The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on October 27th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

I thought I was done with print.

Sundays are for boarding up the windows, counting the canned goods and panic buying videogames. Also, for doing things for the first time.

  • Every year the Interactive Fiction competition attracts inventive entries in the words-you-play genre. Every year, Emily Short writes smart-words-you-read about the entries she likes, and it’s worth spending a day diving through the round-up of her favourites, before playing the games for yourself.
  • Fans of extended metaphors should check out Will Porter’s love letter to Fallout 3, in which he explains why it’s one of the best games of the past generation, and hopes internet forum wars, at least, do change.
  • QCraft is a Minecraft mod built in partnership with Google as a way to teach quantum mechanics to kids. VIDEOSGAMES. Spyridon Michalakis, one of its creators, wrote about the project this past week. “For example, we decided that to prepare a pair of entangled qubits within Minecraft, you would use the Essence of Entanglement, an object crafted using the Essence of Superposition (Hadamard gate, yay!) and Quantum Dust placed in a CNOT configuration on a crafting table (don’t ask for more details). And when it came to Quantum Teleportation within the game, two entangled quantum computers would need to be placed at different parts of the world, each one with four surrounding pylons representing an encoding/decoding mechanism. Of course, on top of each pylon made of obsidian (and its far-away partner), you would need to place a crystal, as the required classical side-channel.” Of course.
  • This is a little slow in the build up for my tastes, but as a prompt for thinking about such things, Hitbox’s piece on Designing Game Narrative is a useful resource. Also, pretty graphs.
  • Speaking of which, Nottingham’s GameCity happened this past week. I’ve never been, but from Twitter and IM I assume it’s a conference about videogames fuelled by karaoke and good times. Splash Damage’s word machine Ed Stern was there, talking about how to write gud, and he’s put up a helpful post of resources to help you write gud too.
  • The Stanley parable came out this week, and sold all the copies. I liked Keza MacDonald’s spoiler-free take over at IGN. “Based on its premise, I thought The Stanley Parable might be a celebration of choice, of the power that we have to break out of our life’s constraints by simply acting differently, but that’s exactly the notion that The Stanley Parable attacks. I found it very uncomfortable to play at times, like I was trapped in it – it’s the closest a game has ever come to replicating that feeling of being stuck in a repetitive dream. The title screen – a recursive image of a monitor displaying the same Start screen – reflects that unease.”
  • Your weekly dose of gaming controversy: the Indie Custom Cube. Designed as a Magic: The Gathering-style card game featuring indie developers as cards, the game quickly caused anger, the official site was taken down, and at least one of the developers addressed the complaints. This seems to me more like an issue of naïveté than malice.
  • Secondary markets around videogames are kind of fascinating, and one already exists for unreleased, crowdfunding gem, Star Citizen, where enterprising users are re-selling crowdfunding rewards that are no longer available publicly.
  • No matter how big a PC die hard you are, you can’t get away from the looming new consoles. But Martin Robinson at Eurogamer and David Valjalo at Edge Online both wonder if maybe Christmas belongs instead to Nintendo. In this, the year of Luigi.
  • Game journalism journalism fiction.
  • I like ambient terror-drone only slightly less than Jim, so music this week is a step-by-step guide to how we chill.

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212 Comments »

  1. tigershuffle says:

    Good morning.
    Today is also a day for welcoming mother in to my house for a whole half term week so she can look after the kids.
    Now I lose my late night gaming on my pc cos I will have to sit and watch CSI and NCIS on an interminable loop 9pm til midnight.
    ………a storm is a brewing.

    • Graham Smith says:

      I just finished watching all 235 episodes of CSI: Miami over the course of about two months. Here’s how to get more out of it, as it’ll come up a lot if you’re watching 5 USA or whatever:

      i) It’s a comic book show. Horatio Caine is a superhero.

      ii) David Caruso is our generation’s William Shatner. (Shatner was also our generation’s Shatner). Check the way he chews every sentence into three or four clauses, how he turns sideways to whoever he’s talking to, juts out his jaw, and struggles to make eye contact with them even when he’s got the glasses off.

      iii) Lime green. The show is obsessed with this colour. Characters’ shirts and ties, extras’ clothes, lighting in their offices, wallpaper on every set… It’s everywhere.

      iv) In general, the lighting and set design is insane. The CSI team work on the surface of the sun, in an office divided horizontally by mirrors, surrounded by shelves covered in jars full of anonymous fluorescent liquids. A typically lit scene: http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/20600000/csi-csi-miami-20623767-1280-720.jpg

      Er, sorry.

      • tigershuffle says:

        thank you :) ….Ill throw those in to the conversation whilst I bring her a cup of tea every 30mins

        i forgot she also loves JAG? and at least she brings her TV guide ready hilighted for me to hunt the channels down, because she looks for the Sky numbers and I have to explain every time that im on Virgin :-/

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        AndrewC says:

        In two months? That is an extraordinary, terrifying and ultimately melancholy achievement. I can bring you biscuits, if it will help.

      • iridescence says:

        “I just finished watching all 235 episodes of CSI: Miami over the course of about two months.”

        I think that is recognized as a form of cruel and unusual punishment by the Geneva Convention.:)
        (I used to enjoy the original CSI show quite a bit but always found the Miami version to be wretchedly horrible.)

      • Stuart Walton says:

        Horatio Caine is a superhero. The Rio pre-titles sequence is the best way to display this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNy1n-zp35Q

        Also, that image you linked isn’t quite correct, it hasn’t yet undergone the ‘Orange and Teal’ filter. I wonder, does Instagram have that filter?

      • Icarus says:

        My personal take on it is that Horatio Caine is either a) Satan, or b) Randall Flagg, because 1: He walks around Miami in high summer in a black suit with an uncovered head and hasn’t died from heatstroke, 2: He has a habit of suddenly appearing out of absolutely fucking nowhere to dispense his own special brand of IA-bothering Justice, 3: As in point 2 he quite openly threatens to kill people, to their faces, and in one instance beats the crap out of a paedophile under the pretense that said Criminal Scum was resisting arrest when he in fact wasn’t and Caine just felt like giving him a kicking. And then summons up a world of indignance when Internal Affairs have the testicular elephantitis to question this.

    • TheDreamlord says:

      I sympathize. I had both my parents visiting from abroad for 9 days and I felt like a war prisoner…. (exaggerating!)
      Add to that a 7 o’clock work start for a couple of weeks with ten hour days and that’s bye bye to Shadow Warrior for a week!

      • Koozer says:

        I am strangely glad so many others share the pain of the terrible sacrifices we have to make for guests.

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        Martel says:

        Mine was nowhere near as long and they just left minutes ago, but are going to be replaced by more family in 3 days….

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    Riaktion says:

    That Indie Custom Cube story is fascinating, the creators really didn’t see that coming did they? It was always going to be more emotive when you’re dealing with real people and commenting on what they do for a living, I realise I speak with hindsight having read the story, but I’m just amazed no one stopped and wondered.

    • CobraLad says:

      Well, certainly they are not the only ones who adress some critics for indie community. As a person who hangs out at indie dev forums all the time I know that whole glorified by media indie scene is full of talentless people and just plain shits. I never understood whole Phil Fish backlash, because his statemenmts are tame compared to stuff you see on Tigsource.
      Also, its funny how everyone cries about poor indies being real people, while targeting AAA development teams is norm and noble thing to do.

      • WrenBoy says:

        Well its understandable given people have actually played fishs game. And telling people to choke on your cock is pretty noteworthy.

    • Reapy says:

      After reading both stories, it seems a shame to have taken down some decent parody work due to one lunatic blog post.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Yes, the game sounds fun! Sort of Munchkin inspired.

    • Moraven says:

      If they did not get every person’s permission to use themselves as a card, I thought it was along the lines of school yard gossip and whispering behind someone’s back.

      If every person card had permission and said permission gave input on it, it would be more like a roast or a group of friends hanging out making fun of one another.

      Their defense of you needed to do research and have played MTG… sorry you put it on the internet, not everyone has played MTG and going to research a parody game. Funny enough there is a “Clone Game” card while they are cloning MTG…

      • The Random One says:

        Plus, Anna Anthropy, for one, knows about Magic rules, even if she doesn’t like it. It’s weird for the dev to say that people were being racist for looking at Soulja Boy card as black when Anna’s card also makes a ‘black’ card pun. (She says Ed came up with that card, but that wasn’t known at the time, and presumably she looked at it).

        The “I’m female and Asian so I can’t have been sexist and racist” excuse is pretty weak too.

        • Hillbert says:

          Well, if you go by certain definitions of racism and sexism, namely that an ‘ism’ has to be prejudice plus power, then she can’t be racist or sexist by definition. As she isn’t in a privileged class.

          Personally I think that’s a stupid definition but there you go.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            This is absolutely stupifyingly ignorant. Do you know what racism means? It means the belief that certain traits and attributes, predominantly regarding cultural norms and morals, are directly attributed to one’s race. Same with sexism, but for sex instead of race (obviously). And they predominantly are used in negative light. (eg: blacks are prone to crime; women are bad at math) The power dynamic has NOTHING to do with the definition and is used by assbackwards apologists. So, yes, an Asian woman can be both sexist and racist. (eg: “all men are liars and white people steal” is both sexist and racist)

            However, intent is often the linchpin for whether something is racist or sexist. Seeing a woman struggling with her groceries and offering to help isn’t inherently sexist. Thinking that you, being a man, must help her because women are clumsy and weak is sexist.

            “A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” – George Orwell

        • AliceK says:

          OMG would people please stop misquoting her. She did NOT say that. She said that given how much sexism and discrimination she’s had to put up with as an Asian female, in addition to all that she’s done to stand up against those things, she’s disappointed that anyone would blindly group her into those categories without even doing their research.

          She then goes on to show why it wasn’t sexist, and I completely agree with her rationale. I think the biggest problem with critics of the ICC is that it assumes there’s something inherently sexist about distinguishing between female developers and the “norm.” Here’s the thing, groups that advocate for more female developers in the game industry (or game news sites that promote more female developers) are doing that all the time, for exactly the same reason: to raise awareness, to highlight successful females in the industry to inspire others, and to point out specific things female developers in particular can bring to the table. For example, when Gamasutra did the article about “Top 20 females in the video game industry” was there also a “Top 20 males in the video game industry”? NO!! Is this sexist? NO!

          Holy crap people… sexism comes from a place of hatred and discrimination. If you are making a differentiation for the purpose of highlighting key females to inspire, showing specific things females can do, or raising awareness, then you are doing the EXACT OPPOSITE OF THAT. And that’s exactly what Laura was trying to say. If you look at the “female” cards, they’re all the equivalent of giving a shout out to some accomplished females in the industry. There is nothing hateful about that, in fact, it is empowering. Saying that this is sexist is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

    • Timothy says:

      I’d quite like to actually see the set before spurging my opinions all over the internet. Does anyone have a link to a mirror or cache or something?

    • WrenBoy says:

      I’m not sure what Graham meant by naive but in terms of sexism, racism etc it seems pretty clear to me that there was no case to answer. Whoever wrote that insane blog post should be ashamed of themselves.

      Perhaps he meant naive to use real people in the cards. That would be fairer I guess but still, it appears that is not what caused the tumbler outrage.

      • The Random One says:

        Naive is certainly how I’d put it. For intance, she singled out cards who were Female, who could be targetted specifically for it for good and ill effects. But she didn’t realize that by pointing out which cards were Female, and not doing anything for those representing male devs, she was essentially saying that Female cards were an aberration and outside of the norm. I feel her defense that “that’s just the way things are right now” is quite weak. It is, and that’s why we shouldn’t enforce this division. But she also probably wasn’t aware that she was doing so.

        Why should someone be ashamed that they’ve made a blog post about being offended? It appears you are operating from the assumption that the outrage was faked so that people had a reason to attack the devs, a mindset that bizarrely common when -isms are brought up. I assure you that’s not the case: those people were legitimately offended, and are not making waves just so they’ll look cool.

        • WrenBoy says:

          Just because it genuine doesn’t mean its not outrageously inappropriate.

          I don’t see anything sexist about saying someone is an inspiration to other women which is how the mechanics translate.

        • Amun says:

          “we shouldn’t enforce this division”

          But we do enforce that division for things that are “positive” or “inspiring” (ie, the first woman in __, first female __, etc) and everyone slaps each other on the back and congratulates each other.

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            Gap Gen says:

            Well, the idea behind that, in principle, is that it’s a step towards the divisions melting away. Although granted, I suppose some people want to assert female achievements because they support the empowerment of women as a distinct social tribe, rather than eroding gender roles completely.

          • Baines says:

            But it isn’t a step towards the division melting away. It is a reinforcement of the division.

            It reminds people of the division. Albeit unintentionally, it also sends the message that not only is X not equal, X can’t be equal, and people had to make up special rules just to pretend that X is equal. (And this is regardless of whether or not X can actually be equal.) Sparingly, even that might not be that bad, but it isn’t used sparingly. It is used to the point that the unintended message just worms its way into peoples’ minds. (I think including white knights, which only drives them to push the message harder.)

        • AliceK says:

          The idea that there is something inherently sexist about differentiating between “female developers” and the “norm” is absolutely ridiculous. Sexism stems from hatred and discrimination, not from merely acknowledging the status quo. The truth is, there is a huge gender imbalance in game development — Anna Anthropy (the person who made the first complaint), has given numerous talks where she specifically complains about this gender imbalance. She’s said so many times: “The norm is white men. We need more female developers, more minority developers, and more transgender developers.” She talks about female developers as a specific group.

          Gamasutra did an article about the top 20 female game developers… did they do a top 20 male game developers article? No. Gamasutra, Anna Anthropy, and several other news sites and advocacy groups do this in order to raise awareness, inspire others by highlighting accomplished females, and point out possible female-specific contributions.

          And it’s quite obvious that the ICC was doing the exact same thing with cards like Erin Robinson. They’re giving a nod to some accomplished females in the industry for a very good reason. That is NOT sexism.

          In fact, the idea that critics try desperately to make this point despite the fact that they too group “female developers” in a category separate from the “norm” in order to achieve the same goal… well that says to me that they are just in it for the drama. And considering that they do this by attacking a talented female in the industry, that makes me sick.

    • Brandon says:

      Here’s the thing: there really was only one person who complained: Anna Anthropy, which led to a handful of her minions making huge leaps of logic in order to try and find problems with the rest of the cube that in my opinion, totally didn’t exist.

      I followed the whole incident on Twitter, and I didn’t see a single other developer complain about their card. What I did see, however, was Annna’s minions bullying and dogpiling anyone that didn’t agree with them. It was a disgusting sight.

      I’ll admit that it would have been better for the guy who created Anna’s card to have checked with her first (because apparently they talked afterwards and she was okay with it). But even then, I didn’t think the card was that bad. I saw some of Anna’s talks, and that’s exactly what she does — she attacks people, judges them without knowing anything about them, heaping guilt without cause or reason. She’s almost as bad as Anita Sarkeesian.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        She’s almost as bad as Anita Sarkeesian.

        Subtle, but not quite subtle enough. 3/10, would not troll again.

    • hungrycookpot says:

      I really don’t see the problem with anything they did or created. I think the problem is an oversensitive and litigious culture.

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    Anthile says:

    That Eurogamer article… from reading it it seems Will Porter never played New Vegas. It’s not even mentioned, as if it never happened! Outrageous. Then he talks about the cancelled Van Buren even though New Vegas incorporated a good chunk of its planned plot lines. Also, it’s the Republic of Dave not the Republic of Pete.
    Let’s not even start with how New Vegas is the much superior game…
    I can only shake my head at this article.

    Edit: Forgot a negative

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      drewski says:

      Ummm…no, I think he played Fallout 3.

      You’re right about the Republic of Dave; perhaps Porter got confused with the film.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Exactly, but you can’t call FO3 great if you’ve never played NV.

        • TheParthenon says:

          Well, that’s a bit absurd to say. Could I not call Quake great if I hadn’t played Half Life? Or call Half Life great if I hadn’t played Half Life 2?

          Does one have to have played every game available before being allowed to offer an opinion?

        • blackmyron says:

          “Fallout 3 is great”.

          I’ve played F:NV.

          See? It’s that easy.

    • Svardskampe says:

      Well, as a game NV might be superior, but I liked the wasteland, the environment of fallout 3 much more. More urban areas, a lot more varied than just desert. Now there is an interesting monument, then there is a collapsed bridge…

      Been playing fallout NV again, but the wasteland is just desert with a gas station or occasional same 5 houses together.

      • ComfortFit says:

        Fallout 3 is many things, varied in the environment isn’t really one of them. Endless metro tunnels, same office buildings, and an inexplicably walled-off cityscape did the game no justice. Comparing NV and FO3′s environments, they were really pretty much equal in the repetition, though FONV would win points in being at least somewhat consistent in its environments without copy and pasting their level designs over and over and over.

        Source: I’ve spent hundred of hours in the GECK in both games.

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          Nogo says:

          Having replayed F3 lately I’m curious where all these metro complaints come from.

          They’re a typical dungeon, fairly varied and unique, and you only have to do them once. Seems akin to complaining about there being so many vaults, imo.

          • ComfortFit says:

            “They’re a typical dungeon, fairly varied and unique, and you only have to do them once.”

            You really must not have actually played FO3, as you are required to enter the metro tunnel every… single… time… you want to navigate DC. You are actually required to enter them several times in order to complete the campaign, several more if you want to explore DC, and even more so if you are a role-player who doesn’t fast travel often.

            And no, they are not varied. At all. I’ve altered them in the geck, I know. You can see instances where Bethesda takes one storage closet and pastes the same exact arrangement of items a handful of places throughout the metro. It was about as repetitious of an environment as you could conceivably create. There were atleast five junctions where the tunnels were blocked with ruined trains, and all featuring the same variety of enemies throughout.

            “Seems akin to complaining about there being so many vaults, imo.”

            Well you managed to cherry pick the one example where they put some effort to diversify their dungeon designs.The vaults at least all had some variety in their individual narratives. There was a big difference between Vault 108 and 112 for example. The vaults were hardly the most glaring example of their copy-paste method of dungeon design. The endless office buildings, metro tunnels, cluttered wasteland, and poor city design that comprised the majority of the environments in the game? Yeah, not so much.

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            Nogo says:

            I’m not saying they were great, but my mind has a difficult time distinguishing what made them bad compared to the glut of office buildings and what not. And you have to admit that some of the stations had interesting layouts and architecture. It’s one of the few indoor environments in F3 that are properly large.

            And it’s not really fair to judge the game based on seeing it in GECK. The vast majority of content in any game is re-used, so simply stating that fact isn’t really an argument against it. If the game is good enough at varying content, pacing and layout then it’s not an issue at all.

            That said, I’ve always enjoyed subway systems, so they didn’t really feel like the ‘sewer level’ that everyone else seemingly experienced.

            E: Your reply sort of confirms what I’m getting at. “I hate the metro tunnels” is basically short-hand for “I don’t like bethesda dungeon design.” A common, valid opinion, but one that I don’t really share (mainly because I make dumb broken characters with weird playstyles.)

      • Jenks says:

        “Well, as a game NV might be superior”

        RPS is the only place where people pretend that’s true.

        • Nick says:

          How is it pretending? It has better writing, a more cohesive world, better animations, actually follows on from the original Fallout games, is much better balanced mechanically. If you think Fallout 3 is a better game, you don’t like Fallout, you like Bethesda’s nonsensical theme park clusterfucks.

        • Maritz says:

          You’ve never visited a Fallout fansite have you?

          Edit: for the record, NV is far superior to FO3 in my opinion as well.

        • WrenBoy says:

          That’s just trolling. There is love for new vegas practically all over the web.

        • Werthead says:

          Let’s see: NEW VEGAS has better writing, better companion characters (who have their own quests and personalities and will argue with you over iffy decisions), better combat, better weapons (sentient cyberdog-controlled minigun!), better characters in general and is much truer to the FALLOUT experience. One of the comments to the Eurogamer article states that a recurring theme of FALLOUT is tragedy, which is present in 1, 2 and NEW VEGAS but not really in 3 (except maybe that tree-guy you have to put out of his misery, and notably that’s a storyline and character from FALLOUT 1 and 2, the only one whose storyline is continued in 3 AFAIK).

          NEW VEGAS also has a superior storyline, which truly reacts to your decisions. You also have immense control over the narrative yourself, unlike FO3 where you are simply choosing from a list of (often binary) decisions. FALLOUT 3 also had the worst and most controversial ending to a game until MASS EFFECT 3, and needed to be fixed in DLC whilst NEW VEGAS did not.

          NEW VEGAS also has better DLC: of its five expansions, the first one is a little bit tedious despite a fantastic, gloomy atmosphere and the opening of the second is too scripted for the freedom NEW VEGAS gives you elsewhere, but otherwise they’re great with a narrative that is conceptually quite bold, though maybe a bit too subtle. OLD WORLD BLUES is particularly brilliant, demented and funny. Compared that to FO3′s where POINT LOOKOUT has great atmosphere but nothing to do once you conclude the (mega-short) storyline, MOTHERSHIP ZETA and OPERATION ANCHORAGE are just shooting galleries and only really THE PITT and BROKEN STEEL are worth bothering with.

          Contrasted against that are very few weaknesses, though the first is quite damaging: the opening 2-3 hours of the game are tedious and Goodsprings is a fairly weak opening area compared to FO3′s Vault and Megaton. FO3 grabs you much more from the off, whilst you have to work at NEW VEGAS to get the best out of it. Also, cazadores.

          Of course, another issue was the bugs on release, which for some reason were completely ignored by reviewers in the case of FALLOUT 3 (and OBLIVION, and SKYRIM) despite them being just as visible as the ones in NEW VEGAS. Both games were eventually fixed, but NEW VEGAS is the only one of the two that sits there with bad reviews for bugs that no longer exist. Of course, given that you now need to fiddle around with FALLOUT 3 to get it working on Windows 7 and 8, and NEW VEGAS works fine with no problems at all, this is highly ironic.

          • Deadly Sinner says:

            It’s also amazing how the RPG mechanics are better in New Vegas, despite copying so many things from its predecessor. Hardcore was a much needed addition that made combat and survival less of a triviality than 3 (although the game was still way too easy after a while, even on the hardest difficulty.)

            I’m still working on the game, but I am amazed how open ended the main quest line is so far. There is a seemingly endless variation of events that can transpire, though I haven’t tried them, so I could be wrong. For example, could I have killed Benny for the platinum chip at New Vegas before he ran off to Fortification Hill? If so, what would Benny have done if I had pickpocketed the chip instead?

      • blackmyron says:

        F:NV gets more than it is due from old school Fallout fanboys because it incorporated pieces from the cancelled Van Buren and was set back in familiar terrain.

        F:NV is still pretty good, but it wouldn’t have existed without F3. It’s also less Fallout in spirit, as it is more of a “post-post-apocalyptic” game – you play on the frontier of returning civilization. I still liked this, especially with the “Old West” feel of the Mojave, but it was better suited for an off-game rather than Fallout 4. Hopefully F4 will return to a true post-apocalyptic wasteland.

        • malkav11 says:

          I don’t really get what your first point has to do with anything. Fallout 3 wouldn’t have existed without Fallouts 1 and 2, Fallouts 1 and 2 probably wouldn’t have existed without Wasteland, etc. This doesn’t say anything about these games’ comparative quality.

        • DigitalParadox says:

          True apocalyptic wasteland? You do realize that the Fallout series has always been about how society rebuilds itself in the wake of an apocalypse and not about some STALKER esque survival simulation? You can’t really talk about returning to true Fallout in regards to something like that with FO3 went entirely against what the series was about to begin with.

          • Laurentius says:

            Spot on comment, there such a distinctive feel between Foulout 1 and 2 and FO3. DC feels like nuclear cataclysm only happend just recently. Not too mention that filling it up with super mutants was rather cheap move by Bethseda.

        • Werthead says:

          The entire FALLOUT series is ‘post-post-apocalyptic’, that’s the idea behind everything. It’s 200 years after the war, so obviously civilisation should be rebuilding and the horrors of the immediate post-apocalyptic period should be in the past.

          FO 1 and 2 get this about right. NEW VEGAS is probably still a little bit too ruined (by now the suburbs should have been rebuilt and not still covered in rubble) but Obsidian were trying to maintain some kind of visual aesthetic with FO3, so seemed to leave things a bit more devastated than they should be. It’s certainly not as bad as FALLOUT 3 itself, though, where almost all of the buildings in DC should have collapsed decades earlier and the city reclaimed by nature.

          FALLOUT 3 has tremendous atmosphere and is a lot of fun, but it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

      • Ninja Foodstuff says:

        I’ve played all the Fallouts, in fact it’s probably the only series where I’ve bought every one (since no. 2) on the day of release, and played them multiple times.

        I just can’t bring myself to finish NV. I’ve logged maybe 30 hours on it, got about half-way across the map, but I just can’t finish it. I think after the 200 or so hours I’ve spent looking at the same vault corridors and affectations have completely killed it for me. When I fired up Fallout 3, the thought of exploring another vault filled me with delight. But now it would take a monumental effort to make my way through another one (the last one I went through was with the mutant plants, which was at least colourful). This is why, for me, the 2D ones were superior. There it didn’t matter as much if everything looked the same.

        Edit: Reading through the comments here, maybe I should just force myself to get to Lucky 37. Will have to finish Arkham Origins though.

        • Zenicetus says:

          The repetitive vault missions were my least-favorite part of NV too. But if I remember right, they’re all optional side quests that don’t impact the main game. If you’re tired of them, just disregard those vault-related quests.

          If you do nothing else in NV, at least get the “Old World Blues” DLC. It’s the best side quest in NV, and the only one that really captures the original 1950′s goofy sci-fi flavor of the Fallout series. For me, the other DLC’s were mostly forgettable, especially the first one. Make sure you have a save point before finishing the main NV quest (it’s obvious where that is), so you can do the Old World Blues story.

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            Nogo says:

            Problem is Vaults are supposed to be a highlight of Fallout games. There should always be weird, wonderful things down there.

            They’re two very different games, really.

          • AngusPrune says:

            No, vaults aren’t supposed to be the highlight of Fallout games. That’s an idea you’ve received exclusively from Fallout 3. Fallout 3 is just a grab-bag of things that were in previous Fallout games ripped from their contexts and plopped in as little entertainment set pieces.

            In Fallout 1 and 2, vaults were mostly collapsed and abandoned places, with occasional mutated fauna. In Fallout 1 we get to see one working vault, and in Fallout 2 we get to see the results of a society moved out of a vault to the surface. The only time we see wild and wacky things in a vault is when the enclave moved their talking deathclaw experiment in to Vault 13.

            With the progression of time, by all rights vaults should play absolutely no part in Fallout 3 or Fallout NV. In Vegas, you could cut out every vault from the game and the structure wouldn’t alter in the slightest, I have no idea why they included the ones they did. Fallout 3 resurrected the horrible “vault experiment” idea that was cut from Fallout 2 mostly so they could have some idiotic things happening in various vaults. Oh look, a bunch of mooks all called Gary to kill. Yayifications!

          • LionsPhil says:

            Absolutely, Angus. After all, it’s a major point of Fallout 1 that the Dweller’s exposure to all the weird things outside the vault have made them too “experienced” to be allowed back into 13′s quiet little underground-village society.

            I’m kind of surprised Bethesda never ended up resurrecting the Burrows in their hunt for rejected bad ideas.

          • Premium User Badge

            Nogo says:

            @Angus:

            Uh, what? In F1 and F2 the biggest events are centered around vaults and frequently require you to do a lot of planning and prep. They’re always alienating and bizarre, frequently have the best music, and it’s rare to not find great items or hidden secrets.

            They’re there so Fallout can delve into it’s own history. Hell, all the promo material for F1 was about the juxtaposition of hellish atomic fire with the 50′s idealism of the vaults. Conceptually, vaults are the central tenet of Fallout, not a plot point.

            (You seem to have taken my ‘weird’ descriptor and run with it. I mean weird in the uncanny, unsettling way: giant glowing hole with an ageless computer ticking away in it. Not in the ‘lol gary’ way.)

            E: You realize the literal plot of F1 and F2 is basically “go find as many vaults as you can and explore them!” Not sure how you can say they aren’t that important when the first two games revolved around their discovery and exploration.

            Also, no need to be a dick by implying my opinions are somehow tainted by Fallout 3.

        • Sivart13 says:

          If you’ve put 30 hours into F:NV without getting to the Lucky 38, you’ve probably spent a bit too much time immersed in the (sometimes samey) ambient color and should take a crack at the actual “core” of the game. The main storyline probably only requires you to go to three or four vaults total.

    • harbinger says:

      Everybody whose opinion matters knows that the Fallout series ended after the second title.
      And there was also some sort of spin-off or whatever with the name “New Vegas”.

      • Frank says:

        For me, it ended after the first. Someone above said it was “cheap” of Bethesda to fill the DC wasteland with supermutants. Well, it was equally cheap and exceptionally boring of Black Isle to start you in a traditional fantasy dungeon and then have you doing quests for traditional fantasy tribals (with a faint nod to the fact that they’re actually in a non-fantasy setting). FO2 is to FO1 what NV is to FO3: the “good writers” now at Obsidian building on top of a solid game and failing to match it as they add layers of dullness to slog through (their overrated writing and longer treks to do… everything). I’m glad to have double the Fallout thanks to their work, but it’s not that special (to me)…

        • Premium User Badge

          Nogo says:

          You and me Frank.

          It’s us against the world.

          • LionsPhil says:

            And me. I much preferred FO1′s tone.

            At least NV has Wild Wasteland to keep some of the “zany lol” optional, although it probably shouldn’t have taken up a trait slot (because that mildly penalises those who do want crazy laser space rocket times). Instead it just fatally shoots itself in the believability by not ever figuring out what all these people are doing to survive; they still live in freshly-ruined buildings despite supposedly having been there for years, and there’s a supposed scavenger economy yet little has been picked clean, while the Followers complain about the NCR enforcing goddamn patents. It’s schizo as hell and while I get there’s supposed to be a GECK-ed up civilized NCR world back there trading and pushing out basic aid, it completely fails to worldbuild it for me beyond filling the map with people wishing for a nuclear winter. (Hold still. I have a Fat Boy in this stash nearby…)

        • Jack Mack says:

          For me, the series ended after Wasteland.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Well, let’s be fair. Fallout’s called Fallout, not Wasteland 2. If you’re going to put a different name on it, go ahead and make a different game.

            (Going to be real interesting to see how the now soon-to-be-real Wasteland 2 gets compared to the Fallouts, and how it compares to Wasteland 1.)

      • Dave Tosser says:

        It’s a shame Fallout Tactics wasn’t more. It’s too linear, lacks any atmosphere and is far out of its depth against the genre titans (Good ol’ Jaggy Alliance, Silent Storm Schutzstaffel and Eggscom), but it’s good fun if you suppress the ever burning need for a Fallout 3 and a Jagged Alliance 3. Accept that it’s a very average tactics game with no respect for the franchise lore and it hardly seems worth playing, but I so often need a shot of tactics- any tactics- that in desperation I’ll turn to it when I’ve worn out another TFtD run.

  4. Premium User Badge

    G-Lord says:

    As I don’t know where else I should put it: Happy Birthday John Walker ;)

  5. wild_quinine says:

    Love that ‘Is this the Christmas for Nintendo?’ question. I absolutely agree that the PS4/Xbone launch lineup is looking pretty poor, but the Wii U has had a year to steal a march and… it really hasn’t managed to do that. They hadn’t even launched half the Wii U dashboard last time I checked, FFS.

    This really isn’t the Christmas to buy a console, period.

    I think the biggest thing going in favour of the Wii U is that there aren’t likely to be many console exclusives for PS4/Xbone since there’s a) been a shift away from exclusives in the last gen and b) the dev work is so architecturally similar between PC/Xbone/PS4 now that there’d need to be a vast mountain of green on the table not to multiplatform any given title.

    But the Wii U will buck the exlusives trend, and will have a new Mario, a new Zelda, and a new Smash Brothers at least, and probably a few other 1st party titles as well. And anyone who wants that, is unlikely to be able to play any of those PC. (Until the PC emulates them at full speed but higher resolution about six minutes later… but we’ll ignore that for the sake of argument.)

    • DanMan says:

      I have to admit that if I was to buy any “next-gen” console, it’d probably be a WiiU. But I’m not planning to buy ANY of them, so….

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Nintendo do a masterful job of selling the same game to a new generation every console cycle. Hopefully once they get a bigger market penetration, they’ll come up with a new idea.

      Not, of course, that the other console platforms are particularly any better on that front.

      • Premium User Badge

        AndrewC says:

        There’s far more invention and new ideas in each Mario game than there is in any sequel to any game on any platform. Also: ever.

        Yep!

        • Premium User Badge

          drewski says:

          I don’t agree with that, but it’s also not my point. I’m bored of sequels.

          But, as I said, I can see why Nintendo and friends are content to publish the same game over and over. Because there’s always a new demographic to lure.

        • Ulaxes says:

          This! The new Mario 3D World looks so excellent, so creative, so damn full of incredible gameplay, that I’m actually thinking about buying a WiiU for the first time. Zelda, Metroid and Mario is all I need from Nintendo. If Nintendo ever runs into serious financial trouble, they could just release their games on Steam, starting with the NES years. I probably would buy them all for the second time.

          • Baines says:

            Metroid: Other Mission cast a dim future on Metroid’s future. Sakamoto doesn’t seem to understand why people like Metroid, and Other Mission only showed how disconnected and archaic his idea of a Metroid is. (I don’t just mean how Samus was portrayed. The game is weak on various game design and presentation levels as well.) MOM’s poor sales directly hurt the franchise’s future, as well.

            I think to a lesser degree Eiji Aonuma may be hurting Zelda. Though, to be fair, the problems existing within Zelda could just be Nintendo policies and ideas at large.

            Nintendo can still put out an interesting Mario game, but they are also willing to milk the franchise with lower effort releases. Mario is their workhorse, and they turn to it when other titles are struggling. The problem here isn’t really Mario, but rather that the success of Mario eats into the rest of Nintendo’s franchises and future IP. Why won’t Nintendo release a new F-Zero, when the Sega-made F-Zero GX was a critical favorite and fans have been asking for a new game for years? Because Mario Kart far outsells F-Zero. While Nintendo will churn out Mario Kart sequel after Mario Kart sequel with whatever new gimmicks they can scrape together, F-Zero sits in limbo until Nintendo comes up with a new gimmick specifically for it (and doesn’t instead use that gimmick to fuel the next cash cow Mario Kart). This happens to other franchises as well, such as how Nintendo/HAL sacrificed the potential new IP Prince Fluff in order to get the short term sales boost of making Epic Yarn a Kirby game instead.

          • ulix says:

            Not only F-Zero. Nintendo had two more excellent Racing series which they’ve neglected: 1080 and Wave Race. I’d love to see them continued.

            There’s a ton of internal Nintendo studieos of which we don’t know what they’re working on, however… so maybe it’ll be something new and exciting, or at least another take on a neglected franchise. I’d also love to see another 2D Metroid.

      • KDR_11k says:

        The only reason other companies don’t release an entry in every series on every platform is that they manage to bring a series from inception to outstaying its welcome in less than one generation (Assassin’s Creed, for example…). Nintendo doesn’t release sequels nearly as often but the series have survived long enough that they’ve built up a long trail of entries anyway. Also Nintendo often does completely different games with the same characters (e.g. Donkey Kong vs Country or Super Mario Bros vs the 3D Marios, never mind Mario Kart or the sports games) which makes them look like more sequels but they’re really not much alike anymore.

        The 3D Mario games have had Mario 64 (N64), Sunshine (GC), Galaxy 1 and 2 (Wii), 3D Land (3DS) and now World. That’s as many as Assassin’s Creed got so far except 3D Marios have existed about 10 years longer and most of these Mario games have some pretty major differences.

        • Moraven says:

          Not pushing out sequels every 1-2 years gives their main franchises longevity.

          Although we have been seeing more and more Mario, the New and 3D are pretty distinct games.

        • WrenBoy says:

          That never occurred to me. Good point.

        • Tams80 says:

          What puzzles and annoys me is that on one hand there are some people claiming Nintendo ‘milk’ their franchises too much, yet on the other hand some claim Nintendo should release game ‘X’ in said franchises now (often meaning it would be rushed). The worst thing is that I’ve seen people state both.

          • Moraven says:

            People feel they milk since a new release is always coming out. What they do not realize is we really only get 1 game of the series for each console. And this is largely due to Nintendo games sell for years and every holiday season, while the latest CoD is only going to sell huge for the first 3 months.

            New Super Mario Bros took 6 years for an update on handheld. Wii version got an update after 3 years on the Wii U. Mario Kart once a handheld. Super Smash once a console.

            Maybe its because the games feel so much the same but they offer a lot of new gameplay features? Or is it because people can easily be playing the same game for years and feels like the last CoD once they beat the campaign or the new one is released and no one plays it online anymore?

            It would be nice to see more fresh IP from Nintendo but they make simple but great gameplay changes to their latest releases. They are familiar to a game you enjoyed but offering something new.

            We just saw the latest Batman (which was given to a different studio) basically be a full game of DLC. I wonder if it will sell that well…

    • Reapy says:

      My GameCube is out and in use on a small 80s TV with my almost 4 year old and 2 year old playing Mario power tennis. They love that thing so much it is awesome. GameCube was one of those great systems that when a game was mad just for it, it came together wonderfully. I don’t see a need for a wii or wiiu or anything lost between the gc and the latest iteration.

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      welverin says:

      There’s no new Zelda coming to the WiiU anytime soon, the 3DS is getting one, but that’s a bit different.

      p.s. No, Wind Waker HD doesn’t count.

    • fish99 says:

      Yeah I don’t get the rush to buy the PS4/Xbox One this year when the launch lineups are so lacking, especially for people who own a gaming PC.

      • malkav11 says:

        Launch lineups are -always- lacking, meaning you’re paying the most the consoles will ever cost for not much of anything really. Buying at launch has pretty nearly never made sense. (Even if a console lucks into one killer launch title, like some people feel Halo to have been, that’s usually as good as it gets, and who wants to spend $300+ to be able to play one game? Crazy people, that’s who.) This generation it’s particularly crazy because the way things have shaken out over the past decade, you’ll be able to play most of the console games that are in any way relevant or creative or interesting on PC with better graphics, more flexible control options, better pricing, and the possibility of modding; and then the PC’s own exclusive crop besides. The only console I anticipate having much that won’t be coming to the PC is the Wii-U, and that’s only interesting if you can stand motion controls, I dare say. I sure can’t.

        • Premium User Badge

          Nogo says:

          Don’t forget the privilege of mass testing the first generation hardware!

    • Moraven says:

      We got a Wind Waker Wii U, which is also when the price dropped $50.
      Started with Pikmin and Rayman. Rayman is great with the Wii U. Murky touch based levels, off TV mode and the MiiVerse integration is nice (if you know anyone else with a Wii U, or just brag to the world of your high score).

      Pikmin was not as innovative as I remember Pikmin 1, but I have only played 1-2 hours.

      WindWaker looks and plays great. Wonderful 101, Mario 3D and MH3 Ultimate cross play with the 3DS version are next on the list

    • Low Life says:

      Just knowing that Bayonetta 2 is going to be released on Wii U at some point makes the purchase of that console about 253% more likely than PS4 or XOne. I want that game so much.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      But here’s the problem: it isn’t likely to have much more besides exclusives. The Wii had some fantastic games, and if I’m being honest about my Top 5 Games of the Last Generation, 3/5 were on the Wii. And that’s combining the Mario Galaxies. Yet it tends to sit there, month after month, without me touching it. Games were few and far between.

      Meanwhile, there are tons of games that are still being released for 360 and PS3. And it’s not like Nintendo has a monopoly on exclusives. Sony has a ton of properties and a strong stable of first party developers. I don’t like all of them (Uncharted is baffling in its popularity) but the fact is that my PS3 library has plenty of exclusives.

      I’m not opposed to picking up a Wii U if the price drops enough. God knows the thought of a new Donkey Kong from Retro–hell, anything Retro might be working on, really–makes my mouth water. But when I know in my gut that it’ll just sit there like a paperweight while I play games on my PC, PS3, or 3DS (which has a huge library), I can’t justify going out and plunking down the cash.

  6. Premium User Badge

    daphne says:

    Fallout 3 was significant in that it paved way for Fallout: New Vegas, which realized the idea’s true potential. But, given that Fallout 3 is more iconic (even in name), I can’t blame Porter for writing that article.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Well, EG are writing about the last gen’s games they loved, so, well, why would you “blame” him for liking a videogame anyway?

      • Premium User Badge

        daphne says:

        I don’t literally blame him, it’s an underhanded way of expressing that I would have preferred an article about F:NV instead. Especially because the article mentions the recreation of that unique Fallout optimism, something I felt F:NV did far better than F3.

        • Premium User Badge

          drewski says:

          I wish he’d written about Jagged Alliance 2.

          But apparently he wanted to write about the game he actually liked. Weirdo.

          • Premium User Badge

            daphne says:

            You are essentially playing with yourself. I have no issue with Porter writing the article he did.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      Fallout 3 was better the Vegas. I could never get far into Vegas, but I played F3 multiple times.

      • fish99 says:

        Having gone back and replayed F3 recently after beating Vegas, it only reinforced my opinion that F3 is the inferior game, in terms of atmosphere, balance, but mostly in terms of the story and writing.

        However, Vegas didn’t grab me until I reached the Lucky 38 casino and the main story started to pick up some momentum. One of the weakness of the game is they don’t progress the main story until you’ve gone all the way around the map and hit Vegas, and I nearly gave up on it before that point.

        • LionsPhil says:

          It’s also full of landmines in the scripting which can break stuff when you hit that area, but then what do you expect from the efforts of Bethesda and Obsidian combined?

        • The Random One says:

          I had the opposite sentiment – once I’ve hit Vegas, I felt there was no more the game could offer me, because I’ve reached the big glowing tower that had always been in the horizon. I haven’t even finished it.

          It is a pretty great game when the coding doesn’t explode in your face though.

          • fish99 says:

            I dunno if those issues were fixed in patches, but needless to say I didn’t have any problems with the game.

            Both F3 and FNV have the multicore CPU issues where you have to make these fallout.ini tweaks to stop them crashing all the time-

            bUseThreadedAI=1
            iNumHWThreads=2

            How many hours of Vegas did you play btw?

    • blackmyron says:

      Fallout 3 was the true potential of the iconic original Fallout as a FPS with RPG elements.

      F:NV is a continuation of the F1/2 story, but moved beyond the post-apocalyptic theme of the original Fallout. It also incorporated some good updates to F3 (a true crafting system) and also took away others (lack of true random encounters).

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      NV is the superior game, and nobody can convince me otherwise.

      However, FO3 is important for providing a structure that works very well for the franchise. Obviously not everyone was happy about the shift away from the isometric view and turn-based combat, and that opinion is wholly valid, but from what I can tell from people who were fans of the originals (I tried, but could never get into them) the writing and atmosphere of NV work just fine alongside the new mechanics.

  7. GameCat says:

    “Designing game narrative” is probably the best article ever mentioned in Sunday Papers.

    • twig_reads says:

      Possibly, if it wasnt shitting on the books so much. That’s the most simplified view on reading possible. As a evolutionary stepping stone already bettered by by movies and games. No, I would say that the sensory part of the movies can actually take from the story, not add, by showing too much. It’s a visual language, not verbal. One is not the better version of the other, but different story telling ways. I’m surely biased as a literature student but the shift from words to visuals has been to rapid, with important losses.

      And I’m not saying, down with movies and games. BUT, down with notion of movies and games being on a single evolutionary path with books. The difference is horizontal, not vertical.

      • identiti_crisis says:

        I think you brought that impression with you, possibly as a literature student, when you read the article. There’s plenty of praise for good books, good linear narratives etc. It’s just that games are fundamentally interactive, so their strength and main differentiator from other media is that interactivity.

        Despite that, we have barely scratched the surface of what a nice interactive experience can be.

        That’s more the point of the article, as the author himself has already been provoked to comment: there should be more exploration to see what kinds of different experiences we can get from games, rather than only trying to make them like the experiences we get with other media, narratively speaking.

        • Juan Raigada says:

          But acting on those strengths does not give you better games, it gives you more formal games. A huge amount of great works in different mediums did not play to the mediums strengths (basically all mainstream American filmmaking if you approach film in the same formalistic fashion you approach games. Films are NOT about stories at all, not even about fiction -which is already putting a layer of obfuscation over the pure formal technique of recording and playing back reality-).

          Why do people want games to embrace formalism, having seen how in any other medium it´s an obsolete concept that does not help either meaningful critique or enjoyment of the work, is beyond me…

          • identiti_crisis says:

            I don’t approach games in a formalistic manner – I have next to zero concept of such art “formalism”, mind you.

            Anyway, I don’t think “playing to the strengths” of the medium means eschewing all other forms of expression, in fact I can think of several examples in painting where I have appreciated the exact opposite. But maybe what games need right now is more formalism, in terms of balance; I expect most films have an element of “formalism” to them, regardless of how well a pure formalism “works” (or supposedly doesn’t); indeed, they surely must in order to be films in the first place. I don’t see how it is useful to reduce the issue to such a dichotomy, because that doesn’t help critique or enjoyment either, and certainly doesn’t help exploration.

            To me it is quite obvious that there is more to games than has so far been realised, I don’t see what the problem is with exploring more of that space. Nobody is saying all games should be one way, just the same as no-one would say that all books should be the same.

    • Juan Raigada says:

      I actually found it lacking and long winded, without a clear grasp on either the video game medium history, nor literature or film history.

      Emily Short’s comments on interactivity (linked in the article) is, for me, much more enlightening and nuanced (and is expressed in way fewer words).

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        It struck me as being a reading list rather than an article in its own right.

  8. SupahSpankeh says:

    The response to the criticism of that game (http://shigi.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/my-response-to-the-indie-cube-comments/) needs top billing.

    The “naivety” here is on the part of the people who criticised it, not the people who made it.

    Disclaimer: I am rabidly pro-equality, I work for a woman who in turn works for a woman, I work on a team with 40% women, I am married to a woman who earns more than me (rightly so, ChemEng PhD), I like black/brown people as much as I like white people, one of my close friends suffers from chronic depression. and I’m definitely not an advocate of men’s rights as they’re all swivel-eyed loons. There is no bias here, I am not attempting to white-wash something.

    (hopefully that’ll pre-empt any accusations of bigotry on my part for speaking up for the developers)

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      You are protesting an *awful* lot.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        That’s quite likely because some of the aforementioned swivel-eyed loons like to troll here.

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        I swear I am not a lizard person my best friends are hooman females and I work for a hooman female who works for a hooman female I swear.
        Just… Don’t do that. Not when you have no doubts about your views.

        • Koozer says:

          It’s the modern “some of my best friends are black!” It’s a shame people feel the need to qualify their opinion like that, but you can see why with all the frothing rage over ‘white privilege’ and other easy put-downs.

    • Merus says:

      The response to the response is perhaps something you should read: http://jennfrank.tumblr.com/post/65029638316/blog-comment-to-laura

      • Premium User Badge

        daphne says:

        “Still, it’s hard for me to sign off on “yes, females should be their own ‘creature type.’” Because that idea, taken to its organic conclusion, already runs rampant in this industry.”

        “But I also frowned a little when you noted in your post that her ability is to “inspire.” Like, that’s also the role of the “Supportive Spouse,” in a way, isn’t it? I like the idea of Erin inspiring other women, but it recasts her in — again — a “support” capacity, which I worry diminishes her individual contributions as a designer.”

        These were cringeworthy. Such posts make it easy to foresee a future where every game mechanic and concept is scrutinized for political correctness, to the extent that expressed creativity is greatly limited and constrained. Too bad MTG is all mechanics — it makes the criticism look so easy.

        • The Random One says:

          When you specifically create a game mechanic that depends on whether or not a developer is female, there is no need to scrutinize for political correctness. You are already basing your game on existing political boundaries; it is not reactionary to hope that you’ll treat these boundaries with respect, or to call you out when one believes you aren’t.

      • SupahSpankeh says:

        Egads. Read it I just did; I think perhaps a “whoops, sorry” is more appropriate than that many words trying to justify hurt feelings.

        Honestly, storm in the wrong teacup.

      • WrenBoy says:

        Your response to the response should have been prefaced with

        TRIGGER WARNING: OVERLY DEFENSIVE

      • Brandon says:

        Jenn’s post made me cringe. I mean the connections she’s drawing remind me of AP English where we’d sit around dissecting literature to try and find deeper meanings. Except in this case, one of the creators is actually saying, “No, there was no deeper meaning. We had a female group, but not a male group for the same reason game sites highlight female devs but not male ones: Highlighting accomplished minorities is empowering and inspiring. End of story.” Sorry Jenn, but that isn’t sexism. Unless you think Anna Anthropy is also sexist (since she’s constantly grouping female and cis devs as separate from the straight male norm).

        People throw around the word “sexism” wayyyyy to loosely. In trying to find sexism where there is none, they end up hurting their own cause.

    • Pliqu3011 says:

      Thanks for posting that.

    • dE says:

      /pre: I misreplied to the wrong person earlier, re-posting and hoping the rabid spam filter eats the other comment. I lured it out with a tasty Satan 3 bait.

      It’s a pet peeve of mine that Fantasy, as a genre, generally relies so much on open racism, sexism and discrimination. In the Fantasy Genre, concepts such as racism, genocide, ethnic cleansings are not only treated as normal everyday things, but things that end up idealized. Dwarfs bashing in Elves heads? Totally! Go for it, it’s fun! Orc genocide as a family pastime? Sure! Have an axe or two while you deal with those black unwashed savage tribal creatures that don’t even wear proper clothes, for civilisation, for the gods!

      And Magic? Well, the color black is attributed to parasites and decay. And whites? They’re always religiously crazy zealots that hate change. And reds? Pure chaos and impulsiveness. And then you take that scenario. A scenario that is all about lived extremes and put in normal everyday people. You know, I’m surprised this didn’t blow up more than it did and that’s because most people don’t know the rules and background of MTG. If they did, and they knew what they’ve been associated with, they’d be dancing mad.

      • The Godzilla Hunter says:

        The problem is that in many fantasy worlds the races are quite different. They are literally different species, and so it does makes sense that they might actually be different on a biological level (as opposed to just different races). Still, I think that it is worth a little unrealism, and have the different species/races be fundamentally the same, to get rid of some of the unfortunate implications.

        The colors of magic are completely unrelated to race. Red is representative of chaos because it is associated with fire, not because it is associated with Native Americans. Black magic vs. White magic likewise has more to do with light and darkness than whites and blacks. (note: I have not actually played MtG, so I could be completely off the mark).

        edit: It just occurred to me that by saying “Magic” you were talking about MtG, not color coded magic in fantasy. My point still stands (I think) that it has far more to do with, admittedly Western, color associations rather than racial associations.

        • dE says:

          I should have made that a bit more clear, in the first part I’m talking about fantasy in general. In the second, It’s indeed Magic the Gathering. While the argument about species might hold true in a way (how do half-elves, Half-Dwarves, Half-Orcs happen though?), I still find it tiresome that fantasy promotes racism as something natural and positive. The repercussions for the biggest baddest racist mass murderer in fantasy worlds, is usually being assigned the status of a hero.

          And about the colors of magic, I’ll just call them lands now in this discussions, since that’s what they came from several revisions ago and it’s more clear. In that part of the post I was making the argument that even within the setting and rules of the game, it’s already a bad idea to attribute someone to a certain land. For example, people took issue with Soulja Boy being a black card in the game (as well as the attribute unstable). If you look at it from a strict gameplay and magic the gathering background, the black card sure isn’t a comment about skincolor. But the black land is attributed with death, disease and parasites. It gains its power from swamps and derelict lands, from the absence of light. The Soulja Boy card shares this land with creatures such as Rats, Maggots and Demons or Instant spells such as Contagion. So even without the real-world connotations, it’s already making a statement. Why was he attributed to that? In their answer, they mention it was because of his assassin property. So why didn’t he have the assassin property (according to my source, which is a forum post with the cards listed but not the images)?

          In the end it’s not a big deal (to me) but I have to wonder if they perhaps just intended it as a bit of fun in their personal in-group. Inclusion of Tigsource Forum People hints at that.

          • P.Funk says:

            ” I still find it tiresome that fantasy promotes racism as something natural and positive.”

            I think that’s mostly because its a concept as old as human story telling. The basis for our myths come from deep in our development as a civilized culture and so bridging from the primal into the modern we’re still constantly affected by that primal nature, namely to be suspicious and fearful of that which is different, unfamiliar, and alien. Couple this with an immature cognition and you can see more modern man (ie. modern compared to Cromagnon man) attributing to our primal fears a conscious rationale for our fears which are no less irrational and lacking in insight.

            One side appeals to the primal fear that is rooted in survival, the other in an immature consciousness which tends towards malice when lacking wisdom and insight.

            Lastly, you add nostalgia into things and you can see how even individuals who possess neither of the above mentioned prejudices could find pleasure and interest in such parables.

          • Brandon says:

            I honestly don’t think they were being racist. Soulja Boy was a black card because he had a come-into-play effect that kills a creature, which in MtG best fits the color black. Why did they give “creature kill” to him? Because it was an Indie Game the Movie reference about how Soulja Boy destroyed Jonathan Blow when he thought “Braid” was nothing more than a stupid shallow game.

            Tbh I think people were just desperately reaching for things to find offensive because they wanted to be involved in a controversy for the sake of getting attention. But critics of the Magic set had such hollow arguments that were such a stretch that it made me cringe.

    • Lemming says:

      I honestly just assumed the whole game was satire. I mean using ‘female’ as basically a stat is exactly what the game industry is accused of doing by feminists half the time.

    • Geebs says:

      All I learnt from this was that it’s racist of me to accuse someone else of being racist because they accused me of being racist because I accused them of being racist when they were, in fact being racist

      I’m off to make a twine about how that made me feel

    • wild_quinine says:

      I’m definitely not an advocate of men’s rights as they’re all swivel-eyed loons.

      So you’re not a feminist then, and you think feminists are all swivel-eyed loons?

      Interesting.

      • I Got Pineapples says:

        I…what now?

      • Sheng-ji says:

        I’m not sure you know what he was referring to when he talks about mens rights activists, but this may shine some light on their manifesto:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Efcqo1r4NCw&list=PLIzF2hSBEThJSqMfExQtP-_bUJmoGwVb4&index=8

        This video is a spoof, but please notice how difficult it is for people familiar with MRA to tell that it is. Should tell you all you need to know about their level of swivel-eyedness and lunacy.

        • wild_quinine says:

          Yes some activists exclusively concerned about men’s rights are totally nutty. Especially those who consider themselves ‘masculinists’ as if this were some polar opposite of feminism.

          For the record, Feminism is an equality project, it’s defined pretty much exlusively in those terms, and is thereforce intrinsically concerned with men’s rights as well as women’s rights. Pretty much all feminists are ‘advocates of men’s rights’, pretty much by definition, so the statement ‘advocates of men’s rights are all swivel-eyed loons’ is a dangerous and short-sighted one, particularly when the intended purpose of it was likely to be ‘masculinists are swivel eyed loons’.

          Something to think about.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            It was obvious to me that he was talking about people who have adopted (and subverted) the term Mens Rights Activists

          • WrenBoy says:

            Some feminists say they are for equality and some say they are not so its a bit of a stretch to say feminism is anything other than a women’s rights movement.

          • Amun says:

            It’s supposed to be, but a lot of people seem to forget that. I vote that we all become egalitarians and have that be the end of it.

          • wild_quinine says:

            Sheng-ji: Then I think that’s your mistake. By all means let’s call out a specific group, but a statement about ALL ‘advocates of men’s rights’ is no less polarising than a statement about ALL feminists, and as I pointed out, probably even includes them.

            WrenBoy: Go find me a definition of feminism that isn’t couched in terms of equality. You can pick the dictionary.

          • WrenBoy says:

            The wikipedia page on feminism is a good reflection of my understanding. If you have a look you will see that its mainly, and unsurprisingly, related to women’s rights and that equality is either qualified by “for women” or when it is applied to men then it is qualifed by “other feminists argue”.

            Separatist feminists for example are openly misandrist and while they are viewed as radical noone suggests they are not feminist. This is because feminism is a women’s rights movement.

            That’s not necessarily a bad thing of course but you can’t reasonably say that feminism is a men’s rights movement.

          • wild_quinine says:

            Instead of just arguing for the sake of it, consider if there might be a reason you couldn’t find a dictionary that supported your personal definition of the word.

            You say: “Separatist feminists for example are openly misandrist and while they are viewed as radical noone suggests they are not feminist.”

            I would be the first to say that self-declared ‘misandrist feminists’ don’t confirm to the stated defintion of feminism, just as many religious extremists don’t conform to the definitions and paradigms of their professed faith.

            The problem of trying to say whether or not they are feminists is not whether or not the term applies by definition, but whether we allow people to choose their own labels.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I think you should read what you just said and see how it applies to yourself to be honest. I gave a complete answer to your question and you are relying on semantic word games to advance your point as you have been doing throughout this thread.

            An encyclopedia is more appropriate than a dictionary in this instance. If you look at the Oxford definition it could apply to your definition or to mine. There is nothing wrong with the definition, it’s not designed to explain the movements ideas, that is what encyclopedias are for.

            You can say that you don’t consider radical feminism to be real feminism if you like. That is not a mainstream opinion though.

          • wild_quinine says:

            This isn’t purely semantic, and if you think that it is then you’re not reading closely enough. There is no confusion between advocacy of women’s rights and egalitarianism. There is no accepted definition of feminism which is not about egalitarianism. It is very hard to read egalitarianism as anything but advocacy of the rights of all people, although you’re welcome to try if you feel that’s *not* a semantic debate.

            If you’re not about equality, then *I* don’t think you fit the desciption of a feminist, but I’m not going to stop you from calling yourself one. I think people have the right to determine their own labels, although not the right to be immune from criticism.

            Wikipedia is not necessarily a useful alternative in this case. If you look at the TALK page, the very same debate is the very first talking point.

            And ‘mainstream opinion’ is no defence. If mainstream opinion was all that mattered, there would have been no feminism.

          • WrenBoy says:

            It was obvious from the context that I meant mainstream feminism. Again with the semantics.

            I don’t think it has anything to do with semantics. Again this should be obvious since I critisise you for relying on that style of argument. Dictionary definitions are not more appropriate than encyclopedic ones for the reasons I have given and as I pointed out the definition I suggested contradicts nothing I have said.

            As I said you can believe anything you want, its just odd to expect everyone to play along

          • dE says:

            Looking at your argument makes me wonder whether neither of you has heard of the idea that language is bound to culture. Words take on differentiating meanings in different cultures. This can reach a point where something can take on a polar opposite meaning. For example Paprika and Pepperoni. In german it refers to sweet paprika and chili. My dictionary tells me Pepperoni is a sausage over in America. My swiss girlfriend tells me it’s actually chili and sweet paprika, not the other way around.
            With language taking on such varied meanings, is it really that hard to understand that feminism too can take on different meanings in different cultures? For example where I live, it’s generally understood that feminism is about equality and liberty in identity and role. But when I was studying, I talked to several Gender Studies students in university and it was made very clear to me, that feminism, according to them (those I talked to) is about women and women only and men have no place there and should leave on their own, lest they’re forced to call security. I found other ways to continue engaging in feminism after my migration. But that should be enough of an indicator that there’s no one meaning to the word. And just as much as it means equality to some, it can also mean women first to others. And no one is really wrong or right about it either.

          • WrenBoy says:

            If you ignore the derailment into the pros and cons of dictionary vs encyclopedia definitions that’s pretty much what I was saying from the beginning. Some feminists believe its one way, some believe its another. Both are feminists.

            Speaking from personal experience I agree with your observation that students of women’s studies will be pushed towards a women only viewpoint. Most women who call themselves feminists and who have not been exposed to academia seem to lean the other way. As do the men who call themselves feminists for obvious enough reasons.

            Edit: actually I think I misunderstood you last point. You are actually saying that you studied in a different country as I now read it. Sorry abou that.

          • dE says:

            For clarification: I was living in germany and studied in switzerland and am now living in switzerland. The general opinion, as far as I can see, in both countries leans towards an understanding of equality. I have no statistics on this though. Also for clarification: I haven’t talked to everyone in gender studies at the university, just a small handful of people. And the opinions varied greatly. Some for example mocked transgender as sins of the patriarchy, deeming them an intentional mockery of gender roles. Some claimed every relationship between a man and a woman is rape. But it is worth noting, this isn’t representative of the general opinion, not even that of gender studies as a whole, I may have just been very unlucky or tried talking to the wrong kind of person.
            I didn’t mean for this to come across as “look at how extreme they are” but as an example how these opinions can vary greatly.

          • Muzman says:

            It’s accurate to say feminism in the main is in pursuit of gender equality. They just do it by elevating women. So it’s both. The MR Movement (lol) really only has about two prongs anyway and that’s things like fairer divorce and custody arrangements. All of which gender equality addresses. So it’s legit to say that feminism is doing the job already (The MR Movement is rabidly anti feminist and patriarchal to the core so they’re never going to agree on this. If feminists achieved the goals they wanted they’d probably reject it on principle). MRAs tend to have this notion that the state of masculinity is peculiar and needs peculiar care that only men can provide (which might have some interesting grounding if they weren’t apt to be kooks about it so much) and so reject the generally humanist approach of most feminists.
            Whatever sensible things the movement hopes to achieve, it seems irretrievably mired in its own neurotic masculinist garbage, unfortunately.

            Anyway, if we’re breaking out dictionaries you have to do ‘radical’ as well when it comes to feminism. Radical feminism is merely one that accepts the theory that we live in a patriarchal culture (if not one that’s overtly and legally so any more). That’s a pretty low bar that a large proportion of mainstream feminists get over. Yes I said radical feminism is mostly mainstream. So when people even identify themselves as radical feminists and someone immediately leaps to an image of the most extreme “enslave all the men!”, “restore the matriarchy!” feminists they are probably making a mistake.

          • wild_quinine says:

            Wrenboy, let’s go back to your original statement:

            Some feminists say they are for equality and some say they are not so its a bit of a stretch to say feminism is anything other than a women’s rights movement.

            Your conclusion is wrong, and I take issue with it.

            The only consistent feature of all the definitions of feminism I have ever seen is equality. Some definitions mention women’s rights, some don’t. Strip back to the essential feature of feminism, and it is that it is an egalitarian movement. This isn’t semantics, it is critically important.

            Yes, practically feminism is mainly focussed on women’s issues, but that is not incompatible with egalitarianism, simply a recognition of the motivation behind the movement, and the immediate objectives to achieving the central goal: equality.

            As an egalitarian movement, feminism is therefore necessarily concerned with the rights of men. It cannot be otherwise.

            The reason I pointed you to dictionaries was to show you that there is actually very little disagreement on this point.

            *You* entered the distraction between dictionaries and encylopaedias, not me. And you’re right that it is a distraction, because equality runs through pretty much any definition that you’ll find. It is how most feminist organisations define themselves, how most dictionaries define the word, how most encyclopaedias define the word.

            It’s at the core of the wikipedia entry that you quoted back at me. And here’s Britannica:

            feminism, the belief in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.

            The Britannica definition also goes on to talk about feminism being represented by groups interested in women’s rights, which is absolutely true in practice. But even those groups almost always carefully self define in terms of equality.

            Now I can find you several definitions of feminism which talk about equality, but don’t talk about women’s rights other than in terms of equality.

            But can you find a single serious source which talks about women’s rights but does not mention equality?

          • WrenBoy says:

            @wild_quinine
            You asked for a source defining feminism according to my definition, I gave you one and you complained it wasn’t a dictionary. Now you want me to discuss other encyclopedias? Give it a break, man. I’ve already discussed the wikipedia and oxford definitions.

            For the record, I never claimed the argument itself was semantics either. Its your style of debate I was referring to, complaining that encyclopedias are not acceptable only dictionaries are, misinterpreting statements to advance your point, etc.

          • wild_quinine says:

            Wrenboy. Your initial statement was incorrect. I have shown why, in detail. The rest is up to you.

          • WrenBoy says:

            You certainly have not. Youve spent your time playing word games on the difference between dictionaries and encyclopedias and on definitions and labels.

            You asked me for a source and I gave you one. I also gave an example of a recognised feminist movement which does not desire men to be equal to women. Its somewhat annoying to have to repeat myself but I’ve no desire to play pedantic words games or discuss the merits of one encyclopedia or dictionary over another.

            As I said some feminists certainly do state they want equality between the sexes. However its clearly not a requirement. You can believe otherwise all you like but you have to ignore plenty of evidence to do so.

      • SupahSpankeh says:

        Oh, I think we both know I refer to the MRA movement, who are to a man swivel-eyed loons. I’ve not seen anyone that swively in years, then suddenly we have an entire group of them chuntering about how terribly oppressed the poor males are these days.

        • wild_quinine says:

          Then you should have said that. Your casual confluence of ALL advocates of men’s rights with a single specific group of extremists is no less bigoted in practice than the view that all feminists are shrill harpies or that all muslims are terrorists – although I full accept that you probably didn’t intend that. But since when did you think you could enter a debate about sexual politics and not be careful about your words?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Lets not start arguing about obvious typos now, life’s too short

          • wild_quinine says:

            I am enjoying the irony of finding discretely identifiable bigotry within SupahSpankeh’s anti-bigotry disclaimer.

            Despite the flippancy, there’s a serious point to all of this, which is that we all have prejudices, and none of us ever express ourselves 100% as we intend to, not to mention that our best intentions are often driven by those hidden prejudices.

            Overcoming bigotry is a process of continually challenging yourself, and accepting with tolerance the times when yourselves and others fall short. It’s *never* about simply picking a side and considering the job done.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I don’t disagree with you but it’s important not to lose sight of the way that we communicate today puts us in contact with people who use and are used to using the English language in subtlety different ways than we are used to, coupled with other influences changing the way we write and interpret language and it can be easy to misinterpret the intentions behind words.

            I was worried for example that when I said “It was obvious to me” above, that you may have interpreted that as a trolling attempt against your intelligence, when in reality I wanted to make it clear that there were two ways what had been written had been interpreted.

            Sometimes, sticking over language is unhelpful to us all and can divert the conversation in an unhelpful direction.

    • harbinger says:

      The Stanley Parable also got censored over someone screaming “racism”: http://www.polygon.com/2013/10/23/5022434/the-stanley-parable-update-in-the-works-to-remove-offensive-images
      http://i.imgur.com/WxBCAbC.png
      Gotta expect a lot more of that, after all this is one of the websites that popularized such complaints.

      • Tagiri says:

        Come on, it didn’t “get censored.” The dev opted to make the changes after receiving complaints. There was no censorship involved, no one forced those changes.

    • Brandon says:

      I totally agree with you. There’s absolutely nothing sexist about these cards — I see no discrimination, no hatred, no marginalization of women… frankly, I think the critics of the Magic set just wanted attention.

      The most audacious thing to me is the fact that the first person to stir controversy and attack the cube (Anna Anthropy) accused them of doing something she does all the time: group “female game makers” as separate from the “norm.” I think we can all agree that what they did in the cube was more to empower females, and inspire them by highlighting successful females (rather than to create some sexist distinction).

  9. phenom_x8 says:

    Rainy sunday afternoon here in my country
    PLaying PROTEUS while listening to this are totally relaxing :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2I7hZqC7lY

    I hope they made it official soundtrack for Proteus :P

  10. Eight Rooks says:

    God, that Designing Narrative article is infuriatingly smug. The whole “Books, now movies, and now videogames – see, always getting better and more complicated!” approach is the least of its sins. (Clinging blindly to “never make the player do something they don’t want to do” is pretty far up the list. Oh, and trotting out “every player’s experience is different/no two games are the same”. I am yet to discover a single game where that particular bit of starry-eyed nonsense is even close to being true.)

    Also, why am I supposed to admire Rhianna Pratchett as a writer again? Serious question, I’m honestly curious. Heavenly Sword is the only thing on her CV I’ve played that I’d say shows any real, standout talent for putting words together, and even then I’ve read better. Tomb Raider was mediocre at best (and yes, I know she was held back at every turn by the suits – I don’t see any sign there was an amazing script in there at some point); Mirror’s Edge was terrible. Are people still convinced these are good stories, or are the Overlord games supposed to be amazing?

    Ditto Anthony Johnston – I’ve met the guy at a con, briefly: chatted to him, he seemed nice, but while the Dead Space games have reasonable writing they’re far from the best in the business. Downright daft in places, and let’s not go too far into how stupefyingly ham-fisted Binary Domain’s storytelling is (and I actually enjoyed the story, non-ironically, too). Again, seriously, when people who actually have jobs in the vidjagaems industry say “Pay attention to these people” I think, why? What is it about these people’s careers that I’m supposed to look up to? Because if it’s just “they’re successful” I might as well cut to the chase and put up a shrine to Bobby Kotick.

    • Lemming says:

      On Rhianna Pratchett:

      I think you’re supposed to admire her because she’s a writer that’s actually hired to write a story, rather than a video game company just pulling one out of their arse. I like Rhianna, but I don’t think we’ll get to see her full-throttle until she takes over her dad’s book series. There’s simply no way of knowing how much of her work is left in or out with the high-profile video games she works on.

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      Rhianna Pratchett is one of those things I’ve never got an answer for. Even by the standards of of video game writing she’s incredibly workmanlike and middle of the road. It’s not bad, it’s just kind of ‘I suppose we might as well have someone write for this’ in a dull, generic way.

      • Baines says:

        I think we are supposed to like Rhianna Pratchett because of who her father is.

        That’s why we know her name and talk about her, after all. If it weren’t for the family connection, she’d be just another writer. A few people who know her, while most wouldn’t. Companies as well as news sources wouldn’t find it as important to report that she is writing for a particular game.

        • Lemming says:

          She wrote for PC Zone before she wrote for video games.

        • Werthead says:

          I think the fact that she wrote for PC gaming magazines and websites has more to do with it, especially from the POV of the States, where Terry Pratchett has only ever been one amongst a number of reasonably well-selling fantasy authors and not a household name like he is in the UK.

          • Baines says:

            In the States, it may be more “That’s the female writer that other news sites sometimes mention by name.” Inertia from being a known female writer.

            On a completely anecdotal bit, if I were to mention Rhianna Pratchett amongst friends interested in video games, there would be two responses. The first, by the fewest, would be “The daughter of Terry Pratchett?” or maybe “Is she related to Terry Pratchett?”. The second, more common, would be “Who?”

      • Sheng-ji says:

        I’m a little concerned that you seem to be presenting your opinion as a fact, but nether the less, I like her writing. If we treat her as an individual and don’t try to shoehorn her work into a comparison with her fathers, I think it compares pretty well within the industry. I like her characters, I like her style – it agrees with what I want from a game when I’m in the mood to play the type of game she writes.

    • Somerled says:

      If you wipe away the pseudo-scientific grime and take a few steps back, there’s a nice abstract on strict versus experiential narrative. Take the details with a grain of salt.

      Of course, it seems to ignore that cutscene-driven storytelling and absolute narratives have their place in interactive media too. I’d like an article on actual narrative design, not game design revolving around narrative.

      • identiti_crisis says:

        Isn’t that the point? Game narrative can and perhaps should be viewed as distinct from the narratives of other media?
        If you want to know how to write a good story, I’m sure there is plenty out there for you to read on “narrative”. That doesn’t seem to have been the intent of this article at all.

        The comments above yours lamenting narrative / stories in games are actually perfectly in line with what I take the author to mean: there isn’t really anything approaching books and film in terms of accomplished and diverse narrative in games in general, because developers are (he says) applying sub-optimal techniques – like the intertitles in silent films. That’s why he laboured those points of making movie adaptations of books, and then game adapatations of those movie adaptations.

        It’s about what games are, and what the possibilities for narrative are within that specific space, and which remain largely unexplored.

        • Juan Raigada says:

          It might be the other way around, actually, there´s no proof that a formalist approach (games as interactivity) will deliver better narrative, or that it’s even the right way to proceed. Quite the contrary, if we look back at the formalist movements in literature and films. Whenever a medium has become fundamentally narrative, audiences have preferred the non formalist approach. There are formalist novels (literature as streams of ideas) and formalist films (films as sensorial experiences), and while the results can be astounding, most of those mediums are mostly consumed through simple linear narrative, which is not specific to those mediums the same way it´s not specific to games.

          There´s this myth in videogames that formalism (emergence and systems over content) is going to save games as a medium, when it might actually do the opposite. The storytelling in games tend not to be up to standards in other mediums, but when they have come closest, is was not due to emergent narrative or an emphasis on systems and mechanics, but due to old school, good writing.

          • Eight Rooks says:

            This, basically. For all critics bleat about how silly the people who want games to be “accepted” supposedly are, they look just as daft to me when they beat their own drum calling for new descriptive terms, new design techniques, new paradigms and all the rest of it as if it’s been conclusively proven that the systems we’ve got now are all hopelessly broken and can’t produce anything of real worth. It’s nonsense, seriously. We could have countless absolutely fantastic games if these people would just step back and stop insisting the whole art form is on the brink of collapse just because people like to run over pedestrians in GTA and the story won’t acknowledge that. (I’ve yet to see any open-world game with real, lasting consequences that don’t relate to very specific narrative trees – doesn’t mean it can’t be done.)

          • identiti_crisis says:

            There is obviously room for “good writing” in any medium. The article doesn’t dispute this, neither do I. But books, films and games alike need not have a “story” to tell in the traditional sense, either. Whether that’s more or less “enjoyable” to some supposed majority is irrelevant unless your sole aim is to cater to that particular majority. Diversity is surely a good thing in and of itself, and it’s only diversity that I’m asking for.

            There seems to be this undercurrent of some other war that has been brought to this discussion; for instance, I couldn’t care less if games are “art” or not. I also don’t think there is one true way to make games. I just think there should be more exploration, like there already has been for other media – if that requires new words as new things are discovered, so what? Is it really a given that games don’t offer anything new (as in different, not necessarily “better”) over books and film? But I’m not in that particular fight either way, so whatever.

            If looking into interactive, coupled systems (as just one possibility) makes those game that do so more “formalistic”, why does that matter so much? How do we know if it’s any good unless someone tries it? How do we know where the balance actually is for games (or particular preferences) without having found the extremes? Equally, I bet there’s a whole load of minimalisms and perversions of the medium that might be interesting; whether they make “good” games on their own probably doesn’t matter, either.

            But I’m not actually interested in that, personally, I just want to see more of the kinds of games I like, and some I’ve never seen before; why should that be a problem? It’d be really funny if this whole discussion is actually just an expression of a heretofore unknown distinction of preference in a blooming medium.

    • fish99 says:

      ” Oh, and trotting out “every player’s experience is different/no two games are the same”. I am yet to discover a single game where that particular bit of starry-eyed nonsense is even close to being true. ”

      Fallout New Vegas achieves that to some extent, assuming you are talking about story.

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        The games from the company behind its tech, and titles previous to Interplay’s fall, can count as well. And Deus Ex. And The Walking Dead. I… Really, there’s no way one could consider the entire history of games and then state this at all.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          You will always, always touch on the same plot beats, the same general narrative direction, the same endings – say you have a game where you start at point 1 and end at point 10 of 10, and pick three points out of the remaining eight as representing the story sequences you saw. You might pick 2, 3 and 4, your friend might pick 6, 7 and 8 but to my mind you’ve essentially played the same game. You can swap stories about why you chose the numbers you did and how that might affect how you arrived at the end, but you can each see that your individual selections very plainly take place on the exact same general narrative track. Do I get the chance at the end of episode 1 of The Walking Dead to say “Hang on, if we move into this deserted motel then we’ll inevitably run out of food and be sucked into a web of contrived moral dilemmas about who’s more deserving of our limited supplies”? Do I hell – I have to play through the exact same little apocalyptic farce as everyone else. Some faces might be different, I might zigzag left rather than right here and vice versa there, but it doesn’t change the overall shape of what I’m doing. Pretending this makes my experience something seriously unique and precious in any lasting, meaningful way is as disingenuous as acting like Borderlands’ “gazillions of guns” is anything more than an empty marketing hook.

          And that’s fine. Your playthrough of Shadow of the Colossus is functionally speaking exactly the same as mine, whether or not you spent five hours chasing lizards while I finished the story, and that’s fine. We don’t have to invent a whole new language to explain how each of us is a unique snowflake for choosing to experience the game in the way we did. We can chat about the game, we can say “I did this” “Well, I did this”, but what happened is we both killed sixteen big monsters, we saw the credits roll, the end. We can talk at length about why we liked or disliked it but without some kind of actual curation or direction behind what we were doing, chances are both of our experiences will fundamentally be of limited or no interest to anyone who isn’t about to play the game for themselves. No-one cares about your stupid farm, in one, two, three years’ time no-one will care beyond a “Oh, that’s nice” what you built in Minecraft, and no-one seriously cares how you chose to play through The Walking Dead – they simply want to talk about whether it was a good story. To use the Bioware dilemma, you don’t talk about whether you chose to pet the puppy or kick the puppy, you talk about the fact that the game offered you the choice.

          • Muzman says:

            But differences in play experience do affect the conception of character and narrative. This is where the ol’ ludo-narrative dissonance comes from, at its finest detail. Players do have a different game from one another to some extent, depending on the kind of game. Whether or not you care or if the plot is wildly different from one player to the next is not the point. A games writer must care about this.

      • The Random One says:

        Yeah, but that’s also true for other media. For instance, my mom is certain that the V for Vendetta movie was a love story. She saw it in a completely different light than I did, but I don’t think any of our interpretations is less valid.

        Games are not an interactive medium. All media are interactive, because they only fulfill their purpose when someone is interacting with them, and therefore comng up with their own interpretations. Games are just a lot more interactive than other media, just like films are a lot more visual than other media, books are a lot more wordy than other media etc.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          I’ve not seen the film, but the graphic novel plainly is (in part) a love story. You may not like that, you may not like the implications of it, the kind of love story that it happens to be, you may think it’s poorly done or inappropriate, but the fact doesn’t change that it is in there. But again, no idea how much the film changes it up.

          • The Random One says:

            I don’t dislike it, I just could never have that interpretation (I read the graphic novel and watched the movie; she only did the latter). To me, the relationship betwen V and Evey was completely sexless, close to father-and-daughter but not quite. But I wan’t implying that her interpretation was wrong or inferior; just that hers is completely different from my own.

    • Muzman says:

      I’d say (guess) it’s because they’re trying to bridge that game/story gap as writers. They may not succeed, but they seem to be working on it and in a position where it might work someday. As they say, the games that succeed at this marriage are often extremely bare and simple when it comes to narrative

      Plotting a sort of linear ‘ascent of narrative’ does seem a little bit shakey. Silent film cards might interrupt viewer involvement, or in the silent era they might have been a part of viewer involvement. Then The Artist wins the Oscar and confuses everyone.
      It probably makes more sense to see games as a sort of 3 (or more) dimensional plot of narrative, viewpoint and interactivity describing a space of genre superfluity (he says, out smugging the article). All of it is now kind of valid, from text adventures, Dear Esther and Heavy Rain to Call of Duty:No Man Opens a Door Alone IV to Deus Ex. You name it, it’s in there.
      To go back to the point about The Artist, the problem with the linear ‘ascent of narrative’ is that it’s not like older (and presumed to be more primitive) methods are lesser arts. They’re capable of excelling too, even if they aren’t striving for, or capable of, the perfect imagined usage of the medium. They might be capable of perfecting their small slice of genre however.

      As an example, Half Life always gets mentioned in these things, but for me one of the best pieces of storytelling in games will always be Thief: The Dark Project. People might baulk because they didn’t like it that much, but that doesn’t matter. It’s extremely well put together and is only a Game-Cutscene-Game sort of affair like most other things at the time. It just wove so much subtle detail, suggestion and personality into the levels themselves that it transcended that. It’s better than a thousand games thinking they’re doing a better job because they’re not breaking the viewpoint like Half Life.
      (I may have gone off on a tangent)

  11. Lemming says:

    I have a lot of love for Fallout 3. It really is a fun place to just lose yourself in (especially with some mods). My favourite moments are always skulking through the interior mazes of abandoned buildings, gun at the ready, picking off nightmarish ghoul variants from afar, scavenging for loot. That’s something unique to this Fallout, as the previous two – while always awesome, were never going to be able to pull that same feeling off.

    The only criticism I have for it is the usual ‘Bethesda can’t do npc design/animation for toffee’, and the fact there is a main story at all. Your dad going was a good catalyst for you leaving the Vault (or being forced to leave), and after that I would have just enjoyed a world filled entirely with side-quests and minor stories. Happily, the main story doesn’t get in the way too much.

    …and before anyone mentions it: No I didn’t play New Vegas, I don’t want to play New Vegas, and you all going on about it is having the opposite effect you think it is. Fallout 3 is enough.

    • Premium User Badge

      cpt_freakout says:

      Unassuming question: why don’t you want to play New Vegas?

      • Geebs says:

        Sarcastic interjection: see the post below yours for validation of Lemming’s point

    • Siamese Almeida says:

      Enough for what? Nobody really gives a shit about forcing you to play something you don’t want to — if people recommend you New Vegas, it’s because it’s vastly better than Fallout 3.

      Fallout 3 is a subpar shooter written by not-so-trained monkeys. That’s not even getting into the complete lore-rape of Fallout. Even if you want to pretend it’s a separate title, it’s bad enough on it’s own. Hey, you’re “allowed” to like it, I hear people are into all sorts of things these days.

      • Stardreamer says:

        Strident opinion, forcefully expressed.

        But I believe it’s a fallacy to say that there’s a better game – both have their good points and bad. They’re very different beasts, with very different design briefs and end goals. In my opinion it’s world was better for exploration. NV’s tended to be a bit prosaic.

        Fallout 3 was the perfect introduction to the Fallout universe for Fallout newcomers like myself. It was also a hell of a playground, visually and in gameplay terms, and offered a Hero’s Journey tale that is mightily satisfying.

        New Vegas was the much more mature, faithful iteration of the Fallout concept. It offered better writing, a better and more nuanced cRPG experience. It wasn’t about making the player feel like a hero, although by the end of the DLC that was certainly where it seemed to be leading you. But in the vanilla game it was about asking you to spend some time in the world, have fun doing it, and see who you could become.

        Like the console wars, 16-bit or even 8-bit computer wars, there’s never really any subjective ‘winner’ when both (or more) options are capable of entertaining people and turning them into fans. Bethesda’s Fallout games cater to different audiences while offering very similar experiences. To say one is better is, in my opinion, too simplistic a view.

        Oh, and I should say I’ve played both and love both. Playing favourites between them just doesn’t seem fair when they’ve both kept me entertained for weeks.

      • WrenBoy says:

        I like the way allowed is in quotes.

      • blackmyron says:

        I have the reversed opinion of Stardreamer about the two games.

        But you know what? Like Stardreamer, I played both games for a ridiculous amount of time. Ultimately, I suppose it doesn’t matter which is “better” if they both fall into the region of “Games I’ll Play Again and Again”.

        Lemming: As someone that personally thought that F3 was awesome, I would still recommend giving F:NV a whirl sometime.

    • ComfortFit says:

      Download the Tale of Two Wastelands mod. You can play both FONV and FO3 in the same game. Problem solved?

    • Vinraith says:

      FO:NV is the superior Fallout game, but the inferior exploration/open world game. Some people just can’t stand that many of us care more about the latter than the former. FO3 with the Wanderer’s Edition mod is still my all-time favorite survival game.

      But yeah, faced with a forum full of folks like Siamese, above, I’d probably have skipped FO:NV too. Personally, I think it was worth playing once (it’s got zilch for replay value, too story-driven), but to each their own.

      • malkav11 says:

        I get that story isn’t your focus, so I can understand not wanting to replay New Vegas for other approaches to the quests (there tend to be other approaches to many of them and of course there are multiple mutually exclusive factions to align with), but I’m not seeing where Fallout 3 would have any more replay value. You can max every skill and attribute, and see every quest and location in one (super long) playthrough. There are a few binary choices to be made (save or explode Megaton!) but only a few.

        I dunno. Personally I think they’re both fantastic games and recommend them to anyone, but I definitely favor New Vegas overall (both because story is what matters most to me in games, and because I think the systems work better in NV).

        • Vinraith says:

          “Replayability” is perhaps the wrong term, you’re right. Let me put it this way: I’ve spent 200 hours in FO:NV, and I’m pretty certain that I’ve found every nook and cranny the map has to offer and seen everything worth seeing. I’ve played 600 hours of FO3, and know there are still places in the capital wasteland I’ve not found.

          Yes, obviously with FO:NV you can finish some quests differently, and get some different dialog, but that’s vastly less interesting to me than finding new places or things. I might have a different opinion if I thought NV was more responsive to decision making, and more open in its options, but as it stands I can’t imagine playing back through all that plot again.

          On a somewhat unrelated note, I just strongly prefer FO3′s atmosphere. NV has way too much civilization, and way too many people, to be what I want in a post-apocalyptic setting. I don’t find the story or factions very compelling, so I’ve little patience for their intrusions on my explorations. Plus, I’ve just never been much for westerns.

          • HadToLogin says:

            You probably stated why there are people who like FO3. They want post-apocalyptic, while they don’t know Fallout NEVER was post-apocalyptic, something especially Bethesda didn’t understood – Fallout is post-post-apocalypse.

            FO3 happens 200 years later, and all humanity was able to do in that time is creating 3 settlements, while in a same time, Mutants created f-cking Army while Enclave could overrun NCR with their numbers.

          • Vinraith says:

            Well, you have to remember FO3 was originally intended to be 50 years after, not 200. It was changed to try to shoe-horn in some Fallout lore, and I’ve always thought the weakest thing about it was that attempt to connect it to a franchise it wasn’t really ever intended to be part of.

            As to Fallout being post-post apocalypse, that’s certainly true of 2 and NV, which is part of the reason I’m less fond of them. I think 1 managed a very nice post-apoc vibe, though, with civilization re-emerging in fits and starts.

            Anyway, yeah, I’ve always said FO3 is a great game, but a lousy Fallout game.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Although I think NV is far superior to F3, I agree with you on the replayability factor. If it weren’t for the DLC and the plethora of deep mods available to NV, I don’t think I would have gone past two replays. I’m currently playing New Vegas with the Project Brazil mod, and it’s like a new experience for me — considering I’ve gone through the game seven or eight times now, that’s a pretty notable achievement.

        On the other hand, the supplemental adventure stuff in Fallout 3 is so mediocre that I always end up abandoning replays because boredom sets in due to tracking through the same tired environments and situations over and over again. There’s just not enough variety in F3 to keep me occupied for long.

      • Werthead says:

        I disagree. ‘Open-world’ does not mean to me, ‘you can wander anywhere on a big map’ (in which case JUST CAUSE 2 is the best open-world game ever, except it isn’t because there’s not much to do on that map except blow stuff up, which is fun but gets old quickly). It has to imply some kind of reactivity to what you’re doing. It’s the difference between a theme park and an engaging game setting.

        FALLOUT 3 does this in very limited ways: you can find, destroy, expose or cover up an android. You can blow up Megaton or leave it alone. You can put that tree guy from FO1 and 2 out of his misery or keep him alive. You can save the Wasteland by being a good guy or an arsehole. And that’s about it. You can’t kill anyone important because they have plot armour (they get knocked out instead). Your followers are just extra guns and backpacks and have no disernible life of their own (although FO3 isn’t quite as bad as SKYRIM in this regard). You either complete side-quests or leave them alone, you choose to do the main quest or not, and that’s really it.

        NEW VEGAS adapts much more readily and much more on the fly to your decisions. You can choose one of several things to do in Vegas to ensure who has control of the city itself. You can ally with (and then betray) any of the exterior factions out in the wasteland. You can choose the relationship between the city and those factions. The factions you help out will then return that favour by sending aid to the final battle (the infamous B-52 scene is a gaming high-fiving moment if there was ever one) or witholding it. You actually decide who takes part in the final batte: you can go to the main villain’s camp and, if you can get past his guards, kill him at any point in the game and the game will react accordingly (i.e. people will go, “Holy crap!” and talk to you about it afterwards, unlike FO3 where the reaction to you saving the Wasteland is muted or SKYRIM where absolutely no-one gives a toss about you saving the entire planet from dragons).

        FALLOUT 3 is a very fine and enjoyable open-world shooter, but it is not a very good open-world role-playing game because your ability to make an impact on that world is limited to a few binary choices the game pushes on you. NEW VEGAS is an open-world game with a genuine open-world narrative where your choices are vastly more meaningful. And it gets bonus points for including the “Tell all the factions to sod off whilst you conquer the world yourself,” option :)

    • Premium User Badge

      Monkeyshines says:

      Have you heard about New Vegas? You should play New Vegas.

  12. Premium User Badge

    tomeoftom says:

    Good Papers; thanks! Also, nice and civil comments section this week, which is a relief.

    PS. New Vegas 4 lyfe

  13. blackmyron says:

    Designing interactive fiction is actually pretty fun. It’s a little complicated at first, but gets easier with time. And for me, if fulfills a desire from youth to actually make my own Infocom game. And there’s some good games in the competitions (although I would recommend reading reviews of said games first).

  14. Michael Fogg says:

    The piece ‘Designing game narrative’ has the predictable laudation of ‘emergent’ storytelling. But it fails to acknowledge one important thing.

    A narrative in the dramatic sense is about people and their relationships. About their motivations, desires, failings and all that jazz. It is not about barrels exploding setting off great chain reactions of explosions. Or about random drops dropping at the most opportunate/disastrous moments. This reveals how ‘procedural narrative’ of, say, Spelunky, is quite severly limited to only one type of narrative (of the adventure/thriller/action type).

    Some creators strive to create interactive stories of the dramatic kind. That would be massively difficult with the ‘procedural’ method and would generally require AI beyond what is typically used today. There has been at least one attempt I can think of with this approach – that being Facade. And it found limited success.

    • Juan Raigada says:

      I agree, emergent narrative is possible, but emergent “meaningful” narrative is another thing. I feel that the push towards emergence makes games more shallow and definitely much less interesting for me in narrative terms.

      That said, even if emergent narrative is not a real possibility, there´s no need for all games to be narrative (and emergence can do wonders for systems and gameplay). Sometimes I feel games should be split into different media the way Fiction Film, TV series, Sport Broadcasts, Newscasts and Reality TV (for example) are in the whole audiovisual spectrum (to the extend they are rarely even talked about or critiqued together).

    • Shieldmaiden says:

      Good emergent game play relies on good simulation. It’s true that most games don’t set out to simulate human relationships. If they did, you’d get more emergent game play that resembled traditional drama. For instance, imagine a simulation of a Downton Abbey-esque estate, with an appropriately complex web of relationships. Emergent dramatic scenarios could be quite possible without going too far beyond what we already see in the Sims. A man is having an affair and, according to the base state of the simulation, unlikely to get caught. Due to player interference, evidence of the affair gets into the hands of the man’s wife. She then angrily confronts him at dinner and they have a public row. That row increases the stress levels of everyone present. The elevated stress levels causes an argument between two of the staff to escalate to violence, which results in one of them getting killed, which then feeds back into the simulation. Of course if the wife’s “self-esteem” stat was very low upon receiving the evidence of her husband’s affair, she may instead decide to keep her knowledge of the situation secret. Or the player might have done something entirely different with the evidence.

      Complex, yes, but not beyond the capabilities of current technology, I feel.

      I don’t think dramatic narrative and meaningful narrative are necessarily the same thing. The average soap opera is dramatic, but isn’t exactly meaningful. I’d agree that games don’t really have the capacity to do meaningful narrative well. They’re much better at using mechanics for that. A great example is Brenda Romero’s Train. It’s a board game where player’s are presented with the goal of transporting little people as efficiently as possible. The twist is that unbeknownst, at least initially, to the players, they’re transporting Jews to Auschwitz. The theme of the game is “Complicity” and it’s hard to imagine another medium being able to communicate an idea in such a visceral fashion.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nogo says:

      Not to mention the entire argument seems silly if you use the broader terms that the art world already recognizes: movies and videogames generally fall under “time-based media” with games having the caveat of being “interactive time-based media.”

      He’s got his cart in front of the horse here. Instead of discussing what a gaming narrative should be we should be discussing narrative types and the genres they work well in.

      As is, he’s basically arguing that the future of videogames is board games.

  15. tormos says:

    RPS made it through a whole Sunday Papers without any slobbering misogyny or false accusations thereof! Go team nice people! Can this be a thing that we do from, like, now on?

    • The Random One says:

      We can only hope there is no slobbering mysogyny that needs to be brought to light.

      • tormos says:

        It’s several hours later and the worst thing on here is a little bit of whining about “POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD”! I think we’ve done it

        • Premium User Badge

          ffordesoon says:

          My favorite version of that is “It is literally political correctness gone mad!”

          Really? The abstract rhetorical concept of poltical correctness became an independent actor, incarnated in the world, and started claiming to be Napoleon? That is a real thing that happened in the real world?

  16. kwyjibo says:

    What has Emily Short been up to recently? I’ve not come across any of her stuff for years, interactive fiction seems to have shifted towards TWINE teens and zines.

    • Michael Fogg says:

      She’s working on the ultimate parser that will recognize every word in the English language.

  17. PopeRatzo says:

    I can very easily get away from the “looming new consoles”.

    There. I’m away from them, and I’ve been away from them, and I’ll bet dollars to donuts that I will continue to get away from them, just as I have gotten away from modern gaming consoles since the first xbox and playstation had their inception in Satan’s smelly dirty underwear.

  18. Shieldmaiden says:

    I really don’t understand why anyone whose goal is to tell a specific story would choose to make a video game. It’s like eating soup with a fork: it’s possible, and forks have many attractive qualities, but a spoon is clearly the better option. That’s not to say that video games can’t have great narratives, but when you hand the player agency, you’re handing over a degree of authorial control as well. If you’re not going to give the player any agency, then what’s the point in making a game?