Rhythmic violence – An interview with Thumper developer, Marc Flury

When I think of what the personification of the Triple-A games industry might be, the first image that springs to mind is a man in a suit; safe, inoffensive, gets the job done. He probably has two kids, a wife, and a house in the suburbs. For the most part he does his accounting job, spends time with his family, and occasionally dons a black robe with his friends in an attempt to summon Cthulhu. In this somewhat overwrought analogy, the gentleman’s nuclear family is the likes of Fallout 4 and Assassin’s Creed whereas the eldritch cult meetings he attends on the first Monday of every month is Bloodborne – it doesn’t take up a lot of time, but it’s certainly the most interesting part of his life.

On the other side of the industry, however, we have the indie developers whom I believe represent the artistic core of the videogame industry. That’s not to say the Triple-A scene is utterly barren, because it’s obviously not, but the indie scene is where things start to get really interesting. The indie landscape is strewn with one mad experiment after another and it’s a never ending joy to see what’s lying beneath each rock. The most mind-bending, heart rending, and joyous gaming moments I’ve ever experienced came from indie games. Those tiny teams that slave away on odd little passion projects are the true heroes of the videogame industry.

Last year I gave Thumper the prestigious award of being considered one of the two best games I played at EGX. It’s described by developer, Drool, as “Rhythm Violence”, a phrase which almost certainly makes you weak at the knees as you contemplate the sheer possibility of what this could entail. Now I know exactly what you’re thinking: Dance Dance Double Dragon, right? No, it’s better than that.

Through the power of Skype, I spoke with Marc Flury, the programming half of the two man team behind Thumper, about how to survive as an indie developer, working with Sony, and where on Earth this abstract neon spiral of rhythmic violence came from. As it turns out, it originally came from the mind of Brian Gibson, the other half of Drool, and the pair have been working on it for over four years. Marc and Brian met whilst working at Harmonix and then began development on Thumper as a side project.

I was interested to know how these things start. “I guess for me, I wanted to learn more about everything that goes into making a game, especially from the programming side,” Marc tells me. “I’d like to make more games with this level of freedom and with this size team… We wanted to make a rhythm game that was really stripped down and simple. There are some very early prototypes on our YouTube channel which shows this really simple, grid-based rhythm game and then we just kept taking it further and further.”

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The original concept for Thumper, running at 185 FPS – suck it, Triple-A industry

Thumper has come a long way since those early videos but you can see from the offset that the duo were on to something. There is elegance in simplicity and Thumper demonstrates that perfectly. But don’t let the seemingly primitive nature of the core gameplay deceive you into thinking that work on Thumper is still a part time affair. Marc informs me that it’s “definitely full time” and I’m not surprised. Developing as such a small team is a lengthy and arduous experience which, in this case, is worsened by the fact that Marc lives in Seoul, South Korea, and Brian lives in Rhode Island, USA.

My immediate thought was that such an obstacle would render the development process nigh on impossible at times but Marc reassured me that it wasn’t that bad. “There are certainly times when I wish we were in the same room and we didn’t have to deal with the time difference and the lack of face to face communication. I think it helped a lot that we knew each other beforehand and that we’d spent a couple of years prototyping Thumper together before I moved away. We’re both still very independent in the way that we work and both have different responsibilities on the project mostly.”

I was somewhat tentative to ask about how the average indie developer survives on a day to day basis while still working on their game but did anyway, praying that the answer didn’t involve the word destitution. “I think everyone’s story is different. I know that we’ve been very fortunate. For one thing, Brian and I are kind of old compared to a lot of people who try and become indie developers. We had jobs for a long time so we saved some money…  I have support from a lot of places, like from my family and the fact that I live in Korea means that I have free health insurance. If I lived in America I’d have to pay for that.”

The primary hook for my fascination with Thumper is is not just the machinations of Drool as a studio, but the inherent violence that erupts from the game. Drool’s website describes it best: “There is no blood or gore, but you’ll feel the violence.” In a way that I find almost entirely inexplicable, that statement is true, but where did it come from?

“It was kind of like, once we made the game so simple right, to start with… we could try to push it in ways that other rhythm games hadn’t been pushed,” explains Marc. “When you look at most rhythm games, they might be really fun or beautiful but they don’t feel quite as intense in the way that an action or racing game might feel. There’s not the same sense of physical sensation or sensation of speed.

“It was only like a year, or less than a year ago when we came up with this term ‘Rhythm Violence’ to describe the game. That works effectively in terms of something that people remember… it became this opportunity to exploit something we felt hadn’t been exploited before.” Marc tells me that he doesn’t have anything against violent videogames and plays them just like everyone else, but that he didn’t “really want to make a game that is like violent in terms of hurting people. So I’m kind of proud of the way it’s violent, but without physical violence to human beings.”

Back in 2013, Shahid Ahmad of Sony, gave a talk at the Eurogamer Expo about at the future of publishing and, not only the rise of indie games, but also the difficulty of actually finishing the creative process; a point he drove home with a quote from Robert Fearon, “Finishing the videogame without topping yourself? Hardest.” I was at that talk and the enthusiasm Shahid had for indie games and their future with PlayStation was unquestionable. I’m not going to say that it wasn’t a little overloaded with PlayStation Vita propaganda but the point stands – out of the Big Three, Sony are the only company that seem to be throwing any real weight behind indie developers. I wanted to know why indie games are increasingly coming to the PS4 and PC with no sign of a deal with Xbox on the horizon.

“Everything is a possibility,” Marc says about bringing Thumper to Xbox. “Honestly we’re just trying not to spend too much time thinking about it. Things are always changing. We’ll just kind of see where we’re at once we’ve finished with the two main platforms. It’s already a tonne of work for just the two people. We made a decision that we didn’t want to partner with anyone. We wanted to do everything ourselves, at least for this first version. It might come out on Xbox, we hope it does.”

My immediate inclination for why indie developers go for the PS4 is the dominant market share and, if you can only afford to develop for one of the consoles, you’re going to pick the most popular one, right?

“Yeah, that helps” says Marc, but he’s quick say that it’s certainly not everything. “We had established a good relationship with the people at Sony. We work mostly with Sony America but I also know people in Korea and Japan that have been helpful. They seemed genuinely psyched about the game and then we also have a co-marketing agreement with them. They’re going to help put some marketing support behind the game, they’re showing it at events, stuff like that.”

This reinforced my generally positive view of PlayStation in this respect. I’ll admit that’s it’s an opinion based mainly on anecdotal evidence and the churning PR machine of Sony that wants me to think that, but there is only so much you can do to hide the truth. I believe Sony has a positive reputation among the wider gaming community because they do actually care – at least a little bit. But my main concern regarding the relationship between these seemingly faceless mega corporations and the indie developer is: does PlayStation ever try and wrestle control away from the indie?

“No. In terms of creative control and anything like that, it’s our game, we own the game, we’re paying to make the game… It’s been a positive relationship. It took us a while to get to the point where we trusted them and everything but overall its gone very well so far.”

No matter how positively people feel about PlayStation and their work with indie developers, I still couldn’t help but feel that it was all a persona, little more than a well organised PR move designed to make Sony look like a kindly philanthropist to all of these Dickensian orphans that have inexplicably learnt to program. Last year Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, accused Sony of buying up all of the third party deals, a move that would be considered cynical more than anything else, but Marc doesn’t appear to see it like that.

“I think what they’re doing is good and smart. They’re putting some support, even some altruistic support, behind developers. At Tokyo game show, Sony sponsored the whole indie game section, even though there were a lot of games that aren’t on PlayStation which is really forward thinking and cool. I mean there are so many people that are willing to make games for consoles now, and so many people are doing it on their own time that it makes, I’m sure, good business sense to just let people on their platform and support them. They might just find the next Minecraft that way. They’re not necessarily assuming a lot of risk or necessarily paying for a lot of development.”

Marc sums up my thoughts for me quite perfectly there. Sony are investing in a positive public image with very little risk and a potentially huge reward. The next Minecraft may well appear first on PlayStation 4 and, if it does, it will barely have cost Sony a pittance. However, some support in the right places can help developers flourish and ultimately that pays off for us, the consumer. Sony appears to be a largely ambivalent overseer of indies games in the home console market and I get the impression that it comes in part from corporate necessity and in part from a handful of good people running around at PlayStation who really do care.

At present, Thumper doesn’t have a release date but Marc hopes for it to be ready within the next six months. Following our talk it’s evident that, for him, Thumper is a game worth making regardless of how well it performs and I have a huge respect for his dedication to the project. “It’s a big risk. I don’t know if it will pay off, but of course I hope it does. But, I know that even if it doesn’t pay off financially, I know that it was still the right thing to do. At least it was for me.”

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All the Goodness of 2015 That I Saw Fit to Scribble Down

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Chris

My Most Favourite: 

Bloodborne

When I first attempted Bloodborne the relationship we shared was on and off. The tweaks made to the Souls-like combat were fun and frenetic and added a new layer of challenge to the familiar set-up, but along the way its missteps threw me. Its first boss, the Cleric Beast, was not a fine choice for an opening performance. It soaks up blows like nobody’s business and its confusing mass of tangled fur makes it difficult to predict attack patterns. Trudge just a little further, though, and you’ll meet Father Gascoigne, a wonderful boss that teaches you the value of backstabs, parrying, and searching out sidequests. All the lovely things you expect from a top-tier boss battle. This pattern of colossal highs and staggering lows continues throughout the game’s bosses.

The fight with Martyr Logarius was an intense bout that demanded nothing short of perfection. Finely balancing offensive counter attacks with defensive reactions was crucial and the pitched battle tested everything learnt till that point. In short: an absolute arse-kicking triumph. But this precedes the likes of the Celestial Emissary, a beefed- up standard enemy whose main tactic is to egg on his weaker mates and hope you trip over their corpses.

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A big blue low point in an otherwise cracking time

But a game like Bloodborne is not all about the bosses. Dark Souls 2 had me worried that From Software’s phenomenal level design had fallen off but Bloodborne shooed such thoughts away. The levels loop and interconnect ingeniously, and there’s little more satisfying than finding a high spot to scope out the lay of the land. The relief upon finding a shortcut returns in spades, as does the wave of satisfaction at making things a touch easier. The seamless design connecting run-down villages to opulent cathedrals is proof, if any more were needed, that From Software are masters of their craft.

It was Yarnham, Bloodborne’s Victorian inspired setting, and the grim story within that truly cemented its place at my top spot. The midway shift from Jekyll and Hyde beasties to Lovecraftian cosmic horror comes at just the right point, and its intriguing mysteries had me digging through lore videos desperate for more information. The characters you meet along the way are a varied bunch and act as a human illustration of the terror that ravages the city. It’s a rich and fleshed out world that felt both dangerous and delightful to explore.

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Ooft, it’s all so gothic and pretty, aint it?

No game this year has gripped me quite as hard as Bloodborne. it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if sounds like your thing, you owe it to yourself to try it out.

Some Lovely Honourable Mentions

Ori and the Blind Forest

If I were to judge purely on aesthetics then Ori and the Blind Forest would have soared to top of the list. The game is flipping gorgeous. Each beautifully designed backdrop is near breathtaking, and provides the perfect setting for Ori’s agile platforming.

The soundtrack’s folklore style fits perfectly in a tale that feels like the stuff of old legends. It highlights moments of dramatic tension and relaxed exploration with seamless grace. It’s a truly fantastic score that still merits a listen long after putting the game down.

I expected tight controls and lovely visuals but what came as a pleasant surprise was the depth of its story. Ori’s journey is lightly narrated by an ageing spirit in an ancient tongue, further adding to its storybook feel. But where Ori truly shines is in its wordless delivery. Feelings, thoughts, and motives are all presented with gestures and expressions, gorgeously animated and flawlessly executed. The introduction still stands out in my mind as a particularly bumpy ride aboard the feels train, and perfectly demonstrates how to silently convey a range of emotions.

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It definitely stays this heartwarming and happy. Don’t worry about it.

Life is Strange

Hats off to Life is Strange. Never in all my days did I expect a video game to teach me about the Daguerreian Process but here it is, schooling me on it no less than four times! Phwoar! What a world we live in, eh?

All flippancy aside I loved almost every minute. The achingly hip soundtrack and picturesque scenery of coastal Oregon formed a lovely setting to a touching story of friendship, loss, and the flagrant abuse of time-travel. The early acts often feel like a chore but it quickly whips itself into shape, as name-drops and cringe-laden slang fall away in favour of surprise twists and sincere dialogue.

Just don’t let Act One fool you. Things only get better from there.

Life is Strange

It gave the what, professor? IT GAVE THE WHAT!? I MUST KNOW, DAMN YOU!

Undertale

Undertale is a game that’ll play on your mind. At first things seem rudimentary. An Earthbound-esque RPG with colourful characters and dark undertones? Truly, this is the Mother of all innovation! But then its veiled genius creeps out and grinds those expectations to dust. On subsequent playthroughs the game can be both a saccharine love-fest and a disturbing psychological horror. No matter what you do the game remembers, and punishes or praises in ways you could never have expected.

Throw in a beautifully composed soundtrack that begs for remixes and you have one of the most fascinating games that 2015 offered. It loses a little steam in its closing chapters but its charming cast and hilarious writing more than make up for it.

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Just look at these charming rascals

Pillars of Eternity

Not owning a meaty PC growing up meant that Pillars of Eternity was a sharp kick into uncharted waters for me. I’d heard pundits praise Baldur’s Gate and Planescape but being the shallow prick I am I struggle to get into games rocking that graphical style of ‘late 90’s boiled arse’. Pillars, however, proved to be just the update things needed.

In most RPG’s I make a vow to read every scrap of world-building fluff but inevitably lose interest when I realise that most of the budget went on gameplay and the writing was farmed out to Danny the bumbling HR intern. In Pillars I devoured its literature with gusto and discovered a rich world stuffed with interesting customs, traditions and history.

It’s a game that owes a lot to its forebears and has inspired me to take another crack at the games that inspired it. Given my past apathy to isometric RPG’s I don’t think praise can come more highly than that.

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Don’t dick about with dragons. It never ends well.

2015 review – All the best games I could be bothered to play

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Haydn

I’ve seen many people on the internet jubilantly declaring that 2015 has been a “great year for videogames”. If you decide that this effectively pointless collection of words means that lots of good videogames were released last year then yes, I am inclined to agree. Here is a list of my favourites – aren’t you lucky?

Honourable Mentions

Cities Skylines – The city building sim that everyone actually wanted when SimCity 4 was released. It features an insane level of detail and is hugely satisfying to watch your city grow. I’ve only had it a few days and my playtime sits the other side of 20 hours. It’s dense and often obtuse but I guarantee you’ll like it more than you think.

League of Legends – Regardless of the fact that it was released in 2009, League of Legends deserves recognition this year for the truly superb game that it is. 2015 saw some huge changes and laid down the foundations for the future. Developers, Riot Games, are always on form when it comes to community engagement and the world championship final was one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever experienced. It’s consistently brilliant and given the persistent nature of the game, I feel that it falls within the very loose parameters I set myself when defining what constitutes the best games of 2015.

Way of the Samurai 4 – While technically first released in 2011, it was ported over to PC this year. I played the PS3 version but, once again, I play fast and lose with my own rules that I haven’t bothered to clarify so it’s going on the list. If you want to know why, read this.

The Beginner’s Guide  – I have a lot of thoughts about The Beginner’s Guide and I don’t necessarily know what they all are. It infected my brain and swam around in there for days on end. I left that game feeling sad, optimistic, cheerful, and anxious. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it’s just that sort of game.

Dropsy – A very late and very unexpected entry into this section is the antics of hug loving clown, Dropsy. An open-world point and click adventure about a lovable clown that everyone hates and your mission is to change that. It has a dedicated hug button and you have a pet dog that you can hug whenever you want. It’s twisted, surreal, and wonderful. It is perhaps the most distressing thing I’ve ever experienced but in a good way. Definitely not everyone’s jam but worth a go even if it’s only for an hour or two.

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3) Bloodborne

I love the Souls series an awful lot and Bloodborne is no different. Developers, From Software, succeeded in creating an engrossing and disturbing experience that, while bearing resemblance to the other Souls games, is a unique property in its own right. The Lovecraftian themes and eldritch horrors were brought to life so expertly within the game-world that I could feel it seeping out into my own reality. Mainlining Bloodborne for hour after hour will make you feel weird in only the sort of way that Bloodborne can.

The updated combat brought a new sense of speed to the familiar format of the Souls games and the unrelentingly grim setting of Yharnam is some of From Software’s finest work. The signature labyrinthine level design of its spiritual predecessors is back with a vengeance and with it comes the reward of exploration for its own sake.

Of course, it’s not perfect. When I bought a PS4 just so I could play Bloodborne,  I was convinced that it would sit triumphantly at the top of this inevitable list. However, there were a few too many slapdash boss fights and the lack of variety in both scenery and weaponry leaves a lot to be desired, especially when it comes to second play-throughs. What’s there, however, is superbly crafted and when it excels, it really excels. Also, it has a wide variety of tricorn hats and that’s important.

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2) Life is Strange

Developers, Dontnod, pulled an absolute blinder with Life is Strange; another addition to the growing genre of “episodic, point and click, story heavy, whatever it is we’re calling them these days  games.

You take on the role of Max, a teenage girl studying photography at college and who, just like any other teenager, wants to be cool. Oh, and you also have the ability to rewind time which is pretty neat I suppose.

Life is Strange is often awkward in its dialogue and delivery and, much like Max, it sometimes tries too hard to be cool. It name drops obscure authors, photographers, and musicians with reckless abandon. The game itself acts like the awkward teens it portrays and calls you out when you try and do the same. Life is Strange has flaws that I will not deny but there is something about how self-aware this angst-ridden teen romp is that makes non of that matter.

It explores some dark themes and isn’t afraid of its own subject material. The developers don’t shy away from what they’re doing halfway through, but stick it to the end. The experience is a grim and depressing one at times but also uplifting at others. It’s fantastic.

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1) Undertale

It took me a longer than it should have to get my digital mitts on Undertale and even longer to truly start appreciating it. Unfortunately, Undertale is one of those games that can easily be ruined by people like me yammering on about it over the internet so I’ll keep this brief.

My favourite thing about Undertale isn’t the cast of colourful characters, or the insanely good soundtrack, or even Temmie Village. No, it’s how the game constantly subverts your expectations and how, even knowing that it’s going to do that, still isn’t enough to prepare you. From the moment you look at the store page, Undertale is playing you. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will fill you with determination and it will frustrate you, it will make you question yourself and your actions, and it leave you hungry for more. Luckily there is always more.

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I love it to pieces

2015 review – All the bad bits I could be bothered to remember

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Haydn

That’s it people, it’s time to pack up and go home. 2015 is over. You can all return to your loved ones and continue on with your lives like none of this ever happened. But before you step out of that airlock and back onto the firm soil of Earth, let’s take a quick look back at our celestial voyage through the year that will forever be known as… 2015. 

The problem with looking back at an entire year, even if it’s only the bad bits, is that it’s impossible to cover it all. In fact, it’s impossible to cover even a tiny fraction of it with any meaningful degree of comprehensiveness. Naturally that doesn’t deter me from trying so just presume that if I don’t mention it, I either didn’t know about it, didn’t care about it, or straight up forgot about it. Take this for what it is; a look back at 2015 in the broadest possible strokes, taking care only to shed light on things my brain bothered to remember at the exact moment of writing.

Both videogames and consumers have suffered a somewhat abusive relationship with 2015. It’s been a year filled with promise and delight, but not so much that we were able to forgot all of the nastiness. To use a somewhat torturous analogy, let’s just say that it’s 1956, the games industry is the Soviet Union and we’re the Hungarian People’s Republic.

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The tank is micro-transactions. The street is a full priced game.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know everything. I certainly don’t know how major decisions are made when it comes to videogames and the publishing thereof. However, based on what I’ve seen over the last year, it is my assumption that the people in charge of making important business decisions in this industry simply take a load of LSD and attribute financial meaning to all of those deceitful shapes and sounds.

Yes, 2015 was brimming with potential but an awful lot of that was pissed away in favour of business practices so dodgy that Martin Shkreli might blush were he not such an abhorrent human being. The now deceased year that was 2015 took the timed exclusivity deals most often associated with DLC and decided to apply it to an entire game. The result? We all get to watch Rise of the Tomb Raider spiral down into obscurity with unprecedented rapidity, shifting a paltry 63,000 units during its first week.

By almost all accounts, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a fine game indeed but yet another victim of top-level decision making tomfoolery. Sqaure Enix deemed the 2013 reboot a failure (8.5 million total copies sold is a failure apparently) and the future of franchise looked bleak. That was until  was led inside the gingerbread house of Microsoft where it would turn the titular raider of tombs into delicious biscuits that only a fraction of its target audience would be allowed to enjoy. Eventually the biscuits will go stale then everyone else gets a taste.

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This photo was taken just last week

Of course, while the Rise of the Tomb Raider debacle is unfortunate, it’s far from the worst instance of utter dumb-fuckery we saw in 2015. No, that prestigious award goes to Star Wars Battlefront III. Despite the fact that the game has been praised for its meticulous attention to detail, Electronic Arts clearly don’t respect the franchise or its audience. Star Wars Battlefront III may be a good game, it may not. I don’t personally know and probably never will because I refuse to pay $60 for a multiplayer only game that also had $50 worth of DLC map packs planned before it even launched. It’s a cynical cash grab designed to ride on the hype wave created by The Force Awakens and squeeze every last penny out of anyone and everyone with the slightest affinity with Star Wars.

I don’t even care that much about the omnipresent franchise, but the utter disregard for its audience and the quality of the game is too galling to ignore. It’s a shining example of everything that is wrong with the business side of videogames and it sits up there with gluttonous micro-transactions. Developers and publishers need to stop dividing their communities and hiding content behind paywalls. We’re all in agreement that videogames are an art-form. Start treating it like one, you reprehensible gaggle of puttocks.

Now that I’ve cleared some of the bile, let’s turn to some of the less egregious, but still shit parts 2015; like Hatred which reared it’s ugly head last year. Hatred is a game trying so desperately to be noticed. Trying so desperately to be controversial. Trying to kick up a stink and make a point about… well, that was never really clear but it was important to some of the more disturbed denizens that skulks about the hallowed halls of the internet, feeling indigent about things they don’t fully understand. In reality, it was little more than a very clever marketing ploy to shift what is widely considered to an overwhelming tedious game – if you can imagine such at thing. Ultimately, the developers could have had similar success by releasing a literal piece of shit providing that it was controversial enough.

I’d like to say that we learnt from Hatred. That, as a species, we wouldn’t rise to controversy for controversy’s sake, but we didn’t. Remember this?

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The official Twitter account for Call of Duty tweeted this under the guise of a legitimate news outlet. The story was expanded upon over the course of a few hours, detailing explosions and other unpleasantness. It was, as we all know, a publicity stunt and one which many commentators believed to have gone awry. I would bet the entire profit earned from Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 that it went exactly to plan.

The PR firm that handles the Call of Duty account is Red Consultancy and they’re no amatures. They hold the accounts for both McDonalds and Carling. This stunt wasn’t designed to let people know more about the game, it was to get them talking about to controversy. Call of Duty finds itself in the strange position of being almost too big and, given the frequency with which new iterations appear on the shelves, it can be hard to get the attention they want. This is some of the cheapest, most effective advertising they could have hoped for. If you hadn’t heard about Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 before this happened, you certainly did afterwards. That’s all that matters.

At this point, it would be remiss of me to not mention Konami, Hideo Kojima, Silent Hills, Metal Gear Solid V, and everything else entwined in that nebulous ball of corporate bullshit and poor life decision. That said, I have so little interest in every proper-noun found within the previous sentence that I’m really not the person to ask. It was bad I guess? I dunno, ask your teacher.

2015 gleefully continued the trend of spewing up another host tedious sandbox games featuring huge expansive maps with very little worth actually doing; each trying to recapture the magic of earlier Assassin’s Creed installments in the same way that countless developers tried and failed to find the secret ingredient necessary to recreate the genre defining Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. For years we were subjected to endless military shooters being rehashed by different studios, unsure what was required to make a good game, but not letting that get in the way if their dreams.

Over the last few years, developers have wasted no time when it comes to flooding the market with every open-world they can spurt out into a dirty handkerchief: Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dying Light, Just Cause 3, Fallout 4, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Farcry 4, just to name a few. It’s an increasingly long list and I’ve grown quite tired of it all. It’s been a merciless parade of 60 hour sandboxes that have, at best, 15 hours half-decent content. These titles are to the game world what a bowl of cold porridge is to food-o-sphere. 2015 made sure to not let our bowls get empty.

Speaking of inedible sludge, we were also treated to the cinematic delight that was Hitman: Agent 47. Yet another wart on the face of videogames, cinema, and everyone associated with, or who takes enjoyment from, either. Rupert Friend, who plays Agent 47 in the film, was interviewed in the run up to the film’s release. He appears to be as clueless about the the franchise as the rest of the team. So, well done everyone.

Finally, I guess that one of the worst things to happen in 2015 was the death of President and CEO of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata. It feels weird that so many people mourned the loss of a man that none of them really knew but I’m not sure that lack of familiarity matters. He brought more life, art, and joy to videogames in his lengthy career than any amount of hallucinating Electronic Art executives will ever be able to take away from it.

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I will never fully understand this picture, but I will always love it. RIP Iwata