Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mighty Switch Force in Nintendo Power

Stopped by the local magazine store tonight and caught a glimpse of the Mighty Switch Force full page preview in the new Nintendo Power, featuring a layout of level 4 from the game I put together. It's pretty satisfying to see this finally getting some coverage. It has been the object of my undivided attention for the last 4 months and one of the best games I have ever worked on.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another

Fair warning, spoilers ahead. Now on with it!

Bulletstorm. I bought it for my wife for Valentine's Day and she absolutely loved it. It is an incredibly fun and over the top game. One of the things my wife really liked (aside from the Acid Rain skillshot) was the character Trischka, the strong female lead with a mouth like a sailor. My wife absolutely loved being able to play a game with a strong female character who isn't rubbing your face with her breast or ass cleavage at every opportunity (aside from Halo Reach's Kat).

This is of course thanks in no small part to Tanya Jessen who specifically said "...Trischka’s character is very much a product of me because I wanted a strong female character that wasn’t stereotypically hot." I too once had a huge debate on what "sexy" really is, and argued vehemently to subdue the sluttyness of a female character we were creating for a world where all the men looked like they dressed themselves, yet the women looked like they were dressed by a 12 year old whose fantasy had materialized in front of them. I was pretty blown away by how strongly I was being fought, and ultimately we didn't get the game, but I'm sure it was for unrelated reasons.

So of course after my wife's new-found fandom for Trischka I felt like buying her Trischka's outfit for her Avatar. And what I found was this:

"Daddy's Girl". This is shitty. Here is why: 1) It is revealing a spoiler, albeit a minor one, prominently as a decoration on the shirt. 2) It doesn't match the in-game character. That should be argument enough not to create this thing in the first place. 3) It perpetuates a "girl gamer" stereotype. Not every female gamer has a gamertag like "GamingGurlOMG", "HaloCutie1983", "HottieMcKillstreak", and it's frustrating for women who consider themselves just "gamers" and not "girls" first and "gamers" second. But that's a whole can of worms I don't feel like getting into just yet. I'll save it for another time.

I really believe that if I were in Tanya Jessen's shoes, and I fought for months to create a badasss character and shared the harrowing experience with the world, I would be infuriated to have my character relegated to a stereotype.

Of course, one of my biggest complaints as an artist and designer is ruining a character design, so I thought I would share some ideas for other really cool avatar outfits.

First up: Ghost from Modern Warfare 2

It really defines his character, right? I'm sure I would have bought this outfit if only it revealed such a key component to the story.

Next: John Marston from Red Dead Redemption

Here we have a beautiful bullet hole pattern to constantly remind you of your eminent demise.

Last and certainly least is Alan Wake:

No real spoilers here, but who wouldn't want a stylish reminder of what makes you so important? Yeah, FLASHLIGHT! (I didn't play Alan Wake, sorry.)

These are all the ones I could think up and have the time to make. Anyone have any better ideas?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The problem with game credits

I have a problem with game credits, and it isn't just people not getting recognized for the work. It's that a multitude of games' credits can not be accessed without playing through the game, which itself can be a laborious and time consuming task. I would argue that a large percentage of people who have their name in the game credits wouldn't be able to access them at all. There is no requirement for a standardized "credits" at the beginning of games, but it is impressive how common it is to see this these days and I applaud it, there are still games being published today where credits are not available from the outset.

To make matters worse publishers are rarely putting credits into manuals. So if you do happen to get a copy of a game which isn't a cartridge or disc only, there is no guarantee you can show off to anyone without needing to power on the game.

My other issue comes from a spot of love. I absolutely love IMDB.com and visit it regularly to look things up. I often find myself lost in a twisted web of looking into people and who they have worked with in past projects, and I become fascinated with the knowledge. So it begs the question for me: Where is our gaming IMDB? There is MobyGames.com, but for some reason I don't think of it as being on the same plane as an IMDB. Maybe that is my fault for not getting their layout or flow, but it feels like a site from 10 years ago.

As for me, I have vowed to make game credits accessible from some main menu of every game I ever work on. I feel that anyone who has worked on a game should be able to power up the game and show anyone they want without much hassle. If I had more sway, I would also print all the credits in a game manual, but I don't have publisher money so there is only so much I can do on this one. I have only directed two games, and the first one never had accessible credits built into any front-end menus, and it is one of the bigger regrets I have on the project.