Posts tagged ‘exploration’

Ludums: Irem on Nes, Alien: Isolation, make your own adventure aka Minecraft

My new job involves long sit downs in a glass cubicle filled with constant fiddling with variables and often 16 minute returns from a Swedish server built in a summer by a former golf pro. Let that context inform these reviews.


Metal Storm is probably the best NES game I never played. The music is awesome. I mean really I hear the tunes in my head at work sometimes. It is at heart an R-Type game, but where r-type felt like a draft in memorization as difficultly Metal Storm is more of a full fledged novel. It requires consistent play with its central mechanic: the ability to reverse gravity at will. Its the way the game manages to introduce puzzles with out every signaling you are in a puzzle that makes it unique. I am not sure where, maybe level 3? In which you have to trick some magnets to fire, nearly crushing you, jump onto their platform, and then reverse gravity to get around a block. This section isn’t overtly difficult, but it does require skills. Later level require you to think about power ups switching from shields to blasters to take out different objectives. Its not as Mechanically complex as I would like it to be, but when you attenuate to its antiquated nature it becomes a gem you hum as you reconsider and plot out your next move.


The hardest part of Alien: Isolation is the beginning. That first stealth puzzle is really the most difficult thing in the game so far. After you’ve managed to take down 3-4 humans the Alien is easy peasy. Why? Because the Alien means death. It is that simple. What to reset a puzzle? Run away from the Alien. Alien: Isolation makes a good case for presence and graphics in video games. It is essentially a love letter to H.R. Geiger and in that it’s a game whose skin is more compelling than often the storyline is. In fact Isolation’s story is sadly rather weak. Its gameplay however is compulsive. I knew I needed it the second I saw the hack tool that said tool exists fully realized inside a set of stealth rules that create serious tension is even better. Alien: Isolation is a film that was chewed and cured into gameplay. However its designer had the lateral thinking skills available to iterate on the known gameplay elements enough to make it work. The result is engrossing exploration situations that are tense, but rarely frightening. The world design brims with detail, but it’s really the story Geiger is telling that makes it important, from the communal shower stalls to the lightbox hallways, the lived in way the station resembles an oil rig or the abundance of hiding spots the belie another meta-game: which spot is truly strategy and which is merely aesthetics? Film is a great medium to play in.

Minecraft is not a game I have ever binged in before, but last week with the server down I redownloaded this hot MS property

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/e2a/7654/files/2014/12/img_3248.png and got to work on my first house which in turn became a 3 hour construction binge including torches, numerous pick axes, cobblestone fences, creepers, and a garden on top of a house. I wanted to change nature to make my house more realizable. It was strangely satisfying to finally have a minecraft property something like what I had seen in youtube videos and then a day later I was bored, so I crafted numerous swords and set out on a journey at midnight fighting Zombies and eating pork chops, minecraft is a game that understands play. It understands that you shouldn’t take it seriously rather that frivolity becomes seriousness the more you play. It is a game that is entertaining as long as you are entertaining. Its the perfect sandbox for tots. Good work Notch 🙂

December 29, 2014 at 1:39 pm Leave a comment


Quickly, what Proteus reveals is that the typical application of anxiety = game play is false. This is ambiance as game play, a way out of the consistent need to drop us into combat. Proteus isn’t just anti-combat, it opens up games to the idea of exploration as a goal. Gears of Wars or Pac-man are all based off the idea of challenge, Proteus is not so much a challenge, it invites you to relax. The game is pretty, but the thing is there’s a logic there, the game makes sense, and mystery is consistent. Proteus is a game of exploration, but it blew my mind wide open to the idea of games that evade the usual stress tests of gaming. This isn’t a hard game, its simply enjoyable, but there’s a lot there and so many mechanics evolving in the game that add wonder or narrative to the world. It gave me A LOT of ideas so to what to do in games, and it made me aware of how tired I am of the consistent stress test of gaming. Proteus strives to make every choice in exploration more enjoyable, to lay out a new mechanic that makes the games that much deeper and mysterious. It’s a case of narrative that in turn lets you contribute to the soundtrack that in turn alters gameplay. I haven’t nailed it, but the game is like ambient music, not so much about tempo or anger or aggression but unfolding, Proteus reveals the rock roots of the modern game, it makes so much of what passes as game play seem jammed into a punk 2 chord riff, in other words it’s kinda like Yanni in the middle of a hair rock convention and you can be sure most game designers don’t think of themselves as Van Halen. It invites games to let down their hair and find something else to do aside from killing. It’s a masterpiece, and in a canon of game design it’s a narrative well worth enshrining.
Visit Proteus

March 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment


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