The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on August 10th, 2014 at 2:00 pm.

Sunday Papers is late today because I was having too much fun reading the articles. No kidding! Why not join me?

  • An important work of statistics: Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun has 2.87 bridges per level.
  • Relatedly linked within, this post-mortem of Tiberiun Sun from 2000.
  • Tiberian Sun features three new systems that resulted in an unpredictable schedule. First, we switched our core graphics engine to an isometric perspective in order to enhance the game’s 3D look. This resulted in a cascade effect of broken systems that weren’t anticipated. Bridges that could be destroyed and rebuilt, for example, wound up taking over ten times as long to program as we originally estimated. Adding bridges complicated systems such as path-finding, Z-buffering, rendering, unit behavior, and AI.

  • Over at Gamasutra, Leigh Alexander writes about Street Wars, a “live action watergun assassination tournament”. I have read about such things before, but never from the perspective of a participant who has gone all-in. This is the sort of thing that doesn’t come to Georgian Bath.
  • …I also can’t see anything. A white-bearded man walks past, looks down at the bizarre interloper and frowns a little. Okay. Probably this isn’t an ideal place to wait.

    Time passes as I stalk the parking lot. I get tired. I get cold. I get desperate. When a resident emerges through the apartment building’s big security door I sidle in without a second glance, unremarked upon. I reach the target’s floor and I stand in his elevator lobby, my phone is rattling in my hand, my knuckles are adrenaline-locked. I feel deeply I am in a place I do not belong. It’s a good thing there are no security cameras here…. because it’s a good ten minutes before I think to look for them. Fuck.

  • Tom Mayo has a blog now! Recently he wrote about wrestling games, and how there has never been a pro-wrestling videogame. I have only a sideways interest in wrestling, but this is good:
  • Pro wrestling is storytelling. It’s big, brash, funny, dramatic, comic booky, often crude, action-packed storytelling.

    A wrestling videogame shouldn’t be about hitting buttons frantically until the other guy stops moving, it should be about telling a story to an audience.

  • For a little while, Laura Michet was my favourite new writer writing about games. Then she stopped writing about games. Years later, she explains why:
  • The post was very obviously an attempt to set me up for trolling and online harassment. It was abundantly clear on our website that I do not have a PhD, that I don’t frequently play or discuss mainstream JRPGs, and that I don’t hate Bioware games. The person who said those things wasn’t interested in talking about my article with anyone; he was hoping to rile his readers into seeing me as a fair-game target for the community’s vitriol. And it worked! Our site was filled with people calling me a cunt. Even more people were calling me a cunt on that forum.

  • It’s a pretty depressing read. Let’s wallow in this feeling further by re-visiting some of Michet’s old work, which was always insightful and funny. Why all the dungeons in Oblivion look the same; a field guide to “X IS NOT A GAME”; the little known world of competitive Minesweeper; and the one I’ll quote below, ‘Life sucks. And then you die from a broken Digestive Function’.
  • Later, the free Docking Bay add-on let you trade norns with randos over the internet. I once downloaded a female norn, oddly named ‘Oma,’ who was trapped in an eternal pregnancy. Her sprite was, anyway. She was a generation 1148 beast (my best was only 15 consecutive C3 generations) who had been bred for ultra-short gestation periods. Her babies popped out in seconds—but all were afflicted with the dreaded Fast Growth gene, a hated mutation in the C3 community. Fast Growth norns were usually colored in the ugliest possible way, susceptible to disease, and likely to be born crippled, with severe mental deficiencies or ultra-short lifespans. It took me months of experimentation to weed the Fast Growth gene out of Oma’s kids.

  • Dwarf Fortress generates enormous world histories. Why don’t more games do this, preferring instead to spend their computational power on accurate physics modelling? Play the Past asks, did it have to be this way?
  • In his book From Sun Tzu to Xbox, Ed Halter (2006) makes a very convincing argument that many of the conventions in videogames that we take for granted can be traced back to constraints that were placed by many of the early developers of computing technology. As he notes, early computers like the ENIAC , with its stored memory and its binary language of ones and zeros, were created for purposes such as calculating ballistic tables. As computers advanced, their development continued to be shaped by large Cold War military projects, such as the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE), which made large contributions both to the graphical capabilities of computers, through the creation of the “display scope,” and to the development of input devices, in the form of the light gun. A decade later, when Steve Russell was creating Spacewar! at MIT, the PDP-1 he was working on still looked remarkably similar to the original SAGE display scopes.

  • Each day this past week, Richard Cobbett has been reading and revealing and reveling in a different videogame novelization. Why does he torture himself so? For your entertainment.
  • Looking for more sources of excellent videogame writing? Critical Distance continues to do stellar work.

Thanks to everyone who came with electronic, doom-heavy music suggestions last week. I’ll be picking through the links for a long time, though I’ve been particularly enjoying James Holden so far.

Speaking of crowdsourcing materials, let’s break the illusion of expertise. I’m just a person. Sunday Papers is compiled each week by me frantically reading what game articles I can between also trying to play all the games, write news, book Gamescom appointments, etc. All I have is taste and a platform, which means it’s likely your collective brain will be aware of far more quality writing than I. Are there writers – outside of the obvious crowd – who I should be following and featuring? Email me. Maybe we can stop a few of the good ones from being driven away.

Music this week is a lot of jazz. Unsquare Dance by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Moanin’ by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers.

, .

109 Comments »

  1. GameCat says:

    Moanin’ by Charles Mingus (different piece than that one from article, though)

    http://youtu.be/__OSyznVDOY

    It’s like ultimate cop show theme.

    • Arglebargle says:

      As soon as I saw the title ‘Moanin’ I thought this too. But thanks to you, I didn’t have to do a thing!

      My old Afro-Caribbean jam band used to try to cover Brubeck’s Take Five, but we always ended up in 6/8. I finally convinced them to just call it ‘Take Six’, and say it was inspired by and honoring Brubeck and Desmond.

    • P.Funk says:

      Amazing track. Its permanently on my playlist. Jazz is the old funk. The original modern cool.

      Still pisses me off that they were playing some Mingus in Jerry Maguire and they basically made fun of it. I think I lost a little respect for Cameron Crowe after that.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Melody says:

    Yay, you linked to Critical Distance directly :D
    My job here is done.
    (I spent 3-4 weeks linking the IMO best articles from Critical Distance that the Sunday Papers missed)

    • Graham Smith says:

      I saw, and I do read it, since Kieron linked it years ago. Sometimes I assume that there’s an overlap in SP/CD readership and so try not to repeat too many links from there, but perhaps I am mistaken.

      And links in the comments always welcome, of course!

      • Premium User Badge

        Aerothorn says:

        Without having access to anyone’s Analytics, I suspect that the overlap exists but is very small (less than 10%). Critical Distance is still very, very far from mainstream. In addition to that, I’d say:

        1. Critical Distance tends to focus their curation on games-through-lens-of-personal-experience than RPS does; it’s definitely their bread and butter, and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, including a lot of RPS readers (as far as Ic an tell).

        2. They cover a lot of console games and the more PC-core audience of RPS may pass it by for that reason.

        So yes, please keep sharing stuff you find via them!

  3. Metalfish says:

    The Michet piece resonates with me to the point of being a danger to nearby bridges.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      It’s a real shame that certain groups are effectively bullied off the internet, and certainly admins and companies that run online services could and should be doing more to combat it. We as a community also need to work to combat assholes, even if it is like whack-a-mole up in here. Still, it’s great that the author has managed to make a career out of writing, and it’s true that web journalism is hard to monetise.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Rizlar says:

    It’s a smorgasbord! The Leigh Alexander, Street Wars article was particularly cool.

    “The beauty in video games, in all designed interaction, is that they offer you the delusion of grandeur, the intoxicating misconception that all challenge in life is simply a matter of systems thinking.”.

  5. Freud says:

    The trick to dealing with internet assholishness is to surf, not swim.

  6. frogulox says:

    Props on your last comment graham.
    I personally believe human developmental future is about sharing the wealth, admitting truths and identifying realities.

    And for anyone who considers submissions but hesitates in the view that such and such is obvious, or something or other is less valid for whatever reason; I say post away.

    My life circumstances and mental demeanor make it undesirable for me to wade into the interwebbings and sift for slivers of peachy wordsmithing.
    However I am quite happy to have a bash at a presented recommended link.

    Im sure im not the only one.

  7. JD Ogre says:

    “Pro wrestling is storytelling. It’s big, brash, funny, dramatic, comic booky, often crude, action-packed storytelling.”

    I’m old-fashioned. For me, pro-wrestling is “He’s the good guy, he’s bad guy, now fight.” Screw this “storytelling” crap. All you need is personality.

    • Blackcompany says:

      And that is the beauty hidden within the ridiculousness of pro wrestling. The “storytelling” aspect is very minimal. Often its little more than exactly what you say: Good guy, bad guy – fight. What makes one bad and the other good is often down to personality and behavior, as conveyed in a few scripted remarks, and delivered by a character oozing personality. The “details” of the narrative are often as not left to the viewer to imagine.

      In this way wrestling is more akin to video games than other forms of visual media entertainment. Wrestling understands that no one can you tell you a story about your favorite good guy/heel better than YOU can. And so it mostly allows you to do just that: create your own internal fiction about the heroes and villains it places before you.

      Seriously, as much as I really could not care less about pro wrestling, video games should take a look at it for lessons in narrative creation.

      • GameCat says:

        ” The “details” of the narrative are often as not left to the viewer to imagine. ”

        Whoa, so wrestling is basically Dark Souls minus fantasy setting. You hear that From Software? Make WWF Souls after Bloodborne.

        • Premium User Badge

          DrScuttles says:

          As an aside, I am now imagining Dwayne The Rock Johnson playing Siegmeyer of Catarina and in my mind it is awesome.

    • Geebs says:

      I don’t think they’re focussing on the real stories that could come out of pro wrestling – overcome terrible injuries! Develop a habit! Develop unfortunate political opinions! Die prematurely! Do porn! I mean, why are we dealing only with the superficial aspects when there are so many stories to be told other than ‘burly person pretends to hit another burly person’?

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I don’t remember any stories. I do remember Hulk versus Andre.

      • Jerppa says:

        I remember the one about an old woman giving birth to a rubber hand.

        • Baines says:

          That would be Mae Young.

          “Hand” was quickly forgotten, though he did appear (as an adult in a “hand” costume) in a brief backstage joke twelve years later. Thus goes the wacky world of pro-wrestling.

    • bill says:

      Pro Wrestling is storytelling on 2 levels. There is the soap-opera style stuff outside the ring that sets up who is the bad guy and who is the good guy. Why people care about Hulk vs Andre.

      There’s also the inherent storytelling in the match. Since the outcome is pre-decided, they could just go in there and end it in one punch. (as shoot fights can often end), but the point is to make it a dramatic match that tells a story.
      If the good guy goes in and dominates the bad guy, then that’s not very exciting or dramatic. But if the bad guy comes close to winning and then the good guy makes a comeback, that’s much more so.

      But of course each match can’t just be a good guy comeback, so they have to try to mix it up and make it interesting on a more minute to minute level.

      Personality is a huge part, as is skill. But a wrestling match can be dull as hell, or incredibly thrilling, and that’s down to the story that the wrestlers tell in the ring.

      (look at me, I sound like I actually like wrestling… weird).

  8. unit 3000-21 says:

    “I’ve been particularly enjoying James Holden so far”
    Yes! Another convert! Now we can spread the gospel even further.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Stellar Duck says:

    The Laura Michet piece was depressing to read.

    I read some more of her stuff and enjoyed it greatly. Fuck all the jack asses who’d do that to another human being.

    Upon my oath, I’m not a violent man, but sometimes I think I wouldn’t mind the chance to give some of those people a slap in their horrible faces for being such terrible people.

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      Could do like in the old days with thieves. Cut off the fingers, so they can’t type more vitriol. Harsh, but the Internet would suddenly become a much better place!

  10. Premium User Badge

    Bradamantium says:

    Michet’s write-up has made me start my Sunday in a frothy rage. It’s absolutely despicable that the discourse around games is primarily held back by “mainstream” gamer assholes that fit every stereotype to a t, that think all games criticism is a previously agreed upon set of opinions, that think a writer being female is excellent grounds to attack that writer. I wonder just how many would-be brilliant voices in gaming stopped themselves short of getting there because the deluge of hate they got for whatever various reasons. I wonder how many of my favorite people writing about games today would be internet-assaulted if their work ever hit a big audience. And I wonder why people bother writing about games at all when it seems so much of the audience for games writing consists of entitled, petulant little shits.

    • Geebs says:

      She’s completely right about what total jerks people are, but the whole “why should I write on the internet if I’m not being paid?” thing is a bit grating.

      • pepperfez says:

        Well, the answer to that question is typically, “Because I have satisfying interactions with my readers and value sharing with them,” right? So if your interactions with readers turn largely vile, what’s the point?

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Nah, I think that’s just you. I read it as “I really have neither the time nor inclination to write about games on the internet for no money and receive vituperative abuse from crazy people when I could do a bunch of other awesome stuff to do with games, sans abuse, and actually get paid for some of it”, which seems completely reasonable to me.

      • Premium User Badge

        Bradamantium says:

        I didn’t think so. When you write, it’s for the end goal of some gain, whether that’s meaningful engagement with an audience or monetary compensation. Ideally both, but one or the other will suffice. Neither at all, and indeed vitriol as the only reaction, equates to a great sense of wasted time and wholesale questioning of the worth of one’s writing.

        • Geebs says:

          I take your point; but if you’re doing something either for the audience engagement or for the money, doesn’t that mean you’ve stopped expressing yourself and started making entertainment?

          • Premium User Badge

            Bradamantium says:

            I wouldn’t say so. If all a writer wants to do is express themselves, than they might as well just keep a journal. The act of creativity and expression isn’t necessarily compromised by wanting something back from it.

          • Spider Jerusalem says:

            Those two aims aren’t mutually exclusive. For a writer, the audience closes the loop. Stories are meant to be told, etc.

      • MartinWisse says:

        It’s more “look at what I can do if I don’t have to deal with/worry about assholes” isn’t it?

    • PopeRatzo says:

      It’s not that hard to keep an online community from degrading into abuse. I mean, I’m sure she could have found a few people who would have gladly moderated her comments sections.

      “I quit because everybody’s so MEAN”, is another way of saying she might have run out of things to say on the subject, or maybe she has other interests that took over.

      I’m not sure I believe that gaming forums are that much more hostile and abusive than others. I’ve seen some very ugly interactions going on in some unexpected places. Hell, I’ve been involved in ugly interactions in unexpected places, including confessionals. You know, the kind in church.

      And, she could have just turned comments off. One of my favorite bloggers does not have a comments section, but once very week or so has a feature on “readers’ mailbag”, where she goes through the most insightful/interesting comments her readers made in response to her posts. Problem solved.

      • Premium User Badge

        RobF says:

        Unfortunately, when you’re a woman on the internet writing about games in public, turning off the comments only stops things appearing in the comments, not elsewhere.

        It doesn’t really fix owt or stop the abuse being shoved under your nose.

      • MartinWisse says:

        Even if you’re right, your solution just assumes that writing on the internet is worth the hassle of having comment moderation or whatever. Clearly she felt her energy and time could better be spent elsewhere instead.

  11. Premium User Badge

    RaveTurned says:

    Tom Mayo might enjoy the Total Extreme Wrestling series. It casts you as a promoter rather than any of the wrestlers themselves as a such is a bit management sim-y, but it is all about putting together storylines and feuds to get the crowd interested in your wrestling company. I think it’s the only wrestling game I’ve played that understands the entertainment and (dare I say it) theatre of the sport.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Philopoemen says:

    Street Wars = a very quick way to get arrested if you take it too seriously. The issue with running around looking like you’re trying to kill someone is that some numpty who is not playing will call the constabulary, and chances are they’re going to take a dim view to people pretending to be hitmen. This also goes for LARPers and people coming home from costume parties with fake blood all over them, which generally equals police and ambulances.

    As for Michet’s piece, and I’m not dismissing her concerns, I still don’t get why some random guy’s thoughts on a forum or being called a c___ is that big a deal. Sure if it was my friends or family, I’d understand. But I literally get called a “F**king white dog c___” every day in person, and as I don’t really care what the people saying it think, it has no effect. Its not a slight against me as a person, its just them venting.

    I don’t know why the written word is so much more emotionally powerful – and I’m including things like Facebook, other social media, forums etc – people seem to take on board what Random Guy on the Internet thinks just as, if not more, seriously as a face to face confrontation, where realistically cyber bullying should be less effective – but the recent causes of youth suicide flood in the face of that. I’m truly curious why we give so much power to people we’ve never met.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      “As for Michet’s piece, and I’m not dismissing her concerns, I still don’t get why some random guy’s thoughts on a forum or being called a c___ is that big a deal. Sure if it was my friends or family, I’d understand. But I literally get called a “F**king white dog c___” every day in person, and as I don’t really care what the people saying it think, it has no effect. Its not a slight against me as a person, its just them venting.”

      We each have different tolerances for that sort of abuse. You may not care about such behaviour but I think it’s a bit silly to expect that others should have the same tolerances as you.

    • Metalfish says:

      Most of us grew up without constant verbal abuse, it’s the fact that people wouldn’t (in most cases) ever say this sort of thing to someone’s face is worth remembering. I’m not sure I’m happy with the idea that the best way of dealing with people treating me as less than human is to write them off as not really human either.

    • Graham Smith says:

      I can’t speak for everyone.

      But if you are writing on the internet, it’s probably because:

      – You want to communicate something that you believe has value.
      – You believe that communicating that something will have a positive affect on community or culture: making good things more prevalent, bad things less so, or whatever else.
      – You are being paid.

      If the third thing isn’t true, the first two become more likely and more important.

      In this situation, abuse and negative comments might not cut to the core of your being or rattle you deeply, but no matter how self-assured you are they’ll still likely make you question why you’re devoting precious time and energy communicating ideas to people who don’t seem to be listening or attempting to affect a culture which is actively hostile to you.

      You can do a lot of things for yourself, but writing publicly on the internet isn’t really one of them.

      • Premium User Badge

        Philopoemen says:

        After the experience of BBSs and UseNet, what did people think was going to happen when they started putting their stuff on the internet? It’s not like they were places of sunshine and happiness, and yet people seem genuinely shocked at the level of vitriol online. I guess my question is why haven’t we adapted as a culture to the way the internet has basically always been, and developed a “thicker skin”? (for wont of a better term)

        I mean, as a content creator, it must be apparent after five minutes looking online that someone is going to dislike what you do, and their way of showing that dislike isn’t going to be constructive criticism. Do you prepare yourself for that, or do you go in blind, hoping for the best?

        It seems that quite a lot of journalists/bloggers etc online take it on the figurative chin without learning to roll with the punch. Is this perhaps a result of the change from traditional, moderated media to a more unmoderated, unfiltered media where the masses can respond directly to the content creators, rather than them being insulated by editors etc etc.

        I ask because quite a few of these Sunday Paper article touch on the subject, and Cara has spoken about it previously too.

        • Premium User Badge

          RobF says:

          Because maybe adapting to abusive behaviour isn’t anywhere near as useful or healthy as calling abusive behaviour what it is and taking steps to change that.

        • Graham Smith says:

          A thick skin helps, but it’s not that you can’t roll with the punches, it’s why would you want to? If the strongest response to your work – offered for free, created in your spare time, written in hope of communicating – is punches, then why bother? Everyone has better things to do with their time than learning how to ignore assholes.

          And if you can learn how to ignore the assholes, it’s not like there’s necessarily a waiting supportive audience, either. People rarely comment to say they enjoyed your work, so often all that’s left is the appearance of apathy. At which point you maybe dig deeper and turn to Google Analytics, and you look at the numbers, in the hope that a ticking counter will make up for it. Except that it doesn’t. Because who knows if those anonymous digits understood what you were saying, or cared at all, and anyway, more anonymous digits turned up for the 200-word post you wrote about a game trailer anyway, so… Why bother?

          You can learn to work without reward, sure. But you could also go do work that brings rewards.

          This is, in theory, why something like Sunday Papers exist. It is also why awards exist. To single out people who might otherwise be spurned or ignored, and say: please keep going.

          And I am paid, so this isn’t exactly spare time, but it is also why it’s nice to write for RPS.

          • Slaadfax says:

            There’s no real reason for public writing if no one is going to read the material and engage with it on the basis of its intended purpose.

            Even if it’s an exercise in self-edification, you might as well express your opinions to the bathroom mirror. At the very least, you can be reasonably assured that the audience won’t hurl it back in your face with all manner of spite.

          • dE says:

            And if you can learn how to ignore the assholes, it’s not like there’s necessarily a waiting supportive audience, either. People rarely comment to say they enjoyed your work, so often all that’s left is the appearance of apathy.

            It’s something I often see in the aftermath of a fallout. People standing on the sidelanes come forth and state their support and that’s great, really. But to me the question remains, why is the support a reaction and not an action? It’s nice to know in hindsight that someone had supporters but by the time they become visible, the fallout has happened, the bridges have been burned.
            But it’s not that I don’t get it. I do. Why is it so hard for myself, someone that did suffer the brutal stick of content creation, to just go out and compliment someone on their work? Why do I feel like I’m crossing a line if I go up to someone and say “You know… you did well. We need more of that, I appreciate what you do”. And why is it so hard to communicate sincere approval online, without seeming like someone with a hidden nasty purpose? It seems to me that the sincerity necessary to make these compliments work in the physical world, can’t be properly translated into a just text medium. But there’s also a completely different culture, one that seems to have taken cues from the german cliché of: The best approval a german can give you for your work is complete and utter silence. And I hated that when growing up.

            @Slaadfax:
            Sometimes the sheer act of creating something beautiful can be a motivating factor. It’s fun to make stuff with your own hands/mind/words. However that can’t offset the negativity in response.

            Or rather it seems like a limited ressource that gets used up everytime someone attacks for no apparent reason other than to fish for a response.

          • Nate says:

            Part of why it’s so important to say, “Thanks” every once in a while. Thanks. (And our fellows in the threads and forums are just as much authors as Mr. Smith or Ms. Michet or anyone else, so thanks to all of you as well.)

          • Premium User Badge

            Philopoemen says:

            @dE, that does make sense – positive support online is often derided as “fanboy/girlism”, when it should really just be positive support.

            @ Graham, I know this thread has made it more likely for me to simply compliment a good article when I see one now; I want people like yourself, Cara and Michet to contribute more, and hopefully a couple of positive comments here and there outweigh the negatives

        • Eight Rooks says:

          Comment eaten because fair enough, should have blanked or not included the C-word, I guess? But my point was, what do people think would be lost from the internet if it became no longer acceptable to send people that kind of abuse, or worse, as if it was a normal way to talk? Serious question – do people defending that sort of thing, or at least excusing it/writing it off, actually think that the alternative would somehow be quantifiably worse? And if so, how, exactly?

          But also what Graham and RobF said.

          • WrenBoy says:

            Well it depends what you mean by unacceptable. If you mean socially unacceptable (via articles likes these for instance) then clearly the world would become a better place.

            If you mean that the behaviour became legally unacceptable or even that anonymity became more difficult then the cure would be worse than the disease in my opinion.

        • RARARA says:

          It’s funny how when there’s a feminist post mildly criticizing a game for its tropes and cliches, everyone is up in their arms. But when people fire back with vitriol corrosive enough to melt through Xenomorphs, the same people collectively shrug going, “Internet will be internet.”

          Perhaps you are underestimating the sheer absurdity of misogyny on the ‘net?

          • Geebs says:

            This is not meant to excuse bad behaviour, but “it’s just internet” isn’t so much accepting mob behaviour as acknowledging that it’s the only approach which works when the internet collectively decides not to like you – see that comic book guy, cevat yerli, ‘get over it’ Xbox guy etc.

          • Premium User Badge

            Stellar Duck says:

            What the actual fuck?!

            I mean, really?!

            Words fail me right now.

          • Geebs says:

            It rather seems that they did, yes. Are you suggesting that feeding trolls is a productive activity?

          • Premium User Badge

            Thurgret says:

            I don’t understand the backlash against that question there.

            But being honest, I don’t quite grasp the question itself. Is the writer asking about poorer countries where a product may be unaffordable unless subsidized by local government? Is it standard practice in these countries to subsidize other hygiene and healthcare products too? Or is she asking about more affluent nations? In the latter case, are there other similar products which are already subsidized?

            Don’t mean to be obstinate, and the response she got is appalling, but I’m honestly not sure what exactly she was asking, or how reasonable an expectation it is (that is — it’s reasonable if other healthcare and hygiene products are subsidized, and a bit out of the blue if not) without her giving any context.

          • RARARA says:

            @Geebs: Note that women get extra scorn heaped upon them purely for the blunder of being born a woman. Yerli and the XBox guy came at the receiving end of the hate-boner because of the incredibly stupid things they said; compare that to the comment thread where Cara posted a picture of half her face for comedic value (whereas as no one called Meer an attention-seeker when he did it as well).

            Also, I think Stellar Duck was responding to my comment, not yours.

            @Thurgret: Feminine hygiene products can be pretty expensive, and people in the UK have been trying to change a 40 year old law and make them exempt from value-added taxes. Tampons and pads are considered luxury items (it’s pretty hard to go about your business without ‘em while you are on your menstruation) in the UK, while, as the article points out, lottery/public zoo tickets and imported exotic meats aren’t.

            The person who tweeted it also writes for The Guardian, so she could be researching as well. India, for instance, subsidizes women’s hygiene products.

          • Premium User Badge

            Stellar Duck says:

            @RARARA and Geebs

            Yep. I was commenting on the tampon idiocy.

            Sorry for the confusion. Words did indeed fail me. :)

          • Michael Fogg says:

            Well, to be completely fair, most of the responses she got seemed to be politically motivated rather than purely misogynist, i.e. people were, in their minds, trying to oppose ‘big governement’ and socialist policies.

          • RARARA says:

            @Michael Fogg: Misogyny and objectivism goes hand-in-hand when you are talking about hardline conservatives.

          • Geebs says:

            @Stellar Duck and RARARA – my apologies, I got confused myself and then contributed that confusion right back. Sorry!

    • Sleepy Will says:

      Er, given that only a few months ago, you made 24 hours worth of death threats to someone on this blog who made a weak, inoffensive joke about the name of some riot, that didn’t hurt your Grandmother – though she was close to it, your words ring particularly hollow. That attitude is probably a lot to do with why you get called names on a daily basis.

      • Premium User Badge

        Philopoemen says:

        @Sleepy Will, er, not sure if you’re responding to me, but pretty sure I’ve not made any death threats. The reason I get abused daily is a side effect of my day job, and I know it’s not about me as a person, but me as an avatar of the organisation I work for. Hence, I don’t worry about the comments.

        • Muzman says:

          Incidentally, your experience sounds peculiarly Australian. Western Australian even That could be my ignorance more than anything, but do you work for some social service or are a bus driver?

          • Premium User Badge

            Philopoemen says:

            heh, closer than you think – I work for the local constabulary, but my views are my own, and work is twitchy about being associated with *anything*.

          • Muzman says:

            Ah yes. You would be at the sharp end of that sort of flack for sure. Good that you don’t take it personal. Lots of people do though. I seem to be constantly debating some people about ‘reverse racism’ on the net somewhere. I’m at pains to explain it’s just a nerve some grumpy people have found to prod, and clearly it works.

        • Sleepy Will says:

          Ooops, my bad – the person who had the meltdown was philomel, sorry I saw your name and mistook you for her!

  13. Premium User Badge

    AlwaysRight says:

    Music for this week is absolutely and definitely:
    “FKA twigs – LP1″
    It’s utterly sublime.

  14. Premium User Badge

    thedosbox says:

    Loved the Water assassination piece, and am glad I read it after the depressing Laura Michet post.

  15. Moraven says:

    Why I’ve Said Goodbye to Mobile in Favor of PC

    http://gamasutra.com/blogs/ThomasHenshell/20140807/222732/Why_Ive_Said_Goodbye_to_Mobile_in_Favor_of_PC.php

    Story of a veteran programmer having the opportunity to live his dream of making video games. He chased the mobile/tablet market, overspent to satisfy a publisher’s request to port to every possible phone, games produced were to focused and made for a market not really there.

    • GameCat says:

      Thanks for this article.

    • Fiatil says:

      Good article! Extra bonus that his new game sounds amazing. I wish him the best of luck.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Ugh. I want to sympathise with him, but he basically gives every indication of having dug his own grave – “I hated the majority of what shifts download units on mobile, and trying to break into that market turned out to be hell”, well who’d have thought? – and he gets no points from me for 1) resorting to the tired old “I return like the prodigal son to the glorious master race” shtick, and 2) apparently persisting in the naive belief the same things that plagued him in mobile won’t ever be an issue with PC/console development. No thanks. You wasted your life on an entirely mediocre-looking game and an undistinguished app for a platform you could hardly stand before you started, while giving publishers every opportunity to push you around (a Blackberry port? Seriously?) and now you’re complaining it didn’t work out?

      He’s obviously a smarter and more capable guy in many respects than me, and he says some perfectly valid things, but anyone thinking that “proper” hardware platforms are some kind of hallowed promised land needs to take a long, hard look at why they feel that way. Give it five years, if that, and Steam will be going through the exact same thing. F2P is not going away, you still get the same arguments about “You expect me to pay X for Y?” and getting noticed is still a nightmare in the making. I can only imagine the pain he went through to get to this epiphany, and I hope he has better luck in the future, but the majority of that article just comes off as whining to me.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Really loved this part:

      There is a place where the cost of making games has dropped significantly.
      There is a place where customers have fierce loyalty and follow the creators every move.
      There is a place where the average game sells for $20 and they are happy to pay it.
      There is a place where customers regularly search out new games online.
      There is a place where you can get in front of your target audience for FREE through review scores.
      There is a place where customers pay above and beyond the asking price just to get art books and soundtracks.

      It’s called Indie PC/Mac/Linux/Console game development. And the target audience calls themselves “gamers”.

      They wear game logos on their hats and t-shirts. Games are part of their lifestyle.
      They put in-development game art on their computer desktop and facebook profile.
      They share game development news throughout their social network.
      They have an unquenchable thirst for their favorite thing: new games!

      • Premium User Badge

        Mo says:

        The whole article reads like a fluff piece, it’s just giving the audience of “gamers” exactly what they want to hear. Most of that fails to pass even a cursory objective examination…

        > There is a place where the cost of making games has dropped significantly.

        Yeah, much the same as mobile. I mean sure on PC you have a higher spec machines (so less optimization is required), but you also have a wider spread of machines to target. Both are pretty equally difficult problems.

        > There is a place where customers have fierce loyalty and follow the creators every move.
        > There is a place where the average game sells for $20 and they are happy to pay it.

        Do they, though? Does the average game really sell for $20? I mean sure, if you’re an already well-known developer people will follow you and buy your game on day 1. But aren’t people already complaining about how many new games get released on Steam? How many of those games go unnoticed? And that’s on *Steam*! Imagine the uncountable number of games that get released independently on PC every day.

        And even *if* a lesser-known game is noticed, how often do you hear “eh, I’ll wait for a sale”?

        > There is a place where customers regularly search out new games online.

        Again, do they? Because from what I hear, if you’re not on Steam you’re chance of finding a significant customer-base is greatly diminished.

        > There is a place where you can get in front of your target audience for FREE through review scores.

        This is true on mobile as well. Just avoid the sketchy sites. And it’s not like the same thing doesn’t happen on PC: http://indiestatik.com/2013/12/01/charging-indie-game-devs-reviews-bad-practice/

        > There is a place where customers pay above and beyond the asking price just to get art books and soundtracks.

        Again, I’m not sure who these imaginary people are. Aren’t PC gamers the ones who hold out for Steam Sales and Humble Bundles?

      • DrollRemark says:

        Yeah, you would, he’s basically fellating PC gamers. What a load of guff.

        • DrollRemark says:

          I just read the whole thing, and he really sounds like he’s in a bubble. Never once does he consider that his game/app might not have been very good, or acknowledge any direct flaw in them. He’s doomed to make the same mistakes again.

          • Premium User Badge

            RobF says:

            Oh god, there’s just so much about the post that actually genuinely scares me when reading it.

            Like, he went into this with the idea of making videogames and that would cost around 200k. Alright, but what videogames? Dunno, we’ll work that out later. This is off to a really bad start from the off but when it gets to the bit about writing a game aimed at teenage girls that’s about tickling monkeys out of a farm, I’m left wondering if this is some fanciful performance art or something because how do you get from “a game aimed at teenage girls” to “tickling monkeys out of a farmyard”? I don’t understand that -at all-.

            The more you read it, the more it’s like, I dunno, no lessons learned here. What went wrong with a monkey tickling game aimed at teenage girls? It was too good! No-one told them when to stop so they kept adding brilliant things and mobile doesn’t like brilliant things or something? What else? It was the wrong type of teenage girl, if only he’d realised sooner that the teenage girl he wanted to target was an asian teenage girl. Why? Because they love cute things!

            He burned through 200 thousand dollars making a monkey tickling game for teenage girls. When the money was dry, he can’t understand why his employee and friend is looking for work elsewhere and not speaking to him on Facebook. God had other ideas for a while. That was it.

            And with 200k down the pan, he wants another 20 to make a fantasy RPG for the PC. Like, if you’ve spent 200 grand on a monkey tickling game for iOS, how much is a fantasy RPG for the PC going to set you back? At what point do you sit back and go “you know, this isn’t going so well” and stop because these things don’t just effect your life and man, just man. This isn’t a story about how iOS is rubbish and PC is the place to be, it’s a fucking tragedy.

          • Baines says:

            Yes. It very much sounds like in a year or two, he’ll have similar reasons for his PC games failing.

            It might not be helping that so many of the replies to the article are “I can relate” and other supporting words. Only a few replies have warnings that his PC experience may be as dismal as his mobile experience, and some of those comments seemed to just bounce off the article writer going by his own replies.

          • SuicideKing says:

            Yeah, you all are actually right. I don’t disagree with any point of yours (all of you) as such.

  16. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Talking of other websites, can anyone recommend me “the RPS of simulation gaming sites”? I’m after something dedicated to flight / driving sims please :) Anybody got a good one in their bookmarks?

    • SuicideKing says:

      I’m tempted to say “The Flare Path” but you’ve been here long enough to know that…

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        If only Mr Stone had his own 7 days a week website to channel simmy goodness into my brain hole :)

  17. FatedToPretend says:

    Leigh links to it on her Gamasutra article, but just in case anyone didn’t click through, it’s also a spoken-word piece over on Shut Up and Sit Down.

    http://www.shutupandsitdown.com/podcast/episode/spoken-articles-2/

    For further dissection of the experience, Leigh, Paul and Quinns spent a good half hour podcast discussing the experience (also on Shut Up and Sit Down). There’s a really interesting passage where we learn that the game designers/administrators were emailing the teams to complain that they weren’t being as interesting as other cities had been in the past. The SUSD team wondered why exactly it was their responsibility to create their own exciting stories in a poorly designed game.

    I bring it up because its something that’s stayed with me as I introduce my girlfriend to Minecraft, and can’t quite explain what’s good about a game that gives you no reason to actually have an adventure

    • InternetBatman says:

      Minecraft does give you a mechanically good reason to adventure (better ores spawn in caves), but you would only be interested in better ores if you had the metagame knowledge to know what to do with them.

      • malkav11 says:

        This would be an incentive if there were anything pushing you to get better ores or build better things other than your own personal investment in building things.

        • InternetBatman says:

          The desire for stronger gear so that you can survive better definitely a pull, and the nighttime monsters provide a push. The real problem is not the mechanical lack of a push pull, it’s that everything relies on you going to a wiki to find it out.

          • malkav11 says:

            If you say so. To me, that’s not a reason to play the game. It’s a reason to temporarily prioritize certain activities if you’re already sold on the game. (And yes, having to rely on the wiki to figure out basically everything is far from ideal.)

    • Eight Rooks says:

      “What’s good about Lego?” There, done.

      • GameCat says:

        Everything except price.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          Even better! “Imagine Lego but with one cheap payment for all the bricks in the universe.” (Probably not entirely true, I don’t play Minecraft, but you get the idea.)

  18. Laurentius says:

    So what’s the deal with people who writes and not particularly writes about games but since it’s still rather new or in some way unique that made it more apparent that they need that constant ego stroking in hilarious amounts? There isn’t single person who writes about games that sooner or later (rather sooner) is in some serious need for some good pair of lead boots, because due to extremely swollen ego is literally ready to take off.
    And by saying that in no way I accept trollish or hateful vitriol and especially any kind of harassment.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bradamantium says:

      I don’t know that “wants affirmation that someone is reading and someone cares in a positive way” is equivalent to ego-stroking. If Michet’s bit here amounted to “I need people to tell me they care,” I might think differently, but wanting a baseline of engagement and/or not wanting to be viciously attacked for an opinion…that’s a bit different than looking for a bicycle pump that attaches directly to the ego. I also can’t think of many games writers whose egos have run rampant, especially not those producing content for gaming sites rather than YouTuber extraordinaires.

      • Laurentius says:

        But it’s not a single occurrence, one moment they start with „I’ll be writing about video games” and before you know it, majority of written content is littered with: “me, me, I, I, call for attention, me, me, I, I etc.”. Of course it will be called as “bringing personal spin to video game writing” like as something new and unique and not as a way that everyone has already adopted. I know technical reason for it as it is something that happens all over the internet, lack of editing, these people are their own editors and it is not enough. Before Internet era, one can just try to apply some text to a small sci-fi zin and there was a chance to run into some competent editor that would straight you up, now bad habits of exposing ego for a good stroking run rampant.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          I suspect it’s time you quit reading RPS and head over to objectivegamereviews.com.

        • Premium User Badge

          Bradamantium says:

          That just sounds like personality-based writing, which is hardly a bad thing. RPS itself is all over that. From reviews to news to the regular features, there’s lots of personality injected into it. It’s also taking off more on other websites; Giant Bomb is based all on personality, whereas its more traditional counterpart under the same owner was just heavily downsized. It’s hardly ego stroking to present a strong sense of the person behind the writing even in consideration of a game with no relation to the writer other than “This is a game I’m playing.” There’s already lots of “objective” takes on games with simple gameplay videos, or the old guard of games writers that cater their reviews to an audience, and I don’t mind (and indeed welcome) more personal considerations of games.

          • Laurentius says:

            I don’t really know what objective takes on games means but I recognize inflated writers ego when I see one. And belive me it’s not hard to observe it, I was at many authors meeting with audience swooning over them and I was swooning as well but you know, perspective…

  19. TechnicalBen says:

    From the C&C TS archives:
    “For unit behavior there was a set of rules that we had to conform to, specifically how a unit deals with player commands so that its internal logic never overrides a player’s orders. One of the times we tried to change the rules was when harvester threat-avoidance logic was introduced. I remember hearing lead designer Adam Isgreen screaming at his computer when his harvesters refused to obey his orders to retreat. We decided to scrap that idea shortly afterward.”

    Now if only they had also programmed the GUI to Windows 8!

    • LionsPhil says:

      Shame the article overall reads more like an advertisement for it and makes weak excuse about “well it could never have made everyone happy” at the end.

      Comparing it to the Phantom Menace is more apt than perhaps he realizes.

  20. Premium User Badge

    c-Row says:

    I’d like to add two more things to the list of what went wrong with Tiberian Sun, though I am not sure how much influence Westwood themselves had on it.

    First, they released edited screenshots – some of them featuring graphical effects which weren’t included in the final game, some of them simply mirrored (with the UI still correct, though) – which appeared not only throughout gaming magazines but on the final game box (!!!) as well. No matter how good your product is, people don’t want to be lied to.

    Second, the German voiceovers were atrocious. We are used to dubs which aren’t 100% lip sync, but the way they were done for Tiberian Sun they were beyond obvious to a comedic level.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Can we get “giving big-name actors a script that would embaress even a direct-to-TV SyFy special” on there?

      • pepperfez says:

        No, we’re not making a list of what they did right here.

  21. Trespasser in the Stereo Field says:

    Actually, 2.87 would be your population mean, not a statistic. *looks around suspiciously then sneaks out the back door.”

  22. aepervius says:

    “Play the Past” article on computer is not quite correct. Computer started even before with mechanical calculator. Back in the 17th century. The reason computer are like this, is because even back then the primary usage were calculation, not generally balistic one, but any calculation, predominently IIRC accounting. Punch card processing on….Loom and later on calculator continued simply the trend.

  23. JackMultiple says:

    I enjoyed the “Dungeon(s) of Morrowind” article, thanks for the link!

    I have my own theory about the DoM. I think it was a a reaction/refinement of the dungeon code of their two previous (epic) Elder Scrolls games. I believe ES:Arena tried to randomly generate every dungeon, and we all know what a mess that turned out to be, bug-wise. For their next epic RPG, I’m pretty sure that I read many articles in the rags back in the day, that Daggerfall (proudly) would auto-generate NONE of the dungeons, each one would be a hand-crafted masterpiece. I’m sure this took a bjillion man-years too many. So for Morrowind, they took a little bit from both games. A handcrafted masterpiece-of-a-modular-dungeon, and a generator that would auto-stamp that one a bjillion different ways. Or maybe that’s only 1 or 2 different ways? I forget… been awhile since I actually played MW.

    • malkav11 says:

      I think you’ve consistently gone back one game in the series across the board there. Oblivion is the one with the cookie cutter dungeons that the linked article was about, Morrowind had the handcrafted, unique, and endlessly explorable dungeons full of interesting things to find, and Daggerfall had the buggy procedural nonsense. (There is almost nothing in Daggerfall that’s hand-crafted. It wouldn’t be practical, since Daggerfall covers more landmass than any subsequent TES game by far.) Though I think Arena was similar to Daggerfall, just less ambitious. I might be wrong, never played that one.

  24. The Random One says:

    Laura Michet’s conspiracy generator is pretty awesome. I love how it also generates sources.

  25. lyje says:

    It’s not sunday any more, but… Mastertronic looks to be out of the woods, and CEO Andy Payne has posted an incredibly humble piece on the outcome. Compare to Crytek… http://www.develop-online.net/opinions/mastertronic-s-andy-payne-on-surviving-insolvency/0196337