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.

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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.

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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.

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Few notes on: Floater

Floater is a curious band. Some might love lots of their songs. I like only about 15. But those I like, I like a lot. It’s a little known band from Oregon (insert your dysentery joke here), which released 8 records and play a weird mix of genres, sing “meaningful” lyrics and their records usually are centered around a particular idea.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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