The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on December 6th, 2009 at 12:10 pm.

Sundays are for listening to unlistenable indie rock bands at ATP. Which means that Thursdays are for compiling a list of the fine mainly games-related reading from across the week into a list for your delectation, while trying to avoid linking to something related to pop music.

Failed.

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47 Comments »

  1. HidesHisEyes says:

    Whatever you do, take some earplugs. MVB are notorious.

  2. Stense says:

    Only Shallow, cracking tune. As is the whole Loveless album.

  3. qrter says:

    Nice piece about sexiness vs. worthiness. It applies to any creative pursuit, really – “You have to go to the edges, not the middle.”

    (I especially liked the bit about retro gaming. Personally, there’s almost nothing that bores me more than retro gaming.)

  4. tom@nullpointer.co.uk says:

    yeah k you missed out…
    shellac, autechre, mogwai, company flow…. i went to about 4,5 of them in the early years. You rarely get such a generally ace and eclectic set of bands together in one place. Im an old man too, so proper beds vs tents =win. Which reminds me.. ive got a wierd misty memory of kenickie and mogwai playing virtually one after the other in reading one year, that was a bit of a genre shift! .. oh and loveless, yeah amazing.. to hear knows when is the highlight for me tho

  5. Homunculus says:

    That opening pair of panels in Wasteland has gotta be a nod to semi-forgotten post-apocalyptic horror flick Hardware.

    Had no idea MBV were back together. Gotten so out of touch with stuff I used to follow rigorously.

    • bill says:

      I remember Hardware, though I don’t remember the opening. It was all in an apartment, wasn’t it?

    • dog says:

      hardware started with Carl McCoy from ‘the fields of the nephilim’ wandering in the post-apocalypse desert where he finds the mark-13 robot…

      i’m a big fan of the the move and the Nephilim so i remember it well….

  6. sinister agent says:

    That Eggers article is really rather inspiring. Ta for the link.

  7. Pundabaya says:

    I don’t think Mad Dunc’s admission has anything to do with standards. There’s a world of difference between ‘I couldn’t get past level one, because the game was so freaking hard, but I love it anyway’ and ‘I couldn’t be arsed to play more than five minutes, but I’ll do an entire, glowing review of the game not mentioning that fact.. ‘

    Let us not forget that R-Type on any system is brutally hard… add to the Speccy versions control system, where your joystick button fired your laser, and you had to reach across to the spacebar to launch/recall your Force drone. Tough as nails. I reckon 75% of the people who read that review back in the day wouldn’t have been able to get past level one either.

    • archonsod says:

      I remember R Type as being one of the easier side scrollers at the time. In fact between two friends we finished it on the same day we got it.
      Though interestingly enough when I played it on an emulator a couple of years ago I did struggle through. I’d like to think it’s because I haven’t played a side scrolling shooter in years, rather than my reactions simply can’t match a sugar buzzing ten year old.

  8. bill says:

    The article about sexiness vs. worthiness was very nice. I wonder if it is the reason why recently games that aren’t amazing are considered crap.

  9. Nahkis says:

    My addition:

    Daniel Floyd urges developers to defend their games from controversies…
    “Video Games and Facing Controversies” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFsQM6o4uoY

  10. Helm says:

    Dave Eggers piece was really interesting, thanks for finding.

  11. Jacques says:

    Man, the ATP lineup looked so much better last year.

  12. Tom Armitage says:

    Macdonald was also on the very first PC Zone team – back in the Charlie Brooker/David McCandless/Paul Lakin era. I think I’ve thrown out my issues, but that was back when it was funny, rather than just rude.

    • Helm says:

      Hey Tom you seem like the man to ask then. I’m Greek but I used to read PC Zone a long time ago and perhaps my English at the time wasnt good enough for me to discern the difference between funny and rude, but who was that writer who, circa Quake v.s. Duke Nukem 3d, used to write ‘Quake is for *real* men and Duke Nukem 3d is for pansies’? I’m sure he was joking but even as a teenager I felt bad reading such things said by nerds to nerds.

  13. Antony says:

    The whole first page of WASTELAND #1 is an homage to HARDWARE, and I’m happy to acknowledge it :)

  14. drygear says:

    Only Shallow played in one of my dreams last night. No joke.

  15. Jason says:

    “I may be gone some time.”

    Lucky bastard.
    Hope you managed to catch Brightblack Morning Light (perfect rainy afternoon music) and Harmony Rockets (flipped out psychedelic Mercury Rev side project). Lightning Bolt is recommended for something more Rock. Think godheadSilo but with the intensity turned up a notch.

  16. moyogo says:

    Eggers was okay, he goes a bit strawman at thend.

    I also reject the sellout/real dichotomy, but that doesn’t mean you can stop making distinctions and just say “yes” to everything (was this a Jim Carrey movie?). What kind of positive thinking crap is that? Unless you have infinite time/resources, you’re going to have to decide what to do out of a range of choices. So then you could talk about how you choose. But there will be some “no” inevitably.

    Reminds me of this story recently, James Franco goes on General Hospital (soap opera) and claims it is performance art. Pro-tip: if it’s performance art you shouldn’t have to call it that. These guys have sellout boogeymen in their brains.

  17. invisiblejesus says:

    Loved the Eggers bit, a lot of stuff I was thinking back in my misspent youth as a metal kid but he articulates and explains himself far better than I ever did. The Kelly piece was a great catch, too.

    Also, misread the bit about Phonogram and thought it was out already. It looks amazing too. Is it Wednesday yet?

  18. clive dunn says:

    Saw My Bloody Valentine last year in Manchester, after waiting sooooooooo long for them to reform. Quite the best music gig of my life. You can’t believe just four people can make a sound like that. Best bit was the 25 minute white noise feedback frenzy of ‘you made me realise’. All the fascist stewards departed to save their ears and i could spark up a big boy and sit back and relax. Earplugs are for pussies btw. Non-deaf pussies mind.

  19. jay says:

    MBV! Jealous!

  20. Casimir's Blake says:

    MBV! Not jealous! Slowdive when they were together? Yes jealous! :P

  21. dhex says:

    mbv was very excellent last year in new york. but yeah, earplugs.

  22. Jason says:

    “Slowdive when they were together? Yes jealous! :P”

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but they were nothing special live. Felt like “shoegaze by the numbers”. Which was fine, really, because their music is best listened to alone, with maybe just a sack of K to keep you company.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      No bubble here, I just know that Slowdive wrote melodies, MBV wrote noise. There’s a place in the world for both, I just happen to think the latter sucks if you can’t pair it with the former.

  23. TeeJay says:

    “Comics Archetypes Multiplication Table.”

    I wonder if it’s possible to do a similar table of pc game genres and fill in each box with a real-life example of a hybrid?

    Not so hard with three genres:

    ie. “PC Game Genre Multiplication Table”
    …….fps..rts..rpg
    fps…1….2….3
    rts…2….4….5
    rpg…3….5….6

    1 doom
    2 natural selection (?)
    3 deus ex (?)
    4 starcraft
    5 spellforce (?)
    6 baldurs gate

    Wonder if it’s possible if you used about 10 genres? One for the real train spotters! :D

  24. Urthman says:

    That sexy / worthy dichotomy article is lame. There are tons of really fun games that are not trying to do anything radically new, but just take an existing formula and do it really well. All these games would fit into his “worthy” category:

    Torchlight
    Tomb Raider: Underworld (yeah, I just put a Lara Croft game in the non-sexy category)
    Fallout 3
    TES 4: Oblivion
    Super Mario Galaxy
    Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
    GTA: San Andreas
    Saint’s Row 2
    HL2: Opposing Force
    King’s Bounty: The Legend
    Titan Quest
    Myth 2
    Freespace 2
    Heretic 2
    Thief 2
    NOLF 2

    I’d venture to say the majority of great games are “just” a really well-done version of something we’ve mostly seen before.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      Urthman, think about that list for a second. How many of those games are sequels to games that were sexy? Most of ‘em. Very few succeeded based purely on their own merits and not at all on the name attached to the game. And I would say those games that did, like Torchlight and Titan Quest, fall into the category of “worthy” games that worked out, along with WoW. The article is aimed at creators who’re working on new stuff, not those who’re already established and making sequels to previously successful games. It isn’t aimed at Nintendo or Blizzard or Bethesda. And besides… I daresay if you looked back at the games that preceded the sequels in your list, you’d find an awful lot of sexy games, and only a small handful of worthy games.

    • Urthman says:

      Yeah, but he’s telling game makers, Don’t go the worthy route, go the sexy route.

      But I’m saying, If you have a chance to make a rock-solid, entertaining worthy game, go for it. If Valve lets you make a add-on pack to Half-Life or you have a chance to make a new Tomb Raider Game, if you have a chance to follow in the footsteps of Miyamoto or Garriott or Wright, do that. That’s where we get most of our great games. Evolutionary refinements to something that’s already good.

      Sure, the handful of sexy games can be even more exciting and satisfying, but those are pretty rare. You’re much more likely to make a great game by going the worthy route.

      Which is not to deny that a lot of crap gets made by people on the worthy track. But if you can’t make a good worthy game, you probably don’t have a prayer of making a good sexy game.

  25. Stromko says:

    That pro-Glider article nearly convinced me, it was quite persuasive. Looking back on it though, it lacks any substance what-so-ever.

    It uses the analogy of drug pushers, and badly. Of course we’re prone to agreeing with whatever side is the ‘weed dealer’, because nobody likes crack dealers and most folks want to legalize marijuana these days. Not only is neither side in this argument actually comparable, however, but if we were to stretch to make the analogy work, the situation should be reversed.

    The botters are the crack dealers, they are selling a faster, more potent high to the detriment of the community.

    Framing the argument as Wow-Glider versus Blizzard also misses the point. No one is going to feel sympathy for Blizzard, they are mind-bogglingly rich and are running a traditional (thus grindy) MMORPG, while the bot seller isn’t making any money supposedly.

    The point isn’t Blizzard vs Wow-Glider, it’s regular players who enjoy WoW for what it is, versus botters who want to skip the queue because they don’t like the grind.

    If they don’t like the grind, they should just play other games. You don’t see me hopping onto Counterstrike servers with a machine gun and full armor on round 1, just because I don’t like working for those perks do you?

    For my money I’d like to see more MMOs that eschew the grind and rely more on player skill and challenging, fun game play, but bots aren’t going to solve that. If you look at EVE Online, there’s a game that has character skills increase over time automatically. It is, in a sense, the ultimate extension of bot-grinding because you are making progress on skills 24/7.

    What we end up with then is a game where it takes anywhere from a month to a year of solid time to get all the skills you need to be competitive. If everyone in WoW was using WoW-Glider, the grind would simply be re-balanced so as to require 3 to 5x the time commitment under the assumption that everyone’s grinding 24/7. It would essentially be Lineage.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      Amen. If you have a problem with the WoW grind, the answer isn’t to find a way to speed through WoW faster. The answer is to find a game you like to play. The claims that WoW is “addictive” are just a cheap excuse. If you aren’t having fun, stop playing and find something else to do. If you cannot do that, the problem isn’t the game.

    • seventil says:

      Thanks for your feedback Stromko. I replied over on my site.

      I’ll use any opportunity to throw in Chappelle references. I miss that guy!

    • Daedren says:

      Copy/Pasta from my blog in reply to Stromko.

      @Stromko: More reply goodness.

      “For my money I’d like to see more MMOs that eschew the grind and rely more on player skill and challenging, fun game play, but bots aren’t going to solve that. If you look at EVE Online, there’s a game that has character skills increase over time automatically. It is, in a sense, the ultimate extension of bot-grinding because you are making progress on skills 24/7.”

      I agree – as I said, take any ‘fun’ game (I consider mostly FPS, but other games like DOTA / Oblivion / etc fun) and throw in MMO elements and you have a winner. I’ve ran through the L4D2 campaigns probably 5-10 each now, and it just never feels ‘grindy’. Even the original L4D is fun to play, especially on versus. The gameplay itself never got ‘boring’ – and I speak for a lot of people. Sure, there wasn’t much content, but imagine taking a game like that and pouring MMO development costs on it.

      In regards to your ‘if you don’t like it, quit’ opinion – I have to disagree on a certain point of that. Some people, like myself, enjoy certain parts of the game (it used to be Arena for me, or maybe high end raiding or BG’s for others). In order to enjoy these aspects of the game, you have to do a lot of other stuff, stuff that many people consider horrifically boring or grindy.

      If you argue you don’t need it to ‘grind’ or earn money or honor, you’re wrong. Using your Counterstrike example, imagine playing on a server where everyone else starts with 5K cash and access to every weapon, while you only have pistols (no DE ofc) and a few select, weaker weapons. That’s exactly what you get if you try to compete in Arena’s without putting a lot of work in to get your gear up to speed.

      The best example of this in a real game is COD4. Compare the available weapons to someone with Rank 1 to Rank 55. With rank and unlocks, you gain considerably better weapons along with laser sites / silencers, etc. The main difference between this and WoW, though, is that you gain rank just by playing the game. Imagine CoD4 where to gain rank you had to go beat Suduku puzzles or something. That’s boring for a lot of people.

    • Sonic Goo says:

      I’m not really familiar with Glider, but don’t you need to PVP in order to get PVP gear? I don’t really see what botting gets you that’s needed for the arena. Besides, if it’s PVP you like in MMOs, and you don’t want to have to do anything to do it, shouldn’t you be playing Guild Wars? Or is getting to level 20 too much effort too?

  26. The Dark One says:

    Man, all this time I’d assumed that McSweeny’s was some type of regional chain restaurant from the US. When John Hodgman mentioned his “Former Professional Literary Agent” column for them, I assumed it was as made up as the rest of the stuff in his books.

  27. Kommissar Nicko says:

    I didn’t finish for NaNoWriMo. In fact, I barely started. But I don’t feel bad about it.

  28. WCG says:

    Heh. I’m very much a retro gamer, yet some of my fondest memories are of games where the novelty just blew me away. Of course, I’ll enjoy a “worthy” game, too, if it’s the kind of game I like to play. And in general, I’m more likely to enjoy – and much more likely to buy – a game that does everything I KNOW I’ll like.

    “Sexy” games – inventive games that try something new – often fail badly. But when they succeed, they can be incredible. And don’t you get tired of the same old thing all the time? (I swear, almost everything seems to be an action game these days, mindless shoot-em-ups, all copying each other.)

  29. RagingLion says:

    Seriously. Take earplugs. I have slight tinitis ever since. But My Bloody Valentine were amazing. I wouldn’t mind being without the 20+ minutes of white noise, though,, if they decide to do that.

  30. noom says:

    Woo! I just got back from ATP. MBV were shit-hot but personal highlight was definitely Lightning Bolt, though I did get thoroughly battered at the front.

    So many awesome bands playing next weekend as well… wish I could afford to do both :(

  31. J Nash says:

    Ignoring all other factors (the purpose of reading Dunc, a cramped one-page review using promo shots of a big Speccy Christmas release suggesting the review copy turned up right on deadline, the only mag cross-referenced from the link that convincingly has the reviewer(s) pass the beginning of level 2 is Microhobby, etc etc), what K Gillen misses in significance is that Dunc says he couldn’t beat the first level. This is miles away from, for instance, being caught when someone points out there aren’t any motorbikes in a game you’ve reviewed as enjoying riding on motorbikes. Less the wild west and more a cheerfully self-deprecating treehouse of funky skillo crapness, really.

    Also, the only thing worth noting about the rubbish Hardware is that Richard Stanley stole the entire movie scene for scene from a three-page MacManus/O’Neill strip in the first Judge Dredd annual called Shok, apparently gambling that nobody would notice. Fleetway sued (their list of “similarities” running to the comical hundreds) and that’s why Hardware has a clunkily awkward “Based On” bit stuck at the end. Compounding the chorts, just before the pic came out there was a publicity bit on a film prog where the prods fell over themselves to praise R Stanley’s amazingly visual script, the opening of which was read out over a lingering close-up of the page that might as well have been a photostat of the first Shock frame coloured in with a murky orange felt tip. Possibly they all got to kick him to death 600000 times each as part of the costly settlement.

  32. Toastmodernist says:

    Spotted 1 No. Gillen leaving centre stage at about 2am on Saturday.

    It was a nice moment.

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