Wiley Peach

The Imediate Stregnths of Comic Books From a Complete Begginer #1

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Over the last two months I’ve have been working to enter the comic book world. I have been doing this because except for a handful of Spiderman comics I bought in the 90’s when i was about 10 its always been a medium that has passed me by UNTIL NOW. I saw a GDC speech about the narrative links between comics and video games (which you can see here)  and it motivated me to make my way in to that colourful world if not only from a analytical perspective.

It been amazing I’ve only read a handful of issues  an the thing that has jumped out at me the most is how comic’s use of visual and text based story telling to rapidly build strange worlds and introduce strange concepts without feeling forced or jarred. Anyway I will be getting into this more in later post and start reviews and writing critically about the stand out issues and series that I’m enjoying the most. 

Peach

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Interactive Fiction: >> Look Closely

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I set up this blog for a lot of reasons, mainly to give me an excuse to write everyday in the hope that one destined morning I wont suck hard at it. I also set it up through to track my interests in game narrative and storytelling media in general and so we’ve tracked my latest interest to Interactive Fiction (IF) and Emily Short’s Counterfeit Monkey who’s gorgeous typographic map you can see above.

As with most things my experience with IF is limited and was gathered mainly from afar so Counterfeit Monkey is my first true text adventure that took longer than and hour to complete and it is fascinating. I wont go into a full review but game trailers did a very positive one here so check it out.

Interactive Fiction is a genuinely interesting medium and it deals with the same issues of player control that video games do on a more fundamental level. Ideas like the necessity for multiple ending or the lengths at which someone should got to allow a puzzle to be solved in every possible way. It also struggles with the same issues of narrative having to weave game play requirements (tutorials, mechanic introduction and moment to moment motivations) and concepts vital to the story development (character, world building, theme and tone) without muddying up the whole and I’m hoping over the next couple of months to see the variety of solutions to these problems through my venture into the world of IF play.
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The Morning After the Last Episode

ImageThe last Community episode of season 4 ended last night and after waiting sleeping and thinking this is what I have to say.

Firstly I love community, when i was going through a rough patch heading into uni bunking off classes and sitting in the cafeteria watching community giggling to myself was the best part of my day and it holds a special place in my heart. When it was announced that season 4 was coming back (which not a lot of people expected) I was excited to say the least but when they said Dan Harmon had been replaced and they were gearing it toward a wider audience i was abit taken aback. Still though more community was more community and I have watch the fourth season and this isn’t a blog about two the fourth season ‘sucks’ because it doesn’t I laughed a lot and they have genuinely good writers even if it doesn’t hold the same feeling at the previous 3 seasons (the Harmon years!). I suppose all i really wanted to say is I don’t think they will get another season and I’m glad Tristram Shapeero wrote the very last episode (if it becomes that) and with new writers, less episodes , Chase leaving, and being forced to gear it towards a wider audience a big fan love letter that have the darkest timeline imaginary worlds and paint ball with the whole cast is the most sincere episode i could have hoped for. I’m still not sure how I feel about it though, maybe I’ll go watch that episode with Abed and Cougerton Abbey and he can help me through.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – First Impressions

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I planned to write this article around 7 this morning and get a fresh, early start on today. Which, I can tell you from my bed at nine thirty in the morning, is not what happened because i was awake until two playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown

My first impressions (which were demanded by the title) are thus; I’m really enjoying it! The combat is tight and has a turn-based strategy feeling you get when playing chess, cherishing each move and thinking moves ahead, except you are not playing chess your playing Oh Shit Aliens But No Worries I’m a Badass (working title)!

The game to me at the moment though is all about the best kind of restrictions that create genuine inner conflict and drama. I have two moves left for a heavy and a support character whats the most i can do before whatever that beautiful scary thing (because the alien design is flawless and varied) rips my assault girl in two. Which is actually a terrifying place to be as death in a mission means you lose that character forever so you get pretty attached to the little guys.

If I had to find some points to pick on I would have to say that the same amazing character design of the aliens doesn’t transfer over to the customizable aspects of my squad. I don’t car if i can change his/her facial features in a top down game let me change the colour of their armor so i can distinguish hulking soldier from hulking solider. The level design suffers a bit too not because its not varied but while you are jetting around the world every five minutes; Japan doesn’t feel too much different from Glasgow, Scotland. One last thing to WHY DOES MY CHINESE ASSAULT GIRL TALK WITH AN AMERICAN ACCENT! In fact why does everyone regardless of nationality talk with an American accent it just makes the world feel smaller and takes away from the characters I’m desperately not trying to get attach to because they might die int he next two turns.

Anyway I’m off to play some more!
Peach x

Quick Review: The Last of Us #1 American Dreams

Preface

I would just like to say that I am far from an expert when it comes to comic books and that my review here like all reviews is only the opinion of someone who is excited for the game and would like to sink there teeth into some multimedia hors d’oeuvres.

Right lets begin!

ImageNow I, like all the fans, only know what Naughty Dog has told me when it comes to the feel, style and themes of The Last of Us so i was unsure what i was going to get when i sat down to make my way through this first issue from the game’s creative director Neil Druckmann and comic book artist Faith Erin Hicks .  That lack of surety was well founded when I realised I was reading a first day at school story a page and a half in, complete with bully, lovable rouges, principals and their intimidating offices. The number of cliches is astounding but i genuinly enjoyed the issue sure its the same opening story you’ve heard before but everything is tainted by infected, collapsing world that creeps in around every moment.

Redressing an old told thin story with a good thick world everyone is trying to see is a great way to bring Ellie to a approachable and understandable distance while not sacrificing the greater narrative of the world around here. The need to bring the story (in the game) closer to home is a point the developers have talked about in interviews saying ‘its not about the science’ of the world and that this push for a more personal specific story will be present their too. If that’s the case I think there is a lot to look forward to both i the comic series as it progresses (May 29th is #2) and the hope that this kind of personal story in a big world is the narrative style Druckmann has placed into the up coming game! 

Wolfenstein, New Orders and Re-imaginings

Bethesda’s second big tease of the year after last months reveal of Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within has just been revealed to be Wolfenstein : New Order  and was met with a mixed response.

Many Wolfenstein fans seem over joyed with this recent unexpected nostalgic nod in the form of a game. Warren Spector though has come out against the game saying ‘Did we really need another Wolfenstein game?’ and other things alluding to the idea that a remake of this particular old old school shooter is a step backwards instead of forwards.

I’m not going to go to deep into Spector’s point as others i feel already have (here and here) but what i would like to address  is that general fear of slipping back instead of striding forward when it comes to video game culture and why I’m not too worried. I am also going to do it in 3 points starting with…

Point 1

Heritage

The phrase ‘another shooter’ is almost synonymous with video game genre fatigue and i can already see that label being thrown around in regard to this game but to those people people I say ‘Steadfast good sirs!’. This isnt ‘a shooter’ this is one of ‘The shooters’ one of the most cherish and iconic games of the past 30 years and while sequel after sequel of Call of Duty, Battlefield and countless others may droop yours eyes like lullabies the fact that this is a game in the shooter says nothing to the impact it had and how a re-imagining of this game with fresh eyes could be genuinely interesting, which brings me neatly to my next point…

Re-Imaginings

If you haven’t already (which seems strange as you’ve gotten this far through the article) go watch the trailer its an amazing piece of Grind-house inspired nostalgia that ISN’T taking itself to seriously. The main reason I am genuinely excited for this game is that new tones, themes, art styles, and re-imaginings are good for the industry being able to reflect on yourself is good for a medium and whether this is a satire of the old through a fun lens or a fun game through a new lens it can still be inventive and creative. Looking back is still important to looking forward; Tarantino, Rodriguez, Miyamoto and Suda51 have made careers out of it.

… And My Last Point

Robot Nazis, Nazi Robots, Robots who be Nazis, Nazi who be Robotic.

 

Thanks

Peach    x