28
Sep
2016

Comparisons: No Man's Sky and Miasmata

Posted by Cha

Comparisons is an occasional series of posts looking at links and contrasts between specific games. Contains spoilers for both Miasmata and No Man's Sky.

No Man's Sky and Miasmata are both niche games featuring exploration, cataloguing species and crafting products from collected resources. Beyond that, their approaches are radically different. Where No Man's Sky is huge beyond my ability to conceptualise it, Miasmata is contained to a single island. Where Miasmata is about mapping and growing to understand a place, NMS embraces a more nomadic existence.

But there's value in comparing these two exploration games. Perhaps the most compelling difference between NMS and Miasmata is whether focus is directed inwards or outwards.

25
Aug
2016

Expectations

Posted by Cha

This is a post about something I don't understand. So I'll skirt around a topic and probably never reach firm conclusions. You have been warned.

I do understand that how someone experiences a game is shaped by expectations. And whatever experiences people have are what they are -- I'm never going to say feelings aren't valid. But what I don't understand is where those expectations come from and why, at least among certain vocal communities, expectations seem to be getting narrower over time rather than broader. Even though the availability of a broad range of games has only improved.

Maybe it's easiest to start with an example that does make sense.

24
Jun
2016

Mundus Vult Decipiti

Posted by Cha

The version of me who lives in Stardew Valley stood awkwardly in a corner as couples paired off for the springtime Flower Dance. I fidgeted and stared daggers at my crush's preferred dance partner. Clearly I needed to up my game.

In a life sim, building relationships becomes a mix of kindness coins and time management. I knew what I was signing up for if I wanted to start courting.

It's all part of the fantasy. Just like I can grow all the best crops, reel in the biggest fish and be the bravest adventurer in the land. I can have whatever I'm willing to work for, including friendship, love and sex (but almost always in that order).

10
Jan
2016

Crosses All over the Dormitory

Posted by Cha

The first time I heard the song Crosses by José González I was driving home.

I don't like to drive but I had honours fieldwork. 2004 was a year of pushing through and doing whatever needed to be done. My journey would take me almost 200 km west of the city, where I could see miles of paddocks, and wind turbines just visible in the distance. I'd visit the sorts of places where other drivers always wave, and you need to put a wheel in the dirt to squeeze past. I felt more comfortable in those quiet rural areas, on bumpy or unsealed roads similar to the places where I first learnt to drive. But they always come with a dose of melancholy. It can get lonely out on the plains.

01
Jan
2016

Cha's Games of the Year 2015. RymdResa

Posted by Cha

RymdResa (literally just space travel in Swedish) is one of the smaller, less well known games to make an impression on me this year, and probably one of the most flawed. But it fits into a category I'm particularly fascinated with. That is, games using roguelike and related mechanics for less typical genres or to create different moods.

I love roguelikes, or at least am fascinated with them, but even with the broader range of roguelites and roguelike-likes, they remain heavily associated with dungeon crawls and specific kinds of tension. The third genre label I could throw in there is "procedural death labyrinth", after all. That's clear enough. I want to see other kinds of stories here.

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