Sunday Swatch

If you’ve been following my Dead Easy series, then I’m sure you’ll like this post by Problem Machine. It touches on some of the issues faced by developers when creating various difficulty levels and how they can impact the game design. I think this is an important consideration when thinking about adding in easy modes. For non-game devs/average consumers, it can be easy to assume that developers can just add things into the game without any problems at a moments notice (see No Man’s Sky and multiplayer nonsense). However, adding in an easier game mode could require a LOT of work to re-balance the game. It’s easy to approach these kind of issues from a consumer point or view and disregard the creator’s side, so I’d definitely recommend this post as good input into the whole conversation.

With the release of the GOTY edition, I’ve been really into playing The Witcher 3 these past couple of weeks. And I’m so totally in love with it. What I like about it, and I think sets it apart from games like Dragon Age Inquisition, is it manages to create more morally grey areas, which in turn makes decisions more difficult. All this is down to really great work on behalf of the writers. This article argues an interesting point that The Witcher 3 embodies some of the ideals of the social justice movement in these quests. I’m not sure how far I would endorse that, but whether you agree with the sentiment or not, I would recommend giving it a read. Personally, I think the ‘social justice witcher’ is due more to fleshed out quest and characters, but let me know what you think.

Ezio’s Assassin’s Creed games are re-debuting on Next Gen consoles in a couple of months, which has got my wee da pretty excited. We were talking about what he likes in the older games vs. the newer ones, and what could be done overall to strengthen the series. Aside from his favourite – using your assassin money to rebuild areas of the city – the stealth system seems like a good place to start. This article lays out, in great detail, what is wrong with the social stealth in the AC games, and what could be done to improve them. I’ve never really been into the AC series, but this article is so thoughtful that I enjoyed it regardless.

This article showcases artist Gareth Damien Martin’s project of photographing a war which isn’t happening has really been stuck in my head since I saw it. How can you be a war photographer while sitting comfortably at home, in your war-less country? Simple, by playing Battlefield 1. I’m so amazed, firstly by the skill and beauty of these screenshots. They are so different from the typical pictures we’re see accompanying articles about DICE’s new game. These shots are sensitive and melancholic, it’s hard to believe they’re from a FPS and not an indie game about the horrors of war. I’m really fascinated by players who play a game in a way it’s not intended to be, or a way not conceived by the developers. I’m always uneasy about shooters set in realistic or historic war zones, but I think these pictures bring some much needed realism, even in a very abstract way, to a game set in a war that resulted in terrible loss of life. I urge yous to check out his work.

In previous Sunday Swatches, we’ve looked at articles discussing the way games use their own imaginary races to talk about racism, and how it can fail. This article focuses on Bioshock and how its depiction of historic religion and racism succeeds and fails. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the series, or more generally in the way fiction can reflect on our own society’s racial problems.

And finally, read this article on how to calmly deal with the loss of significant data loss. If for no other reason that the title appealed to me on a deep level.

That’s it for this week – see you next time!

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