The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on September 23rd, 2012 at 11:30 am.


Sundays are for looking out at the rain and then cuddling up against the warm light of a videogame. At least the weather in Borderlands 2 is predictable, eh?

  • Over at Hookshot Mr Stuart discusses The Walking Dead, outlining some reasons why this series has generated so much excitement: “The genius of Walking Dead is that its decision system does not work like similar systems in other games; there are no right or wrong choices, there are no good or evil ones. There are just stark instinctive dichotomies. Certainly, in Walking Dead, you do what you think is ‘right’ but then instead of judging you, the game shrugs and changes the story accordingly.”
  • And here’s Hogarty on the same: “I’ve just finished the third of five planned Walking Dead episodes which, if you’ve played it, you’ll know contains one of the most harrowing scenes ever committed to code, an unfortunate event that cascades into a seemingly preventable but ultimately unstoppable sequence of gut-wrenching bleakness. It marked a high-point in the series so far, not just in terms of brazen shock value, but it terms of Telltale’s ability to tell a mature, emotive story with precisely the correct degree of gravity. Which is odd in a game that looks like a comic book.”
  • This is weird and beautiful: a chart for envisioning the near future of tech.
  • TPG’s podcast chat with Runic, about Torchlight II and things.
  • VG247 speaks to From Software: ““Ideally I wanted players to feel despair at first and then tiny hope while facing bosses. Enemies that do not drive players hopeless are not fearful at all, and can not offer that feeling of accomplishment once you beat them. Without a tiny piece of hope players may give up facing them. or struggling to beat them up.”
  • On 9/11 and Splinter Cell: “Like in any other discussion about how games affect us, it’s the matter of agency that makes video games unique. It’s that I was Sam Fisher as a thirteen year old boy — me and my brother, killing terrorists for the good ol’ US-of-A. Killing terrorists isn’t bad, but the simplification of these issues, packaged, and retailed (in some cases to young adults or adolescents who haven’t taken the time or been afforded an opportunity to form a more educated opinion on world issues) is dangerous.”
  • And related to that same issue, in multiple ways: A fascinating discussion of the possible necessity for violence in fiction: “I understood why Charlie’s mother fretted for her child, and I’ll never let anyone’s child but mine touch anything I own without ironclad legal protection (a symptom of the 21st century if there ever was one). But I also don’t know if Uncharted 2 would be capable of causing a young mind to snap. I saw the glee in Charlie’s eyes that day. He’d begun to detach himself from the discord surrounding him in his daily life, disappearing into a less concrete world. Sometimes I just worry that if children can’t decide on the boundaries between reality and fantasy for themselves once in a while, they’ll become convinced that dark urges are only fit for real life, where the realm of make-believe is rarely welcome. And that would be truly frightening in my opinion.”
  • More Yang on shooters: “All action movies need moments where the action hero proves he’s human despite the mass murder he’s committing, and in Hollywood that’s usually through comedy and a romantic foil, but AAA games are notoriously bad at romance and only Valve and Double Fine have a grip on comedy. So then how do you get those human moments?”
  • The most annoying Borderlands 2 gun.
  • Eurogamer’s analysis of Borderlands 2 running on PC: “It’s often to state the obvious that the PC version is the one to vouch for, but in this case it’s worth putting a special word in. Borderlands 2 is well optimised for even the most modest PC builds, and comes with a plethora of extra bells and whistles, enhancing texture quality and adding to the draw distance substantially. We’re fascinated by the PhysX support in particular, where simulating cloth tearing, fluid spills and debris creates a wild scene of carnage once you’ve left a battle victorious.”
  • A guide to Hollywood space suits.
  • Science!

Music this week is Methodist Bells by High Aura’d.

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73 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    I’m always dubious of predicting future technologies without at least a mention of the methodologies they use to predict these things. Can they predict the problems people will face in arriving at these technologies? It’s not like you grind 4000 research points into VR Lifeforms and *ping*, it appears.

    • Zorn says:

      Learned that the hard way back in the days, when I went to university to revolutionize society. Paradigms like to be shifted, but they sure don’t like to pushed around. They will come back at you.

      • Mirqy says:

        Yeah, the difference between a technology being invented and entering widespread use can be huge (‘the future’s already here it just isn’t evenly distributed yet’). But it’s cool to see what might be over the horizon.

        • Rii says:

          Indeed; electricity hasn’t even achieved global ubiquity yet.

          Also I don’t see anything in there about porn, the chart is clearly defective.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          This is true; many technologies already exist but aren’t economical or haven’t taken off in the marketplace.

          • Shuck says:

            And some of the things on that chart will fail to happen not for technological reasons, but economic ones. The entire space flight column, for instance, relies on government entities expending huge sums of money, so there needs to be a popular desire to do so (not to mention the cash to spend). Private spaceflight is hemmed in by minimum costs that are due to the huge energy expenditures required if nothing else. Private monies aren’t sufficient for most of those, so they again require huge government subsidies to get off the ground, so to speak.

    • choconutjoe says:

      Some of it’s clearly nonsense. There’s no way in hell we’ll have computers doing effective natural language interpretation in 2016 and machine translation in 2018.

      Also, procedural storytelling in 2019? Don’t we already have that?

      • snv says:

        Yah thought that thing is mostly rubbish, too.

        Half of the stuff mentioned there is already available, and the other half is very optimistic

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        But natural language interpretation is always four years away!

      • Shuck says:

        But if you put it in a chart, that officially means it’ll come true!
        It’s always fun to look at similar such predictions from the past to see how completely and totally inaccurate they were. Although some of the buzzwords are different, many of these were supposed to already be here.

      • WHS says:

        I mean, it actually seems possible that we COULD have natural language interpretation by 2016, because the necessary innovations aren’t really technological so much as theoretical. It seems to me that once you have the rudiments in place–here, essentially, a computer built on a semiotic principles that uses words as categories of concepts, like we do–it wouldn’t take long to develop computers that can understand natural language.

        But of course, there’s hardly any more reason to expect that breakthrough to come in 2014 than in 2024. It’s essentially random and inherently unknowable. Which demonstrates the silliness of all the entries on this chart that aren’t merely the result of predictable increases in wealth, population, and processing power.

    • Unaco says:

      I think this chart has been made by a marketing company that, to be frank, don’t know what the f*ck they are talking about.

      On the ‘Sensors’ column, they have NeuroInformatics predicted to arrive by 2035. Errr… Firstly, NeuroInformatics isn’t a technology. It isn’t an invention or something that can be discovered or created. It’s something of an umbrella term for a lot of modern Neuroscience research, computational/theoretical neuroscience, Informatics and the coordination and advancement of that research. Informatics is the ‘fancy’ name for Computing Science, and NeuroInformatics is about applying Informatics to Neuroscience, and applying what we learn/know about brains to Computing… using the two fields to advance each other.

      Secondly, we have NeuroInformatics just now. I was speaking with the UK representative of the “International NeuroInformatics Coordination Facility” at a conference this week, who has headed research in the UK for the last 11 years. I was presenting my own work on NeuroInformatics on Friday morning. It’s a field that was essentially born from the evolving technology and fields of Cybernetics and Control and Systems theory. We’ve had it for the last 50 years at least.

      And Optogenetics by 2030? Again, we have Optogenetics currently! Again, at the conference this week, someone was presenting work on, essentially, reading/writing/erasing signals in the brain, using optogenetics techniques.

      I think the fact that they’ve just used the first few sentences from the Wikipedia article on the subject speaks volumes about their actual know how. Shame on RPS for promoting this sort of ill informed nonsense.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        I dunno, apparently most articles in newspapers now are just re-written press releases, some of them made up entirely by marketing and PR companies. This isn’t entirely a bad thing – press releases are how people announce stuff that might be of interest to the public – but reporters could and should be more careful about reproducing made-up stuff. Then again, with the newspaper industry rapidly haemorrhaging money and trying to stem the bleeding by hacking limbs off, I don’t think that’ll happen.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        As mentioned above, a technology might be an everyday experience for people who work on it, but that’s usually a very small scene. Of course, that raises the question how many people a technology must affect or reach before you’d consider it having an impact.

        • Unaco says:

          I’ll give you that Optogenetics is something that exists, but isn’t widespread/mainstream… and that the 2030 date is when they see it being widespread. But why 2030? Why in ~18 years? Where is their justification for that date? Where are the reasons for it? A look at the state of the art? Discussion of what’s on the horizon and what needs to be done to advance the field? It just seems like they’ve taken a ‘buzzword’ in contemporary science, picked some date in the near, but not too near future, and then linked the Wiki page of it.

          But the criticism of including NeuroInformatics in there has nothing to do with how many people use it, its ubiquity, or anything like that. Again… it seems like they’ve taken a buzzword and picked a date out of their asses.

    • Mike says:

      The entire AI column is stuff that could basically be claimed to be happening now. So all of those predictions will be made true by simply announcing that that particular year was the year they became viable/made the leap to consumer products/gained extra research focus/whatever. So vague and useless.

  2. JackShandy says:

    Morally ambiguous decisions: Nice, but I’ve come to expect it rather than applaud it. It’s only “Genius” in comparison to giving out Good and Bad points for moral decisions.

    Dark Souls: Boy, it’s beautiful to see someone try that old school game design with the new school tricks in it. Sometimes it feels like the game industry burns the dead, but apparently we eat them after all.

  3. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Top tip. If you are on your first playthrough of Dark Souls, avoid the comments in the article. Some spoilering fucker just outright spoilered ALL OVER mah sh*t. (Comment 12). Asshat.

  4. Steven Hutton says:

    “it [sic] terms of Telltale’s ability to tell a mature, emotive story with precisely the correct degree of gravity. Which is odd in a game that looks like a comic book.”

    I can recommend a number of comic-books that the writer would probably find enlightening. It’s not all pervert suits.

    • Mirqy says:

      For example those by that chap Gillen.

      • tobecooper says:

        Gillen? I hear he’s writing imaginary stories about imaginary people. And worse of all, these stories are drawn (gasp) with a pencil (double gasp)! That can’t be mature, and surely isn’t emotive, and even if it was, it would have an incorrect degree of gravity.

      • mckertis says:

        Ehh…no.
        For example, i was reading through Siege event, and got into Thor, even though i never read Thor, ever. Then it struck me to look at the cover one more time, and sure enough – it was JMS. Good job, as always.

    • Temple says:

      This blog is nothing but a glorified comic

      Locke and Key has been interesting. Shows the limitations of the comic form (or this author’s problem, or the publishers demand for less or something), as so much story is missing, a long novel would have been great.

      Umbrella Academy is better than expected.

      Bad Machinery (online though you can buy it) is my favourite at the moment, there is a particular nice teen Englishness tone to it (not hoodies and doom and gloom)
      http://scarygoround.com/index.php?date=20090918

      Wait, how did we get onto comics?

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      I remember an article in my student paper that suggested that comics were dead, mainly based on the argument that Calvin and Hobbes had stopped running. Which is hilarious.

      It’s true that there’s more stuff than BIFFPOW in comics, but the English language market is kinda saturated by it. The French language market is a little more widespread and diverse – there are comic book shops everywhere here (as well as board games shops), and there isn’t a domination by one genre of fiction. I guess stuff like Asterix and Tintin created a different base for childhood impressions of what comics are compared to Spiderman or X-Men.

      (Note, that’s not to say that superheroes can’t discuss important themes, but it’s still a little one-note in many cases.)

      • Temple says:

        I may have held a litle funeral for comics when I heard Calvin and Hobbes stopped.
        Truth be told, I was still in mourning from Bloom County ending years earlier and that is my excuse for missing Sandman the first time around.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        As a continental European moving to an anglophone country and seeing rows upon rows of muscular men with inside out underwear was extremely baffling. Your culture is weird.

        • Premium User Badge

          Llewyn says:

          And that was just the customers…

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          Yes, although by the same token, the rows of comics about Celtic nationalism and Belgian journalists are a little odd.

  5. Premium User Badge

    jezcentral says:

    I don’t think it is fair to single out videogames, when it comes to discussing the illusion that war can be won “by personal agency” (i.e. singlehandedly). This has been an issue since before John Wayne personally kicked-out the Japanese from Burma, according to Hollywood. For every “All quiet on the Western Front”, there are hundreds of wish-fulfillment stories, because that is all they are, wish-fulfillments. No-one outside of games marketing tries to say otherwise, do they?

  6. Raziel_Alex says:

    Nice, you posted the link I sent you. You’re welcome.

  7. Rii says:

    “Killing terrorists isn’t bad”

    When this is what passes for an enlightened perspective on the subject, we are truly lost.

    • MistyMike says:

      Most of these guys aren’t actually terrorist, they are hired security standing guard at some facility…

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      That article is kind of cute and kind of terrifying. I mean it’s nice that the guy has awoken from his intellectual slumber, but it’s also about frickin time.

      “It’s hard to consider that blowback contributed to the events of 9/11.

      It’s hard to consider that in places like Iran the attempts of Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s to stir anti-western jihad didn’t really resonate; that not everyone in the Middle East is so eager to hate our freedoms.

      It’s hard to consider that Osama bin Laden gathered support because of anger about US support of unpopular regimes in the Middle East, or American troop presence in the Arabian Peninsula.

      It’s hard to consider that all the time, and money, and lives lost in Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction, but instead bad intel, eagerness for war, and ultimately a Shi’a-Sunni islamic civil war that had little to do with us at all.”

      No, these things are not very hard to consider, and the “killing terrorists is not bad” part just shows that he still has plenty of waking up to do.

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        Also: “we now have a generation (my generation) that has grown up with war.”

        This is a rather amazing presupposition that to see shooting on the television sometimes is to know war.

        • Baines says:

          But war didn’t exist before 9/11.

        • Premium User Badge

          ffordesoon says:

          Yeah, I hate how often America is referred to as “the world” in that piece.

          Granted, 9/11 did change the world, but not for the reasons he states, and not because we young Americans (aaaaaaaaaaall right)”grew up with war.” It changed the world in that it created a culture of self-perpetuating fear and jingoism in America, which made us go insane in a whole bunch of ways, and then the world had to deal with the effects of our insanity, and still does.

          He has a good point beneath all the moralizing, but it’s bizarre that he chose Splinter Cell as a target, because I can think of plenty of games more deserving. At least Splinter Cell gives you the chance to go nonlethal and talk to putative terrorists before executing them. Call Of Duty sure as shit doesn’t. It’s a sea of faceless brown and pale men with Hollywood Arab and Hollywood Russian accents that you shoot because a shouty man with the word “Follow” over his head tells you to. Even Rainbow Six would be a better example.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          EDIT: Shit, this was for post-internet Syndrome’s “brilliant” comment.

          Many of us know or are related to service members, our media CONSTANTLY shoves the war down our throats (unless a washed up pop-star dies), it’s certainly affected any American that has traveled abroad because so many people hate us, it’s increased the paranoia about terrorism to the nth degree, and probably much more.

          Trust me, we know it isn’t WW2-era poland, here, but to say America doesn’t feel the effects of her wars is about as tolerant and intelligent as saying “killing terrorists is not bad”

          Besides, I’m pretty sure he said that last quote as an example of his thoughts as a thirteen year-old boy. Thoughts that he realizes were not appropriate to have. Stop enabling my stupider countrymen and their persecution complex. If you make us feel hated and vilified, we’re not going to respect the global community, and trust me, we could be doing a whole lot more to destroy the world.

      • Premium User Badge

        ffordesoon says:

        Admittedly, finding and killing actual terrorists who have committed actual acts of terrorism against the United States does not seem to me the worst possible thing for the American military to do. I don’t care for the implicit lack of self-reflection in that statement, nor for its stark moral simplicity, but I don’t think it’s straight-up wrong, either.

        • TCM says:

          “Killing terrorists isn’t bad” is a perfectly valid statement.

          Anyone who believes that there is an ideological point to be made by targeting civilians specifically has no business being alive, and I do not care what their ideology, reasoning, or goal is. Is that perhaps a tad harsh? Yeah, but then, so is targeting civilians who have nothing to do with whatever wrong was perpetrated against you.

          Mind you, it is not a perfectly valid statement in the context used here, where anyone acting contrary to US intelligence interests in Splinter Cell is implicitly a terrorist, but the statement itself is perfectly valid.

          • Vander says:

            Yeah, i agree with you, but then us government had in the past specially targeted civilians too…

        • Universal Quitter says:

          But we’re not fighting those terrorists, are we? I was an intelligence analyst and I can tell you that the basic idea for the US Army is to look for military aged males as potential combatants.

          Basically, you drive around a god-forsaken slum or desert, wait for teenaged boys and young men with no jobs, no money, and no education to shoot at you or blow you up, then, maaaaaybe, you can shoot back and kill them.

          I’m being over simplistic, but it’s a pretty fair assessment. Yes there are bad people, no not everyone is innocent, but Afghanis and Iraqis did nothing to us in the first place. Both sides have monsters that commit atrocities, and both sides are mostly made up of people that just want to go home to their families and end the bloodshed.

          To quote the great Philip J Fry, “Wait, WE’RE the evil conquering aliens?”

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Battlefield 3 was about the ugliest game I’ve played in a long time. It’s jingoistic bullshit that hides what war really is and trades it in for revenge porn against a straw terrorist, but then it’s nothing we didn’t see in the Rambo sequels, or probably British Victorian fiction.

    • Premium User Badge

      daphne says:

      Agreed. I don’t have a problem with the author or anything, but I wouldn’t want him to think he’s written well. And putting it on the Sunday Papers kinda serves to encourage that kind of puddle-scale self-reflection.

    • Apolloin says:

      Speaking as someone whose job in the Seventies and Eighties was checking the wheel wells and underside of the car for bombs (because I was the youngest and therefore the smallest), I have no problems with the statement that “Killing terrorists isn’t bad”. It bloody isn’t. Terrorists are people who kill civilians to make a political point. If you feel that this behaviour is even slightly nuanced ethically then I fear we truly ARE lost.

      What that has to do with the so-called ‘War against Terror’ is another matter.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      Quote taken out of context much?

  8. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    “Which is odd in a game that looks like a comic book.” Yeah because comic books have never been able to tell mature stories.

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      I unironically agree with you.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Yeah, statements like this do my head in. The whole ‘comix = immature’ thing is so outdated. He might as well be talking about train travel making your brain explode.

      • jorygriffis says:

        I agree–it seems like he’s unaware that the game series is based on an actual series of mature, emotive comic books. Oh, well. Our ideas about comics will change even if the vernacular surrounding them doesn’t.

  9. Vander says:

    Am i the only one who think that the walking dead by Telltale dont change its story? I mean, yes, it change a few details….but the end result will always be the same.

    • arccos says:

      Actions don’t change much of the story, but that doesn’t bother me at all. In most cases it still feels like I’m influencing the story, and the illusion is enough to make it compelling.

      • Vander says:

        Well, the illusion don’t work as well with me i guess…

        And even if it did, the replay value is crippled by that.

  10. Berzee says:

    I wish that Borderlands 2 gun was in every game.

    • Bob says:

      It’s too bad I didn’t get it during the “tutorial” to shoot a very annoying Claptrap. :D

      The Eurogamer article on Borderlands 2: I’ve got a pretty old card but haven’t had one performance issue…yet.

    • meatshit says:

      It’s pretty cool, but it’s no miniature unicorn that farts disintegrating rainbows when you pull on its tail: http://youtu.be/aorjnobv-I0

    • Premium User Badge

      Hidden_7 says:

      I was playing co-op with my buddy when we did the quest to get that gun. The flavour behind the gun is it’s meant to be cursed. In-game it not only makes that terrible noise, but also slows you down incredibly. It is also an absolute damage hose.

      I took one look at it, noticed the speed slow down, and, considering I was playing Zero, declared that this gun is “completely worthless.” My friend, who was playing Salvador only saw the massive damage stat and went “let me hold onto yours then, these things do crazy damage.”

      Cue him walking into the middle of a huge firefight, pulling out TWO of these guns, and then just a sequence of three people (him and his two guns) gibbering like absolute lunatics as absolutely everything around him died.

      My response was “dear lord that’s terrifying, never do that again.” Which of course resulted in those guns becoming a mainstay of his.

      Frigging hate that gun.

      • LionsPhil says:

        What you need is to get him sat in a little cart you can pull around, then, thus negating the maneuverability penalty through the power of ~frendship!~

        • Premium User Badge

          Hidden_7 says:

          That would be amazing. Gearbox, put this on your to-do list for the first DLC.

  11. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    For spacesuits, I favour the EVA suits from the Planetes anime. It felt like a bit of a wishlist of ‘what would be useful in a spacesuit’? It’s got all sorts of features: integral thrusters with a computer that would bring you to a stop relative to a designated point; a visor with an augmented reality display to flip down over the helmet, that you can manipulate by using the gloves as a virtual keyboard; a grapple hook…. even mirrors on the arms to help you see behind yourself.

  12. borucelee says:

    so i’ve only just been noticing your music picks–excellent! rachel evans, high aura’d, aidan baker… good work!

    have you ever connected with the Boomkat folks at all? they distribute for some ace-caliber labels… Ricardo Donoso’s new album is a must if you’re into minimal synth/ambient/horror soundtracks

  13. Heliocentric says:

    My early teenage self’s Sam Fisher did not kill except when his hand was forced. Vile bastards were choked to unconsciousness and then piled up in shadows. I was not hear to separate the soldiers with families from the murderers or to leave them all to gods judgement. Nope, I just need the datatape/hostage/key code.

    Pandora tomorrow at one point commands you to shoot a unarmed person who was moments earlier an ally. It doesn’t force you to do it and your choice has consequences.

    Now rainbow six (old or new) or Splinter Cell conviction? There is some terrorist murdering.