Monday, October 19, 2009

Status Update

I don't usually do these, most posts on 8bc are on topic. But who cares? This post functions as an explanation for the recent lack of posts.

So the website hasn't been updated in a long time, does that mean 8bc is dead? Of course not! Running this site has been nothing but a blast, and I love exposing lesser-known games to more of the internet. The problem? almost everything has been written on, therefore, to realistically run this blog I have to explore lots and lots of obscure video games, and it can take an enormous amount of time before I play one enough to thoughtfully write about its intricacies.

Also, I've reviewed most of the games I have been playing lately. New games are released, but I feel less and less interested in the major console releases. I actually saw a commercial last night for a game bragging about how "movie-like" the game was. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of art. Modernist painters like Picasso were concerned, among other things, with treating paint like paint. Poets, like Wallace Stevens, used words as words, wrote poems about poems. Therefore, make video games like video games, and not like a Hollywood blockbuster. So what is the essence of video games? Well, partly, that's what we explore on this blog, and it's a question worth asking and discussing.

Part of that answer I've said on many occasions: almost nothing worthwhile comes from the mainstream game industry. Even if the games are fun they aren't new. They aren't original, they don't make the player question the nature of video games, and they certainly don't encourage the player to make their own game (who could possibly program a major-release on their own?).

A little-known game named ZZT, however, consumed a good chunk of my weekend. I'm pushed for time so just go here and download it, read about it, love it.

Eschewing all transitions, I update you on Star Quest: most of the world is complete, and about 70% of the art is finished. All that remains is the script, a major project that I have been postponing for months. Star Quest is not canceled, production continues, and I'm pretty pleased with what I have accomplished so far.


Anonymous said...

> The problem? almost everything
> has been written on

yes, but not by you.

re: your script, not looking for a collaborator, are you?

Anonymous said...

You know. I see your point about making video games more like video games etc. But i don't think i agree with the rest of the article. First of all, there are a lot of quality games coming out from Mainstream production studios. I'm about 80% of the way through Naughty Dog's "Uncharted 2". which i must say is a freaking phenomenal game. Also, you mentioned that games are supposed to "make players question the nature of video games..." or even push them to try to make their own games? I think i disagree with this as well. I believe, above anything, that video games are just another entertainment medium. They can and should be analyzed, rated, critiqued and compared...but that isn't what games are about. I think its alot simpler than that. Games are about having fun. Find a game that's fun, and play it. If it stops being fun... play something else. Unfortunately about 90% of the games made today are garbage...but that just means you have to search a little harder for those golden nuggets of fun.

8bitcity said...

1st Anonymous: Point taken. Expert more articles on more games. I'm not looking for a collaborator, however, I would read submissions and consider posting occasional well-written articles from other writers (credit and links to your website will also be posted, of course). Email me if you have any speciffic questions and we can talk about it.

2nd Anonymous: The only contention I have is with your use of "fun." What is fun? Mind-numbing entertainment? For me, the only things that are fun (within the artistic realm) are works which make me think about things like the nature of games, computer programming, user interface, input/output... and occaionally good music, story, and emotion (most often not, however).

Also, you ascibe a motive to every player. What about those that play, not for fun, but to increase their skill? What about video game designers who play other games as research for their own projects? Both are worthwhile endevours.

You are right, however, that "this isn't what games are about," at least, this isn't what most games are about. There are the shining stars.

Maybe it's simple marketing: most game commercials advertise to 15-18 year olds. Maybe as we play more games it gets harder to impress players? Maybe I'm being unrealistic and should keep an open mind, but, most likely, I was feeling grumpy and needed to rant.

Final thoughts: even if the mainstream industry is lacking creativity, indie game designers are producing more and more quality work every year.

Video games are an entertainment medium, like movies. However, within that medium there is still a place for art. This blog has always been concerned with video games as art

Benjamin Fennell said...

Good to see you're still around, at any rate. I'll look forward to whatever you do write about in the future - there's still certainly plenty of ultra-obscure NES games out there.

Personally, I'm dismayed looking at how derivative everything people raved about on GameFAQs these days is. Every other HD game is "the greatest game ever made" these days, and nobody applies critical thought to anything anymore - the aforementioned Uncharted 2 is another case of this. Sony wasn't pleased with the original underperforming, so they sunk a ridiculous amount of money into the media and their marketing campaign to shove the game down the public and internet's throats as "taking gaming to the next level," when it's more interested in being a stale, derivative Hollywood film than it is a good, original game that does anything meaningfully new, and half of GameFAQs is losing their shit over it while trying to further the narrative the media is obsessed with telling: that the Wii is a fluke, Nintendo is screwed, and that Sony, Microsoft, traditional controllers, and the HD systems are the future, and all the market needed were price cuts. Paying attention to the current state of mainstream non-Nintendo gaming, game discussion on the internet, and the mainstream gaming media really kills my faith in humanity and in this hobby.

It's like no one wants games to be GAMES anymore. Instead, it's all about aspiring auteurs who haven't studied good film and don't know how to write, but that's all you hear about these days. Games' "stories," and how they're "just like movies." While gameplay itself - in its association with the direction Nintendo's taken - has become more and more of a slur. It's depressing.

Anyway, there's me going off on a tangent. Good to see you're still around.

Anonymous said...

re: collaboration on a script, i meant for the game you're working on.

Locomalito said...

Man, the games we love are like a good Jazz, they can only be loved by a few experienced players and people who think in terms of Videogame culture. The mainstream is a different thing, not bad, but many times out of our insterest.

Also, I think it's better to post carefully, cause a bad interpretation about a not known game can destroy it forever to the eyes of the readers.

Del_Duio said...

Oh good, you're not dead!

Starquest is getting close, eh? Good news!

8bitcity said...

Good point, Locomalito. Yea, I already regret posting the old Star Quest trailer, but this project is still extremely small so it doesn't really matter.

But really I'll refrained from posting videos and screenshots because I could decide to change something at the last minute, or give something away.

Also, I'm not sure Star Quest is really a game as much as its a game-like art project.

Anyway, Hasslevania 2 is looking awesome Del_Duio. I like the different environments and those sprites are awesome as well!

8bitcity said...

1st Anon: I just realized you said script in your first post, I have no idea why I thought you meant help with this website. I do appreciate the offer but I think I've got the script pretty nailed down at this point!

Del_Duio said...


It's taking me FOREVER to make this thing, but the sanity I save by not working on it 7 hours every night is probably worth it in the end. I have some really doozy ideas for other environments and levels, it's just a matter of making the stupid things hah.

Did you see the trailer yet? It's pretty small but it shows a bit more than the screenshots do. Don't want to give away the whole thing so soon, you know?

8bitcity said...

I did watch the trailer. I feel bad about not reviewing Hasslevania, but to be honest I didn't get too far. Still, H2 looks awesome and hopefully I be able to get through it. And yea, making a game is a huge effort, much bigger than I anticipated. I definitely understand not wanting to give too much away because every day I struggle NOT to post more Star Quest screenshots, especially after I've seriously expanded the size of the world. SQ is huge and it's going to have tons of surprises!

Del_Duio said...

Well the main thing is that it's more balanced in the beginning. I mean it's still hard I guess but this time you get more help and there aren't a million enemies being tossed at you all at once. The controls are also set up a LITTLE BIT better than H1's. The main thing I guess is that you press down to defend now- which is either a crouch (if you don't have a shield) or a shield block. If you're equipped with a 2-handed weapon and have the shield pressing down will activate the crouch since you don't have 3 hands.

The jumping's handled a bit better to. To high jump, instead of crouching -> standing up -> jump to high jump like in H1, now you just press up and jump. It's funny how little things can make such big improvements and how I completely missed the mark for the first game when it comes to stuff like this. Hotkeys are setup better and we seriously tested out 5 or 6 different methods to come up with the current way you can equip / set / use weapons on the hotkeys. God that took forever too, one of the stress points for sure.

Hey don't worry about the Hasslevania review. Even if you said it stunk the way you write would still make it sound interesting!