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Tag: Read This

Link: After 23 years, Starfield’s ancestor Noctis is still a vision of the future (Eurogamer)

Sometimes thick cloud cover plunges you into total darkness, and sometimes you’re treated to mountains and valleys chopped and chiselled by a sun that resembles a huge mural on a temple wall. Having touched the earth, you slide through the lander’s glass walls and head towards one of the terrain features you’ve identified, glancing back now and then towards the light beam rising from your landing site.


I always have time for people writing about Noctis, it’s an incredible feat of videogame making years ahead of its time, a breathtakingly singular and wonderful thing. A game of pure exploration and community logging, a gem that’s really unlike anything else still.

Nearly a quarter of a century on and it remains an awe inspiring videogame for me, much like Dwarf Fortress it’s one of the finest arguments there is for accessible and affordable routes to making and distributing games.

It’s hyper niche but all in, completely committed to its vibe and just so much the kind of thing that could never land out of a big studio, it’s just too weird, too intensely focused.

Ok, you caught me — I don’t just like Noctis, I’ve spent years admiring the fact that it ever came to exist at all and that it’s so uncompromising and focused on being what it is.

After 23 years, Starfield’s ancestor Noctis is still a vision of the future | Eurogamer.net
A retrospective article about PC and MS-DOS videogame Noctis, created by Alessandro Ghignola, in which players explore …

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Read This: The Problem with “Good Game Design”

“Good design” sometimes doesn’t look much different than exploitation, and many effective works directly clash with traditional ideas of what a good game looks like. Descriptors like “depth” or “immersion” frequently exclude more feminine modes of play, like dress up or socialization games, which can be rewarding in other ways. Or shut out games that intentionally introduce friction to make it intentionally unpleasant to engage with. 

Amr Al-Aaser, “The Problem With Good Game Design”

I pretty much always enjoy Amr Al-Aasar’s writing (and their YouTube channel is full of gems too). This particular short essay discusses something I’ve been caught mumbling under my breath about a few times now, what they terms “prescriptive game criticism”, where folks have already decided what good design is and ask does the game meet these (often supposedly objective, just to make the teeth gnashing worse for me) criteria rather than judging the game on what it is and what it’s trying to achieve.

As you might have gathered I’m not a huge fan of this or any of the ridiculously popular purveyors of it (hello a particular big YouTube channel of doom especially) and this essay gets to the heart of why and the problems that come with subscribing to it as a primary mode of game criticism (and design guidance, to be fair).

There are many games I would have enjoyed more if they were designed differently, but that doesn’t mean they’ve fundamentally failed because of it. 

The Problem With Good Game Design

Obviously, me being me, I’ve fallen into the traps Amr brings up myself on multiple occasions and for a good few years I’d spend my time doing the exact things I’m now incredibly grumpy about. I am, as ever, my own worst enemy on things.

You live and learn though, eh.

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