Save The Endless Forest

Endless Forest Skull DeerAlong with Façade and Shadow of the Colossus, Tale of Tales’ ‘massively multiplayer screensaver’ The Endless Forest was one of the key games that made 2005 such a banner year for artgames. It went on to inspire Jenova Chen’s team in the design of Journey, and remains one of the most innovative designs ever offered in games.

Now Michael and Auriea want to bring back their “whimsical online magical deer fantasy” – and they need our help to do it! Please consider donating to the IndieGoGo fund for The Endless Forest: Second Decade. The original game was a milestone in the artistic history of games, as well as one of the most fascinating and engaging aesthetic experiences ever to be offered on a computer.

There are just a few days left to contribute. Please help the forest live again!


Pokémon GO Round-up

Before you ask, I’m not playing Pokémon GO, nor do I plan too. I’m a father, a writer, and a business owner – I don’t have time to play an MMO. But it’s interesting to me, since this is another example of a game where the fictional content is far and away the critical factor in its success. My old MUD crowd played Niantic’s previous game, Ingress, and had a lot of fun with it – but anyone who has ever enjoyed any aspect of Pokémon is playing GO, and that’s not just the power of branding – it’s the power of fictional worlds.

I've shared the best articles so far about Pokémon GO over on ihobo.


Buying a Kingdom

Over on ihobo this morning, my thoughts on Activision-Blizzard’s acquisition of King. Here’s an extract:

There has been much chatter in the corner of the internet comparing Disney’s $4.05 billion purchase of Lucasfilm to Activision-Blizzard’s $5.9 billion deal for Candy Crush’s King Digital Entertainment. A lot of this has been surprise or disappointment that the viral game company is worth more than the Star Wars franchise. This gets right which intellectual property motivated the acquisitions. It gets wrong the way that market value operates.

I mostly posted this so I could say I posted every day this week, and feel good about my blogging for once! But it makes an interesting point about the disconnect between personal economics and corporate finance. You can read the whole of Buying a Kingdom over on ihobo.com.


International Hobo Double Bill at Brazil's SBGames

SBGames-logo-2015Two of the keynote speakers at this year’s SBGames conference in Teresina, Brazil, are International Hobo’s own Ernest Adams and Chris Bateman. Ernest, who was part of the award-winning games consultancy for more than a decade, received his doctorate in 2013 at the same time Chris was earning his as a PhD by Publication. Both have worked on numerous commercial videogames, as well as having published extensively on games in academic publications and elsewhere. The event in Brazil marks the first time that Chris and Ernest have been on the same speaking bill since their joint presentation at GDC Europe in 2004. They both look forward to meeting the delegates at SBGames this November!

Cross-posted from ihobo.com.


Forty Hours

Over on ihobo today, a piece discussing the changing face of videogame length. Here’s an extract:

Nowadays, the forty hour model seems in decline – but it has not primarily been replaced with shorter play experiences. On the contrary, every major commercial game now attempts to ‘capture’ its audience for at least 200 hours, with multiplayer modes being the core method of retention. The forty hour model was a consequence of selling games-as-products, as boxed content that would be played then thrown onto a pile of completed games (although it turns out that the minority of players finish games). The 200 hour model is a consequence of selling games-as-services, with monetization now an on-going process throughout the time the players are engaged with the title in question.

You can read the entirety of Forty Hours over on ihobo.com.


Open Letter to Official Charts Company

This is a copy of the email I just sent to the Official Charts Company, whose contact details can be found here. Cross-posted from ihobo.com.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture OST Dear Chris and Lucy at the Official Charts Company,

It has come to my attention that Jessica Curry's classical score to the digital game "Everybody's Gone to the Rapture" has been removed from the UK Classical Artist Album Charts, after having previously been an excellent performer in this category. Right now, thousands of enraged videogame fans are boiling with fury on the internet about this, and the knee jerk reaction has been that she has been removed because her soundtrack appears in a digital game.

If this allegation were true, it would be a tremendous act of disrespect to both musicians as a whole, and to games as an artistic medium.

I am hopeful this is not the case, but I urgently request a clarification as to the reason for the declassification of this album from your charts. Examining your Eligibility Rules suggests that, since Jessica has clearly composed in a classical form (rules 3 and 6) and is capable of live performance (rule 5), it should qualify.

However, I am uncertain of the intended meaning of rule 9, which states "Original soundtracks and scores performed in a classical style, by either a single artist or various artists, will not be eligible for the Classical Artist Album Chart." Nonetheless, since "The Complete Harry Potter Film Music" appears at Number 29 in your chart, it would seem that there is no prima facie reason that Jessica's soundtrack should not qualify.

I would be grateful for a swift clarification on this matter.

I have worked for many years to secure the case for games qualifying as artworks, a situation that has now become unimpeachable in terms of the philosophical arguments. We still, however, face tremendous prejudice from the media establishment. I hope and trust that the Official Charts Company is not part of the ongoing bigotry against games as an artistic medium.

Your sincerely,

Dr. Chris Bateman

 

Their reply:

Hi Chris 
 
I am out of the office so apologies for the brevity of my response 
 
Both the Jessica Curry release and the Harry Potter album you refer to appeared in the Classical Artist Album Chart in error. As you rightly note, soundtracks are not eligible for this particular chart, and we treat movie and game soundtracks in the same way. 
 
The Classic FM Chart is compiled by ‎the Official Charts Company and includes Classical Artist Albums, Compilation Albums and Soundtracks. Everybody's Gone To Rapture OST appears in this chart at #7 I believe, so we completely agree that this is a classical body of work and included it as such
 
We produce the Official Soundtrack Chart each week and both of these albums are of course eligible for this chart also
 
‎Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions, or would like any further detail
 
Many thanks
Chris