The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on December 20th, 2009 at 9:56 am.

Sundays are for waking up on the floor of Comrade Rossignol’s rural domain, stumbling around blindly until you find both tea and an internet connection then compiling a list of the fine (mainly) games related writing that caught your eye across the week, while trying not to include a link to some piece of pop music. Go! Slowly, while sipping tea.

Failed.

.

68 Comments »

  1. Hunam says:

    I’m on mobygames :)

  2. Lack_26 says:

    Well, I’m almost 19 and I find that the xx do fill a similar niche to Portishead (But I like Portishead as well, I really like 3rd because other people tend to find it difficult to listen to. Yey for music snobbery).

    The year in pictures was excellent as well.

    • lhzr says:

      portishead is not difficult to listen to. it’s just boring. and no one besides emo teens listens to it anyway.

      just sayin ;)

    • Lack_26 says:

      Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve only listen to 3Third. I haven’t bothered with the earlier stuff, but the prevailing opinion on 3rd seemed to be that it was very good, but most people wouldn’t get it and you need to listen to it about 10-40 times to ‘get it’ :O

      But trust me, driving down a deserted road in the Scottish highlands at 4am with Third playing is something everyone should try at least once.

    • Arathain says:

      You can listen to Roads and still say that?

    • Arathain says:

      You owe it to yourself to check out the earlier stuff. In particular, Dummy is a masterwork. And I very much doubt anyone who knows me would include ‘emo’ in describing me.

    • soundofsatellites says:

      There’s a reason Third was one of the most anticipated albums since, I don’t know, kid A?
      Dummy and Portishead are two masterpieces.

      I could say roads, or glory box, or all mine, or half day closing, and I would still be missing the rest. Do yourself a favor, put either on the player, sit, relax and *listen*.

  3. pepper says:

    That is one cocky guy in the comments thread from the spelunky thing. I’d almost classify that guy as a troll, a good one that is.

    • Jae Armstrong says:

      He can’t be a troll, he apologised. ;)

    • D says:

      Angry Developer Man. We’ve seen it before.

    • Flobulon says:

      Everybody owes it to themselves to read the entirety of that thread, it really is quite spectacular.

  4. MDP says:

    I just looked at that “10 indie games you should play” list, and I’m considering getting Iron Grip: Warlord.

    My problem is, does anyone play it anymore? I hate it when great multiplayer games have a tiny or non-existent online population…

    • Miles of the Machination says:

      If you’re interested, you can get a free demo of Iron Grip Warlord of their website, it’s a bit of fun, but I don’t really remember there being that many servers.

  5. Zra says:

    Kieron, Kudos: Rock Legend got you on MobyGames, but perhaps you were looking for more than a Special Thanks mention.

  6. D says:

    Developers should learn to include some form of crediting agreement in their hirering contracts.

    But regarding resume portfolios, does anyone know to what extent it’s legal to document your work in a portfolio? If the material you’ve worked on is copyrighted by the company, then it’s ofcourse not legal to keep it on your home pc. Is it then fine to take screenshots of it? And is any part of copyright law specifying this?

  7. Inanimotioon says:

    Mark Kermode is a very sensible man. More people should read that article.

  8. Magnus says:

    You say “I’ve got quite a bit of sympathy for Hunt here”, when her article essentially equates video games with committing illegal acts.

    It was a truly bizarre piece, which shows a complete lack of understanding for the entire medium. At least in Mark Kermode’s article, he does mention that the type of hysteria that surrounds gaming at the moment is equivalent to the beginnings of what might have been termed “extreme cinema” or “video nastys” back in the day.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Magnus: She’s dealt with an inbox full of people baiting her. I can see why she may think gamers are vile. Her piece and opinion, of course, is nonsense.

      KG

    • l1ddl3monkey says:

      The problem with Hunt’s opinion is that anyone making it in public will almost immediately be proven correct by a flood of comments and emails from internet retards regurgitating memes and spouting peurile hatred, even making threats of violence and death (which are, point proven, illegal to make against a person, at least in the UK).

      I don’t like Hunt’s point of view but I like the idiots who prove it to be at least partially correct even less.

    • lhzr says:

      Jacqueline’s article just proves that people not used to the innernets are easy prey for pretty much anyone. she prolly doesn’t even know what trolling means, what do you expect from her?
      if one of our mums would start frequenting some online community, she’d prolly come back traumatised and with the same impression about people, that they’re hate filled evil bastards.
      as kieron said, her opinion about gamers isn’t worth much, since it would be the same no matter the subject.

      also worth noting that she considers hentai to be “extreme pornography”. she didn’t even bother to wikipedia the term, so she doesn’t get much sympathy from me. if you gonna write about something, at least try to inform yourself a bit, before starting to spout nonsense.

    • Arathain says:

      I’m not going to say that I agree with the text of Jacqueline Hunt’s article, but her response is completely understandable. Even milder hentai is problematic, being generally a hotbed of submissive, sexually objectivised female characters. The worst stuff can be at the nastiest end of human sexual depravity, and should be highly disturbing for any of us to encounter. It is highly unfortunate that the dregs of the Internet saw fit to confirm her worst opinions.

      I’m not saying her article was not uninformed, and not terribly useful because of it. But the sexual objectification of women, and in particular downplaying the seriousness of sexual assault are some of the most serious and insidious problems our societies face. Some sympathy and respect for those trying to fight them is not unreasonable.

  9. MastodonFarm says:

    The first line of Leigh Alexander’s article: “Imagine pouring months, even years of work into a project, and then being unable to put your name on it.”

    Umm, I think 99.99% of working people in the world can imagine this. I suppose it’s a bit incongruous that the guy who drives Brad Pitt to and from the movie set gets a credit at the end of the film, while some dude who helps get OpFlash 2 out the door on time gets no credit at the end of the game. But that incongruity is a reflection of the power of unions in the film industry, not of any moral right to recognition for having worked hard on something. Lots of people bust their asses on all kinds of projects, big and small; the reward is a paycheck and a sense of fulfillment in a job well done. Boxes of cereal don’t include a list of all the people who made it possible for you to enjoy your morning bowl of corn flakes.

    Take a look around and think of all the things that make your life better. Do you know the names of the people who dug the sewers in your city, or landscaped the park? Are the people who chose the color palettes for the textures in Halo 3 really more deserving of public recognition than the people who made your sneakers (“trainers,” for those of you across the Pond)? Which do you spend more time using? Which group of people do you think works harder?

    • Hunam says:

      Those dudes who dug those sewers will be believed when going for another sewer digging job down the line, if you worked on 3 shipped games yet wasn’t credited, you’d have a hard time getting a developer to look at your CV.

    • Funky Badger says:

      re: CV… you put down what you did, and your references back it up, no problem…

    • MastodonFarm says:

      @Hunam: A prospective employer in the games industry will play through to the end of three games to watch the credits and look for your name, but won’t take a minute to pick up the phone and call references? Seems unlikely.

      On an unrelated note, this snow is great.

  10. Matt says:

    If I put on Dummy in 1994 it was usually a sign that nobody was going to have sexual intercourse. Not in my room, anyway. I listened to it a lot.

  11. Cooper says:

    All books are horrible and corrupting. I cite Lolita and American Psycho.

    Ban this filth, burn all of your Harry Potter collection

  12. robrob says:

    It’s interesting that Señor Senor found any kind of involvement in the Tolkein copy-and-paste of Dragon Age’s Dwarfland. My major issue with Dragon Age’s setting wasn’t the depth of background info but how clumsily it was presented. In a visual medium it’s not smart to place huge chunks of information in text entries, especially when they are hidden amongst the pages of DA’s atrocious codex which took the bizarre decision of hiding entries under arbitrary ID numbers rather than text titles. It’s like handing out leaflets during a film to explain plot elements, only the leaflets have arcane symbols on the front so when you have a pile of them in front of you it is impossible to quickly reference them.
    In the same way that the audio diaries of the Shocks broke the flow of the game, expecting the player to constantly stop to read novellas while they are sticking demons with swords removes any sense of pacing from the game unless they were ignored and then read in bulk, at which point you may as well play the game for half an hour and then read a decent book. To DA’s credit the background fluff was never important to the game itself outside of some of its silly fantasy words but this disassociation between the interactive bit and the background makes it questionable why they bothered including the background at all. It’s exactly the same sort of ham fisted approach which Morrowind used and it did not work there either. Contrast to Half Life where the background was implied during the actual playing of the game. DA’s codex is a relic of an antiquated way of designing games and one which Bioware would benefit from growing out of.

    • Xercies says:

      I kind of agree with this but one of the greater pleasures of Morrowind was finding a book on the history and reading it. But sure having history a kind of seperate document from the game is rubbish design really, it should be implied from the architecture and said by NPCS/story if it has any bearing.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      robrob: “in the Tolkein copy-and-paste of Dragon Age’s Dwarfland. ”

      It’s not exactly the New Weird, but to say it’s absolutely STANDARD DWARF – let alone specifically Tolkein’s one is plain nonsense.

      KG

    • Funky Badger says:

      The Dwarflands are some of the best work in DA:O – much more invloved and involving than the fairly insipid elves. Plus, Legion of the Dea is a wonderful idea (that doesn’t appear anywhere in Tolkein).

    • robrob says:

      Kieron:

      DA’s vertically challenged are stout Scottish fellows who build big underground cities, grow elaborate beards and divide their time between drinking and fighting. Certainly there is all the caste stuff in there but does that really set them apart from the Tolkien archetype? You needn’t even look very far for an example of D&D dwarves done differently – Darksun, a WotC property, managed to make them distinct from the Tolkien mould. Given an entirely new system and setting Bioware didn’t really go anywhere interesting with their races. I’m painting it with a broad brush to say it is entirely derivative but you must admit it is mostly derivative.

    • Pace says:

      robrob, if they weren’t short, didn’t live underground, and didn’t like fighting how would they be dwarves? Should they instead be hyper-intelligent sunfish?

    • Arathain says:

      I never know why everyone casts Dwarves as Scottish. That wasn’t Tolkien. I honestly think the Warhammer world gets it right- they’re clearly Northerners.

  13. Gurrah says:

    Wow, that song from The xx is fantastic, thanks for linking to it.

    • Jae Armstrong says:

      Yeah, it really is spectacular.

    • AndrewC says:

      Well the bloke singer sounds slightly too bored to sing well, and Chris Isaacs, and there’s almost a tune I suppose and, and…Yeah, it’s pretty great, innit?

  14. Jules says:

    The year in photo’s page is a steal from The Big Picture:
    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/12/2009_in_photos_part_1_of_3.html

    It’s the best picture site on the net, I’d hate for their content to go uncredited.

  15. Billzor says:

    KG – I got a question. This gig for Thor and the Dark Avengers, did you move yourself towards these jobs or did you just happen to land them? I ask because I’m curious about what you find interesting in writing for these two series. I’ve always found the idea of gods in a comic universe that tends towards, an absence of magic that characterizes the Marvel universe a little strange. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. It’s been a while since I’ve touched base with the comic world. So even if it wasn’t always a glimmer in your eye to write for Thor, I’d still like to know what he represents to you, if anything, and what’s interesting to write about when it comes to Thor and Ares?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Bilzor: They were offered to me – or rather, the editor said they wanted to do something with them and asked what I’d do with them. I don’t normally seriously think about characters I don’t own until I’m asked to do so, as it’s just spinning my wheels and using braincycles which could be used on something else.

      Thor directly picked up from JMS’ run. His theme was firmly the mortal and the divine. I picked up and ran with it into more direct Mary Shelly territory, with Doom playing Frankenstein. It’s very much a continuation of the shakespeare-does-supergods territory of JMS, and deliberately so.

      Ares… well, Gods can be looked at embodiments of ideas. Ares embodies the worst aspect of wars – whatever it takes to stand and throttle someone you’ve never met to death because you were told to… that’s what sort of War Ares is God of. The mini takes an ancient idea of War and then directly compares it to the modern age of War. The second thread is… well, what’s it like being an embodiment of something you recognise as not right. Ares’ best trait is his devotion to his son. Problem being, he’s not a very good dad – and understandably *because he’s Ares*. No matter how much he wants to, can he become a good father?

      God are big metaphors. I’m all about the metaphors.

      KG

  16. TCM says:

    Don’t think I’ll ever buy an Adam Coate game.

  17. Sparvy says:

    I was about to say, the real site also has the decency to censor the more horrible pictures so that you can choose not to see them. I mostly look at them anyway but there are some that I regretted seeing, some things can not be unseen.

  18. JuJuCam says:

    That Gamasutra thread was exhausting. I can’t believe I read the whole thing. I can’t wait to see a vid of Flytrap.

  19. Tei says:

    kobzon:

    That work the other way. How overrated the life of artist is everywhere else.

  20. Fox says:

    ‘The year in pictures’ seems to be a complete rip-off from The Big Picture. http://tinyurl.com/ycgmaky

  21. Taillefer says:

    Some of the photos are incredibly touching and humbling. Thanks, Kieron (and to others who then pointed out the original source). I see these scenes and then think games are pretty pointless really, aren’t they. And yet I seem content with wasting my time anyway.

  22. Max says:

    Dear God that Adam Coates guy is a massive moron. He’s a textbook example of someone on the internet ruining all of their credibility by being a massive dick.

    Honestly, I don’t even want to play his stupid game at this point because he clearly has his head too far up his ass to listen to other people’s opinions. First of all, he has the balls to say that his game is “the best game ever” when almost no one has played – let alone reviewed – the damn thing and then calls Spelunky a “platformer gimmick” without having even played it.

    And he goes off about other games being clones of Commodore 64 when the only site I could find about his beloved Flytrap described it as a “Space Invaders clone”.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      For me the real train wreck started after he apologized for those comments, started to recompose himself, and then started spouting his opinions about women. News flash, professionals: DO NOT TALK ABOUT ANYTHING OTHER THAN YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE ON THE INTERNET!!1!!!!11!!!1 I mean, seriously. You’d think this would be obvious by now, but some people just don’t get that this isn’t them and their buddies talking shit over a few brewskies on a Friday night. If you’re putting yourself and your product out there online, that’s your priority.

    • terry says:

      Perhaps its poetic justice that the first google hit I get for Flytrap+xbox is a comments thread at TIGsource in which he melts down about the Gamasutra comments thread. http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=9905.0

      It would be great viral advertising if…er… there was anything to advertise.

  23. JJ says:

    @Kieron
    The year in pictures is stolen from the Boston Globe:
    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/12/2009_in_photos_part_1_of_3.html

    Better resolution there too

  24. Quinnbeast says:

    Mark Kermode’s article was clearly a general commentary of how adult themes in games are viewed and criticised by those in the spotlight. To reference the article in conjunction with something as extreme as a “molestation simulator” does appear a bit irrelevant. Kermode’s piece on how adult themed (e.g. 18 rated) games are often misunderstood by people with little or no experience of them is a pretty uncomplicated bit of writing.

    However, in drawing a tangent between the ‘ “killing” [of] a prostituted woman in Grand Theft Auto’ with Rapelay is proof enough the Kermode is spot on. Jacqueline Hunt was always going to appear, rather unfortunately, as another somebody discussing something without so much as a hint of research into games as a whole. While her cause is something I have complete and utter admiration for, her quality of journalism leaves me (as is the general trend with the roaring media when discussing certain subjects) disappointed.

    In a game of near-slapstick violence, GTA allows you to “kill” almost any character in the game: pedestrians, police or gangland bosses. To specifically reference female prostitutes is to place an emphasis on it that doesn’t exist within the game itself. GTA is not a “simulator” in any shape or form. Shinny graphics does not a simulator make. It’s a open-world action game aimed strictly at an adult audience, hence the 18 certificate. To discuss the incidence of violence against women is one thing. To draw conclusions on how violent/pornographic games may affect certain people within society is an entirely different subject. As for why underage children and teenagers have the freedom to play adult titles is another topic again.

    For me, anything that I’ve ever chosen to play has less been shocking and less affecting than the 6 o’clock news, or for that matter, A&E on a Friday night.

    My own experience with games ranges from the first incarnations of Pong and Space Invaders, to recent titles such as Left 4 Dead 2, Dragon Age, Eve Online and yes, Grand Theft Auto. However, until I read this article, I hadn’t heard of RapeLay, nor any of the supposedly more extreme incarnations. And why would I have? I don’t see any copies of it for sale from my preferred gaming retailers and I haven’t seen any commentary or reviews on my favourite news/blog sites either. Am I more sheltered than I’d like to think? Or is it just possible that the majority of gamers don’t actually have a tendency towards these sorts of things?

    Counties such as Japan, China and Korea are known for a slightly more insular approach to gaming, and certainly do not reflect gaming trends as a whole. There are no doubt hundreds of titles (most of them considerably more wholesome than the offending title) that Eastern counties play, but which wouldn’t actually make it on to the radar over here, and vice-versa. That is, unless you’re the sort of person that specifically goes looking. Either way, indicative of the games aimed at an adult audience in general, Rapelay most certainly is not. While I’m very interested in studies of how games can potentially affect different people to greater or lesser degrees, an article from a woman championing Equality Now is unlikely to be particularly balanced (once again with the upmost respect to her cause).

    As for tarring us gamers with the same brush, I suppose it’s understandable given the responses, but still unfair. As a 30-something Customer Services Manager who has never laid a finger on anyone, I guess it’s just a matter of time before I discover that I’m actually closet nutcase with an increasing tendency to beat the wife around. As a gamer, it’s apparently an assumption that is wholly deserved.

    Let’s be clear about this: the kind of people who are able to e-mail a woman calling for their “own rape and murder” have simply shown themselves to be what they are: potential rapists and murderers. While these responses have come about as a reply to an article on the uglier side of gaming, it proves only one thing : these people also play games, but moreover, have something very wrong with them that is unlikely caused by their chosen entertainment. Does the fact that they own a PS3 or gaming PC somehow make me comparable?

    • Dominic White says:

      One thing I find funny is that nobody ever, EVER mentions that it’s not just Japan that produces terrible porn-games.

      http://www.bonetown.com/ (NOT WORK SAFE, GODDAMMIT!)

      There’s far worse, of course, but I can’t remember their names.

  25. Yeeeaahh! says:

    @Dominic

    NSFW

    http://www.singles-the-game.com/
    http://www.virtuallyjenna.com/

    http://www.heaventhegame.com/ (that “angel” looks like a porn star)

    Yeah there’s a bunch of ‘em that are non-Japanese. But they don’t it with such pederastic enthusiasm as hentai games.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      I read about that a while back on Quarter To Three. The angel is your grandmother. (Who has died and gone to heaven, of course.)

      Yeah.

  26. Adam Coats says:

    Wow (re: Adam Coates comments in the Derek Yu article)

    A part of me still thinks it’s an anonymous internet troll that has something against Coates and registered as him to defame him (don’t know Adam personally or anything…just, wow).

    There must be some flaw in the indie game developer geneseed. Other examples include:

    http://www.mdickie.com/

    Cleve Blakemore, D. Smart, Ph.D

  27. invisiblejesus says:

    Hmmm… a Shockwave versus Death’s Head article. Death’s Head showed up in KG-penned S.W.O.R.D. recently. Coincedence?

    You heard it here first, True Believers. Transformers versus Cosmic Marvel. An event in 7 parts, by Kieron Gillen. Coming in 2010.

    • Bret says:

      Also, there are rumors of an action figure.

      Gillen’s moving on up. Terrifyingly quickly.

  28. malkav11 says:

    RE: Valentine – I was going to say that I was sick of everyone in the world focusing solely on the damn iPhone (as an owner of a non-iPhone smartphone), but then I went to the site and discovered that they do in fact have versions for Droid (which is also not the kind of smartphone I have, sigh), Kindle – which I have but suspect is nonoptimal, especially with the lack of color, and are promising a PC-compatible version “soon”.

    So I guess that’s okay. But I’ll still have to wait before checking it out.

    Part of my problem with the way so many things are iPhone-exclusive is that iPhone is exclusive to AT&T. I’m not wild about the way so many companies are ignoring iPhone competitors, but I’ve got a bunch of handhelds and was a Mac user for many years, so I’m used to lock-in as far as that goes. It’s not cool to tie your product to another product that’s inextricable from a specific pay service, though.

    • Dominic White says:

      “Part of my problem with the way so many things are iPhone-exclusive is that iPhone is exclusive to AT&T.”

      Only in some countries.. just most notably America, land of the free market, where competition is king. Heh.

      Out here in France, you can get an iPhone from pretty much any of the big celphone providers.

    • JuJuCam says:

      It’s worth remembering that iPhone apps are generally also compatible with iPod Touch. Which is probably a small consolation, but it works for me since I’m getting one for Christmas. But if you do want to fool around with all the gems tucked away in the App Store without being beholden to a contract with a questionable phone company, the option exists.

      Also I am not human because I didn’t enter the captcha…

    • JuJuCam says:

      And I’d like to add re:captcha that in Google Chrome it’s not at all clear where the text input field is.

  29. spelk says:

    MDP, like many of these shooter/RTS hybrids they tend not to get much of a following, and Iron Grip Warlord is no exception. The servers were pretty sparse when I first tried it, and even after the recent patch there seems little community (at least around the publics). Having said that, the game has fairly decent co-op bots, and since its more of a Tower Defense Game almost, its more about making strategic defensive decisions at an action game pace, so you can still garner a fair amount of enjoyment playing it with AI team mates. Its still better if you can find some players to participate in Co-op, and then you can up the difficulty.

    It seems these strategic shooters, like Section 8, get bugger all support from the established shooter fraternity. Even the likes of the Savage games have struggled to survive. This indie offering is very niche I think, but worth a look see, you might find it a bit too rough for yout tastes, or you might be charmed by its steampunk setting and can put up with an AI supported single player experience, whilst waiting for someone to come and join you.