The best writing from around the web.
Good Games Writing Weekly is a round-up of the best writing on games and related fields from around the web. Some themes may be for older audiences.
There was news this week but much of it seems trivial compared to some of the high profile anniversaries: PAC-MAN turned 40, Perfect Dark turned 20, and The Witcher 3 turned five.
On that note, Cian Maher wrote two bangers on The Witcher 3, including this retrospective with the game’s senior quest designer, Phillip Weber, as well as this examination of it as a “detective game”, a take we’ve never seen before, but are definitely here for it.
Geralt can tell which manner of ghastly beast attacked an unfortunate caravan because he has read a rake of dusty old tomes about how strigas are picky eaters, while more myopic monsters just sort of… eat everything.
Two different publications decided to call in the experts for International Museum Day and see what it is that makes Blathers and his Animal Crossing museum tick. First, at AllGamers, the museum is looked at holistically, but the focus on accessibility in its design is noteworthy. Over on Kotaku, a greater range of experts are on hand, and they similarly both delight in and critique the museum as presented in New Horizons. The nuts and bolts about decolonizing spaces, provenance, and labour are worth reading for any museum geeks out there.
On Uppercut, Reid McCarter unleashes a photo essay detailing his attempts at turning his island into a hellscape run by a demon overlord. You read that correctly.
And yet, something still tells Behemoth that these animal people’s spirits are impossible to crush. No matter what he did in the past, they managed to forgive him—to put aside whatever he’d done to destroy their simple island lives and embrace him in communal celebrations.
Final Fantasy VII Remake once again goes under the microscope at Bullet Points, this time with Amanda Hudgins as critic, who sharply critiques its cartoonish villains and inability to substantively find nuance in its narrative themes.
Final Fantasy at large also inspired quality reporting, this time at GameSpot: in Final Fantasy XIV players are creating virtual theatre troupes with stunning results. Establishing venues, props, cues, blocking…everything theatre is present and presented. It’s a spectacular read for thespians and gaming enthusiasts alike.
Perhaps less consequential but still fascinating was Steven Messner’s reporting on a player with 49 max-level warriors in World of Warcraft. The story carries some heft when the player, DesMephisto, explains his own life; Messner wisely allows him to speak for himself:
“MMOs also let us feel powerful,” he adds. “They take us from a world where we feel—I don’t want to say meaningless, but where we feel like our lives have less value, and then put us in a world where we get to create that value. We can become something, and it is a very helpful experience.”
As Perfect Dark hits its anniversary milestone, Marty Sliva argues that now is the time to see a rebirth of the franchise. Not only is it a blend of quintessentially ’90s things (Goldeneye 007, the X-Files, Ghost in the Shell) but it’s part of a larger package with an “exceptional soundtrack” and “spaces that encouraged experimentation and exploration”.
USGamer also had RARE on the brain as Nadio Oxford interviewed David Wise and Grant Kirkhope. The focus on their musical contributions is comprehensive, with nuggets on Miyamoto, “messing around”, working within the limitations of the medium, reactive music, and so much more. If you’re at all interested in how the soundtracks of classic games are put together this is a must read.
On the same publication, Hirun Cryer delves into If Found, tying the game’s art directly to its narrative. There’s a more cynical take to the game than we’ve seen elsewhere–no judgment, just a point–with the review focusing on the aftermath of relationships and posing questions quantifying love. If that’s the shot then Jeremy Signor’s take is the chaser, wherein he uses If Found to explore not just the trans community, but the larger LGBTQ+ community and society writ large.
But the developers of If Found aren’t content to stop at making trans pain more universal to the greater queer community. They also want to show that it’s relatable to the human experience at large.
Finally, we enjoyed the beginning of Michael Fisher’s new YouTube series, “When Phones Were Fun“. The series promises to look back fondly before a time all our phones looked like same-y rectangles. It’s both a nostalgic look back and informative. Starting with a phone inspired by The Matrix makes this a little bonkers and provokes just enough curiosity that this becomes a must watch.
Carter, Chase. “Museum Experts Weigh In On Animal Crossing New Horizons’ Museum” (Kotaku: May 22, 2020) <kotaku.com/museum-experts-weigh-in-on-animal-crossing-new-horizons-1843613946>.
Cryer, Hirun. “If Found Review: Falling out of Love” (USGamer: May 19, 2020) <www.usgamer.net/articles/if-found-review>.
Higgins, Chris. “We asked a curator what makes Animal Crossing’s museum feel so real” (AllGaming: May 18, 2020) <ag.hyperxgaming.com/article/10143/we-asked-a-curator-what-makes-animal-crossings-museum-feel-so-real>.
Hudgins, Amanda. “Little Nuance” (Bullet Points: May 20, 2020) <bulletpointsmonthly.com/2020/05/20/little-nuance-ffvii-remake>.
Maher, Cian. “‘The Witcher 3’ is a phenomenal detective sim, and here’s why” (NME: May 19, 2020) <www.nme.com/features/the-witcher-3-is-a-phenomenal-detective-sim-and-heres-why-2671388>.
Maher, Cian. “Why The Witcher 3 endures, five years later” (Polygon: May 19, 2020) <www.polygon.com/2020/5/19/21263545/witcher-3-anniversary-open-world-interview-quest-design>.
McCarter, Reid. “Paradise Lost: Transforming Animal Crossing Into a Nightmarish Hellscape” (Uppercut: May 18, 2020) <uppercutcrit.com/paradise-lost-transforming-animal-crossing-into-a-nightmarish-hellscape/>.
Messner, Steven. “This World of Warcraft player has 49 max-level warriors, and he isn’t stopping” (PC Gamer: May 21, 2020) <www.pcgamer.com/this-world-of-warcraft-player-has-49-max-level-warriors-and-he-isnt-stopping/>.
Oxford, Nadia. “David Wise and Grant Kirkhope Remember Composing Goldeneye 007, Meeting Miyamoto, and Rare’s Golden Age” (USGamer: May 21, 2020) <www.usgamer.net/articles/david-wise-and-grant-kirkhope-interview>.
Reuben, Nick. “All The Realm’s A Stage: Exploring Final Fantasy 14’s Incredible Virtual Theater Shows” (GameSpot: May 22, 2020) <www.gamespot.com/articles/all-the-realms-a-stage-exploring-final-fantasy-14s/1100-6477641/>.
Signor, Jeremy. “If Found and Relatable Queer Alienation” (The Life of Game: May 21, 2020) <thelifeofgame.wordpress.com/2020/05/21/if-found-and-relatable-queer-alienation/>.
Sliva, Marty. “Now Is the Time for Perfect Dark’s Return on Xbox Series X” (The Escapist: May 23, 2020) <www.escapistmagazine.com/v2/now-is-the-time-for-perfect-darks-return-on-xbox-series-x/>.