The Sunday Papers

By Adam Smith on July 13th, 2014 at 1:30 pm.

A brief foray into the external world because this particular Sunday is for waking in a strange city, the body in one timezone, the mind in another. Is it even Sunday? We’ll trust the blinking of the calendar and the messages swirling in the coffee for now.

  • First up, Mike Rose asked the big questions about YouTubers, cash and ethics, and then slipped me a fiver to include the article in the Sunday Papers (Ed – OBVIOUSLY NOT).
  • “We — video creators — live in complicated times,” another YouTuber says. “It is expected from our work to be free. Copyright holders don’t want us to monetize, no one likes ads, no one likes paid content — but we invest our free time into covering the games we love and want to share, basically giving free PR for the game itself. If a YouTuber asks for money for delivering great content, it’s not wrong — it’s compensation.”

  • Remaining on the periphery of the subject of video content, let’s turn to Robert Yang, who writes about the changing nature, purpose and consumption of mods. Ryan Trawick’s Keys is the catalyst for this piece.
  • Very few people will ever play the GTA5 tsunami mod, but for the millions of people who have watched it, it helps us better understand the poetry of a simulation and appreciate it in new ways: this is the work that only mods can do, and again, we will never play it or experience it first-hand, it could all be an elaborate pre-rendered animation for all we know. Yet, more than anything else, it lays bare the digital stuff that this game is made of, even though it’s only a ghost of a game. And this is how many people consume games as media! They exist primarily in a culture of spectatorship that defies a player-developer dichotomy.

  • This is old. Over a year old. We might even have linked to it before but I’m too tired to trawl the archives with any sort of efficiency. It’s an enormous post-mortem of AI War, which intentionally becomes a history of Arcen. One of the most unusual companies in games, I reckon, and I’m so very glad they exist even if I’m often left cold by their games. This article explains why and how they exist.
  • We have players that have logged more than 600 hours in AI War, and loads and loads more who have logged 100-200 hours or even more.  There are some who still consider themselves “new” to AI War despite having more than 100 hours logged in the game.  That sort of longevity just isn’t possible unless you are running an MMO subscription, or you happen to have an incredible outlier bestselling title like Terraria or Minecraft.
    What I believe is demonstrated by AI War is that niche products can still be treated in similar ways, and see similar growth.  AI War is a poster child for the success of serving a small niche: Strategy games themselves are a small niche in gaming.  But ultra-hardcore strategy games are a small niche even within that niche.

  • Why do people express such anger about entertainment? What stops us from simply enjoying a thing without dissecting it afterwards? Nathan Ditum doesn’t have the answers but his reaction to seeing Monty Python live is a lovely piece of writing. My words usually reach you when I’m in critical mode but some things just make me glad to be alive and experiencing them. I can’t tell you what those things are though because it would shatter my analytical façade.
  • I need to interrupt myself before things get any more Notes From Underground to say that seeing Python was a jolting reminder of things I used to love, and more than that, of the act of loving things, and throwing yourself into that love in order to belong and to make sense of everything. And it really was a jolt – I had forgotten. I’d forgotten not just that I know the words to everything, as became clear during the opening Four Yorkshiremen sketch, but that I know the rhythms and variations of the old Drury Lane, Hollywood Bowl and Secret Policeman’s Ball performances that I used to fall asleep listening to during what was quite obviously an utterly sexless adolescence.

  • Under the Skin is out on home media this week. My favourite film of recent times, I saw it at the cinema and was simply glad to be alive and experiencing it. Not really, of course. I shuddered with existential dread and truly believed that the inky dark of the cinema screen was going to swallow me and crumple me up like an empty crisp packet. The Guardian speak to director Jonathan Glazer. Not particularly insightful but I can’t pick a review to link to because you should go in cold.
  • Q: You’ve described your film tastes by saying you like Anchorman and Ingmar Bergman, but not much in between.

    A: I like great comedy. I’ll be very happy watching Karl Pilkington hour after hour, no problem. And then Pasolini and Bergman, and Fassbinder and Fellini – I want to be taken somewhere. Most of what I regard as in between isn’t without merit but it just doesn’t take me where I want to go – I know what’s happening next, I’m aware of the mechanics, the cogs turning.

  • Over at US Gamer, a splendid and insightful history of Lucasfilm Games at the Skywalker Ranch. Game designers as a doomed Foreign Legion of sorts. Games as a tax avoidance scheme. It’s all here.
  • “I think he [Lucas] also acknowledged the immaturity of the medium,” says Chip. “One of the things he would say… he referred to us as the Lost Patrol.”

    “Affectionately!” say several of the team members almost simultaneously, eliciting smiles around the table.

    “Yeah, affectionately,” agrees Chip. “He once said in a company meeting, ‘they’re out there somewhere in the desert, and occasionally someone will see their flag over the top of a sand dune, and we don’t really know what they’re doing, but someday they’ll come back to us with tales of great stuff, heroic deeds that have been done. Until that day, we’ll just have to hope for the Lost Patrol to return.’”

  • I switch off quite quickly when people talk about the benefits and dangers of photorealism, gaming and violence. Its’ not that I don’t find the topics interesting, it’s more that everyone seems to bring an agenda to the table, and I’ve read most of the arguments before. There are some interesting quotes in the New Scientist’s latest stab though, including the one below from Andrew Poznanski of The Astronauts, working on The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.
  • Consciously or not, we pick up on the artifice, says Poznanski. Instead, he wants players to stop seeing graphical effects and start seeing the world. “We want players to walk through a forest and feel that it is a forest, not think ‘Wow, these are beautiful graphics’,” he says. “We want that part of the brain to switch off.”

    Add in virtual reality, which The Astronauts is also experimenting with, and immersion is taken to another level. In fact, the combination of photorealism and virtual reality could make games all too real. Violence, for example, might become a bigger problem when our actions feel realistic and look increasingly gruesome.

  • Sneaky Bastards is taking a blackjack to Edios Montreal’s Thief. I’d rather read this sort of in-depth analysis and criticism when the writer admires the subject than when the main interest is in cutting it open and pointing out how much its bowels stink. The critique will run throughout the month, updated regularly, and it meshes well with my own experience so far. Thief is a game that degraded as it went.
  • With a floor plan that covers only a portion of the building interior and no clear functional purpose to the locations you explore, the spaces within the foundry are hard to parse. Rooms connect to others for reasons not governed by the logic of how such a building would have been constructed. A room aesthetically presented as an office with desks and filing cabinets is reachable only through a vent with no reason presented for why this space is otherwise inaccessible.

  • Included without the need for much in the way of additional comment is the marvellous Dreams of Space blog. A childhood of longing frozen on the screen.
  • And it’s the World Cup Final today, shuffling off stage left to make way for The International. In a wholly unexpected turn of events, I’ll be watching in an American sports bar and cheering for Germany. I think Die Mannschaft have been the best side in the tournament, although Chile and Colombia were delightful to watch. A sprinkling of Messi magic would certainly be enough to justify an Argentina win though. Enough of that though. Here’s The New Yorker on football statues around the world and what the darn things might mean.
  • “The interesting thing here is not how many there were and where, but why they were there,” Stride told me. “Statues tell you more about the people who put them up than the person who’s depicted.”

    The oldest statue they found, of an anonymous player (“The Footballer”), was erected in 1903, in Copenhagen, but ninety-five per cent have gone up in the past two decades, and that timing is revealing, Stride said. Money began pouring into élite club soccer in the early nineteen-nineties. (The top-flight English Premier League started in 1992.) Formerly local clubs became teams of transient all-stars, with players happy to be traded for just a little more money. Quirky (and often dangerous) stadiums were replaced by what Stride and Thomas have called “identikit stadia evoking little memory or tradition.” Football fans, like their baseball counterparts in the U.S., began pining for a prelapsarian era of player fealty and true sports meaning.

    Music this week is early Richard D. James in the form of Polygon Window – Quoth. These are the sounds I hear behind the roaring cushion of the aeroplane’s engines. Or you can have Blondes with their recent expression of similar mysteries.

    , .

    71 Comments »

    1. smokiespliff says:

      Hooray! The triumphant return of terrifying electronica to the Sunday Papers!

      Thanks Adam!

      • sabrage says:

        More of this sort of thing.

        • Distec says:

          Old Aphex stuff has such a crude yet otherworldly feel to it. Nobody else has ever tapped into that weird vein, I think.

          Gotta love the names too. QUOTH. PHLAP. PANCAKE LIZARD. How can you not have fun saying those things.

      • Premium User Badge heretic says:

        Thanks Adam for the Blondes link!

        Great to discover music on RPS :) I remember discovering Tim Hecker thanks to Jim!

        • sabrage says:

          Jim turned me on to Demdike Stare and Nils Frahm as well. Sundays were blissful desolation.

        • MarkB says:

          It really is great to have a videogame website that recommends music like this.

          Do you listen to Ben Frost by any chance? He’s collaborated on some of Tim Hecker’s stuff and is awesome in his own right. (If you haven’t I’d recommend you check out By the Throat and A U R O R A. The former is similar to Hecker, but with extra dread, and the later is something else all together).

      • hprice says:

        In my opinion, and I am ALWAYS right, James is one of the truly few great music composers of the last 30 years. He, for some reason, feels like Mozart to me (I have no idea why, though), or one of the earlier classical composers. Noone can do discombobulated beats like he can, or do those semi-classical satie pieces on the druqz album, and the almost chamber like pieces on the Richard D. James album (together with his twist on drum and bass, and still come over as compassionate, and full of heart). He is really quite something. And the way he used space, and echo, and whatever on his first “ambient” collection. It really was a breathrough for lo-fi electronica.

        He also owns a flamin’ tank. Now that’s something you can’t say about the insipid Coldplay or whoever is the biggest band at the moment.

        Give me scarey, eerie, sad, Aphex/Polygon Window/Diceman/AFX etc any flaming day of the week rather than someone claiming to be sensitive but having no soul. And now …

        The super-spring/summery Xtal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nevnq7MvVTI

        Girl/Boy song, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCSrMEsaNAM

        and the lovely Avril 14th: Avril 14th https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBFXJw7n-fU

        A bit like The Fall in a way. You can tell that he is not just playing around like some bands or people do. He’s the real deal …

        Now … back to the spam sandwiches …

        Regards,

        HP

    2. Jade Raven says:

      In your introduction you mention coffee and yet the title picture clearly features a cup of tea!

    3. Premium User Badge Thurgret says:

      Where’s Smith today, Smith?

      That AI War/Arcen piece was interesting. I really do need to go and give AI War another go. Only put a few hours into it to date, and haven’t exactly been tremendously successful.

    4. Josh W says:

      Wow Adam, with the arcen retrospective and the thief one, I think you just gave me at least a week’s worth of sunday papers.

    5. CookPassBabtridge says:

      On the topic of photorealism, I think its impact is highly subjective. I remember playing Skyrim, and in the first level you are moving through a cave with your companion. You bear right under a waterfall. I remember looking down at a puddle on the floor, and felt a real punch of “I am looking at a real object”, as though I was remotely operating a camera in real time. It brought a sense of threat that I hadn’t been feeling in the previous second before witnessing it because for a moment I was really ‘there’ – with all the spiders.

      I showed my 67 year old gamer dad, and he just went “oh thats nice”. None of the ‘felt sense’ of it was there for him at all. So when trying to discuss the topic of the impact of photorealism and violence, you will not be able to get people to agree and understand each other because many will simply not be coming from the same reference point (I am suddenly reminded of my mother crying her eyes out at Scott and Charlene’s wedding on ’90′s “Neighbours” and wondering why on earth I couldn’t care less and she was in blubbing fits). I also suffer from Blood Injury Phobia, which means that witnessing convincing enough representations of needles or sharp metal objects piercing flesh causes a crash in my blood pressure and a nauseating feeling of doom, that others do not experience. So my experience of watching someone being lanced by a photorealistic spiky thing would be totally different to someone without this issue.

      Seriously. If they start putting needles in CryEngine-based VR games, I want a special tag on all the reviews please. Don’t let me down RPS :)

    6. Premium User Badge basilisk says:

      The Thief analysis is a good read, even though ultimately I didn’t think the game was such a complete failure as the writer implies. He raises some good points, though, and it’s quite true that the whole thing is obviously a patchwork stitched together from the material of very many iterations and as such never really holds together on any level.

      I’m looking forward to a postmortem a few years later; the development process must have been interesting (but probably quite painful).

      • Justin Keverne says:

        For what it’s worth I don’t believe Thief is a “complete failure”, if I thought that I’d say so. It’s a mess but there are some smart design ideas to be found, unfortunately they are implemented inconsistently and with little thought to creating a coherent identity. That’s essentially the position I’ll lay out in my conclusion, at the end of the month.

        • mechabuddha says:

          Spoiler alert!

          In all seriousness, thanks for this awesome write up. I’m enjoying reading it!

        • Premium User Badge basilisk says:

          Fair enough; I was probably influenced by the review on the same site which is a lot more strongly worded, but I’m guessing that one wasn’t written by you then? In any case, I’m looking forward to the rest of this series; the level analyses are spot-on.

          Inconsistency is definitely Thief’s greatest weakness. It reminded me a lot of the mess that were DX:HR’s boss fights, except stretched to the entire game.

      • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

        Since everyone’s being very nice and fair and objective about it, I’ll be ‘that guy’ and cut straight to the viscera: NuThief is the worst game I’ve ever played, on any platform, not even judged against the originals. There, I said it. Sort of like the Star Wars prequels and their Plinkett dissections, you know that you really, really hate something when you watch/read a massive critique of it and finish every line with new, internal suggestions about EVEN MORE PROBLEMS not mentioned in the word-count-limited finished article.

        I know that in an ideal world 6/10s would be above average games, but in the IGN reality they’re not, and seeing this game get panned gave me immense pleasure in the way that no artistic production ever has before, or hopefully again. Here’s hoping Square Enix’s output (let’s also not forget Absolution, which IMO was also dreadful) becomes more emergence-based in the years to come.

        • Justin Keverne says:

          If Thief is the worst game you’ve ever played go find a copy of Mortyr, that’ll reset your bar for terrible.

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            Believe it or not I’ve actually played Mortyr! It was not a great experience by any means, I recall running into a bug where the AI just didn’t respond for example, and the shooting felt awful, and the dialogue was hackneyed. I still wouldn’t rate it as bad as modern Thief, though. Most “bad” games are really just bland, unenjoyable experiences, whereas everything about Thief I thought was aggressively badly done. I mean, impressively so. Level design, art direction, technical performance (before several updates), dialogue, quicktime events, character design, verisimilitude…The 10 hours or so I persevered with it gave me the most annoyance of any game I had ever played hitherto, possibly tied with Stronghold 3 actually, another game with no obvious redeeming qualities that I could find.

            With bad games like Mortyr or even Big Rigs and so forth, the actual game might be terrible but at least the visuals are inoffensive, and I don’t mean technically: as a student of Victorian architecture some years ago, I studied, for want of a better way of phrasing it, “Victorian urban planning” for a bit, and seeing what they did to it in the new game was just painful for me. Edgy rubbish. Funnily enough I have the exact same complaint about Dark Souls (setting wise, obviously it’s not 19thc inspired), although at least in that the combat is tactical and systemic enough to get away from the immaturity of the setting design (placed against something like Planescape: Torment)

            Of course, some of this stuff is subjective. One man’s bland bubblegum game is another man’s abomination, similar to music.

        • Sleepy Will says:

          So speaks a man who didn’t play Colonial Marines, War Z, Ashes 2013, Dark, Fast and Furious Showdown, Knack, Barbie Dream House Party, Sonic and Mario Winter Olympics, Ride to Hell Retribution, Survival Instinct, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows, Lococycle, Defiance, Remember Me, RIPD, Deadfall Adventures, Survivor, Rambo the Video Game and Big Rigs.

          • Justin Keverne says:

            Hey now, Remember Me doesn’t deserve to be in that list.

            • Sleepy Will says:

              Fair enough, I’ll accept that – but for me personally, the clunky controls ruined that game

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            In literally every single thing that I value in a videogame (specifically a stealth game), Thief had no redeeming features. Listing a bunch of other games that were poorly received does not change that. If you can think of something I might have liked about Thief and I end up agreeing with you then more power to you, but as of right now I can’t think of anything that was even not-terrible about it, aside from basic stuff like how many polys there were in the models.

            (edited for clarity)

            • Sleepy Will says:

              No, I don’t think I am – these are not great games which are produced on a shoestring budget, these are terrible games made to a variety of production values – I understand you really didn’t like anything about thief, but to argue that it’s worse than Colonial Marines – well, tell me, what did you like about Colonial Marines which elevated it above Thief in your opinion? What did you like about Dark, another stealth game that would, if forced to choose, would make you choose it over thief – because at least Thief functioned as a game.

              EDIT – the “No, I don’t think I am” was a response to what you edited out.

            • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

              I actually removed the opening bit of the post as I thought it wasn’t that relevant, but for the record I actually thought Colonial Marines captured the Alien aesthetic much better than whatever the fuck Thief’s quasi-Victorian-magical-samurai THING was supposed to be. That’s one thing that springs to mind.

              In all fairness, I haven’t played Dark. Was that the one with Geralt’s voice actor? It looked pretty terrible in the videos I watched some time ago.

              (edit: I would also dispute the “Thief actually functioned as a game” part, both technically and by design, but I suppose I’ll give that a free pass since I played the release version pre-patches which may have improved stability and so on.)

            • Sleepy Will says:

              Samurai? You obviously got further than me!!

              I don’t know if you played the earlier games, but they had a similar aesthetic – I think it did a decent job of retaining the Magical Steampunk Victorian thing the older games had – though thief 2 was by far and away the best, those masks!!!

              EDIT: In response to ” I would also dispute the “Thief actually functioned as a game” part, both technically and by design”

              Er… really? I mean, sure it crashed a couple of times but so do most games. By design though??? You think that thief was not designed to be a game, or that is was but failed because… what? I mean I despise roll to move boardgames, like ludo and snakes and ladders, heroquest et al but they still function as games, by design. It’s just a design that I abhor!

            • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

              I was referring to the guard designs when I said “Samurai”, actually. Maybe that isn’t accurate, but…well…take a look at this
              http://www.xboxachievements.com/images/screenshots/693/med_104872K13-Apr-4-Thief%20Screenshot%20012.jpg

              I did play the originals, yes, and I liked their art style even if I wouldn’t have called it inspired. The new one didn’t know what the hell it was doing. Dishonored (which was utterly beautiful) is architecturally just perfect, from the contrast between the opulence and the slums to the contrast between alleys and boulevards to even small things like lead-mullioned windows and proper 1880s typeface. They did their homework, and then introduced fantasy/1920s esque futurological oil-power on top of that.

              Thief, on the other hand, just had terrible art direction. It just doesn’t have the same architectural or artistic integrity that Dishonored or even Thief 1-3 had. It all felt like a mixture of stuff that was drawn on deviant art by people that can draw but don’t know what *to* draw, and stuff that was phoned in to get the game out.

              Edit: the edits are catching me out, argh! I was basically disputing the interactivity of quicktime events, there. As for the rest of the game, well, I guess you could say encountering a fixed point for placing a rope arrowing, pressing a button to fire and then progressing is interactive, (in the strictest sense), but…yeah, it’s not a stealth game that I recognise as such. Then there are the utterly borked (in my opinion) reactions of guards and so on to the player being spotted, frequent points of no return which reset your visibility state, a light gem that sometimes simply lies to you…I’d put it roughly on par with A:CM in the working-as-a-game stakes, with maybe ACM being a shade worse on that front.

            • Sleepy Will says:

              Hehe, yes, I totally see the samurai thing now!

              I will agree with you about dishonored! That games art direction is sublime!

            • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

              Oh good, we can end on a note of agreement at least! :)

        • malkav11 says:

          If nuThief is the worst game you’ve ever played, you’ve been really lucky and/or have been really, really selective. I’ve played far worse. It’s not amazing, but it does enough right that I’ll probably be going back to it.

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            You do realise that the hierarchy of game quality is not some set-in-stone objective list, right? It was the game I hated most. Doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to like it for whatever reason.

            • Eight Rooks says:

              You do realise when you come out with a statement like “THE WORST GAME I HAVE EVER PLAYED” you’re kind of expected to back that up fairly thoroughly, right? And that people are very likely to find fault with what you’re saying regardless? Especially when you’re resorting to things like “But but but the Victorians wouldn’t have done it like that!”

              I’m not so blind as to pretend nuThief didn’t have problems – there’s a reason I still haven’t finished it – but you’re just coming off as a mix of internet jackass and flailing appeals to authority to me. I don’t really care how long you studied Victorian architecture; I’ve played through Dishonored twice (still need to beat the DLC) and it never really felt as much like a real city as I’d hoped, plenty of the buildings made no real sense as far as I was concerned, and the exterior colour palette was frequently somewhat tiresome on the eyes. The common-or-garden NPCs weren’t really much better than Thief. And I’d still rather play nuThief than Deus Ex, where all the branching story paths and player agency in the world can’t excuse godawful art and production values for me – they were horrid then and they’re even worse now – terrible, terrible writing, voice acting and yes, that soundtrack can sod off too. Dull, tedious MIDI warbling that should have been consigned to history.

              See? I can do it too; I’m sure I’ll have raised at least a sigh out of a few people who’ve bothered to read this post. Difference is I didn’t proclaim “Deus Ex is THE WORST GAME I EVER ENCOUNTERED because it does videogame things for no reason and I studied the evolution of dystopian futures in popular media for twenty years and so ACCORDING TO ME the developers’ choice of aesthetic is reprehensible blah, blah, blah”. You hated nuThief because you love Victorian design principles so much its cavalier attitude to worldbuilding and obviously troubled development really rub you up the wrong way. Leave it at that and spare us the frothing hyperbole, eh? It’s really, really not going to have anything like the same effect on anyone else other than a very small subset of people like yourself (if that). (Maybe angry internet kids who like to sneer at anything it’s cool to hate.)

            • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

              ok

            • malkav11 says:

              Worst is an evaluation of quality. Hated most is a statement of opinion. If it’s the game you hated most of any game you’ve ever played, fair enough. I pretty much guarantee it’s not actually the worst game.

            • Runs With Foxes says:

              “Deus Ex is THE WORST GAME I EVER ENCOUNTERED

              Hahaha

              difference is nuThief is widely considered to be a piece of shit so there’s not much defence required, whereas a statement like yours runs so counter to popular opinion that it does require some explanation (and your explanation is laughable, but you were trying to make a point so fair enough)

    7. HadToLogin says:

      So, around 30% of LetPlayers see no problem with taking money from both sides. Good to know both written- and video- journalists (term used in it’s very loose sense) have no big problem being nothing more than a hooker.

      • sinister agent says:

        I dunno where you draw that comparison from, exactly. Prostitution is lot more honest and socially useful than a hell of a lot of jobs.

        • P.Funk says:

          I certainly have a lot more respect for a hooker than anybody working in marketing.

      • Gargenville says:

        I kind of take issue with the implication these people could just turn down the money like it’s no big deal. Like, you’re a broke student or someone working a dead end on a zero hour contract just barely making rent and MS want to give you a bunch of money to not make fun of the Xbone in your videos and you’re going to be all ‘no thanks my ethics override my desire to eat something besides cup noodle this month’.

        Like how is pretending to think the Xbone is a good idea on youtube any different from pretending you don’t want to punch your manager in the face in any other job?

        • sinister agent says:

          In one you’re only lying to your twatto boss so you don’t get fired. In the other, you’re fundamentally failing at your job through corruption.

    8. FrumiousBandersnatch says:

      I do not understand why people recording themselves playing a videogame want to be seen to as “creators”. That word in that context just feels wrong.

      • Gilead says:

        It isn’t just ‘playing a videogame’, though. It’s providing commentary that they’ve made up over footage of their actions in a game and then editing the combined footage into something entertaining.

        Similarly, I’m sure the Mystery Science Theatre 3000/Rifftrax guys consider their movie commentaries to be things of their own creation, too. The difference there is that they usually can’t upload the entire movie with their commentary so they have to sell audio files for people who already own the movie to launch at the same time (although I see on their site now you can buy some files pre-merged, presumably because they’ve miraculously managed to sort out the nightmarish licensing issues).

        Obviously there’s the massive can of worms over whether somebody’s recording of them playing the game is something they should be free to upload, or whether it belongs to the publishers of the game, but that gives me a headache just thinking about it, so I’m not going to.

        • Jac says:

          When people buy games the enjoyment is in the interacting, whereas a film is purely in the viewing. Not sure there is much of an argument that watching someone else play a game shouldn’t be allowed to be uploaded. If that’s the case publishers should just sell a non interactive version where it plays itself.

          Also opens up the question that should people be allowed to upload tutorial videos of them showing people how to use windows / application X.

        • malkav11 says:

          The pre-merged ones are the sort of movie that they used to do on MST3K: i.e., terrible low-budget crap that are obscure and unloved enough to command very minimal licensing fees.

        • mechabuddha says:

          I would agree that their commentary is a “creation.” The problem is that the creation is fundamentally intertwined with someone else’s creation (the original game). If you separate the commentary from the gameplay, you lose the essential essence of a let’s play. Sort of like watching an MST3K episode where the movie screen is black, and the characters are making fun of *something*, but you can’t tell what. The thing is, even MST3K had to get legal permission to play these movies on their show, which was part of why they were the crappiest, cheapest movies they could find. Now I love watching let’s plays. But if the creator hasn’t entered some sort of agreement with the publisher (whether that’s the publisher paying the creator, or the creator paying fees to the publisher, or blanket permission, whatever), then I would argue that the creator is on unsteady legal ground.

          • P.Funk says:

            I think given the terms youtube has, the absolutely horrible terms surrounding content removal, how its reported and the three strikes that can go on an account as a result, most youtubers with many subscribers immediately become paranoid about the games they put on their monetized feeds. Many developers and publishers these days however will state clearly to their communities whether they are okay with them monetizing youtube videos or not. Most of the groups that don’t have more lawyers than coders are cool with it.

      • Viceroy Choy says:

        They create content that otherwise wouldn’t exist so I think it’s fair to call them creators.

        • pepperfez says:

          I mean, it’s literally true, but “creator” has a whiff of self-importance that clashes with recording yourself loudly over-emoting at a AAA vidyagame. Not that it’s all crap, but the public image of gaming videos is pretty poor.

          • Frank says:

            Yeah, if the content being created were more entertaining, or if the public faces were more likable (I’m looking at you, Yogscast and PewDiePie), it would be easier to give weight to these arguments.

            In principle, I think let’s plays are worth defending, but, eh, I could do without all of those we have so far.

          • Viceroy Choy says:

            The majority of anything that has such low barrier to entry is going to fall on the terrible end of the spectrum. However, the quality of content produced by some people definitely earn them the title “creator.”

      • fish99 says:

        Go to twitch.tv and watch someone like MANvsGAME playing Dark Souls 2 (or any game he’s played) and tell me he’s not making that experience a ton more entertaining than if it was just gameplay with no cam and no voice. Honestly most people watch content like this for the personality of the streamer/Let’s Player and for the community in the channel. The game is just there for flavour.

    9. Wulfram says:

      I don’t think it’s unethical for a youtuber to do paid promotion so long as they disclose that they’re doing it, but it may cost them credibility if they later wish to comment on related matters.

    10. Nate says:

      A lot of gems this week. Thanks.

    11. Sunjammer says:

      Thief 2 is a top 3 of all time game for me, yet I 100%ed Thief 4 and thoroughly enjoyed it as a Thief 3.5. While I enjoyed Thief 3 as well, I thought it had bigger problems overall than Thief 4 did, with several missions that all but brick wall any attempt at replaying them. It’s like people think every level of T3 was like the cradle (a woefully overrated mission in any case) and neglect to remember how janky the whole thing actually felt. All this bitching about the third person climbing in T4, you’d think people had totally forgotten the goshawful climbing gloves in T3.

      I just don’t get the pile-on attitude Sneaky Bastards has taken to Thief. I realize it’s the game that spawned the site overall, but it’s coming across as petulancy. For my money Errant Signal’s review is much more attuned to the real problems the game has rather than forever digging at it with pincers out of some weird bitterness.

      • Justin Keverne says:

        The series of articles that became Thief Month is neither a “pile-on”, nor some bitterness fuelled vendetta. We produced something similar for Dishonored, and wanted to give the same treatment to Thief; we even have an ongoing series doing something similar with Thief 2. Personally I would like to take this approach with every major stealth game.

        Thief: Deadly Shadows has its own faults, and if I can find the time I’d love to dig as deeply into that game as I have with Thief and Dishonored. I don’t mention the faults of Deadly Shadows in my analysis of Thief because I’ve tried to avoid comparing it to any of the previous games. Sometimes this isn’t always the most appropriate approach however, as certain levels later in Thief evoke events and locations from the previous games inviting direct comparison.

      • Frank says:

        That was great, thanks! That video seemed to hit the things that I would care about and notice (if I had played Th4ef).

        Edit: But wow, his discussion of Dishonored is atrocious. Guy’s got countless hangups, seems.

      • KenTWOu says:

        All this bitching about the third person climbing in T4, you’d think people had totally forgotten the goshawful climbing gloves in T3.

        When you can’t see the difference between these two game mechanics and the way both games used them, it’s really hard to take your opinion overall Thief 3 had bigger problems than Thief 4 into account.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        When Eidos takes the iconic stealth game and totally fucks it up, they deserve to be called out for it. It’s a big studio with a big budget. They shouldn’t get a pat on the head for trying.

    12. PopeRatzo says:

      We — video creators — live in complicated times,” another YouTuber says. “It is expected from our work to be free. Copyright holders don’t want us to monetize, no one likes ads, no one likes paid content

      That’s just plain insulting. I love paid content, and I’ve got a list of a few hundred games on Steam to prove it. I desperately want to pay for my content, and I want the transaction to be up-front and clearly enumerated.

      What I don’t like are the hidden costs, the externalities. The Day One DLC. And I don’t like the hidden costs involved in playing F2P games.

      Ain’t nothing free. Don’t pretend you’re giving me something for free. Make a good product and I will gladly pay you handsomely. And if the quality and value are there, the next time you make a game, I will earnestly wait for my chance to buy that game, because the experience with the first game was so good.

      And I am anything but exceptional. If I’m willing to pay for content, then that means there are other people out there willing to pay for content. I’m so sick of game developers who simply (and dishonestly) hope to make much more than retail price for their games, so they make the games “Free 2 Play” so the costs are hidden, hoping that they can string enough people along that at some point the game will become worthwhile that they’ll pay for map packs and DLC and hats for their characters and weapon upgrades and provide personal information that can be monetized. And this attitude has led to the abominable “Early Access” phenomenon, where the hope is that you can find someone to pay $89 for a game before it eventually becomes F2P anyway. Like we’re all idiots or something.

      When a game developer says “people want free games”, they are immediately place on my pay-no-mind list.

      • The Random One says:

        When was the last time you paid for a five-minute review of a video game, which is the subject being tackled here?

        • P.Funk says:

          When I watched a video with an ad at the beginning of it.

          Marketing has paid for TV for a long time. I remember vaguely some thing about TV executives thinking that when TEVO came out that people were stealing TV because they weren’t watching the ads anymore.

          Advertizing pays for a lot of things, so whenever I’m obliged to watch and ad I’m paying for it. Watching 5 seconds of some crap I don’t even remember obviously pays a lot less than a 2 minute superbowl commercial, but still thats 5 seconds of my life spent focusing on something I don’t care about nor ever wanted to. How many youtube videos a day do any of us watch? How many 5 seconds do we spend before the skip button appears?

          Its pennies, but its still the payment. I however object to advertising on moral grounds. The whole racket is an abomination.

          • DrazharLn says:

            May I interest you in adblock plus?

            It’s an addon for most modern browsers that blocks almost all advertising on the internet (if you turn off the built in white-list that google and facebook got on somehow).

          • Deadly Sinner says:

            No, you have not paid, which proves The Random One’s post. Youtube producers (and Google) only get paid when you watch past the 30 second mark on that ad.

    13. Radiant says:

      Evo finals on right now.
      Finals day: http://www.twitch.tv/srkevo1

    14. JFS says:

      I don’t think anybody asked Youtubers to do their thing, or even hired them for that purpose. So, what they’re doing is their hobby, and they’re entitled to exactly nothing. I don’t see myself approaching Fender because I bought one of their guitars and make music on my spare time that I sometimes record and upload. They don’t owe me money for that… and neither does any game studio, just becuase I played their game and showed that off.

      • GallonOfAlan says:

        Pretty much this.

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        Youtube producers don’t approach publishers, publishers approach youtubers because it is some of the best marketing money can buy.

    15. fish99 says:

      On the subject on youtubers (and twitch streamers), I’d say a large majority don’t clearly disclose when they’re paid to play something, and they clearly need to be doing so if they’re offering opinions on the game and expecting to have any credibility. Even ‘first look’ videos and Let’s Plays, they still have a ton of opinion in them, and people are basing their purchase decisions on this opinion, and it’s just human nature that if a company is paying you, you’re going to be more forgiving of that games flaws, so the consumer needs to know about it.

      I feel like youtube should have a system in place where during the upload process the content provider is asked to disclose whether the video is paid content, and then an automatic message is added to the front of the video, and if they’re found to have lied there are sanctions. Otherwise you need some actual regulation which is probably decades away – most goverments haven’t even noticed youtube exists yet.

    16. El Mariachi says:

      A room aesthetically presented as an office with desks and filing cabinets is reachable only through a vent

      I very much wish that my own office was thusly situated.