The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on June 28th, 2009 at 1:24 pm.

It's sad about Farrah too. And all the other deaths this week. A friend went on a rant about all the deaths this week which was fascinating.

Sundays are for tea and compiling a list of interesting videogame readings from across the week for the RPS-audience’s delectation, while trying to not break into an improvised tribute to a real titan who passed this week or link to a pop song. Must… try…

Failed.

.

90 Comments »

  1. Ian says:

    I was thinking the other day how Thriller could be used as some sort of theme for Zangband.

    If it only had more mention of inevitable, grisly death.

  2. MrBejeebus says:

    I never know what to say, you always have such a mixture that I can never come out of reading it all with a set mood…

  3. Tei says:

    Poor MJ. I wonder what happends? at one point he crazed. All this thing about becoming white, and the strange thing about childrens. He has been a running joke for years. Poor MJ.
    What was wrong? he was after.. what? He was really like lost or something, no more attached to our normal normality and everyday problems, he was lost in who know what different world than our world. note to self:retain always some humanity!.

    He was a genius, no doubt. He delivered some good stuff before becomeing that crazy. But not enough!.. not enough… his crazyness stoped him from delivering. Crazyness is a sickness that attack communication.

    The only thing that would have helped MJ whould have been a bankrupt. Putting his life again on our plane, so he feel how normal people live again. Too much money killed that guy, and before that, converted him into a monster, one running joke.

    And what inmoratility will get that guy? The POP culture is not a good thing. Is a lowering of standards compared to the Jazz, the Metal, or other music. Is way too easy to make POP music. Behind the King of POP is like behind the King of POOOP because most POP music is just a cheap rehash with not quality whatsoever and not heart and not soul.

    POP is only good compared with the next thing: GAG. Fortunally enough, we are stuck on the POP culture. Mr. Andy Warhol is still guiding our culture, mass medias creating clones of marylin for mass consumation. Once the POP culture die, the next thing will be the GAG culture, a more braindead one, that I despise.
    On the other part, It will be fun to see journalist, artist, politicians and the teocracies to lost all relevance, so the GAG culture will be a good revenge, if anything.

  4. Arathain says:

    Those paintings are lovely. I enjoy the A new way of looking at familiar places is one of the purposes of visual art, exemplified here.

  5. SirKicksalot says:

    In the “locked-city syndrome” article the author is disappointed that In the procedural cities generated by Structure everything just crumbles uniformly.

    That’s because it’s version 0.1, made in just six months… It’s not a valid criticism.

  6. LionsPhil says:

    Nintendo have patented that? Oh good. A lovely little minefield slipped under the feet of small developers without the smothering “protective” embrace of a large publisher with its own counterarsenal of frivilous claims.

    Shame it’s probably too late to grab one on Quick Time Events then refuse to license it. Although since when has the USPTO cared about prior art?

  7. EyeMessiah says:

    Indeed the world is a far duller place without MJ’s sometimes unpalatable lunatic genius. What was he? An android? An alien? A tortured timetraveller fleeing his own future? Afaik, he was the closest thing to superman the real world has ever had.

  8. Heliocentric says:

    Feel sorry for mj, view him as a legend or hate him as a child abuser. Regardless he produced art from pop and now he is gone.

    The real world, even the workings of your mind are the product of procedural generation, and i like your mind, its tasty.

  9. Dorsch says:

    @Tei: You come off like a stoned metalhead in that post.

    “most POP music is just a cheap rehash with not quality whatsoever and not heart and not soul.”
    This goes for most metal music as well, tbh there’s no reason not to count metal as pop (some more adventerous records like Obscura by Gorguts excluded).

  10. Pags says:

    The death of Swells got severely overlooked, obviously because higer profile deaths dominated headlines and obit pages, which is understandable, but along with John Peel he was pretty instrumental in getting American hardcore and British grindcore into the British public consciousness. So respec’ to him. Those last two articles he wrote are pretty brutal reads.

  11. Jolson42 says:

    @Dorsch: is it just me, or did you just make a random assumption of Tei’s personality, and then argue against it?
    Surely it would be easier to just pick apart this GAG culture concept? Like so:

    Pop culture has no specific features; it literally means popular culture – a catch-all term for everything in the zeitgeist. As such, pop culture can never go away, only change as people do.
    But forgetting that, what do you mean by GAG culture? I don’t think I’ve heard this phrase before.

  12. GreatUncleBaal says:

    On locked-city syndrome – I’d only be interested in going into the buildings if there’s something to do in there, not just for the sake of it. Although I would love to see a sandbox game that gave you the option to get from the top of a building to the bottom (or vice-versa) by creating a “dungeon” route Diablo-style, different for each playthrough. It would help you identify with a character who has just charged into a building to escape the cops outside, has no idea how to get to the top, but knows there must be a way.

  13. oddbob says:

    Tei’s rant makes me wish more than ever Swells was still around. He’d have a fucking field day on that.

    Oh right, he already did:

    Linky

  14. Ken McKenzie says:

    Have to admit that Swells going actually upset me more than Jackson. Jacko might have written Thriller, but Swells would have called it ‘Dementoid MegaZombie ATTACK!’, it would have featured a lengthy section in which a trio of 17 year old disco-obsessed Barnsley shop-assistants karate kicked some Joy Division fans into a volcano and it have been better* as a result.

    *for certain values of better

  15. nabeel says:

    Just play Dear Esther already :/

  16. Kieron Gillen says:

    Oddbob: Exactly. Bless him. I was dancing to Daphne and Celeste on friday night, and thinking of Swells.

    Ken: Double exactly!

    KG

  17. Sid says:

    I always liked Swell’s articles for the guardian sportsblog

  18. Funky Badger says:

    So, why aren’t you mad, Mad Tommy?

  19. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Ah man: Swells died? Always the good ones that go early. And Farah Fawcett (ok – I wasn’t so upset by that but my step dad was gutted) and MJ (while I’m no longer a pop music fan MJ as a child of the 70′s and 80′s MJ music was the soundtrack to a lot of my formative experiences) and Bela Lugosi (the template for portraying Dracula on screen) as well.

    You know you’re getting older when all the people you remember fondly from your youth start to die off.

  20. GreatUncleBaal says:

    Christ, I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t come across Mr Wells’ stuff before, but I’m already sorry the guy’s gone from reading some of his stuff today. A man that can make me sympathise with Daphne & Celeste is clearly a fucking talent. RIP.

  21. Psychopomp says:

    The problem with in-game teleportation isn’t so much the feature itself, it’s that it leads to dull and uninspired game worlds.

    See Oblivion.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Anaphiel says:

    The Dan Pinchback interview is actually very interesting… very keen to see how Korsakovia turns out.

  23. Sid says:

    The LOTRO death story is really horrible.

  24. K says:

    Jacko didn’t write Thriller, but, anyway…

  25. Mo says:

    Re: Manifesto Games
    Too early? To an extent, yeah. But I think Manifesto failed for two bigger reasons:

    (1) The site just wasn’t designed very well. Not only is the layout a bit all over the place, but it doesn’t even render correctly in Safari. And aesthetically, it’s just not very pretty. Honestly, that makes a huge difference in customer confidence.

    (2) Where the hell was the PR? I followed the making of Manifesto pretty closely up until launch, but after that? Nothing. Never heard a peep out of Costikyan. In fact, when the news broke I was like, “Oh yeah, Manifesto, forgot about that”.

    Re: Nintendo’s Auto-walkthrough system
    I think this sort of thing is inevitable really. Points about making games more accessible and having more people finish games are completely valid. I approve of “this sort of thing” but not so much of Nintendo’s method of doing it. The problem I have is that the system takes the “play” out of the game. I’d have absolutely no problem with a god-mode to get you through the difficult bits, because at least you’re playing through the game, you know? If the game is just going to do all the playing for you, and you just need to watch, I feel we’re losing something in the process.

    Challenge is not an integral part of games. Losing a bit of challenge is fine. But play is an absolutely critical part of games … if we take that away, even temporarily, we’re losing something in the process.

  26. Kieron Gillen says:

    K: What are you? Some kind of rockist?

    KG

  27. Greg J. Smith says:

    Hi Kieron, Well who wouldn’t want to talk to the monsters? I mean everybody was so agreeable in the last Fallout game, I was hoping to get led to some kind of exclusive highrise populated by well-to-do hunters. My gripe with Prototype is that there is no contrast! It is a kick ass action game but, well, kind of treadmill-y beyond that. More than anything, I’m trying to wrap my head around the irony that most “open” world city games aren’t that open.

    As for the dismissal of my criticism of Structure because it is new. To clarify, I’m all for algorithmic design. I’ve been watching Structure and a few other similar workflows with great interest as they develop. I understand these applications for firing off backgrounds for games and movies. There is kind of a “monkeys banging typewriters” feeling to procedural level design though. Look at the spaces in the Strucutre demo – do you really want to have a deathmatch in a call centre?

  28. oddbob says:

    Mo, what if I don’t want to play that bit because it’s shitting me off something rotten? Does that still count as losing something?

    What if it’s say, a boss battle. I personally hate the things as a rule. Total utter gutrage hatred for their mundanity. I find them a terrible chore. Some people, rather obviously, like that sort of thing. We’re all cool if I can skip that and get to the bit I want to play again and those that enjoy that sort of thing can do their thang, yeah?

    Think of it more as a fast forward button to avoid the shit bits and it starts to make more sense outside of the accessibility fluff.

  29. Kieron Gillen says:

    Greg: Was using a little bit of UK-journo short-hand. Edge’s review of Doom hit it with a 7/10 and ended something like “Yeah – it’s pretty fun. But imagine if you could *talk* to the monsters. Now, that would be something”.

    In other words, shorthand for critics wanting something from a game which was never the point – like turning up to a Ramones gig and expecting a fourth chord.

    It’s also a fun one to mention to bait Edge writers with when talking about any game they like. In a “Yeah – Virtua Tennis 4 is pretty fun… but imagine if you could *talk* to the Umpires. Now that would be something”.

    It’s totally unfair, because it’s something that was said 15 years ago. But it’s still funny. To me.

    Of course, I haven’t played the final Prototype yet, so you’re definitely in a position to argue. I was just getting a vibe.

    KG

  30. Howard says:

    To be honest I cannot decide whether of not I agree with Greg J Smith, but he certainly raises an interesting point. Prototype was all kinds of fun in its good bits but it did seem to lack a certain grounding in reality to give its outrageous sections counterpoint. Problem is I am not sure if that is that fault of the game or me. Initially I wanted to agree with Greg and say that yes, they should have shown Manhattan as it was and then its utter decimation would have held more poignancy, but I am not utterly convinced by this. I already *know* what Manhattan is like day to day, do I really need to be shown it? Would, for example, 28 Days Later have been a better horror film had we had an extra half hour at the start showing our hero living the life of a normal Londoner so that when it all came crashing down we would feel his pain?

  31. Bhazor says:

    Reply to KG

    I’ve been making that joke for years now and never knew it came from a personal/professional jibe. I feel kind of used.

    Off-topic
    Why do people sign their emails and comments? I mean I can see your name at the top. Don’t you trust me to remember the name 30 seconds later?

  32. Kieron Gillen says:

    Well, it was a jibe people were using before I was a games journalist.

    KG

  33. Down Rodeo says:

    Christian Nutt: Right? Right? Right? Right?

    Please tell me I’m not the only one who is really annoyed by that, right?

  34. Wooly says:

    Sex in games, eh? Obviously that guy wasn’t writing about Japan! ;)

  35. Tom says:

    RIP Swells.

  36. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Oh man, I’d forgotten about some of the stuff in the Thriller video. Awesome :D

  37. Heliocentric says:

    @Wooly alexs is a female, you never watch the channel 4 game show “bits”.

  38. qrter says:

    After all, you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to. I think that’s the naive argument. Much like quick-save and in-game teleportion, if it’s there, you’re going to use it.

    And to suggest you’d use them because they’re available is just as naive a counter-argument. You’re still using them because you want to use them, because it’s preferable to you to use them, not just because they’re there.

    I’ve played whole games where at the end I’d notice I hadn’t used certain weapons or features, simply because they hadn’t appealed to me or I didn’t need them.

  39. Heliocentric says:

    Correction

    Watched*

    The show is a a relic of the internet now though. Not on telly anymore.

  40. Kieron Gillen says:

    Qrter: There’s a difference between choice and the best choice. Gamers almost always select the best choice to victory, even if it’s less fun.

    KG

  41. Mo says:

    @Oddbob:
    If you don’t want to play a section of a game, there are two reasons:
    1) it’s too difficult
    2) it’s too dull/repetitive/mundane/whatever.

    The god-mode solution works for (1). Keep in mind I envision this as an all-encompasing “win mode” … unlimited ammo, you can’t fall off ledges, etc, etc. There’s no way to lose, and you still get to experience all of the game.

    In the case of (2) though, I’d argue that you’re playing a shit game. :) Boss battles shouldn’t have to be mundane! There shouldn’t have to be “filler” sections to a game. A designer should be able to create a game which is fun throughout, boss battles et al.

    Hmm … okay, combining (1) and (2) would be interesting though. The big issue with boss battles in particular is that you get to do this totally-awesome-badass-explody thing … and then you have to do it 3 or 4 more times! What if apart from making you invunerable it also cuts down on the tedium … so you just need to do the section once as opposed to three times? You experience the awesome set-piece and you skip the repetitive tedium of the boss battle.

  42. Mo says:

    Sorry, some more thoughts just as I hit post.

    I guess ultimately, you should be able to come up with some instance where fast-forward is really necessary. I’m beginning to come up with some examples in my head right now. And in those instances, I have to reluctantly agree with you. My point though, is that fast-forward should be used as a last resort. A designer can come up with better mechanics to allow the player to play through the difficult bits, and maybe skip through the filler.

  43. Gassalasca says:

    I just wanted to thank Kieron for introducing some of us to Wells.
    The last time I discovered a great writer a few days after his passing away was in May 2001.

  44. K says:

    Just sticking up for the invisible man, man.

  45. Tim says:

    Regarding sex in games, head on over to TIGSource to see a compo combining RPS’s two favorite pastimes.

  46. bhlaab says:

    I’ve never agreed with “You don’t have to use it” argument. Similarly, the weak main quests in Oblivion and Fallout 3 are excused away with “You don’t HAVE to play them

    To me that just sounds like a lazy excuse on par with “Sure that movie’s special effects look like garbage, but you can close your eyes during them”

  47. bhlaab says:

    I also think it’s true that players are min-maxers by nature, willing to exploit any possibility to get their character that one step further.

    In the context of the new Mario game, who has the patience to retry a hard bit over and over again like when they were ten? I don’t doubt that the Wii game will be a cakewalk that veteran players will clear with no problem, but imagine if there are such rough patches– I think anybody would be at least very strongly tempted In emulators it takes every ounce of my being to not hit the rewind or quickload keys whenever I’m set back.

  48. oddbob says:

    Mo, why does it matter? Why can’t the player be allowed to make the choice for himself?

    I don’t trust most game designers to be able to not shit themselves in public never mind decide what way of playing a game is best for me.

  49. qrter says:

    Kieron:

    There’s a difference between choice and the best choice. Gamers almost always select the best choice to victory, even if it’s less fun.

    I’m afraid you’re right but I don’t think that should be the problem of developers, really. To me that points to a mentality problem prevalent under gamers, that they need to change. Maybe gamers should take some responsibility and/or grow up, not just jump on the first exploit they stumble upon.

    I play a game to have fun, and my idea of the most fun almost never is in the quickest way to victory.

    I’ve had friends who would play Oblivion and have their character jumping all the time, everywhere, just to rack up the experience. I just don’t understand that mentality. Does that make the game more fun? For me it certainly doesn’t, it just makes it a joyless grind to a screen that says “hey you won!”.

    Same goes for using exploits – if you enjoy using an exploit, fine. If it feels like cheating and you don’t want to do that, don’t do it. But that’s your choice – don’t blame the game.

    Maybe this makes me sound as a self-righteous, “pious” gamer, but to me it makes sense to try and maximise the amount of fun I’m having.

    bhlaab:

    Similarly, the weak main quests in Oblivion and Fallout 3 are excused away with “You don’t HAVE to play them

    To me that just sounds like a lazy excuse on par with “Sure that movie’s special effects look like garbage, but you can close your eyes during them”

    This is a different point – the main quests are integral parts of the game. You can avoid them, but they’re supposed to be the main attraction (the clue is in the ‘main’ there ;) ).

    The special effects analogy doesn’t make much sense to me – special effects aren’t to a film as the main quests are to Bethesda’s games.

  50. bhlaab says:

    special effects aren’t to a film as the main quests are to Bethesda’s games.

    Eh, tell them that