So for those who don't know, I've been on vacation. In fact, I have just gotten home from being on vacation from my vacation. Even better, that nested vacation followed hard upon a vacation nested in my honeymoon nested in my vacation. So it has been a long time chilling out for me.
Prior to that - which I assume you do know - I was shipping my game (hence the necessity for multiple nested vacations) and prior to that, I was merely working on my game. At some point during the 'working on my game' era, I more or less faded out of the blogging community.
Boy have things changed in the last eighteen months.
The prequel to this post came about after I found Tom Francis' cool blog and chatted a bit over there as he was finishing out FC2 and all his regulars were (politely) damning me for my misestimation of the frequency with which one would encounter armed guard posts in a failed Africa state.
Anyway - two years or so ago, I was lamenting the relative lack of game criticism (as opposed to reviews), and apparently at some stage during the long quiet that emanated from Click Nothing, my lament was answered. Not only do we have Tom Francis, but my sporadic last days and weeks of looking around at the game blogging community have kicked up a good number of really awesome blogs.
A surprising number of these bloggers are wicked smart and have been buzzing around like busy little bees making me look like some sort of Salinger-esque recluse at best, or washed-up slacker at worst. I'm hgappy to say that (despite what you will find on the forums - which are exploding with haterz) a good number of them seem pleased with - or at least very intrigued by Far Cry 2... many having written actual criticism of the game.
Tom Chick, Ben Abraham, Chris Remo, Stephen Totilo and Mitch Krpata (among others) have given the game some high praise - in some cases listing it as or among their games of the year, with Ben citing the immersive qualities of the game as critical to his enjoyment, while roBurky challenges the game's application of immersion. Meanwhile - on the 'less related to me, but more important from a critical thought perspective' front, Steve's thoughts on Immersion are more engaging and more general, riffing off of Jon Blow's fantastic keynote at the MIGS 08 conference and picking up where my own thoughts on Immersion - as examined by The Brainy Gamer - were left weakly dangling. Thanks for picking up the slack guys. Hmm... that sounds condescending. How about 'thanks for bringing the rope, the sand pit, and two tug-of-war teams to a limp little noodle of nothing-but-slack I might have dropped in the playground somewhere'.
And speaking of slack... Iroquois Pliskin gives me none for my obtuse phrasing of 'ludonarrative dissonance'. He's right. But judging by the number of hits that crazy post still draws, the term itself seemed to somehow become a rallying cry - popping up wherever smart people were talking about game criticism, or the lack thereof (again, nothing to do with me - on August 18th game-story duality was the furthest thing from my mind... I was on a plane to Leipzig I think).
I said in my lament just over two years ago:
"We are this close to having an explosion in the field of game critical analysis. When Bogost doesn't have to spend half his time lamenting, and I don't have to spend five times as many words reiterating - when there does exist a small but noticable and steady stream of this kind of media analysis, all these wasted words will disappear and be replaced with more criticism and analysis. Bogost and myself and dozens of others will shift from complaining about not having the analysis to actually providing it. It's a tipping point. Once we reach it the slow linear growth of this kind of material that we see now will shift into a period of exponential growth, and we'll have arrived."
So I think we have arrived... even as Gamasutra lists 'not arriving' as their #2 biggest disappointment of the year. Maybe that's my contribution to this year in the game blogging world that I feel like I missed. Maybe - for what it's worth - stumbling back out into the wild with last year's map still in my hands is the perspective that I get to bring back in exchange for the perspective that you've all provided.
Let me say it again - things changed a lot in the last eighteen months. And it's great.
(Oh, and that part about being willing to pay a thousand dollars to overhear critical discussion of my game because I'd make it back tenfold... well, on double-checking my math, I take that back...)