Saturday, December 02, 2006

Links worth following

One of the things that I find hard about blogging is the idea that there is value in simply posting links to things I find in my daily browse that are interesting. I always feel like it is a little presumptuous of me to assume that people visiting this site aren't already aware of said links and, in the worst case, that posting the links is a type of pride -- a "look what I found, aren't I cool" sort of statement -- that might betray my ignorance if in fact the contents of the link are already well known.

For that reason whenever I've found interesting things I usually hesitate to post them until I can find some sort of 'analysis' (however short) to compliment the link.

I think perhaps I've been just missing the point and perhaps have been jumping to unsound conclusions regarding the reading habits of this site's visitors. I'm going to take a cue from the page of David and try the occasional interesting link 'round up'.

Off the bat -- no promises of uniqueness or even mutual exclusivity here. Some of these links will be things I've found on sites like Game Tycoon, others will perhaps be a little looping, that is the contents of Link A will in fact contain Link B, but I'll list both in my wrap-up. What I do promise, though, is that if you are interested in the things I am (games, game development, future trends in games, communities, etc) these links will interest you.

And so...

- Henry Jenking's blog contains an interesting interview with the author of a game called 'Hollywood Mogul'. I haven't played it yet, but it seems to be an independently developed sims game in the same vein as 'The Movies'. I love the fact that a community has sprung up around this game to flesh out the areas that the developer dared not tread. Check out the message boards to get a quick idea of some of the user-created content that is adding value to the game.

- I pride myself for generally being up to date with the latest going-ons in the gaming space, so it is embarrassing that I didn't know about Game|Life earlier. Chris Kohler, the editor of the blog updates feverishly -- at least as frequently as Joystiq, and seems to have a lot of unique content (or at least unique to me). If somehow this blog isn't on your roll, it should be. Looking through the archives it would appear his first post was way back in October 2005, so there is over a year's worth of gems here.

- Finally, via both Penny-Arcade and Game|Life, I've discovered my new favorite casual game, Bookworm Adventures. I never would have believed someone could combine an RPG with a spelling game and make me care, but Popcap have succeeded. Game|Life, by the way, point out that the budget for the game was $700,000 which begs the question: "when does a casual game cease to be called a casual game?". If in the future we see games whose content stay casual, but whose budgets start to skyrocket, will they still qualify?

3 Comments:

Blogger kim said...

Since when does budget have anything to do with whether or not it's 'casual'?

People take issue with my saying it, but I argue that one of the most successful casual games ever was Myst. OK, different biz model and distribution channel than what is usually referred to as the casual games market; but it's a puzzle game with themed dressing around it. C'est tout.

1:38 AM  
Blogger Ben Mattes said...

Kim,

I won't argue that I have a better understanding of what defines 'casual' then you. :) If you say casual is purely content and not defined at all by distribution chanels or budget, I defer to your expertise.

I have the feeling, though, that if you ask a random sampling of game developers whar defines a casual game, development budget will come up pretty frequently.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, most game developers don't make casual games, never have, and furthermore work on projects with budgets 10 to 100 times as large as typical casual game budgets. The thing is, not only are production values ramping up, but the expansion of the market is opening up an interesting and rapidly evolving ecology of "casual niches", if-you-will, casual genres is another way of describing it, and Bookworm Adventures seems to serve one of these (evidently substiantial) niches very well.

I think "casual" has a lot to do with good UI design, and if the overlap between the hardcore and casual markets is any indication, it seems like "casual" may assimilate the rest of gaming in the sense of providing more accesible experiences to a wider audience in general.

7:59 PM  

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