This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Mark Filipowich on topics ranging from environmental storytelling in Fallout 4 to connecting games to the art disciplines of brutalism and opera.
Wesley Yin-Poole tells all of Eurogamer that he loves Fallout 4’s skeletons, dang it! Not only do they build atmosphere, but they also convey the series’ characteristic tone caught right between humour and severity.
I wonder if it's someone's job at Bethesda to be "boss of skeletons". This person is in charge of all the silly positions, I imagine, all of the props, the lighting, the scribbled notes and the terminal journal entries that reveal the back-stories to the skeleton vignettes players uncover as they creep about in the dark. Perhaps this person leads a team of environmental artists who specialise in skeletons.
On the subject of environmental storytelling, Robert Yang on his very own Radiator Blog describes and dissects the “Diamond City Blues” quest in Fallout 4. According to Yang, it’s a fascinating bit of design in that it builds the game’s setting while subverting genre tropes:
What I like about this quest is that it's a "slow quest" that actually does the work of world simulation over the course of several in-game days.
in most RPGs, NPCs accept NPC deaths with supernatural stoicism and everything is instantly resolved. In this quest, stuff keeps happening.
Videogame Tourism has chronicled the extensively researched 8-part article series by Eron Rauch on the history of MOBAs. Happy reading those of you looking for depth.
Writing for the A.V. Club, Annie Zaleski interviews former “play counsellors” for Nintendo America who in the late 80’s and 90’s worked a hotline for struggling gamers.
J.H. Grace describes the history and aesthetic of brutalist architecture on his dev blog, noting how games like the Assassin’s Creed series and Kairo communicate with the harshly functional architecture.
Lastly, over at Gamasutra, Katherine Cross argues that videogames more closely resemble opera than film based on 19th century composer Richard Wagner’s vision of the “total work of art” that encapsulates emotion in the synthesis of many art forms. For Cross, play is how games express this idea:
I’m on record as deeply disliking the unspecific nature of the word “gameplay” but in this case its capacious and slippery definition is actually quite helpful: everything that constitutes an interaction with the gaming environment is covered by “gameplay” here so far as I’m concerned. That vastness is our music.
That will just about wrap things up for this week. If you come across some work you’d like us to call attention to next week, don’t hesitate to give us a shout on twitter or email. We depend on our readers and contributors to help call attention to the ongoing discussions in all sorts of circles.
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