The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on February 1st, 2009 at 10:41 pm.

Sexy Papers!

Sundays are for heading into the Catacombs beneath Paris with thoughts of Deus Ex on my mind, seeing a smidgen of mass in Notre Dame before supping tea whilst overlooking a panoramic view of the city by the Seine. Okay, that may be just me. And maybe just today. But I’ll stop showing off and compile a list of interesting reading from across the week and strive to not include a link to something sound-based entirely unrelated to PC Games.

Failed.

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53 Comments »

  1. The Poisoned Sponge says:

    Spotify seems to be a rather lovely exclusive club I’m not invited to. This makes me sad.

    In other news, the Paradox interview is lovely, as is Bramwell’s piece about exclusives. Really clears a lot of stuff up.

  2. Moomin says:

    Quite a late sunday paper?
    When I was a bit younger I used to dream/hallucinate game concepts&ideas…

  3. Mister Yuck says:

    The closest I’ve come to hallucinating video games is the time I played too much Civ 4 and, the next morning, decided that the nature of time was turn-based. That is, as long as I didn’t do anything, time wouldn’t pass. I was late to school that day.

  4. Ecko says:

    Don’t suppose you have large amounts of specially preserved Spotify invites Kieron? No? Why are there no unicorns in this world :(

  5. Nimic says:

    I’m a huge Paradox Interactive fan. It’s true that some of their games have been rather buggy out of the box, but they do work tirelessly to fix and then improve them for years after they are released. Europa Universalis 2 (a great game) got its last patch (one very much geared towards MP) several years after its release, 1.09.

  6. Ecko says:

    Hey uh G, clicked on that link, seems to have sidestepped the token process? Is that the intention I hope? :)

  7. Nick says:

    Did you go to an underground rave and have a horrible dull and predictable horror adventure with Pink?

  8. Dinger says:

    Beaver: But you can’t have an arty, film-noir ending. We wanted to have a traditional big boss at the end.

    Huh? The Lady from Shanghai?, Kiss Me Deadly? Those have some big bosses at the end? Even neo-noirs, like Taxi Driver end with a blood-soaked boss battle.

    Does that change his point? Not really. Does that make me a pedantic, pompous twit? Sure.

    Second Law of Thermodynamics? Oh come on. Sure, Entropy expresses itself in many ways, and I’m sure the good folks at Valve know their physics, but as such a basic concept, it is incapable of supporting the sophistication that Mr. Kidd wants to impose. The more fundamental the idea, the simpler the meaning.
    Is Left4Dead that simple? I don’t think so. Just about every coin-op-influenced game has featured a punishing and ultimately futile battle against “entropic forces” so defined.

    On the other hand, look at it this way: take 4 random people, and put them together. What’s the first thing that comes out of their mouths? Something Francis would say, like: “I hate small groups.” The most basic social bond is negativity. We band together in groups for security. Apply the constant threat, and people form up.

  9. Scandalon says:

    I’m a filthy American, so I can’t Spotify…

    I’ve certainly had VG-inspired dreams, but can’t think of any can’t-tell-it’s-not-real episodes.

    Mister Yuck, your story made me laugh.

  10. teo says:

    Had Spotify since the closed beta ^^
    my sis was at their release party
    awesome I heard

  11. Jim Rossignol says:

    All games are tidying up.

  12. Rich_P says:

    This is only a shock if you try to treat the PC as just another console, like so many modern-day publishers do — loading it up with ports of multiplatform games whose franchises (and sometimes entire genres) have never had a strong base on the PC to begin with, then expressing disappointment when they underperform.

    The “new wave of old PC games” column is spot-on. One of the best analysis of PC gaming that I’ve read in months.

    Interestingly, Gamers With Jobs said Sins of a Solar Empire was an important trend in 2008 because it showed how modest budgets make modest sales extremely profitable. At least some people notice.

    Sadly, not many publishers seem interested in making comparatively inexpensive PC games, even if they offer high return on investment.

  13. Mo says:

    Tom Bramwells’ piece was interesting, but just short of what I wanted to hear. I appreciate him being transparent about the review process. But this bit had me very interested …

    Not every publisher behaves this way. There are others – in my experience – who are happy to agree to an exclusive review, but only if they agree with the score.

    … but of course, he wouldn’t detail which publishers did this over which games. It’s completely understandable, and I absolutely don’t blame him for refraining. Because doing so would be suicide. But if he did, do you think *any* publisher would dare approach Eurogamer with such a deal if Tom outed the offending publishers? They wouldn’t dare. Imagine how much more trust consumers would have in reviews.

    Although, maybe it doesn’t matter? While I believe what Tom has to say about Sony’s influence, if any of you have read the Killzone2 review, you’ll find that the score (9/10) doesn’t correlate that well with the text itself. Which is fine (the text is the only bit that matters right?) but you can tell there was a bit of pressure (internally at Eurogamer, or even in the journalists head) to give Killzone 2 a 9 or 10.

    Maybe what’s more important than Sony’s influence over the Killzone 2 review is the pre-conceived notions that exist about the game?

  14. Skurmedel says:

    Knew a guy who worked at Paradox during a summer vacation. Attending high school and having no real qualifications I think he sat all day and fed the game scripts with historical data for Europa Universalis. Didn’t sound too fun :) Still he thought it was great.

  15. frymaster says:

    “Has anyone else ever hallucinated a videogame, readers? ”

    Yes, I topped off a rather annoying bout of fevering flu with constant hallucinations of ufo:aftermath whenever I closed my eyes. You know the tactical levels when you’re attacking a UFO that’s in a biomass area? That kind of idea… really alien and hostile. It essentially meant I didn’t sleep for 2 days.

  16. Funky Badger says:

    The Killzone review read like he was desperately trying not to write “kinda like Gears of War”. Which, as flameproofing goes, was probably wise.

  17. mandrill says:

    So whats the deal with spotify? It looks too good to be true.

  18. grey_painter says:

    “Has anyone else ever hallucinated a videogame, readers? ”

    Without any sickness or medication as an excuse I used to have hallucinations of cars at round-a-bouts being replaced with the coloured balls from zuma. I kept waiting for lines of three same coloured cars to dissappear when they were formed. Made car journeys more interesting.

  19. Gorgeras says:

    If this technically counts as news: Patch #2 for GTA IV has been quietly withdrawn without explaination. Rockstar haven’t announced it, Rockstar haven’t explained it.

  20. Gap Gen says:

    I like the idea that game physics can go beyond crate porn (as in Cell Factor). Something like the Experimental Gameplay Project has done good work in playing about with physics toys as game ideas, and it’s good to see concepts creep in as abstract ideas influencing gameplay.

    I disagree that all games are entropic, though – while entropy exists in pretty much all games, games like Civ and Sim City are presumably not zero-sum games otherwise the cities would never grow, the tribes never advance to invent nuclear-powered toasters. Something like Fallout 3 uses decay to good effect, as you can only really obtain things by scavenging – there are very few avenues to creating completely from scratch.

    The more developers understand their games, though, the more they can improve them. I don’t see analysis as turning games into staid, by-the-numbers jobs – rather, if designers can understand what effect certain decisions can have, they can be more confident in creating new ideas.

  21. Dinger says:

    Well, now that you mention it, Gap Gen it also depends on how you define entropy. Most games, L4D included are based around the universe being an open system. L4D spawns zombies with impunity and provides all players with unlimited pistol rounds and bottomless ammo piles. Only if you define Zombies as “entropic” and ignore (or, in this case, claim otherwise) the ammunition situation.

    On the other hand, and entropic Sim City would be interesting. Give the player a big, working town, then wipe out 80% of it, and have the player manage the collapse of civil society. You could do a whole series of those:
    Mohawk Town (1979 dys(co)topia suffers financial stagnation, then collapse, followed by skinheads looting and burning. With a gaping whole in the city center, and the population fleeing to countryside, establish a new civil order and reorganize the diminishing city nucleus around defense and rock-and-roll.

    I sea people: Manage a Mycenean city circa 1200 BCE. What happens? Who really knows, anyway?

    The Latin Emperor: It’s 1204, and you’re the dumbass who took the job of ruling a freshly-sacked Constantinople. Will a rival for the throne gouge your eyes out? Will the Hungarians kill you in battle? Or will the few remaining Greeks beat you, tie you to a horse and ride you around town until you die, then desecrate your corpse?

    The Age of Decadence: Vandals and … wait. I shoulda stopped with Mohawk Town.

  22. Al Ewing says:

    When you hear the energy saving trust advert for the eight hundredth time it doesn’t seem that way anymore.

    I suggest setting up an RPS Playlist for all readers to contribute to.

  23. Alabaster Crippens says:

    Briefly. Hallucinations of videogames.
    Only one really, and it may not count. But I recently play Rock Legend Kudos on a hungover morning, had a large drug based indiscretion (naughty) and proceeded to spend a half hour living my life half aware that I might be taking resource based decisions and moving little boxes around a screen using the Kudos model.
    It was a weird half hour, with this whole simulation semi-transparently overlaying reality.

  24. Eli Just says:

    I dreamed a game once. It was super weird and probably not that fun…

  25. Thants says:

    Spotify: “Why is Spotify not available in my country? Because we’re jerks. Jerky jerky jerks.”

    I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

  26. knobzon says:

    I sometimes see games in my sleep, does that count as hallucinating? The funny thing is, I always see games than are not released yet. So I watch some trailers, look at some screenshots and then play it in my sleep. The downside is that i usually get disappointed by the real thing. I dreamt about Vampire TMB, GTA$, Turgor and one russian adventure game that wasn’t released over there.

    /yawn

    I read that EG thing before I saw it here. Games industry, I’m keeping an eye on you. Killzone review made me briefly consider a PS3, but then I realised that it can’t possibly be better than something like HL2, and even HL2 wasn’t all that good. Journalism is scary, it can make you consider the strangest things. Like a Playstation without a proper Gran Turismo game on it.

  27. SuperNashwan says:

    No hallucinations as such but at the height of my Mr Driller addiction it would play itself in my head at every moment my brain wasn’t actively occupied. This is more disturbing than just reading that sentence might convey.

  28. Scotch Mist says:

    “All games are tidying up.”

    Simcity?

    I agree with the overall sentiment though. There need to be more games about making things, not destroying things.

  29. Sunjammer says:

    Man… Dead Space was easily one of my favorite moments of last year. I got super excited about that game nearing its release, and it was just a completely rocking experience throughout. It’s got sort of a Bioshock status to me now, where part of me wants to go back and replay it, but most of me wants to somehow save it up for an imaginary rainy day where i’ll have somehow forgotten exactly how freaking kick ass it was when that giant rotating thing starts up in a cold vacuum and the only soundtrack is the low frequent WHUMMmm as it passes you by, or how freaking cool that long tunnel monorail ride was in spite of (perhaps because of) its uneventfulness.

    Best sound design of last year, second best use of Holy Shit, I’ve Spent All My Time In A Cramped Corridor And Now I Get To see A Big Vista And It’s Utterly Awesome. I hope to dear god they get to do a sequel. With the same team, hopefully. Glen Schofield always seemed utterly bonkers, in a good way.

  30. Sunjammer says:

    Also, i dreamt a combination cowboy story/lovecraft adaptation the other night. I was in this dusty frontier town where a bedridden matriarch commanded an army of cultists driven mad by Nyarlathotep passing through.

    Definitely made me wonder why there haven’t been more Lovecraft crossovers; all HPL games tend to deal with the Cthulhu mythos in a 1910 setting.

  31. Funky Badger says:

    Dinger: there should be more (any?) games set in Byzantium, far too interesting an era to leave unexplored.

  32. Lukasz says:

    i am surprised that there is no news about what Epic did.

  33. Jim Rossignol says:

    You’re really surprised that we haven’t reported a DRM malfunction in a game made by a developer who has abandoned our chosen platform?

  34. Kieron Gillen says:

    Luksaz: What to say about it? Epic has bug in game. This isn’t a DRM issue. This is a shit programming issue.

    KG

  35. Gap Gen says:

    “What to say about it? Epic has bug in game. This isn’t a DRM issue. This is a shit programming issue.”

    Apparently now if you try to play Gears it just shows a movie of Cliffy B surrounded by bikini-clad girls and stacks of money, going “BWUHAHAHA”

  36. Satsuz says:

    I’ve had game-dreams, as well as “game X is constantly running in the back of my mind” experiences. Neither of which are very interesting in terms of stories to share. The latter is merely an annoyance. The former is, oddly, always a pleasant experience. Closest my dreams ever get to “being in my happy place”. This is especially odd because 97% of the time I am apparently sleeping dreamlessly and 2.9999% of the time I have horrible, soul-shattering nightmares. Now those… those might make for good storytelling.

  37. Morph says:

    I have game related hallucinations all the time. My favourite (?) was walking down a street looking at flowers and trying to mentally click on them to collect their ingredients, as in Oblivion.

  38. Funky Badger says:

    I have been dreaming a lot about King’s Bounty lately. Which isn’t too bad, except my speed is only 3…

    …hmmm, maybe less cheese before bedtime?

    (There was that time watching Top of the Pops ages ago when I wondered why the singer didn’t look behind the amp stack as there was sure to be some food back there. I was playing a lot of Duke Nukem at the time…)

  39. Catastrophe says:

    I once had a hallucination of Command & Conquer (the original) after playing the demo 3 level over and over and over and over.

    I awoke after having nightmares of the game only to see the action playing out on my wall and every time someone got shot, i felt the pain.

    All I could hear was the dun-a-dun-a-tish-dun-a-dun-a-tish song from the game and “‘Am ‘orn it” the soldiers said every time you clicked.

    I was rather young at the time.

  40. Gap Gen says:

    Actually, some games follow other physical laws at some point:
    Newton’s First Law: “A system (the game world) remains at rest or in motion unless acted upon by an eternal force (the player)”
    Ideal Gas Law: “The pressure of a system (the number of enemies) multiplied by the volume (area of the map) is proportional to the temperature (game difficulty)”
    Friedman Equation: “The square of the Hubble Constant (the difficult curve) is equal to the rate of expansion of the universe (player’s experience points) which is equal to 4.Pi.G/3 * [energy density (number of spells cast on-screen) - 3 * pressure (guildmates yelling at you) / c^2] + the cosmological constant (subscription fees) * c^2 / 3
    No, wait.

  41. Nimic says:

    When I had Influenza a few years back, and quite a high fever, I went in and out of this 2D-wannabe-3D cowboy FPS whose name eludes me.

    It was a very strange experience.

  42. Heliocentric says:

    GTA4 patch 2 probably included less drm, or a sex minigame.

    As for Games in real life, asside from the obvious seeing tetris shapes in roof tiles. Walking into a crowded bus after playing left 4 dead late at night and expecting all the dirty transit users to run at me.

    Those laws are often broken in some genuinely common cases. but i think its important to understand the principles when designing as game.
    for example do developers realise when they make a static+c vs gradient game where you mainly are statics, like mario or fear, with c being the instance constant, such as different guns or a fire flower but the environment changes. Not that all games SHOULD be broken down into maths, but often they can be easily.

  43. Kadayi says:

    I think Tom makes some valid points, and I’m with him for most. Most MMOs (bar Eve) are glorified Disney theme parks at the end of the day (as Lum rightly points out). Eve is more of a user sandbox, but one that is wholly under the thrall of the over committed and fanatical. There is no room for casual dalliance in either present MMO model, and that is not a good thing. With WoW until you max out, you’re always in the situation of having to continually play in order to keep up with your peers and friends if you want to play with them. It’s mechanic enforced indenture, which really doesn’t serve the best interest of the player at the end of the day.

  44. phuzz says:

    I’m more upset that illness has kept me away from games recently (Guitar Hero being the only game I have here, 20 mins of which left me knackered, that’s how ill I am). Mind you the fun pain killers they’ve got me on tend to just knock me out with no memorable dreams (I’m trying to save some to play with when I’m well).

    I do recall playing some FPS whilst incredibly, incredibly stoned, which turned the whole experience into a horror movie, I kinda forgot that I could stop playing and instead got really, really scared to the point that any enemy would be greeted with hails of rocket fire. In fact, even small noises would cause me to jump wildly shooting at shadows.

    gods know what would have happened if my flatmates had come in…. I’d probably have thown the mouse at them and hidden under the desk.

  45. qrter says:

    Come on, games journalists, when the publishers ask for an ‘exclusive’.. just say no.

    You can write editorials explaining everything’s above the table til you go blue, there will always be a faint persistant whiff of unreliability and bullshit about it.

  46. Cunningbeef says:

    When I was a kid I dreamed about a game of chess where when you went to take the other players piece, it went into a Tekken style fight. I was going to call it Battlechess.

    Then I searched the name and found out it had already been done. :(

  47. Catastrophe says:

    @Cunningbeef

    Battlechess rocked. Loved the Rook transformation animation.

  48. Candid_Man says:

    Strange how Tom Bramwell devotes the major part of his editorial post rejecting claims of outright, unsubtle bribery-with-blood-diamonds when the far more insidious matter of influence is let completely off the hook.

    Paraphrasing Lessig regarding Congressional influence peddling, the simple introduction of directed privileges and preferential treatments, with no outright demands in return, can almost always create the right conditions for undue influence. How can Whitehead review Killzone 2 and convince himself he wasn’t in the least influenced by the greater context of the exclusivity conferred to his writing by Sony (their expectations), and manage to not take into account the (always at least possible) impact his opinion would have on further advertising deals and exclusives? He would have to be pretty naïve or steel-headed to navigate such waters and come out the other side with an unbending piece of review.

    But the question is not whether our current crop of game reviewers are capable or not of handling such pressure, it’s whether or not readers of such online publications are prepared to lend credence to writers operating within that pressure.

    There is a reason that “exclusive reviews” are themselves exclusive to the gaming industry. For all his clueless talk about games, no one can imagine Ebert or any other movie critics assenting to an exclusive review while an embargo is imposed on his colleagues.