The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on June 15th, 2008 at 3:37 pm.

Sunday! Papers! It's the Sunday Papers!

We’ve had relatively small Sunday Papers the last two weeks. This one’s a bit heftier. The idea, as always, is to present a list of some reading to absorb on this lovely Sunday afternoon, and to definitely NOT link to some piece of indie nonsense that caught my eye this week. Onwards.

  • Firstly, congrats to the Darling Brothers for their CBE. The founders of Codemasters, which has come a long way since their Advanced FILLINHERE Simulator days. Alas, the old Amiga Power running joke of Sir Geoff Crammond is still a way off. And thanks to the many people who mailed us about this ton too.
  • Erin Hoffman writes about Audition Online for the Escapist. I’ve played a little of this MMO rhythm action game, and went away a tad depressed, but Erin goes completely native in an entertaining fashion. I’m probably alone in my wish for an actual game-of-the-film Audition though, in a kirri-kirri-kirri kind of way.
  • A little Games Journalism Journalism courtesy of Kyle Orland’s lovely Press Spotting column. This time it’s about Bias, which is always an interesting topic. Especially with the whole current lynching of anyone who doesn’t give MGS4 a 10 – and, as an aside, bless Penny Arcade. As much as Kyle’s piece is fine, that his questions are asking about whether you’re biased towards a console manufacturer kind of reveals a bit too much of his own bias. But I would say that.
  • Actually, let’s go crazy and do some more games journalism journalism. Pat over at videogaming 24-7 does a top ten list of the most influential games journalists in the UK. Eurogamer’s Tom Bramwell comes top. We can say that Tom is enormously influential to the writers of RPS. When he offers us money, we’ll write pretty much whatever he tells us, which is about as influential as it gets.
  • A couple of interviews! Crispy Gamer interviews Randy Pitchford about the forthcoming Brothers In Arms game, which I only now realise we’ve never mentioned at all. Secondly, Mathew Kumar has a nice little chat with CCP about Eve over at Gamasutra.
  • A point/counterpoint. A few weeks back, Ex-Star Wars Galaxy guy Dan Rubefield – who we may be blogging about some more in a bit – rolled his eyes a lot at MMO developers, including castigating them for treating the PC as the primary platform. Joe Ludwig, Producer of Pirates of the Burning Sea, explains why, and why it’s going to continue.
  • I’d seen this discussed a fair bit around the web, but only when Js Ilvonen dropped me a line pointing to a full PDF did I realise Chris Milner’s full thesis about forum pressure on Bethesda and similar issues. Stay clear if you’re the sort of person who thinks it’s intrinsically funny if anyone calls a videogame a “Text”.
  • Some sad news. Erick Wujcik passed away this week of pancreatic cancer. There’s a mass of tributes here. Jim and I especially have fond memories of his games. Jim talked to me that, as eleven, reading Wujcik’s Palladium RPGs he had an awareness that this is the sort of imagination he wanted more of in games, and that he’d loved to had known the guy who wrote it. I personally had two of my favourite RPG campaigns of all time in his Amber RPG system, whose no-dice system influenced my thinking on games enormously. He’ll be missed.
  • Bill Harris pointed me at this. The Arcade Fire playing in an elevator, followed by in the middle of the crowd. The bit where the clapping starts is about as magical as pop music gets.
  • Failed.

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24 Comments »

  1. Kareem says:

    About the point-counterpoint articles, Scott ‘Lum’ Jennings posted an entertaining and incredulous response to Rubenfield on his Broken Toys blog here:

    http://brokentoys.org/2008/06/12/good-apollo-dear-god-the-internet-it-burns-iv-srsly-dude/

  2. Jonathan says:

    Gillen’s name will be carved forever in the term “new games journalism””

    Damn it Kieron!

    Double dog damn it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15535Ur6w0o

  3. TychoCelchuuu says:

    Don’t be modest, Gillen, you’re on the list too :D

  4. Kieron Gillen says:

    Kareem: That counter-point wasn’t actually to do with THAT outburst by Jennings, but a later one which I blogged about just now. Thanks for the link though – missed it entirely.

    KG

  5. Doug F says:

    Was the PA link supposed to point to the same Gamespot article?

  6. Robin says:

    the affect of journalists suddenly realizing it was OK to say “I” was profound.

    This struck me as odd in Pat Garrett’s article. I could kind of understand some American site coming out with this, but surely reading any UK mag other than Edge would make one pretty familiar with the approach.

  7. Shon says:

    I am terribly saddened by Wujick’s passing. The man dripped imagination. My favorite campaign of all time was an Amber one.

    One thing I feel Wukick doesn’t get enough credit for is how his Amber design was created purely to adapt a piece of fiction. Every mechanic in that game was inspired by the source material. Instead of hit points or other artificial terms that gamers use to play games, Wujick made a system that allowed you to pretty much play the books as they were written. He then had the graciousness to show you how he did it in the rulebook. By the time you finished reading the rules, you knew how to play Amber and how to better design games.

  8. Kareem says:

    Oops, my bad Kieron. I was skimming over the list at first and misread that entry.

  9. Alex says:

    That’s very sad news about Erick Wujcik.

    I never was a big fan of the RPGs that were published by Palladium, most of them didn’t seem very imaginative to me, more kind of derivative (culminating in Rifts which seemed a grab-bag of random RPG/fantasy/sci-fi ideas).
    On a very superficial level, I also was always amazed how bad the published books looked – great illustrations, quite well written, but all the technical stuff with fonts, margins, etc. looked very amateurish.

    Never played Amber, though, never got round to it.

  10. Erin says:

    Thanks for the link, Kieron. Glad you enjoyed the article. Congratulations on yet another acknowledgment your journalism influence fu! Phenomenal cosmic power!

  11. Kieron Gillen says:

    Robin: I think Pat means that I put an intellectual structure and justification. Rather than just being how we did things, I justified it in a theoretical way.

    Shon: Precisely. I wish more designers would try that sort of thing. I mean – say, Star Wars. Why should a Star Wars RPG have hit points? How about a different way of it working? With Amber, I especially liked how hard it was. Not in to play – but the lines were so absolute. If he has a higher fighting ability than me, he’ll win, full stop. There’s a lot of tension there.

    Alex: Well, in the eighties, deliberately mashing stuff up in the way Palladium tended to was a relatively imaginative compared to what everyone else was doing. Stuff like the TMNT mutation rules were brilliant.

    (Generally, I didn’t have much time for Palladium’s actual rules – the combat ones especially made no sense to me, they were that foggy. And I’m someone who was okay with Rolemaster, y’know?)

    Erin: I’m waiting for someone to erect a statue. And loved the article.

    KG

  12. Alexander says:

    The link to the Amber RPG system was very nice, I ended up stumbling upon a very interesting RPG (Dogs in the Vineyard), so thanks for that!

  13. Leeks! says:

    I would love to see a game of any Miike film, so long as it was designed by Suda 52.

  14. mister slim says:

    I would love to see a game of any Miike film, so long as it was designed by Suda 52.

    Is he Suda 51′s evil twin?

    Hmm, what would Suda’s evil twin be like? Would that spectrum just wrap around to good again, where he’d design elegant and straightforward games with minimal story?

  15. Noc says:

    I’m not sure if I like the Bias article. It gets a bunch of short little blurbs from journalists about what their personal bias is, then talks a little bit what the general opinions about consoles are.

    What it DOESN’T do is any addressing of issues. It doesn’t really talk about what bias is, how it interacts with the final text of a review, how that differs from what the omnipresent call of “Bias!” is talking about . . . there’s a lot of talking being done, but not a lot of analysis.

    . . .

    I also don’t really understand what, exactly. Mr. Rubefield’s point is. He goes from “You guys aren’t doing anything interesting in this!” to “You guys are spending way to much money on this!” to “You guys should be doing something else entirely!” to “Consoles are pretty cool!”

    I understand that his points aren’t strictly contradictory, but following “You guys aren’t trying hard enough” with “This field doesn’t even matter, so you guys are spending way too much time and money working in it” doesn’t make for a cohesive point. What this works out to is “Make more games with cleverer ideas instead of tremendous budgetry,” but he doesn’t even TALK about that anywhere!

    If anything, it’s the polar opposite of the “Bias” article. The first one was a lot of quiet, reasonable, and cohesive journalism that didn’t actually come out and make a point, and this is a series of loud, dramatic points that doesn’t fit together into anything cohesive.

    . . .

    The Top 10 British Video Game Journalists article is a series of loud and dramatic statements wrapped around a proper thesis. I liked it.

  16. rustdragon says:

    I’ll admit that I have fond memories of playing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles® RPG when I was young (even though I’m ashamed to admit it now) thanks to Erik Wujcik. You rolled on a big list to see what type of mutated animal you would play and what your powers were. I still love my fireball throwing muskrat…
    Erik will be greatly missed!

  17. Briosafreak says:

    I’ve uploaded a new version of the Chris Milner thesis. All the typos seem to be fixed now.

  18. arqueturus says:

    Isn’t it odd that even now, 5 years on from launch, Eve interviews always read like it only launched last week and no one’s heard of it yet?

  19. Jim Rossignol says:

    The problem, Arq, which I’ve tried to address on a number of occasions, is that most people in the games industry have played WoW, and not Eve. This leads to a massive blindspot, where they assume they know how and why Eve works, but do not. Then when it gets explained to them they say “whoa, that sounds amazing”. Of course the reality is that the Eve is almost unplayable compared to most games, but the principles it has been built are radical enough to offer new directions for MMO developers, if only they had the balls/brains to take advantage of it.

  20. Alex says:

    Alex: Well, in the eighties, deliberately mashing stuff up in the way Palladium tended to was a relatively imaginative compared to what everyone else was doing. Stuff like the TMNT mutation rules were brilliant.

    (Generally, I didn’t have much time for Palladium’s actual rules – the combat ones especially made no sense to me, they were that foggy. And I’m someone who was okay with Rolemaster, y’know?)

    I don’t know, mashing stuff together didn’t seem very imaginative to me – it all felt a bit too much like a fanboy orgasm, “let’s put magic with big guns with mechs with cowboys!!” (well, maybe not the cowboys, but maybe that’s what I was missing – Rifts needed more cowboys).

    It’s a bit like how Who fans used to fantasise about the Daleks showing off against Cybermen, how AWESOME that would be!!! Except that it wouldn’t, it would make all the elements seem weaker and cheaper (just watch those Daleks vs. Cybermen Who episodes Russell T. Davies fangasmed on the screen).

    You could see it most clearly in those silly combat rules you mention – I mean, Mega Damage Capacity.. really? “My gun goes POW!!” “Mine goes KA-BOOMMMMM!!” etc.

  21. Kieron Gillen says:

    I think Jim’s defence of such excesses is pretty much “Why not?”.

    Permission to break whatever rules of good taste is an interest and freeing permission. Or, at least, it can be.

    KG

  22. Alex says:

    I think Jim’s defence of such excesses is pretty much “Why not?”.

    And that’s why “why not” is also known as The Great Discussion Killer!! ;)

    Permission to break whatever rules of good taste is an interest and freeing permission. Or, at least, it can be.

    Sure, for a bit. It’s a bit like watching excruciatingly bad films on purpose – it’s fun for a bit, but then the realisation dawns you could spend the same time actually watching something better.

    I come off sounding like a hardcore, driven RPGer now.. Thanks, Kieron.. ;)

  23. Jim Rossignol says:

    I’m pretty sure Rifts had a techno-cowboy class. I think the point of it though was that it didn’t take itself particularly seriously, but provided as much fiction and idea-mongering as they could fit into every sourcebook. And that allowed you to focus in one whatever aspect of the game you enjoyed. I ran Nazi-oppression resistance campaigns, vampire thrillers, grand space opera, and weirdo techno-magic stuff, all with the same characters.

    And why shouldn’t fanboys have orgasms too? Having wizards fight giant robot armies was awesome, there’s no denying it.

    That’s a kind of freedom you don’t get elsewhere. Of course as a system Palladium RPG rules were completely broken, but that’s another matter.

  24. KingMob says:

    I remember reading the explanation of MDC, and going – well, that makes sense, your standard machine gun really wouldn’t be able to make a lot of an impression on a tank, so I understand why a 1 MDC weapon would be significant and a 0 MDC weapon would not –

    And then I looked at the equipment list. There was a 3 MDC bra for women (jungle camo?) Someone tell me how does that work exactly?

    Anyway, Rifts was a fun game and Amber diceless was an amazing concept. I played Amber a couple times and had a lot of fun – our GM insisted on having everyone act out each sword blow or whatever, and it felt very dynamic.
    Big difference from sitting around with some cereal rolling to hit AC 0 every five minutes.