Now That’s Why I Love A Best 2008 Ever! April

By RPS on December 8th, 2008 at 8:05 pm.

If I had any photoshop skills, I'd have totally just done an image solely of Little Big Planet and MGS4 characters, just to wind up some of our audience. So easy!

So we reach April in our retrospective of the year’s big events, as seen through the lens of RPS (which works like a normal lens, but with added ironic-yet-unironic egotism). What was big this month? Jupiter was big. Saturn was also big (but not quite so much). Molecules remained small. Also of note…


Indie Dev wins worst-April-Fools gag prize.

Kieron: RPS is divided on the subject of April Fool’s gags, but the makers of the indie Space Hulk conversion’s was particularly ill-conceived. It had been taken down from online, and there was a campaign to get it back. On April 1st, for a joke, they say that they’ve been given permission. When they haven’t. This is why some people are indie game designers and not comedians.

“You’re cured of cancer, Gran!”
“Thank God!”
“Only Joking!”
“You bast!”

Jim: Oops. Jokes that aren’t funny aren’t funny.

Alec: One day we’ll learn that giant entertainment industry corporations aren’t in the habit of doing anyone favours.


Simultaneously, Space Week becomes RPS’ least successful theme-week ever.

John: Space WEAK more like! Ah ha ha ha ha. However, I contend that we were successfully floating in space throughout.

Jim: No, it was the most successful non-holiday season based week ever. There’s a bunch of good stuff in there, anyway, and the PC remains very strong for spaceheads. Loads of mods, a great space MMO with another one on the way: Jumpgate Evolution looks stronger and stronger each time we see it. Really looking forward to that.

Alec: Oh, what plans we had. Specifically, all those space-game Retro pieces the rest of you said you’d write AND THEN DIDN’T.

I still want to do Happy Week, where we post only positive stories and savagely remove any comment with even a hint of whining. There’s no reason why Stalinist revision can’t be cheerful.

Kieron: Stop whining, Alec.

That Space Week was a disaster when it really did fine is one of my favourite internal RPS-gags, mainly because of a joke we half-planned to do and never did. Just before, Gamesradar sent out a triumphalist press-release about the success of their WEEK OF HATE. Opening quote: “Gamers’ love for “Hate” sends GamesRadar to record traffic: Last week’s “Week of Hate” on GamesRadar.com gave the videogame destination its best March traffic numbers ever”. We wanted to put one saying something along the line of “Unimpressive Traffic Following RPS’ Space Week: Last Week’s “Space week” on rockpapershotgun.com resulted in PC gaming blog no significant alteration in its traffic. Extensive features on the making of System Shock 2 and the forthcoming Jumpgate: Evolution lead to no significant fluctuation in the number of readers. “We’re very disappointed,” say RPS chairman Jim Rossignol, “We’d have to consider this editorial direction a total failure”. And so on.

In other gamesradar related notes, I haven’t stopped saying STRAIGHT TO THE SEXY at inappropriate moments all year.


Dawn of War 2 announced and we get our geek-credentials out in public by trying to work out what the other races would be…

Jim: Whee! I was one of the lucky nerds at the initial announcement of this, and it looked like Diablo with squads. It still does! That hasn’t diminished my interest however, because I’m very interested in Large Space Men fictions of all kinds.

Alec: I think we’re all disappointed they didn’t bring the Squats back. At least we got our Tyranids. Is it time for the Dawn of War 2 expansion pack faction speculation sweepstakes yet?

Kieron: I actually knew it was going to be Tyranids in an off-the-record way for a few weeks before the announcement. I had to treat very carefully.


The Rope? You have to burn it.

Jim: If only all games were jokes.

John: It was tempting to write something in the original post. I mean, obviously – it’s a little unusual to write nothing. I figured I could play along with the joke, or explain the joke, or add to the joke.. But it would all have been arrogance. You can’t add to the Mona Lisa, even if it’s to draw a moustache on it.

Alec: I like to think this is the kind of game RPS would have made, were we more than the inept commentators we are. I.e. simultaneously clever and very, very stupid.

Kieron: A game which kinda made me wish I was still writing tips, just so I could have milked it as a running gag.


RPS-irregular Quinns goes deep into the heart of Pathologic and singlehandedly makes a years-old ramshackle Russian game the RPScause-celebre

Jim: This is the kind of game that isn’t, and shouldn’t be a joke. If it is a joke, then it’s something difficult and modern: Samuel Beckett with polygons. There’s something life-affirming about how deliberately weird it’s possible for games to be, and Pathologic was an affirmation that aberrant brokenness appeals to be people on some basic level, even if they don’t want to, or can’t, play the game itself.

John: I will be taking full credit here. Sure, Quintin wrote eloquent, passionate pieces in extraordinary depth, but only cos he read my EG review. I’m a lot like Aristotle to his Alexander The Great. Or, er, Lenin to his Stalin. Pathologic was a remarkable game in so many ways. I was astonished by it. It was, of course, broken almost beyond repair, but it was just so damned interesting, and so bursting with ideas. I am proud of the maturity of the games industry to be able to embrace it in its demented form and still love it.

Alec: My strongest feeling about Quinns’ opus is deep, deep jealousy. Not only in that it was a great piece of writing, but also that I don’t think I’ve ever found a game that wormed into me that much. It’s a games writer’s dream – the obscure, forgotten treasure that you get to share with the world. That pretty much everyone who went and bought the thing as a result of the piece found it was almost unplayable is entirely academic.

Kieron: One of the best things we’ve ever published, frankly. Also, one of the most widely linked and read. That something with its critical density reached an actual audience makes me overwhelmingly happy.


The Sims series shifts over 100 million units. Shitting, and indeed, hell.

Jim: If you piled all the copies of The Sims on top of each other you’d eventually asphyxiate in the upper atmosphere, and probably fall off your mile-high ladder, silently plunging through the clouds to your impact death below.

Kieron: I wish I was rich.


On an associated note, John goes off to San Francisco and has dinner with Sims-bloke-who-isn’t-that-bloke-with-glasses-and-we’ll-get-to-spore-eventually, Rod Humble.

John: And what a lovely man he is too. It was one of those fortuitous things – I was in SF on my own dime, visiting Dave Eggers’ 826 project, and contacted Mr Humble (who we’d spotted commenting on RPS) to see if he was up for an interview. Up he was. I’d love to see his enthusiasm and creativity put into a game I cared about, but don’t tell him I said that.

Jim: Each of the RPS team gets to go for a romantic dinner with a prominent games developer each year, except Alec, who has to stay at home and look after the cat. Also, Rod Humble is extremely smart. This is worth reading.


We redesigned the site to RPS’ current luscious, elegant design. Well, when we say “we” we mean “the lovely person we bullied into it”.

Jim: The redesign is a joke that no one seems to get.

Alec: With a hundred tiny tweaks since, mostly due to my determination to install all the WordPress plugins in the world. Oh, and still working on fixing the comment-editing. Please stop moaning about it.


The first of the Team Fortress Add On packs, including Medic upgrades and Goldrush maps was released. Kieron was a bit paranoid about it. Was he right?

Kieron: Not really. The bigger problem was what I didn’t consider – upon release of the new ones, servers being disrupted by people hunting achievements or whatever. Death to achievements. That said, being a dabbler, I’m fine with the other much-insulted side-effect of the game going to shit for a few weeks as it fills with people playing whatever the newly upgraded class is. It adds a passing novelty you’d never normally see. And jolly good show for Valve adding new stuff too.

Alec: The unlocks have always left me cold. It reminds me of hitting the maximum level in WoW and the way it felt like the game and its players just raced beyond me, fixated on something I just wasn’t in the game for myself. The shift in TF2 isn’t anything like as profound, and it always settles back down after a week or two – but still, it turns me off the game slightly.

Jim: Updates are the new something or other. Or maybe they are just The New: they’re the current generation’s reason for continued interest in old games.


April Games of Note:

Assasin’s Creed

John: I’d completely forgotten this ever came out on PC. That’s probably not a good sign.

Alec: God, this seems like a long time ago. I can’t wait to hear details of the sequel; the problems with this were so inescapable, but at the same time it sold very well (on console at least)… I wonder which of those factors will win out. Also, “AssCreed” will never stop being funny.

Jim: I never got round to play this on PC, but it was a beautiful waste of time and effort on 360, so I assume the same was true here. Still, it sold ninety-billion copies, so no one will ever know.

Command & Conquer 3: Wrath of Kane

Jim: Some of my fondest olden memories of games are based around the sudden novelty of FMV-via-CD-ROM that came about in my early PC years. It seems as if the C&C types are the only developers in the world who are still amazed by that idea.

Alec: Vapid and Incomprehensible, even by C&C standards. Old slaphead’s gotten far too much screentime of late – I think he needs to be backgrounded somewhat to regain his mystique.

Kieron: That’s really not a nice thing to say about me, Alec.

Trackmania Nations Forever

John: Hurrah for this. I think mentioning the instant restarts and anti-physics fun has become almost cliché. But it’s still all true. It’s just so damned playable. Of course, it needs to do something new next time, as Nations Forever was possibly pushing remaking the same game a little beyond acceptability. Even if it’s still tremendous. Something new please Nadeo.

Alec: Pretty much neck and neck with Audiosurf in terms of the game I’ve played most often this year. A reliable, accessible boredom killer par excellence. I do hope the free/paid upgrade model’s working out for them.

Jim: This game keeps coming back to me like some ludological frisbee. I think I’ve deleted it from my PC and then I’ll find myself playing it in the middle of the afternoon. I’m not sure what’s going on, but it’s either a really great racing game that I really like playing, or a ghost game that possesses my PC internals: you decide.

TypeRacer

Jim: Sometimes two ideas are just one idea. One great idea.

Kieron: One of the archetypal one-week meme-buzz games. Everyone seemed to play this and then it was gone into the communal memory. Not quite Typing of the Dead, but in the history of awesome games about typing very quickly, certainly in the top 5.

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34 Comments »

  1. Pags says:

    The Pathologic piece makes me wish Quintin wrote on RPS more. Actually the reason I ended up here.

  2. cyrenic says:

    I checked out the Pathologic demo, and like so many others, found the game unplayable. I still wonder how voice actors can deliver lines like the ones in Pathologic when the translation is completely unintelligible.

    Quinns’ piece was still fantastic, of course.

  3. dozer1986 says:

    The Pathologic articles made me go out and get Pathologic. And yes, I did find it pretty much unplayable. I stopped when people started throwing knives at me in the dark, on day 2 I think.

    Surreal Pathologic moment: driving past the Southgate building site in Bath for the umpteenth time (IRL, mind). I’m sure one of the banksmen – the people with the ‘STOP/GO’ signs who let the thousand cement lorries and kebab delivery vans into the site each day – had a Pathologic hoodie on underneath his hi-vis vest. Didn’t have time to get a good look though…

  4. Meat Circus says:

    Quinns: The new RPS king of tl;dr.

  5. TelefonHonda says:

    The highlight of April for me was “AssCreed”, I enjoyed it but all my friends said it was crap. Guess I’m different. I loved running on the roofs, jumping down and assassinating innocent people. And when that got boring I just assassinated some baddies. I didn’t really get into Trackmania Nations Forever, because it felt exactly like Trackmania Sunrise. Also because I sucked. 90% of the maps being played online I couldn’t even finish. I enjoyed the really simple maps where it was down to hundreds of a second between the winner and last place. I might try it again for more than a couple of hours, I might even like it.

  6. Turin Turambar says:

    I left Pathologic at the third day. :( I think i could endure it two or three days more, but in the end the gameplay problems were there.

    AssCreed is a mediocre game, so it has been forgotten quickly for a reason. In the console arena it seems there is a split between the people who liked and the people who didn’t liked it. In the pc, almost everybody fell in the second category.

    Also, you have to burn the rope.

  7. Switch625 says:

    You can count me as one of the many who bought Pathologic based on the RPS piece, and found it almost entirely unplayable.
    I still enjoy owning it, though, just because I can re-read Quintin’s piece and say to myself “I own this marvellous game!”
    I sort of wish I’d left it in its shrink wrap, really.

  8. Alex says:

    I bet $50 the first DoW 2 expansion will include Chaos.

    And I promise Relic I will give them that earned $50 if they include Imperial Guard as well.

    FOR THE EMPEROR!

  9. Hmm-hmm. says:

    I hadn’t found the wonder that is RPS yet when you were talking about TypeRacer, and I’m glad I didn’t. 57 wpm..

    Also, that in-depth writing on Pathologic is.. great. Simply great.

  10. Okami says:

    I never read part 3 of the Pathologic series (which, by the way, is one of the best gaming related collection of words ever written by man) because I didn’t want to spoil the game for me. I ordered the game, installed it and then never played it. Though playing Pathologic and finishing it with all three characters is still up there in my “things to do before I die” list, right next to reading the Bible, the Qu’ran, Das Kapital and Mein Kampf.

    I briefly considered writing something about me not knowing what to do in Burn th Rope but then decided against it, because it seemed to be too lame a joke, even by my admittedly low standards.

  11. hydra9 says:

    Well, count me as one of the lucky (lucky possibly meaning insane) few who read John’s excellent review of Pathologic, bought it, played it, completed it (twice) and loved it. I’m still rather obsessed by it, in fact.

    Quinns’ articles were amazing and it made me happy every time someone else said “Right, I’m buying it”… so it’s a little upsetting that so many people ended up not getting into it after all that.

    Oh yeah: And the reason I ended up here is because of Quinns’ series. So in the end: It was a good April for me. Thanks all!

  12. Paul B says:

    “right next to reading the Bible, the Qu’ran, Das Kapital and Mein Kampf.”
    Bible – Overrated, the Qu’ran – overrated, Das Kapital – hmm, not bad, Mein Kampf – Excellent.

  13. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    I’ve yet to read the Lancre Witches Discworld books.

  14. qrter says:

    It’s all about Nanny Ogg, dawg.

  15. Steve says:

    The delicious thing about the TF2 updates is that don’t feel hindered in anyway by having not unlocked all of them yet. Also, there is no joy comparable with playing a heavy and getting both Ubers at once. Except possibly being the medic enabling it.

  16. The Hammer says:

    You made it through the tunnel, you beat the whole damn game…

  17. whitebrice says:

    That Pathologic article is my favorite piece of games journalism and provoked me to get a copy, though I’ve not made it past day 7 as the bachelor. Whatever happened to that studio’s next game?

  18. malkav11 says:

    Pathologic is the sort of game that I am truly thankful to have experienced. It’s very broken and hard to play and the translation is epically awful, but some magical gestalt of all that and the extraordinarily unique concept of the game makes for a gaming experience that truly, genuinely stands out from all the rest. It’s magic.

    And it was even more magic that I’d discovered it before Quinns’ articles, entirely on my own, though he’s better at writing about it and certainly got further than I ever did. That’s the other great thing about it – most games that are worth playing are either hyped all to hell before release, or there’s at least some immediate, if quiet, word of mouth. Even other Russian and eastern European titles get talked about more than Pathologic did until Quinns came along. So Pathologic was this total shock.

    Re: C&C 3 and the FMVs – just realize that EA’s first C&C title, Generals, skipped the FMV cutscenes in favor of bland in-engine stuff and there was quite a fan outcry. I don’t think it’s so much the developers that have an inexplicable continued fondness for them as it is the people buying C&C games. And frankly, I’m one of them. They’re terrible, of course. Always were. But they’re part of the C&C charm and Generals just wasn’t the same.

  19. Down Rodeo says:

    Reminding me why I love RPS. This kind of retrospective thing is a good idea – I find it weird to go back and look at the stories from before, thinking “I read that one! And that one too!” even if there was a stage where I left you guys. No other website quite hit that spot though. I never went near the whorish ‘other’ sites though. RPS 4evah and all that.

    Alec: “There’s no reason Stalinist revisionism can’t be cheerful.” I’ve heard there’s a new retelling of 1984 out where Julia and Winston get married and overthrow the government of Oceania.

    Also, I was a wee bit gutted. When I burned the rope, due to the poor flash support in Ubuntu, I was not told that I had burned the rope. I am going to go play now to listen to the song.

  20. Filipe says:

    Pathologic : Loved the article, couldn’t stand the awful translation.

  21. Tacticus says:

    Assassins creed was an awesome pakour game absolutely shit assassination game.

    you are an uber assassin why do you do the stupid and get up close when you have excellent throwing knives and etc.

  22. Ian says:

    I bought Pathologic and have yet to play it. This is typical of the effect RPS’ writing has on me.

    I’m going to re-read those articles and make myself want to play it again.

  23. sbs says:

    So, was there a quicksave for AssCreed on the PC?
    I played this on the Playstation and for me, the most irritating thing about it was the savepoint system, and as a result, the annoying consequences of failing to sneakily murder the target.
    Every time a well planned, or not so well planned assassination attempt went horribly wrong, I didn’t really want to try again. Well, I wanted to, but what I didn’t want was to start all over again from the last savepoint. Whereas in Hitman or Thief, the two games which I hoped this would have been a mix of, you could load your last save again if something went a little wrong there, thereby refining your plan here and there until you got the perfect timing down.

    In AssCreed however, in case of failure, I just wanted to get it over with already – which basically meant anticlimactic, buttonmash-y swordfighting with half a dozen guards, and chasing the victim until it somehow got leapt upon by my unlikable parkour ninja monk playercharacter. Followed by me sitting deeply frustrated on my couch, flipping the bird to the atrocious cutscene after that. And angrily shouting at futuristic science labrat-me and the electric Kristin Bell.

    Reward for completing a mission never was so off-putting.

  24. Morph says:

    Like many here it seems, I bought Pathologic to pretend I was totally arty and hip. Then I gave up on day 2 because I couldn’t take the soul crushing misery.

    But I’m still totally arty and hip.

  25. matt says:

    Well, i, for one, liked the Space Week featurette..

  26. hydra9 says:

    Whitebrice: Whatever happened to that studio’s next game?

    Ice-Pick Lodge’s second game, ‘The Void’ (previously known as ‘Tension’) was released in Russia earlier this year. An enhanced English version (with guaranteed good translation this time!) will be published by Atari in Q1 2009.

    Also: The Reticule blogged about it here.

  27. James T says:

    ‘You Have To Burn The Rope’ was good, but never worth the $90. And why was Shader Model 3.0 mandatory? One word for you, ‘Kian’: SCALABILITY.

  28. Cigol says:

    lol.

    Space Week was a bit shit. When reflecting upon it I can’t help but think of Charlie Brookers most recent article on the Guardian; “What a tragedy the Lapland New Forest attraction closed down. It sounded like my kind of theme park”

    The series of articles on Pathologic were fantastic though.

  29. Jetsetlemming says:

    @ Turin Turambar:

    The gameplay gets better as you go along, actually, as you get more weapons and supplies and cash, more enemies and dangerous situations are presented, and the plot gets more involved and more pressing. By day seven or so, you’re carefully running street to street, trying to avoid firebombing rioters and rifle-wielding soldiers and knife-throwing muggers and FLAMETHROWER-WIELDING SOLDIERS HOLY SHIT and plague clouds, while you yourself have a one hit kill (With headshot) rifle with cheap ammo but a very slow reload.
    The game progresses very well actually, imo. If the initial shock of the adventure game quest style and oppressive, depressing atmosphere doesn’t scare you off, it’s actually, honest to God, a fun game.

  30. Pete says:

    Games Workshop have repeatedly stated, quite firmly, for a long time now, that Squats are never coming back. Ever.They were short fat bikers, come on.

  31. SlappyBag says:

    Hmmm, I can’t even the comments. Tis rather annoying old chum, do try and fix it.

  32. chesh says:

    I somehow missed TypeRacer. I’m right at 95-100 wpm, which prompted me to take a test to assure that I’m not a robot. The top scores are 200wpm or more, which boggles my mind. Surely these people must be robots?

  33. Monele says:

    Pathologic is the reason I started following RPS. We need more games like this so we can get more articles like this :)

  34. The LxR says:

    Hell, I do understand that most of the comments on Pathologic here are “Bought, but found unplayable”, but it’s still prettty damn flattering. (I’m one of the devs.) Now I have twice the enthusiasm to try and finish the alternative good translation…

    Also, we’ll be releasing Tension/Turgor/The Void (pick one name ;) ) somewhere in spring this year, so stay tuned. I guarantee a close to perfect translation this time and hydra9 won’t let me lie – it’s already done and can’t be done better. At least, significantly better.

    Check out this trailer here, it’ll show odff some of the good parts in HD: http://www.tension-game.com/video/tension_gameplay_gc_1280x720.avi

    Keep up to date on our official forums here: http://forum.ice-pick.com/

    Phew, I think that’s all I needed to say. :) Sorry for being so “advertising”. I just hope you won’t miss this one – we’ve put our soul into it. :)