Xferplay

You may have noticed a large number of articles over the past few months devoted to Recreational Software Designs’ Game-Maker. I’m not sure why, after all this time, I hit on the topic, but with this one-track mind of mine it’s a thread I’m compelled to follow as far as it will go. First we’ve got the individual articles on DIYGamer, which tend to take a few games or a sub-topic and spin a message out of them. Then, for the sake of organization, I crack apart the articles and distribute the elements around my wiki (usually rewritten a bit). The wiki began as a way for me to keep track of what I’ve written about what, and has begun to develop some substance of its own.

As part of the process, I’ve also begun a bit of detective work. I have tracked down and contacted about half of the Game-Maker users that I’m aware of, and have leads on a few more. Sometimes the trail has led me to previews of new Wii games; sometimes to complex worlds of fiction. Mostly, it has led me to a wall of bewilderment. And the odd new game to add to the list.

Although I’ve still a bunch of authors to find, I think my shortlist consists of The Descent author David Barras, Shanna author Angelo Felix, Paper Airplane author Matt Bell (with whom I did exchange some letters in the mid-1990s), Firefall author Firefall Softwarez (whoever that may be), Woman Warrior author Sheldon Chase, and Flying Guts author Marty Valenti. I don’t know how wide or deep these posts go, but if anyone knows how to get in touch with one or more of these people, drop me a line.

Likewise, if anyone has, or knows where to find, a copy of any of these games, I’m sure that their authors would be as appreciative as I.

And hey, maybe future generations will appreciate the conservation. Or maybe not. Darned kids.

The New Generation – Part Three: Infrastructure

by Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh

Originally published by Next Generation.

Videogames are finally finding their way. They’re moving in small steps, yet whether by need or inspiration change is in the air – a whole generational shift, an inevitable one. It’s the kind of shift that happened to film when the studio system broke down, or painting broke out of academia and… well, the studio again. In short, people are starting to get over videogames for their own sake and starting to look at them constructively – which first means breaking them down, apart from and within their cultural, historical, and personal context. When you strip out all the clutter and find a conceptual focus, you can put the pieces back together around that focus, to magnify it and take advantage of its expressive potential.

Over the previous two installments we discussed some of the voices heralding the change, and some of the works that exemplify it. In this third and final chapter, we will cast our net wider, and examine some of the cultural or circumstantial elements that either led to this shift, reflect it, help to sustain and promulgate it, or promise to, should all go well. This is, in short, the state of the world in which a generational shift can occur. Continue reading “The New Generation – Part Three: Infrastructure”

Revolver

aderack: I think the principle with the Revolution is that Nintendo wanted to allow people to play all of the Nintendo games they already owned. Problem was, how do you confirm that a person owns Donkey Kong and not Ice Climber. So, to hell with it. Just let people in.
toups: It’s pretty ballsy.
toups: It’s also pretty uncharacteristic, when you consider how much they’ve cracked down on piracy in the past.
toups: And emulation, if I recall.
toups: It’s a pretty surprising move.
aderack: Well. This is a response to that in a way, isn’t it.
aderack: They just want control over their own property. Which, from a corporate standpoint, is understandable.
toups: Just a surprising one.
toups: Considering how stingy they tend to be.
toups: Not that I’m complaining. If anything it shows that they are starting to pull their collective heads from their corporate anus
aderack: To an extent, I think that Nintendo has really milked this stuff as far as it’ll go.

Still. This does seem like a totally new direction for Nintendo. I think it’s mostly to contrast them with Sony and Microsoft.
toups: I wonder what the source of this all is. Iwata?
aderack: “See? They tell you right off that they’re not making videogame machines. But what do we have here? We have THE videogame machine!”
aderack: I wouldn’t doubt it.
aderack: It feels like Iwata’s kind of thing, what I’ve seen of him.
toups: Well, yeah. The thing is, he’s a corporate spokesperson. And he does a damn good job with the rhetoric. But I wonder if there’s some kind of quiet mastermind behind it all.
aderack: Of course he is. He’s also a game designer, though.
toups: That’s right. I forget that he used to work for HAL.
toups: Or he was the director of HAL.
aderack: I can see how he’d want people to play these things and understand them. And how he’d figure that could only help Nintendo in the long run.
aderack: Sort of an open source philosophy.
toups: Which for a long time has been the most consistently interesting Nintendo studio.
toups: Keep people from forgetting the past.
aderack: I think this might be sort of a turning point.
aderack: Just in terms of videogame culture and business and whatnot.
aderack: And design.
aderack: This is… it feels like one of the most significant hinges in gaming history to me, quite frankly.
toups: We’ll have to see how things pan out, of course.
aderack: It’s just. All of the implications of this.
aderack: Having everything significant made since 1983 on one system.
aderack: And readily accessible.
aderack: It’s like.

There’s this thing where developers keep remaking the same game for every generation of hardware, the expectation being that new people haven’t played it and a lot of old people no longer have the old version.
toups: And this is a pretty damned clever way of circumventing that.
aderack: We’ve been taking a step back for every two forward.
toups: Maybe this will mean the next Mario Kart won’t suck.
aderack: All of this recycling — it doesn’t help. All it does it keep developers fixed in older mindsets.
aderack: Nintendo, especially.
toups: That’s maybe the most interesting part about this.
toups: They arguably need it the most.
toups: And. Iwata’s giving it to them.
aderack: So now. People will know if it’s already been done. Everyone in the world has access to it. And they’ll play that instead, probably. It’s a challenge to actually do something new and interesting.
toups: If the Revolution is even moderately successful, this will be a huge breath of fresh air for the industry.
aderack: I think this will help it to become successful. You’re crossing generations here.
aderack: People will buy it just to get their NES fix.
aderack: Say.
aderack: And then they’ll stick around to see what else has been done since last they were paying attention.
toups: Well. Big changes are afoot in the industry, and with regards to game culture, too. So it’s kind of hard to say.
aderack: I think this is the only positive thing I’ve seen since the DS. Frankly.
aderack: It’s more significant than that “ON” thing, too. I think in the end.
toups: The ON is just totally inward looking. Whereas this is outward looking. Looking at the rest of the industry.
toups: ON just says “fuck you” to everything else.
toups: Which is why I liked it so much. But this is maybe a little more sensible, and more optimistic.
aderack: This is actually lending a hand.
aderack: Helping to explain things to everyone.
aderack: Since people Aren’t Getting It.
aderack: Nintendo’s closest. They still need work, though.
toups: Come to think of it, it’s not just un-Nintendo, it’s un-Japanese.
aderack: Again. Open source.
toups: Considering how secretive and stingy Japanese companies are.
aderack: Remember what I was saying with the big shift being when the Japanese and Western schools merge again?
aderack: This is a step in that direction.
toups: Until then, we make do with the Japanese games that learn from Western philosophy and vice-versa.
toups: That’s Metal Gear Solid’s strength, really.
toups: And Grand Theft Auto, respectively.
toups: Well.
toups: I’ll have to chew on that one a bit more.