The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on February 23rd, 2014 at 1:30 pm.

RIND SO TOUGH IT'S CRAZY.

Sundays are for listening to The Smiths, playing with virtual reality spaceships, and assembling a list of the week’s game scribblings while continuing to resist the urge to link to your own podcast.

  • This week was dominated by the re-structuring of Irrational Games. Our very own Rich Stanton takes to the Guardian to talk about the meaning of Irrational’s closure, holding up the company’s games and Levine’s comments as a mirror for what’s happening. Good quotes in there from Levine himself as well. “I love systems, I love board games and that’s all they are is systems. I think the challenge is that I probably have something more to say in the narrative space than I do in the system space, but who knows how that could combine? I mean maybe, we did this game called Freedom Force about superheroes, and one thing that I thought we did better than other superhero games was the narrative component. Superhero stories are soap operas, right? They take the characters and emotions and amplify them through the fantastical stuff, and without that character stuff – like without Uncle Ben dying in Amazing Fantasy #15 – Spider-Man isn’t interesting! Videogames often leave that on the table and make their games way more goofy than comic books actually are.” Thanks for the Spider-Man spoilers, Ken.
  • Leigh Alexander appears at Gamasutra with an article about the press’s responsibility in reporting the ‘dirty laundry’ we hear about life inside certain game studios. I am tired of self-examination, preferring to live my life with ill-considered and total self-belief, but this is useful for the explanation of why game journalists don’t always report everything we hear. “I don’t report a lot of things people tell me in confidence about what goes on at their jobs. Digging around in dirty laundry and in open wounds is complicated. The value of the story to those who will read it has to be worth the net risk. There’s the risk you’re dead wrong: you can’t just write an article based on what you heard from one friend or one colleague and present it as fact, just because you believe it. People have to be willing to corroborate, and they have to be willing to do it on the record. Otherwise it’s not reporting, it’s rumor-mongering. It’s irresponsible.”
  • Brendan Keogh remembers that games are made by humans. Quite a lot of them, even. This is a handy rejection of the standard auteur theory, as far as both credit and blame goes. “It’s not something I had ever really appreciated before, and hearing these fascinatingly mundane stories about making games in a AAA studio was eye-opening. Nothing scandalous or corrupt or horrendous – just … mundane and everyday events leading to particular creative decision. It got me thinking about how we – players, critics, journalists – really struggle to appreciate that these games are created not just by the one or two people we see in a dozen pre-release interviews and profiles, but by dozens if not hundreds of people, each with some small say in what the final creative work will look like.”
  • Finally, Richard Cobbett pops up at Eurogamer to talk about what Levine might do next. Specifically, the problems with replayable narrative. Systemic games give me excellent stories to tell all the time, but not the kinds of stories Richard is talking about here, nor those Levine is famous for. “To take the most basic, there are reasons people say a good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s hard to dangle that sense of closure as a carrot, or provide a reason to keep going for it after it’s been all crunched up. Even great procedural games like Spelunky or The Binding of Isaac or FTL typically feel ‘done’ once the ending arrives, unfinished business or not. Closure is important. It’s not simply what ends the story, it’s what provides a sense of release; a good one elevating the whole experience to the stars, a bad one killing it dead.”
  • Indie developers! Read Robert Yang’s handy tips for submitting your game to the IGF. Yang has been a submitter and a judge, and has sympathy for both. “Test your game and make sure it works. Most judges will assume good faith and contact you if the game build doesn’t work, but after some point, we just give up. Test on a mid-range Windows machine and a mid-range OSX machine, borrow friends’ machines, etc. You don’t need to start a QA lab, but just do some basic checks. (You might be tempted to take advantage of the judge’s good faith, as an entrant… and let me tell you, it never pays off. Don’t do it.)” I’ve been a judge for a few years and I was amazed during the last process how many games simply did not work.
  • Polygon spoke to Jake Kazdal, designer of Skulls of the Shogun, about why he’s decided to take his next game, a Saturday morning cartoon-inspired space shooter, “full roguelike”. I’ve played and have been meaning to write about Galak-Z for months, and the open, roguelike-style mission was the best thing about it. I like simple, neat reporting: “The studio is spending a lot of time on that aspect of Galak-Z, but one piece of the puzzle that helps is the game’s enemy AI, which is powered by technology from a software company called Cyntient. Galak-Z’s world contains three warring factions: Imperials, space pirates and indigenous aliens. They’re all hostile to the player character, a pilot named A-Tak. But you can use their ongoing conflict to your advantage — we watched Kazdal lure one type of enemies toward another, and then pick up the pieces after their battle concluded.”
  • Tweet/picture of the week: Brendon Chung’s “fanart for the place I died a thousand times.” It took me a moment to see it, but when I did, I gave it all my favourites and re-tweets.
  • Oh sod it. The weekly Crate & Crowbar PC gaming podcast hit episode 30 on Friday. C&C is Gunpoint creator Tom Francis, Sir You Are Being Hunted artist Marsh Davies, PC Gamer’s Chris Thursten and Tom Senior, and me, drinking fine whiskeys and talking about what we’re playing that week. I’ve missed the last few, but that’s only served to allow Rich Stanton to fill my seat with greater wit. Go, listen, bask in the atmosphere of a friendly, fictional gaming pub, and wonder why most episodes were recorded in a graveyard.
  • Failed. But I can still link music in victory. This week was all about returning to Los Campesinos, specifically this. Scream the chorus loud.

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91 Comments »

  1. morbiusnl says:

    wow no mention of Auriea’s inspiring keynote speech for Indiecade East? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LCHPrRZA3s

  2. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Leigh is right. She is a bad (big-J) journalist. So are most. I’ve been banging on about this for ages already, here in the comments and elsewhere. And we readers are partly to blame, praising RPS for reposting other people’s work (as in the Langdell case) or pronouncing another one of John’s editorial rants as great journalism.
    I’ve felt for a while that this should be the next phase in the evolution of games journalism, but it doesn’t seem to be happening. I blame Kieron.

    • Frank says:

      Bosh (that’s what Brits say, right?).

      Not all writing by industry outsiders is journalism. This is a blog and I’ve hardly heard people trumpeting RPS’s work as journalism (though Nathan’s interviews are great). In particular, I haven’t seen people calling John’s editorials journalism. It’s enough that they be great commentary (at least according to people that come here to read more than to troll).

      And what’s wrong with pointing to good work elsewhere on the internet? Remember, this is a blog, where things are written — and not all written things must be journalism. Go ahead and blame yourself if you’ve ever brought up the j-word in comments, because it really doesn’t have much to do with the content of this site.

      • Baines says:

        The journalism/not-journalism distinction gets used as a cop out.

        When someone wants into an event or wants early access or just want their words to have more weight with readers, then they are a journalist.

        But when that same person faces criticism for what they’ve said or left unsaid, or for failing to look into what they’ve reported, then suddenly they are a blogger, opinion piece writer, news aggregator, or whatever other specifically non-journalist description they can come up with.

        It is a hat that is too often donned for any benefits and then removed to avoid responsibilities. That behavior happens all over the place. It happens at other games sites and it happens at RPS as well.

        (And it happens in other journalism fields as well. Years back, some of the big US networks got a bit of heat for stuff like reporting politicians’ statements at face value, even when the statements were fairly easy to prove wrong. It was a period where people were starting to take comedy show The Daily Show to be a better source of news because, even if for comedic value, it was actually questioning the things it reported. CBS News defended its reporting by saying that its evening news was just reporters reporting news, and not investigative journalists investigating stories. It wasn’t the job of those reporters to verify or question what others said or claimed; that was the job of CBS’s dedicated journalism shows like 60 Minutes. It not only was a rather cheap attempt to deflect criticism, it also ignored that CBS routinely ran “journalism” bits on its evening news.)

        • tetracycloide says:

          But that dichotomy is one forced on them by an antiquated access structure, not one they chose for themselves. The reality is you can be both at once or flip between the two at will and that’s absolutely OK.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            Being a journalist means you have an added set of constraints. The problem is that often an article is claimed to be journalistic in nature, but when criticized too much it magically transforms into something else. You can certainly do both journalistic pieces and opinion pieces, but they are one OR the other, not whichever is most convenient at the time.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Never heard bosh, although there are enough dialects that that could exist. And with enough confidence anything works; tosh, pish & fiddle, wankstaunton, badgercrap, arsenonsense, etc.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        “Remember, this is a blog,”

        If you’ll forgive me, though, confusing medium and format feels like a bit of a cop-out. It’s not 1998; saying a publication (one that conducts interviews, reports news, publishes commentary, and publicly challenges dishonest PR) shouldn’t be held to any standards because it’s a blog is like saying the BBC news has no responsibilities because it’s in the same medium as Downton Abbey and QI.

        I mostly love what RPS does, mind — I’m only suggesting that having lower expectations for it because of its medium really just belittles its writers, its readers, and its subjects.

        • The Random One says:

          I think that when RPS says “this is just a blog” they don’t mean “we don’t have to be like journalists because we publish on a website using WordPress”, they mean “our website is a small website, with a small crew, owned by an opinionated and grumpy man who mostly chooses our editorial line based on what he likes and dislikes; we don’t have the manpower or the inclination to do HARD JOURNALIZM”. You’re free to disagree with their stance and say that since they are widely-read they have the same responsabilities as Kotaku, but their defence doesn’t depend on the media they use.

      • Nate says:

        May I posit:

        A continuum exists from blogger to journalist (and probably further on both ends as well);
        The blogger has the same responsibilities as the journalist (and in fact we all have the same responsibilities to check both our facts and our gossip, as well as to detail our level of certainty);
        The size of those responsibilities– that is, the shame felt upon failing to meet them– is a function not of identifying as journalist or blogger, but of the size of one’s audience, and the resources one has available.

    • Baines says:

      Kieron has already gone to the next phase, which is to write comic books.

      • BarryAllen says:

        I’m glad he left, Uber is great and if he didn’t leave it might not exist.

    • bill says:

      I do find it kind of disappointing that RPS doesn’t really do any real journalism.

      They don’t have to do it, it is their “blog” and I understand that they write about what they want to write about. That is part of its charm. I like the honest opinions and creative writing.

      But it is a shame that they don’t seem to want to do any real journalism, given that there isn’t that much real journalism going on in the industry.. it would be interesting to read the odd in-depth, well researched original piece.
      Polygon, Kotaku and Eurogamer (and even mainstream media recently) seem much more likely to publish some real journalism. Which will then get linked to from here.

      Regurgitating news from other sources is unfortunately how the internet works. It alternates between being useful (when you find out about something you wouldn’t otherwise hear about) and annoying (when it is just duplication of information leading to information overload).

    • Lars Westergren says:

      John has written several investigative pieces about video game violence, for instance. Leigh has written long pieces on studios, economics, cultural trends, individual games. “Real” journalists often write opinion pieces too, these are called editorials, RPS have plenty of these.

      I think the big problems with games journalists are not on the content creation side, it’s that most of the consumers are a bit thick, and dismiss pieces that they disagree with as “rants”, “agenda” or “clickbait”.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Nonsensical piffle! You are a communist, I’d wager, and a poor role model. A good journalist pleases everyone all the time, even sodomites know that.

        John Walker is a sock puppet! Kieron for Pope! Et cetera!

      • Squiffy says:

        “I think the big problems with games [journalism]…[is] that most of the consumers are a bit thick, and dismiss pieces that they disagree with as “rants”, “agenda” or “clickbait”.

        This doesn’t get said enough.

      • MartinWisse says:

        Sure, but the day to day reporting on RPS is done in what you might call a hobbyist context: reviews, announcements, columns, a bit consumer advice/tech reporting, not hard journalism.

        And really, op-eds and such can be great, but I wouldn’t put that under the sort of investigative journalism that wasn’t done about the closure of Irrational Games either.

  3. Rovac says:

    at first glance, Brendan Keogh looks like a grumpy Alec Meer

  4. Trespasser in the Stereo Field says:

    Sundays are for putting Crusader Kings II on slow and practicing guitar scales in between wars, and for realizing just how underrated Johnny Marr’s playing is.

  5. onsamyj says:

    q2dm1 ftw! Oh, memories…

  6. Wulfram says:

    Leigh Alexander says “narrative-led games aren’t being made in triple-A anymore, really”

    Am I misunderstanding or is that just nonsense?

    • RedViv says:

      It’s relatively simple, actually: Did the game designers think of a story first, and build in gameplay to support that story? No? Then it is not narratively led. BInfinite is a nice example of how it all falls apart – the conventions of the manshoot quite grandly ruining what ambitious, but ultimately confused and confusing, narrative it had.

      • woodsey says:

        Whether or not the gameplay and narrative are cohesive seems irrelevant. Binfinite’s gameplay somewhat undermines its narrative, and its narrative is something of a mess, but its narrative is both heavily featured and what propels you through the game – not your own agency. Hell, the first and final hour – and many moments in between – are devoted entirely to the narrative.

        A huge swathe of AAA titles are narratively-led. Whether or not that narrative is any good or not doesn’t change that.

        • The Random One says:

          The point is not whether it’s bad or not, but whether it drives the design. Maybe Binfinite’s narrative was great before it was conveyed through the medium of several rooms full of baddies; we don’t know because we haven’t played that Binfinite.

          I think there’s some disconnect here between narrative-led design and narrative-led gameplay. Most AAA games do have narrative-led gameplay, because they are one person shouting at you to do stuff because REASONS for eight hours. But, as RedViv suggests, that narrative was placed later to justify you doing the stuff you do (i.e. “we need a reason for Drake to be in a train as it falls apart because it’ll be a cool level”) I think there may be a strong argument that since most of those games don’t have narrative-led design, their narrative-led gameplay is a sham.

      • HadToLogin says:

        So, wouldn’t that make MOST of today games narrative driven? Because you need to know the story before you know how to make levels so you will know where to put scripts…

        • Kieron Gillen says:

          I would suggest go and have a nose around what working Writers say about writing for AAA games.

          In short: more likely to get given a bunch of levels and work out how they all tie together.

          • HadToLogin says:

            Read about those too. But it still feels like they first make at least some general story, then ask someone who knows how to write some books to fill their story with words.

            It’s not like in Tomb Raider they first do few nice looking places and then called to Pratchett:
            “Hey, look at those levels and make us a story about whatever you want”
            “I wanted to write Tomb Raider game, how about that?”
            “Yeah, sounds great, but if you decide to write about Garrett it won’t be a problem at all – just remember to explain how thief suddenly is stealing from monkeys”.

          • ShadyGuy says:

            That’s pretty much what happens with most blockbuster action movies as well. They storyboard the action set pieces and write the story around those. Which explains why I don’t like most modern action movies.

          • Gap Gen says:

            This is kinda worse, because the core piece of “writing” is done by the designers rather than an actual writer. Hence why even game with famous name writers attached to them have awful stories, because they hired Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel toilets.

          • Geebs says:

            Meh. If you put the writers in charge, you get Far Cry 3′s story.

          • Lanfranc says:

            Good writers mean very little if you don’t also have good editors.

          • The Random One says:

            @HadToLogin: No, but I’m sure that they said “We’re making a Tomb Raider game, because we have that IP. Look at these levels we made for a Tomb Raider game and write us a reason for Lara to be there.”

          • HadToLogin says:

            @Random: I’m sure they wrote general story before making levels – if you first make levels it’s them that dictate story – you can’t have Lara get 5 minutes of rest which story requires because she just got out from waterfall into crumbling cave….
            But you’re right, there are games where story isn’t important, as examples first Aliens vs Predator (they said those levels were meant to be just like in Doom – go forward and kill – but suddenly someone required story) or Left 4 Dead (nobody will make me believe when game was released those stories were connected).
            But I guess that’s why new Tomb Raider is “story of a girl becoming hard-core killer”, while Aliens vs Dead are “press W and Left Mouse Button until next loading screen”.

      • Wulfram says:

        Well, I’m only looking from an end user perspective, but it seems like Narrative is more important to games than it used to be.

        Maybe it’s just the “any more” that is putting me off

      • baozi says:

        Can anybody name me a game that is driven by narrative instead of gameplay in the manner you described, triple-a or indie, now or then? I don’t actually think there are that many.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Maybe I misunderstand what’s meant by narrative-driven, but I think narrative-driven AAA games outnumber mechanics-driven AAA games by quite a bit nowadays.

      • Geebs says:

        I don’t think it’s changed really. The main problem is that nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

        I mean, ten years ago “story driven” meant fricking Sewer Shark!

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      It’s nonsense. Almost all AAA games are narrative-led. The AAA games that got the most attention last year were Binfinite, Last of Us and GTA5. You don’t get any more narrative-led than those.

  7. dangermouse76 says:

    Sundays are for trying to remember the Beers, ales, stouts, and porters I drunk in the Hanging Bat in Edinburgh last night…….no gone. All whilst I play Minecraft and listen to the drama of the Deathly hallows play out behind me on the projector.
    It’s a weird sort of day.
    I think number 14 was called the Hadouken 7.4% soooooo nice.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Sundays are for drinking tea in a mosque, then finding a cafe where the coffee and cake is free but you pay by the hour. Oh, and kicking the Bastard Space Imperialists out of the galactic centre, clearly.

  8. Alexander says:

    That Q2 map… I should shed a tear.

    Question, what’s up with the big fuss over the Irrational layoffs?

    • The Random One says:

      Irrational is a very big developer that just delivered a very big, very successful game. No one expected it to shut down and lay off most of its staff, and Ken’s commenters that its reasons for doing so aren’t the most common ones (namely “we ran out of money” and “we were bought by an evil publisher that’s shutting us down”).

      • qrter says:

        I think part of the fuss is also that Irrational’s shutting down is almost wholly based on its head developer deciding he wants to do something else – normally you’d expect he’d just leave and his place would be taken by someone from within the studio, and the studio would continue on.

        • Distec says:

          That is an assumption that has been all too eagerly embraced by some people. I don’t know if it’s because they dislike Ken Levine or harbor a resentment for the Bioshock series underachieving on their lofty goals.

          Levine has certainly been the public face of this development. But this closing could have just as well been stipulated by 2K Games. Of course, he’s not going to rag on the publisher he still works for or spill the beans on any internal discussions that lead to this outcome. But I think a lot of people wrongly interpreted Ken’s statement as meaning him personally shutting down Irrational for the sake of his “vision”.

          That strikes me as possible, but unlikely. More likely is that 2K didn’t see the need for keeping the team around if Levine left the studio, or some reason other than personal vanity. Ken got the honor of having to spin this thing with a more positive tone and naturally is getting flak for it.

      • Baines says:

        To be fair, the Leigh Alexander article is about her choosing not to report on claims that would have painted Irrational in a standard developer-in-trouble light.

        Leigh mentions being told a year ago that Irrational faced the risk of such a future. Then spends a significant part of the article talking about the circumstantial evidence that was present, as well as the off-the-record/unreported comments that were warnings of a project that was growing perhaps well beyond its budget and initial scope. (Making the point that it was speculation on hearsay and circumstantial evidence.)

    • Gap Gen says:

      I pointed out on Twitter that since Ken didn’t take each developer, kill their parents with explosives, snap their necks and drink their fluids, it was clearly the Good choice to just let them go.

  9. BreadBitten says:

    WRONG! Music this week is The Afghan Whig’s exemplary post-reunion single “Algiers”.

    https://soundcloud.com/subpop/the-afghan-whigs-algiers

  10. Juan Raigada says:

    Brendan Keogh’s piece is good, but it’s not a refutation of auteur theory, actually.

    There’s this common misunderstanding that people have about that theory. Basically, people seem to think auteur theory implies media is mainly authored by few, important people, and that they provide most of the creative input. Auteur theory, though, focuses not on the works, by assigning them an author, but on the people (by trying to ascertain whether they are authors or not). It says that if somebody works on several movies (or games) and those movies/games/whatever show certain aesthetic qualities unique to them (basically that if a relationship can be traced between somebody working in a piece of media and certain aesthetic/themes/forms appearing in those works – given that a wide enough body of work exists, auteur theory ignores first time and not very prolific authors, actually). It does never attempt to limit the number of authors of a certain piece.

    To sum up: it says that if you working in a piece gives that piece some character, whatever that is, and that character is consistent between most of the pieces you worked on (so we can assume it’s you giving the character and no somebody else), then you are an author of that piece (have had aesthetic input). However, if your work has no discernible effect on the qualities of a piece (ie. no meaningful relationship is found between all the pieces you worked on as compared to pieces you didn’t work on, after having analyzed your body of work), you are not an author (as defined by the theory. You have had no “aesthetic” input). Auteur theory has given “authorship” to cameramen, lighting technicians and sound engineers, for example. I would say certain texture artists (as an example, there are many others) would also qualify,

    It´s ok to disagree with it, though, but we should disagree with what it says, not with what we think it says…

    • Frank says:

      Huh. I didn’t know that. So FEZ cannot be the work of an auteur, then.

      Yeah, I do disagree with it, if your characterization is accurate. Can’t authors change the “character” they contribute from work to work? I can certainly imagine different contributions from writers, artists and desingers from film to film, game to game.

      • Juan Raigada says:

        Yeah, it’s quite a problematic theory. Made fifty years ago and addressing a different landscape.Whoever, it’s not that easily dismissed. There’s no much difference between how AAA games are made today and how Studio movies were made in the fifties (in terms of commercial intent vs “artistic” intent).

        But mind you, it’s purpose is to assess authorship in the context of industrial cultural production. that is, authorship of works where the workers number the hundreds. A work with two or three people behind it falls outside of its scope. I don’t think the theory argues FEZ is not the work of an auteur. That’s self evident and auteur theory is not concerned with it.

        Whether authors can change character: If that change can be tracked, it’s no problem (the classic John Ford essay on the subject does identify a progressive change in his work). If people wildly change the character of what they are doing in the context of an industrial production, with no discernible pattern, then they are producing work, but the character of that work has been imposed by a higher level player (producer/director/marketer) that has much more authorship.

        If somebody has no discernible voice, it’s not an auteur (according to this, we can disagree). It does not say the work has no meaning or input in the piece, only that that input has no aesthetic relevance (and could have been substituted by a similar input form a different worker, something that can not be done if the worker’s input does impact the aesthetics of the work). So basically, if you could take somebody out from working on a game and put somebody else at the same level of skill, and the game remains exactly the same, that person you changed was not an auteur. If the change shows in the qualities of the work, he or she was an auteur.

        Of course analysis focus of the most relevant members of the teams (their input is easier to analyze) but the theory does not dismiss auteurs lower the food chain at all. It’s all very confusing because the original French papers say one thing, but the translation/interpretation by Andrew Sarris (sadly more popular) muddled things quite a bit.

        And how you evaluate character is tricky. It’s about consistent themes and approaches. About the voice of the worker, whatever that means.

        • Arglebargle says:

          Interesting thread. How do you differentiate between a creator with a vision, and a project head with a ‘paint by numbers’ formula?

          • Juan Raigada says:

            Again, according the auteur theory, because the paint by numbers guy is not able to meaningfully differentiate his work from other similar works in the field. If he is painting by numbers, there’s no specific aesthetic quality his works have that are consistent between the full body of work of said craftsman. Is body of work changes according to the contemporary trends and market pressure without having any common, personal, thread that ties them all together.

            Distinguishing between these two types of workers is basically what auteur theory set up to address in the first place.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I knew that article didn’t sit right somehow. Thanks for pointing out the exacticals! :)

  11. TychoCelchuuu says:

    Would’ve been nice to see this article about a talk at Indiecade East which is one of my favorite things I read this week about games.

  12. Randomer says:

    Holy crap! There’s been another Los Campesinos album out for months now? Thank the gods for RPS – you introduced me to them in the first place, and you continue to shore up my woefully inadequate education.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      I’ll read it, but fuck me, the lack of capitalization is not enticing me to do so.

      There may be some grand reason, but to me it’s lazy and it pisses me off more than I reasonably should be.

  13. pilouuuu says:

    I think that the most difficult is to balance gameplay and story. Some games have great approaches like Fallout New Vegas. There’s an open world which you can explore mostly at your leisure and in which if you take different decisions there are different outcomes.

    I’d also think that my ideal game would have a great story like Grim Fandango, but with great gameplay like in Half-Life or Portal and with multiple paths like Stanley Parable or Fallout 2.

    • altum videtur says:

      Yes, we know now that Portal rose to fame on merit of its excellent application of first-person puzzle solving.

      • The Random One says:

        Are you being sarcastic? Portal rose to fame because its excellent story married perfectly with its simple but engaging gameplay. If you only walked through a room while GladOS shouted at you it wouldn’t be as fun (even if Stanley Parable might suggest otherwise, but those are different experiences).

    • Zenicetus says:

      Open world combined with a narrative plot is one of my favorite types of games, but it’s tricky to balance. When the open world is large enough, the player can forget what’s going on in the main plot. If they ever come back to it. I still haven’t finished the main plot in Skyrim and probably never will.

      The latest Asscreed IV teases the player back to the main missions for skill and gear unlocks that can’t be obtained otherwise. That’s one way to handle it. But it’s still easy to get lost in the open world. After enough time playing around in the pirate theme park, I kept forgetting what was going on when I returned to the main missions. “Okay, we’re stealth-following who again? Then we have to kill this other guy? Uh.. okay, let’s go.”

      That’s probably not the kind of experience someone like Levine wants to set up in a game. Still, I prefer it to being led by the nose, with little player agency like Binfinite. It will be interesting to see how the next Witcher game handles this, since they’ve been hyping the open world aspect.

      • Cinek says:

        Main storyline in Skyrim is shit across the board. World itself is great though.

        • PopeRatzo says:

          But they made something that people love. If the story is weak, or gameplay clumsy, it’s still a world that people want to inhabit and make their own.

          And don’t underestimate the importance of Skyrim actually being worth its price. There were maybe one or two AAA games in all of 2013 that could say that (and none of them were called “Bioshock Infinite”), and it’s becoming more rare all the time. I don’t see a single AAA title on the horizon that I expect to be worth the number on it’s price tag. But then, I don’t really expect to see GTA V for the PC this year, either.

  14. RedViv says:

    What kind of word is “galaxed” anyway.

  15. sabrage says:

    Does Rossignol have a last.fm account or something? I only come for the music. Or rather, came.

    • Graham Smith says:

      I don’t know about Jim, but me, Graham, who writes these now, does not. I have a Spotify account with a partly public profile, though I’ve no idea how you might find it or how I might link it to you.

  16. daphne says:

    Fans of Kentucky Route Zero will enjoy this interview with its creators, about “The Entertainment” and beyond:

    http://superlevel.de/spiele/indie-spiele/interview-cardboard-computer

  17. DatonKallandor says:

    Galak-Z looks pretty damn incredibly. Pun names aside.

  18. PopeRatzo says:

    “Superhero stories are soap operas, right?”

    No wonder so many superhero games suck. And why Bioshock Infinite was such a disappointment.

    Does anyone think that the question mark the guy from Irrational put at the end of that sentence meant he wanted an answer? I think he meant to say, “I like soap operas more than comic books.”

    I hope at some point the pendulum swings back to game developers taking into consideration what the people who play games actually want to play.

    • bill says:

      Are you saying superhero comics/stories aren’t usually soap operas?
      (genuine question, a bit unclear)

      • PopeRatzo says:

        No, I’m saying that people aren’t playing superhero games in order to have the same experience as reading a comic book.

    • Rovac says:

      I thought we have agreed that people don’t really know what they want? I say let this Irrational guy do what he wants, it will still be better than half of Steam storepage

  19. InternetNiceGuy says:

    A brief, must-read article on how women are ruining gaming:
    http://esportsexpress.com/2014/02/all-female-lol-tournament-may-threaten-fabric-of-gaming-society/

    Don’t worry. It’s satire.

  20. FatOak says:

    The C&C cast is great! I came for the drunken games-chat, and stayed for the Questions From Questions puns

  21. bill says:

    That Brendan Keogh article is excellent. It is something that always bugs me when reading comments on gaming websites, and sometimes while reading reviews/interviews etc.. Though it is something that I tend to do myself too (though less these days, maybe due to getting older or having more experience in offices).

    People get so involved in what their favorite “game makers” produce, and get so shocked and hurt when a beloved game maker makes a game that doesn’t match up to their previous one.
    Proclaiming that they have “lost it”. Not recognising that they probably never “had it”, as the beloved game was made by dozens of people over a few years, with many random influences that ended up as the final product, but the new game was made by dozens of other people with other random influences and events.
    Or being hugely skeptical that a developer/studio that is known for one genre could possibly make a game in another genre, despite the fact that probably half the staff have changed in the meantime, and most of the remaining staff would be specialists in areas that are totally independent of genre.

    We love our famous directors or authors or game “developers”, but tend to forget that much of what happens is just random confluence of events… just like most of our lives and jobs. Why should we think that a game development office is so different from the way things get done in our own office?