This is one of those posts that gets half written, forgotten about, and will now be written through stubbornness.

I was extremely lucky to get a free ticket for Explay 2012 which was going spare at Aardman Digital.

Explay (short for extended play) is a games conference that, I believe, happens somewhere in the South West of the UK every year. This year the venue was the assembly rooms in Bath. This made the JS Joust tournaments all the more fitting, playing this game to Bach beneath trembling chandeliers is perfect.

There were some properly engaging talks on a range of things. From narrative in games, where a a panel mostly disagreed for 30 minutes. Still one of those subjects where just as you think you're starting to get a grasp for things three different notions are suggested that undermine your basic understanding.

Turns out the japanese games industry isn't in decline, its just migrated. It was always more handheld focused but the panel experts suggested its now almost entirely that.

A great talk was given about games just like JS Joust which involve playing games locally, together, in public spaces. Thoughts on the aspects of performance and participation were pretty interesting and there was something very healthy and community about it. Reminded me that while a loving relationship with my screen can be surprisingly fulfilling, it'd be nice to do that with a bunch of strangers face to face too. At the time I thought "wait a minute, boardgames have been doing this for ages" but its more than that, more physical, more spectacle, hence the public spaces part. Its also why they're always such a success at these kinds of events, places where people are open to play, and playing together.
Me and Roy at the conference
It was great. So thanks for facilitating that, and thanks to Dan for awesome conversation and company on the ride there.

My contract with Aardman is up, for now. Im going to be writing a blog post about each of the 5 games we worked on as part of Championsheeps but I won't be able to post them until the game's release in March! So I'll be working on those, and you'll just have to sit tight.

Pixel Propaganda

Videogame journalism can be little more that an extension of publisher's press releases often. Heres a great critique on the worst of these practices and the controversy that it sparked.

I was talking about some people who didn't share my problems with Call of Duty just last night. Heres another article that just makes me hate the damn thing that little but more. It makes some quite scary points.

Accomplished stealth game Dishonoured had two creative leads. Here is a great biographical piece on the paths through the industry before converging and finally getting the recognition they deserved.

A fantastic 10 point guide to lighting and look dev. Essential stuff.

One of the more beautiful looks at Journey and specifically designer Robin Hunicke as she plays through the game she worked on in front of an audience.

This piece is very very astute in its observation on critical game writing, some parts I can laugh at, other parts are worryingly close to home.

Continuing with the Call of Duty hate propaganda, this one felt particularly good: very very funny.