The Sunday Papers

This is print. It's dead, we hear

We missed it last week due to a epidemic of laziness (aka being dragged abroad on short notice), so it’s a bumper helping of the word of minds here. The idea is, as always, is a series of rapid-fire links to diverse items we thought worth reading on a lazy Sunday afternoon, which we try to post before we start linking to videos of old nineties comedy shows.



  1. Kareem says:

    There seems to be a problem with the top 50 developers link in the first item.

  2. Alec Meer says:

    Ta – fixed.

  3. Sander says:

    Did you lovely people link to this New York Times Gygax retrospective (by a Wired editor who is otherwise unfamiliar to me) already? It is funny, kind of sweet and the chart could come in quite handy. [via Boingboing, I assume.]

  4. Mike says:

    That piece on The Wire is good stuff, but I doubt we’d see a parallel without pushing the idea of online games further.

  5. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    I think I can understand Mr. Sofge’s feelings, though I wouldn’t disregard Gary Gygax’s rightful place as the grandfather of the roleplaying game because of my sentiments. I’m just thankful Gary made D&D so that it could pave the way for nerd-games more suited to my tastes.

    But, like Mr. Sofge, I too despair that there is no such thing as a real “Roleplaying industry.” There is only D&D, and books that exist in the cracks where the mighty monolith has been painstakingly worn down.

    Though… GURPS doesn’t scale well to higher power scales. Or at least doesn’t do it as well as games designed from the top to be high-powered. At least it’s well-researched, and I wish D&D would do its homework, too. Entire generations of gamers have been using the wrong terminology to describe various weapons and armor for decades!

    And it’s seeped into global nerd culture at large because of it. *Sigh* No rest for the anal-retentive, I suppose.

    Edit: Ironically, the newest edition of D&D is taking more than its fair share of … inspiration… from WoW. Nerd gaming culture has come full circle.

  6. drunkymonkey says:

    RPS! From now now, EVERY Sunday Papers news post should be accompanied by 90s comedy shows!

    Also, mucho thanks for posting a link to the luminaries transcript. I’ll get on that right away.

  7. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Indeedy, in fact every day needs more of The Day Today.

  8. SuperNashwan says:

    Err, which game “broke” Dragonforce then?

  9. Jim Rossignol says:

    Guitar Hero 3.

  10. SuperNashwan says:

    Well I guess you could argue it introduced them to people who wouldn’t otherwise have heard of them, but they were HUGE well before. I was DJing metal nights three, four years ago and everyone had heard of them then and since Inhuman Rampage they’ve done amazingly well for that type of music in North America, as well as the usual territories like Japan and Europe, all without GHIII’s help.

  11. Jim Rossignol says:

    USA Today:

    The Guitar Hero effect is real. DragonForce saw digital sales of Through the Fire rise from fewer than 2,000 weekly to a high of 37,825 the week ending Dec. 30, a week when many who got the game as a holiday gift were playing it. (Only one GH III song sold more, Guns N’ Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle at 38,330.)

    “There has been a steady buzz on the band, and you could just feel their star rising. Then (Guitar Hero III) hit, and it catapulted it to an entirely new level,” says Jonas Nachsin, president of DragonForce’s label, Roadrunner Records.

  12. SuperNashwan says:

    Fair enough, didn’t realise they’d done that well out of it but they were already very popular by the usual standards of the genre.

  13. Kieron Gillen says:

    Yeah; but it’s a niche genre. The usual standards isn’t really very much.

    (Talking as someone who dug Dragonforce before GH3, I stress.)

    Sander: Great Gygax piece.


  14. Alex says:

    If you have a look at the forum connected to the anti-D&D piece on Slate, there is a rebuttal from someone who supposedly is Steve Jackson of GURPS fame – he pretty much makes the same brothers Wright analogy as Kieron, incidentally:

    I am embarrassed that Erik Sofge’s essay mentioned me, but since it did, I’m entitled to refute it!

    It was too poorly reasoned to be worth a very long response, but it was too wrongheaded and offensive to ignore completely. So:

    OF COURSE the original D&D seems unsophisticated by today’s standards. It was the very first RPG, for crying out loud, and it was not a corporate project like the current edition. It was produced by three brilliant men in (literally) a basement.

    Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and their near-forgotten partner Don Kaye (who died young, shortly after the game was launched) did a remarkable thing, a world-changing thing. They didn’t just change the geek world. They empowered us geeks, and we went out and changed the world for everybody else.

    As for GURPS – well, I’m proud of it, and I like to hear it praised, but Erik’s praise is poorly reasoned and shows no understanding of the genre. GURPS is evolutionary, not revolutionary. GURPS would not have existed without D&D. It was written to support a different style of roleplaying, but that style evolved among D&D players, and it only evolved because of D&D. The first edition of D&D was indeed revolutionary. Don’t make fun of concepts like “alignment” and “character points” without realizing how seminal they were. There may be better approaches now, but these were completely new ideas, and everything afterward was built on them.

    I suppose Erik would mock the Wright Brothers because they didn’t build a jet? Come on.

    And as for his wittering about morality and poor little orc babies: Yeah, yeah. We’ve all known for 30 years that “kill the monsters and take their stuff” is not the highest expression of roleplaying. Those of us who are honest about it also know that it can be a lot of fun, and seems to do no lasting harm to our psyches. Very few of us have gone on to kill orc babies in real life.

    And it’s “hoard” gold, Erik, not “horde.”

    And that is absolutely all I have to say about that – except to note that this looks like an attempt get attention through controversy. On the Intertubes, we call that a “troll,” and the best way to deal with trolls is to quit reading them. Bad Slate, no cookie.

    link to

    We can never be sure it really is Steve Jackson I suppose, but it sounds reasonable enough.

  15. malkav11 says:

    Yeah. Gygax’s behaviour regarding his partner in forming D&D, Dave Arneson, left something to be desired, but nonetheless, that work and his later involvement with, e.g. AD&D did a great deal for the gaming industry.

  16. Will Tomas says:

    D&D was hugely influential on the development of computer games, which rely on mathematics – and D&D provided a steady, existing set of mathematical turn-based rules of behaviour, which was the equivalent of manna from heaven. So obviously D&D is very important, and Gygax deserves huge credit for it.

    What saddens me is that we didn’t see too much move away from D&D as an RPG model until relatively recently – Deus Ex/Morrowind being the earlier examples of RPGs which were striving for arguably more immersiveness than D&D can provide. As Warren Spector’s Master Classes have shown, many of the game designers who have been hugely influential on RPGs came from paper D&D backgrounds – with the result that the games tended to mirror their favourite pasttime.

    This frustrates me because, in RPGs in particular, I’m far more interested in immersion than I am in rummaging around for a plus-5 mace. So I would rather that steps had been taken earlier to move gaming away from D&D, but I accept its influence and necessary importance nonetheless.

    But as Spector says in his talk, turn-based models for this sort of game should be put out to pasture. And D&D was built around turn-based combat, and has had its deserved day in the sun.

    Also – The Day Today, today. Still fantastic. Bomb-dogs next week?

  17. Adam Burch says:

    God, I love British Comedy.

    In regards to Gygax, I myself never really was into D&D, and paper-and-pen roleplaying in general, and really roleplaying in general.

    I feel that his design of “You ARE the character” has had an ABSURD amount of influence on gaming design, and that is honestly something I don’t care for. I feel it really limits what you can do in terms of ‘fourth-wall’ type stuff. Of course, I feel that there IS no 4th wall in gaming, but hey that’s just me.