Week 722

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.

Last week my Wii U review system arrived! I got it on Monday, fiddled with it all week, and then had a good test session with Hessel Bonenkamp on Friday evening.

It’s hard not to be struck by nostalgia at this point. Just think about all the previous Nintendo consoles! Let’s do them one by one:

  1. The NES was my first game console.
  2. The Super NES was the first console I really wanted to own. Sinterklaas was so kind to give it to me, though my parents withheld a majority of my pocket money in the months to come, so I could ‘pay off the Sinterklaas debt’ for that far too expensive gift.
  3. The Nintendo 64 was the first console I actively looked forward to: I got the American version right when it came out. My first website, The Unofficial Zelda Headquarters, was centered around looking forward to the Zelda game on N64.
  4. On the day the GameCube launched in Europe, I launched my own Nintendo magazine, n3.
  5. I freelanced for Nintendo’s localization department for much of 2006, coming up with a lot of the Dutch terminology, as well as translating screen text and manuals for the Wii.

Despite this, the Wii U doesn’t get me all that excited, although the GamePad offers some interesting possibilities and it’s kind of nice to finally have a Nintendo system that outputs a high resolution image.

It doesn’t help that I won’t get access to the firmware update containing much of the console’s (online) functionality until launch day, November 30th, just like everyone else. It also doesn’t help that I only have Nintendo Land and ZombiU to play around with, as well as the Mii Maker. (My daughter prefers the Mii Maker.)

On Tuesday, I visited Two Tribes, where work is really coming together on Toki Tori 2, the puzzle platform game for which I helped create the world and backstory. Of course, it should come together right around now: last week they announced that the game will be released just before Christmas on Wii U. Next year, the Steam version for OS X and Windows will follow.

During my visit I played some puzzles from advanced sections of the game, which were a lot of fun. I also saw the second ‘cut scene’, which was jaw-dropping to me, but that could have to do with the sensation of seeing things come to life that I personally came up with.

There also was some newspaper writing. I penned a Next Level column about Loren Brichter’s smart word game Letterpress, which appeared in nrc.next on Friday’s Tech spread and is now online, too: De liefdesbaby van Go en Boggle komt uit de Valley.

For Saturday’s ‘gift appendix’ of NRC Handelsblad, I was asked to write a mini essay about a trend in 2012. I chose to talk about the maturization and professionalization of independent games, especially Dear Esther. I didn’t really like Dear Esther, but it was obviously a welcome experiment, and because it looked so good, it reached a broad audience of gamers: a quarter million copies were sold so far.

The essay was accompanied by my (early) game top 5 for 2012:

  1. Spelunky
  2. Dishonored
  3. Fez
  4. Spec Ops: The Line
  5. Journey

Closing off the publications department, Mediafacts put out some materials accompanying the talk I did at the National Publishing Day the previous week, about gamification and the publishing world: a short audio interview and some photos by Rogier Bos (look for bearded man).

Of course, most of my time went into De verdwijners, my novel that’s coming out in April and that I’m currently rewriting. Progress was still pretty slow last week, not helped by the fact that I had to present the book to some journalists and booksellers at my publishing house: they had a special event on Thursday to celebrate the publication of the Spring catalogue. The presentation went quite well: everyone made me feel ahead of the curve with my digital slide show.

The week ended early: I spent a good part of my Friday at Border Sessions and chatting with David Nieborg, who just came back from his US elections road trip extravaganza, and on Saturday, Sinterklaas came to town. He didn’t have to bring me a Nintendo console this time: being an inspiration to my family was more than enough.