VALUE Field Reports #31: Building Virtual Worlds

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Building virtual worlds is a team effort. No, not just the team of developers, but (also) the team of players. Sometimes worlds are build external: lore discussions on websites. But often, they’re community driven in-game, like tournaments and roleplaying. These actions can be conscious (like designing buildings in Second Life) or unconscious (forming a bond with strangers in a guild and becoming vast friends). These virtual worlds offer people platforms for their creativity, refuge from their worries, and support for their needs. And that’s the power of video games: bringing people together and giving them the opportunity to be someone else.

And I can’t wait to see what future virtual worlds will bring us!
But for now, let’s just read Field Reports Issue #31.

Videogaming-new

Preserving Nintendo’s Tiniest Games

Nintendo has developed a lot of games. And with a lot, I mean A LOT. Just with the cases alone you could build an elaborate castle with fire pits and jump puzzles, stuff a kidnapped princess in it, AND have plenty of plastic spare to smother an average city in toxic waste. With that huge amount, no one would blame you if you couldn’t remember all of them. But some games were never even properly released. You might argue that they’re not even games at all, but game maker ‘Skelux’ would disagree with you. He’s at the head of a massive undertaking: he tries to preserve all the flash games that Nintendo has used over the years to promote ‘proper’ games. The counter’s currently at 48 ‘companion pieces’, and he’s asking for help to scour the internet for more.

Motherboard has more here!
The list of restored games can be found here.

Watching Overwatch Take Shape – Early Development Gameplay


Video games undergo massive changes throughout their development, sometimes completely changing direction or engines. Recently surfaced gameplay videos show that Overwatch always had a pretty decent idea where to go. Sure, Reinhard’s dash animation looks hilarious and who knows what “You have been clawed” means, but the level design and character art hasn’t changed much in those 4 years. While not as striking as the difference between Alpha and released state like, for example, Duke Nukem Forever or Daikatana, the video is an interesting look at the game development process.

Attentat 1942 – A Multimedia Retelling of Nazi Occupation

I won’t have to tell any of you how powerful video games can be when it comes to storytelling. The interactivity raises video games as a narrative tool beyond other media, making it easier for players to connect with the subject material. But what if you take all the strengths from games, comics, documentaries, and writing about the Nazi Occupation of Czechia and throw in some historical research and interviews with eyewitnesses? You get Attentat 1942, a very interesting experience developed by the Charles University in Prague, now available in English on Steam.
Definitely check this out!

Being a Queen Ain’t Easy

Sure, movies make being a queen look easy and fun, shouting “Off with their heads” all day long, backstabbing your fat husband, and seducing knights. But in reality, it’s a lot of hard work. Reigns: Her Majesty put you in the shoes of a queen faced with an awful lot of (fun) dilemmas. By swiping left or right, you decide the course of your country and your life. Better swipe correctly, because the trailer reveals that not everyone is out to stay on your good side.
RockPaperShotgun reports from the throneroom!

Teaching Reverse Engineering – The Fun Way

Pink Floyd famously sang “We don’t need no education”. Clearly, they hadn’t studied Computer Science at the University of Calgary, because professor Aycock designed and build a board game to help teach reverse engineering. Reverse engineering is important for those who study the history of video games, because often there’s no (accessible) documentation on why certain choices were made, so we need to retrace the developer’s steps throughout the code. John Aycock wrote a guest post on Tara Copplestone’s blog about the board game.
And it looks amazing!

Second Life – Substituting Reality

It has been 14 years since Second Life first came out, and a lot has happened in those years. People started and lost relationships in there, people made real-world money by creating and selling virtual items, companies opened stores and countries build embassies, and people found a way to escape their ‘real’ lives.

For many players, the MMO is a way to ignore social or physical boundaries and become a representation of themselves that they’re more comfortable with. Today, there’s still over 600,000 regular users logging on. The Atlantic published a long and interesting article in which users are interviewed and asked what Second Life means to them. For one, it’s a temporary relief from caring for her two sons with severe autism, for another it’s the ability to explore and socialise without being hindered by her MS disease.
Read more about Second Life here, because the world is more real when it’s digital!

The War Has Been Extended – DLC for This War of Mine

This War of Mine is one of the greatest representation of living in a warn torn city, struggling to survive the lack of supplies and constant danger (stupid sniper…). And by great, I mean depressing, challenging, heart-breaking, and soul-crushing. The game is great because it puts you in situations that you (hopefully) never will be in and forces you to make moral decisions that you (hopefully) never will have to make. And if seeing you friends slowly starve to death in the winter wasn’t horrible enough, the new DLC adds the first of a series of stories in which a father is trying to shield his daughter from the horrors of war. Fun times!
Find out more about the DLC here!

Invading Earth – The History of Alien Hominid


The history behind Alien Hominid is an interesting one: not necessarily because of its unique style, or that it paved the way for The Behemoth’s other games (Castle Crashers and Battleblock Theater), but because it stood on the cusp of indie gaming. Alien Hominid was a massively popular flash game on the famous website Newgrounds that became one of the first indie games to be ported to consoles. And many more would follow.
The developers share their tips, tricks, and insights about developing games.

The Joy of Raiding Tombs, or the Horror of Defiling Sacred Burial Sites


And once again the sanctity of burial sites has been reduced to a fun sidequest in a video game. What once was meant as a monument to a person’s life and a way to enter the afterlife, is now seen as a glorified chest for Assassin’s Creed players. According to a writer at Rock Paper Shotgun, raiding tombs is the most fun part of the new Assassin’s Creed game. You could argue that people would never raid tombs in real life, just like GTA players wouldn’t rob a car and shoot people. However, looting in video games is so pervasive in video games and so uncommon in real-life, that a lot of people don’t realise just how immoral it is. Video games normalize the looting of burial sites (just think of Skyrim, World of Warcraft, and other RPGs), transforming the meaning of tombs and graves into something that should horrify people. The writer says he can’t wait for a game to capture the magic of tomb raiding. Because nothing says magic like the destruction and disturbance of holy and cultural sites.

Oh, and he is complaining about the lack of loot in the tomb. So remember that if you’re burying a loved one in a tomb to make sure there’s interesting and valuable treasure for a future criminal to find.
You can read here why he enjoys tomb raiding so much.

Rampage Movie – Disaster Waiting to Happen

Everyone has a game that they’d like to see made into a movie. A captivating story that would be better served as a 90 minute movie rather than some in-game lines of text and crude animation. Games like The Last of Us and Heavy Rain are already close to movies, but I’d like to see the story of Prince Arthas told (Blizzard, call me, I’ve got a complete script for a good WoW movie. It’s got romance, adventure, betrayal, and lots of zombies) or a silent movie about Half-Life.
Movie studios, however, took a look at the arcade classic Rampage and decided that 3 giant creatures smashing buildings and eating people would be the perfect basis for a full length feature starring Dwayne Johnson. Because of course. Just think of all the lore present in those games, putting Dark Souls to shame. And what about the memorable characters and their motivations! Only time will tell if this movie will be a worthy tribute to the game se—AHAHAHAHahahahahaha, no, sorry, I’m alright. I just couldn’t type that with a straight face. It’ll probably come crashing down like all the skyscrapers that Lizzie, Ralph, and George climbed.
So yeah, here’s the trailer.

NES – Saving Your Screen One Frame At A Time

Screensavers have been made obsolete thanks to LCD and LED technologies. That hasn’t stopped a NES Homebrewer from developing a (really cool) tool that allows you to load a ROM, modify it with screensaver settings, and compile it into a new file that NES emulators can run. In other words, you’re putting the resources like music and artwork into a screensaver to make your own NES screensaver!
Kotaku has more information (and videos) here!

Locating the Horror – Gamers Find Location of The Last of Us Trailer

It’s not surprising that people are hyped for The Last of Us 2, seeing that the first game was a (literal) masterpiece. A masterpiece that destroyed my emotions and gave me a constant fear of mushrooms and clicking sounds, but a genuine masterpiece nonetheless. All these people are looking forward to another hefty dosage of post-apocalyptic survival mixed in with Fungophobia (yes, that’s a real thing: I looked it up), and the recently revealed trailer has been extensively researched and scrutinized for clues. What people discovered (other than waaaay too realistic and gruesome imagery of people getting bludgeoned with hammers and shot with arrows) is the real-world location where the trailer took place.
PCgamer has more on the detective work these people did.

TRIP 1907 – Escape the Book

Whereas most people try to escape reality WITH a book, TRIP 1907 challenges its players to escape the book. With a series of puzzles and riddles that have the players upload their answers to the website in order to unlock the rest of the story. The story (and game) slowly unfolds, revealing the journal of a mad sailor who discovered a dark and terrible secret below the ocean. Did someone say “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”?
You can now back TRIP 1907 on IndieGoGo!

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