The year of Jeans

A couple of slightly self-centered paragraphs before going on to the games, seeing as 2008 has marked sort of a culmination where many of my previous social, ideological and professional achievements paid off in some degree to give me a review of what I’ve done so far. With the risk of sounding like I’m bragging, it’s been a year where I’ve been to 4 foreign countries on 3 different continents, been honored with the “Alumni of the year” at Gotland University’s Game Development education and for the first time in my life has consistently made more money than I could reasonably spend – a very ironic situation considering the world economy, and something that could well be foreboding of darker times to come, as if 2008 was the very peak of this part of my life. I don’t fret, though, as I prefer some challenge.

I hope to turn my attention back to my craft in 2009, both by advancing in my work (something that has been very slow in 2008) and by developing my own ideas further, to what degree both of these goals are possible. While 2008 was a year of stepping back and enjoying what I had accumulated, this didn’t translate to development and I have yet to take advantage of the fact that I now have every opportunity to create games that I passed on five years ago due to lack of programming ability. Hopefully 2009 will give me time to pick up that thread again as well as further my professional career. But really, enough ranting.

World of Goo feels alluringly simple every time I start it, but yet I keep starting it just to replay a few levels here and there. The core mechanic is very simple and it feels very solid and responsive – even though you can use the intuitive physics to device your own crazy ways to solve each puzzle. As such, the game is open to experimentation and has a high replay value, but also low in frustration making it hard to stop playing.

Mirror’s Edge introduced something immensely cool into first-person games. Where jumping and running is traditionally something done out of necessity rather than to create new gameplay, Mirror’s Edge took the challenge to make platform gameplay work in first-person head-on. It’s far from a perfect game, but it feels like the things it does well could inspire better gameplay in so many other games.

Grand Theft Auto IV was a larger production than any other earlier game, and the level of coherency they managed to keep with so many people involved is mind-blowing. Compared to it’s predecessors, it is a more seamless blend of more varied gameplay elements, and the presentation of Liberty city is more alive than I’ve seen in any other game. Sure, it has it’s boring and repetitive parts, but it seems that’s what you trade for not being led by the hand through the entire game.

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Posted on Dec 31/08 by Saint and filed under Meta-blog, Reflections | No Comments »