The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on September 8th, 2013 at 11:00 am.


Sundays are for visiting in a castle in the Midlands. Alternatively, for getting stuck into words. For there are so many of them.

  • London’s art and design museum, the V&A, recently put on a Minecraft exhibition. It was quite the thing: “Video games combine a lot of disciplines that the V&A holds collections in anyway, such as paintings, sculpture, illustration. We also have the performance collection, so we’ve got music as well, those kind of aspects. It’s actually a discipline that crosses a lot of our collections. From both a curatorial point of view and a learning programming point of view, that’s where we are coming from.”
  • And while we’re talking Minecraft, The Guardian looks at why it has reached 33 million units across all platforms: “It is an organic creation, not just because every time you start a new game the whole landscape generates anew, but because it has been developed in tandem with play. Game modes, new monsters, new features, new farm animals – many have come and gone, and then been tweaked and changed and put back in – often in response to user feedback, like one giant science lab.”
  • What does Proteus sound like? “Yet what is not often spoken about is the power of video games to invent sonic geographies as well as visual ones. After all, making space is often just as much a question of noise as it is of sight. Consider the noises that define your space right now; perhaps there is some music or the whirr of a computer fan, or the murmur of traffic nearby. Some of these sounds might be unique in your life to this location, while others might be commonplace. Spaces can sound like places and they can sound like nowhere at all: the traffic of a metropolis, the gunfire reports of a warzone, the footsteps of an impossible space. What does a stone circle on Kandinsky’s island sound like? How does an 8-bit squirrel walk?”
  • Parkin on Final Fantasy 14: “Are they tears of relief? After years of toil and expectation, he must feel the liberating sense of a sheer burden lifting. Or are they tears of exhaustion? Square Enix’s 200-strong team – none of whom would have relished being dragged from their projects to work on fixing someone else’s mess – has achieved in two years what has taken most other MMO creators closer to five; these humans must be spent.”
  • Paradox’s Fred Wester ask if Kickstarter is worth it for indies (the replies are worth a read, too): “it takes no small amount of effort to make a splash with Kickstarter. There is a lot of PR legwork in getting a message to the masses, especially if that message is asking for money. It means polishing and distributing any and all “preview” material to show what the game-in-progress is all about, developing prize packages and incentives for donors, constant promotion, and a ton of time spent in areas other than actual game development.”
  • Meanwhile Cliff Harris wonders why indies all make the similar mistakes: “I fumbled and made mistakes and screwed up as a new indie dev myself. The good news was I did that as a hobby, with a secure job, and I never spent years on a game to learn that lesson. I probably shouldn’t expect anyone to take a more considered approach to seeking advice than I did (although to be fair there were VERY few indies back then. these days we are swamped with experienced devs offering advice).”
  • Dan Golding looks at Escape From Woomera: “In the current climate of Australian politics, with its focus on election campaign talking points and slogans like ‘A New Way’, ‘Choose Real Change’ and ‘Stop the Boats’, it’s illuminating to consider that not only was one of the first—and still one of the most important—politically-focused videogames Australian, but that it confronted an area of political debate that still divides the nation: the fate of asylum seekers. In a neglected corner of Australian history—the nexus of videogames, political history, and the asylum seeker debate—lies the story of Escape From Woomera.”
  • How rocks were designed in The Witness.
  • Eurogamer talk to Blizzard about the road for Diablo III: “We acknowledged early on the Auction House did have an impact on the moment to moment gameplay,” Mosqueira says. “The whole motivation behind Loot 2.0 is to make sure playing the game was the most fun, the most rewarding and the most satisfying way to get items. That resulted in the philosophy of dropping fewer but better and more epic items. We want players to be in the game and playing. Ultimately the Auction House will still be out there, but we don’t want players to feel they need to go to the Auction House. If they want to, that’s their own choice. But we don’t want them to feel they need to go to the Auction House.”
  • The symbolism of flowers in Gone Home.
  • If only we could just take in the scenery, now that would really be something.
  • Kotaku’s list of “classic” PC games.

Music this week is Manual’s Awash.

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79 Comments »

  1. rxyz says:

    Also, the RPGCodex editorial Where Journalism Goes to Write Itself is a good read.

    • InternetBatman says:

      That was interesting, but the tale it tells is pretty familiar.

    • ffordesoon says:

      It’s a good read, and I’ve thought about it a lot since reading it, but five things about it bugged me:

      1. The suggestion that, for example, journalists who cover film don’t write “film previews.” Which is pure bullshit, and I can show you any given issue of Entertainment Weekly or Empire and prove it. I can even point to specific examples of film journalists seeing ten minutes of footage and writing pretty much the exact same thing a games journalist would write. Entertainment journalism is the model for games journalism, not some sort of higher calling.

      2. His explanation as to why games journalism is worse than any other form of journalism is basically “Trust me, it is.” That’s not an explanation! And the example of a docile-but-not-as-docile press that he gives – the White House press corps – is simply disingenuous. Because, you know, the White House press corps are not reporting on entertainment. There’s no comparison.

      3. Plenty of games journalists have covered pretty much those exact points multiple times. On RPS alone, Cara Ellison has brutally mocked the ridiculousness of preview events at least twice in the past few months.

      4. He seems stunned that Wasteland 2 had to be introduced to the journalists in the audience as a “turn-based, party-based RPG,” because surely they would have already taken the time to learn about the game! Which would be a good point, if the journalists were just seeing whatever they were interested in. But many of them were probably assigned to the Wasteland 2 presentation because it was determined that their readers might be interested in the game.

      Games journalism is a job. Yes, obviously, anyone who writes about games should have a basic familiarity with all the genres, but how many people who play games have a basic familiarity with all the genres? I don’t! I forget that sports games and racing games even exist most of the time, because they don’t interest me. And I have found that my interests are more catholic than a lot of gamers, including plenty of games journalists.

      Which is fine, to be clear. Hell, I like different perspectives! Sometimes sending the wrong person to preview a thing will produce an interesting piece of writing, and sometimes sending a genre enthusiast to preview a game they’re already interested in will produce a dull piece of writing full of jargon that only a genre enthusiast would understand. Enthusiasm for the genre of the game you’re writing about, or the specific game, is by no means a prerequisite for an interesting preview.

      5. All games journalists get tarred with the same brush. This is admittedly a problem I have with a lot of “GAMES JOURNALISM IS BULLSHIT” articles, including those by games journos themselves. No, these writers don’t have a responsibility to point out pieces or writers they feel “get/got it right,” but it would be nice if everyone in the field didn’t get painted as a docile shill. There are at least five distinct but interrelated disciplines that could all fall under the heading of “games journalism” if you want them to, and only one of them is “unofficial PR.”

      There are plenty of good things about the piece. It’s a well-written bit of commentary, and the outsider’s perspective on events like Gamescom was fascinating. I don’t want to sound like I hated it – although this post probably makes it sound that way at this point, so I’ll go ahead and save another commenter the trouble of giving me an A+ for hypocrisy. I just think that for an article critiquing a certain profession, the author’s grasp on the details of said profession felt somewhat tenuous.

      Then again, taken as a whole, the article could be said to be about the farcical nature of these “conferences” as much as it’s about games journalism. Perhaps I “read it wrong.” Still, those things did annoy me.

      • Kieron Gillen says:

        All of this. The whole thing reeked of naiveté and ignorance of standard practice across consumer and entertainment journalism. Perhaps a little ironically, the people who helping-hand intro is for are more likely to be actually the mainstream press sorts. That he doesn’t seem to be aware that all games press at a game event aren’t what he’s thinking of is pretty typical.

        I basically agree with the overall argument, but fuck me, is it phrased in a way that makes me want to argue against it.

        • ffordesoon says:

          My adult reaction to that comment: “I am pleased we are in agreement, sir!” followed by a firm handshake.

          My childish total-comics-nerd reaction: “OMFG KIERON GILLEN REACTED POSITIVELY TO A THING I WROTE I WIN FOREVER YESSSSSSS” followed by a series of excited noises that are totally not creepy at all and then I would faint.

          It’s a good thing I’m typing this, because I’m pretty sure my reaction if we were talking about this in meatspace would be closer to the second one, and nobody wants that. :)

      • drewski says:

        Quite frankly, I agree with everything you just said.

    • Taidan says:

      *Satire*

      Graphically impressive, but would have been much more acceptable to my sensibilities if they clothed the models’ offensive exteriors and used virtual high-calibre weaponry to expose big holes directly to their beautiful, beautiful interiors.

      *Satire*

      • Baines says:

        So, an FPS version of those Japanese Qix clones and puzzle games that unveil a swimsuit-clad or naked woman as you played? I wouldn’t be surprised if it has already been done. I want to recall a flash game like that, but it might have been a spotlight instead of a gun. There probably is a market for it, if any aspiring coder wants to do the work.

    • Don Reba says:

      I have not listened to the video, so I don’t know if this is the whole point, but this technology would be a godsend to artists. Even with nude models or girl/boy-friends, there is a limit to how closely you can examine a person’s body without crossing the boundaries of propriety. Statues and models help, but this would be indispensable.

      • Turkey says:

        Yeah. I don’t know about the virtual sketchpad he suggested, though. Seems more practical to run the software on a screen if you’re going to use it for art.

    • Morlock says:

      For those wh are interested and hasve the opportunity, the National Maritime Museum in London has a wonderful astronomy photography exhibition.

    • gwathdring says:

      I would watch every moment of Olympic hide-and-seek. Even if it was awful. It’s the principle of the thing.

  2. StranaMente says:

    Since there hasn’t been a Kickstarter Katchup in a while I’d like to promote a project I’ve seen recently: Neverending Nightmares, which some of you might recognize since Cara wrote about it not too long ago.
    The game looks really nice and different and it’s worth cheking out the ideas presented in the video pitch since they sound positively horrifying. :-D

  3. Laurentius says:

    Minecraft case is good example of how game critics are really disconnected niche from the medium. Now don’t get me wrong i love story in games ( for years and maybe even today I would rank FF7 as a best game ever) or games being social or political commentary but this prelevent despise for popular and “gamey” games within critics cricles are really irritating. If there was also some kind of honesty upfront with “we are niche within niche” that would be ok but there is often this talk how they are not paid enough in comparison to other mediums critic. “Gone home” (which is probably very interesting game i would probably pick later this year) generated more pieces in three weeks among critics then Minecraft for all that time it’s on. Go figure.

    • rxyz says:

      What? That one game has generated more articles (if that is even true) in it’s first three weeks after publication than another game — although more popular — that has been out for 4 years doesn’t seem strange. And I’d say game journalists already do publish much more articles about mainstream AAA games than indie games. E.g. CoD, Bioshock, etc. generate much more articles than a game like Gone home.

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      Well that’s bullshit. Libraries worth of text have been written about minecraft, but the game’s been out for several years now and there’s not much new stuff to be said. Minecraft is definitely not underappreciated by game critics. While Gone Home has certainly been gushed over in the past weeks (and deservedly so, in my opinion), the difference in words they have generated is still several orders of magnitude.

      • sinister agent says:

        Seriously. Minecraft was all over every game site on the internet when it rose to fame. Of course people are talking about other games now though, ffs, it’s three years on. What are people supposed to do, review the same game every week, forever?

        It’s not like anyone has to choose one and only one subtype of game to write about. Some people around here seem to have this weird idea that writing about one thing bars you from writing about another as well.

    • thedosbox says:

      You have some highly selective memory:

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/tag/minecraft/

    • drewski says:

      If you printed out all the Minecraft stories that have been written, you’d probably deforest Indonesia.

  4. povu says:

    Kotaku is letting the comments section write its articles now? :P

    • InternetBatman says:

      They’ve pretty much always let the comment section carry the site. Now they’re just taking away the pretense.

    • Viroso says:

      A lot of the posts on that classic PC games list are from Kotaku writers.

    • nindustrial says:

      The whole thing is slowly ballooning into a catalog of every game released in the referenced time period. Not to mention certain games being posted 5+ times because people are too lazy/dissuaded by the comments-section tech to search for a game before posting.

  5. dmastri says:

    Interesting read on Fred’s opinion of kickstarter. One aspect overlooked… managing the project to completion. I think lots of these indies underestimate what it takes to ship a game. I’ve been following the 4x game MORE. It funded $90k just about a year ago. Still no substantial progress update other than the cursory “we are working on it” and no published timeline just a vague eta that seems to be a moving target.

    • InternetBatman says:

      The article was wrong, misinformed, or short-sighted in a bunch of ways. Basically Wester assumes that the current role of the publisher (funding, distribution, and advertising) is necessary or important, and then makes generalizations and flaws to support that assumption.

      Funding is taken care of by the crowdfund. He assumes that kickstarters leave the developer with little of the money they raise and uses one edge-case as support. A properly planned kickstarter will not have that problem. Eventually companies will have to rely on their reputation or the strength of their showing, this is not terribly different from pitches to publishers.

      Distribution can be taken care of by the humble bundle and eventually Steam.

      Advertising is unnecessary if the game’s development has been completely funded, crowd-funding creates its own advertising, and PR agents haven’t been shown to have a huge effect on kickstarted campaigns.

      • Viroso says:

        I agree with you but I wouldn’t go as far as saying crowd funding is enough of an advertisement. After a while the game disappears from the press because the funding is over. RPS will tell people about a game that’s being funded, that needs some funding on the last mile, that has gotten fantastic funding, but after that the game still needs press.

        Checking sales from indie developers, showing up on a website like RPS or Giantbomb are often big spikes in sales. PR may not be as important during the crowdfunding but afterwards I think it is.

        • InternetBatman says:

          If a title goes from crowd-funding to crowd-funding by maintaining a core group of fans, than press is not necessary. It’s just a nice little bonus. Think of Spiderweb’s enviable decades long existence just through word of mouth and demos. Or Dwarf Fortress giving the creator and his brother a steady income for years and years.

          The idea that you need to pay to get in contact with the press seems completely false. FTL, Banner Saga, Stonehearth, Castle Story, all of them had crowdfunding success and I never saw an ad for one of them. There’s very little a cheap press agent can do that you can’t do yourself. Additionally, a forum presence on popular sites (Reddit, 4chan, SA) is more genuine and drives a hell of a lot of attention your way.

          • Viroso says:

            Fact is showing up on the press spikes sales, and having a dedicate PR or not you still need to get your game some attention. Dwarf Fortress or Spiderweb for me seem more like exceptions.

      • dmastri says:

        “A properly run kickstarter” is the crux of the matter. I think so many of these indies may have great ideas and intentions, but when it comes to the business end they are biting off more than they can chew and managing the kickstarter is only half the battle. It doesn’t matter how much money they raise if they mismanage the project as a whole. I don’t particularly like the old publisher model, but it does at least include accountability.

        Word of mouth only goes so far in promoting games. Yes there are successes using this grassroots approach, but they are the exception. If you want your game to sell you generally need press.

        • InternetBatman says:

          If a team can’t properly manage their development, the risk is unloaded from the consumer and the developer to the publisher. I don’t see how in that environment small games are healthy for the publisher. Their caught in between the great developers that don’t need their help and the shitty developers that make shitty games that won’t sell. That’s a hard middleground to find.

          In the long run, reputation provides accountability. In the shorter run, the lower prices of basic tiers provides some form of risk protection for the ecosystem if not the game.

          Wester argues that you need advertisers to get people to go to your kickstarter site. I doubt all or most of the 2308 successful game kickstarters hired PR people. Yes you need media involvement, but the games media is desperate for content. AMAs, interviews, and an interesting concept work fairly well.

      • Shuck says:

        “Funding is taken care of by the crowdfund.”
        In theory that’s true. The problem is, in reality that’s almost never actually the case. (Even ignoring taxes and costs of rewards.) First of all, the developer needs to show a vertical slice to get anyone interested. Which means they’ve already invested a substantial amount of their own time/money in the project before attempts at crowdfunding can even begin. Second, if you compare the size and scope of the projects, the work remaining to be done and the amounts being raised, they almost never add up – which means developers continue to put their own resources into developing the game, even with “successful” Kickstarters. As a result, getting sales beyond the crowdfunding is vitally important to pay back the money invested in developing the game, not to mention to allow the developers to survive during the period when the game is actually released and they’re supporting it, before they’ve moved on to the next one (which, to be sustainable, they should already have the money to pay for the vertical slice).
        I’m working with a small games start-up at the moment that includes a few pretty big-name developers, and we thought about Kickstarter until we crunched the numbers and realized that what we needed was far more than what we could reasonably expect to get from Kickstarter, even if we reduced the scope of the game quite a bit.

  6. Yachmenev says:

    Wester’s opinion would have been much more interesting if he, a publisher provided some answers how he and other publishers could improve so that developers weren’t desperately looking for ways to get away from the need of them.

    He’s right that there are perils with kickstarter, for both developers and backers, but considering the agenda he has a publisher, it seems like an odd article to write. He´s not really wrong about anything, but maybe this is something that indie developers should write.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Game development is full of perils. However, two of his main points, distribution and advertising, reflect the way the game market used to work before the internet, or AAA game development.

      The main role of the publisher that the developer can’t do is funding, but his reasoning for why crowdfunding can’t take the place of the publisher is really weak. The game could have problems being made, which is unfair to backers. This is reflected in the risk adjusted cost of the game in the backer tier. If the cost is not risk adjusted, i.e. too high, the campaign suffers. The crowdfunding campaign takes up too much money. Does it take more money than the publisher in the long run? In the example he used, rewards and advertising took 50% of what they made. That’s a great deal considering what publishers take.

      • iridescence says:

        Like he said in the article, crowdfunding is a good model for experienced devs and/or people who are able to push nostalgia buttons. For inexperienced devs, and especially inexperienced devs pushing non “spiritual successor” games, getting the funding the need on Kickstarter can be a huge challenge.

        I think there still will be a big role for publishers at least for the foreseeable future.

        • InternetBatman says:

          The role of publishers on an indie scale is really only feasible if:
          A. Publishers will fund a completely new team.
          B. Publishers will fund new game mechanics.
          C. The game’s mechanics won’t sell itself on crowdfunding sites (FTL, Castle Story) or through alpha purchases (minecraft, Kenshi, Prison Architect, Towns)
          D. Developers can’t fund the game themselves or off of savings.
          E. Publishers have a better than average track record of picking winners and losers.

          A. Who’s devoting a great deal of energy into this besides Paradox? Every publisher has pet projects where they get one or two deals, but there isn’t a ton of money or energy devoted here.
          B. The only people who have a ton of incentive to fund new game mechanics and unique experiences are console makers.
          C. If a small game can’t make enough money to fund itself through crowdfunding or alpha-purchases, should it even be made? Chris Taylor’s Wildman seems like a germane example.
          D. A less desirable option now that crowd-funding is a possibility, but still a valid and viable one, especially with a mix of crowd-funding.
          E. EA’s Indie Bundle (Shank&2, Deathspank, Gatling Gears, and Warp) seems to be a pretty good indicator that this isn’t the case.

          I don’t think publishers are going out of business, but I also don’t think they’re viable in sub $500k western games. It’s a case of the nature of scale, and incentives. Digital distribution does not need supply chain management.

          A game targeting a small, tight-knit community does not need advertising because the developers are part of the community, and news spreads fast throughout it. How many sales will advertising generate over worth of mouth? If you sell 2150 copies of your $20 board game, enough for $30k in a year, you’d have to sell 351 more copies (11%) to break even on a $5k advertiser, and the amount an advertiser can expand purchases is limited by the small pool of potential customers. Furthermore, do you care if it sells a little bit more if you are making a living off your game?

          So, finally there’s funding. Funding needs to be more than a single or group of highly skilled and well-payed people can put away in a few years. It needs to be more than you can raise through crowdfunding, because even in the atypical and terrible example he uses, the devs made 50% of the money from their crowdfunding sale, and had complete creative and financial control of the property. The idea can’t be but so popular, or alpha funding would take care of it. You can’t use the purse strings to control the developer, because they wouldn’t be indie if they were okay with that.

          Essentially, small publishers can’t get the best ideas, have to take a far smaller cut than their bigger peers, have to take on the same amount of risk, can’t get the projects people are most excited about, and most of their usual services are performed cheaper and more effectively by other actors in the area. That’s a really, really bad place to be in. Small publishers are more likely to get the stupidly impulsive (Phil Fish), the desperate (CodeAvarice), and the mediocre (Wildman).

    • Zeewolf says:

      Agreed. Paradox is a publisher that’s traditionally signed a lot of small, independent developers. They don’t seem to have the budgets to attract larger projects from established developers, so they kinda depend on it being a bit tough to bring games to the market. I think Kickstarter, early access stuff, Humble Bundle and a bunch of other trends is making it a lot harder to be Paradox Interactive the publisher (as opposed to Paradox Interactive the strategy game developer).

      Besides, I don’t think they have such a great reputation either. They’ve had a few too many games with major problems at launch, even from developers who have successfully shipped games in the same genres before (Kerberos and Neocore, for instance). And it’s interesting that there aren’t many developers who have long lasting relationships with them; could it be that they’re just not that great to work with? There was the Magna Mundi situation too…

      Whatever the case is, they’re probably finding it harder to attract indies and it’s very easy to be cynical and see that as something which is having an effect on Fredrik Wester’s opinion on Kickstarter and maybe even his reasons for wanting to write a negative piece on it.

  7. LionsPhil says:

    Since there are a couple of Minecraft articles here, and I happened to look yesterday and see how development is getting along, I’ll give a shout to open-source C++ clone Minetest.

    Killer feature: no Java. And it now has an option to make water behave like a fluid, not some mystical cube that spawns infinite un-water, so you sometimes find lakes draining into cavern systems.

    • Niko says:

      It was the same in pre-infdev Minecraft. Sadly, with infdev mechanics had to be changed.

    • GameCat says:

      The problem with Minecraft clones is the word “clones”. They rarely have something drasticaly different from Minecraft content and in this “genre” you can make much more unique things (see Minecraft mods).

      • LionsPhil says:

        Well, Minetest is nothing if not moddable; much of the game logic is in Lua, in the form of stock mods.

        But, yes, it hasn’t yet even caught up to where Minecraft got to, let alone broken off in much of a daring new direction. The bit that makes it worthwhile for me is that it’s a technically superior implementation. And that water.

    • slerbal says:

      Intriguing! The java engine and the water at the two elements I like least about Minecraft (not that they can’t both have their moments). That said it is hard for these kind of projects to ever reach a point where they start doing new stuff (or even catch up with their progenitor/inspiration). Still, I’ll follow this one for when I’m in a Minecraft mood :)

  8. Nic Clapper says:

    That kotaku list is a great example of why infinite scroll needs to die (at the very least have optional pagination).

    • Frank says:

      I’m fine with the infinite scroll, but for a poll, it’s in a strange order (not by votes).

      • Nic Clapper says:

        You don’t mind it, but is there anything about it you think is better for the user over pagination? Personally I think its usability/functionality is worse in every possible way.

        -you can’t save your place to come back to later
        -you can’t skip around
        -you can’t give someone a link to a particular part (just scroll down for 20 seconds and you should be there!)
        -if the content goes on long enough the page will eventually run like total garbage
        -its often times coded poorly and creates duplicate entries etc
        -the page generally bounces around since its always loading in content

        Ugh. Sorry, I guess not much good its doing complaining as so many big sites have adopted it…but…it just sucks!

  9. LTK says:

    Stop and Smell the Roses

    And then eat them, in the case of Skyrim.

    I don’t know what they’re trying to say here, really. The article doesn’t talk about stopping to take in the scenery, but more about voluntary, contemplative rest with no in-game benefit. That’s certainly a thing you can do in Skyrim and Fallout, but unless you’re hardcore roleplaying, I can’t imagine why you’d actually do that. The nature of these games is that there’s always something more to do: an unexplored area, an unfinished quest, levels to gain and more powerful weapons to acquire, etc. As long as you’re actually playing the game, sitting around in thoughtful silence is a waste of time. It doesn’t want you to do that.

    It’s not that I don’t appreciate a moment of thought after a game session, but for that to happen, I really have to turn the game off. As long as there’s an axe in my hand and a mountain to climb, I don’t really care for ruminations on Skyrim’s civil war or other things, but when I’m away from the game and sitting in front of a plate of real food (or reading a website, natch), then I might think about that.

    • AndrewC says:

      It’s something a lot of articles keep coming back to. it is the idea that sitting down on a hillside and having a think *is* playing the game. Playing a computer game is not just about doing the mechanics or completing challenges. Looking and listening is interacting with the game too.

      It is a reformulation of the argument of whether Dear Esther is a ‘game’ or whether watching numbers slowly go up is really any ‘fun’.

      You can take any side you like, as long as you recognise that the other side actually exists, but I am happy that the argument *is* being expressed in different ways, as it sure isn’t going anywhere in its current formulation.

      If you want my side of it, arguing as to whether Dear Esther is a game is *the* single least interesting argument you can have about it. Also I like sitting on hillsides, but do not begrudge others their numbers going up.

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      Yeah it seemed a bit confused. It started off with the just finished a book example, an experience I often have when finishing games as well. The credits rolling often provides just that moment of “I just played that game, and I feel this way about it”.

      It then goes on to discuss pacing, which is always an interesting subject and I agree that moments of calm between action bits can enhance the experience.

      And then it segues into that aimless dithering about aimless dithering. Three separate articles could have been written here, but in the end nothing was really said.

      EDIT: Well no, that’s an exaggeration, but the author could have done some collecting of thoughts before writing that.

      • Wut The Melon says:

        It also makes some weird arguments, saying that you should be able to sleep under the covers in GTA, or being able to eat in real time – neither of which is in Skyrim, which he apparently praises for these elements. Or how he mentions that the ‘downtime’ in GTA is not actual downtime, because it has gameplay benefits associated with it (healing when you sleep, friends that help you etc.) which is exactly the same as in Skyrim as well.

        There is a case to be made for ‘aimless dithering’ in video games, but the article doesn’t really do that. Neither do I think that watching your character repeat the same eating/sleeping/whatever animation endlessly is going to add to your experience. But doing something about the current state of games where you are awake 24hrs a day because there is no notable difference in the gameworld between day and night would be a good thing, for example – something which is in neither GTA nor Skyrim.

  10. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    I played Escape from Woomera many years ago, to the degree the title itself was lost to me amongst a slew of other repugnant detention centre names. However it’s not the wonderful subversive quality of the mod that strikes me now, nor its crucial acknowledgement of the full humanity of asylum seekers… it’s that since its release and I would never have dared to think this then, Australia’s policies on the matter have only gotten worse and presently are set to become even more draconian.

    For those sympathetic to the plight of these people who claim it trivialised the issue, certainly can not do so so on content and I suspect they only claimed so if they think video games are inherently trivial, within that framework no discussion is possible. Though it’s understandable and well-meaning if one’s image of the experience would be inclined to a spritely-faced sprite-rendered refugee, collecting floating rations as a score increases in jumps over despairing huddled people-turned-obstacles and avoiding batons and guard dogs. But that could not be further from what was realised; a truly oppressive, isolating, humanising work of simple genius.

    Outside of the core crime against humanity, I lament that with the interest in something like Papers, Please, this hasn’t gotten remotely the just revival of attention it deserves. Just to think, people desperately escape indefinite imprisonment in degrading conditions for purely political reasons, pay thousands of dollars and risk drowning in the sea only to receive indefinite imprisonment in degrading conditions for purely political reasons, what a hospitable and enlightened country we are.

    • Gap Gen says:

      European politicians pander to racism, too, though I’ve read various articles that claim that ordinary people generally don’t care about immigration on the whole. But, yes, it reminds me of that scene in Children of Men.

      That said, in a few decades when the baby bust kicks in, Western countries will be begging for young workers to prop up the pensions of the inverted population pyramid.

  11. Bobtree says:

    Soren Johnson has posted a roundup of his GDmag columns: http://www.designer-notes.com/?p=632

  12. Lambchops says:

    The BBC’s article on Minecraft’s success on the other hand is full of a lot more of the “games, eh, aren’t they a waste of time” type viewpoint, which is a tad unfortunate.

    It’s a good place to start from on an article about gaming on a major news site when you’re pitching towards an audience where a fairly large portion will be non gamers, but if you start from those stereotypes you’ve got to be persuasive to get to the nub of why the game holds such appeal and, for me at least, the article doesn’t manage to pull this off.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23572742

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      “Surely the whole experience can be made educational?”

      Sigh.

      “In the real world it is very rare for a kid to encounter a problem that programming would be a way for them to solve,” says a real dickhead. It’s friggin lego, it practically makes you a smarter person just by looking at it!

      • drewski says:

        It’s also rare in real life to encounter a problem that kicking a ball at will solve, so clearly we need to find ways to make sport more “educational”.

        (You can also make this comparison to movies and TV. Reading has some use, so books get a pass.)

        Sometimes “journalism” is the pits.

        • jrodman says:

          This can go much further.

          It’s rare in life to encounter a problem that painting will solve.
          It’s rare in life to encounter a problem that essay-writing will solve.
          It’s rare in life to encounter a problem that introductory biology will solve.
          It’s rare in life to encounter a problem that journalism will solve.

          Clearly those things aren’t educational enough.

    • Josh W says:

      That article does the daily mail trick of the gradient of disgust (at a much lower level, but still), this is where you start off echoing everyone’s worst assumptions or most hostile immediate reactions, then slowly feed in more countervailing facts as time goes on without ever making any comment on how the earlier reactions are wrong, as if it is in some way a slow awakening of an angry but proud man who will not admit fault.

      The genius of this approach is that anyone who is engaged enough with the subject to read the whole article will go “well it came out all right in the end”, and anyone who is more alienated from the subject will stop reading sooner and sooner, meaning that everyone gets an article that sort of suits them.

      It’s not just a daily mail thing, they just pull it off most enthusiastically.

      I think the thing I dislike about it is by inherently trying to have it both ways; reproducing predudice even as it gives the opposite information, it treats that prejudice as natural, as the default layer into which these details can be fitted, dispite the obvious contradictions this involves. It plays too nice with ignorance even as it shows information.

  13. Bobtree says:

    I strongly suspect that the video Cliffski is reflecting on may be this one: http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1017963/Obsessive-Compulsive-Development-Retro-Grade

  14. Foosnark says:

    indies all make the similar mistakes

    And how. My previous job was with a game engine company. Almost everyone out there wants to build THE BEST GAME EVER with

    – technology that nobody else has yet (usually for a good reason)
    – “clever” mechanics that they haven’t thought through
    – gameplay that is vaguely defined
    – a vast world that it would take days to walk across in real time (and thus is boring, empty, random, and divides poorly into zones) with minimal load time (so it’s all basically the same)
    – a budget of whatever change they found in the couch
    – no artists

    • jrodman says:

      Stop ruining my dream! Why do you hate dreams!

    • GameCat says:

      -making sad, artsy, grimdark platformer game controlled with 3 keys (left, right, jump)
      -making engines, not games
      -making more sad, artsy, grimdark platformer games

    • Josh W says:

      Looking at that list, at least one dev did pretty well out of that. If you count “automatic porting from browser client to home application” as what was at the time unusual tech in a game, then minecraft hit’s all of those requirements.

  15. Emeraude says:

    Sorry to fuel that fire, but reading that FFXIV article, the This is an MMO made by men, just like all of the others. It’s about hunting and gathering, about power, prestige and showing off [... a.] race to be first, to acquire clothes and minions that show off that mastery and establish the social pecking order. bit really left me speechless…

    Maybe I’ve only interacted with weird women in my life, but that constant fight for one’s social standing is a quality I’d tend by experience to associate with women. Hell, judging from my FFXI days, it was mostly the case.

    Which is beside the point though… What next saying that playing MMOs with the constant collecting of gear like playing dollies and, as such a women game ?

    PS: oh, and music recommendation for me this wee would be this.

  16. Skabooga says:

    As an addition, Rab Florence has a bit of a bleak realization about Youtube and the video game community there:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rT5VUr7J-Q

  17. Urthman says:

    I love the art design of The Witness so much. I suppose I should wait until it’s actually out and can see it running, but so far it looks like it’s going to be the most beautiful game ever.

    • WrenBoy says:

      From keeping half an eye on the updates, he seems to be spending about a year on polishing. Obviously Braid has made him considerably more flush than most indies but it should still be an eye opener to other indie developers.

      Im always a bit skeptical when I see, for instance, kickstarters which have raised millions pushing to get released within two years.

  18. SuicideKing says:

    “Kotaku’s list of “classic” PC games” has:

    “FreeSpace 2 (Seconded)”

    I APPROVE THIS SELECTION.

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