Why do we have to keep liking games in spite of their stories? I know the conventional wisdom is that the industry doesn’t tend to financially reward good storytellers, but that’s no reason to hold the story in obvious contempt. There’s a difference between, “we’re not going to go out of our way to make an incredible story” and “we won’t even make the slight effort to devise a story which is worth seeing and makes some kind of sense”. The cutscenes in Red Faction: Guerrilla are a waste of time. Unless they were designed to be mocked in comics. In which case I guess they’re a middling success.
I will point out that the final two developers in the March Mayhem contest are both companies with strong writing: BioWare and Valve. (And yes, Valve has strong writing. Not a lot of writing. Their games are mostly action. But if characters are talking you can bet they’re saying something worth hearing.) I still maintain the writing is more important than developers think it is, and that Red Faction: Monkeytown could have been a much bigger hit with the exact same budget and setting, but with a writer who knew what they were doing. (In fact, you could probably improve the game just by doing a reverse-Mystery Science Theater and dub over their ridiculous dialog with something smart and genuine.)
The Best of 2014
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2014.
The Death of Half-Life
Valve still hasn't admitted it, but the Half-Life franchise is dead. So what made these games so popular anyway?
A Star is Born
Remember the superhero MMO from 2009? Neither does anyone else. It was dumb. So dumb I was compelled to write this.
Why The Christmas Shopping Season is Worse Every Year
Everyone hates Black Friday sales. Even retailers! So why does it exist?
What is Vulkan?
There's a new graphics API in town. What does that mean, and why do we need it?