Posts Tagged ‘The Sunday Papers’

The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on July 27th, 2014.

Sundays are for returning from an extended absence to find that you’ve read little of the best games writing from the past week. Can we scrape it together anyway? Yes, with teamwork we can.

  • I haven’t had a chance to read this lengthy Brendan Vance article yet, but reader A Person On The Internet (and many others) assure me its excellent. Person writes: “It explores a myriad of topics including Steam, Spelunky, Social Media, the meaning of ‘content’ and much more besides.” Works for me. Especially since it appears the article argues that Spelunky is better than the bible.
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The Sunday Papers

By Adam Smith on July 20th, 2014.

Sundays are for balancing many interests and inputs, and realising that there aren’t enough windows in the world to see the whole picture. The International rumbles on, an unblinking machine that exhales dry ice as it calibrates the new theatre of esports live on stage and screen. Kill Screen’s reporter Darren Davis makes his debut at a live esports tournament and captures the exhileration and oddity.

As I said, I’ve never been to a live esports tournament. But once you’re there in the arena it’s hard not to feel like every other event is just talking shit. Valve has really outdone itself in terms of production and pageantry. This is not off-brand. This is the progamer tournament. Turns out, it has more in common with WWE than any pro sport. When Gabe Newell takes the stage to kick off the event, he steps through smoke and spotlights and may as well stop to flex. He speaks with the full-throated confidence of a wrestler at the peak of his narrative arch, bringing the crowd to a fever pitch in their reverence. This is Valve’s behemoth on Valve’s home turf.

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The Sunday Papers

By Adam Smith on July 13th, 2014.

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.”

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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on July 6th, 2014.

    Sundays are for rolling around on your couch, wondering why you bother to try. Probably best you turn away from my moping and spend your day reading fine works from the rest of the internet.

  • There are no lengths to which Richard Cobbett won’t go for a gag. And this is a good one: Fallen Swindon, a Twine-made parody of Fallen London. You’ll enjoy it more if you’ve played its inspiration, but it’s not necessary.
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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on June 29th, 2014.

    It's hard to do alt-text gags for the same image every week.

    Sundays are for sending emails, to set in motion the wheels of future words about videogames. Let’s inspire ourselves first by rounding up some of the week’s best writing from elsewhere.

  • Margaret Robertson recently asked on Twitter for recommendations for story-creation games, and she’s rounded up the advice in Once Upon A Wonder: A Story Game Guide. This is your daily reminder that there are more interesting games than you’ll ever have time to play:
  • Dog Eat Dog is a game about colonialism and identity, the first task of which is described by its author Liam Burke as “As a group, you work together to describe one of the hundreds of small islands in the Pacific Ocean”. One player takes on the role of *all* of an occupying force, representing “their capable military, their quisling government, and whatever jaded tourists and shrewd businessmen are interested in a not quite pacified territory,” and all other players become individual Natives, responding as best they can to the actions of the colonizing power.

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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on June 22nd, 2014.

    Good haul, this week.

    Later today I will be disappearing into a pen-and-paper session of Numenera, to pretend to be a cross between E. Honda and B.A. Baracus. Unless those dice rolls fail me, in which case I will be Austin Powers-ing my way through it. In any case, better round up the week’s best games writing first.

  • Let’s begin this week by talking about YouTube. Mike Rose at Gamasutra asks, is YouTube killing the games press? This is filled with interesting quotes from developers on whether traditional websites or YouTubers helped sales of their game more, though it does focus the conversation on ‘which type of coverage is best for developers’ rather than what’s best for people playing and buying games.
  • Getting covered by a big-name YouTuber is now essentially the dream of many game developers. The publicity someone like TotalBiscuit, NerdCubed or Northernlion can bring you compared to mainstay consumer websites like IGN, GameSpot and Game Informer is becoming increasingly significant.

    A year ago, I would have advised any developer to get in touch with as many press outlets as possible, as soon as possible. I still advise this now, but with the following caveat: You’re doing so to get the attention of YouTubers.

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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on June 15th, 2014.

    The World Cup has started, which means Sunday are for the same thing as every other day: waiting for the football games to begin, then watching the football games. But I suppose we can find some time in between to round up a little of the week’s best games writing.

  • Let’s start with what I missed last week. Over at Edge Online, Chris Thursten writes a retrospective of Red Dead Redemption. I struggle to see beyond the game’s Rockstarian mission structure (do tasks for assholes of only sideways relevance to your character’s motivation), but Chris pins down everything that’s nevertheless great about the game:
  • What soon becomes evident is that the MacFarlane ranch has a Marston-shaped hole in it. When Marston leaves Bonnie for the last time near the end of the game, he is riding off to meet a tragedy that is grounded in his dual nature. Through Bonnie – and the future that she wants for him, but that it is impossible for him to have – the game intimates an inaccessible third option. Redemption binds him to a destiny that is always just out of shot, and it’s this that makes him a Western hero rather than a shooter protagonist with a cowboy hat on.

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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on June 8th, 2014.

    The funny pages.

    Does it matter if you write some functioning code but don’t understand why it works the way it does? Sundays are for finding out, in between playing so much Floating Point that you dream about playing it in a Japanese tournament.

  • Jon Blyth, the funniest writer in videogame journalism, is no longer working in videogame journalism. He’s left his role as associate editor on OXM to go run a pub in Nottingham, which in many ways is the game journalist equivalent of being put out to stud. He’s typically apologetic:
  • I’m sorry to anyone who missed my gently coded warnings. When I said “we can’t wait to find out more,” at the end of a passionless regurgitation of a feature list, that was the closest thing I could professionally say to “I don’t even know what this game is”. The first time I heard someone say “we’ve really listened to our community”, I was impressed, and reported keenly on this consumer-orientated and responsive attitude. By the end of my career, all I wanted was one developer to say “we’ve ignored our community, as they are plainly fucking idiots”.

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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on June 1st, 2014.

    Slim pickings this week.

    Sundays are for asking an old question: spaceships or submarines? Then laughing, because the answer is inevitable.

  • Tom Bramwell at Eurogamer did what I want to and wrote a review of the FIFA World beta. I’m struggling to stick with the game because the Origin overlay doesn’t work for me and I therefore have no means of buying FIFA points. You can advance without them, but I’m finding the rubbo starting team tedious to play with after only recently advancing through FIFA 14′s Ultimate Team mode.
  • But even in its current form as the bedrock of FIFA 14, it is still far from perfect. Perhaps the most fundamental issue is that it has always felt like a free-to-play game tacked on to what is already a premium purchase. Although it is possible to play Ultimate Team without spending any money, the emphasis is very much on buying packs that contain players to ease your progress, and it takes a long time to earn the in-game coins to do this, compared to a very short time to buy FIFA Points to pay for them instead.

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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on May 25th, 2014.

    Actually we play something unreleased.

    Sundays are for spinning the wheel of games: do we play Transistor? Wolfenstein? Elite: Dangerous? Blade Symphony? FIFA World? Too many choices. Best read some articles while I decide.

  • Speaking of too many choices, the indie bubble is popping. So says Jeff Vogel, creator of many fine, niche indie RPGs. This is a long read, going step by step, and I find it hard to disagree. I suppose my hope is that it’s a good thing and that when the bubble and gold rush are gone, what’s left is a healthy, sustainable ecosystem.
  • With so many games out, picking the good ones out of the crowd is a huge job. As far as I can tell, nobody, and I mean nobody, is willing to do it. This is why, despite such a flood of product, so few games have broken out from the crowd so far this year.

    If most of the indie developers went out of business, are we so sure that, outside of the game dev community, people would even notice? Are we so sure a hearty herd thinning isn’t what they secretly want?

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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on May 18th, 2014.

    Sundays are for being brief.

  • Keith Stuart at the Guardian looks at the influence HR Giger had over videogames.
  • In turn, the Alien movies would go on to inspire a whole generation of game designers and artists. The first-person shooter Doom mixed demonic monsters with claustrophobic sci-fi environments, and Giger’s weird organic interior designs doubtless inspired the game’s miles of intestinal corridors and womb-like interiors. The influence was surely there too in Valve’s atmospheric Half-Life adventures, with their repulsively transmogrified humanoid creatures, and face hugger-like Head Crabs.

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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on May 11th, 2014.

    Technically I only want to be comfortable, respected and attractive.

    Sundays are for locking the doors and toiling away at pet projects, because how else are you ever going to become rich, famous and attractive?

    • Keza MacDonald visited EVE Fanfest and wrote about the uncanny machismo of EVE Online, as expressed through many of its developers being beaten up by an MMA fighter. So many quotable paragraphs in this one.
    • As the fighting begins, I’m feeling apprehensive. I know quite a bit about CCP as a company, EVE Online and its unusual fanbase, but I know literally nothing whatsoever about MMA, so I’m concerned that they’re going to get absolutely destroyed. I don’t want to watch EVE’s concept artist or someone get carried out on a stretcher, twitching and covered in blood. But what they’re doing here isn’t the bloodsports I had imagined, but rather a sort of… protracted hugging. Painful hugging, I’m sure. But what I’m seeing here is impressively pale, Nordic, muscular men climbing on top of each other and kind of wriggling around for a few minutes until one of them taps out.

      The year I attended, chessboxing was the violent sport of choice. Its mixture of tactical manouvering with direct punches to the face seems at least slightly more appropriate to the game.

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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on May 4th, 2014.

    Sundays are for recovering from Saturday’s bus trip to Wales by frying as many eggs as will fit in the pan, playing some obtuse ASCII game, and wondering what cartoons you might watch come night time.

    • James Patton writes a eulogy for the recently departed freeindiegam.es, and why the kinds of games it traded in are important.
    • These games were not about pushing out a finished product ready to sell, which preoccupies a lot of indie dev culture at present. They were about playfulness, exploration, a breathless desire to just throw some assets together and make something real. These games were working on the frontier, going to strange, unexplored places and unlocking our ideas about games and our potential to make them in unexpected ways.

      Long live Live Free Play Hard.

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