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The Rural USA Zombie/Ghoul Genre

Posted September 9th, 2010. Filed under ,

- Whirlwind tour here, folks.Two years ago when I moved into a house in Florida I said “God damn it, I’m never moving again.” Then I moved to New York City and said “Moving is for suckers, good thing I’m in this Great City.” Well, I’m moving again, this time to a cheaper city to contemplate my options. And it is just a stressful as it always is.

Unemployment this time around has left me a bit crestfallen and unmotivated. I know that this situation is entirely not my fault, but I’m still left feeling inadequate. I’m trying to distract myself by writing. My writing has significant problems but I suppose all writers feel that way about drafts. I’ve got some board games in embryonic form and one that I am submitting to publishers.

In a self-promoting turn, I’m quoted in the debut issue of Handshake Magazine about violence in gaming. The magazine is free and full of great articles with eye-pleasing layout, so check it out.

– I have had time to play a few games. I’m utterly torn by Deadly Premonition. It is wholly awful, but it exudes this sort of creative artistry that shows someone cared for it. I read the postmortem in GameDeveloper and wanted to chuck it across the room when I read how long they spent making real event cycles for the townsfolk and other behind-the-scenes stuff. Maybe they could have spent some time on making the controls not stiff and unresponsive? Or maybe they could have hired someone who has at least written a short story to do the dialogue. In the way of a lot of Japanese-derived voice acting they take thirty second pauses between lines, so when there is literally a four minute scene where the characters introduce themselves to each other and no action or development happens at all, I want to get the source code and just comment out the whole scene.

Other than that, it has some interesting themes going on. You can pick it up for like fifteen bucks now. But be prepared for some gristle.

If you were a fan of Dead Rising then the demo-slash-prequel Dead Rising Two: Case Zero is probably for you. (Dead Rising hit a two run walk-off in the bottom of the ninth to beat Case Zero, if you are looking for the box score.) Here’s another instance where I am torn by the writing. In the opening scene, there is a very tense revelation of backstory as you find out that the child was infected by her own mother and that the father has sacrificed for her. Yay for characters with motivation!

Then you get into the game proper and it just lacks any sense of subtlety. There’s the pair of, ahem, ladies, on a bachelorette party complaining about how “omigod, not hot” it is that they are stuck in a bowling alley with some zombies. Uh, what? The auteur side of me wants to say that this is (as was Dawn of the Dead that the series is based off of) a commentary on the shallowness of popular American culture. There’s evidence to support this. Zombies still stand at the slot machines in the casino compelled even post-mortem (ha! Used that in two different ways this post. Achievement unlocked). There are a pair of “extreme” athlete fans that stay put fighting packs of zombies because it’s “awesome”. If I was working on this, I’d have put a zombie on a computer in the police station with a little image of Farmville on the monitor. But then I look at the lack of subtlety thrown in across the board (sure, there are motorbike forks sitting in this locked shed, why not) and just want to assume they are being silly because it’s their damn canvas and they can use whatever paints they wish.

But here’s an honest question: how does a town with ten buildings have a thousand zombies wondering on the street? Where did those people live? Where did they come from? Who are they? Why do they congregate on the streets? The Willamette shopping mall thing made sense – these folks come from the various burbs. Here it just looks like they were using the copy-paste tool to make it scary.

Here’s another question: why does a hunting supply store have a display of broadswords?

Here’s another question: how was Zombrex named, packaged, manufactured and distributed in a few days/weeks?

Here’s another question: How does Chuck attach nails to a propane tank without rupturing the tank?

Here’s another question: Ah, screw it. I’m thinking too much.

I guess you want to know if it is fun. It is! I played it through twice and cannot wait for the full game. I’d give my pinky finger to design on a Dead Rising game. I love ‘em.

– I should write more on here, but when I think about games I start getting pensive and sad, so I’ve been avoiding it. I will rectify the situation.

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