Monthly Archives: August 2011

Falling Through the Screen, Part IV: Rockstar and the Empty Sandbox

[Part I: Introductory blithering]
[Part II: Personal history and adventure games]
[Part III: Single player FPSs and why Valve is so awesome]

This is, again, late; I’m thinking that my originally intended schedule of one of these a week may have been overly ambitious, especially with the semester starting soon. Regardless, here’s this week’s installment: having covered the kind of game that I think is best placed to tell stories well, I want to talk about a kind of game that I think is both extremely well and extremely awkwardly placed for storytelling. And I want to focus on a particular company that has a particularly ambitious way of going after this.

I still remember the summer of Vice City. Or maybe it was spring. Or possibly it was winter. I can’t honestly remember that part. What I do remember: I was in college, I was new to Grand Theft Auto, and Vice City devoured my brain.

I had paid Grand Theft Auto III some moderate attention when it came out; like most people at the time I found it impressively ambitious (and in fact ‘ambitious’ is the first and primary descriptor I would use for all other Rockstar games since, whatever other descriptors I might choose), but for one reason or another it didn’t quite grab me. But then I got Vice City and everything changed. Continue reading

Shadows & Tall Trees: Issue #2 now on sale

So I’m taking a short break from regular blogging. This is looking like a busy month for me and I want to get on top of some things before I pick it up again. I am looking to be back on schedule next week, hopefully. In the meantime, however, issue #2 of Shadows & Tall Trees is now available.

It features:

At the Top of the Stairs by Richard Harland
Back Among the Shy Trees by Steve Rasnic Tem
Memento Mori by Sunny Moraine
The Candle by Ian Rogers
Voices Carry by Eric Schaller
The Pool by Alison J. Littlewood
Devil’s Music by Louis Marvick

This is really a terrific collection of fiction and I’m very pleased to be in such great company. Shadows & Tall Trees has been getting some very positive buzz in general, and I’m privileged to be a part of it.

My own piece, “Memento Mori,” was inspired by the closing passage of Bob Doto of Quiet Earth’s review of Werner Herzog’s My Son My Son What Have Ye Done, which is one of the best movie reviews I’ve ever read (though I confess that I still haven’t seen the film in question). It concerns the question of what that would actually be like, what it might mean and how someone might process the experience. I decided that taking the analogy and running into extremely literal territory with it might produce something pleasingly surreal, and I hope I mostly succeeded in doing that.

Here’s the first little bit of it.

Continue reading