speaking of text adventures!
emily short is probably my favorite person in videogames. the interactive fiction cover drive she organized has just concluded. the goal was to solicit cover art for games which are typically just text. some are more interesting than others. what i like about the good ones is that they remind me of novel covers, which seems wholly appropriate given that interactive fiction is at the vanguard of exploring the storytelling possibilities of games.
(i like angie wang’s cover for victor gijsbers’s fate a lot. i havn’t finished the game yet, but i like what i’ve played. look, emily short has written all about it!)
my friend and comrade david hellman (who is gorgeous and charming by the way) has been doing the art for jonathan blow’s braid (which i will interchangably be referring to as “jonathan braid’s blow” henceforth). he’s been posting a blog about the process of illustrating the game. the latest entry is on the title screen.
I’m personally pleased with how the bridge worked out. Its bold horizontal stripe across the screen references the platform genre, in which running to the right is the most fundamental player action. In fact, it’s the first thing Braid invites you to do, as it carefully introduces its basic concepts. The silhouetting removes unique detail, and leans towards symbolism. In a way, Braid is a re-envisioning of, and comment on, the platform genre, so this sort of iconography feels very germane.
i like braid’s title screen a lot, not just because david is an inspired artist, but because it’s integrated seamlessly into the game. i don’t think there’s enough of that: this is an interactive medium, and the title screen doesn’t have to be static. that the verbs the player uses to interact with the world are present from the very first moment of play lends them a kind of omnipresence that is very reassuring, and strips another layer that usually stands between the player and the game.
retro sabotage is pretty hit and miss, but i like their takes on xevious.
rock paper shotgun has drawn a small spotlight on yoshio ishii, who is probably best-known for the neko games but also crafted the revelatory cursor*10. nekogames is one of my favorite unsung developers, so it’s nice to see some attention. note the gamesetwatch feature mentioned in the post was written by me.
also, clysm (seiklus, also a generally chill individual) posted a tribute to shawn noel. i remember i’d been playing shawn64’s last game, which is full of such fierce energy, when i heard he’d killed himself.
i find game-ism’s metaphor of portal’s glados as a bound woman struggling to be free necessarily intriguing, even if third-favorite gamer’s quarter editor m. o’connor (who posted the link) rightly accuses the author of “anthropomorphizing the (wo)man in the moon”.
it also reminds me of heroine sheik’s reading of portal as queer, though slut loves to get on my nerves by suggesting it can as easily be read as a game about penis envy. i do think there’s a streak of sadism and sense of entitlement in glados’s interactions with chell that’s almost exciting.