The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on April 20th, 2008 at 7:29 pm.

Everyone from RPS is away at the moment. It's madness. This is no way to run a blog.
The day is almost over, so a relatively truncated version of the Sunday Papers today. The idea of this RPS-regular – in fact, THE RPS regular, as it’s the most regular thing we do – is that we link to some more of the extended thinky-pieces to chew over on Sunday, and do so in such a rush before we link to an old post rock record featuring lyrics about bodily fluids in hair.

Failed.

.

26 Comments »

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  1. Cian says:

    I saw a comment from the Rev Stuart Campbell printed in The Times last week.

    It made me afraid the internet was invading reality.

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    Passed 2 anonymous demonstrations when I was in London last week. Also, I’ve been in 2 bars in London in the past 2 weeks, and have been recognised each time.

    I know the feeling.

    KG

  3. Janek says:

    Ooh I wasn’t aware of the existence of Ape Has Killed Ape!

    Good work, Kieron.

  4. Turin Turambar says:

    What you win in a RTS having “clarity and precision” is what you lose in the “strategy and tactics” part. So, it’s all about what type of competition you want, a competition about precision with the mouse, or a competition about strategy with the brain.

  5. Alex says:

    Ouch, Campbell really goes to town in that comments thread. A good read, oh yes.

  6. no1caresbutu says:

    I have never before seen someone so thoroughly and viciously thrashed in an argument than what Rev Stuart Campbell did to Bruce in the comments section of that post about Imagine software.

  7. Dude says:

    About the relic vs starcraft guy, I stoped reading when I reached this:
    Some might say, “Isn’t that just purely physical skill?” Well, yes, but the balance between physical skill and strategic skill is part of any RTS – just as the balance between how quickly you can target someone’s head and tactical knowledge is part of any FPS. If there were no micromanagement in real time strategy games then they’d just be turn based strategy games, and we already have a genre for those.

    Relic devs don’t try to remove micromanagement, they try to make it more tactical by giving some degree of “freedom” to the unit. They are not mindless robots anymore, this make the game more real… Sure it hurts when your “skills” dont help you, tactical play is not about micromanagement…

  8. Kadayi says:

    Interesting read by Bill Harris, and his explanation of and history of ‘The Brute’ (they want our women..and our women might like it…OMG big penis alert!!! oh noes!!!). The only contention I have with ‘the Brute’ is that it was pretty much an American racial stereotype very much tied to those born free from slavery (one that’s haunted African/Americans since), but isn’t necessarily true for how the world at large perceive all non African/American black people. The Italians and the Germans are both white, but there are completely different racial stereotypes (both positive & negative) regarding both. I don’t think people necessarily put Gang bangers in Compton, Haitians and Kenyans all in the same stereotype box tbh, it’s a bit broad brush to assume ‘the brute’ translates collectively across continents. However there are certainly some pretty negative stereotypes to be found in Africa with genocidal tribal conflicts and despotic regimes leading the charge, and I think Africa was a poor choice for RE5s setting, given the conflicted nature of the region.

  9. oryly says:

    The Brian Everiss vs Stuart Campbell discussion is crazy. That Everiss guy keeps avoiding questions and doesn’t even seem to be addressing Campbell’s more important points.

  10. RichPowers says:

    I never finished StarCraft because the game’s caught so far up its own ass with little nuances and micromanagement. How again is that supposed to be fun? I’ve always favored RTS games that focus on broad strategy. SC’s rampant popularity totally escapes me, but then again I also think Counter-Strike is a stinking turd too.

  11. The Fanciest Of Pants says:

    The Bruce Everiss vs Stuart Cambell struggle is just amazing.

    …It’s like watching a 4-hour limit break delivered by a final fantasy character(But MUCH more entertaining!)

  12. Dinger says:

    Harris argues:

    When Capcom sells games into a different culture, though, the onus is upon them to have a basic understanding of what would be considered offensive in that culture, just as American developers must do when they sell games in Japan.

    The ‘Brutal Black Buck’ as an American stereotype existed in the Antebellum South too, since at least the days of Nat Turner, just as the ‘Tom’ stereotype predates Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

    I suspect it’s a little pointless and academic to go into the full history of the stereotypes to explain why this trailer, and presumably the game, is racist in the US. In fact, it’s a bit of a cop-out claiming that it’s merely cultural insensitivity on the part of a Japanese development team.

    I mean, we’re talking about Zombies here. The term’s popularity is owed to a sensationalized (and racially informed, if not outright racist) notion present in Afro-Caribbean religions.
    The use of zombie hordes is largely due to the impact of Night of the Living Dead. In Romero’s films, zombie hordes were so effective in part because he could contrast the close social dynamic of the group of survivors, while dehumanizing the hordes of normal people. Night of the Living Dead was in part a commentary on the racial strife of the 1960s. Dawn of the Dead mocked 1970s consumer culture.

    Zombie hordes work because they’re human, and they establish two different levels of humanity: zombies and normals. So when you use zombie hordes as a mechanic, you are automatically differentiating between two groups of humans. Unless you’re going to get fancy and suggest that the normals are no better than the zombies, you are going to present the zombies as subhuman monsters.
    White guy in an African Village treating the angry inhabitants as subhuman to justify slaughtering them all isn’t just an American stereotype: it’s colonial history, and Japan has its own issues with that.

  13. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Well, I watched that trailer and it looks pretty much like RE4, with even a lot of the animations taken over from the predecessor, the axe throwing guys for example. For those who don’t know, RE4 had the protagonist slaughter through a village of vaguely Spanish European villagers. That’s what this game has been doing for a while now. Do you really judge a zombie by the colour of her skin?
    I think before judging the game one should probably wait until one can play it and judge the plot in its entirety. My guess is, it will be stupid, but not racist.

  14. Kommissar Nicko says:

    That Everiss v. Campbell thread is nuts; it’s an exhausting read, to be honest, and I’m not well versed in C64 and Spectre (both before I was born). However, I did find the Reverend’s insinuations that successful platforms equate to easily pirated platforms rather intriguing, especially in light of Stardock’s recent Sins success.

    Also interesting is the way that Campbell would thrust, and Everiss would dodge (rather, ignore). Though I will also contend that Campbell, for all his argumentative prowess, seems off his rocker too.

  15. Kieron Gillen says:

    Nicko: It’s a standard Stuart riff, but one which isn’t exactly presented as widely as it should be. It’s certainly one which people should at least consider.

    KG

  16. Dinger says:

    E vs. C: Everiss was trying to make a blog post to suggest that piracy has always been killing games companies by drawing a parallel between the current retail vs. P2P crisis with the Winter 1983-84 “twin tape-deck” crisis.

    The parallel pretty much falls apart when he asserts that the schoolyard “discovered” twin tape recorders in 1984.
    I remember PC (er. Pet) user groups of 1980, and I don’t need a revisionist account of what methods we had and didn’t have to copy software. Humans are social animals.

    Rev. Stu was trying to suggest complete and utter mismanagement rather than piracy. He goes overboard trying to point out the falsity of every one of Bruce’s assertions.

    But three things bubble up:

    A. If Bruce wants to argue his point, the strongest he can get is that “Megagames were develop in response to piracy; Megagames failed, and Imagine closed shop; therefore piracy killed Megagames.”
    Not only is it a bad case of the single-cause fallacy, but it’s a bit like blaming the Challenger crash on the prohibition of asbestos: “The original O-Ring design had asbestos in it. Asbestos was banned, so they changed the design and materials. The new material failed, causing the massive explosion; therefore, banning asbestos killed seven astronauts.”
    Or, simpler still: “Heavy rain killed all those people, not our defective roof design.”
    Piracy is an environmental force. We can debate until the end how much damage it does and where, but the fact is that it exists, so go figure out how to make money in a world with piracy. And there are plenty of companies that are doing just that — some by building stronger roofs, others by moving to where it doesn’t rain so much, and some by just staying in budget and on time.

    B. Bruce mentions how they survived the PS1 Piratocalpyse:

    We survived (and had to make 20% of the workforce redundant) in the two year gap mainly on PC games, most notably Operation Flashpoint which went to number one in every country with a chart. We put a massive amount of effort into anti piracy on this game. Our PC games without anti piracy, like Severance, sold very little.

    Yes, but the implication, FADE = success, doesn’t work. Severance sucked, as the Rev. Stu pointed out. There are still quite a few people playing OFP today (not ArmA, but OFP itself). In BIS’ post-mortem, Marek himself points out:

    One very concerning thing was that our final CD was still manipulated by the publisher. The publisher applied SafeDisc protection to the final code, which caused some unexpected compatibility problems that we weren’t able to control. The mixing of various SafeDisc versions and a serious compatibility problem with Windows 2000 that was present in the first European batch of CDs could have been avoided.

    At some point, OFP patches did away altogether with copy-protection. Whether copy-protection for OFP was needed is one argument, but saying that the copy-protection employed in OFP contributed to its success at the very least challenges the data available: FADE was a liability.

    C. Underlying Bruce’s argument is a false assumption. That is, “software sales must be retail.” I know, he nuances this himself, but that’s the underlying notion. The problem is that, like music, it’s now far easier to distribute software on the internet. P2P is taking off because people have the bandwidth such that pirating games across the internet is trivial. So is downloading them at pay sites. Meanwhile, many developers are still dealing exclusively with retailers, most of which do not specialize in software, and the particularities of software distribution (the W. H. Smith example of “free returns” being one), which cost the developer far more than online distribution, and which is much less flexible than digital release. (How much lead for a print ad campaign vs. an online one? How far in advance do you need to secure bandwidth for massive downloads?)

  17. Bruceongames says:

    Re Imagine. It was piracy that bust us. This just doesn’t work well with the world model of Campbell and his small coterie of sycophants. I am not very good at discussion at their level of browbeating, insults and pedantry.

    I know that retail is finished and have written so many times on my blog. With yet another article, this time on games of the future, due this week.

    Also I have now written a longer article on piracy and gaming that will also be published on my blog this week.

  18. Kieron Gillen says:

    Looking forward to reading it, Bruce.

    KG

  19. Bruceongames says:

    This week:
    Tuesday: Guy Kewney
    Wednesday: Piracy
    Thurday: News Round Up
    Friday: The Game of the Future. What it will be like.

  20. Dinger says:

    Cool! Bonus points if there’s a reference to Thales and the Olive Presses. (Or I’ll end up doing it myself)

  21. Pwnan the Lolbarian says:

    Hah! Relic should absolutely stick to their guns since nobody can beat Blizzard when it comes to fast-paced twitchy RTSes. Company of Heroes is a brilliant game and I’ve had quite a few hours of fun playing it against my mates and in single player.

    On the other hand I’m a competitive player in both StarCraft and WarCraft 3 and have played thousands of games of each. There’s a place for both CoH and StarCraft 2 since they’re so different.

    Also:

    I really couldn’t disagree more, and suspect Starcraft 2’s biggest problem is going to be trying to balance the desires of their enormous Korean audience who have a national sport based around precision control and the mainstream western audience who now quite like games trying to minimise the Obsessive-compulsive part of play.

    WarCraft 3 is huuuuuge in China and you can bet that SC2 will sell like hotcakes there. Piracy will be less of an issue since everyone will want to play on Battle.net. And those sales are in addition to the massive guaranteed sales in Korea and Europe. The United States is a trickier region where RTSes aren’t as popular but I’d bet it’ll still outsell CoH by a wide margin even there.

  22. Winterborn says:

    I thought it was set in Haiti not Africa?

  23. romanista says:

    and is the games of the future article out? more fun arguing ahead?

  24. Peter Perpendicularly says:

    >The comments thread has been cleaned up a little, but even
    >what remains is a bit like the ball scene in Carrie.

    Regrettably, some kind of accident has resulted in Mr Everiss deleting and/or silently altering his own comments too. For example, post 26 (“Deleted”) once featured his brilliant rebuttal,

    Stuart you really have no idea what you are talking about. As I have said repeatedly, I was there. You only have, at best, third hand accounts. If Ian Hetherington, David Lawson and Mark Butler all said that my article was rubbish then I might have a think about it. Meanwhile it is the most accurate account of the demise of Imagine yet written

    while the new version of post 106 (“Deleted”) deprives us of a long, factually unimpeachable analysis of piracy including the damning evidence,

    It also killed off PSX development. Has stunted PSP development. Helped kill off the Dreamcast. Has destroyed the PC boxed game market

    so crushing that Mr Everiss immediately announces his resignation from the discussion because he has better things to do; post 135’s absence (“Deleted”) unfortunately eliminates Mr Everiss’s proud list of industry achievements; and post 143 (“Deleted”) self-effacingly removes Mr Everiss’s brilliantly well-constructed, logically coherent, point by point demolishing of an ungrateful malcontent (“I thought that I would point out some glaring inaccuracies…”).

    Not to worry though, readers, as these and other deletions and silent alterations are in the process of diligent recovery from iterative copies of the page so newcomers, other interested parties and posterity itself can be certain of seeing the complete story Mr Everiss has so modestly edited.

  25. Peter Perpendicularly says:

    And special thanks to Rock Paper Shotgun for saving posters’ valuable time by omitting that useless Preview button.

  26. PoC says:

    Re: the hitchhiker’s sequel link. It makes for a truly bizarre read now, as the author removed the private email section of the original post, so all that’s left to measure them is the intensity of the responses of those that follow. It also creates a secondary gap, in that while the author explains why he took them done, he doesn’t explain why he decided to take that action over a year after the thread ended. The comments themselves ended on a conciliatory note, so baseless speculation suggests there was some ongoing unpleasantness. Would-be bloggers beware.