This is matador's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following matador's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
matador
On a need-to-know-basis
Storyteller and Graphic Artist on his way into the Game Industry
Interests: Game Design, Storytelling, Art Direction, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Alphonse Mucha
Recent Activity
I am oh so glad to have another Brainy Gamer podcast to listen to. If I remember correctly, Tasha Harris really wanted to join a confab with you. Any word on that? It was a tweet from quite some time ago.
Toggle Commented Apr 12, 2012 on Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 36 at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
I think comments here are generally more useful than that. We're not a community built of average Youtube commenters craying out "First" like posting a comment is landing on the moon. Honestly, I rarely commentl because if I'm going to be part of the conversation there needs to be something I can contribute. It's the main reason I don't comment on Kotaku even though there might be an editorial with thoughts I've been mulling over for days/weeks/months that I might want to address in my own way. In this case, the fact that it's Manveer should make this interesting, but his recent comments on race in games make this something to definitely tune in to.
1 reply
"4. Go make your game. I will wait." Disregarding metacritic, I think that this part is the big key: we know the game is coming: We expect something of this quality, and when it meets that quality, a score is assigned based on previous games that have met that quality (with adjustments for increasing modern standards). At some point we have to ask when is a B a passing grade and when should it be the lowest expectation? Of course, we also run into Developer rights, like with EA Spouse, Rockstar Spouse and Team Bondi. Development Hell may be a metaphorical place, but it has real world ramifications. Games criticism is necessary: I would rather get a recommendation from you or Nels that's outside my realm of expertise. Reviews, to me, tell me if it's like something else: criticism often cites why it's different, and often why it's beneficial or edifying. You can review entertainment. How do you review art?
Toggle Commented Jul 19, 2011 on It’s a B+ world at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
Towards the tail end of the L.A. Noir conversation, Brian said he had read somewhere that "One of the reasons fell out of vogue" was because Adventure games are about what you can do with objects, and that games have shifted focus towards verbs (this was around 1:04:40). I have to ask if he ever found that article or attribution, because I would love to read that article. I should probably tap him as the freelance librarian he is, but I think there are others here that would love to grab that link as well.
Toggle Commented Jun 7, 2011 on Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 34 at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
Wow. This comes at an excellent time for me as a writer. I feel kind of blessed in a strange way. Thank you Michael, and thank you Chris. When I have an address, I'll suscribe to Killscreen.
Toggle Commented Apr 23, 2011 on "You can smell the paper." at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
You're discussing abstraction of visual design and art: what about the abstractions you have to make for gameplay? Games focused on realistic or hyper-realistic art styles still work within the constraints of the genre they simulate (I say simulate because when they focused on realistic depiction, in most cases they worked to actively simulate the experience). But in these games, if you walk over it, you loot it. Is that an accurate simulation? Abstraction in these games are often necessary for the audience the developer wants to speak to. Call of Duty multiplayer might grind to a halt if every time you killed someone you spent 5 minutes checking their pockets and gear for better ammo or gear. The pace would move from a frantic fire fight to something more tactical. "I have 20 rounds, I need to make them count. If I need more ammo I'll be vulnerable while I'm searching the bodies." They truncate the slower moments in favor of the game. Even though they've visually committed themselves to a simulation, the gameplay trumps the simulation aspect. The return to pixel art and more abstract visuals is a way to commit to the abstract designs found in games and to move further from the simulation aspect that I'm afraid most console games are moving towards. I'm of course generalizing. Portal's visuals aren't used for immersion so much as for drama. The unpopulated setting features character and tells the story without dialogue. It's an eerie, ghost like complex. None of the gameplay moments are abstracted: you push a button, you physically handle a companion cube, etc. Minecraft is somewhat the opposite. It embraces a physical world with abstract interactions. You punch a block, and a smaller version falls to the ground, floating and spinning like a power up from your child hood. Believe it or not, that style of drop reminded me of Metal Gear Solid the first time it happened. I think that's the fear most of us have about pixel art games and indie platformers. We're banking success on nostalgia instead of new design. While that may be true in some cases (Super Meat Boy being a love letter to such games), I think it's more akin to decipher Nikola Tesla's notes to see if we missed his bigger picture. A return to abstraction is a sign of dissatisfaction with the current direction. It's not about cutting corners or identifying an "underserved market;" It's an active rebellion or game designers who are bored with their craft and are seeking a new (or resurrected) challenge. Vector graphics and pixel at were constraints designers had to work within. Designers are challenging themselves with those constraints again, hoping and proving that it's not the images that hold the power: It's the systems and mechanics.
Toggle Commented Apr 18, 2011 on Driven to abstraction at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
Picked it up the other day. I've played a few hours of it, and I honestly have to say I've never felt like such a Bad Ass while playing as a little girl!
Toggle Commented Apr 13, 2011 on Let me count the ways at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
Saw a Video for this game several months ago, and though I was excited, I completely forgot about it. Thanks for bringing it back to my attention.
Toggle Commented Apr 11, 2011 on Let me count the ways at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
I attended the same talk as you, and I wanted to point something out; The word that I loved; when he was talking about "Brushing your teeth, shaving, and drinking orange juice," he did these because later in the game, when you have to decide to cut off your finger (or what have you), you have CONTEXT! It's a word I love and one I'm glad I heard. Admittedly, play-fighting with your son does a much better job than drinking juice. To this idea that you should have the largest possible range of actions (what I refer to as an action pallete), I reply with what Ernest W. Adams said on Friday (a session I hope you attended): Tension occurs when your options are reduced; If you can do anything, then there's no tension. Indigo Prophecy was fascinating... and messy. I'm waiting until I have an address before I get Heavy Rain. I admire the man, but not as a messiah. His is a vision that is admirable, and his techniques are worthy of study; his is a model I would rather challenge than follow. He is one of many false prophets. But his heart's in the right place ;)
Toggle Commented Mar 7, 2011 on Rollercoaster bias at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
I feel horrible for correcting you like this on something so petty; How to pronounce Mechner Meck-ner With a "K" sound. Mechner's session was wonderful... but if you've read his journals you can get the same story. It was cool to see him, and it was excellent to actually meet the man (I got him to sign my copy of the Arabian Nights), but it might have been wise to see Hocking. I know I was torn to see him, but I owe my love of writing to him and Sands of Time. I felt the same as you about Cage, but I'll comment on it in the next post.
1 reply
Indie's.
Toggle Commented Dec 25, 2010 on The action is in the margins at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
Great Post Michael. I would argue that while complete polish is not only admirable, but a mandate issued by the audience, it's not always attainable. Manpower; money issues; time constraints or a publishers meddling can lead to compromise, meaning that instead of the entire game living to it's potential, we instead receive one or two elements that shine. I wholly admire Chris Avellone and Obsidian, and I have New Vegas waiting for me right now... but I dread starting it up having heard the buggy nature of the game. Brütal Legend has a fantastic setting, art direction and inspiration... but the game doesn't flow, and the mechanics form two separate systems that the game's story doesn't support. Starcraft is visually stunning and well balanced game... but the storytelling is offensively awful. sometimes too good to be true becomes a blatent rule, and it makes us cynical... and yet we persevere.
Toggle Commented Dec 24, 2010 on The action is in the margins at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
I'm somewhat surprised you didn't mention Flower.
Toggle Commented Nov 30, 2010 on Plush tech at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
There comes a time when a story goes beyond it's origin's and takes root in culture. At that point, it moves beyond a franchise and becomes an icon. Icons are everlasting and outlive their creators. The icon eventually becomes an inheritance; an estate that may or may not be cherished, even by it's creator. Sometimes the creator abandon's it, knowing the course has been run. Sometimes the creator drives the icon into the ground. Sometimes the icon finds itself in an abusive home, and strives to find the bliss of obscurity. But the abandoned icon, more often than not, needs a good steward. The best steward cherishes the heart and soul of the icon, but can identify its blemishes and scars. John Lasseter is the steward of Walt Disney Studios. Koji Igarashi, or IGA, is the steward of the castlevania games. Edgar Wright is a steward of Scott Pilgrim. Will Wright is a Steward of Mickey Mouse. It seems to me that we need to be careful when choosing stewards. I know that I've been disapointed with any Prince of Persia property not involving Mechner. Of course, sometimes the creator is not the ideal steward. George Lucas, for example.
Toggle Commented Nov 9, 2010 on Passion play at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
"Maybe I'm clinging to the word "story" needlessly here, but I'm not quite willing to concede that my investment in EO3 resulted in something other than a story. A *different kind* of story, certainly, but a story nevertheless." No, I think that the word story is completely appropriate. It's the idea of storytelling that might be in conflict. Instead, let's consider Farcry 2 (a game I've yet to play, yet feel I understand). Clint Hocking's approach to storytelling was not to lay out a plot. It wasn't to build an over arching world or a brilliant cast. It was to enable personal moments that could not be duplicated. Tom Bissel's Extra Lives has a lot of great examples of this. Again, I've yet to play EO3 (I'll pick it up after my next pay check), but I get the feeling it's an unauthorized narrative that allows the moment-to-moment stories that you won't get even in Prince of Persia. It's a different kind of emergence: Emergent Storytelling.
Toggle Commented Oct 6, 2010 on Impotent narrative at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
Loved the Podcast. I really got a sense of fellowship from GDC.
Toggle Commented Sep 10, 2010 on Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 30 at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
Sands of Time is probably my favorite game. The platforming is fun and, at the time of it's release, was unique. The art direction still holds up. It's one of the few games to mine the 1001 nights for ideas, a setting that I feel has been undertapped. Best of all is the story, which could have ended up being a boring ancient political tale and instead became a love story. The combat... is flawed. At best the Prince is an unstoppable killing machine. At worst he's pinned to the ground while half a dozen sand creatures hulk over his body. I'm gonna try to keep pace, but I'll probably zoom ahead of everyone and just keep replaying the game's bits as the weeks progress.
1 reply
And here comes the slippery slope. "Hmm... I wonder if I can get my fellow academics to play Psychonauts..." Then the whole world fell down a flight of stairs to the stone age... Seriously, though, Portal is a great choice. It's more Twilight Zone than Star Wars; it's easily digestible, so people who don't go out of their way to play games can finish it; The female perspective the game provides should provoke strong responses from an all male college. Great pick and great job!
Toggle Commented Aug 20, 2010 on Portal on the booklist at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
Head In between chapters of Bissells book I've been diving into Indie's and DS games. I was going to wait for the SC II hype to die, but then I realized there was a level editor to play with... How can a guy write content with so much great stuff coming out?! It's infuriating and inspiring!
Toggle Commented Jul 24, 2010 on Arcadia at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
How can a soundtrack be understated if everyone is saying it's understated. I think we can officially sing it's praises without sounding like it's the forgotten middle child.
Toggle Commented May 30, 2010 on The game in the frame at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
If you went to "Art History of Games," then you saw Marcel DuChamp raised to become a sort of patron saint of games as art.
Toggle Commented May 18, 2010 on Hyperbole of record at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! YES! YES! YES! Seven out of Seven Yeses.
Toggle Commented May 6, 2010 on We deal with criticism at Brainy Gamer
1 reply
matador is now following Michael Abbott
Apr 25, 2010
Cool stuff. Too bad it came out during tax season. I'm finding I'm good at coming up with general characters, but coming up with a motivation that works for that character can be difficult. I find that when I create a second character--and thus a relationship--that desires start to surface. If you can define your character by their relationships with other characters, I believe that you'll have a much more interesting story.
1 reply
I completely agree. I got to try the XL out at GDC and fell in love. I was a tad worried about DS games using sprites, but I seems to be doing pretty well. I still need to pop in Castlevania, though. The really great thing for me, though, is that now that I have two DSs I can get a friend hooked on Phoenix Wright while still playing my new games.
Toggle Commented Apr 8, 2010 on A bigger small at Brainy Gamer
1 reply