By the time I got around to Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (which I’m playing on my phone using the touchscreen), I was well aware of the game’s reputation for inducing rage and frustration in its players. I had watched a number of Let’s Plays, in which gamers (particularly Markiplier) lost their cool, screaming in rage as they failed over and over again.
The game is based off a simple mechanic: a man in a cast-iron pot swings a hammer to climb the mountain — but its actual execution is exceedingly difficult. The hammer doesn’t swing the way you expect it to, and it takes a significant amount of trial and error to simply figure out how it functions and get over the first tree you encounter in the game. Not to mention the increasingly difficult challenges that lie ahead.
I’ll write a bit more about my ongoing struggle with trying to beat the game (I am very stuck at the moment) and how it makes me feel in another post. Short version: it is indeed frustrating, but in a way that I personally find oddly satisfying.
For the moment, I’d like to focus on the way Getting Over It approaches game writing — rather than providing a traditional narrative, the game presents a more philosophical approach. When the game opens up and the player faces the first obstacles, Bennett Foddy begins his narrations by warning the player about the challenges ahead:
The Game Writing Guide: Get Your Dream Job and Keep It by Anna Megill is a wonderfully practical guide to understanding how to build and maintain a career as a writer in the games industry. Her advice — which is based off interviews with dozens of writer mentors, as well as her own experience writing for games such as Fable, Control, and Dishonored, among others — runs the full gamut, from job hunting, writing resumes and cover letters, building a portfolio, and interviews to moving up within the company once you have the job and leadership roles.
All of this advice is delivered in simple, well-organized, and straightforward manner — with little dashes of humor sprinkled in — making the book easy to ready and follow. Where Megill is less confident in her commentary, she admits so upfront and presents insights of other mentors or other avenues for seeking this information.
With so many folks vying for writing jobs at the moment, I thought I’d highlight a few of the takeaways I found particularly helpful thus far. Each of these bits of advice are primarily on the job hunting side of things (as opposed to the job keeping side), since I’m still at the stage of looking for full-time work in games.
Playing Giant Sparrow’s powerful and moving game, What Remains of Edith Finch, for a second time was just as wonderful and heartbreaking an experience as it was the first. In particular, this second time around, I was impressed by the way the game layers narrative through multiple unreliable narrators.
Primarily there is the titular character Edith Finch, who narrates most of the story in a journal. As she returns to her family home — pregnant and uncertain about her future — she explores the house, digging through the objects, photographs, journals, and messages left behind. Her words guide the reader (and player) through the rooms of the house and into the past, as she wonders why her family has maintained such a history of tragedy and loss. Is her family really cursed? Or has her family merely given into the narrative of being cursed, allowing it to lead them become reckless in the way they approach their lives?
Her Story is an analog-style narrative adventure game written and directed by Sam Barlow (who founded Half Mermaid). Players open on a ’90s computer screen and are given access to recordings of a police interviews with a woman over the course of several months. As the player watches these clips (ranging from a few seconds to a minute long), they discover new key words about the case, which allows them to search and find more clips — slowly unraveling the events of the case (at least, we learn as much as the woman tells us).
My April was full of project work and travel, so I didn’t play many games last month. But while I was on one of my flights, I did delve a little bit into a couple of great games available on Apple Arcade.
I’ve started playing Mutazione (developed by Die Gute Fabrik), which imagines a future in which a meteor has struck Earth, causing a percentage of humans to mutate. The group of these folks live peacefully on a beautiful island, called Mutazione. The story focuses on a young woman who travels to the island to visit her ailing grandfather and get to know the residents who have become his family.
This is a charming, chill game, mostly involving exploring the island and talking to people to get to know them and occasionally help them out with their personal struggles. In addition, the game involves some gardening, with the player using specific music to help the plants grow faster. This act of gardening is a crucial aspect of supporting the community, and it’s fun to select plants to create an aesthetically pleasing garden, based on its location.
I’m several hours in an having a good time exploring. It’s a great game for a relaxing time, just sitting back and getting to know this world. I’m definitely interested in playing more and learning more about these characters and their stories.
I also dipped my toes into Fantasian, a Japanese-style RPG developed by Mistwalker (based in Hawaii). The art style is rather beautiful and it seems like it could have a fun story — however, I’m not vibing with turn-based combat right now, so I’m putting this one aside after only playing for about an hour.