Writin’, but not spitin’

In my experience, editors-in-chief of large websites rarely do much writing. It turns out this is for good reason: There are a lot of details to manage at that level, and finding the time to do anything is a challenge. But while 1UP is considered one of the larger gaming publications (outside of the insurmountable behemoths that are IGN and GameSpot), our staff is, well, kind of tiny these days. Everybody has to pitch in and be useful on every level. So, I give to you a few of the visible things that ate my time this week:

  • An Aliens: Infestation review. Besides the conceptual complaints I have about Infestation, it also has a few spots of careless level design (occasional pointless dead-ends, and the odd large expanses of level you’ll travel without finding any weapon or health pick-ups only to stumble across a huge cache one room over from a save station that replenishes your ammo and energy). However, it’s pretty danged great. Please consider picking it up next week (unless you’re in the UK, in which case pick it up today).
  • A fresh Super Mario 3D Land hands-on looking at a pieces of few newly revealed stages. I am quite in love with the handful of people who took my lead to be a complaint about 3D Land’s lack of innovation when in fact it was a statement declaring that innovation doesn’t matter when a game is this fun. Thank you, white knights of the Internet; your video game chivalry may blind you to subtext, but at least it means chivalry isn’t dead.
  • Another look at The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword that specifically examines how the game’s out-of-dungeon structure works.The answer is, “really well.”

The latter articles reflect the approach I’ve increasingly been taking in my previews, which is, “Don’t just recount a blow-by-blow playthrough of the game.” You can find multiple previews of any given game with a few clicks these days, so there’s no real value in just stating obvious facts that any article can provide. These days, I’m more interesting in talking about the experience of playing it, or focusing on specific facets of the game, rather than just giving readers a checklist of what their first x hours of the game will be like. I figure you’ll do that yourself sooner or later, and you’re probably more interesting in hearing about the bigger picture rather than just having various chunks of the game splayed out and dissected. I hope. I admit, I’ll be bummed if I’m mistaken.

Edit: Oh, right. I also posted some thoughts — not quite reverential, but nevertheless respectful — on Steve Jobs. Because I’m sure you haven’t read enough of those over the past few days.

Also, it looks like we’ll be able to offer eBook versions of GameSpite Journal (and presumably back issues as well) in the very near future. Pretty exciting.

8 thoughts on “Writin’, but not spitin’

  1. The deeper exploration of some interesting or unique facet is absolutely what I look for in previews (or reviews, for that matter). This sort of thing is why I always read your stuff, regardless of whether I’m interested in the game you’re writing about.

    A preview that hashes out the first few hours (or a review that itemizes the particular features of a game) has value to me only in a very narrow context: when I’m truly on the fence about investing my time and money into a game. But an article that makes an interesting point or analyzes some unique aspect is valuable to me just for the new insight or perspective it provides.

    I already know I’m getting Skyward Sword, so if the article didn’t say something neat, it would have been a waste of my time–it wasn’t! Another recent example was your coverage of Catherine, a game there was no chance of me getting, but which I found very interesting nonetheless.

    To summarize: I very much appreciate your approach.

  2. I picked up Aliens Infestation and Dark Souls today, so my gaming time should be very well spent for some time. Also Forza 4 arrives next week, so even better.

  3. I really appreciate the alternate approach to previews. When scrolling through stories I generally zip right past previews because they tend to consist of ‘and then I did this, and then I did this, and then this cool thing happened! and then I did this…’ Thanks for trying to shake it up a little!

  4. Really like the ’roundtable’ previews 1UP has been doing. For the most part, though, previews are probably the only area that I don’t really look for depth. But there’s always room for more, different approaches.

  5. Putting my cynical hat on for a minute, do you think it’s possible that given Aliens: Infestation was meant to be a tie-in with Colonial Marines WayForward weren’t given a big enough budget to do it properly (ie, the little touches and whatnot mentioned in the review) but instead did as well as possible given the constraints? Hopefully if it sells well enough they’ll be given an opportunity at a 3DS sequel.

  6. Will the eBook versions be compatible with the Kindle? That’s my ereader of choice.

    Also, your piece on Aliens: Infestation is enough to have me ordering a copy right now. You’d better be right! ;)

  7. I understand that things are really busy at 1up, but could you still find some time to shoot some more of those videos where you and other 1up team members play random arcade games? Or maybe even non arcade games? I’d love to see you, Scooter, and Bob Mackey chilling out on the couch playing Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter for an hour.

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