The Sunday Papers

Ah, Sundays. A fine day to take a break from trying to get Frontlines to work on Steam Vista and have a read of some of the week’s thought-words fired into the inter-ether. Hey – why don’t you join me? I’ll provide a list of such stuff, and try really hard to not link to a random indie band I’m listening to. Let’s go!



  1. CrashT says:

    “I’d settle on at least Combat Boy, Charisma Boy, and Stealth Boy…”

    That’s not far off what Deus Ex did, with three basic paths through each level focusing on Combat, Stealth and Hacking\Multi-tooling.

  2. Matt says:

    Kieron, I got Frontlines via steam as well.

    It was crashing after the splash screen and there was a fix that helped. Steam Forum post with the solution. link to

    The problem, for me and some others, is that the game was missing a number of bink videos. Someone posted a link to the videos that you need to get at least into multiplayer. Unfortunatly all the videos needed to get the singleplayer to work are still unavailable.

    Applying the fix has allowed me to play, and its good fun.

    Hope you get it to work.

  3. Kieron Gillen says:

    The odd thing is that it doesn’t crash. It’s just the “Starting Game” panel stays there forever, and never progresses. Even a crash would be a start.


  4. Dinger says:

    Passage over Portal:

    Portal is about how to deploy an innovative game mechanic by honing iterative level designs, using QA and being observant about player behavior. You can reach no other conclusion from listening to the developer commentary. At no point do any of the recorded comments include anything along the lines of “we thought this reflected a basic truth about the world and people’s experience of life, so we put it in the game.”

    First off, he’s not comparing the two games, but rather the two developer commentaries. This approach presents huge problems:

    1. A work of art is not a locomotive: it does not need to have a clearly articulated purpose. Moreover, it need not function on a single level.
    2. The artists do not dictate the aesthetic experience, and often cannot articulate it. The artists make the artwork, and each person experiences the artwork.
    3. Any statements by the artist about the work need to be understood in terms of context and convention.

    So, Shakespeare gives us plays that he asserts are to divert the pit down at the Globe, should we stop there? When Boccaccio addresses the Decameron to young women, and declares that he is to provide them with light amusement, does that exclude old men from appreciating a unique vision of society in the text, or even that B. didn’t mean to put it in there?
    3. When a director makes a commentary track to a movie, and only talks about technical issues – actors, shots, scenes and test audiences –, are we to assume the film lacks any deeper meaning?

    I also fail to understand the need to say one is “better” than the other, especially when they’re so different as to belong to distinct genres. The Passage is a video-game haiku.
    Portal is a novel (although more The Crying of Lot 49 than Gravity’s Rainbow).

    I find fascinating the stories of how GladOS came to be, and of the origins of the Companion Cube and all that, but they have nothing to do with how I experience the game.

  5. Nick says:

    “Vince D Weller Watch”


    I really like Antarctica Takes It! Thanks for the introduction to them.

  6. Champagne O'Leary says:

    The Vince D. Weller speech – he could sum all that up with his own statement – “Go and play Fallout”. Otherwise, once again, he’s villianising people who use combat in games. I’ll tell you why we use combat in RPGs – because it’s reliable and catered for. Dressing in disguise, talking my way through it, finding the pre-made hole in the wall are all just key finding things that may or may not work and will end up a complete waste of time as a game will never map what you’d do in your imagination. Combat, however, is always the most reliable (and engaging) answer. Killing people presents a challenge, other methods just rely on you having a big stat in your pocket.

  7. axel says:

    “Combat, however, is always the most reliable (and engaging) answer. Killing people presents a challenge, other methods just rely on you having a big stat in your pocket.”
    I disagree. Combat in Baldures Gate 1 2, Planescape, NWN and Dungeon Siege 1 2 didn’t present any challenge for me. Neither did I find it engaging. It is the developer’s fault that other methods often depend on stats and nothing else. Of cause that is harder to implement than a single combat mechanic that is repeatedly thrown at the player. Perhaps VDWeller delivers or he dosn’t – time will tell.

  8. Nahual says:

    I think that Nick Montford guy is just one of those artsie guys that think a bag full of trash when placed in a museum is a statement that the lowly commoners are not smart enough to grasp the meaning of by themselves.

    This is not to diss Passage, even though I did play it and found that every single thing I read about it (even here in RPS) was a lot more meaningful and touching than the game itself, but in respect of this whole “better than Portal” opinion thing.

    I believe that good art is immediately beautiful or meaningful to anyone who sees or experiences it, without need of a third party explaining it, and that’s what separates the classics from used urinals in a modern art museum. Portal does that. Passage wouldn’t even register as a particularly memorable 5 mins if it weren’t because of guys like Nick Montford.

  9. Dinger says:

    Yeah, most of the comments are already made in that thread, it turns out, and Nick responded with a follow-up post on “message games”, where he may have changed his tune.

    I’m afraid I don’t quite follow the new stuff entirely. I will say, though, that reactions to and interpretations of Portal vary greatly: even in that thread there’s great latitude (and I see it otherwise). If Portal has a message, then its meaning is like the conclusion of Crying of Lot 49: if it exists, we are entirely cut off from it.

  10. Noc says:

    @Axel: I’d agree about NWN and the Dungeon Sieges. Since they aren’t very good RPGs. Even Planescape, to an extent . . . the combat often felt like an afterthought, thrown in because it’s something RPGs, well, have.

    The Baldur’s Gates, though . . . they CAN be completed through pure force-of-statistics, but they can also be completed with a diverse party that employs, well, tactics. It’s sort of like the Bioshock thing; just because you can complete the game by hitting people with a wrench repeatedly until you die doesn’t mean that that’s how the game is best played.

    And if it’s still too easy, then you can turn the difficulty level up until you’re simply overpowered by the opponents in a stand-up fight, and you HAVE to employ tactics to take them down.

    Combat in Baldur’s Gate was engaging . . . hell, it’s one of the ONLY RPGs where I’ve found the combat engaging. In the Final Fantasies (barring Tactics) it’s a chore. In NWN it’s a chore. In Planescape it’s a bit of a chore, but there are usually plenty of alternatives.

    I agree completely that there are a lot of badly developed RPGs which depend simply on finding a mathematically sound way of maximizing damage which carries you through the entire game with minimal trouble. But I don’t feel like the Baldur’s Gates should be lumped in with them.

  11. Alex says:

    The odd thing is that it doesn’t crash. It’s just the “Starting Game” panel stays there forever, and never progresses. Even a crash would be a start.

    I’ve had a similar thing with Dawn of War and the expansion Winter Assault on Steam – it never starts, only the Steam load window pops up. The only thing that seemed to work was switching Steam’s language to Spanish, seeing Steam download some missing files to DoW and it would start. In Spanish. Which I don’t speak. So I switched back to English and everything was dead again.

    Lots of people have had the exact same problem.

    Strangely enough, Dark Crusade does work fine.

    I do rather regret getting the games through Steam, now (and I’m generally a very happy Steam-customer).

  12. Kieron Gillen says:

    Just tried switching it to German, just in case.

    No dice. Then relying on my shitty memory of GCSE German to get back to English again.


  13. Mo says:

    Antarctica Takes It! is ace, cheers!

  14. unclebulgaria says:

    Vince excellent, as per.

    Alex / Kieron etc. – this is classic “missing resource” or “lock on required resource” stuff. Until it’s patched, fall back on Dwarf Fortress. Never fails.

  15. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’m meant to be reviewing it though :( :( :(

    In fact, another :( for the road.


  16. malkav11 says:

    Well. If they don’t fix it in time, I guess it’ll be a very short review, no? ;)

  17. Acosta says:

    Vince D Weller post is absolutely brilliant, I really recommend it to anyone sightly interested in role playing games and where should they go (and is really funny too).

  18. Catch.153 says:

    Why would someone compare Portal and Passage?

    Portal was an excellent, outstanding game, but in the end of the day, it was far more a commercial product than it was an outstanding work of art. Passage was a game laden with deep meaning. It was not created to be marketable, profitable, or fun. It was meant to convey a message. I feel like an attempt to compare the two and label one as somehow superior is bizarre and misguided.

  19. Andrew Farrell says:

    Because things that are marketable, profitable or fun simply aren’t art, and if you’ve been moved by them in some way, you’re Doing It Wrong.

  20. Nick says:

    I suggest you review the ‘Starting Game’ panel, then.

  21. BKG says:


    This is probably bugger all use, but I had a game stall at “starting game” the other night on Steam and I recall fixing it by going into Admin Tools and Services, then enabling the Windows Installer service (set it to auto).

    That fixed it right up, but it might be game-specific rather than Steam-specific so I dunno if that’s any use. The thingy I found said that installing older software can turn that service off and make Steam( or perhaps just that game…) cranky.

  22. Fat Zombie says:

    Nick Montford makes some points, but the people in the comments box make better points.

    Plus, the most important factor: can you use portals in Passage to propel yourself, and a cube with a heart on its many faces, to incredible speeds through the air?

    No. You just play for five minutes and then die of old age. If we were comparing the two as games rather than as art, Passage wouldn’t stand a chance.

  23. Theory says:

    Steam issues: try validating the games, from their Properties. Steam’s been thinking it’s got all of the game when it hasn’t for me lately, ever since they “fixed” the problem

    I imagine that switching languages has a similar effect to validating, only with the addition of foreign gibberish.

  24. Dementia Praecox says:

    I made a version of the AoD video with added sound effects to demonstrate their importance.


  25. Dementia Praecox says:

    Note: This is where the “The animations lacks punch”-crowd needs to shut up.

  26. Kieron Gillen says:

    Frontlines update: IT WORKS!

    EDIT: Dementia – I agree actually. Good work.


  27. Nick says:

    Ahh, the sound has some familiar Falloutyness.. I like it.

  28. Mike says:

    ATI are awesome! A bit more scuffed than Belle and Sebastian. I like it.