Despite the appearance here on the blog, it’s been a busy 6-7 months, not to mention the last week of E3 insanity.
A couple weeks ago we (Jake, Ben, Sam, & I) announced the other game I’ve been working on besides The Unconcerned. While that may have come as a little bit of a surprise to regular readers of the blog , it’s something that’s been cooking since day 1-ish (actually somewhere between day 1 and day 30, day 0 being when I left EA last July).
While it’s easy to get bogged down in the bad writing, Heavy Rain is noteworthy in its treament of the relationship between the player and its playable characters. The game’s success and failures challenge strongly held notions about empathizing with characters though gameplay.
And oh yes, spoilers ahead.
Back in 2005, when the game industry was awash with huge risk averse studios and sequelitis, things were looking bleak. I wrote an opinion piece for Gamasutra about the future rise of the indie scene, where I talked about how personal expression (including the a-word), experimental funding & distribution models, and creative production cost management would become hallmarks of the successful indie scene. (Today, I know, predicting that doesn’t sound like rocket science, I was just trying to cheerlead at the time.)
One of the key elements of a thriving independent game development community that I brought up is an established circuit of festivals throughout the year. These festivals are meant to help bring attention to the works that need it the most – the games that will have a profound impact, that will advance the medium, that will touch people, and that otherwise would not get made were it not for a small team of very passionate, underpaid, people.
Suzanne Seggerman (of Games for Change) gave a great microtalk at GDC, with one of my favorite quotes of the conference: “You can’t find Bob Dylan in the serious music section of iTunes.” She was encouraging developers to explore real world themes though personal messages in their games.
People often asked me, at GDC and SXSW, if The Unconcerned was a “serious game”. Lump it in the same category as shooters developed for military training? Games developed for exer-bikes? Huh?
Every GDC there’s always tons of interesting side conversations spawned by elements from the talks. One of the more innocuous comments that started a number of conversations was from Sid Meier’s keynote. He told a story about playtesting Civilization Revolution – when presenting players with simple odds, like 2 to 1, they would expect to win disproportionately (more than two times out of every three).