The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on May 8th, 2011 at 11:20 am.


Sundays are for filling our pipe up with mustard and having a good old smoke in the library. Because the library is where one must reside to give a proper impression of our acumen and capacity for understanding. Another way of impressing intellect upon human typicals is to be seen reading long strings of English words. I’ve provided some of those below, for your edification.

  • Kotaku talks to the guy who tweeted about the assassination of Bin Laden a gamer from Abbottabad. Turns he knows some terrorist types, and says Taliban gamers like a bit of Terrorists Win! “The Taliban I knew told me how good Talibans are at C.S and how that game helps them in keeping their senses sharp…. [he] told me one thing to keep in mind, Talibans will always play as terrorists..lol..these Talibans have a computer like memory and this makes them geniuses at using PC’s just like a grease monkey is for a car.”
  • Tap Repeatedly have an exclusive interview with ArenaNet’s lead writer, Bobby Stein. Here’s a bit of what he has to say: “Say you’re travelling a road between two towns, when a guard approaches you in a frenzy. He emphatically tells you that the estate he’s guarding is under attack, and that the family–including a small child–is in danger. You storm the property and cut through waves of pirates. Meanwhile, you hear the owners down below cowering in fear. But you’ve arrived a few moments too late. You overhear the kidnapping take place, and the pirates whisk the little girl to their hideout for ransom. If you’re quick about it you can even watch them make the journey. An event chain like this is extensively voiced, so everything from battle chatter to context-relevant dialogue is triggered at key moments to make you feel like you’re in the middle of a tense situation. The characters have personality and motivation, and it comes through during each event.”
  • How Minecraft Taught Me To Dream seems an unlikely title for an article, but there it is. The author, apparently, has a better imagination now that’s he’s played Minecraft: “Minecraft propels someone like myself to have more creative vision and confidence. I’ve had ideas of grand lava- and water-falls to surround my base; a rollercoaster; monster traps; a canal system with working locks; a sky-fortress; a memorial to mark my tragic death at the hands of a group of marauding creepers; an armed netherwold expedition, and more. I have Minecraft and its community to thank for helping me have these ideas.”
  • Eurogamer have a chat with Pirhana Bytes about why Risen 2 will be a better game than the first. They also try to explain how their games are more about the everyday stuff of the fantasy worlds they take place in: “Dragon Age is far more into epic battles and war. We always try to have the player solve a certain problem in the world, but it’s not like he’s the saviour of the world – he is the saviour, maybe, of the village. He is not killing a god of evil but he is killing one of his minions who is particularly dangerous. We go one step more towards the reality approach: what one person really could do, not the superhero stuff.”
  • Eurogamer’s Gaming For God article is also interesting. A quote from Christian developer Chris Skaggs: “We lean on what C. S. Lewis said when he wrote The Space Trilogy. He wanted the books to appeal to people who would never go to church and encourage them to think about eternal things. I feel our role is not to be Christians making games for Christians, but to put ourselves, including our Christianity, into mainstream work.”
  • “The Retired Gambler” on Electron Dance attacks the idea of scores, achievements, and other reward aspects of game design: “Score, prestige or achievements – they’re all design illusions, trying to paint a sense of worth over actions that are provably worthless. But it just doesn’t work any more, because time is too valuable to waste on something which is empty and unrewarding. You see the whole damn lie for what it is.”
  • RPS-chum Mark Wallace has been blogging about the design of his RTS game, and spends some time thinking over one of the fundamentals of PC gaming: the tech tree. “On the surface, tech and talent trees seem to be about a creating a natural course of evolution and customization for a player’s character or forces. If you don’t look too closely at them, they just provide a framework for the progression of play, so that you don’t spend the whole game with the same set of abilities (which is actually just fine in other contexts, like platformers, for instance). But look at tech trees from the other side of the code, and there’s a lot more to them.”
  • A write up of Erik Wolpaw’s recent talk at NYU. One of the attendees at this event told me that he was asked what websites he liked. He said “Rock, Paper, Shotgun.” Bless him. While you’re on Gamasutra there’s an article about the Portal 2 ARG, too.
  • When videogame plots are actual military projects.
  • English Russia remains one my favourite websites. So much of the phrasing is just beautiful: “Ukraine has its own rocket forces of special purposes.”

This week’s music in the Rossignol research crater has been glitchy ambient and doomed country. A typical week, and nothing new. I’m sorry.

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171 Comments »

  1. bluebomberman says:

    The Kotaku interview is *not* with Sohaib Athar, the guy who accidentally live-tweeted the Osama raid at http://twitter.com/ReallyVirtual. They just interviewed a random 20-year-old gamer who lived in Abbottabad.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      Whew, I was hoping it was just another one of Kotakus stupid jokes.

    • Mike says:

      It also reads like utter shite. ¬_¬

    • Teddy Leach says:

      It’s Kotaku. What do you expect?

    • Premium User Badge tomeoftom says:

      Yeah, I spent twenty seconds of frowning and skimming before concluding that “this is waaay below the SP standard of curation”

    • QualityJeverage says:

      Nothing like some petty blog politics to start the day off right, eh fellas?

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Yeah. It’s not bad of an article. Interesting in fact, since it helps to dismiss certain preconceived ideas we may have of people living in Pakistan.

      And, it doesn’t fall for the trap of making too much of the words of some taliban friend of some random guy being interviewed. I can imagine a few other places picking on that quote and turn it into factual data.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      Oh for the love of- Mainstream media just picked up on this and are blowing this way out of proportion (while for some reason also treating Kotaku like a serious media outlet).

      Well done destroying our lives with your fair and balanced gaming news, Kotaku.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Let’s be fair, this exact scenario occurred to every single one of us as soon as we saw the article.

  2. int says:

    If the taliban always play terrorists, who plays CT?

  3. McDan says:

    Sundays are for getting up for a full english breakfast, then going back to sleep until the sunday papers, then vegetate.

  4. phenom_x8 says:

    I saw some online FPS games brought osama raid as on of their feature. I dont know what the games is, I saw it on my national tv news though )!
    And exclusive STALKER 2 screen shot at English Russia sure very photo realistic. I bet GSC built the DX11engine from scratch and push it to reach its potential! :)

  5. GenBanks says:

    lol, I love how gaming can create a bond between people in such different contexts. Like Taliban fighters, Pakistani IT guy, Brits, Americans, etc.

    • Oneironaut says:

      My dad, who plays a lot of WoW, likes to say that online gaming will bring us closer to world peace. When you’re playing a game and having fun with people all over the world, being prejudiced about those people becomes harder.

    • The Pink Ninja says:

      More likely we’ll have thirty years war between the followers of Wow and Guild Wars : /

    • trjp says:

      @Oneironaut We’ll have no more black, white, yellow or brown but we’ll have a shitload of Night Elf Hunters and those fuckers need to be deported…

    • mod the world says:

      @Oneironaut
      I doubt your dad is right. My personal experience from online playing with american players only makes me want to kill them even more.

    • Creeping Death says:

      @The Pink Ninja I’m putting beats on the GW fans winning. After all, they are pumping all their war funds into subscriptions every month

  6. Xocrates says:

    I’ve read the Portal 2 ARG post-mortem the other day. There are some interesting tidbits there, namely the recognition of what worked and what didn’t.

    Got to say, finding out that the crescendo at the end was supposed to start 24-36 hours before launch as opposed to the friday before actually explains a lot.

    • Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

      Yeah, rather enjoyed that article, quite interesting reading on how they set it all up and that they’ve acknowledged some of the problems with it.

    • Rii says:

      “From the very beginning, Valve gave the indie developers incredible flexibility to use the Portal 2 intellectual property without constraints. This gave us the freedom to focus on great content rather than having to worry about legal concerns or a lengthy approval process.”

      Even Valve recognises that Intellectual Property is the bane of progress and society.

    • Kadayi says:

      Yeah was a great read and no doubt all those involved have learnt much from the experience so that they can avoid making similar mistakes in future. The crescendo timing definitely messed things up, I also think that the difficulty of some of the potato puzzles was a little too extreme (I’m looking at you Audiosurf).

    • Premium User Badge Rinox says:

      The Portal levels in The Ball were excellent though. They fit almost perfectly. It was like I was actually playing Portal but with, erh, a ball. Or the ‘Edgeless Cube Artifact’, as it is referred to in the levels.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      @Kadayi,

      I actually bought Audiosurf, just because of the RPS write up, and to be able to participate in the ARG, I agree that at first it was too difficult, but! To their saving grace, the Devs patched Audiosurf, and made it easier(ie the inclusion of more companion cubes) In the end I got it, one single potato, I don’t think I’ve ever worked so fucking hard for what is essentially an ‘Achievement’.

      Although, ‘grats to Audiosurf, most other games I would of Ragequit, and flamed the software for being a steaming pos.

  7. Kaira- says:

    For once music which I actually liked. The latter one reminds me, in some way, of Hexvessel, which pretty much has already released album of the year for me.

  8. noom says:

    Tim Hecker is excellent. There’s a lovely drone album done by him and Aiden Baker of Nadja. Can’t remember the name of it off the top of my head, but it’s worth getting.

    • Premium User Badge sockeatsock says:

      Another one for Hecker. Harmony in Ultraviolet is sublime.

    • Tams80 says:

      @ Mistabashi

      But I don’t have any bananas!

    • Vykromond says:

      The Baker-Hecker collabo is called Fantasma-Parastasie, and yes, it’s sublime.

  9. Zorganist says:

    Is Talibans really the correct pluralisation?

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      It’s actually Talibanae

    • Dozer says:

      alt-0230: talibanæ?

      Or it could be one talib, three taliban. As in “I had three taliban get on my bus yesterday”

    • Mistabashi says:

      “Come Mr Taliban / Talibananae”?

    • trjp says:

      Taliban IS plural – a single fighter might be a Talib but it’s not really used like that – or so QI tells me…

    • Twitchity says:

      In Arabic, it’s talib/talibaan (student/students), but the south asian press uses taliban/talibans when discussing the militants. This actually makes sense, since “taliban” is a loanword; the 1980s-era mujahideen may not have known the term, and simply applied as a group name (I have zero Pashto, but “shagerd” is the usual term for “student” in Farsi, and Pashto is a linguistic relative of Farsi).

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      @mistabashi Don’t think that went unnoticed. I lol’d

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      @mitsabashi

      It’s six foot, seven foot, eight foot BUNCH!

      Daylight come and me want go home.

    • xaphoo says:

      I wouldn’t really call “Taliban” a loan word in Afghanistan, but rather a Persian (Farsi) word. “Talib” is the component which, like about half of Persian vocabulary, comes from Arabic, and “an” is the Persian, not Arabic plural for animate objects. As Persian word, it is native for an Afghan, as Dari Persian is the lingua franca of Afghanistan, the language of communication between ethnic groups, and the native language of most of the western and northern parts of the country. As Twitchity pointed out, “Taliban” is already a plural word and “Talibans” sounds strange, but it seems to have become common in English usage.

  10. drewski says:

    I don’t think gamification can give meaning to a task that is otherwise unenjoyable, so in that sense I completely agree with Mr. Gambler. The lure of achievements, challenges and scores is meaningless to me if I don’t enjoy the underlying game. But when I do enjoy the underlying game, striving to push the limit of what I do in the game by aiming for higher scores, more ‘cheevos or another challenge is definitely worthwhile.

    Then again I find the idea of gamificiation utterly nonsensical.

    • Xocrates says:

      Gamification can have its place, but it needs to be done well, meaning it can’t sum itself to adding meaningless achievements to an unenjoyable task. I would not be surprised if well implemented gamification would require new ways to approach a task.

      I very much doubt that you can gamify any task however.

    • Premium User Badge AndrewC says:

      Money. It works on any task.

    • Harbour Master says:

      Hello! I am Mr. Gambler. As an alternative to buying Reality Is Broken, you might try out this hot-off-the-press 160-page master’s thesis on gamification by Christos Iosifidis.
      I haven’t read it yet but I’m tempted, just to get a better all-round picture of what it is to be “gamified”. Thanks to Douglas Wilson of the Copenhagen Game Collective for tweeting that one out.

      AndrewC: Money often backfires. People *game* those systems to extract money without providing benefit. Bonuses based on “performance targets” for example are a disaster area.

    • Dozer says:

      AndrewC: that’s right-wing idealogy; it isn’t universally true.

    • Twitchity says:

      Dozer: Bet you a quid it is.

  11. Rond says:

    “Ukraine has its own rocket forces of special purposes.”

    Yeah, they’re using Russian-specific phrasing (machine translation maybe?) A more correct English equivalent would be “special rocket forces” of course.

    Stealth unmanned combat vehicle makes first flight

    I don’t like the term. They’re not really unmanned, just remotely-manned. It makes a difference.

    • Premium User Badge Diziet Sma says:

      But saying unmanned lets the media get away with lots of terminator style talk.

      Also yeah, english russia is a fun website but I find myself trying to corroborate a lot of the stories.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      I wonder how much one of those Unmanned Aircraft would cost, And I wonder what sort of aspects they would need to justify sending one into combat.

    • Dozer says:

      @Corrupt_Tiki unmanned air vehicles are already in use; they’ve been in use for years. The current generation (which aren’t radar-stealth, but completely undetectable when they’re 15,000ft above your head and you don’t have a radar) have been dropping bombs in Pakistan and Syria as well as all the other warzones.

      Fun trivia: JFK’s elder brother was killed in WW2 when his UAV exploded. Project Aphrodite: take a knackered bomber, fill it with explosives, install remote controls and a TV camera and cutting-edge radios, and fly it unmanned into the heavily fortified U-boat pens on the French coast. But technology wasn’t up for remotely controlling the takeoff – these flying bombs needed a pilot and engineer for takeoff, activate the remote controls, then bale out and parachute back to Kent. Joe Kennedy was one of those pilots until the ten tonnes of explosives detonated unexpectedly over England. The entire project was an expensive failure – the solution to the U-boat pens was to drop supersonic ten-tonne bombs on them from ordinary bombers.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      @Dozer

      ;P As a soldier I realise that UAVs and Predator drones, etc are quite common and have been used for several years.

      I was more directing that towards Fullsize, Fighter-Bomber Unmanned Aircraft.

      The UAVs I have seen and predator drones are good and the latter, quite deadly efficient, but, they aren’t MiG killers.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Yeah, deploying UAVs and “Gunships” (AC130 Spectre et al.) is only feasible if you have already establish total-ish air superiority. I can’t see how a remote controlled fighter plane would work against any semi modern air superiority fighter (give or take pilot training and element of surprise).

    • Pete says:

      Obviously you fire standoff air-to-air missiles from the UAVs until you _do_ have air superiority.

    • Dozer says:

      @Pete you’re not Duncan Sandys reincarnate are you?

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      @Pete

      Macross Missle Massacre solves everything

  12. Premium User Badge AndrewC says:

    Yes. How far would he like to pull his perspective back, because there’s always ‘all life is meaningless’ nihilism at the far end of that pull back.
    Gamification will work, not because it succesfully fools us, but because we want to be fooled.
    There’s also the assumption of gaming being ‘useful’ underneath his argument, a rrather tediously utilitarian approach that Master Rossignol himself has disagreed with in the past (somewhere or other, just pretend this is a link).

  13. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    You can’t coin this anymore.

    http://www.gamecareerguide.com/features/gdc_reports/cgdc_98/farmer2.htm

  14. andrewdoull says:

    Just too hot for the presses: Dan Cook’s A blunt critique of game criticism: http://www.lostgarden.com/2011/05/blunt-critique-of-game-criticism.html

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Christ, it’s like Dan Cook was killed and replaced by an impostor.

      I like that impostor.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I’ll paraphrase that one: “Why engineers are no fun”.

      KG

    • trjp says:

      “We need better methods of filtering game criticism.”
      Spot the programmer… Anyone else would – y’know – read what a source writes and decide if they gained information or value from it. If they did, they’d read more – if not, they’d skip that source in future. We don’t need website/content filtering service for everything – esp not other websites/content filtering services!!

      “We need a new breed of developer-writers who hold their game analysis to a higher standard”
      Not every developer wants that – not every person offering criticism will do it. Some people are just making stuff for fun – whether that be games or writing about games – get over it.

      End of the day this is programmer talk – the desire for everything to be classifiable, quantifiable and factored-just-so – will never happen – don’t encourage this, keep them in their cubicles…

    • Mil says:

      I agree with Danc that being a game critic seems to be more about being articulate and sounding authoritative than about providing any additional insights compared to your average intelligent gamer.

    • Lilliput King says:

      His mode of thinking seems to be that games stand alone amongst the arts as benefiting from empirical evidence, and so are not subject to the same kind of criticism as that of music, film etc. Is it ironic he provides no empirical evidence for said?

      The Valve school of design where they push hundreds of people through their games, recording every little detail, is indeed valuable empirical evidence. But it applies just as much to film as it does to games. And just like film, you can’t design your way to the perfect game empirically. They seem ultimately to obey the same rules, and he doesn’t give a compelling reason to think otherwise.

      Makes me think this is less to do with games and more to do with criticism in general (backed up by the fact he uses art criticism as an example), which takes away any original or interesting message the essay once had. In the end it reads more like a programmer’s version of the standard “The public shouldn’t talk about this stuff because they don’t have a degree in art history!” rant we’ve seen a million times previous.

    • Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

      This falls down because developers are making games (in the vast majority of cases) for gamers. This makes the opinions of critics, gamers and academics valid as they have final say whether a game is a success or not. Even if your peers are impressed by what you’ve done underneath the hood it means little if your game is panned by the majoirty of gamers and critics.

      That’s not to say that he’s wrong in his desire to see more writing that is by developers and tailored towards developers but he’s already pointed out that such things exist. So really it’s just a case of sticking to those writers who he knows have something which he deems worthwhile to him, ignoring sources which are aimed towards informing and entertaining gamer (for surely we deserve information and entertainment!) and calling out any developer aimed sources which are talking bullshit (in much the same way a scientist would calle out any science article printed in the Daily Mail).

      Also, I think he might be suprised at just how useful discussions with a “layperson” can be. While they obviously wont help on a technical level they can often force you to think about things in a different way or help you to get a clear idea of some of your aims and goals when you may have been at risk of going off on tangents. I’d recommend that next time Dan engages himself in discussion with a reasonably intelligent gamer he refrains from fobbing them off with a stock bullshit response (as a synthetic chemist mine is “sure, it could be used for drugs, yeah” which is basically a barefaced lie) or telling them they wouldn’t understand (I always endeavour to avoid saying such things); it might well be more of a challenge and useful intellectual exercise than he might expect.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I sort of agree, lambchops. While I couldn’t avoid empathizing with him, in fact games are made for gamers and so their opinions, as drivel as they may be, as useless and annoying as they may sometimes be, are theirs to make.

      But he does address a certain type of opinion-makers. Not just everyone writing about games, but these false prophets who spout from nowhere and through elaborate use of all manner of fallacies, eloquently try to force their way as authorities in game analysis and criticism. It works because:

      a) It’s for the masses. And “the masses” consume every piece of crap put in front of them
      b) There’s this idea circulating that just because you have an opinion, that opinion should be heard.
      c) There’s also this idea that doing things for fun (like commenting games for fun) automatically excuses anyone from being professional about what they do.

      And so we hear all manner of nonsense, like “Minecraft saved my life”, “Portal 2 is the best game ever made”, or on the other side of the spectrum “Minecraft sucks because there’s few updates”, or “Portal 2 is a terrible game because its too short”. Not to mention all manner of pseudo-psychological babble that sometimes gets into our eyes like some fat hairy ass suddenly been shown to an unsuspecting audience.

      What the article seems to be begging is for real critics, knowing critics. To hell with wannabes and posers. Let them keep doing what they do. Whatever. As long as good, knowledgeable, factual, empiric, unadorned criticism can be easily found too. Those who aren’t willing to consume every random nobody’s brainfart on the tubes, may know where to go to read proper gaming criticism. And that choice be vaster than it is today.

    • Kadayi says:

      I think the worst thing you can possibly ever be in any field is close minded to the opinions of others, wherever they may be coming from.

    • Lilliput King says:

      “What the article seems to be begging is for real critics, knowing critics. To hell with wannabes and posers”

      My, how controversial. Clearly, he’s a thinker with vision.

      I’m off to start a blog called “Things Should Be Better”

    • choconutjoe says:

      I’m inclined to agree with the general tone of the comments posted here. True, there’s a massive amount of bullshit out there when it comes to games journalism, and ignorance of game design probably has something to do with it. But I’m not sure he has the solution: A game that appealed only to other game designers and not to ‘gamers’ in general would be a strange beast indeed.

    • Kadayi says:

      I think the fundamental problem with his position is that being in game development doesn’t actually necessarily make you an expert at it in it’s entirety. Sure you might be brilliant in one particular area of specialisation, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to having an actual comprehension of all areas. The enthusiast might lack much when it comes down to the nitty gritty, but one thing they never lack for is range and experience.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Yes, the “a good game critic is a game maker” is a bit weak.

      I would prefer to think of knowledgeable gamers (makers or not). And particularly critics capable of distancing themselves from the games when they are doing their analysis.

      I can’t avoid getting immediately defensive around anyone clearly demonstrating a strong emotional connection to the game their are criticizing, be it positively or negatively. Similarly I tend to back away when a critic includes disprovable arguments or obvious fallacies. Bits and scraps of their so-called analysis can still be salvaged, but immediately they become the subject of much careful scrutiny.

      What I personally feel a need for is more critics I can trust and don’t force me into criticizing the critic, instead of using my time studying the analysis. I don’t need people I can agree. I need people I can trust for their knowledge. These are lacking.

  15. Harbour Master says:

    Yo, article author here. It’s more of a reaction than a manifesto about Games Are Empty. I still play games – shit, I’ve been writing about them for a year, right, so I can’t exactly be that jaded – but that endless plain of achievements and challenges have stopped being attractive. When there’s little time to go around, you start questioning why the hell you are pumping iron in the gym with CJ, duller than Duke Nukem’s dishwater, yet a key part of character progression in GTA:SA. But I can still get suckered into playing when I know I am no longer enjoying myself.

    On the “all life is meaningless” it’s precisely the problem I have with Jonathan Blow’s argument too – that once you start investigating the “worth of actions” then where the hell do you stop? He goes to great pains in his talk at Rice to draw his particular line and I think that’s where it starts to sound less convincing.

  16. Unaco says:

    Ahhhh, Kotaku. Doing everything you can, every day, to truly deserve the title “The Sun of Video Games Journalism”.

  17. Premium User Badge Andy_Panthro says:

    To pick up on what Michael Hoge was saying in the Risen 2 interview, I do appreciate that they’ll be avoiding the “chosen one who saves the world” bit.

    I do feel it gets a bit overused, and it’s always good to see alternatives.

    • Seymour says:

      This may sound like a strange aside, but this exact feeling is what interested me in Dynasty Warriors way way back in the day. I loved the fact that the battle was raging on around you, whether you were participating or not. In some modes where you actually began as a footman, rather than an overpowered officer, this feeling was heightened. It is a rare game where you can start a battle, and do nothing at all, and still have a different result each time. I still say there is a great game within that format somewhere, it just needs to be taken out of the hands of the current developers.
      (Apologies for coming out of the woodwork, only to mention a console game by the by.,,)

  18. Mario Figueiredo says:

    “The Retired Gambler” on Electron Dance attacks the idea of scores, achievements, and other reward aspects of game design

    I think it goes a little bit deeper than that, won’t you think? It’s essentially a mea culpa plus a “but your fault too, game designers” of a gamer in his late thirties coming to grips with the fact he just doesn’t commit to games as he used to.

    I found his article spot on on certain areas, but hard to agree on others. For instance, games used to be insanely hard for sure. I remember spending weeks playing Dynamite Dan, sometimes a full day trying to learn how to pass one single screen, or going absolutely wild when I finished Manic Miner for the first time and seeing my friends green with envy. But no, I don’t remember thinking these games were stupid (and certainly don’t think like that still today). On the contrary, the difficulty hooked me to these games when I was a teen. Something that certainly wouldn’t work for me today.

    On the other hand the author speaks mostly of action-oriented games, forgetting on every moment that there are other type of games that can provide their own different level of difficulty. I’m thinking for instance of 4x or deep strategy games. Games that actually force players to read a manual and spend the first weeks (when not months) learning how to actually play the game and interpret what they see on screen. Not to mention unforgiving AIs. Here the difficulty is, if I may say so, more rewarding to us old farts; without excluding anyone else, of course. But we do tend to appreciate it more as our reflexes start to slowly dwindle.

    And after reading and rereading is article, I cannot understand if he would like that or not. One moment he’s paying tribute to difficulty, the other he’s calling it stupid.

    • Harbour Master says:

      Hi Mario, it’s always been frustrating to me that I can’t engage in an on-line conversation on quiettech, with a feedback form offered instead of comments. Any plans to change that?
      The Retired Gambler, in a way, is an indirect follow up to an earlier piece that RPS linked to last year, about not having time to play what I want. I want to sit down and sink into stuff like AI War but live off scraps of time, suiting only casual play or small Flash fodder. I just finished Cryostasis after 6 months. And I love the puzzle-action of Everyday Shooter, which I am still playing through since January. It requires re-attempt after re-attempt – the thing is quite gripping.
      The main example I quoted, Zero Tolerance, was something I played in my mid-twenties and it had been such a long game that the fun had fallen out of it, and all I had left was a need to see the (underwhelming) end. At the time, I was just glad to be done with it. With a lot of the hardcore stuff on the Megadrive, there was usually some sort of reward ahead – crazier bosses, silly cutscenes and the like. ZT had none of that.
      These lines are drawn differently for all of us. I, myself, am not sure I would bundle Mirror’s Edge time trial in with “hardcore just for the sake of it” because there’s a certain beauty in its mastery. But it does require an awful lot of dedication. In my anecdotal experience, the achievements and games don’t often earn that time out of you and its the gambler compulsion – or completism if you like – that pushes you onward.

    • thurzday says:

      Reply failure–disregard this post.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      On a couple occasions I’ve considered that option. But as is, I have an hard time already keeping up with the blog to also have to maintain comments to any decent level. This, especially true because I have zero tolerance to abuse. I have quite a few articles waiting to be finished (none game related though, as I’ve been finding this theme increasingly annoying to cover), but can hardly find the time to actually do it. The blog has thus been on a sort of unmaintained state. Which is a shame. In any case, the feedback form is intended to be used by readers. What I usually do when an article receives a good quantity of feedback or someone says something interesting, is to produce a “Feedback article” with readers comments and my thoughts on that.

      Anyways, your article and this comment of yours echo most of my frustration with games these days. But I cannot handle casual games. I find them very frustrating in terms of actual gaming experience, since I’m always on the lookout for more meaningful (and especially, enduring) experiences. It’s one of the reasons why I’m such a critic of a certain indie school of thought. Strategy was thankfully one genre that always appealed to me, and I find this to have been the one that better scaled to my needs throughout the times. They have become increasingly engrossing, particularly with the emergence of 4x and deep strategy (most prefer to call it grand strategy, but I’m not too keen on that convention). They can play out as casual games on what comes to time-constraints, but support a long time dedication without becoming tiring. Hence why I chose to mention them as a possible choice.

      But yes, I agree fully that there’s a lack of, hmm, games-for-the-time-disabled. It seems the industry as a whole (indies included) immediately translate that into Casual Games, which really couldn’t be further from the truth. What we wish (well, what I wish at least) is not necessarily short, uneventful games. We still strongly desire deep and immersible gameplay. But not exigent. Games that don’t turn into a boring grind experience for anyone only finding the time to play them at short bursts, and as such incapable of developing any of the specific reflexes and other physical skills oftentimes required by these games.

      We are however a frontier generation, you and I. We belong to the generation of gamers who fully experienced the massification of video gaming right as it was happening. And we belong to the first video gaming generation on its late 30s and 40s, with jobs, married, and with bills, responsibilities and kids to contend with. It’s conceivable that as new generations join us, the market for middle-aged gamers and up increases; and with it the pressure on studios and publishers, as well as a better understanding that casual gaming isn’t really the only answer. It’s often not even the answer we are expecting.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      On a couple occasions I’ve considered that option. But as is, I have an hard time already keeping up with the blog to also have to maintain comments to any decent level. This, especially true because I have zero tolerance to abuse. I have quite a few articles waiting to be finished (none game related though, as I’ve been finding this theme increasingly annoying to cover), but can hardly find the time to actually do it. The blog has thus been on a sort of unmaintained state. Which is a shame. In any case, the feedback form is intended to be used by readers. What I usually do when an article receives a good quantity of feedback or someone says something interesting, is to produce a “Feedback article” with readers comments and my thoughts on that.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      On a couple occasions I’ve considered that option. But as is, I have an hard time already keeping up with the blog to also have to maintain comments to any decent level. This, especially true because I have zero tolerance to abuse. I have quite a few articles waiting to be finished (none game related though, as I’ve been finding this theme increasingly annoying to cover), but can hardly find the time to actually do it. The blog has thus been on a sort of unmaintained state. Which is a shame. In any case, the feedback form is intended to be used by readers. What I usually do when an article receives a good quantity of feedback or someone says something interesting, is to produce a “Feedback article” with readers comments and my thoughts on that.

      Anyways, your article and this comment of yours echo most of my frustration with games these days. But I cannot handle casual games. I find them very frustrating in terms of actual gaming experience, since I’m always on the lookout for more meaningful (and especially, enduring) experiences. It’s one of the reasons why I’m such a critic of a certain indie school of thought. Strategy was thankfully one genre that always appealed to me, and I find this to have been the one that better scaled to my needs throughout the times. They have become increasingly engrossing, particularly with the emergence of 4x and deep strategy (most prefer to call it grand strategy, but I’m not too keen on that convention). They can play out as casual games on what comes to time-constraints, but support a long time dedication without becoming tiring. Hence why I chose to mention them as a possible choice.

      But yes, I agree fully that there’s a lack of, hmm, games-for-the-time-disabled. It seems the industry as a whole (indies included) immediately translate that into Casual Games, which really couldn’t be further from the truth. What we wish (well, what I wish at least) is not necessarily short, uneventful games. We still strongly desire deep and immersible gameplay. But not exigent. Games that don’t turn into a boring grind experience for anyone only finding the time to play them at short bursts, and as such incapable of developing any of the specific reflexes and other physical skills oftentimes required by these games.

      We are however a frontier generation, you and I. We belong to the generation of gamers who fully experienced the massification of video gaming right as it was happening. And we belong to the first video gaming generation on its late 30s and 40s, with jobs, married, and with bills, responsibilities and kids to contend with. It’s conceivable that as new generations join us, the market for middle-aged gamers and up increases; and with it the pressure on studios and publishers, as well as a better understanding that casual gaming isn’t really the only answer. It’s often not even the answer we are expecting.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Your article and this comment of yours echo most of my frustration with games these days. But I cannot handle casual games. I find them very frustrating in terms of actual gaming experience, since I’m always on the lookout for more meaningful (and especially, enduring) experiences. It’s one of the reasons why I’m such a critic of a certain indie school of thought. Strategy was thankfully one genre that always appealed to me, and I find this to have been the one that better scaled to my needs throughout the times. They have become increasingly engrossing, particularly with the emergence of 4x and deep strategy (most prefer to call it grand strategy, but I’m not too keen on that convention). They can play out as casual games on what comes to time-constraints, but support a long time dedication without becoming tiring. Hence why I chose to mention them as a possible choice.

      But yes, I agree fully that there’s a lack of, hmm, games-for-the-time-disabled. It seems the industry as a whole (indies included) immediately translate that into Casual Games, which really couldn’t be further from the truth. What we wish (well, what I wish at least) is not necessarily short, uneventful games. We still strongly desire deep and immersible gameplay. But not exigent. Games that don’t turn into a boring grind experience for anyone only finding the time to play them at short bursts, and as such incapable of developing any of the specific reflexes and other physical skills oftentimes required by these games.

      We are however a frontier generation, you and I. We belong to the generation of gamers who fully experienced the massification of video gaming right as it was happening. And we belong to the first video gaming generation on its late 30s and 40s, with jobs, married, and with bills, responsibilities and kids to contend with. It’s conceivable that as new generations join us, the market for middle-aged gamers and up increases; and with it the pressure on studios and publishers, as well as a better understanding that casual gaming isn’t really the only answer. It’s often not even the answer we are expecting.

  19. mlaskus says:

    We wanted something to plant the seed of God’s word into the heart of children

    Yuck!

    • Vinraith says:

      Always good to have the names of some creepy people whose work you’d like to avoid. That “Gaming for God” article was very helpful, in this regard.

    • Dozer says:

      Do you like Lord Of The Rings? That’s the character of stealth-Christian fiction I’d like to see in computer games.

    • Vinraith says:

      Do you like Lord Of The Rings?

      Not particularly. Nevertheless, despite the open cribbing from Biblical elements it certainly doesn’t qualify as creepily evangelical, so I take your point.

    • Dozer says:

      Exactly. Going up to someone and evangelising at them is not really a good way of introducing someone to Christianity, whether in conversation or by writing a videogame to sell to them. Building a fictional world modelled on elements of the Christian understanding of this one is much better. I think that the beliefs of an author will carry into his or her work, whether intentionally or not – the call should be for Christians who are good game-writers/authors/developers/whatever to write really good games (and books and films and what have you) without feeling the need to be superficially Christian about it.

    • Premium User Badge AndrewC says:

      Then the discussion becomes ‘how much are the standard story constructions of games rooted in a Christian mindset?’, as to get annoyed at these evangelicals bringing their value in to games is to imply that games are, currently, ideologically neutral, which is daft.

      Now, maybe we should applaud them for at least assuming that games carry ideological content, as opposed to the ‘it’s just a game’ apologists who always trot out the ‘it means nothing’ defence whever some controversial game-content gets trotted out into the tabloid press.

    • Mil says:

      People look for Christian themes in TLOTR because it’s well known that Tolkien was a devout Christian, but I would say for a Fantasy work it’s below average in proximity to a Christian worldview. It doesn’t even sport your standard messianic special-kid-destined-to-save-the-world. There is a single creator god, but it isn’t worshipped and it’s completely absent from the plot. Maybe the closest it comes is having a single source for all evil, but that is hardly exclusively Christian.

      And, of course, Tolkien denied that TLOTR was meant as a Christian allegory: “As for any inner meaning or ‘message’, it has in the intention of the author none.”

    • Vinraith says:

      @Mil

      I’d argue the most overtly Christian thing about LotR is the notion that man is inherently sinful, personally.

    • Urthman says:

      Needs more Catechumen:

      http://www.oldmanmurray.com/features/72.html

      One of the hottest trends in shooters is the ability to target specific body parts. Instead of killing people, Catechumen has you converting them with swords that shoot the word of God. Does your engine support intra-model targeting? For instance, can I convert just the legs of a Roman soldier so that he starts running to church while his torso is still poking me with a spear? Cause that’d be wicked.

    • Mil says:

      @Vinraith: It’s been a while since the last time I read TLOTR, but I can’t say I remember that bit. Care to elaborate?

    • Vinraith says:

      @Mil

      It’s woven through the entire narrative, from what man does with the rings to the fact that if there’s a temptation to be fallen to, it’ll always be a human that falls to it. I’m sure it’s not something Tolkien would even have given thought to, man’s inherent sinfulness is so basic to the devoted Christian worldview that writing humans any other way simply wouldn’t occur to one.

    • stahlwerk says:

      I remember Tolkien explicitly said that he didn’t want to write christian analogy (as opposed to his friend C.S. Lewis), but that his observations about culture and human nature may have touched on the same [supposed, me] truths that religion touch upon.

    • Mist says:

      Even though I’m decidedly atheist, I think that there is a lot of space for Christian philosophy in games (or any other type of Philosophy for that matter..). The problem is that many of the more “evangelical” types aren’t so much interested in making you think (possibly because they themselves aren’t the greatest thinkers..), and thus try to spread Christianity by just bludgeoning you over the head with “you should believe in Jesus because otherwise you’re going to Hell!” (or even worse: “you should believe in Jesus… just because He is real!”). The popularity of reality-defying Creationism/biblical literalism also isn’t helping. A computer game that is trying to sell you the notion that the Noah’s ark thing really happened 4000 years ago is just not going to be very popular with the non-Christian audience.

      But the thing: there are, and have been, lots of intelligent people who gave the issue a lot of serious thought, and honestly came to the conclusion that the answers to the Big Questions of “who are we, where do we come from, where are we going, how should we act?” could be found in some flavor of Christianity. I think that they’re wrong, but a game that brings up some of the big questions (possibly only in the background), and then partially shows how you could come to a Christian answer would be pretty interesting.

      It could be as small and simple as a character preaching the value of forgiveness instead of the ever popular cycle of revenge/escalation that’s so common in games. (just started playing Far Cry 2 for example… “Hey there’s this awful civil war going on… solve it by GOING OUT AND KILLING LOADS OF RANDOM PEOPLE!!!” <<<—a more Christian game could improve on that idea I think..)

    • Mil says:

      @Vinraith:

      I would argue that the “falling into temptation” theme is pervasive in any mythology, including pre-Christian ones. It just something that works, maybe because it makes the characters more relatable (why isn’t this word in my dictionary?), or because it makes painful events feel less arbitrary.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      @stahlwerk,

      No doubt. Would be surprising at all if he didn’t. After all religion is a product of humanity. It reflects human condition. In writing about humanity, he can’t avoid the coming of someone drawing parallelisms.

      Of course, those comparisons only serve the purpose of those wishing to see beyond what the books intended. They don’t reflect the purpose of the author, or anyone else drawing different comparisons. We could, for argument sake, tie LotR with Islam, or WWII, or the fall of the Roman Empire.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Mist

      Actually Far Cry 2′s message is a fair bit more complex and grounded than you’re giving it credit for, though it doesn’t clearly indicate that until the end of the game. Suffice it to say the game is well aware that the protagonist is not making the situation better.

    • Zenicetus says:

      One big problem with the idea that Christian game authors could just create generically good novels, films, music, games etc. without being too overtly Christian, is that all the world religions (and many secular philosophies) teach the same ideas about living a good life, helping others, etc. Each religion just wraps these ideas in a different set of dogma and myth about the reasons why you should live that way..

      So, for a Christian game developer, it’s not enough simply to create a game that encourages good deeds, concern for others, respect for parents, etc. The same game could be made by an Islamic or Buddhist game developer. It has to somehow be wrapped up in the specific things that identify Christianity — acceptance of Christ, original sin, damnation for non-acceptance, and so on. That inevitably twists the message, and tends to alienate a secular audience.

    • bob_d says:

      CS Lewis is the more obvious Christian-allegory fantasy writer, and more their model for stealth proselytizing. Which is ironic, as reading CS Lewis novels as a child pretty much guaranteed I’d never become a Christian. To me at that age, the world seemed no different from the Greek mythology I was reading at the time – arbitrary, unforgiving and cruel.

    • thurzday says:

      @ Mist and Vinraith

      A game I found to be very Christian–more Christian than most self-professed “Christian” games, in fact–was Planescape: Torment. I will say nothing more here, because it would be a shame if I spoiled it for anyone.

      Of course, it’s not surprising it hasn’t gained a reputation as such. Most Christian mothers would probably take one look at it and say, “Demons? Fallen angels? Journeying through hell? Barely-dressed women? Get this Satanic filth out of my house.”

      If it affects anyone’s interpretation of my post, I’m Orthodox.

    • noom says:

      @Mist

      just started playing Far Cry 2 for example… “Hey there’s this awful civil war going on… solve it by GOING OUT AND KILLING LOADS OF RANDOM PEOPLE!!!” <<<—a more Christian game could improve on that idea I think..

      Agree with what you said, but that last comment is just begging to be poked at. Christianity and war go together like pancakes and maple syrup.

    • Kaira- says:

      I personally felt that Dragon Age: Origins had very strong christian undertones, to the point of making it nigh impossible to play an atheist-character without seeming like a total idiot. “No, these ashes that are stored in an urn out here and guarded by a strange spirit that reads my mind and fighting a ghost from my past and lots of ghosts who are strongly related to this female-Jesus character. The miraculous curing was also just a coincidence, they are just some dumb ashes.”

    • thurzday says:

      @ Kaira
      It was a bit silly for Bioware to even include “atheistic” options in that game when spiritual agents and realms (demons, the fade, the black citadel) were so evident. And shouldn’t you say that Dragon Age is merely theistic, rather than specifically Christian?

    • Kaira- says:

      @thurzday

      Theistic game it is of course, but as I said, some Christian undertones. Such as Andraste being some sort of female equivalent of Jesus, the curiosity of men causing their fall and evil (aka Darkspawn), dragons as the main threat (dragon being a symbol of Satan in Christian imagery) and so forth. YMMV, of course.

    • Nick says:

      All of those themes are quite common in mythology in general, nevermind religion. I think you see what you want to see.

    • Kaira- says:

      @Nick

      That is also true (common themes), but there is IMO a clear relation of Jesus-Andraste, and then I go on from that way to see other things. Other people see things otherwise. Do note though, I am not a Christian nor a religious person in general.

    • Mist says:

      @Vinraith: Good to know that Far Cry 2 is aware of the weird situation that it puts the player in.

      @Planescape Torment: Yeah, that game shows that exposition on what different groups think and why they think it can be pretty interesting. A similar game that involves relabeled denominations of Christianity could probably introduce people to the various Christian ideas without immediately scaring away the non-believers (although it might scare away the Christian mothers, as thurzday noted..)

    • jamesgecko says:

      @Zenicetus I don’t think it would need to include all that stuff, necessarily. A game with strong themes of grace and redemption could convey the central idea of Christianity well.

    • Josh W says:

      I’d love to see a game based on the principle of making peace between people, where you could not just play it non-lethal, but actually gain strength from getting a team together, making combat easier but making each extra person you added to the team harder to keep working together.

      Or a game that emphasised in it’s social mechanics how seeking status by itself actually just pisses people off, and how encouraging and bigging up other people can actually make you more respected. (Obviously I would want to stick in the real complexities there about short term vs long term gains etc.)

      Choice and consequence + ability to deal with the consequences you produce would be pretty good too.

      Or a game that hits you with loads of objectives and you have to work out which are wise to follow would be interesting.

      There are certain philosophical problems with trying to make a christian world in a game though, because of the idea of God being a person; basically the creator of the world (ie the game design team) would have to be constantly interacting with the game, otherwise it becomes fundimentally deist, or even gnostic. And even then you run the risk of taking seriously the idea that the game designer is God, and MMO developers have enough pressure from feature-demands!

      Maybe better to add christian stuff to the stock of insights you use when trying to sort out the feel and logic of game mechanics.

  20. laikapants says:

    40 minute interview with Gabe Newell (the 5th question clarifies the rumour about Valve no longer making single player games): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMgfPU9y3yo

    • Teddy Leach says:

      [Grumpy Teddy] I don’t play games to be sociable. How very presumptuous of Mr. Newell.

      [Happy Teddy] Well, that probably just means more co-op, which is good, because I’ve plenty of friends who enjoy co-op. We tend to record our bouts for the YouTubes, with our Skype conversations and commentary. A co-op Let’s Play, if you will.

      [Teddy] We don’t have a split personality. Yes, of course we don’t. Indeed. Well said, Teddy! Thank you, Teddy.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I don’t feel like searching in a 40 minutes interview with someone I lost most of my respect. If this comment doesn’t offend you, could you summarize what happens on question 5?

    • Dozer says:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMgfPU9y3yo&t=11m14s <<< see what I did at the end of the URL? I like Youtube.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Ah! That will help. Thanks.

    • Premium User Badge tomeoftom says:

      Dozer: omg I love that feature so much

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      I am not as smart as Gabe Newell.

  21. Premium User Badge AndrewC says:

    Perhaps, rather than call the bits of game design you don’t like names like ‘empty’, perhaps shape your argument about how the amount of free time you have affects how you approach games – ie your actual critical criteria – and the validity or this approach and, indeed, the validity of game design taking ‘amount of time we have’ into consideration. Nice high level design thinky-plops there.

  22. applecup says:

    I hope to God Arenanet manage to remember to put in some subtitles or text boxes or SOME indicator that NPCs are speaking. Not that they have a bad track record, but people get so caught up on VO they forget not everyone has perfect (or even passable) hearing. Even Valve don’t bother having their captions match what’s actually -being said- a lot of the time.

    • Riotpoll says:

      If I remember correctly all the voiced cutscenes/important dialogue were subtitled in the original, it has been a while since I saw any of them though! However for the background/idle chat I don’t really think it’s neccesary (I hate the speechbubbles that appear over peoples heads in some games).

  23. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I find it a bit disappointing that Minecraft has done some many wonderful things for people, except — judging from all these beautiful tear-eyed articles — being fun to play.

    More seriously though, it’s when a game starts being discussed in these terms that one should know it’s time to stop. Take a break, go read a book or play something else, least the damage to your common sense and good judgment becomes permanent. But I want to also reassure you with my handkerchief and this bit of information: Minecraft didn’t save you from a life without imagination. You always had it in you, son. You just selectively chose to not remember those other times when you also exercised it.

    • Wilson says:

      @Mario – I dunno, the title of the article is certainly a little bit ‘tear-eyed’ as you put it, but I found the content fairly down to earth. It also seemed fairly clear to me that he was having fun playing it, and that he wrote the article because he was surprised at enjoying a sandbox type game when previously he hadn’t found one he liked.
      I agree that it probably doesn’t really say anything about his level of imagination though, but hey, it makes an interesting title (albeit a slightly misleading one too).

      Edit: It looks like he’s just found something that clicks with him and that’s why he’s having ideas, because he’s involved with it and the community etc. I find most things are interesting after you put a certain amount of effort into them.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      I think this paragraph makes it pretty obvious that he thinks the game is “fun to play” as you put it:

      This is the secret of the game’s success. Minecraft has a range of different potential focuses at any one time – survival, combat, exploration, creating, improving – and they all combine wonderfully. Too much chaos or too much order and this game wouldn’t work, but Minecraft allows me to strike the balance by encouraging me to switch between these different play experiences. I’ve returned from unexpected cavern explorations and monster battles with a backpack full of minerals and a head full of memories of harrowing darkness. These experiences leave me craving the orderly pleasure of gently laying wiring and creating my railway system – a process I can fully control. I know that something unpredictable is just around the corner when I want it.

      And I completely agree with his assessment in terms of Minecraft being an inspirational game. “Inspirational” in that it actively encourages the player into being creative through its mechanics. And really, it can apply to a variety of games. Trackmania, for instance, is a game with an incredibly weird art style, blending things that would normally be pedestrian and placing them in ways that are completely unrealistic. I find it “inspirational” for me because when I make tracks in the editor I definitely think in those terms whereas other track editors don’t “inspire me” to do so, even if they have roughly the same toolset.

      You seem to think he’s giving Minecraft too much credit, but I disagree. Yes, the inspiration was obviously in him this whole time, but I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss the fact that Minecraft was obviously the catalyst for him discovering that kind of imagination in him. It’s possible, and it can come from a variety of different forms of media.

    • Xercies says:

      I find it weird that I am quite a creative person outside of Minecraft, but as soon as I get into Minecraft I can’t really create anything and I get very annoyed having to find all the rare materials to create things and give up half way through.

    • pipman3000 says:

      minecraft has some of the best viral marketing around for a game that isn’t even good.

    • Dozer says:

      @Xercies (Xerxes?) – I am exactly the same. I find the Minceraft world to be quite empty and purposeless. What’s the point in building a railway line if there’s nothing to build it from or to, and acquiring enough iron to do so is the hardest challenge the game presents?

      It does make the monuments people build much more significant, because each block was quarried and placed ‘by hand’, but who is to see them?

      Dwarf Fortress is better (YMMV) because it’s more challenging. Building some fantastic monument at the same time as managing an expanding fortress, keeping everyone fed, training a military and conquering the caverns and defeating the sieges – that’s more rewarding. Even if you need a crazy mind or third-party rendering software to visualise whatever it is that you built.

      The most interesting ‘chaos vs order’ moments I’ve had in gaming came yesterday, playing Mount & Blade: Warbands to the most advanced level I’ve ever got to. Wandering around Calradia with the remnant of what had been an unstoppable force of 60 heavily armoured knights, who can defeat an army three times their size with only two or three casualties. Not having enough time to go back to the homelands to recruit villagers to replace them and train up to knighthood, because my adopted nation is always at war with one or two of its neighbours and there’s always an urgent need to defend our castles and towns from capture. Going into battle and hiding behind a hill because my character is still heavily wounded from the previous fight, trying to pick a safe moment to dash out and squash some helpless, vulnerable archer. Then suddenly we’re at peace and I can’t pay the wage-bill because all my revenue came from defeating enemy armies and selling the survivors to the slavers and their weapons to the villages in exchange for food. Making the tradeoff between using the last 1000 coins to pay for my trained soldiers to upgrade a tier or to save it for their wage bill. Being awarded a castle and needing to decide how many soldiers to garrison there, and how many to keep with me to defend or recapture the neighbouring town, and how many of the scarce new recruits to train up as knights (who are desperately needed for field battles) or archers and infantry (who can defend and attack castles and towns much more effectively). The chaos being the battles and sieges; the order being peacefully cruising round the villages recruiting people, doing quests, and wiping out helpless groups of bandits.

      (edit: good grief that’s a big block of text. tl;dr? Me too.)

    • Miles of the Machination says:

      “More seriously though, it’s when a game starts being discussed in these terms that one should know it’s time to stop. Take a break, go read a book or play something else, least the damage to your common sense and good judgment becomes permanent.”

      What an odd thing to say – and how weird to preface it with “More seriously”. Once you’re interested in something enough to write a lot of words about why, you should immediately put it down and move onto something else in case being attatched to one thing for so long starts to damage your brain? Would you say the same for movies and books, or do you just think games are unworthy of analysis?

  24. Bob Moron says:

    “The place we are going to speak about in this post is really hard to visit. It’s surrounded by a fence and guarded by special men with dogs.”

    Special men! With dogs!

    • Premium User Badge Durkonkell says:

      “Guarded by special men with dogs” nominated for RPS tagline for next week.

      You have corrected my bad day. Thanks, Bob. Thbob.

    • stahlwerk says:

      In full support of this motion.

    • Dozer says:

      And thus it was so. RPS is awesome.

    • Premium User Badge Durkonkell says:

      Yay! This is great day!

      (Also: Thank ye for the link to English Russia, RPS. It’s a rather interesting site).

  25. Donjonson says:

    The Handsome Family song just sounds like a rip-off of the Pogues… maybe that’s not such a bad thing.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVUZuVZWHkk

  26. Rii says:

    So, ArenaNet hey?

    Everything that comes out about Guild Wars 2 betrays this sense of casual mastery and the linked interview is no exception. It’s interesting to contrast their thoughts and decisions re: voiceover work with BioWare’s. It’s practical, insightful, and even humble in the lack of attention being drawn to their efforts in contrast to TOR. I guess that’s partly because ArenaNet actually has other stuff to talk about.

  27. Sunjammer says:

    How do you guys feel about Ravedeath 1972? I’m torn.. There are bits on it that are absolutely gorgeous but I can’t help but feel it’s pretty weak overall compared to Radio Amor or An Imaginary Country…

  28. Zwebbie says:

    Re: Gaming for God:

    Because kids these days aren’t as familiar with Arks and temple mounts as they used to be, you’ve got to go with the context if you’re making Christian games, like so:

    Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy BFG into his place: for all they that take the BFG shall perish with the BFG. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of cheat codes? But how then shall the walkthroughs be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

    And voilà, a valuable gaming and life lesson is learned, there are more important things than a high score.

    • Dozer says:

      Why are you using such archaic language?

      Cheat codes? BFG? Does this look like 1995 to you?

    • Dozer says:

      Seriously though, after reading bits of the Old Testament, I’ve thought “this would make a great storyline for a computer game”. A space RTS where you’re leading a race of spaceship-dwellers out of slavery in an evil empire and trying to find a new homeworld. With some vital central mothership as an analogue to the fancy God-tent (I forget the actual name) and a McGuffin of some kind as the Ark of the Covenant. Perhaps it could be the remnant technology of an extinct civilisation to give a kind of ‘cavemen operating nuclear reactor’-type vibe – “we don’t know how this works but it does. But do not touch the operational end of the device, or immerse the device in water even partially, or you die”.

      Wait a sec. How much of what I just wrote is from Homeworld and Homeworld 2?

  29. MythArcana says:

    I’d be surprised if the Taliban could even figure out how to plug in a monitor to a computer tower let alone master and enjoy American culture. Look at that rathole UBL was inhabiting when he was caught with the video clearly showing the chaotic wiring on the walls just waiting to catch the place on fire. Taliban Counterstrike LAN parties by night, Oprah and Brett Michaels during the day. Yeah.

    All those guys are out digging more gopher holes to hide in right now. I doubt they are really concerned with their 3DMark scores and cloud servers. lol

    • Rii says:

      “American culture”

      Does not compute.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      Edgey!

    • Dozer says:

      Well, if they can figure out how to fly a Boeing 767…

    • pipman3000 says:

      more like
      plop culture

    • pipman3000 says:

      hey guys more like american’t! “culture”

      culture more like “culture
      get it, like the bacteria and fungus cultures

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I’d be surprised if the Taliban could even figure out how to plug in a monitor to a computer tower

      They surely learned how to fly modern passenger planes. Were I you, I’d be more thoughtful on what they can and cannot do and what they know and don’t know. And if you think you are fighting a bunch of cavemen, that won’t speak much of your military.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      UBL? Aren’t Fox News the only folks who call him Usama?

  30. noom says:

    EDIT: Reply fail

  31. dethtoll says:

    Wow, that Handsome Family link created a new fan. Thanks!

  32. Rath says:

    Re: the Eurogamer article on christian gaming.

    If the “Passion Of The Christ” moment for games that Chris Skaggs hopes for ever does come to pass, and the conservative media locks on to whatever the product might be and advertises the living fuck out of it, I fear that widespread acceptance and acknowledgement of that product might prompt others to jump on the bandwagon and before you know it you’ve got some sort of insidious scientology promotion game rearing its’ ugly head.

    “Hey, you know that christian clone of ‘Phoenix Wright – Attorney At Law’ where you play as a Texas County prosecutor and get to re-do the Smalkowski vs Hardesty case and change the outcome? Well that’s selling in record numbers and generating a ton of cash. How’s about we get our own game on the market and flog it from the scientology centres? Cash flow and subliminal messaging rolled into one, how did we not think of this before? If our members want their kids to play it, we can even charge them for it too. Make it subscription based AND incorporate micro-transactions. *impish glee* Oh, and put Tom Cruises’ face on the cover and it’ll sell a million on that alone.”

    On a completely seperate note, I’m surprised this weeks edition of The Sunday Papers didn’t mention the story about the Chinese father who dragged his son out of an internet cafe, stripped him, tied his hands up and dragged him naked through the streets for defying a ban said father imposed on playing video games. I won’t link to the article as I don’t want to give the Mail any more traffic, but suffice it to say the comments thread ranged from “This is apalling child abuse” to “Stop whining lefties, all British parents should do this to the rabid commoner child-scum”.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I don’t understand why it’s fine to be openly anti scientologist but not anti christian.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      That’s not what he said.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I think he clearly dislikes scientology, which is fine, they are pretty messed up. However their beliefs are no more crazy than any other religions.

      However, if I wrote something similar to what he did, but about christians out would most likely be met with a different response. this is in no way meant to be attacking the op. I just find it amusing that some religions are regarded as serious and others as crazy or a con.

    • Rath says:

      I am actually quite anti-theistic in general, however I just didn’t feel it necesssary to boilerplate a disclaimer about it to the post for the reason that, like the French authorities, I don’t actually regard scientology as a religion but more like a pyramid scheme with psuedo-religious trappings.

  33. Berzee says:

    Looking intently forward to reading the Christian Games article and attendant comments upon this very thread about it — sadly I am schwamped with work at the moment and will only arrive on the tail end of the discussion, I fear. :( Oh internet, you do outpace me.

  34. Premium User Badge Big Murray says:

    My paper says “John Walker dead” …

  35. Dontaze Mebro says:

    Fuck the Taliban!