The Pipwick Papers

By Philippa Warr on March 29th, 2015 at 1:00 pm.

It's an ant.

Last week I was in Iceland observing the international internet spaceship convention that is EVE Fanfest. It was fascinating stuff but ALAS meant an absence of Pipwick Papers on account of me not looking outside videogames for, like, five out of seven days. This week, however, I’ve taken a day off and have confirmed that the outside world is still doing things you might find interesting. Here’s this week’s roundup. Think of it as a geothermic spring, covering you in curious soothing warmth except the warmth is weblinks and the spring doesn’t exist and I’m making no guarantees about warmth or being soothed.

This is not the Sunday Papers.

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The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on March 29th, 2015 at 11:30 am.

Sundays are for sheltering from the harsh weather and cursing the time lords who stole an hour from your sleep. Better hunker down with a particularly fine selection of the week’s best (mostly) writing about games.

  • After the end of Saturday Crapshoot around six months ago, Richard Cobbett started a new PC Gamer column on story and writing in games. That sadly ended yesterday with this excellent piece on representations of depression in games, with Life Is Strange’s display of contact information for a suicide hotline as the starting point. No spoilers inside.
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    Build Shoot Loot Build: Captain Forever Remix Released

    By Alice O'Connor on March 28th, 2015 at 6:30 pm.

    Scavenging my zapped foes’ ships for parts to snap onto my own hulking monstrosity was a lark in Captain Forever, and I like the look of Captain Forever Remix [official site] even more. Not just for that new gorgeous cartoony art style.

    The licensed “remix” of the ship-building shoot ‘em up launched onto Steam Early Access yesterday, and I’ll have to pick it up because I can’t shake the feeling it might be the arcade roguelikelike to help stop The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth dominating my thoughts.

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    Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First Sin Prices And Upgrades

    By Alice O'Connor on March 28th, 2015 at 3:00 pm.

    Dark Souls II [official site] being upgraded with fancier DirectX 11-y graphics, reworked enemy and item placement, a few new items, and whatnot sounded great. Then it became clear that the ‘Scholar of the First Sin’ edition won’t come as an update but as a separate version of the game, and one folks will need to pay for, which sounds less great. At least it’ll offer discounts to upgrade.

    Upgrading from plain old Dark Souls II to the new version will cost you $20 (£13.50-ish, though we’ll see how generous regional pricing is) if you own already all the DLC or $30 (£20) if you don’t, publishers Bandai Namco announced yesterday as the launch rapidly nears.

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    The RPS Bargain Bucket: Frozen-satche

    By Cassandra Khaw on March 28th, 2015 at 12:00 pm.

    And I am freshly returned from Iceland, more or less intact. The foul weather only cost a single toe, although the locals were happy to replace it with a puffin claw. As such things go, it could have been worse – and I’m thrilled to discover all the world’s gaming sales didn’t cease during my absence. Enjoy this week’s Bargain Bucket and also this dapper plushie from dosbox!

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    What Are You Playing This Weekend?

    By Alice O'Connor on March 28th, 2015 at 11:30 am.

    And we repeat once more the question passed down through the ages, the question we ask to be polite and because we’re interested in you and because we’re a bit nosey in all honesty: what are you playing this weekend?

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    Electric Dreams, Part 4: The Lost Art Of Dreaming

    By Michael Cook on March 27th, 2015 at 10:00 pm.

    Electric Dreams is a five-part series about AI, academic research and video games, and how together they’re shaping the industry. Part one on the lost future of AI is here.

    The more we play games, the more we forget how much time it took us to learn the mysterious toolbox of language and skills that they require. Mostly we think of this toolbox as being full of things that enable us to do new things, like circle-strafing or that sixth sense that tells you to stuff ladders and paperclips into your pants in an adventure game, but in truth a lot of it actually controls what we think and do. If you’ve ever sat down to watch someone less familiar with games play something, you’ve probably witnessed something along these lines. They’ll do things that you instinctively know aren’t possible – trying to open doors that we know are part of the scenery, or repeating an action in an adventure game when we know it’s always going to have the same outcome. Sometimes when I play with someone new to games, they’ll ask me ‘How did you know that was the solution?’ and the answer is simply because I’ve been here before. On the surface it looks like skill, but in reality it’s a sign that we’ve learned to be obedient. A lifetime of playing games has taught us to be followers, and it is now a major factor in slowing down innovation and experimentation in games.

    So far in Electric Dreams we’ve discussed how innovation and artificial intelligence in particular has stalled somewhat, but now it’s time to look to the future, and talk about how to start it up again. In this article I want to turn the spotlight on you, RPS readers, and talk about a culture shift I’d like to see happen to games. A shift from knowing that things aren’t possible, to wondering if they could be. A chance to start dreaming again, to ask big questions so that people have a reason to go and find answers. I think we can do it, but you might need to forget everything you’ve ever learned about games to make it happen.

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    Asteroids Sandbox Survival Reimagining On Early Access

    By Alice O'Connor on March 27th, 2015 at 9:00 pm.

    “This ain’t your grandpa’s Asteroids,” I wish the creature wrapped in the flesh of Atari would hiss. Sadly not. That’s the kind of line I’d like when a classic game becomes something so very, very modern. And what way to reinterpret the vintage space shoot ‘em up could be any more modern than a multiplayer sandbox survival game? That’s Asteroids: Outpost [official site], you guys, and it has launched in that thoroughly modern manner: onto Steam Early Access.

    “Welcome to the new gold rush” is its wholly unironic slogan. Oh, go on, that’ll do. Atari are only getting started with weird takes on old games too.

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    Join The RPS Supporter Program, Fund Great Writing, Receive Free Gifts, And Satisfy Horace The Endless Bear

    By RPS on March 27th, 2015 at 8:00 pm.

    It’s been six months since we launched the RPS Supporter Program, the method through which wonderful people help us produce words and videos about PC games. This means that, for those who paid for the six month package, your accounts will be about to expire.

    This is where we try to compel you to re-subscribe, with new gifts and reminders of all we’ve accomplished together.

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    Impressions: Homesick

    By Alec Meer on March 27th, 2015 at 7:00 pm.

    Not quite walking Dear Esther, not quite Myst, Homesick‘s an extremely pretty first-person mood piece propelled by environmental puzzles. I think the unfinished version I’ve played has some big flaws, but I also think a lot of people are going to love it. My eyes certainly did.
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    Third-Person Rail Shooter Roguelike: Hellion

    By Adam Smith on March 27th, 2015 at 6:00 pm.

    this is a turn-based game

    I’ve been casting my net into the 7 Day Roguelike pool again. No fish this time, but I did catch a turn-based third-person rail shooter. I’ve played turn-based chariot racing games, (sort of) turn-based first-person shooters and turn-based R-Type, but I think this is the first turn-based third-person rail shooter I’ve ever seen. Imagine Space Harrier as a roguelike and then imagine Afterburner as a roguelike. Now squish them together and you’ll be left with a glorious concoction that’s bristling with spaceplanes, weird aliens and lasers. It probably looks quite a bit like Hellion.

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    You Make Your Big Move: F1 2015 Talks Up New Handling

    By Alice O'Connor on March 27th, 2015 at 5:00 pm.

    Codemasters announced this year’s Formula 1 game alongside last year’s, which looked a bit like a ‘Well, we aren’t quite ready for next-gen systems yet so how about if we just release next year’s early once we figure that out?’ gesture. With a June release scheduled, they’re now showing a few screenshots and talking about what’s new to F1 2015 [official site] other than flashier graphics.

    Handling, mostly. The big ‘ooh let’s start talking about this’ blog post goes on about car handling a lot, which is probably important for a game essentially all about handling.

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    Watch Pretty Wandering In The Lost Valley’s Trailer

    By Alice O'Connor on March 27th, 2015 at 4:00 pm.

    Total Alicebait.

    I watched all six minutes and twenty-two seconds of The Lost Valley’s [Greenlight page] trailer expecting a jump scare. I’ve come to associate pretty ‘realistic’ natural landscapes with sandbox survival and jump ‘em ups, and appropriately expect cannibals, sharks, and Slender Men. No, not here. It’s simply six minutes of someone wandering down forested paths, wading through streams, and poking around scraps of abandoned civilisation.

    Curiously, the makers’ last game was one of those pretty world spookfests, Lex Mortis [Steam page], which seems to be praised for prettiness but cursed for many of its gamey bits. Sorted!

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