Ken Levine’s “Narrative Legos”: A World of Infinite Replay GDC 2014

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

Creative mastermind Ken Levine discusses how games have infinite potential in narrative design.

(Article published on Gameranx.)

In a panel at this year’s Game Developers Conference, BioShock’s Ken Levine discussed his aspiring ideas on how to break the mold of linear narratives in game design. His goal? To create a system that allows for infinite replays. In other words, he wants to create a circle that remains unbroken…. without falling into the linear redundancy that he graciously admits games like BioShock often rely on.

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Cultural Implications: The Defense of Jodie Holmes

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

2013 has been a year of progression in terms of tangible female protagonists in games—but does that matter if the media ignores them?

(Article published on Gameranx.)

When Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls released in October of 2013, it was met with mixed criticism that often questioned its validity as a video game.  Throwing incessant invectives at the overuse of quick time events and the minimalistic use of game mechanics, reviews often failed to bring into question what the definition of a video game actually is. IGN’s review was titled “Look, Don’t Touch.” Kotaku emphasized that you would like the game if “you don’t mind a game that’s basically a movie” and if “you’re down with the idea of playing as a teenage girl.” I’m not going to say Beyond was the perfect game; it’s based on a genre that isn’t necessarily for everyone. However, if we look closely at how some games are widely reviewed in media, we can witness the cultural implications they carry. Media, after all, helps to establish the standardization of the industry.

Titanfall Beta: First Impressions

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

Wall running and jumping, massive robots, and a fast-paced shooter have been blended together in a gorgeous narrative of strategic gameplay that never fails to lose speed.

(Article published on Cinema Blend.)

What do you get when you mix Mirror’s Edge, Mech Warrior, and the FPS genre together? Utter chaos, one would think. And yet Respawn’s Titanfall seems to be the successful marriage of all of these. Wall running and jumping, massive robots, and a fast-paced shooter have been blended together in a gorgeous narrative of strategic gameplay that never fails to lose speed. In creating a new IP, Respawn was absurdly bright in that they didn’t pull as much from the traditional FPS games like Halo or Call of Duty as they did from other titles. The FPS genre, after all, has been losing its originality. The majority of the hype around the Titanfall stems from the idea that people are growing tired of the incessant monotony of FPS formulas. But was all of the hype worth it?

After playing the beta, I would say it’s completely justified.

Change and Writer’s Block

Thoughts

For the past week or so, I’ve been staring at a blank word document trying to make myself write something. Anything.

It’s not that I didn’t have anything to write. I have to finish writing features on games, work on job applications, create my class curriculum. The list goes on.

But the word document just sat, its cursor mocking my gaze with its blinks.

It’s my first true encounter of writer’s block; something I like to think I’ve encountered before on those long nights, writing my seminar papers at one in the morning, invoking a glass of red wine as my muse. But never to this extent.

Literacy and Critical Thinking in the Modern Classroom

Education, Games and Media

Writing. Critical thinking. Rhetoric. We often times find ourselves placing these words on a pedestal that focuses only on canonical literature or verbal literacy and communication.

That’s a major problem with academia, something that stems (somewhat) from the rise of philosophical thought and the shadows on Plato’s cave. Not that philosophy is bad, but it did undeniably see itself over art and visual thinking as some sort of intellectual behemoth well above cathartic moments and classical art. It was in this that our conceptions of the verbal and visual were divided as two separate and unequal modes of thought. *rant rant rant, academia, rant, ivory tower*.

The Sound of Supergiant Games: An Interview with Darren Korb

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

Following Transistor’s new build at PAX Prime, Katy Goodman and Robyn Miller talk with audio director Darren Korb about music in games, inspiration, and are even joined by a special guest.

(Article published on SaveGame.)

At PAX Prime I had the pleasure of getting some hands-on time with the new build of Transistor, Supergiant Games’ spiritual successor to their title Bastion. Though little changed in terms of the actual level within the demo, it was an entirely different beast in terms of how it came together as an overall experience. I’m always amazed to see how small subtleties can completely change the way in which we view games—this is something that we witness even in “next-gen” graphics, which use the smallest of environmental aesthetics, such as shadows and lighting, to create titles that brush the rim of reality. But, in the context of the current Transistor build, what truly caught me off-guard was the difference the soundtrack made in the overall emotional appeal of the title. With music,Transistor went from feeling like a game in development to a completed entity that had a voice of its own (despite its protagonist’s lack of one).

An Interview with Greg Kasavin: Transistor’s New Build, Design, and Narrative Direction

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

Supergiant Games’ Greg Kasavin talks about Transistor’s build, design, and narrative direction.

In 2011 Supergiant Games rocked the indie scene with their critically acclaimed action role-playing game, Bastion. As their first title, the game provided players with a touching experience through a vibrant environment and an amusing (and somewhat enigmatic) narrator who called out their every move. This year, Supergiant announced their next title,Transistor, a game we have been adamantly following since its first reveal at PAX East.Transistor, which appears to be a spiritual relative of Bastion, follows the story of a young woman named Red and the Transistor, a sword that aids her in combating the totalitarian entity known as the Process. Though we still know little about the narrative, the culmination of art direction, music, and gameplay provides a sense of where the game is going; compared to BastionTransistor seems to be taking on a slightly darker theme.

Hands-on with the Elder Scrolls Online and Interview with Creative Director Paul Sage

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio, Uncategorized

Katy Goodman dances in the streets of Daggerfall, participates in a Harvest Festival gone wrong, tanks some evil bugs, and chats with creative director Paul Sage—all with her partner in crime, Robyn Miller.

**Note: Happy Sunday everyone! There may be a slight delay in my up-and-coming E3 articles, as I am currently on vacation with family; as much as I love writing, a glass of wine and the beach are calling my name. So for now, here is my quick write-up from Save Game about our hands-on time with the Elder Scrolls Online. Robyn previously wrote an article on our experience that was hosted on TESO’s official Facebook page, so be sure to check that out as well! It is fantastic and truly captures the detail of the world we explored.

WildStar: Bringing Individuality Back to the MMO (Hands-On at E3)

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

WildStar, Carbine Studios up-and-coming MMORPG was at E3 this year, and it brought with it all of its mirthful and often hilarious personality. At the expo, we were lucky enough to get some hands-on time with the game and chat with Tiffany Chu, social systems director and tutorial creator from Carbine Studios.