The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on August 21st, 2011 at 12:45 pm.


Sundays are for contemplation of stupidity. Can it be defeated? Possibly, but we rely on the clever people remaining steadfast for year after year as the waves of stupid crash in like a tsunami. One day, perhaps, the clever shall be able to rest. But not today. Today they must write, and write they do. Here is some of what they offer us.

  • Troy has finished up his Nations As Characters series. It’s one of the most interesting long pieces (if you like the history and the strategy) to have emerged this year: “Historical strategy games owe a debt to science fiction games, because there is an assumption that two races that evolved on different planets will have different talents or cultures. Master of Orion, Starcraft, and maybe some fantasy games, too, showed how differentiating factions made gameplay more interesting and varied. Playing the Civ 1 French wasn’t that much different from the Civ 1 Egyptians. Klackons and Psilons, though…”
  • Okay, so there’s been a lot of Id-related, and specifically Carmack-related materials coming out of QuakeCon and so forth, but Kris Graft’s interview with John Carmack is splendidly comprehensive. It also gives you a taste of the world he lives in: “My marching orders to myself here are, I want game loads of two seconds on our PC platform, so we can iterate that much faster. And right now, even with solid state drives, you’re dominated by all the things that you do at loading times, so it takes this different discipline to be able to say “Everything is going to be decimated and used in relative addresses,” so you just say, “Map the file, all my resources are right there, and it’s done in 15 milliseconds.”
  • More Eve Online scamming: “The same story applies to ourselves. It’s been a lot, really a LOT of work. We fulfilled over 800 withdrawal requests. We answered over 6,000 mails and processed more than 15,000 payouts. Its been an incredible event. And, isn’t that beautiful after all? This can only be done in EVE Online. Enjoy this game, it’s one of a kind. We’d like to conclude with the words of CCP : EVE is real!”
  • Andrew Doull’s proceduralism series continues with some thoughts on procedural architecture design: “When we talk about architecture in game play, we don’t think of buildings and naves and antechambers: we refer to choke points, and cover, and objectives. The topology of the space is much more important than its aesthetic or fidelity. The most successful (and perhaps only successful) procedurally generated game spaces so far are all based on Rogue, with its simple room and corridor design.”
  • An article about Kim Shee-Yoon, a female Starcraft II pro – it’s a shame this isn’t an interview.
  • If you are interested in strategy games you should listen to Three Moves Ahead.
  • Part two of Alexander and Hamilton’s Deus Ex letters.
  • It won’t be getting coverage on RPS, for obvious reasons, but I can’t help be interested in Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor. EG’s preview: “It’s a brilliantly mechanical interface, all whirring steel, cheap LEDs and occasional spouts of steam; a future war told with the trappings of World War 2-era machinery.”
  • That mysterious “Big Robot” games studio puts out some test videos of their second game…
  • VG247 take some time to analyse the biggest stories from GamesCom: “PC’s not a “primary platform” – as Capps put it – for most developers. Some don’t even mention that their demos are running on PC unless directly confronted about it. The biggest gaming platform in the world’s evolving in a big way, but it looks like developers haven’t quite caught up just yet.”
  • I missed this previously, but Killscreen’s Duke Nukem Forever review is quite the thing: “reviewing Duke Nukem Forever is a bit like reviewing your adolescence. You are being asked to tell the drunken, spray-tanned uncle that his moment has passed, or you have caught your high-school teacher sipping margaritas as gargantuan as his loneliness at Applebee’s. Duke is having his Norma Desmond moment. “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.””
  • Nightmare Mode talk to Michael Samyn from Tale Of Tales in a sprawling interview. Here’s a taste: “The thing that makes me hopeful and fills me with confidence is exactly the raw capacity for beauty and immersion [that] contemporary video games display. And also the clear desire in their designs to be more than just playthings. Video games now want to tell stories, want to take us away, immerse us in their worlds, etc. Sometimes, when the demands of the formal game play are relaxed, they get very close to fulfilling this dream. It feels like any minute now, video games are going to “break through the game barrier”. And then they will become the rich medium that we have all been seeing in it for years, the medium that will be to the 21st century what film was to the 20th.”
  • This review on Pop Matters reminds me how much good material they are putting out.
  • CVG talks to Frank Gibeau about possible remakes from the EA stable: “”We’ve got 25 years of good IPs and I’ve worked on a few of them in my career like Road Rash and the Strike series. So I have a strong affinity for a lot of the things we’ve done in the past.”
  • Susan Greenfield talks about how new technologies “might” be changing the way the human mind works. You think, Ms Greenfield? I’d argue that any significant behavioural adaptation is going to change how our brains work – even the most cursory look at evidence for brain plasticity reveals that. But then she goes on to argue that the lessons we learn from gaming might be that “there are no consequences for your actions”. Yes, because the net result of playing games is that we believe them to be lessons about the real world. We don’t think they are IMAGINARY or anything. Jesus Christ.
  • Awesome vintage space exploration photos.
  • Beautiful sci-fi vignette construction on Bldgblog.

Music this week is from A Winged Victory For The Sullen.

More soon.

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110 Comments »

  1. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    That Susan Greenfield article is a bit of a farce, brains adapt quite easily, probably one of the reasons we got to where we are :>

    what a thing!

    also, steel battalion looks intriguing.

    • gwathdring says:

      That guy’s talks are just as farcical. He’s supporting this whole Left Brain/Right Brain nonsense which most neurologists and psychologists stopped believing ages ago.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPjhfUVgvOQ&feature=related

      There is no such discrepancy. Emotional regulation comes from both hemispheres, and there are logical processes in both hemispheres. He has this strange mix of legitimate wisdom in handling problems, legitimate science and terminology, and utterly ridiculous, outdated or pseudo-scientific teachings. In short, he’s a self-help guru with a surprisingly large amount of legitimate science content–though that’s a small compliment given his competitors.

      That out of the way, yes our brains are always changing based on our behaviors. But to say the “physical” nature of our brains changes is a little misleading. In extreme circumstances we can re-appropriate parts of our brain that are typically used for specific tasks. This is seen in stroke and head injury victims who regain full functionality despite permanent phsyical damage to parts of the brain. However, while there are many dedicated regions in our brain, none of these areas are exclusive and there are many perfectly healthy ordinary individuals who mix-and match signals and locations to an extent. However, neuroscientists have developed rudimentary techniques for “reading” the minds of MRI participants, identifying which in a series of common objects they are thinking of based purely on the brain images. From brain images of a bunch of common objects (hammer, house, chair, etc) scientists were able to build a computer program that identified which image out of 1000 images it had not previously seen brain images for that patients were patients were being shown, with about 80% accuracy. In other words, despite all of this, there are enough constants in the way we perceive our worlds and store data that certain types of thinking are universally recognizable.

      Our neural pathways change everytime we build new connections and … new neural pathways. So yes, thinking about things can sometimes change the physical nature of our brains. But this is misleading as these changes are very small. They are not species wide and they still allow scientists and computer programs that know our brains well to recognize our basic patterns of brain function. It is somewhat like saying that by changing lanes you effect the flow of traffic. This is certainly true. In the short term, you can start a traffic wave or an accident or other effect that lasts from minutes to hours. But the road isn’t really moving. It takes significant damage or change in surroundings to initiate the sorts of large scale physical changes implied by either this video or the article in question. And the internet may well provide that change in surroundings … though evidence is scarce on the matter and I personally don’t think it is as large an effect as has been suggested by articles like this.

      More substantial, I feel, would be the effects on education, learning, and social aptitude (both positive and negative in all categories). These are the technological effects that will dramatically alter our mental landscapes, without needing to change our genetic code or evolutionary pathway to do so.

    • steviesteveo says:

      It’s a little sad with Greenfield, she’s an incredibly eminent scientist who seems to have something particular against this and it brings down her other work when she “just has a discussion” about something because there’s no evidence for her rely on.

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    • YourMessageHere says:

      The thing about the Susan Greenfield thing is that I think she’s got some good insight and some terrible misperception rather mixed in together. I think the current news regarding exams is a case in point – years of ever-increasing record high scores show pretty transparently how understanding is losing out to just ‘knowing’. This is ‘education’ designed not around teaching people to understand and be able to make use of knowledge, but around teaching people to remember and regurgitate that knowledge with only the flimsiest conception of what it actually means. Universities are getting this way too, now. If you want to actually think and understand, you have to find your own way to do it, because the education system sure as shit isn’t going to teach you how. Of course, plenty of people still manage to.

      Obviously she’s got no idea about games and the ever-popular mythical inability to determine reality from game world, but that’s not special or new; it’s depressingly common in people who find games alien to their aesthetic sensibilities. What I find most amazing in that video is: “if you’re doing something that doesn’t have meaning, what would that say about you?” Well, you tell me, what does it say about people who play sports, or who go down the pub for a drink, or go for a nice stroll of an evening? That they enjoy fun? Oh no!

  2. Inigo says:

    Awesome vintage space exploration photos.

    I was disappointed to find a complete lack of suffocating dogs and chimps.

  3. shitflap says:

    That Eve article annoys me in a way I can’t really articulate.
    “We ~did~ scam you, but chill, it was all part of your “journey”"
    Arseholes.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      That attitude is pretty pervasive in Eve. Becoming numb to the guilt of exploding hapless newbies and their hard-earned ships is part of the experience, too.

    • ShineDog says:

      Well, yes. Eve is designed around being a cuthroat world of corporate and criminal warfare. That is what the game is. Scamming is absolutely part and parcel of the Eve experience. You may or may not be able to avoid it, depending on how smart you are about things.

    • JackShandy says:

      I’m big into emergent stories, so I love this stuff. In the end, would EvE be interesting if you didn’t risk losing everything?

    • shitflap says:

      I too enjoy the stories of collapse of corps and blood-feuds and all that metagame griefing stuff that comes along from playing, but to just dress it up as offering people who got ripped off a “journey” or an “experience” seems offensive to me somehow.
      I think I’d be less bothered if the article just said in caps, “We reamed you, wipe your mouth and move on, we go lie in your piles of ISK now and laugh, enjoy ratting & mining, you suckas”, kinda like the end of Layer Cake..

    • Anarki says:

      Can someone explain that Eve story to me? It seems they wrote about how they did it and why they did it but not what they actually did…

    • Janek says:

      Anarki: By the looks of it, they built up an investment banking business, then ran off with all the money (just over a trillion isk). Pretty standard stuff really. But man looking at the account page some people had a metric shitload of cash invested – over 30 billion isk in three cases. Man.

    • Stijn says:

      I don’t really get it. What exactly did Phaser Inc. do? I got from the article that they made lots of ISK by doing stuff with ads, or something, but it does miss a concise “What we did” paragraph.

    • formivore says:

      So a trillion ISK, that’s something like $25,000 USD (I got that number of an ISK selling site).

      It looks like it was a pure pyramid scheme. Just pretend you are making investments but actually it is just BS.

    • rayne117 says:

      The Great Scam, a story of EVE.

      http://www.wirm.net/nightfreeze/part1.html

      I’ll post this bad boy on everything EVE related until it becomes common knowledge. Such a great, great story. I have no interest in playing EVE at all (got the trial and played for a few hours, not my thing in any way) yet the story held me so.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Jim, is this the same “scam pyramid” you wrote about in your book?

    • nootron says:

      That Eve story is the story of the internet. Once people become personally unaccountable for their actions, the majority turn into evil assholes. Cognitive dissonance (“I am a good person at heart”) forces one to create a logical structure around which these behaviors are personally tolerable. In Eve, its “well its legal”. The personal anguish caused can easily be assuaged when you tell yourself “its not against the game rules”, quickly followed by “Its a game”, followed by “nobody got physically hurt” over and over and over again until that internal dissonance subsides.

      I am a good person at heart. Its just the internet.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Right, but the story of Eve *is* that it is a game, where the internet is not. Part of the point of what makes it an exciting game is that emotional blow of losing stuff that you have put time into accruing. The feeling that you are taking a risk – and knowing your opponent feels the same – is why the game is interesting. For victory to be more meaningful it has to matter. Whether that’s in scamming or in combat, the reason it is interesting in Eve is precisely that people are losing something more “real” than they might be in other games.

      Not quite the same as people being dicks on the internet, although obviously it’s very similar.

    • Kadayi says:

      @nootron

      Reading what you wrote made me instantly think of the financial collapse and all the bankers tbh.

    • dsi1 says:

      For those of you thinking how ‘wrong’ this scam was, how ‘wrong’ is it to take the territory of your neighbors? To destroy their ships before they were ever used, or even finished being built?

      The market is PvP just as much as actually shooting the enemy, only you destroy ships before the idea of building them was ever had.

    • rayne117 says:

      Glad people like to discuss that story. :3

    • shitflap says:

      @rayne117

      Cheers, I love that story, I’ve been looking for it for ages

  4. JackShandy says:

    Michael Samyn just gets my goat. And that interviewer! It’s the guy you’re talking to that we’re interested in, man, why are you loading us down with paragraphs or your opinions? “Personally, I’ve never been able to justify making a piece of art with the intent to sell it.” – Good grief.

    But I’ve been playing Daggerfall and Jagged Alliance 2, and everything seems beautiful.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Hehe! Congratulations, you have written the standard Michael Samyn response!

      Also: Oh, Daggerfall.

    • JackShandy says:

      How on earth did people survive back in the day? I’ve spent half an hour being killed by rats about 40 times.

    • soldant says:

      Every time I read anything from anyone in Tale of Tales, all I hear is “I am a super awesome artist bringing the future to the unwashed, uncultured gaming world. Your medium is backwards, but we’ll drag it kicking and screaming into the world of art!” Also, nice justification for charging for their art. ‘If there isn’t a pricetag, nobody cares.’

    • Cinnamon says:

      He only deserves a standard boiler plate diss since his opinions are similarly dull and predictable.

    • Freud says:

      “How on earth did people survive back in the day?”

      Evolution.

      (well, they adopted by making easier games).

    • Lambchops says:

      So can I assume this is just the standard Michael Samyn interview/article where you start off thinking “good for you glad you’re trying something different, even though it isn’t my cup of tea” until he throws away any goodwill the reader might have towards him by claiming that everything else is rubbish and being utterly negative and uninspiring?

      That’s pretty much the impression I get even from just the small quote from it.

      Think I’ll pass this time.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      Tale of Tales frustrates me to no end. It’s like a guy who paints with his feces saying “Man, it’s such a shame I’m the only one doing anything worthwhile with this painting stuff.”

    • RagingLion says:

      I dunno, I could see his angle and understand it and agreed with most of it. You have to take a number of steps backwards when looking at interactive media so that you include the potential of everything that doesn’t exist yet (I’m not just speaking theoretically – I can imagine the broad shape of number of different directions that will be explored in the future I reckon) but I find it mostly makes sense in that context.

    • Chuck84 says:

      He does come across as a parody of a vapid, self-absorbed “auteur”. Is he a parody? I don’t know, having never heard of Tale of Tales. Maybe i’m missing the joke, i couldn’t finish the piece.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “Is he a parody?”

      Apparently not.

    • GBoyzJay says:

      “How on earth did people survive back in the day? I’ve spent half an hour being killed by rats about 40 times.”

      Heh, you should have tried Robinson’s Requiem… [oops, last bit was for another comment thread!]

  5. McDan says:

    Ah, finally got the the papers only an hour late, damn does soldner make you want to keep playing so much. The deus ex article is brilliant once again. Although I think nearly anything to do with it is excellent. And Nations as characters, wow, that’s all really.

  6. Loopy says:

    That article by Becky Chambers on the Korean female Starcraft player “Eve” is really something. I’ve come across similar attitudes to girls many times over the last six years playing WoW, but quite often in my experience, they turn out to be far better players than the guys that are baiting them.

    A girl I know (she doesn’t play much any more, although we’re still friends) was the GM of a guild I was in for a long time, and was one of the best tanks I knew on the server. The question as to whether this Korean girl deserves her place on the team or not I think is pretty moot, the team leaders can obviously see some potential in her, beyond whatever other “benefits” she might obviously bring to the team, or they wouldn’t have picked her.

    Sadly, as far as girl (pro) gamers are concerned, it seems the “net” doesn’t change much at all, and I can’t see it changing any time soon either as long as the hormonal screaming male masses can hide behind the cloak of anonymity.

    • JellyD says:

      I think that the main problem was that she isn’t very good, and that there are MUCH better (female) players then her. Then again I don’t really know much about this, but this is what I’ve heard.

    • Starky says:

      Actually that article is pretty damn unfair, most of the criticism of SlayerS_Eve in the Starcraft community* was fairly legitimate – this girl is a diamond level player – which in Korea is good, good enough to get her (mid level) Masters League, in the EU or NA, but is pretty damn terrible compared to anyone in any pro team (Korea or not).
      *by community I mean places like teamliquid.net, and not the bnet forums for they are a cesspool and do not represent the SC2 community (not the community who care about the game, esports and pro level matches).

      Still Eve was chosen for her pretty face, there are female masters and players in Korea already. Female players much, much better than this girl – and what pissed off the community was that she was chosen to be a pretty mascot for the team, not a real team member.

      They say they hired her as a project to train her up – but it seems to me that is an insult to the female players who are already fairly close to pro status.

      So there you have it, the issue most SC2 tournament scene followers had, wasn’t that slayers signed a girl – I think most people who watch pro level SC2 regularly would welcome female players – no the problem was they hired a girl based on her looks more than her ability.
      She’s not pro level, there are female players in Korea who with a bit of a support could be (maybe not winning GSL, but at least getting into code A and maybe placing in some internationals or big online events.

    • Loopy says:

      As someone who doesn’t follow the SC2 scene at all, and is coming at this from an outside perspective, unfortunately for the purists I think that their are commercial realities here that have to be taken into account.

      True, she may not be the very best player that they could have picked out of all the female players available, but I still think they must have seen something worth working on in her from a “Pro” perspective, or why bother picking a girl that can play SC2 at all, they might as well just pick “random girl x with the prettiest face” and be happy with selling t-shirts with her face plastered all over them. or whatever merchandising they do with these events now.

      The hardcore followers may not like it, but I’ve a suspicion that whatever corporate backing they have will have had a say in this decision too. Money talks at the end of the day, and maybe she is the best compromise they could agree on with their sponsors between girl who can play SC2 well enough/ girl who looks great plastered on a t-shirt or mug and sold to the drooling masses.

    • merakai says:

      From what I’ve seen, Slayers_Eve wasn’t chosen over any other female players because of her “looks”. And in fact, she might be one of the best female players (To be determined), with only a few notable female players in US/EU Masters League (which isn’t as competitive as the korean ladders). A lot of the arguments over her rank was due to other skilled MALE players being left out, not other female ones.
      The other notable female player who is arguably more skilled is Seo Ji Soo “TossGirl” who plays Starcraft 1 on a pro team.

  7. StranaMente says:

    I’d like to point out a nice thourough examination of Carmack Keynote, which is at the same time fully understandable by common human beings (and uncommon one like lawyers – i. e.: me) http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=12569 It’s in three part, but it’s totally worth the time.

  8. Raziel_Alex says:

    Jim, where’s the Deus Ex WIT?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      All DXHR reviews are embargoed by SE until the 23rd of August.

    • Raziel_Alex says:

      Thanks, can’t believe they don’t have enough trust for this game.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      That’s… That’s not a good sign.

    • Raziel_Alex says:

      I’m not worried, actually I’m hyped as fuck, haven’t been like this since New Vegas was out. It seems everyone who already played DXHR likes it a lot, so I’m all high these days because of it. So the fact that there’s an embargo on it is pretty surprising.

    • shoptroll says:

      I think S-E tends to be very embargo heavy for everything. At least that’s the impression I’ve gotten from the staff at RPGamer.

    • Mman says:

      “That’s… That’s not a good sign.”

      Most game reviews are embargoed regardless of the game’s quality now; it’s just one of those dumb things that has come into practice in recent times.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Don’t really see a problem with embargoes until the release date. It gives everyone a bit of time to play the game and write a proper review, rather than rushing to be the first to publish. We have the internet now, and the moment it’s released, you’ll be able to read a number of reviews before purchasing.

      Preorder bonuses, on the other hand. Those are pure evil.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Actually it’s the 22nd. Tomorrow at 5pm UK time.

    • Garg says:

      I think this is fairly standard for big name games isn’t it? It’s so certain publications (like PCG in this case) can get a review out before the online sites.

    • Kadayi says:

      I wonder what the odds are on a ‘worst game ever’ ‘Wot I think. are? I’m curious to see whether Kieron will contribute to it as well, being Mr Deus Ex.

    • arccos says:

      Embargos don’t really mean anything anymore, other than the publishers have a media push they’re trying to coordinate. Don’t read anything into it.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      Is this a digital embargo only, or an embargo for all except select publications? The reason I ask is because I’ve seen a DXHR review in PC Gamer US on magazine stands already. Which is fairly par for the course, embargoes generally are there to protect print publications, are they not? However, I’m curious as to who exactly is allowed to put up reviews and who isn’t.

    • GBoyzJay says:

      Review embargoes work like this: You publish before an embargo, the company generally doesn’t trust you anymore. It’s a politeness thing: ask for the right to preview, publish reviews only on/after release… with monthly mags, it’s apparently a *teeny* bit more lenient, but with sites… Nope, can’t publish a darn minute before!

  9. Moni says:

    I’ve been on the fence about the whole Slayers_Eve thing, I’ve never really thought about how I feel about affirmative action.

    I think one of the most common sentiments is that, by signing a substandard player, the Slayers team has been weakened. In hindsight, this is an absurd idea; though they practise as a team, they compete as individuals.

    I’m now completely in favour of Slayers’s gamble on this unknown player. I’m afraid of Starcraft becoming a hideous boy’s club like motor sport, and taking a brave and unpopular first step like this deserves respect and support.

    • JellyD says:

      Ooh talking about girls in Motorsport. Over here in the Netherlands there was this girl who in here debut race in the dutch supercar challenge finished third. I say girl because she is 16. She took on much more experienced racers and still won.

      IMO that is the way to introduce female’s to the sport. Take one that is really really good. If Eve turns out to be really really good, that would be awesome. If not, that would be horrible and probably only further the stereotype that girls can’t play Starcraft II.

    • Starky says:

      No the common sentiment is that by signing a substandard female player based on her pretty face, they’ve damaged the chances of much more skilled (but perhaps less attractive) female players from earning spots, and been taken seriously, on pro teams.

      Bottom line is most of the serious SC2 following community (as in those who pay real money to watch GSL, or NASL and the like) would welcome female players, so long as they had the skills to compete with the men. No one is expecting a woman to come from nowhere and win code S, but even doing reasonably well in code A would be a noteworthy achievement.

      Eve is nothing more than a decently skilled amateur and team mascot – I seriously doubt she’ll ever become known for her ability at playing the game.

    • iaguz says:

      I followed all this SlayerS_Eve business since the start. It’s a mix of 3 things:

      1) first up it’s title is wrong. SC2′s first female pro gamer is from Taiwan and goes by the name of Luway. I can’t find any good webpages in english about her. Tried googling Luway and I found what I think is her blog and whilst the pictures MIGHT be her I cannot confirm. You can see a bo3 of her beating Australias top Zerg Andrew “Moonglade” Pender here: http://www.twitch.tv/benjisc2/b/291521969 (their game starts at 1:34:00).

      The reason the author didn’t know about Luway is because she is from Taiwan and with the notable exception of Sen, Taiwan is almost completely insulated from the rest of the world with their SC2. Which is a shame because they have their own E-sports league just like GSL with their own sponsored teams and televised games and everything, and it’s breeding some really fucking good players.

      2) Eve sucks at SC2. Korean pro teams only recruit so many people and it sucks if you’ve put in a ton of hours and effort to see someone get picked above you because they are pretty. The idea of a player being a ‘project’ is also a cop-out and it provokes feelings of jealousy and unease amongst the general e-sports community, and it’s entirely understandable really. This is what seperates luway from Eve, Luway is actually pretty fucking good at SC2, Eve is not.

      Another example is the female Korean Broodwar progamer Tossgirl (http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft/Tossgirl) who was so good she broke the Korean female scene in half. Nothing wrong with her being female, she was actually good at SC2.

      3) Eve is a girl. There’s nothing wrong with females being good at SC2 but the problem is that with so few girls currently interested in SC2 it can be a bit awkward when they are because we’re not used to interacting with a very different kind of person on this level. Anyone who knows of Kellymilkies knows ALL about this.

    • Starky says:

      Quoting someone from the comments of the article itself, because it was a brilliant comment and should be repeated.

      Encouraging female participation within the SC2 community is a good idea but this is a poor way of doing it. If they had gathered a group of master-level female players, organized them into a B-Team and given them a moderate amount of training and maybe a stipend to compensate them, you wouldn’t have seen any uproar. Instead they picked a single diamond-level player who, statistically speaking, is unlikely to have the potential to be a top-tier player (the vast majority of players who sink thousands of hours in SC2 never get close, and Eve isn’t even in master league).

    • Mman says:

      One of the reasons EVE was chosen for the team is because of a Female only tournament she won; I don’t know what the calibre of the opposition was there (whether it was all leagues or just bronze-platinum or something), but that at least shows she has some experience of performing in a competitive environment and isn’t just a randomly selected ladder scrub.

    • randomnine says:

      @iaguz: Ladder division isn’t a great guide to someone’s current and future potential in tournaments. SlayerS say they want to field her in GSTL this season. If anyone’s capable of accurately judging someone’s future ability as a pro, it’s going to be a pro team’s management!

      As for interacting with girls being awkward because they’re very different… whaaaat :D

  10. FleabagF7 says:

    That Killscreen review was incredibly frustrating to read. I was skipping over multiple paragaphs containing nothing but lame analogies, looking for an actual discussion about the game.

    • Mark says:

      The ratio of background context to actual game analysis is wildly out of whack. It’s two pieces in one: a review on Duke Nukem: Forever; and a review on reviewing. I did I enjoy the intro; it paints a very evocative picture. However, there’s a little too much of it.

      Also, the Norma Desmond analogy is wonderful.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “a review on reviewing”

      I think it’s just that piece.

    • Om says:

      Which would be fine if it didn’t have ‘Review:’ stuck beside the game’s title. I enjoyed reading this – it’s a nice piece of writing on an interesting topic – but it says almost nothing about the game itself. If I wanted to know anything about DNF, say to inform a purchase decision, then this ‘review’ would be absolutely useless, score or no score

    • svge says:

      I enjoyed it much more than I would have enjoyed a review of DNF. There’s plenty of opinions of DNF on the internet so a different take on the game review is very welcome. It’s also pretty obvious he didn’t like it ( he only played 4 hours and then used eating shit as an analogy)

    • Navagon says:

      To me the article needs more context. It’s fine if you’ve played the game (even the demo) and know the history and have played DN3D. You’ll then be able to understand what the review is saying about the broader complaints about DNF. If you’re approaching this with no such knowledge however it’s completely meaningless.

      Either way it doesn’t really work as a review. It’s more of an analysis. The kind of thing that PC Gamer puts out about dodgy old titles they’ve dug up and replayed.

    • Skabooga says:

      Kill-Screen’s philosophy towards writing reviews is that the reviews are not a means to an end but an end in and of themselves. The goal is to write reviews which are enjoyable in and of themselves to read, not to inform purchasing decisions. Of course, not everyone will derive utility from this approach to writing reviews, and that’s perfectly fine.

      In that regard, their approach is similar to that of Roger Ebert’s movie reviews. If there is a movie I want to see, I won’t read his review of it, so as to not spoil anything. But if I know I’m not going to see something, I’ll read a review of it; whether the movie was good, bad, or mediocre, the review is always entertaining.

      Also, the fact that Duke Nukem Forever permanently broke their numerical scoring system is hilarious.

    • Sulkdodds says:

      I assumed the review was supposed to simulate the experience of waiting to play DNF by making you wait to get an opinion on DNF.

    • Om says:

      “Kill-Screen’s philosophy towards writing reviews is that the reviews are not a means to an end but an end in and of themselves”

      And I think that’s an incredible vanity. If you’re going to review something then *that* should be the subject of the article. Otherwise why would you call it a review? The very act of writing, regardless of its quality, is not in itself a substitute for a reasoned analysis of a game’s merits. We keep getting told (correctly) that professional reviewers are necessary because there is a skill-set to evaluating games/music/whatever but surely that goes out the window when the game serves only as a launch pad for the author’s ramblings about his childhood or a game’s cultural impact?

      Now this doesn’t mean that a review should be a dry listing of relevant points. They can/should be entertaining and insightful pieces of writing in their own right. But at some point a review has to tell you something about the subject; and more than simply stating that it’s shit. This Killscreen ‘review’ assumes that you’ve already formed an opinion about DNF and uses that to discuss something largely irrelevant to the game itself.

      So a piece of writing I quite like the article but as a review of a game it’s a complete failure

    • Hidden_7 says:

      Well, it’s a criticism, not a review, but the problems are that 1) games journalism tends to lack that nuanced distinction at times, and things that are talking about the quality of a game are reviews and 2) it’s criticism structured as a review to better serve the piece, which slightly confuses the issue.

    • Skabooga says:

      In retrospect, it does seem a bit of a stretch to call the piece a review. :) Then again, everyone else beat him to the DNF review, so he had to approach it from some new angle.

    • GBoyzJay says:

      The thing I found was, everyone over 20 understood, at least in part, *why* DNF failed so damn hard. But I’d defend the “review” of DNF, because, in the end, it explains at least part of the problem: No game can stand up to 15 years of waiting and hype, and certainly not the shoddy mess that was DNF.

      Even though I write for a site that a) Is SOOOOO grey! and b) has review scores, I can see where they were coming from… I’m actually against scores, because what might be a 9 for me is a 6 for you, and vice versa. It’s mostly subjective (although floaty mouse controls are *still* floaty mouse controls, as are artificial FPS limits)

      Good example: When I panned Blur, back in my early days, oh, how some people screamed! I gave it a re-review a few months later, when the devs had resorted to copy-pasting responses, added a point (two if you owned it on console), and, lo and behold, no more diss.

  11. Tams80 says:

    “we rely on the clever people remaining steadfast for year after year as the waves of stupid crash in like a tsunami.”

    Now this would make an interesting tower defence game!

  12. Fumarole says:

    I do listen to Three Moves Ahead as well as read Flash of Steel; it’s good stuff.

    • karry says:

      I still find it hilariously funny that a panel of self-proclaimed strategy games connoisseurs havent played X-Com.

    • Oak says:

      What are you talking about? They even have a show about it.

    • Troy Goodfellow says:

      “I still find it hilariously funny that a panel of self-proclaimed strategy games connoisseurs havent played X-Com.”

      Yeah, no idea where you got this. Maybe not everyone we’ve had on the show has played X-Com, but I played it, as has Rob Zacny and Dan Stapleton was on the X-Com show. Tom Chick and Bruce Geryk routinely cite it as an important game. Julian Murdoch was an old man when it came out…

      Not that we’ve played everything – we each have notable gaps, and me in particular this year with the new job and all. But X-Com? You’d be a philistine to have not played it. (I did not play every game in the X-Com cycle, though.)

    • karry says:

      “They even have a show about it.”

      Thats the one i was talking about. Right in the beginning they ask each other if they actually played it, and it turns out none of them were particularly into it, and someone barely touched it at all. Hiiiiilarious.

    • RobZacny says:

      I am Spartacus: I have barely played X-COM, spending only a little time with the game in the week leading up to our show on the series. I am, however, relieved to report that I never proclaimed myself a “strategy connoisseur”.

      I’m still not sure why Karry is so confused. Dan Stapleton loves X-Com probably more than any other game ever made, and Bruce Geryk also thoroughly established his credibility on the series during that episode. We easily had two serious X-Com fans on that episode, one veteran, and one newcomer. I hope that clears things up.

  13. phenom_x8 says:

    Steel Battalion make me miss those mechwarrior day!
    Sadly, it wont be out for PC (I think keyboard keys was more than enough to replace those 40 button controller required by its prequel)!

  14. Robin says:

    That Tale of Tales have been in business for so many years is a moral crime.

  15. magnus says:

    Susan Greenfield’s at it again? Oh dear, it’s plainly obvious she wants to be some kind of media-darling for technolgy themed media scare-stories, has she got a newspare article/book/reserch paper to promote. She’s turning into Aric Sigman with a fanny, they’re just as bad as each other. In her case she’s a scientist that ignores the scientific method when she talks about technology.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      I don’t know. She seems to have an agenda in mind during her talk (which is reasonable) and she argues in a way that listeners might get occupied with her point of view (again, that is quite normal in a discussion), she uses a lot of words like “might”, “suggests”, “tendencies” and similar stuff but she is right in that we need to have that discussion.

      Now “autism-like behaviour” is only a description of a set of symptoms that are usually found to some degree in a lot of people, not only those that spend a lot of time in front of screens or interacted a lot with them during their childhood. But the way she using this the term suggests that there is a connection between this disorder (which is most commonly diagnosed pretty early in life and is believed to be immensely influenced by genetic factors) and behaviour in later stages of development.

      At the very least she mentions that there are several possible explanations for the increase in prescription of those drugs. The very fact that she mentions not less than three possible influences / influencing factors shows that this is a matter not concluded as of yet and therefore not the best of arguments to use in such a debate.

    • Kadayi says:

      Certainly with regard to her statements about computer gaming I’d say she’s mistaken, however I can’t say I entirely disagree with her when it comes to some of the broader subjects. I thought her observation about facts was reasonable, however it’s always been my contention that education (certainly at school) has always been more about learning facts and formulas and far less about developing thinking skills (which would be more useful). If more school children were taught to think (especially in terms of choice and consequence) I suspect far fewer would be leaving school with zero qualifications at the end of the day.

      Also I think with the multitude of different media available to us, it’s not uncommon for people to get agitated after a while if they aren’t checking things. I find it pretty annoying when I’m out with friends and certain ones insist on nursing their phones like they’re Tamagotchi every five minutes (even during meals), to the point of utter distraction at times.

    • magnus says:

      ‘Autism like behaviour’ WOMAN! I have Aspergers Syndrome, I got because I was BORN with it not because I LIKE playing video games. It’s obvious you just get off on being the scientist everybody in the media goes to for a Tech/Video Games scare story during the silly season, you not exactly being scientific are you? (here comes a phychic head-desk)

      100 or so years ago it would have been Telephone causing insanity or Steams Travelling over 30 miles an hour causing severe injury.

      Our brains became rewired the moment we started using tools, is this any diffent because it’s technology changing the pace and somehow or other souless, we certainly won’t die as a result so what’s the big deal?

  16. Cooper says:

    In regards to the DN3D review; whilst it was a fun read, I’m still amazed at how in-built the drive to give games a score remains in the critic press.

    I can’t help but feel some of the hivemind must read that and feel a bit smug. “Yes, of course giving games scores is totally out of synch with the multiple, heterogeneous and wonderfull subjective ways we experience them.

    Duh.”

    Not that you are that crass or snarky. But we’d all understand if you were…

  17. shoptroll says:

    Awesome vintage space exploration photos. I like how they show a human side to it that you rarely hear talked about.

    • Vinraith says:

      On that note, I’d highly recommend both the book and movie forms of “The Right Stuff” and, even more strongly, the HBO series “From the Earth to the Moon,” both of which have a very strong focus on the people at the center of the space program.

    • Thiefsie says:

      Thanks Vinraith – I’ll see if I can chase those down as I’m sure they would interest me.

  18. choconutjoe says:

    The Killscreen piece inadvertently gets to the heart of the problem I had with many reviews of DNF: a wonky, fairly mediocre shooter being subject to an absurd degree of over-analysis and people generally taking the whole thing far more seriously than is warranted by the game itself.

    As someone who didn’t really pay attention to the decade-and-a-half long saga of DNF, it’s difficult to fathom how a game so otherwise unremarkable can generate such a strong reaction.

    There’s a slew of mediocre shooters that make it onto the market each year. It seems bizarre to think that any one of them could prompt a review site to change their entire scoring system.

    EDIT: (Not looking for a fight about whether DNF is or isn’t terrible, just commenting on the strangeness of the whole business).

    • Om says:

      Well, while I think it’s silly dressing any analysis up as a ‘review’, it is true that DN3D was a rather seminal title in PC history. It’s not surprising that its sequel drew so much attention

  19. 7rigger says:

    Still own an original xbox, just so I can play Steel Battallion on it! Not sure of the new remake, but I’ll give it a fair try before I judge it.

    Always dreamed of a pc version of the original, even if it just adapted the controller into a standard usb (I still have one, just incase a decent Xbox emulator ever arrives)

  20. Harvey says:

    Ew, can we get a petition going for a NSFW-like tag for links leading to Kotaku? The fewer hits I give that site the happier I will be.

  21. Kadayi says:

    In response to Andrew Doull’s proceduralism article. I think ‘architecture’ is probably the wrong word to use Vs a broader definition such as virtual urban geography. All architecture is building, but not all building is necessarily architecture (as one of my lecturers was fond of saying). Good architecture (in the real world) is achieved through a unique response to a particular set of conditions & demands specific to its location & needs. The problem with procedural generation is that it’s hard to build in that kind of deliberateness of mind. I think that there is a good case for using procedural generation to generate a structure to work upon (to busy up the canvas so to speak), but you still need artists and designers (and perhaps even architects) to then come in and shape things with human intent.

    • andrewdoull says:

      Yep, ‘architecture’ is probably the wrong word: care to suggest the correct one :)

      “you still need artists and designers (and perhaps even architects) to then come in and shape things with human intent”

      I strong believe this is incorrect, and it is entirely possible to not require this. The human mind is too good at picking up accidental connections and turning them into story for us to not take advantage of it using procedural generation. The argument I was making in the particular article is that people working on PCG are unfortunately developing the wrong bits over and over.

    • GBoyzJay says:

      Having read Andrew’s articles myself, along with both the blogs he talks about, I can see where he’s coming from. He’s got a solid grasp of what PCG can and cannot do, and, if it weren’t for the fact I suck at coding, I’d quite happily help provide some examples for his wiki.

      I can see how one would get around the unique challenges (at least a basic training in architecture would help), and also how one could make buildings of different sorts, different cultures building in different ways, etc, etc… I see a lot in procedural generation… but its limitations are not just hardware based, but understanding based. For example, city building in Procedural World is all flat terrain based, and western medieval in style at the moment. The grammar is alright, but I refuse to believe that staircases had that many darn arches. Of course, it’s all in dev, so maybe new things will happen along, but truly procedural worlds would… well, there’d be a lot of grammar cases, is my *guess* (note: GUESS!)

      EDIT: Durrr… misspelling names… my excuse? it’s late, and I have no *smokes*… dammit.

    • Kadayi says:

      @andrewdoull

      I’d probably opt for something like topography. It’s a broader term that is equally applicable to built and natural form. Procedural topography makes more sense.

      “I strong believe this is incorrect, and it is entirely possible to not require this. ”

      Well that naturally depends on what your benchmark of success is. As it presently stands we’re not really at the stage where in truly believable environments are possible or necessarily desirable (from a pure asset management perspective alone), so it is a bit of a non issue at present. Lovely to look at as Flotsam is in The Witcher 2, we as the gamer consciously accept that there’s far less of the town there than what’s truly necessary to accommodate all the actual inhabitants for example, in the same way that we consciously accept that we can’t wander around all of the Citadel in Mass Effect. As long as there is a certain level of verisimilitude and it doesn’t overly detract from immersion, by on large I think we (reluctantly) accept the locked door ((http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/04/21/locked-door/) as a natural limitation of present game engine technology and get on with the game.

      Similarly the contextual function of virtual space is often subservient to the demands of gameplay Vs holding true to its functional intent. Certain games do buck this trend (Stalker springs to mind with its dogged recreation), but by on large we accept that we are in say an office, or a science lab because the furniture around is appropriate even if the actual building layout makes little or no sense in terms of relationship.

      Ultimately though how much you as the gamer take on board this sort of thing is upto the individual. For me personally environments that don’t hold up on some functional level really take me out of the experience. The empty coffee shops in DX:IW and the spidery hubs of Bioshock both got to me, the former for the complete lack of patrons when there’s supposed to be a huge coffee franchise war going on, and the latter because the warren like meanderings didn’t tie in with the opening introduction to Rapture with it’s various high rise towers.

      Still if you are going to try and overthrow deliberate design then you need to think about evolving your topography through some form of evolutionary aging process, rather than trying to generate the end result in the first hit. If you want to bring that contextual framing in that is a commonality in good design, then there has to be a context in place already for it to work off of. Cities aren’t generally born over night (save in industrial China). They evolve out of towns, which evolve out of villages, which evolve out of hamlets & trading posts whose success is based on strategic placement, and the echoes of that evolution are what make them distinct. If you don’t have that sort of approach in place then you’re not really going to generate the necessary levels of granularity that characterize distinct urban space.

    • GBoyzJay says:

      @Kadayi I can sorta see where you’re coming from, but even settlements follow basic rules that can be replicated, for the most part. Obviously, there are some exceptions (some cities were planned, right from the beginning), but you don’t need to evolve a space to know that shop districts tend to be central (not always, but often) and cluster together, the outskirts are (in modern times, at least) where you mainly place your industry buildings…

      …but it does get complicated at times. For example, mixes of architecture could potentially be a problem (here in the UK, we’re often *aaaaallll* about mixing our architectural styles), but not an insurmountable one (building grammar A melds into building grammar B *here*, so you sort of have an “over grammar”)

      It’s true, you don’t *need* to create a whole world to create the experience of being in that world, and locked doors can work in certain situations, but in others, it’s stupid to confine things with the explanations given. Many are the times where I’ve gone through what is, essentially, a bunch of tunnels disguised to look like environments, and gone “Hey, I wanna go that way!”, only to find an invisible wall, or some place that *looks* really interesting, but I couldn’t visit because of the aforementioned locked door. I agree that we can be tricked by our own pattern recognition, and what procedural generation currently offers is a plausible facsimile, not the whole shebang.

    • Kadayi says:

      @GBoyzJay

      I typed a huge reply, but then my system BSOD’d and I lost it all…

      In short though, you’ve two City models; Pre-industrial and Post –Industrial. London is a pre –industrial City where as Detroit is a good example of Post-Industrial.

      A City can be read as an Urban Palimpsest, the faint marks of the past read through to inform the new above. This is true for the evolving Post- Industrial City as it is for the Pre-industrial though with mechanisation and transport the grain of former is likely broader and more logical them that of the latter.

      Another important thing to consider when modelling is that as settlements evolve they also invariably transform the landscape around them. Whether it is through expansion, flattening hills, redirecting rivers, deepening bays, or reclaiming land. You need to build that sort of transformative impact into your system in some way if you want to sell the idea of your City being more than something sitting upon the surface of the land.

      Sadly the rest escapes me for now, but if I recall it I will post further.

  22. Big Murray says:

    I also noticed this article on Gamasutra about the guys hoping to set up a Video Game History Museum:
    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/36679/Time_May_Be_Running_Out_For_The_Videogame_History_Museum.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GamasutraNews+%28Gamasutra+News%29

    They’ve only hit about 2/3rd’s of their fundraising target, and there’s only a couple of weeks left.

  23. Snuffy the Evil says:

    To be honest, anyone who says that video games promote recklessness and the idea that actions don’t have consequences has clearly been playing the wrong games. Even fairly lowbrow stuff like Call of Duty is treated more like a sport than a virtual drunken joyride.

    Titles like Project Reality and Frozen Synapse are all about processing information and using it to reach a decision, and dealing with the consequences if everything goes to pot; using your brain and the few tools given to you to solve a problem.

    Or what about Dwarf “Losing is fun” Fortress? Or even the EVE discussion going on in this very comment thread? If anything, games are the best medium for teaching this sort of thing. It’s one of the most fundamental aspects of learning, like those tests where one door has food and the other shocks you… which suggests to me that Susan Greenfield has never really studied games in her life.

    I feel like I’m mincing my words horribly, so let me put it this way. If you wanted to punch a bear, which would be more likely to deter you: reading about how punching bears is a bad idea, or remembering how it went the last time you tried?

    • Octoviam says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more mate :/

      Of course, after the big palava with the Norway terrorist attacks, this is just strengthening the medias will to destroy video games, as that’s what I can only assume they’re attempting to do.

  24. BathroomCitizen says:

    edit: wrong reply

  25. cniinc says:

    I really, really love PopMatters. They’re possibly the best analysis of media I’ve seen on the internet. Who else would analyze Firefly as a postcolonial text?

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