I’m not much for hyping up news, but I came across quite a few exciting stories this week. Because writing ‘feature articles’ is so darned difficult, I thought that an occasional ‘Artful Times’ newsletter might be a fun way to end the week
The 2009 GDC begins next monday, and I’ll be there! If you’d like to get together for a lunch or coffee, please drop me a line. This is my first GDC and I plan to document the whole thing as well as do a handful of interviews while I’m there. I’ll post whatever I can here during the week!
Jamie Love posted a very enjoyable interview with japanese rhythm master Masaya Matsuura, otherwise recognized for his brilliant PaRappa the Rapper series that initiated the whole ‘rhythm game’ genre. Matsuura does not appear often in interviews, and his insights into Western (and japanese) gaming culture are poignant. In response to the idea that we, as gamers, tend to idolize certain characters and games from our past that are nonetheless exploited commercially in sequel after sequel; sacrificing our personal values for profit, he says:
We should talk about cultural values and proprietary values separately. Nowadays, nobody really has the idea that “Copies” are worse than the “Original” anymore. When I think about that, it is no wonder that new ways of thinking about possession will be eventually spreading and changing. When, for example, we have a million seller game, it is difficult for us to decide if there is only one main character, or a million of them, but for now we should appreciate that both assumptions can be held as valid.
I think companies and/or producers have a tough mission to bring imaginary characters to life both culturally and proprietarily. Also the imaginary character will doubtless become increasingly realistic and tangible in the near future. Then we will be forced to rethink how we treat them once again.
(Apologies for the news image – I couldn’t help myself)
New Bible Unearthed; Church of the Mushroom Cloud Believers Deny Existence
Over at the IDGA Game Preservation Mailing List, Elliot Davis mentioned that someone has posted a scan of the complete design document for the cancelled Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2 game. We all know that Brotherhood of Steel was a terrible followup to Fallout 1 and 2, but apparently BoS was only intended to cover the costs of the game engine. BoS 2 was the game that Interplay wanted to pursue – but filed for bankruptcy before production could begin. The design “Bible” reads like a D&D campaign manual and features a lot of previously unseen sketches and artwork consistent with the Fallout universe. I suggest getting it while it’s hot – who knows how long it’ll be before the nasty C&D letters are fired off.
“Ifnkovhgroghprm” actually means “Nikstlitselpmur”
AGDInteractive let me know that their amazing re-makes of King’s Quest I and King’s Quest II have been once again remade! The artists have went back to them and redrawn all of the background art at high resolution, and made improvements to the music and speech packs. (Not to mention that their website was re-designed and re-launched by the wonderful Eriq Chang). After investing thousands of hours in these projects, their efforts have finally been ‘rewarded’ and recognized by Activision (the company that swallowed up Vivendi & Sierra On-Line’s properties): in a newsletter AGDI said, “We were informed that Activision would honor our outstanding agreements with Vivendi by allowing us to finish our pending contractual projects, but that we will not be granted permission to start any new Sierra remakes in the future.” Bad news: we won’t see a King’s Quest IV or Quest for Glory remake. Good news: we’ll see Himalaya Studios work on their own original ideas and hopefully see a new adventure game in the next couple of years!
(and if you recognized the title of this news item, you’ve played too much King’s Quest)
A History of LucasArts – Thankfully not written by George Lucas
Although the book was released in December 08, I somehow missed it! Rob Smith, the editor of PlayStation magazine, writes the history of LucasArts and fills it with amazing (previously unseen!) production artwork and paintings. I have some strong attachments to LucasArts, despite their 10 year dive into obscurity. The years between Maniac Mansion and Grim Fandango punctuated some of the best gaming experiences of my adolescent and post-adolescent life. Even now, when I load up Loom and Sam and Max Hit the Road on my Nintendo DS (thank you ScummVM!) I am reminded that true mastery involves insight and constant revision. I’m looking forward to reading this book; if you have read it, please chime in with your (dis)recommendation. This seems like a nice coffee table book, especially with the glossy photos inside.
Home of the Underdogs Revived After Being Euthanized
And I wasn’t planning on announcing this for at least another two weeks, but my good friend gnome das Gnome’s Lair beat me to it After Sarinee, the old curator and creator of Home of the Underdogs (a site devoted to posting ye olde abandoned games) lost HoTU due to a mixture of disinterest and her web host dying, a few folks from the community decided to lend a hand and get it back up to speed. There are several ongoing revitalization projects, but the one that has caught my attention the most is HOTUD.org – a complete revision of the site using Joomla and community-driven content. The site is currently in an ‘alpha’ stage and you should not yet start posting reviews/content, but if you’re as excited as I am about the project, head over to the forum to keep an eye on the site development. We’ll let everyone know there when it’s ready to rock’n'roll.