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Jamie John

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    Games! Also, books, films, music, headphones and photography
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  1. Chaka still got dat funk:
  2. Jamie John

    Cool tracks

    Friday night drunk, but post one track that is undeniably cool. I'll start:
  3. I tend to play a lot of narrative-led, single-player games, many of which have different approaches to storytelling, some more effective than others. As I see it, these approaches can be broadly categorised as follows: Through cutscenes This is probably the most common approach, and the one that tends to be favoured by the majority of AAA developers. Think The Last of Us, Horizon: Forbidden West and Metal Gear Solid. In cutscenes, the game director will, more often than not, take control away from the player entirely while the cutscene is being played. Cutscenes allow the developers to frame the action in the way that they want to, using fixed camera angles and editing that wouldn't normally be possible. Cutscenes will also often depict characters doing things that the player wouldn't normally be able to make them do. Cutscenes can be very effective and resonant (The Last of Us, Silent Hill 2), but they can also be overlong and intrusive, more like a movie than a videogame (MGS), and players often resent how they take control away from the player. Through audiologs, diary entries, notes, recovered documents, or similar This breed of storytelling seemed to reach its heyday in the late noughties in games like Bioshock, Fallout 3 and Dead Space, and despite the backlash against it, audiologs still make frequent appearances in more contemporary games (Horizon, Halo Infinite, Deathloop). At its best, this form of storytelling can be evocative and poignant, employing dramatic irony and juxtaposition to contrast past with present, but it can also often be quite jarring and lazy, not seeming to make sense within the fiction that the game has created: why did this character feel the need to make this audiolog? Why did they decide to leave this very sensitive information lying around for anyone to find? How convenient that this person wrote an email to someone else, reminding them of the the passcode to the door I've been trying to open! Through lots and lots of text I.e., the JRPG approach, this is likely the oldest form of storytelling in games as it's cheap and most closely imitates the type of storytelling you would expect to find in a novel or other work of literary fiction. It's simple but effective, though, similar to cutscenes, conversations can often go on for too long and they take control away from the player, forcing them to read instead of play. Some games, such as visual novels like Danganronpa, or games like Phoenix Wright and Disco Elysium, simply wouldn't work without this form of storytelling. Through item descriptions, NPC dialogue and 'lore' I.e., the From Soft approach. My hot-take on this sort of storytelling is that the stories these sorts of games tell are very often compelling and intricate (see Dark Souls, Elden Ring, Bloodborne), but the manner in which those stories are told is wilfully obtuse and ultimately ineffective: can you really say that a game's story is well-told if you need to go onto YouTube after completing the game to get VaatiVidya to explain it to you? Is it right that a game requires a dedicated community of players unpicking lore in order to transcribe a game's narrative? Through environmental storytelling This is my favourite approach to storytelling in games, and the one which, to my mind, is more applicable to videogames than any other medium. Think Inside, Half-Life 2 and The Last Guardian. In these sorts of games, the 'story' has to be inferred from the areas that the player travels through and explores, rather than being explicitly told to the player. Often, the story is ambiguous, open to interpretation, and the games have relatively sparse dialogue, but they make up for it with atmosphere and tone. --- Obviously, there are variations on the above, and lots of games employ lots of different storytelling methods simultaneously. I also think it's interesting to think how games have placed an increasingly stronger emphasis on narrative and storytelling as they have become more advanced: no one cared about the 'story' in games like Pacman, Space Invaders or Gauntlet, but from the early 90s onwards (and perhaps even before then), a game's 'story' has become one of its key selling points to lots of players. Which approach do you prefer, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
  4. Ah, I see. That's shit Still, he sounded in top form on today's pod.
  5. Is it known why he was off, or was it just a break? Hope everything was ok with him. And I agree - pod isn't the same without him!
  6. Having just re-played Fez after finishing Tunic, some of the puzzles in that game are far, far more obscure than in this one, like having to translate morse code. Testament to this is the fact that Fez's biggest puzzle people have had to find the answer to via brute force; we still don't know why the solution to that puzzle is what it is. I think Tunic does a really good job of providing enough titbits to help you figure out everything for yourself, more so than Fez, in fact, where the logical and (literal) perspective jumps you have to make are a lot bigger. In Tunic, it's literally all in the manual! The only thing I couldn't make head nor tail of what the language - Fez does this better, I think. They're both excellent games, however. The Witness, too.
  7. Just bear it mind that the game only looks like Zelda; really, it's quite different. And there is back-tracking in that you return to a central hub area, before finding your way to the next zone (like Zelda, admittedly).
  8. Alternatively: yes! Although it does seem to be quite divisive, so YMMV. Maybe playing it for a couple of hours first on Game Pass to see if you like it. I thought you could play Game Pass games natively on the Deck, anyway?
  9. I've been playing it the evenings. I'll give it another go later on. It definitely seems like a Friday night with scotch in hand sort of game.
  10. I've played this for an hour or so and haven't been entirely bowled over by it yet. I appreciate the writing and the tough decisions, but it's quite stressful in the sense that I don't feel like I can possibly keep up with everything at once. I'm going to keep playing, but I feel like I can only spend half an hour on it at a time before I start to get restless; it's not got its hooks into me yet.
  11. Checking in for the end of June and it's the first time this year where I've gone an entire month with no new games, which I'm pleased with. I started off the month playing Horizon: Forbidden West, which I ploughed on with for about 25 hours before handing in the towel. After that, I replayed Fez the Switch, which remains excellent, but seeing as it was a replay it's done nothing to reduce the backlog (25 games). I'm currently an hour into Citizen Sleeper, playing via Game Pass, which I'm enjoying, but I've been watching TV series a bit more than usual this month, so I haven't been spending quite as long playing games. Once I'm done with CS, however, I think I'll give Neon White a go, as those who are playing seem to be enjoying it a lot. How was June for everyone else?
  12. If you enjoyed the first then play the second. It's more well-rounded experience and features some wonderfully nasty bits You can normally get it for £10-15. I liked it enough to get the platinum!
  13. I'm continually re-evaluating my relationship with games, but there hasn't been a time in the last ten years when I've stopped playing them. I've made various threads about it, but I'm currently trying to get a handle on my backlog, which I feel I've been pretty successful at, and have been limiting myself to buying one game per month. Like you say, it's been quite a liberating and refreshing thing to do. I've also stopped trying to play more than one game at a time. Now, if I find myself getting bored with a game, instead of switching to a new one I'll watch an episode of a series, or a film, or read, or just do something else, then come back to the game once I've given it a break. I purchase games a lot more carefully now than before, and abandon far fewer of them as a result. I will say that I have too many game-playing devices, however. Really, like you, I should sell my PS5, as I don't need it, and probably my Quest 2 as well, as I can never be arsed to put it on, but I just can't bring myself to do it.
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