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Blogged Out: 'Exploring Truths'

In his latest 'Blogged Out' column, veteran UK writer Jim Rossignol takes a look at the world of developer blogging with views on the recent acquisition of Vanguard developer Sigil, a remake of Syndicate, and exploring game exploration.
Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week: exploring worlds, old and new. Reading The Signs Chiming in with what seems like half the internet, I have to link to this interview with an ex-Sigil employee over on F13. It's a nail-biting read, and bear in mind these are the opinions and recollections of a single (apparently rather displeased) employee: “Ex-Sigil: QA was one person up until about November... ONE. f13.net: What. Ex-Sigil: 100% serious. f13.net: What? How? This is an MMOG. Ex-Sigil: Vanguard had one internal tester for probably 95% of the design cycle. f13.net: Doesn't the complete and utter failure, in hindsight, seem like a self-fulfilled prophecy though with only one QA member? Ex-Sigil: The reasons for failure are too numerous to list, but can all be summed up by a lack of management. Brad, for all his faults at least made decisions. So did Jeff. Right or wrong, they took a shot. The people in charge now were so afraid to make the wrong decision that they made no decision at all.” Cybernetic Remake Stuart Roch over at 'A Producer's Point of View' has been posting a load of interesting material, but the one post that really caught my eye was this one about proposed remakes. Admittedly, I've got a bit of a soft-spot for 16-bit games like Syndicate, but I was particularly interested in Roch's “chance for repeat success rating”. “Syndicate – Chance for Repeat Success 25% Finally Peter Molyneux has said that he’d be interested in producing a sequel to his popular game Syndicate. Sounds like they have some business/licensing issues to work out, but I’d like to think this could become a reality. Syndicate also made my Top 10 list and I’d really like to give this one another go. Since the game was one of the first isometric 3D games though, I wonder if the technology was really the draw for me or whether it was the fiction or strategic element behind cybernetic Terminator style activity that seemed so compelling.” I think he's right about it struggling the next time around. It'll have to be quite different to make an impact this time. That said, all the things that Bullfrog talked about in the run up to Syndicate, or BOB as it was codenamed, which were well beyond technical capabilities at the time could now be possible. Anyway, it does seem to to be the season for returning 16-bit masterpieces, with the announcement of a Speedball 2 remake. I wonder how many of them will relive former glories. The Explorers Modder and coder Tom Betts has taken some time to respond to Gamasutra's recent interview with Ubisoft producer Clint Hocking. Hocking gave up some really interesting thoughts about the nature of exploration in games, as well as suggestions about possibilities for thought, philosophy and personal edification. Betts comments: “What I also really like is the poetic association between exploring virtual spaces and exploring internal philosophical space. But does this always imply a calm and meditative game world? Indeed its difficult to wrestle with your inner demons while blasting the ectoplasm from virtual demons. Its hard to see much complex philosophy at work in Doom 3, but conversely the struggle between inner and outer evils is often successfully the focus of the Silent Hill series.” There's a man who never studied Heidegger 101. You could say that we're most at peace with our inner demons when are fully engaged in a task and not getting all metaphysical – whether that be playing a violent video game or doing some knitting. Anyway, y'all can have a read of my own rambling about exploration games over here. [Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his game journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times.]

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