Week in Review

OnlySP Week in Review – Feb. 19, 2017

Feb. 19, 2017

And so ends another week… It’s hard to believe that 2017 is passing so quickly (for me, at least).

Around OnlySP:

Big news this week as we welcomed a new writer to our team, Dylan Warman. Dylan has some previous experience in games journalism, writing for the now defunct HypeGeeks, but he’s looking to grow his talents with OnlySP, and we are very happy to have him on board with us. He’s already produced one news article, but readers should really start seeing the fruits of his labours in the coming weeks.

Content-wise, the highlight of this past week was my review of Eastshade Studios’s debut game, Leaving Lyndow. While it is a very enjoyable adventure, certain elements are lacking, which leaves it feeling like a lesser experience than it could have been, unfortunately. Despite its shortcomings, however, the game has done nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for Eastshade. With that being said, and in light of what I wrote last week about three reviews, I’m going to stop disappointing OnlySP readers by hyping up content that keeps getting delayed.

While more content is, of course, in the works, I want to take this opportunity to ask you what you want to see more of on OnlySP. What segments of the contemporary gaming industry interest you most: AAA, indie, or VR? Do you want to see more reviews? More opinion pieces, or essay-editorials, perhaps? How about interviews or retrospectives? While we can’t promise anything, given that our output is determined by our availability and what options are open to us, we will, most certainly, take your opinions on board.

A Focus on Focus:

A few short years ago, only the most informed gamers would have been aware of Focus Home Interactive, but since 2012, the publisher has become one of the most prolific purveyors of single-player experiences in the world. While Ubisoft, EA, Activision, the console manufacturers, and most other major publishers have expanded outwards, seeking to profit from the emergent trends of multiplayer, motion control, AR, and VR, Focus has doubled down on the core. While most of its output is, admittedly, less polished than the ideas deserve, the company continues to march forward, supporting games that have a spark of brilliance behind their design.

In my opinion, publishing companies should do more than just watch the bottom line to ensure that investors are kept happy. No matter what the industry, publishers (or in the case of film, producers) have a duty of care to nourish fledgling creators, training them to do better in their craft and helping them to establish themselves. Although Focus Home Interactive tends to partner with the same developers time and again, more studios have come under their wing in recent times, including Dontnod (Vampyr), Enigami (Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom), Streum On (Space Hulk: Deathwing),and Asobo (A Plague Tale: Innocence), and such partnerships are mutually beneficial. To be fair, such credit should not be granted solely to one company, and the efforts of Square-Enix, EA, and Sony Santa Monica to incubate and nurture new developers need also be mentioned, however, Focus Home Interactive has the added bonus of filling a gap that emerged with the PS3 and Xbox 360.

As the seventh console generation wore on, the so-called AA sector of the industry faded away, creating a sharp segregation between the blockbuster AAA productions and the indie market. Games had to be either big or small to gain attention, and many of the companies that produced efforts that failed to fall into one of those categories faded away, to the detriment of the entire industry. Nowadays, Focus Home Interactive occupies that space almost exclusively, its games niche products that capture attention for their ideas and flak for their execution. Despite this, my attention keeps returning to the company as one that has my interests, and the interests of the OnlySP readership, as its highest priority. So long as we have a bastion such as Focus, single-player gaming has a safe future.

Personal Update:

My partner and I are making our final preparations before our international move next month, which means resigning from our jobs, and selling our furniture, as well as applying for new jobs, looking for places to stay, and all the lovely plans that are inevitably associated with a big life change, so I’m sure you can appreciate that I have been very busy, and will continue to be so for quite some time. Despite all of that, I completed the fourth novel in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series, Clariel. If I’m being honest, it was not as good as the preceding stories, tending to become too bogged down in incidental details that are secondary to the main plot. The problems were compounded by the sense that some of the events failed to line up with certain comments and elements of the previous books. Prequels are always tricky, though, and it takes a deft hand to balance the desire to tell a backstory with the need to do it in a way that leads to predetermined events without feeling unnecessary. For the most part, Nix achieves that balance, but Clariel was still a less entrancing experience that its forebears. So far, Goldenhand, the latest entry in the series is better, but I’ll save my thoughts on that for next weekend.

Until then, all the best, everyone.

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