When King of Dragon Pass was originally released for the PC in 1999, its event-driven storytelling engine was accomplishing a goal that its players had not yet realized they wanted to achieve: a fluid, procedural narrative that emphasized the dynamics of tribal conflict in ways that had not yet been seen (or, arguably, been matched ever since).
A mobile re-release of King of Dragon Pass has helped to reintroduce it into the public consciousness and both Rock Paper Shotgun and Flash of Steel have offered interesting observations on the game’s slippery presentation of morality, but perhaps we can branch out from that and discuss any of the following:
- How do the re-enactments of myths in the heroquests influence the systemic message of this game? Does King of Dragon Pass have anything to say about tradition? (Or perhaps even the great chain of practomime?)
- Does the game’s spartan presentation enhance or detract from the story that it’s trying to present to the player?
- Do the strategic/managerial aspects of the game provide sufficient tension to a player’s progression through their generated storyline?
We’ll meet to discuss these questions and more on Thursday, April 2nd at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT; voice chat over Skype.
Minecraft this week: Thursday, March 26th at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT. Usual server, voice chat over Skype.
This month, let’s take a different approach to talking about video games. Instead of what we see or feel, let’s take some time to discuss touching, tapping, swiping, pressing buttons, and moving toggles, and how our experiences with them shape our understanding of the games themselves. It’s time to talk about controllers and interfaces: do we control them or do they control us?
Based primarily around the ideas from distributed cognition and activity theory of how information is embedded within systems and not purely part of an individual, let’s discuss how controllers situate us, what they afford us and how they, in turn, constrain us in different ways.
Does holding a Wiimote affect how you think about a game? How about a plastic guitar like those found in connection to the Rock Band and Rocksmith games? What is the difference between a joystick and a keyboard? In what ways do we understand our context through controllers?
Join us, as always, via Skype starting at 9:30pm EST / 6:30pm PST to discuss these questions, ideas, and your own anecdotes around controllers influencing behavior in different ways.
Minecraft this week; the usual server, voice chat over Skype, 9:30pm EST / 6:30pm PST.
In this month’s Symposium, we’re going to discuss the iOS/Android game Hoplite. I’d like to link it to our prior discussion of FTL and our discussion last month of Mark of the Ninja: like the former, it’s a roguelike, but it allows for a relatively large control of your build, similar to the latter. And it brings other interesting things to the table: it has puzzle game aspects, and, judging from Frank Lantz, supports a decent amount of reading ahead in the later levels.
If you’re new to the game I highly recommend Darius Kazemi’s tips.
We’ll meet this Thursday at 9:30pm EST / 6:30pm PST, voice chat over Skype.
Our first Minecraft session of the new year will be this Thursday! The usual server, voice chat over Skype, 6:30pm EST / 9:30pm PST.
Pat Holleman is kicking off the new year with a Symposium on Mark of the Ninja. Quoting Pat:
The most idiosyncratic feature of Mark of the Ninja is the way it displays information about the range of character senses. By showing at what range the enemies and players can detect noises, sounds and smells, the game allows the player to see the game through the designer’s eyes. This transparency eliminates a great deal of doubt, and obviates much of the process of getting a “feel” for the game’s mechanics. Does this make for smoother, more accessible games, or does it eliminate something essential to the learning process which makes action games so much fun?
We’ll meet on Thursday, January 8th at 9:30pm EST / 6:30pm PST, discussion will happen over Skype. Talk to you then!