Salmagundi for Friday, November 7th, 2008

Interview with Chris Slemp, MSDN


Here’s another video interview featuring Yours Truly at the PDC: it’s with Chris Slemp, Program Manager for the Server and Tools Online group at Microsoft. In the interview, we talk about MSDN and its new social bookmarking feature.

Click here to watch the video.

“Grim Fandango’s” Puzzle Document


If you’re looking to get into the mind of a game designer and the design of one of the most highly-regarded computer adventures games, be sure to check out the Grim Fandango Puzzle Document. Tim Schafer, in “a temporary fit of Cake-induced Grim nostalgia,” decided to put the game’s puzzle design document online in PDF form (it’s 2.3MB in size).

Here’s a great summary of the Grim Fandango Puzzle Document, written by Andy Geers:

I use that word "crafted" because that’s exactly what this newly released document shows: true craftsmanship. We see the incredible attention to detail, the pacing of the narrative as it builds and as the puzzles get increasingly sophisticated, always coaxing the player along with them. As somebody whose spent the last few years trying to write my own adventure game, what struck me most about this document is the sheer simplicity of it – it’s well established that it takes a great deal of clarity and hard work to boil down something so vast as Grim Fandango into such a simple representation that conveys so much information in such a succinct way.

It’s a considerably more interesting read than most specs.

My Job-Related Reading List

Nothing gives you that frozen-caveman-thawed-in-modern-times feeling like returning to a software platform after not developing in it in seven years. Getting back into the swing of Microsoft’s development tools has been fun so far, but it is, as a lot of people have told me, like drinking from the firehose.


To quickly get acclimated with C#, ASP.NET and XNA, I’m expensing the following books I bought today:

I’ll let you know what I think of these books as I read them.

“Zero Punctuation” Reviews

And finally, a couple of reviews from my all-time favourite game reviewer, Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw. The first one’s for Saints Row 2, which includes a great argument for why it might actually be a better game than Grand Theft Auto IV as well as a brilliant concept for a new game:

and here’s the latest review, for Dead Space, which he summarizes as “competent but bland”. Luckily, his review is anything but…


Zero Punctuation on “Spore”: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Oh, how I enjoy Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s game reviews in his video series Zero Punctuation. In this installment, he covers (and savages) Will Wright’s long-awaited game, Spore. Thankfully, he skips complaining about the DRM, which I heard plenty about already. After hearing his review, DRM sounds like the least of the game’s problems…


Zero Punctuation’s Bang-On Review of “Too Human”

Some of my coworkers at b5 were all hot-and-bothered about the demo for the XBox 360 game Too Human, so I decided to download it and give it a try. I played it and was generally less than impressed with both the gameplay and especially the storyline (like Assassin’s Creed, the story’s a rather clumsy mish-mash of swords-and-sorcery and sci-fi genres).

Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, the fast-trash-talking host of the excellent videogame review show Zero Punctuation agrees with me. He panned the game in his trademark fashion: