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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for sitting, drumming fingers, waiting for your new comic to be announced at WizardWorld Chicago and compiling a list of the (especially fruitful) interesting (main) videogame writing across the week and try and not link to -er – some poetry? That doesn’t sound very me. I blame womankind.

  • Simon Parkin plays proper journalist over at Eurogamer, and does a beginners guide to the whole Timothy Langdell situation – fundamentally, Langdell aggressively pursuing anyone who uses the word “Edge” in videogames for infringement of trademark. Strong games journalism, to say the least. And, according to Simon’s twitter, Langdell is unsurprisingly threatening to sue. Go read.
  • Gamasutra do a hefty interview with Rhianna Pratchett on games writing. Both about her and the craft generally, if you actually want to know how games writing works currently and who and what you should be blaming for its shortfalls, this is a great grounder.
  • New Scientist on the race to make the ultimate Mario AI.
  • Over at Maisonneuve, the Chris Lavigne questions whether him following the E3 expo with far more passion than the elections in Iran this summer is something to be worried about. I suspect many of us have had a moment like this, though him dovetailing to debates which probably should have sparked a debate (Greenpeace analysis of the environmental footprint of consoles) to those that did (L4D2!!!!!) rises it above a “I must go to the gym more often”-ism.
  • Christian Donolan over at Eurogamer interviews PopCap about their working methods. Opening line: “Learning from failure is easy. Learning from success – particularly slightly unexpected success – can be a lot more difficult.” This strikes me as true. Fun stuff.
  • Nullpointer throws up some notes on Entropy and Gaming.
  • Rob Hale chews over the recent music-industry-failing infographics and wonders whether videogames actually did kill the music industry.
  • Craig over at Gaming Daily on the joy of planning. That being, the calm moment before all the action kicks off. It’s interesting – we talk about games as interaction, but during these moments, no actual outwards interaction is taking place. It’s us, running internal simulations of how all these things work. Spinning in a different direction, I occasionally use this sort of thinking to semi-justify cut-scenes in games. As long as you’re running those internal simulations on the cut-scene – i.e. “What does this mean for me” – you are interacting with the game, no matter what the outwards appearance may say.
  • Meanwhile, also at Gaming Daily, Chris Evans remembers the joys of bots. He misses them so. Me too, actually. Bots as a worthwhile endeavour are one of the casualties in the current multiplayer-uber-alles direction of the industry.
  • Alex Hayter’s piece on the three-letter-acronym we don’t talk about here. “A sensible critique of NGJ,” said Jim upon finding it, “Extraordinary. Affective fallacy. I knew we had to be doing a fallacy somewhere. It wouldn’t feel right if we weren’t”. Strong piece, which holds together on its own terms, and I find myself guilty as charged – and not really caring. The point of culture is to move. An objective approach means nothing without the gold standard of something once having moved someone. Objectivity is a thin, deceitful veneer. Either you’re hiding you’re arguing for something you like – or you’re lying about its aesthetic effectiveness, so turning your criticism into a parlour game of argument-for-its-own-sake. “That said, we do like graphs,” adds Jim, sagely.
  • Over at Resolution they are a-posting. Mr Poisoned Sponge talks about the effect of a third-person game versus a first person game – the most interesting observation being that sense of distance from a third-person avatar means you’re more able to accept game-dictated actions which are not what you’d have done. I’m not sure if he’s right, but it’s an interesting one. Also, there’s more Why I Play Games there – especially notable is MichaĆ«l Samyn of Tale of Tales writing about why he doesn’t.
  • Tom Armitage writes about how media actually prepare us for strange and glorious future technology – specifically, how things are preparing us for how Augmented Reality will work. The Dead Space is a particularly good example, I think. I’m actually doing some AR stuff in one of my to-be-announced comics, and the “preparing the road to the future” is very much on my mind.
  • PJ Holden lobbed a short 4 page comic he and I did together in 2006. It’s called “Horror” and you can read it here.
  • John Hughes’ passing this week was a bit of a shocker. If you haven’t seen the piece by one Alison about her teenage-pen-pal-hood with him, you really should. There’s a John Hughes film in it, I swear.
  • Time for some grueling American Realist Trailer Park photography, yeah?
  • Laura Dockrill. Start with Heaven Knows, I guess, but it you ideally want her on stage, twitching, doing it at twice the speed to get its full effect.

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Kieron Gillen

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Kieron Gillen is robo-crazy.

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