The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on August 3rd, 2008 at 5:52 pm.


Been away for a couple of weeks, but thankfully the Sunday Papers RPS-document is ever-filling (at least when people remember to cut and paste something into it). That means I can take you on a leisurely Sunday Afternoon stroll through the more cerebral – or, at least, charmingly distracting – writing from across the web, while trying to avoid leading you down that seedy alleyway where I either link to a song that’s been stuck in my head for three days straight and/or one of my comic things. Man, let’s hope I can avoid that. It’d be really embarrassing otherwise.

  • Critical Gaming on Organic and Inorganic design, specifically about game fiction versus game logic. At Develop I found myself in a fairly serious topic on the question, so it’s on my mind. Example quote, which is hard to disagree with: “It’s a shame when a game works hard to establish a fiction and a form only to take away from it by arranging levels that don’t make sense according to that fiction”. What’s interesting to me is games which take this admirable stance, and push it arguably too far – the best recent example would be Assassin’s Creed.
  • The NYT do a big piece on trolls. Which is interesting for about a half dozen reasons. Well worth reading, but only with keeping a critical layer wrapped around your mind. In a piece like this, you need to keep in mind everyone’s – the writers, the interview subjects, everyone’s – motivation.
  • Variety are doing some notable writing on games at the moment. Case in point: Their E3 write-up, which uses it as an opportunity to highlight the people who’ve made the past year. An agreeably catholic list.
  • Interviews: Firstly, Blizzard’s Game Design head-honcho Rob Pardo over at PC Gamer. It’s the sort of stuff which Gamer does terribly well – it’s an actual conversation and debate rather than a Q&A. I could tell it was Tim Edwards’ piece before I even looked at the byline. Secondly, Carmack and Willits of Id talk to Gamasutra about their recent alliance with Electronic Arts and the future direction of the company. Thirdly: Actually, that’s enough for now. Onwards!
  • David Braben of Frontier starts writing for Edge. He specifically talks about the Games Up? campaign which is trying to increase visibility for the British Games Industry. Which, in short, is being screwed entirely. I talked to Braben at Develop, actually, and will be running the interview in the next couple of weeks. It involves the P word heavily. C’mon guys! Let’s see if we can go for 500 posts next time, of which 250 will be Stu Campbell and Cliffski. War! War! War!
  • (Don’t)
  • This is a fun one. Gamasutra run a Shooter Roundtable featuring Kenta Cho, Jonathan Mak and Omega (“The Every Extend Guy”). See men talk seriously and intently about bullet-patterns.
  • Eve Online continues to be the most fascinating game in the world that I’ll never, ever play. Case in point: This investigation into the phenomenon of Suicide Ganking. The tactic involves attacking high-value cargo ships in high-security space in mass-numbers with low-value ships. Sure, you’ll be killed by the police, but if the cargo your side gain is more than it would cost to replace your ships, it’s still a win.
  • Troy Goodfellow Strategy-hero and suspected Dickens Character reviews Jim’s book. And likes it. Phew!
  • I’m going to be writing up my time at Develop in the next few days, but until then here’s Simon Parkin’s notes on Paul Barnett’s 11 lessons he learned from Warhammer. Which reminds me – anyone else in the closed Beta? Clearly, don’t talk about your experiences, but drop us a mail. I need team-mates.
  • So, waking up in my own bed for the first time in forever, I get the odd urge to listen to the Style Council’s Shout To The Top. Which then gets stuck in my head, leading to one really exhilarating march across London to go and see Fallout 3, turned into choreography by a bit of my brain malfunctioned, followed by sleeplessness. Still, watch the video. See how he plays the Piano? That’s how RPS writes. Man. Oh – and my first Marvel comic came out this week, and there’s a preview of it over here. And I’ve started hyping the second series of my Image comic Phonogram with this advert.

Failed.

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36 Comments »

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  1. Mike says:

    That NYT thing sounds great, but doesn’t have a link? Is it this? Taking a lookee at it now.

    EDIT Having read the first few paragraphs, I’m not sure how much else I want to read…

  2. kadayi says:

    I read that article about the Trolls a few days back. Quite interesting if faintly disturbing. If they are out to get you, your pretty much screwed.

  3. Smee says:

    Do so, it’s a fascinating article.

  4. mandrill says:

    Don’t what?

  5. RobotLiberationArmy says:

    Am I the only one with an intense hatred for Richard Terrell and most everything he writes, even when I agree with him? Yes?

  6. _Nocturnal says:

    Damn you Kieron! You killed Tony Stark!

  7. Charlie says:

    I’ve never seen an article from PcZone on here. Do you guys not like it? I know you are from Gamer but you must read it sometimes? Anyway, awesome articles!

  8. Nuyan says:

    So there are 140 people working on a game that is played by 9+ million people. Eh, nice. Didn’t know that. CCP must have about the same number of people working on EVE Online I think. (not really sure)

    That article on trolling is amazing. Easily one of my best reads this week.

  9. Steelfist says:

    Yeah, that trolling article was great. I remember the good times trolling the WoW boards… it was hilarious, but it was amazing to discover stuff like JEWS DID WTC.

  10. Charlie says:

    Braben has scared the hell out of me. A degree in something games related is useless unless Skillset accredits it. Well my degree isn’t, it soon will be but not for games just multimedia. Well now I’m pretty worried I’m going to have wasted 4 years and the closest I will get to working in the Games Industry is Gamestation :(

  11. simbo says:

    Typo realisation alert: I think you meant “Shout to the Top”. Although “Shot” seems to work equally well for some reason.

  12. Pace says:

    I’m not sure I can think of any ulterior motives for the reporter or NY Times on that troll piece, though I was wondering about the trolls. Seems odd for them to be honest and straight up with a New York Times reporter. Maybe were screwing around with him, or maybe not, maybe they were simply flattered? Dunno. (oh,and Rolls Royce, $10M a year? who are they kidding?)

    It was an interesting article, nice linkage! (sorry, intended linkage, cheers Mike!)

  13. Kieron Gillen says:

    Mike: Thanks for the save.

    Simbo: You too.

    Pace: It’s less ulterior motive, more style. Why are people choosing the angle they are.

    KG

  14. Dolphan says:

    Charlie – how much of your degree is coding? From what I’ve read, developers are finding that many (but not all) current games degrees simply aren’t focused enough – don’t teach enough coding to be a programmer, and aren’t geared at arts types for those sorts of jobs. There isn’t a ‘game designer’ job market – try looking on the listings on something like gamesindustry.biz – people who have that sort of role seem to come out of the other roles in development.

    Even if you’re not doing enough coding, you can always top it up (possibly work up the gaps to allow you to do something postgraduate in Computer Sciencey type stuff). Or try and go in through testing, which I’ve spent some time considering with an even less relevant philosophy degree (though aimed at trying to get into production rather than design).

  15. kadayi says:

    The oddest thing about that trolling article is it starts a story at one point, but never actually finishes it: –

    “Sherrod DeGrippo, a 28-year-old Atlanta native who goes by the name Girlvinyl, runs Encyclopedia Dramatica, the online troll archive. In 2006, DeGrippo received an e-mail message from a well-known band of trolls, demanding that she edit the entry about them on the Encyclopedia Dramatica site. She refused. Within hours, the aggrieved trolls hit the phones, bombarding her apartment with taxis, pizzas, escorts and threats of rape and violent death. DeGrippo, alone and terrified, sought counsel from a powerful friend. She called Weev.”

    Instead of the telling us how Weev laid the internet smackdown on the Trolls beating up on his friend (and how), the article just goes into ‘I met Weev……’

    Very strange.

  16. Dolphan says:

    But an interesting article all round. But it sort of comes across like the stuff they talk about is the norm, unlike the incredibly banal common or garden trolls.

  17. Cooper says:

    The willingness of trolling “victims” to be hurt by words, he argued, makes them complicit, and trolling will end as soon as we all get over it.

    Amen

  18. Dinger says:

    oooh. suppressed content. An editorial policy at work or a horrible tease?

  19. Radiant says:

    Isn’t threatening someone with rape and death illegal?
    Why didn’t she just ring the cops?

    That NYT article is a nice bit of scaremongering.
    “There are bad people! WITH PHONES!”

    Like that Dispatches on Jihadists in UK jails that warned us that our jails are filled with murderers and thieves.

  20. Sprafa says:

    The article just seems poor all around. Silly overblown reporting, lots of scare tactics, unverified claims. No one is “god of the Internet”.

    Silly things like “Cases like An Hero and Megan Meier presumably wouldn’t happen if the perpetrators had to deliver their messages in person.” which is just stupid considering many people did call and she mentions bricked some house in that very same article. Did they send the brick through the tubes ?
    It also offers no helping hand to these people. If some of these allegations on ‘Fortuny’ (why call him after their nicks for so long. seems dehumanizing) are true, he has clear trust issues, to say the least.

    To say the most, he might be a psychopath. Let’s call it Antisocial Personality Disorder for all the PC people.

  21. RichPowers says:

    Here’s what John Carmack has to say about videogame design degrees:

    … we don’t actually think that the students are learning particularly valuable skills in the programs.

    A CS or EE degree will almost certainly serve you better throughout your life than a game/media degree, but if getting into the industry immediately is your overriding concern, a game program will help with contacts and opportunities.

  22. Abe says:

    Reading Barnett’s “11 Things” gave me a very icky feeling. What I took away from it is that you should have all the decisions made by a very small percentage of the team, shield them from feedback and criticism, and encourage them not to educate themselves about what the user expects to see. Which sounds like a formula for creating prima donna designers, and games which give no thought to the people that will actually be playing them.

    Which isn’t to say that there shouldn’t be key people driving the creative vision, but those people shouldn’t be walling themselves off – they need to be effective at filtering out the ideas that work from the ones that don’t. Both from the competitor’s games and from the team itself. The key word there being “team” – games just aren’t an auteur-driven medium, no matter how hard some people try to turn it into one. You have a lot less “heretics” to burn at the stake if the people you work with feel like useful contributors, and not interchangeable production grunts.

  23. Dreamhacker says:

    When, oh when will we see a review of Jim’s book by Zero Punctuation?

  24. TheGuero says:

    I love the Sunday Papers.

  25. Noc says:

    Sprafa, a brick through the window is the original form of anonymous douchbaggery. They’re not there when you throw it and you’re gone in a second. If it was supposed to be a face-to-face thing, why not stick around?

    And the telephone is the first modern incarnation of anonymous douchebaggery. There’s a reason prank calls happen with significantly more frequency than face-to-face prankery.

  26. MetalCircus says:

    That article was really depressing.

  27. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Dear Jamie:

    OH LORD THE CHIBI IT BURNS

  28. JZig says:

    Abe, I totally agree with you on that Barnett article. It sounds to me like Mythic must be full of non-stop ideological holy wars (and burnings), and I don’t understand how they get any work done.

  29. Arathain says:

    Congratulations on writing for Marvel, Kieron. The preview looks and reads great.

  30. Kieron Gillen says:

    Dorian: We fear no technique. And I owe you a mail, which I’ll hopefully get done tomorrow.

    Arathain: Thanks!

    KG

  31. Charlie says:

    @ Dolphan. It is mostly level design, which I find to be pretty good, our tutor works for Free Radical as a level designer. Our course really focuses on building a portfolio in Unreal Engine 3. Thanks for the advice and I will be learning more programming in my spare time, just out of curiousity what is it you do?

    Recently I have been wanting to become a games journalist, well after I read Jim’s book! But as you can tell I’m nowhere near good enough at writing, ah well!

  32. sinister agent says:

    The article just seems poor all around. Silly overblown reporting, lots of scare tactics, unverified claims. No one is “god of the Internet”.

    Mm. I’m a few pages in, and all I can see is a load of clueless internet-phobes feeling even more scared for no reason (most trolls are just childish losers calling people gay, f’instance), and a bunch of people who take themselves and their tedious pranks way too seriously.

    Kind of interesting, but really not news. The real premise is “some people are tossers”.

  33. Briosafreak says:

    That’s for Marvel? How did I miss that?…

    Anyway looking forward for the Fallout 3 hands on demo impressions. Just make them more like the PcGamer ones than the XBox360Achievements.org please. kthxby

  34. Dolphan says:

    Charlie – I don’t do anything, still got a year left on the degree. I’ve spent a lot of time researching career paths though – being on what is possibly the non-vocational degree sort of makes that a pressing concern, and I had quite an interest in the games industry. Though I’m probably going to stick with enjoying playing games and sell my soul working for the NHS or local government.

  35. someyoungguy says:

    troll article was good. reminds me of Neal Stephenson’s characters.

  36. KindredPhantom says:

    The troll article was an interesting read and insight into the mind of a troll.