August 8th, 2005


More Thoughts on Gaming

Curse you, Bard's Tale! I have the trow song ("It's bad luck to be you") stuck in my head. It gets credit for that, though. I don't think I've ever had a musical number from a video game jammed into my skull before.

Today I'm gonna try to stay off the computer--a solid day of clickfest yesterday left me with a sore clicky hand. Which sucks, because everything I need to do is digital. Oh, well, this is the price I pay. Lousy gameplay still, but so clever. It burns!

For example, one of the finest upset sequences in this sort of game I've ever played. You make your way through the viking tomb, you slay undead by the score, you collect the keystones to open the door, and you get to the endboss. The endboss is a twelve-foot-tall undead viking skeleton sitting on a throne with the last key you need in his hand.

Everybody on earth knows what happens next. You grab the key, he comes alive, you fight him. It's beyond obvious. So obvious, in fact, that instead, you kick the skeleton in the shins repeatedly while saying "I know you're awake. I'm not an idiot! I know what's going to happen if I grab that thing!" and finally the skeleton grudgingly admits that yes, it's awake, you've ruined its surprise, and then sits and sulks, until through a combination of verbal abuse and a hot Valkyrie, you wind up haranguing the giant skeleton and its sledgehammer through the tomb, so that it can kill all the other undead and prove itself valorous enough for Valhalla. It had such endearingly goofy battlecries when confronting the other undead--"Who's tomb is this?! That's right, it's MY tomb!"--and the whole scene was so wonderfully unexpected that I giggled through the entire sequence. You never actually fight him at all. It was a great alternative to Another Damn Endboss. It required nothing much in the way of extra programming, it used all the same features that existed in the game already, but out of probably hundreds of thousands of animate skeleton encounters I've had in the course of my video gaming career, this is the only one I remembered for more than five minutes.

I think the worst problem with video game writing is that it's done by committee. It's the same reason that a lot of movies suck. Creativity by committee isn't. The death of adventure gaming can probably be tracked to that exact fact. And it's a cryin' shame, really, because getting a good writer on a game and letting them actually do their job makes all the difference in the world.

(no subject)


Went in to update my renter's insurance to reflect that we've got an assload more computer equipment, furniture, priceless broken toaster, etc. Reasonably painless, quite inexpensive. Asked about fine art rider. For forty or fifty bucks a year, they'll cover my quite extensive art collection. This is a Good Thing.

They need an itemized list with descriptions, however.

This is a...less good...thing...

We have a LOT of art. Standing in the living room, I can see thirty one pieces from here. There is an entire closet in the studio jammed with more art. This is the inevitable result of being an artist--you do a lot of art, you trade a lot of art, you get given a lot of art, you pick up a few random prints at the antique store and a neat mask or two on e-bay, and suddenly you've got a collection that prices out at more than you make in a good year and you think "Wait--I'm poor!--how did this HAPPEN?"* Art has congealed around me like meaningful dried Cheez-Whiz. Since I couldn't afford my own art collection in a million years if I had to actually buy it, insurance suddenly seems like a really really good idea.

But good lord, there's a lot of it to go through. Hundreds of pieces, at the very least--there's a good seventy reduction prints from my parents wedged in the closet, to say nothing of the heaps and stacks of my own work. I am daunted. Erf.

*Not that you could sell it for that much, but if you tried to replace it, oy.