Freddy's Rescue Roundup

Your First Steps

August 17, 2012 / 1 comment

When did you take your first steps in a game? Do you remember? My first steps were in Freddy’s Rescue Roundup, a plinky little Lode Runner clone that shipped with my parents’ first home computer. It was the first videogame I remember playing. You walked to pick up little chickens, because you’re a chicken thief I guess, and…

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Morrigan stands in a castle room, fire-lit. There is a doorway behind her

Capricious Nature

August 12, 2012 / 3 comments

The Futile Rebellions of Fereldan Do you accept the role given to you, or do you try to escape it? Even when you try, can you escape the way your role shaped you? The question is salient for a videogame character stumbling into a typical save-the-world story. It’s also a question that lies at the…

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Naoto from Persona 4. Indigo hair, pale skin, and a sharp navy coat and hat.

Playing Hard to Get

July 29, 2012 / 2 comments

I have not been fully honest with you. I’ve put off addressing an elephant in the room, and it’s got to do with objectification. In my last post, I talked about the ways that different difficulty types can express personality. I gave these types cute little titles, like A Hard Read or High Maintenance. Of course,…

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Dakkon from Planescape: Torment. A bald man with a moustache in a plaid tunic and spiky fantasy armor, with a remarkably large sword.

Difficulty Factors as Character Traits

July 15, 2012 / 0 comments

If difficulty is one of the things a game can use to make characters interesting, it’s worth asking just what difficulty communicates. For one thing, difficulty isn’t just one-dimensional. There are different kinds of difficulty, and not all of them are difficult for every player. I may love both Wrex and Nami, but I’m fairly…

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Kasumi from Shira Oka, looking ornery: a pale girl with glasses and unruly blue hair, in a schoolgirl uniform.

Sweeping Exits and Offstage Lines

July 1, 2012 / 1 comment

I spent a long time trying to figure out Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. It had an unusually deep simulation with a lot of random variables, so I dug through a lot of FAQs to figure out what the hell was going on. This being the work of Harvest Moon fans, the FAQs tended to editorialize about…

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Difficult Personalities

Difficult Personalities

June 27, 2012 / 0 comments

Every medium has its own ways of expressing character. Novels have internal monologues and an unmatched power to convey a character’s inner life. Theatre  has body language, voice, and physical presence; film has the close-up and the subtle emotional expression that comes with it. Games get fragments of these capabilities, technology willing, but they also have…

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Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins, a dark-haired, light-skinned woman seen in profile wearing a staff and mage's robes.

Tell Me Some Stories about Morrigan

June 25, 2012 / 4 comments

Sometimes when I’m working on a piece and want to get out of my own head, I’ll open up a question on Twitter on some subject. This usually yields great stuff, but it’s stuck in 140 characters and it can be hard to find the answers later. So I’m gonna start doing it here instead….

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Screenshot from Shira Oka: Second Chances, with the main character in bed and the caption: "You rub your eyes groggily and glance at the calendar next to your bed."

New Stuff Imminent

June 23, 2012 / 0 comments

Just a heads up that there’ll be some new content here come July. I’m going to try out a slightly new format, where I set a theme each month and write a few short or mid-length posts on aspects of it. It’s an attempt to tighten up my writing and mitigate my tendency to make…

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A screenshot from Limbo, showing the protagonist pushing some boxes.

What’s the Point of Limbo?

February 14, 2012 / 5 comments

Since its release on XBox Live Arcade in 2010, Limbo has racked up awards and generated a substantial amount of critical writing. I didn’t have XBox Live when it came out, so I’ve been waiting on a PC port. When it finally came out on Steam late last year, I jumped on it. This turned out…

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A screen capture of my adventures in Anchorhead.

I Am Bad at Interactive Fiction.

February 2, 2012 / 16 comments

Here’s the thing about interactive fiction. I approve of it in theory. A genre with no graphics and huge freedom of interaction seems like the perfect platform for narrative experiments. I love Stephen Lavelle’s work with IF engines, like Blendings and Atopoesis, and I’ve heard great things about Blue Lacuna. But, to my shame, I’ve…

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