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Showing posts from February, 2011

2010 in IF

Assuming that the Wikipedia editors know their English, the title of this post should be correct idiom, weird though it sounds to me. Anyway, with the XYZZY Awards awarded, it seems as good a time as any to look back on 2010, both for the scene as a whole and for me personally.

Interactive fiction itself

On the one hand, 2010 was not like 2009 -- nothing came out that I loved as much as Blue Lacuna, Make it Good, The King of Shreds and Patches and (to a lesser extent, because it was so much shorter) Alabaster. On the other hand, we did see a large number of good games. For evidence, just look at the IF Comp: places 14 to 16 are Leadlight, Gigantomania and Under, in Erebus, each of which is really good. Thirteen games placed above them. And many good games appeared outside of the competition.

What were the highlights of 2010? The following list will be an eclectic mixture of games that everyone loved, games that I loved, and games that I think have not received enough attention.
Looking …

Braid; Achievement Unlocked; Upgrade Complete; Desktop Dungeons; Starcraft 2; Torchlight

Those who keep an eye on the IFDB will have seen that for the past few days I have been playing IF like there is no tomorrow -- basically a belated attempt to play everything that has been nominated for a XYZZY award. But I would like to take the time to talk about some of the non-IF I have been playing as well. So without further ado, we start with

Braid

After the phase of frustration and despair, and the phase of bafflement and anger, there is the phase of careful reflection. One thing I have learned from the encounter with this game is that one should not persevere, or at least I should not do so. If a game frustrates you with its gameplay, then you are not going to be in the mood to appreciate anything it does right. If you dislike playing it, don't play it.

This is not as much of a no-brainer as it may seem. It is, for instance, not true for books. I dislike reading Sein und Zeit because of the style, and yet the book gives me insights that make it worth persevering. To a less…

Braid: I persevered.

First, there was the phase of frustration and despair.
This was the phase of bafflement and anger.
Finally, I got to the phase of careful reflection.

Special message: There are apparently a lot of people for whom playing Braid was a positive emotional experience. That's great. But if that's the case, you may not want to hear someone venting his Braid-hate, in much the same way that you do not want to hear someone saying bad things about your lover. If that describes you, you should skip this post. I am going to vent my hate. This is not going to be a very rational analysis. It's therapy. It's frustration. There will be arguments, but there will also be rhetoric. You were warned.

I persevered... and almost wish I hadn't. That was it? This "revelation", and these pieces of completely disconnected, meaningless prose were what I endured all those keyboard-smashing moments of frustration for?


Don't let anyone tell you that the game is "easy", and mo…

Braid: should I persevere?

This was the phase of frustration and despair.
Then there was the phase of bafflement and anger.
Finally, I got to the phase of careful reflection.


I finally got around to playing Braid, a game that has been talked about a lot. Here is Jay is games:
one of the truly astonishing aspects of this game is the deeply involving story, which sweetly lures you in at the beginning, and blows your mind as you travel onward.Here is Emily Short:
It’s of course a masterpiece in the game-play area, and doesn’t need me to say so.
Here is Eurogamer:
Braid is beautiful, entertaining and inspiring. It stretches both intellect and emotion, and these elements dovetail beautifully rather than chaffing against each other. Still wondering if games can be art? Here's your answer.Well! That sounds great. But I have now played through World 2, World 3 and a couple of levels of World 4, and I have not enjoyed myself at all. I have not seen a deeply involving story. I have not encountered anything that cou…

More PAX - some questions

Unless something weird happens, I am coming to the PAX East IF meeting. I've got a couple of practical questions that soem of you, who know the area better or have been there before, can possible help me with. :)

1. It seems that hotels are pretty expensive in Boston, starting at about 100 dollars a night for a single room. (By contrast, around here I have often booked a room for two people for two nights for only a little more.) If that's how expensive they are, so be it, but if I am simply not aware of how to find cheaper hotels, please tell me.
2. I'm going to divide the few days after PAX to visiting Boston and New York (where I know someone I'd like to pay a visit to). Is Boston a good place to hang out for a tourist, or should I move to New York as soon as possible?
3. What would be the best way to get from Boston to NY.? I've seen that there is a high-speed train, which my European insticts tell me to use, but perhaps US trains are awful and to be avoided at…