Jan 11

RKD on… 2010: Part 8 – The future

All good things come to an end, which arguably makes this, the final instalment of RKD’s 2010 retrospective, something of a qualitative anomaly. In our ultimate send-off to the past 365 days of videogames, we look to the future, deal our predictions and play it cool like Nostradamus.

Evan: 2010′s the year I gave up trying to play everything and the year I realised we’re in for another industry crash of E.T. proportions.

Harry: Great Scott! *canned laughter*

Evan: Budgets and risk are too high, and developers have become complacent in simply making “good” games; unsurprisingly, the market’s oversaturated. 2011 and 2012 will see the industry collapse on itself. Continue reading →

Jan 11

RKD on… 2010: Part 4 – Portable preferences

Things You Thought You’d Never Say a Decade Ago: “Who needs to play games on bulky hardware, when a simple phone will do?” Today’s chapter in RKD’s ongoing 2010 retrospective series is one that appropriately fits neatly in the palm of your hand.

Tristan: 2010 was a year in which traditional handheld gaming died for me.

Harry: You finally stopped playing your vintage Game & Watch systems? Continue reading →

Jan 11

RKD on… 2010: Part 2 – ‘Iteration’ vs. ‘innovation’

From “meh” to “ooh!”, in part deux of our 2010 retrospective series, RKD dons its pseudo game designer cap in an attempt to quantify and qualify the freshmakers of last year: the games that didn’t feel like “more of the same”.

Warning: It’s only natural if, after reading through our not-at-all biased diatribe below, you feel that VVVVVV and Super Meat Boy are the only noteworthy things to have come out of 2010. Because it’s totally, totally true.

Harry: 2010 was definitely one of those gaming years dominated by sequels: it’s hard to argue differently, with the top guns in most “Best of” lists being Mass Effect 2, Red Dead Redemption and Super Mario Galaxy 2, among others. Of course, then we have to ask: has any videogame year not been dominated by sequels?

This reliance on yearly iteration can understandably be a frustrating thing… but it can also inspire the independent and rebellious. Continue reading →

Jan 11

RKD on… 2010: Part 1 – The “meh” year that was?

If annual videogame retrospectives were a party, RKD would be that fashionably late arrival who everyone pays attention to because they’ve already exhausted the conversation (and alcohol) for the night. Probably.

Fortunately, this is The Internet. For every day of the upcoming week, the whole RKD crew will be sharing bits of its sweeping generalisations and opinions stated as fact regarding the year that was 2010, along with its bold predictions for the 11.3 months to come. Let’s get this party started… again!

Fraser: I don’t really know where to start, as 2010 seemed like an oddly uneventful year in retrospect.

Harry: I feel 2010 was a bit of a “meh” year too. We need another 1998 or 2004, dangnabbit. Continue reading →

Nov 10

100 Rogues interview

When Irrational Studios head Ken Levine wrote about The Future of PC Gaming on Kotaku last month, he mentioned a little-known iPhone game called 100 Rogues. It seems an odd thing to bring up in an article about PC gaming, but this is the kind of game that gets stuck in your head.

100 Rogues is described as a roguelike, but really it sits somewhere between a roguelike and an action RPG. It’s a solo turn-based hack and slash adventure through randomly generated levels of a monster-infested dungeon, where progress is irreversible, death is permanent and loot is everything. The world it presents is cheerfully erratic, with traditional fantasy creatures like rats and skeletons existing alongside invisible babies, anthropomorphised bags of flour and cowboy-hatted robot bandits that shoot homing missiles. Usable objects range from swords and healing potions to butter knives (for softening up your enemies), dodgeballs (which make you taunt your opponent as you throw them) and a Griffin Slayer (in a game that features no griffins). Continue reading →

Oct 10

The biggest problem facing the games industry

We have met the enemy, and he is an angry game nerd. So says NBA Jam developer Trey Smith on the MTV Multiplayer blog:

MTV: What do you think is the biggest problem current games suffer from?

Smith: I think there are a number of problems we have with the way games are being developed today, but honestly, I think one of the biggest problems right now is the actions and attitude of some of the gamers out there. You know who they are. If they spent less time spewing ignorant hate on the boards and in online games, and more time rallying behind the great games they love and helping to build a thriving community that welcomes everyone that shows up to play with them – everybody wins.

There is truth in this. I doubt anyone who has visited a videogames forum – any videogames forum – would disagree. And the comments threads on even the most genteel game websites are rarely free of venom. But is it really fair to call it “one of the biggest problems right now” with games? Continue reading →

Aug 10

Why Cow Clicker Isn’t Exploiting You Enough

Cow Sign by mrbill on Flickr

When Ian Bogost launched Cow Clicker, he intended it to be a satire of social games like Farmville, a demonstration of what’s wrong with them in the form of a working model. Cow Clicker may be taking off, by hooking critics of social gaming into clicking their cows daily, even if (as many protest) only ironically, but I’d argue that Cow Clicker is somewhat flawed. As a critique of social games, Cow Clicker has some huge, gaping holes in its working model. Why? Because it’s not exploiting its players enough.

Now, to explain what I mean, I’m going to make an argument about social games, and the way they work. But it’s important to note that I’m talking here about one particular type of social gaming. Games that fit this mould are reasonably identifiable (free to play, minimal free content, paid content gives game advantages, etc.) and if you’re not doing social games this way, this argument probably doesn’t apply to you. It doesn’t apply to games like Neptune’s Pride, or to Words With Friends. It does apply to many of the games made by companies like Zynga, and it does apply to the prominent of these games: Farmville. Continue reading →