Brakketology Plays Catch Up

Spore

Brakketology is back this week. After a full week spent moving to a new home I only got my PC hooked up for the first time last night. Consequently, I’m way, way out of the loop, so I’m just throwing out there a few things that have caught my eye the last couple days. Before that, though, some things I’ve learned from the move: Moving with two kids is, to use Brandon’s words, exponentially more difficult than moving just an adult or two. Cleaning up after the prior residents left the place a federal disaster zone is a wee bit frustrating. Having Comcast television service is way worse than having just their Internet. The bill is cheaper, but holy cats is the UI bad on their boxes. We’re talking Gameshark.com levels of design awfulness. Do these people not have anyone working on this stuff? Also, when loading and unloading a Uhaul, do not, do not, do not, walk into the trailer hitch. Ow.

In items that may or may not be more relevant to you, Soren Johnson penned a cool retrospective on Spore, there’s some new Kickstarter projects worth checking out, and you, Sony controller fans (both of you), will be able to use your maddening little gamepads on the PC.

The Spore That Could Have Been. And Wasn’t. Soren Johnson recently wrote up a fascinating retrospective about his time working on Spore. If you don’t know much about this massive attempt to simulate life from single-cell organisms all the way through to space-faring civilizations, it… well, it fell a bit short of the lofty expectations. As Soren notes in the post, it was a game that tried to be so many things that it only managed to do a few of them well, but sometimes it’s these kinds of games that are the most interesting to look back on. Here’s a small taste of it:

The Spore team was an incredible collection of talent. It’s an old chestnut that the key to a successful project is an exceptional team, but a team cannot be measured by adding up the qualities of each individual member. Instead, a team should be measured by its cohesion – how well the members are able to align their goals, priorities, and talents. Unfortunately, the Spore team was chronically fractured, divided into factions which had completely different priorities for the project. One well-known divide was the cute-vs-science debate; the ‘cute’ team wanted a playful, emotionally engaging experience while the ‘science’ team wanted an accurate representation of how the universe worked. I joined the team after a compromise was struck, which attempted to combine cute mechanics with a scientific theme.

Follow the link for more.

Rebuilding Rebuild. I wasn’t a mega-huge fan of the little zombie city-builder that could, Rebuild, but for about a week I dumped a (for me) pretty massive number of hours into it. That’s not bad for an inexpensive iOS game that you can currently land in the Apps Store for a buck. The main issue that kept me from playing it more was that once you completed carving out a safe zone for your zombie-ridden city, there was nothing to do but start over with the same characters in a new, not really at all different city. Not much range there. It looks like the new Kickstarter for Rebuild 3, from designer Sarah Northway, aims to rectify much of that, with more writing, more character traits, factions, events, and even a full campaign. Rebuild now has a track record and this being more of an evolutionary step it makes it a pretty safe bet, so check it out.

Going Retro. Jeff Green was one of the first video game writers that I started to look for by name when I’d pickup my monthly issue of Computer Gaming World (later, Games for Windows Magazine). He’s been whiling away the last few years working for EA and PopCap, but every now and then he manages to update his blog. This week he announced he’s part of the Kickstarter-driven Retro Magazine initiative, a digital and print magazine project that aims to bring a little of that old-school sense of discovery back to reading about games. There’s a lot of talent behind this project, which aims to release a new issue every other month, beginning this December. Since $12 gets you a year’s worth of digital issues, it’s also a low-risk proposition if you miss 90’s-style games journalism.

PS4 Controllers for the PC. They’ll work, but how fully-functional they’ll be isn’t yet known. This is cool news for the six people out there that actually prefer Sony’s controllers to Microsoft’s. (Yes, there’s many more than that, but I remain convinced that they’re nuts.)

*Originally published at NoHighScores.com, 10/8/2013
*Updated 2/23/2016 (minor text updates)

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Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor, with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and is a 20-year publishing veteran as an editor of books on consumer tech and professional development for educators. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd was a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets from 1997-2015. Follow him on Twitter @toddsfoolery.

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