Now That’s What I Call A Best 2008: December. Erm.

By RPS on December 24th, 2008 at 2:04 pm.

Does this logo make any sense to US readers?

Around 1998, the questions – confused, angry and amused – came quick and fast. What would esteemed British comicky book 2000 AD call itself come 2000 AD? Would 20th Century Fox change its near-sighted name to reflect the new millenium? And, most of all, what would Rock, Paper, Shotgun do when the time came to write a look back at December 2008 before December 2008 had even finished? Read on, gentle read-o-tron, to find out the truth.

You’re absolutely right – we’re going to do exactly the same thing we do every other day, Pinky – try to write about the major events of that month.
If that distresses you, we suggest you go to Goa to find yourself for a month and come back in late January, by which time this’ll seem like the thoughtful mulling over the past you so crave. Don’t blame us – blame the calendar.


Hey, remember when the Black Mesa Source trailer was released? Good times, good times.

John: I find myself in the: Why Don’t They Use Those Talents To Make Their Own Game camp. But I’m still interested to see how this works out.

Jim: I can see exactly why they went for this: Half-Life is absolutely brilliant, and there’s no better banner to get people to flock to. I suspect I will actually play it through, even though I’ve completed Half-Life end to end six times.

Kieron: I’ve still never completed Half-life. Man!

Alec: I’m gently amazed at the good will towards them after this trailer. Not that it wasn’t a great-looking trailer – but we’re still talking about a mod that’s been in progress since the dawn of time and that’s released nothing solid to backup their fancy talk. A one-level demo or something would have assuaged all fears of vapourware. Hopefully something’s in the pipeline. All the best to ‘em, anyway – looking forward to seeing it.


Hey, remember when we started writing our analysis of the year that had passed? Aaargh, brain cramp!

Jim: Man, this was awesome. We should do it again next month.

John: I remember that writing my thoughts about January were some of my happiest, and saddest, and inbetweenest memories of the year.

Kieron: I don’t think we’ll days like the days when we looked back on days we’d never see again again.

Alec: I can’t remember what we said. Can we do a series of round-up posts covering the round-ups?


Dungeon Keeper 3: The MMO. Good times, deeply surprisingly and faintly horrifying times.

Jim: Is this a real news story? It seems like one of those made up stories we keep posting. I just can’t tell anymore.

Kieron: You know, if I was incredibly rich, I’d go around buying up much-loved-yet-ignored old PC games licenses, and then turn them into the least appropriate game imaginable. Development-as-comments-thread trolling.

Alec: My suspiscion it that this was just someone shortcutting art design or something by renting rights to a disused license. I can’t genuinely imagine it’ll be dungeon-building.


We don’t actually need to say anything else about all that GTA IV DRM/bugs/silly app bullshittery, do we?

John: No.

Jim: Look over there, a unseasonable bee!

Alec: Was there some sort of controversy? I don’t remember any.


Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter to return. Bet they’ll be just like Oblivion, and you’ll all be so happy.

John: Neverwinter isn’t a surprise, since the series hasn’t really gone away. And its sequel a couple of years back was really fantastic. However, if Atari’s desperate clawing for any money at all results in giving this to anyone other than Obsidian, we’re in for trouble. I can’t really think of anyone else I’d trust with the Baldur’s Gate license either. And I’m sure Bioware are rather desperately hoping the same. Hmmm, I wonder if Alpha Protocol will be any good.

Jim: RPGs for me tend to crash down in a place I’m never quite happy with. Why not take the same budget and make something more like Bloodlines, eh? Why not do that?

Kieron: Because it’s even harder.

Alec: To bring up the spectre of the Witcher again – it’s got at least as many problems as any sequel RPG, but many of its players brushed ‘em off in sheer, understandable glee at having a good RPG to play. In the case of these, Fallout etc they’re going in with certain expectancies, and that can only backfire. It’s second-album-by-favourite-band syndrome: no matter how good it is, the mere fact of it not being the same songs as last time means it deviates from the conception of that band you have in your head. Atari really should just slap a different name on Baldur’s Gate 3: if it’s a great RPG, word will spread regardless of its title, because the roleplaying community is passionate enough to make it so.


Mister Garry ‘ Garry’s Mod’ Mod – if that is indeed his real name – turns out to be absurdly rich.

John: One day I’ll become an incredibly proficient coder and write something that’s phenomenally successful on Steam and become so rich I can DESTROY THE WORLD. Or I’ll just sit around in my pants. It’s one of those two.

Jim: I wish had sold something. Anything.

Kieron: You know, by writing that one Sabretooth comic for Marvel I’ve got out in February, I earn more than I do as a games writer in a month? That’s why games-journalists-are-all-bribed-and-corrupt forum talk is so grating. If money mattered, we wouldn’t be doing this bloody thing anyway.

But it does make me happy when an indie-guy just gets rich by the magic of releasing something lovely that people like.

Alec: Yes, this all the proof that’s needed that PC gaming isn’t some arthouse outfit that puts obtuseness over profit. A good idea, well made can sell incredibly well – and we need more reportage of the cases in which that does happen to ensure more people try it.

Also, games journalism really does pay shit. I’m going to take a job as a binman next year.


Tim Stone, the Winston Zeddemore of RPS, joins in with our festive listmania, offering up eight things all flight sims should do.

Jim: Merry Christmas, Tim. You are more talented than any of us. Well, Kieron anyway. (He can’t even draw.)

Kieron: I can draw. In fact, tonight whilst you sleep, I’ll be drawing a whetted blade across your jugular.

Alec: I’ve been sent a flight sim by [a mysterious stranger] for Christmas. Doesn’t he know I’m physically incapable of controlling them?


Cryptic sell their souls to Infogrames-In-Disguise. What will become of Champions?

John: Hopefully a lot more than any other MMOs Atari have touched. This seemed an odd, odd choice. I’d love to hear the story behind it one day.

Kieron: Yeah. They seemed so confident when I went to visit them for Champions. What’s happened? Worldwide recession, that’s what.

Jim: Anyone remember Horizons, eh? What a game.

Alec: Once again – the MMO industry pretty much went tits-up this year. We can only expect casualties in 2009, I fear. I desperately hope Champs isn’t one of ‘em.


50% of adults play games, it transpires. The other 50% are too busy killing prostitutes.

John: But importantly, 49% of them are playing terrible games.

Jim: Adults are great. I hope I get one for Christmas.

Kieron: I met an adult once. It was awesome. They talked about sideboards and similar stuff. I asked them what they made of King’s Bounty and they just stared at me. I then peed myself. I don’t like adults.

Alec: I just need to learn how to talk about football and cars and I’ll be a functioning human being at last. On the survey itself – I don’t think it surprised anyone, did it? These are expensive items that generally carry a 15 or 18 age rating, and are pretty much the only easy at-home hedonism available to anyone who can’t bear to point their eyes at Strictly Big Survivor every night. Apart from sex and reading, but no-one does those anymore.


Telltale pay us squillions of dollars to stealth-advertise their games

John: You know, when you see an interview on a gaming site/mag, that’s because the people making/publishing the game want to promote their game, and the mag/site want people to read it. It made me pretty sad that Emily at Telltale and I thought it would be much more fun, and funny, to do comedy interviews about a pretend scandal, and people cry foul. But if we’d run a bog-standard interview with a Telltale dev asking about the game, no one would have said a thing. Bah.

Jim: Lucky that we got so rich off all our other corruption, anyway. Man, I am so rich. I wear a helicopter for a hat.

Kieron: God, I’m going to end up whining again.

Alec: I really loved the way people made offensive pronouncements and accusations towards us without doing even the faintest scrap of research or fact-checking first. That was lovely, that. I HATE YOU ALL.


Naughty words in Disney game SCANDAL: Pure is unpure.

John: I sure learned some excellent new swears from that. Thanks Disney! You lovehole nookie zipperheads.

Kieron: I had to google zipperheads. Oh my. Aren’t the US military charming gentlemen.

Alec: That’s exactly the kind of ignorance I’d expect of a slattern like you, Gillen.


Fallout 3 gets its mod kit, and the crazysupermegahyper-angries are increasingly struggling to find reasons to say Bethesda violated their childhoods.

Kieron: When I’m going to report stories like the “We’re not sure”, I’m going to add a proviso “You do understand that they’ll almost inevitably do it, but want to actually have a big post-release story for PR purposes so don’t want to confirm it and reduce the scale of the story later”.

Alec: A magazine wants me to write a GECK tutorial for them. At this stage, it’s a bit like being asked to tear a phonebook in half with my bare hands.


Despite hating all foreigners with a passion he normally reserves for the homeless, orphans, women, milkmen and koala bears, it turns out Jim once stifled his loathing for long enough to visit yet another country – and has some frightfully insightful things to say about its gaming culture.

Jim: I love our milkman, actually. Leonard is his name. Hi Leonard! Love you.

Kieron: My favourite thing about this being posted on RPS it being motivated as sheer passive-aggressive nastiness at someone being an idiot on another website. Amongst other things, he was laughing at the idea of any of us writing about another culture. When, in fact, Jim won a real-world award for doing exactly that. Ah, those internet whining blog kids aren’t always that bright. So we got to entertain the readers and roll our eyes at hateful dolts at the same time. RPS is awesome! Even when we’re being bastards we do it in a cheery positive way.

Alec: Jim is still RPS’ leading journalist for this, and his upcoming Russia piece. I am bitterly jealous, and that’s why I’m going to kill him, steal his skin and assume his identity. And cats.


We catch first wind of what might yet erupt into a really major scandal that kicks the bloom right off Steam’s sainted rose – a Euro version of the digi-download app launches, and initially lovely prices soon descend into rip-off horror.

John: We’re still trying to figure this one out, and once Christmas is over we’ll try and get some answers. But it seems the new UK Steam has led to fantastic new prices for UK people, and in turn seen prices lower on US Steam. But somehow this has left the rest of Europe with price increases. Since the pound and the Euro are currently identical, it’s a very strange state of affairs. Euro readers, be assured we’re equally thrown by the price increases, and want to find out why Valve/their clients have done this.

Kieron: Yeah, this is simply beyond my ability to understand right now with my tiny refictionist brain. We’ll dig into it in the new year.


John Walker loves Prince of Persia. He thinks it’s the best game ever made. He’ll kill any man that says otherwise, and if he met the woman of his dreams but it turned out she didn’t like it, he would have her arrested and flogged.

John: There was the most extraordinary interview on IGN yesterday with PoP’s producer, in which he stated how disappointed he was in people for not embracing the innovation and change in this game. He said,

“What surprises me is how little these high-level risks seem to be noticed and appreciated as attempts to shake up the industry and push things forward. Perhaps I’m an idealist, but I think perhaps I was expecting a few more virtual pats-on-the-back for our attempts to do something new.”

It’s immediately weird that he could be saying something like this in light of the ludicrously high scores the undeserving game has been receiving. But it troubles me greatly. Trying something new, and terrible, does not deserve pats on the back. And when the thing you’re trying is to remove all challenge from the platforming, and create a tiresome string of bossfights, it’s hard to understand exactly how this was intended to shake up the industry. He does acknowledge that they should have created varying difficulty for the game (but adds he doesn’t know how they could have. That’s because they simply couldn’t have with the derivative nature of the game they intended to create). However, he also calls it an “art game”, which caused my head to fall off in incredulity.

Jim: Look at me! I’m trying trousers on the top half of my body!


First Old Republic footage released. It cracks the internet in half. DON’T YOU PEOPLE KNOW THAT’S HOW THE JEDI-SITH WAR STARTED IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Jim:When I get to play this I’m going to be a Sith called Darth Rug.

Kieron: I can’t work out an untasteless gag to go here, so I’m going to sit quietly on my hands and feel the carcinogens release into my brain.

Alec: If I can’t play as a Jawa, I’m not playing at all.


Eve is corrupt and exploitable, or something. Lest it not be obvious, the person compiling the links for this post isn’t Jim.

Jim: OR IS IT? No, it isn’t. CCP haven’t had the best track record of exploits and the resultant clusterfucks. This one doesn’t seem to have gone any better than previous messes, despite CCP’s innovations. Still, some people got free spaceships, so it can’t be all bad… Oh, that’s what was bad. My bad.

Kieron: I wish I had a spaceship.

Alec: What’s an Eve?


The first Watchmen footage is a little like being repeatedly kicked in the stomach by a rhino a clown hat who keeps saying rude things about your mother.

John: Good comments on this story, as people tried to come up with a game as inappropriate. My offering is an action FPS of All Quiet On The Western Front.

Jim: We all watched the Watchmen, it seems. No one came away with a yellow smiley.

Kieron: I’ll take this opportunity to steal a gag from the sadly-departed The Weekly: “I watch the watchmen,” says Watchmen’s supervisor.

Alec: The only possible game adaptation of Watchmen would be Tales of the Black Freighter: The RTS. Oh no! I’m out of friends’ corpses! I can’t afford to build my raft!


Spore de-authorisation tool eases the DRM pain a little. Hype-victims continue to bemoan the fact the game wasn’t exactly what they thought it would be, because we’re all so enjoying hearing that again and again.

John: The hype over this game wasn’t what I hoped it would be.

Kieron: I personally found the backlash over Spore underwhelming. I was expecting an enormous, brutal backlash without precedent, but it was just a regular really angry mob. It’s such a shame.

Jim: De-authorisation sounds like some kind of supernatural process that could be done on a novel, where the author is erased from the timeline, only to be replaced by a sinister doppelganger with a different history.

Alec: There’s so much room for some interesting, thoughtful writing about how and why Spore failed in a few/many/all/delete as applicable ways and how it could have been better, which is why the fact most of its critics default to “NO IT’S SHIT IT’S SHIT AND ANYONE WHO SAYS IT ISN’T IS A CORRUPT LIAR” is so disappointing.


The day that irony died: Angry Internet Men are angry about being called Angry Internet Men.

John: If we don’t get comments from AIMs on this post, angry that they’re being accused of getting angry by being called Angry Internet Men, I will be grossly disappointed.

Kieron: I admit, I’m not that fond of the AIM meme either. But I still think an ANGRY INTERNET MAN T-shirt could be splendid.

Jim: I still think we should have called then The Laughing Boys.

Alec: The real, terrible, bitter irony of ‘AIM’ is that it’s become a knee-jerk insult used by exactly the kind of people it initially referred to against anyone they disagree with, and for that reason I suspect we won’t be using it much from now on. It’s still a funny dismissal of a crazy shouting man when used in the right circumstances, however.


Achievement Unlocked: a last-minute contender for indie game o’the year.

Jim: Elephant?

Kieron: Elephant.

Alec: Clearly, no-one else on RPS has played this yet. You’re all fired.

Kieron: Elephant.


EA jump aboard the Steamtrain at last, but mess a bit and end up leaving a couple of limbs behind. HELLO, WE’RE EUROPE! 728 million people! Ring any bells?

John: Of course they’re out in Europe now as well. Except for… the UK! Hooray! Brilliant! (Which I’m assuming will have something to do with the crazy Euro prices matching the crazy EA Store prices, but not the more reasonable prices for UK Steam.)

Jim: We should get rid of the pound. It’s boring now anyway.

Alec: I want Groats to come back.


Crayon Physics Deluxe beta finally released. Oh god, we’re posting about stuff we posted yesterday.

John: Yesterday was brilliant! Wait, no it wasn’t. It was a really bloody awful day. But fortunately I had Crayon Physics Deluxe to play, and that made it better.

Jim: They don’t make ‘em like they did yesterday.

Kieron: I think with the luxury of hindsight, we can say we probably got a little overexcited over this one. Sadly, when running a blog you don’t get a chance to sit back and really consider your opinions.

Alec: Yesterday was without doubt one of the worst days I had all year. Wheeee. Hopefully this’ll help, once I get round to playing it.

    Notable Games!


Minotaur China Shop

John: I thought this might be the Flashbang game I wouldn’t enjoy as much, with the tones of Diner Dash (a game I hate so very, very much – it’s the lowest form of chores-as-play imaginable). But it turned out I was stupid for doubting them. Utter brilliance.

Kieron: The angry Minotaur is awesome.

Alec: I’ve got a lovely Minotaur China Shop t-shirt here that’s too big for my tiny, emaciated body. I shall have to think up a clever competition to give it away to one of our full-size readers. Something really devious, I think.


Defense Grid: The Awakening
Jim: One of my favourite games of the year. And, like many of my other favourite games of the year, it is available only under unfavorable conditions. How queer.

Alec: He keeps going on about this, which is un-Jim-like. I’m worried he’s convinced Valve to rename Eve into Defence Grid on Steam, just to lure more poor saps into his motionless MMO.


Space Giraffe

Kieron: One of my favourite games of the year too. Hurrah for December!

And Merry Christmas everyone. God bless one and all, etc.

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39 Comments »

  1. subedii says:

    Welp, onwards to space year two-thousand-and-nine, and still no hover cars. I am deeply disappointed.

  2. Jon says:

    You made it snow!

  3. Feet says:

    Ah I remember the nostagia we had last December. That was great. I’ve enjoyed this years nostalgia too, I’m sure I always look back on it with great affection and love. Thanks RPS! Here’s to RPS goin’ for the BIG TIME in 2009!

  4. Nimic says:

    Yes. Yes.

  5. Thirith says:

    John: concerning Black Mesa: I dunno, but the idea of “Why don’t they make their own game?” strikes me as similar to a great pianist playing Bach or Mozart and someone going, “But why doesn’t he play his own music?” Creativity and craft don’t always go hand in hand – in fact, as a rule they probably don’t, at least not to the same extent. Recreating a game, using the original assets as inspiration but making them *better* strikes me as a good way for craftsmen to hone their craft while working on something they enjoy.

  6. AndrewC says:

    Merry Christmas you lot!

    Here’s a Christmas message I wholeheartedly endorse:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaQEHE90_m8&eurl=http://www.facebook.com/home.php?

  7. The Archetype says:

    In response to the alt text question, yes American readers will get that picture.

    Or rather, get the reference, I don’t at all get why it was made.

  8. alset says:

    I’ve been laughing uncontrollably throughout this whole article.
    Cheers good sirs and Merry Christmas! One of the best ones yet.

  9. Pags says:

    My favourite comments thread of this year was the Watchmen comments thread. But that could just be nostalgia blinding me; it was so very long ago after all.

  10. Radiant says:

    The secret to nerds being able to talk about Football is to play Fantasy Football.
    It gives you a reason to watch football; any and ALL football.
    It’s very scary how much I know about Wigan’s Honduran left back [Maynor Figueroa: has an extra double game week coming up].

  11. Radiant says:

    Let alone that I know what a left back actually is.

  12. The_B says:

    Alec: I’ve got a lovely Minotaur China Shop t-shirt here that’s too big for my tiny, emaciated body. I shall have to think up a clever competition to give it away to one of our full-size readers. Something really devious, I think.

    Surely the best and most fitting compo would be along the lines of readers sending in photos of their best Angry Internet Men impersonation. Bonus points for flames and general Minator like behaviour.

  13. Riotpoll says:

    The article was so long the snow stopped half way down the page! (for me at least). ‘Twas a good read though.

    Merry Christmas folks!

  14. Larington says:

    Baldurs Gate 3?
    Nah, how about, Forgotten Realms: Forgotten Adventures, as an anthology series. Different stories released episodically using the same graphics engine & established gameplay set in a variety of different regions of the forgotten realms.

    The most important thing of all is that its done as an Anthology series (IE, for the most part you avoid re-using characters or regions from other adventures, unless its a requirement of the story being told, like some characters from BG1 turning up in the sequel simply because they’re likely to still be around somewhere.

    It also means you can re-use Baldurs Gate and the Sword Coast without being tied to it over and over and over again by virtue of it not being in the title unless you want it to be.

  15. PJ says:

    Yes you all really should get rid of the GBP.

  16. Chaz says:

    And so another year of gaming goodness comes to an end. Lets hope that next year is even better.

    Merry Christmas joo gay twats!

  17. caesarbear says:

    Baldur’s Gate 3: Party Trivia

    or

    Neverwinter Nights 3: Baldur’s Gate

  18. Psychopomp says:

    @ Larington

    I wish I could finance such a thing.

    Concerning DnD, WHERE’S MY EBERRON GAME?

  19. RotBot says:

    Americans understand the logo, but don’t understand pants.

  20. nabeel says:

    Ah good, I was hoping to hear John’s reaction to the Prince of Persia producer’s comments, because they annoyed me too.

    nabeel

  21. RichP says:

    For my money, the tentacle monster wearing a party hat is the RPS picture of the year.

  22. qrter says:

    You know, by writing that one Sabretooth comic for Marvel I’ve got out in February, I earn more than I do as a games writer in a month? That’s why games-journalists-are-all-bribed-and-corrupt forum talk is so grating.

    Now, I’m not part of tinfoil hat brigade that thinks gamesjournalists work for bribes etc. but saying “this job doesn’t pay much so why would I take bribes?” makes little sense – bribeable people tend to be the ones with the low-paying jobs..

  23. SuperNashwan says:

    Kieron: You know, if I was incredibly rich, I’d go around buying up much-loved-yet-ignored old PC games licenses, and then turn them into the least appropriate game imaginable. Development-as-comments-thread trolling.

    The Chaos Engine Golf. Ultima Underworld Interior Designer. Syndicate Extreme Fishing.

    Actually, I’d probably play the last one…

  24. SuperNashwan says:

    Also, that PoP interview is proper amazing. Nearly every paragraph has some unique madness or delusion to it. The unashamed admittance that the game is an exercise in dumbed down, style over substance, complete and deliberate abandonment of everything PoP became with SoT is incredible. It’s like he’s actually proud he’s produced a game demonstrably inferior in its core mechanics to its predecessors. Still, for all its selling out, it’s not selling well so maybe someone at Ubisoft will be sensible enough to replace him with someone with a basic grasp of game theory before he can ruin anything else.

  25. Down Rodeo says:

    [I am going to cut down on caffeine and not be so angry - ed.]

  26. Arnulf says:

    Frohe Weihnachten und einen Guten Rutsch!

  27. Tom Camfield says:

    Merry Christmas!!

  28. Gap Gen says:

    Merry Christmas! For 2009, install an AIM client into RPS where angry men will shout swears at you in instant message form from across the worldly webs.

  29. Corbeaubm says:

    Actually, I think that the dev on Prince of Persia has a point. It’s one of the best-designed games that I’ve ever seen, and does attempt to push the bounds of a game as a form of art (and not just in the visual sense). The just made the game itself too easy, and thus got slammed by a large portion of the internet. They deserve the criticism for what went wrong, but they also deserve praise for what worked right.

    Ultimately, I have seen quite a few people write things that show they get it. Not professional reviewers writing to a mass market audience though, nor RPS.

  30. Stromko says:

    Bah. There’s no need for BG3 or another Neverwinter Nights, because they would be required by the license holders to use D&D 4th edition and their published settings.

    I guess you could say 3.5 is a bit played out, but with a different theme or a really well-told story I’d definitely pay for another go. 4th ed in the vein of Neverwinter Nights would be like Freedom Force without custom heroes or destructable environments and fewer powers. Or put more succinctly, like an MMORPG. Exactly like one, except a few years behind and less complex or nuanced.

    It’s sad that none* of the many excellent third-party D20 games materialized into CRPGs, and it’s too late now. (*just remembered Knights of the Old Republic — wow, that was a fine goddamned game wasn’t it? If only they hadn’t rushed KotOR 2 out a year too soon with second-rate budget and/or talent it might’ve been fantastic too.)

  31. Larington says:

    I struggle to envisage anything but the same edition of DnDs ruleset being used as was used in BG1/2. Modern re-envisionings be damned.

  32. malkav11 says:

    Your Eberron game is either Dragonshard (the RTS with sprinklings of RPG), or D&D Online.

    If you don’t like that, well…it’s not my fault you weren’t a bit more specific. :p

  33. wcaypahwat says:

    I would hardly claim the Obsidian lack talent…

  34. pepper says:

    I tell you, you lads are either insane or brilliant for merely discussing yesteday, with the memory still fresh in mind for everyone, it is almost like tearing open old wounds!! Oh, and im NOT ANGRY DAMMIT!

  35. Psychopomp says:

    @Stromko

    As much as I like DnD 4.0, and hate 3.5 for it’s terrible balance problems, YOU ARE CORRECT SIR.

  36. Simpsoid says:

    The RPS snow doesn’t reach the bottom of the page :(
    I suppose it evaporates when falling.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year RPS and all RPS readers!

  37. Metronome says:

    I have been waiting the day baldur’s gate 3 comes out. Anyway happy new year 2009:). Truthfully, I think left 4 dead is the best game for december 2008…

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