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February 2009

Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 20

Manatmic This episode is big on story and small on spoilers! Downloadable content as betrayal; the virtues of peace, love, and green lipstick; the reviewer as critic; and why one player's narrative may be another player's imposition...all in this episode of the Brainy Gamer Podcast!

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Link love GO, podcast NO

Nippon I'm working on a podcast that should have gone out today but didn't because 1) it's my wife's birthday; 2) I didn't get my act together in time to finish recording; and 3) it's my wife's birthday. Priorities, folks, priorities. Today also happens to be my mother's birthday, which makes remembering twice as easy and forgetting twice as ugly.

If you're drama-lit savvy, you may be thinking of a clever Oedipus quip about my wife's and mother's birthdays falling on the same day. Save it. I've heard it. I work in the theater. ;-)

Anyway, look for Episode 20 of the podcast later this week. In the meantime I've been collecting some terrific 'net nuggets to pass along, and this looks like the perfect moment. So, while I may come to you podcast empty-handed, I can at least offer a few excellent places to visit while you wait.

  • Mike Leader pens a wonderful blog called Wild Tyme where he writes elegantly about "Film, Music, Literature and all the finer things in life." In a recent post he discusses the pastoral values of Ōkami and its embrace of nature as expressed through its Shinto-inspired values. It's a lovely essay and only the first of a promised series on the game.

  • Ruben & Lullaby is a just-released iPhone game that tries to deliver three things many of us are looking for: 1) a game that addresses adult human relationships; 2) a game that infuses mechanics with narrative meaning; 3) a game that convincingly depicts human emotion. Plus, believe it or not, the game also functions as a musical instrument. Ruben & Lullaby is more than proof of concept and less than fully realized game; nevertheless, what designer Erik Loyer has managed to create here is terribly impressive, both for what it achieves and what it portends.

  • Roberta Williams' classic King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown received a loving fan-made remake a few years ago courtesy of AGD Interactive, a group of highly-committed fans devoted to the Sierra adventure games. Version 4.0 appeared this month, with an impressive graphical overhaul to the backgrounds and additional voice acting similar to those heard in CD-ROM versions of other King's Quest games. If you've never played this landmark game, you owe it to yourself to download the fabulous (and free) version that's faithful to the original, but playable on modern systems and more beautiful than ever.

  • Sparky Clarkson's Critical Thinking Compilation may be the most useful compendium of thoughtful writing about games on the 'net. He gathers analytical essays devoted to specific games and constructs a concise summary of ideas laid out in an easy to read format. His first compilation was devoted to Fallout 3; and his most recent focuses on the new Prince of Persia. I'm delighted to be included among the many fine writers you'll find in these compilations, and I'm grateful to Sparky for building something genuinely useful for all of us.

  • Finally, if arranging items in your Resident Evil 4 inventory ever reminded you of a certain other classic game...well, you're not alone. Check out what the Quixotic Engineer's Matthew Gallant cooked up today.

Happy gaming!