Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Playlist: December

So it is December and the nights are closing in.  I think everyone is supposed to be quiet as a mouse and I am putting out mince pies for santa or something.

Instead I am deep into some games!

This month I finished playing Arkham City which was splendid.  I say finished, I haven't collected all the Riddler trophies or the challenge maps, but I have completed the main storyline, fought my way through baddies and bosses and thoroughly enjoyed it.   It's a very empowering game and extremely fluid.  Brilliant work there from Rocksteady, already looking forward to DLC / the next one.

Dear Diary.  I am a bad person for I have caved.  I know I said I wouldn't but I just couldn't help myself.  I too am a Skyrim Junkie.  Or not actually.  It seemed to be all everyone was talking about - one of my friends facebooks had 74 replies to a status about Skyrim.  Whenever people talked about 'examples of X / Y / Z type of game' it would be Skyrim that was mentioned.  It was it seemed the Mount Olympus of games.  Ambrosia of gaming here I come.  But I was a bit dissapointed.  It's good, the dragons look cool.  But it doesn't seem that good.  Maybe I'm missing something.  It really is just Oblivion but a bit prettier though isn't it?  They might have touched up a couple of bits but it really doesn't seem that different.  There are some nice features (I like the quest system, the snow looks amazing) but all in all...  I think it's rather over-rated.  I shall now don my flame-proof suit to protect me from the Skyrim love.

The iPad sees lots and lots of free stuff at Christmas, most of it fairly benile.  Bards Tale is quite amusing and a nicely done version and soon I will pick up GTA III as I've heard it's very good.  Nothing though has really grabbed me this month.

And then, of course, there's Star Wars: The Old Republic.  This deserves and will get it's own post.  However it is great.  There we go, that's my full academic opinion.  'It's Great'.  Really, it is.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

End of Level 1

Wow, end of the first semester and it went predictably fast.  What I really need is a progress bar to keep count I suppose.
 It would be hard to sum up everything that's happened so far but it has been great.  I have really enjoyed my classes with almost no exceptions which is quite astounding.  We've had Critical Analysis and Game Pitches as assessments and over the Christmas 'holidays' have an essay, a games design document and a evaluation to write.  On top of that I have more MMF to learn (MMF is the game making program we use on the course).

Along the way I have read a lot of games theory books, some more accessible than others, and been trying to keep hugely up to date (I say hugely, I mean as much as I can!) with all the 'gaming news' - Gamasutra is my regular stop over but I have about 15 sources on an RSS feed which I download and catch up with on the bus.  RSS feeds are great (I think I have one above which you could follow me on, which obviously you should!) because it means they send me the news.  I use Go Reader on the iPad in combination with Read It Later, which is fantastic for storing stuff for later consumption.

On top of all of this I am trying to read around the subject as much as possible.  A lot of people have talked about the need to be a bit of a rennaisance man in this subject - to know as much as possible about as much as possible, which certainly seems to be the case.  I have books on project management and structuralism to read next and on my christmas list is Technical Maths for Dummies.  I realise how much of a geek that makes me sound.  I suppose it is all part of Geekademia (which is a term I am stealing from one of my tutors (although I suppose it might be more common than I realise, it's certainly one I am fond of).

I'm also reading various psychology books, albeit mostly ones written in layman's terms to compliment some of my understanding of the topic I am writing my first 'proper' essay on, which is about the feeling of heroism in games, thus Jung is heavy on my reading list along with some Morphology of the Folk Tale and other such classics!  Naturally I am also playing lots of games (I'll post up more what I'm playing in the next few days, because, once more my play-list has moved on a fair amount)

It's quite a challenge this course, I think it's been about 14 years since my last official essay, and so writing and referencing 'all formal like' is quite hard going, but I am enjoying the challenge, and slowly getting to grips with it.  I am also finding that I am enjoying the reading a lot more than I thought I might before the course started.  The design element is also extremely fulfilling, which I sort of knew it would be but it still deserves an honourable mention!

Conferences, guest speakers, essays, lectures and many many books make up the majority of my life at the moment, but I have to admit that I am rather loving it.   Roll on semester 2.