Monthly Archives: December 2011

Matt Weise on Zelda's succumbing to nostalgia

Matt Weise writes provocatively on the arc of Legend of Zelda games since 1998, which he sees as creative triumphs of daring disruption crashing down into a shameful regression to mainstream pablum:

I was at Aonuma’s talk at GDC 2007, which was a double apology. First he apologized for making Wind Waker. Then he apologized for making Twilight Princess, the game that was an apology for Wind Waker. After the Western gaming press responded badly to Wind Waker, he tried to guess what this mysterious audience wanted. He did his best. He threw in a werewolf because he didn’t have any better ideas (yes, he said that). But he still wasn’t personally thrilled with it. The game was still a polished piece of craft, but the spark was gone, the bravery that made Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker such stand out experiments, almost arthouse games.

I haven’t played through any of the console Zelda games since Ocarina. Like many of my friends in the Bostonian game-smartypants circle, I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Matt hold forth in person about Majora’s Mask, to the point where I’ve promised him that I’ll make the time for it via WiiWare. Embarrassingly, I still haven’t placed it on my queue, though I seem to have plenty of time to roll glass balls through caves or pretend-wander around New Vegas and whatnot for hours on end. Reading this post of his inspires me to amend this. Watch this space.

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A pleasant journey through NightSky

smallball.jpegGameshelf readers receiving the latest Humble Indie Bundle as a holiday gift are advised to begin with a playthrough of Nicklas “Nifflas” Nygren’s NightSky. If through some oversight you do not yet own this game, there remains as I write this one day left to buy it and 11 other indie videogames for Windows/Mac/Linux at whatever price you wish — I put up the radio-button-suggested minimum of $15. (Twice, in fact, making an easy Christmas present of one.) Indeed, I like NightSky enough to generally recommend it at its usual $10 price once this bundle’s done.

Continue reading A pleasant journey through NightSky.
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Apollo 18+20: The IF Tribute Album

Twenty years ago this March, They Might Be Giants released the album Apollo 18. I'd like to create a kind of interactive fiction tribute album, i.e., a set of games, each inspired by a track on the album. And I'd like your help!

The games are now available for online and offline playing.

Short Version
Sign up for a game. Make a short (or extremely short) game. Betatest others' games. Release the games.

Continue reading Apollo 18+20: The IF Tribute Album.
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Emoji Werewolf

Addendum to previous post: While searching for the method to make an inverted exclamation mark so that I could shout Β‘El Hombre Lobo! at you properly, I came across Lion’s new Special Characters… menu, which for the first time includes a section just for emoji.

Here, then, is the Unicode glyph-string for a typical Werewolf village: πŸ‘¨πŸ‘©πŸΊπŸ‘¨πŸ‘¨πŸ‘©πŸ‘³πŸΊπŸ‘¨πŸ‘©πŸ‘© .

Speaking of Werewolf, Scott Nicholson is giving a talk tomorrow afternoon at MIT’s Gambit GameLab on the topic of (mostly) co-operative games with a hidden-traitor mechanic. If you’re in the Boston area, feel free to stop by.

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I played Werewolf in class

As Zarf mentioned in his last post, I am indeed wrapping up a semester teaching a game lab at Northeastern University, and hope to return to vaguely regular posting here soon. As a gentle transition from this blog being nothing but Plotkin posts, let me show you some Werewolf cards I made.

Continue reading I played Werewolf in class.
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That patents comment

(This is an experimental foray into Zarf Not Talking About Games At All. It may be a confusing new direction here on the Gameshelf, or it may just be a mistake. Be assured that we will continue talking about games too, particularly since Jmac has finished his semester of assistant-teaching and will soon have enough live brain cells for blogging again.)

Several months ago I posted about software patents as they relate to my life. I continue to keep an eye on the subject -- not that there's anything I can do about it -- and so I see the same depressing patent news articles that you do.

A couple of days ago I condensed the following tweet out of the usual whirling filamentous thought matter:

The patent system is based on the premise that ideas are rare and precious, but implementation is easy. No wonder it's failing for software! (-- me, 9-Dec-2011)

This has unexpectedly turned into a minor twitterstorm, with a large handful of retweets, several approving comments, several disagreeing or disdainful comments, quite a bit of threaded discussion in my @mentions, more going on in G+, and at least one person who's already sick of the quote. (Sorry! Nobody plans these things!)

I'm happy with that tweet as a tweet -- but 140 characters is not a legal argument. It's an oversimplification! Of course it is. So, here's a blog post, which will hopefully provide some firmer ground for discussion.

(Note: I am not a lawyer of any sort, nor have I any real-life experience with the patent system. This post will not break new ground in the intellectual-property wars. I just want to connect my little slogan with the real world, and say where I'm coming from -- Twitter can't handle that.)

Continue reading That patents comment.
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Tomorrow will be the oneth anniversary of the Hadean Lands Kickstarter project. One year of this new lifestyle.

(Technically it's eleven months of this lifestyle, because I quit for Christmas. Also eleven months since I took possession of the donated money, due to processing delays and business schedules and thinking about taxes and all the other absurd things attendant on self-employment. I could also mark it as thirteen months and five days since I decided for sure to quit my industry job; thirteen months and four days since I reached my Kickstarter funding goal. But enough with the dreamy reminesce.)

Continue reading One year of this project, and the ways of puzzle explorability.
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