The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on April 21st, 2013 at 9:26 am.


Sundays are for waking up from a night of fever dreams and ohgod. So. Weak. Lung plague for real, and I am dying. This is how it ends.

  • Digital Foundry looks at what the next generation of consoles will mean for PC specs: “PlayStation 4 in particular offers a substantial challenge to the PC as the top-end gaming platform – a state of affairs that may surprise many. Sony’s new console has often been described as a mid-range gaming PC in terms of its overall technological make-up. Rip apart the various components and the claims have some merit, but with the benefits of a closed box design and a unified memory set-up, the new console has certain qualities that could even give high-end PC rigs a run for their money.”
  • Michael Abbott on Bioshock Infinite: “I have a feeling that Bioshock Infinite will finally be seen as the apotheosis of the FPS genre, a culminating achievement that signals both a peak and an end. I’m sure other designers will take their shots, and I wish them well, but it’s impossible for me to read quotes like the ones above without amending them in my head with “…for a shooter.” That doesn’t mean shooters are empty experiences. Not at all. It simply means that staring down the barrel of a gun as a default point of view may not leave your possibility space wide open.”
  • Tim Rogers on Bioshock Infinite: “In short, Bioshock Infinite makes me sad. Bioshock Infinite makes me sad that I’m not offered the choice of a dozen more games like it every year. I want so many games this big, and this weird, and this stuffed full of stuff. I want this game to be successful. No matter how stupid I ultimately decided it was, I want it to succeed, so that we can start breaking the cycle of every triple-A game being about some super-boring regular dudes on earth fighting in a desert or a jungle. I want to go weird places with weird people — in real life and in videogames. I know it’s cool for “people like me” to hate Bioshock Infinite unconditionally, because that’d be the opposite of what everyone else is doing, though I arrive at the end of this critique genuinely conflicted.”
  • True Pc Gaming interviews the man from Futuremark: “3DMark Fire Strike, which is our latest high-end benchmark test, uses a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine that supports tessellation, ambient occlusion, volumetric illumination, particle illumination and a variety of lighting and shadowing techniques. With post-processing, the engine can produce depth of field, bokeh, particle based distortion such as heat haze, lens effects, bloom and anti-aliasing. One of the coolest new tech features in 3DMark Fire Strike is the smoke simulation, which is calculated on the GPU using Compute Shaders. The simulation uses grid-based fluid dynamics to allow smoke and particles to react realistically to other physical objects in the scene, swirling into vortices as the characters fight through physical modeling rather than canned animation.” Hot sex.
  • Business Week profiles Eve Online: “During the peak of its power in 2010, the Legion of Death ruled roughly one-quarter of the Eve universe; each of Death’s 30,000 soldiers represented a person under his command, tapping away on his computer. To the winners go prime territory rich in trade and industry, while losers are pillaged and banished to lesser areas. “You don’t understand what it’s like to manage that many people,” Romanchenko reflects. “It’s not playing a game. It’s like having a second job.””
  • Rob Zacny on some kids playing Riptide: “We say these things are meant for adults but you can only play so many murderous open-world minigame collections before you start to suspect someone is either lying to themselves or to the public. I don’t think it’s the mature games audience that’s clamoring for more homicidal Short Attention Span Theater. Yet it seems like that’s becoming the standard template for a major game. Not too hard, certainly not complicated, with just enough cruelty and cursing to make it edgy, and nothing approaching a worldview.”
  • The Guardian profiles Anna Anthropy and the Twine revolutionaries: “Money is a big issue when it comes to developing games. Anna sees Twine as part of redressing a balance that was tipping towards expensive software only available to large companies. “It’s a big deal that Twine is free,” she deliberates, slowing down slightly. “Any obstacle, however small, to making games will put off a lot of people. If you look at something like Game Maker, which is another tool for making games, that tool now costs a hundred bucks. And in the past there have always been free versions available, and the new free version of that puts a watermark on every game made unless you pay the hundred dollars.”
  • Nothing to do with games, but somehow everything to do with it in my head. An interview with Jeff Noon: “It’s hard to recapture the sense of how strange and beguiling Vurt was when it came out. It was set in a phantasmagorical alternative Manchester in which humans mingled and mated with sentient dogs, robots, telepathic “shadows” and creatures from – or contaminated with – the titular “vurt”, a parallel world that was some unspecified mix of consensual hallucination, virtual reality game and drug trip to which you gained entry by sucking on coloured feathers. The thing about the vurt world, though, was that it was in some sense real. For everything from our world that got lost in the vurt, something from the vurt world came back. The novel’s protagonist, Scribble, had lost his sister Desdemona to the vurt and got a dribbling, many-tentacled Thing from Outer Space in return. Vurt follows his attempts to find her.” Yeah, see, now its stuff like that which makes me certain that games aren’t really exploring quite enough imaginative terrain. If it’s Aliens again, well, fuck that.
  • Shut up & Sit Down on licensed board games: “The Walking Dead hits that mark, but in doing so may find it hard to satisfy either end of the spectrum. It’s not deep enough for strategy geeks, but it’s not clear and simple enough for those new to the hobby either. While the trappings of the show are well represented, a lot of the nuance and menace seem to have been sacrificed in favor of broader appeal. While you can’t fault the game for its level of sales, Cryptozoic might have produced a better game qua game by targeting one end of the spectrum or the other.”

Music this week is Chilly Gonzales’ piano concert.

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170 Comments »

  1. karry says:

    “I have a feeling that Bioshock Infinite will finally be seen as the apotheosis of the FPS genre”

    What a bleak and dystopian thing to say ! By Zeus i hope not !

    • Muzman says:

      Pretty sure they said the same thing about Bioshock 1. Or watershed and words like that.
      Did it happen? Nope. The CoD/Halo o-sphere didn’t drop a stride. The revolution was then sitting around waiting for Bioshock Infinite to come along.

    • bigjig says:

      I doubt that. For that to happen the gameplay would have to be perfect, otherwise people will play the game once, have what they’ll consider to be an “AMAZING EXPERIENCE,” but they’ll never look back at it after that. A narrative-focused game will never have the lasting power as game with pure gameplay, like Super Mario Bros for example, because video games are an interactive medium – the “interactive” part needs to be good to have a lasting impression.

      Bioshock Infinite is the current fad game that every blogger is fapping over, but give it a year or so and it’ll just be seen as another “pretty good game.” Happens all the time – Skyrim, Far Cry 3, etc.. The story, art style, sound design are all great sure, but the gameplay mechanics leave too much to be desired for the game to be the “apotheosis of the FPS genre”

      • Narbotic says:

        note: this is very correct

      • MarcP says:

        Hear, hear.

      • Kitsunin says:

        You have a good point, but I don’t think it’s entirely true, as it completely dismisses the idea that a game might be carried, even in part, by its plot. And while I think Binfinite won’t be remembered for too long, it’s, at least not entirely, because of its emphasis on story. Or do you think that there’s no such thing as a movie of this sort?
        To me, the existence of Homestuck proves beyond a doubt that any medium, and any style of presentation, can reach perfection. It’s just a matter of really, truly, doing something amazing, rather than just doing something great.

        • MarcP says:

          A First Person Shooter is an interactive computer game played in the first person perspective in which you shoot stuff. At least, that’s what the name should suggest to me. Interactivity, and gameplay related to shooting. For the perfect FPS to be defined by its story would like for the perfect movie to be defined by how comfortable was your seat or how good was the popcorn; things that have some level of relevance to the experience to some people, but ultimately aren’t the prime focus the genre itself brings to mind to some other people.

          • Jason Moyer says:

            For the perfect FPS to be defined by its story would like for the perfect movie to be defined by how comfortable was your seat or how good was the popcorn

            No, it would be like the perfect movie being defined by its story. Although, come to think of it, Citizen Kane isn’t heralded as the greatest film of all time because of its narrative.

          • Kitsunin says:

            I actually think a better comparison to an FPS defined by story would be a movie defined by its cinematography and special effects. You can have a a movie that is carried entirely by that, but it won’t ever be perfect. Likewise, a movie without special effects can be great…but it probably won’t be, and only might if it’s the right type of movie. In other words, only certain types of games work without having stories, and those that do have stories, need to have both a fantastic story AND fantastic gameplay to actually be perfect.

          • Jason Moyer says:

            To use Citizen Kane as an example again, since it’s widely regarded the best movie ever made, the reason it’s praised is almost, if not entirely because of its cinematography. Yeah the story’s ok, and the acting’s ok, but there are tons of movies before and after CK that are superior in those areas. The movie is #1 because it revolutionized the actual art of filmmaking. Every shot, every angle, every lens, every light position, etc is amazing.

            Which is why I’ve always thought the pursuit of the “Citizen Kane of games” was kind of silly since you’d be talking about a game with perfect gameplay and we already have that (it’s called Thief The Dark Project). It’s also a game that, like Citizen Kane, has probably had more of an influence on western game design than anything that preceded or came after it. Pretty much everyone making good mainstream games now was either part of the Thief team or heavily influenced by it.

          • Kitsunin says:

            While you’re right, at this point Citizen Kane is perhaps a bit too significant historically to be used as a direct comparison. It was a movie that absolutely nailed the cinematography, at a time when movies were often not even passable in that regard. It’s just like how in the early years of gaming, so many games got such horribly basic things wrong, so when Mario came around, it was absolutely amazing. Now we’re in a time where there have been both games with perfect gameplay and movies with perfect cinematography…not only that, but there are practically formulas we can simply follow to get there. So of course, just nailing everything down so it all feels just perfect, is no longer enough. It needs to be unique, too.

          • karry says:

            “To use Citizen Kane as an example again, since it’s widely regarded by USians as the best USian movie ever made”

            Fixed.

          • Jason Moyer says:

            Weird, I’ve never seen anyone else suggest that Citizen Kane’s place as the standard bearer for cinematography had anything to do with nationalism. But hey, if you’re a Battleship Potemkin or Triumph Of The Will guy more power to you.

            But anyway, Citizen Kane is #1 because that’s where other film makers rank it. It’s rarely if ever ranked there in audience or critic polls. And to continue my bit about Thief being the CK of gaming, I think if you polled every western game developer on their favorite/most influential game Thief would come out on top.

          • Baines says:

            A First Person Shooter is an interactive computer game played in the first person perspective in which you shoot stuff. At least, that’s what the name should suggest to me.

            The accepted definition of “FPS” doesn’t necessarily match what the individual words mean, just like how MOBA doesn’t actually describe “massive online battle arena”.

            When a game drifts too far from accepted standards, people start to argue whether it is actually part of the genre, even if it still fits within the meaning of the words *and* there are precedents for the areas where it drifts from the standard.

            People argued over whether Metroid Prime should be called an FPS, because it was more a 2D platformer/adventure game in 3D, and put more focus on exploration than shooting. People ended up coming up with the idea of “first person adventure” to describe it. But once you go that route, making up new terms, would you call something like STALKER an FPA instead of an FPS? (FPA only had a brief usage period to my knowledge, though. Largely because it was coined entirely to separate one game from another genre.)

            I could see that, if a game drifts too far from the accepted definition of an FPS, people may reject calling it an FPS (either because they don’t want to “insult” that game with such a limiting term, or because they don’t want to “insult” the genre with a game that diverges too far).

          • MentatYP says:

            Why can’t an FPS be carried by an engaging plot? To me you’re defining FPS too narrowly to by definition be all about the mechanics of the game when in fact such a definition for FPS is just a matter of how things have been done in the past and not necessarily the ideal FPS design if there is such a thing.

            Then again maybe it would make sense to break out action-oriented FPSes vs. story-oriented FPSes. Perhaps there would be less angst about identifying the correct genre if not all first-person games where you shoot things were lumped into the same genre in the first place.

        • bigjig says:

          Oh I’m sure a game can be carried in part by its story, I just think that for a game to be considered a classic it has to also really nail the gameplay aspect.

          “And while I think Binfinite won’t be remembered for too long, it’s, at least not entirely, because of its emphasis on story. Or do you think that there’s no such thing as a movie of this sort?”

          Ermm, I’m not really sure about what you mean by this.. Movies are by their nature more suited to telling a narrative, because the filmmakers have the power to “direct” the experience they want the audience to have. Some games try to do this (usually in a really awkward manner) using scripted events, QTEs, etc. but generally the moment you try and direct the gamer to do something in game is the moment you start to really limit the scope of the gameplay. I just happen to think that if you’re willing to do that, you may as well just make a movie as that medium is just all round more suited to telling a story.

          • Premium User Badge PikaBot says:

            Complete nonsense. Subtly directing the player’s experience is Valve’s entire oeuvre.

            Frankly, these arguments always strike me as water-carrying over the industry’s disregard for the principles of storytelling, rather than a genuine observation about the medium.

        • PopeRatzo says:

          The question is not whether a game CAN be carried by it’s plot. The question should be whether a game SHOULD be carried by it’s plot.

          If the gameplay in Bioshock: Infinite was as good as its story, it might make it into my top ten of 2013. I give the story high marks, but the gameplay was rather poor.

          I’m not even sure it’s one of the best FPS of the year.

      • skinlo says:

        I disagree.

        I find Super Mario Bros and all these supposedly ‘must play’ retro games very boring and dull. Storyline can easily make up for average gameplay in my opinion. Just like I enjoy reading the Harry Potter books for the entertaining storyline even if they aren’t masterpieces of writing.

        It was also alot easier to get noticed 15 years a go now, and people have rose tinted glasses when looking back.

        • bigjig says:

          Well I just used Super Mario Bros as one such example. I’m not much a fan of platformers myself, but I do appreciate just how precise the gameplay feels in this game.

          I guess what I am trying to say is: A game with a brilliant story and lackluster gameplay will be enjoyable “to play through” the first time you play it, but a game with brilliant gameplay and a lackluster story will be enjoyable to play each and every time you play it.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I think that’s a vast oversimplification. If narrative really wasn’t that important, people wouldn’t be talking about PST still.

        • bigjig says:

          It’s funny you bring up PS:T because I really love that game too, but because of the gameplay and not really the story. In my mind interacting with characters in your party through dialog choices is a part of the gameplay and I love it. If those dialog sequences had of just been cutscenes I don’t think I would have enjoyed PS:T anywhere near as much, even if it had the exact same narrative.

          • InternetBatman says:

            Absolutely. Narrative and mechanics do not have to be separate entities, which is why saying narrative-focused games won’t have the staying power fails over the long run.

        • MarcP says:

          They are talking about it, but are they actually playing it? If only we could shoot the NPCs with firearms.

          I loved PST, but after three playthroughs and having read that novelization of the plot, I feel I got absolutely everything I can out of that game. On the other hand, I played Doom last week, and the week before that, and on a monthly basis since about 2003, and I’m consistently entertained and amazed by the creative output from modders coupled with the original rock solid gameplay.

          • InternetBatman says:

            Is the “lasting power” the original poster uses as a metric replaying a game or the sustained impression it makes on culture? They can be the same thing or separate.

            Also, including mods is cheating a bit. Are you playing the same game or a bunch of slightly different games with evolving content? There’s a thin line between the two, where does mod end and new game begin? Dota is a prime example.

      • Tacroy says:

        Bioshock Infinite was a great experience, but it was pretty shitty as a game. The plot is great, but the shooting seems to be there entirely to keep you away from it; the guns weren’t particularly satisfying to use, the enemy AI was dull to fight against, the Vigors were boring. The gameplay just wasn’t fun.

        Walk into room. Shoot things in room. Plot plot plot. Walk into other room. Shoot other things in room. Can I have some more plot? No, shoot more things first. Okay now you can have plot.

        I don’t see why anyone would play in 1999 Mode. It’s just harder for no good reason.

      • Anarkopsykotik says:

        The story isn’t even that great, and the gameplay actually works against it while being below average. Great story in video games are conveyed by the universe you evolve in, your actions in it etc, not endless cinematic and a handful of audio logs. That anyone can give that game a better score than a 7/10 is really sad and say much of the state of industry today.

      • The Random One says:

        It seems sad to judge a game only by how often it is played. I still think about books, movies and songs that I read/watched/heard years ago, because they touched me. The same is true about games. I don’t think Team Fortress 2 is intrinsically better than Bioshock because I’m still playing it, since even if I don’t feel like replaying Bioshock I still think about it, maybe more often than I play TF2 nowadays.

    • Valvarexart says:

      I don’t really see how he could possibly throw something like that out. I don’t think Bioshock Infinite shone as any beacon of anything in any category, be it shooter or storyteller. Maybe the art, maybe the combination of the art and all those other things makes it one of the better games this year. But the apotheosis? That would simply be ridiculous. A game or two like it comes along almost every year, and I have little reason to believe that this will be the last year.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Ah, let Abbott have his sweeping statements. Without those – and his rip-and-strip, laser-targeted-at-nowhere quotes on impressionism, phenomenology, marionette theatre etc etc – the man has nothing. Give me 150,000 words from Tim Rogers on attempting (and inevitably succeeding) to sleep with someone, in Japan!! – in which are dispersed 4,600 words about the importance of the colour scheme of the rupees in Zelda – any day.

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      Bioshock Infinite has far too many flaws racked up against it’s strong points for it to be the pinnacle of anything. Interesting gaming experience, but I’ve played far, far better first person games.

      • Obc says:

        any game on any best ever list has numerous flaws e.g.: OoT or MMask. Even HLife or SShock 2 or DEx1. All of these games have a lot of flaws but the good parts outweigh all the bad stuff for many gamers or they learn to accept them coz it allowed the good stuff to happen.

        there is no game without any flaws and if you look hard enough you can pull out so many in any game that in the end the number doesnt matter. all that matters: Did you enjoy the experience in most of its aspects despite it flaws?

      • The Random One says:

        I think the article’s very point is that some flaws are inherent to the FPS genre and Bioshock 8 is at the precise point where these flaws are the least damaging to the whole.

        I disagree with that, though. Games like Dishonored, the Deus Exes, hell, even King of the Wood and Half-Life show that if we think of first-person as not necessarialy shooters we’ll get a lot more mileage out of them. It’ll just take a big dev having the metaphorical cojones to make a game with very understated, significant violence.

    • walldad says:

      “The Shooting of the Men is at odds with the ‘Smart Stuff’ in one particularly over-hyped and over-analyzed game, therefore all FPS games have peaked” is a pretty insipid argument to make, and it’s one that’s been made countless times since Bioshock Infinite’s release. It seems like this set is very eager to eulogize FPS games for no other reason than the most popular FPS games are designed to appeal to The Dumb People With Bad Taste.

      My take: the commercial/assembly line/marketing-driven climate of game development has infinitely (heh!) more to do with why FPS games can’t grow up narratively or explore the implementation of new game mechanics. I guarantee you that’s why Mirror’s Edge ended up with more shooting than many were comfortable with, or why Bethsoft’s Fallout game (no this really is an FPS) had next to no non-combat options to deal with conflicts in the game. In fact, the perception that CoD is the norm and a game like BI is the best anyone can hope for from that genre perpetuates its continued mediocrity to some extent. Also blah blah blah something about Deus Ex.

    • Jorum says:

      I can’t but wonder if the fact Bioshock Infinite is railroaded, often repetitive and from players point of view is “I’ve seen it all before” might be partly deliberate.

    • newc0253 says:

      I’ll tell you what Bioshock Infinite is the apotheosis of: not very much.

      It’s a great, clever, beautiful game and I think that, come the end of the year, it will prove to have been one of the year’s best.

      Part of its cleverness was that it was a game on rails & it was determined to make you look, from time to time, at the beauty of those rails in the midst of a game whose primary setting was a glorious celebration of freedom and unfettered will.

      But is it an apotheosis of anything? No, although I expect Ken Levine must think that the whole Bioshock theme is close to exhausted by now. If anything, Binfinite shows what you can do with a game on rails.

      But there’s nothing necessary about the FPS form that demands that it always take place in one big corridor, however open. Or that it gives you no meaningful choices in terms of how the main story plays out. We’ve already seen FPS that offer that, so we know it’s possible. Even the ending of the first Bioshock reflected how you had played the game better than Bioshock Infinite. We also know from CRPGs that there is much further to go in that regard.

      I was recently replaying the Baldur’s Gate series and it occured to me watching the ending in Throne of Bhaal that, in a certain respect, its ending was – in one sense – very much in keeping with that of ME3, i.e. no matter which fate you choose, you still get the same cut-scene (although explained in a different context). And Mass Effect was also a series rich in choice and consequence, right up until the very end (indeed, possibly more so than even the BG series). Yet the TOB ending didn’t seem nearly the trainwreck that ME3′s was.

      As is well known, we get endings like these in story-driven games because – as Bioware has explained often – it’s not a good use of resources to devote lots of time and processing power to different endings or – for that matter – large amounts of content that will be missed by most players the first time round (a la Witcher 2). But let’s be clear about *why* that is – a resource limitation. I don’t mean to glibly suggest that all developers need to do is tack an extra £10 million on to the budget and – viola – their story-driven FPS will be richer than before. It’s not gonna be that easy. But there will surely come a point when game developers will have those resources and we will see FPS with rich, branching stories.
      Not today or next year, to be sure. But over time, absolutely.

      Bioshock Infinite is a great game? Yes, definitely. But an apotheosis? It’s like medieval peasants standing in a flour mill and thinking – this is as good as it will ever get.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        Since you mentioned the ending of BS reflecting the player’s actions more than the ending of BSI did, I think it’s more impressive that BSI has subtle repercussions of your choices throughout the game rather than having some massive good karma/bad karma thing happening at the end.

        • newc0253 says:

          Well, Bioshock Infinite shows that you can have a strong story without multiple endings. I don’t want to be understood as saying that ‘more endings’ automatically means ‘better’, as though the only metric of a good story whether an accurate tally of some in-game morality meter gave you ending x instead of y.

          That said, there’s only (spoiler!) a couple of choices that i recall in BI – whether to throw the baseball & the choice of the cage and the bird locket. I remember meeting the baseball couple afterwards. The locket i didn’t notice ever again.

    • Phantoon says:

      Doom is still better.

      • Salvian says:

        And Marathon is still better than Doom.

        Also: Marathon and its sequels had a fairly hefty narrative that managed for the most part to avoid (or at least be conscious of) the dreaded ‘ludonarrative dissonance’ of which BS:I is apparently guilty. Mechanics, level design, atmosphere and narrative are mutually reinforcing in the Marathon games, which just goes to show that it can be done.

  2. Tomsik says:

    I think they are worrying too much about PS4 having unified memory. Perhaps right when it comes out it’ll take money to outperform it, but it was similar when the current-gen consoles came out. Give it a year or two.

  3. Archipelagos says:

    “Infinite delivers characters and drama like Epcot presents world culture.” Perfect line and exactly how Infinite’s world made me feel.

  4. Yosharian says:

    That Tim Rogers guy is spot on. BI did a lot of things wrong, yes, but also it got a hell of a lot of things right. It’s definitely ‘cool’ to hate on this game, but it is a great game.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      The problem I had with the Tim Rogers piece, which I enjoyed overall, is the lengthy bit on the “ludonarrative interference” where it’s basically just “video games don’t make sense if you treat them all very literally.” Which is… I dunno that IS an observation one can make. But it doesn’t seem particularly helpful. It seems to imply that going “it’s a videogame, that’s how videogames work” is a bit of a cop out. Which seems silly, because you can ask those same questions about movies or books etc. “Wait, why is there music right now, where is it coming from?” “Who’s narrating this?” “Why are they continuing a conversation they had in the last scene now, isn’t there like 20 minutes of travel time between them?” Except that everyone KNOWS those conventions so they don’t ask those questions.

      Not that I don’t enjoy being meta at times, prodding at tropes here and there. I enjoy it probably too much. But I’m not convinced being able to identify that those things exist is quite as damning as he seems to think it is?

      • Premium User Badge basilisk says:

        I agree with you. I think he dwells on the whole “how can he eat a whole pineapple in half a second” thing for way too long, and it’s nothing we haven’t heard earlier.

        Though I do know why he comes forward with it. The problem of Infinite is that it at the same time feels like it is trying to escape the videogame ghetto while gleefully accepting all of the ghetto’s culture, lock, stock and barrel. I think the parallels with Inception are very spot on – the endless shooting-on-skis sequences in Inception also felt almost random, just like the first cop murder of Infinite. But looking at them as (very self-aware) blockbusters trying to push the limits of what a blockbuster can do, both are bloody fantastic experiences. You will leave disappointed if you wanted more than that, but I’m not entirely sure that’s the game/film’s fault.

      • Jim Dandy says:

        The problem I had with the Tim Rogers piece was that the author of the sentence: “If the author of this sentence is a scientist — especially one back in the late 19th century, when people read books, and authors composed prose with a nod to the backbreaking work of the manual printing press typesetter — concise precision likely would have come naturally.” clearly has issues with concise precision. Or, you know, concision, for fuck’s sake.

        Maybe running off at the mouth is a style thing with Rogers, which is fine if that’s your over-stuffed bag, but lambasting verbal profligacy with an egregious example of same is, at the very least, confusing.

        For some reason capital punishment is now coming to mind…

        • JackShandy says:

          “specially one back in the late 19th century…”

          Which one was that, Tim?

          “…when people read books,”

          Of course, THAT century, thanks for the clarification.

        • Mattressi says:

          I don’t know which I dislike more – a large number of words for absolutely no reason (Tim Rogers) or that English has a large number of incredibly useless words. I’m all for literacy and proficiency in English, but seriously, guys, can we just cut half of the bloody words from our terrible language? Seriously, I look up “egregious” and I’m told it can mean either outstandingly bad or remarkably good. Great word! Because who doesn’t need another word for remarkably good, and another word for outstandingly bad? But let’s not go too far in creating more words – we need to save our useless word quota, so we’ll just combine the two meanings into one useless word – that way it is entirely unclear whether we are saying something or the polar opposite!

          Sorry, this wasn’t aimed at you (I’m hoping your use of these kinds of words was more irony than anything). I think it’s just that TIm Roger’s needlessly (unnecessarily, gratuitously, etc) long articles send me into a rage against anything written.

          • drvoke says:

            “Outstandingly bad”? Too many letters, John Q. Longform. It was very bad. People were sad. Nothing is ever egregious, nobody ever feels melancholy.

          • Josh W says:

            If you’re a poet, a song writer or a posh rapper, you’ll be glad of all the different words for similar things!

      • JackShandy says:

        I kind of think of it like the artificiality of a play. Using his own paragraph:

        “Why are they walking up to that piece of cardboard?”
        “Uh, it’s a city.”
        “No, it’s clearly a piece of cardboard painted to look like a city. Are they being magically fooled by it, or something?”
        “It represents a city. Painted cardboard represents stuff in plays sometimes. That’s it.”

    • kwyjibo says:

      Has Tim Rogers managed to get himself a editor yet?

      • Sam says:

        It’s certainly still pretty long. But I think this was the first piece of his that I actually finished, despite already reading far too much about Infinite.

      • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

        Fun fact: Tim Rogers’s full initials are TLDR.

        Fun fact: I made that up.

        • Damien Stark says:

          @Gap Gen
          I propose you refer to him from now on as:
          Tim “Ludonarrative Dissonance” Rogers

    • Yosharian says:

      Er yeah to clarify I meant that small bit that RPS quoted, hell I didn’t actually read most of the article, way too long haha

  5. kopema says:

    So PC manufacturers sit around, wait to see what kind of console hardware is available, and then base their designs on that?

    Um, I’m pretty sure that works the opposite way around.

    • jalf says:

      What?

    • Lacero says:

      No, PC games makers do that.

    • lijenstina says:

      PC manufacturers scratch their heads while looking at the sales numbers that have dropped around > 10% this quarter. :) I’m not sure that they know much about what have to be done :D.
      Anyway, let’s see the trends for a longer period.

      • ArthurBarnhouse says:

        Overall PC sales are down but I suspect that’s not really true with gaming PCs. People who aren’t buying a PC are buying an iPad or something similar instead. That sort of buy wasn’t ever going to buy a gaming rig.

      • Contrafibularity says:

        Videogames aren’t the stock market, you know.

    • Josh W says:

      The moment I heard the PS4 was being developed, I started looking for a laptop that would beat it, or at least compete with it. Minimum specs for 2025 here I come!

  6. AlwaysRight says:

    Other music this week The Haxan Cloak – Excavation.
    Awesome.

    • Premium User Badge skuwiph says:

      Fine stuff — did you catch the interview with him on Stuart Maconie’s show last week? If not, you’ve got a few hours to catch up with it on the iPlayer thingy here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01ry081#p017qbng

      • Premium User Badge Colonel J says:

        Thanks for the iplayer link I missed that interview. The new Haxan Cloak is just incredible, best new release I’ve heard in 2013 so far. It has infiltrated my brain to the extent I’ve been dreaming about it at night.

        Jim given your taste for Tim Hecker and fellow travellers I think you will very much enjoy Excavations if you’ve not heard it yet.

        • DiamondDog says:

          Not had chance to pick it up yet but heard very good things about it so far.

          Always felt a Shackleton vibe coming from what The Haxan Cloak does. Not afraid to make the music uncomfortable, but also completely captivating.

          • AlwaysRight says:

            Shackleton is a good call, I’d also say this album reminds me of Ben Frost – By the Throat, It’s got a very atavistic, visceral quality to it.

    • sabrage says:

      Not sure how I missed a new Haxan Cloak release. Thanks for the heads-up.

    • Tiax says:

      Awesome stuff, thanks for sharing !

  7. Premium User Badge skuwiph says:

    Thanks for bringing that Jeff Noon article to my attention. I’ve long felt he deserved to be given much more recognition for his work (and had, frankly, wondered why the hell he dropped off the scene for so long).

    • Premium User Badge Mungrul says:

      Aye, that was a treat.
      I too wondered what happened to him between “Falling Out of Cars” and “Channel SK1N”.
      Good to know he’s back in the saddle, and “Channel SK1N” is a delight, with so many sumptuously weird images conjured.

    • iucounu says:

      I remember buying my copy of Vurt vividly. I was 16 or so, in Manchester for a day, browsing at the Deansgate Waterstones where (unbeknownst to me) Jeff Noon worked, and it caught my eye. Then I found out that Kurt Cobain had died, which was a terrible shock, and then later on in the evening I got to hang out with a lingerie-clad Kate Winslet. That was a day, I can tell you. *rocks back in chair, puffs on corncob pipe*

    • strangeloup says:

      I always wondered if Noon had some experience with mental illness. His work, while beautiful, always reminded me of the slightly hallucinatory fog of being overmedicated. Some of his patterns of thought and use of language echo my own experiences with major depression.

      Falling Out Of Cars helped me get through a pretty tough time, strangely, although beyond Vurt and I think Pollen I’ve not read too much of his other work.

    • Josh W says:

      Just randomly picked up vurt in a library once, and I loved the way you can feel the book putting itself together around you, building cosmicness out of mundane moments, until it gets to a sort of logical insanity, where the things that are happening are so much more grounded and explained than anything else, but are very strange.

      Also has some classic lines in it!

  8. rustybroomhandle says:

    The Anna Antrophy / Twine thing is so baffling. Twine is far from the only free way to make games. Of course, they also factor having to learn how to use a tool as a barrier for entry. But what’s so bad about having to learn something new? Basically they encourage new people to make games, but discourage anything too “progammy”.

    If you want to paint, it also requires some learning.

    • Yehat says:

      If you want to paint *well*, that requires some learning, and the only way to learn is to paint.

      I don’t think they’re discouraging programming rather than saying that programming is discouraging. In my experience, MANY people who’d like to make a game see even simple programming as a huge mental threshold. If just a tenth of the people who try out Twine stick around and start to explore other systems or ways to take Twine games further, that’s going to bring lots of new talent and voices into videogames.

    • Valvarexart says:

      This. Anyone who wants to can pick up all the free tools needed to do basically whatever they want to (and I’m not talking about ‘simplification’ tools here, I mean the libraries and the languages), as long as they are willing to put in a little dedication. Sure there are tools that aren’t good, but if you don’t like them find others or make your own. The barrier here is between the chair and the keyboard.

    • Sam says:

      It’s a very interesting scene to watch develop, and I think emphasises how different people’s aptitudes and preferences are.

      Twine requires almost no programming concepts to use. Compare that to even ‘simple’ tools like GameMaker’s drag-and-drop mode, which although bypasses writing code still requires certain programmer-ish ways to think about things. To some creators that makes Twine much easier to work with. But to others the necessity to write all that prose is a massive barrier to entry – I feel much more comfortable writing code.

      It would be ignorant to jump to the conclusion that Twine is “easy mode” for making games, or is just for people that can’t handle programming. For a start Anne Anthropy has programmed many of her own games previously, but has expressed that she doesn’t like the process. Twine just uses a different set of skills to make games.

      There’s a bunch of Twines that have weirdly altered CSS, or to use at least a smattering of Javascript to do things that Twine was never built for. So I see some degree of convergence towards programming of some sort being needed to express more complex systems, but the existing body of Twines shows that games can do interesting things without a complex system at its core.

    • dE says:

      “If you want to paint, it also requires some learning.”
      Fair enough, but if you want to write well, it also requires extensive amounts of learning. To write as well as some of those Twine Games? You need to learn and practice quite a lot. Why is it, that Programming is something of a holy ability – but writing, painting and creating music is just something you do alongside the holy ability?

      If you are perhaps looking for a reason why so many games lack in visual fidelity, interesting music and wonderful stories – look no further. Blame the abstraction layer of game development that forces all these things through a filter of digital logic.

      • vagabond says:

        Because at a fundamental level programming is how you get a computer to do stuff based on input. You can abstract it a bunch so that you don’t have to worry about all sorts of stuff, like memory management, you can abstract it further so you never have to write an actual line of code, but you still have to think in a programmatic fashion, and you can only abstract it so far before the amount of interaction going on is fairly trivial.

        If you’re doing that painting, writing, or music without the interactivity, then you’re just painting, writing or making music, you’re not making a game.

        From the brief look I had at twine when I first became aware of the current is/isn’t a game argument, it seems to be something that is capable of creating a choose your own adventure book (it has the ability to track variables so it’s probably more on par with a Fighting Fantasy book), which is where the whole not a game thing comes from.

        Yes, under the terribly broad dictionary definition of “game”, they’re games. Under the shorthand “game” meaning computer game, or video game, they aren’t.

        The argument is further fueled by people thinking the “not game” classification has to do with what the games are saying politically or socially rather than their form, but I don’t see anyone claiming that the digitized Lone Wolf books are video games whilst refusing to acknowledge these things, so I’m not sure there’s much merit to that line of reasoning.

        • dE says:

          You only have to think in a programmatic fashion because for the longest time, it was almost entirely developed by mathematicians.
          That’s a paradigm though, the one that says to use the computer in any meaningful way, you have to talk like it. Along with that paradigm, comes a fallacy, that more intuitive tools produce less meaningful output. Like any paradigm, it’s prone to change. Trying to break the programmatic paradigm allowed the Independent Development to take off. Programs like Gamemaker populated an entire community of game creators, that suddenly found themselves within the very realistic reach of actually making a game. Thanks to more intuitive tools.

          Tools like Sculptris allow people to create great 3D Models, without ever having had to deal with splines and all that stuff. Map Editors allow people to create additional maps for their games, instead of hacking them into the computer via keyboard. None of these things had a negative impact on gaming. Instead, it allowed a larger populace to create meaningful content. Twine is another such tool that allows people to pick up game design without having to force their ideas through a digital logic layer first. Is it simplistic? Yes. But the simplicity allowed for greater quality in writing. If there is demand for more options, you’ll see Twine+ or something similiar soon enough, that keeps the simplicity but adds more options without going into nitty gritty Programmer master-race stuff. I’m not even going into the whole non-game stuff. I don’t like bathing in bile and vitriol.

          • karry says:

            “Tools like Sculptris allow people to create great 3D Models, without ever having had to deal with splines and all that stuff.”

            True, but thats not how you get a model that is remotely usable for any sort of game, except as a massive resourse hogging prop. Cant even texture that thing properly if its even a bit more complex than, say, a naked body.

          • dE says:

            A movement, that is very much at the start of its journey, ist not yet as efficient as one that has dominated for decades.

          • Triplanetary says:

            Along with that paradigm, comes a fallacy, that more intuitive tools produce less meaningful output.

            They don’t have to, but in practice they generally do. This may be more a failure of imagination on the part of the people making the more intuitive tools, though. The assumption in making more intuitive tools is that you do that by doing a lot of things for the end user, which in practice means that it sharply limits the number of things you can do, for the same reason that a restaurant has a finite menu. It’s the price you pay for letting other people do your cooking for you.

            A counter-example would be Inform 7, which is very intuitive but easily as powerful as Inform 6, which had a more classical syntax based on C languages. But Inform 7 doesn’t do anything for you; it’s all a matter of diction and syntax. I7 simply presents you with a syntax that’s easier for people who aren’t trained in programming logic to pick up.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Wow, it’s really kind of weird to contrast the Twine game movement with the interactive fiction crowd. Both Twine and Inform 7 are designed to appeal to prose writers, but Twine systems tend to be fairly simple, with Inform 7 to accommodate complexity and structure (though that structure tends to look more like set theory and logic than mathematics and programming). Twine seeks to make games accessible to writers, while Inform 7 seeks to make writing more interactive. Twine games demand to be called games, interactive fiction demands that we not call it gaming.

          • Triplanetary says:

            Indeed. I don’t have anything against Twine but one thing that bothers me is that a lot of people who view both Twine and interactive fiction from a distance have trouble seeing a distinction between the two.

            While I’m not an active participant in the IF community, I have lurked there from time to time, and my impression is that, while the term “interactive fiction” has certainly come to dominate, they’re not terribly touchy about their works being perceived as games. Indeed they seem likelier to call them “games” than “stories;” the latter term is usually applied by people who are new to IF and haven’t yet realized that they’re more than just choose-your-own-adventure. Some IF (increasingly so these days) is very narrative-driven, some of it even fairly linear, but even then the linearity shines through as a conscious choice rather than a restriction of the medium, much like how an on-rails shooter is just as much a game as System Shock 2 or Deus Ex, however you may personally feel about being on rails.

            I suppose it’s ironic that the term “interactive fiction” actually predates the proliferation of heavily linear, narrative-focused systems such as Twine or StoryNexus. On the other hand, a lot of extremely respected names in IF, such as Emily Short, are big fans of these new systems, but knowing Emily Short, I’ve no doubt she’s busily exploring what these systems are capable of rather than passively accepting the general narrative form that they lend themselves to. Ultimately I’m quite certain she can decide for herself what kind of system best suits the kind of work she wants to produce.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Ultimately I’m quite certain she can decide for herself what kind of system best suits the kind of work she wants to produce.

            God bless her, that’s what we all should be doing. Making games interactive (or demanding that only programmers be able to create them) just for the sake of interactivity or programmer cred is absurd exclusionism. But declaring programming, mathematics and complex interactivity to be one’s enemy is Lysenkoism.

            Not every symphony can be painted, not every painting can be sculpted, and not every sculpture can be played as a tune. Each of those arts can express things the other cannot. Similarly, mathematics is able to express its own unique truths. It’s surely true that mathematics and programming have, for too long, been dominated by exclusionary cultures, and we all need to work on changing that. But that doesn’t mean that programming itself represents something wrong.

        • JackShandy says:

          “If you’re doing that painting, writing, or music without the interactivity, then you’re just painting, writing or making music, you’re not making a game.”

          Who cares if you’re making a game or not? Why is making a Game an important thing to be doing, as apposed to making a Twine Thing?

          • The Random One says:

            Because Game is a great medium being locked by people who think they know what a Game is and these people are trying to show their stuff and being told they can’t, because they Games are not Games.

          • vagabond says:

            It was a response to “why do people think programming is so important?”

            I’m not putting a value judgement on these things, if you want to talk about art and so forth they’re way more important than video games as media, but if you’re talking about making a video game, the programming is what separates it from being game and being those things by themselves.

            No one is stopping them from showing their stuff. People have a roughly agreed upon idea of what constitutes a video game, so that when they talk about them they don’t need to refer people to 4 page document by Raph Koster just so everyone knows what is going on. If you label something that falls outside that generally accepted definition a game, people will tell you it’s not, because they want to retain the usefulness of the word.

            The alternative is to accept that a computer game is “An activity providing entertainment or amusement” done on a computer. Congratulations, now the bulk of what I do with my web browser is a computer game, and the word is meaningless.

    • NothingFunny says:

      I see a problem in a bottom-low quality in such works as far as gamedesign (complete lack of gameplay) and multimedia part goes. Is it now justified by being “too hard to learn”?
      And I’m sorry, but this Anna Anthropy character just fishes for attention exploiting controversal/mature themes while her creations have to do as much with games as powerpoint presentations (as Raph Koster pointed) and are badly made with little effort put into anything other than (maybe) writing.
      If you are good at writing – do the writing, If you want to make multimedia and games – learn how to. And/or cooperate with people who know. Lack of skill is not an excuse for making low-quality stuff.

  9. phenom_x8 says:

    For you annoyed by those “more from…” snippets beneath each article, you probably should read these :

    http://penny-arcade.com/report/article/ad-blocker-the-games-press-and-why-cosplay-galleries-lead-to-better-reporti

    I knew the one who make the deal for ads in RPS was Eurogamer, but I think its interesting to consider something like Kickstarter in order to make RPS free from ads. Just my opinion though

    • BooleanBob says:

      This sparked off much further discussion throughout the relevant industries, which, well… how much free Sunday do you got? Here’s the tip of the iceberg:

      http://criminalcrackdown.blogspot.com/2013/04/my-proposed-but-very-likely-half-baked.html

      http://botherer.org/2013/04/17/a-response-to-pars-adblockersgames-press-article/

      http://sexyvideogameland.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/yes-and.html

    • Kaira- says:

      And here’s John Walker’s response to said article.

      • phenom_x8 says:

        Wow, thanks. Didn’t realize that John already have the answer.

        • WrenBoy says:

          You may pass up covering games that don’t have a large following.

          Yeah I thought about RPS when I read that line alright. I wonder what the ratio is on page views for indie games vs AAA games on RPS? Same as the ratio of comments made?

          In any case I was convinced to turn off my ad blocker for RPS after reading the original article and Johns response and the first thing I noticed were two sexy click bait ads on the more from the web section. Bah!

          • phenom_x8 says:

            I’m personally much prefer using Opera as my default browser due to its opera turbo feature and its ability not to play some web element like animation, sound and video so that occasionally it wont play any ads that based of that element (except if we choose to click in order to play it). This isn’t like that I do it to block ads intentionally, but the internet connecton here in my country (unstable 3G connection, if you curious) make me have to do that so the page will load faster. Sometimes it’s also block that “more from … ” article

        • Premium User Badge Malibu Stacey says:

          That should be on RPS proper not just John’s blog.
          Everything the Walker writes in that article underlie the reasons why I’ll never run adblock on RPS and also happily subscribe my 2 US Dollars a month.

      • Grape Flavor says:

        I find it amusing how John can basically tell the entire traditional video game industry to get fucked in his piracy pieces, packed with all sorts of ludicrous claims about how piracy hurts no-one and does not result in a single lost sale, saying that it’s the industry’s problem, not ours and to try to put it in a moral light is ridiculous.

        But all of a sudden when it’s HIS revenue stream and livelihood at stake, here comes the right and wrong and good and bad and you’re killing the creators who make the content you love rhetoric. Guess it’s easy to just let the consumer decide and let the cards fall where they may when you can just mentally pigeonhole the victim away as some evil corporate fat cat at EA and not real people worth caring about.

      • Josh W says:

        Thank goodness they took those outbrain adds off, every sunday papers I was thinking “ah 10 links of interesting things on the internet, and 5 links of crap”.

    • Premium User Badge Tunips says:

      Rather than kickstarter, I think re-affirming the existing subscription model might be a good idea. I’m certain my $2 a month is vastly more than I generate in ad revenue. (Some more newsletters would be nice, though)

  10. lizzardborn says:

    I feel that the PS4 memory will be non issue. Also one of the things they seem to have omitted is the linux plans for the next gen.

    • BarneyL says:

      I’m not sure on that, graphics sells games, particularly in the console arena. The best way to squeeze the most out of the PS4 while maintaining frame rates may well be to wrap low ish polycount models in very high quality textures.
      The sad thing about this is that with a single block of memory every extra bit used for textures will be a bit less available for other uses (e.g. bringing in bigger and\or richer game worlds).

      • jalf says:

        Memory is used for more than just texture loads. The unified memory setup of the PS4 opens up quite a few interesting possibilities. Honestly, in terms of enabling interesting games with better graphics, I’m more optimistic for the PS4 than I ever was for PS3.

        Too many people just latch on to the fact that most individual components are so-so. The system architecture as a whole is very interesting, and quite promising, I think.

        • lizzardborn says:

          The DDR5 has higher latency if I remember correctly. So you have to have a lot of Lx cache to compensate for that. How will that work with the other parts of the engine (non graphics).

          • jalf says:

            That again? No it doesn’t. (See this discussion: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/04/02/hard-choices-ask-amd-pretty-much-anything/#comment-1239028)

            Yes, one person here claimed it did, and even posted a link to someone who’d measured it. But if you *read* that article… the latency was *not* worse. (In fact, they showed it to be a bit better. Not hugely so, but enough to be measurable).

            Also, even if it were, it definitely depends on what you compare against. Compared to the latency involved in pushing data between GPU RAM and system RAM, *everything* is fast. The latency for doing that has always been astronomical. Just getting rid of that opens up a lot of very interesting possibilities, and it would have major benefits even if it involved moving to a type of RAM which *did* have higher latency.

          • Premium User Badge FriendlyFire says:

            GPU operations will benefit from this. CPU operations? That remains to be seen.

            Plus, a lot of current games are already CPU bound or fill-rate bound. I think the new memory setup will most certainly help, but I’m not sure whether it’s going to be this “OMG THIS KILLS TOP-END COMPUTERS” thing some people are claiming, either.

          • jalf says:

            Plus, a lot of current games are already CPU bound or fill-rate bound.

            The CPU will benefit a lot from faster memory. Often, when a process is CPU-bound, it’s really because the CPU has to wait for memory accesses to complete. So it could very well make a difference there,

            It won’t in itself solve fillrate issues, but by bringing the CPU and GPU closer, it might enable more complex rendering algorithms which have less overdraw, and so lowers the fillrate requirements.
            Although of course that won’t come for free and will require developers to be clever and exploit the new architecture. But it could well turn out to be feasible.

            I’m not sure whether it’s going to be this “OMG THIS KILLS TOP-END COMPUTERS” thing some people are claiming, either.

            Definitely agreed. So far, it looks to me like a very well-rounded machine which performs much better than the sum of its parts, so to speak. But it is certainly no supercomputer, and there are many tasks where it won’t be faster than a decent PC. But I think it might avoid some of the bottlenecks and weak spots that a PC suffers from.

      • NothingFunny says:

        Have you even bothered to see sales charts in 10 years? Have you ever heard of Just Dance, Minecraft, Wii-sports?

        • BarneyL says:

          Yes I’ve bothered to look at sales charts, thank you. Wii sports didn’t sell well on the Xbox or PS3 and niether did Just Dance. Minecraft did pretty well on the xbox but I doubt many people bought a console for it.
          While you were looking through them yourelf surely it was difficult to overlook that most of the top sellers were graphics heavy FPS and third person games?

          • Jason Moyer says:

            Call Of Duty doesn’t sell well on the Nokia NGage so we can totally ignore its sales figures.

          • Baines says:

            Wii Sports was a pack-in. If it had been sold on its own, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as popular. Also in its favor, it was basically the demo for the Wii’s motion control, so people were curious about it (even if it ultimately showed that even Nintendo couldn’t do much with their low cost motion control solution). And it came out at launch, when the Wii offered little.

            Minecraft was the browser game that hit big. On the Xbox, Minecraft clones also hit it big because Minecraft wasn’t available at the time. Not many games get that Minecraft level of fame, though.

            Just Dance is the continuation of dancing games, which started with special footpads and moved to motion controls. Its genre doesn’t directly compete with other genres. In its genre, developers have yet to find places to really sink the available graphics power of systems.

          • InternetBatman says:

            Wii sports sold over 2.75m in Japan, where it was not a pack in.

  11. thegooseking says:

    I don’t agree with Rob Zacny’s piece at all.

    It’s a myth that “Short-Attention-Span” stuff is for kids. Kids have a lot more time to play games (and less money, so fewer games to play) than grown-ups, and therefore are more forgiving of things that demand more of their time. What appeals to kids is not instant gratification, as he seems to be implying, but finding play-spaces outside of the scripted, expected path. When the kids were trying to ram each other’s cars off the road, they hadn’t ignored the game; they had decided that that was the game. And that was allowable precisely because children are less demanding of expediency (the chief reason games are criticised for short-attention-span pandering) in the goal-driven path through their game.

    • Kitsunin says:

      I agree with what you mean, on the whole, but I do think you’re wrong in one big sense: Kids do have terribly short attention spans.

      The thing is that a kid’s attention span works much differently than that of an adult. As long as the kid has agency, and is able to goof around and do whatever in a game, they can keep themselves entertained, especially when friends are around. Another aspect is that kids love repetition, if they can do something again they found fun the first time, they won’t get bored even if it’s actually super tedious. A kid’s short attention span shows up when you force them to follow instructions. If they are unable to do their own thing for even under a minute, they tend to get bored and move onto something else.

      For a child, finding agency is in itself instant gratification, which can be found almost infinitely, just as long as control is never taken away from them. The control doesn’t need to be directly removed, it’s just as long as they’re put into a situation where they can’t just “Do whatever”. It’s why they almost always hate games that are difficult: The difficulty prevents them from playing in their way, without constantly being punished.

      • thegooseking says:

        Yeah, that’s a good point, and it is something that occurred to me, but I deleted the bit where I talked about that. I think my main point is that Zacny is talking about two separate things and saying they’re the same thing.

  12. Walsh says:

    RPS more from the web ads are terrible. They stand in stark contrast to RPS content, “The hottest athlete daughters of ex-pro’s” really?

    • Premium User Badge Rikard Peterson says:

      I agree completely. I really dislike seeing that on RPS.

      Btw, I clicked on the question mark below those things:

      you can rest assured that by clicking one of our links (“we recommend” or “from around the web”), you will only experience great content.

      :rolleyes:

      • ArthurBarnhouse says:

        Yeah I was really surprised when I saw those show up as well. But the RPS folks try so hard to only have good content and good ads, I wonder is maybe there’s a tuning process or something going on behind the scenes to make those better. Maybe it just takes time for the content that’s right for RPS readers to show up.

  13. Cunzy1 1 says:

    I’m not sure if the angle on the PS4 piece is really how it works. I’m not a huge PC gamer but I, like many other gamers I suspect, enjoy consoles for the convenience. Yes PCs aren’t so much of a black box than they used to be and sadly the latest generation of consoles seem to be trying to incorporate the worst parts of PC gaming without and of the advantages but I still see PCs as a bit ecclectic and faffy. Consoles more convenient but fenced (and there’s still a first party game incentive, the sole reason I continue to play consoles at all).

    I doubt that many people choose PC gaming over console gaming (for those that make it a choice) for the ability to play ‘top-end’ gaming. PCs have so much more to offer across the spectrum of games. Increasingly, consoles are become expensive machines to play one particular kind of game the so called AAA games. In which case the PC versions, if they haven’t been ported, should be the AAAA versions of those games.

    I’m astounded that there’s so much goodwill to the run up to the PS4 given that the PS3 really failed to deliver in terms of software. It seems to be the elephant in the room.

    • lizzardborn says:

      You will be surprised at the goodwill a marketing budget can buy. The problem with consoles I have is the censorship/certification which i think leads to self censorship and is contagious in the industry.

      • Cunzy1 1 says:

        Yeah, this is the inference. One of the outlets I was most surprised by is EDGE magazine which for the last two months has gone PlayStation crazy in acceptable and unacceptable ways- publishing only PlayStation letters, two big features and giving away a Vita every month.

        • strangeloup says:

          Edge has really gone down the pan lately. I unsubscribed recently, and my last issue (rather fittingly) had an 8-page advertorial on a sodding phone and an article on breasts in games.

          • Cunzy1 1 says:

            Those advertorials are pretty offensive, especially in some of the other Future mags where they are written by and feature some of the staff writers blurring the line of whether it’s editorial/advertorial.

            Shame that the mags are going down the pan because online content just doesn’t hold up against something you have to have more than an internet connection and some time to produce. Excluding RPS and a very few other sites.

    • welverin says:

      Lack of quality software? The PS3 didn’t lack for quality games, and if you’re just referring to non-game software, so?

      • dE says:

        At release?
        The “no games” PS3 Joke didn’t come out of thin air. Actually, no it did when I think about it as there really were not a whole lot of games on release. That changed over the years of course but at launch? It was miserable.

      • Cunzy1 1 says:

        It was (is) a slow burning platform, it was a number of years until there was more than a couple of good games in the library, there were very few exclusive games that justified the high price tag and better versions of cross platform games were on the other platforms. Then there was all that nonsense with move integration, Wii ports and the ridiculous installing from disc business.

  14. Sander Bos says:

    I, for one, welcome my PS4 ‘overlord’.

    Overlord in quotes because although the PS4 on launch will probably outrun my PC (i73770K+HD7850), based on the architecture it is clear that midrange PCs (yes my CPU is not midrange) released in two years will already have caught up with it again.
    And the 8GB of memory and faster CPU to work with will mean large more complex worlds will become a possibility for crossplatform game developers, something already possible on gaming PCs for years. So more than half a year before the next generation of consoles is even released (assuming Microsoft will release something comparable, which is what I believe) PC gamers can know that they will be able to keep up with consoles with a relatively small budget, yet can still look forward to a real upgrade in games quality that especially the extra RAM in consoles will allow for.

    • Premium User Badge FriendlyFire says:

      I’m not sure about that. Comparing TFLOPS (which is valid here because it’s very likely to be the same architecture), I’d put the PS4′s GPU as sitting somewhere between a 7850 and 7870. The added GDDR will help a fair bit, but the CPU is the console’s Achilles’ heel. It’s not bad, but an Ivy Bridge i7 can easily crush it in all but the most threaded of applications.

      Games aren’t very threaded right now. Even if they do move towards threading (which would be a VERY good thing), it’s going to take a year or two for developers to adapt to that, by which time contemporary CPUs will beat the PS4′s CPU on all levels anyway.

  15. johnxfire says:

    I sincerely doubt the 8 GDDR5 RAM the PS4 boasts would be a bane to current generation GPUs at all. Not unless 2K/4K displays become the norm. However I do agree that more RAM might be needed – 8GB DDR3 sounds right if you want to stay up top, especially if devs improve multi-threaded performance.

    However I still find it amazing that AMD is packaging potential HD 7970Ms into the next gen. Those cost about 400USD a pop in the niche markets… Would be interesting to see if the PS4 really has that, or something slightly stripped down.

    • Sander Bos says:

      Take into account that they are not releasing it today, but in more than half a year when technology has moved on and the 7970 will not look that impressive anymore.
      Also take into account that they won’t launch the new console at 250 or so euros, but more likely 500 or so euros.
      Also take into account that the manufacturers have traditionally always taken a loss on the first period after a console launch because they have to stick with this hardware for over 5 years, hoping to get some money back through those 60 euro game purchases.
      It’s really not all that impressive, with one (fantastic) exception: For the first time ever it is quite likely that consoles at launch will have more RAM than the average gaming PC (which the steam hardware survey says is currently between 4 and 8 GB average).

    • Kadayi says:

      As with the previous consoles it will actually take a while (a year ..maybe two) before any substantive titles emerge that really leverage the hardware capabilities of the console architecture. In the meantime no doubt the motherboard/GPU manufacturers will be looking for ways to increase performance from the traditional setups.

  16. Chorltonwheelie says:

    Ah…Vurt. Game Cat et al.

    Far from phantasmagorical it was a virtual documentary of life in south Manchester (Hulme (Bottle Town) and Chorlton to be exact) twixt 1987 and 1995.

    The Mad Taxi ‘missions’ to outlaying areas, the meets behind Safeways (now Morrisons), the religious nature of clubbing and the deep sense of unease about the turn society had lurched into. It’s all there.

    If you’ve loved your games for longer than you care to remember, saw ‘Madchester’ and it’s guitar hero’s as a press created joke and delighted in what Ian Dury sang about as “a little bit of liberty” then seek out Jeff Noon’s books. They’re a treat for literary renegades.

  17. Tamath says:

    I’m getting sick of the intelligentsia ragging on BioShock Infinite for being an FPS: It tries so hard but its design is so limited by having to shoot stuff, boo hoo hoo. Not one person has been able to suggest what Infinite should have been instead, because they don’t know. I agree that maybe the game could have had less arena setpieces with waves of enemies, and I understand the point these people are trying to make, but their pitying tone really pisses me off.

    • karry says:

      ” Not one person has been able to suggest what Infinite should have been instead”

      A movie.

    • dE says:

      BS:I would have to do one thing only: Acknowledge the mass murder.
      Why have that cognitive dissonance between what the story says you are doing and what you are actually doing? Either reflect your actions in the story or reflect the story in the game. To emphasize, two examples:

      In Dynasty Warriors, you can slaughter a hundred soldiers with a single strike. The other characters commend you on your prowess in battle in a lighthearted, dumb but fun way. In Alpha Protocal, you can slaughter a hundred soldiers. The other characters might refuse to continue working with you madman, in a very serious but also fun way. What BS:I and many other games do is let you kill hundreds and then never mention it again. For something that is so criticcaly acclaimed like BS:I for its story, this dissonance becomes all the more obvious.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        Aside from Elizabeth being horrified, the game also uses violence to mark growth in her character.

    • blackmyron says:

      “You’re a killer, Booker”. Bioshock Infinite does address it, especially when you’re pursuing Slate.

  18. Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

    I do like Chilly Gonzales’ solo piano stuff, better than his rap stuff, which just doesn’t work for me.

  19. Strangerator says:

    I think Rob Zacny is on to something. I’ve played all too many “rated M” games that are simply too shallow or immature that had me thinking, “I guess I’m too old for this.” The rating system really only suggests how much gore and cursing to expect, not how adult one needs to be in order to enjoy the game. If anything, the M rating just makes the games more desirable for 9 year old boys with apathetic parents. It’s a seal of approval, they know they’re getting something they shouldn’t have.

    Personally I’d like to see a rating system more like you see on board games. They will typically say things like “recommended for ages 6 and up” or something. It’s just an indication of how intellectually developed you need to be to enjoy the game. That would make things easier on me as a consumer if developers would actually admit most of their games were targeting the 8+ bracket. The problem is, once you slap that recommendation on there, you can’t get away with filling it with the violence that young boys crave.

    A game with a “mature” attitude towards violence treats killing with the weight and impact it deserves. Wheras the standard now seems to be just making fountains of blood shoot everywhere.

    Take Bioshock: Infinite for example. As I have already mentioned, the gore in this type of game is for 12 year olds. “But,” you protest, “the themes explored in Infinite are far too adult for immature audiences!” Nowhere in its much vaunted narrative does it ever approach the level of mature critical thinking about racism as To Kill a Mockingbird. Last time I checked, TKAM was the go-to for 9th grade English classes (13-14 year olds). So in both respects, we have a game with a sweet spot in the 12+ range. Therefore a more honest recommendation would have been 12+. But such honesty would admit then to violence being sold to children.

  20. Vinraith says:

    Poor Tim Rogers, he seems to think the his only choices are to play Call of Duty, or Call of Duty with a brightly colored coat of paint. It’s horrifying how small some people seem to think gaming really is.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      The BioShock games might not be immersive sims, but they don’t play anything like a Call Of Duty game either.

      • Vinraith says:

        There’s more to gaming than first person shooters.

        • Jason Moyer says:

          Right, but generalizing all FPS games under the “Call Of Duty” umbrella is kind of silly. Calling BioShock Infinite brightly colored Call Of Duty is selling the gameplay short, whether you found it enjoyable or not.

          • Eight Rooks says:

            To reuse a tired meme yet again, I’d love to play this other version of Bioshock: Infinite everyone else seems to have got their hands on. Last Call of Duty I played (and beat) was the first Modern Warfare, and there was nothing in Infinite on Normal difficulty that demanded any more especially forward planning or thinking on the fly than that game, to say nothing of any moment or setpiece where any kind of significant forward planning or thinking on the fly would have made it particularly easier or more rewarding.

            Further EDIT: That isn’t judging it on whether or not I enjoyed it, that’s looking at the bare mechanics of what I was actually doing, and what the game was actually asking me to do. Calling it a brightly-coloured Call of Duty is about as close to a statement of fact as you can get.

          • Jason Moyer says:

            The Call Of Duty series are games where you push forward down a corridor and press the shoot button at things as they pop up in front of you. Every action you take is tightly controlled through scripting and the linear level design (although to be fair, CoD 2 and 4 had a few areas with multiple objectives that could be taken in any order, which basically made the corridor you were walking down a little wider). It’s a series that could almost be played on an Atari 2600 controller; push forward, press fire when things appear in front of you.

            BioShock Infinite is not a corridor shooter. Most of the fighting in BSI occurs in arenas: semi-open areas with multiple pathways through and around buildings, rails through the sky, etc. Your interactions with enemies that you are fighting are not limited to shooting them; the game actively encourages you to use and combine both active magic abilities and magic traps to dispatch them. In addition to that, depending on how you play, nearly 50% of the game is spent outside of combat, with a fair bit of interaction between the player and NPC’s/the environment. Hell, another difference is that the game has an economy. It’s not really that difficult to come up with ways the games are different, and the only similarities are that they’re first person and BSI lets you shoot people in the face sometimes.

            Calling BSI brightly colored CoD is like calling Thief dimly lit CoD. I mean, all you’re doing is pressing ahead through a linear set of missions shooting at things and completing objectives from a first person perspective.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Jason, the term corridor shooter isn’t necessarily used to describe just the shooty portions of games. Bioshock Infinite may have navigable combat sections and choose-your-own-adventure-style RPG elements, but that doesn’t make it any less of a corridor shooter than, say, Spec Ops: The Line.

            Compare BI to games such as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. or Far Cry and you’ll begin to see why it could be referred to as a “corridor shooter”. BI (as is the case with the other Bioshock games) is certainly closer in format to CoD than it is to Thief.

          • Jason Moyer says:

            By that definition, you’d have to call games like Deus Ex or Thief corridor shooters because, while there are non-linear elements to the level design, ultimately the games are completely linear. There are games that railroad you down a corridor, like Call Of Duty or Half-Life 2, and there are games that are wide open like Far Cry 2 or Fallout New Vegas. There’s also a pile of games that are neither corridor nor sandbox, games like Thief, Deus Ex, System Shock 2, DisHonored, BioShock 1/2/Infinite. Hell, Quake 1 isn’t really a corridor shooter either even though the entire game is clearly linear in every way imaginable besides the maps. To get away from games that I actually like…is Far Cry 1 a corridor shooter? It’s not any less linear than BioShock Infinite is. I’d have a hard time grouping its design in with CoD or HL2 or the old Lithtech games though. Even STALKER 1, to a degree, is a linear game with the overland maps basically being hubs that let you go from one story-fulfilling mission to the next.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            I hesitate to call either Thief or Deus Ex corridor shooters simply for the fact that they both offer multiple approaches when it comes to environment, plot, and tactics. Bioshock Infinite may not be as linear as Call of Duty, but map and tactical design in BI are extremely limited when compared to the games I mention above.

            I’m not personally convinced that BI should be considered a corridor shooter by the standard definition of that term, but when the topic comes up, certain comparisons should be made in order to clarify that BI is in no way an open-world game. The devs expect you to play it a certain way, and they artificially limit player choice in order to make that happen.

          • Josh W says:

            Are levels a branching river or set of paths with things strung along them, or do they create a heirachy of spaces?

            Requirements of infiltration are the simplest ways to represent this, because then travel is not about moving past about about moving “in” and “out”. But anything that creates interactions between things in the world “draw this from here to there” “learn something here and apply it there” gives them definition as inter-related spaces.

            Thief, deus ex, many open world games all apply this, because a level boundary just becomes a pinch in the paths between these inter-related spaces, a logic of relationship that can be expanded as far as machine limits can handle.

            A heirachy of spaces is where these patterns of “this place/that place” sit within each other, with rooms of a house having interesting inter-relations, as do houses, each pointing backwards and forwards to each other.

            This is not star wars the old republic back tracking, although it can lead to a lot of running backwards and forwards if you’re not careful (another reason having distinctions between close spaces within a bigger one is a good idea) it’s about being encouraged to hold a place in your head not just as a snapshot or postcard from wherever, but as a location you have become familiar with.

  21. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Everything about Tim Rogers’ article made me not want to read it. The white text on black background being the most significant. Michael Abbott’s meanwhile I didn’t need to read. The summation in this Sunday Papers was enough to immediately identify the presence of a rabid partisan. The type of people I don’t think have anything meaningful to say.

    It’s a sad fact I’m commenting on something I didn’t read. But to my defense, I’m commenting on something I know what it is all about; yet another love letter to Bioshock: Infinite written in the style of someone ready to give their life for the preservation of this title alongside such achievements as the man walking on the moon, or the discovery of penicillin. And don’t even try to discredit my opinion: If everyone else in the BS:I camp is doing it, I too am allowed the use of hyperbole.

    That we romance our favorite games, I’m no stranger. What does trouble me greatly is that we seem to be losing our grip on what really constitutes a genre defining title. Before Bioshock: Infinite I was rested assured that now and then a superior game would come along and everyone would give their general consensus on its qualities. Now, I’m not so sure. It seems trash was elevated to the status of bottle caps currency… well, because trash is all we got on the FPS genre. And that’s why so many readers/gamers are gobsmacked at the attention this game is getting.

    Not that I’m saying BS:I is trash (Well, I am really. It is trash. Just the type of trash you’d pick up). I’m just drawing a crude analogy. But it is a fact that the FPS genre has been one of the most criticized genres in computer game history over its constant tendency to repeat the winning formulas of past titles to exhaustion, until finally something new comes along that blows everyone away. At which time… we start the circle again.

    BS:I is unfortunately NOT that new genre defining title. It’s just another badly envisioned FPS, but done in a way that does make it standout in the sea of trash we have been seeing for the past years. It’s got its merits because of that. And that’s precisely why these bloggers and a whole lot of the free press has picked it out for bottle caps currency from the remaining collection of trash. There’s most definitely a strong desire to see something new and genre defining in the FPS genre. And because of that, unfortunately, anything that can even resemble that attempt is hailed as revolutionary.

    Like a commentator already said here, in an year or two BS:I will get its proper review and be rightfully placed in the shelf of An Ok Game. For now, we have to contend ourselves in living in this strange world where RPS and a few others insist they found the perfect FPS. If this was the perfect FPS, then the FPS genre is dead.

  22. gruia says:

    stop complimenting that puss filled zit of a Bioshock. It tried to do a more story driven thing, but failed at everything.
    The plot sux, and you fall through plot holes every 30 minutes of the game,
    the mechanics are meh.. not bad , not great
    Inovation – wehre you at?
    Visual style? unimpressed personally – its better than zombies thats for sure

    If you’re gonna review this game, rack it up against Mafia.
    You will see music is worse, characters are paper thin in comparison, and the plot will simply make you shrug for all of its nonsense. (mechanics and driving were better and fun also)

  23. SkittleDiddler says:

    I still hesitate to consider either Thief or Deus Ex corridor shooters simply for the fact that they both offer multiple approaches when it comes to environment, plot, and tactics. Bioshock Infinite may not be as linear as Call of Duty, but map and tactical design in BI are extremely limited when compared to the games I mention above.

    I’m not personally convinced that BI should be considered a corridor shooter by the standard definition of that term, but when the topic comes up, certain comparisons should be made in order to clarify that BI is in no way an open-world game. The devs expect you to play it a certain way, and they artificially limit player choice in order to do so.

  24. sinister agent says:

    Ah, Jeff Noon. There’s one I really need to plug some gaps on. Nymphomation was bizarre, yet compelling. Very memorable.

  25. Josh W says:

    Saying you want games that freewheeling kids can’t play is not actually that good; I’ve played a lot of games that suck at parties, and they tend to be those that lock up when you try to play them in a freewheeling low concentration way. Conversely, games that obviously can be played that way to little benefit start to seem hollow, or at least like making little statues out of sticks on the edge of a busy cyclepath.

    I’d like to say that one of my favourite party/competition games (smash bros), does this, although that game is still too competative to truely represent that, although the multiplayer arcade mode was pretty good.

    What you want are games that start out about running around hitting things, and slowly expand into something else. Minecraft almost has this feel, but it’s still just a little too susceptable to griefing due to it’s “infinitely redestructible” mindset. What you want is games that gently draw the players into their subleties, and make it humouringly obvious when they are loosing because of messing about, while still letting them back into the game.

  26. shitflap says:

    Yeah, and Saving Private Ryan was just a movie about some dudes that go looking for another dude.
    And find him.
    It’s like they’re not even trying.