This week’s song is a chiptune piece that features on the soundtrack of Christine Love’s interactive fiction/adventure game Digital: A Love Story, a game I’ve previously praised to the skies. Upbeat and energetic, “Paper Dolls” plays at a moment of great hope in the narrative — Digital veterans will probably remember the moment in question — and like the rest of the game’s music, it is a wonderful fit for tone and theme. I’ve embedded the song below the cut — enjoy!
This week’s highlight is the debut of the latest Humble Bundle, #7 with Android. I haven’t tried the Android versions of any of the included games, but the PC version of Ticket to Ride is an excellent game, easily worth $1 for a Steam key — you can read my review here. Well worth checking out the bundle. In other news:
* Below the cut I’ve embedded a trailer for an fresh-looking new game – Sony’s Rain, clearly influenced by Ico. Unfortunately, actual reviews are rather mixed. Anyone tried it?
* Speaking of fresh-looking new games, remember Will Wright’s Spore? Before it came out I was enthralled by its promise, and before launch I created an utterly adorable creature using the pre-released editor. Then the final game came out to a lukewarm reception, and I gave it a pass. Five years later, Soren Johnson has an interesting retrospective on what went wrong – and I also recommend reading the comments, where other Spore veterans chime in.
* Here is a hands-on preview of Dark Souls II. That said, I am very skeptical about one design decision not covered in that article – you can now be invaded by PVPers at any time if you’re online (previously, there was a risk/reward dynamic whereby trying to summon other players would expose you to invasion). Time will tell how well this works.
* A sequel to Sleeping Dogs has been confirmed, though no details as of yet.
This is not a review of Creative Assembly’s Total War: Rome II, but if it were, my opinion would be, “Worth a look… but wait for the <$10 Steam sale.” I’m around 30 hours into Rome II, spread across two campaigns and multiple stand-alone battles. I’ve had enjoyable times, and some spectacular moments. I’ve thundered elephants through the flank of a distracted foe, raised last-ditch armies, and marched from the Tiber to the English Channel, but the whole of my experience has been less than the sum of its parts. And the really interesting question is why.
Johan Karlsson and Kristoffer Osterman of Illwinter Game Design are the creators of indie masterpiece Dominions 3, a strategy game of near-unrivalled imagination, depth, and player choice. With Dominions 4 about to launch (and following my July preview), I am very pleased to present my email interview with Johan and Kristoffer, in which we talk about Illwinter’s history, its inspirations, the future of Dominions, and more. Did you know that Illwinter even considered adding real-time battles and a 3D map? Read on:
Peter Sahui: Hello, and welcome to the site!
I’d like you to start by telling us about Illwinter Game Design. How did you get started developing games?
Johan: My first game was a long time ago just before I moved out to go and study computer science. My favorite old game was Chaos, a game for Spectrum 48 where up to 8 wizards battled it out in a very simple fashion. I got my Atari ST computer after that and felt that you could make a much better Chaos game on that computer. So my first attempt at a game was to create a Chaos clone for the Atari ST, written completely in basic. It got to a playable state and was better than the original in many ways, monsters had hit points and there were more of them as well. But it was not good enough to be sold, so it never got played by other than me and my friends.
When I started my Computer Science education I began to create a more sophisticated game that was called Conquest of Elysium. That’s also when I met Kristoffer who joined in and took over the graphics part. Being 2 people helped a lot I think and we managed to finish the game and sell it as shareware. Shareware was the thing back then and I remember that it was really bothersome and crappy compared to how it works today with Desura etc.
Illwinter Game Design had started to exist now and we continued to create a new game every few years until we had 3 CoE and now 4 Dominions as well.
Over the weekend I wrote about an excellent game themed around the four seasons of Japan, so how better to follow it up than with an excellent song themed around the four seasons of Japan? “Mado Kara Mieru” is part of the Calling All Dawns album, composed by Christopher Tin of “Baba Yetu”/Civilization IV fame. It’s slow, contemplative, and quietly beautiful, and the story behind the lyrics is equally interesting. From the composer’s blog:
It’s sung in Japanese, and is based around a series of five Haiku, each corresponding to the changing seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter and ending on spring. Each verse is sung by a singer in a different stage of their life; so a young girl sings the first spring verse, an adolescent girl sings about summer, an older woman sings about autumn, etc. The song ends with a return of the young girl singing about spring, therefore completing the cycle of the seasons. So in essence, it’s a song about the cycle of life.
I’ve embedded the actual song below the cut below. Enjoy!
“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away.” Take that logic, apply to a strategy game, blend in a striking aesthetic, and sprinkle with humour: developer 17-BIT’s Skulls of the Shogun is the result.
Paradox Interactive (that’s the publishing arm of the Paradox empire) has announced a sequel to last year’s Warlock: Master of the Arcane. Rachel aka frogbeastegg quite liked the original Warlock last year, so this should be one to watch. Not many details so far, but the trailer made me chuckle.
In other news, Gamesindustry has posted a very good two-part interview with Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Worldwide Studios. The link I’ve posted is to part one, entitled “Vita, Vita TV, and Sony’s future”, but it’s well worth reading both parts. He even addresses The Last Guardian!
Lastly, [a]listdaily has an interesting interview with Jenova Chen of Journey fame, in which he talks about a topic near and dear to me – the ability of games to evoke emotion.