The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on May 11th, 2008 at 6:43 pm.

My organs are made of dead
Crashing in from a gathering of sequential narrative fans, what I like to do is sit down and have a read of some lovely thoughtful pieces on games. But what I have to do is pack up my life, so this will be a shorter-than-usual Sunday Papers. As always, the idea is that I hammer out a list of things that caught my eye this week in the world of games writing while resisting linking to some completely irrelevant record on Youtube.

Success! Yet somehow this still feels like Fail!

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26 Comments »

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  1. Yhancik says:

    Either GlaDOS is actually Tom Ohle, or you mislinked ;)

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    Fixed. Cheers!

    KG

  3. Fumarole says:

    Through that Flash of Steel link I discovered that Gary Grigsby is making a wargame based on the American Civil War. Most excellent.

  4. Mike says:

    Ah! a sucessful ‘sunday papers’. Jolly good show Mr. Gillen. The picture comment makes me rather worried though.

  5. Mike says:

    A song for tired people.

    Also, N’Gai is beginning to get a bit tiresome, for me.

  6. Jae Armstrong says:

    Re: N’Gai Croal

    Is it just me or has he started using the royal we?

    “When we wrote those two paragraphs…”

    Run to the hills, people! N’Gai Croal seeks to make himself your master! Run to the hills!

  7. Dinger says:

    Tom Ohle’s interview reveals him to be smart and engaged in the medium, although I have to question his line:

    if that one person is convinced to buy your game because of that coverage, you’ve spent your time well.

    Unless, of course, it cost you two hours to convince that one person, and, since that one person couldn’t get anyone else to look at her(his) blog, odds are he(she) isn’t a good investment of time. But, then again, 100% market penetration is its own reward.
    I won’t mention the other, quality, details of the interview, since I’ve used up my RPS troll quotient for the week.

    N’Gai just seems to be beating around the same bush that’s been addressed years ago by other nutcases who seem to think they can make a good living in this profession (more power to you gents, by the way). GTA III is a very different beast from GTA II (and the transformation was complete with Vice City). GTA went from a pure hedonistic “cops and robbers” overhead-view game (=for which there are clean lines of influence within the videogame world going back at least to some Sierra product) to a gangster game, heavily influenced by movies, to the point where they could finance cinema actors.
    So, heck, yes, by all means, the proper way to express a game is to describe the experience. For that matter, it works for some

  • 11/05/2008 at 21:40 Alex says:

    Oh dear, someone used the term “nanny state” in that Youtube comments section, thereby voiding everything that had been said before.

    What a pity..

  • Dinger says:

    oops. Editing screwed the pooch. Read: moviesas well. But for Chrissakes, don’t use the first-person plural (cheers Jae. we crossed posts), unless you’re including your significant other in the equation.
    Nice Wolpaw find, especially poignant since many European countries are both farming out (tv) tax collection to private companies, and allowing them to consider PCs as televisions. Yes, it’s reprehensible. Nothing is more vociferous or irritating than an elite in the course of being replaced.

  • Leeks! says:

    Either GlaDOS is actually Tom Ohle, or you mislinked

    GlaDOS rolled?

  • Kieron Gillen says:

    Leeks: Don’t give us ideas.

    KG

  • Zuffox says:

    Ceasar or Caesar?

    I’d hate to get the repuation of being the asshole who points out the SP misspellings weekly, so surely, Ceasar is a proper name, I just haven’t heard.

    Feel free to make something up.

  • Alex says:

    Tom Ohle says:

    The only real issue I see with the current model is that companies start showing games too early. I think that, in most cases, we could save the game announcements until about six months before it’s ready for release. (…) Instead of spreading all of your info reveals and assets over a two-year campaign, you condense the best info into a six-month blitz. I think media would appreciate the opportunity for larger stories with more new info, and fans would appreciate the fact that they’re not getting spoonfed the same info and screenshots from different angles all the time.

    That is an excellent point. I can only speak for myself, but I hardly read previews anymore. There are too many, they differ too much in depth and/or quality and I hate reading (and getting excited) about a game that won’t be out for a year or more – anything can still happen, the game changes fundamentally, the game gets canned, etc.

    And even if that doesn’t happen it’s still too far off, it’s too much of a cocktease, if you will. Six months, on the other hand, would work very nicely, I think.

  • mrrobsa says:

    @ Mike:

    I can see where you’re coming from in regards to N’Gai. I’m usually a fan, but didn’t like this piece on GTA4 reviews.

    Both N’gai and Seth Schiesel’s (of NY Times) reviews seemed to focus on ‘the experience’ of the game, but from a different angle. Seth’s was about the detail and artistry in the game, how it sucks you in, and yes, plenty (probably too much) of cultural namedropping. I don’t have a problem with this as GTA always has been a bit of a culture mash-up. And his description of just cruising with the radio on is something that almost anyone who has played the game has done and is definitely part of the experience for me.
    Whereas N’gai focused more on the game’s increased (compared to others in the series) emotive impact, relationships and morality. Again though, talking about being on the crane with a lowly hood’s life in your hands is just talking about the experience, only a different part of it.
    Plus the first two paragraphs of N’gai’s piece are fairly redundant, and I do like the NY Times review.

  • Kadayi says:

    The difference between a good review vs a bad review to me is one where the reviewer puts you into the experience and doesn’t spoil it, as opposed to the ones that do. I hate it when a review gets into scenario specifics in order to explain the games mechanics. The thing I least want to do when I’m playing a game is have the second voice in my head going ‘Oh I think this is the bit where X betrays me…’ because some numb nuts hinted at an ‘ingame betrayal’ in their (p)review. Elude to what it better than, what games it builds it legacy upon, how it’s mechanics work without getting scenario specific, it’s setting in broad outline, but please for the love of God don’t hint at clear plot spoilers….

  • RichPowers says:

    @Alex:

    That, and preview writers tend to make every game sound incredibly awesome when only a fraction of them actually are. This probably has more to do with careful marketing on the publisher’s part, but I still feel cheated when the reviews finally tell me a game sucks.

    Red Alert 3 was revealed back in February. A large beta is expected over the summer. Release is slated for Q4. EA nailed that release cycle.

  • Radiant says:

    “Managed Online Communities” aka Forum Mod aka Moron Herder.
    Please RPS never ever have a message board.

  • Crispy says:

    @Jae:

    Articles usually have input from more than one writer/editor, so his use of ‘we’ I don’t think is royal; it refers to himself and everyone else collaborating on those paragraphs (he even refers to the influence of his editor on his work in the same article).

  • Yhancik says:

    Leeks! :

    Something in that spirit ? :p

    (I had no idea it existed, but i was sure someone had done it)

  • phuzz says:

    That TV licensing ad is actually quite pretty, if just a tad dark.
    Personally I find the car tax one more scary (can’t find it after literally seconds of looking, so to describe: various shots of large black obelisk/mainframe everywhere the protagonist looks), but that probably because I’ve always lived with flatmates who sorted the TV tax, but I have to buy the car tax meself.

  • dhex says:

    damn, that licensing commercial is scary.

  • Ohle says:

    Tom Ohle’s interview reveals him to be smart and engaged in the medium, although I have to question his line:

    if that one person is convinced to buy your game because of that coverage, you’ve spent your time well.

    Unless, of course, it cost you two hours to convince that one person, and, since that one person couldn’t get anyone else to look at her(his) blog, odds are he(she) isn’t a good investment of time. But, then again, 100% market penetration is its own reward.
    I won’t mention the other, quality, details of the interview, since I’ve used up my RPS troll quotient for the week.

    Thanks for the flattery :). That being said, I still think it’s worth working with a site if they have one reader. In general, it doesn’t take a ton of time for a PR rep to secure a story — only when you’re working with some restrictiv mainstream publications that rarely cover non-blockbuster games do you have spend a significant amount of time researching and writing a big pitch letter. When I talk about working with small sites, you should understand that I’m not talking about putting a ton of time into it — it takes me very little time to write a couple of emails, respond to inquiries, make a few phone calls, etc. When I was working with agencies, this became more difficult; you’re told to make sure you’re getting the most out of your clients’ $150/hr or whatever ridiculous fee you’re charging them, so spending 20 minutes on the phone to generate one sale probably isn’t getting your money back.

  • Iain says:

    @dhex:

    I did twitch at the line “It’s all in our database”.
    Why not just come out and say it? “While you’re watching the TV, your TV is watching you!”

    Very Nineteen-Eighty-Four.

  • zima says:

    I’m sort of dissapointed that Troy S Goodfellow didn’t include Age of Mythology in his Ancient games…yes, he limits himself to Romans, but Greek mythology isn’t that far off ;P

  • Troy S. Goodfellow says:

    Zima:

    Age of Mythology is one of my favorite games. I could have fudged on the Roman thing (the original Age of Empires didn’t have Romans, and neither did Great Battles of Alexander) and included it, but I already had one Ensemble game on the list. My time with AoM would have been spent on outlining how it departed from their usual design scheme and was all the more brilliant because of it.

    AoM is one of the high points in RTS design, and I may write a long essay about it in the future. This series has gotten enough attention to persuade me to do more of these multi-part features in the future.