The lights are on
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This is a story that I wrote for The Game Effect earlier this year. It is about the development of the downloadable survival adventure game I Am Alive which released this year after nearly seven years in development and what amounted to the most expensive development project in Ubisoft history. I spoke with the game's Creative Director as well as a source that previously worked at one of the developers on the project. As that person still works in the industry, they didn't want me to reveal their identity so they are mentioned only as an anonymous source. I also borrowed details from previews and news stories written during the game's development. This is still the most interesting thing I've had the pleasure to work on since writing online and I have yet to top it (though not for lack of trying). I know this seems like a bit of a cop-out, and I apologize for that but I guarantee most people haven't read this yet. It's long, but very interesting and I hope you enjoy it.
Barcade in Brooklyn, NY is the definition of gaming chic. This bar is unremarkable by most accounts; just one flat screen TV adorns the wall behind the bar, the tables are scratched and worn down and no blaring neon signs mark the entrance. The one thing that Barcade has going for it is an impressively authentic retro arcade in the back corner. It's for this reason, that Harold Goldberg put together a meeting of the minds for gaming journalists from various outlets around the industry on July 31st. Luckily for me, the party was open to the public as well.
I'm sick of the internet. Right now at this precise moment in time, the last thing I want to do is stare at a million lines of HTML cleverly disguised as information that I'm supposed to ingest like a spoonful of blue crystal meth. Of course, the problem lies in the fact that I am trying to make my living on that place that we call the world wide web. I spent far too much time on the internet today doing various things and one thing in particular really burned my biscuits. And in case you don't know, I prefer my biscuits golden brown and just a little on the cripy side. Not black. Today, the internet fanboys left my biscuits in the oven far too long and turned them into black bricks of flour dough.
This entry is inspired by Game Informer's Moments series. I experienced a moment today in Borderlands 2 that ranks up there as one of the best I've played in a game this year. Unlike many moments, this one wasn't necessarily scripted, but rather one of those instances where player agency and control create a moment unique to that player's experience. Such examples come to mind like using oddball tactics to orchestrate chaotic mayhem in Halo or creating something from nothing in Minecraft.
You've done it before. You're playing a game that's really not all that great, but you just want to know what happens next. So you suffer through the terrible controls, janky graphics and mundane level design to get to the next cool part or to see where the story takes you. You might replay the same frustrating section over and over or slog through hours of worthless side quests just to get to see the story progress. Despite its flaws, you're still strangely compelled to play this game.
Being in the city and using the public transportation, I've noticed an interesting trend. A huge number of people wear headphones everywhere. My first thought about this was that people should take the headphones off and actually try to talk to their fellow train-riders. But then I remembered that people are annoying and I'm probably not the only person who relishes that half hour train ride where I have nothing to entertain me but my thoughts and some music. In Connecticut, I would drive everywhere with music playing loud, singing along. Here, in San Fran I don't have that ability, but at least I can listen to a few tunes.
This blog is going to focus on an idea I got today while I was playing Borderlands 2. But rather than give away the idea in the first paragraph, I'm gonna make you wait. Today was another day of staying home, writing and playing Borderlands 2. I wrote up a neat little article in an attempt to figure out why EA is releasing Mass Effect on PS3 despite owning the IP for over four years. I'm not going to go into that since I already wrote that up, you can just read it here.
I didn't write a blog yesterday because there simply wasn't all that much to say. That and once I was done recording The JACKED UP Indie & Mojo Show and playing Borderlands 2 for a couple hours, I just simply forgot. Today, however, was a day of Borderlands 2. I am now in crunch mode on the game trying to play it as much as possible to finish to write the review for The Game Effect. Sure, I took some time out to do laundry and research a news story (props to Jeremy for the idea in progress), but for the most part, I spent the day grinding through Pandora.
Yesterday's blog was definitely a bit on the negative side. I was complaining about having to play a game for review. Rightfully so, firedude3663 called me out on it. Well the problem with writing a game for review for a small site is I make about an hour's worth of money for the thirty plus hours put into playing the game and reviewing it. But I digress...
Today was a normal Sunday. Only as opposed to a usual Sunday for me, today, I was in San Francisco. However, I wanted to talk about reviewing games on a deadline. I have been reviewing Borderlands 2 and it has been especially trying for multiple reasons.
Today I realized something about myself. I am not a hipster. I was as surprised by this as you probably are. I listen to LCD Soundsystem. I eat organic food if it's the only option available. I watch Paul Thomas Anderson movies. I live in San Francisco now... That's all you need to be a hipster right? Apparently not.
Well that was quick! My love affair with RPGs in sheep's clothing that I mentioned yesterday has come to a screeching halt... or at least hit a bit of a speed bump. Today was a frustrating one in the world of gaming as well as the world of real stuff that normal functioning human beings who contribute to society do. Got all that? Good.