This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Kris Ligman on topics ranging from some practical advice for optimizing games for HD to a map analysis of the 'big three' in MOBAs.
You may have heard a few rumblings over Twitter about a dispute between Star Citizen lead Chris Roberts and unsatisfied former backer Derek Smart (and some anonymous former employees, and a news site). Fellow industry veteran Damion Schubert provides a good recap and offers his own (as always, even-handed) take of the situation.
Over at Kill Screen, Chris Priestman profiles game designer Pippin Barr's latest work, an anthology of Breakout derivations which reveal the "fragility" of game design.
Meanwhile, at his devlog, Defender's Quest's Lars Doucet slams the shoddy Final Fantasy V port which recently hit the Steam storefront, criticizing its lazy 'update' of the game's original graphics. Doucet goes into detail not just on better methods for upscaling games to HD resolutions, but some of the tools used to do so as well.
At The Psychology of Video Games, Jamie Madigan explains the Kuleshov Effect, a cinematic device also found in games that leaves players interpreting a series of images. Elsewhere, in Gamasutra's Expert Blogs, Laralyn McWilliams makes the argument that while multiplayer online games are accustomed to allowing players a range of emotional expressions, single-player games often stunt an emotional response:
Most single-player games start a conversation with players and then leave them emotionally stranded. We handle pivotal character moments in cutscenes, or when they're in live gameplay we leave players only able to run, jump, or crouch. We're creating a culture where the expected -- and only -- response to emotional moments is mute acceptance.
To that extent, single-player games have a culture of emotional isolation that goes beyond the fact that you're playing them by yourself. I believe that's a large part of the popularity of live Let's Play video feeds: the person playing can finally express the emotions provoked by a game in a setting where someone's listening -- because the game clearly isn't. Isn't that a mistake in an interactive medium?
Veteran designer and author Anna Anthropy decries the term "empathy game" as a facile device to avoid real engagement with oppression:
Empathy Game is about the farce of using a game as a substitute for education, as a way to claim allyship. [...] Being an ally takes work, it requires you to examine your own behavior, it is an ongoing process with no end point. That people are eager to use games as a shortcut to that, and way to feel like they've done the work and excuse themselves from further educating themselves, angers and disgusts me. You don't know what it's like to be me.
On Medium, Rowan Kaiser praises The Witcher 3's open world design, contending that the dynamic way it handles quests makes for a far more interesting environment than either Skyrim or Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Finally, Eron Rauch is back on Videogame Tourism this week continuing his series on demystifying MOBAs, this week analyzing the play maps and tactics in the 'big three' of the genre: DotA 2, League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm.
Until Next Time
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I leave you with this short, relaxing montage of empty videogame environments in the rain (video). Ahhh... So nice...