British

November 13, 2013

The Stanley Parable: A Game About Games

stanley parable

It is nearly impossible to explain what The Stanley Parable is about. It is a game about the nature of games, how a player interacts with the world, and what happens if the antagonist is the game itself.

At it’s core, The Stanley Parable is a first person exploration game. All of the interaction comes through choice. Choosing a door to walk through, choosing which button to press, or even choosing to do nothing at all. You play as Stanley, an office worker who may be asleep, crazy, bored, and everything in between.

To reveal anything about the gameplay experience is to ruin that experience for you. It is very much a narrative driven game, with the majority of the entertainment value coming from the narrator, given life by the incomparable Kevan Brighting, and his interactions with the player. If you are sensitive and can’t take constructive and not as constructive criticism, you may want to stay away. The narrator will hurt your feelings and make you feel worthless but, to be fair, you do the same to him multiple times.

In technical terms the game is fine, with serviceable graphics that never get in the way of the experience. The game is still based in Source, so the physics that come along with that engine work well (even with a dearth of interactive objects). The music is fantastic and hugely varied. It only shows up every so often but when it does the score will command your attention. The controls will be familiar to anyone who has played a first person game, save for the lack of one usual input variation that leads to a hilarious achievement.

I had issues starting up the game upon first install, but upon reinstallation the issues ceased. Besides that there were no bugs that I personally have noticed in my ten hours or so with the game.

Mind Control

What really stuck out to me was how The Stanley Parable reflects on the absurdity of game mechanics and storytelling. We do it all for a weird sense of self gratification, the accomplishment of the objective. Be it an actual scripted objective like every mission based game, or the “I’m going to steal a helicopter and try to jump out onto a bus” self generating objectives in an open world game, it’s all there to give the player a sense of accomplishment. The Stanley Parable deconstructs this to the point where one second the objective could be to press a button so that some booming voice will say “Eight!” over and over and the next the objective is to figure out what the game wants you to do. In the end, the game doesn’t want you to do anything. It’s a game. And The Stanley Parable knows that.

You can complete The Stanley Parable in about 15 minutes. Your first play through will probably take about half an hour. But there is so much to explore within the crazy world that Galactic Cafe thrusts you into that it could easily eat up much more. Not for twitch gamers or people who want to get to the top of the leaderboards, but if you value narrative then I implore you to check this one out. At least get the demo off of Steam. If anything, you’ll get a chuckle out of just how ridiculous it all is.

In its purest essence, The Stanley Parable is a commentary on routine, achievement, the government, video games, and life itself. I love getting lost in it’s world and losing myself within it. Everyone needs to play this.

March 17, 2013

MMORPG Update: Discovering Runescape

TK MMORPG Update PictureI seem to be on a roll recently with British developers and in this update I wanted to touch on Runescape developed by Jagex Games Studios. Runescape is the worlds biggest free MMORPG and hit 200 million accounts in July 2012. This game has been running for 12 years now and over the course of that time it’s just got bigger and better being played by millions of people around the world.

I’m not going to pretend to you that I’m any great expert on this game, in fact I know very little about it – which is something I’m looking to correct. You definitely have to get used to being behind on some things if you’re particularly into the MMO genre, playing something well and getting the most out of it takes time and dedication and there are jut so many god MMOs out there. What I did want to share with you is the same fascination that the idea of this game holds for me and why you might want to try it too.

runescape logo

It’s accessible
The game has been built to run in Java through a browser, you can pick up anywhere without having to install the game client on every machine.

It’s got outstanding graphics
Something I always love to see in an MMO, as much as the gameplay it’s the journey of exploration and Runescape has got some great visual designers behind the scenes including Tim Chatfield (Lead Designer) and Tursan Raja (User Interface Artist).

It’s constantly evolving
This year sees a new game engine as well as new episode-release game content.

It’s choice driven and dynamic
Events are designed to produce unique instances.

It brings you dungeon crawling
The dungeoneering ability allows you to explore dungeons that are created on-the-fly based on your skills or the skills of your group, play by yourself or take four friends with you.

It lets that great British sense of humour shine through
This is most evident through the storytelling, including references to greats such as Monty Python and Red Dwarf.

You can play Runescape for free now at: http://www.runescape.com and join millions of others battle in this medieval fantasy world.

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