The Sunday Papers

Sundays are inexplicable jet-lag, luxuriating in the glow of a 7-1 Blood Bowl victory and compiling a list of the finest (mostly) games-related writing from across the week in a handy list format, while trying to not include a link to some manner of pop music or another.

Failed.

71 Comments

  1. The Hammer says:

    Despite its closure, Matrix Online lasted an extraordinary amount of time, for an MMO that was almost always off the radar. That’s quite the thing. I mean, it makes you wonder how that can stay up, and Tabula Rasa (which I assume was more popular) didn’t.

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    It was part of the Sony deal thing.

    KG

  3. R.J. Croton says:

    Cheers for linking Charles Dickens, Football Manager :)

    link to sekritforum.com

    Direct link. Cheers!

  4. aoanla says:

    I find it somewhat hilarious that the current argument for “Why the glorious lack of Canon in Doctor Who is a natural consequence of time travel” completely misses the point.
    (The point being that at the core of what people argue about in canon arguments is “what is possible”. The ability for historical events to be inconsistent doesn’t remove the illumination by those pseudo-historical events of the space of possible and impossible things – physical laws aren’t generally altered by travel in time ;) )
    Now, Doctor Who isn’t even consistent in how its physics works, but this isn’t justifiable by any degree of fanwanking about how time travel removes consistent histories. (This lack of consistency in physics is both good and bad – it allows more creative freedom, but also allows cheap plot resolution by “breaking” the previously set rules. That is, it lets good writers be better, but lets mediocre writers be potentially dire.)

  5. Arathain says:

    Thanks for the Sarinee Achavanuntakul interview link. Interesting person.

  6. Nick says:

    Oh, sure, rub it in some more =)

  7. Hermit says:

    End of Matrix Online reminds me of the end of the WoW beta, when Blizzard opened up Burning Legion portals in every city on Azaroth. Best moment was when a bunch of low level folks in Stormwind jumped in the Canal to escape an elite Infernal, only to end up getting attacked and killed by the elite crocodile that once resided in there. Good times.

  8. LionsPhil says:

    Second that; the HOTU interview was interesting.

  9. Dominic White says:

    N’thing the praise for the Sarinee interview. The lady is seriously sharp – her insights and thoughts on the industry are really quite nice to hear. I have a feeling the interviewer underestimated just how much she had to say, too.

  10. Gap Gen says:

    I found this post on Blue Casket quite interesting: link to bluecasket.sekritforum.com – namely, why write about games in this way, and how to do it? Reading the article, most of the points apply to any writing (and frankly, you can make anything entertaining with good writing) but the best gaming diaries can be insightful – Bastard of the Old Republic gives insight into the motivations for doing things in games and how people act, for example.

  11. R.J. Croton says:

    Also, guys- totally read the other diaries. DeGeen is my personal favourite (written by Gap Gen!). Outside Charles Dickens, Football Manager of course ¬_¬

  12. Kieron Gillen says:

    Rule 3’s a dangerous one. The just-as-true-flip is “Don’t just write for everyone else”. If you haven’t an emotional hook – a reason for doing this – it’s going to be shit. Judging when you’re being too self-indulgent and when you’re not being self-indulgent enough, of course, is the tricky one.

    I’m also not entirely sure that I agree with them there’s no support system for them. We get a lot of links, but it’s because we’re actually a pretty hefty site. Alice and Kev showed exactly how big a piece of reportive games writing can get. The AAR writers, writing in a place like The Blue Casket, are totally part of the blogosphere. I’d treat what they write exactly like any other form of games writing. I’ve linked to god knows how many AARs in the Sunday Papers, and it’s not as if we don’t do a whole lot of what they class as meta-writing ourselves.

    KG

  13. Gap Gen says:

    I’m not sure the point is that there’s no support system. RPS isn’t a dedicated portal to gaming diaries, and a discussion on a game diary link might well be buried under a thousand comments on DRM (arguably, it could work on the forum). Posting a game diary somewhere you get feedback quickly is a good thing, even if it’s just a “keep writing” comment.

  14. Xercies says:

    Well movie-exec, if your going to be like that, then I think piracy is a good thing to fighting bastards like you.

    If there is no canon, then why is there a lot of stories in Doctor Who talking about the history of the Time Lords, and why si there a big wiki page talking about the history of the time lords. I personnally hate the phrase “It can’t be canon it hasn’t got this this and this in it.” And rubbish arguments of getting the handbook out and critisisizing a piece of FICTION that it didn’t have this this and this in.

    You heard this a lot with the new Star Trek film where people were complaining about the new ship design. And there are people out there that complain that the Jeffry tubes are numbered wrong in loads of episodes. I feel kind of sorry for these people.

    I also believe there should be a kind of museum in games, it really depresses me when you se companies refusing really old works that weren’t even made by them but they got the IP rights. It really is art and business in general. They don’t go together.

  15. Gap Gen says:

    I think the main thing with the Cory Doctorow article is that it’s insane that a whole industry exists where there’s a very obvious and easily-tapped market that executives won’t touch. Why not put TV shows on iTunes (IP issues aside) hours after they broadcast? Why wait for a DVD release?

    But yeah, the assumption with time-limited DRM seems to be that they believe that they are no longer producing culture, rather they’re churning out fast food that is forgotten about and gone soon after it’s consumed.

  16. Darkflight says:

    In case anyone is interested – Giant Bomb spent some time over the last few weeks playing MxO before it died (5 parts in total)

    link to giantbomb.com

    The community’s response to the GB presence – link to forums.station.sony.com

  17. Gassalasca says:

    I absolutely syimpathize with that girl who wrote the Ex-Pat piece. It’s been months since I played anythig seriously. I live vicariously through RPS and local games press. Admittedly, this has provided me with time to do a bunch of other useful stuff, but I still feel sad and a bit gulity every time I shoot a glance to my game shelf. :|

  18. skizelo says:

    People care enough about Doctor Who to argue about the existence or otherwise of continuity? Odd. You weird me out, internet.
    And thanks for the HotU interview and the game-diary site.

  19. Subject 706 says:

    Yeah, the HOTU interview really put the light on some of the completely illogical stuff going on with the gaming industry nowadays.

  20. R.J. Croton says:

    Blake’s 7 had the best ‘canon’ ever. I.e. completely non-existent and proud of it. Same with Red Dwarf. So long as we’re not in the same franchise, and, say, a member of Voyager in the Star Trek of that same name invents a transporter or something, let’s face it canon doesn’t have to be so goddamn strict.

    It’s what fun or cool, for me. With some internal logic of course.

  21. Troy Goodfellow says:

    Everyone beats me at Blood Bowl.

    Except maybe you, Kieron.

  22. aoanla says:

    @R.J. Croton: I think it’s the caveat you use that makes this a valid point. It’s precisely when a sub-set of fans thinks that the internal logic has been broken that all the big fights about canon happen. So, canon is how you avoid having to have all your writers be clever and great – you force them to stick to some set of ground rules.
    Red Dwarf managed without this because it was almost entirely controlled by two guys (who then became one guy, which broke the setting as the “canon” didn’t exist to limit some of his later excesses), and so they maintained the same “internal logic” inherently.

  23. Lucas says:

    The best part of the HOTU interview is that the original authors of the abandoned games wrote her to say how much they liked what she was doing. Developers want to make games that people will still care about long after their market is gone. Those are the games I really want to play.

  24. Gap Gen says:

    Red Dwarf is also about being silly, so canon doesn’t really matter so much as long as there aren’t vast continuity issues.

  25. JKjoker says:

    you would think the epic fail MMOs had these past years would scare publishers but nooo, almost every game planned for 2010 is either a MMO, or a multiplayer focused game with a mmo like community planned (communities that used to be optional, but now will be forced, and if you ever played on bnet you know you dont want to be forced to be with those ppl)……… weeee

  26. qrter says:

    Why not put TV shows on iTunes (IP issues aside) hours after they broadcast? Why wait for a DVD release?

    Slate did an article in April on why movies and TV shows aren’t appearing more on something like iTunes:

    link to slate.com

  27. Sonic Goo says:

    JKjoker: that’s probably more because that sort of system is easier to protect from piracy, than any other reasons.

  28. JKjoker says:

    @Sonic Goo: trust me, the whole “Piracy” thingy is more of an excuse than a reason, they are other much more interesting reasons to lock ppl into your “online communities”, forcing micropayments up your arse being the one of them

  29. Harmen says:

    Anyone know where that gaming column of Sarinee Achavanuntakul is? It’s mentioned in the introduction of the interview: “She has worked in investment banking in Hong Kong, translates books from English into Thai and writes a gaming column.”

  30. Markoff Chaney says:

    Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey. It’s all good, to a point.

    I seriously dislike the direction that rampant fanboyism (of the sole resurrector of the series, no less – talk about mixed feelings I have of gratitude and betrayal) has taken us to up til now. I’m grateful it’s back on the air, but I miss the somewhat plausible co-existence The Doctor had to the real world before the Time War seemed to make Him go all Wibbly Wobbly.

    I’m hoping these few more one offs (and then the movie?) will slake Mr. Davies’ seemingly unquenchable thirst and we can move on to something more closely approximating the monster in the castle and the rest of the world isn’t massively impacted type of story lines I grew up with. Everything changes, Eventually. Even Time Lords, I reckon. I will see how Mr. Moffat chooses to guide my favorite televised character. Not like I’ll stop watching, regardless.

    Wonderful reads. Thank You.

  31. Gap Gen says:

    qrter: OK, so it is contracts and IP (as well as perhaps industry inertia). But yeah, the consumer does lose out. It would be interesting to see how piracy changes if this happened. Anyone know what happened to piracy when buying mp3s online became widespread?

  32. malkav11 says:

    @Harmen – it’s probably in Thai.

    More generally, I just wanted to say that I absolutely agree that a proper archival of games is necessary. I can’t think of a single other medium where it’s so ludicrously impossible to get ahold of huge swathes of that medium’s history in a legal fashion. I’d like better archives for things like books and movies and so forth too, of course, but those industries haven’t decided that they can’t possibly bother to make things available for more than about five years after they’re first made. It’s nice to have things like Gametap and GoG, but I do think Sarinee’s right that those aren’t ever going to be the comprehensive solutions that the problem needs. In fact, the way both services have -lost- games as licensing agreements expired suggests quite the opposite. This is also why I absolutely despise online-activation DRM, regardless of install limits. Talk about a completely unnecessary “screw you, potential archival” move.

  33. qrter says:

    Anyone know what happened to piracy when buying mp3s online became widespread?

    Probably not that much, I’d guess, seeing as it still had/has DRM up the jacksy, which still made/makes pirating the better choice, purely from a consumer’s point of view.

  34. Noc says:

    @Keiron:

    From my reading, Rule 3’s a bit simpler and less tricky. I feel like he’s just trying to get across the idea that writing is about communication; just because you know what you mean, doesn’t mean that they’ll know what you mean if you don’t make the effort to communicate it clearly.

    And following from that, just because you care about something doesn’t mean they’ll care if you don’t manage to communicate it evocatively. So, at the end of the day you’re trying to create something that complete strangers will be able to read and know what you’re getting at.

    . . . which is honestly a pretty basic concept, but I think not quite grasping this is a primary factor in writing turning all rambly and incoherent.

  35. Noc says:

    Oops, that “i” is in the wrong place. MORTAL INSULT: DELIVERED.

  36. TheArmyOfNone says:

    The interview with the underdogs founder made my day :)

  37. Larington says:

    Ah yes, Legend of Valour. Impressive for what it tries to do, I chucked it into dosbox just before the conference and ’twas when I realised that there wasn’t much I could take away from the game that I couldn’t just learn by looking at walkthroughs and other web material that I decided I didn’t mind letting go of my copy of the game. Plus, I knew where it was headed it’d be appreciated which is a double bonus.

  38. Alex says:

    All Lara Crigger needs to bring her back into the fold is for some enterprising developer to release Crochet Hero.

  39. Mike says:

    Thanks for taking a look at the Casket, RPS! The authors of the hosted blogs are RPS commenters too, so I hope everyone takes a look at them. Next week I’m posting a roundup of our hosted blogs’ progress, so check back in the week for a summary of what we do!

  40. Lewis says:

    Seeing that Legend of Valour map was amazing. It did, however, make me feel remarkably young. 1993! I was six! Man!

  41. Gap Gen says:

    I think a more specific version of Rule 3 might read “Don’t describe the game mechanics”, as in people aren’t really interested in how the game works, they want to know what you experienced. Then again, like I said in the article’s comments, Bow Nigger, the upheld example of NGJ, goes ahead and breaks that rule for an excellent reason. So I don’t know.

  42. Vandelay says:

    On Blue Casket’s third rule, it reads to me very much as Kieron interpreted it, in that you should write for your audience not yourself. I think that is fairly dangerous ground to walk on. Thinking like that promotes watering your work down and ultimately would encourage pieces to be less original

    Also, surely writing any non-commercial blog, be it gaming or otherwise, is something very personal. You are not writing for a specific audience as such but for your own pleasure. The hope is that others find what you have to say interesting enough to read, which would be watered down somewhat if they only liked it because you wrote it for them. As Kieron says, something that the writer feels passionately or excited about will add to the readers enjoyment and will inherently be something very personal.

    I remember a quote from Joss Whedon that goes something like “I write not what you want, but what you need.” It may sound a touch arrogant, but I think that it speaks volumes about what a successful writer should strive for. On a level where the writer’s freedom is so great, as it will be for internet metagaming blog, the writers own personality should be encouraged, but that rule seems to discourage.

  43. Nick says:

    Yeah, but I didn’t need certain characters to die for no reason other than it felt dramatic ¬_¬

  44. Mike says:

    To clear up confusion, Rule Three is really meant to read “Don’t Just Write For You”. But yes. Everyone makes good points.

  45. Mike says:

    Mainly because – and I mention this in the rule – games are supposed to leave you with the sensation that something amazing happened and you caused it. Sometimes this is true, which is why a blog like Reggio Perino works, because huge odds are overcome in spectacular style. That’s great, that makes for good reading.

    But if what happened is just a case of you played the game properly, that’s not quite as good, and you need to make sure before you put it to paper/screen that what you’re about to tell me isn’t just a rehash of the exact same experience I played.

    Obviously, writing is a personal endeavour. This we know. But when trying to fictionalise the experience of playing a game, there are a lot of things to consider.

  46. Robin says:

    I would like a DRM system that protects me from Cory Doctorow’s writing.

    The Blue Casket looks very interesting, will have to keep an eye on that.

  47. Tim says:

    That Escapist article is ridiculous. The main achievement of Matrix Online that all other MMO’s should emulate is that it allowed an old white guy to talk on Ventrilo with black teenagers? What kind of gay nonsense is that?

  48. Gap Gen says:

    Also, in general, if you’re bored writing something then it’s worth asking if that means that people will be bored reading it.

  49. Gpig says:

    What isn’t enough to make John Walker cry?

  50. R.J. Croton says:

    link to sekritforum.com

    Latest episode of Charles Dickens, Football Manager, as promised.

    Please comment if you enjoy, and remember to subscribe via RSS!