Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year everyone!

It's been the most amazing year in gaming, and I'll be completing my "Gamer's Year" retrospective over the course of the next week.

I've got a few things lined up for Well-Rendered in 2011, including a dissection of the low-budget Lynchian horror seen in Deadly Premonition, an exploration of the joys and frustrations of role-playing in the original Baldur's Gate and a re-play of the original Tomb Raider (oh yes).

Thank you all for your support, your comments and your presence. I hope you have a wonderful 2011.

cereza, the young Bayonetta

Sunday, 26 December 2010

A Gamer's Year Part 3: May


When I started Well-Rendered, I was looking to create an outlet where I could write once I finished my degree. I missed writing: the discipline of researching, the chaos of composition and the sense of order that comes with editing.

I can't remember when I decided to write about video games. I can't even remember when I decided to write a blog (as opposed to, you know, a novel). All I really remember is writing this post, hitting the "Publish" button and then sending the link to almost everyone in my address book. If you want to do something big, it's best to tell everyone about it because it'll be harder to give up.

Not that I realy had a goal in mind when I started. I still don't. I just wanted to write, and I chose video games because I didn't want to write about myself. Video games made sense. The research (playing lots of video games) was fun and I had a large bank of knowledge to draw upon.

Friday, 24 December 2010

A Gamer's Year Part 2: April


I was so certain that Final Fantasy XIII was going to be a brilliant game that when I returned from Egypt on April 1st, I toddled straight off to GAME to purchase a copy of Final Fantasy XIII and the official strategy guide without reading any reviews.

Or checking to see whether I had my keys.

Thus I spent the afternoon of April 1st sitting forlornly on the pavement outside Well-Rendered Towers, flicking through a dreadful review of Final Fantasy XIII in my newly-purchased edition of EDGE (which I bought after shelling out for the game) and wondering quite how silly I would look if I returned Final Fantasy XIII not two hours after buying it.

But by the time the other (more organised) resident of Well-Rendered Towers returned with the other set of keys, my burning desire not to look silly had won out over my pragmatic urge to have a good read of Metacritic before possibly obtaining a refund.

And just as well too, because Final Fantasy XIII is a corker that kept me entertained for the entire month.

Final Fantasy XIII features an exciting fight system

Although (as many people have pointed out) the game takes its sweet time to get going, it's well worth the slog.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Interlude: Boggly-Eyed

Like most people, I enjoy gazing through the window to the wierd and wonderful known as "the internet".

I've decided to start a blog about my favourite curiosities. It is called Boggly-Eyed.

A Gamer's Year Part 1: January to March

This won't be a run-down of everything that happened this year in the gaming world. There are plenty of sites bursting with lists, re-caps and analysis of the year, so if you want something all-encompassing, I'd suggest starting with Gamespot, which has compiled lists of the years' "Best Boss Fights", "Least Improved Sequel" and "Best Ending". It makes for very interesting reading, so set aside a few hours.

Gamespot Dubious Honours Awards

Instead of trying to write something even half as informative, I'm going to go through the year, month by month, and remember the highs, lows and in-betweens of 2010. Only about half the games mentioned were released in 2010...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Well-Rendered... art?

Whilst we're waiting for Well-Rendered to get her words together, how about a few pictures?

These were all things I did in 2004-5, so they're quite old.

That's Gary Oldman.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

I'm still alive

Just to reassure everyone that Well-Rendered is GLaDOS-like in its tenacity and is not going anywhere. It's just quiet because it has been stockpiling information/cake for what it hopes will be an exciting and diverse new year.

Portal GLaDOS concept art

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

I'm not a fangirl, I'm not a fangirl, I'm not a fangirl...

Here's January's cover of gameinformer.

Turns out Crystal Dynamics have some new and exciting plans for Lara Croft, and the Tomb Raider series as a whole. Precious though I am about Lara's backstory (gameinformer are threatening to "re-invent" the character), I feel that change and innovation are good, and that they need to do whatever they have to to make a great game.

My immediate plan for Well-Rendered is a slow and careful editing process. Cleaning out rogue bits of formatting in the HTML, correcting typos and adding alt-text to images. I'll also be editing and re-writing some old favourites, because half of writing is re-writing. I might not write anyhthing brand new for a couple of weeks but I'll link to newly polished posts.

Gamewise, I've finished F.E.A.R.. Good game, bad ending. And I've just got Baldur's Gate, so I've got my cuirass ready for some serious role-playing.

Watch this space.

Friday, 3 December 2010

The Seven Basic Plots: Are they found in video games?

Back in 2004, Christopher Booker's book The Seven Basic Plots received a large amount of critical and commercial attention. His assertion that there are only seven plots in all narrative is not unique (many have claimed that there are a finite number of plots in existence, though the number is frequently disputed) and Booker was criticised for dismissing homosexuality and failing to research films properly.

Christopher Booker's book
Booker's controversial take on narrative theory

But it raises an interesting talking point as regards narrative. How many plots are there? Is it a finite number? I would argue that all stories ever told have just one plot:

[protagonist] vs. [antagonist].

This doesn't mean that the protagonist has to be human or a single entity. It doesn't mean that there has to be a "fight". It doesn't mean that the antagonist has to be anything tangible, and it doesn't mean that there can't be several of these conflicts occurring in the same narrative. But I'm pretty certain that you can't have a story without a conflict, and all stories are variations on this theme.