Welcome to the Friday Round-Up, where I post links to the most interesting articles and videos I’ve discovered over the past week. You just might find something that catches your eye!
This series is inspired by the Sunday Papers on gaming site Rock, Paper, Shotgun which will probably feature often enough in the Round-Up, on account of RPS being my favorite site for news, reviews and impressions…and having a generally awesome staff of writers.
Let’s hit it off!
- the Fantasy Subreddit had a great appreciation thread of author Barbara Hamby; her works were unknown to me but anyone who writes “a score of subgenres, from dark epic fantasy to espionage vampire fantasy” is very much my cup of tea and — if you’re following this blog or love fantasy– might be of interest to you, as well. The thread takes an in-depth look at some of her best-known works, and you should absolutely check it out.
- Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, the oncoming sequel to the excellent Shadow of Mordor, announced and detailed microtransactions in its single-player content–the only content that matters, really–and the Internet went mad. Some people like the idea of having the option to hasten progression in single-player games…I don’t. I recall when cheat codes and all those goodies were free. The world was a better, warmer place.
Apparently, it’s for people who want to skip the sandbox bits of the game…which are the most attractive bits, to be sure.
Shadow of War players will have the option to purchase Loot Chests containing random items, War Chests with random followers, and XP boosts, developers Monolith Productions explained in Friday’s announcement. These will be sold for ‘Mirian’, the regular imaginary in-game currency earned by playing, as well as for ‘Gold’, a microtransaction currency which is awarded “in small amounts” at certain milestones through the game but can also be bought with real cash money.
You’d think that publishers would have learned the lessons from Dead Space 3, but it appears not! As Alice O’Connor of RPS so aptly put it:”Ugh, who would want to do any of that? I’m only in this to meet the sexy spider.”
- I discovered a month-old Star Wars fan-film, called Dark Legacy, and it is very good. I’m not sure about the lightsaber effects some of the time, but the use of light, voiceover and just about everything else is steeped into the unique atmosphere of a galaxy far, far away. It’s ten minutes long, and bound to entertain any fan.
- I finally got around to reading a Rolling Stone article about Greg Kasavin, the creative director and writer for Supergiant Games–the studio behind Bastion, Transistor and, most recently, Pyre.
Pyre is excellent and unlike its predecessors, but far from the only topic covered in Rolling Stone’s article.
“We don’t believe you can create a game on a whiteboard,” says Gavin Simon. Instead, Supergiant uses conversation, playtesting, and iteration in place of rigid planning sessions. One person may lead the implementation of a game’s art or music, but the studio relies on one another to ensure the project as a whole is moving in the right direction. The process works. As unique as the studio’s games may be, they’re also remarkably cohesive.
“I don’t know what exactly produces our creativity chemistry,” Rao says. “[At] times I don’t even want to know because I just like what we do and I like how it feels to make games together.” He calls the longstanding relationships between team members “the bedrock of Supergiant.”
I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds like the dream working atmosphere. Kasavin’s personal story, furthermore, is an absolute inspiration to me, and for good reason.
- Belzebubs is a thing, and I love it to death.
- The Internet went mad over Artifact, Valve’s first new game since Dota 2 came out in 2013. It’s a Trading Card Game. Valve’s really listening to its base, aren’t they?
It’s funny, though — Valve’s not really a gaming company anymore, not the way it used to be. With Steam being King of the Hill when it comes to gaming platforms, their interests are focused where the stacks of money come from.
If Artifact offers real-money markets for cards — well, that’d be interesting, from an economic point of view. Other than that, only time will tell if the game’s worth anything at all.
And that’s where I’ll cut this list short! Hope you found some of these bits and pieces interesting — I certainly did!