The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on March 2nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

LOSING. MY. EDGE.

Sundays are for losing my edge. I’m losing my edge to the internet seekers who can tell me every member of every Amiga developer from 1987 to 1991. I hear that you and your blog have sold your PCs and bought Ouyas. But have you seen my collection of the week’s best (mostly) game’s related scribbling?

  • Over at Eurogamer, Donlan says thank you to the sadly departed Harold Ramis, and muses on how to say thank you to the anonymous people who make the things we love in videogames. “In truth, if you’re like me, you’ll have little idea of who was responsible for many of your favourite moments in many of your favourite games – and that’s a crying shame, since a lot of games are their best moments, living on in your memory, playing over and over and getting sharper and more distinct each time. To me, Arkham City is the grapnel boost. Batman has the best ropes! Look at it go, unspooling from the end of the gun with a puff of smoke, first a coiled Slinky of wire, then a taut black line connecting you to your destination.”
  • Alex Hern explains Twitch Plays Pokémon, the collaborative game-playing stream where tens of thousands try to control the same Pokémon game at once. When the internet can seem like such a vile, anonymous mass, it’s lovely to see that mass come together to play games. Since this article was written, the game has been completed. “As I was writing this, the players had reached the most risky section yet, an area called the Safari Zone. It’s one of the few places it’s possible to render the game unfinishable, by running out of money entirely, and it relies on near-perfect commands to be entered 270 times in a row. But then they did it anyway, coming together and producing detailed maps to help with co-ordination.”
  • There’s no need to defend Defender, but I do like Colin Campbell singing its praises and interviewing its creator over at Polygon. “Jarvis refused to attend the first test in a real arcade. ‘I was afraid that it would bomb,’ he said. ‘It’s like being a comic and dying on stage. You watch people look at the game and then walk on and it’s devastating and so depressing. You have spent all this time on the game and killing yourself to create this thing and then nobody gives a shit. That was my fear.’”
  • Campo Santo are an indie game-making supergroup comprised of The Walking Dead designers Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin, Mark of the Ninja’s Nels Anderson, former Double Finers Chris Remo and Jane Ng, graphic designer Olly Moss, and, well, lots of other rad people. They haven’t announced their first game yet, but they have put out volume one of a Quarterly Review. In After Months of Development, a Veil is Lifted, there’s an interview with a tarot reader on what their game might be: “But the other side of it is – the Empress, the Six of Pentacles – there will be people who love it. The Empress is giving birth to something new. I feel like there will be people on forums who will actually become really into it. They will almost become infatuated with it: the Fool reversed in the heart position.”
  • From the blog of the developer, Female Representation in Desktop Dungeons takes a look at the challenges of lady character design. “Quite frankly, we wanted the women in DD’s universe to be adventurers first and runway models second. This adjustment turned out to be startlingly non-trivial – you’d think that a bunch of supposedly conscious, mindful individuals would instantly be able to nail a “good female look” (bonus points for having a woman on our crew, right?), but huge swathes of our artistic language tended to be informed by sexist and one-dimensional portrayals. We regularly surprised ourselves with how much we took for granted.” Top lady goblins inside.
  • I’m still making my way through the Indiecade East talks, but two of note. The text of TJ Thomas’s talk about race, identity and toxicity is interesting and informative. Bring your own capital letters. “born in 1940, Jerry Lawson is the designer of the very first cartridge-based video game console, and the founder of Videosoft, an independent development company that made games for the Atari 2600. he also produced Demolition Derby, which was one of the earliest coin-op arcade games, introduced in a pizzeria in California shortly after Pong was. when he was young, he got himself a ham radio license and built an amateur radio station in his room. he also put together, and sold, walkie-talkies himself. he was Black. where’s his book? where’s his documentaries? we don’t even bother to mention him and the things he accomplished for this industry. i mean, i didn’t even know about him until last December. that’s shameful.”
  • Tale of Tales’ Auriea Harvey gave a session called Let’s Make a Videogame!, which starts with an interesting history of how they started making games, their early web experiments, and builds momentum from there.
  • Mat Jones looks too long, too hard at the projected image of Pac-Man on the side of Sega’s London HQ. I partly disagree with his take on present-day Sega, but not the cultural relevance part. “What’s Namco’s message from this act of impermanent graffiti? Is it to kick Sega while they’re down? Alternatively, are they trying to suggest their brand is on-par with Sega’s? Neither seem to justify the effort, especially if they’re implying that they’re as good as a brand with dwindling cultural value, that no one is talking about, while absolutely fucking up their attempt to do it with terrible cropping and logo design?”
  • Chris Breault at Kill Screen talks to designers about how Dark Souls has influenced their coming games. Dark Souls, for those who don’t know, is like Angband but easier. “Above all, White was linked to the other designers I spoke to in his genuine enthusiasm for the Souls titles, his happiness at having sunk hundreds of hours into the games. When talking about their first time playing Demon’s or Dark Souls, everyone still sounded intoxicated by the rush of the new. The series has blown off the hinges of the RPG, leaving the door open for interpretations far afield of classical grinding and chatting. Aside from general advocacy of real-time combat and reduced exposition, no two designers have taken the same cues from it.”
  • Quinns and Leigh write about Netrunner, and offer answers to why we learn and play games when games are so often stupid, confusing, frustrating things. Here’s one: “This was never about winning games. The reward of taking any game seriously is to be connected, as if by underground wires, to humans all over the world. To have access to a private language, to enjoy another way of bonding with your friends and family. Play is just as important to adults as it is to children. Like everything else in life, it just becomes trickier as you get older.” Insight into Netrunner, into the awkwardness of teaching and the mad, silly frustration of learning. And it’s illustrated.
  • Want more on Harold Ramis? This New Yorker profile from 2004 has the goods.
  • Think videogames are obtuse? Try deciphering a 600-year-old manuscript written in no discernible language.
  • I might have to buy a record player.

Music this week is Glenn Miller’s Song of the Volga Boatmen. Once more, once again, still once more.

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69 Comments »

  1. tossrStu says:

    Graftgold, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.

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  2. pakoito says:

    I should finish DD one of this days. I’m like 40-60% through it but later dungeons are so ludicrously difficult I lost all my patience.

    Like, going all the way to lvl8, ready to kill both bosses but be short of a hit in the last one because the inner dungeon screwed me over a potion.

  3. CookPassBabtridge says:

    My brain did a little panic spin when it heard that Harold Ramis was dead. I was a Ghostbusters obsessive as a child, and can almost speak the movie (Number 1 I mean, GB2 does not exist. Does. Not. Exist) quote for quote as it plays. I hadn’t realised that he also co-wrote the movie, as well as playing the amazing Egon “Six Hundred Pound Twinky” Spengler. So much of being a kid was wrapped up in the movies, the cartoons, drawing the characters and Ecto-1 in felt-tips … and of course now that kind of puts Ghostbusters 3 on an “even more likely to feature Mark Wahlberg” footing than before.

    Anyways, bit of a shock. I always felt like those guys were immortal. Or at least, will always hang around sliming things and chucking books about when they leave this mortal plane.

    “Spores, moulds and fungus”. We’ll miss you Harold.

    • TWChristine says:

      I don’t mind GB2..despite the fact that it messed me up as a kid. Vigo scared the CRAP out of me, so did his weird pal that he takes over. And don’t even get me started on the slime! Do you know how long it took me to stop being scared of taking a bath? To this day every now and then I stare at the faucet/drain to make sure slime doesn’t start pouring out. And of course I then laugh at myself for being so silly, but in the back of my mind I think “But what iiiiiiiiffff….”

      (If I’m going to be fair, GB1 scared the crap out of me as well. And still did when we were able to see it in theatres again a few years back.)

      I think the only positive thing I took from the movie was that it would be pretty cool to control a statue with a Nintendo joystick. But yea, Egon was my favorite. :(

  4. Lemming says:

    Concerning the Voynich manuscript, XKCD cracked it ages ago!

  5. PopeRatzo says:

    Campo Santo is like a supergroup of musicians from all the bands you don’t like. And not even the best musicians from those bands. For my tastes, it’s the game dev equivalent of Chickenfoot.

    PS, the Glenn Miller made it all OK again.

    • Geebs says:

      Joe Satriani isn’t the best musician from Joe Satriani?

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      Um, maybe from all the bands you don’t like. I know that on the internet, subjective opinion = objective fact, but still, are you really expecting most people to agree that Double Fine, Klei, and Telltale are bad at games?

      • tormos says:

        PopeRatzo doesn’t actually like video games, so he assumes that nobody else does either. Hence this phrase goes for any supergroup that could possibly be formed.

  6. Barberetti says:

    Ahh Defender. The taker of so many hours of my life back in the 80s.

    • Zarathruster says:

      It doesn’t pop into my head all that often, but it was a great game, wasn’t it? My strongest fondness, though, is for Joust. Such a brilliant game- it is ubiquitous, but relatively unsung.

  7. Horg says:

    Decent article on Dark Souls influence, but i’d like some more context on what the author considers the old and tiered RPG formula. It’s great that designers are taking ques from DS (particularly liked the Chris Roberts quote, that guy gets it) but I don’t agree with the inherent assumption that DS design is replacing something inferior. It’s a bit different than everything that has come before, and fairly unique in the way it puts the world together, but with promising games like Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity, the new Torment, and Divinity on the horizon I don’t think its really fair to paint the old ways as inferior just to exaggerate how good DS is.

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      ffordesoon says:

      My feeling is that there has honestly never been a better time to be a fan of RPGs than right now – especially if you’re not precious about genre definitions. Only AAA narrative RPGs of the Bioware school seem a bit moribund right now, and that’s largely because of the never-more-massive workload that comes with them.

      EDIT: It’s also worth noting that Kill Screen plays provocateur about “outdated” genres and genre conventions all the time. They usually come across just as myopic and silly as the people who are still VERY VERY ANGRY about “so-called RPGs” where “player skill trumps character skill,” IMHO. I do find it funny that they’re saying the Souls games are some sort of sneering fuck you to the Old Ways when both games are deliberate attempts to revive the Old Ways in a modern context, though.

      • NathanH says:

        It’s a rather nice time to be a fan of action-RPGs but if you are a fan of non-action RPGs then there isn’t that much that’s really impressive since Dragon Age: Origins and that was a long time ago now, and lots of people who like non-action RPGs aren’t too impressed by it anyway (because they are dangerous and wrong).

        • Turkey says:

          That’s pretty much why the Kickstarter stuff happened, cause publishers won’t touch an RPG that doesn’t play well with a controller.

        • Vinraith says:

          Indeed, I really don’t understand what modern RPG fans are so defensive about: they won. Those of us that prefer the “character skill” > “player skill” model have every reason to be annoyed, they basically don’t make games like that anymore.

          • Meneldil says:

            As some other people have pointed out: you are out of your mind.

            There are dozens of old school RPGs out there. Inquisitor *isn’t* an action RPG (not anymore than BG, at least). Spiderweb software pumps them out quite regularly, Eschalon III has just been released. Shadowrun is pretty good. And we can expect Divinity (don’t care much about it), and the two Infinity Engine heirs: Pillars of Eternity and Tides of Numenaranananarana. And you could find a few more decent RPGs within Steam library.
            Then, I’m pretty sure Fallout: NV was released after DA:O, and it wasn’t an action RPG either (or at least, it could completely be played as a non-action RPG).
            Edit: Oh, and let’s not forget Might and Magic X, Legend of Grimrock… Or the Drakengsang series.

            Then, even though they aren’t RPGs per se (I guess, for some people…), Arklaash Legacy and Banner Saga are the best tactical squad-leading game you could have those days. They both reminded me the best parts/fights of Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale.

            The genre isn’t dying at all: it’s actually going strong, especially thanks to indie developpers. If you want to have a look at a dying genre, I introduce you to RTS. That hasn’t known any decent release (or any release at all, actually), since Starcraft II HotS and Wargame AB.

        • Viceroy Choy says:

          Inquisitor
          Aarklash Legacy
          The Banner Saga
          Eschalon: Any Of Them
          Anything By Spiderweb Software
          Shadowrun Returns/Dragonfall
          Wasteland 2
          Divinity: Original Sin: The One Everyone Is Excited About
          Blackguards
          Planescape 2: On Stranger Tides
          Pillars of Eternity: No, Not That PoE
          Dragon Age 3: Inquisitor: Maybe It Won’t Be Shit

          ;)

          • Vinraith says:

            Half your list literally doesn’t exist yet as finished games. Here’s hoping some of it turns out well. Some of those are also definitely action RPG’s, and I’m not sure Banner Saga qualifies as anything but an extremely linear strategy game.

          • Viceroy Choy says:

            In hindsight, Aarklash and The Banner Saga shouldn’t be up there but I believe everything else could confidently be listed as “an RPG that is not an ARPG.”

            [E]: Blackguards is primarily an ARPG it seems. Balls. :(

          • NathanH says:

            Blackguard is turn-based isn’t it? Aarklash definitely should count too; it’s a fairly limited scope RPG but I don’t see why we wouldn’t call it an RPG and it’s surprisingly good. Banner Saga strikes me more as a strategy game, but I admit I haven’t played it. The Spiderweb games count. Inquisitor is an action-RPG. The Eschalon games are non-action RPGs but are fairly bad in my opinion. Shadowrun is OK but not exactly impressive. Perhaps Knights of the Chalice was released after DA:O? That’s a pretty good game, although again quite limited in scope. All the other games on your list haven’t been released yet.

            Still, we’re scratching around somewhat here aren’t we? No major releases of quality and only a few minor releases of quality over 4 years is not particularly healthy. It will be interesting to discover if the currently in-development “old-school” RPG titles have identified and retained the correct “old-school” elements and ditched the elements that are not old-school but simply outdated.

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            Yossi says:

            Blackguards is turn-based, with emphasis on the combat. It uses the Dark Eye system, which means very complex character progression. If you’re into RPGs from the early 90s, I highly recommend it.
            M&M X should also appear on this list, I think (haven’t played it yet).

          • Viceroy Choy says:

            My intention was to point out that the genre, while not exactly exploding, isn’t in danger of dying out. While AAA publishers don’t seem to want to push that many out, the question is: Do we want them to? I infinitely prefer the KS model of getting what amounts to personalized content.

        • Zarathruster says:

          I thought the DA:O combat was a dull, samey slog at about 20 hours and beyond. Why am I dangerous and wrong?

      • baozi says:

        I don’t know about you guys, and this is not about stats vs skill, but I don’t consider a game where you fight 99% of the time an RPG. Action-RPG at best, but I think about it more like an action game with RPG elements.

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      Rizlar says:

      There is a lot of talk relating to Dark Souls of not holding the player’s hand, letting them discover things for themselves, which is great. But then it seems like looking stuff up outside of the game is the standard way to play it. Reading a wiki seems at odds with independent discovery, would be nice if learning the systems as you play was more viable.

      • derbefrier says:

        looking stuff up outside the game is the way most people play difficult games like that. been that way since forever. Its why we have strategy guides for just about every popular game ever made from zelda to Baulder’s gate to the elder scrolls games. thats the players choice and irrelevant to the design but only to what the player wants out of the game.

      • Wedge says:

        That’s the standard way for cowards that are too scared of the game being “hard” maybe. Nobody that actually wants to enjoy it does that, at least until they’ve beaten it on their own.

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          Thurgret says:

          There was an excellent article linked to by the Sunday Papers a while ago talking about “exploration” as opposed to “exploitation” where game difficulty is concerned. Before jumping to calling people cowards for disliking a game which is almost exclusively “exploitation”, perhaps go and read up on the idea first?

          • dE says:

            What exactly was excellent about the article? I guess it mirrored your opinion, which is why you consider it excellent, but I personally thought it was really just missing the point on purpose, to shoehorn in the exploitation paradigm.

        • fish99 says:

          Bit harsh. Playing without looking anything up is fine, and it’s how I wanted to play the game, but Dark Souls can punish you for it. As as example – answering wrongly to an innocent seeming conversation lead to the pyromancy vendor going hollow and hostile in my game and meant I permanently lost access to 2 of the best pyromancies (including the important iron flesh).

          Another example from Demon’s Souls is the NPC in the nexus who starts killing other NPCs and can ruin your game if you don’t notice it happening.

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          ffordesoon says:

          Oh, bullshit. Looking stuff up is part of the fun!

        • Zarathruster says:

          Yes, let us marvel at how strong and courageous we are for playing a videogame correctly. We are magnificent beasts, aren’t we?

      • Shieldmaiden says:

        For all that people go on about what a great example of game design it is, Dark Souls does have two strongly conflicting design strands. It’s very hard to make a game centred on discovery when it’s also heavy on statistics and optimisation. The high penalty for death and poor save point positioning don’t help because they penalise experimentation.

        One of my favourite things about DS is the large role that player preference and non-statistical variations in gear play. Heavy armour offers more protection but it slows you down. Weapons are differentiated more by how they handle than purely numerical variables. I’d love to see a game take this further and throw out the stats all together, at least from the player perspective. Have characters develop based on how they’re played, so swinging a heavy weapon makes you stronger, dodging makes you faster, blocking makes you tougher. Use in-game, in-character cues to differentiate between tiers of equipment.

        As well as creating a more atmospheric, immersive experience, it should remove the exploration/optimisation conflict. If characters are going to develop according to their players’ preferences and decisions about gear can be made using in-game information, there’s much less to get in the way of discovery.

        • Noise says:

          I don’t think there is a conflict between exploration and optimization, because I don’t find optimization to be at all important in DaS. Out of all the RPGs I have played, DaS is the one in which level/stats/gear are the least necessary for progress; you can pretty much beat the whole game without leveling up because it’s 90% player skill. The first time you play through it takes like 4 hours to get through the Undead Burg, leveling up all the way, but the second time, because your skill is so much improved you can just bust through in about 20 minutes, no leveling even needed.

          And on your point that the punishing save points and death penalties are bad for discovery, I simply disagree. Discovery is not as exciting if it is easy to achieve. It’s only because it takes such effort and determination to progress that that progression is so rewarding. It’s not so penalizing that you can’t experiment either, the worst that can happen is you lose some souls and humanity. While annoying, you get over it pretty quick and it really doesn’t matter that much.

          On a separate note: What can RPG devs learn from Dark Souls? Put a good combat system into your game.

          • fish99 says:

            /Noise

            Dark Souls may have been 90% skill the way you played it, but it’s actually a way more forgiving game than you realize. There’s other play-styles that require way less skill, like using sorceries or pyromancies, where timing/skill is much less important, and you can always just level up, get better gear, or upgrade your gear to make it easier (and yes gear makes an enormous difference), and the game has even been deliberately designed to let you cheese your way through some of the hardest fights. Example – Sif – the wall you can shoot arrows over to kill him without even going into the boss room. Same thing with the Iron Golem, and Manus – you can kill both with arrows from outside the boss room. Then there’s spells like Iron Flesh which make you almost indestructible and can get you through any boss fight. There’s also getting more and better flasks to just give you loads more health. And you can always just summon some other players to help you.

            So the game doesn’t have a fixed difficulty level, it’s actually as difficult as you choose to make it, and it can be pretty straight forward.

        • HadToLogin says:

          So, kinda like Skyrim, just without perks?

    • Turkey says:

      Right, but these are indie devs doing the praising, though. Their references for old-school RPGs are probably like PS1/2 jrpgs and X-Box era Bioware games.

    • Nate says:

      I agree with you.

      I’d let Dark Souls do me that way, and I don’t think the designers interviewed really got what was great about DS– or else maybe they just wanted some free publicity, I don’t know. DS wasn’t great for one thing. It was great for everything. If the gameplay wasn’t fun, the fact that the story was great wouldn’t have mattered. If the world wasn’t full of delightful stories for people that wanted to look for them, it wouldn’t have mattered that the sound design was wonderful. If the bosses weren’t fun to fight, the beautiful level design wouldn’t have been worth a thing.

      There are maybe two messages to be learned from DS:

      1) If you make a game where everything is good, it will be a good game.

      2) You need to take all of the rules you’ve made up about game design and reconsider them for every game you make. They’re not rules, they’re guidelines.

    • Chris Breault says:

      @Horg — Hey, to try to expand on what I was talking about a bit: I think a lot of modern big-budget RPGs come out uneven, with a narrative half that works much better than the combat half. Many recent games I love, like Dragon Age: Origins, Alpha Protocol, and Persona 4 (sorry for non-PC heresy), eat your time with combat that isn’t really engaging. DAO stripped out a lot of the complication and challenge I remember from BG2, and mages get through it on autopilot (with a few exceptions, like the optional Gaxkang fight or winning the first Ser Cauthrien fight). P4′s dungeons are insanely repetitive. I don’t think I need to add to the mountain of nasty things that’ve been said about AP’s combat. Even Witcher 2, which I think was the best (non-Souls) RPG since 2009, had combat that felt, in Tom Bissell’s words, “ropy.”

      To me, the Souls games stand out in part because you don’t need to slog through their B material to get back to the good stuff. They’re all knitted together with difficulty and a constant sense of surprise, and you don’t get that intrusive sense that the game is switching gears on you. They also break design rules in an aggressive way that does feel like a statement: killing you in the tutorial, getting harder when you die (in Demon’s Souls), failing to signpost your next steps (in Dark Souls). I’m not saying they’re the only game in town, but their approach feels fresh.

      @ffordesoon — Not arguing that older RPG ideas are outdated. Games like Phantasy Star 2 or Baldur’s Gate 2 or Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines still feel vital and hold up as games rather than museum pieces or something. I think recent large-scale RPGs were leaving behind a lot of the danger and complication and ambition that makes those older games work, and the Souls games recaptured that feeling for me. Not a fuck you to the Old Ways, but a fuck you to the complacency that developed around them.

      • Horg says:

        Well thanks for replying directly, it makes more sense with those games as a point of reference. When you throw out words like ”old” I don’t automatically think of things like DA:O. Games from around that time have barely had long enough for the box to get dusty, mechanics not so much though. DS really does put a lot of its predecessors to shame.

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        ffordesoon says:

        Heh, I didn’t expect the author to come here! Now I feel a little douchey. I mean, I would be willing to say much the same thing to your face, but you’d probably have to hector me a bit before I gave up the goods. I feel especially bad now that you’ve shown you know your shit. :)

        For the record, I’m totally with you on Origins and Alpha Protocol, and as much as I like it, I do feel as though the dungeon-crawling half of P4 is the (slightly) lesser half. Origins’ combat in particular is execrable. To be fair to them, the terrible combat actually did make my story more interesting than it would otherwise have been. But I’m pretty sure the player wasn’t supposed to capitulate to Ser Cauthrien (the second fight, before the Landsmeet) and Baron Rapeface (the guy in the City Elf origin with the red shirt) solely out of frustration with the combat system.

        Regarding your response directly to me: Oh, well, that makes more sense, and I agree, Admittedly, I posted that before reading the whole article, which is clearer on this point. That said, having now read it all, I still think it’s a little unclear on that issue.

  8. brgillespie says:

    I had posted something here, but I grew disinterested in discussing the subject. So I edited it away.

  9. Alexander says:

    The Deus Ex bible: http://www.nanoaugur.net/dx/bible/

    Great read.

    • Zekiel says:

      I know I’m slightly necro-ing but – thanks for the link. This is awesome.

  10. Shadrach says:

    What’s an “Amgia”?

    You really are losing your edge… then again, it is Sunday so you are excused.

  11. RiffRaff says:

    Twitch plays pokemon is probably going to be my game of the year. It was somebody else who said it first but I haven’t been that emotionally invested in a videogame (let alone a pokemon game) since I was twelve. Gen 2 started today if anyone is interested, and the final save file from red was also released.

    • Obc says:

      it was one of the greatest things to follow. While during the middle they were really slowing down progress, the democracy system managed to do some good, but what surprised me was that it was on anarchy they defeated the last 5 Bosses. Everyone came together and stopped trolling or whathaveyou for a while to finish it. it was now or never. PRAISE LORD HELIX

      • DrollRemark says:

        The Giovanni boss battle win was quite possibly one of the most tense things I’ve ever watched.

  12. Bigmouth Strikes Again says:

    The real “song of Volga boatmen”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNb54rwDQJM

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    Rizlar says:

    Desktop Dungeons blog post was great. Extremely honest and manages to communicate what it’s like to actually try and create better representations of people, being very different to critiquing that which already exists.

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    Oozo says:

    Also worth pointing out that the Campo Santo Quarterly is written by “ombudsman” Duncan Fyfe — to most, that name won’t say much, but to a few, he is fondly remembered as the guy behind Hit Self-Destruct, one of the best gaming blogs ever. (His blog was so beloved that Critical Distance did a three-part spotlight covering the influence of the blog back in the day.)

    As for me, I’m just happy to see that there is still place for a few talented people to come together, make games, and pay a guy they like to write stuff about stray dogs, tarot and pirates — corporate communication so nonsensical and well done that it basically makes capitalism seem like a good idea.

  15. Nate says:

    Nandrew’s discussion of making a woman-friendly desktop dungeons is interesting– in part, for showing how little other developers aspire to. Depictions of Isolde don’t need chainmail bikinis to be objectifying. “Smurfette the female space marine” is so slight a step forward as to be easily confused with a step backward. If Nandrew found the task difficult, it was due to honesty and higher aspirations than his peers.

  16. fish99 says:

    Having just finished Dark Souls, one of the things that struck me was how much loot checking there is. Sure it’s a skill based game, but not a pure one, because you can always make any fight easier through leveling or getting better gear, or better spells. Some fights that seemed ridiculously hard the first time I tried them were a breeze when I came back to them later. The only fights in the game where I really had to learn a bosses attacks and patterns to beat them were Artorias and Kalameet (both from the DLC).

    Dark Souls being an RPG dilutes the skill challenge.

    • Viceroy Choy says:

      That means it’s time to RP characters in PVP e.g. “The Third Silver Knight Archer in Anor Londo.”

  17. altum videtur says:

    Death is pretty good. And the band, too. Check ‘em out on youtube. Not sure what “protopunk” means though.

  18. Ergates_Antius says:

    One thing I find very frustrating about pieces like the TJ Thomas one: The author makes a big point about:
    for every Super Meat Boy, for every Spelunky, for every Braid, we have hundreds of thousands of games that truly try to break the mold of genre conventions, presentation, storytelling, and player interaction, which we simply just brush to the side because they don’t fit the bill of what our “established” “heroes” are creating

    but doesn’t give any examples. Great! Now I have no point of reference as to what you’re refering to. Are these games I’ve even heard of? Where are they? What are they like?
    Especially as, towards the end of the article, one of the few material suggestions they make is that maybe we should spend our money on smaller indie games rather than AAA ones – except at the start of the piece they say that “indie” is a term that has lost all meaning as that indie games are just as much a part of the capitalist system as AAA ones. Erm, so which “indie” games should we be buying then?

    Also: and capitalism is inherently racist, sexist, xenophobic, and exploitative
    No it isn’t. It’s inherently exploitative, yes, but shitisms/prejudices in capitalist systems were brought there by the people running them, they’re not not inherent properties of capitalism itself.
    Goddam hippy!

  19. b7777777 says:

    I used to work in the game store.
    I had everything before anyone.
    I was the Greeks in civilization with Sid Meier.
    I was there in Simcity when Gozilla attacked.
    I woke up naked on the beach in Everquest.

    But I’m losing my edge to better looking people with faster reflexes and more time.

  20. BobsLawnService says:

    Just model females in games the way female olympic athletes look. Problem solved.