Silent Hills Post-Mortem: What We can Learn from P.T.

Features

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It’s been over a month since Silent Hills was cancelled. Following this announcement, its playable demo, P.T., was removed from the Playstation Store. Playstations with P.T. already installed were sold at a premium on Ebay, until the site took down all listings and gestured to their policies about selling software. Even Guillermo Del Toro mourned the loss of Silent Hills, remarking that Konami’s decision to can it was “a sort of scorched earth approach.”

This news had a tremendous impact on the gaming community. While most have let Silent Hills quietly fade into the stuff of legends, others have not gone so quietly into that good night. At the time of writing, a petition on change.org has gathered nearly 150,000 signatures, begging Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro to continue developing the game. The petition describes their first encounter with Silent Hills as “instant love” due to the overall quality of P.T.

Silent Hills may be fated to become the best survival horror game that never was, but that doesn’t mean that future entries in the genre can’t learn a thing (or two) from its teaser P.T. Below, I discuss some of the smartest elements of the fabled demo and how future survival horror titles can learn from it.

Minecraft is Yourcraft: New Livestream Series

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Like any good fable, this story has a lesson. Once upon a time, I created a new Minecraft world on the Xbox One. I spent hundreds of hours building and building, creating a spawn house, automatic farms, a functional lighthouse, and a railcart system. It took me three months to create this world…and only one productive play session to end it.

When it came time for my friends to see the world, we set out together in search of the end portal. Our quest revealed that the portal had generated into a wall, leaving it incomplete and useless. The moral of the story: don’t sink hundreds of hours into a world until you’ve checked it out. An alternate moral: just play Minecraft on PC.

Distraught and disheartened, I set Minecraft aside for months. Now, I’ve decided to start a new world and rebuild. And I want to share this journey with you.

Assassin’s Creed and the Trinity Syndrome

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Élise de la Serre is a big deal in Assassin’s Creed franchise history. Announced after controversy over the inclusion of women player-characters, her reveal was accompanied by a cinematic trailer and a post to the Ubiblog. Tucked within that post were two additional announcements: there would be a novelization told from her point of view. The franchise’s first woman figurine would be modeled after her, and it would be part of a pair—a diorama consisting of the “fiery Templar” and the “fearless Assassin.”

This is distinguished treatment for any side-character within the series, regardless of their gender or role. I allowed myself to get my hopes up. I hoped that Unity itself would treat the duo as the diorama did: as part of a whole. As two equals within a core narrative.

While these hopes weren’t  entirely misplaced, Élise’s story ultimately led me to noticing a pernicious and persistent narrative problem. Unfortunately, articulating this issue requires heavy spoilers for Unity and most of the other Assassin’s Creed games, so reader beware.

PAX East 2015 Meta-Coverage Post

Interviews, PAX, Recaps

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My first PAX is past. This means that I’m full-on in writing mode, attempting to do justice to the tons of games that I got my hands on. If I took anything away from my experience, it’s that PAX is a wonderfully unifying event. Developers, press, fans, and web personalities alike rub elbows to gleam over enthusiasms and collaborate on creative visions.

I was lucky enough to have this experience while on assignment for SideQuesting. Not only was it a chance for me to meet more of the SQ team in the flesh, but we were able to express our gratitude to our favorite games by handing out team choice awards at the event. Smiles abounded.

Rather than over-saturate social media with my coverage (or risk having people lose track of my tweets), I decided make this post a hub for all my articles. The links below consist of my writing for SideQuesting and for this blog, and it will be updated with each new publication.

Seeing is Believing with Virtual Reality

Features, PAX

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I’ve had a recurring dream ever since I saw Jurassic Park at an impressionable young age. I enter the dream with the innate knowledge that a T-Rex is coming. It’s stressful, prophetic knowledge: not only must I find a place to hide, but I also must warn others to do the same and overcome their (reasonable) skepticism. I have moments to accomplish these things before I hear the tell-tale thunderous footsteps. While the premise is far-fetched, the encounter is vivid: the sound of hot breath exhaled through reptilian nostrils, the widening and narrowing of pupils set in golden eyes as it looks for me. I am never found or attacked by the T-Rex, and yet it horrifies me every time.

At PAX East, I came face-to-face with this recurring dream in the most unexpected place.