Letters to the Editor

Heart and Seoul


In response to “Jonathan Blow’s Shifting Intention” from The Escapist Forum: Blow’s philosophy of game design could work… so long as he doesn’t forget that he’s creating games and not art installations for the edification of future generations. It’s all well and good to pooh-pooh the “grind” of MMOs today but people do play MMOs and are quite happy to grind, Skinner-boxing or no. Unless Blow takes that into account, and provides some substitute that satisifies this hunter-gatherer mode of play, he’s not going to attract the players who seek that experience out.

I’m all for indie-designed games; it’s great to have variety in the market. But I’m not terribly supportive of genre snobbery as it only hurts gaming as a whole.

– Anton P. Nym

In regards to the Matthew Arnold joke, I was skimming Rasselas by Samuel Johnson the other night. I particularly like the joke about the lighthouse keeper who believes that because he is predicting where the weather will go, he is in fact controlling where the weather will go. I like it because Johnson was making a rather sharp satire about critics who think that what comes out of their mouth is controlling the medium’s direction as opposed to just observing its fluctuations and problems.

The thing that irritates me about Blow is that he crosses that line sometimes. Still need to play Braid though…

– L.B. Jeffries

I think Blow’s message is pretty simple: If you want to make more innovative games, do it. Prototyping is easier than ever these days.

If you don’t have time to do it, well, that’s why you’re not doing it: you don’t have time, or you don’t really have the motivation to. Nothing wrong with that, but that’s why. Deal with it.

His message is a call to action: There is much unexplored (or rarely explored, or haven’t explored in a while) territory in video games, so if you really care about innovation and the health of the medium, go forth and explore – there’s plenty to find!

– stevesan


In response to “The Writer, the Star and the Villain” from The Escapist Forum: Jon Finkel is more of a Magic god in America. European players have their own icons, such as Kai Budde, who still is the highest earning Magic pro of all times.

With so many people competing and taking an active role in the game there aren’t really icons anymore in the strictist sense. There is no one player who embodies all that Magic has to offer- Jon is more of a godfather of Magic and no longer the hot young Pro of 6 years ago. His win this year in the PT was a shock to everyone. A good shock, none the less.

Juilen Niltsen, the Ruel brothers, Patrick Chapin, “BP aka the guru” Flores, Terry Soh’s legendary jedi mindtrick, the $16,000 Lightning Helix, the always obnoxious Rafael Levy and the ever zen of Wafotapa- these are the faces and stories of the game now, and the story is much more complex than the “good vs. evil” days of yore, or “the case of GP *blank* vs. Mike Long” that we heard about in the past. Lets not forget how the Japanese redefined the game 4 or 5 years ago, in the same way Tiger Woods did to the golfing world not so many years ago.

Anyway, it’s a great game. And I love it.

– in_95


In response to “Sign of the Crab” from The Escapist Forum: Many games try to make a compromise between player freedom and authored content. This seems to be doomed to fail. I would rather see a tightly scripted story, with well-thought-out dramatic content, themes and intellectual challenge. On the other hand, I would also welcome a game with absolutely no plot and a free-roaming environment with interesting game mechanics.

Developers try to meet too many expectations. There are expectations concerning game length, visual style, mechanics and story. I think that all the fan-service is actually a disservice in the long term. The movie industry has many of the same problems. It is misguided to try to tailor a work of art into a certain size, shape and price group.

– Finnish(ed)

Finnish, I think it’s possible to have a narrative that’s meaningful to the player without constricting what he can do. In order to do it though game designers are going to have to find a way to incorporate a “yes, and” mentality into their games.

I agree that newer games often seem to lack coherence. I think what really excited people about Portal and Braid, two games being frequently cited as “perfect” was that they knew exactly what they were, they did what they showed up to do, and then they were over (consequently I’ve replayed both games multiple times). The only other games I can think of that have that kind of sense of identity are all classic arcade titles like Tetris and Pac-Man. The modern video game is typically a mish-mash of game mechanics and technologies, some of which have no bearing on each other at all. Some time during the 90s “gameplay variety” became a big deal. Ocarina of Time was “better” than Super Mario 64 to some because in addition to platforming it also had swordplay, archery, fishing, and horse-racing*. The extension of this sentiment is that for a game to better it needs to have more mini-games and the net result is mini game collections. Games that are a thousand miles wide and about two inches deep.

* I’m a huge fan of both games, but I take issue with comparisons that say a game is better because it has more different tasks without accounting for how these tasks relate to each other.

– shMerker

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