The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on May 24th, 2009 at 9:58 pm.

For God's sake, let my pain end.

Sundays are for… Sundays are… for. Okay, try this again.

Sundays are for crashing into bed after serious drunken Stafford Wedding dancing, having a scant few hours sleep, be up before 8 to get a train which somehow finds a route from the Midlands to Euston which takes three hours, going to a big hall full of thousands of people dressed as Death Note characters, limping to the pub for a couple of desperate hairs of dogs, crawl into a train, get dragged home and then pushed in front of your computer to try and compile a list of interesting reading from across the week for the RPS readers, while trying to avoid posting a piece of early nineties pophouse that was dropped at the wedding and warning the audience that if anyone says anything about the grammar, spelling or anything else in this formed-through-denial-of-physical-pain-post then next week will be the first skip-week for the Sunday Papers ever, you bastards.

Failed.

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58 Comments »

  1. Nighthood says:

    If the Papers are coming this late I’m going to go to the shop and get them myself, paperboy be damned.

    Good links as usual.

  2. The_B says:

    Please don’t hurt ‘em Hammer! Errr… I mean Gillen.

  3. Tanner says:

    Did anyone else read Zak McClendon as Zak McKracken?

  4. BrokenSymmetry says:

    The comments in the Clint Hocking analyis of the Naruto game are interesting to read. That man sure is bitter about game rentals!

  5. Markoff Chaney says:

    It’s still Sunday here. :) I’m grateful for any read, cobbled together painfully or with love (or both, as the case may be). Thank you, Sir.

  6. Okami says:

    @BrokenSymmetry: Rentals and the used games business are for console developers what the p-word is for pc developers..

  7. pilouuuu says:

    @ Tanner says:

    Did anyone else read Zak McClendon as Zak McKracken?

    I did! With all the news of Lucasarts remaking Monkey Island I’m very eager for news about their classic (and good) franchises coming back to life.

  8. Radiant says:

    Who goes to an interview having not looked at the job’s output?!
    “Why yes I’d love to help you make these flags; no I do not know what colour it is but here’s what colour it should be.”
    *grabs gun*

  9. Ginger Yellow says:

    To elaborate on Hall’s point, make sure you find a good article in the paper and be prepared to talk about why you think it’s good and how it expresses the paper’s editorial values.

  10. Chis says:

    RPS poster posting quality music shocker. Go Youtube The Orb, The KLF, and most importantly, The Shamen. The early 90s were the last time the charts didn’t suck in this country.

  11. Chaz says:

    That article by Lee Hall on newspaper job interviews was interesting. One thing I would add, is that at the paper I worked for, none of the reporters there bothered to read the very paper they helped write each day. I’m not a journalist myself, I worked in the IT department, but I always seemed to get surprised looks when ever I mentioned to the editorial staff that I actually read our paper.

    I remember discussing a story I’d read in the days paper with our news editor.
    “Oh you read the paper do you?” He asked looking mildly surprised.
    “Yes” I said “Don’t you?”
    “Oh fuck no!” He replied.

  12. Gap Gen says:

    I think there is a problem with a lot of news journalism today. Presenting information isn’t enough – news has to give people a clear and truthful picture of the world today. It’s not enough to say that Pakistan is clearing the Taliban out of the Swat valley – the punter must understand why they are doing it, and why the Taliban were allowed to set up there in the first place.

    A lack of expertise in a given field, combined with poor or dishonest editorial, is why something like the MMR scandal was allowed to happen. If newspapers can be bullshitted by industry or any other source, then that says something rather bad about the news industry. There’s a rather good article by David Simon (The Wire, Generation Kill) on the death of news, where he argues that the loss of quality in newspapers as they contract is lethal. In the final series of The Wire, the newspaper manages to miss every important event in the series.

    One thing David Simon does make clear in his article is that good journalism is very, very hard to do. But then so are many jobs, which is why some jobs are so well paid (although some are well paid simply because of their access to the money supply, but that’s another story).

  13. Acosta says:

    I don’t love Plants Vs Zombies *shakes fist*

  14. Tei says:

    I agree, journalist is a amazing, cool, hard and creative word, really hard. But I think is just poorly done. Teaching is another really hard job that is poorly done. I wish where different. At least with journalist you can invest time and search more information elsewhere and build your own vision (people using only one news source is doing it wrong). Teaching is different, and is probabbly a bad ideea to contrast the proffesor opinions with others… since you are learning trough his eyes, it will be a foolish thing to disagree, you will be wasting your time.

  15. DeliriumWartner says:

    I heart Death Note. Also, how can anyone NOT like PvZ? It’s so frustratingly awesome.

  16. Gap Gen says:

    I think the problem with teaching is that having a passion for your subject and being a good communicator isn’t enough. You also have to be able to enforce discipline, and inspire good behaviour without resorting to desperate measures.

  17. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Yes, you made it in time for Sunday!

    Now go get some rest.

  18. Bhazor says:

    A 100,000 p-words using Demigod before it’s official release? Flip.

    Also an article discussing a feature of a game rather than how games should be reviewed or drm or how everyone in the “industry” is stupid? You’re changing Kieron.

  19. Tei says:

    Re: journalist and internet

    internet is in his infancy, nothing is invented yet, if you want a seat you must invent it first. I never said it will e easy or doable.

  20. nabeel says:

    Did you just fail … twice?

  21. panik says:

    “Everyone loves Plants Versus Zombies”

    not me…hated it

  22. Gnarl says:

    You should do these on the edge of consciousness more frequently Mr. Gillen, one of your better link-sets. And I choose not to exercise my veto on next Sunday’s papers.

    I’m interested to know why those that hated Plants V Z. disliked it. I’m in the easier camp of enjoying it so I don’t have the same difficulty with the general acclaim. But after World of Goo, I can relate.

    On the Elemental issue, ideally the economy would be as complicated as they could make it, while allowing a good variety of automation to allow as much to be ignored as wished. From the post, I would guess the suggestions given are already at that limit, so I think the first one is best, the others not having the obviousness that has. They all seem a bit too needing of explanation for me.

    And I doubt Sisters of Mercy count as “a piece of early nineties pophouse”, so I think the standard single failure. Or many more, depending on how you’re judging. Apart from the grammar and spelling, they’re extremely uncommentable on.

  23. Gap Gen says:

    One interesting and possibly contentious part of PvZ is the independence of the different lanes. It takes a while to get used to, but even then it’s reasonably well balanced, with very few problems caused by catastrophic collapse of only one line (with maybe the exception of failing to stock up on exploding plants when the bastard giant zombies appear).

    Also, in the minigame levels when you can send out zombies, sending huge waves of imps is my new favourite thing since sending out waves of hundreds of peewees in Total Annihilation.

  24. Stu says:

    Oh God, that Oceanic track… One of the first records I bought. Now that’s a nostalgia rush right there. Nice choice of mix, too; the “Dream Tripper Mix” you linked to is definitely better than the other one, the “Legendary Mix” (and it seems rather quaint nowadays for a dance record — or pretty much any record, come to think of it — not to have at least 3×12″-worth of remixes). You should totally have linked to this video though, if only for the period “rave dancing” on display; it looks daft now but we were all doing it down the school disco soon enough, complete with mad-eyed stare to try and convince your peers you’d been taking dopes or cocaines or whatever.

    So now that you’ve done Britpop in PG1 and, um, whatever it is you’re covering in PG2 (the Pipettes and CSS so far — any clues as to what’s next?), how about nineties chart-rave next? Go on, you know you want to; “Playing With Knives” would be such a great title for PG3.1, don’t you think?

  25. Chis says:

    So already we’ve had Bizarre Inc., Oceanic, and The Wire mentioned. How much more pure, undiluted excellence can we fit in this thread? ;)

  26. Radiant says:

    The thing about journalists is that anyone can call themselves one.

  27. Radiant says:

    And to complete my own quote…
    “But to be a bastard you have to really earn it.”

  28. Stu says:

    Actually, you know what? Fuck it. Here’s more excellence in one place than the internet can handle:

    http://img35.imageshack.us/img35/989/cavalcadeofawesome.jpg

    [Not pictured: signed copy of In Your Car CD1. Can't find the damn thing anywhere :(]

    Okay, lock the comments; it’s not gonna get any better than that.

  29. Radiant says:

    @Gap Gen I tend to plant a few Garlic plants to channel zombies across lanes so my gardens tend to be less ‘laney’.
    But ignoring my front yard for now I think the appeal of Plants vs Zombies lies in the stress free nature of the game.
    It has the potential to be hectic and stressful but it really is a strangely relaxing waste of time.

  30. Muzman says:

    Jesus. The Nostalgia, it burns. I ended up watching Sunscream’s proto txt titled, rock/rave crossover ‘Love u more’ because of this.
    You can never go home again. (interestingly I still listen to Underworld and Autechre stuff from 1994 fairly regularly and it doesn’t seem to have dated beyond all enjoyment. Same delusion, different bucket perhaps? The Orb still sound pretty good too)

  31. Nighthood says:

    I have PvZ, but its entertainment factor wore off after a day or two. Partly because every level is the same, partly because of those digger zombies, and partly because of that BLOODY FOG.

  32. James says:

    Oi, it’s technicaly 1:57 AM on monday morning and I’m just thanking Christ for American holidays as a take another shot of rum. Hang in there, Gillen, you’ll make it.

  33. Jochen Scheisse says:

    PvZ is pretty good, but it needs a leader board for endless survival, combined with a screenshot histogram of the leader builds. Because as soon as there’s nothing more to do, the endless survival becomes pretty boring unless you have someone to compete with.

  34. Dolphan says:

    That journalism article is interesting, but seems less applicable to games journalists, since their primary unit of currency is the opinion piece (reviews). Even for previews, where there’s less chance to develop a distinct opinion, you still need privileged access.

  35. Skurmedel says:

    I tried out Plants versus Zombies. But I actually found it a bit boring. Maybe it was the demo but it wasn’t my cup of tea. Great graphics though.

  36. mister slim says:

    Somehow I ended up watching Bjork do Army of Me live with Skunk Anansie. That’s an odd turn. But an awesome turn.

  37. Gap Gen says:

    Doplhan: The privileged access does rely on publishers/developers giving journalists exclusives, though. Nothing to stop them releasing public press releases instead. With previews, there is still a chance not to just retype a press release, though, so I’d say there, there is some value in a professional journalist’s viewpoint.

  38. Lewis says:

    Radiant:

    “The thing about journalists is that anyone can call themselves one.”

    Bouncing off this, I’ve been astonished by the GamesPress forums lately. It’s filled with people who’ve just set up a blog, have no talent for writing and no deep understanding of games, asking really infuriating questions about “how to get PRs to send us games.” Aren’t they supposed to vet members there?

  39. AndrewC says:

    Gnarl: what winds me up about PvZ is it’s all so thoroughly worked out by the developers, and so slick, that it feels like i’m making no decisions for myself at all (not even the illusion of making decisions for myself). The difficulty curve is not about the player disovering how to play the game, but about extra plants being carefully mealed out after every level. Like a zombie on one of those garden ‘lanes’ I have no choice but move in the way they want me to.

    Also that constant drip feed of rewards feels like a parent bribing a child with tiny sweets every so often – condescending, disengenuous. It’s the same thing with WOW, but it just feels very very naked here.

    So there you go – i don’t like it because it’s just too good at what it does. It can’t win, can it? Now: to have one more go of the bowling…

  40. Dolphan says:

    Gap Gen: Yeah, I meant privileged access in the sense of seeing, or ideally playing preview code that isn’t available to the public, which at present publishers certainly allow journalists to do. So long as media coverage is important to marketing, which it very much is just now, I can’t see publishers/developers having much reason to remove that access.

    KG – That’s utterly fantastic. Now I have to go play the song.

  41. Dolphan says:

    AndrewC – Have to bear in mind the audience for PvZ. My gf, who likes games but doesn’t play them particularly often, definitely went through the kind of learning curve you’re talking about. The genius of Popcap is that plenty of regular gamers, even though experience with strategy or tower defence make the game pretty easy, can still enjoy it as a distraction.

  42. Gnarl says:

    Thanks AndrewC. I think I can see what you’re getting at there, but I think my rpg familiarity has meant the drip-feed doesn’t bother me. Also it’s nice to have a tower defence game for those like myself who fail at all the others, probably because it’s damn hard to fail at this one. And once the drip is done I still enjoy playing around with different selections.

    I assume it’s the Popcap magic that means the wide appeal. Though I still haven’t found a pattern in the games my wife plays, but this one worked where no other Popcap has.

  43. Ginger Yellow says:

    There’s also the fact that the Adventure mode is only the launching pad for the rest of the game. So with the exception of the unlocks you have to “buy”, you’ll spend most of your time in PvZ with a full toolset, deciding how best to use them for the particular mode you’re playing and the zombies you’re facing.

  44. Gap Gen says:

    Does having a plant in your zen garden confer any advantage in the rest of the game? And can I do anything with my sleeping freeze mushroom in the zen garden?

  45. Dolphan says:

    Well, you get money by watering and growing them (although that doesn’t get much return on the marigolds). You can also sell them back, which can make quite a bit of cash on the ones you pick up in survival etc if you grow them to full and then sell them. For the sleeping ones you need to buy the night-time garden, which I can’t afford because I’ve been spending all my money on tree of wisdom food.

  46. sinister agent says:

    I’m glad someone is pointing out that most journos these days don’t really earn what they claim to. I’m sure many do a good job and deserve a decent wage, but most of them nothing spectacular, and few of them should get what the really excellent ones get. And a fair few of them frankly deserve to be paid in large concrete slabs and swimming pools.

    There was a programme a while back about the general state of Odessa, politically and socially, for the inhabitants rather than the tourists, and it came across as basically a gangster-controlled shithole, corrupt to the core and utterly, utterly miserable. The handful of people who managed to sneak in some genuine journalism exposing corruption, murder and general crapness between the necessary propaganda had all been beaten, threatened and had relatives and spouses abducted and murdered by the politicians, councillors and gangsters they wrote about. And some of them kept on doing it, despite knowing full well that they would end up murdered as their colleagues had been.

    That is, frankly, the holy grail of journalism, and virtually no journo in London will get my sympathy complaining about their wage while people like that are earning practically negative pay.

  47. Gap Gen says:

    What does the tree of wisdom say? Tallnuts can stop pogo zombies?

  48. Radiant says:

    Pretty much.
    I stopped growing it when, after 10K spent on it, a tiny leaf grew out of it and it told me to build 2 rows of sunflowers, something I had been doing since the first level.
    But I think I found the perfect plant set up involving gloomshrooms and garlic.
    Night or day [with the coffee bean] they’re pretty much unstoppable.