In the last few years I've been increasingly turned on to the whole re-imagined 1980s style that's brought on some interesting interpretations of alt-retro-isms. I don't know if it's been around the whole time, but all the amazing synthwave music and neon-fueled art has become some of my favourite retro-media these days.
I'm not sure if I've ever come across a Ludum Dare game on Steam before, but I imagine there are some out there. I don't mean a game that was developed from a game jam concept, but an actual entry in all its glory up on Steam for all to access.
We're about to see the six month mark for these weekly updates, so maybe it's worth having a little ponder over it all. Sometimes things take turns where we least expect it, but how has this process changed and adapted to the reality of making it happen?
What a week we've had here in the little old south of Aus; where the rain has continued to beat down with wind and storms and… well it's been a bit wild and wooly all up. I've had to put off a couple of small painting related things that need to be done outdoors, for fear of everything blowing away and spreading wet colours throughout the land. Good thing I love winter.
Remember the first time you installed Half-Life 2 and were forced to use that silly DRM launcher program called Steam? It was obtrusive and clunky; to the point that I found a hacked version of the game that didn't require it so that I was able to play Half-Life 2 without it crashing every time my internet connection dropped.
One day I'll get the hang of actually writing these posts before they need to be posted, because right now I tend to remember on Sunday night and type away until it's basically too late. Never you mind though, as I've just about finished posting old sketches and doodles, so the thrill of new material will hopefully get these words down on time in future posts.
Looking back, it feels like there's been a long-standing side quest happening throughout the history of PC gaming: who can make the best pinball game?! At the very least it's been an element of PC generations that stands out to me as a marker of technological advancements. A new pinball game meant that there had been a breakthrough and a new generation of tech was on its way; but it seems like this pursuit may have only been a fetch-quest after all.
I always find it interesting to consider the relationship between an artist and their work. I often try to consider art for its own merits, as I also like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Fame is a weird mind flood that leaves a lot of people feeling like they know someone they've never met, and attributing value to that non-existent relationship in an irrational way.
This week is a bunch of completely random old doodles I found while going through some old books. There's something extremely satisfying about getting all your notebooks together and seeing which ones still have space for more thoughts.
In a time before broadband internet and the proliferation of online video streaming, the only way to see footage of games before they released was to find a web site hosting a file, then wait weeks for it to download over a dial-up connection. This is how it was when Unreal Tournament 2003 was due to be released, and I dutifully sourced a keynote speech from Cliff Bleszinski where he talked about and showed off the latest tech to feature in the game. I think it was only about a forty-five minute video, but seeing those rag-doll effects and new weapon models for the first time really blew my tiny little mind.
I think it's fair to say that narrative focused games got a real boost when TellTale came out with their version of The Walking Dead. It was arguably when the mix between visual novels and point and click adventures became popular. So why haven't we seen more clones of the formula? Why is it that Life Is Strange feels like the only direct competitor around?
So I've been thinking about where style comes from and what (if any) are the pre-requisites to defining style. I don't mean the concept of having style; rather creating a particular recognisable style that permeates its way through your work. You know how you can pick a Picasso just by looking at it most of the time, that kind of style. Not the kind that you buy at a shop and wear for a few months before donating it to the local op-shop.
This week has definitely been one of highs and lows, where the lows seem to be winning more than I'd probably like. I'm not sure what the word is, but it must be something about how good it can feel to be hit down, as the only way is up. I often find that loss is followed by revelation and a significant influx of inspiration, so maybe that's a good thing?
The first time I saw the computer game version of Monopoly, it blew my tiny little mind. As with Battle Chess before it, here was a game I'd played in the real world enhanced by animations and sounds that seemed impossibly immersive. However, when the novelty wore off, the lack of physical interaction with a game like Monopoly only served to expose its weaknesses. The more you play the video game version, the more you realise it's one hundred percent dice rolls, with little else happening along the way.
Rhythm games are another genre that I've never been all that good at, but love to play. Perhaps it's because I'm a big music fan, but it could just be because Audiosurf is one of the greatest games ever made. However, unlike Audiosurf, most rhythm games are stuck to a rigid progression tied to some average music. There's no better case of an entire genre living and dying by the quality of its soundtrack.
I was pretty close to skipping this week altogether, as my sketchbooks have been neglected this week in favour of other things. Most of the time I can prattle on and find something to write about, so I thought this week I'd substitute the pens and pencils for something a bit closer to the blog.
As much as I often cringe at multiplayer focused games, there's something about MMOs that I find fascinating. The first time I entered a persistent online world was with Ultima Online: Third Dawn, way back when it was amazing that something so complex could work over dial-up internet. Now with PCs packing more power and the average internet connection offering reliable pings, the options have grown to accommodate a new range of genres to enter the MMO space.
It's that time of year again when everything E3 hits the internets for another annual indulgence of video game hype. Not to mention the unrivaled corporate shilling PR spin that knocks you sideways while all these companies talk about how much they love us. It's nice to think that there are corporations out there that actually care… for the money we spend.
Don't you love how creativity can take so many different forms? It's like there's a never ending pool of fascination to dive into and explore. This week I actually have some doodles that I can talk about directly as they're a realistic example of how useful a doodle can be.
A long time ago, in a basement not so far away; a friend and I spent an entire afternoon trying to get Doom II running on their PC. They had a brand new 16-bit sound card to try out, and I had a copy of the full game backed up on about sixteen floppy discs. It was astronomical to conceive of such a huge game that used the cutting edge technology of the time. When we finally got it running, the 16-bit grunts of the Pinkies would forever be etched into my memory.