The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on April 22nd, 2012 at 10:36 am.


Sundays are for packing away nerd paraphernalia into boxes, and wondering if you will ever see it again, or if it will one day be unearthed from a forgotten loft by your grandchildren. They are also for sitting with the quiet hum of a computer and leafing through the internet pages from the past week. What have we read? What will we read?

  • I’m sure most of you have browsed The Valve Handbook For New Employees, but if not, you probably should.
  • A thoughtful piece at Eurogamer looks at how the economies of videogames echo the economy of the real world, and how that sheds light on the recession: “Chains of system abuse often occur in the virtual world. During the crash of 2008 there was a similar occurrence threatening to take place within CCP’s Eve Online. An exploit within the MMO allowed players to create factories that pumped out valuable minerals used in making advanced tech 2 items, without using up the rare resources that were involved in the process. Some player-run corporations began building bugged stations and creating small amounts of these valuable minerals. This made up so little of the market that CCP didn’t spot the gradual influx of new money.”
  • I’m sure most of you will have read Some people are gay in space. Get over it. It’s Brooker on form: “Obviously you can’t fight the big gay penis in your head. It has no physical form, so you can’t get a grip on it, much as you’d like to. You’d love to grab it and throttle it until it splutters its last. That might bring you closure. But no. So you do the next best thing. You condemn homosexuals in the real world. Maybe if they could just stop all this “being gay” business for 10 minutes, you’d get some respite from that scary headcock. It might shrivel away completely, leaving nothing behind. Except maybe a nice bit of bum. No, dammit! Forget I said that! No bum either!”
  • The Atlantic’s Jon Blow profile is quite the thing: “It’s a characteristically audacious plan for a man who has earned a reputation not just as the video-game industry’s most cerebral developer, but also as its most incisive and polarizing internal critic. To Blow, being labeled the most intellectual man in video games is a little like being called the most chaste woman in a brothel: not exactly something to crow about to Mom and Dad. “I think the mainstream game industry is a fucked-up den of mediocrity,” he told me. “There are some smart people wallowing in there, but the environment discourages creativity and strength and rigor, so what you get is mostly atrophy.””
  • Relatedly, and a response, Leigh Alexander on the auteur nature of developers like Blow and Fish: “Look at the way the Atlantic’s writer views and interprets Blow, and notice that there are all kinds of ranges in between; the writer found himself creating his own narrative from being exposed to Blow’s abstract and mysterious — yet doubtless personal — approach to creating player experience. The question of how much we (“we” being “games critics,” fans, developers, players, whatever) should consider the identity and personality of a game’s creator has been on the minds of many since the release of Fez, Phil Fish and Renaud Bedard’s Independent Games Festival grand prize winner five years in the making.”
  • True PC Gaming as an interview with the devs behind Waveform: “Unfortunately I think that’s what a lot of big budget studios do. They rely on hype to trick people into buying the game, and of course usually for much higher prices than what Waveform and other indie games sell for. And if people don’t like it, those studios don’t really care because they already made a sale and they figure that the next time the hype train rolls around they’ll be able to trick new people so the unsatisfied customers don’t matter.”
  • With digital distribution disrupting traditional publishing, who is filling the gap for digital games? “There are digital publishing and marketing entities who say they understand the landscape, that they’re the industry’s publisher 2.0. But they’re forgetting these fundamentals. They simply stop at solving the discoverability issue and call it marketing. They’ll partner with a developer and check off boxes, helping submit their game and guiding it through certification, if necessary. Then they might put out a press release and chase it with some PR, at most spend a little money with a media referral partner. If this is the new formula of success in digital games, then why are so few people making any money?”
  • Paul Dean on Master Of Magic: “So you find yourself clearing that nearby cave of the sprites that haunt it, then capturing a magical node on the edge of your town, returning home with hauls of gold, mana, even magical items. As you plough your profits into expanding your modest territory, you consider settling nearby lands. Heroes turn up at your front door to offer their services and find themselves test-beds for your latest spells. Before long, Sir Harold can barely lead your armies, so burdened is he by the magical items you made for him, while Brax the Dwarf never asked for the ability to walk on water and probably hasn’t bathed in weeks.”
  • Patricia Hernandez writes some good stuff: “I want to make choices—what we do in life is always a choice—I want to live a life worth living, I want purpose. I figure these are some of the fundamental ingredients toward approaching happiness. This desire for a worthwhile, meaningful life bleeds into games. I want them to mean something, stand for something or say something on top of being amusing to play. If I want to be bold in my demands, having both mechanical strength and thematic strength in games would be fantastic.” That’s a cry I’ve heard pretty regularly from gamers, and I think it’s why every game that is wide open, and more of a toolbox than a story, ends up earning itself the most fanatical players. There might be less of them – most people want to prescribed entertainment experience – but the ones who taste freedom and meaning in a game end up being the most dedicated.
  • This is the best explanation I have seen for why people should be excited about Notch’s space game: “I mean, sure – I could go and dig up an emulator of a 8 bit or 16 bit era computer, and start hacking… But that wouldn’t be nearly as exciting, because all the cool and impressive things on that platform have already been done by others and long abandoned and forgotten. It would be archeology rather than hacking. 0×10c promises to bring some of that excitement back, in a new context that makes it exciting. Now hacking a 16 bit CPU has a practical purpose and in game benefits. There will be a new community with which you can share your findings. You will be able to experience that joy of exploring and building new systems while working under strict limitations.”
  • I wanted to share our pub sign for Sir, You Are Being Hunted.

Music this week is from The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, it’s their dainty pop classic, Elevator of the Machine.

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215 Comments »

  1. lordcooper says:

    One could call that image a sign of things to come.

    • Pantsman says:

      Jokes generally aren’t funny if you have to signpost them this clearly.

      • TheTourist314 says:

        Ugh, I’ve had enough of this. I’m signing off.

        • Lemming says:

          I’m not sure I understand…perhaps if you used some kind of sign language?

          • WeHeartKatamari says:

            How can you guys not know that everybody hates these jokes? Look at the signs.

          • ffs_jay says:

            This is the flimsiest excuse for punnage I’ve seen around here yet, bar none. You’re tavern a laugh, surely.

            I’m curious though, were the toff robots entirely sincere about their cheesy sign, or indulging in a little post irony?

          • Urthman says:

            I’m re-signed to suffering some puns in “Sir, You are Being Hunted.”

          • MrBeats says:

            Ok, we can stop this punning now. We’ve seen it! I’ve seen it! I saw the sign. It opened up my eyes! I saw the sign.

          • lordcooper says:

            Okay yeah, I’ll admit my punnage was a little weak there. Guess ale beer off before I lower people’s spirits too much with my continued watering down of this grand establishment and bring it into swill repute. You’re a rum lot anyway, so I doubt I’ll be commenting a-gin. Wouldn’t wanna risk getting myself barred.

          • jamezds says:

            Tablet PC phone causes a surge of panic buying after it listed!
            http://d.nynu.net/156

  2. andytizer says:

    TruePCGaming link needs a fix.

  3. Ham Solo says:

    I quite liked the Valve book for new employees.
    Seems like an amazing company to work for.

    • Zern says:

      Excellent read indeed, went in just wanting to take a glance and ended up reading the whole thing. What I didn’t get: The jab at Ricochet in the glossary. What’s wrong with it? I remember having a great deal of fun with it during LAN parties. Especially at around 3AM.

      • subedii says:

        It wasn’t a jab at ricochet, it was a joke. Ricochet was the Valve release that pretty much everyone passed by. It’s sort of a running joke about how Valve supposedly puts supreme value in this obscure title that nobody else cares about, hence the “we’re waiting for the gaming world to catch up with it.” comment.

        • Zern says:

          “Jab” was probably a poor choice of words. I guess I just wanted to remark that playing Ricochet with a group of people you know in the same room has been, to me, extremely hilarious and fun.

        • ffs_jay says:

          Could have been a bit of a jab as well, of course. RPS mentioned a while back that Ricochet doesn’t even get an entry in Valve’s back catalogue pages, while its equally obscure contemporary Deathmatch Classic does.

          Edit: Ah, here we are: http://www.valvesoftware.com/games/backcatalog.html

          • DrGonzo says:

            I don’t think that Deathmatch Classic is that obscure, it was quite popular for a while. I know I played some of it and enjoyed it as it was a direct remake of multiplayer Quake 1. Whereas I don’t think Ricochet was ever really played by anyone.

          • ffs_jay says:

            Maybe so, but looking at that website, isn’t Ricochet the only Valve game not mentioned? There’s no HL expansions either, but those were Gearbox, not internal projects. Doesn’t seem like the kind of thing they’d overlook.

            DMC came to mind mostly because I remember both coming out around the same time, and not really playing much of either (or knowing anyone who did). Maybe it was more popular than I thought though.

          • oiwdftz says:

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    • iyokus says:

      It was a very interesting read, but I couldn’t help wondering how they rationalise exploitative Steam pricing (particularly regional price differences) if every company decision is made WRT maximising value/satisfaction to the customer.

      I sure would like to hear why a digital copy of ‘big new release’ needs to cost £40 on Steam when a store can ship a physical copy for less. Sure would.

      Edit – well, colour me ignorant.

      • Lemming says:

        Perhaps it’s because as they’ve said all along, the publisher sets the price.

        • Vinraith says:

          Right, so Valve is responsible for regional price differences on their own titles.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this, but judging by this comment, and others on this page, you come off as having some kind of problem with Steam? I’m sure that, as a well reasoned and patient conversationalist, you appreciate this gesture, as it gives you the opportunity to communicate more clearly.

            Can’t everyone that has had a real job, and been through a boring orientation or two, just enjoy this tongue-in-cheek approach to an employee’s manual and daydream about that sweet dream-job that we’ll never have?

          • Vinraith says:

            Of course, I would simply urge people to take it for the PR piece that it is and recognize that what a company says and what a company does tend to be different things.

            I’m not a Steam fan (I’m not a fan of any client-based DRM system, frankly) but this is more about recognizing advertising as advertising than anything specific to Valve.

          • Unaco says:

            But from reports from employees, it seems that what Valve are saying, and what they do, are the same. The picture painted in this handbook is very, very close to the way that Valve works and it treats its employees.

          • Lemming says:

            Looking at this:

            http://www.steamprices.com/uk

            you’re right there are anomalies for Valve’s games, but a) they are by no means the worst and b) they are only responsible for the pricing of their own games, not everyone else’s.

            You only have to look at a few different games to see that’s true.

          • Vinraith says:

            they are by no means the worst

            OK, who said they were? The suggestion was that Valve was not responsible for regional price variations on Steam. The counterargument is that they certainly are responsible for those variations with their own games. We appear to agree on that.

          • DrGonzo says:

            Regional price differences on Valve’s games make perfect sense. Some countries are richer therefore they will pay more for the game. I don’t see a problem with that at all, you charge what you think people are willing to pay.

            As for having a problem with DRM, fucking sigh. Moaning about Steam and other decent implementations of DRM just makes DRM bitching sound exactly like that, bitching. And why do you have a problem with someone essentially putting a lock on their front door? You just leave your possessions out in the street I presume. But more than any of this, it’s just boring, and so it seems am I.

          • Vinraith says:

            @Gonzo

            That lock isn’t on their front door, it’s on mine. I have to ask their permission to use something I already paid for. If they ever choose to revoke that permission, I lose access to those games. If their servers are slow because of a big sale, I lose the ability to install my games. If their servers go down, I lose access to my games. If, god forbid, I have the unmitigated gall to be offline when there’s an update, I lose access to my games. See the pattern?

            DRM that can and does lock me out of my games, and that could at any time lock me out of them forever, is not “good DRM.” Good DRM doesn’t punish legitimate users.

          • LionsPhil says:

            The only good DRM is no DRM! </torches and pitchforks>

      • avp77 says:

        The only prices Valve controls on Steam are the ones for Valve games (and even those might be subject to outside contracts if they’re also selling physical copies in stores). Steam is just a storefront where the publishers set prices.

    • Vinraith says:

      Deliberately leaked PR document is good PR, film at 11.

      • JackShandy says:

        If this actually is the way they work, the way the information got to us doesn’t matter.

        • Vinraith says:

          …and we have no way of knowing that one way or the other.

          Advertising should always be taken with a whopping grain of salt, not treated as a news item.

          • Apples says:

            I doubt they’d have a section addressing the problems of the method if it was not the way they work, or if it was just for advertising. Also why would they need to advertise – the way I understand it, they’re not exactly short of employees, everyone knows them and wants to work for them if they know anything about games at all, and they don’t need to attract people because they can fire off an email to “Some guy who makes amazing mods” and instantly have them accept because who the hell wouldn’t?

          • DrGonzo says:

            I think it’s actually entirely irrelevant. And neither good nor bad PR, which will contribute entirely zilch to their profits. You can drive your employees to suicide and people don’t give a shit. Why would they care in the slightest that you treat people slightly nicer than other people do?

          • Vinraith says:

            reply fail

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            Advertising what?

    • LionsPhil says:

      I thought it was a leaked document.

      If so, I’m rather disappointed at RPS for encouraging such things by linking to it. (Reporting about it happening is one thing; advertising the location of the spoils is quite another.)

      • Lobster9 says:

        I don’t know why everyone thinks of this as a leak. Someone emailed Coomer asking for a copy and he sent them one. There are really no revelations in the book, its just a more concise writeup of stuff they have been talking about for a long time. The only piece of new information contained within, is that the parking elevators don’t work so good!

  4. Was Neurotic says:

    Going back to your comment about packing stuff away and wondering who in the future would unpack it, I’m continually impressed by the fact that my two kids (3 and 5) are playing with all my Star Wars figures, which I’d carefully kept in a wooden box for the last few decades. I’m 40 now, and to think I was playing with those figures when I was their age – it blows my mind. It’s also fun playing my old Master System and Mega Drive with them, although the five year-old gets restless for Skyrim and Transformers: War for Cybertron after a while. :D

  5. Medo says:

    > “I mean, sure – I could go and dig up an emulator of a 8 bit or 16 bit era computer, and start hacking… But that wouldn’t be nearly as exciting, because all the cool and impressive things on that platform have already been done by others and long abandoned and forgotten.”

    This man needs to watch the Oldschool and Wild competitions at a few demoparties. People definitely still find new tricks on old platforms and are appropriately cheered for it. Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8onlB0F1_A

    Edit: Oh, he does actually know about that. Never mind then.

    Edit2: On the actual subject, I’m not sure how satisfying the DCPU-16 would be as a demo platform, because one important aspect of oldschool democoding might be missing: buggy hardware. And I don’t mean as in “broken”, but as in “designed with mistakes and/or undefined states”. Often, strange hardware behavior can be abused to create amazing effects that may seem impossible even (or especially) for people who know the system.

    One example on the C64 is to trick the video chip to allow displaying sprites in the borders. It isn’t meant to display anything there except a single “border color”, but if you confuse it at just the right time it will forget to go into border drawing mode, which creates this great effect of people going “How the *** did they do that?”

    I doubt many glitches like that will be found in the DCPU-16, unless its hardware will be emulated on a lower level than I think it will be.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Even Spacechem has it’s share of “how the heck did you do that?!” moments. I don’t think hardware bugs are necessary–pure software, or even pure mathematics (e.g. number theory) can have lots of unexpected emergent properties of its own.

      But I think the potential of 0×10^c should be even more obvious than this. You have a computer that controls your spaceship. So anytime there’s some boring activity that the game assigns you to do do, you can download some DCPU-16 codes to make that task faster. Instead of bots being seen as an exploit or an abuse of the game, the game will be designed for them. Which means, hopefully, that tedium can’t play the same role that it does in every other persistent networked resource management game (including Minecraft).

  6. Skystrider says:

    Reading Valve’s handbook, one question comes to mind:
    Has Half Life 3 gone caviar? Should we panic?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I think what the Valve handbook suggested to me is that no one working for Valve really wants to make Half-Life 3, or it would have happened already.

      • Terragot says:

        Which is non surprising seeing as the last iterations from the series almost pushed the majority out of the games industry. I think Valve (or rather Gabe specifically) have hinted, numerous times, at the disdain they have for the half-life series, seeing as they have spent far too much crunch time with it in the past.

        at a company where you can pick what you want to work on, with the best ideas being thrown around in the industry, an out-dated sequel with potential for a huge fan backlash isn’t going to be inspiring peoples creativity as a pose to ‘anything else one can conceive’.

        This is a good thing though, the future of valve looks like more likely to grab the attention of the world again with something different, much like it did originally in ’98.

        • Lambchops says:

          Whlle I partially agree, in that many people may well be more motivated to either make something new or be put off by the pressure of delivering more Half Life, I think when given the choice of what to work on there will also be many who would relish the challenge of delivering a sequel to one of the most well regarded gaming series around.

        • Kadayi says:

          What’s the backlash? The ‘plot’ of episode 3 essentially writes itself. 1) Go to Borealis. 2) Discover prototype portal gun. 3) Use portal gun in combination with gravity gun + Alyx + mini-me GLADOS/Turrets to defeat the combine 4) Awkward sexual suggestion from Dr Kleiner upon return + bashful looks from Alyx 5) G-Man turns up and whisks you away. 6) end game.

          • DrGonzo says:

            Except the I doubt the Borealis was decorated with moon-paint, and the portal gun wouldn’t be put in there for anything but a cameo. Portal and Portal 2 try to keep things as simple as possible and slowly introduce new elements desperate not to confuse the player. I doubt they would dump guns AND a portal gun on us, as much fun as it could be.

      • subedii says:

        The take-away I’ve always had it is that there’s always been people working on Episode 3 (seriously, we still have no confirmation on this being HL3), just plugging away at it and iterating on it until they got the formula they wanted right.

        I think of it as similar to Team Fortress 2. Because the REAL push for its development and completion didn’t happen until they’d nailed down exactly what it was going to be, and that took some time. And something like TF2 actually took 10 years before it released.

        So yeah, I would guess that people are still working on it. But they want to get things right before it truly goes into development, assuming it isn’t at the moment. The last we heard on it was Gabe Newell was “satisfied with the direction it’s going”, and all these mysterious references to “F-Stop”, so who knows where that’s all leading. Every time he’s asked he doesn’t say it’s on hold, he says they’re still working on it, bar that he’s always tight lipped about it. And yes, that’s always been annoying to me, I thought the whole “call for communication” thing wasn’t a bad idea, and was well done with no malice, just an earnest call to clarify what’s going on.

        I mean I keep hearing “it should be done by now”, but at the same time, I don’t expect anyone to make that their sole priority after a decade of being pretty much solely dedicated to Half-Life. As to whether they’re all going back to it now when DOTA 2 and CS:GO wrap up, who knows.

        • woodsey says:

          I agree.

          I suspect it was left hanging for a while because they wanted a break from it, or they had concocted something to fit an Episode 3 ‘format’, and then decided that they’d rather do HL3 (I think everyone’s pretty much in agreement that it won’t be Episode 3 anymore).

          • subedii says:

            Everyone seems to have reached consensus on that for some reason, but why is still never explained. Without official confirmation all I’m seeing is a big likelihood that when news finally breaks, they’re all going to go AAARRGGH!!!! RAAAAAAAGE!!!! should an announcement comes for an incremental evolution in a franchise that they’re expecting a massive new revolution from instead.

            Basically if people’s expectations are dashed, they’ve got themselves to blame there. Not that Valve is totally innocent in this equation, it’s something that warrants clearing up, and they haven’t. And that’s dangerous for precisely the reasons above, people don’t even know what to expect anymore.

          • InternetBatman says:

            I think the main reason for this consensus is that episodic implies a relatively short time between episodes. That time has passed.

        • fish99 says:

          That may apply to HL3 but I don’t think it applies to EP3, because the game mechanics, characters and setting (the scooby doo ghost ship) are already set in stone.

          I think more likely Valve just got disheartened by the criticism over how long it was taking to make these episodic games and how short they were, decided they didn’t want to make EP3 and they’ve been working on a new engine and new technologies for HL3, probably with the next gen of consoles in mind.

          Or they just CBA making anything anymore given the amount of money they have rolling in from steam.

      • Zwebbie says:

        I have always thought that nobody at Valve wanted to make Half-life Ep.3 happen ever since I first read about their unorthodox structure a couple of years ago. And of course, that would also explain why there’s no communication about it, because it can be a project with very few people working on it and still be ‘in production’.

        If it’s true, I wouldn’t blame ‘m. If I had to playtest as much as a Valve employee, I too would sooner develop a multiplayer game than the fourth waiting-for-elevator-while-zombies-attack sequence.

    • Jimbo says:

      From what I read of it, I wouldn’t take anything in there too seriously. Most of it is pipe dream nonsense which never would have resulted in Valve being where they are if they genuinely operated like that.

      Somebody/s over there in this “flat” hierarchy will have strategic oversight (it won’t be the new guy that just decided to push his desk into the business strategy corner), and somewhere in that strategy will be Half Life 3.

      • Phantoon says:

        What? No, that actually is how they operate. Sure, someone in the group will basically rise to project leader, but that happens in any collective situation, and them assuming the hat of project leader doesn’t automatically make them better/mean they can’t be contested on ideas.

        • Jimbo says:

          That’s kinda my point. Saying ‘There’s no hierarchy – group hug!’ in a cartoony employee handbook doesn’t make it so. Groups of humans don’t work like that, and for good reasons.

          • Apples says:

            Yeah but the difference is that anyone can become that group leader – even the new guy if everyone thinks he has the most knowledge and authority for that project. There’s no-one who’s just “the boss” who puts you on projects and you have to do what he says because he been here longer and earns more than you, which is what happens in most jobs. They even straight up say that the groups usually end up with a leader (albeit not one who commands the others, but one who has the overarching design and goals in mind and who acts as a reference for the others), so they’re not even trying to push it as “everyone has a cuddle party while coding”.

    • Lemming says:

      What I take away is, no one is working on it full-time because they haven’t settled on a way to deliver what they want. Knowing Valve, it’s never simply about plot and locales (I bet these have been in the bag since day one), but they seem to want to bring something new to the table, and probably weren’t happy with the idea of just going through the motions of another corridor FPS with the same guns.

      One of the few criticisms they’ve had with the previous episodes, is it’s the same guns and a lackluster fight at the end. I’d say they are trying to find something new to bring to the table first, before wrapping the HL FPS experience we are familiar with, around it.

      We heard hints of deaf characters using sign language and interactivity based around that in the early rumours, and I think that’s probably branched off into something else or they haven’t figured out a way to use it to their satisfaction.

      So yeah, you could say no one wants to work on it atm, but I think it’s more that no one knows how to approach it yet.

      • Torgen says:

        I’d love something to encourage me to re-learn sign language, as it would probably be in American Sign Language. (There are many different sign languages, just as there are many spoken ones.)

        • Steven Hutton says:

          There’s a tv show called switched at birth you should check out. The show is all fairly light domestic drama. But the treatment of deaf culture is REMARKABLE.

  7. Anthile says:

    I see your Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation and raise you a Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble.

  8. Dingsey says:

    Oh I do love a bit of Brooker, honestly to any British (well anyone but the screenwipe is mainly about british tele) person I thoroughly recommend Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe/Newswipe.

    • beekay says:

      Yes, Brooker is fantastic and so is everything he does. If you didn’t read the article linked, do it now. He is a proper funnyman.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        yep, I always check his stuff… the only “problem” with the article is that I’m not entirely sure he fully understands what’s going on with EA and this “homophobe attack”.

        He even uses “there were no LGBT characters in any of the Star Wars movies” to represent the anti-EA argument… even though EA/Bioware used that very argument themselves “There are no homosexuals in Star Wars” when discussing SWTOR (something they have yet to “patch in”).

        From Gameswipe, it’s obvious he enjoys gaming, but it seems he has been busy elsewhere in so far as he’s missing all the counter-arguments as to why/how EA are glossing over homosexuality in the genre that existed well before this particular issue.

        Basically, I don’t like how this all feels as if EA have blindsided him, along with Steven Fry, into supporting their cause (aka PR damage-control).

        • Phantoon says:

          A couple things about that- Charlie is all about the hyperbole, Bioware didn’t add the “not patched in” addendum until there was an outcry of ‘homophobe’ from the public, AllOut was co-opted by EA but they did exist before it, and fuck shit fuck goddamnit fuck you EA don’t manipulate Stephen Fry he’s a nice man.

          • Contrafibularity says:

            He is. But if you want to fret over sociopathic multinational corporations preying on Stephen Fry; it’s much much more worrisome that Apple is using Stephen Fry as a marketing tool. Pretty much any time the subject of inhumane treatment tantamount to slavery or sweatshops is brought up in a Fry programme I can’t avoid thinking “And what about Apple then, Stephen?”.

      • Fincher says:

        I’d give 10 O’clock Live a miss though. That forced audience laughter, yeesh.

        • Dingsey says:

          Yep definitely agree with this, it trys to hard, I guess the problem is it’s not just charlie and he can’t be offensive as he normally is.

          Jimmy Carr’s sections are awful sadly.

        • Max.I.Candy says:

          yep, i actually think it would work better without an audience, just the 4 of them sitting news desk style. but it definately tries too hard.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Personal choice and co-operation: two appalling threats to our youth.

      Beautiful.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Actually you might be surprised to learn that while Screenwipe is typically about British/English television, given how freely “TV formats” are exchanged internationally nowadays and how similarly shit most of mainstream Western TV has become (not to mention the fact A LOT of people outside the UK watch English films, programmes and whatnot) pretty much 98% of his observations ring as true in any country as they do in the UK. Basically people who seek out satire such as Brooker’s will think the same of these subjects whether you’re from Glasgow, Amsterdam, Madrid or Prague and I personally think he’s one of the finest satirists of popular culture out there (and that he’s a gamer is just an added bonus although I’d love it if Gameswipe could return, like maybe at least once a year, but obviously the man’s busy enough as is).

  9. pertusaria says:

    I enjoyed the Master of Magic article, and the same author’s preview of Warlock: Master of the Arcane. 2012 may turn out to be a good year for slightly esoteric genres making a comeback.

  10. Barlk says:

    From the Atlantic piece:

    “But I think what has frustrated you about people’s interpretations of Braid is that the atom bomb itself is a metaphor for a certain kind of knowledge,” I continued. “You’ve been chasing some deep form of understanding all your life, and what I think you’ve found is that questing after that knowledge brings alienation with it. The further you’ve gone down that road, the further it’s taken you from other people. So the knowledge is ultimately destructive to your life, just like the atom bomb was—it’s a kind of truth that has a cataclysmic impact. You thought chasing that knowledge would make you happy, but like Tim, part of you eventually wished you could turn back time and do things over again.”

    After reading this article a few days ago I went back and replayed Braid. I was struck by how easy it was to discern this idea of Blow’s personal search for some (the?) unseen, transcendent truth (as opposed to the myriad of other possible interpretations, namely the scientific pursuit of the atomic bomb), having gone in with a better contextual understanding of the mind with which the game was forged. I find the best part of Braid is the vast scope for interpretation sewn into its ambiguity, or as Blow puts it, how the “central idea resists being looked at directly”.

    Saying that, I can understand how the game (and perhaps I too) can be readily accused of pretentiousness and overt self-awareness to the point of serving simply as a vessel for the angsty, pseudo-intellectual ideas of a hipster. Perhaps I am too young, but I saw Braid in a much more positive light and found it to be very compelling indeed.

  11. Nix Nada says:

    Audacious, cerebral, incisive, polarizing, intellectual.

    Or, Mario with a rewind button.

    • MondSemmel says:

      Sure, that’s one way to describe the basic mechanics. But what made the game spectacular was not the basic idea, but its execution. There was a Jonathan Blow interview where he described the first version of Braid, the product of about a week’s worth. Some of the final levels were already complete by then, although the game looked abysmal, being full of programmer art etc. In any case, what made the game great was an interesting idea led to its full potential – and that required years of polish. Incidentally, that’s the same thing its developer is doing with The Witness.
      Also, no matter what you think about him, it requires remarkable chutzpah and self-confidence to invest essentially all the earnings of your very successful indie game into your next game.

      • DuddBudda says:

        +1

        you’re right, but Nix Nada’s scorn is needed to deflate Jon ‘the only gamer making art’ Blowhard

        I’ll be buying the witness for sure, but next time firefox brings me an interview with Blow I won’t be reading it

        • RobF says:

          I don’t get it. Why do you need to deflate him?

          • DuddBudda says:

            well fair enough, he wasn’t tooting his own horn quite so much in Ben Kuchera’s interview for PAR, but the Atlantic’s insistence that Jon Blow is the only dev ever to make a game with value as art is utter bullshit

          • PopeJamal says:

            I can’t know for sure, but Blow strikes me as the type of person who is actually really good at what they do, but anytime you have to actually communicate with them directly (in person, or otherwise), you end up wanting to punch them in the face…really, really hard…and that’s without any alcohol involved.

            The less I hear about Blow, the more likely I will be to buy his “stuff”.

          • RobF says:

            Jon’s fine. The guy from The Atlantic got well carried away in a way I’ve not really seen since I gave up music mags. He’s mythologising but doing a bit of a nob job of it. But that’s ok, it’s an old tradition and it never gets less funny to watch someone get lost in it.

            But Jon? Y’know, this is the man who had nothing but praise for Space Giraffe – the ultimate logical conclusion to arcade videogames, once wrote some nice things about the final stage of Painkiller and said lovely things about Osmos. Just from that alone, internet eye has a wonky gaze. If you boil anyone down to tattle quotes, they’ll come across as a tool, especially if the article author gets a bit lost in himself. But most of what Jon says about modern games… well, I don’t think it’s wrong. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy games as we have them now but aspiring to more seems reasonable. Calling Zynga-esque design evil seems healthy and wanting games to be everything they can be seems pretty fair.

            So yeah, I don’t get this knickers in a twist over Jon. I can understand shitting the bed at The Atlantic a bit but even then, not to the point of wanting to bring Jon down. With the Indie Fund alone, that’s stuff that makes a positive difference to our gaming landscape. Why attack that?

          • DuddBudda says:

            I’ve played and enjoyed braid, but apart from that I know nothing about JB – coming to the Atlantic’s piece I had no predilections for or against the creator at all
            Atlantic’s article, and the dimly remembered PAR interview, are all I’ve heard of JB, so the partisan [that's not the word I want, I'm looking for a word with religious connotations, but it's eluding me /derp] tone of such a piece only serves to turn me off
            I don’t circulate anywhere that would bring me into contact with Jon’s writing directly, he sounds like an interesting chap and so maybe I should search him out, but as a Blovian layman this is the response

          • jrodman says:

            Mr Blow’s comments on the creations of other indie game creators are considered and insightful.

            His comments on mainstream commercial games are polemic and sometimes wide of the mark.

            his comments on players/fans of his games are highly unfortunate.

          • Nix Nada says:

            whoa, whoa, whoa – scorn? deflating? Not my intention at all. Just pointing out the pomposity of language in the article compared to the mechanics of a platformer with a twist.

      • DK says:

        “Also, no matter what you think about him, it requires remarkable chutzpah and self-confidence to invest essentially all the earnings of your very successful indie game into your next game.”
        Hell no it doesn’t. Every developer ever has done that. Guess what they’re called?

        Morons: When the next game they invested all their money in happens to fail, or just be in development longer than expected. See Iron Lore, Kerberos, Arkane’s “The Crossing” or any other game that was developed and then vanished without a release.

        Genius: When the next game happens to actually come out and sells well. See Bindings of Isaac, or any other game-that-actually-was-released.

        It takes no “bravery” or intellect to do what Blow did. The only attributes he has in abundance is an ego the size of a gas giant and a games “media” that hangs onto his every drivelled word.

  12. Fox89 says:

    One of the diagrams in the Valve handbook features an employee wearing a HL3 t-shirt. Are they even trolling their new recruits!? ^_^

    • Unaco says:

      Developer has sense of humour == Trolling.

    • Devenger says:

      Valve’s intranet actually only contains two links to downloads: Half-Life 3, and a specialised TF2 hat-modelling tool.

      Those who clicked the former link were never heard of again. And, well, you know the rest.

    • Phantoon says:

      I am grinding my teeth now with your misuse of the word “trolling”. It’s been denigrated to the put it literally means nothing.

      I just imagine the Facebook crowd reading something anyone said that they don’t immediately agree with and throwing the screen off the desk, screaming “HE’S TROLLING!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!” before slamming their face into the desk multiple times.

      Why is this a thing? Stop it. The positive change to not using the word wrongly or otherwise starts with you.

      • Fox89 says:

        And by ‘literally’ you do of course mean, ‘figuratively’. Come on, you can’t get on my back about misusing a word and then throw an inaccurate ‘literally’ in there :P

        • RedViv says:

          Oh, he’s using it right. I’m eating trolling right now, and my plans for tomorrow are trolling. There’s trolling to eat in the freezer and I should do something about that.

        • Skabooga says:

          @Fox89:

          C-C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!!!!

      • Lemming says:

        I thought he used it correctly. Trolling = purely to incite reaction, surely?

        • Dominic White says:

          Under that definition, everything and anything that might have someone respond to it is trolling.

          The proper definition is acting out to deliberately piss off people online in order to generate attention. That’s a world away from making a joke.

          • Lemming says:

            No, because you would assume that people posting normally truly believe what they are writing, not just trying to incite a reaction.

  13. CMaster says:

    The thing I simply don’t get about Valve is this:
    So it’s a company packed with the most talented people they can find. Given latitude to work on whatever they want, (provided it benefits the company). The company retains complete control over all intellectual property. There’s no pressure on the next game having to be a huge hit.

    So why oh why have they only ever produced one original game and that being 14 years ago (I guess 2 if you could Ricochet) ?

    • Izzan says:

      Because they’re digital distribution company with massage rooms.

    • Unaco says:

      I’m going to guess that a lot of people would disagree with you, that they’ve only produced 1 original game. I’m not going to, because I think it’s a blatantly ridiculous statement, and requires little dismissal, and I’m not that invested in Valve.

      But… if that doesn’t work, I’m sure further people will come along and argue that perhaps, producing ‘original’ games is not their be all and end all. That instead, they take concepts and ideas, that may have come before, melt them down as they enter them into their great Gaming Forge, and then work that sh*t like they were some sort of group of ancient and mysterious Blacksmiths… that they produce highly refined, highly polished, impeccably produced games that, yes, you might have seen that mechanic before in 2D, or, yes, it’s still an FPS, etc. but you’ve never seen them done the way Valve has gone about doing them. That they refine and polish mechanics and gameplay and concepts until they’re so bright, you can barely see the sun shining out of Gabe’s arse.

      They aren’t some great gaming saviours… but they are a unique group, with a unique style, that have produced some of the finest, most well loved, widely praised games of the last decade or so. Reducing them to 1 original game (which one? You didn’t say) is somewhat disingenuous.

      • CMaster says:

        The only game that Valve have made that isn’t a sequel or a game bought part way through development for outside is Half Life. That’s what I mean by original – I’m not criticising the quality of any of Valve’s games, you seem to be misinterpreting me there.

        I’m not going to argue that the people at Valve don’t provide plenty of ideas that go into the games that the company puts out – Portal ended up pretty departed from Narbacular Drop. But I still find it odd that they don’t develop a game from start to end within Valve.

        • Unaco says:

          You seem to be misunderstanding me. You ask why Valve haven’t produced more ‘original’ games… I answered, because ‘originality’ is perhaps not their main focus. They, perhaps, prefer to produce good games that may not be totally original, rather than original games that may not be totally good.

        • Steven Hutton says:

          Wait, how is L4D not an original valve property?

          • Unaco says:

            It was developed by Turtle Rock, who were purchased by Valve during development. That is, Turtle Rock had the original idea for the game and started development, and Valve bought them a year or two into that development. So, the origin of the game didn’t come from Valve itself, it came from outside Valve.

            But… It is a very original game produced by Valve. So, that’s 2 with Half-Life (3 if you count Ricochet).

          • Jim Rossignol says:

            It was conceived by Turtle Rock.

        • Consumatopia says:

          Because people who go to work for Valve are interested in creating the kinds of games Valve already makes.

          Someone who has radical ideas about what gaming should be shouldn’t work for Valve or any other mainstream developer or publisher. Someone who has mainstream ideas for video games that are unlike those at Valve should work for a different developer or publisher.

          That’s not to say that Valve will never produce different kinds of games, or that they would be limited in the kinds of games they would produce–if Valve sees an idea they like, they can swoop in and purchase it and recruit the devs. Or just copy it.

        • Phantoon says:

          I don’t understand. Please clarify- it sounds like you’re asking “why aren’t they like indie devs making divergent games that actually aren’t all that groundbreaking and in fact are very safe and non-committal to any sort of any controversial thinking but are guaranteed to rake in dosh?”

          Because a lot of indie devs are just in it for the money.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Wow, zero connection between this and the parent post.

        • Lemming says:

          If you consider left 4 dead nothing but ‘co-op against some zombies’ and Portal nothing but ‘you can make interconnecting portals’, then yes you are correct they aren’t anything to do with Valve, but then I also feel pretty bad for you seeing things in purely surface form.

          Everything most people like about those games were done during Valve’s ownership.

          EDIT: I’ll leave the above for others, but I reread your comment and I can see you aren’t being that ungenerous, so please don’t take my response personally :)

          • jrodman says:

            Well I think it’s an interesting question, phrased in a better way:

            Why does the seed spark for their titles seem to come from outside the company?

      • Consumatopia says:

        Not sure that this is related to CMaster’s point, but the reason I personally am more interested in innovation than in polishing previous innovations is that I think the space of yet-to-be-conceived ideas in gaming is much larger than the space of further improvements to be made to existing ideas. It’s not that polish is without value, but you can only make things so shiny.

    • woodsey says:

      You seem to be coming from the viewpoint that sequels are inherently bad. They’re not – they just tend to start getting shitter. Valve’s have never gotten shitter. (Possibly due to their aversion to the number 3 – maybe that’s the key to it all.)

      I would like to see them do a RPG though.

      • CMaster says:

        Where did I say that sequels are bad? I’m just expressing confusion that with all these supposedly (and in many ways evidently) talented and creative people, there isn’t more drive to put out something new and of their own making.

        • woodsey says:

          I didn’t say you said it, I said that’s the direction you seem to be coming from. If not, fair enough.

        • DrScuttles says:

          It’s a thought that has occurred to me as well. From what (little) I know of Valve, they have 293 staff members operating in cabals of varying sizes.
          Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 still get updates, so I’m assuming there’s small, constant teams for them. Well, maybe not constant, but there’s probably a regular bunch.
          Some people must be working on the Source engine, maybe in collaboration with the TF2 and LFD2 groups for multiplayer updates and all that stuff.
          Steam probably has a dedicated team.
          Counter Strike: Global Offensive is being co-developed isn’t it? So there may not be that many Valve staff actively working on it.
          DotA 2 seems to be Valve’s main baby right now and probably is the largest team (how many people does it take to make a game like that? I honestly have no idea)
          I’m going to make wild stabs in the dark here, but based on Valve’s history of dropping work they don’t feel meets their standards and Michael Abrash’s blog it seems fair to assume there’s at least a few teams constantly experimenting on… stuff.
          And if we take Gabe Newell’s recent Richochet 2 comments as being concrete Half-Life 3 talk, there’s been a group of people working on that constantly since 2007.

          Sure, Valve hasn’t shipped many “original” games but the argument has to be made that their current strategy is working for them. However, going back to my HL3 ramblings, if there’s been a team working solidly on it, surely it’s safe to assume it’s a fairly big cabal? Maybe once Valve have finally put Half-Life behind them we could see some of their more original material emerge when they have more staff available to put things into motion.

          But then again, it’s Valve. And only Valve really know what they’re up to. And sometimes not even then.

        • bigdeadbug says:

          I always assumed it was down to them having so many creative and talented people in one place. With so many ideas floating around it must be hard to decide on a single one to develop, it’l be easier to work on and get a team for an already conceived/planned title than a totally new one. Probably a lot faster too, maybe more original valve IPs will appear later on.

    • Shooop says:

      There’s no pressure on the next game having to be a huge hit.

      Uh yes there is. They are a game developer/publisher studio and therefore rely on people buying their games to stay in business.

      Their stream of success has earned them customers’ good faith that they will make games they’ll like, which can make even a single miss devastating.

      • CMaster says:

        They;re a spectacularly successful developer with no debt, no investors.
        Activision doesn’t really have much choice other than continuing to make CoD sequels.
        Valve yes, would be in trouble were they to have a game that outright tanked. But they equally don’t need the Day 1/Day 0 sales bump that making a sequel provides, was my point.

      • InternetBatman says:

        They’re now retailers as much as game developers. They can fund anything they want with that big old pile of Steam cash.

      • Phantoon says:

        Actually, Gabe has mentioned that Valve could get by without changing anything even if they stopped making games entirely and just had Steam.

      • Lemming says:

        Yeah got to agree here, if Valve make even a mediocre game at this point the schadenfreude backlash will be immense.

        • FunkyBadger3 says:

          And how does that cost them money exactly? Some money from some sales of released mediocre > no money from any sales of non-released game.

          • Lemming says:

            But money isn’t an issue for them. They are set for as long as Steam exists. Their reputation is worth more to them at this point.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      Actually, skipping over this thread. It IS weird that studio that owns all of it’s own I.P. and has complete creative free reign to do whatever they want doesn’t create more totally new stuff. You’d think one of the 300-odd people working at valve would have an idea for a new project.

      • Shuck says:

        I suspect the problem is the opposite – there are probably lots of people with ideas for projects, but the flat structure means that there’s no one saying, “Ok everyone, this is the one we’re doing.” So you likely have various people trying to articulate their visions of their own projects such that they can get a critical mass of people interested in them, but at the same time sequels, with their already established visions, would be the easier sells to get people interested in joining the teams.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I guess it’s possible that a lot of those ideas are just a bit too wild and creative and turn out not to work once they’re mocked up, so are never heard of by the outside world.

  14. Apples says:

    It physically pains me that I will probably never get that employee handbook given to me in real life. (If you’re reading this, hi Valve, prove me wrong)

  15. YourMessageHere says:

    I’m so looking forward to Sir, You Are Being Hunted =)

  16. StingingVelvet says:

    My only “issue” with gay characters in video games is the way (Bioware especially) are making every character bi so that everyone can fuck anyone. I think that’s harmful to character identity, making them all so… flexible? It makes them feel more like game options than people to me.

    Make the majority straight and a few homosexual or bi, like the real world, and then develop them along those lines. If anything it allows for more detailed homosexual content and deeper homosexual characters with something real to say about it.

    • Nashk says:

      I disagree with this, at least as far as bioware is concerned. The characters are not bisexual usually, but protagonist-sexual. The only reason they are available for any sort of romance is so that the players can have the choice to do so.

      Even then, there has only been one bioware game that has made everyone “bisexual.” (Dragon Age 2) and even then not every character was romanceable. One of them even rejects you and finds lover on their own, the other is a dwarf.

      Every fan of bioware has a favorite character they absolutely would like to romance. No matter the game, Mass Effect, Dragon age, if you have a party member someone wants the option.

      Its not a bad thing at all in my opinion. The more options the better, which has been bioware’s mantra for some time now. The fact that the characters are protagonist-sexual has NO effect on their characters at all, bad or good. It is simply a way to explore the character in a different way, outside of just friendship. (There are many things you would never know about certain characters without romancing them.)

      Its just fanservice from bioware, which is not a bad thing. Without fanservice Tali from ME would never have been a romance option, for example.

      The only bad thing about DA2 romances (which is the only game to make the , was when the characters themselves were to forward with Hawke. Sure its realistic (realism =/= good) but it made some players uncomfortable, and getting “bad” points for rejecting a character you were not interested in made some players upset.

      • Consumatopia says:

        I disagree with this, at least as far as bioware is concerned. The characters are not bisexual usually, but protagonist-sexual.

        Right, that’s why it sucks. It would actually be better if they had some “in Space and Middle Earth everyone is bisexual now” explicitly in the world’s backstory to go with it. As it is, it’s like meeting the meat in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. They aren’t characters, they’re robots programmed to be sexually attracted to you, but only if you want them to be.

        I would be okay with this if the point of the game were to be some kind of fantasy romance sim. I’m okay with it in The Sims, partly because of the game’s algorithmic nature, partly the player is the one creating the characters in the first place.

        But scripted characters who just happen to be oriented to whichever gender you choose? What, like Conversion Therapy?

      • Phantoon says:

        No, what? It was terribly shallow compared to other games, like New Vegas, where sexuality was a part of the character, and wasn’t written like utter fan-service tripe. New Vegas may have not had the romance on rails whatever, but the characters were all far more endearing because they could’ve been real people- as opposed to, say, Mass Effect in which you can romance your subordinates, which is terribly unprofessional. Dr. Chakwas was probably one of the better written characters, and she wasn’t even a romance option. This is probably also why she wasn’t written like tripe.

        Look at Veronica and Arcade. Their sexuality didn’t define them, it was merely a part of them as a person, same as anyone else. In fact, you could trace events in their past to why they were the way they were, and why they were at where they were. In Mass Effect, you get Renegade points for not making out with the Jersey Shore guy.

        • StingingVelvet says:

          What Phantoon said, basically. I loved those characters in New Vegas because they were written like real people and had something to say about their sexuality, even if it was brief.

          In DA2 it was just like “hey sure I will sleep with you because you asked” without any character depth at all.

    • Skabooga says:

      My issue is that romancing someone in your chain of command is an inherently bad idea.

      • Nashk says:

        Which is a fine complaint, but Bioware has never been big on military rules in the first place. They even have trouble getting people to use the right hand while saluting.

      • Apples says:

        To be fair, they did play around with this idea a tiny bit in the games (SPOILERS ahead). Not enough to really make the player uncomfortable, but I definitely felt some conflicts of interest between being a good commander and being a good friend/partner at certain points. Garrus’ mission in ME2 and his hang-out time in ME3 both felt like they asked you to choose between being ‘a good commander’ and ‘a good friend’ to some extent, and things definitely got awkward in ME3 when my LI Kaidan asked me if I would have shot him if he hadn’t backed down. And hey, Shep’s a spectre. If nobody bats an eye at her casually punching people and pointing guns around the Citadel, I doubt they can say anything about who she sleeps with.

    • ffs_jay says:

      I don’t get this argument at all. Indeed, I don’t get the preoccupation gamers seem to have that sexual content should be so much more nuanced.

      Pretty much no-one has an issue with more or less everyone in these games being killers, why make such a big deal over a relatively trivial, personally subjective issue such as sexuality? Likewise, close to nobody has a problem with violence in games up to and including cold-blooded murder, why do sexual interactions need to have so much more grounding in realism before they’re seen to be acceptable? You’d think you’d want to give more weight to whether you pull the trigger on someone as opposed to chat them up, as even in purely game terms that has much broader repercussions.

      A tiny number of people will argue for more realistic treatment of violence or conflict, compared to what seems like a majority who state that sexual content should be out of bounds if you can’t treat it realistically. Why the fuck should it be realistic, when the vast majority of everything else in games is simple wish fulfullment which can include wholly morally unacceptable acts such as murder?

      Note that this is not a ‘games are too violent’ argument. I have no issue with violent content. It’s more the double standard with other taboo issues that gets to me. The violent stuff just seems especially egregious when it seemingly has close to no upper acceptable limit, when sexual content at the level of a couple of naked bums can cause scandal.

      Yeah, this is more a general ‘sex in games’ issue than a ‘homosexuality in games’ issue, but if we can’t get past even the humdrum vanilla stuff the majority enjoy on a regular basis without even a hint of controversy, we’ve got a long way to go.

      Great piece by Brooker by the way, always enjoy his work and that was no exception.

      • Apples says:

        How many people who play games are going to be involved in violence?
        How many people who play games are going to be involved in sexual relationships? (Easy joke here, I know)

        The argument is that it’s more important to depict sexual (or indeed non-sexual) relationships with respect and some level of realism because sexuality is something that makes up a part of almost everyone’s life, whereas violence is not. Depicting over-the-top, silly violence and parodic visions of murderers is probably alright because there is a much bigger and more obvious boundary between “ok” and “not ok” behaviour around hurting people. We know not to do it. Depicting unhealthy, ridiculous, and idealised visions of relationships has the potential to be more harmful because the boundary between “normal/healhy” and “abnormal/unhealthy” is not as obvious. So yeah if there’s what is perceived to be ‘bad’ sexual content in a game people are going to be upset about that much more than if there is violent content, which every sane person knows is not to be replicated in real life.

        Also a lot of people have to deal with actual prejudice and bigotry in real life, and this is often based off media depictions. Displaying all the characters as ‘player-sexual’ has uncomfortable implications related to beliefs that gay people just need to ‘find the right man/woman’ and around taking away sexual agency. While you will probably (hopefully!) never meet or be a murderer, you are very likely to meet or be a gay/bisexual person, and it’s important that gay/bi people have something to relate to, and be related to, than shallow player-sexual idealised fantasies.

        Finally, we all have some idea of what a romantic relationship looks like. So it’s easy to fall into an uncanny valley of romance when writing video game romances because of all the strange power issues at play (player is usually ‘chosen one’, or ‘commander’, or some sort of group leader), and it’s easy for players to identify it and roll their eyes at it. The way that video games treat sexual relationships is very often with complete immaturity and stupidity, and with weird mechanical implications because of the way games work (you know, the old ‘get their approval rating to 100 to see a sexy cutscene’ thing), and most adults will notice that. This is another “can games be art” and “should games be taken seriously” related issue.

        So yeah there you go, there’s a rundown of that.

        edit: this is not meant to address Fox News-style “OMG SEX IN GAMES!?” outcries, but controversy from within gaming circles regarding sex in games.

        • Consumatopia says:

          Even the “OMG SEX” position isn’t completely indefensible. Generally, sex is supposed to be private, violence is supposed to be public. Committing a sexual act in public gets you in trouble even if society would be willing to tolerate that act privately, but concealing evidence of a violent act will get you in trouble even if society would otherwise permit that violent act (e.g. self-defense).

          I wouldn’t mind seeing more sex and less violence in our media, but I don’t think expecting symmetry makes sense.

          • ffs_jay says:

            Well, I’d agree that expecting symmetry would be unrealistic, but I’d hope for some form of balance beyond ‘next to none’.

            As for the ‘gaming panders to Americans who prefer their violence’ line of argument, I can kind of see that, but it still doesn’t explain the disparity between sexual content in games and other forms of popular media. Even fairly mainstream American films can have a lot more graphic sexual content (and certainly the possibility for a more mature treatment of said content) than games typically do, not without their own share of controversy maybe, but it does happen. I suppose there’s the argument that sees games as more of a children’s medium, but it’s often the gamers themselves who get up in arms about this stuff, not just the media or uninformed observers.

          • Consumatopia says:

            You’re right that my argument doesn’t justify why games should have even less sex than other forms of mass entertainment.

            But I think some of the things Apples referred to originally do give reasons for that–or at least why sex in games could be held to a different standard than sex in cinema or literature.

            I could expand on one: the interactivity of video games may reveal flaws that wouldn’t be visible in a static narrative. That’s part of the problem here–you could write a fan service scene in which a space captain and a subordinate have feelings for each other, but that’s different from writing a *parameterized* story in which a space captain of player-selected gender and a player-selected subordinate will have such feelings. It’s one thing if the writer decides to give fan service, it’s another if the fan chooses their own service, in a way that alters (or leaves in a sort of quantum superposition) a basic component of the character’s personality.

            Although I do believe games are art, I think what makes it a worthwhile art form is that interactivity changes things–that controlling an avatar doing something is different from watching an animation or reading a paragraph describing the avatar do that same thing. While I believe that censorship is wrong, I also believe in freedom to criticize, and it doesn’t necessarily make sense to criticize different media in the same way. If one is going to be offended by sex, there is good reason to think interactive sex would be even more offensive. On the other hand, if one is actively seeking depictions of sex, there are reasons why interactive sex might be held to a higher standard than noninteractive (e.g. “uncanny valley” reasons like Apples mentioned.) Though that certainly isn’t absolute–people seem okay with implied sex in the Sims even though it’s intentionally whimsical.

        • ffs_jay says:

          That’s an interesting argument, but it doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. Why does it apply to games and not anything else? What makes them so special? I can think of plenty of movies, music and literature that run the gamut of experience regarding sexual and/or violent subjects, treating every aspect of either from every conceivable angle, from entirely frivolous escapism to deadly seriousness, and those are generally considered acceptable. What’s holding us back here, incompetence, or maybe just immaturity as a medium? I imagine it’ll get better given time, but I really wish it was at least a little better than it is now.

          • Apples says:

            What part of it doesn’t work for you? It does hold true for other mediums but other mediums often do present realistic, or at least recognisably normal, relationships, whereas games rarely if ever do. That gives other mediums some sort of authority and legitimacy that games at the moment do not have. This is partly bound up in the medium itself in that a film about ‘real people’ may very well be interesting but a game founded in realism and mundane everyday life doesn’t have much appeal or interest; games usually end up being action/puzzle-based and that is not an ideal genre for portraying social interaction! Action movies don’t usually have very good approximations of real relationships either and that is not to their detriment, but the problem is that there are basically no games which have well-presented relationships, and many films and books. And since its such a fundamental part of human life and nature, that sometimes feels a bit embarrassing, that we can’t seem to properly address it in a medium that is supposed to be gaining maturity and relevance.

          • ffs_jay says:

            Hang on a minute, I think we’re essentially agreeing with each other here. Or at least I’m agreeing with a lot of what you’re saying.

            I’m having trouble articulating myself here, I think. My key issue is really that games should do more with sexual themes and content. I’m not saying that stuff should be exclusively escapist or extreme, just that I’d like to see that as well as more mature treatments of it, and I don’t see why so many people seem to think sensible, mature, balanced treatment of these themes is the only way to go. There’s certainly a lot more room for sex to be treated as a casual, enjoyable thing for all concerned compared to violence, regardless of which we’re actually exposed to and have most experience of.

            I was wondering why it ‘only applied to games’ as the way I read your previous statement, it seemed that you were trying to place sexual content as something above escapist or more extreme, unrealistic treatment as it was more a part of people’s lives, and that struck me as something that other media doesn’t necessarily concern itself with. If that wasn’t your intent, I apologise, but that’s what I got from it.

            One thing I will say is that at the moment, I’m not sure it’d be possible for developers to be doing a worse job of this stuff. Most don’t even try, and we end up with otherwise extremely prudish games with bizarre sexist undercurrents seething through them, the old ‘chainmail bikini’ problem where despite nothing overtly sexual happening, the women characters exist in a constant state of objectification. Bioware are among the best at dealing with sexual themes, and they’re still insultingly prudish and fairly terrible at it.

            So basically, more sex please. If they don’t take a proper run at it it’s never going to get any better.

      • Phantoon says:

        Gaming tends to pander to the American audience. It’s why the violence is glorified and the sexuality is kept under wraps. That said, I wouldn’t like it to be cartoony either. I liked New Vegas’ writing because the gay characters weren’t defined by being gay. They merely were, and it was no more important than any other part of their personality as a character.

    • Lemming says:

      My biggest problem is that in the rush to appease all sexualities, they never considered the Asexuality we’ve always had in games until now. Romances, from the start should have been an option. And I don’t mean the awkward moment where you get it offered on a plate and have to turn it down much to the embarrassed of all involved. I mean it never coming up. EVER.

      You can’t play a Paragon without everyone practically dry-humping your leg. Why can’t I be a good guy without having to deal with the dilemma in the first place?

      Romance dialogue on/off should have been an option in these games since Baldur’s Gate 2.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Why should being a paragon or renegade matter in to your character’s sexuality, or lack of it for that matter? I think a toggle is a bit graceless, and there are plenty of ways to do romance that doesn’t throw it at the player over and over again. Fable is a better, but not great example of this. To enter a romance you have to seek it out and maintain it.

        I think the real problem with Bioware romances is that they’re not terribly well designed, and they’ve been getting worse. Dragon Age in particular had people coming on to you after you said you weren’t interested. They also tied romances into the plot, which just wasn’t a great decision.

        • NathanH says:

          People coming on to you after you’ve told them you’re not interested is fairly realistic tbf.

    • Kadayi says:

      “Every character bi so that everyone can fuck anyone.”

      Eh? There were no Bi or Gay characters in ME1 or ME2 (Liara is an Alien). It’s only in ME3 that Bioware introduced any Gay or Bi characters and not everyone was romance-able by both genders.

  17. Rii says:

    From the Atlantic piece on Blow:

    “For the world’s most existentially obsessed game developer, coming into seven figures just provided another opportunity to ponder the nature of meaning in the universe.”

    Ok, this is just embarassing. It’s like walking in on a blowjob.

    • JackShandy says:

      “Also, have I mentioned how sweet his car is?”

    • Salt says:

      I think the world’s most existentially obsessed game developer would be too caught up in questions over the nature of their game’s existence to actually finish it.
      At least, that’s my excuse.

    • Phantoon says:

      That pun actually caused me pain.

      Well done, you fiend.

    • Cryo says:

      This is Atlantic. Giving rich people blowjobs is what they do. Though usually it’s Megan McArdle who’s on blowjob duty.

  18. phenom_x8 says:

    Awww, why we never stop discussing about LGBT ? Ok, we know its exist, but dont treat it like it was another step of the next human evolution where many people reject it for the 1st time than accept it as the time goes by. LGBT exist since thousand of years ago (so it is not something new), it is not the next step of human evolution or civilization, it is just another history repeating itself.

    If you read your bible, I believe you will find one story about a man named Soddom and a city called Gomorrah, despite of the destroyed city parts due to God being anger towards their attitude to His prophet (AFAIK Gomorrah was finally destroyed not due to God’s hate towards LGBT, it was destroyed because the people of Gomorrah killed His prophet who brought His message in peace), LGBT was an accepted culture/way of life by the people of Gomorrah at that time.

    I’m not a homophobe myself, but this kind of story are just another attention/hit seeking article that needs to be stopped. The message is already clear. And EA’s attitude towards it seems like just another marketing strategy to blow up their popularity.

    I’m very sorry if this things would hurt someone feelings, believe me that wasn’t my intention.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      Say it sister.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      It’s not really history repeating itself as much as it is a biological trait that’s constantly around in some of the population. (or actually in ALL of the population in differing amounts)
      It gets discussed right now because of the polarity it causes. I would blame religion for the polarizing, but that’s just how I’ve seen it. Once everyone realizes it is normal and we all have a bit of gay in us, on a sliding scale, it can just be observed, put into some games, but not focused on so much. That day has been approaching, slowly or quickly, depending on your perception and relativity.

    • JackShandy says:

      Any post that says “Subject X is unimportant, people should stop talking about this on the internet.” is obviously ridiculous. People talk about literally every subject on the internet. You’ve wasted your time saying that people shouldn’t waste their time talking about something that doesn’t matter. Go outside.

      • phenom_x8 says:

        I’m very sorry,but I’d never said it wasn’t important (forgive me if my original post seems like that, I still have to improve my writing skill and my english). I’m pretty sure it’s very important matter . But when I see it being exploited, its kind of unhealthy situation (many of the reader comments seems very sad to read due to how rude or harsh it was towards another people that have different opinions). If they care about LGBT problem than they should have cover it like what Vorpal Bunny Ranch did with constructive writing and thoughts constantly and not just suddenly write about it when there’s something being hyped like just what recently happened due to EA.

    • Phantoon says:

      Wait, the super entity wasn’t mad because the people were committing various levels of debauchery, but because they didn’t listen when he sent a phone call?

      Nothing is more self-obsessed than the entity that made us in its image, I guess.

      (Disclaimer: I do not believe the existence or non existence of any deities can be proven, but if it were, I’m sure I could get people together to theorize a way to kill it in retribution for all the suffering done to humanity over the past 10,000 so years when we started building huts)

      • phenom_x8 says:

        Yep, thats quite opposite to everything we’ve been told before towards any religion right? ‘The Super Entity’ itself never needs us , but He care and loves all of us whether we are a sinner or a saint. What He’s done is just give us a choice and shows the consequence like what He wrote in Bible / another Holy Book(thats why it was called Old/new Testament that also means old/new promises). In Gomorrah case, He sent His prophet in peace to brings the message towards people of Gomorrah. But instead of allowed His prophet to teach His message and recruiting few people that want to be his pupil, they killed the prophet and his pupil (we should ask the reason they killed him, what they should have been afraid for from a few people that just talks nonsense ?). So, The Super Entity have to fullfill His promises that every people who killed a Prophet must be vanished and then like we all know, He wipeout the people of Gomorrah instantly.

        And as a footnote, I’m not a christian myself. I use christian as an example because of my assumption that Christianity would be easier to understand for western reader of this site.CMIIW.

    • Apples says:

      “They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” 6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” ”

      LGBT may have been accepted by the inhabitants, but Lot considered the raping of his daughters to be a lesser offence than homosexual activity. The ‘wicked thing’ was not rape, it was homosexual activity. The place may not have been destroyed purely because of gay activity but it certainly was not accepted by God. From this we can assume that it was not acceptable to the people that wrote the Bible, so probably not acceptable in general society at the time the Bible was written. Even if it were, “well it was accepted in one specific place many many years ago, according to an unreliable source, and therefore we should not need to discuss LGBT issues in the modern day” is a stupid argument. So there is no point bringing it up.

      • RedViv says:

        Thank you. Being gay *and* Irish, I have read “my bible” thoroughly and would have wanted to bring this up.
        Though I now remember why I never enter such discussion. That collection of texts has gone through so many hands and so many minds, you can’t take anything literal at all. Neither the City of Gay, nor the guy who seemingly favours protection of guests rather than protection of his kin from rape.

      • jrodman says:

        The modern read of this text is that the locals were more or less trying to pressure the visitors who lacked local support into a forced/pressured sexual situation, and that offering up his daughters was Lot’s way of getting the visitors OUT of it.

        In other words, the wickedness was the social attack.

    • wu wei says:

      I believe you will find one story about a man named Soddom and a city called Gomorrah

      It was “Sodom”, and it was also a city. Not a man. The focal character of that story was Lot.

      If you’re going to come here and try to use your fairy tale to feel morally superior, at least get the story right.

  19. mjig says:

    People who have issues with homosexuality must be secretly gay themselves. What an original and well thought out viewpoint. I guess that means that anyone who takes issue with homphobia must be secretly homophobic.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Well there is a bit of accuracy if you consider, according to Kinsey’s studies, that we all have some gay tendencies. So people who have a problem with homosexuality ARE a bit gay themselves, and perhaps the refusal to recognize this aspect of their being causes the severe “homophobia,” or fear of one’s own repressed homosexuality.

      • arccos says:

        Yes, but the problem with articles like Brooker’s is that they’re trying to deal with a complex issue in a simple, rather insulting way. I would love an article about homophobia in gaming backed up by the research that exists, but instead we get Brooker’s “everybody is gay in Star Wars all the time! Haw, haw, haw!” crap that just reinforces the stereotypes he claims to be fighting against.

        It’s not anything informative or groundbreaking, it’s just another article meant to titillate and demonize a group of people to make his readers feel superior.

        • RedViv says:

          Well that is Charlie we’re talking about here. Getting people enraged like this is kind of the point.

    • phenom_x8 says:

      This is what actually I want to say! It seems like any LGBT article being wrote after what happened towards EA’s always seems blamed the opposite with his own justification (I knew there’s some study about it, but the writer itself never mentioned it). I oftenly read Vorpal Bunny Ranch site, they always bring LGBT problem in a very constructive way and easy to discuss without rage or blame their opposite (you should read the article about what if Nathan Drake from Uncharted being gay, it’s a great article)

    • Phantoon says:

      EA is full of assholes. Fuck those assholes.

      Oh wait using this logic I’m gay too oh noooooo~

      Really, I think if EA is going to just use people so egregiously, the gay community should be mad for having their plight undermined by a bunch of jerkoffs in suits. Certainly cheapens it when you have EA just kind of pandering to whoever will buy their next game when bigotry towards people out of the sexual norm is still quite alive.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        I think you’ve kind of got the wrong idea of the world if you think that representing gay people heroically in games is an astute business move. It’s nice that you do think the world is so accepting of gay people, and probably represents your own accepting and viewpoint but I think it’s still a risk to have gay heroes in games rather than a way to make profit.

        And as a representative of the LGBT community I simply can’t begrudge EA using the positive step of including LGBT characters in games to portray themselves as a socially minded company. I’m sure they suck in all kinds of other ways but if they treat gay people as equal to straight people then this is an arena they deserve to use for their PR. That a company not only offers positive portrayals of LGBT people but stands behind (aruhm!) them as a point of pride can only be a good thing.

  20. Reapy says:

    Mom was/is one of my all time fav strat games, and was on my hd well after it should hvae remained. All that said, looking back on it in recent years, it is quite heavy in term of micromanagment per turn. I started to realize why i prefered small land mass games, tech up, and send an ungodly buffed warrax out to demolish the world. That was until an errant cracks call finished himoff (whoops no flying ;).

    Still what i like and what the author points out are the sheer number of broken combinations of spells/tech in game basically make it a sandbox 4x game. I think it is a feel that has been lost ironically as game design gets better. As you start to make balanced games and close down broken things you get a much
    different feel to the game, one where your options become limited for fear of getting crushed.

    I have yet to check out dominions iii, but ive read a lot about it. I wonder if that one goes too overboard at points, but still, it seems like such an amazing contribution to the genera it is a shame it remains relativly obscure.

    Final comment about braid article…i like what blow is saying and doing on one level, but i cant help but feel that the article at least makes it look like his head is perminatly stuck up his ass. If his whole message behind braid is that he is alienated by people due to his superior understanding of the world, it is a pretty sad message. You dont have to alienate yourself to understand our world, and id argue that greater understanding comes with deep reading, but also in getting to know your fellow humans as well.

    I just finished slaughterhouse 5 and idont think his insights came from distancing himself from the world, but by experiencing it in all its uglyness in ww2 and dresden. I guess i understand feeling alienated and standing apart to watch the world tick by (try being the only sober one at a party)’ but at some point you have to realize that everything we do looks like madness from outside and that ultimatly there is no way we can control every influence on us. Sometimes its better to take a cool look at all the ‘idiots’ having fun, grab a drink, and be one yourself.

  21. InternetBatman says:

    The publisher 2.0 model is itself an example of why traditional publishers are having a hard time in digital spaces. The whole thing was focused on hits. It ignores the idea that hits aren’t what people in the digital market are seeking. They’re really after self-sufficiency and creative freedom. If they can get that by working directly with the retailer, and a ton of them can, publishers have no place.

    On a side note, who puts their name after the enlarged quotations in their own article?

    • dsch says:

      That’s probably a clueless editor.

      • TheWhippetLord says:

        Or an author trying a bit too hard to manage their personal branding. :P

    • Apolloin says:

      The place of Publishers has always been raising the six or seven figures necessary to make the kind of game that they insist is the only kind of game that’s worth making.

      For the first time, Kickstarter has jeopardised that position.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I don’t think that was how it originally was or how it is supposed to be. The definition of publish is to make known, disseminate, and produce. So a publisher is supposed to handle advertising and distribution. In digital distribution the storefronts handle distribution and the better ones make new games and good games known. They’re fulfilling many of the practical roles of the publisher already. If a developer reaches self-sufficiency, it’s not likely that they’ll go back to a parasitical model that is disproportionately advantageous to the banker.

  22. dsch says:

    The Atlantic article reads like the result of a writer tackling a subject in a field he doesn’t know much about and therefore has to take everything Blow says as gospel. From a more clued-in and sensitive writer, it could have provided wider insight into both Blow’s insights and fallacies, as well as how they relate to the medium as a whole. A bit of a shame that it’s going to be taken for a balanced and nuanced external view of the medium for many of its readers.

    • Phantoon says:

      Well, that being the problem. Self-important jerks are given a mouthpiece in which they can basically preach gospel.

      • dsch says:

        ‘When Roman Jakobson—great linguist, Harvard professor—was approached some years ago with the suggestion that Vladimir Nabokov might be appointed professor of Slavic, Jakobson was skeptical; he had nothing against elephants, he said, but he would not appoint one professor of zoology.’

  23. Malkara says:

    You know what game could use some RPS coverage? Dominions 3.

    • Vinraith says:

      Not that I disagree, but it is a bit antique at this point. The peculiar absence of Conquest of Elysium 3 coverage is more keenly felt, what with it being a new release.

    • NathanH says:

      RPS is pretty light on strategy in general, unless it is Paradox or mainstream or in something written by Stone.

    • ffs_jay says:

      I’ll be forever grateful to Flash Of Steel/Three Moves Ahead for getting me into those games, not to mention plenty of others. I’d certainly welcome more strategy coverage on here, but between here and TMA I think we’re pretty well covered.

      I’d agree the lack of CoE3 coverage is a little bizarre though.

  24. Reefpirate says:

    About that Master of Magic article… At the end it mentions the failure of Elemental: War of Magic. And he’s right, I bought that game and was very disappointed… I haven’t played it for a year I suppose. But then… I was let in to the Fallen Enchantress beta this weekend, and boy oh boy… It’s really freaking good so far.

    • Malk_Content says:

      Been in the beta for awhile and my gosh did that latest patch seriously amp things up. Race/Faction specific rules and tech (well changes to what tech gives you) as well as the better monster tethering AI (they guard their lairs now rather than thinking turning up and trashing your capital 20 turns in is a good idea.) The questing and loot is so much better as well now. Though I guess I’m preaching to the choir. All I can say though is getting Earth magic really helps, being able to literally raise mountains between you and a belligerent neighbour is super handy and I hope one day the AI will do the same to us (or tear them down to attack us, or raise causeways out of the water to launch an offence.)

  25. Jenks says:

    While reading the Valve handbook, I get the feeling that working at Valve is a bit like working for Aperture Science. I hope Gabe addresses the company as often as Cave Johnson.

    • Durkonkell says:

      Well, it’s not VERY much like working at Aperture. Unless HL3 gained sentience and murdered its development team with neurotoxin, that is.

      Actually, that would explain some things…

    • RedViv says:

      When I closed that document, I thought more of them being a company where people greet each other with an invention exchange.

  26. Raziel_Alex says:

    Patricia Hernandez’ article hits like a f*cking hammer after a night of drinking and partying in which you realize – again – how shallow and meaningless your life is…

    • Lacero says:

      It was good, perhaps a bit of a shame the RPS commenters have spent more time on the LBGT thing and Blow.

      It reminded me of Blindsight by Peter Watts. I’m now thoroughly depressed and losing myself in an MMO like usual won’t help :(

    • NathanH says:

      Personally I’m getting a little tired of all this searching for meaning from video gaming. I kinda wish they’d all find a different hobby and stop trying to spoil all my fun :-(

      • Raziel_Alex says:

        It’s inevitable in a medium with such potential. I don’t mind all this search for… “meaning” (although this f*cking post-drinking depression cuts away any desire for further searching) , what I mind about her article is that she bragged how she tries to push people in her life to have a meaningful existence without actually saying how she, herself has one. Plus, Skyrim has at least some potential for meaning when it comes to its visual beauty, making you at least contemplate that.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I don’t know, I’m of two minds here. The article certainly has it’s annoying qualities. And pointing out that Skyrim has a lot of grind is a bit of a dog-bites-man story.

      But we as gamers spend so much time seeking easy yet false accomplishments that someone ought to be yelling at us. It is not just that video games could be more than this, it is that this pleasure itself is inherently ugly. It’s annoying to think about–but it’s annoying precisely because we as game players and game makers know that it’s true.

      • Lacero says:

        Right, but this is about entertainment as a reflection of society. What a culture values shapes its entertainment. Romans had blood sports, greeks had theatre, we have treadmills.

        I’m of course not claiming there’s any more meaning in the others, I’m sure plenty of greek and roman misanthropes complained of the meaninglessness of lives lost in the arena or a life spent pretending to be something else. I’m saying reading the article as being about games is completely missing the point, and as a bonus I think the point was actually intended by the author and not just inherent in the subject.

    • wouldestous says:

      “22/04/2012 at 16:57 Raziel_Alex says:

      Patricia Hernandez’ article hits like a f*cking hammer after a night of drinking and partying in which you realize – again – how shallow and meaningless your life is…”

      lol maybe you are drinking and partying with the wrong sort of people.

  27. Subucula Tertia says:

    I love Brooker, but I was disappointed to see him characterize the online reaction to the Mass Effect 3 ending as gamers wanting a less sad ending. Why is it that so many games journalists insist on portraying it like that, when what so many gamers want is not a happy ending, but an ending that makes sense? Sad is fine as long as listing the plotholes takes less time than actually watching the ending.

    • fish99 says:

      I’d bet a significant amount of (monopoly) money that Bioware still don’t understand this, and are busy making happy endings that don’t make sense.

  28. mouton says:

    My God, Valve is an actual anarchy. Or as close as anything remotely functional can ever be. This is positively fascinating. No wonder they lack focus now and then, heh heh

    • Reefpirate says:

      It’s not an anarchy because it’s not a state… It’s a company with a very unique organization, possibly a kind of game dev co-op. But you can’t really compare it to a government organization.

    • Lemming says:

      I was reminded of the John Cleese lecture on Creativity.

  29. fupjack says:

    There’s a Harvard Business School paper (“One More Time – How Do You Motivate Employees?”, Frederick Harzberg, 1969?, just to prove I’m not making it up) that talks about motivation for workers, and how you get someone working on their own, without having to bring in external forces (oversize paycheck, threat of firing, free lunches) to move them along. That Valve document follows that pretty well, and it’s certainly more interesting than talk of “hygiene vs. motivators” and so on.

    So yeah, that’s a good and actually realistic way to build a technical workforce, especially in an industry that relies on burnout and hype.

    • wouldestous says:

      i just want to say that external forces like large paychecks, free lunch and the threat of losing both of those things are all pretty strong motivators, actually.

      edit to add:
      i understand the game industry relying on hype, but i dont understand how the game industry relies on burnout. how does the game industry rely on burnout?

      • fupjack says:

        Maybe not burnout per se, but the idea of ‘crunch time’ and how it’s assumed to be needed no matter what. That certainly leads to burnout.

        • wouldestous says:

          ahhh, crunch time.
          im in the united states and one of our sayings here is ‘if it wasnt for the last minute nothing would ever get done’. i dont think its just the video game industry that relies on this maxim. lol

      • InternetBatman says:

        It’s not just crunch time. It’s also a lack of job security and pay below other fields that use the same skills. The whole system is a machine that churns through a perennial crop of college kids. I’m not in the industry but I looked at it seriously before deciding to stay the hell away.

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  31. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    Orwellian Essays are awesome. “Politics and The English Language” changed my life. Can’t say the same about the Valve handbook.

  32. TheWhippetLord says:

    It is sad that his name has become a shorthand for everything he stood against, because he stood against it.

    Pah, humans.