Phantomatica

Home of Ian McCamant, writer and game designer.

De-Void and The Power of Implication in Game Narrative

Submerged though I am in the preliminary drafts of the next project, I’ve decided to come up for air once again to update this increasingly anemic blog. With all efforts at PulseTense geared towards the imminent release of De-Void, I wanted to talk a bit about our wild-west approach to narrative design in this exploration-driven […]

More of the Same: Why Game Sequels Work

So, it turns out that blogs left unattended don’t take on a life of their own, unlike the contents of my refrigerator. This is the lesson I learned upon returning from my seclusion in the PulseTense writing chamber, where we’ve been crafting De-Void, which will be coming out in August. I suppose I’ve got to […]

Between the Lines: Games and Diegesis

It is common practice to think of games, in their narrative capacity, as a purely mimetic form. A game places you in a fictional scenario, in the shoes of a character or characters through which you experience a phantasmal world. You interact directly with a world represented through the art direction, mechanical design, etc. of […]

Eternal Return: The Morality of Dark Souls

FromSoftware has been on quite a roll for the last half a decade, churning out top notch hardcore RPGs to a rabid fanbase whose idea of fun involves running into a brick wall over and over again until they finally break through by the force of sheer perseverance. In the process, FromSoftware has managed to […]

Freedom and Consequence: The Importance of Narrative in Choice-Driven Games

Even the briefest glance away from the slew of glorified rail-shooters that comprise the contemporary catalog of modern, triple-A actioners reveals that the world of gaming narrative is bound up by the question of player choice. This is hardly a new phenomenon–indeed, the player’s freedom to impact a fantastic world according to their will traces […]

Social Construct: Life is Strange and Female Representation in Games

In the months since GamerGate achieved its terminal velocity, there has been a measure of discussion on female representation in games, both in the industry and in the narrative of the games themselves. While this conversation is crucially important, there has been a prevailing conventional wisdom that claims a strong female character is simply a gender swap […]

Torment Revisited

If you’re anything like me, the Early Access release of Torment: Tides of Numenera got your blood boiling, and the game’s full release can’t come quickly enough. Seeing as we’re nearly two decades  out from the release of the original Torment, widely considered among the best RPGs of all time–if not the best–the time seems […]

Found Footage: The Potential for Epistolary Narrative in Games

How do you present a living, breathing universe? ThAll Postsis question confronts all sorts of storytellers to some extent, but perhaps never so immediately as in the realm of games. Indeed, any narrative-driven game has to bestow upon the player the feeling of participating in a world, an organic space with an existence of its […]

Dossier – ISHTAR

============================================================================ Velu 22, GSY 1816 To: Lt. D.F.W. Kim’Vel From: Mgt. Wolfe H. Zorran, CHR RE: GRATA Follow-­up ============================================================================ Lieutenant Kim’Vel: I’m sure you’re already well aware of the excitement surrounding the detection by the GRATA team of a signal originating in the Andromeda collision fields this weekend. Already I’m up to my ears in […]

The Big Machine: The Anti-Modernism of A Machine for Pigs

There’s an argument to be made that Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs is so heavy handed in its critique of industrialism that it requires no examination or analysis. Such a claim goes hand in hand with the conventional cynicism whereby man’s inhumanity to man is an anthropological axiom. Greed, and its derivative violence and exploitation […]

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