2015 was the year I marked having spent 10 years programming for the AAA games industry – two games I worked on (or rather, a game and an expansion) were released and a few long-term goals of mine came fulfilled. Despite this 2015 has been pretty rough – I can’t really go into details why, but to give some idea I have worked more this last year than I have since we were racing to complete the Darkness in 2007, an effort that feels largely wasted. At least, it does right now – which brings up important points about the value of experience and how quickly it is felt, maybe next year I will have a different perspective.

As Jeff Vogel and others have pointed out, the market for smaller independent games is getting saturated – Steam being more and more open has shifted the fight for exposure back over to media and consoles. At the same time, the range of mid-tier games is growing and crowdfunding has evolved into a science at this point, seems fitting as Double fine Adventure – arguably the catalyst for the popularity of games crowdfunding – was finally released. As for AAA, we keep getting more and more focused on fewer IPs and spend more time on things outside of the core games. Change is happening wherever you are, it seems, and rethinking how you work is a near necessity even if you do not take personal development into account.

As for the games, I mostly played Destiny this year but a few story-heavy games managed to stand out…

Undertale came in hot just last week for me, it is funny and mechanically innovative but more importantly it is subversive and frames everything from genre tropes to limitations of early hardware as plot devices.

Her Story offered a system in need of exploration, but managed to elegantly sidestep the problems gaming literacy brings the genre while presenting a story well in a way most of us had written off in the nineties.

Life is Strange is the game I have talked more about with friends than any other game this year, and a game I still find more things to say about. A few friends have remarked that they put off playing it until all episodes were released which was kind of a shame, because Life is Strange somehow managed to use the episodic format to make the game better.

Posted on Jan 02/16 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »