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Submission + - Will Comics Decline or Thrive in the Digital Age? (

BigCow writes: "David Steinberger of comiXology thinks that comics will take a different path than newspapers, books, and music, which have all seen their retail sales decline as the market has shifted to include digital formats. He thinks the comics market is unique in being a vinyl boutique market already. This article talks about the opposing concerns of retailers, comic fans, and artists as their domain goes digital, and creators take different positions on locking down their digital content or giving it away for free."

Submission + - Comic-Con, Fan Culture, and New Media (

MarkN writes: "San Diego's Comic-Con International is the largest convention held in the Western Hemisphere, four day passes to the 2010 convention being held in July sold out in mid-September, and single day passes go on sale on December 15th. For those of you considering taking the plunge, this article has an overview of some of the creators and new works of media represented last year: Miles Beckett of lonelygirl15 compares the creative process for his collaboration with Anthony Zuicker of CSI on Level 26 to an Agile Project, Zach Snyder of 300 and Watchmen discusses his perspective on faithfulness in adaptations, and a representative from Prima Games talks about some of the challenges the strategy guide industry faces and why it's shrinking in a growing games market."

Submission + - Farmville, Social Gaming, and Addiction (

MarkN writes: "Facebook has been trumpeting the fact that Farmville, the most popular game on its site, has more users than Twitter, with 69 million playing over a month and 26 million playing each day. Combined with Facebook's announcement that they have hit 350 million users, that means that one out of every five people on Facebook is playing Farmville. Gamasutra has a featured post taking a critical analysis of Farmville, its deceptively slow level grind, how a number of gameplay features end up as simply decorative since they aren't balanced with the benefits of raising crops, and discussing why Farmville succeeds so well in virally spreading itself and addicting people."

Comment Fan-made games have worked out in the past FYI (Score 1) 455

The group at AGDInteractive has released remakes of King's Quest I, King's Quest II, and Quest for Glory II with the permission of the copyright holders. They pulled it off by approaching the company directly and working out a fan license. The release of those freeware games actually increased the sales for the titles in the same series, it was a boost for the fans and the copyright owners. Another fan-project, King's Quest IX got hit with a cease and desist since they hadn't done their legal homework, but they managed to work out a deal where they changed the name of the game to avoid confusion and could proceed with the permission of the parent company.

It is possible to get stuff like this to work out, and it's often in the best interests of all parties to foster a community that takes an interest in their work. Copyright-holders are also within their legal rights to shut-down fan-fiction being made about their works but it's seldom worth the bad press or harming the community that builds up around such things. But it's crazy to put years of effort into a project without exploring its legality and advertise it before completion so that it can get shut down. The worst part is the same thing already happened to another Chrono Trigger project, a 3d remake of the game called Chrono Trigger resurrection. The lawyers only swooped in when it looked like it had a chance of being completed, apparently like this title

Classic Games (Games)

Submission + - Storytelling in Games and the use of Narration

MarkN writes: "The use of story in video games has come a long way, from being shoehorned into a manual written for a completed game, to being told through expensive half-hour cut scenes that put gameplay on hold. To me the interesting thing about story in games is how it relates the player to the game, in communicating their goals, motivating them to continue, and representing their role as a character in the world. In this article I talk about some of the storytelling techniques games have employed, and in particular the different styles of narration that have been used to directly communicate information about a story, and how that affects the player's relation to their character and the degree of freedom they're given to shape the story themselves."

Comment Re:If they only play for fun it doesn't matter. (Score 1) 192

Speaking as the author of this article, I don't think playing to win and playing for fun are mutually exclusive. Without some aspect of playing to win you're eliminating challenge from the game and making it a less interesting experience. The main distinction I want to make is that playing to win at all costs can make a game a less interesting experience. As a trivial example, if a game includes push-button cheat codes, you may be able to enter those in and win, or you could choose a different mode of play that challenges you more. If you're playing an RPG that has a particular build or tactic that dominates everything else, you might choose to avoid that broken feature just to make things more interesting for yourself, and when playing games with other people you might have other goals in mind than winning at all costs. (like the example of Once Upon A Time, a storytelling game)

You could introduce a more precise definition of what "playing to win" means, where the goal isn't to achieve simple victory as defined in the game but to achieve certain conditions, or you could just say that there can often be more to enjoying a game than meeting its conditions for victory in the most efficient way.

Comment Re:I don't understand the point. (Score 1) 192

Time spent training is a large factor, if not the largest, in attaining a high level of skill. Good equipment helps in real-life games and sports, too. Some even insist that shell and slate stones make them play better go. Go figure. :)

Right, but the article is referring to games in which the time spent on the game is a direct factor in how powerful your character is in the game, by a process of leveling up. Obviously you get better at all games as you play them more, but some games make your avatar explicitly more powerful the more you play, so that time spent translates into both improvements in skill and advantages the game hands you for grinding your skills for hours.

Classic Games (Games)

Submission + - Dealing with Fairness and Balance in Video Games

MarkN writes: "Video games are subject to a number of balance issues traditional games have largely stayed free from. It can be hard finding players of comparable skill-level to create even matchups, diverse gameplay options can quickly become irrelevant if someone finds a broken feature of gameplay that beats everything else, and some online games make your ability to play competitively a question of how much time and money you've invested in a game rather than the skill you possess. In this article, I talk about some of the issues relating to fairness and balance in games, in terms of the factors and strategies under the player's control, the game's role in potentially handicapping players, and the role a community of gamers plays in setting standards for how games are to be played. I'd be very interested in hearing the community's thoughts on managing a 'fair and balanced' gaming experience."

Comment Re:Missing Option (Score 1) 44

Luckily jumping puzzles aren't the types of puzzles adventure games typically employ... they aren't abstract puzzles at all really, you know what you have to do, but the game mechanics make it frustrating to try to accomplish it.

Although you could also make the case that trying not to fall off of the beanstalk in King's Quest I by slowly pressing arrow keys isn't a fair adventure game puzzle either.

Classic Games (Games)

Submission + - Categorizing Puzzles in Adventure Games (

MarkN writes: "There's hardly a video game made nowadays that doesn't involve puzzles in some sense. In some games they serve as occasional roadblocks to break up the action, and in the genre of adventure games the whole focus of the game is solving a set of related puzzles. I've written a piece for AdventureClassicGaming describing and categorizing puzzles in adventure games. Adventure games make use of explicitly designed abstract puzzles--they're explicitly designed rather than being randomly or procedurally generated, and abstract in the sense that all you need to do is figure out the right actions to perform, rather than making performing those actions be a challenge in and of itself dependent upon real-time concerns.

My classification makes distinctions at two levels: you have self-contained puzzles, which can depend upon using your basic verbs of interaction, solving some minigame based around achieving a particular configuration, or providing an answer to a riddle. On the other side, you have puzzles that require some external key: this could be an item, a piece of information, or an internal change to the game's state triggered somewhere else. From there, I talk about some of the possibilities and pitfalls these puzzles carry, as well as their use in other genres. I'd be interested to hear the community's thoughts on the use and application of puzzles in adventure games, and games in general."

Comment Re:Different subgenres (Score 1) 149

Unfortunately puzzle games is also an overloaded term, it's used to refer to games that involve procedural pattern-matching, such as Tetris, Dr Mario, or Bejeweled. Those games don't involve explicitly designed puzzles in the sense that a game like Myst does. The common conception of a puzzle game is more about reflex oriented activities than explicit puzzles like crosswords or Sudokus. Professor Layton is a puzzle game that consists entirely of self-contained puzzles and riddles, but it's referred to as an adventure game, and it's much more literally a sequence of independent puzzles than Myst is.

While Myst certainly does have more than its fair share of logic puzzles standing in stark isolation to the rest of the story, there are a few examples of puzzles that meaningfully relate to the story. What to do with Sirrus and Achenar, and how to deal with Gehn. But in any case, the world of puzzle-related games could stand some better definition.

Comment Re:Different subgenres (Score 1) 149

Well, we could split hairs on what we want to consider an adventure game to be. I think of an adventure game as being about puzzle-solving, where the puzzles are related through a story. In Myst, the plot and story are embedded into the environments and journals rather than being presented to you through a narrator, or revealed by interacting with other characters. In a typical adventure game there'd be much more dialog, and traditional storytelling techniques.

Myst is clearly a very different flavor of game from Day of the Tentacle, but I prefer to have a broad enough definition of adventure game to incorporate both, since the activities you're doing are still solving puzzles related to a story.

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