The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on January 27th, 2008 at 3:02 pm.


A quick Sunday Papers to relax to this week, as I’m terribly hungover and still have Le Tigre songs spinning around my head from last night’s dancefloor and I’m going to have to do it quickly, or I’m going to end up linking to Live versions of Hot Topic or something.

Failed.

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25 Comments »

  1. Chris Nahr says:

    Troy S. Goodfellow takes apart Nathan Toronto’s taking apart of the RTS:
    http://flashofsteel.com/index.php/2008/01/25/the-future-of-the-rts-its-already-here/

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    Ooh, aces. I’ll edit that in.

  3. Alex says:

    I remember McGee writing on his blog about writing a script for an “Alice” film.

    I’ve become very, very weary of American McGee Presents, ever since the steaming turd that was Bad Day L.A., a game which could’ve been quite good, but seemed to have been written by an angsty 13-year-old.

  4. wiper says:

    Man, I’m glad that counterpoint got put in there. The anti-RTS rant was just so… wrong. And I can’t stand RTS’s. His claiming that RTS’s are all about tactics made my brain cry a little, and things only seemed to go downhill from there. Ho-hum.

  5. Hobbes says:

    Hmm, I’m surprised Toronto managed to spiel out his misapprehension thatm because they are called RTS’s they should have strategy inm over four pages.

    Really, its just a bad choice of genre name, that has become a standard tag for a particular set of game mechanics (see also RPG). His suggestions would either

    A) make astonishingly bad RTS’s (Dawn Of War II: This time its diplomacy) or

    B) make a good game that removes itself from the RTS genre (Total War IV: This time a degree in ancient History would help),

    Just a thought. And I didn’t read the rebuttal, so if this thought is then too, its a mere coincidence.

  6. Okami says:

    The thing about most RTSs is: Their background story is about total war. I don’t think Terrans and Zergs in Starcraft would make a cease fire treaty or something. And don’t even get me started on 40K. The empire doesn’t need to listen to it’s populace. If they don’t like the way things are run, they’re branded heretics and their planet get’s virus bombed into oblivion.

    Also: Games are highly abstract affairs. The peasants gathering resources 24/7 are really just symbols for the part of your economy that’s dedicated to the war’s efforts.

    I do agree with the author, that most RTSs are tactical games and not strategy games. But hey! So what, most RPGs have nothing to do with role-playing either. It’s the name of the genre and it stuck. Live with it.

    And yes, it really is ironic, that the author used the phrase “total war” so often, yet never mentions the Total War series (which isn’t about Total War anyway, especially in the Medieval games you don’t have to exterminate everybody).

    Total War games are about strategy, the turn based mode as well as the RTS mode. Hell, it’s a viable strategy in Total War, NOT to win a battle. Using an army made up only of light cavalry to destroy the siege units of a force ten times it’s size before it reaches one of your cities and then retreating is perfectly possible. That’s what I call strategy!

    (Ok, so most often you just spam the best units you have and send them stomping over everybody else, hoping that the spoils of war will make up for the huge upkeep and the tremendous strain you put on your economy!)

  7. Mike says:

    that piece on Gerstmann certainly wraps it up from me, given that it is as long as every other piece on it put together. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty good look at the subject. I have tried to argue, though, that we should neither be surprised, or appalled, that a website such as game spot has taken such action.
    If it had been a largely independent website, I could understand a surprise. But anyone visiting a website that is as ad-driven as game spot looking for independent comment, when he has the entire of the Internet around him, is asking to be let down.

    In case this comment seems a bit off – I’m using speech-to-text. I am having mixed success.

  8. Troy Goodfellow says:

    Godhead? Really? Hey, Kieron, us Yankee reviewers don’t have delusions of grandeur. ;)

    I guess Toronto’s basic complaint is that RTS games aren’t 4X games. He wants subtle diplomacy and multiple motivation where the typical RTS is in a setting where the war is already presumed.

    Sins of a Solar Empire will be an interesting evolution for both genres, I think. It’s not, like the Total War games, fundamentally a turn-based title, nor is it a game like the Paradox ones that makes the real time manageable through big-ass maps. It’s a real 4x game with true real-time mechanics like harvesting, simple research trees and counter-units. I’m still not sold on how the diplomacy will work, since a 4x game needs a little more these days than what I saw in the latest beta. But Sins could point the way to “deeper” RTS.

  9. Kast says:

    Definitive? Exhaustive, extensive… long

    Kennedy’s dissertation was well worth the time to read it through to the end as it puts the entire Gerstmann situation in wonderful perspective. The analysis of the history, causes and related issues should be required reading on games journalism.

    Not wanting to flog a dead donkey but I simply don’t trust the current incarnation of GameSpot anymore. It never was my primary source of games information but it was part of my library of sources. No longer and not until editorial control is returned to the gamers.

  10. Okami says:

    I saw a trailer for an indie RTS “Hegemony: Philip of Macedo” on game trailers a few months back. I think they are trying to do pretty much what Toronto’s looking for.

    The graphics are rather ugly, but the whole concept ist rather intriguing. A bit like Total War, where the campaign mode is running in real-time too..

    Diplomacy doesn’t seem to play such a crucial role, but then again Alexander wasn’t really known for his diplomatic skills..

    http://ldagames.com/hegemony/

  11. Steve says:

    The Rogue Entertainment game is a first-person shooter based in a dystopic dark version of Carroll’s Wonderland.

    Er… what? I’m fairly sure that last time I played Alice it was third-person and not a shooter?

  12. Yhancik says:

    @Steve : that reminds me of that time a (frenchspeaking) bad videogames reviewer on TV described Max Payne as a “third person FPS”. And it wasn’t supposed to be a witty statement on the gameplay.

  13. Leeks! says:

    Seems to me that anyone from the old Buffy camp would be a good choice to write Alice, but… oh, yeah.

  14. Chis says:

    American McGee’s Alice was a surreal, unique experience. The gameplay wasn’t quite as sharp as some other third person action games of the time, but it has a tremendously twisted atmosphere. Almost reason enough to play it.

    There’s so little true creativity in “big-budget” games these days.

  15. Arathain says:

    I think, in terms of visual design at least, that the Schoolhouse level from Alice is one of the finest levels in gaming.

    Nothing after that bit quite matched up, but the game had a really consistently top notch aesthetic. I never finished it, mind.

  16. Jonathan says:

    Okami. Total War doesn’t mean exterminating the enemy instead it’s when the nations entire economy is shifted to war. Such as the in the two world wars where can factories were rebuilt as shell factories. As these are the only elements you interact with in most games they are total war. Total War itself only narrowly avoids it by allowing you to build civic buildings.
    But really with the Relic I’m seeing the traditional rts turning into a realtime version of the old tactical squad games like syndicate or x-com i.e low unit count but high micromanagement.

  17. Zeno, Internetographer says:

    I’d like for there to be at least one RTS that was really, truely based around military strategy. Like, someone take Sun-Tzu’s Art of War and make a game around it.

    Also, is it just me, or is Alice the only good thing American McGee has ever done?

  18. Mo says:

    @Zeno:
    Shogun: Total War was exactly that. How well they pulled it off is another argument entirely.

    American McGee worked at id software before he did his own thing. He was responsible for some of the best deathmatch maps ever created.

  19. MEOW says:

    I would like to hear what music the other RPS guys like. It’s probably a lot better than constantly listening to Lé Crapré

  20. MEOW says:

    There’s ment to be a ! on the end of that.

    Zeno: McGee was a doom level designer. He was Carkmack’s “favouite” for some time as well, upsetting poor old grumpy-boots Romero.

  21. Kieron Gillen says:

    I just like flauting my feminist credentials.

    KG

  22. Alex says:

    Feminist credentials out for the lads?

  23. Alex says:

    Aww, look at that, Nathan Toronto mentions your linkage on his blog:

    http://flashofsteel.com/index.php/2008/01/28/me-and-my-big-mouth/

  24. matte_k says:

    I liked McGee’s Alice, it did have a unique atmosphere, and the weapon design (flamingo croquet mallets, jacks, playing cards etc.) was inspired. But yes, I think it is the only good thing he’s done since leaving Id. Scrapland was awful.

    And what the hell is Hollywood’s obsession with making films of games? Taking the interactivity element out can’t be a good thing surely? Have we not learnt anything from the walking abomination that is Uwe Boll?

  25. Troy Goodfellow says:

    Alex, that’s my blog – not Nathan Toronto’s. And the mention was more to take a cheap shot at what a small time Godhead I am.

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