To hear the news of one of my favorite gaming studios closing was disheartening. As a gamer coming from the time when adventure games truly gained ground with Sierra On-Line releasing their series of ground-breaking titles and more, the Telltale concept of game design was truly enjoyable to see. They captured the essence of the early textbook adventure game concept called "choose-your-own-adventure" where readers made different choices as they read the book to progress through the story with different results.
These books came around the time of Dungeons & Dragons (D & D) and also other text-based adventure games such as Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy found on the Commodore 128 as well, with written narrative leading to choice-driven gameplay. In D & D, the games focused on choice that drove the role-playing game (RPG) forward for players with advancing their player and evolving throughout the game, whereas the text-based adventure focused on the narrative and solving puzzles to progress to the end.
Adventure gaming became very popular when it came to the first graphical titles from Sierra and had a run for quite some time but ended up losing some traction when other new genres and consoles gained popularity. Starting on PC, the adventure genre did not move to the console until quite some time in the future as the interface for consoles was not as translatable to the way adventure games played. They originally started as text typing on the keyboard and then moved to the use of the mouse, both lacking from consoles.
Telltale Games came to the rescue. With their start in 2004, ex-LucasArts members created the studio and focused on dedication to the Adventure Game genre and focused on "games using intellectual properties with small but dedicated fan bases" according to Wikipedia. This, along with the use of the Telltale Tool, established as a company focusing on "adventure games with a novel episodic release schedule over digital distribution".
My first exposure to Telltale games was with Jurassic Park and Back to the Future but I did not start paying real attention until a friend recommend I play Wolf Among Us. This is the game that grabbed my attention with its unique art style and creative twist on fairytale lore. Everything about the game was uniquely different from what I had seen previously in the Adventure-gaming genre.
Episodic gaming was novel and I found it to be quite enjoyable. In my younger days I had plenty of time to play lengthy game titles and long adventures, but eventually life became busier and time more scarce. Episodes with decent amount of content for a low-price point were attractive. I could enjoy about 4+ hours of gameplay on an initial playthrough, keeping track of my choices, and play through again to get another few hours of enjoyment.
The end of each episode contained cliffhangers between episodes which kept me going, however, this is the one area where I found a complaint - many of the titles remained with cliffhangers and non-closure for many titles. It felt as if I was left hanging as a consumer while the company kept moving on to other titles. It made sense to have a number of titles, but maybe finishing some would have been good for the fans. This was seen with the request from fans for a sequel to Wolf Among Us that never got completed despite the large fan request.
From a game designer perspective I found the episodic concept to be influential on my own design work on our adventure title, Wry Reveries, currently in production by our studio, Live in the Game, LLC. The game is not split into episodes but rather each title in the series of Reveries will contain different themes and a different protagonist from history. This is something that Telltale does by focusing on different stories among their Intellectual Properties (IPs), where they will focus on completely different stories from each other but they each contain similar design elements characteristic of Telltale's style and the tool they use. So our series will have similar elements spread among the series.
Having Telltale pick up the torch and take Adventure games to another level was truly something to see and I always told my friends that if they release anything I drop what I am doing and go play it. I hope that the concepts and new innovations they introduced will not go away but that these will continue to evolve as we and others look to pick up now and continue the work.
I am definitely saddened though that we will not see what happens to Bigby from Wolf Among Us or continue the tale of Batman from his series. There will also not be any closure on what happens to Marty McFly from Back to the Future with its major cliffhanger and lastly we will not continue Tales from the Borderlands (in the top three for me from their games and it was so good it pushed me to get into the original games).
Adventure games will go on as we continue to develop them and push for their continued popularity as a genre that has existed for some time now and has so much more to go.
Best wishes to my friend Tommy Leeds, a talented artist who graduated from the University of Advancing Technology and worked at Telltale Games. Also, best wishes from Live in the Game, LLC to all affected and the industry to get back on their feet and keep doing epic work!
The other day I read an article about a new trend happening in commerce/retail - they say consumers are moving from ownership of products to non-ownership. This is interesting concept for me given my experience working in retail for many years. I found personal comfort in ownership of items and collecting special special edition games, movies, game items, and action figures and game statues, among others.
Ownership was conditioned to denote success and surrounding myself with lots of purchased items seemed to be a way to show this. This also fed into my obsessive-compulsive drive to have all my entertainment items readily accessible. The idea of success through ownership is a concept that was driven home for me as an American youth, reinforced by the strong emphasis on ads and the idea that I "need to buy" and "buy to feel good".
Starting early on the commercialism bandwagon, I found myself confusing needs vs. wants and would use "need" for anything I was purchasing even if it was not actually a "need" or "necessity". I did not learn I was doing this until I ended up going to school for psychology and my colleague pointed out that I was using "need" for everything.
Purchases also became a need for dealing with life stresses. If stress arose, I would go buy something to alleviate it, but was not aware that it had become an issue until it was pointed out that I had "stuff" and "clutter" everywhere.
Through time I applied my psychological background to my own situation and found that removing clutter was therapeutic rather then the buying of the tangible objects. The digital era made this process possible through advances in technology with streaming services, online digital markets, storage increases. Without the need for physical ownership of tangible objects such as music, games, movies and more, clearing up the clutter was made easily done.
So, simplifying is helpful and having a lot of physical objects present that are owned is not as necessary, however, the article point out the idea that maybe we do not truly own the objects we have that are purchased and present on distant company servers and other company locations we cannot access. Owning something means control over the owned object, but if we cannot fully control these purchases do we truly own them? This is also connected to other purchases in general where renting is favored over buying. With media we purchase now on the external sites and stores, it is only accessible through registration and monthly payments. Without paying the access fees, the content cannot be accessed even after its bought, so do we really own what we buy and is this a problem?
Owning is important and visualizing the objects owned helps with this on a digital arena since objects purchased can at least be seen on these sites that are owned, so maybe this allows comfort knowing these items are owned and provides more non-clutter in living and work spaces. I agree there is a trade off, but should every important items such as a living space and car be placed in the same category? Nostalgia is one part in my ownership of objects that gives me joy since I love to look back at the past, but these days it makes more sense to have a living area that is more easily live-able.
Here is the Forbes article for reference:
Today's blog is connected with a Gamasutra article I had read some time ago and a topic that was recently brought up again to myself at a gaming event that brought some good discussion and valuable points:
Single player gaming has always had a primary place in my heart, however, this was not always the case. As a kid during the late 70s and early 80s, gaming started as a social activity. This included going to public quarter-operated arcades and playing lots of couch co-op with friends when possible in the early days of Atari, Commodore 64 and Nintendo.
This continued for quite some time but it was not until my teenage years when I found single-player gaming to take on more importance.
Moving into the the angst of teenage years, I found solace in the world of the computer games and in A. I. The world, seeming so unbearable in reality, was welcoming in fantasy and so I became even more hooked. The first time this clicked for me was notably when I first played Squaresoft's Final Fantasy II on the Super NES. Finding a truly deep narrative, along with memorable characters and superb gameplay, added to the experience of the world and dramatic story crafted by the developers.
Games continued evolving and, despite awesome advances in gameplay with multiplayer platforms and titles, games continued to pull me in especially within the RPG genre.
The second notable game that truly made an impact in this genre and showed the complexity that could be had with single-player gaming was Origin's Ultima VII: Part 2 Serpent Isle. The game actually had one of the very first guidebooks I can remember that came with the game - a necessity for completionists given its complexity. Guidebooks are all to familiar with walkthroughs now, but at that time a large guide book was something to be seen when companies provided players tangible materials to go with the game and a cloth map to boot.
The third game that truly showed the evolution of the experiences to be had from single-player gaming was from Remedy's Alan Wake. A game from a developer who had been involved with the Max Payne series from Rockstar Games, they had yet another superb title. This game takes the elements from three areas and hybridizes them: Stephen King's style, Twin Peaks the TV show, and Twilight Zone the TV show. This combination created a deep and rich experience, and tied in with the battle mechanics of light vs. dark, and voice acting and the art and soundtrack.
Each of these games have something that is more present then in a multiplayer experience - true uninterrupted immersion into the Magic Circle created by the developers in each of these game worlds. This circle is a term in game design that refers to the immersion into a game world by the player that is designed to keep them there. A single-player game does not have the direct breaks in the circle that are directly present while playing.
In the end, single vs. multiplayer gaming comes down to what the player is pursuing when they are playing the game. From the article, it seems that there is the idea that single-player gaming is not going to be around, but in my case as others there are times when I do not want to play with others. Also, there are games I want to play for the story rather then the socializing and gameplay that comes working with other real players. To say that story-based games are not going to have a place is something that seems odd given the popularity and increasing quality of games that developers continue to provide that are quite enticing.
This is the case not only with AAA - gaming but also with many Indie - gaming developers who continue to introduce new ideas into the gaming industry. This has been increasing in prevalence as can be seen by the AAA Indie offerings on their stores on the platforms. Their place is recognized by the big companies as filling a need and I do not believe this is going away.
David R. Brown Jr.
Bloomberg reports that Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of the beloved “Mario Brothers” and “The Legend of Zelda” franchises, called out the industry and warns his peers to not over charge the gamers for games. With the release of Super mario run as a premium priced game at $9.99 in the US and a couple of free-to-play (FTP) games that were criticised for focusing too much on the in-app-purchases (IAP), it seems Nintendo has some more work to do on figuring out their pricing models. Personally, I have played it and could see myself paying for Super Mario run at a $3.99 price point. As a gamer, ten bucks is just too much for what Mario Run is. Regardless of what happens, as a gamer, this news sounds great because the perception is that the developer elite ARE thinking about these type of issues. Or at least when it comes to the software. Apparently, Nintendo isn't giving up on the mobile market as it has two more mobile titles coming relatively soon; “Mario Kart Tour” and “Dragalia Lost”. I would love to see how a Mario Kart game would work on the phone or tablet. Maybe steering via gyroscope? Or maybe virtual button? How would you do it?
Kratos, The Godly Beast.
The year was 2005 and a new game was about to make its impact on the world. What is this game you might ask? Well my fellow gamers I am speaking about God of War. We had one of the greatest protagonists, Kratos who would go around brutally killing his enemies. That ashy white skin, the imprinted red mark, and his death piercing eyes made him that much lovable. His death made it feel as if he was done. Now we are two days away from the newest game of GoW so only one way we can honor his comeback. I will be sharing my top 5 favorite battles.
Honorable mention: Mini game in Aphrodite’s Chamber.
This is more of a funny moment due to the whole time you see the expressions on her maidens faces as you battle her. Their commentary of Kratos getting down is great and hey he didn’t destroy any vases.
Ares- God of War (2005)
After playing this strategic game you encounter our final boss, Ares. The motive of this game was to find Ares and make him pay for what he had done to Kratos. During this time you retrieve Pandora’s box making yourself the same size as him to make the battle fair. As the battle goes on Ares begins to torment Kratos with the memories of him killing his beloved family. Ouch talk about pouring lemon juice over those wounds. Eventually this gives Kratos the fuel to use a gigantic sword and kill Ares once and for all taking the title (dun dun dunnnn!!) GOD OF WAR!
Thanatos- God of War/Ghost of Sparta (2010)
This game being created for PSP, you find out your estranged brother Deimos was held captive for years while being tortured due to Ares taking him from the mortal world. Of course you find him and then you fight him. After the two reconcile they team up and fight against Thanatos, death himself. You play as Kratos as you normally would but get to play as Deimos as well through a simple button. When human form of Death is defeated he becomes a creature and the fight begins again until you bring him back to human form until you end him in lots of blood. Unfortunately for Kratos, Deimos is also slain after being freed from all those years. Glad to see Kratos got some closure.
Zeus- God of War III (2010)
This is the game you just can't wait to get your hands on our most hated person in my opinion, Zeus. In the epic battle you kill you maker. Pandora makes her appearance and what would be a fight without other Zeus clones to kill. The best part of it, is when Gaia comes forward and fights against you. Leading to a fight with Zeus inside where Gaia’s heart stays. Her heart helps heal only until you pin Zeus to her heart resulting in death for the two. The details of it all is what just gives it the awe factor.
Hydra- God of War (2005)
This mythical beast at the beginning of this game requires strategy while making way through a boat. The detailing of the hydra as it strikes you randomly is beautiful, the rough skin and the blue diamond eyes of evil coming straight for you sure does challenge your reflexes and I say this from experience. The Hydra gives you a wicked taste on what to expect from this game and that great feeling you get once you win is something that remains with you for years and years.
Cronos- God of War III (2010)
One of the best boss battles that does not disappoint, would be your confrontation with Cronos. This battle consists of wave phases you must clear in order to move forward. Once you get cleared you cut through him ripping parts off of his body, beginning at his hands and working your way around. In the end he swallows you and you get to tear him apart from the inside. How great is that!
Hercules- God of War III (2010)
The power you feel when you beat the mighty Hercules down to nothing is a empowering one. The untouchable becomes a target in this sibling rivalry between Kratos and him. What makes this all bittersweet is the fact that it is in his arena. You dethroned him with the combos and brutal blows as always.
Kratos knows how to give just the right amount of gore and blood to win anybody over. This Friday as the game releases we will see Kratos in a different setting that we are use to, but it will be just as great if not more.
Video game myths and curses.
In honor of today being Friday the 13th (Looks around for Jason Voorhees), I will mention some gaming myths that have left their marks in the gaming community world. Some being spooky to others where we can smile at just from the memory of doing it ourselves. So now, without more ado let us jump into it.
Madden, a very popular football game that sport lovers enjoy. Of course having some of the greatest football players grace the covers made it eye catching. But, what makes it be consider a superstition? It seems that the player on the cover would begin to suffer injuries and their good season streak was falling into a downward spiral. Because we know that luck eventually will run out it just simply becomes a superstition that may or may not be tied to the infamous being on the cover.
The famous game that took Gameboy by storm had a little dark secret, this began by a simple town that you explored with music that is easy on the ears….but was it really? The towns music was not always calming and easy going. This myth claims that the music from before spiked suicidal counts in children from 7 to 12. It was stated that the music would cause illness and the outcome being suicide. That news of course traveled fast and before being shipped abroad the music was changed. Can we say spooky!
A strong female icon that runs through ruins and ancient artifacts that can be discovered gives this a good Indiana Jones-style feel to game “Tomb Raider.” Me being a female gamer, can say her alluring poses during cutscenes can make any one look twice. So there comes no surprise that this code of making Lara naked came to surface. There has been people who have said there was no such code. Yet, despite this non-existing code this myth will forever remain in the gaming universe.
The game was believed to have been created in 1989 by Karvina Corporation. This game follows Porto a young girl who awakens in a dark cold place and scratches on her arms. You also have a demon named Ghast who is not visible throughout the game. The old coal mine that is populated by demons seems like a simple horror game, so what is the catch? Drumroll please?....you can you play this once. If you die or complete the game it is said that it would delete itself. So only gameplays of porto can be seen. (By what I have looked for.) A fine example of a gaming myth for sure.
We all know Final Fantasy games are addicting and you become attached to the characters, or it could just be me who becomes one with the force. Wait wrong subject! Ok, back to what I was saying. These games just have fantastic stories. So no question that the two disc FFVIII would make this list. The games protagonist became a myth when players began to notice Squall may not be actually there. During his battle with Edea he is impaled which should kill someone right? Well as you start up disc two he is perfectly well and no one speaks about the prior events. It is discussed that he could be dying slowly and you continue playing as his fantasy or he was just dreaming. I suppose I should replay this and pay more attention to it.
When NES made it to the scene the directions clearly state DO NOT BLOW THE CARTRIDGE. Yeah, nope I am guilty of doing this for sure. What makes this a myth? The fact that we all think it will work better. I giggled while writing this last part only because to this day I continue to do it.
See, no bad juju from reading this and like always if you have any input or know something as well please do share!
These are only a few and certainly not all.
In all my years of being a gamer, I have never felt the need to go and mimic what I have just played. Take Spyro for example, I can easily dress up as a purple dinosaur (not talking about Barney) and run around jumping with a flame thrower….of course that is not going to happen. Now we jump to issues of people harming others with the fact that they play games erased from the media and this person is known as a terrible person and off with his or her head! But now we take the same case and put in the factor of this person being linked to playing video games. The case changes and now he was influenced and brainwashed into doing something he had been playing. They will mention mental illness and now we have something that we can focus our anger on and try to justify what happened by placing to the blame on something everyone knows. I have played GTA for years as well as hack and slash, FPS, or any killing games. Now I can only speak for myself as a person who deals with anxiety and I use video games to calm me and help relieve some stress. Will I let it influence me to harm others in the real world? *screaming from on top of a mountain* ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Now I do get that people have mental illnesses but shouldn’t we worry more on trying to help them instead of banning certain games or genres? Trump has stated he will ‘do something’ to stop danger of violent video games after the recent school shootings. After reading the article (found here) he continuously mentions what the young kid minds are absorbing and we need to ban this and that. But is this really the right movement for this? It seems as if we are pointing and blaming an object that needs force in-order to get a reaction. Had team Live in the Game in a group chat and asked the them the question and it quickly turned to a debate with valid points being stated.
Dave Brown our VP was first to respond to this with “He will find out real quick that games have nothing to do with school shootings. Only thing he can do is ban it. Which will censor games/art. Which then will cause people to lose their minds.”
By banning something that people use as a form of escape it can lead to more mental illness triggers, banning games/art you take their voices that some find easier to put in the form of pen and paper or just art all together. Of course having a debate you would need more than one voice.
This was followed by “So you're saying that there is no correlation between violent games? To a person that doesn't have any mental disorders, no but to a person that has any form of autism might not be able to distinguish reality from fantasy.
The Florida shooter had a history of mental issues and was diagnosed with autism.” Who was written by Karl Rocco; one of the Director of Operations for the company.
His statement has truth, but wouldn’t it be up to the person to know right from wrong with help of those around him? Again this is all just our opinions. But the last statement that I wish to share came from none other than our other Director of Operations Alex Thompson
“Then it really is up to the people around us, raising us, to make better decisions; though I can understand when certain types of mental disorders might be missed or overlooked. My wife has worked with and met people with all sorts of mental disorders over the last decade or so.
But I also feel it's like two sides of a coin. Aggression and frustration can build up, and sometimes, games can help to relieve that- simply because they allow you to do something aggressive in a virtual environment.”
Video games are meant to bring good times and a way of bonding with family and friends. If the companies are banning their employees from creating, that would cause the people who deal with mental issues and consider this a way to cope with it to fall deeper into it and it will go full circle.
In the end my opinion is a person has a reaction to what is going on around them at the moment, that has triggered all the built up frustrations that he or she has been dealing with. But the cries for help have failed and the next step is to act out big enough to gain attention. Video Games do not make a person violent.
I would love to hear the opinions everyone may have
But for now, keep on playing gamers.
New podcast - Live in the Podcast
We are hard at work at bringing the LITG community a new podcast. Live in the Podcast will be a video-game industry eccentric podcast. We will discuss everything from what is going on in our studio, what is happening in the industry in general, and even down to what we may be playing at the moment and possibly hyped for. Stay tuned as we have gone through three equipment test so far and are planning our first attempt at episode number ONE!