Category Archives: Analysis

Quake 3 Arena – still excellent after all these years

Excellent!

The beauty of Quake 3, and the reason it still enjoys a fanatical following today, lies in its simplicity. No matter how elite the opposition, you always felt like you had a chance; that you were only ever a respawn away from having things just click into place for you, like long-range rockets on Q3DM17.

And then you got railed/humiliated/gibbed.

Still, that glorious simplicity meant that hope sprang eternal, and you just had to keep coming back for more. Considering some of the luminaries I played with, I was usually little more than a free frag (think guppy in a pond of piranhas) but the temptation of hearing those wonderful words – YOU HAVE TAKEN THE LEAD – was irresistible.

Over on GamesRadar, David Houghton calls Quake 3 ‘one of the greatest games ever made‘; and, I have to say, the man’s got a point. Check it out!

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What I thought about the VGAs 2012

VIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICCCCTTTTOOOOOORRRRRRYYYYYYYYYYY!

A picture of Johnny Drama’s gotta be worth at least a billion words, but I shall try to elaborate nonetheless. Here’s what I thought about:

The Walking Dead winning Game of the Year

See above picture. Seriously, if XCOM wasn’t it, this is the only GOTY winner I’d have been happy with. It’s a testament to the sheer quality and emotional impact that Telltale managed to pack into their stellar game. To put this victory into perspective, here’s a list of the publishers of the last 3 winners – Bethesda Softworks (subsidiary of ZeniMax Media), Rockstar Games and Sony Computer Entertainment, I think it’s safe to say that those are some pretty big fish.  Telltale made and published The Walking Dead, all off their own bat; and now, their name’s up on that list, deservedly so. For this achievement, they also won Studio of the Year, and I don’t think anybody would begrudge them that.

XCOM Enemy Unknown winning Best PC Game

XCOM was my personal pick for Best PC Game and Game of the Year, so I’m pretty happy that it picked this one up. I’m glad it’s gotten the recognition it deserves, even if it hasn’t quite managed the appropriate sales yet. Still, Take-Two’s happy, calling it a ‘commercial success’; and, if that means a sequel, so am I.

More after the break.

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A link to the past, courtesy L.A. Noire

Over on Eurogamer, Chris Donlan’s written a wonderful article about how the world of L.A. Noire took his father back down memory lane to 1940s Los Angeles, the town he grew up in. It’s a moving article, and it’s also a tip of the hat towards Team Bondi and the painstaking efforts they’ve taken to recreate the city as it was then. This is one of those moments when games transcend the medium they’re constructed as and become something so much more. Go check it out!

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-10-09-night-and-the-city

Behind the Scenes at Valve

I always found their bald-guy-logo rather disturbing

This is a bit of a departure from Friendly Fire’s usual fare, but I urge you to check out this blog post:

Valve: How I Got Here, What It’s Like, and What I’m Doing

It was written by Michael Abrash. I’m prepared to admit that that name didn’t mean anything to me when I started reading the article; and I’ll also admit that, when I was done, I was rather ashamed of myself.

Monsieur Abrash worked at id Software, where he and John Carmack double-handedly (technically, I suppose, that could be construed as quad-handage) programmed Quake. Then, Mike Harrington and Gabe Newell asked him on their way out of Microsoft if he wanted to be the third founder of this company they were putting together, tentatively titled ‘Valve’. He said ‘nah, not really’ and went back to walking on water or whatever he was doing; along the way, though, he managed to contribute to what would eventually become Half-Life. Eventually, he gave in to Valve’s persistent wooing and joined them sometime last year.This post talks about part of the journey that landed him at Valve, but mostly about Valve itself. It’s pretty fascinating to be given this peek behind the curtains of one of the biggest companies in the gaming industry.

Thanks for the opportunity, Mr. Abrash. I’d wish you all the best for your new career at Valve; but, based on the above paragraph, I don’t think you really need it.

PS : You had me at ‘Snow Crash’. Why, oh why haven’t more people read Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk masterpiece?

For The Good Of All Of Us – A Look At What Portal 2 Might Have Been

Speaking at GDC 2013, Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw – Valve’s head writers – discussed the brainstorming process that resulted in Portal 2. Specifically, they spoke about all the features that never made it into the final release. Given the success and adulation enjoyed by the original Portal, creating a worthy successor was never going to be an easy task. So it proved, as their long list of discarded ideas indicates. This is why I love the Game Developer’s Conference; we get to peek at a lot of stuff that might never have seen the light of day otherwise.

Given that this is effectively a post-mortem discussion, some important plot points are discussed. If you haven’t played Portal 2 yet, I find your lack of win disturbing.

Oh, and you should probably not read on.

Links after the break.

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