The Sunday Papers

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs third album has also finally clicked. This has been an odd week for pop music.

The Sunday Papers surprises me. Sometimes it can be Thursday and my document is nearly empty. I think it’s going to be a small one. And then, Sunday hits, and I’ve all the writing in the world. So, as is Sunday’s wont, I compile a particularly bumper selection of the fine games writing across the week, while trying not to link to some pop-band who’ve managed to surprise me totally in the same period.



  1. lumpi says:

    Now those Civony are the funniest thing I’ve seen on the internet in weeks. ROFL!

  2. nine says:

    Stop linking to spotify and feeling superior. Give us youtube links that work.

  3. SirKicksalot says:

    Some comments on the City of Heroes show that the professor actually was a douchebag and was exploiting the game instead of playing by the PvP rules.

    He wasn’t skillfully defeating his enemies – he was using a loophole (the instakill drones that prevent spawn-camping) that also has negative effect on the defeated character’s progression.

    He was using the game’s mechanics, not the game’s rules. There’s a difference…

  4. TonyB says:

    That’s Fighting Fantasy Kieron. I can’t imagine Final Fantasy books having quite the same impact, since rather than having the fights built into the story you’d just have to regularly jump to the battle pages mid-sentence then return to where you left off afterwards.

  5. Allandaros says:

    “Fighting Fantasy,” not “Final Fantasy.”

  6. Thomas says:

    Shoegaze if definitely one of my favourite genres, i’m glad that people still make good shoegaze.

  7. Justin Keverne says:

    Guy from The Horrors sound like Morrissey, no wonder Kieron likes them ;)

  8. jalf says:

    He was using the game’s mechanics, not the game’s rules. There’s a difference…

    Which is exactly what Kieron said. The “games rules” are partly social. He ignored those. The game mechanics are the only “rules” enforced by the game, and those he obeyed. If the game allows a loophole or an exploit, the only reasons not to use it are social.

  9. frymaster says:

    exploiting the game instead of playing by the PvP rules

    from the CoH forums PvP FAQ:

    “TPing people into holes in the geometry in PvP zones is a petitionable offense, as is the use of language that breaks the EULA, but other than that, everything goes in a PvP zone”

    He was notorious enough that the admins would have banned him if he’d broken any of the actual non-game-engine-enforced (i.e. non-game-mechanic) rules. That he wasn’t banned leads me to believe he was playing within the rules. He was just playing outside what the player base has spontaneously decided is “acceptable behaviour”

  10. SirKicksalot says:

    Indeed, but the way that article is worded and the things the professor say make it seem like he was a fair, skilled gentleman and the other players were dumbasses that didn’t play by the rules.

    It’s like he completely missed the point. Like that lady that was forced to sleep a night in a campus because of bad management. She then wrote a book about how the four students used their computers a few hours without saying a word that night, thus proving the alienation and social problems created by the computers.

    Disregarding the fact that the students might have been just polite, because they thought she was sleeping.

  11. Sunjumper says:

    I just read the paper by professor David Myers and I have to say that I am rather surprised by his lack of understanding of human behaviour and motivation, one would think that professor of sociology would have some understanding about human psychology and maybe also the limitation of games.

    His paper is actually rather poor as his results are not supported by any kind of evidence. He just follows down his own fallacious train of thought coming to the conclusion that the real ‘natural laws’ (what does he mean by that anyway?) are impossible to find with anything but aberrant behaviour.

    There is an especially surprising passage where the author himself is shocked when he is expulsed from his own clan after continuous griefing and then being thrown out after killing one of his clan mates. Hinting that the author himself might be a sociopath, there is a difference between professional detachment for the sake of an experiment and the apparent inability to grasp the social concepts that are allegedly being researched.

  12. skalpadda says:

    I’m amazed at the City of Heroes story. It would seem like common sense that if you’re repeatedly ruining other people’s fun and don’t respect it when they ask you to stop doing so, it shouldn’t come like a big surprise that they won’t like you and that some lack the patience/brains/vocabulary to express their dislike in a civil manner.


  13. jalf says:

    @SirKicksalot: Yeah, no doubt he acted like a prick, and it’s hardly surprising he became unpopular. I wasn’t defending him in any way. And his inability to understand why is really baffling.

  14. Ging says:

    I loved the fighting fantasy series back in the day and have retained a couple of the earlier books for sentimentality reasons.

    I am vaguely looking forward to the DS release of the warlock of firetop mountain – though it’s taken more of an action rpg turn.

  15. JKjoker says:

    no adding LAN in Starcraft 2 is more than just a betrayal, im a bit disappointed it hasnt caused as much smoke as Spore DRM or L4D2 (which shows in Ars Technica’s poll), but i guess the real bitching is going to come once the game is out and ppl try to play with their friends and realize what no LAN means.
    also, about the poll, 50% of “we trust Blizzard, lets see the final product”? sigh, i would have thought gamers developed a healthy level of skepticism by now but they seem to be still blinded by bling-mapping

  16. Herpers says:

    Haha, there is another evony ad right next to the comment box, someone should do a gaming diary about it, where they count how many digital breasts they actually see in the game.

  17. Rabbitsoup says:

    the City of Heroes thing if you read it he only mentions a few people being annoyed that’s it. Seems to me he is making a mountain out of a molehill (and is an ass).

    Really when video games is growing our first academics are borderline exploiters who moan about it?

  18. MrBejeebus says:

    Sure what Myers did was interesting, but it ruined many peoples fun, fun they paid for…

    Also that Evony stuff is ridiculous, i actually stay away from free to play games, i just don’t see how that last picture has anything to do with the game

  19. JKjoker says:

    uh, i was looking though Ars Technica and i saw and article from July 10 that Alan Wake might either no come for PC at all or come much later like Gears of war 1 did, sigh, seems Vista only and cutting down the non action parts of the game wasnt enough for MS

  20. Stupid Fat Hobbit says:

    Professor Myers’s ‘experiment’ is essentially the equivalent of someone going on a real-life killing spree, then objecting to being arrested on the grounds that they didn’t break the laws of physics.

  21. Anon says:

    @Stupid Fat Hobbit
    Except he wasn’t arrested. It’s more like that South Park episode.

  22. DMJ says:

    @Herpers: To do that, someone would have to click on those ads to sign up to play the game. I started at “uninterested” and my interest level has plummeted as they have resorted to more and more desperate tactics to get me to click.

    Right now, clicking that ad means “I’ll click anything for boobs!”, and my self-respect PREVENTS me from doing so.

  23. drewski says:

    Surely if you don’t want to participate in Villans v Heros PvP, because it’ll ruin the fun you’re paying for, you should stay off PvP servers?

    I see no problem with what the professor was doing – he played by the rules, obeyed the spirit of the game regardless of popular convention. That he was treated like crap isn’t surprising, because gamers hate anything they’re not doing themselves.

    If I was playing CoH/CoV I’d probably do the same thing if I were powerful enough, except I’d be a villain in kill heroes. It’s a PvP concept, complaining when people PvP on a PvP server is incredibly infantile.

  24. mandrill says:

    The professor’s experiment seemed to me to be a look at what would happen if we, in our daily lives in the real world, only obeyed the laws of physics (the ‘mechanics’ if you will) and ignored all the ‘imaginary’ rules created to facilitate social interactions and the like.

    It turn out that if you do that you are shunned, treated like a pariah, and excluded from society. It just goes to show that the ‘mechanics’ are not the be all and end all of online games. No matter how hard developers try to engineer societal rules into their game there will be unwritten rules about social behaviour in the game universe which will emerge organically from the fact that there are large numbers of people interacting.

    What he did was act like an ass, so he got treated like one. He broke the social rules whilst staying within the physical laws of the game. Proof positive that society within online games isn’t that different from society in the real world. Did he get a research grant for this? If he did I bet those that provided it are thinking “We gave a guy money to play a game and act like a total douch while doing so, all to tell us something that is common sense. What fools we are” Props to the prof for pulling that off (if indeed he got funding for it) shame he didn’t produce anything truly groundbreaking out of it.

  25. Rich_P says:

    CIVONY: It has electrolytes!

    I like how the last ad lures you with the prospect of playing it “secretly.” You naughty devil, Civony, you.

  26. Larington says:

    Woah, I wasn’t aware of just how far the Civony ads had progressed into full sleaze.

    Meanwhile, the moment I saw the photo on the Leigh Alexander interview piece I found myself hoping that the cat was about to conduct the interview, sadly that wasn’t to be the case.

  27. LewieP says:

    Heh, saw The Horrors at glastonbury, and they only played songs off Primary Colours.

  28. Vandelay says:

    The Civony ads are pretty repugnant. It is not so much the use of attractive ladies but the lack of any relation between the ads and the game itself. The one that particular got me was the distressed woman with the sword hovering above her breasts. The others are amusingly bad, but I thought that one was quite offensive.

    Starcraft 2 and lack of LAN was probably an inevitability. I like to play LAN games too, but the options to do so are very limited nowadays. Certainly disappointing, particular with the fantastic spawn option included in the original, but I wasn’t very surprised by it. I believe Red Alert 3 also lacked LAN options and FPSs haven’t for years.* Are hacks likely to appear for SC2? Did any appear for Red Alert 3?

    *I mourn the loss of the FPS that didn’t need 30 players to be enjoyable. I have fond memories of playing my brothers at Medal of Honor, the early Quakes or Half Life. People seem to be unable to cope with games that have a lower limit than 32; just look at how long the 24 player limit of TF2 lasted and how few servers running the original number still exist, even though it plays so much better with the lower limit.

  29. Larington says:

    Yeah, I ended up trying Civony early on because I was curious about how they’d figured the whole Queen element into the gameplay, cept there wasn’t anything of the sort so all the adverts are extremely misleading or plain wrong.

    Eventually I realised just how little game there was in the game and I drifted away never to return. I got some satisfaction from building up strong cities but after that the game didn’t have any appeal what-so-ever.

  30. Johnny Law says:

    Not that I would send him death threats or anything, but I wouldn’t say he “obeyed the spirit of the game”. The police drones are there to protect the spawn zones. If you TP enemy players into them, I don’t believe you get any personal benefit (XP). As far as I can remember, the only reason to do it was to annoy people. If you do something like that, it’s unsurprising that people will get annoyed.

    (Didn’t the devs make some change later to cut down on this sort of behavior?)

  31. JKjoker says:

    @Vandelay: SC2 will have a MUCH greater audience than red alert3, plus RA3 sucked and ppl lost interest while there are still ppl releasing hacks/cracks/trainers/mods/maps for Diablo2, SC and War3 new patches

  32. Slippery Jim says:

    Play ARMA2 and you don’t have this dodgy, unnatural first-person movement in the game.

  33. Muzman says:

    On the subject of racism, it could be that I’ve recently been exposed to more ‘down-home’ environs lately, but there seems to have been an upswing since Obama got elected. Not in an angry, militant sort of way but just a lot of casual stuff like the 1930s is back.
    In the mild furore over the Amos & Andy bots in Transformers 2 I saw a few comments somewhere like Rottentomatoes say, in effect, that because Obama was elected “racism was over”. So now it was ok to say and do all the tasteless things people have apparently been holding back on for years.
    Idiotic though that is, I can’t help but think it’s a popular sentiment lately. The funny and complicated bit (as it has been for a while now) is that “racist” was quite successfully relegated to being the worst thing a person can be some time ago. You can’t suggest anyone is that without a tsunami of defensiveness from all and sundry. It doesn’t matter how effectively racist they are being at a given moment, calling it out will end up in a fight (I take it as; they see themselves as generally good and law abiding people, and usually that’s true, so therefore they couldn’t be anything as vile as “racist” ).
    If it’s true and everyone’s feeling like they can let it all hang out (and it’s as widespread an undercurrent as it seems) that long standing disconnect between the term and the behaviour is going to cause all sorts of fun.

  34. Nafe says:

    I love how the death threat was made out to be a significant thing. It’s really not hard to get someone to say something like that and drawing conclusions from it is really cheap.

  35. beetleboy says:

    Tbh I cant understand that NCsoft didn’t quickly hotpatch that semi-exploit Myers was using. That sorta game mechanic just has to go..

    And yeah.. I also don’t understand how on earth he could be surprised by what happened. Geez. If we depend on morons like this for telling the rest of society how games work, we’re in trouble.. “In shock & surprise, university researcher discovers people on the internet dislike trolls!” Good boy, have a cookie..

  36. Vinraith says:

    I sincerely wonder how many people’s game experiences Myers ruined to the point of driving them out of the game by playing like an exploitative jackass. I can appreciate the value of games research, but being a dick is being a dick whether online or off.

  37. Bhazor says:

    I’ve always loved reading choose your own adventure books as a normal book. Going from page 1 to page 2 to page 3 to page 4 to page 5 to page 6 to page 7 and so on. You end up with this weird narrative in which your character dies on every page. I’ve always thought of it like the opening of an eighties tv show. Theres you on fire, theres you opening a door, theres you getting betrayed by a woman called Clarissa, theres you getting trapped for all eternity in a ice prison, theres you agreeing to help a woman called Clarissa, theres you being sick, theres you eating an apple. Also those strange disconnected snippets at possible lives is strangely engrossing, even if it does ruin your attempt to play it properly (and vice versa).

    In regards to hype, Videogaiden (viva la raza) summed it up in the appropriate way by being incredibly angry at everyone involved in anyway.

  38. Alex says:

    The Horrors 2.0 are rather interesting, though my friend who loves their first album (as do I, I have some good memories of fleeing down midnight roads between zombie-movie-marathons and warm-girlfriend-bed powered by its more screamy parts) sniffs at the new direction.
    He claims they’re Guardian-chasing. Despite being the most Guardian-reading person I know. Shrug.

  39. Shadrach says:

    Thanks for the linky to the FF books article – sweet memories.

  40. John t says:

    Reading the blog comments he’s written defending himself he strikes me as being possibly autistic. He definitely doesn’t seem normal. The loyola ethics board is looking into thi also because it possibly violates research guidelines for human subjects.

    He’s a grown man inflicting intentional emotional distress on minors. For YEARS. And he continued after it was made clear that people were upset. It seems grossly unethical to me.

  41. Gap Gen says:

    I remember Jim talking about magazine layouts before, and the first time PCG used a screenshot as a double-page-spread background (I think it was BF2?) It’s a shame they didn’t go to the developers and ask them for a ridiculo-resolution image, as it was a bit blocky, but it was good nonetheless. I guess part of the thing of online journalism is that if you fragment into blogs of a few journalists at a time, with maybe one part-time techie, you won’t have that art dept expertise. Part of it is also web expectations – Escapist used to use a fake-magazine format, didn’t they? In any case, the graphics for the articles are still pretty good there.

    As for the proposing in interviews, yeah, he went about it totally the wrong way. You should slip it in half-way through, when they’re already nodding and going “Yeah, so…”

  42. Gap Gen says:

    Also, yeah, I’m not sure how the CoH thing counts as research. I mean, functionally he’s spending hours in a darkened room staring at a glowing screen like many other people in research, but the results seem to be fairly predictable (note: I haven’t read his paper). There are subtle things you can do with this approach, granted, and emergent gameplay is interesting. Again, does that count as research?

  43. Nick says:

    David Myers acted like a dick and he knows it, whilst I don’t condone death threats (though I doubt it was serious) he was asking for abuse playing that way. “Oh I’m playing within the rules, why on earth should anyone be upset?” is such a weak excuse. Though why the ‘rules’ allowed him to do that in the first place is another matter.

    As for The Horrors, I think Sea within a Sea could have done with being a bit shorter, but I loved the synths.

  44. Sajmn says:

    “Paraphrasing somewhat cruelly, it’s free so it’s full of ‘tards”

    Most internet content is free, and the internet is full of tards.

  45. Heliocentric says:

    Most people are tards, nothing to do with the internet.

  46. Gap Gen says:

    I think social rules are always important. Something like Eve has turned the Ponzi scam into an artform, and it’s an accepted part of the game, so it’s not really griefing if you know that everyone is out to do it to some degree (although tactics like spamming someone’s connection to prevent them from responding to attacks is pretty low).

    If you’re going to be reductionist about it, murdering real people with guns is totally within the physical rules of the world we live in.

  47. autogunner says:

    I fail to see the point of the good professor’s ‘research’. This kind of morally acceptable gameplay ahs been going on for years; spawn camping in TF2, camping in counterstrike, dolphin jumping in battlefield – all the way abck to goblin sappers in warcraft.
    all of these things were permitted and possible but frowned on by the players as being unethical.

  48. Kester says:

    I can’t help but think Evony is some formidable satire on advertising and that Chris Morris will pop up some time soon to laugh at everyone. It’s certainly better than the alternative.

  49. Blast Hardcheese says:


    Huh? Unless you mean the original (which I don’t remember basically at all), Goblin Sappers were an excellent way to get around defenses, and a few upgraded ranged units could kill them before they could reach their targets.

  50. smac says:

    It is not so much the use of attractive ladies but the lack of any relation between the ads and the game itself.

    C’mon – this is the industry that gave us the Battlecruiser 3000AD ad featuring Jo Guest.

    In case you’re not familiar, the lady in question is featured sat on a plastic chair, legs wide, facing the camera wearing nothing but a bikini-top/black bra.

    With a strategically placed Battlecruiser 3000AD game box to protect her modesty.

    Possibly the single most honest advertisement I have ever seen.

    Not ‘honest’ as in honest about the product (diametrically opposed to that, I fear) – just the most honest expression of the advertisers art. Maybe honest is not the term I’m looking for; maybe I’m looking for ‘blatantly cynical’.

    Mind you, the Civony sequence comes pretty close in that last ad.