A game about how writing a book sucks out your soul

Bucket Detective

Writing is hard. Maybe hard enough to want to do anything to make it easier — like helping a weird cult that is up to their necks in some evil business.

That’s the premise of Bucket Detective, an hour-long dark-comedy game about a crummy writer who, desperate to finish his (terrible) book, agrees to help a cult in exchange for divine inspiration. It’s $4 on Steam or Itch.io, and … yeah. That’s kind of awesome.

I wish there were more games about the writing process and the insane lengths authors sometimes go to, honestly. I didn’t particularly care for The Novelist (a game about a novelist and his family struggles), and I’ve heard mixed things about Elegy for a Dead World (a game about writing fiction).

Alan Wake is a decent game about an author — and while it doesn’t focus on writing per se, it’s a fun Stephen-King-esque thriller about a guy whose wife goes missing, and pages from a book you don’t remember writing start showing up as you search for her.

Are there any games out there about writers/writing that you’ve played? Were they any good?

Virtual reality writing could be very different

This is a video of me trying Google Cardboard for the first time. I look kind of goofy, huh? :)

Last week, I visited the New York office of the education company I work for and got the chance to try one of these things on. If you’re not up on your virtual reality these days, Google Cardboard is a simplistic virtual reality viewer that uses your smartphone to run VR apps. You can get one for as little as $15.

Trying Google Cardboard, it occurred to me that writing for virtual reality could be very different than, well, writing for anything else.

We write for television. For movies. For games. For all sorts of platforms and experiences. And what each of those mediums require from writers is very unique. Even writing a short story is different from writing a novel, so writing for virtual reality would have to be different too, right?

The only people who are truly going to know what it’s like to write for virtual reality are, obviously, the people who are going to do it. But I can speculate about a few things:

  • Virtual reality could require a lot of “you” statements. The player is literally a part of the game, so VR requires a more intimate approach. Writing second-person well (beyond the level of a “choose-your-own-adventure” story) is a challenge.
  • More “show” than “tell.” With virtual reality, you have the opportunity to make every part of your storytelling immersive. The easiest way to do that is to load up on the show.
  • Description is less important. Again, this goes back to showing. When the player can see everything for themselves, they don’t need everything to be explained for them — they can explore the world firsthand.
  • Choice will matter more. When the player feels like they’re personally the ones making a decision, their choices will automatically have more weight. Or at least they should.
  • Dialogue could involve voice recognition, which would be … bonkers awesome. I can wish, can’t I?

Can you think of any other ways writing for virtual reality would be different than what we’re used to? Let me know in the comments!

 

God must play Pokémon — it’s an evolution thing

YouTube user “OmmyNoms” has created an animated video asking, “Why is it some creatures never evolve, like crocodiles?”

His answer is that God plays Pokémon and presses B to stop their evolution.

It’s a joke, of course — and one that everyone who’s played at least one Pokémon video game will understand. When you raise a pocket monster (or Pokémon) in the games, it usually “evolves” into a different, stronger form when it reaches a certain level. But players can hold B to keep the creature at its current form, halting its evolution.

OmmyNoms didn’t want to sound like he was disputing Darwin or spewing false information, so he wrote the following disclaimer. It’s a bit ridiculous that he had to, of course, but the Internet will be the Internet:

Ok guys I think some of you have misunderstood a key element of this cartoon, probably my fault, I thought most societies these days were clued in on Evolution but clearly some are not (a lot of Americans seem to be making this mistake). I do know Crocodiles evolved from another creature (the Phytosaurs) and I know they have evolved in the 225 million years they’ve been around to some level or another. This cartoon is a joke, it’s a bit of light humour that ignores science for a bit of fun, like Spongebob or Dexters Lab would. I am not trying to preach that Evolution doesn’t make sense, it does! I am not saying this is genuinely what I believe, if I seriously wondered this question I wouldn’t make an animation, I’d go on Yahoo Asks like a normal person! So come on, try to understand this is just a light hearted joke and don’t get too upset that it isn’t hard fact.

Also let’s keep the insults to a minimum ok? Kids view this site too, show them how to act, don’t be one.

Source: Kotaku

‘Book streams’ and great reads that support charity

Bibliophiles, now you can make smarter decisions about what to read next.

BookVibe helps you discover new recommendations based on what your friends are reading. It syncs with your Twitter account to compile a “book stream” of what people you know are talking about. (See the screenshot below for my own.) Facebook compatibility is coming soon.

BookVibe

In addition, fantasy fans can now support various authors and charities by paying any price for seven e-books and stories. The Bundle of Holding lasts for one more week and is free from digital rights management (DRM), which means you’ll completely own each book across all your devices. This deal is worth $45, but again, you can pay as much or as little as you want.

The Bundle of Holding helps the PEN International and the Electronic Frontier Foundation charities, which promote literature, freedom of expression, and digital rights.

The authors are role-playing game designers Robin D. Laws (GUMSHOE, Feng Shui), Matt Forbeck (Brave New World), Colin McComb (Planescape: Torment), John Scott Tynes (Delta Green), Greg Stolze (Godlike, Reign), Mur Lafferty (the Storyteller and World of Warcraft RPGs), and Scott Fitzgerald Gray (Tomb of Horrors for D&D 4e).

Bundle of Holding

This is what you’ll get in the bundle:

Oathbreaker (Books 1 and 2) by Colin McComb
Switchflipped by Greg Stolze
The Afterlife Series by Mur Lafferty
A Prayer for Dead Kings and Other Tales by Scott Fitzgerald Gray
Delta Green: Strange Authorities by John Scott Tynes
Dangerous Games 1: How to Play by Matt Forbeck
New Tales of the Yellow Sign by Robin D. Laws

Thanks to Jason W. for the tip.

Afterword: Neverwinter

Neverwinter

Head over to GamesBeat to read my review of Neverwinter, the new massively multiplayer online game from developer Cryptic Studios and publisher Perfect World Entertainment. I gave it a 70/100.

It feels like forever since I’ve reviewed a role-playing game. One of the last times was when Torchlight 2 released, and that only took 20 or so hours — short for an RPG. This occupied me for a good 60 hours.

It’s a funny thing, but I only usually have the time to finish games when I’m reviewing them. And yes, I write about them every day. It’s also a lot easier to complete an RPG when you’re able to play it consistently night after night. So in a way, for me, playing Neverwinter — my first-ever MMO — was a challenge. Do I still have the commitment to play RPGs, and can I handle an MMO? The answer is yes to both, happily. I’m pretty excited to share this review with you.

So — any questions for me? Ask me anything!

Today’s E3 show has me excited for next gen

PS4

Wow, what a day. Both Microsoft and Sony showed off some amazing games today at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), including the Xbox One exclusive Project Spark, which is one of the many titles that I can’t wait to play. (Here’s my coverage.)

First, this is what you need to know about the two upcoming home consoles: the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4.

While the Xbox One will cost a whopping $500 and restrict how you play and share your games (with required periodic Internet check-ins and possible used game fees), the PlayStation 4 will sell for $100 less. That’s $400. And Sony won’t impose confusing policies. There are no fees or limitations. (We also finally know what it looks like.)

Thank you, Sony. I love you right now — even if you are charging for online multiplayer. And good job supporting indie developers the right way. Hear that, Microsoft?

Click here to catch up with all of GamesBeat’s coverage of the event today — especially if you want to see all of the new game footage and reveals. There were some very good ones. Final Fantasy Versus XIII is now Final Fantasy XV, Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive looks like a blast to play, Bungie’s Destiny seems all-around amazing, Kingdom Hearts 3 and Mirror’s Edge 2 are actually happening, The Crew is an incredibly open-world and boundary-less driving game, and so much more. Including THE PHANTOM PAIN, oh my god.

What are you most excited about?

Goodnight, everyone. And cheers to the future.

The pixel drop — a roundup of cool game news: Fable Anniversary, Animal Crossing, and Tetris

Fable Anniversary

Lionhead Studios is remastering the first Fable game. Fable Anniversary will release for Xbox 360 this holiday season and undergo a complete graphical overhaul. It will feature Achievements, refined controls, chicken-punting leaderboards, Microsoft SmartGlass integration, The Lost Chapters expansion pack, and more. I’m really excited as I’ve never played the series. This gives me the perfect excuse to.

A Russian hacker named Barabus pirated The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile and made it into an unofficial PC port without the developer’s permission. Surprisingly, game designer James Silva is halfway OK with it. But he disagrees with the hacker’s moral defense.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo 3DS has received crazy good reviews. It releases June 9. Here’s GamesBeat’s take on it.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Did I mention I’m a huge Naughty Dog fan? I got to briefly speak with The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann this week, and I cannot wait for this game to come out on June 14. The critical response so far has also been amazing.

Scurvy ScallywagsThe tower-defense sequel Kingdom Rush: Frontiers is out now on iOS. It’s awesome. You should play it and Scurvy Scallywags.

Boss Fight Books is a planned series of books on classic video games that’s already surpassed its target funding goal on Kickstarter (via Kill Screen). Sounds awesome.

There’s a #Zeldathon going on.

And Double Fine’s newest Kickstarter, Massive Chalice — a tactical-strategy PC game — is already a success. “What a surprise!” said no one, ever.

Yesterday marked the 29th anniversary of Tetris.

Keifer Sutherland, aka Jack Bauer, is voicing Snake in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

IT’S ALMOST TIME FOR E3.

Afterword: Remember Me

Remember Me

I gave Capcom’s new game Remember Me a 70/100 over at GamesBeat if you care to read my review.

I enjoy reading other people’s thoughts on a game after mine are out there, and it seems like, despite minor differences, much of the consensus is the same. Remember Me is kind of bland but fun and innovative at times even if its quality wavers. It doesn’t always maximize its potential.

I enjoyed Remember Me, but not so much that I feel like everyone has to play it. You will miss out on some cool stuff that is worth experiencing, though, if you don’t.

It seems I’m one of the few people who found the memory remixes boring to actually play. They’re cooler in concept than practice.

So — any gamers out there have any questions about the game or points in my review that I can answer for you?

Old Tomb Raider is like Dark Souls

Tomb Raider II
In the brief stint that I was replaying Tomb Raider II recently, I learned a few things.

1. Lara’s grunts are gross.

2. The A.I. is incredibly stupid and easily exploited, and you look even dumber when they best you.

3. Classic Tomb Raider shares something in common with Dark Souls, or Demon’s Souls — that line of really hard role-playing games that people love for some masochistic reason.

It’s like this (skip to 0:50):

Tomb Raider II introduces a really convenient save-anywhere feature, which is basically code for “you’re going to need this, jackass.”

Oh, think you can circumvent the door by jumping over the wall? DIE ON GLASS.

Wait, you want to go in there? Watch out for WALLS OF SPIKES AND BOULDERS AND MAN-EATING TIGERS.

Yep. That’s Tomb Raider II, also known as Prepare to Die Horribly and in Lots of Embarrassing Ways — Then Spend Three Minutes Reloading.

Tomb Raider: Savagery, legacy, and survival

Tomb Raider

On the island of Yamatai, everything can be conquered with fire. Really unrealistic fire.

March’s reboot of the long-running Tomb Raider video game series takes Lara Croft back to the beginning — to her first real adventure. She’s young and pampered, but she loves archeology. She convinces the team aboard the Endurance to brave the Dragon’s Triangle, where she believes the hidden island of Yamatai is located. Then their ship crashes in a curiously violent storm and, well, welcome to the jungle.

The whole point of the game is to show how Lara transforms from naive girl to hardened survivor. She takes the life of a man to save her own, hunts wild animals for food, and fends off wolves. She overcomes her fears and kicks a lot of ass.

Tomb Raider is also a game in love with fire. Lara lights torches, huddles around campfires, burns salvage and blockades, shoots flaming arrows, explodes oil barrels, and so on. It’s a foolproof solution to almost every problem and scenario, and it burns neatly, igniting only what it’s supposed to before putting itself out.

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