Somewhere within the first seven minutes of listening to and watching the latest iteration of Game Informer’s long-running podcast/video series, I realized that I wanted to do one of my rarer pieces in which I list some interesting details and my own thoughts in regard to them. I’m also going to take this opportunity to more than likely thoroughly embarrass myself with my extensive knowledge on some subjects and lack thereof whereas others are concerned. Reader beware, you’re in for a scare…as a certain scary mastermind might say.
My first point of interest comes about four minutes or so into the two-hour show and is in regard to Ninja Theory and their work on Hellblade, as well as previous titles of interest including the DMC: Devil May Cry remake/reboot. For some strange reason I had been thinking they also developed Ninja Blade, a 2009 game for last generation consoles (predominately the 360) that centered on a similar demonic situation to some Ninja Gaiden narrative points. However, to my ultimate surprise that was handled by none other than our friendly neighborhood From Software- the creators of the variety of Souls games for those of you unfamiliar with the name.
My next point comes in regard to the discussion surrounding Hellblade itself and the talk of experiential storytelling versus outright cutscenes and loss of player control. I find it incredibly interesting that the game markets itself as not only trying to adhere closely to history and historical accuracy, but as a story revolving around perception and mental illness as well. These are such heady topics in today’s society and aren’t often handled by any industry or medium, meaning this is venturing into somewhat dangerous and uncharted waters and I’m truly interested to see how the portrayal holds up. Interestingly enough, a close comparison I would draw at least from how I’ve seen the footage play out thus far in-game would be to That Dragon, Cancer’s perception of the world and of physical illness rather than mental. I think oddly enough these two projects have some semblance of a close relationship in the tone they wish to convey and the important matters they wish to both show through experience and deal with through narrative promise.
The next portion of the video that drew my attention was some of the discussion regarding Drawn to Death and its myriad of inspirations- from the creative productive of David Jaffe to Anarchy Reigns to Brutal Legend to MadWorld so on and so forth. Having of course seen the review and some more thoughts regarding it in the time since the latest episode of the GI Show has aired, I’m immensely disappointed with any of the promise the third-person arena shooter hybrid had being pretty much a loss, despite it not being anywhere near my radar of interesting games to pursue in the first place. I think perhaps my thoughts line up somewhat with the simple premise that it’s an interesting and semi-unique concept and a shame that it doesn’t really pan out whatsoever from that.
I also enjoyed the particular question regarding who showcased more versatility and overall effectual game development chops- Rockstar North or Naughty Dog. Personally I think I agree with a lot of the points made- while it is true Rockstar has had a few different genres on their plate, for the most part they’ve stuck to the tried and true formula first showcased by GTA’s open world design and have emulated it greatly (admittedly) in their other works of recent years such as Red Dead Redemption as well. On the other other hand Naughty Dog has handled several amazing story arcs across different series, genres, and narratives entirely- going from the fantastic Uncharted series to The Last of Us and even to more cartoonish games prior to both of those hits. If I had to choose based upon flexibility and talent for world-creation in terms of diversity versus depth, Naughty Dog would take my vote as well.
I particularly liked the comments regarding conciseness and succinctness of writing in terms of what the most common editing tips were that the crew had been given as writers themselves. Obviously as I don’t have to deal with deadlines and word constraints for my free-flowing combo of a set-piece write-up (or whatever the heck you want to call this site and my posts) I can afford to go off on tangents and speak my mind in thorough and cluttered posts such as this. While that is an obvious disadvantage to some in terms of reviews and response pieces at times, I also utilize it as a way to give a truly in-depth and all-encompassing look at whatever thing piques my interest for that particular piece. Of course, I don’t write in this same style for other specific purposes- such as when it comes to novel or short story writing or any of the other things I typically dabble in, so take that with a large grain of salt. Write in whatever way suits you best and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise- unless it’s your editor; you should listen to that person because they will get you to the finish line.
I recognize the fact that I’m jumping all over the place here in terms of topics despite following the base chronology of the podcast, yet I also really appreciated the mention of Evo. I think more games- like Spore in some ways, for example, would benefit from that same sort of simple approach and simple focus in terms of leveling up both design and scale alongside plot and character themselves. I sort of see similar attributes in the recently released Everything, however that even pales in honest comparison to some of the factors of Evo itself.
I think another particularly useful line of questioning and responses stems from the previews and misconceptions area of the podcast as well. Ultimately I feel like the majority of games will get a better preview even if the final product turns out to be crap. Whether this is because most of us are innately optimistic in what we hope to see in the final product or solely because developers are obviously going to show their best work off remains to be argued. As for misconceptions about the industry, as with any other industry I feel that this sort of insider access can and will always give way to changing opinions and open up new viewpoints to people as they discover what truly goes on behind the scenes. I myself only know a little bit of it from a journalistic and press point of view, yet I’ve been active in the development process before with projects and can certainly understand the struggles and difficulty with decision-making there for example.
Short of going into the intricacies and details of the phenomenal interview with Rare on Yooka-Layleewith a fine-toothed comb, I think that’s about the majority of highlights I’ve got to hit on this particular episode. I’ve done thought blogs and reactions to GI magazines in their entirety and highlighted things I’ve particularly enjoyed about videos before but it has certain been some time. So, if you all would like more of my long-winded thoughts from time to time you can always feel free to comment or ask for them, or simply yell at me to write more of them down. Cheers.