A person who is seriously interested in games, game studies, and game design should play a lot of games.
To the right you will see the latest GameLog (diary)
entries I have recorded for the games I'm currently playing and my thought and feelings on the game, the experience of playing it, and so on.
If you want to see all the games I'm playing, or the ones
I'm no longer playing you can follow the "List of Games I'm Currently Playing" and the "
List of Games I've Finished Playing".
During the summer of 2003 I started a little project to keep track of the videogames I had been playing. I also wanted to keep track of my thoughts as I played them.
Thus, GameLog was born as a blogging tool for gamers. If you are interested you can hop on over and register. I personally enjoy reading about other people's thoughts
on the games they play and the more the merrier! www.gamelog.cl
Ok, my characters are in the low forties range - but the game clock is 20 hrs away from the earlier saved game! Did this game's prior owner simply spend a lot of time grinding? I don't know... I'm a bit worried because I really don't want to spend ALL that time with the game even though it's been fun so far. I should know where things stand in a few days. I hope.
The dual timelines have become a lot longer as well, it no longer makes sense for me to navigate them manually and its become a (minor) chore to reach certain nodes I want to travel back to. Overall, however, I'm still surprised by how coherent the whole experience has been from a narrative perspective. This could be so much more confusing and convoluted!
I thought it would be best if I played this game since I added it to the list of games I want students to pick from for an assignment in my game ethics class. So far, I'm both glad that I picked as well as decided to play it.
This game wears its inspirations/source material quite proudly on its sleeve. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Coppola's Apocalypse Now are the obvious ones. Or at least the main non-game ones. This is good stuff - and definitely makes for interesting conversations and discussions on war, supporting (or not) war, and whether or not it makes sense to conceive of an anti-war wargame in which you spend most of your time shooting and killing.
There's a lot of shooting (and killing) and dying (in this case me) which I haven't quite gotten used to. It was only last night when I started to make use of the squad commands (giving teammates orders to attack specific targets). Its quite neat, and a bit of a relief since I had been having some trouble when things get heated. I'm probably about 2/3rds through the game so I'm a bit late to that realization. That seems to happen to me quite a bit... I'm not sure if it's mostly my fault (for being a moron) or the game's (for allowing me to continue to make progress without "requiring" me to use whatever mechanism I'm not using). In any case, I'm glad I caught on to it before I got to the end...
As for the experience?
So far I've encountered a fair share of incredibly frustrating moments (I also refuse to dial down the difficulty from "medium" despite the game's reminders when I hit a brick wall) but I've really enjoyed others. The sandstorms are particularly memorable - and quite intense. As for the story? Well, it doesn't help that I had a general sense going in, so some of the more shocking moments were less so - and some of it feels a little forced. Its almost like the descent into madness is too fast - there's no "normal" state against which to compare it.
I finished this the other evening - I even went back and earned all the trophies! (a rare thing, this is only the third game I can claim that for)
I'm quite torn about the game because while it has what I felt where genuine moments of awe, wonder, and amazement, in the end the game never really gelled for me. I wonder if, having read about the team's troubles getting the game to work, I've been predisposed against it? I'm trying really hard not to sound overly pessimistic because I did enjoy playing it and I'm glad I did.
The experience of playing Unfinished Swan is a disjointed one because every couple of levels the game's focus changes - while the controls remain the same, you end up doing entirely different things and they never quite held together. It's like playing 4 different (polished and fun) tech demos that are loosely tied together.
First, you reveal the world you're in by shooting paintballs that splat and splatter.
Then, you encourage a vine (by shooting water paintballs at it) to grow along a surface so that you can climb it and reach new areas.
After that, shoot balls at a special surface so that you can extrude 3D shapes you can then stand on to reach new areas.
Finally, shoot balls at a glowing large ball so that it rolls along and illuminates an area (and prevents nasty creatures from attacking you in the dark).
So yes, you're always shooting balls - but each of these sections is quite different experientially and aesthetically. They're fun and they're different... but they don't feel like they're really part of the same game.
My hunch is that I'm roughly halfway through the game based on how much of the "overmap" I've uncovered as well as how many events I've added to the timeline (I think I'm at 50/240 or so...). Additionally there's an old saved game that clocked in at 40 hrs with characters at level 50 or so. I'm currently in the 26-28 range and have played a wee bit over 20 hrs.
I was really worried that the time-traveling and story-altering would get to incredibly confusing and frustrating. It hasn't been like that (partly because I learned that you can skip entire conversations with the start button - rather than speed them up with the x button), which is nice. In fact, the cognitive experience is quite interesting in ways I had not anticipated. I would describe it sort of like reading two books at the same time - where one is an alternate version of the other. They overlap and share characters, but you're not really treading the exact same ground. Every chapter or so, you switch. It works, and starts to make a strange kind of sense... I think the visual timeline is key here since it helps you anchor the events (and their relations to each other) in your mind. It definitely does a better job than other time-traveling games I've played.
The other interesting thing is that, as I slowly play my way through, the main characters are "revealed" in different ways. The allegiances you're supposed to keep are slowly shifting. For example, I've gone from being the hero to the outcast in one timeline (but not the other) - and former allies are now enemies. As I write this I realize that those shifts don't seem like they could happen slowly - but that's how I've experienced them. Maybe they feel more drawn out because of the time-line changing? (so, if I had played one story all the way through they'd feel more abrupt?)
I have been keeping track of this information for the past 9 year(s), 10 month(s) and 20 day(s).