21 August 2016

About 'adjective' games and responsibilities...

Alien words or alien worlds?

There's an excellent article over at Eurogamer about the type of game No Man's Sky is, the type of marketing and the words used in relating to the consumer. It's a complicated discussion but I feel that it's a great starting point for that sort of discussion so Alexis Kennedy is to be applauded for writing it and Eurogamer for publishing it - it's a brave move.

There are several ideas and concepts crushed down into a single, simplistic article there and, in many ways this serves to unintentionally obfuscate each individual idea or concept by rushing them past the reader in such a manner that the general reader's mind will not fully absorb the intent as part of the greater discussion. Ideally, each major concept would get a separate article but I can't blame them for not going down this path. So here's what I think about 'generalising a game through language'.

19 August 2016

The end of console generations? Or just a change in buzzwords...

The future?

There's been a lot of reporting on how the current console generation's mid-cycle upgrade is 'the end of console generations' but this can only be a bad thing for consumers and developers alike (as I've outlined before).

On the flip-side of things, are 'generations' really at an end? They're still going strong in the mobile market - you have generational separations, definitely. Many games and apps won't work on old hardware. Some apps which would be able to work have their support dropped for different hardware configurations due to cost and actual user numbers.

So what is this, exactly?

15 August 2016

Post Thoughts: Fallout 4...

Seems I didn't take a screenshot of the Red Rocket gas station menu - so here's a wallpaper I made instead...

Fallout 4 is an enjoyable game. I can safely say that if you liked Oblivion, Skyrim and Fallout 3 then you are almost bound to like Fallout 4. The changes it makes from the previous games are almost certainly for the better and fit this game world well enough. Whether Fallout 4 is a good Fallout game is a different question entirely and one I do not intend to answer given that I liked both styles presented by the original two Fallouts and the latter two by Bethesda.

I will, however, give this comparison:

Fallout 1&2 are to Fallout 3&4 as The Office (UK) is to The Office (US). Both have their own strengths and weaknesses, both have their own style of comedy and overarching themes but they are distinctly different experiences for the consumer.

14 August 2016

Post Thoughts: Firewatch...

Finally, a game about relaxing in front of a fire...

The indie game scene has been really ramping up in both quality and ease of access over the last few years. From my own observation it seems that there are two predominant genres: 1) the hyper-reflexive bullet hell-style retro challenge and 2) the reflective and often critical experiential games - the ostensibly purported 'walking simulator'.* This is going to be about the second of those two genres.

I just finished playing through Firewatch (as the above image and article title might indicate) and I thought I'd wrap up my thoughts on the game - as usual: thar be spoilers!

19 July 2016

Screenestate: Site redesigns... (Part 3)


So, today (or maybe last night depending on your time zone) Ars Technica finally revealed their revamped 'new' design. The above is not 'it'. Above, you can gaze upon the wonder that is the updated 'white-on-black' theme (which is much easier on my eyes than typical 'black-on-white' themes of websites and windows programmes). 

This is gorgeous to my eyes:

  • It's relatively information dense
  • Makes use of the horizontal space available quite well with a dual column design
  • Minimises the menu bar and empty space between posts
  • Is chronological in posting order
This is everything that is good in website design!

Let's take a look at the 'real' website:

Well, you can't win 'em all...
Okay, this obviously isn't my preference. I think this would look great on a touch screen mobile device like a tablet or mobile phone. However, on the desktop it looks pretty terrible:

  • Information sparse; not enough posts and too much picture per post
  • Minimises the menu bar and empty space between posts
  • Makes use of the available width of the screen
I don't really have anything else to say about it. I guess it's functional in the loosest sense of the term... The fact that I can only really see two posts is really a useless site design and makes no sense: reducing usability.

To my sensibilities and my design understanding, it's clear that the first picture shows a site that allows its users to understand what is going on and to navigate effectively. I think it's also clear to whoever designed the Ars Technica website too because they are using something very similar for the mobile site design... counter to what I would expect considering the second image.

Like I said in part 1: It's pretty damming that your mobile site, designed to be read on a 5-7 inch vertically-orientated rectangular screen, is more readable than your default website design for expansive 19-30 inch horizontally-orientated desktop screens. Even worse when you provide a 'hidden' (or at best, not promoted) option to view it similarly on your own website...

I wish there was a thumbs up/down option for the available website designs like there is for the user posts on Ars' site. I think it might be quite telling (either way!).