The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on April 14th, 2013 at 11:00 am.


Sundays are for picking the shredded remains of the previous week from your teeth, and thinking about the battles that lie ahead. Never surrender, readers.

  • Ah, damn. This was an essay I should have written, and knew I should have written, but didn’t because I am weak and old. I am so glad someone else seized it, because it’s obvious and important. Geoff Dyer’s book Zona, which is about The Zone of Tarkovsky’s Stalker (and also Chernobyl) had a vast and glaring omission. For all its cultural literacy, it entirely ignored the game. Perhaps with good reason, but still. The New York Review Of Books (of all places!) takes up this topic: “The Zone in the video games is a beautifully dangerous place, bigger and grimmer than Tarkovsky’s, but somehow still appropriate. There are plenty of long, tense walks through damp weather or empty, creaking tunnels. Packs of dogs wander the landscape, ruined farmhouses give shelter from the rain; here and there the ground ripples strangely. Stalkers gather around campfires, bandits take potshots at passersby, and a man lies wounded in a ditch, begging for help. Watching Stalker, one is occasionally brought up short by remembering that it was not filmed in Chernobyl, so perfect an analogue does that event seem for the film’s images of technology and nature, beauty and danger in strange alliance. The games, at their best, can seem like a sort of miracle: a dead man’s masterpiece, come home at last.” Not sure I agree with “subpar graphics”, but then I suppose that’s partly a matter of taste and hardware (and modding.)
  • This is a big and complicated topic. Weirdly, it’s something I have been mulling over from a completely different angle following various debates on RPS: whether we can keep politics out of our games. (I think it’s a lie to even attempt to do so, but that will require a lost of its own.) Anyway, coming from this topic from another direction, that of designer’s intentions rather than critical commentary, Raph “A Theory Of Fun” Koster responds to tweets made by journalist Leigh Alexander, addressing the kinds of emotional understanding conveyed by numerous expressive and experimental games over the past few years. Koster seems to argue that the most important aspect of games is when they provide dialogue between designer and player, rather than allowing the designer a one-way broadcast of their own feelings and intentions. That seems agreeable up to a point, but as RPS chum Robert Yang responds in his own letter to Raph’s argument, it’s logical suggest that suggest a division cannot be possible, precisely because some (if not all) games take their mechanics from their politics: “You were right when you said that the authors of “personal games” would probably take you the wrong way… It’s hard not to. It’s impossible to divorce the politics from the forms of these games, which, yes, makes them difficult to critique as formal designed objects without appearing to attack their politics.” The comments following Yang’s piece are worth reading, too.
  • Joe Martin’s Unlimited Hyperbole podcast features Introversion’s Mark Morris this week, and it covers a lot of ground. Followers of the Introversion story will be a familiar with a lot of the material here, but it – like so much of the series – is worth a listen.
  • Rick Lane talks about why there are so few games that involve climbing, and what has been required to create the few that do exist: “With the powered ragdoll system you can have a library of pre-defined stances that you want to move between,” says Mark Judd, the creator of Vertigo. “If you change your mind about which target stance you want the ragdoll to be aiming for midway through a movement, there’s no jump or stutter, the limbs smoothly head for the new target positions from wherever they happened to be.”
  • Will asking questions about the games you play improve your thinking? Hmm. “Training our subconscious minds to question will strengthen analytical skills for real-world applications, build up sometimes neglected mental-muscle, heighten our enjoyment of games, and ultimately help us internalize the parts of games that make us who we want to become. We can digest and mirror our heroes; we can understand and reject our villains. When we take games seriously, we don’t just give developers more room to explore games as art: we enrich our exploration of just what it means for us to be good humans.” In related news: Will games journalism turn you into a Jedi? (Yes.)
  • Simon Parkin – he’s writing for the New Yorker now! – provides us with a profile of the post-wealth, post-fame Notch: “With his expansive following, Persson is able to spread the wealth, too, at least indirectly. Getting “notched”—whereby Persson directs his followers towards a new game—can result in tens of thousands of sales for an indie game maker. Minecraft’s maker is a kingmaker in the video-game realm. “There are so many sides to that,” he says. “I try to tweet about the games I love and feel passionate about. But it got to the stage where I could ‘make’ a small studio, and so it began to feel like a duty. I started promoting games that I wasn’t so enthusiastic about.””
  • Bioshock Infinite meta-commentary stuff. (Spoilers.)
  • True PC Gaming remember Escape From Butcher Bay: “The voice acting is provided by many veteran screen actors. Riddick is, of course, voiced by Vin Diesel. This gives the in game Riddick all the same dark suave as the film version. Cole Houser reprises his role as Johns, the bounty hunter who captured Riddick. The warden Hoxie is voiced by Dwight Shultz, who maintains a perfect air of faux refinement mixed with self contempt. Rapper Xzibit brings the right amount of attitude and believability as a low life thug who is suddenly given too much power in his portrayal of Abbott. When talking to your fellow inmates you will hear the voices of Ron Perlman, Michael Rooker and John DiMaggio among others you may recognize. It also helps that there is a lot of well written dialogue. There are many times when I will stop what I’m doing just to listen to some random conversations between characters.”

Music this week is Ólafur Arnalds – For Now I Am Winter. Not a big fan of the vocals, but the rest of it is near perfect.

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106 Comments »

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  1. tobecooper says:

    Modded S.T.A.L.K.E.R. – Shadow of Chernobyl is one of my favorite games ever. It’s atmosphere is phenomenal, it gets quite difficult at times to remind you that it’s all about survival, and the long walks are a pleasure because of the sights, the anomalies and the selective respawning of enemies. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, by the end I have felt like I knew the map really well too – I knew where I can get to easily, and where I shouldn’t really go because the rewards aren’t worth the danger.

    It’s completely engrossing, it’s flawed and everyone who isn’t afraid to die should play it.

    Also, the interesting thing in context of the article is the fact that all three depictions of The Zone – the book, the movie and the game are very very different yet all three explore a number of similar themes and create fantastic atmosphere doing so. Each time its a different Zone and each time you can’t stop yourself from going there, again and again.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Shakey breaky!
      I’ve been thinking about venturing back into the (CoP) zone; what mods would you recommend?

      • tobecooper says:

        Sorry, I’m a SoC person, I don’t know much about CoP mods.

        But surely before this comments’ section will help out!

        (Also, I’ve read the Complete mod isn’t recommended for CoP because it’s buggy)

        • alizahid203 says:

          If you think Theodore`s story is terrific,, three weeks ago my cousin’s step-mum basically also easily made $7305 grafting a 20 hour week at home and their roomate’s ex-wife`s neighbour done this for five months and made more than $7305 in there spare time on-line. use the guide at this site,, http://bic5.com/

        • meikandindan says:

          yeah. I remember when it released. Everyone expected it to suck but it was actually a very fun game. http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ghost-of-a-tale

      • Redsnake77 says:

        Paval’s Complete mods for all three games are great.

      • m0ntag says:

        The STALKER CoP Redux mod fixes much of the game and makes it even more fun.

        http://www.moddb.com/mods/call-of-pripyat-redux

        Adds some bullet physics, makes a working economy, and generally is more immersive.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        As others here have already mentioned, Complete is a great mod, but it extensively alters the gameplay in a way many players aren’t comfortable with. Since you’re a STALKER mod newb, I’d suggest Oblivion Lost. It fixes a lot of the long-standing issues with the vanilla game while still maintaining the original vibe.

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        fupjack says:

        For Call of Pripyat, there’s the SGM/Sigerous mod. There’s an English translation out there. It adds missions and guns and bugs, like any mod, and more story and several of the maps from Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky.

        You start out in the Cordon, and have to get through there, the Swamps, and then the normal Call of Pripyat maps, and THEN you can hit places like the Dark Valley and Red Forest and so on. I used up I think a month of playing this mod and I’m not sure if I even made it halfway through. It’s huge-mongous.

        It made me so very happy to visit Agroprom “again”. If nothing else, Stalker has a sense of place.

      • phelix says:

        If you have some patience, wait for MISERY 2.0.
        Biggest. Fucking. Overhaul. Ever.
        Great devs too!

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      Colonel J says:

      I had deja vu seeing that NYROB piece, then got to the end and saw yes it is a year old, are you sure you didn’t link it already in the Papers? If not then it maybe someone posted it in the forum here. It was worth reading it again anyway.

      And reminds me must get around to reading Dyer’s Zona.

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        Malibu Stacey says:

        It was linked a couple of weeks shy of 1 year ago -> http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/05/06/the-sunday-papers-216/

        I saw Geoff Dyer talking about his book and the Stalker movie before it was shown at the Glasgow Film Theatre in February last year (was the Monday after the film festival ended). If I’m being polite his talk did nothing to make me want to read any of what he writes and even almost put me off watching Stalker.
        Bear in mind I’ve finished S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl twice, first in it’s original state then again more recently with the Stalker Complete mod. I also consider Roadside Picnic one of the top classic Science Fiction books, in the same category as Heinlein, Philip K Dick & Aldous Huxley.

    • GameCat says:

      These three iterations of Stalker badly need fourth: game adaptation of Roadside Picnic.
      You know, Stalker game without shooting mutants, various fraction members and bandits.

      BTW. Watch Tarkowski’s (or Tarkovsky, it’s funny how all russian names and surnames must be “converted” to English, lol) movies. All of them. This guy was a genius.

    • lijenstina says:

      Yeah. SoC was and still is a great game. Beta map layouts had even better atmosphere to them. Old Cordon and Garbage for me where better than the final ones.

      Hopefully LA will show them in full glory. Sorry for the plug. *wink wink*

    • phenom_x8 says:

      There’s something weird, recently I’ve been watched a movie called the Chernobyl Diaries. Its a B-class “horror” movie with nothing special in it, whether its utterly generic story nor their character, except for one thing which is make me stick through this movies till the end.
      The setting, city of Pripyat, I’m feels very familiar with it. It is just like watching a movie located in your hometown, no matter how bad the movie is, you want to know it till its over because you recognize and familiar with the place or the atmosphere, its fascinates you. Thats clearly show how strong games can be as a medium
      Regarding to this chernobyl diaries movie, I feels that I knew the place very much like I was already been there (virtually yes).
      Hey, thats the stair where I hide when the radioactive storm struck in that cold night,
      yeah I snipe someone across the building through this apartment room and that ferris wheel, that stadium, the underground pass to the reactor. All come’s through my mind and make me remember my journey in STALKER while adoring the developer about their work to replicate this place in the game with such detail.
      Games are trully great at this department.

    • laddyman says:

      I like STALKER very much, but it’s difficult for me to stomach more than an hour or two in one session. It’s stupendous in the same semi-masochistic way Dark Souls is, I think, but it suffers from a lack of variety in palette and being mentally exhausting to play in a way that I can’t put my finger on.

  2. Alexander says:

    The link for “Will asking questions…” article does not work.

    • Alexander says:

      No, this one worked, works, will work.

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      Hidden_7 says:

      Possible Bioshock Infinite spoilers (I try to be obtuse and non-spoilery, but you never know)

      This part of Infinite was actually a thing I really liked, like, will like. It was the “would you kindly,” but more subtle, and tied in really well with the themes of the game.

      Just in general, I know some people really weren’t taken with Infinite’s story, and the way it was executed, but I loved it, even (especially?) the ending. The fact that they spelled things out for you from the very first second without ACTUALLY spelling everything out I enjoyed. It made me think I had figured it all out, while still leaving stuff to be revealed and surprise me. It also makes the replay a joy, not through picking different options or anything like that (because, after all, they don’t really matter, do they?) but simply through context.

      Call me a philistine or easily amused/impressed or what have you, but I came away from Infinite pining for more like it.

      • mouton says:

        I had to get drunk when I finished it and watched the ending like 3 times, so one might say I liked it too.

    • noclip says:

      Bioshock Infinite is a game about a lot of things. Religious zealotry, American Exceptionalism, theories of space-time and interdimensionality, patriotic jingoism, the inevitability of economic disparity, Occupy Wall Street, postcolonial theory, and problems faced by political radicalism.

      Bioshock Infinite is a game about exploding people’s heads, and sometimes maybe electrocuting them. The only thing it has to say about any of those subjects is that Ken Levine has heard of them.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        The only thing it has to say about any of those subjects is that Ken Levine has heard of them.

        Quite. At least BioShock 1 had the message of “lol objectivism”. If Infinite has anything to say, it’s just a regurgitation of that tired old “both sides are equally bad” cliche which is so popular in American politics and media.

        • mouton says:

          Seriously, the two posts above are the exact reason why I am never eager to read the internet after I finish a game that I considered excellent.

          • TillEulenspiegel says:

            Have higher expectations. Be continually disappointed.

            Or not. It’s actually not particularly fun. I imagine it’s better if you can enjoy things. But seriously, I’ve read dozens of science fiction short stories (for example) that’ve had more emotional impact and meaning than any major game. AAA videogames are pretty terrible at everything except shooting people.

            Whenever I see people gushing praise about such games, I tend to think that they haven’t seriously engaged with any other medium, whether it’s literature or film or theatre or whatever. That’s why Ebert’s perspective was quite valuable, if not entirely accurate.

          • mouton says:

            @TillEulenspiegel

            “Emotional impact” is not something that is at all measurable and I did engage with other mediums quite a lot, thank you very much. I have very low opinion of the majority of games, but I will not deny when a game manages to speak to me on some significant level. Spec Ops, for instance, is one of the best games I have ever played that explore gradual erosion of personality while going insane.

            Of course it is all subjective. Yet another reason not to engage with the internet and rattle one’s state of catharsis by reading condescending opinions of people with whom the game did not resonate on the same level.

          • Sordarias says:

            If you do not want to read condescending opinions on things you like, perhaps you would yourself at home elsewhere — Reddit, the Bioshock forums, or elsewhere, circlejerking about the game. I hate being condescending, but when you come to a place with opinions, you really should expect to be given ALL kinds of opinions, most of them worthwhile, some of them not.

            The internet is not, nor ever will be a hugbox wherein people circlejerk about their positive impressions of a game. I would rather have actual discussion of a game I enjoyed — discussion with someone who has a differing opinion is a preferable debate and discussion to discussing a game I enjoyed with a person whose opinions resonated completely with mine. It varies how long the discussion is, but aside from discussing the themes of the game, I do not get the opinions and perspective of someone who did not like the game, and who may have noticed things I did not, or found themes I did not originally discover.

            tl;dr: as condescending as it may be, if you do not want opinions that do not resonate with you, find a place where this attitude is praised and upholded, instead of one with many differing opinions and views.

          • KenTWOu says:

            @TillEulenspiegel

            Whenever I see people gushing praise about such games, I tend to think that they haven’t seriously engaged with any other medium, whether it’s literature or film or theatre or whatever. That’s why Ebert’s perspective was quite valuable, if not entirely accurate.

            Who cares about other mediums? We’re talking about video games. By the way, Ebert gave Prometheus 4 stars! RIP Rodger Ebert.

          • mouton says:

            @Sordarias

            I know how internet works, kk.

            It’s just that in the past I was more open about confronting my opinions with other people but now I wonder – if a game has already made a great positive impact me, is there any point for testing this state? Even if I am somehow “wrong” and have overlooked some flaws, does it serve anything if I get knocked out of my catharsis? My answer is no, as for me there is no higher purpose than to be happy.

            This of course applies to only a very few select games that genuinely awe me and form some kind of emotional connection with my person. Their number is exceedingly small and I must say I am quite surprised that Bioshock Infinite managed to qualify. Heh.

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            Hidden_7 says:

            I would hope that RPS isn’t now to be known as the place for condescending opinions. Certainly that’s never been my impression of the sort of environment the Hivemind has sought to cultivate.

            Differing opinions, sure. Arguement and debate, certainly. Even I’d go as far to say strident opinions. But condescending?

            Basically there’s a difference between “this game is shit, and the people who like it are thus dumb” and “this really didn’t work for me / I really hated it because of reasons 1 2 & 3.” I personally welcome the latter, but the former is something I could certainly do without. I don’t think that’s anything to pride a community on containing.

            Not that anyone in this particular thread has been quite that bad, but hop to other recent articles on Infinite, or the interviews with the writers of Far Cry 3 & Spec Ops and you see plenty of that.

          • QualityJeverage says:

            @Hidden_7 Agreed wholeheartedly.

            It is possible, and indeed easier, to discuss a game when neither side resorts to insulting the other. “If you think x then you’re clearly y.” If any sentence you’re writing follows that basic structure, mash backspace and try again.

            As the OP said, it’s becoming increasingly common practice for me to just avoid articles/posts/threads regarding things I liked. Is that not a shame? It’s one thing to find dissenting opinion, it’s another to scroll down the comment section and be so reliably assaulted by people who’ve never met you.

            I’ll be the first to admit that I take silly things like this way too seriously. I’m a horrifically anxious guy and I let the tiniest things bug me. So it’s certainly valid to just say I’m too thin-skinned. But even then, wouldn’t it be nice if comment sections weren’t such reliable vending machines for shame?

        • blackmyron says:

          On the contrary, the idea that radicalism is generally a bad thing regardless of the cause is an unpopular notion in the US.
          The idea that someone who finds games like these thought-provoking doesn’t engage in other forms of media in any meaningful way to be somewhat puzzling, especially since you indicated reading science fiction – which has always been looked down upon or ignored by mainstream literature. Sturgeon’s Law is instructive on that point, and also can be applied to FPSs.

          • noclip says:

            I’m sorry but “extremism is bad” (or even “stratification can’t be repaired, only prevented”) isn’t a compelling enough idea to warrant 12 hours of exploration in an ostensibly serious work, even in a hypothetical, different game where the gameplay embodies the idea rather than undermining it.

          • blackmyron says:

            I am curious as to what ideas you believe would merit such an investment in time.

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            Hidden_7 says:

            It’s also lucky that’s not the only thing the game is about. I’d argue it’s not even primarily what the game is about.

            Also it’s a little misleading to quote time with regard to games. Of that 12 hours it’s not like all of it is examining the themes. Some of it you’re just shooting dudes. Which is fine. Or it isn’t. It’s fine to be annoyed with the ludonarrative dissonance, but personally I’m broadly of the same opinion as Kieron from his article the other day. I don’t complain when people start singing and dancing in musicals, basically.

            In any case, any game with theme X Y & Z that lasts 12 hours can’t really be said to be devoting 12 hours to exploring those themes, the same way a 12 hour movie would be. Because of how games work.

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    Gap Gen says:

    The Unlimited Hyperbole podcast was interesting – it’s a good example of how perfectionism can kill you. Modelling the detailed mechanics of an elevator before you have a working game is crazy, but it’s the kind of crazy that you can see yourself doing if you refuse to compromise in order to make a finished product. Plus there’s no reason you can’t make a sequel with more features once you’ve shipped the pared-down product.

    • Mike says:

      Joe’s discussion of the piece on his blog was interesting – I definitely felt like Mark was unfair on Chris in the podcast. But they’ve always had an interesting relationship and it seems to work for them! At least something awesome game of it.

    • GameCat says:

      I once worked on a game with small group of internet firends. Our leader was a perfectionist. Of course we didn’t do much, because EVERYTHING MUST BE PEEEERFEEECT.
      Unless you’re a fucking genius who was for example composing his first music beign 3 years old or something DO NOT EVER try to make something perfect.

  4. mickygor says:

    Big fan of Ólöf Arnalds. Not so much a fan of Ólafur though. Think it’s the vocals, yeah.

  5. Cinnamon says:

    Are there any entirely apolitical “personal games” around that I could play then attack without restraint as boring one way conversations and self indulgent? Might be a fun thing to do.

    • thatfuzzybastard says:

      Yeah, Yang’s insistence that “My game is so personal you cannot critique it without personally attacking me and all oppressed peoples of the world” brings back waves of anti-nostalgia for the confessional poets of the 70s, with their delicate souls and appalling writing. I would say “Sure, dude, you are totally welcome to make a work of art that no one is allowed to engage with on terms you don’t permit. Just don’t be surprised when that means no one wants to engage with it.”

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        VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        If you think that’s what Yang’s saying, I think you need to reread his letter again, more carefully.

  6. kibble-n-bullets says:

    I just removed the pull quotes from the site, keeping the ads, and wow what a difference. The formatting is so much more pleasing to the eye now. I got all excited and had to post about it. Sorry.

    • misterT0AST says:

      I will NEVER understand the utter hostility a small rectangle with a few words repeated on it generates.
      It’s as if its nefarious influence from its 5 centimeters by 10 is somehow spread across all of the page for some.
      And it’s not few people either, their mere existence pisses off many, they feel offended enough to write about it in the comments. The same innocuous text that nobody would have complained about, enlarged by a few millimeters and put in a different color becomes source of discomfort and annoyance. How is it such a big deal? How does anyone even remember of their existence when browsing the site? I’ll never know.

      • kibble-n-bullets says:

        Since you’ll never understand, I won’t try to convince you.

      • Sordarias says:

        Imagine, for a moment; there is a newspaper you like reading, either on your Kindle, or suitable e-reader [please don’t sue me, I only have pennies to spare]. It is easy to read, requires a small subscription, but you get the whole package. It’s easy to read. It’s normal. No ads. No annoying little annotations, linking to different pages or sections that come later in the newspaper. It’s just ‘this is the newspaper.’

        For simplicity purposes, let us say it is the Rockistani Shotuugunnu Times [Trademarked goes here.] The Rockistani News then changes the way their pages are read; there are ads ALL around the page, practically bleeding out your eyes [understandable, being that one has to pay ones bills, though a less eye-bleeding way would be nice], and suddenly, annotations and pull-quotes begin to pop out through the newspaper, hinting at sentences you have not yet seen. They are meant to be eye-grabbing quotes that one could potentially use on the front cover art, something someone from the marketing department can look at and go ‘Perfect! That’ll go along with ’10/10, best game of the year’ and ‘This game has incredible graphics! Look at the ASCII, and how it pops out at you! Brilliant!’

        To cut things short; for me, it is about the fact that they’re meant to be eye-grabbing text, pulling you out of the article and an excuse not to write well, just to write catchy things that can be put in pull-quotes, detracting from perhaps an otherwise well-written article, or distracting one from the writing entirely by using catchy quotes that feel as if they belong on the cover art of a game. They’re archaic forms of grabbing the viewers attention, distracting from the writing of the article itself and otherwise, a lazy excuse — in my opinion — to not focus on writing well, but writing catchy.

        Keep in mind, I am not an analyst, nor am I an expert in any field. This is just my opinions on the pull-quotes and hatred of ads that bleed my eyes dry if I do not subscribe. I love RPS, but these pull quotes and the ads are just terrible as they are implemented. Will this change in the future? With other assertions of the writers, not likely, which is why some go to painstaking ways to remove pull quotes and ads. Not that I endorse those that remove ads without subscribing, just that I understand the desire for their removal.

        I probably did not truly catch the crux of it, or why; these are my reasons, and undoubtedly many others have their own reasons for their hatred of pull quotes. I doubt you will understand from this text alone, and I am not aiming to teach, but just to show the perspective of one person who hates the way ads and pull-quotes are handled. I am in no means the majority — they have hugely different opinions about their own hatred of such things, after all, so do not take me as a representative of anything.

        This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reading RPS. It just means I will read RPS while removing the pull-quotes, and subscribing to get rid of the bleeding ads.

        Edit: Because I misspelled archaic, and fudged up ‘viewers attention.’

  7. Premium User Badge

    tomeoftom says:

    Escape from Butcher Bay was brilliant and utterly unique. If anyone is curious, please give it the time of day; I get the sense it was overlooked on release.

    • Baka says:

      Regarding the voice acting, I found that the (gameplay wise maybe a bit weaker) sequel “Assault on Dark Athena” did an even better job. The inhabitants in the cell blocks could very well be the most convincing VAs I ever heard in a videogame. A shame not many people ever heard them.

    • derbefrier says:

      yeah. I remember when it released. Everyone expected it to suck but it was actually a very fun game.

    • Sordarias says:

      Question. I have always desired to try Escape from Butcher Bay [being a HUGE fan of stealth and action games, even if I am not..quite good at them], but only my laptop is really game-worthy being that my desktop is..not what I would even dare call shit, as it’s so below shit, it might as well be a new tier.

      Can a decently-game-worthy laptop run it well? And if so, are there any must-have mods for it, or is it mostly fine unmodded? Unofficial patches not withstanding, of course.

  8. Spengbab says:

    I honestly do not get the whole cult revolving around Notch. He’s probably a good guy and, though I haven’t played it, Minecraft is definately a Big Deal® for some people, but since when does a developer deserve (or even need) this god-like status? Isnt this what Molyneux tried, and we gave him a (rightfully so) mocking scoff and told him to move along with his zoomable grass and synergistic gooblegabble. Yet this neckbearded man shows up and just because he doesn’t wear long-necked sweaters, he’s suddenly “one of us”?

    Perhaps I’m getting crotchety and old, and all them kids with their MTV and rappers and smart cellphone telephones can just go take hike gosh darn it, where’s my plaid and comfy slippers

    • misterT0AST says:

      What makes you say Notch has a cult-like following and a God-like status?
      I usually see more people noticing how he is overrated than people who actually think well of him.
      The point, I think, is that the masses don’t know by name many developers at all, (the first time I heard of Peter Molyneaux was on this site). and he’s the only independent developer whose name is somewhat famous.
      He is the most popular because his game is the most popular. It was more looked up on Google than the word “Wikipedia”.
      http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=minecraft%2C%20wikipedia&cmpt=q
      no other video game personality, ever, I think, reached his level of fame by their name or face. Maybe Shigeru Myiamoto, but he doesn’t directly speak to people on the social media.

      Whether people like him or not is a whole other matter. He hasn’t done anything horribly wrong, so the masses don’t dislike him, they only know he’s a decent person, and MANY like his game.
      People’s opinion on him ranges from “he made a very nice game!” to “meh” to “STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM FFS”. I wouldn’t call this a “god-like status”.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      There’s no need to get crotchety about Notch until he botches a game because of too much scotch.

  9. BreadBitten says:

    Wait…I just remembered hearing Michael Rooker’s voice in Butcher Bay, I think he voiced the leader of the Aquilans. Fuck, I didn’t realize it was him!

  10. Fred S. says:

    In my opinion it’s not about politics in games per se but more about the way authors who set out to write political “issue” games end up preaching a sermon rather than making a game that is fun to play and which lets the player explore the implications of the assumptions that the writer has chosen to embody in gameplay.

    • Quirk says:

      I find it rather a brutal irony when people make “political” games in which they try to put forth some viewpoint from a voice that they believe is being stifled by society at large, and in doing so show themselves incapable of allowing the player any meaningful voice whatsoever.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Rikard Peterson says:

    I find Robert Yang’s letter very difficult to understand. (That is, I don’t understand it at all.) I read through the comments on it, and all I get is that there is some sort of pre-understanding you must have in order to get what the people are talking about, but I don’t know what that is.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      To be honest, the whole debate baffles me, from all sides. It’s probably because it’s actually multiple debates going on within the same space. There are groups in there clashing over whether those Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style IFs can/should be classified as games. There’s a group contesting that any attempt to have a discussion about formalisation is an attempt at political oppression. And by “political” there’s at least one group in there who mean gender politics. And just getting in there to do any critical analysis of any of the above things is likely to have it labelled a “gendered” response, mostly if you are male.

      Personally I don’t care much for this whole taxonomy of intolerance. Stop discussing things based on what boxes one thinks they belong to.

      • FriarZero says:

        Yeah, there are so many tangential issues being tied onto the question of proper categorization that any discussion on the subject ends in offense. As someone who thinks interactive art and games would benefit from having two different critical categories (and thus names), the best thing I’ve read in response to this whole hullabaloo is a piece by Tadhg Kelly over at WhatAreGames. He makes the case that formalism and analysis need not be hostile to the ideas Yang puts forward but that in order for that to happen they need their own critical space.

        • Premium User Badge

          Keirley says:

          I found Tadhg Kelly’s piece (a) more than a little rude, and (b) just kind of…dumb. One of his main arguments seems to be that things like Proteus and Dys4ia aren’t games because they’re not fun, and games need to be fun. It’s kind of amazing to see someone who writes so much about what games are *still* arguing that games must be about fun.

          • Supahewok says:

            Let’s open up the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, shall we?

            GAME
            1 a (1) : activity engaged in for diversion or amusement : play (2) : the equipment for a game

            There are of course far more definitions, but that’s the first and the one used most often, and whaddaya know, it’s also the definition that’s relevant to the discussion! Pay particular attention to the word amusement.

            And for funsies, let’s look up the etymology of “game” to get a sense of connotation: Middle English, from Old English gamen; akin to Old High German gaman: amusement. First Known Use: before 12th century. Hey, there’s our old buddy amusement again!

            Sorry dude, but GAMES ARE FOR FUN. That’s the bottom line. Now, that isn’t to say that there can’t be some form of video-interactive art. After all, not all books are for fun. Neither are all movies, or radio, or paintings. But their creators don’t try to sell them off as fun. If you call your piece of art a “game,” then you are saying that your art if fun. If it isn’t fun, then that is false advertising on your part. If I picked up a book titled “Lord Chestermunger’s Grande Adventurers in the Realms of the Orient, and the Bamboozling Battles Within,” I’d be pretty cheesed off if the book was some dry treatise on Imperialist Britain’s actions in China during the Opium War.

            Now, of course a game can have artistic elements. And video-interactive art can be fun. But if you call your product a “game,” then you are saying that above all else your product if FUN. Fun was your primary goal, and you are claiming you nailed it. If your primary goal was to make a piece of art, then call your product video-interactive art. This is really simple, but a bunch of people on the internet are making a huge deal out of it. And I don’t get why. Ebert was right when he said (paraphrased because I don’t want to look up the exact quote) “Games can’t be art.” Art’s primary goal is art. A game’s primary goal is fun. Everyone from an old movie critic to a toddler can recognize this. If we want our medium to be taken seriously, then our art needs to abandon the label of “game” and take up the grown up name of “video-interactive art.”

          • bill says:

            @Super Ewok:

            The dictionary definition of the word Game, or it’s entomology from 2000 years ago aren’t really relevant to the issue at all. Things change. Words are applied to things inappropriately.

            That said, the whole thing is a rather pointless circular argument.

          • Supahewok says:

            @bill I gotta take umbrage with that, because I hate that argument, and it always gets brought up in an argument about categorization. It implies that, given enough time, any word can mean anything, which essentially renders it meaningless. Not only that, one of my points (that I didn’t do a good job of illustrating) is that everyone else outside of the videogames industry believes in the current definition of the word game. They don’t know the difference between a videogame and an artsy game when they are both called games, except that one is more fun than the other and therefore a better game. Instead of trying to bend the meaning of a word with a long history to an audience that doesn’t give a crap, everyone is better off with a new term that immediately informs everyone of what it means. Hence, “video-interactive art.” At least, that’s the term I’ve come up with, and I think it fits fine. At the end of the day, I don’t care what this new art form is called, but just call it something already and get this stupid debate out of the way.

      • thegooseking says:

        The thing is, if we substitute the word ‘political’ for the word ‘moral’, well, pretty much every story outside of games has a moral message. The theme, premise, moral, call it what you will, is always expressing some fundamentally political (or moral) idea, even if the author is unaware of it. They are almost always making a statement about one thing being good and another thing being bad.

        I think whether or not that’s also true of games is an important question that shouldn’t be answered too hastily (even if I am personally inclined towards saying “no – players having agency regarding the morality to which they adhere (and in the game) should at least be an option for games”).

        • Supahewok says:

          On the one hand, I gotta say that I agree with you. On the other hand, I gotta say that I don’t see the point in looking for a moral or a political statement in, say, Asteroids, or football. Not saying you couldn’t, but it just seems like there’s other things to do with the limited amount of time we have.

      • Consumatopia says:

        It does feel a little weird seeing artists desperate to grab the “game” label, but it make a strange sort of sense. Their aren’t many forms of art less prestigious than games, but the choose-your-own-adventure story is one of them.

    • Premium User Badge

      Arvind says:

      I admire Robert’s work, but on reading the series of letters, especially when he says “We need a new mode of games criticism!”, I can’t help but feel he’s saying “you can’t criticize these types of games”. I feel that there is merit in critiquing games/creations/zines like dys4ia on mechanical terms, as well as it’s political/historial terms (as Robert seems to suggest).

      In my humble opinion, I feel that it’s okay to say your game isn’t subject to criticism in it’s usual definition – dys4ia did win a lot of acclaim and I thought it was enlightening – but I don’t feel we should just say “okay, personal games are off limits for mechanical criticism” – we want more types of critique, not less.

      (I hope I managed to convey what I meant properly. I feel like there’s this whole context that I’m missing and that’s the reason everyone is up in arms – in that case, I apologize.)

    • JackShandy says:

      I think he’s saying that Ralph’s analysis is going to stir up a lot of anger and controversy, and trying to explain why. Asking “What is a game?” and dissecting artsy games is naturally going to make the people who make artsy games angry, because “This isn’t a game!” is so often used to belittle those games. Detached criticism of a personal artsy game makes those creators angry, because “We are our games”.

      And hey, now I kind of know what Formalism means.

      • dE says:

        “This isn’t a game!” is so often used to belittle those games.
        I love the irony in this. The debate usually flames up around self-proclaimed art-games that, by attaching art to their description, in turn belittle all those other games. The message: I’m art and you are not. Which in turn spawns I’m a game and you are not. Genre death match, ready, steady, go.

  12. TillEulenspiegel says:

    Some context: Raph Koster’s primary conflict has been against people who insist that everything is a game if the author calls it that. Like if I glue a bottle of paint to a canvas, I can call that a painting.

    And if something kinda sorta controls like a videogame, it’s a game.

    It’s a very boring debate, and Koster has half-jokingly decided to resolve it by inventing a new term for Real Games (that is, a system of rules. A set of mechanics. The equivalent of cinematography to film, the craft that uniquely defines and distinguishes the medium from any other medium) so as not to hurt people’s delicate fee-fees. I’m waiting to hear what he comes up with.

  13. Gonefornow says:

    The critical reception concerning Infinite has gotten me quite upset.

    The fact alone that a linear story in an interactive medium receives so lavish praise gets my back up.
    Now even the bloggers are praising how clever and meta the commentary is and passing that as high art.

    Isn’t art about creativity, seizing the new possibilities, venturing where the medium can take as, rather than copying what another mediums have already mastered and done before better.

    Linear stories, and narrative, as a word, to that matter, belong to the linear media, like books and movies.
    Interactable, non-linear mediums, like games, deserve better.

    It’s good that there at least seems to be a word for this: “Emergent narrative”, these people have come up with, but I prefer the non-story based version: “Experiences”.

    That is what games can offer us, dynamic worlds and unique sequences of events, not this crude matter.

    Maybe the masses want the Video rather than the Game and sparsely interactive movies just aren’t my thing, but I’d very much like to see a change to this state of affairs.

    Developers, think outside the box for a while, if you always wished to be a writer or a movie director it might be a bit difficult, but at least try it, ok.

    • Xocrates says:

      That games should limit their scope because a (different) part of their scope is successful is a fallacy if I ever saw one.

      Linear games are a valid way of designing a game. Yes, some games are essentially an interactive movie, but they’re still interactive, which allows them to tell such a story in ways movies and books simply cannot.

      You can disagree about the implementation, and frankly I would be likely to agree with you in many points. But disregarding that side of the medium is probably more harmful for its growth that what we currently have now.

      It is debatable whether Infinite’s implementation makes it a justifiable approach for what’s supposed to be an interactive medium, but the game’s “constants and variables” theme makes it quite clear that it’s aware of that conundrum.

      One can argue the game’s value as “art”, but the mere fact that we’re having a discussion about it gives it enough reason to exist.

      • Gonefornow says:

        Good points Xocrates.

        “That games should limit their scope because a (different) part of their scope is successful is a fallacy if I ever saw one.”

        If we lived in a perfect world where there was an infinite supply of time and energy then yes, but unfortunately at the moment, things such as linear story driven games, especially first person games, sell well, thus that is what gets made, in the big companies at least, which have the most resources and media coverage.

        “Linear games are a valid way of designing a game. Yes, some games are essentially an interactive movie, but they’re still interactive, which allows them to tell such a story in ways movies and books simply cannot.”

        I don’t completely admonish linear stories in games, but there is a line where you’d better just use a linear medium to begin with. It’s a personal matter though. I have player too many such games already, and more of them are being made all the time, while, like said, all the other possibilities are been disregarded or outright rejected.

        “but the game’s … theme makes it quite clear that it’s aware of that conundrum.”

        Which is a personal pet peeve of mine, making a point by spending massive amounts of time and effort in the progress, when a speech or an essay would have sufficed.

        I’d rather see all that energy put into creating, researching and developing something new and exiting, that hasn’t been done before, but that is just me.

        • Xocrates says:

          “like said, all the other possibilities are been disregarded or outright rejected.”

          Skyrim was a massive commercial and critical hit, Minecraft has sales on the tens of millions, sandbox strategy such as Civ are gaming mainstays, and even the new XCOM thrived mostly for the emergent/sandbox aspect of it. Heck, just this week I got Scribblenauts Unlimited, which mostly just provides a framework to screw around.

          The problem isn’t that those possibilities are being disregarded or rejected, the problem is that they’re borderline impossible to do well, and the reception hard to predict.

          Ultimately, the problem is purely economic. You can sell a thousand identical games out of a thousand stories, but if a game allows for a thousand stories while having none of its own, then why get more than one to begin with?

          So yes, the games you want DO exist, but they will always be vastly outnumbered.

          The only problem I have with that, is that presently linear games do not take full advantage of their interactivity to present their story in a novel manner. Frankly, the fact that Bioshock Infinite even tried makes me more hopeful than if we had no linear games at all.

          • LuNatic says:

            Skyrim? The story in Skyrim was utterly linear. Sure, you could mix and match it in the order that you completed quests, but your decisions had no consequences on the world at all. You could hit level 50, have muscles so large they are bursting out of your skin, carry an enchanted death-axe of death and prevent the freaking Armageddon and… nothing. Dumb-arse bandits would still use you you as an effective means of mass suicide, guards will still call you sneak-thief, and merchants will still rip you off.

            I’m not saying that it was a bad game, but a non linear story needs to have consequences for decisions made.

            As for minecraft, what story where?

          • Xocrates says:

            @LuNatic: What are you talking about? The discussion was on linear narratives Vs emergent ones. And the thing about emergent narratives is that they are not scripted. I mentioned Skyrim because, despite having a linear story, what people remember is the faffing about doing stuff (i.e. the emergent narrative) – which, by the way, the devs have no way to predict and therefore account for. The problem you’re pointing out is tied to the linear narratives not being acknowledged.

            And Minecraft? It has no story outside the emergent one.

          • LuNatic says:

            Sure it’s emergent, but can you really call it narrative?

    • JackShandy says:

      Irrational makes linear story-telling games because that’s what they’re good at. You’re outright dismissing what they’re good at, and suggesting they should make emergent experiences – because that’s the Right way to make games, and because everybody pursuing the Wrong way is diverting resources away from the Right way.

      Look, it’s quite likely that Irrational would be shit at making an emergent story. It’s not the type of game they’ve been honing for years, the type of game they love making, the type of game that has made them success. What you’re doing is like asking Frank Frazetta to stop drawing sexy women and monsters. That’s what he’s good at! If you want paintings of landscapes, go to the artist that loves landscapes, don’t demand that Frank change his art to suit you.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Yeah. It’s fair enough to lament a lack of out-of-the-box thinking in the industry (though I think you’d be overlooking a lot of games if you did), but don’t put the blame on developers who are trying to do something fascinating with what’s inside the box.

      • Casimir's Blake says:

        Jack: The issue some are having, and I would agree, is that there are – to further your comparison – many mainstream games out there that focus on the “Frank Franzetta” side of things (e.g. simplistic man-shooting and run forward of Bioshock Infinite, CoD, Gears of War etc), and very few games that bother to “explore landscapes”. (e.g. the emergent gameplay and possibilities found in Stalker, Minecraft or.. say… Teleglitch. Or any Looking Glass Studios game.)

    • Vinraith says:

      I’m honestly surprised you’d allow the critical reaction to this game to get you upset. I say that because games of this type (high production value titles with pretensions of deep meaning despite a nonsensical plot) always receive this kind of critical reaction, and by now I’d expect that (like me) you wouldn’t pay it any mind. From the earliest press materials it was pretty clear what Bioshock was, and pretty clear how the press was going to react to it.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        But I can understand part of the annoyance. We are talking of a clear misrepresentation of what a game like BS:I is and how this tends to encourage the industry to produce yet more “high production value titles with pretensions of deep meaning despite a nonsensical plot”. My own irritation to how Bioshock: Infinite was received by the press exists exactly because of this fear. The perpetuation of a low-keyed pop culture in the video game industry because we try to find higher meaning in a Duran Duran song.

        While reading Jen Finelli article Jedi Mind Control: Serious Gaming for the Human Brain (on this Sunday Papers under the inapt title “Will asking questions about the games you play improve your thinking?”) I couldn’t avoid being thrown back to BS:I. If we do start asking more serious questions about the games we play, we will invariably become more critic of games as a whole. A large representative number of gamers seem to be already engaged in more thoughtful game/criticism relationship. But the press is unfortunately not.

    • Gonefornow says:

      @JackShandy & LennyLeonardo
      I’m not saying what is right or wrong, if it seems so I do apologize for not taking that into consideration.
      I’m also not attacking/criticizing Irrational for what they do, but rather advocating change when it comes to trying out different styles and mechanism as a whole.

      It would be unfortunate to see new studious in the following decades sticking to the tried and true formulas of today.

      @Vinraith
      I agree, I’m used to it as well, and I know that as time goes on and technology advances there will be a lot more innovative games and experiences, but talking about change and other possibilities doesn’t hurt now, does it?

      The upset was partly caused by my personal opinions about the decline of gameplay in favor of story shenanigans, in the latest addition to the Shock series and how few critics noticed or cared.
      But that’s just me and another discussion altogether.

      @ No-one in particular
      The thing is, if linear stories in non-linear mediums are here to stay, I’m all for it, as it is its own thing, but the mediums have to grow into other kinds of directions as well.

      No genre is immortal after all and genres are often dictated by the level of technology available.
      Are silent slapstick movies still getting made?
      How about epic poems about the Gods and mortals?
      Maybe, but the range of literature and cinema have broadened massively from those times.

      I’d like to see the same happen to computer games within my lifetime.

      • Tasloi says:

        “I’d like to see the same happen to computer games within my lifetime.”

        It will happen. I consider this to be inevitable. But it starts becoming problematic when people’s preconceived expectations clash with the broader aspects of reality. I find myself seeing this more and more lately not just in ordinary commenters but also game journalists themselves. It’s when you start reading thinly veiled attempts to force the issue one way or another. When someone then points this out it’s usually dismissed under the guise of being a “critique”. This abuse of critique is becoming a worrying trend in my opinion.

        • Gonefornow says:

          I hope so too.

          On the subject of critique abuse, got any recent mainstream examples (as in links)?

    • Zwebbie says:

      @Gonefornow: the success of Bioshock Infinite is truly fascinating. It’s a great game, except for its gameplay. None of its strengths are ludic. Its story criticises the idea that play can be meaningful.

      It is the exact opposite of what people like Jonathan Blow or Jason Rohrer have been fighting for over all these years, meaning through gameplay. Jon Blow once held a talk on how the authorial message and gameplay can’t co-exist. He went the way of something that will be interpreted differently by everyone. Irrational doesn’t disagree, but it goes the other way; rather than sacrifice the author, they sacrifice the game.

      It may be a good thing, but it’s not a good game. It tells its story through audio, through visuals, not through rules. The very idea is mocked. And yet, people love it. It’s hailed as the best game ever, precisely because it isn’t much of a game. The idea of a museum, installation art, theatre, a story in digital format is apparently more appealing than a game. That’s not a bad thing — but it is fascinating.

      • Gonefornow says:

        I agree, this is what I meant with the decline of gameplay, one by one the mechanics are dropped until there is none left. In that sense I’m eager to see how far they can take it with major critical support intact.

        Looking for that presentation I found these:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqFu5O-oPmU
        The first one uses Bioshock as an example, but I don’t think either of those are the one you mentioned.
        Do you perchance know where said presentation, or other items of interest, could be found?

        • Casimir's Blake says:

          And let’s be honest, there’s another side to the “diminishing game mechanics” argument:

          Simplified gaming mechanics make games more accessible. And, yeah, I’m going to say it: This appeals to the mainstream public that just want to see muscle-bound armoured blokes shooting and being shot at, cars exploding, balls being kicked (either, and those too), bad-ass loincloth-wearing six-packs wielding The Biggest Mace Evar and poking it into Really Big Bad Dudes That Die In Elaborate Ways and so on and so on. (Oh, and The Sims, which is the most mind-numbingly un-fun experience I’ve had the misfortune to try.) These things and visual realism have become vastly more “important” to said audience than abstract gaming experiences, which were the norm in the 80s/90s.

          These simplistic mainstream games are perfectly valid and allowed and I have no problem with Gears of Duty Manager Sim Whatever 2013 etc. though I wouldn’t personally want to play them. But this is the problem: there are tons of these games being made, released and given coverage, and increasingly fewer games that are games: games that have interesting mechanics or “systems”, and worlds that have unique rules that are worth exploring because they explore abstract concepts that are not necessarily realistic but allow for interesting gameplay.

          Games like System Shock 2, really. Or The Void. Dark Souls and King’s Field. Teleglitch, Thief, Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines, X-Com, Master Of Orion, Civilisation, Minecraft, etc. etc.

          I’m sure Bioshock Infinite had a lot of interesting things to say, but this is a gaming site, and at the end of the day: BS:I isn’t a particularly good shooter, and the story ‘aint all that great either. But it’s high-profile, mainstream “status” means we’re here talking about it, and not… Teleglitch? (I’m going to keep mentioning it because it’s brilliant.)

          • Gonefornow says:

            YES!

            Also now I have to bump Teleglitch upwards on my to-play list.

          • Jason Moyer says:

            I dunno what shooters you’re playing, but purely from a mechanical point of view Infinite (and BioShock 2, as well) were probably the best pure shooters I’ve played since Quake 1. BioShock 1 was a bit hit-or-miss in that area because they couldn’t seem to figure out if they were making a shooter or a System Shock 2 style hybrid game, but 2 and Infinite completely embrace that they’re shooters and are pretty damn good at it, imho.

        • Zwebbie says:

          I was refering to Blow’s 2008 speech “Conflicts in Game Design”, which is posted in that same YouTube channel. In it, he mentions this Fullbright blog post, which I think is also interesting and has links yet further.

          Mind, I think Casimir’s Blake is being a little too overzealous here in painting ‘games’ that are lacking in game mechanics as low brow. His example of Vampire: Bloodlines is, I think, one that fits more snugly along with Call of Duty, BioShock and Psychonauts than it does along ‘true’ games such as Tetris, SpaceChem and Dwarf Fortress. It’s not good because of what it causes you, as a player, to come up with, it’s good because the writers wrote good lines. Planescape Torment, too, is one of those games that is all about what the author has to say and doesn’t invite or allow the player to explore his own, unique solutions (and arguably not a game for it).

    • blackmyron says:

      Well, here’s a question: have you played interactive fiction? A prose narrative that is interactive in nature that strongly encourages exploring the medium to its fullest? It hasn’t been commercially viable since its brief heyday in the 1980s, when it was supplanted by graphics-oriented games, and its cousin, the graphics adventure game, has only recently experienced a minor surge away from the brink of oblivion itself. However, there is a small but strong community of writers still creating these types of games. I would probably recommend checking them out.

      • Gonefornow says:

        Interactive fiction as in text adventures?
        If so, sure. There is untapped potential in visually abstract interactive media, but unfortunately, like you said, mainstream development of said genre stopped eons ago. Which is too bad as my gripe with the genre was always the interface, with a few exceptions.

        This is why I was quite exited about this Twine craze, before noticing it’s not quite the same thing.
        Unique in it’s own right of course and the best of all an extremely easy and cheap way of producing narratives about, well, anything, with no pretense of being game to begin with.

        I’ll look around though, maybe there are some new gems lying around.

        • blackmyron says:

          Specifically, interactive fiction. “Text adventures” conjures up the old “VERB NOUN” style games that were outdated by the mid-80s. The medium has evolved since then, as an art form rather than a commercial enterprise. Many of the authors of interactive fiction are taking the ‘fiction’ part quite seriously, attempting to make works of literature. Certainly some of the output of Infocom’s heydays, namely “Trinity” and “A Mind Forever Voyaging” fall into that category.

  14. Reapy says:

    I’ve wondered the same about climbing, though I’ve wanted to see it as part of an rpg /exploration game. While i don limb myself, have read many a harrowing tale and watched a few free solo climbing documentaries to have an itch to make that part of ta game. The idea of managing limbs for stamina, or working sections where you have to balance sureness of grip with speed to get through a section that has no resting points.

    I kind of imagine a sandbox rpg with that type of climbing, take ac3 frontier but add a sense of vertigo instead of the walls feeling like walking around on flat ground.

    Did the vertigo guy not open source and abandon it? Was hoping it could become some cool middleware to work into bigger games.

  15. RagingLion says:

    I haven’t read it yet, but the article on climbing reminds me a little while ago that I thought about how a gamne based around the dynamics of climbing would probably be really good and provide reallyy satisfying short-term gameplay loops. By that I mean that climbing seems to revolve around steadying a bit of time judging the ‘terrain’ in front of you and then executing on your plan, which requires the execution of some skill. I think that’s a pretty perfect mental thought process for gaming to explore. And it has the longer gamplay loop of having conquered something and being able to very visibly see the progress you have made. The thing that inspired it was playing the in-progress indie game, Against The Wall. That’s all about climbing and I found it really compulsive and satisfying and I replayed an early build quite a few times.

  16. Michael Fogg says:

    Re: the personal/political games debate, it seems to me that their creators are trying to jump on the gravy train. Being featured on a major gaming blog (such as RPS) can mean financial success for a dev, or, for freeware titles, at least a lot of popularity and accolades. People who are arguing ‘but these are not games so they don’t belong here’ are seen as an obstacle to this, so they are called names like ‘opressor’ etc. Ultimately, only a relatively small number of people will volunteer to ‘play’ these glorified slideshows about the author’s experience as a, say, left-handed bespectacled ginger.

  17. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I mostly come to Sunday Papers for the music. I’m rarely disappointed. Thanks Jim — you are better at songs than Kieron!