Is it really almost August?! Contemplate how the summer has nearly passed us by with Worth Reading, our regular roundup of the best games writing from the past week.
Hey, You Should Read This
I haven't played much Fallout Shelter, but anyone who's spent a significant amount of time with Bethesda's foray into mobile gaming seems to come away with the same feeling: I'm a terrible human! Some of these feelings are by design, as it's a game about becoming an overseer in the Fallout universe, and if playing 100 hours of Fallout 3 taught me anything, it was how consistently awful and manipulative overseers were.
The result of this is that my shelter soon became full of depressed pregnant women and the worst thing is that they still have to work all day, rather than stick their feet up and pick out colours for the nursery (also, there is no nursery; kids are born already able to walk and just stroll around your shelter watching you labour all day, the workshy little chump-nuggets). I've had some pretty traumatising game experiences in my time, but watching a gloomy pregnant woman moan to the guy that chucked his grotty beans up her while also maintaining essential, life-maintaining power for her co-habitants is definitely up there in terms of bleakness.
At one point, my underground bunker of doom started properly getting me down, and I felt actually embarrassed when a new lady would turn up outside the vault with a big smile on her face, unaware that within the hour I'd have her pregnant and purifying the water supply for a bunch of dismal fellow shelter dwellers.
There's a good chance Square Enix will return to the Chrono universe someday, even though I'd be happy if Chrono Trigger (and to a lesser extent, Chrono Cross) continued to stand on their own. But I'll never tire of reading about one of my favourite RPGs, from a time when it seemed as though Square could literally do no wrong. It's interesting to read about how the development climate has changed since the Chrono Trigger-era, too, especially how developers who couldn't code their own ideas seemed to be looked down upon:
Kato: As someone who recently joined Square, I've thought about that a lot myself. Basically all of the planners at Square have some software experience, and can code in C or Basic. If you aren't the kind of person who, at least to some extent, likes to get into the code and tinker with it yourself… let's just say if you try to join Square just as an "idea man", then you're going to have a very hard time here.
Higuchi: I don't know exactly how it is at other companies, but at Square it feels like you can't be a planner unless you can also handle data. Very few people are hired and go right into planning. Even if you have experience elsewhere, if you don't have any technical skills then it will initially be rough-going for you at Square. Those who don't study up will find themselves falling further and further behind, always doing lower-level work and never able to do anything more. Just as we don't hire programmers who don't know how to program, a certain level of technical ability is required to work here. How is it for the graphics side, I wonder?
Kamata: Yeah, we only hire people who are already talented to begin with.
Higuchi: Ah, I thought so.
Matsui: It's not easy, but even for me, if I can't reduce my ideas to actual data then I'm out of luck. Plus, I feel like the real work of game development isn't just coming up with ideas, it's translating those ideas into actual data. If you don't have those skills, then you're at the mercy of the programmers when they tell you something can't be done, and if another planner comes up to you asking how to do something, you won't be able to help. So you see, it's really those with ideas (planners) who are most hurt by not knowing anything about data and coding.
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Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Simon Parkin profiled a game about a family dealing with their son's terminal cancer.
- Andy Borkowski spoke with BioWare for a retrospective on Dragon Age 2.
- James Poulos reflected on what Minecraft has been teaching him about fatherhood.
- Ernie Smith investigated how Brazil showcases a world where Sega beat Nintendo.
- Warren Spector analysed what makes Telltale's games work (it's not the game part!).
- Sam Maggs tried to explain why BioWare games create such a passionate set of fans.
- Patrick Miller translated EVO 2015 into a set of eight design lessons for games.
- Shareef Jackson explored how hip hop can teach you — yes, you — how to code.
- Matt Gilgenbach explained why his game is trying to break the main character mould.