The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on August 18th, 2013 at 9:58 am.


Sundays are for struggling to not watch the clock all weekend. And when the battle lulls, we can think about taking a few months to catch up in the debates of our time.

  • Polygon does a great big Rolling Stone piece on The Fullbright Comany: “”I am … merely a curious explorer, who has become entwined in this family tale … These people matter and deserve to be remembered.” This excerpt, from writer Michael Gakuran’s blog series, describes the thrill of Haikyo. Literally translated, this Japanese word means “ruins.” It’s also a term for urban exploration, the act of investigating abandoned buildings and houses.”
  • An interview with Cliff Harris on The Reticule: “It’s going really well actually. I’ve never done the show before – I’ve never shown games at shows before, I’ve given talks and stuff but I was worried that, like most shows, there’d be loads of stuff blowing up and… games with helicopters exploding, and then I’d have a game about interest rates and it’d be ‘What the hell is that creepy game doing there? What’s the point in that?’
  • Very old boardgame tokens found in Turkey. I wonder when they will find 5000-year old trad fantasy maps roughly based on Middle Earth.
  • Rich Stanton the great myth of Half-Life 3: “Valve’s refusal to provide information-on-demand absolutely baffles the internet. Not that it stops things: instead, every site relies on a merry-go-round where no link is too tenuous. Beyond the fact that Valve have an internal email group called ‘Half-Life 3′, there is not enough evidence on Half Life 3′s existence to fill one good article, but it has been the topic of countless thousands and leaves some writers resenting Valve’s sheer effrontery in the face of their desire to know. The game has almost become of secondary importance to confirmation of its existence.”
  • Bogost on Facebook development: “The feeling of using the Facebook Platform is that of total, unmitigated despair. Despair because there’s no way to know what it might do next, yet once one has committed to it, one must do its bidding. I suspect that every Facebook developer has a case of Stockholm Syndrome, some more severe than others. Does it seem silly to despair over a software platform? Maybe, but most prisoners are not chained to cots in cells, but to computers in cubicles. Despair is no less real and no less desperate just because it is ordinary.”
  • Yar’s Revenge as a sports game? “The Yar can fire missiles in relative safety until the guided missile inevitably gets near. But this is also the slowest tactic—shots must travel further to chip at the barrier and, since the barrier continually scrolls up and down, precision aim is more difficult. Likewise, the Yar must eventually shift into a closer position to either a) evade the guided missile or b) eat some barrier to obtain the Zorlon.”
  • How games are like dioramas: “Compare Deadlight with the similarly styled Shadow Complex. They’re both 2.5D side scrollers, meaning you play on a 2D plane, and the environment around you is 3D. However, the former looks like a shoebox diorama presentation of the zombie apocalypse, while the latter just looks like a stylized video game. Why does one look “miniature” and the other does not?”
  • A podcast on the relationship between devs and pubs over at Game Engine Podcast.
  • On romance games: “Our guys are beefcake – there’s no question about that,” said Bailey Gershkovitch. “But they have stories. They’re people. … For me as a gamer, I’d like to see the women in games written like that.”
  • Cobbett on Ecstatica: “As anyone in the UK will know but those outside might not, our game ratings were historically handled by the BBFC – the same guys who a) handled film ratings, which are backed by force of law, and b) once decided that Shadow Warrior had to replace throwing shurikens into peoples’ faces with impaling them with darts – a decision that no doubt made sense to at least somebody at the time. A person who is no longer allowed to cut their own food, but would probably consider using a chainsaw to do it.”
  • Outside Xbox on games you will never play.

Music today is Circular C by Mountains.

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143 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Hanban says:

    I remember playing Ecstatica when it came out and it was absolutely terrifying. Goddamn those monsters.

    • Spacewalk says:

      The most surprising thing in that Ecsatica piece is that there’s a shot of Urban Decay at the end. I remember seeing that when I was a young lad and getting incredibly excited only for it to get canned and I got a bit deflated.

      I loved Ecsatica although it’s one on my never completed pile. I too found it terrifying but not because of the monsters but because it was so weird. There was an ever present feeling of dread but then something silly happens and you’re just left staring in silence at the screen trying to process it. It doesn’t sit well.

      • Skabooga says:

        I love Ecstatica to pieces; in terms of favorite games it ranks up there with just about any other. That game just had atmosphere. I can understand that some might view it as having wild swings in its tone, but for me some of the darkly comic parts only served to make the game more affecting and terrifying. Certainly, more terrifying than many games that are unremittingly dark in their tone.

    • Annalisa45 says:

      my best friend’s mother-in-law makes $88/hour on the internet. She has been without work for nine months but last month her pay was $14729 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site…>>>> http://7.ly/SyW

  2. Premium User Badge

    Stellar Duck says:

    Thanks for the Polygon stuff on Fullbright.

    Gone Home has been on my mind a lot lately and I enjoy reading about the people who made it.

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      I really liked Gone Home but since that article revealed that some of my money may have gone to the care and upkeep of white guy dreadlocks…

      I honestly feel a little uncomfortable.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        racist!

        Anyway, ‘locks are done with dirt and egg yolks and pig blood or something

      • Premium User Badge

        Johnnemann says:

        Luckily, my dreads are super low-maintenance, so I don’t think I bought anything for them during development. Maybe a bead…

  3. Kitsunin says:

    In regards to the Everlove story, there are some english-audience female-targeting romance games; there just aren’t many nor any mainstream ones. Basically, check out Hanako Games’ stuff. They’re well written and the artwork is not bad (If you don’t mind anime style) though they play very simplistically. The majority of them are romance games targeted at women. Well, hetero women mostly.

    Aside from them though…I can’t really think of any specifically romance games targeted at women with western styled art.

    • DrMcCoy says:

      “The Royal Trap” is a pretty unfortunate/offensive title in context of its plot, though…

      • Kitsunin says:

        Why is that, exactly? I haven’t played it more than a little, so I wouldn’t really know, but judging from the synopsis and a few minutes of the demo it doesn’t seem that offensive. Is it because the protagonist is in a subservient position? Sure, but the character herself doesn’t seem to be subservient, not to mention her being the protagonist in the first place, so I don’t see a problem there.

        • DrMcCoy says:

          SPOILERS, obviously:

          The princess was a prince. When the three royal siblings (a girl and two boys) were little, the girl died. The parents took her brother and changed him into the princess. The “trap” in the title therefore meshes quite badly with the slur for trans* people.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Ooooh, I thought your usage of “Title” was as a synonym to “Game” not literally the game’s title. If I had read more carefully that would have been more clear.

            That is pretty unfortunate, though I don’t really think I have enough experience to make a call on whether I find it offensive or not. What is more unfortunate is that upon reading the game’s title it made me think of exactly that…perhaps it’d turn out the prince was actually a woman or something.

          • Fred S. says:

            What is the generally acceptable euphemism for a trans person whose gender identity is confusing (or specifically played as in a game or a show so as to come as a surprise) to straight persons of the “opposite” gender?

          • DrMcCoy says:

            Wrong question altogether.
            The whole idea of a person “deceiving” another person with their gender is transphobic.

            A trans* woman is a woman. A trans* man is a man.
            Someone not identifying within the boundaries of the gender binary whatever they choose.
            Nothing confusing about that. :)

          • Grygus says:

            There probably isn’t one; what is the generally accepted euphemism for a girl who people commonly mistake for a boy, based on her appearance? The whole concept of the label is someplace between insulting and patronizing.

          • Fred S. says:

            “Trap” does not necessarily imply deliberate deception by the character represented, though it may indeed be a motive of the author.

            Perhaps we could call such characters “Hideyoshi” without giving offense?

          • Kitsunin says:

            I started to respond with something along the lines of “well if you think someone’s a woman and it turns out they have junk, it’s natural you would think it’s like a trap”

            But I thought about it, and realized that that’s a pretty selfish way of thinking. Like someone being androgynous is somehow a personal slight towards yourself, and they don’t already have to deal with buckets of shit because of who they are.

            In conclusion: Yeah, I’m gonna go with “Hideyoshi”. Too bad nobody in real life would get the reference, heh.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            hmmm isn’t trap a euphemism like taco, oyster, box, beaver, etc?

          • Triplanetary says:

            No, trap is not a euphemism, it’s a slur.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Generally speaking if you say “Her trap” you mean mouth, not vagoo. And of course, that’s different than saying ‘ze is a trap.’

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Perhaps, but it was first a euphemism. I suppose it depends on use and intent.

          • Kitsunin says:

            A euphemism for vagina? Huh, can’t say it doesn’t make more sense than other ones (Taco? Seriously?) but I haven’t ever heard it used that way. It would be confusing though since it’d be sharing its name with another hole.

          • hanakogames says:

            minor clarification – that spoiler is incorrect in several particulars. for one there never was a sister!

            I take full responsibility for the potential offense of the title, though. I didn’t realise it was a possible problem until after a lot of the game was already themed around and promoted around the other two meanings of the title (a trap set by royalty, and the trap of being royalty, both of which are VERY relevant to the story). I had never heard trap used as a slur, only as playful insider anime slang. (This probably tells you something about the sort of people I hang out with. ) I wasn’t thinking.

            But I did eventually realise that it could be offensive and chose to keep it anyway, so I accept the consequences. I just try to fend off anyone who thinks that they know what the title “really” means.

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    Andy_Panthro says:

    Playing through HL2: Episode 1 right now, and I’m really not bothered about any HL3 news. I can understand why the internet get whipped up into a frenzy, but I worry that it’ll never live up to those people’s imaginations and there’s gonna be a massive backlash whenever it finally arrives.

    And of course more important is waiting for news on Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord…

    • Fiyenyaa says:

      It won’t live up to the insane hype, it’s almost certainly true. As time goes on, people expect more and more, it seems.
      But, God help me I want that plot resolved. I *hate* open-ended stories, I need things explained and spelled out for me. I want to know what happens!

      • TreuloseTomate says:

        Hopefully it will be worth the weight.

      • jonahcutter says:

        That’s the thing. You’ve got to think they care about their characters as much as the fans do, and want to bring those characters and their story to a conclusion.

        Leaving beloved characters from a seminal franchise on a cliffhanger for years now… The ongoing intensity of interest is their own doing.

    • timethor says:

      This quote from the HL2 article sums it up for me:
      “Fundamentally, Half-Life 3 would be an assertion that Valve is still a game development studio and not just a service company, that Valve isn’t vaccuming up talent from around the globe in order to analyse the best methods for deploying new hats. There’s something to be said for a game that is the realisation of authorial vision, rather than a clever means to trojan horse long-term monetisation schemes.”

      The idea that one of the most talented gaming studios is now spending it’s time on free to play (something that I see as a terrible direction for the gaming industry), just makes me sad. Portal 3 would be fine, a new SP game would be fine, and HL3 would of course be fine. Just don’t turn into a 24/7 gambling-crate store, please?

      • Premium User Badge

        basilisk says:

        Yes, this quote nailed it.
        I have already come to accept that despite my past infatuation, the company and I have almost completely different interests now, but it still makes me sad to see the old one go. It’s not like they owe me anything, but they were doing something quite special, and now it’s gone.

      • HadToLogin says:

        Pre-release $60 No-Voice DLC, which turns off newly-implemented Gordon voice (played by 6 years old)?

        • Triplanetary says:

          I can foil that DLC scheme with my speakers’ volume knob.

      • subedii says:

        I’ve never really understood the allegation that ‘Valve don’t make real games anymore’. And since the quote is about pushing microtransactions via DOTA, well…

        I mean I spent a long time avoiding DOTA 2 precisely because it was F2P and all the negativity surrounding it. But frankly having played it, and read the interviews of the devs behind it, I’ll happily not only call it an excellent game, but very definitively up there with the greats in terms of “authorial vision”.

        In terms of actual gameplay, DOTA 2 is fundamentally NOT designed to be as easily accessible as other titles on the market in that genre, that one probably goes to LOL. Instead they focused on their vision on what they wanted the game and the gameplay to be, and it works really well. In terms of authorial vision, this is very much IceFrog’s and Eul’s baby. What Valve brought to the table was a completely ridiculous degree of polish to all the other facets to make training up and matchmaking for a complete noob like me something easy to get started on. Not master, but actually be able to get into and have fun with. Which is really surprising given how infamously impenetrable DOTA is meant to be. I think this quote really summed it up for me (bold is mine):

        http://uk.ign.com/articles/2013/08/10/dota-2-international-valve-interview

        Erik Johnson: There’s kinda two parts to that; the learning curve of Dota, I don’t think it’s steep. I think it’s infinite, and if you look at the bottom end of learning, and at the stage of the International, the distance between those two is roughly the distance from here to the sun – it’s immense. We do look a lot at the attachment point; like how much Dota do you need to play to really want to invest your time – turns out it’s about five games.

        And it’s the notion of depth, the game telling you; as much as you want to invest, we’ll reward you back for your knowledge and your skill, and stuff like that. But the entertainment exists at every level of play – from our finance department at Valve, they all play Dota together, to you know, Alliance, who just won the best-of-three against DK. People have fun at all of those levels. The trick for us is to kind of show people the mountain, and that they’ll have a bunch of fun at every point that they climb up it. The International is this incredible spike, where all players that aren’t in the tournament – including me – we watch this event and go ‘Well I never really thought of doing that,’ and you get a big spike to your knowledge of the game, and that’s fun – I don’t feel like a worse player because I hadn’t thought of that, I think ‘Oh, that’s clever.’

        The fact that DOTA 2 is accessible to me, a complete beginner, and the fact I’m on the exact same footing (outside of actual skill) as someone who’s spent $Ridiculous on it, to me that’s a mark of exceptional game design and that F2P hasn’t been the plague that everyone wants to make it out to be. Maybe it’s just because I have a lot of experience with Dawn of War 2, who knows.

        Before DOTA 2, there was Portal 2. And the sheer complete ridiculousness of griping that angsty fanboys had over it, even to the extent of review-bombing it purely because it had an in-game store that did almost nothing and sure as heck didn’t affect the gameplay one whit. And yet to hear tell, Portal 2 not only isn’t a good SP game, it’s yet more proof of how terrible Valve have become.

        You see, I’ve got no problem with hats, as long as the core game and gameplay don’t feel as if they’ve been negatively impacted. And whilst I’ll happily say art-style took a heavy beating in TF2 (suffers for being the prototype I guess) from the original intention, for the most part Valve have been one of the better companies in that respect when it comes to their titles.

        So I guess, I don’t have issue with Valve in general and how they’ve been proceeding with things. I’d like to see HL3 (who wouldn’t), but to date, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game of theirs that I’d actually consider bad. And that’s more than most to date. Before Portal 2 came out I had serious doubts as to whether Valve could really push good, story-led singleplayer content. But Portal 2 really blew me away and was far better than I had expected. And I’m basically taking the same track with HL3. I don’t believe it’ll live up to the ridiculous hype that some people have for it, but I think it’ll be good. And I’m open to being surprised.

        • timethor says:

          Pay2win isn’t the only possible problem with f2p. If anything, p2w is a “better” problem: it clearly identifies the game as awful so I can avoid it.

          The monetization of TF2/Dota is much more insidious. It takes a type of entertainment with a single entry fee, where everyone is on equal footing only dependent on skill and time invested in the actual game, where the creator has only one goal and that is to make the most enjoyable game possible, and turns it into an extension of the hyper-commercialised real world, where everything is constantly trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. It exploits irrational brainpatterns, where the hatless man might feel just the tiniest bit less happy whenever he sees a hatted man, or feels a need to express his digital “importance” by spending money on a hat.

          And let’s not start about the crates. I suspect those things aren’t even legal in many territories.

          • subedii says:

            OK seriously? The game makes you feel ‘impotent’ if you don’t have a hat online?

            The game isn’t “constantly tryiig to sell you stuff you don’t need”. It’s there, in the marketplace, but it’s ridiculously easy to ignore and just hit the play button. You get the occasional crate drop, but much like with TF2, I have no problem just dumping them. And I get the occasional item drop as well, but that’s either a nice bonus or something I ignore

            To be blunt, I’m having fun with DOTA. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve also spent money on it. But on the Defense Grid soundpack, largely because I’m actually also a huge fan of Defense Grid with a ridiculous number of hours in it and I find Fletcher’s commentary funny and oddly fitting.

            But the key thing is, if that pack had never been released (or I simply thought it was bad and subsequently didn’t buy it), I wouldn’t have felt the game was any worse for it, and it wouldn’t have prevented me from enjoying it.

            Yes, they’d like you to spend money in the game. In the end, they’ve made a game, it would probably be advisable to make a profit on it (and standalone rarely works well today when you’re trying to build a massive online base). However as methods go I’m having a hard time registering disgust. They don’t force you to buy anything, they don’t MAKE you feel worse if you don’t have a new avatar (why the heck would I? If someone spent $10,000 on a donkey, I’d just think he’s dumb), they don’t make you better for doing it, and in general what they’re selling you buy only if you’d like it. Merely repeating that it’s “insidious” doesn’t really do much for me here.

            Otherwise, what exactly is the line at that point? Is all purchasable content that’s purely cosmetic insidious? Merely the online stuff? Isn’t spending money on something that has a measurable effect better if we’re thinking in purely value terms?

            Heck go a slightly different angle, as a multiplayer game, I’d say DOTA is inherently far more friendly to me as a consumer than most other modern multiplayer games because it doesn’t lock away things behind XP based “unlocks”. I don’t have LESS abilities in-game purely because I haven’t spent ridiculous hours “earning” them. A base level player in Battlefield is nothing if not annoying because you can’t do everything you want to do to support your team, and you need to waste a tonne of time in order to get to that point. So a game which does the converse is something I can appreciate all the more.

            You see, when you say that it’s insidious because with a badly implemented system you automatically say “I can avoid it.”, to me that just says you acknowledge it’s a good game with no gameplay flaws brought about by it’s model, but you STILL don’t want to play it because you’re scared that you might like something enough in there to spend money on it. Would that be a fair assessment?

          • arccos says:

            As a fellow Dota 2 player, I would agree that it has the most ridiculously low-key pay items I’ve ever seen. All you get is a slightly different looking character or something like a different voice pack.

            I wouldn’t even call it a free-to-play game, it’s just a free game you can buy some stuff to look different.

        • Triplanetary says:

          to me that’s a mark of exceptional game design and that F2P hasn’t been the plague that everyone wants to make it out to be

          These are two unrelated statements, though. The fact that Dota 2 is an excellent F2P game doesn’t mean that F2P, as a whole, isn’t a scourge upon the gaming industry that results in lazy clones and monetization-uber-alles mentality. Because both of those things are true.

          • subedii says:

            I was talking about DOTA 2 in the specific instance.

            Yes, F2P can be lazy and poorly implemented. I’m not going to let that stop me playing a good game.

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          basilisk says:

          I think you’ll find the difference is in people’s expectations. There are very broadly two categories of games, games-as-a-narrative and games-as-a-sport. Valve started as a company making remarkable, groundbreaking examples of the former; these days, they are a company making remarkable examples of the latter. No one’s arguing that what they are doing now is bad, but it’s very clearly not what they used to do, and for people like me who do not care about e-sports in the slightest and who don’t indulge in multiplayer very often, it’s quite true that Valve isn’t making “proper” games any more.

          • subedii says:

            You see, I can’t say I really see that either, because Portal 2 only came out a couple of years ago, and pretty much blew me away in terms of expectations for a singleplayer story driven game. Frankly, Valve spent about 6 years in a vacuum between Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2 (and if we’re talking purely time frames for a second, a whole 10 years between TFC and TF2). To me it would have been just as plausible to say “Valve don’t MAKE games like that anymore” back then as it does now. Probably moreso. It was 5 years with completely zero feedback (I’m talking complete media blackout) and then another 1 year of delays.

            It rings similar to Blizzard and Starcraft. Back before SC2 was announced, it was quite close to impossible for me to have a conversation with anyone about what the campaign would be like. Campaign? Are you MAD?! With all the money that Blizzard are making off of WoW, you honestly think that they won’t make it an MMO? How very quaint. This, again, following pretty much a decade of complete media blackout on the subject.

            Now the thing is, I’m not going to say that Valve are definitively going to be releasing SP, story led content as in HL / Portal. I don’t know what’s in their future. But I’m happy to say it’s way too soon to say the converse (“Valve don’t make games for me anymore”), and frankly, I’m still pretty well expectant that HL3 will be an eventual thing. Until that time though, I’m not holding my breath, but I’m not lamenting that it’s not happening either.

          • Kadayi says:

            Hyperbole much?

            Portal 2 is funny but beyond that there’s not much to it narratively.

          • subedii says:

            Subjective much?

            I’ll happily put it well over most of the games that people laud for story and characterisation.

            EDIT: Whilst I’m at it, I also thought Bioshock: Infinite was a bit pants.

      • cunningmunki says:

        You know, Portal 2 wasn’t that long ago. How many games have id made in the last 10 years?! I’ll tell you; two. TWO. That article is actually attempting to propagate the very thing it is criticising. There may be a lot of discussion and speculation about HL3 in the comments section of articles relating to Valve, but to say there are “thousands” of articles written about it is just self-serving hyperbole.

      • Shuck says:

        The fact remains that in the game industry, a successful franchise will continue to have games made for it, either until it’s no longer successful, or the rights-holder goes out of business (and even then, the rights may end up in someone else’s hands). Any other studio/publisher would have to regularly release new Half-Life games, but the difference is that Valve has the luxury of being able to set aside a successful game, as unlike every other studio, they don’t even need to make games to stay in business. But it’s pretty much impossible that they’ll ignore it forever, even with an emphasis on free-to-play games. Because they have that economic freedom, they can indulge the people in the company who want to work on it until they come up with something they feel is worth releasing.

        • Kadayi says:

          There’s a lot of presumption in that assertion tbh.

          How relevant is such an aged franchise at this point in time in truth? I mean Valve are heavily into DNF territory given Episode was originally forecast to come out in 2007.

    • tro says:

      i think we’ll see democracy in China before we see Half-Life 3 come out.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        Maybe even in the UK and US too.

      • MacTheGeek says:

        It took 14 years, but Chinese Democracy was actually released in 2008.

        By comparison, it’s only been six years since Episode 2 was released. Valve still has plenty of time before they get into Axl Rose territory.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          And Duke Nukem Forever took 15 years. HL3 has been a long time coming, but it’s by far the least slowest production in entertainment, let alone in video games.

          My guess: HL3 will be announced along with the new Source 2 engine.

    • blackmyron says:

      I find it amazing that the article overlooked that HL3 is linked to one of Valve’s biggest failures – their attempt to create episodic gaming content. They couldn’t sustain the game creation cycle beyond Episode Two. Only Telltale Games seems to have found the right method to do episodic content, and only for a specific type of game.
      Part of the mystique and the continuing obsession with HL3 is that the story is tantalizing incomplete – but that is just an illusion. The inclusion of an easter egg reference to “Lost” should’ve been a clue right there: that there is no ‘story’ for Half Life. Marc Laidlaw said as much a few years ago, that there is nothing to the Half-Life universe outside of the games (and only the Valve-specific games at that, sorry Gearbox); no hidden backstories, no Tolkienesque file explaining the universe. It’s made up as it goes along, something that should’ve been glaringly obvious with the “Borealis” MacGuffin. We are literally told next to nothing in Ep2 about what is so important about the ship – the characters talk in circles around us, the game player, providing near-zero content information.
      And then we come to Portal 2, supposedly in the Half-Life universe, and its endless teases. Who is Chell? Ah, the Official Prequel Comic tells us her last name is [REDACTED]. Wait, what? Ah, they don’t want to reveal something from the game that… oh, not there either. Okay, how about the rivalry with Black Mesa… nope. Surely we’ll get some hints about the Borealis, since Aperture Science made it? Reduced to an easter egg and achievement with nothing revealed. How about the world outside and the links to HL2 and the Combine and… oh, we’re thrown an indeterminate time into the future and the end of the game deposits you in an empty field.
      That isn’t to say it isn’t an enjoyable game, far from it. But, much like “Lost”, part of the mystique of “Half-Life” has always been its mythology which, as is becoming more and more obvious, is empty. We haven’t learned anything about the G-Man in a decade-and-a-half because they don’t know anything.
      Wild speculation: Valve may decide (despite the existence of the excellent Black Mesa mod) to follow in DOOM’s footprints and do a ‘re-imaging’ of the original Half-Life, with the Valvian twist of incorporating whatever game asset advancements they are working on.

      • cunningmunki says:

        You’re spot on about that episodic release thing, and I think it’s safe to say it was technically a failed endeavor. It does seem a little odd that no one has attempted that line of questioning with Valve, along the line of, “are you planning on releasing any additional episodes for the single-player Portal 2 campaign? That didn’t work out so good for Half-Life 2, though, huh?” :-)

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    Don Reba says:

    The Facebook Platform is the relief promised under the pressure of thumbscrews. If you were innocent, why did you start using the Facebook Platform in the first place?

    Hahaha. The man sure loathes the Facebook Platform. And sociopaths.

    • The Random One says:

      ” Facebook is like a kindergarten run by child molesters.”

      I love Ian so much.

  6. Pich says:

    There are three articles before the one about half-life. HALF-LIFE 3 CONFIRMED

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    daphne says:

    I’ve played Gone Home, and loveliness aside, it has vindicated my belief that Dear Esther was pretty much a waste of time. Gone Home is how you do it. I’m thankful.

    Also, cool to see Ecstatica featured, if only on Crapshoot. One of the first games I’ve played! :)

    • Triplanetary says:

      I’ve never managed to finish Dear Esther. I’ve tried multiple times. And I’m totally cool with artsy-fartsy games where things aren’t exploding every three seconds. But Dear Esther just was not good enough to justify its artistic pretensions.

    • Hematite says:

      I didn’t get on with Gone Home, but that seems to be a minority position at the moment. I’ll probably have to wait a couple of weeks for someone to write up a postmortem and some spoiler-filled discussion.

      It’s a definite achievement, and improvement on Dear Esther but it’s still too subservient to its literary objectives for me as an old, embittered gamer. It was immediately obvious to me that it was constructed as a linear experience and the reader was going to be manipulated by the order in which story fragments were revealed, which completely broke my suspension of disbelief. It also wasn’t my kind of story, which I accept is very subjective.

      I was super impressed by the attention to detail in recreating a suburban American house though. I really wish more games would try to simulate a believable space rather than just enough of a framework around which to hang some quests.

      I’m interested to see where the genre will go next. I’d love to see an Agatha Christie-style mystery story along the same lines as Gone Home (and use a system like Papers Please’s discrepancy flagging to identify the culprit).

  8. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    Bioware’s David Gaider: On my so-called love of Twilight.
    http://dgaider.tumblr.com/post/58252412297/on-my-so-called-love-of-twilight

    • zachforrest says:

      ‘Especially to those who think the romances I write are juvenile’ – I would say they veer wildly between shallow, juvenile and nonsensical.

      Still enjoyable enough

      • dE says:

        I semi-agree.
        And I don’t say this out of spite, don’t even know the man. Didn’t like Dragon Age 2 much either for other reasons, but also because of the very teenager-esque romances. I’m sorry but if the romance in Bioware Games can generally be summarized by three sentences, it’s casual open sex and not romance.

        “Hello, you seem nice”
        “Why hello there, you too, wanna bang?”
        “Yep”

        It’s only when they treat this as romance, it’s entering creep country. If you just listen to someone’s problem, you’re gearing up for sex. If you’re a good friend to someone? Sex. If you’re just near someone? Sex. How is this anything but a juvenile understanding of partnership?

    • honuk says:

      el oh el, etc.

      I think we can just frame this thing and write WRITING IN VIDEO GAMES, 2013 over it and close up shop

      “Lead Writer, Bioware” as a job description reads like a prank

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      As nice as it is that it’s embraced the female and gay audience, there is something hugely problematic about the repeated efforts of Gaider and the other Bioware writers to frame every critique of their writing as misogynist and homophobic rather than considering the idea that, you know, maybe Dragon Age 2 just wasn’t very good and it’s story a mess of badly sketched out and unengaging characters and jumbled, awkward themes.

      • Triplanetary says:

        I have an embarrassingly large crush on Merrill, but yeah, most of the other characters in DA2 are pretty blah.

    • Premium User Badge

      cpt_freakout says:

      Every time I read a new opinion piece by him I’m increasingly convinced he just doesn’t know the limits of his writing. He thinks he’s engaging in ‘critical thinking’, supposedly way above his attackers, when what he’s really doing is engaging them, at their own level of argumentation. For example, he doesn’t realize that the problems Twilight has go beyond the writing, and that the romance itself is not effective, but representative, and representative of many things that could be considered wrong with the way we, whether it be teenagers, adults, or whatever, relate to each other. Among a million other things.

      He’s an OK writer and seems to be a nice person, but when he pretends his writing is superior to commonplace analysis the whole ‘I’m just more mature than you and you cannot comprehend what I do’ attitude comes crashing down pretty easily. Especially because the themes he tries to tackle are beyond the level of writing and ‘critical thinking’ he currently has.

      • Grygus says:

        I’m not sure we’ve read the same thing. All I saw was him saying, “I never said I loved Twilight. I did watch it, because that’s part of my job and I want to be good at my job. Most people who bash Twilight (or anything, really) probably haven’t even tried it, and those people are acting like dicks.” I don’t see a single thing wrong with any of that.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Except that a lot of us saw it and still bash it. Because it’s really bad.

          • malkav11 says:

            Yup. And has some really disturbing assumptions built into its idea of “romance”. (Edward is a deeply creepy character and Bella’s slavish, unprompted adoration – to the point of becoming suicidal when he leaves her – isn’t romantic, it’s symptomatic of severe mental illness. Or possibly some sort of mystical mind control, but I don’t think we’re meant to read it that way.)

          • dE says:

            I think the quite well selling Twilight fanfiction Shades of Grey is a good indicator what folks saw in it. Or wanted to see in it. Or enjoyed out of it. Which boggles my mind, given it’s abusive tones.

          • Reapy says:

            Well, it’s bad and stuff but the point of it is the way you think of a relationship when you are 13, that people are destined for one another and you’ll basically die if you split up. That you’ll have a guy there to catch you every time you stumble, and that you are special and secretly better than all your peers. The book was crack to young girls and older women who wanted to remember what it’s like to be a young girl again.

            The rest of the series just went down bad Mary Sue porn but the first book at least did as intended I think.

          • malkav11 says:

            I specifically meant that I don’t think Stephanie Meyer intended us to read in subtext that Edward actually has supernatural mind-controlling powers that he is using to effectively enslave Bella, even though it would be plausible given the way the characters act.

        • Premium User Badge

          cpt_freakout says:

          I’m also coming from the perspective of having read other opinion pieces by him as well as interviews, so what I say is not only aimed at this particular text of his… maybe that’s why I sound like I read something else, sorry!

          Anyway, you make a good summary of his points, but look at the tone in which those points are made. He is indeed more mature, perhaps, than those for whom saying “you like Twilight” is an insult, but the “I’m more mature than you” attitude is one he assumes even when it comes to valid criticism, leading to him bundling what is often good criticism with what is only aimed at insulting him or his political stance. The people who are not insulting but who question his capacity to create convincing, truly challenging situations in a narrative are then thrown together with who he seems to assume are just kids who hate Twilight because it’s “for girls”. That’s what I’m trying to get at, that he should stop wasting his time thinking his audience is composed of basement-dwellers (his words, right there at the start) and start thinking about his strengths and limits as an author, parting from the criticisms only an audience (which is also his sole audience) can make. And I’m not suggesting he’s stuck in his place in the universe, I’m saying he has to improve (and read and see much more than Twilight just because it’s “effective”) in order to achieve the level of writing he currently seems to believe he has.

    • Triplanetary says:

      I don’t think I like David Gaider very much.

  9. Premium User Badge

    DrScuttles says:

    Sundays are for being hungover and devising a plan to get Sir, You Are Being Hunted released a day early. Unfortunately, my plan involves wishing really, really hard and lamenting the lack of bacon in my fridge.

    Regarding Rich Stanton’s Guardian piece on Half-Life 3, I like the idea of people not particularly interested in video games lethargically pawing through various stories on the Guardian and being able to see the whole curious situation as a complete outsider; that people have been waiting and rampantly speculating feverishly about a sequel in the face of absolute radio silence.
    Specific examples may well be escaping me right now, but I can’t think of the idea of the mythical sequel occurring in other entertainment mediums without being well publicised as being in a state of development hell. Or at least having been made public that people were working on them. Like Ghostbusters 3. Though I think we can agree that if Ghostbusters 3 ever does get made, it’ll probably be pants.

  10. Noburu says:

    What? No mention of the Forbes article about Cara’s article over on PC Gamer? Seems to have lots of people up in a tizzy:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2013/08/17/hotline-miami-2-draws-criticism-over-controversial-rape-scene/

    • Cara Ellison says:

      That’s an unusually thoughtful reading of what I said. Thanks, Forbes!

      • Premium User Badge

        daphne says:

        It would be, because you’re both running with the same assumptions: that there is indeed a statement Dennaton is making with that scene, and indeed the previous game in the series.

        It’s not so much insightful as it is in agreement with you.

        • Chris D says:

          If they’re not trying to make a statement here that only makes it worse.

          I don’t think there’s any subject that should be off limits for a videogame, or any other art form, to depict but if you’re going to to depict an act that has such a deep impact on many people and also ties into the wider systemic issues in gaming culture and society at large then you’d better have a damn good reason for it and handle it very very carefully.

          Attempting to make a statement and botching it is forgiveable. Throwing it in just for the hell of it is not.

          • Premium User Badge

            daphne says:

            That’s the thing. They don’t need anyone’s forgiveness, or permission, to include whatever they want in the game. They have never said that they are making any sort of statement — that’s all been journalists’ work.

            Read the game however you want, but never assume for a second that you are entitled to a “Trigger warning” sign. No one needs to care about any sensibility, and no one needs to be an ambassador for politically correct games, or worse yet, make games that sate the ever-frenzied search for cultural validation.

          • Chris D says:

            So you’re okay with hurting people for no good reason. You’re okay with perpetuating oppressive systems just because you can. You’re okay wih reminding people of the worst experiences of their lives so long as you can get a quick thrill in a game. You okay with alienating large sections of the poulation just because you don’t want to put any thought into how what you’re doing affects other people.

            I don’t think I like you very much.

          • Premium User Badge

            daphne says:

            You’re being overly dramatic. It’s a video game, you know. Context matters. And no, I certainly can not, and will not be held responsible for reminding people of their worst experiences, and that certainly does not hinge on me “getting a quick thrill.”

            I’m neutral towards you. I don’t mind you not liking me, that’s your call to make.

          • Boosterh says:

            I’m going to have to disagree with you, daphne. It is generally recognised that a persons freedoms are limited by the harm they cause to others. I have freedom of speech, but I can’t say: “Tony, kill that guy for me.” I have the right to feed my kid a peanut butter sandwich, but I can’t send one to school in his lunch if his classmate is deathly allergic to peanuts. Its easy to get annoyed at other peoples problems limiting your freedoms, but empathy for people who have a vulnerability you don’t is the difference between a decent human being and a prick. In short, I think that the designers have a responsibility as (presumably) decent human beings to throw a quick warning in (like COD:MW No Russian) just in an effort to prevent harm.

          • Premium User Badge

            daphne says:

            @Boosterh, that’s a valid argument — even though, again, it doesn’t really equate to ordering someone to kill for me. I will concede the point that it is a good thing for the game description to include a statement that it contains graphic representation of rape.

            But I will continue to disagree with the assumption that controversial elements in a game are bundled with an implicit statement by the game about those elements (i.e. that it’s “tackling the subject”, as the Forbes article puts it). That’s just subjective interpretation, and the devs shouldn’t be held responsible for whatever issues one might have with it.

          • Grygus says:

            Hotline Miami seems a very bad place to argue that video games are not making intentional statements.

          • The Random One says:

            I’m not sure what you’re arguing for, daphne. If HL2 really has a rape scene just because the devs thought it was cool and they didn’t even mean anything by it, that’s even worse. There’s no such thing as a neutral stance.

      • HadToLogin says:

        I loved this one comment on Forbes article.

        “And here we come to the major issue I had with Cara’s article. Isn’t the irony here both laughable and depressing, that someone with such an obsession with sexism in gaming, can make such a blatantly seixist remark. Of course male victims of sexual abuse won’t be impacted by a depiction of rape, they’ll just man up and get on with it.”

        • Baines says:

          When I was in college, a not entirely uncommon feminist argument was that men couldn’t be raped. They could be forced to have non-consensual sex, but that it wasn’t rape if the victim was a man.

          The argument was that rape was as much a psychological assault as it was physical, that it wasn’t just one man exercising power over one woman, but the helplessness in the inequality between male (physical/societal/etc) power and female lack of power. Even if a male victim was physically weaker than his female assailant, or sufficiently threatened, or whatever else, it wouldn’t be “rape” because the physical act was considered only half the issue.

          While you might find that argument insulting and trivializing, it did and still does seem to align with how people think of rape. People don’t think about men as being potential victims, and aren’t as willing to accept the idea of a male victim as they are a female. It has improved over the decades because at least some people are willing to accept the concept of a man being raped (versus 25-30 years ago when even law enforcement wouldn’t believe it) and it isn’t treated as a joke as much (versus things like the infamous episode of 80s sitcom Too Close For Comfort). Even so, people still tend to forget about male victims.

          • Tasloi says:

            Yeah, i’ve heard it used aswell. Contrary to what some people might believe male rape has actually been featured in certain videogames before. We’ve had it in Far Cry 3, FEAR 2, attempted rape in Mafia 2. I’m guessing it’s probably been used in far lesser known games aswell. This skewed view of it needs to be pointed out again and again though because even if used unknowingly it still furthers a toxic ideological narrative.

          • Kpatrpa says:

            I heard this too often, we actually had in my high school a male child was raped repeatedly by his sister’s obese friend who was very ugly. HE said no several times and was scared to tell his mother because “boys don’t get raped”, if anything this was way worse. Of course when it went around the school people got the story wrong and said that he was raped by his sister (who was pretty good looking) so everyone called him gay, which was even worse. These double standards in society can really fuck people over when it comes to it. Now I’d probably just man up, but I also probably wouldn’t have been raped or emotionally bullied, so there’s that.

          • harbinger says:

            Yes, this is often a thing that is still today found as either hilarious or unbelievable, for instance I remember a case where a man got raped in public in China: http://www.chinasmack.com/2013/pictures/bold-powerful-chengdu-woman-rapes-passing-man-on-street.html
            All the comments either make fun of him or congratulate him as to how lucky he is, there was even a group of people that went to said spot and took a photo of themselves laying down and waiting.

            Another one in Romania where a taxi driver was threatened with a knife and raped: http://elitedaily.com/news/world/angelina-jolie-lookalike-stabbed-taxi-driver-refusing-sex-time/ and in the aftermath
            Stan’s friends have clowned him for refusing to have sex with the gorgeous star’s doppelganger.

            “It is terrible. I am now a local celebrity, every one is talking about me,” said Stan.

            “They don’t understand why I refused her, but they do not know what it is like to have a mad woman yelling at you at knife point.

            “They look at her, then look at me an laugh. But I think anyone would find it impossible to perform with a knife at their throat even if they were with Miss Romania.

    • Sam says:

      I wonder if the inclusion of the rape scene in the start of Hotline Miami 2 is the developers wanting to make it clear that their game is not a clever critique of violent and sexist themes. Like its predecessor it’s just a violent little game that intellectualising critics will desperately look for deeper meaning in.

      That article does the usual thing of defending the violent gameplay by saying how it would be just as fun if they were simple blobs that you’re fighting rather than people. Claiming the game mechanics are really about positioning and tactics rather than the bloody murder of humans. I’ve seen just the same argument from such nice people as Will Wright when asked to defend video games. But if the joy of the game is all about the puzzle and twitch reaction aspect, why did they spend all that time animating crushing an enemy’s eyes?

      There’s no doubt in my mind that a significant part of the appeal of Hotline Miami is the ultraviolence. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, but I do think the systemic denial of it is sad and dishonest. The inclusion of vague cutscenes (which many players will just click through) that say you’re bad person for enjoying all these murders that the game made you do doesn’t magically transform the game into a clever critique of violence as entertainment. It is violence as entertainment. And now it’s also rape (but it’s just pretend! It’s fine! A critique of sexualised violence!) as entertainment.

      • Kitsunin says:

        If it wasn’t trying to be an intellectual game then why in god’s name did the first game include that bad stealth section? Or what about the not-worth-it ending you get upon getting all of those collectibles? If you would give a watch to the video about Hotline Miami from Errant Signal, you ought to see that the first game at least, was almost definitely trying to be pretty smart in its dumbness.

        • Premium User Badge

          daphne says:

          I think you’re confusing unusual narrative design with intellectualism. Was that stealth section a statement about anything in particular that went beyond the game? No, it was just part of the story and highlighted the way narrative was designed in the game. Was the not-worth-it ending a tour-de-force of critical thought that motivated people to write essays? No, it was a little extra something for diligent players to puzzle out the story in the game. That’s not being intellectual in any way.

          • Kitsunin says:

            As I suggested, you should watch that Errant Signal video, it explains much better than I could why those thing point heavily towards the reasoning being intellectual. If the stealth segment wasn’t an intellectual statement, then it was just bad game design, which do you think? I’m not saying it isn’t possible that these are coincidences, but hey, I’d rather think the developers were trying to make a point, than think they just effed up.

          • Premium User Badge

            daphne says:

            Indeed, I believe that level was pretty bad design. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it had been like the rest of the game — i.e. instantly replayable. But the slow pace combined with the cutscene-bound failure state was definitely irksome.

        • Sam says:

          It’s an interesting reading, and it’s a reading that says the game isn’t primarily a critique of violence.

          Campster argues that it’s a game about the role of narrative, and basically how narrative doesn’t much matter (shown for instance by the deliberately lackluster endings). What does matter is the enjoyment of the mechanics of the game (shown for instance by how not fun the hospital level is). Keep in mind that those enjoyable mechanics are the enactment of brutal murder.

          By this reading the meaning of Hotline Miami is, “The reasons for a character doing stuff in a video games doesn’t really matter. What matters is how much fun it is to do those things.” Which would fit with the developers wanting to tell the world that people who think their game is a critique of violence are wrong. The opening of HM2 (and the section chosen to show to press at preview events) contextualises the rape and murder as being part of a movie scene, but of course that doesn’t matter to the player. Once again it’s about the fun of the action rather than Pig Butcher’s motivation for doing it.

          Also I didn’t notice it the first time I watched the video, but he does the same thing of glossing over the additional pleasure gained from the bloody killing of humans rather than the winking out of a geometric shape. Talks about the satisfaction of the feel of the weapon system, the pulsing colours, the thumping music, but never gets around to mentioning that half the level ends up covered in blood and dismembered corpses. Because that’s totally not important, right? Because we’re not psychopaths and so find absolutely no pleasure in killing. We barely even notice that we just hammered a button to bash in someone’s head.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Ah, good argument. I see what you mean, and it fits well with your previous point.

          • Koozer says:

            I can’t be the only one who played Hotline Miami more for the story than the gameplay. The “oh ho ho you silly player for doing whatever we tell you” ending was incredibly disappointing. It didn’t make me ponder the player’s autonomy and willingness to do anything they are told, it made me annoyed they took such an easy bit of meta-commentary to finish it on.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            So basically the Bioshock twist?

          • Sam says:

            @Sparkasaurusmex
            I think Bioshock asks, “who decides what narrative the player character follows?”
            Hotline Miami asks, “who cares what narrative the player character follows?”

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Ah that’s a good point. I know in olden times, when the top AAA games looked like Hotline Miami, most games just had a bit of background story in the manual, and little to no narrative in the games themselves.

            Also interesting to note that there are really fun games that have you mashing the “skip” button every time there is interruption for narrative. I don’t know though…is it because those games are so good or is it because their stories/presentation are so bad?

          • Koozer says:

            It did make me think about Bioshock too. The difference is Bioshock uses it as an in-universe plot device, and makes you go “ooh nice twist,” before carrying on with the game. Hotline Miami puts the two developers themselves in, right at the end, to tell you through the paper-thin fourth wall that you were a bit of an idiot for following along with an ultimately pointless exercise.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      All of this discussion has me thinking about the people who pilot attack drones…

    • Triplanetary says:

      Reminder that this is not a “Forbes article,” but a blog post on a blog hosted by Forbes but otherwise editorially unrelated to Forbes. Note the URL.

      Not saying any of that’s good or bad, but the distinction is there.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        psh forbes shmorbes, that is truly a PC Gamer article, though!

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I find it both a bit sad and shortsighted that constantly one of the largest potentials of a virtual, unobserved, potentially guilt-free media device is overlooked: Catharsis.

      Call me a sick f***, but I always enjoyed the games most where I felt I could simply “Do as I choose”.
      Because real life has a tendency to strap you into a corset of rules, policy, norms and forbidden things, there is literally no way out except “in your fantasy”. Famously sung: “Die Gedanken sind frei”.

      Apparently, there is a desire to at least explore adult, dark and even forbidden themes in the “heart of man”; we have done so in literature, in film and a good bit as well in gaming. That the interactivity adds a whole new element SEEMS different and new, but it really is not hugely so. Yes, due to the way technology works, we get premade visualization as opposed to letting our mind do the work as we would in books or partly in movies(in smart ones the actual effect is not achieved by showing but by hiding the pertinent parts and letting your imagination fill in the blanks); but does this mean it should be forbidden, not possible or not explored?
      I would say no.
      I think that the whole foundation of that article’s argument is wrong. That killing or gaming isn’t about “play the game, get a score”, but also, and possibly mainly, about exploring yourself, living out yourself, expressing yourself.
      And if you have a part of you, that has a rape fantasy, domination fantasy, fetish fantasy, torture fantasy, what have you, despite being an otherwise 100% normal and integrated fella in society that goes about his work, life and love diligently, helping others, being a nice human being, why would it be forbidden to explore this in virtuality?
      We are free to write about it in private, we are free to think about it in private, why should we be forbidden to play something like it in private?
      As long as the main directive of “never do unto anyone as you wouldn’t like to have done unto you” holds for your real life, I don’t see why you can’t play evil games.
      Nobody is up in a huff over Dungeon Keeper, Manhunt, GTA, beautiful escape etc pp in the same measure as badly done (often terribly badly visualized) rape scenes.
      I think the “rape isn’t a mutual danger” argument is just a thin fig leaf. Putting aside that you could easily create premises for a game where this is very much the underlying threat if you just wanted to – further illustrating the infinite possibility and freedom gaming gives us – it just misses the point I just tried to make: that gaming is much more about what you want to explore, live through and confront yourself with.
      Trying to outlaw, forbid or shun themes “preventively” for grown, mature adults, regardless of their moral standing is, and I don’t mean to go overboard with this word, in the end pretty much just censorship, and, a terrible double standard vs all other media where we live with it.
      Whether its done “well” or “tasteful” or not, or if its “ham-fisted” or wtf ever is completely beside the point. You can dislike it or find it terrible, and you are well within your rights to do so.
      And the whole point of all of our freedom is to be able to find things disgusting and shun them individually.
      But to forbid or negatively sanction others for something you don’t wish to experience, explore or live through is taking freedoms from others and “prescriptive”(I’m lacking the word here; essentially telling others what to do and what’s ok and what not).
      Sure, we as a society have a line we constantly want to discuss and agree on or not, but I find it just as idiotic to think virtual killing can be equated to real killing as with rape.
      Maybe part of it is because I realize that in the end every pixel in front of me is just assembler code telling a register to move a dot from one color to another, dunno, but I just can’t relate on the same level as the people up in arms about it.
      I get the moral implications, problematic impact for affected people etc pp, and that there is heightened sensitivity about a lot of stuff, but I just don’t agree there should be topics with special treatment.
      I don’t see car accident leagues up in arms over the Carmageddon games, I don’t see veterans protesting war games, etc pp, spin it as wide or as silly as you want it. All or none of it is justified, but the point remains: its a virtual medium, and as long as it stays virtual(i.e. doesn’t connect with actual real world people and information), it has the right of all thought and fantasy to stay free, I find.

      But not everyone wants to go so far as to let free be absolutely free.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        I apologize I went off topic I guess; my main point was the article missed the whole catharsis/experience angle and tried to make games just boop-dee-beep highscore games.
        It did not call for censorship or forbidding anything.
        Still, I am fairly certain those kind of articles will just as soon show, as long as you can pop in the keyword “rape” and videogame together somewhere.
        I guess I was a bit premature there..but I just wanted to follow the thought through.
        Been overburdened by a lot of the debate these last few years, I guess.

      • gritz says:

        Jesus Christ, no.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        “I think the “rape isn’t a mutual danger” argument is just a thin fig leaf. Putting aside that you could easily create premises for a game where this is very much the underlying threat if you just wanted to –”

        …No.

        I seriously cannot imagine how even the most wildly unstuck fiction could create a situation in which someone would have to… rape in self-defense? Are you joking? And it’s not a fucking fig leaf, it’s about the fact that rape is a hate crime.

        If you want to play some crazy cathartic rape game go do that. In a world where someone actually made a Columbine Massacre RPG, one probably exists, and as long it will forever stay within the fantasy of the game, then… fine. I guess. But rape is not something that should be sprung on people who think they’re playing something else entirely, especially not when they have to actively participate in it to continue in the game. I don’t know why that’s even a contentious point.

        I like horror movies but I wouldn’t let John Carpenter take over a scene in a children’s broadcast in the name of catharsis and artistic freedom.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        Also, there are rape victims who play games. Why traumatize them? What about their freedom, their right to feel safe in actual reality? Why is that less important than people’s supposed right to have any and all of their possible dark fantasies served up in as many ways as they like?

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          Beyond the starting point of “what the hell, how could you even THINK that it’s reasonable” which encapsulates my view of having the player’s avatar begin to engage in rape suddenly.

          There’s also the obvious nonsense of:

          How many game players live under realistic fear of being beaten to death with baseball bats? I’m sure there is some scenario on this globe where that COULD be true, but it’s quite small, especially in places where video games sell the most.

          How many game players live under realistic fear of being raped? About half.

        • harbinger says:

          Because free speech is more important than some subgroup of people potentially having their feelings hurt, see for instance Kurt Westergaard or the many, many existing movies on controversial topics including rape, violence, torture that are out there.

          Also:
          “I like horror movies but I wouldn’t let John Carpenter take over a scene in a children’s broadcast in the name of catharsis and artistic freedom.”

          What, just what?

          Let me introduce you to the ESRB (or any respective authority in your local country): http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp
          They look at games and rate them, also with very helpful content descriptors like “Sexual Violence – Depictions of rape or other violent sexual acts”, “Sexual Themes – References to sex or sexuality”, “Strong Sexual Content – Explicit and/or frequent depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including nudity” and similar so you don’t have to and have information for your purchasing decision.

          Games that are rated Mature (17+) or Adult Only (18+) aren’t meant for “a children’s broadcast” so you might have fundamentally misunderstood something.

          Hotline Miami got ESRB’d as Mature: http://www.esrb.org/ratings/synopsis.jsp?Certificate=10001821 with “Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Drug Reference, Strong Language, Crude Humor, Use of Tobacco”

          The freedom of the people that might be traumatized by any one topic is the freedom to look upon the packaging and choose not to buy/rent/play/watch any content they may find unsuitable.

          The freedom of the rest of society is the freedom to make and consume content that any one specific individual or group of people might not like or approve of.

          Having to abide or censor oneself because certain people might feel uncomfortable with the content one might have created or the things one said (as long as it wasn’t illegal) isn’t freedom, but tyranny of that particular subgroup over the whole of society.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            Just so you know, I stopped reading as soon as you brought up “free speech.”

            One’s freedom to speak doesn’t take away others’ freedom to criticize or boycott, and just because a lot of people are publicly disagreeing with you doesn’t mean you’ve lost your freedom to speak. It’s actually a reliable sign that you still have it.

            Please just let that trope die.

          • harbinger says:

            Yes, this “freedom of speech” is a really nasty trope that needs to die so the feelings of a few people don’t get hurt… I totally get you man.

  11. zachforrest says:

    US Gamer seems to be a bit Top-Ten Listy – but this is a nice retrospective – http://www.usgamer.net/articles/making-bad-hardware-design-fun-remembering-boktai

    • GameCat says:

      Damn, Kojima is really genius. Shame that his games other than Metal Gear series are rather forgotten.

      • HadToLogin says:

        Well, there was only one Leonardo da Vinci, other geniuses are geniuses with one thing ;)

    • Noburu says:

      Keep hoping US Gamer will add a PC only filter to the site, but I am constantly disappointed. Also the layout is even worse than Polygon.

  12. Ansob says:

    Well, the advantage of the Cobbett piece is that I now remember what the game I tried (and failed) to play for about six months of my life was called. The disadvantage is that I now remember that Ecstatica existed.

  13. Jason Moyer says:

    It’s “Yars’ Revenge”. Yes I’m being goddamn pedantic.

  14. Text_Fish says:

    Shut-up Cobbett, Ecstatica II was awesome! The ellipsoids allowed for a lot more variation, detail and dynamism than its contemporaries. I remember experiencing proper vertigo (of the like only seen again in Dark Forces II) climbing a tower because all the static camera angles were so cinematic, and there were some good “Arrghh, I know I need to go in that room but I’m too scared of the skelingtons!” moments too. There were some control issues but they were forgivable. It’s a series that’s been consistently at the top of my sequel wishlist since I played them.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jackablade says:

      With indi developers all splashing about in “nostalgic” art styles, it’s curious that we haven’t seen ellipsoids make a modern appearance.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        I think we’re getting there. People are starting to figure out how to do lo-poly models with lo-res textures (since smeared-out smooth shaded textures on lo-res models looks horrible) – see Notch’s projects or the start of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXPwd_ZUPdI

    • Skabooga says:

      I will say that Ecstatica II deserves praise just for the sheer scale and variety of the physical environment it offered. Every one of its many screens was a work of art.

  15. Premium User Badge

    smokiespliff says:

    awesome music, thanks Jim

  16. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    “there is not enough evidence on Half Life 3′s existence to fill one good article, but it has been the topic of countless thousands”

    Meta!

  17. Bobtree says:

    Warren Spector’s blog post about using games to evaluate real world issues (like autonomous killer robots): http://junctionpoint.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/a-blog-post-that-isnt-really-about-what-it-seems-to-be-about/

  18. Premium User Badge

    Museli says:

    Midnight Resistance on SaltyBet – check it out if you’re a fan of 2D fighting and/or madness: http://midnightresistance.co.uk/articles/my-fight-money

  19. LuNatic says:

    Why would anyone actually mourn the loss of Star Wars 1313? All the released footage screamed “QTE cover shooter”. Do we really need more of those?

  20. Dirk Krause says:

    Thank you for the link to ‘Mountains – Circular C’.

    • Fiatil says:

      I have to join in these thanks! It’s absolutely beautiful.

  21. Jorum says:

    I suspect part of the reason for no HL3 is that steam means they can take as much time as they like. Steam revenue can keep them financed indefinitely and they have no publisher on their back.
    tell a creative perfectionist there is no deadline and danger is they will never actually finish

    • Shuck says:

      That’s entirely the reason. Any other studio would have to pump out a sure-hit sequel just to stay afloat, but Valve doesn’t even have to make games (they’ve gone from being a game studio to a game distributor that also makes games). People are expecting that they’re like most studios, and the game is either not in development, or it’s coming out on a particular schedule. They can play with the idea until they have something they feel is worth pursuing more seriously. There’s no other developer with that sort of freedom, so it’s difficult to say whether that’s a bad thing or not. Overall, developers who didn’t have the typical deadline pressure have produced more good games than bad though, I’d say.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        id Software sure took their sweet time between Doom3 and Rage. Although, one could argue that they did put out Quake Live between then.

    • fitzroy_doll says:

      This is the problem. Things are usually finished when they run out of time, not when they’re done. Valve will not run out time for the forseeable future.

      • Shuck says:

        That’s usually true just out of necessity. But unless you throw away all the content you’ve been working on (cough*Duke Nukem Forever*cough), technical limitations put constraints on how much content can be polished and how much can fit into a game. So at some point they’ll have accumulated enough playable game mechanics and content that they’ll have something to release.