The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on September 16th, 2012 at 11:07 am.


Sundays are for nursing a headache. There, there, poor brain. It’ll pass. You just sit there in a quiet dark room. The rest of us will go get some breakfast. And perhaps something to read.

  • Richard’s Skyrim diary is a thing to behold: “Even without eyes, Triss manages to follow along for a while, only to vanish early and never re-appear. So, pretty much like The Witcher 2 then. Alone, I find myself wandering through the snowy forests towards Helgen, and quickly discovering that my gear is nowhere near warm enough for even these climes. Before long, there’s snow all over me, and things only get worse when night falls. The temperature drops along with it, and in this Skyrim, night is pitch black. Then the messages start appearing. Messages like “A Forsworn is hunting you.” Gulp.”
  • PCGamesN produced a frightening piece on the health risks of extended gaming sessions: “Although reports of sudden death of gamers stretch back almost a decade, most originate in Asia and have been given little in the way of analysis or even visibility in the English-speaking media. That’s allowed gamers to ignore stories that aren’t much more than footnotes. A rare exception occurred in February of this year, with the death of 23-year-old Taiwanese gamer Chen Rong-yu providing concrete (and disturbing) proof that people really were dying while playing video games.”
  • This article on the techniques used by F2P and gambling is interesting: “Sticker books, penny falls and claw machines all have a great deal in common with the IAP and free-to-play world. And, indeed, are considerably harsher in many ways. The things you buy in a game might well be virtual, but within that world they almost always have hugely more use than a sticker does in the real world. And sticker packs are usually located at exactly the right place to calm an annoying child on a trip to the supermarket – they wear their pester-power intentions proudly. Behave like a not-bastard and Daddy will buy you some stickers when we get to the end. Presuming your children are old enough to grasp the principles of delayed-gratification, you have yourself a whole mess of behavioural economics and no mistake.”
  • The beauty of videogame deaths? “What there is a possible lack of in gaming is death being aesthetically pleasing. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I am quite certain there are people who think that Sub-Zero ripping out someone’s spine is the equivalent of virtual sculpting, how many games put an effort in making death “beautiful”?”
  • TPCG’s The Online Backpacker continues: “Why is the environment so darn massive compared to your avatar? Perhaps Bioware had visions of a best case scenario, their environments so packed full of keen players that they’d have trouble passing each other in the hallway if the corridors weren’t a hundred feet wide. Making the world so big seems like wasted effort now, as there are never more than thirty people on the planet when I log in. Or maybe it’s another convention, a dictate of standard MMO design. Either way, there are no small spaces in The Old Republic – no cramped hidey holes or secret passages, no cosy nooks or homely chambers. Everywhere is big.”
  • Eurogamer on the making of Borderlands 2: “The idea behind Borderlands’ gameplay was a simple one that now seems obvious: Diablo with guns. And it comes as no surprise to learn that pretty much everyone at the company has played Blizzard’s loot grind behemoth. “Back when I was in college my friends and I always talked about a game, and said, you know what I really want? I really want to play a first-person shooter and Diablo together,” Borderlands lead designer John Hemingway tells me. “That’s our dream game. We all went our separate ways. I ended up going into the game industry. I interviewed with Gearbox, and they had just started development of Borderlands and they showed me what they had. My jaw dropped. I must work on this game. I got hired and here I am.”"
  • Gamasutra has a big piece about DICE and their learned game development methodology: “You’ll really love our office, and we’re spending a lot of time taking care of it. Both in keeping people happy in the studio, but also because of what we’ll be talking about here. We have semi-open areas. We have a room where maybe you can have 12, or another room where you can have 24 people, and then we have smaller rooms. And depending on what kind of pod we have — because we do organize the teams into like, you can have a narrative pod, or maybe a bigger single player pod, and then you can have a multiplayer group, and these kinds of things. And then we try to put cross-functionality people in there, so you have programmers, and designers, and artists, everyone sitting together. It doesn’t work having all the artists in one corner, and all the programmers in one corner — that’s a recipe for disaster.”
  • Amazing Bldgblog post about the caves of Nottingham, and the laser scanning thereof. Generates some imagery that gamers will be familiar with.
  • This sells Guild Wars 2 to me better than any review I’ve read.

Music this week is Aidan Baker’s Closure Axiom.

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75 Comments »

  1. tehfish says:

    That Skyrim diary is a thing of beauty, haven’t laughed so hard in a very long time! :D

    • McDan says:

      It is brilliant, I do love the really wide variety of mods. Also that guild wars 2 environment article is great, they really are beautiful., I’d say that’s about a third of the reason I got the game.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I was crying with laughter about halfway down! Then I saw what had happened to the spiders and I literally couldn’t look at the screen anymore for laughter!!

      • GameCat says:

        This spider-man mod is clearly the funniest thing ever done in videogames.

    • gschmidl says:

      I lost it at the waterslide, then again with the chicken armor on day 2. What other horrors await?

      Also, I am totally installing that scenic travel mod. If I can find it.

      • Richard Cobbett says:

        http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/15094

        Might be on the Workshop too, but I’m on my Mac so don’t have Steam installed here. Really cool mod. Pathfinding gets a bit iffy at times, but it’s a fun way to take in the scenery. You can talk to the driver to skip to the end, and pick at the start of every journey whether you want to take the trip or just be teleported like usual.

        • gschmidl says:

          Thanks! I’m handling all the mods I use with Mod Organizer, which replaces NMM and uses some sort of directory magic to dynamically throw all mods you want to use together and make Skyrim see them. That way, you can dynamically enable and disable all the mods without your install ever suffering — strongly recommended if anyone else wants to try and do this.

          http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/1334

      • LionsPhil says:

        I particularly like how it causes the small child to faceplant into a chicken.

        • tehfish says:

          Never fails to amuse me how it’ll run down literally anything and anyone in the way.

          “Oh look, a group of three guards escorting a prisoner”
          *splat*
          *corpses ragdoll around the scenery*
          *me reduced to unstoppable LOLs*

          :D

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      cspkg says:

      I second, third and fourth this. Everybody please saunter over there and have a read. The most entertaining bit of writing on PC Gamer for a long time. And if you do like it, then please demand more. Amusing gaming diaries are a rare art form and RC seems to be delivering the goods.

    • Henson says:

      Richard’s first death is actually kinda beautiful. Naked and helpless against the cold harsh reality of dragons. It makes a nice screenshot.

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      Arathain says:

      I feel ashamed. I’ve been reading and thoroughly enjoying the series all week, and I never looked to see who wrote it. I can’t believe I didn’t work it out from the first dialogue. Thanks, Richard.

    • Wololo says:

      I feel very inspired to install some random mods myself now.
      Richie <3

    • westyfield says:

      Ultra-congrats Richard, it’s a splendid piece of work. Really hope to see more of this sort of thing in the future.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Just finished all five parts. Started off amazingly, and ended in the true epic fashion it deserved! Well done!

      Also, “I’m sewn to carry your burdens” should be the tagline of a new line of bra merchandise.

      • Richard Cobbett says:

        Heh. That was one of those ‘woke up at 2AM, opened WordPress, typed pun, returned to bed, went back to sleep’ moments. Just clicked and had to go in there somewhere…

    • Bob says:

      Oh yeah, Richard went to another level with the diaries. Don’t take my word, go read ‘em.

    • Muzman says:

      Yes. That Brony bit was solid gold.

    • formivore says:

      Wow this is like the chatroulette of modding.

  2. Premium User Badge

    sonofsanta says:

    As cribbed from that PA Reports links thing, this is also a good read: Marines Who Love Space Marines (Slate magazine, US marines playing 40k)

  3. Premium User Badge

    AlwaysRight says:

    The Nottingham Caves post is awesome, thank you.

    • Soon says:

      That’s a large part of my job. Although more industrial. Caves would be a nice change, but getting to scan old buildings then develop them into a working brewery or something is still pretty awesome.

      There’s an aluminium smelting plant I surveyed which was partially built in some historic buildings. So you had all these industrial generators in a room that was tiled up like some Victorian Baths, like a mechanist cathedral. Looked amazing. Sadly, I’m generally not allowed to show photos of this stuff.

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        AlwaysRight says:

        Thats a shame, part of my job has been working with 3d scanning for almost a decade now (albeit on a much much smaller scale) Id love to see more of this stuff.

  4. MuscleHorse says:

    I hope that when I die I’m playing games.
    [folds arms]

  5. Paullicino says:

    “Dr. Strange-Walker”? Are you KIDDING me?

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      I can almost picture our Walker forcing himself not to go ‘Heil Hitler!’ and loving the bomb.

  6. rustybroomhandle says:

    Here’s an article on people discussing micro-transactions for single player and/or narrative-driven games.

    http://www.gamesbrief.com/2012/09/can-narrative-led-games-be-free-to-play-the-gamesbriefers/

    One brightspark in the article names as example buying a faster horse in Skyrim.

  7. serioussgtstu says:

    That article on DVT was quite an eye opener. Does anyone know any programs which will remind you to take a beak every hour or so while in game?

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      There’s this open source program known as Workrave, which main purpose is curing and/or preventing RSI, but can be configured to let you simply have a break every 90 minutes.

      • Soon says:

        Standing for too long causes just as many problems. Fun.

        • MacTheGeek says:

          Standing motionless for too long causes just as many problems. It’s the lack of movement that causes the circulation to drop, which triggers everything else.

      • serioussgtstu says:

        I’ll check that out. Thanks!

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      AmateurScience says:

      The amount of time I spend sat at a desk (both work and play) has concerned me for a while. Looking into the standing desk option, people who have switched tend to be evangelise about the benefits. Trying to persuade my boss that I need one in the office. If it works out I’ll try it out at home too.

      Edit: the always excellent Kirk Hamilton did a feature on standing desks over on Kotaku: worth reading http://kotaku.com/5932340/a-whole-new-way-to-play-video-games-standing-up

      Edit Edit: following a long, proud line of amateurscientists, I’m going to bodge up a home solution from Ikea bits and test it out. Details here: http://lifehacker.com/5919778/build-your-own-sturdy-good+looking-standing-desk-for-less-than-25

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        The super quick standing desk solution is to just stick your chair on your desk, adjust it to the appropriate height, and put your laptop on the chair.

        I’ve tried a few different things but I couldn’t get used to standing up while typing. I like to get up every few minutes and pace around to think while working anyway, though, and I’ll write in a notebook while standing, so I rarely spend any extended period of time just sitting in front of a computer.

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          AmateurScience says:

          To be honest, I rarely need an excuse to play with my tools (er).

          Just had a quick go with the chair on the desk (significant other terribly vexed). I like it. Typing standing up is bringing back memories of working in an off licence when I was a student. Which is odd. Otherwise I think it’ll scan. If it doesn’t work out at least I’ll have a couple of side tables and a shelf!

      • serioussgtstu says:

        I think instant death may be the preferable option to playing computer games standing up, but I hope the desk works out for you!

  8. onsamyj says:

    Can I point you to this reddit? I understand that is only relevant for post-USSR countries, and region-locking is nothing new, but what get’s me is language-locking and not only for Russia, but other East European countries, and multilayer-locking as well. Why?! I understand, they don’t want cheaper russian keys on west markets, but what that have to do with language and multiplayer?! And people from, for exapmle, Latvia even paid full 50€ price!

    • reosarevok says:

      Russian-only versions in the Baltic countries where less than 30% speak the language? At full EU price? What kind of utter morons thought of this? I guess the distributor really wants people to pirate the game instead…

  9. Medo says:

    I don’t really feel the article about possible death from prolonged sitting is all that frightening. The chances of this happening to any one person are very remote, insofar as it’s probably far more dangerous to e.g. take a car to work every day. It would be interesting to know how the risks of this stack up against more widely-known health risks of a sedentary lifestyle.

    That said, it’s a good idea to spread the word of course, especially because it’s so easy to avoid the risk.

    It might also be interesting whether hyperactive people are less likely to suffer from this kind of problem.

    • phelix says:

      I agree. Reading the article, his death wasn’t the sole fault of extended gaming hours, but of a fatal combination of that and various other things (drinking alcohol, having a lot of long haul flights, etc) and, like the article states, the risk is very easily aversible.

      • JFS says:

        Actually, his Dad likened his gaming habits to “having a long haul flight every night”. He didn’t really travel the world, he just sat all the time like frequent flyers do.

        • Soon says:

          There are contradicting reports. But it’s not merely the sitting down for long periods on a long flight, the biggest contributor to the increased risk is the recirculated air. Apparently, dehydration isn’t a factor.

          It’s a freak occurrence, but a short break is a simple thing.

          • soldant says:

            The “sitting down for long periods” thing is a significant factor – unless the guy was moving his legs to promote venous return, chances are a clot formed, detached, and lodged itself somewhere important as they seem to enjoy doing. You can see it with any sort of patient or person who has prolonged periods without extremity movement – you need that skeletal muscle action in the lower limbs to promote venous return when the legs are positioned such that there’s a risk of pooling (like sitting or standing very still). It’s part of the reason why people are often on heparin/clexane (anticoagulants) post-operatively.

    • rockman29 says:

      This is not a freak occurrence. In fact it is rather regular. It happens often in any population who sits or stands very long without moving. To be honest, I shouldn’t be sitting down as long as I am right now in fact.

      This can happen in airplanes, or security guards, and it is especially dangerous for people who are recovering in hospital and are lying down for days. And no, people playing videogames are definitely not exempt from any risk here. It is probably more likely that people will get to move around while just leisurely being at home playing games than on an airplane probably though.

      It is extremely important for people to keep their legs moving if they have to sit down for long periods of time, or to just get up and move around a while if possible.

      The reason these clots form is because of pooling of blood in the legs, which can lead to stasis and eventually coagulation. There is a triad called Virchow’s triad which refers to three factors leading to thrombosis which are 1. Hypercoagulable states in certain conditions or drugs, 2. Hemodynamic changes which in this case is stasis, and 3. Endothelial injury.

      All of those factors can lead to clot formations in the legs, the clot on the walls of vessels being the thrombus. This clot, when the person suddenly moves their legs later on, can embolize, meaning become detached from the blood vessel wall due to the sudden force by the muscles on the veins, in this case a wall of a vein in the legs where the stasis is occuring. This clot can travel all the way up the veins of the person and into their heart and then subsequently into the pulmonary arteries. If those pulmonary arteries, which carry blood meant for gas exchange, are blocked, problems can obviously ensue.

      In the case of this man who died, it is like he had what is referred to as a major or massive pulmonary embolism, the embolism being from the thrombi which released from the legs and became and embolism. In this case, the embolism may occlude upwards of 60% of the downstream vessels in the lungs and kill the person almost instantaneously.

      Also it is possible the dehydration could have contributed to the embolus formation as the hematocrit would be very high (the plasma volume would be low, but the number of cells in the blood would probably not have changed) meaning the blood would be very viscous and that could make the blood more prone to stasis. This factor is not part of Virchow’s triad, but it doesn’t mean it is meaningless.

  10. TechnicalBen says:

    I just have to say, that is exactly how I feel about the less than honest F2P games (mainly the “social” labeled ones). Even the Borderlands 2 promo of the clicking statue head borders on this problem.

    Very few F2P games avoid this. Those that do their best to do right by the customer show much more honesty above those who are out to make a quick and dirty buck.

    [edit]
    Oh, I’ll add I feel even more strongly against the IAP/F2P and gambling models than that article.

  11. Kefren says:

    Love these catchups. For me there’s no point going anywhere other than RPS. My most recent blog post, about stories in games, ended up as pretty much a link to loads of RPS posts. http://karldrinkwater.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/stories-in-games.html RPS is just too good, especially for a glorified blog.

  12. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    imagine me doing an airwank and that’s pretty much my reaction to the article about death

  13. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    This seems a bit obvious, as FTL was obviously done with the singular thought of producing great war stories, but there’s also this great FTL diary by the king of game anecdotes Tom Francis: http://www.pcgamer.com/previews/ftl-preview-2/

  14. robandr3w5 says:

    I lived in Nottingham for 3 years and ‘found’ a few caves back then – thanks for such a great link on this.

    Just while I’m commenting.. any chance on an updated hardware run-down article? I’m guessing things have changed since the last one, and I’m giving some serious thought to building a new one at last after what must be 5 years or so. I had a 8800GT until it finally died.. veteran. Did me proud though, to be fair.

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      AmateurScience says:

      Check out this: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/06/01/hard-choices-graphics-update/#more-110482 from June.

      And generally under the ‘hard choices’ tag should see you right :)

      • robandr3w5 says:

        Thanks – I had a look at that and it was useful. I was wondering more if there are any updates to the other hardware stuff worth knowing, ie CPUs, motherboards and the like. I don’t keep track of this stuff any more at all, so I don’t know when price drops are likely to happen, what is suddenly likely to be obselete soon etc.

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          AmateurScience says:

          There were CPU and mobo pieces recently too, most of the advice from the recent articles is going to be pretty solid for the next several months at least.

          Intel are bringing a new process sometime in the first half of next year, but the major improvements over the current crop is going to be in efficiency and onboard graphics rather than raw number crunching. AMD haven’t produced a noteworthy gamer-sweetspot CPU for some time and it’s not looking likely that they will again any time soon (still good for uber physical cores etc). Obviously a lot of the particulars will depend on your exact pricepoint, but now is certainly not a bad time to invest in an upgrade.

          • robandr3w5 says:

            OK, I’ll be led on this in a month or so when I get serious about it.

            Thanks, also to Jim. I had found those (and recall reading them first time around) but was wondering if there were any significant changes since. I’ll be content for now!

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/category/hardware/ CPU, gfx card and motherboard articles all under this tag.

  15. Jahkaivah says:

    It’s kind of an unfortunate coincidence that one paragraph discusses the disturbing story of people dying while playing video games, and my eyes immediately scroll down to the bolded text in an unrelated paragraph saying “The beauty of videogame deaths?”

  16. Valhuen says:

    Regarding the DVT article, people do need to take this seriously, it is the same danger people face on long-distance flights. Get up and move around, but the article neglected one life-saving tip, if you know you’ll be having a long gaming session, take a children’s aspirin (81mg) beforehand. My wife travels internationally for business frequently, used to get swollen ankles (a warning sign of DVT), since I have had her take an aspirin before each leg of her flight, she no longer has that issue. It keeps the blood thinned out and helps in circulation when you are inactive for long periods of time.

    It may just save your life (obviously do not take if you have problems with bleeding, stomach ulcer, aspirin allergy, etc.)

  17. Saskwach says:

    Reading that ‘beauty of death’ article two hours after finishing Mark of the Ninja just seems…right.

  18. Saldek says:

    Concerning the Sudden Videogamer Death Syndrome: wouldn’t a health warning on chairs be more appropriate?

  19. RegisteredUser says:

    To be perfectly honest, having played both Borderlands and Rage, I much preferred Rage as the “shooter in a wasteland”.
    I found out that I don’t care for 400+ random gun property combinations. I cared about a tight, fitting sound and feel of the weapons I did have. I cared about the visuals being cool(and monsters not being number fountains) and grisly, and controlling feeling great.
    While Rage by no means is perfect, it was in every single aspect of a first person shooter better than BL. And driving around could actually be pretty fun. And did I mention the sound yet? So, so right.

    As a Diablo I guess it had less upgrades and thus “leveling” and crafting, but it felt better, played better and was more fun as a “violence in the wasteland” game.

    And since BL2 is looking to yet again be more of an attempt to capture more a Diablo than an iD FPS, I don’t have a lot of hope for liking it / it being enjoyable, either.

  20. running fungus says:

    Ha — I love parallel universe Skyrim (even if it doesn’t sound like it was much fun to play, it makes for a good story with all the crashes edited out).