The release (and reaction to) Bioware’s Mass Effect 3 gave me an occasion to talk about game endings and the sorts of narrative cop-outs that arise from them. Now, Mass Effect 3 has had an “extended cut” of its endings, and I’m going to take that as a cue to do an extended cut of talking about narrative choices.
In short, of all of the choices presented in an interactive narrative, the final choice is almost always going to be the weakest choice.
I’ve already spoken well of The Witcher, but without going into much in the way of detail. It’s time to remedy that.
The world of The Witcher, created by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, has been widely translated into numerous languages and adapted, into film, television, graphic novels, and a video game. It’s the video game that concerns us here.
After what seems like a significant fraction of forever 2007 video game, Mass Effect has finally got an update which allows it to run on nvidia/geforce systems without requiring an increasingly archaic and unsupported version of the video drivers to prevent the game from crashing (or from crashing your whole system).
I’ve got a bit of a history with Ghostbusters, the film by Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray.
I was working in film marketing and PR at the time, wrestling a startup towards commercial viability. The cinema-release was staggered across some months, in various Australian locations, and I must have sat down and seen the film, in the cinemas, at least 60 or 70 times as a result.
The 1980s were a pretty good era for films that didn’t take themselves too seriously, and the film resonated rather strongly with audiences of the time. Off a 30 million dollar budget in 1984, the film raked in an easy 290 million dollars in cinemas, and another 132 million in rentals, never mind network syndication later on, DVD sales and all of that. The second film, Ghostbusters II, while considered by some to be something of a disappointment, still managed to do almost as well.
After more than 20 years, there’s talk of a third film – a changing-of-the-guard piece, with strong hopes of landing Eliza Dushku (Buffy/Angel/Dollhouse/etc) in a major role – but in the meantime, Aykroyd and Ramis have put together a new part to the story, in the form of a video game, developed in conjunction with Terminal Reality.
Digital downloads are certainly a big thing at the moment. There’s Valve’s Steam, there’s Stardock’s Impulse, there’s Gametap (“Yours if you can ever get it to work” – Judge Dredd), there’s gog.com and more.
These are generally good things, however I’m going to pick on Steam for a few minutes. Actually, not quite on Steam itself, but on a couple publishers using it, who need a bit of a spanking.