De Zondagse Krant

Hello readers of the Rock Paper Shotgun weblog. I am Hercule Poirot, famous detective. Hastings and myself were passing an enormous, sleeping monster when our attention was drawn to some repetitive tapping. While Hastings dismissed it as mysterious indigestion, I recognised the pattern was Morse code for S-O-S. I started a rhythmic conversation on the beast’s belly, discovering that several young men and Kieron were trapped inside it. I started to suggest a plan of escape, but was interupted by a most insistent message. Escape can wait, says the figure who identified himself as Kieron. First, there must be a list of fine reading compiled across the week with – I’m not sure if this is right – without some manner of popular song at the end. This is the aforementioned list, which I now transcribe for you, my friends.

Oh my, dear tapping-man! You have failed in your mission not to include a popular song. Ah, the noxious fumes of the guts must have confused you. My sympathies. I will return to the creature to bring news of his failure, via the mechanism of Morse’s code. I remain your humble servant.

78 Comments

  1. RiptoR says:

    Better translation of title would have been “de zondagse krant” or “de kranten op zondag”, and not the literal babelfish translation you used :p

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Riptor: RPS is famously literal.

      KG

    • PHeMoX says:

      “Zondagse” sounds very Belgian to me, but I’m going to pretend it’s Dutch too and therefore it’s a pretty epic title. x)

      Also, good article, I always like articles that give useful pointers to all the good stuff.

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      “De Zondagse Krant” is perfectly fine Flemish altough “De Zondagse Gazet” would be even better.

      For a minute I thought that all the articles were translated to the users language.

  2. Sir Digby says:

    Hercule Poirot: “Enough Indie Bitchiness”

    …alright then!

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Digby: Read the post! The list is Hercule transcribing what I morse-coded from inside the monster.

      KG

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Mr Gillen, you have a decidedly uncouth habit of leaving the poor Monster’s stomach to reply to comments. You should be ashamed; depriving a poor honest monster of his duly-earned repast.

    • Sir Digby says:

      Ah, I see. I still fine it more pleasing to read it as Poirot saying it.

    • Vitamin Powered says:

      @Sir Digby

      I must concur: the image of Poirot looking up from a corpse, muttering “Enough Indie Bitchiness”, just made my day.

  3. Heliosicle says:

    Canabalt is so simple and fun, although the iPhone update made it a bit too complicated, that person being tracked down through WoW is pretty funny. I don’t like Weezer though.

  4. Mike says:

    “I forget who on twitter did a “My New Years Resolution is 1600×1200″ gag”

    I think it was most of Twitter.

  5. Bolor says:

    even better would be “Les gazettes du Dimanche” because Hercule Poirot speaks French, not Dutch and is from the French speaking part of Belgium.

    “ze little gray cells, zhey do nozing”

  6. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    It seems Poirot neglected to include a link to the Alasdair Stuart article, the silly sausage.

  7. Alexander Norris says:

    One does wonder why Hercule Poirot chose to publish the title of the Sunday Papers in Flemish rather than his native French, but oh, well. At least he was kind enough to come back from the dead so as to save the Papers from the horrible monster that has eaten RPS.

  8. Dodo says:

    and Hercule is belgian, so dutch isn’t really his only language he speaks, next time we’ll get french papers (unless he’s from vlaanderen, and despises the frence:))

  9. Sinnerman says:

    I love visiting the Tale of Tales blog as they never fail to make me feel bad about enjoying video games. I love the way they make me want to never have anything to do with the hobby ever again. It’s all very progressive and intellectual. Think I will have a bath and a couple of games of Outrun.

  10. Wulf says:

    Derek Yu’s list of the year was simply wonderful, a lot of games I’d played and loved. And I still can’t get over how simply brilliant Zeno Clash is, even all this time after playing it. At its core, it was a punchyteimz game that actually worked (even worked better than Brick’s punching in Borderlands), but everything that was wrapped around that core was strange, and arty, and wanted to show me things that would make me “Oooh!” and “Ahhh!”. I’ve never seen an action game become such a… you know, I’m really not sure how best to put this. Voyage of discovery works. That’ll do. Such a voyage of discovery.

    I want Zeno Clash 2!

    That Indie Games article is something that slipped under my radar, so thanks for that. I’ll have a read of that as it sounds quite, quite interesting.

    I’ll have to have a little read of Radiator’s words too, as it sounds like I’d agree with him. I dig odd little games, even ones the majority don’t understand. I thought The Path was actually a little bit clever too, truth be told, and it wasn’t all about the sensationalism either. In fact, now that I think about it, it was a mature game that was actually mature, and that seemed to scare people. I won’t muse on that too much, though.

    I don’t think every experience should be so comfortable and familiar, to be honest. I’ve covered that in recent rantings though, so I welcome such experimental things with open arms, and if they can expand my horizons, open my mind, and be fun all at the same time, then they’ll earn my admiration. If it’s all those things and ethical too, then it’ll have my undying love and respect.

    Bring me your experimental things, developers. For I am unafraid!

    Well, unafraid of everything but malware, anyway, that’s where I draw my line. I’m afraid of malware. :p

    I had a quick nose at the Tale of Tales article, and generally I have to say that I agree with them, but then they have an eye for this sort of thing. And at the end of the day, they’re just Tale of Tales being Tale of Tales, and I could never hate them for that. To the contrary, I celebrate it and praise them. I wish we had more like them.

    I followed through to the article on Blizzard, and the way the article was talking about a wanted fugitive, I thought that Blizzard had actually done something really worthwhile and helped them track down a serial killer or something, not a two-bit drug dealer. :/ I can’t understand why they’d make such a big fuss out of this, it’s almost as bad as kicking up a riotous fuss over unethical porn or piracy. Now I don’t like unethical porn or drug-dealing either, can’t stand it, but with all the crime that’s out there, far worse than this, with the murder, the rape, the muggings, the break-ins, I just can’t understand why stuff like this is so exaggerated and why crimes that should be worse aren’t as widely vilified. That just seems… odd? Hmm.

    And to wrap up, I still think Bioware is slipping some kind of subtle mind-control into their games which I’m completely immune too. Wheee!

    • PHeMoX says:

      Yeah, I enjoyed Zeno Clash’s original vibe a whole lot to. Perhaps my favorite indie game of 2009 when it comes to it’s style. It did sort of ruin that same originality the Void seems to share though.

  11. Forceflow says:

    I find your lack of english title disturbing.

  12. Andy says:

    I have been making the “new years resolution gag” to anyone who’ll listen, but I’m by no means the first.

    …..MINES 1920×1200! HAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

  13. Hideous says:

    Next time, do “Söndagstidningen”.

  14. robrob says:

    “several young men and Kieron” – an old woman?

  15. Pod says:

    I prefered it when small teams just shut the fuck’d up (how do you say STFU in the past tense?) and got on with making games. Why do small teams these days have to rant on about how Indie they are and how arty their games are?

  16. Dozer says:

    This is the first thing I’ve read since watching the second part of the Dr Who christmas special. Most of the episode is spent listening to the letter H being endlessly repeated in morse code inside John Simm’s skull.

    H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H

    That is what the episode is like. You don’t need to watch it now, if you haven’t seen it anyway.

    So it’s pretty odd to come here and find more morse code references.

  17. Tom Camfield says:

    Re: Steven Shaviro on the film Gamer

    I’m skim reading this, and he uses “hilarious”, “satirical” and Bloodhound Gang in the same sentence – which kind of answers the question, how low are your standards that you get this excited about The Running Man redux? (And I don’t mean that as snobbish derision, I mean, sure, BG are satirical, but I think that you’d call them that after you’ve called them juvenile, and sniggered at boobs, and sung along to F.U.C.K. and then puked and fallen over…)

    As a sound illustration of my point, I present a clip from Hershell Gordon Lewis. Shaviro calls his films postmodern, which again, follows neatly after badly acted, poor direction, terrible sound, insensible plotting, terrible writing etc etc.

    Question: does he say anything beyond: Gamer, like most ultra-violent sci-fi films (The Running Man, Rollerball, Death Chase) takes the modern world, and paints a portrait of how human insensitivity could shape the future. And if that’s all he’s saying, 10,000 words is a little too much.

    [Edit: I should mention, given I’ve spent hours reading and thinking about the article, that whether 10,000 words is too little or too much, thank you for sharing it :) Ta.]

  18. AndrewC says:

    Re The Gamer article: Is it OK if I am a touch hesitant to start in on a 10,000 word essay that starts with the line : ‘I am groping here towards something that I have been trying to work out, and articulate, for a while. I don’t think I have found it all yet, but I am getting closer, whatever the awkwardness of expression here.’

    Give us a yell when he writes an essay that starts: ‘totally figured it out now, dudes, and here’s 1500 words to explain it to you. Also Existenz sucks.’

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ AndrewC

      I’ve read chunks of it, and a lot of it is massive exposition of the plot and characters. There are parts where he goes “this is a shit genre film that can’t even be bothered to be anything other than exploitative nonsense” (paraphrasing there, natch), so he clearly sees it as trash, but it nonetheless gets a big positive reaction from him, and I haven’t been able to track down why. (Especially: why this, why not something else.)

      I think he’s just reading a lot into it.

      Here’s an example:

      “I could also mention the absurdist action sequence, where Kable/Tillman escapes from prison, and from the Slayer gamespace, by first drinking down an entire bottle of vodka, then puking and pissing into the gas tank of an “ethanol only” truck, in order literally to fuel his escape. We see closeups of Kable, shots of Simon composited into the gamespace, and even a shot from the interior of the gas tank, as it receives Kable’s alcohol-laden puke. Embodiment, flow, the human-virtual interface, and the human-machine interface are all yoked violently together in the course of a short montage sequence. In little more than a minute of screen time, Neveldine/Taylor demonstrate how and why all those discussions (which we were all so engaged in, in the 1990s) about cyberculture and disembodiment are obsolete — even as they also implicitly propose a scatalogical/micturitional psychokinetics to replace it.”

    • Martin Edelius says:

      That won’t happen as Existenz is a totally awesome movie.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      I think this is what’s going on:

      Kids want cheap thrills.
      Film makers want kids’ money.
      Film makers create a film for full of cheap thrills.

      Shaviro is concerned with how people in the future will use technology.
      Shaviro watches a film about how people will use technology in the future.
      This is the same film as above.

      Instead of dealing with the subject matter in an academic way, the film makers have been as brutal as possible: thereby ensuring cheap thrills.
      Shaviro realises that for all his academic talk, it’s this kind of brutal straightforwardness that will dictate the use of future technology, not the academic reasoning from the classrooms.

      And I think this is why it’s significant to him. It’s pure id, free from reflection, allowing Shaviro’s more reflective spirit to understand how others would butcher technology in their own image. But! what also impresses him is:

      You have this triple parallel of id behind (the film makers) and in front of the camera (the film), and in the multiplexes (the kids), which is itself a parallel of the movie, with what’s happening (the game), the fact that someone else is controlling what’s happening (the gamer), and that other people are all watching what is happening (the audience watching the game).

    • AndrewC says:

      @ Tom Camfield: Jesus Christ. I think i’m just going to stick to Wargames.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      I unfortunately have nothing to add to this specific exchange, but I would like to state that conversations like these are why I love RPS.

      That, and the random bloke getting rightfully annoyed about Modern Warfare 2’s rape of international security procedures.

    • Larington says:

      Myself, I always preferred Virtual Nightmare over existenz but what it tackles is somewhat different to existenz and it was a straight to vhs Australian film so few people have seen it or heard of it (I only saw it thanks to Sci-Fi which should’ve run it more often than it did).

    • Muzman says:

      So the short version is “Baudrillard ruined parody forever.”

      edit: OK I read it, albeit quickly. The above remark stands. Man am I glad I don’t have to read that sort of stuff anymore. To his credit he’s fairly plain spoken about it, but geez. It’s funny, he says at one point that Bordwell’s cognitivist reductionism renders him incapable of describing what’s going on in some sequence or technique. I was never convinced that Deluze et al were describing anything actual at all, just making up names for things. Hey if you talk enough about these names and connect them together I guess that’s enough (as such is the basis for Post Structuralist thought after all, in a way. “Value” being in circulation works for lit-crit philosophy as much as contemporary economic relationships). It’s almost as insufferable as theology and has similar relevance to reality, for my money.

      Just as film directors incorporating Freudian dream symbolism as a short cut to the audience’s cerebella (cerebellums?) was for decades held up as vindication of their supposed power by film theorists, I suppose we can now look forward to every other jokey piece of rapidly edited cheese being a justification of Post-Modernist/Post Structuralist ideas (well, they kinda already have been for a while now. Don’t think Bay’s methods are without apologists. “but this one has people directly controlling each other dude so we gotta go over it again! It’s all a reference of a reference of a reference, man”. Amusingly, to me at least, someone merely described Southland Tales to me and some other ex-film students and we agreed it sounded just like the sort of hilarious sophomoric disaster students make when they’ve read those first few lit-crit/culture-crit articles and haven’t managed to un-blow their minds yet. Our man here says it’s the greatest film ever or something. Hmmmm).

      er, I guess I should really watch the movie(s) at some point though huh.

    • pedant says:

      Shapiro’s article also suffers from his argument against neoliberalism (used as a slur as usual) which he straw mans so much it’s almost ridiculous. That word does not mean what he thinks it does…

      It’s a bit like reading 8k words on why The Matrix is a treatise on the evils of socialism. Hijacking films/books and shoehorning your favorite ideology to hate is neither creative nor fun usually. Maybe if you are Charlie Brooker or similar.

      Also, Existenz is not even near as fun as Videodrome, long live the new flesh!

  19. perilisk says:

    I just played the quest John described in his article, but as casteless dwarf. I’ve been impressed at how well DA:O has gotten me to actually want to role-play, as opposed to just being a massive goodie two-shoes. At first, I went by the dwarf Chanter and told him, essentially, I wasn’t religious and didn’t care about his problem.

    The next time I headed that direction, I had been to the Shaperate, who essentially told me that although they could talk to me as a Warden, as a casteless I didn’t actually ever exist in Orzammar as far as their history was concerned (and thus, as far as they were concerned). Which pissed me off — not just because of the way they treated me, which I was used to, but because it was so irrational and stupid (and my character was generally cynical and practical).

    So the next time I walked by the Chanter I decided to help him — not because I gave a damn about the Chantry (“disbelieve” would be a little too strong of a term after the Urn quest), but just to throw a monkey wrench in the works.

    • Zyrxil says:

      I have quite a lot of problems with lavishing praises on that quest.

      -The so called level of detail on that quest is very much an exception and not the rule. You wouldn’t even use up all your fingers counting the number of quests in DA that actually affected other quests, and only one that involved or even pointed to another of the five major locations (Denerim/Redcliffe/Forest/Orzammar/Circle Tower).

      -The so called level of detail is completely illogical and stupid. While you could point out how remarkable it is that such a short throwaway quest affected the ending, it makes more sense to point out how odd it is that such a short throwaway quest affected the ending while plenty of longer quests had no visible impact whatsoever.

      -That the quest is so throwaway is in of itself bad design. You’re establishing a -new religion- in the biggest Dwarven City, and the quest takes 10 mins and 2 steps to do. That’s like having a random quest guy appear out of nowhere in some marketplace, and, in the most flippant dialogue possible, pay you 50 gold to press one of three buttons on a magic device:
      “Wipe out City of Farawayburg and all inhabitants”
      “Do Nothing”
      “Make Elvishstan the most powerful and prosperous nation for next 500 years”

      You’re goddamn right that would have a lot of consequences on the fictional world, but it’s insane to handle it like that.

  20. Pace says:

    I now have a new favorite Sunday Papers song!

    (And man, there are 30 songs that came in below The Girl and the Robot on Kieron’s list? How embarrassing for them.)

  21. Hmm says:

    Regarding the Blizzard story, it says: “Roberson’s subpoena was nothing more than a politely worded request, considering the limits of his law enforcement jurisdiction and the ambiguity of the online world.”

    Can anybody request your personal details in the US?

  22. the wiseass says:

    The gamer-article brilliantly demonstrates how you can waste almost 10.000 Words on a socio-political analysis of a pseudo-critical movie from a gamer’s point of view and completely fail to grasp even the slightest bit of political reality. It seems to me the author was more impressed by the flashy images of the movie, completely ignoring the feeble and shallow storyline which is filled with typical gamer-clichés and the usual conspiracy theories. Many gamers seem to lack a great bit of political culture or education and it shows in articles like this one. Maybe that is one of the reasons why the gamer-culture continuously fails to gain any serious amount of social respect.

    It saddens me to see this movie depicted as “radical reality” and compared to brilliant movies such as Punishment Park. But what can you expect from somebody that praises a movie like “Crank 2” so highly? Nothing much I’m afraid.

    As for me, I have yet to see a movie that manages to embed gamer-culture into a credible socio-economic critical analysis. The closest example would be ExistenZ (and to a degree Running Man), two movies I was able to enjoy as what they were. Nevertheless, if I had to choose between “Gamer” and the very similar “Surrogates”, I’d go with the latter. But if you really want to see a great critical movie of 2009, have a look at “Moon”.

  23. Tei says:

    Now that theres criminal persecution on WoW. Is not a extend to think WoW china will help capture the political dissidents. Nice can of worms opened here.

  24. Some Guy says:

    just watch Aatar for the film of the year

  25. Lucas says:

    Anybody who likes AI War: Fleet Command should read Blindsight by Peter Watts. The whole book is free on his website if you don’t want to buy a hardcopy.

  26. Robert Yang says:

    A really interesting linguistic analysis of Agatha Christie’s novels that shows definite vocabulary / stylistic changes in her novels over the years as she battled Alzheimer’s. Cool beans.

    • Sir Digby says:

      See Mr Kieron Gillen, SEE. It’s possible and I’m not going to stop believing.

  27. Ferrik says:

    While it’s extraordinary that this quest is mentioned in the ending at all and should be a testament to Bioware’s storytelling, I found the consequences to be superficial. It’s clear that Bioware wanted to set up a conflict between Orzammar and the Chantry for the second installment as the Exalted March is mentioned regardless of whether you do the quest or who you back as king. I’m willing to bet the whole thing will turn out to be a flimsy pretext for the Chantry trying to seize control of lyrium distribution in a tiresome bid to control mages.

  28. Gpig says:

    Looking back, this seems to be the best sunday papers of the decade

  29. Trithemius says:

    Woooo! Mutant City Blues!
    Good to see ye olde traditionale roleplayinge gamese getting a look in.

  30. A-Scale says:

    Been watching the Poirot tv series much? I have been, and it is quite good.

  31. MeHungLow says:

    @Tei

    Isn’t WoW banned in China to begin with?

  32. drewski says:

    The intro to the Tale of Tales article made me want to vomit, which put me off reading the rest.

    I enjoyed the two Eurogamer articles, and Keiron’s music post made me actually get off my arse and find some new music from this year, which was awesome. Totally agree about Rabbit Heart, for what it’s worth – everything that was 2009 for me is in that song.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      The Tale of Tales bit wasn’t so bad once you got into it. I don’t always care for Samyn’s attitude, but some of his would-be choices for nominations were pretty interesting stuff. Amnesia wasn’t even on my radar until I read his comments about it and saw it was from Frictional.

  33. MeHungLow says:

    @InvisibleJesus

    Thanks. I thought I read something recently that the government was planning to ban it soon…turned out it was a bunch of rumormongering (thank you respectable Internet journalism) that everyone was copy-pasting off of each other.

  34. Jimbo says:

    Yeah, I gotta agree with you there. You pick yes or no and it determines which text box you get at the end of the game – the one quest it impacts is meaningless, because that also doesn’t affect anything. If they threw your ass out of the city for messing with their established religion and you ended up without the Dwarven army, now that would have been a meaningful impact. Or at least it would have been if you even needed the armies at the end of the game.

    I think they could have been a lot braver with the consequences your decisions have. I’d like to elaborate, but it’s still a bit early for blatant spoilers.

    • Jimbo says:

      That was in reply to Zyrxil. (I swear I hit reply)

    • invisiblejesus says:

      I dunno, I think “consequences” that amount to punishing you for making interesting choices during the game would be a step back, not forwards. I haven’t played DAO yet, so I can’t really comment firsthand, but one of the things I really dug about Mass Effect was that I could make the choices I wanted to make for my character and I didn’t wind up punished for it in gameplay terms. Consequences that change the story in major ways would be interesting, but not if they devalue that freedom to choose by turning those choices into opportunities for bad play.

    • Hastur says:

      I agree with Zyrxil’s points: a blurb at the end of the game is not much of a consequence. I also think there’s fruitful middle ground that many RPGs often (not always, but often) fail to explore. The Dwarves could threaten to withhold their armies unless you cut off support for the religious mission, or there could be a harder path where you could still get Dwarvish aid, but you had to help topple their current leadership. There are many possibilities for consequences that are serious but still allow you to keep playing the game.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      That’d be better than nothing, but it’s still punishing the player for roleplaying their character as they wish. RPGs shouldn’t be structured like platformers or puzzles games, where every decision has a right and a wrong choice. I’m not suggesting every possible choice in an RPG should be “right” with no possibility of making mistakes, but these kinds of character-based choices should be opportunities to shape the story, not opportunities for the game to say “No, you fucked up, now it’s going to be harder for you”. Get rid of the idea of a “harder” path and maybe work out a great way to just offer a different one, with it’s own challenges and without the requirement that the player be punished for roleplaying, and I think that could be something really cool. Maybe something that substantially changed the ending, rather than just providing an interesting sort of epilogue one you’re finished. Think of it not as punishing the player for the wrong choice, but changing the course of the story to a different, similarly cool and interesting direction.

    • Jimbo says:

      I think playing the saint *should* be harder. It is far too easy in Dragon Age -and in fairness, most RPGs- to illogically go chasing the perfect solution, because you know they aren’t going to punish you (your character) for it anyway. There is no sense of making tough choices for the greater good (stopping the blight), because doing the right thing only ever feels like a minor inconvenience, if that.

      I always find it hard to attach weight to a decision if it isn’t going to impact on the gameplay or the overarching story in some way. Ultimately, I felt no satisfaction in stopping the Blight, because I felt like I could have just randomly made choices throughout the game and still won, which, to me at least, highlights how meaningless those choices really were. Every time Sten – the stand-out character in the game- stopped me and told me that we were wasting time and that the fight was the other way, I wanted to remind him that it was 2009 and that there was zero chance of anything bad happening because of our wandering.

      Bioware played it too safe for my tastes – you are always firmly in control of exactly how any given quest will play out, and, with few exceptions, the possible outcomes are always telegraphed well in advance. Walking off to the Mage Tower for help was a ridiculous decision and deserved to be treated as such. If I had come back from the Mage Tower and Connor had flipped out and killed everybody in my absence, I would have been instantly hooked into the world and every decision I made thereafter. If my constant chasing of a ‘perfect solution tomorrow’, led to either an extremely tough battle at the end, or even failure to stop the Blight (as in, still have a conclusion to the game, just a failed one), I would tell you this was one of the greatest RPGs ever made.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      “Walking off to the Mage Tower for help was a ridiculous decision and deserved to be treated as such.”

      No it wasn’t. It was only a day away.

      KG

    • Hastur says:

      @invisiblejesus: we agree more than we disagree, I think. The difference is that you seem to consider my consequences as “punishment”, but I see them as different, interesting game experiences. I like the idea that actions I choose to take will substantially alter my experience.

      Harder is fine. It is my choice after all.

  35. Jayt says:

    I like how the cop in the Blizzard article at the start goes on about how HE caught the criminal when in reality, he was lucky to have Blizzard hand him over on a silver platter

  36. K says:

    Sounds like Blizzard will be lucky that guy doesn’t sue them to me.

  37. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    RE: John and Dragon Age

    I’ve been playing the game lately. Just reachez Orzawhatsitsname and suspect I still haven’t seen much of the game. There are things to enjoy in DAO but that article analyzing the quest left me wondering something.

    Is the result of the quest displayed as an endgame vignette or does it manifest during playtime? In either case, that seems to harken back to the Fallout days and how even the most inconsequential looking stuff can have broad implication or results. Like leaving unknown progeny in New Reno (F2) after sleeping with the Bishop family’s daughter without wearing protection, or fingering the wrong person in a murder case only knowing that while the poor sod was lynched the true criminal remained unknown.

    I’ve also yet to see more of the Chantry’s belief. All I’ve done so far is watch a city get wasted by the Darkspawn (amusingly, a nod to Fallout’s Super Mutant rampage across the wasteland, something I clearly remember not a small number of people criticizing in Black Isle’s game since it deprived them of doing things in their own time, and finding the same people who looked down on that element welcoming it in DAO), unknowingly starting a lesbian relationship (pressing the wrong number key in dialog options is fun, apparently), saved a royal brat from demonic possession (and now off to find the Urn of Ash for his father), talked with everyone in the party camp and getting to know them better (to Bioware’s credit, the cast feels less annyoing than in previous games even if they’re still using the same personalities ever since Baldur’s Gate 2), and ventured into crypts, castles, forests. It feels like I’ve done a lot and there’s still a lot more to do. Can’t say I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done, which leaves me somewhere between bored by the same kinds of quests I’ve seen elsewhere before and looking forward to trudging on through the ridiculous blood soaked plastic figurines pantomining some sense of emotion thanks to the glittering gems amidst the mud.

    In particular, the reflection on that religion reminded me of Arcanum. It also expanded on Fallout’s consequences, like dooming a small mining city for the simple fact you never bothered to get rid of the bandits that demanded payment outside its gates, or how never giving a damn about the outdated and insular views of Cumbria’s king had the city die out in the face of progress. Arcanum also had a religion, one which was maintained by a degree of superstition, heresay and very rigid control over scriptures and truth by the church. Saints often weren’t, certainties were misguided, and the guy everyone prayed to and thought dead for centuries was actually living off in a deserted island, meaning the whole idea behind the religion was suddenly made bogus when you found him. It was, of course, unfortunately underdeveloped and muted but a refreshing change nonetheless.

    Racial and gender division also existed, particularly in the bustling city of Tarant, with women often excluded from “men only” societies, orcs under the boothill of humans and working as slaves (there’s actually a nifty bit where you can aid Donn Trogg to escape with his life and become a voice in the fight for their rights), elfs were seen with distrust (along the lines of outdated pagan dolts who could not see the marvels of technological progress), and disenfrachised members of a race living in squalor or doing menial tasks to earn a living (such as high class gnomes and dwarves having nothing to do with their lesser brethen because of their social status).

    I’m certain Bioware expanded greatly on these kinds of concepts, adding quite a bit of depth even when they didn’t had to but while that’s commendable, I can’t really look at that quest – or quests in DAO in general, admittedly from what I’ve seen so far – to be enormous achievements. They just took a decade to notice what the underdogs have been doing for years and seem to have come to the conclusion that an illusion of choice and false depth just don’t cut it anymore. Kudos to them if that is the case but I can’t shake the feeling that once again, they’re being praised for things that have passed by most people in the first place.

  38. Billzor says:

    I like Weezer.

    That is all.

  39. Lilliput King says:

    Kieron Gillen said:
    “Walking off to the Mage Tower for help was a ridiculous decision and deserved to be treated as such.”

    No it wasn’t. It was only a day away.

    KG

    Chalk me up as another one dissapointed by the ‘easy’ option for that quest. One day there, one day back, and an almost ridiculous amount of time sorting the mage tower out while there adds up to a whole lotta days. And on my triumphant return, no-one even mentions my absence, or the intervening period.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Lilliput King: This isn’t D&D, so resting doesn’t equal 8 hours or whatever. The tower is whatever my real-time took me to do, which is – what – 6-10 hours?

      I was glad to see a link between one part of your “Do these 4/5 things” tree and another part.

      KG

  40. 9Squirrels says:

    What I’m looking forwards to is buying a new PC. The current beast is about 6 years old now (an AMD Athlon 3500+, 2gb of RAM, Radeon X800 pro graphics card) and starting to creak a bit. Once I’ve done that, and purchased a nice widescreen 22-24″ monitor to replace my old 19″ 4:3 lcd I’ll be looking forwards to cranking some of my older games (TF2 and Torchlight) up to higher resolutions than I’ve ever seen before. Then I’ll try the same with a number of little games purchased during the Steam Xmas Sale (Osmos, Trine, Ghostbusters, the last of which I suspect won’t even run on my current rig).
    After that I’ll be looking forwards to finding some other nice shiny games to fill in my meager spare time with.

  41. kromagg says:

    I disagree with “zondagse gazet”, “zondagse krant” or “krant op zondag” works fine and is more universal.

    In any case, I always thought Hercule Poirot was a french speaking belgian (being belgian myself, I’ve never actually watched it). So wouldn’t it be more like “le samedi soir”? :P

  42. Daffs says:

    That horned-up version of Weezer absolutely makes the song.
    I need higher quality audio version!

  43. Zyrxil says:

    In the podcast, you mention how Bioware is subverting their own tropes, and how there’s even a couple on the Citadel in Mass Effect 2 that mocks the quest in Mass Effect where a couple asks you for advice on gene therapy for their baby.

    That couple rather pissed me off, for the sole reason that on Ilium, there is yet another random and trite quest where an Asari girl suddenly seeks your advice in whether she should marry her Krogran boyfriend and have a child with him, even though Krogans live as long as Asari. /palmface

    What the fuck, Bioware. Lessons obviously NOT learned. It’s not about lampooning tropes other people have identified in your game, or making fun of topics in your game that other people have made fun of. It’s about understanding WHY they were targeted and mocked as low-quality shit writing, something that clearly didn’t happen, with that quest at least.