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Love, a one-man indie MMO

Jim Rossignol has written an article over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun about Love, a 'first person not so massively multi player online procedural adventure game' developed by Eskil Steenberg.

The game itself, dubbed Love (as in For The Love Of Game Development), is an exploration-based moderately-multiplayer FPS with astounding impressionistic visuals and a procedurally generated universe. Since Steenberg is a one man show, he's relying on clever maths to build the world for him and then clever gamers to come in and help him figure out where to take it, and what to do with it.

It sounds like an amazing effort. Great look too!

Kenneth Hite's Tour de Lovecraft

If you like the work of H.P. Lovecraft, you might be interested in reading Kenneth Hite's Tour de Lovecraft, where he critiques a bunch of Lovecraft's stories, in chronological order. Read it from the bottom up.

With stories this good, I don't propose to spend quite as much effort dragging out their structure and such, or summarizing previous criticism. I can't help, however, joyously remarking on the deft way Lovecraft turns Poe's "House of Usher" inside out with this one. We get the same conceptual play on words, as Delapore descends simultaneously into the putrid bowels of his "house" (Exham Priory) and his "house" (the De la Poer lineage). Like Usher, Delapore's line is extinct -- his son dies of his WWI injuries. We get the same excitation of the sense of hearing as the symptom, almost the literal entry-way, for the horror. But unusually for Poe, "Usher" is not particularly fixated on Usher's interior psychological life, whereas equally unusually for Lovecraft, "Rats" is very much concerned with the interior life of Delapore. In this story, Lovecraft proves himself able to master Poe's tools and move on -- it serves as the solid foundation for his triumphant farewell to Poe, "Charles Dexter Ward."

In my own case, reading this story also let all the light in at once about the "house as violated human body" subtext that William Hope Hodgson used in House on the Borderland. Indeed, "The Rats in the Walls" is a great, if somewhat over-loud, haunted house story as well -- the comparisons with, say, The Shining just jump out at you.

Congratulations Jason

Congratulations to Jason Della Rocca on winning the Game Developers Choice Ambassador Award!

More here:

I don't mean to sound ungrateful for this award, this is truly a wonderful honor. But, I'm just one person. What the industry needs now is for each one of you to get out there and be an ambassador for games, for game culture, for the profession of game development. Apathy is for losers. Fine, you don't have time to start a charity or fight Jack, then let your work do the talking. Your collective creative output is the real ambassador that touches millions on a global basis. Games have the ability to transform the world. Don't lose sight of that. You create culture. We ARE culture. Like it or not, you are all already ambassadors for games. So, better make the most of that responsibility!

Electronic Arts Makes Bid For Take-Two

Read all about it. I hear some people slitting their wrists.

Wait, wasn't EA never going to release a game like GTA, ever? Because their role model is Disney? Tisk.

Probably inspired by the Blizzard, sorry, Vivendi - Activision deal, which was announced while I was in Lyon and I completely forgot to mention here. Because you never would have found out otherwise.

Update: N'Gai Croal over at Newsweek has posted some info about how Take-Two executives are trying to enrich themselves through this deal.

Essay on game criticism by Greg Costikyan

Greg Costikyan has written a great essay on criticism versus reviews, and why we need more of the former:

A review is a buyer's guide. It exists to tell you about some new product that you can buy, and whether you should or should not buy it. A good review goes beyond that, and suggests who should buy it, since not everyone enjoys everything. (E.g., A romance novel may be very fine of its kind, but is quite unlikely to appeal to me, since it is not a genre I enjoy.)


Criticism is an informed discussion, by an intelligent and knowledgeable observer of a medium, of the merits and importance (or lack thereof) of a particular work. Criticism isn't intended to help the reader decide whether or not to plunk down money on something; some readers' purchase decisions may be influenced, but guiding their decisions is not the purpose of the critical work. Criticism is, in a sense merely "writing about" -- about art, about dance, about theater, about writing, about a game--about any particular work of art. How a critical piece addresses a work, and what approach it takes, may vary widely from critic to critic, and from work to work. There are, in fact, many valid critical approaches to a work, and at any given time, a critique may adopt only one, or several of them.

On the one hand, I have the feeling this situation is slowly getting better (partially due to essays such as Greg's). On the other hand, I am wary. How soon until we get essays talking about the Marxist-feminist dialectic of the ludological aspects of Super Mario World? In other words: hermetic verbiage that has no relation to either the work or the craft?

But still, I agree we're very far from having that problem right now.

"And Yet It Moves," an independent game from Austria

And Yet It Moves is an independent game made by four students at the Technical University in Vienna. Um, and yes, it was made over a year ago, don't know why I didn't blog about it before...

It has a great look:


Great use of production restrictions. Gameplay is interesting, but I feel the level design could be better (that's code for: I couldn't beat the game within 10 minutes :P). It even runs on a Mac!

Indie landing on Omaha Beach

Kim has posted an excellent video of 3 guys making a video of the landing on Omaha Beach for a much, much smaller budget than what Steven Spielberg had in Saving Private Ryan.

We can quibble about whether this can be called 'amateur' or not, but I agree with Kim that:

[...] I stand by the sentiment that it's not tied to Hollywood normal stranglehold, which is 'control through funding'.

In the games business, it wouldn't be whether a fourteen year old in his garage could build something of high quality, or whether two professionals living off credit cards could build it. Either way, if it's not tied to "requires 10M in funding from EA", then it significantly changes the business.