Dear Dan. Talking with Dan Pinchbeck. Part 3

Dan Pinchbeck talk with Klarden

(original photo here)

And a week after, here’s a new part of my talk with Dan Pinchbeck, the creative director of thechineseroom. This time, we’re going to talk a bit more about the two new projects of the studio, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, but not without talking about his influences and his undying love for STALKER and Metro.

In the third part of the talk specifically, we discuss the importance of music, sound design and voice acting for games, the importance of narrative and characters over the plot, the reasons why Amnesia was a scary game and why Daniel’s character was the best part of Amnesia story.Read more

Dear Dan. Talking with Dan Pinchbeck. Part 2

Dan Pinchbeck talk with Klarden

(original photo here)

And now, the second part of my talk with Dan Pinchbeck. We talk about the game pricing, strange «price per hour» concept in game pricing, influence of indie bundles and steam on game sales, popularity of Kickstarter, greatness of Indie Fund and wish for there to be something «in the middle», the concept of franchises made by several small indie companies as a level up from modding scene, Dan’s fondness of soviet and post-soviet science-fiction and videogames and difficulties of going from a mod or a free game to the commercial release.Read more

Dear Dan. Talking with Dan Pinchbeck. Part 1

Dan Pinchbeck talk with Klarden

(original photo here)

After wondering for a bit on why won’t a finally buy a webcam and start trying to interview different game developers I made the only right decision — bought a webcam and tried to interview a game developer. The first «victim» of my complete lack of knowledge on Skype talks was Dan Pinchbeck, creative director of thechineseroom, who has recently released their first commercial game — Dear Esther. Originally released as a source mod in 2008, it changed perceptions of lots of people about what can be done with a videogame medium. And recent commercial release, done in collaboration with incredibly talented level designer and environment artist Robert Briscoe, allowed Dear Esther to be known to a bigger audience.

Given my admiration for the game (and work on the Russian translation for it), it’s not surprising that I was interested in knowing one of the key people behind the project better. And while video quality, and my embarrassingly nervous talk and unexpectedly bad accent (because of long inexperience period, I’m a good translator otherwise, honest -_-) prevent you from seeing the recording of our talk, you can still read it.

In this first part, we talk about the unexpected success of Dear Esther, other early experiments, what makes horror games great and why Amnesia was an amazing game, the importance of interface and health counters and what we both love and hate with game hints and tutorials.Read more

Once again enter the world of survival horror

Once again enter the world of survival horror

Survival horror is dead. As a Capcom invented moniker, as a Capcom influenced control scheme and game structure. Probably, even as a major mainstream game genre (well, action-adventure subgenre, actually). Some argue, that it’s concepts, it’s mechanics are outdated. That you can’t get more of it. Capcom says similar things. And you know what? To hell with Capcom. And i mean it in a very broad sense.

Richard Cobbett wrote a very nice editorial about «saving adventure games» last year. And i think a lot of points said about adventure games in that editorial hold true for survival horror games. Once a subgenre that pushed boundaries, influenced developers and players alike, that tried new things and experimented in storytelling and gameplay, it became nothing more than a self-parody. Always trying to be survival horror in tired mechanics, controls and story devices and not in the concept of survival horror. And it can only blame itself for that.Read more

Bioshock is an OK FPS

So, BioShock was, apparently, a very big thing. And i still don’t get why exactly was that. Now, don’t get me wrong, BioShock was a rather good, if frustrating at times, FPS «with a twist». It was nicely made, had several really good things about it but… That’s about it. And the entire situation of BioShock’s popularity really reminds me of Halo popularity — it seems that people consider BioShock is big simply because they were continuously told that it is big. But let me explain myself in detail.Read more

ME3: Selling endings

ME3 selling endings

Now, there’s a lot of controversy around the ME3 ending. You probably know this even if you didn’t know the series existed (if there’s anyone out there who would fit this description). However, there’s one possibility, strongly hinted within the game itself, and it becomes even more evident with this analysis, that ME3 simply does not have an actual ending for the story. Instead, it has a dream/hallucination filler ending. The one that throws the audience off track before showing them the actual conclusion (or leaving the actual events to the audience’s imagination). The actual conclusion that doesn’t exist yet. And, and you should consider this possibility, might be available later as a DLC. Knowing EA and recent From Ashes scandal, non-free DLC. So, let me rephrase it: there is a very strong possibility, that EA might sell you the ending to the game you bought. Yes, it sounds like a stupid and too daringly asshole-ish blunt rip-off strategy. So it fits EA quite nicely.

Read more

An art gallery

Recently, there was a lot of talk about the art games, the «nongames», mostly because of the release of two highly different «art games»: Dear Esther and Journey. I heard lots of different opinion about this «type» of game and wondered about them myself. Interesting arguments brought up by Jim Sterling in his last week Jimquisition, or this post also added to my views on the subject. And while i don’t usually think that assigning labels to games is a very helpful thing (as it is with music), i understand the necessity. Games like this, while hardly «experimental» today (as they were 5 years ago), are still a novelty. And given the fact that they differ so much, yet get labeled in a similar manner, it’s not surprising people simply don’t know what to expect.Read more

Why Silent Hill doesn’t need "mythology"

Since its release in ’99, Silent Hill inspired people to form communities around the series, to talk and wonder about the secrets of that mysterious foggy city. In 2001 i got into internet for the first time and, quite obviously, started searching information on the game i loved. Thus i too became a part of one such community. It was called Black Helix, and we spent hours sitting in the forum and discussing everything Silent Hill related. We argued about reality, we dreamed of what it would be to personally go to Silent Hill. Silent Hill 2 was already released, and still talked about a year after the release. After getting a PC version (i didn’t have a PS2) i joined in the heated discussions about the story and the characters. My opinion, just as the opinion of any other member of the community, was «true» in a way, because Silent Hill 2 didn’t have any straight answers. I believed that maybe the guilt of leaving the wife to die alone transformed into an imagined murder, and i still do. And i could — there was no trustworthy narrator, there were no clear facts, no definitive «truth» in the game. So, Silent Hill 2 journey was a personal one. Looking back — that was the best time to be a Silent Hill fan.Read more

Xenophilia: Illegal childhood


Think of any great videogame released 1980-2000. Yep, that game is great. And you know what? I never had a legal copy of it. You see, there were none in Ukraine. And in, pretty much, any post-soviet country actually. What a fun childhood we had.Read more

Gamer talk on game design: Jump dammit!


originally for AveGamers (in russian)

Not there! Run on the wall! Not up the wall, along it! Why the fuck have you not grabbed it?! Left! Left, you shit!!Welcome to the world of acrobatic action adventure and platforming games of the last 10 years, baby.Read more