorite games. Let’s use Final Fantasy 7 for example. Now, if you took all the violence out of the game what would you have? There would be no battles, no weapons, no conflict. Also, one of the most iconic scenes in gaming history, the death of Aerith, would never have happened. Read more
In a filled-to-capacity room full of developers and journalists, Matthew Davis and Justin Ma of Subset Games, creators of the Indie-darling FTL, gave a postmortem which covered their trials and tribulations during an 18-month development cycle. Designing Without a Pitch: FTL Postmortem proved to be one of the most inspiring tracks during the Indie Games Summit yet.
Originally planned as a 3-month long project, FTL quickly became so much more, largely due to the wild success of their Kickstarter, which began only one week after the Double Fine’s foray into the same space. Subset’s initial goal was a measly $10,000, yet received 20 times that, for a sum of $200,000. Read more
Antichamber booth, PAX Prime 2012, courtesy of Giant Bomb
Day two of the Indie Game Summit at GDC 2013 placed me in the audience of a discussion called Navigating Live Events: From Big Studio to Studio of One, which was held by between Alexander Bruce, creator of Antichamber and Greg Rice of Double Fine. Covering a broad base of topics, they illustrated a list of best practices to make it as an indie and get not only your game, but your name out there.
Bruce began with three key points, the first of which was simply “Have a plan.” “Making my game and selling it on Steam is not a plan,” Bruce continued. The third was “How about marketing materials? How early will you display your title?” Basing his strategy from life experiences, he found that the more people he met, both industry professionals or otherwise, the more perspectives he had to work with. From there, he could establish a plan of attack. Read more
Studio transparency and workspace ideologies are often unique from studio to studio, and are affected by prior experiences, cultural norms, and shifting industry patterns.
Jeff Agala and Jamie Cheng discussed Klei Entertainment’s methodology for crafting not only an enjoyable title in the form of Mark of the Ninja, but also a sustainable workplace that allows for creativity to flourish. With a few key points to touch on, the duo discussed a plethora of useful tips for a room full of developers during the Indie Games Summit at GDC.
The first point they considered was “What are the biggest wastes of time during development?” and found the answer to be “Building the wrong thing.” To quote the team, “Imagine walking in a forest. It would be a waste to leave this forest and start in a new one when we’ve already spent so much time in here!” That can be self-destructive, because you spend so much time working on something that will never result in a quality and worthwhile experience.
2012 was marked as a year of incredible growth in the independent gaming marketplace. We’ve had some hit releases that really change the way gamers can interact with digital media, such as Thatgamecompany’s Journey, or Polytron’s Fez. Both titles offered experiences that players had not yet witnessed in the decades of which came before them. Moreover, these titles and numerous others brought along incredible and engaging soundtracks to further engross users into their worlds.
With that in mind, we felt it was about time that we highlighted some of 2012′s best soundtracks from independently developed games.
Fez’s soundtrack was reminiscent of the 1980′s synth and keyboard era, marked by a period of pop hits by artists like Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. I couldn’t help but picture the cast of an 1980′s film such as The Breakfast Club or Fast Times at Ridgemont High dancing along as I closed my eyes and took in this piece of aural desert. Rich “Disasterpeace” Vreeland’s soundtrack was a an excellent compliment to an already distinct game, which allowed it to stand out by visually, aurally, and mechanically in 2012.
In this new, recurring column, we explore some of the most relevant indie gaming news. Some interesting Kickstarters may be thrown in the mix, along with development tools that our favorite devs are using. Let us know your thoughts, and if this is the kind of thing you’ like to see more of!
Voxel based hybrid, Dysis, promises space exploration from a variety of perspectives
Part RTS, part FPS, One Dimension Games’ Dysis has eclipsed its Kickstarter funding goal of $5,000 in just five days. In its recent stint from obscurity, voxel based games have become common in the industry after lying dormant for over a decade, although gamers seem to be growing weary from the sudden influx of titles making use of the technology.
Dysis promises something new, with its hybrid gameplay approach. Gamers can build and maneuver their army from an isometric perspective, or should they want to get their hands dirty, switch into a first person view for a closer taste of the action. Rather than do all of the dirty work yourself, you can build machines such as a drill that mines the depths of the ancient alien super structure orbiting the sun you’ve crash landed on.
This one man project promises not only a multitude of environments, ranging from lush greens to volcanic infused ashland, but also a built in API for gamers to share their creations. Stretch goals include the ability to duke it out across space stations, as well as traveling to foreign asteroids and planets.
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This Week’s Question: If you had to play ONLY ONE game for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Easily Football Manager 2012. Usually the game I spend most time within a year. I’d love so much a return in the Eastside Sockey Manager series… As for NHL 2012, it would get too easy at one point.
This may be going around the rules, but I would go with Neverwinter Nights, since the editing tools were built into the game, not as an add-on download. I assume the “never be updated” caveat applies to developer updates, not player updates.
I was going to go with Tetris, since I’ve been playing it for over 20 years and still get hooked on it for short periods of time. However, I think that the falling blocks and catchy music would slowly turn me insane if it were the only game I played. So instead I have to go with Anthony’s pick of Halo: Combat Evolved. The solo campaign on Legendary is fantastic, with different enemy mixes and weapon combos making me adjust my playing style upon entering any new area or room. My brother and I play through the Co-op campaign any time we meet for more than a few hours, even though we’re well into the double figures on completion by now. And the competitive multiplayer is beautifully balanced and varied enough to keep me well on my toes. Regardless of how many times I’ve played it, Halo still gives me that feeling of excitement every time I boot it up.