Hope everyone enjoyed the debut of Worth Reading last Friday on Kotaku! Every week, I strive to bring you a brand-new set of provocative writing, commentary, crowdfunding projects, and plenty more. You might not agree with what you find, but that's often the point. Let's dive in.
The night before a flight is the worst. Where's my 3DS charger? Should I bring a Vita with? There's some extra space in my second bag and most hotels have access to decent televisions, so maybe it makes sense to smuggle a PS3 and play the Dark Souls II DLC? Though patently ridiculous questions, I'll likely wrestle with and succumb to several of them. And play nothing.
As part of turning 30, I'm spending this coming weekend in Las Vegas with my brother. I'm already drinking water to prevent a hangover, and I haven't had a drop of alcohol yet. The moment I've returned to Chicago, I'm headed going home, grabbing a bigger bag bag, looping back to the airport, and catching an evening flight to New York in order to hang with Kotaku.
There's nothing quite like hanging out with your colleagues in-person. I'm looking forward to it.
There's such a fine line between a game explaining what it's demaning of the player and holding their hand through the process. The Legend of Zelda series has been gaming's worst offender for years now. It took hours for Skyward Sword to get going because Nintendo was desperately afraid you might not know exactly what to do. Compare Skyward Sword's tutorialization to the original Super Mario Bros., which Chris Kohler outlines out in his story. It's beautiful. Kohler isn't talking about Zelda—he's relaying an experience with The Vanishing of Ethan Carter—but one could easily swap out the names and come away with similar complaints and conclusions.
"The first time I stumbled upon one of the murder-mystery puzzles in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, I walked right past it. And the second time, too. And the third.
Meanwhile, the game's opening text crawl was still fresh in my head: "This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand."
Well, I thought, if my hand's not being held, I may as well just keep walking and see what's going on. And I walked past a puzzle, then another, then another. This is not me. I am a deliberate player. I like to look at stuff. And I don't like skipping puzzles. I just didn't know what I was looking at. And Ethan Carter wanted it that way.
A game that doesn't grab onto your hand is a refreshing experience these days. But this one could have benefited from a little bit of secret hand-holding."
While playing playing Resident Evil earlier this week, it certainly seemed like Jill Valentine's chest was rhythmically and unnaturally bouncing as she crossed the room. A combination of staying up late and a nearby zombie distracted me, but Kate Gray's point is well-made. My guess: unless you're on Dead or Alive, most developers don't spend much time thinking about this. In most cases, it's probably an oversight. But it's 2015. We can probably try a bit harder. (For the record, this isn't new to this version of Resident Evil—it came from the 2002 remake.)
"Unfortunately for Jill, who probably just wants to get on with the whole zombie apocalypse situation, her sweater puppies (I'm sorry, this bosom slang is only going to get worse) are completely non-compliant. Jiggling around like they've been possessed by some kind of demonic spirit, Jill's rather excitable funbags have become a rippling distraction to anyone attempting to play the game. Exactly why the developers decided that the one thing the original Resi was missing was a couple of rowdy bazongas challenging the laws of physics, we may never know.
But this is really just one entry in a long and fairly depressing encyclopaedia of Things Game Developers Don't Know About Anatomy. Turn to page 834, if you will, to begin the section titled "Boob Boobs", subtitled "how incredibly wrong people can possibly be about the humble mammary gland".
You'll find a range of breast-related mishaps in video games, from over-stuffed, rigid lumps that protrude from the chest like a fist through a wall, to the comically large hooters favoured by fighting games and RPGs, often set in a parallel universe where breasts have the power to wobble violently, completely of their own accord, like a couple of drunken jellyfish in a mosh pit."
- Vaati Vidya is responsible for the best Dark Souls analysis videos on the web.
- Exploding Kittens, with artwork by Oatmeal, sure has raised a ton of money already.
- Mouffe might be a game I never actually play, but I'd like to to exist anyway.
- Steven Levy interviewed Google AI programmer Demis Hassabis, former game developer.
- Matthew Burns played Lindsay Lohan's The Price of Fame so you don't have to.
- Alisha Karabinus considered a world where Commander Shepard was only a woman.
- Matt Gerardi polled his readers on their moral dilemmas in BioWare games.
- Tanya Short explained how their team tried to overcome imposer syndrome.
- Cara Ellison discovered all sorts of weird shit in the Internet Archive.
- Jamaal Ryan wrote about positive trends in gaming's path towards better representation.
- Chaz Evans highlighted the ways games are now expanding what first-person means.
- Ed Smith argued for the death of a variety of video game writing trends.