#GameFaves

I've started a little tradition on Twitter. Every Saturday I tweet about a lesser-known game that inspires or delights me. I've been going through some hard times recently, and it helps to remind myself of how wonderful games can be. Anyone can join in by tagging their tweets with #GameFaves, and it's been fun to tweet along with people as we discuss our gaming loves.

The past two Saturdays I've had guest hosts because I'm still not completely over this mental breakdown, but it's been interesting to see what games excite other people. For example, I'd never heard of Ecstatica until Marc Laidlaw mentioned it. Now I'm ransacking the used game stores in town to see if I can find a copy.

Because Twitter is ephemeral, there's no permanent record of our tweets. So this post is where I'll keep track of the titles we discuss. 

  • Thomas Was Alone
  • Papo y Yo
  • Kentucky Route Zero
  • The Unfinished Swan
  • Ecstatica (Guest Host: Marc Laidlaw)
  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (Guest Host: Ian Hatch)
  • ??? (Guest Host: Matthew Moore)

 

 

Walking the Walk

Some men in the games industry are as sick of seeing women left off panels and out of public discussions as I am. They got together and signed a pledge to not participate in any panels that don't have women on them. I hear that their stand will soon extend to all kinds of diversity, so we can hope to start seeing people of all races, genders, and sexualities speaking soon, too. If the industry listens.

This is a fantastic step for allies to take. This goes beyond merely supporting women or raising awareness. This is concrete action that will have an affect on the industry. Very excited to see this happen and can't wait to see the list grow.

Their Tumblr page is here: http://plzdiversifyyourpanel.tumblr.com/

Check out their Twitter hashtag: #PlzDiversifyYourpanel

Check out their Twitter hashtag: #PlzDiversifyYourpanel

A Rough Week

So...as you all probably know, this has been a rough week for me. Murdered came out and was not received well by critics.  To say the least.

IGN review

IGN review

There's a lot I'd love to say about what happened on the project and my role in it, but I obviously can't for NDA reasons. 

I want to thank my peers in the industry who wrote to ask me for my side of the story or wrote just to support me in a difficult time. It means so much that you have faith in me. When things calm down, I'll write a post mortem about my experience on Murdered. I'll be contacting other writers and creators for anecdotes about working on projects that, uh…got away from them. 

In the meantime, all I can do is refer people to the blog post below and reassert that there is very little of my writing or design in the game.

My New Job

Well, my hiatus was wonderful, even though I didn't accomplish as much as I wanted to. But all good things must end, so I started job hunting in January. I'm extremely fortunate to have found something right away.  I'm excited to say that I'm joining the writing team at Ubisoft Quebec to work on Unannounced AAA Title. I know, I know: game titles are so unimaginative these days.

I'll be around Seattle for at least another month or two while I wait for my visa to clear. That gives me just enough time to wrap up this writing project, say my goodbyes, and learn some basic French. 

ubisoft for website.jpg

The Problem in Brief

So…I got into a little dustup on Twitter today. That's not unusual. Any woman in the games industry who puts herself out there finds her opinions challenged all the time. What's different about this argument is that Jessica Price storified it:

http://storify.com/Delafina777/why-it-s-so-hard-to-get-better-portrayals-of-femal

(Thank you, Jessica!)

The saddest part of the situation is that guys like that don't even see that they are part of the problem. This guy started off discussing how to get women more into the industry but ended up displaying exactly why there are so few. Conversations like this make me grateful for the all the open minds I know.

 

Is Video Game Creativity Dead?

Some of the statements I made in my Giant Bomb interview continue to haunt me. Here, writer Cal.L examines my assertion that the industry is stagnating.

http://gamersyndrome.com/2013/video-games/are-video-games-stuck-in-rut/

I like this article—not just because the author agrees with me and provides evidence to bolster my point, but because it gives a shout-out to indie games. I spoke with Patrick Klepek at PAX on Saturday, after speaking at my panel and touring the main expo hall floor. Everything I had seen up until that point confirmed my worst fears about the industry churning out formulaic shooters and endless sequels. There wasn't a single game I wanted to demo. Even my usual thirst for swag died in the face of so much sameness. I felt…bored. And it was directly from this experience that I went to chat with Patrick. I hadn't yet seen the Indie Games MegaBooth. If I had, my interview would have gone differently.

I want to be clear that I stand by my claim about the industry being trapped in stale thinking. I'm not taking it back. But I'll qualify that statement by noting that indie games are pushing innovation in ways that big-budget projects can't and aren't. Gone Home, That Dragon Cancer, Unfinished Swan, Thomas Was Alone, Kentucky Route Zero, and Papers, Please are all small titles with a big impact. The lonely poetry of KRZ  is exactly the sort of game I told Patrick I've been missing. Gone Home offers a fresh narrative perspective. Papers, Please will make you question your ethics. All of these games are pushing the creative boundaries of the industry. They are redefining what the medium can express and how it can make people feel. 

Maybe it's too much to ask that blockbuster games innovate. Maybe it's enough that they provide a familiar and reliable experience. I hate to give up on AAA titles, though. I would love to see more big-name projects borrow energy from their indie counterparts and try something besides a proven formula. I would love to see them take some major risks. I would love to see some unusual gameplay mechanics, at the very least. Until then, I'll keep funding Kickstarter projects and supporting independent studios.

Source: http://gamersyndrome.com/2013/video-games/...

Epic Rap Battles of Tyria: Adelbern vs. Kisu

Robert Gee, our GW Skills Master, tries his hand at an ERBoT: Adelbern vs. Kisu


ADELBERN

 The name's Adelbern, the K-I-N-G

Retreat now Kisu you can't beat me

I got Magdaer in my hand and a crown on my head
I'm taking this "To the Limit!" and putting you to bed
 
I'm hero of the Guild Wars elected by the masses
You're just a figurehead ruler who hasn't got the brasses
I earned my kingship with deeds you got it on a silver platter
You wear a purple dress too that makes it even sadder
 
KISU
You're the king of Ascalon but Cantha is greater.
I rap from a gold palace; Your kingdom's nothing but a crater.
I'm closer to the stars, ascended through the age
Insult these royal robes and you'll face the dragon empire's rage
 
My country has an ocean of jade all you've got is dirt
The gap between us is so bad it must hurt
We've got so many riches here it's gonna make you cry
Our guilds are better too you know I don't Xun-lie
 
ADELBERN
Your half-brother would have been a bigger challenge than you
Even though he's losing hair he's still got his rap fu
Do you even do anything besides hand out hats?
You're stinking up this battle like a celestial rat. 
 
I charge into battle, you hide behind walls
You're a miserable coward, let me list out your shortfalls:
You're helpless, you got kidnapped by a royal bodyguard
If you ever stepped foot in my country you'd just get CHARRed
 
KISU
From Harvest Temple to the Raisu Palace
I survey all I see without a hint of malice
You've got anger problems Adel just face the facts
Not that I can blame you when you got beat by some cats
 
You banished your own son because he talked some smack
It's no wonder that nobody else has got your back
You're sad lonely monarch on a tiny little throne
You like to talk big but you're just overblown
 
ADELBERN
You were never my prince and you were never my son
But you're still a kid compared to me when all is said and done
Your whole empire gets overthrown because of some brat named Ashu
Hold onto your robes while this next verse goes past you:
 
I fought off titans with a party of four
I've faced armies of charr and come back for more
I count my victories in the twenty score
My legends reach from mountain to shore
You're a bore, 
a chore, 
a royal eyesore.
Challenge me and you'll be finished off before
You even feel your body hit the floor
 
I'll be remembered for centuries you're just a footnote
You get mired by your minsters but I go for the throat!
You're no match for me, you might have been a contender
But you forgot something important: Ascalon will never surrender!
 
KISU
You're a phony excuse for a king that can't even rhyme.
And your sword ain't that great I see them drop all the time.
Kowtow before me I come from generations of kings
Now listen up while I teach you a few things:
 
My rhymes are like dragons they spit soar and spit fire
Your lyrics are sloths they flop and get tired
My people stay inspired
Yours have all expired
Your kingdom is a mire
On its final funeral pyre
I'll keep going higher and higher
While all you can do is sit back and admire
How my land shines like a sapphire
 
Your country Ascalon though it doesn't look that great
It’s sad that you can't beat those charr, they're only level 8!
Now with my final words the tide I'm gonna turn
So "Watch Yourself!" Adel, you just got BERNED.

 

GW2 Halloween Poems

Halloween is a major holiday in Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2. Every year, ArenaNet works hard on decorations and festivities to celebrate the occasion and make it special for the players. Part of the tradition is a spooky poem themed along that year's events. Arena just posted readings of all the Halloween poems ever written for the game, including one I co-wrote with Matthew Moore in 2010. Happy listening!

https://soundcloud.com/arenanet/sets/guild-wars-halloween-poems

My GeekGirlCon Panel: Play to Win

I finally got my mitts on the video for the panel I spoke on at GeekGirlCon ths past weekend. Cameron Harris, Donna Prior (substituting last minute for Regina Buenaobra), Jessica Price, Jennifer Brandes Hepler, and I spoke about the #1reasonwhy phenomenon and what life in the game industry is really like for women. So here we are, discussing some deeply personal issues. 

"Play to Win: The Real World of Women in Games."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0uBGkUInLU

*Big thanks to Matthew Moore for recording the panel for us.

GeekGirlCon Mention

I spoke on a #1reasonwhy panel at GeekGirlCon this past weekend and had a lot of fun. I'll be posting video of the panel shortly, but while gathering info on the GGC site, I noticed this:

Regina and Filamena couldn't make it, so we had to scramble a bit to rework our discussion. Jennifer Hepler's story alone sums up #1reasonwhy and explains #1reasontobe, so I hope we didn't disappoint Alison.

Interview with Debuffed: Out of the Box

I did a live interview yesterday with the Grievance Gaming clan, on their Debuffed: Out of the Box show. I wasn't sure what to expect, but they were very cool people. Thanks, Steelheart and Ehvayne! John Ryan and I had a lot of fun.

You can see the videos here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5vCtC_oFSs

 http://www.twitch.tv/grievance/b/470283431

Things to look for as you're viewing:

  • Codille's attempt to become internet famous.
  • John Ryan's reaction to some hidden dirt about the British Museum.
  • The sun slowly setting as the interview went on, leaving me in darkness by the end.
  • Nixy turning my camera off.
  • Fangirling by multiple people.
  • And this:

Thanks a lot for having us on your show, GG! 

Preparations

Only a few weeks remain before I start working on my book full time. Happily, my hiatus coincides with NaNoWriMo, so I signed up. This is my first year participating officially; I hope it's as motivational as everybody says it is. 

nanowrimo participant.png

I'm trying to get a lot of the structural and prep work out of the way now, so that I can sit down and simply write come November. I already have the characters figured out, and I know the overarching structure and flow. Seven interwoven short stories, connected by theme. Here are the working titles:

novel start.JPG

I took this picture last night and already two working titles have changed and the order has shifted. So much to figure out; so much that could go wrong…or right. To quote Willy Wonka, "The suspense is terrible. I hope it lasts."

Hiatus

So…I’m leaving the game industry. I’m going to work on a personal project that is far removed from what’s happening in the triple-A universe these days.

As you may know, my contract with Airtight Games ends next month.  I’ve considered my job opportunities carefully, but I don’t feel excited about any of the projects that have come my way recently.  Coming out of Murdered, I want to work on something meaningful that aligns with my personal philosophies about the future of gaming. Luckily for me, I’m at a place in my life where I can afford to take a break. I don’t know when—or if—I’ll have this chance again, so I’m seizing it. I’ll devote the next few months to my own work and hope to have something ready for publication by the end of the year.

This doesn’t mean I’m leaving the industry entirely. I’m acting as consultant on a few small indie projects while I’m on hiatus.  And maybe the perfect major project will come along and tempt me back. Who knows? In any case, I won’t be gone long. 

NOTE: Some of you have responded with concern about my decision, so I want to clarify that this is good news. It's a luxury for a creator to be able to focus exclusively on her own work. I'm incredibly lucky to have the option of taking time off for a passion project.

I didn't make this choice lightly; I've been agonising over it for weeks. It's a scary step. However, I am absolutely confident that I've made the right choice. I hope you all will trust my judgment and support me.

NOTE 2: There is nothing wrong with the project opportunities available to me. I'm not casting judgment on the state of AAA titles or the current games industry. I simply prefer to work on my own project while I have this chance. 

My Interview with Giant Bomb's Patrick Klepek

So…Patrick Klepek from Giant Bomb contacted me right before PAX this year. He wasn't going to be able to catch our panel, but he wanted to sit down and chat a bit. Of course I said yes. 

http://www.giantbomb.com/podcasts/checking-your-blind-spots/1600-607/

With all the dickwolves controversy and the PAX anger, I feel the need to put this interview into context. I spoke to Patrick on Saturday evening—before I'd had a chance to see the Indie MegaBooth and before Gabe's statements about the t-shirts. If I could change two things about this interview, they would be 1) to praise the innovation and depth of the indie games I saw and 2) to sound less gushing about the accepting PAX atmosphere. 

1) I  wish that I had seen games like Contrast, Gone Home, and That Dragon Cancer before this interview. No, I was not impressed by the major titles on the main floor. There was nothing there we haven't all seen before. But the indie games sparkled. TDC in particular blew me away. It had the poetry, the mood of the moment rather than the epic story, that I've been yearning for. I feel renewed hope for the future of games. The industry isn't stagnating in a pool of sequels and shooters; innovation inhabits the fringes and pushes us forward.

2) If Patrick had interviewed me on Monday evening, I would not have been gushing about the inclusivity of PAX this year. I would have spoken about the contrast between the atmosphere at panels on inclusivity and the acceptance being promoted at those panels, and the very real discrimination I saw happening on the Expo floor. I would have mentioned the glares being directed at a young trans-woman, and how she didn't feel safe at PAX. I would have mentioned the PAX Enforcer who tried to take advantage of a drunk young girl to end his personal "dry spell." And I certainly would have mentioned the dickwolf shirts. I would have spoken about how much work still needs to be done.

I haven't had the courage yet to do more than glance at the comments on the interview. There are points I make that people can rightfully pull apart, but I hope people will generally understand what I'm trying to say. Mostly, this interview is a snapshot of how I was feeling that day at PAX and should be taken as such.