Retrospective: Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley opens with a scene, in which you grandfather, on his death bed, hands you a sealed envelope which he instructs you to open, only when you've become exhausted with modern life. Very abruptly, the scene transitions to a dirty, factory-like office facility where hundreds of workers, including the player, toil away in cramped cubical, watched by security cameras. The player character opens their desk and pulls out the letter their grandfather gave them and realizes their grandfather left them his farm in Stardew Valley, in the hopes that your character would try and reconnect with what is important in life. Stardew Valley deals with this of this idea of freedom and what is important throughout the game and ends up being both, enormously fun and a meaningful critique of Western values.

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Golf Story Does Some Pretty Cool Things with Text

Golf Story, an indie, released on the Switch last week, is reminiscent of old Gameboy Advanced games. It has beautiful 32-bit artwork which is animated with a smoothness that makes proper use of the modern hardware. You play as a young man with a technically obtuse, but extremely effective, golf swing who wants to be a professional golf player. The game’s narrative arc follows the boy as he convinces the folks around him that, despite his odd swing, he can play a good game of golf.  While the story isn’t groundbreaking, the overall premise is serviceable and the writing is pretty good. But, the way that the dialogue is presented makes Golf Story give some of the most charming storytelling I’ve experienced this year...

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We Need More Tenderness in Shooters

Shooters, unsurprisingly, are traditionally set up around the idea of shooting things. The ability to aim, dodge bullets, and ultimately, kill enemies without being killed are the skills that these games value above all else and in online situations, those who cannot do those things need not apply. For games like Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefront, and others, if you aren't good, you're bad, and if you're bad, you were subject to horrible verbal harassment. Neither the game nor the community could show the weakest newest players any sense of understanding or tenderness. Not only did they lack the encouragement to do so, they also lacked the tools.

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My Misfortune Allowed me to Give Miitopia a Chance

I think it is pure circumstance that allows me to love Miitopia. Like many writers and gamers and combination writer gamers, I have a lot of wrist issues. In the last few days, those issues have gotten to in new low. It is to the point where any amount of computer work causes my right arm quite a bit of pain. As it turns out, this was actually quite a good time for me to pick up Miitopia for reasons that I didn’t expect. You see, Miitopia was advertised and reviewed as though it were a creative take on the RPG formula but, it actually feels a lot like a top-tier idle game.

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People of Color as Unicorns: Yet Another Look at the Game Industry's Race Issue

Even in a climate within the gaming industry which is becoming more and more accustomed to including people of color, when it comes to player characters, game developers seem to be resistant to including people of color within the narrative of their game worlds. This includes when players are allowed to play as a person of color but then, no NPCs of color appear in-game, as well as when games exclude racial customization for the player character and no NPCs of color appear in-game. With both of these phenomena come harmful messages about how people of color fit into the world and the medium of video games.

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We Need More Games That Take Splatoon's Approach to Identity

Splatoon 2 is a game which takes normative video game tropes and turns them on their head. It takes the shooter genre and exposes it to a diverse and vibrant color pallet, and replaces guns and bullets with an assortment of tools and super soakers doused in ink. Splatoon knows how to prioritize fun in a way that maybe the AAA industry has forgotten somewhat. It remembers that at the heart of video games, the point is to have fun. But, that doesn't mean that Splatoon is vapid, in fact, Splatoon thinks about certain things in ways that perhaps more games should, and, arguably, at the top of the list is how Splatoon approaches identity.

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I'm not Totally Sure if Yonder is Fun But I Feel Like I Like it

With Yonder, Prideful Sloth games, endeavored to create something which took things from each of those, amazing, aforementioned games and create something great. From Stardew Valley, there's farming, from Fable, there's Peter Molyneux's idea of a dynamic world (far better executed), and Windwaker's snappy visuals, with the twist of being in a low-pressure world where things like, leveling, combat, and the ability to die are missing. All of this sounds good but, after hours of trying to settle into Yonder, I don't know if I've enjoyed my time with it.

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A Look at How Games Handle Building relationships

One of the primary tasks of a good game developer is to simplify real life into intuitive and accessible game mechanics. Think about shooting a gun in real life, vs shooting a gun in a game. The process by which you must prepare a gun for use, load the gun, and fire is reduced to one or two controller inputs. One of the main requirements of a game is that it somehow makes the simulated experience relatively easy to access.

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The Elevated Gaming Experience: Dystopic and Utopic Worlds

A core piece of what makes video games appealing is their ability to simulate a believable (different than realistic) experience that is somehow elevated from real life. This can be done in a number of ways relying mainly on the framework of either a utopian or dystopian game world. Or more simplistically, worlds where you can get a game over or worlds where you cannot.

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