Week 684

What’s this? I’m blogging about my work on a weekly basis – a simple way to track and archive whatever it is I spend my time on.

It’s interesting how it works. For months, the Game Developers Conference (next week in San Francisco) slowly came closer, and I was looking forward to it, but I didn’t think about it too much. Then, all of a sudden, it was almost here – and I stressed out about my preparations. So like the previous week, last week was very much spent worrying about the future.

I also did some writing though, such as a new column for the Dutch Official PlayStation Magazine, which will be in next month’s issue.

Then, I wrote a Next Level column for nrc.next, about the interesting puzzle game Puzzlejuice, and how some indie games seem to enjoy punching your brain in the face (then laugh at you). I regard this as a counter-movement, responding to mainstream games that are generally being streamlined and getting easier.

I played and wrote a review of The Last Story, which was published in the paper on the day the game came out, together with an interview with its creator, Hirononu Sakaguchi, written by my longtime friend and colleague Jurjen Tiersma. I love it when we can time it like this.

The game itself didn’t really tickly my fancy. I find it odd how Japanese role-playing games are still so childishly melodramatic. That may be rooted in Japanese culture, but then why are, for example, Studio Ghibli’s animated films so apt at avoiding these pitfalls? This goes especially for The Last Story which, Sakaguchi claims, is designed to be more appealing to Western audiences.

I also worked with Rogier Kahlmann on a story about Sony’s new handheld, the PlayStation Vita. The article was ready for launch day, but so far hasn’t been published. In the newspaper business there is not always enough space and games are not the number one priority, unfortunately. We’re still tweaking the piece, though, and it should be printed soon.

Otherwise, I caught up with some folks on the Bashers.nl front. For one, I met with Guan van Zoggel, whose review of odd Japanese erotic puzzle horror game Catherine was also published in nrc.next last week. We spoke about our efforts at Bashers to report on game research and academia more often.

I also spoke with Vincent Leeuw, one of the guys we started Bashers with. No specific topics there, just catching up and staying in touch.

On Saturday, I met with Menno Schellekens about the return of the podcast at Bashers. For the two years that we made this podcast, it was the most popular feature of our site. Then we took a (longish) break and went back to the drawing board. From now on, the podcast will be made at the Dutch Game Garden, it will be bi-weekly, we’ll do it with a (small) audience, and it will be called Bashers Gameclub.

We’ll encourage everyone (ourselves, our special guests, the people in attendance, and streaming and downloading listeners) to play a certain game in the weeks leading up to the show. Then during the recording, we’ll discuss that game and try to come to a deeper insight about it. The first game we’ll tackle is Zelda: Skyward Sword, which we’ll do on Thursday March 29, at around 8 PM.

But first, San Francisco.