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Hookshot Inc. » Hookshot Inc. | Hookshot Inc. http://www.hookshotinc.com Writing about the games that arrive via SPACE. Thu, 15 Aug 2013 12:35:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Copyright © Hookshot Inc. 2012 gozaimas@btinternet.com (Hookshot Inc.) gozaimas@btinternet.com (Hookshot Inc.) 1440 http://www.hookshotinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/hookshot-inc.png Hookshot Inc. http://www.hookshotinc.com 144 144 The Hookshot Inc. podcast on downloadable video games featuring Christian Donlan, Simon Parkin, Keith Stuart and Will Porter. Each episode the team from downloadable video games website Hookshot Inc. discuss a different issue or theme around the games industry, bringing their unique insight to the table. videogames, video, games, ios, mobile, games, game, design Hookshot Inc. Hookshot Inc. gozaimas@btinternet.com no no How to write about games: a list feature http://www.hookshotinc.com/how-to-write-about-games-a-list-feature/ http://www.hookshotinc.com/how-to-write-about-games-a-list-feature/#comments Wed, 14 Aug 2013 16:37:24 +0000 http://www.hookshotinc.com/?p=6747
A while ago I was asked to stand in front of a group of people to articulately juggle moans about the current state of games journalism, advice on how to break into the career and some choice incandescent screams of ‘The sky is falling. The sky is falling’. It went okay, more or less.

This is what led, five or six pages back on my gmail, to various half-answered emails from people who wanted deeper, darker secrets on how to clamber up, repeatedly tap ‘A’ and steal the bread from my mouth.

This isn’t the article I claimed I’d write in response. In fact, I got a bit bored and depressed while I was tapping it out. I’ll hijack the Hookshot hiatus to publish that another day. No, this is the stuff I actually want to tell people – rather than puff a little air into my cheeks, show fear in my eyes and tentatively ask how you rate your SEO skills.

I’ve been dragging people out of their conversational comfort zone with the bold proclamation that I write about games for a living for the best part of ten years. From barbeques to weddings: no-one is safe. I have a little black book full of nephews who’d love my job.

Increasingly though, I’m working on the other side of the fence. So I thought I’d spend the afternoon mind-blasting you with what I’ve learned since I started making the tea in the PC Zone offices in 2003.

Imagine me as some sort of latter-day Moses: coming back down from Mt Sinai with a batch of freshly carved writing commandments, only to discover the internet worshipping a golden bull with TotalBiscuit’s face.

This isn’t the stuff that’s going to get you ahead in the stormy seas of games, it won’t get you a job and it certainly won’t stop strangers telling you that you’re shit all the time.

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a list feature
A while ago I was asked to stand in front of a group of people to articulately juggle moans about the current state of games journalism, advice on how to break into the career and some choice incandescent screams of ‘The sky is falling. The sky is falling’. It went okay, more or less.

This is what led, five or six pages back on my gmail, to various half-answered emails from people who wanted deeper, darker secrets on how to clamber up, repeatedly tap ‘A’ and steal the bread from my mouth.

This isn’t the article I claimed I’d write in response. In fact, I got a bit bored and depressed while I was tapping it out. I’ll hijack the Hookshot hiatus to publish that another day. No, this is the stuff I actually want to tell people – rather than puff a little air into my cheeks, show fear in my eyes and tentatively ask how you rate your SEO skills.

I’ve been dragging people out of their conversational comfort zone with the bold proclamation that I write about games for a living for the best part of ten years. From barbeques to weddings: no-one is safe. I have a little black book full of nephews who’d love my job.

Increasingly though, I’m working on the other side of the fence. So I thought I’d spend the afternoon mind-blasting you with what I’ve learned since I started making the tea in the PC Zone offices in 2003.

Imagine me as some sort of latter-day Moses: coming back down from Mt Sinai with a batch of freshly carved writing commandments, only to discover the internet worshipping a golden bull with TotalBiscuit’s face.

This isn’t the stuff that’s going to get you ahead in the stormy seas of games, it won’t get you a job and it certainly won’t stop strangers telling you that you’re shit all the time. It’ll make me feel better to get it all out there though. That’s the important thing.

ITEM #1: Like games

Perhaps it’s a natural infection that’s been caught from the sourpuss comment threads that lie beneath articles. Perhaps it’s because it’s fun to moan. Perhaps because it gets attention. I don’t know when, or why, the neutral gear for games commentary became passive aggression – but it really isn’t very becoming.

The reason you’re doing what you do is, hopefully, because you love games and the way they make you feel. They’re a formative part of your youth and development, and it’s starting to look like they’ll be a cornerstone of your entire existence. So stop griping.

Stop telling everyone that the world of games is so irredeemably awful, when the reason you’re involved is that games make you feel like the world is a better place.

The response to a bad game or a wonky gameplay system isn’t necessarily anger and the stamping of tiny feet. Have fun, make snippy comparisons, talk about a moment of unparalleled anguish when a bug corrupted your save… do it all in a way that entertains.

Some people, and a lot of middling YouTubers, get a lot of attention for the outrage they put on – but it’s skin deep. It won’t last forever for you as a critic. Being permanently cross will lock you into self-caricature, stunt your development and make usually pleasant people (like me) think you’re a prick.

There is, of course, a time for anger. When a games publisher promises the world but only delivers Uruguay both you and the reader have every right to see red. You can get pissed off whenever you like (and you only have to look at a writer like John Walker of RPS to see that done eloquently and passionately) but don’t let this approach cloud your every article. You’ll swiftly become a one note writer, and not a good one like… say… top C.

ITEM #2: Be shit at games

Being shit at games, or claiming that you’re shit at games, is the gateway to exceptional games writing. On a broad level folks appreciate honesty. They don’t like blowhards who proudly affix their ‘hardcore gamer’ name-tag and bang on about how they ‘beat this’ and ‘aced that’. Well, quaint British folks like me don’t like it anyway.

On the level of what you’re writing, describing your personal failings is the perfect way to explain what a game is and what a game does. It allows you to accurately describe the way it feels to play, it puts you on a level playing field with the reader and (most importantly) it lets you describe complex gameplay systems in an engaging and amusing way.

The reality of people playing games is that they fail: they die, they fall off cliffs and they forget which button does the stabbing. Replicating this experience in your writing lets you have your cake and eat it: you get to write about new gameplay features X and Y in great detail, but you can also inject your own personality and experience and make it clear that you haven’t spent five minutes coughing up a half-digested press release.

Item #3 Realise that your first line writes everything else

The first line is your through line. I regularly spend the best part of thirty minutes staring at an opener growing, shrinking, undoing and redoing – and that’s not including the attributed coffee breaks, toilet breaks and bouts of wild self-denigration.

The hook isn’t just an in-game event that struck you, a disassociated shouty rant about bugs or a ‘What I done on my holidays at E3′ preamble – it’s a thirty word précis of the content and (most importantly) tone of what’s to follow.

You need to let the reader know they’re in safe hands, and give them a rush of endorphins that’ll keep them reading long into the piece – at which point gravity will hopefully lead them back out the other end. Punchier is always better, and attachment to the actual gaming content is negotiable.

So let’s watch two (NO! three!) masters at work with even less than the opening paragraph.

Exhibit A: Christian Donlan’s ‘Night and the City’

Opening line: “Today, I’m going to tell you about the time my grandfather shot a man in the ass.”

Exhibit B: Simon Parkin’s ‘The Rise and Collapse of Yoshinori Ono’

Opening line: “Rumours of Yoshinori Ono’s death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Exhibit C: John Walker’s ‘Wot I think: Saints Row IV’

Opening line: “I think I can sell Saints Row IV to you in one anecdote:”

Straight in, straight out. Verbal luges that not only drag the reader deep in, but more importantly act as directional and tonal indicators for the writer as they trot out everything that follows.

If you nail your first paragraph then you don’t have to worry about what you’ll be saying at the end – and everything in-between. It’ll just flow because you’ve spent valuable time building a stable foundation amidst all the usual flurry of smoking/wanking/worrying.

ITEM 4: Mix things up

It’s your job to play a game and accurately convey the enjoyment and emotion you experienced while you were there – all the while smuggling in information on how many guns there are, and whether the graphics are good. These are not (and if I were a twat then ‘not’ would be in bold) the choice destinations for separate paragraphs.

The very worst crime when people are writing about games is to have a structure that reads like a shopping list. Parading game features and giving each one an ‘Excellent!’ or ‘Good if you like that sort of thing!’ out of ten does the job – you can feel happy at a good day of work, take your the money and quite possibly apply for a job at a major US outlet that has three letters in its name, and ends in ‘N’.

You won’t, however, be any friend of mine – because you haven’t tried hard enough. A good writer supplies those essentials via stealth, and leaves the central paragraphs open for original thinking and interpretative dance.

ITEM #5: Be the right sort of travel journalist

I rolled my eyes and muttered at the time, more fool me, but the single best lines ever drunkenly dashed out on the subject of games writing were in Kieron Gillen’s New Games Journalism manifesto. It’s a piece that still rings true, even if its target has undergone seismic shift since it was written. And even though it now sits in the nostalgia department of my brain next to boxes containing The Real Ghostbusters and Pink Sunshine by Fuzzbox.

Bedecked in black and with hand firmly on chin, Kieron wrote that we’re “Travel Journalists to Imaginary places”. Our role? To “go to a place, report on its cultures, foibles, distractions and bring it back to entertain your readers”.

Bang on, wasn’t he?

So what sort of travel writer are you? Perhaps you’re the Daily Mail employee who’s been given a free holiday to the Maldives and has three hundred words to sprinkle superlatives into – fully aware that there are ads deals working in the background, and that mentioning the smell of sewage will rock the boat.

Perhaps you write for Lonely Planet – lining up hints and tips so people can best enjoy their imaginary travels. You could be a version of TV’s Simon Reed, serving up bite-sized chunks of a pixilated culture that give your audience a good idea of what to expect – should they ever choose to visit.

Maybe you’re a beat poet On The Road, reporting on your virtual road-trip in a fast-paced (and vastly over-rated) haze. Maybe you’re a foreign correspondent reporting from the mire of a gaming scandal. Maybe you’re a flustered Michael Palin attempting to buy a ticket to Orgrimmar from a grumpy Tauren.

Personally, my writing hero is Bill Bryson (Notes from a Small Country et al) so I endeavour to put myself in that slot: reliable if confused, broadly amusing, trustworthy and with an eye for the eccentric. You can all tell me I’ll never be anywhere near as good as him in the comments.

ITEM 6: Controlled flights over people’s heads are acceptable

I didn’t get to where I am today by avoiding oblique references.

When I write I tend to bind in references to the things I care about (‘Allo ‘Allo, usually) but in ways that casual readers (or even my editors) would rarely notice. If 95% of people don’t notice and 5% of like-minded people become part of your happy little gang – then according to Maths you’ve still got a 100% rating of people who haven’t been alienated. Hell, 5% even like you a bit more!

Also related to this item are references to high art, philosophy and famous historical thinkers that you might want to jam into a write up of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. You’ve finally got an outlet for the mental fruit borne by your bullshit middle class humanities degree – so use it.

Well, okay. Maybe not. Maybe that’ll make the world and its wearied wife think you’re a tosspot.

But if it fits – if what you’re implying makes sense, and isn’t being plucked from your bum simply to impress – why withhold it? My friend Prezzer once said to me, upon submission of a slightly wanky analogy, “Fuck it. If they don’t understand it, they can look it up.” and so, with me, they’ve been looking it up ever since.

Trumpton awareness has raised at least 4% in PC gaming circles over the past decade, and all by my hand.

ITEM 7: Read what Tom Francis had to say on this same subject

You can find it here. Tom’s the best of the best, and if you’ve made it this far through my rambling thoughts then his write-up will likely blow your mind.

ITEM 8: Find a way to grow extra skin somehow.

When I started out in games writing and got something wrong then it’d take a month after submitting a piece for any backlash to begin – and perhaps a month and a half for letters (yes, real letters written with a pen and everything) to start arriving at PC Zone towers to politely inquire as to my credentials and breeding. To the writer’s mind, het up by deadlines two issues down the line, these missives might as well have been fired from a cannon on the moon.

Now, online, feedback is instantaneous. The first barrage of praise or incredulity will come within minutes. Writers have to know their shit, or they’ll be called out. Words like bias, flamebait and incompetence start getting thrown around. Wild accusations and conspiracies are often formed from what began as human error.

Gaming has long since grown beyond adolescence, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t left a lot of its own-brand of fury in its wake.

Reader feedback is, in many ways, wonderful. It pulls writers down from pedestals and/or ivory towers, and it democratises a whole medium. Every voice is heard, and charlatans are uprooted. A culture of reader-fear has, arguably, been fostered – but ultimately people raise their game, and those much-suspected dirty deals are (by my reckoning) far less likely to occur today than they were five years ago.

The problem is that all this is incredibly unhealthy for writers with… what you might call an ‘amiably complex psychological disposition’. I’m one of these people (it’s hugely common in my field – and indeed any creative arena) and I couldn’t even count how many of my working days have been ruined by an angry person venting steam beneath a piece I’ve written. The black dog starts barking, and your creative mojo runs away.

Sure, the trolls are generally a minority – but when your mind has been built to concentrate on negativity rather than happy, happy, joy, joy (and you work at home, on your own) then comments threads are a mental plague pit.

As a writer – what can you do about this? Well, you can start making your review scores more conservative for a start. Oh, and you can definitely avoid rocking boats that contain angry devotees of certain platforms, genres and franchises. Oh, and how about excising all humour for fear of miscomprehension from angry dullards you’ll never meet?

OMG HANG ON GUYS OUR COLLECTIVE INSECURITY JUST BROKE GAMES WRITING.

So basically: say what you want to say, and suck it up. There’s no wrong opinions, only a lot of people who think you should be fired for having a right one.

(I’m not very good at sucking things up though, which I guess is why I’ve drifted away from the frontline in recent years. I do a lot more work in games development these days, where no-one ever calls you a cunt – right?)

If you do get a conscientious objector to your work, if you’re on a site built for older and more balanced sorts like Eurogamer or RPS, then I’ve also found that direct contact away from the comments thread always makes me feel better. (This is a tip I learned from Jamie Sefton, a former editor.)

On four or five occasions I’ve PMed or emailed people who’ve had a pop, explaining a point in more detail or perhaps apologising and saying I’ll do better next time. EVERY time I got a civil and apologetic response from the angry poster. On a one to one basis, removed from the social jostling of the voices in a comments thread, people are actually quite nice.

ITEM #9 – Probably going to finish this up now

ITEM #10 – List features should always go up to ten

Sorry if I sounded like a twat with any of the above. Love you!

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Hookshot Podcast #9: LAUGH http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-podcast-9-laugh/ http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-podcast-9-laugh/#comments Tue, 05 Mar 2013 12:30:17 +0000 http://www.hookshotinc.com/?p=6736 ]]> podcast header9

Could it be that the Hookshot Podcast has reached number 49 already? No, alas. I just fired up the CMS without my glasses on, and that hash sign confused me.

What a lark! Or rather, what a laugh – and that’s the subject of this week’s podcast. Pulling back the curtain a little, I think I can probably safely admit that we recorded this podcast a while back – it’s all Will’s fault – and I’ve completely forgotten the ground we cover. We’re talking about funny videogames, though, so I suspect Monkey Island and WarioWare feature prominently, and I bet I mention Robotron and then Keith tries to pitch a game of some sort. Then Parkin says something that has to be edited out.

Listen below, download using the link provided, subscribe to us on iTunes here or use this link to the site’s direct podcast RSS feed.

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http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-podcast-9-laugh/feed/ 4 0:33:04 The Hookshot Podcast finally returns, bearing the gift of humour. Well, bearing the gift of a discussion about videogame humour anyway. The Hookshot Podcast finally returns, bearing the gift of humour. Well, bearing the gift of a discussion about videogame humour anyway. Podcasts Hookshot Inc. no no
Hookshot Podcast #8: PREDICT http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-podcast-8-predict/ http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-podcast-8-predict/#comments Thu, 17 Jan 2013 10:33:34 +0000 http://www.hookshotinc.com/?p=6728 Handsome Keith Stuart guides the team through some of his ideas of what to expect, and the rest of the team pull them apart.

Can we expect indie horror to enjoy an upsurge this year? Will Kickstarter be found out? And if so, how on earth will Keith get 'Maths Bugger 2' funded?

Join us. It will be a good time, promise.]]> hookshot podcast predict

Goodness! Is it 2013 already? We can almost feel the vestiges of youth hardening as we glance at the calendar.

But! This is no time to be glum and mortal. Video games are coming. Lots of video games. Also, new hardware and peripherals and so many announcements and trends and winners and losers and business models and art styles and new ideas and old ideas and weird ideas and invention and reinvention and it’s all coming, coming, coming on the closing horizon.

This year the Hookshot Inc. team will be focusing more fully on our podcast output (hence the rather sparse updates lately) – but don’t worry: we’ve not disappeared, we’ve just slipped from the visual to the aural. There will be the odd post here and there too, but principally we’ll be talking about games, rather than writing about them (something each of us continues to do a great deal elsewhere) on this particular corner of the internet.

In this week’s episode we’re laying down our predictions for the year. Handsome Keith Stuart guides the team through some of his ideas of what to expect in 2013, and the rest of the team pull them apart. Can we expect indie horror to enjoy an upsurge this year? Will Kickstarter be found out? And if so, how on earth will Keith get ‘Maths Bugger 2′ funded? Join us. It will be a good time, promise.

Listen below, download using the link provided, subscribe to us on iTunes here or use this link to the site’s direct podcast RSS feed.

]]> http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-podcast-8-predict/feed/ 4 0:37:33 In this week's episode the Hookshot Inc. team lays down its predictions for 2013. Handsome Keith Stuart guides the team through some of his ideas of what to expect, and the rest of the team pull them apart. Can we expect indie horror to enjoy an ups[...] In this week's episode the Hookshot Inc. team lays down its predictions for 2013. Handsome Keith Stuart guides the team through some of his ideas of what to expect, and the rest of the team pull them apart. Can we expect indie horror to enjoy an upsurge this year? Will Kickstarter be found out? And if so, how on earth will Keith get 'Maths Bugger 2' funded? Join us. It will be a good time, promise. Podcasts Hookshot Inc. no no
Hookshot Podcast #7: REFLECT http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-podcast-7-reflect/ http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-podcast-7-reflect/#comments Mon, 31 Dec 2012 15:58:35 +0000 http://www.hookshotinc.com/?p=6720 In this the seventh episode, Will, Keith, Christian and Simon discuss eight of their favourite downloadable games of the year, unpicking the likes of Fez, New Star Soccer, Letterpress, The Walking Dead amongst others.

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It’s the end of 2012, the year of Hookshot Inc.’s birth and what better time to subject oneselves to the WarioWare imperative: REFLECT!

In this the seventh episode, Will, Keith, Christian and Simon discuss eight of their favourite downloadable games of the year, unpicking the likes of Fez, New Star Soccer, Letterpress, The Walking Dead amongst others. Hear about Will’s crippling gambling addiction, Keith’s willfully destructive children, Simon’s difficulty with words and the great many game developers that Christian stalks on g-chat.

Listen below, download using the link provided, subscribe to us on iTunes here or use this link to the site’s direct podcast RSS feed.

]]> http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-podcast-7-reflect/feed/ 0 0:38:42 It's the end of 2012, the year of Hookshot Inc.'s birth and what better time to subject oneselves to the WarioWare imperative: REFLECT!In this the seventh episode, Will, Keith, Christian and Simon discuss eight of their favourite downloadable games [...] It's the end of 2012, the year of Hookshot Inc.'s birth and what better time to subject oneselves to the WarioWare imperative: REFLECT!In this the seventh episode, Will, Keith, Christian and Simon discuss eight of their favourite downloadable games of the year, unpicking the likes of Fez, New Star Soccer, Letterpress, The Walking Dead amongst others. Podcasts Hookshot Inc. no no
Hookshot Inc. Podcast #6: PRESS http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-inc-podcast-6-press/ http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-inc-podcast-6-press/#comments Tue, 18 Dec 2012 12:01:41 +0000 http://www.hookshotinc.com/?p=6686 We ask what may have been gained or lost in video gaming's move away from physical buttons in recent times with the advent of virtual joysticks and motion controls.

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There are seven more sleeps till Christmas! Which means it’s nearly time for PRESENTS to be PRESSED into your hands. Which provides us with a tiresome and tenuous link to the subject of this week’s Hookshot Inc. podcast, in which the team discusses the act of pressing things in video games.

Are the virtual joysticks of planet smartphone acceptable replacements for a physical controller? Are there any motion controlled games which can equal the curious thrill of seeing a game character wave back at you on screen? Which is the Hookshot team’s favourite button? We press ourselves against these questions and more in the sixth (6th!) episode in the Hookshot Inc. podcast season one.

Listen below, download using the link provided or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

]]> http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-inc-podcast-6-press/feed/ 4 0:23:48 This week the Hookshot Inc. team sits down to discuss 'Press'. We ask what may have been gained or lost in video gaming's move away from physical buttons in recent times with the advent of virtual joysticks and motion controls. This week the Hookshot Inc. team sits down to discuss 'Press'. We ask what may have been gained or lost in video gaming's move away from physical buttons in recent times with the advent of virtual joysticks and motion controls. Podcasts Hookshot Inc. no no
Skrillex Quest drops glitch Zelda in your browser http://www.hookshotinc.com/skrillex-quest-drops-glitch-zelda-in-your-browser/ http://www.hookshotinc.com/skrillex-quest-drops-glitch-zelda-in-your-browser/#comments Wed, 05 Dec 2012 15:52:29 +0000 http://www.hookshotinc.com/?p=6680 Hookshot Inc. takes a look.

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American dubstep artist Skrillex has put his name and music to a webgame produced by New York indie developer Jason Oda. Skrillez Quest is available for free in your browser and mashes together the Californian’s music (in particular the tracks ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ and ‘Summit’) with a clutch of game influences from Zelda to Sword & Sworcery.

The impressive game matches the glitchiness of its soundtrack with the high concept of a flickering game world, as if distorted by dust on the cartridge’s contacts. But the development was far from smooth. Posting on Facebook, game creator Jason Oda wrote: “Several months ago I was commissioned to make a game for Skrillex. It was a ton of work and a completely frustrating bullshit-fest along the way but I am so happy to say that the game is finally, finally officially live!

“I’m super proud of it and really hope you check it out,” he wrote. “I really think it’s the best game I’ve ever done. Remember blowing the dust out of your NES cartridges when they glitched? This game is all about that from the perspective of the people within the game.”

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Hookshot Podcast #5: DIE http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-podcast-5-die/ http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-podcast-5-die/#comments Mon, 03 Dec 2012 10:19:48 +0000 http://www.hookshotinc.com/?p=6674 Settle down with a stiff drink and a reflective soul as we stare the end full in the face and come away invigorated.

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This week the Hookshot Inc. team turns up to the studio in black clothes and with ashen faces to discuss that most morbid of subjects: death (in video games).

But wait! Is death in games such a big deal? Surely there’s always another life to replace the lost one, another credit to be pulled fro the depths of your pocket? Mario may fall off a cliff in 2-1, but he’ll be back for 2-2 with a stab of the button, no?

What of permadeath – the act of playing a game as if your virtual life has the same expectancy as your actual one: die and it’s all over. And what about the distinction between narrative death in games and ludic death? Can the two ever work in harmony?

More importantly, do you know which pop band Keith Stuart of The Guardian names his X-Com soldier after?

Settle down with a stiff drink and a reflective soul as we stare the end full in the face and come away invigorated. Possibly.

Listen below, download using the link provided or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

]]> http://www.hookshotinc.com/hookshot-podcast-5-die/feed/ 0 0:25:16 This week the Hookshot Inc. team turns up to the studio in black clothes and with ashen faces to discuss that most morbid of subjects: death (in video games). Settle down with a stiff drink and a reflective soul as we stare the end full in the face[...] This week the Hookshot Inc. team turns up to the studio in black clothes and with ashen faces to discuss that most morbid of subjects: death (in video games). Settle down with a stiff drink and a reflective soul as we stare the end full in the face and come away invigorated. Podcasts Hookshot Inc. no no
Clockwork Racers – multiscreen Micro Machines action http://www.hookshotinc.com/clockwork-racers-multiscreen-micro-machines-action/ http://www.hookshotinc.com/clockwork-racers-multiscreen-micro-machines-action/#comments Tue, 27 Nov 2012 11:36:28 +0000 http://www.hookshotinc.com/?p=6645
Oh man, I’ve been meaning to write about Clockwork racers ever since I saw it at the ExPlay Conference in Bath. It’s a really beautiful top-down racer, in the style of Codemasters classic Micro Machines – except you’re driving teeny-weeny clockwork robots rather than teeny weeny toy cars.

The principles are the same though: fact-paced multiplayer zooming action over gigantified backgrounds. There’s a science lab, a school desk, a dinner table, all littered with obstacles designed to catch you out as you bash your competitors about the narrow road ways. Unlike Micro Machines though, slow racers aren’t ejected from the game if they fall behind and off the screen: instead the camera pans out, so all drivers get to finish.

It makes for a more consistent, less vicious gameplay experience, and one that does’t stop every three seconds – which is better for a family audience, and for people who aren’t very good. It’s the family audience that Bristol studio Opposable Games has in its sights, though. Clockwork Racers has been funded through a competition run by the University of Abertay and Tiga, looking for innovative projects that could be shared between friends and family members. Clockwork Racers features a technology that allows it to be played across multiple devices, including iPhones, iPads, PC and TV, all communicating with each other via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Airplay. Up to four robots race at once, and judging by the time we spent with it, the connection between machines is impressively lag-free.

It’s also a really fun drive. The robot handling is accessible and generous, but deep enough to allow decent tactical racing. If you didn’t think that blasting across a table covered in sweets and doughnuts trying to cut up a miniature droid would be hotly competitive you’d be mistaken. I also like the variation on the usual Mario Kart turbo boost at the start of the race: here you can actually wind up your clockwork racers by twirling your finger on the screen, giving them a short burst of power at the outset. A nice idea.

Clockwork Racers is due out on the Apple App Store in december. There’s a trailer here (We’d embed it but we can’t because Opposable has switched embedding off).

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Bringing LA closer to home with LA Game Space http://www.hookshotinc.com/bringing-la-closer-to-home-with-la-game-space/ http://www.hookshotinc.com/bringing-la-closer-to-home-with-la-game-space/#comments Tue, 27 Nov 2012 08:00:42 +0000 http://www.hookshotinc.com/?p=6655 But that's not the only reason we're throwing our support behind the LA Game Space, an initiative that could benefit players around the world and not just in Hollywood.

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Hookshot Inc. has a close affinity to Los Angeles. It was here that Simon danced the robot a few meters from Kanye West and his taser-wielding bodyguard. It was also here that Keith drunkenly lunged at Teri Hatcher while blurting “lovely to meet you Miss Thatcher,” like a sozzled, groping old Tory.

Oh yeah, and Christian’s entire family comes from there, where they mainly shoot criminals in the ass.

Also! Also: Los Angeles is where good friend of Hookshot Inc. Adam Robezzoli, founder of the site Attract Mode lives. Adam and his friend Daniel Rehn have a Kickstarter out. Wait! Adam and Dan aren’t trying to capitalise on your warm nostalgia for a 1980s computer game that he wants to modernize for a million dollars.

Rather, their plan is of a more public service bent. LA Game Space aims to become a “resource that will foster interesting, exciting games for years to come.”

Here is indie game developer Pendelton Ward to explain the idea:

Is that clear now? Hmm. Well here’s Adam to explain a bit more.

“LA Game Space is a nonprofit center for videogame art, design, and research. It is a place for game innovation, education, and exhibition; where all of us can play and make and study and showcase games.”

OK. I think that makes sense.

“Our galleries will host large-scale EXHIBITIONS, interactive installations, performances, and retrospectives that can only be achieved at a space like this. We will be sharing catalogs, exhibition documentation, and the conversations surrounding gallery events online for everyone’s benefit.”

That sounds real nice.

“Our SPEAKER SERIES will feature new dialogues with both traditional and non-traditional game-makers. Our WORKSHOPS will introduce newcomers to the medium and explore new processes and perspectives with experienced creators.”

OK! This is something we can get behind. But wait. Despite Keith’s best efforts to move in next to Teri Hatcher, we don’t yet live in Los Angeles. What’s in it for us foreigners?

“The Space is in Los Angeles, but everyone online will be able to participate in our talks, workshops, and exhibitions,” says Adam. “All of our programs are open to anyone in the world.”

OK, that’s pretty sweet. Oh, and what’s that? We’ll get no fewer than 30 free games if we donate $15, including a new title from Keita Takahashi? WELL OK THEN.

Head along to the Kickstarter page here to get involved.

This is one of the important ones.

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Tentacles: Gaaaah. But also: Mmmmmm! http://www.hookshotinc.com/tentacles-gaaaah-but-also-mmmmmm/ http://www.hookshotinc.com/tentacles-gaaaah-but-also-mmmmmm/#comments Mon, 26 Nov 2012 08:36:12 +0000 http://www.hookshotinc.com/?p=6650 ]]>

Have we talked about Tentacles yet? I hope not, because I’m about to talk about Tentacles, and I’d hate to be even more boring than usual.

Tentacles is a lovely smartphone game, see, where you play as a nasty little four-extendo-limbed thing crawling through someone’s innards. It’s a bit like InnerSpace, really, except you rip your enemies’ eyeballs out with a rather unpleasant lunge move, and that lovely Dennis Quaid is nowhere to be seen.

Traversal, combat, and the occasional challenge sequence are all very well. What’s really lovely about this, though, is the way each tap of the screen sees you placing another limb and slowly dragging yourself through the world. The animation conveys a lovely sense of elastic movement, and the game feels very tightly rigged, if that makes sense. You know, as in rigging.

Anyway, Tentacles is available for iOS here for 69p. I gather it’s on Windows Phone 7, too, but I can’t find the link on their store because I’m stupid.

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