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Kicked It: Perception

I was milling around a videogames conference two weeks ago (Kill Screen’s Two5Six, holla!), and a friend kept saying he “kicked that” whenever one or another game came up as a topic of conversation. It took me far too long to figure out that he meant he backed the project on Kickstarter—I kept thinking, is that the new hip word for “play” or “beat” these days?—but once I finally got it, I found it to be a delightful turn of phrase. Thus, like many old people, I’ve decided to awkwardly appropriate it. Welcome to the inaugural post of the ongoing “Kicked It” column!

Today I’m focusing on Perception, whose Kickstarter launched yesterday.

In the days leading up to conference, I got an email from Bill Gardner, formerly of Irrational and the Design Director of BioShock Infinite, among other things. He thought Perception would be a great fit for Videodame, and I wholeheartedly agree!

From the Perception press release:

Perception is a first person narrative horror adventure that puts players in the shoes of a blind woman who must use her extraordinary hearing and razor-sharp wits to solve mysteries and escape a deadly presence, all without sight. Crafted by a team of veteran PC and console developers (BioShock, BioShock Infinite, Dead Space), Perception offers a bold and fresh take on first person narrative games.

After months of research seeking the house from her nightmares, Cassie discovers an abandoned mansion in Gloucester MA, the Estate at Echo Bluff. Once there, Cassie finds that Echo Bluff is worse than she dreamed. A ghastly Presence has tormented its inhabitants over generations, and it now hunts Cassie. She must solve the estate’s mysteries or become one of its victims.

Tap Slow Mo

While Cassie doesn’t have an arsenal of weapons, she does have her wit, her cane and her smart phone. Armed with these tools, she’ll search for clues to unravel history as she navigates her way through the home via echolocation. But the house and its deadly Presence go to great lengths to prevent her from deciphering its secrets. And yet, they won’t let her leave either.

Surviving this deadly game of cat and mouse with the Presence proves especially perilous when your only way of seeing is by means of sound, and so you must carefully weigh the risk of making too much noise against the possibility of being discovered by the terrifying Presence. Once spotted, your only hope is to run, hide, and pray that it doesn’t find you. Cassie uses ambient sounds of the house as well, such as taking advantage of when the grandfather clock rings, or when a loud pipe whistles.  She can throw objects and use items like alarms to create “sound bombs” to distract her enemies.

Memories

Cassie uses her smartphone to examine evidence left behind. And as she puts the pieces together, she’ll find herself jumping back in time.

Perception takes place over many different eras. You get to see the house retreat back to its origins and witness how it evolved over time.  Through the decades and across generations, the house and its inhabitants change significantly. Architecture and décor evolve, entire wings and buildings come and go and alter your relationship with the space. Once you’ve discovered the source of evil in each generation, it’s your job to right the wrong.

A blind, female protagonist who’s particularly sensitive to sound? Shades of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem? ECHOLOCATION? Sign this former sound designer/videodame up! I’m also glad to see some ladies on the design team (see all the highly-credentialed people over at the Kickstarter page), including writer and producer Amanda Gardner. Desiree Fernandes’ (art) bio also resulted in some genuine lol’ing, since she says she probably won’t play Perception since “she loves horror games but is too easily scared to play them.” THE STRUGGLE IS REAL, DESIREE.

But don’t worry, everyone at freshman game development studio The Deep End Games, I’ll definitely play your game, no matter how atmospheric and scary it ends up being. I kicked it!

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Project BG&E:
Carlson and Peeters!

Dear Sara,

I need to thank you for bringing up and giving kudos for the extent of the presence of people of color in Beyond Good & Evil because you’re totally right and it pointed out to me a significant oversight in the way I’d taken in the game. I’m still very slightly disappointed at the way the second half of the game focuses on Homo sapiens rather than the various other sapiens the game has introduced and I’ve certainly spent time trying to figure out whether the portrayals of the Mamago rhinos and Secundo veer into the offensive, but—and that should probably be written in all-caps—BUT I somehow failed to catch the way that Beyond Good & Evil really seems to try to resist a default category of whiteness.

There is in fact in Beyond Good and Evil something of a push against the idea of a racial or ethnic “default” state against which race and ethnicity are defined through the presence of racial or ethnic markers. Arguably, Double H is the only unambiguously Caucasian character, and by hinting very strongly if very briefly that he’s a clone, the game may even make an implicit comment on the possibility of a “default,” non-racinated state.

But (embarrassingly,) none of this occurred to me until you pointed out how many people of color there were on Hillys. It’s a common “I’m not a racist” gesture for (white) people to claim that they don’t see race, and to not even see how that claim is self-damning. That is, not seeing race is really a conditional extension of an assumption of whiteness to individuals whose appearance and behavior doesn’t “insist” on racial coding.

Continue reading Project BG&E:
Carlson and Peeters!

Geek Flea 9

unwinnable geek flea 9

Calling all NY/NJ Videodamen und herren, Unwinnable’s Geek Flea is back! Click the image to get all the deets, but here are the basics (taken from the Unwinnable website):

Geek Flea 9 is coming! Come on down Saturday, April 18—buy some awesome stuff, eat some cookies and get into swing of spring with the coolest geeks in North Jersey. As ever, Geek Flea is FREE admission, so come hang out!

What’s a Geek Flea without the raffles? 80 Tees is providing a selection of geek-themed t-shirts and hoodies and more surprises from our other sponsors—including something special from our Geek Flea vendors.

RSVP on our Facebook Event Page!

Featuring tunes spun all day by Kursse, DJ Victrola, Brain Molloy, Chris O>Matic, Ant Menuti and Freddie Hernandez!

Sponsored by 80s TeesLoop Lounge, Paradox Comics, Iris Records,Barcade Jersey City, Silk City Tattoo, The Grassy NoelBig Kev’s Geek StuffComic Explosion, Hoarder Art, Jenna Zee, Chucky Farms, Idle Hands

April 18 – 10am to 5pm
First Presbyterian Church of Arlington
663 Kearny Avenue, Kearny, NJ 07032-2935

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Project BG&E:
Of Human Bondage

Dear Sara,

Okay, so I’ve made it through the Slaughterhouse, which, happily, involved surprisingly little slaughter. Well, as long as you don’t include me. I died a bunch.

I can’t totally put the blame for this on the game—I mean, dying is a thing that happens in videogames. No big, right?—but I nearly got stuck a couple of times. In one place all of these blue bouncy manta rays pop out, and I tried fighting and running and climbing but nothing worked. When I tried killing the rays, they seemed to respawn indefinitely. When I ran away, Double H stayed put and got killed, which served as a game over just as if Jade had died. When I tried to climb to safety, I got shocked by a gate and thrown back down onto the main floor, where the rays killed me.

Finally, and seemingly randomly, Double H and I fought the rays and suddenly the soundtrack played a triumph flourish and Double H was praising me for my teamwork. Chances are better that I finally somehow fought the way I was supposed to rather than that the game was glitching into a loop in earlier attempts, but that’s what it felt like.

That’s a weird sort of failure—succeeding in an unsatisfactory way, and in the case of Beyond Good & Evil it might be traceable to the fact that the game includes a number of different interaction mechanics—stealth, fighting, taking photographs, basic puzzles—but doesn’t really emphasize any of them. This is, I think, meant as an early gesture toward games like Dishonored or The Last of Us that allow players to pick between different styles of play and provide multiple possible paths to specific goalpoints.

When it works, it’s liberating, but it doesn’t work when it prevents the game from communicating its own specific expectations to the player.

Continue reading Project BG&E:
Of Human Bondage