The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on July 7th, 2013 at 11:00 am.


Sundays: the enemy of man since time immemorial. They must be defeated. How can we do this? Only with a potent mixture of games and literature. With that weapon, and our tonic teas, we might live to see that next precious Monday.

  • Ah, this is good, and kind of psychologically monstrous. F2P money-grabbing tricks categorised: “The technique involves giving the player some really huge reward, that makes them really happy, and then threatening to take it away if they do not spend. Research has shown that humans like getting rewards, but they hate losing what they already have much more than they value the same item as a reward. To be effective with this technique, you have to tell the player they have earned something, and then later tell them that they did not. The longer you allow the player to have the reward before you take it away, the more powerful is the effect.” It’s like monetisation essays on F2P games are al the criticism of that area we need.
  • The end of Game Developer magazine, and some thoughts from its crew.
  • How science has informed the latest game fictions: “Another hot topic was the concept of quantum superposition, the idea that particles can be in two places at once. Elizabeth and Booker can be said to be walking, talking quantum superpositions: The same two characters exist in this infinity of universes — in all their theoretically possible states — until you, an outside observer, play the game. Your act of observation is what’s “different” about the universe in which the game’s events take place, and it is implied that this is what ultimately decides their fates.”
  • Mr Cobbett continues to catalogue the weird and the awful.
  • “Flight” in games: “Jumping from a lofty height in Just Cause 2 is purposeless, only used to record a stat, but the exhilaration of falling with Rico, even from the comfort of a couch, is overwhelming. Sky-dancing with a helicopter makes it better. Because, why not? In film, to recreate a similar scenario is a controlled endeavour. Games permit the closest and most abstract interpretation of skydiving except for actually jumping from a plane. And, for the sadistic, how inhumanly the body contorts as a result.”
  • Are MMOs being replaced? “DayZ and Minecraft came from nothing. They were creations of one brain in each case, built quickly and cheaply. They blossomed because they were new, risky and built on the creativity and participation of their players more so than their creators; although they weren’t blank slates, they weren’t staid, monolithic theme park MMOs trying to please everybody either. They had what came to be acknowledged as a tightly focused appeal, despite their many players and shared worlds, and that is now catching; Camelot Unchained, for example, is a Kickstarter MMO with a budget of $5 million and an unwavering focus on a niche audience that wants a hardcore PVP game. In some respects it’s risky and uncompromising, but it seems wise to the lessons learned by its most recent peers, which is exciting.”
  • The Guardian’s Keith Stuart on “why all video game dystopias work the same way”: “Game designers could also look to the weird, transcendent Armageddons constructed by JG Ballard. In books like The Crystal World or the short story collection Vermillion Sands he envisages surreal new societies and beautiful, psychedelic threats to human existence. It’s not the right-wing fantasy of armed militia groups protecting their wagon circles. When I interviewed Jen Zee the lead artist on Supergiant Games’ brilliant RPG game, Bastion two years ago, she told me, “When I joined the team, Greg [Kasavin, creative director] told me that the story is post-apocalyptic, but that they also wanted to emphasise the fact that, in the face of destruction, there’s often beauty as well. That resounded with me, because I’ve had my share of grey and brown apocalyptic games. I wanted to introduce rainbows into the post-apocalypse! The rich and colourful style was informed by that.”"
  • More The Last Of Us stuff from Leigh Alexander, who argues that if we are going to get linear toughguy apocalypse games, The Last Of Us is the least we should expect: “Restraint of all kinds is good for storytelling. There are virtually no onscreen UI elements. You will not be interrupted with trophy alerts about irrelevant bonuses to collect. The grim affirmation of life you undertake by choking your 25th assailant to death lest they notice you and hurt you is not accompanied by a clever little title for your feat. You are not likely to forget you are playing a video game, nor should you, probably, so it’s pleasant when a game doesn’t insist on constantly reminding you just when you’re starting to feel something. It’s often quiet, with music sparsely used only when it suits — there are no swelling violins to let you know when you ought to be on guard. You just are on guard. “
  • Look, list features can be about opera in games.
  • Eurogamer’s The Making Of Star Fox: “How Argonaut and Nintendo came to be partners is a remarkable story of technical wizardry and rule-breaking. When you’re a tiny team operating out of someone’s house, you don’t just waltz into the HQ of a multi-million dollar industry leader. It takes something special to get on the radar, and Argonaut got Nintendo’s attention in the most brazen way imaginable – it defeated the copyright protection mechanism on the popular Game Boy console. “They had the Nintendo logo drop down from the top of the screen, and when it hit the middle the boot loader would check to see if it was in the right place,” recounts Argonaut founder Jez San.”
  • Modernity is almost in the future! Just a little bit more spacey, and we’re all set. But also: oh dear.
  • Gunkajima is actually on Google Streetview.

Music this week is Solar Bears – Supermigration

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144 Comments »

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  2. jellydonut says:

    Why are we posting about a PS3 game? Like, I couldn’t care less what the media seems to think about The Last of Us or all the superlatives they lade upon it. They did the same thing with Metal Gear Solid 4. I still don’t give a shit because I’m not about to buy a dumb box to play it.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Oh.

    • Chris D says:

      Because it’s not just about whether or not you should buy one game or not. It’s how that game addresses issues of design and story-telling and representation and how it influences the conversation around gaming as a whole. That’s something that crosses platform boundaries.

    • Premium User Badge MarkN says:

      Dumb box? You think your PC is smart somehow?

      And is it OK to post about Starfox, but not The Last of Us? Or are you just miffed about the great new thing you can’t play, because you won’t buy a “dumb box” perhaps?

      • Dezmiatu says:

        My computer is a beautiful, intelligent, and sensual machine. She stimulates me in multiple ways, bombarding me with her depth of knowledge about deformities, perversions, and games that demand cult-like followings to minimize your losses.

        • The Random One says:

          Weird, mine just berates me on my choice of software.

      • tetracycloide says:

        A PC is smart in the sense that it can be configured by the user rather than just be a dumb machine that can only take software from approved sources. Technically it’s not an entirely accurate characterization because you can mod consoles but that’s certainly not the norm.

      • Bhazor says:

        It’s a fair point though.

        PC gamings biggest blog posts link which talks exclusively about a PS3 exclusive. It does seem completely out of RPS’s jurisdiction. Damn it. I won’t have loose cannons on this team! Give me your badge! You’re off the case.

        • onsamyj says:

          And they waste their personal time on things that have nothing to do with their job… scratch that, their Holy Duty!

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          “Hey, JJ here’s a headline for you: ‘PC Gaming’s Bestest Blog Links to Article About Space Rocket That Can Land’! That’s got nothing to with PC games! It’s the scoop of the decade I tell ya!”

          “Okay, but what’s it got to do with Spider-man?”

          “Um…”

          “Find a Spider-man angle or you’re fired. No, scratch that, you’re fired anyway, get out. Where’s my cigar?”

          And so on.

    • Prime says:

      Need to change your name to “JellyDoNot!!!”.

    • onsamyj says:

      More serious answer, and RPS crew can correct me, if I’m wrong: RPS exist not because they believe, that PC is The Platform for Games™ and others are crap, but because sites about all games tend to forget about PC – there is not enough hype in news about new video card, compared to launch of new console, or some small indie game, if it’s not Minecraft with gazillion dollars, or PC-only game, if it’s not a MMO. So, yes, RPS is niche, and we like it because of that: they can go deeper, they can write about every little obscure game, they can tell us of “PC-port” problems, etc., etc.

      But with all that, RPS is about games. Games, man! If there is cool game out there is OK to acknowledge that.

      • onsamyj says:

        And, actually, I don’t think “The Last of Us” is that awesome. It’s still very linear, it’s still very gamey and crafting system is shallow. Cool story, intense combat, very nice models and animations, but not near 10 out of 10, as many will like you to believe.

      • Jim Rossignol says:

        That’s correct. We are fairly proactive in pointing out the advantages of the PC over consoles, but that’s because we’ve basically become a critical advocate for the platform, not because we are PC zealots as such. I have pretty much every console ever made somewhere in my house, and the rest of the team are much the same.

        I definitely agree with the “not 10/10″ for The Last Of Us. I can’t say I care about the crafting system, but the there big issues with it, particularly in combat, no matter how much people choose to ignore it.

        That said, just because it is flawed does not mean I do no think it incredibly important. As Leigh’s article states, it is probably the best instance of Strong Man At The End Of The World linear game fiction we are going to see for a long time. That alone makes it notable within the entire landscape of games, which includes far more than what we cover on behalf of desktop machines.

        Crucially, though, the Sunday Papers is not, and has never been, subject to the same “PC news” filter as the rest of the site. I post music links, videos of spacecraft and map porn in this article alone. The Sunday Papers is more like a catalogue of my passing interests than it is simply a collection of articles about gaming. If you don’t like it, well…

        • Shieldmaiden says:

          …post angry and/or abusive rants in the comments section? That’s Standard Internet Protocol, right?

    • UncleLou says:

      So because Metal Gear Solid 4 got higher scores than you thought it deserved 5 years ago you’re now not interested in The Last of Us? Compelling.

    • Jimbo says:

      Did you not see who wrote it? Leigh’s shopping list was on here one week.

      • Jenks says:

        Haha, beat me to it.

      • Kadayi says:

        *chortles*

        In fairness to the OP I think he makes a point (might as well be linking to an article about Halo 3 in truth). I’m sure TLoU is all sorts of wonderful in the same way RDR is supposed to be, but it’s something that is likely going to be lost on a lot of people who aren’t multi-platform.

        • Vinraith says:

          I honestly don’t understand how anyone can manage to be “multi-platform” anymore, given the remarkable preponderance of fantastic (and inexpensive) PC games out there.

          I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a PC backlog a mile high as it is. What would be the point of plunking down several hundred dollars on a console so I can then buy yet more games I don’t have time to play?

          • DiamondDog says:

            What a bizarre argument. Some people are perfectly capable of picking and choosing what games they spend money and time on. If enough of those are console games they’ll invest in a console. I manage to do it quite easily. The very fact that there are a lot of amazing cheap or free PC games means I can better afford the odd console game.

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            It’s all about “the experience”. That’s what anyone will tell you, I’ll reckon.

            But even that doesn’t hold any ground anymore. It’s just so easy these days to get hold a small factor and inconspicuous PC, put it in our living rooms and enjoy controller-based play on our TV and HDMI-ready graphics card. Heck, Steam even comes with the necessary interface now! On top of that we get an open architecture we can upgrade an maintain without much fuss. Not like the closed architecture and the always suspicious short warranty of consoles.

            But it’s alright. Markets change. Fads come and go. It won’t be long the day we say PCs are killing the console.

          • Eight Rooks says:

            It’s comments like this that keep me multiplatform, to be honest. I just sold around 100 PlayStation 2 games specifically to buy a 320 GB PS3 Slim and a copy of The Last of Us, and it’s comfortably my favourite AAA game of the year – I’ve not played a thing on PC in 2013 I enjoyed as much. Beyond that, going back to the games I was playing when I last owned a Sonybox III, where’s the PC racer as pure, as thrilling, as nigh-on perfect as Wipeout HD in Zone mode? As gloriously big dumb fun as SSX 2013, flaws and all? Where’s the action game as bombastic yet stunningly balletic as Vanquish? Where’s the RPG with Dragon’s Dogma’s phenomenal combat (and oh, Lord, please don’t say The Witcher 2. Christ, my sides).

            I like playing on PC enough – despite my ageing rig – I’ve got a couple of hundred games on Steam and I enjoy having decent resolutions enough I’ve put twenty hours into Assassin’s Creed III at barely twenty frames per second. But Jesus, twenty minutes on a platform where “linear” and “cinematic” aren’t dirty words, and then coming back to RPS and comments like… these and I remember why I could never be a PC gamer exclusively.

          • onsamyj says:

            these and I remember why I could never be a PC gamer exclusively.

            Hear, hear!

          • Kadayi says:

            @DiamondDog

            Yes, it’s completely inconceivable that other people don’t enjoy the luxury of free time that you do.

          • Vinraith says:

            The hostility here is… really bizarre. All I’m saying is “how do people find time to keep up with ONE gaming platform, let alone several?”

          • jonahcutter says:

            I’ve got a long pc game backlog as well. But as Eight Rooks says above me, The Last of Us is my AAA game of the year.

            It’s definitely not perfect, but it beats out even generally heralded games like Bioshock Infinite for me. And I say that as someone who played through it always with the background aggravation of having to aim a gun with a controller. I fucking hate fps/tps aiming with a controller. And I still rate Last of Us played on PS3 above BI played on a PC. (BI set itself up to be as good, but fumbles the opportunity. Hopefully it can recover with its story DLC).

            Journey. Shadows of the Colossus. Last of Us. There are games on consoles that are signposts for the entire medium of gaming, that you only limit your own experience by not playing simply because they’re only on a console (if, of course, you have the resources to own a second/third platform).

          • onsamyj says:

            Vinraith, I don’t think anyone was attacking you, at least I wasn’t. I actualy agree with you, I too have Steam account full of games, some of them I’m really want to finish (second “Batman”, both “Witcher”s, “Walking Dead” DLC, etc), but then comes game so great, that you forget which controller you holding – and that’s precicly my point: it’s all about games, not platforms.

          • Vinraith says:

            @jonahcutter

            Grand pronouncements never serve well, everyone’s taste is different. Personally, I wouldn’t play the games you mention even if they were on PC, they’re not the kinds of games that interest me. For that matter, I wouldn’t play them if I owned a console. Back when I was still buying consoles (my last was the PS2) it was really for two things: couch co-op and split-screen racing. Both of those elements of console gaming have fallen on hard times, unfortunately, so there’s no real impetus for someone with my tastes to pick one up these days.

          • WrenBoy says:

            A lot of people out there who dont understand the concept of being time poor by the looks of it.

            At the same time 2013 has been a poor enough year for PC games so far. Compared with 2012 at any rate.

          • Upper Class Twit says:

            @jonahcutter

            I actually thought the controller aiming added to the experience, in an odd way. The imprecise nature of sticks made it difficult (at least for me, I bet there’s people out there who are real good with these things) to pull off snappy headshots, which made the hordes of zombies actually threatening, and contributed to the stressful vibe that the game was trying to pull off. It also helped that the zombies were really well animated, in that they ran quickly, and in erratic patterns, rather than stumbling toward you in a straight line.

          • DiamondDog says:

            Sorry if I came across as hostile, Vinraith, wasn’t my intent. And I understand what you’re saying, but my point was some people are perfectly happy managing their time between platforms. It’s not about having so much free time I can play bucket loads of PC games AND console games. I just chose what I spend my time on based on what interests me. Obviously if your taste in games is entirely met by PC releases then of course squeezing in a console would be stupid. I still have an interest there so I make time for those games when they come along. I don’t add on time for consoles.

            And Kadyai, how you got that from my comment I have no idea. But please continue judging me based on nothing.

          • Kadayi says:

            That you don’t understand most people have less time than you is a flaw

          • Shooop says:

            Ad hominon is really the only thing he ever brings to any discussion Diamond. My guess is the RPS team feel some misplaced sympathy for the thing and let him stay.

          • Kadayi says:

            Pointing out that not everyone has lots of free time to play everything isn’t by any measure an Ad Hom Shooop Vs a simple fact of life.

          • Premium User Badge damndirtyyank says:

            Refusing to enjoy a rich gaming experience simply for the system on which it’s served has always struck me as histrionic. That’s like saying: “NO SIR! I will NOT have any of that delicious soup because I refuse to eat anything from a bowl!”

    • phenom_x8 says:

      another entertaining article about last of us in Eurogamer :

      http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-07-05-the-last-of-us-isnt-the-solution-to-sexism-in-games-but-its-a-start

      Honestly, its make me interested in playing it. Added by some RPS reader opinion in latest walking Dead DLC WiT’s who said that its as great as The Walking Dead, makes my curiousity level in top level. Although there’s no way I have to buy one console just to played it.

      • Kadayi says:

        Well, there in lies the rub. Spend £200 on a PS3 (the 12 GB edition is a waste of time) to play some Sony exclusives or put that £200 towards a new GPU sometime.

        • onsamyj says:

          For me, one game alone can justify purchase of console. I’m not rich, seriously, I’m not, but “Red Dead Redemption” is that good. But now, with free games on cheap PSN+, I have so much more to play, as Vinraith was saying above… But that’s another problem.

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            It’s all about relativity. How relatively rich you are.
            Necessarily the relatively rich aren’t the majority.

          • onsamyj says:

            Well, relatively speaking, if you can afford at least 1 full game (50—60$) in a month or two, you can afford console once in 5 years. Something like that.

            Thing is, I find that many PC gamers can spend 200$+ on new video card every year or so, but start to spewing bile when you mention something like “it’ better with gamepad”, let alone any praising word about “dumb box”. So I don’t believe it’s about money, it’s most often just pure fanboism without any argument behind it.

          • Kadayi says:

            Everyone said GTA IV was ‘amazing’ as well, but I wouldn’t drop £200 + on finding that out either when it first came out Vs waiting for the PC release. Also as Vinraith said, who doesn’t have a backlog to play through? The only people who can afford to play multi-platform are those who maybe only buy one title a month and have the time.

          • blackmyron says:

            I genuinely wanted to play “Red Dead Redemption”, but not enough to buy a console. There isn’t a game that’s been made yet that would make me pay a few hundred dollars to play it.

            “Last of Us” is no different. It looked interesting, but once it came up as an ‘exclusive’, I was no longer interested.

      • The Random One says:

        This reply will be buried deep down, but thanks for the link to the article, phenom. It was deliciously written.

        • Bhazor says:

          Huh, I thought it was rubbish. Read like someone who hasn’t played a game since HL2. Speaking of which in what way is Alyx Vance dressed in a “tiny vest”?

          Elie Gibson has written some great things. That wasn’t one of them.

          • Kadayi says:

            Indeed beyond the Asian market and some fringe development whose making chain mail bikini games these days?

          • Tagiri says:

            Other than all the “leather armor” bra and skirt sets in Dragon Age: Origins, you mean?

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            CD Projekt is still at it, Kadayi.

          • Kadayi says:

            Origins is how old now?

            Also I don’t recall anything like that in TW2. Care to elaborate or are you referring to the absurd hooplah over the Cyberpunk trailer?

        • destroy.all.monsters says:

          How you got past the first paragraph is beyond me. That is unless you’re a fan of yellow journalism.

          • Bhazor says:

            Huh, never heard that term before. Cool beans.

            But yeah that was an awful article. Must have been a real off day.

  3. Premium User Badge elderman says:

    That BuzzyFeed top ten list [Edit: oh right, nine] is working with a different definition of opera than the one I use. I think it must be a definition written by someone who has never heard of oratorio, or symphonic music, or concert choirs… I guess those kinds of lists are always pretty brainless.

    The writer mentions some cool subjects for articles that could be written, for example one about unusual instrument sounds in games aside from the full-press orchestra (my guess is most of it is actually electronic); or the adaptation of leitmotif technique for computer games; or about specific sources of inspiration such as the bel canto melody (weirdly accompanied by harpsichord) heard in that FFVI example. The main influence I pick out, just quickly scanning through those clips, is film music. They don’t borrow directly from opera, for the most part, but from film composers who borrow from opera and patriotic choir song, and sacred choral music, and symphonic music.

    There’s absolutely something to be written about there, preferably by someone with a more finely tuned and educated ear than mine, but that list is a fairly empty tease.

    • dsch says:

      You give him too much credit.

      • Premium User Badge elderman says:

        Maybe… I edited to be a little less directly and personally dismissive of the article. I just wanted to ping off of a dumb thing about game music to talk about what I think might be interesting in game music. But I guess either I wrote badly or that conversation doesn’t tempt many of the other readers of this site to weigh in.

  4. Prime says:

    OMG, Jez San. Now there’s a name that takes me back! Hey Jez, any chance of a Starglider 3? :) Oh man, those were some good times…*disappears in a puff of nostalgic bliss*

    • SomeDuder says:

      It’s a pretty depressing article, imo. From that piece, Argonaut could have done so much more in the SNES era (Best era), yet they were released after just 3 games.

      Gues we should at least be glad that Star Fox was released, great game, even though the series went to shit on the Gamecube.

    • Werthead says:

      Can we say ‘Starglider 3 Kickstarter’?

      As long as you can still see magnificant schools of space-whales crying majestically (somehow) through the vacuum of space just before you blow them to pieces and then get lost in a hexagonal tunnel, I’m there.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      Yeah the name brought me back alright and flooded my mind with a load of other names from the past. It actually made me google “julian rignall”

  5. smokiespliff says:

    thanks for the music Jim, loving it so far

    • communisthamster says:

      Jim has the best taste in music.

    • caff says:

      Agree with this – the music links the past few weeks have been awesome and opened up a few new artists to me. Loving the Solar Bears album, and some of the Jon Hopkins stuff too.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        Unfortunately there isn’t too much variety and I just gave up on clicking that link every Sunday. I’d rather prefer if the RPS team tastes were more varied. Maybe there could be something in there for me as well.

  6. Michael Fogg says:

    The Guardian link features an auto-playing ad with obnoxioous sound. that kind of thing should be fucking illegal

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Agreed. People need to learn how to do advertising on the internet.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        To be fair to the Guardian they don’t have a capative market of advertisers who take them on all expenses trips to look at the new first glimpse of a game.

        When it comes to impartial journalism I’d rather be annoyed by an ad than have to take ‘news’ from some *cough* games journalists. It’s a price we sadly need to pay with the death of the printed media!

        Mind reading the mind bildge of many on the internet they would probably be happy with a ‘Murdoch’ type media, you know the one, where opinions are bought!

        And before the editorial brigade scream impartiality, turn down your corporate jollies!

        • Jim Rossignol says:

          “To be fair to the Guardian they don’t have a capative market of advertisers who take them on all expenses trips to look at the new first glimpse of a game.”

          You are being *extremely* naive if you think press trips don’t come into the purview of mainstream press.

          And this has nothing to do with any of the issues you touch on, it’s simply about the ad format being sold: there is no reason for an advertiser to accept an ad that plays audio automatically. All it does it annoy users and has the opposite of the intended affect for both parties.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Well that’s me put in my place, so Journo’s from the Guardian have corporate Jollies too, well as long as it doesn’t impinge on their world renown for investigative journalism.

            BTW I do and can differentiate between being in the loop as far as press releases and access go and taking the Kings/Queens shilling!

            As far as invasive advertising in the mainstream press, show me a paper that doesn’t use it. Some of Murdoch’s sites take up 25%CPU usage(when running in the background) as it beams back your cookies to base!

            Basically IMO you shouldn’t knock the Guardian for making ends meet, as I say, just my opinion! I read and enjoy RPS but it requires a good relationship with a particular niche market of corporate advertisers to survive!

          • Jim Rossignol says:

            “as long as it doesn’t impinge on their world renown for investigative journalism.”

            Nor will it. Chances are their ad sales department will have nothing at all to do with editorial. However, it’s my belief that bad ad practices harm everyone in the ecosystem, from advertisers to Murdoch websites. Which will hurt their investigative journalism if the ad market shrinks.

            “but it requires a good relationship with a particular niche market of corporate advertisers to survive!”

            Absolutely, but I am not sure what that means for your argument regarding ad practices. We’re extremely restrictive in what we allow on site, more so that, say, The Guardian.

            Also relevant to your interests: the majority of our ad money in the past year came from independent companies.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            This is good and relvent information, information that was previously unbeknownst to me!

  7. aoanla says:

    The article on flight in games wants really to talk about the experience of jumping and falling (moving without control over your vertical motion)… and then omits A Reckless Disregard for Gravity / For the Awesome from its discussion. This seems like rather a serious lack, given that they’re games designed around falling, rather than merely including it as part of a palette of kinetic expression allowed to you.

  8. Flappybat says:

    There needs to be much more criticism of F2P. They can easily become a perversion of what games are meant to be, little more than slot machines in fancy clothes.

    Ramin Shokrizade raises some excellent questions on how exploitative this model can be, we like to pretend all adults are equally responsible and developed but this is not the case. We continue to severely underestimate the effects of marketing and psychology and we need to ask serious questions about frequently tempting children (as most accept far more payment methods than credit cards) with straight up gambling for items that may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to actually attain.

    • Kollega says:

      I feel that “free-to-play” models are exploitative by definition, even if they’re not “pay-to-win” or “pay-to-enjoy”. They are all about making the player pay up again and again, as opposed to paying once to buy the game or paying a subscription to access all of it. Even the most generous “F2P” games like Fallen London have an upper limit on how far can you go without paying – which is understandable, because they have to make money somehow – but these are few and far between.

      • zapatapon says:

        I think there is an argument to be made that all models involving making the player “pay again” in one form or another will by nature lead to gradually turn (to various degrees) video games into exploitative slot machines, by the sheer force of rentability/economic pressure on the publishers. This includes submission models for early MMOs as well as DLCs. Though the latter are mostly OK at this time, I am afraid there is an easy slope to follow to make them more psychologically compulsory by using the same bag of tricks that we see at work in F2P games. It is well-documented that simple additional content is not as rentable without a psychological hook based exploiting the punition/reward principle, so that there is plenty of reason to expect these to creep their way there, too.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        It was a good read, where game mechanics take a back seat to social engineering it seems many implementations of the current F2P model are flawed!

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        I could easily make the argument that paying $60 upfront is more exploitative that F2P. A lot of people paid $60 for Aliens: Colonial Marines based on promises and good trailers only to get a abomination of a game, while people are able to see and play all of the content in DOTA 2 (minus cosmetics) before they decide if they want to spend any money.

        The truth is that they both have their upsides and their downsides. Both payment models can be done well or poorly.

        And any decent F2P game does not make you pay “again and again.” Most of them will allow you access to most of the content (bar cosmetics,) paying will only give you more options, faster. Out of all of the F2P games I have ever played, I have only paid for one (not counting TF2, which I paid for before it went F2P.) It was Planetside 2, and even then, I paid $20 and got everything I wanted with cash to spare.

    • WrenBoy says:

      I thought the article was very good.

      I wasnt particularly convinced about the link between the target audience and the development of the pre-frontal cortex though. It could have done without that hand wavey type of argument.

      • iridescence says:

        Problem with F2P (excluding those with ridiculously high user bases like LoL and the Valve games) is that there’s actually a disincentive to make the base game fun in the long term because if I’m having sufficient fun with the base game what am I going to pay for? The amount of people who actually pay for cosmetic items in these games is probably not enough to support most of them.

        I think I will save a link to this article to explain why I would actually prefer to pay a sub fee over F2P in any MMO that I plan to play for a long time

      • AngoraFish says:

        Yes, blaming underdevelopment of the “pre-frontal cortex” seemed like a load of academic wankery. There is nothing inherently age-related about exploiting the psychologically vulnerable.

    • AngoraFish says:

      FTP is becoming a highly successful model because it makes more money than ‘traditional’ game models.

      The problem, regardless of how one splices it, is that this extra income is coming from fewer people, and in many cases from those who can least afford it – the vulnerable and easily mislead.

      By definition, FTP is fundamentally unethical as it only works on trail of temptations, hidden incentives and psychological trickery else it would be uneconomic.

      • Blackcompany says:

        As someone who spent far too many years addicted to pouring money into Pay to Win collectible card games in order to gain a competitive advantage over my peers, I want to agree with your assessment that such strategies are exploitative. I really do. Perhaps these strategies are as bad as you claim.

        But I knew what I was doing. I knew it was a bad idea. I knew I needed to pay rent or the electric bill. I knew I needed groceries, not $200 more in Magic cards. I knew all of these things.

        But I didn’t care.

        I was severely depressed at the time. Because…well, reasons. Good ones. Loss and grief do that to a person, sometimes, and I’d had my share at the time. So for a while I just vanished into a world where nothing mattered except games and the friends who played them with me literally all weekend long. My job was nothing more than a means to finance this weekend long venture into fantasy land.

        But I knew this. Even at the time I was fully aware of my addiction. I knew I was wasting money, that I had problems that needed confronting, and that sooner or later I was going to have to pay the piper. I knew, and I did not care. Until the bill finally came due, nothing could make me stop.

        So perhaps free to play, pay to win games are exploiting people. They are certainly well set up for the purpose. But don’t be so quick to blame only the game developers. Because exploitative models would only be possible, if there were someone out there willing to let you exploit them.

        tl;dr: I could have paid $20 this weekend in Firefall to unlock a new battle frame. But I didn’t. I got it by unlocking it through the somewhat grinding progression system, instead – for free. To exploit someone, they have to be willing to let you exploit them.

        • WrenBoy says:

          Its hard for me to read your comment without thinking that your depression, grief and loss made you vunerable and that this vunerability was exploited.

          • Blackcompany says:

            You would most likely be correct in your assessment. The unfortunate truth of the matter, however, is that, so long as uninformed/unaware/uncaring consumers exist and are willing to allow themselves to be exploited in this manner, this exploitation will continue. This does not, of course, excuse the behavior/exploitation. This does not make it right or fair or morally acceptable by any means. It just means its not likely to stop.

            What bothers me the most, however, is this: Psychologists are slowly catching on to the manner in which some games are developed not with the intent to entertain, but with the intent to addict. When a product is designed to addict – even if it is ‘just a game’ does that make it any less dangerous than controlled substances with the same effect? Or even, perhaps, more dangerous, since unlike substances which just happen to be addictive, these games are designed with addiction as a purpose?

            Gaming does not need this level of scrutiny or attention. I don’t – ever – want to see games reach a point where panels of psychologists begin assessing the addiction risk of new games upon their release. There are enough ridiculous rules in many nations now regarding games and what we are allowed to purchase and why. We don’t need the sorts of scrutiny, attention or regulation these addicting games will bring down on our hobby. But it will happen, in the end, and it will be the fault of the same publishers and developers who will cry about it when it happens.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I agree that legislation is not the solution. As with the drug prohibition you mentioned, the cure would be worse than the disease.

        • Bagpuss says:

          If I may be allowed to proffer a different point of view.. maybe you were just a dumbass?

          You couldn’t have been that depressed if you were still socialising and taking an interest in something. EVERYTIME I’ve come across depression, either personally or through someone else, ‘taking an interest’ wasn’t on the cards, and forget socialising…maybe you were just feeling a bit down?

          • WrenBoy says:

            Internet diagnoses are the best diagnoses.

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            You obviously have no idea of what you are talking about. Just go away.

          • dE says:

            From the famous school of “It’s just a phase” and “you’ll get over it” or “just cheer up” or “you just need to be tougher”.

          • PopeJamal says:

            Or maybe it has something to do with being unable to make wise choices because of an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex? They really should have mentioned that in the artic…oh…

          • tossrStu says:

            Right, because depression affects everyone in exactly the same way.

          • The Random One says:

            Just because it might not have been clinical depression (which it probably wasn’t, since clinical depression is a hormonal thing and often affects people who have no reason to be depressed) doesn’t mean he wasn’t sad and [was helped out of it by a setting for socialization/was greedily manipulated during this vulnerable state by corporate monsters].

        • Reapy says:

          Blame lies in both parties, but it is hard to blame some who was down and made wrong decisions by deciding to ride a companies wallet milking machine. When I was younger and more often depressed I too went on gaming binges, but there were no f2p systems out there to exploit my ‘fat’ bank account from the grocery store I worked at. So easy now with credit cards and the Internet and disgusted currencies. I’d have been screwed.

          But a company that bases it’s means of profit on leaving a sea of regret in its customers is one that should be rightly ridiculed. I don’t think all f2p is bad, in some cases it is nice, but there are plenty that are just plain evil and (as the article said) purposefully designed to exploit those with low computer/game literacy.

          We kinda have a round of f2p arriving that is trying to take one step back from Total evil to catch us, enough that I feel what could have been good games have fucked themselves…but maybe I’m wrong and they ultimatly make more money, well see in 2 to 3 years what’s going on to know the answer.

  9. Premium User Badge Hodge says:

    I’ll chip in and mention the passing of Doug Engelbart, creator of the computer mouse, because our hobby would be near unrecognisable without his contribution.

    Here’s some barely-watchable but fascinating footage of his 1968 (!) presentation, and also an hour-long interview with the guy from 2005.

    • Sam says:

      In terms of watchability, that presentation has not aged well. But in terms of technology it presents it has barely aged at all.

      Live chat between users, live video calls between users, live multiple-user document editing a la Google Docs (I remember that getting a standing ovation really quite recently when Google “invented” it), and a host of mechanics that are standard to us now but were brand new at the time, like selecting text with a mouse, copy and paste. Also I really wish the chord input device had caught on, the temporary modal changes by holding various patterns of buttons on it seem a powerful thing (I suppose we could re-purpose the num-pad on a keyboard with good multiple key detection and experiment).

      Most amazing is that these were actually functional prototypes made by Engelbart and his team in 1968. Not just speculative notions of what might one day be.

      • Shuck says:

        That SRI team invented pretty much all the elements of modern computing – hypertext, collaboration software, the mouse. They were one of the first two nodes of ARPANET, the precursor to the internet. Some of the SRI team moved to Xerox Parc, where they then came up with windows, icons and drop-down menus…

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Ah, good call. I meant to add that in.

    • Low Life says:

      The site with the interview seems to be completely broken, none of the links work. But I found a copy of the video here: http://archive.org/details/nerdtv011

    • MajorManiac says:

      Thanks Hodge. I thought the mouse was invented by a lady who worked for IBM back in the day.

      Honestly can’t remember who I thought it was now. Perhaps she invented the way we use mice with click-able icons and windows. Does anyone know?

  10. strangeloup says:

    In case you’re pressed for time and want a summary of that Gamasutra article, Facebook games are a total ripoff and a really stupid thing to spend money on, also Zynga are a bit evil, something something Skinner box. Not sure this requires a lot of experience in economics to work out.

  11. Mario Figueiredo says:

    gdmag was becoming yet another games review magazine. The content of its articles, particularly the Postmortem column, were becoming marketing tools instead of honest, fair and deep insights into the development process and all the complications (and achievements) behind it.

    If there is one critic I make to this magazine is that around the last 3 years it started moving its focus from the developers to the gamers.

    Nothing of this is the reason why the magazine closed, but the fact you can’t run an independent magazine this days is. In any case UBM decision to close, I’m afraid, didn’t annoy me as I ended my subscription 2 years ago.

    • HiFunTimTebow says:

      True that. I have a stack of GDs from 2004, from before the self-congratulatory shift, and there’s no mentions of multi-room sound occlusion or IK-terrain matching after a certain point, right about the time the advertisers started writing copy.

      Also it’s thoughtful that the article addresses the expendability of QA in the eyes of pubs and devs, since any talk of us is usually relegated to either Best Practices hypotheticals, or dorm-room level horror stories. Not that these don’t have their place, but the social ramifications of having a dedicated exploitable second-class “contingent” ‘employee’ within the company structure is outright ignored by most articles.

  12. MondSemmel says:

    I loved the Polygon article on science consulting for video games. Thanks a lot for the link!

    • KenTWOu says:

      By the way, they gave The Last of Us ridiculously low score 7,5. And their article said that the game ‘waves away the exact details of the fungal plague that destroyed humanity’. Well, that’s not strictly true. Moreover, they barely said anything about the game. So that part of the article was rather disappointing.

  13. pertusaria says:

    Enjoyed the Game Developer Mag article, and kind of wishing I’d been a more regular reader.

    I wish Gamasutra separated out its jobs-related stuff from just wanting to sign up in order to comment – I’m not really that keen on giving a website my real-world location, and I can’t be bothered to make up a fake one.

  14. Grapesy says:

    9 best uses of opera in games and it doesn’t even vaguely mention Gabriel Knight 2, which had basically an entire opera written for it? That’s specifically supposed to be Wagner-esque? The guy who’s mentioned in the opening blurb? Dear me.

    • guygodbois00 says:

      That and, of course, Outcast ( Appeal, 1999) which featured Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Choir. That Requiem theme is simply fantastic. Quite a good game too, although the ending was a bit rushed.

    • Premium User Badge Rikard Peterson says:

      I agree about GK2, but I also feel that Full Throttle should be mentioned for possibly having made the best use of Ride of the Valkyries ever.

  15. Jenks says:

    I love everything Ramin Shokrizade writes. I started following him when Scott Jennings blasted his piece on why SWTOR bombed, which did nothing but make Scott look like an idiot (the usual in his post lumthemad days).

  16. Premium User Badge Skyvik says:

    For the record, if you ever choose to kickstart an RPS map porn spin-off site I’d back it.

  17. WrenBoy says:

    Not owning a console, I have never played the game but I found this article by Frictional Games’ Thomas Grip to be the best critisism Ive read on it:

    http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/ThomasGrip/20130705/195665/The_Last_of_Us_Story_Layers_and_A_Brief_History_of_Action_Games.php

    • WrenBoy says:

      It only got a paragraph but he used Uncharted as a negative example. The main character is written a likeable guy but the gameplay makes him a psychopathic murderer.

      Grip’s opinion being that its more effective to take gameplay as a starting point and build a story around that than take a high concept as a starting point and then add gameplay elements.

  18. Upper Class Twit says:

    You’re right about important things happening mostly in cutscenes, but I would disagree with you about the gameplay. You can definitely “accomplish things” in the game, there is very little hand-holding with regards to how go through the combat/stealth sections. For example, I got through the entire game without ever having to fight anything but the first bloater. (spoliers, sort of). That big zombie thing near the end, in the subway; I was able to sneak past all of them, even though the developers seemed to have intended for it to be a combat section, judging by all the flamethrower drops. So the game itself definitely allows for player agency, even if it is linear.

    As for the ending, that’s more personal opinion than anything else. I for one, find the idea that the player controlled protagonist can be his own character, with his own motivations, not entirely in line with that of the player’s, an interesting one that ought to be explored more. Not everything has to be a Bioware/Obsidian RPG, right?

    • dE says:

      DX:HR had me nearly punch a wall during some of those cutscenes.

    • i saw dasein says:

      “I can accept characters having their own personality my problem is that i start to question why im even there, it often leads to me yelling at them not to be so stupid”

      You’re there to kill mooks or sneak past them. That’s what the gameplay in the Last of Us amounts to. The story is just window dressing. Thankfully, I like sneaking around and I like killing mooks in videogames. I like that a lot better than I like picking options from a menu like in the Walking Dead (for example), even if in some ways the Walking Dead tells a better story.

      • Bhazor says:

        Have to agree. I thought the gameplay was fantastic. It was meaty, had scope for multiple approaches, really tight resource management and mostly well designed levels but most of all it felt decisive. You and enemies die in just a couple hits and getting the drop on an enemy means a one hit kill, but so does bumping into an enemy. The puzzles never amounted to much and Ellie strayed into Creepy Watson territory when she’d run off in the middle of fight and then materialise right behind you but still the feel of the core combat made it worth playing. That is what should be remembered from this game. On the other hand I found the story predictable the characters unlikable and that it stumbled into every zombie apocalypse cliche. The worst for me was that I know enough about medical research to know that when you find the person with the natural one in a million miracle cure, you do not cut her frickin brain out in the hope theres some kind of magic pill in there. It completely ruined the whole final act for me.

  19. Laurentius says:

    So Last of Us and Bioshock:Infinite are this year Spec:Ops.The Line, games that critiques love to blabber about. Fortunatley there still good games around or i would be jumping ship already, Brave New World only couple days away, at least i would be able to play it with comfort of knowing that these wordsmiths aren’t wrinting esseys about it. Adam Smith, RPS saving grace, is my hero.

  20. The Dark One says:

    I’m a bit surprised Keith Stuart didn’t bring up David Brin’s post-apocalyptic The Postman. In that book, the terrible events that befell the US weren’t in fatal for the county- it was a right-wing alpha male survivalist attitude that ruined things.

    The protagonist runs into scientists trying to counter the survivalist threat with their own paternal world-view, but it’s the feminist, hippy types who have the best chance of changing the status quo.

  21. Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

    As a statement on modernity, my French phone could get mobile internet reception all the way through the Channel Tunnel, right until it got to England, at which point it stopped working. Turns out layers of rock and ocean are less of a challenge to telecommunications than national borders and corporate politics (or, well, sticking a mobile antenna inside a tunnel).

  22. Contrafibularity says:

    That article is confusing “dystopia” with “post-apocalyptic” in a major way, I think. I’ve always taken dystopian to mean society gone wrong, whereas “post-apocalyptic” denotes society completely broken down (usually after cataclysmic man-made events or zombies or whatever) resulting in a kind of neo-Wild West.

    There’s a big difference between Blade Runner and Mad Max; particularly bad examples given they’re both male-centered fiction, sure, but I just can’t see how or why the article would conflate the two terms given they’re so different they might as well be opposites.

    I’m not disputing the major ever-present patriarchal leanings in games (and everything everywhere) of course. But I think post-apocalyptic settings in particular tend to favour the ‘men with guns “resolving” conflicts’ theme thing much more. I’ve not played Infinite yet, but one game does not make a trend.

  23. Sertun says:

    There is much better video of the Proton-M crash: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl12dXYcUTo