The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on April 26th, 2009 at 8:59 am.

Sundays are for sipping tea with sun falling the wide windows of a rented Krakow apartment, thinking about things which need thinking about and compiling a list of articles from across the week (mainly) related to videogames, while trying to not link to the first single from the new album of one of my favourite bands. Again. Go!

Failed.

.

37 Comments »

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  1. rei says:

    I’m shocked that you would treat Looking Glass Studios’ holy name in such a neglectful manner, Brem_X_Jones :(

    On topic, I maintain that apart from NMA, a large number of the people who go on about what a travesty Fallout 3 is, never were fans of the first two games (or even played them) until they saw a fun bandwagon to jump on. People like to be part of something, no matter how stupid that something is.

    And the vocal part of NMA condemned the game the moment it was announced, before the first bit of info or a single screenshot, so it’s equally hard to take their opinions seriously. You can hate anything if you’re determined to.

  2. Mike says:

    I think the Venture Capital issue is less important than it seems. Direct selling (or near-direct) to the user has made good strides to overcome this, and there’s a lot of government money being swilled around for projects allied to games nowadays.

  3. radomaj says:

    I could not find a Polish game developer in Kraków (the city has an English version of its name – Cracow – how worldly of them) aside from Reality Pump Studios. The only game I know they’re developing is Two World 2 (great name, btw :) ).

  4. MD says:

    I’m surprised to see you linking to Camera Obscura, for some reason. I love them, but I think I subconsciously had you pegged as being too manly for that sort of thing. (Which doesn’t hold up to any sort of scrutiny and was clearly a ridiculous assumption on my part, given what you have previously revealed of your listening habits.) Either way, it’s a very nice album! I don’t think it will become my favourite though; I still listen to Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi almost every night.

  5. l1ddl3monkey says:

    I don’t know if anyone is following the Pirate Bay thing but this article will be of interest if they are:

    http://www.thelocal.se/19028.html

    Quote from the article:

    “A lawyer representing one of the men convicted in the Pirate Bay trial has called for a retrial after reports that the judge was a member of the same copyright protection organisations as several of the main entertainment industry representatives.”

    I’d have more sympathy for copyright protection organisations if they weren’t so blatantly crooked.

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    Sagan says:

    Here’s a talk by Freeman Dyson. Near the end of the video he is describing possible life on asteroids, and you can really hear the inspiration for the game.

  7. jalf says:

    @Mike: How do direct sales affect it? Don’t people need, you know, funding to *create* the game before they’re able to sell it?

    Games require a big up-front investment before you have anything to sell. Either you sign a deal with a publisher (Which is only really an option for proven developers, preferably working on an established IP), you fund it yourself (rarely an option), work for free in your spare time (works for smallish hobbyist games, but not really a good way to make big games), or you get some venture capital. Don’t underestimate the latter. It’s pretty much the only way to make big games that the publishers won’t take a risk on.

    Interesting article, anyway, although I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, I guess few people had really thought about it (I hadn’t).

  8. Markoff Chaney says:

    re: Judges – You must question the intelligence of any individual who is unwilling to recuse themselves from a case where they are OBVIOUSLY pre-disposed toward one side of the argument and a glaring conflict of interest presents itself. Not only will any judgment they render be overturned, it actually weakens their stance of being the righteous ones, when they themselves violate the tenants of trust in the offices they hold and can invalidate a career.

    “Every time I take a case, I evaluate if I consider myself having a conflict of interest. In this case I didn’t find to have one,” says the man who “… is a member of the Swedish Copyright Association and the Swedish Association for Industrial Legal Protection. Both organizations say their goal is to educate about copyright issues. Among the members of the first organization are also Henrik Pontén, Peter Danowsky, and Monique Wadsted, all three of whom are lawyers who represented the plaintiffs during The Pirate Bay trial.” Absolutely deplorable that this verdict was rendered by this man as his personal attachments completely invalidates everything he was attempting to do.

    As a further aside, why come we don’t have cheap stuffs this weekend? It’s like you don’t want people buying the Orange box for 10 bucks or something… :)

  9. subedii says:

    Good Gamasutra interview. What was most interesting was Emil Pagliarulo talking about how DLC drastically changes the way they can tackle games now, in particular the sucky ending of Fallout 3. :P

    I don’t hate on Fallout 3, it was a very good game with a great atmosphere. It’s just that the writing needed some work and calling the ending “tacked on” would be charitable. He can’t believe that Fallout 3 beat out GTA IV for best writing. To be honest, neither can I. OK admittedly writing is a subjective thing, but, alright here’s a simple test. Go back and listen to Ron Perlman’s intro / outro monologues from the first two games. Now compare them with the ones from Fallout 3. Heck even Liam Neeson sounded bored and trite, and he was arguably the main hook.

    I think there were probably a fair few games that had better writing that year, although admittedly most didn’t have the sheer volume of script that Fallout 3 had to work with. The lack of the ending summaries from the previous games really cut down the ending too, especially when pre-release they were touting endings that had hundreds of variations.

    Rest of the game though, worked really well. I just really want Bethesda to get some better writers on board so that they can make their great games spectacular.

  10. Hidden_7 says:

    The one thing that bugs me with all the talk of Broken Steel, is the suggestion that people were annoyed with the FO3 ending (very true) because the game ended (not really accurate). I see interviews with Todd Howard where they ask about the poor reception to the ending and it’s like “whoops, we ended it, guess we’ll never do that again” and it’s like, no, we weren’t annoyed that we couldn’t continue to play, we were annoyed because the ending was weak and stupid. There are a few changes that could have been done to that ending that, for me, would have washed away most of the bad taste, and none of them require you to open the game up after it’s over.

    But it sounds like they are making some changes to the ending beyond that, so maybe there’s still hope. Can we dream that they got Ron Perlman in there to record some ending epilogues for the various areas? Probably not since they said we’re actually going to see some of the effects of our actions in game; still, hearing how a place turned out after I dealt with it was probably the most rewarding aspect of the FO1 and 2 endings.

    Specifically I’m thinking that one quest in 3 with the trees. I was so curious to find out what the results of my actions would be, since it was a really hard decision for me, but nope! Just have to imagine, I suppose.

  11. Mil says:

    I’m always annoyed by how lightly punished corrupt/grossly incompetent judges seem to be when they’re caught. Society has given them the power to destroy people’s lives; if they aren’t diligent about using that power in a proper and measured way, there should be severe consequences, including jail time.

    As it is, I guess the judge in the Pirate Bay case will just get a high paying job for the entertainment industry soon after the trial, as it already happened with the leading police investigator, Jim Keyzer (see http://torrentfreak.com/piratebay-cop-not-to-be-investigated-080708/ ).

  12. dadioflex says:

    I like Comic Sans. Can someone point me to a reasoned explanation of why it’s so hated? I’ve seen these ban-comic-sans memes over the past few years and I never got it. It just seems like a lot of other irrational hatreds like anti-Semitism or racism. Obviously I’m not saying that ALL people who hate comic sans are racists.

  13. Ging says:

    In terms of the VC piece, the unknown worlds guys (NS2) put up a video (http://tr.im/jJRa) recently from the guy who provides some of their funding in which he talks about, well, how to go about getting funding for your game from a variety of sources. Worth a watch if you’ve got about an hour of spare time.

  14. Cooper says:

    Red Dwarf’s return was abysmal.

    Then again, it went sharply downhill at series VII.

  15. mrrobsa says:

    @rei : Re:Fallout3

    I don’t hate the game, it’s just a big disappointment when compared to the first two Fallout games, especially when it comes to the writing which is crucial to the tone of Fallout. Its a good game if you pretend its an Oblivion sequel and not a Fallout sequel.

    @dadioflex: Choice of typeface should be a reasoned decision and appropriate fonts used in appropriate situations. Unfortunately Comic Sans is not appropriate for anything other than comics or kids parties, which is why its distressing when my flatmate receives his work contract, an official document, printed in Comic Sans, making it look like a novelty contract. It might as well say ‘Official Breast Inspector’ or something equally ridiculous.
    I believe there are numerous examples of it being lazily used for inappropriate purposes, hospital letters and such.
    I’m wholly against it, people can’t be trusted with it.

    Oh and the news that both judge and lead investigator in The Pirate Bay trial have vested interests is disgraceful, those guys deserve a retrial.

  16. Gap Gen says:

    Yes, that 10x sales quote does need detailed examination. It’s possible that it’s exactly as the news said it was (although it does rubbish the argument that pirates wouldn’t buy the games/music that they pirate anyway). The conclusions you can draw from it depend wildly on what assumptions they make – if they compare pirates to non-internet-users, then it’s obviously sketchy, for example. I might look up the original report and check out what they say when I have time.

  17. Matt Kemp says:

    I think the Chewing Pixels piece on the piracy story is an example of a much larger problem in media. The Bad Science blogs wouldn’t have anything to write about if it was an isolated issue, but it can be very easy to twist a story to fit your own particular designs. On top of that, it’s not always helped by the PR of the school that released it, as they want their research to be publiscised as it gets their name out there. Interested parties + more interested parties + readers needing justification for opinions = clusterfuck.

    In other news, no Spandau Ballet linkage with their reformation? Sad 80s-wannabe.

  18. Mil says:

    @dadioflex: Comic Sans is deliberately designed to produce an appearance of sloppiness. Every stroke that looks horizontal or vertical is slightly off, every stroke that looks straight is slightly crooked, everything that looks like it should be the same length (such as lowercase m’s little legs) isn’t, etc.

    Sloppiness might have its proper place in design, but I (and apparently many other people) generally don’t like it. Which makes the enormous popularity of Comic Sans very, very annoying.

  19. Meat Circus says:

    Gaming will never be taken seriously as an art form if we go around awarding games like Fallout 3 ‘best writing’ awards, and insist on believing Rhianna Pratchett has any talent.

    This is my prediction.

  20. Orange says:

    Gunmen of the Apocalypse was easiest the best episode of Red Dwarf for me. Better than Life was good but the novel version was far superior.

    The new episodes were watchable, but mainly for nostalgia. I agree with John’s critique, sad end to something that went on too long and in the wrong direction.

  21. Dracko says:

    Fuck gaming as an art form. Give me gaming as games again.

    Those were big back in the day, you know!

    P.S. You RPS lot should probably mention that The Orange Box is less than 6 quid now: http://store.steampowered.com/sub/469/

  22. raigan says:

    “Print on Demand collections for a niche fanbase? That’s an interesting idea…”

    I can’t tell if this is in earnest or sarcastic, just in case of the former you might want to check out Gamer’s Quarter: http://gamersquarter.com/

  23. raigan says:

    tags now fixed above! sadly i can’t delete this post though :(

  24. Mo says:

    Really enjoying the choice of music this week.

  25. suibhne says:

    I find it awfully interesting that Emil Pagliarulo freely admits that Bethesda games don’t have the production values or polish of AAA titles, since they’re as close to AAA titles as you can get in the current marketplace. They’re certainly AAA titles in the PC market, at least as measured by sales and publicity, and I’m not sure it would be reasonable to dismiss them as less in the console markets. (I guess, compared to your average Final Fantasy or whatnot, they might be AA rather than AAA? Heh.)

    Yes, Bethesda has (apparently) made a conscious design decision to stuff lots of stuff into their games (even as they dumb down simplify the actual gameplay mechanics), maybe as a partial excuse for sloppiness – the lack of polish that Pagliarulo acknowledges. But it’s hard not to think that Bethesda is issuing hall passes to itself for problems that could be fixed by doing things different rather than more – e.g. the laughable voice-acting throughout much of their games, or the very poor state of dialog writing, or the lack of a unitary vision/tone between different questlines and areas. Fallout 3 was a big improvement over Oblivion, but the glaring problems that remain seem to be associated with design decisions and project management, not with lack of adequate funding or development time.

    It’s also somewhat disappointing to see Pagliarulo positively cite the possibility of running into Dad out in the Wasteland, thus skipping a good chunk of the main storyline. That’s a classic example of substandard Bethesda scripting/writing. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not dinging the basic design of allowing the player to “accidentally” skip major parts of the plot. Rather, I’m pointing out the idiocy of scripting that Vault area, once you’ve stumbled upon it, to basically force you into asking lots of questions about your Dad – even tho you have absolutely zero idea that he’s there, any more so than at any of the other “side quest” locations you’ve visited (and which don’t allow your character to ask about him even if you, the player, want to do so). So Bethesda basically allows you to stumble upon a main quest location as if it were a side quest location, but then forces the in-game character to treat it as a main quest location even tho the player can’t possibly know to do so. It’s downright lazy design and certainly shouldn’t be cited as somehow bold, innovative, or even positive.

  26. Sam C says:

    @suibhne:
    Which “gameplay mechanics” were simplified? I agree with your points on how things like voice acting, animations – hell, pretty much anything involving NPCs, could use a lot more polish. I’ve been replaying it (since I ended up stumbling on the ending the first time through, and missed out on about half the game), and almost every time I have to interact close up with an NPC, holes start showing up. For example, on Rivet City, all the NPCs had for some reason drawn their weapons, and shopkeepers were going about their business with pistols in hand, knocking items off the shelves when they tried to inventory their goods. Then there’s the people clustering in the halls to “chat”, other NPCs running against them, then offering to sell to me even when they were on their way to work. But besides the lack of polish and the combat being imprecise at best and an unfair mess at worst, what mechanics were simplified?

  27. Dreamhacker says:

    I must say it, sooner rather than later:

    Thanks RPS, you guys made me cancel my PCG subscription!

  28. Gap Gen says:

    If Comic Sans hadn’t been invented, people would probably just use more clip art.

  29. SofS says:

    My main problem with Comic Sans is that people sometimes get the bright idea to use it in place of actual lettering in comic strips. Even something totally out of place like Times New Roman looks good compared to Comic Sans in that context. It’s like the uncanny valley of typefaces when that happens.

  30. Rich_P says:

    Powerpoint + comic sans + generic clipart = my face + conference table

  31. Gap Gen says:

    Part of it is that it’s a rather blunt tool, a bit like using exclamation marks to signify humour, or using canned laughter in an unfunny TV show.

  32. Kieron Gillen says:

    As, I think, Orwell put it: “Exclamation marks are like laughing at your own joke”.

    As my first production editor put it: “Exclamation marks are for wankers”.

    KG

  33. Tei says:

    Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office Clipart and Microsoft Comic Sans are things that lack taste, and put broken funcionality over everything. Is like how Windows render fonts, if theres pixel over, or under the draw box, are removed. On a Mac, these pixels are painted on the screen. The result is that good fonts looks nice on Mac, but looks broken (are broken) on Windows.
    But we don’t live on a world where everybody has a Mac. We live in a world where the brokeness/uglyness of windows/comic sans rule the world.
    This is a strange world, more strange than any artist can dream off. I know, because I have see it.

  34. Gap Gen says:

    We also live in a world where Mac hardware is too expensive for most consumers. Although so is Office (in the UK, at least).

  35. suibhne says:

    @Sam C: I was actually referring to Oblivion with that comment, which simplified a bunch of stuff from Morrowind, which simplified a bunch of stuff from Daggerfall. It’s harder to argue that FO3 simplified SPECIAL from FO2. I mean, yes, it kinda did…but it’s such a totally different game that it’s a less substantive charge to really level against Bethesda, even tho their changes to the SPECIAL system tend to reduce character variety and collapse distinctions in character skill level.

  36. IanAetch says:

    I like Rhianna Pratchett.

  37. Oak says:

    I’m sure she’s a nice person, but the writing in Mirror’s Edge was heartbreakingly bland.