The Sunday Papers

Alec suggested me to replace this with a picture of his cat. Like, no.

Sundays are a day for organising hook ups with brothers and sisters in arms. Can I arrange two meals with friends in a day? It seems unlikely. So instead of even trying that stuff, let’s just compile a particularly bountiful list of intelligent game pieces from across the week while trying to avoid linking to the free single Art Goes Pop gave me for attending a gig on Monday.

Failed.

62 Comments

  1. Gap Gen says:

    There’s an article by David Simon on the death of newspapers, in which he argues that in an effort to maintain profit margins with a shrinking readership, newspapers are becoming worse, not better. And this will kill newspapers, he argues. (link)

  2. kuddles says:

    I kind of agree with that CNET article as well. I believe the former head of the ESRB made similar comments before stepping down about how most publishers just seem to prefer to close their eyes and just hopes the problem disappears.

    The one exception to that, of course, is EA’s public retaliation to Fox’s nonsense “Mass Effect is Porno for kids” feature.

  3. roBurky says:

    That’s a lot of stuff!

  4. Evangel says:

    Can someone please explain to me how a FICTIONAL depiction of anything can be considered immoral/illegal/dirty/naughty/weird to these nutjobs?

    Perhaps it’s because I’ve got an engineers mindset but I just don’t see the point of getting all worked up over a fictional depiction when there’s real depictions of other, more deplorable, acts going on in their country.

  5. Kommissar Nicko says:

    I’m an intern at the Colorado state capitol (the U.S.), and recently a congressman from the city of Boulder–an avid blogger–here proclaimed that he and bloggers like him contributed to the death of Colorado’s oldest print newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News (which closed up shop early this month). While I wasn’t fond of the Rocky, a lot of Colorodoans (Coloradans? Colorodlians? we don’t know ourselves) were really sad to see it go, and to be honest, as a writer, I see this as the very real death knell for print journalism.

  6. Nighthood says:

    It irritates me how articles about fear in games always leave out STALKER. It’s by far the scariest game I’ve ever played, partly due to the underground sections, partly due to the bloodsuckers, but mainly due to the unpredictable AI, meaning you can never be quite sure what you’ll see around the next corner.

    Another good scary section is the hotel in VTMB, where there was almost no way to die, but you were still terrified by the idea of what is happening. Also in VTMB, the disused hospital is quite scary, as you see all of the people getting dragged away, but you never see actually what it is, until the surprise at the end.

    I hate being scared, but scary games are always my favourite games. I don’t understand myself sometimes.

  7. rob says:

    “games actually hold more in common with music than – say – films.”

    this is rather tangential, since Leigh’s article was more concerned with the game/music industries than the actual forms themselves, but I was reminded of a Kubrick quote:

    “A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.”

    When you’re thinking about reviews, however, it’s hard to argue that there’s a certain level of technical dos-and-don’ts involved in making any film/game/song, and decent reviews generally reflect that, as well as addressing personal likes and dislikes. It comes down to the distinction between artisan and artist – The artisan’s work is easily judged, but the artist stalks the spooky la-la-land of subjectivity.

    I’d say that, generally, there’s a lot more of the artisan’s work going into game development than the artist’s. That’s just the nature of the beast – ‘injecting’ authored subjectivity into something interactive is pretty damn tricky.

    Better stop before I end up hopping on the auteur theory bus (last stop: aregamesartville), but it’s pretty interesting – and I’d certainly agree with Leigh’s point that there’s a certain common tribalism evident in game and music audiences.

  8. EGTF says:

    I don’t know, maybe it’ll be survival of the fittest with newspapers. Reading things in print form make them feel so much more official, and easy to read whenever I like. I don’t need batteries or a computer or some other fancy gizmo, I just need a good spot of daylight. Saying this, I don’t actually buy any newspapers really but just read The Week and occasionally The Times.

    Feel like mentioning too that despite the wealth of Blog sites I still buy PC Gamer, as you get in print things you’ll never be able to resonate in internet form.

    Also when people make arguments like that, it seems only to be taking in the intelligent. I find it hard to imagine a working class geordie walking around with a blackberry-alike device reading the news off it during his break. Still, I’ll probably be proved wrong and print will catastrophically implode, it’s just the most we can do right now is ponder on either side of the fence.

  9. Xercies says:

    I do agree that the game industry isn’t really doing much to counter the people that are calling the games industry evil and the link to all our ills. But to be honest they only want the money.

  10. Xercies says:

    Also I can’t help to think that Bioshock 2 thing was a joke. Except for the multiplayer because that is known to be in. I am dissapointed.

  11. Helm says:

    “There’s an article by David Simon on the death of newspapers, in which he argues that in an effort to maintain profit margins with a shrinking readership, newspapers are becoming worse, not better. And this will kill newspapers, he argues. ”

    Yes. Both articles are very clear and intelligent (also The Wire was the best show on television). In Greece my father has worked for newspapers for the last 30 years and he confirms they are dying, and not slowly anymore. This makes him sad because although he’s slowly come to understand the internet (which earlier in life he trivialized as an entertainment diversion only) I don’t think anyone can be happy about the slow inevitable collapse of what they’ve worked for for 30 years. It takes a lot of discussion with him to get him to aknowledge that what he’s feeling an aligance for is pieces of paper, because surely journalism as a social need, a vocation, will love on and that’s what he is truly in love with. The fate of journalism and the papers is no longer tied together.

    My brief personal experience as a comic artist working for newspapers says the same also. There is much deliberation on what the face of new media will be. What most parties are coming to agree on is that paper cannot be saved by half-measures. Things are going to change fundamentally. Some are trying to stall this process for as long as it is personally suitable, others are panicing, some are cynical about ‘the death of the press’ as a further effect of the post-modern consumption age we live in.

    I think the fall paper is pretty much inevitable. We live in interesting times, several business models that we’ve grown to depend on in this generation are irrevocably broken by the internet. How digital information sharing technology will metastasize the outlets of media will be vastly interesting aspect of culture and economics to follow in the next decade. If ones means of living rest on the obsolete model though, expect chaos.

  12. Dinger says:

    woah. So the way to better AI is to increase hit points and accuracy?

  13. Kieron Gillen says:

    Worked for Halo.

    KG

  14. mrrobsa says:

    @ Dinger:
    I sorta felt (if you watched that Half Life vid) that perhaps at that specific point in the game, the AI was being forgiving to give the player more time to trigger the little set piece in that corridor (I’m sure that’s the where the explosive barrels take out the guards’ bridge), because I’m sure the Combine have posed a bigger threat to me on my playthroughs (assuming the video was recorded on normal).

    And reading that great David Simon piece further cements his amazing talent, thanks for the link Gap Gen.

  15. schizoslayer says:

    @ mrrobsa

    That video is an extreme example. I have several videos though from later on in the game and you can just stand still quite happily while you get your eye in. The danger is mostly in your head. While making them I found the Manhacks to be much more dangerous than Combine.

  16. Pundabaya says:

    The reason newspapers are dying,are that they’ve tried to compete with the internet, rather than being their own medium.

    @Dinger: no. essentially the complexity of the AI doesn’t matter if the player never gets to see it do its stuff. More hitpoints= enemy is in the player’s vision longer.

    ‘Great AI’ is mostly smoke and mirrors anyway. See Half-Life 1’s primitive, node based AI being lauded, entirely because of scripted sequences and audio cues.

  17. Flappybat says:

    Rapelays been out for years, quick off the ball there I see.

    God knows what happens when they find out about watercloset, as it’s way older I guess it will take longer?

  18. Kadayi says:

    @Nighthood

    Seconded. Albeit neither Stalker or VTM:B are marketed as ‘Horror games’ there isn’t much out there (beyond System shock 2 probably), that quite matches those sections you mention in the ‘changing the underwear’ stakes.

    The fear article is certainly the lesser for not covering them.

  19. skizelo says:

    Does anyone have the sales figures for things like Edge or any of the PC Gamers? For some reason I think that specialist magazines don’t suffer from the newspaper’s malaise, but I haven’t seen anything to support that.
    ALSO, the Peggle piece had me until the author decided to extrapolate like crazy in the last paragraph. It read like a damned horoscope.

  20. Mike says:

    Man, SP is huge this week. I like this. Was it a case of more happening, or having more time to compile it?

  21. Rich_P says:

    @Pundabaya: Heh, that’s the most spot-on and succinct analysis of the newspaper industry I’ve read.

    Craigslist was absolutely devastating as well, single-handedly destroying once-reliable classified ad revenue.

    Interestingly, I think local-oriented papers (the kind freely distributed at transit stations, businesses, etc.) are still valuable, as they aggregate local events, review restaurants, and focus on local issues. Advertisers know their ads are being viewed by locals, which isn’t always the case on the web.

    As long as the web keeps sucking when it comes to “local” (true outside of the major cities), I think inexpensive community newspapers still have a future.

  22. Adventurous Putty says:

    I’m sorry, but that Bioshock sequel looks very, very stupid. And that’s not to sound like an Angry Internet Man, but still — the first game wasn’t REALLY about the Big Daddies/Little Sisters thematically, it was using them as one motif among several (including the city itself and various other characters) as a statement about Andrew Ryan’s Objectivist philosophy. I was worried from the start that a sequel was unwarranted, as there as little left to say about that theme, but I had held out hope that they would find a new theme and use the same great storytelling to make a statement about it. Instead, they seem to have zeroed in on the Big Daddies/Little Sisters relationship gimmick and expanded that into a full game.

    Of course, I’m being a hypocrite, since I always criticize fanboys for making a premature decision about a game before we have any real information or even its release. Still, I’m skeptical.

  23. Mike says:

    Interestingly – it’s not just that higher-health AI live longer and thus do cool things. Simply surviving longer, regardless of what they do, gives the psychological impression that they’re better, even if it’s balanced against them dealing less damage.

    I can’t remember the source for it, there was even a paper on it somewhere. Great article, though.

  24. Nighthood says:

    @Kobzon
    Read my above post, and note how they are both western, and both scarier than anything Japan has to offer.

    Bloody Japanese fanboys, always saying that the Japanese are better at everything.

  25. IvanHoeHo says:

    Has anyone here played any of the Fatal Frames? I distinctly remember it to be terrifying…

  26. EdgeReader says:

    Figures for circulation of Edge were 31,078 January-June 2005 down to 28,898 July-December 2008. I don’t have any copies older than this so I can’t give figures from further back.

  27. Gap Gen says:

    I think PC Gamer has dropped a lot more than those Edge figures, although yeah, it’s possible the worst drop happened before 2005.

    The point about the internet being mainly for the intelligensia is an interesting one, and I’d be interested to see figures for it. It’s possible that people working away from a desk are more reliant on print media as they can’t nip onto an online news site during a break.

    Personally, I think the death of paper media may be no bad thing. The David Simon article suggests that a way to stave off the collapse of print media is to keep quality high – to provide a product so essential that people will buy it over the free stuff online. It’s the worst ones, that lie to their audience and cause them harm through misinformation, that may be hit the hardest, simply because they’re worse than free online sources of news.

  28. Pantsman says:

    Well, that’s why, Brad. The puns.

  29. Xercies says:

    @Putty

    I agree it doesn’t sound like it could sustain a whole sequel, and i don’t think it will add anything to the storyline or whatever else. There is no extra themes.

    Also with the adding of multiplayer this is just going to turn into another shooter.

    Shame.

  30. Nighthood says:

    Really, as much as the internet may have information about all of these things, I’m still keeping my PCG subscription. I like having things in paper form, and I like to be able to go to past editions and look at reviews of old games and things. It’s just like when people said that E-books would overtake real books. Paper is always superior.

  31. Mike says:

    Paper is sort of superior. But unless you find the opinion engaging, or they have a feature that’s not elsewhere, you’re essentially not getting any more benefit than you would buying someone’s old collection in five years time.

  32. Kieron Gillen says:

    EdgeReader: I believe that 31K was Edge’s highest ever figure – or at least, its highest ever figure wasn’t significantly higher. Edge has floated between 25 and the low thirties for all living memory.

    Edge is the definition of a special case, bless it.

    KG

  33. Rich_P says:

    Paper is always superior.

    Depends on what’s on the paper. I canceled my PCG US subscription years ago when it became evident that web content was superior: screenshots, videos, demos, discussions, etc. Newspapers lost once they started printing the same content you could easily access on the web. Why should I pay X cents/day to read the same wire stories on my Google homepage?

    When I read, I make an “event” out of it. I find a good chair or couch and enjoy the content for a few hours. That’s why I like paper books and “substantial” periodicals like the New Yorker and Foreign Affairs. Call me pretentious all you want, but the former has Seymour Hersh, who’s one of the finest reporters of our generation.

    But when it comes to quick information, updates, and multimedia, online content all the way.

    I might subscribe to a videogame rag if they ditched the short preview/review + screenshot formula and instead focused on more in-depth and rigorous analysis. Maybe even huge AARs (a la Tom Francis’ GalCiv diary). Something with a lot of heft that I could spend some time reading (provided the writers are any good!)

  34. Heliocentric says:

    Edge is the only print media i buy anymore. All my other print media is free. I used to buy pc gamer but the issues got thinner and thinner and with too much on publisher pandering previews and not enough of the lovely post release stuff which really is what pc is all about.

    Pc gaming has a history you can enjoy today all pc magazines run away from and all retro magazines need 2 decade old consoles to play terribly weathered titles.

  35. Gap Gen says:

    Like people say, print needs to be better than the web in order to survive. In terms of videogame journalism, the writers and writing should be more interesting and qualified than what you can find on the web. With the rise of professional bloggers like RPS, the argument for buying print magazines is somewhat reduced. Eurogamer is reasonably good at reviews and hell, much of PC Gamer’s content appears online anyway.

    The question is, for me, not how to keep print alive, but how to ensure that quality journalism stays alive. The only magazine I subscribe to (and the only regular print journal I read) is the Economist, which seems to have far more depth and understanding than other news outlets. It’s dense enough that I regularly have enough to read on the loo or on the train, and for everything else I’m not too far from a monitor anyways.

  36. Adventurous Putty says:

    I like TIME. TIME is fun.

  37. Larington says:

    Quick! Someone put water closet on amazon marketplace and see how long it takes for a politician to bite!

    Yikes

  38. Matt W says:

    Re the C-Net piece, here’s a devil’s advocate position: games are winning the demographic war – they don’t NEED to win the PR war.

    Within a couple of decades you’ll start seeing senior posts in all branches of government filling up with people who grew up with video games. When that happens, all this sillyness will go away, the same way it did with D&D, with comic books, with rock and roll and with the waltz. So why worry about it?

    And besides, it’s not like anyone pays attention to government campaigns anyway, right? :)

  39. Rei Onryou says:

    The ABC figures can be found at http://www.abc.org.uk, but to summise: Edge = 28k, PC Gamer = 32k. Historical figures require membership (although, I could always check some old issues as far back at 2004/5). I could be wrong, but I have memories of PCG once having 50k+ readership.

    Leigh makes a good argument for both the Rapelay issue and the music comparison. Ed Stern’s art house crowd comment was spot on. I have more respect for the music lovers. Perhaps I should read Phonogram proper.

    Bioshock 2: It sounds mad, but I won’t believe it until I read Tom Francis’ thoughts. He’s proof that printed publications are still worthwhile.

    Metacritic: If your choice is based on a biased aggregate, your doing it wrong. Wot I Thinks will always win out.

    Steam: Top digital distribution we have. Like the article says, we can’t predict 5 years down the line.

    Fear in games: Some valid points. Dead Space was scary for first 1-2 hours, then it became formulaic apart from once or twice. I really want to get to the Cradle in Thief 3 at some point. The trouble is, I don’t know what I’ll do once I get there.

    AI: Simple yet true.

    Overall a good collection of reading for this Sunday and its taken up my whole evening. =D

  40. Cycle says:

    “I was worried from the start that a sequel was unwarranted, as there as little left to say about that theme, but I had held out hope that they would find a new theme and use the same great storytelling to make a statement about it.”

    I was worried about this too and asked Jordan “The Shalebridge Guy” Thomas about it. You can read his response in next months PCPowerPlay, out on April 1st! If you’re in Australia!

    Alright, I’ll stop all the self-promotion now. I’m starting to sound like an commercial for a sensationalist news programme. “Which hygiene product is slowly killing you? We’ll tell you at Eight”.

  41. Muzz says:

    Dinger says:
    woah. So the way to better AI is to increase hit points and accuracy?

    I guess ideally, in the accuracy video anyway, the AI shouldn’t just be firing on some gaussian distributed angle off zero (if that’s the right way to put it). To me the best way around this is for cover fire to work. If you’re just standing there or not putting fire on the enemy, their accuracy should increase with each shot even at that range. Coding self preservation things like that has always been problematic, from what I’ve heard, and is one of those things that doesn’t translate to an opponent who appears smart, which is better than them actually being smart.
    Halo and Half-Life are often admired for their AI. I’d wager NOLF, Stalker and Thief have AI leagues more complex, but they are more harshly criticised when they go wrong.

  42. Nick says:

    I’d just like FPS enemies to at least appear concerned for their own safety rather that charging straight at you (I hate that so much) or running around in the open for no apparent reason.

  43. Leeks! says:

    @rob

    Word. I was just talking with a friend about Alexander’s article, and it really does have many holes in it. For me, it comes down to the fact that her argument hinges on the assertion that games writing and music writing are closer than any other kind of criticism–I just can’t get behind that. She argues that both music and games are hard to judge objectively because it marries so many subjective elements with technical ones that can be said to “succeed” or “fail,” and that the broad range of both available justify critics in helping audiences “shape their listening habits.” What medium does that not apply to? There are no “right”
    or “wrong” reviews of anything, just those you agree or disagree with (assuming the writer is more-or-less competent). In film, though narrative is often more central to the analysis than in other mediums, all that means is that “narrative” is the subjective element–there are countless combinations of technical elements that can “succeed” or “fail” there as well.

    And when she attempts to extend her argument beyond the criticism surrounding either medium, she comes up similarly short. She says that games and music are unique because the cultures that support them tend to consider the indie projects”more sincere” than the “huge spectrum of precisely engineered formula hits.” Again, I challenge you to name a medium where this isn’t the case.

    She goes on to claim that games and music are similar in the way fans personalize them. But in my experience, at least, the adherents of any medium–be it film, fiction or fine art–will do exactly the same thing.

    But now I feel like I’m coming off like a big, ol’ negative nelly. I do quite like Ms. Alexander’s writings, but this time I just couldn’t work up much support for her. I’m going to end this overlong post by quoting the friend I was chatting with about this, because it made me laugh:

    “The more I think that the person’s thesis shouldn’t have been “video games are more similar to music than they are to other media” but instead “I consume and understand video games and lately I’ve been listening to and thinking about music moreso than I have in the past.”

  44. Saul says:

    Tom Chick takes up the slack with a hefty interview with Ironclad’s Blair Fraser about the problems of adding the turtle back to a game in space.

    Wow, for a moment I thought Sins was expanding into Discworld. That piqued my interest.

  45. Jim Rossignol says:

    have memories of PCG once having 50k+ readership.

    PCG UK’s peak readership was over 80k, around the time of the Quake III review.

  46. Bobsy says:

    Wow… “We need to get an image that will sum up all the worst things about unhealthy and neglective parenting. It needs to be stark, simple and bold.”
    “Kid playing a Playingstation?”
    “Aaaand that’s lunch. Good work, team.”

  47. phil says:

    As previous trends will show, I correctly guessed Big Sister’s identity. Unfortunately I also expressed the belief the game will be as good as the first, which the renegade Mr Bubbles storyline has thrown into question; Can I still claim a prize?

  48. Kieron Gillen says:

    To follow on from Jim, highest ABC was 85K. Highest single issue was the Q3 one, I believe, which hit 95K.

    KG

  49. rob says:

    @Leeks!

    haha, I think your friend might be on to something.

    Besides, the whole ‘stuff is like music’ discussion has been going on since Plato (who would have been a big fan of Rage Against The Machine), and probably won’t be stopping any time soon.

  50. AndrewC says:

    Matt W – have you considered that when we are old we will turn into grumpy old men? While we may not be calling for a ban on games outright, we will be angrily complaining that the shit the kids are playing is bad and not like the real games we had when we were kids.

    We’ll probably get all worried about how neurovenously holo-optic gaming is causing space cancer.