The Sunday Papers

I still have to watch last night's Dr Who too

Sundays are for drumming your fingers until the servers warm up on a closed-Beta of a game and compiling a list of fine (mostly) games related reading from across the week, while trying to avoid linking to some piece of irrelevant pop music. Go!

Failed.

120 Comments

  1. Wilson says:

    I would not describe Mafia as a sandbox game. I loved Mafia, and would disagree utterly that it was ‘average’. But to keep on point, it certainly wasn’t a sandbox game, though it may have had elements that also appear in sandbox games.

    Just had to post quickly to defend the game :)

    • Jimbo says:

      Agreed. Mafia isn’t a ‘sandbox game’ and doesn’t pretend to be. It’s an ‘open world game’, sure, but it treats that ‘open world’ as most of us treat it – as that bit you need go through, in order to get from where you are to where you want to be. It isn’t there for jolly adventures and side quests; it exists primarily to give context and to ground the story.

      I would argue that Mafia offers one of the finest examples of video game storytelling from that time – or any time – and that the open world setting played it’s part in that.

      Somewhat unrelated, but Mafia also manages the rarest of all things in gaming: a satisfying ending. I remember it made quite an impact on me at the time, because games -and to be fair, most other media – had conditioned me to just expect -and accept a glorious and happy ending for the protagonist.

    • Wilson says:

      @Jimbo – Very true about the ending. Every time someone mentions Mafia it tempts me to play it again…

    • Choca says:

      Yeah Mafia flew a good five miles over the head of the guy who wrote this article.

    • Kryopsis says:

      The ending of Mafia reminds you what the game was all about. It is not the story of the protagonist, it is much greater than that. The title of the game is entirely justified.

    • qrter says:

      I bought Mafia through GamersGate, but when the tutorial was explaining the ridiculously overcomplicated driving mechanics to me, I knew this game wasn’t for me.

    • Schmitzkater says:

      Overcomplicated driving mechanics? I don’t remember those. Wasn’t it one key for accelerating, one for the brakes, two for steering and one for handbrake?
      Or do you mean the one extra key for you car’s cruise control?

      Anyway, completey agree on Mafia never intending to be a sandbox game. It was a game with linear story and missions, embedded in a (for the time living and breathing) city, that mainly served to underline immersion in the game’s world.

  2. WantOn says:

    Would the closed beta be for a certain cops-and-robbers affair this evening, per chance? Other than that, a nice list as usual.

    • Flobulon says:

      I was wondering the same thing. Perhaps an RPS organisation is in order.

    • WilPal says:

      APB!
      Is it any good? I have the Beta installer on my desktop but haven’t bothered with it yet.

    • Wilson says:

      @WilPal – I’ve played it a couple of times, and I think it’s certainly worth trying, because it isn’t something that’s really been done before (as far as I know, correct me if I’m wrong, people). I found it quite a laugh.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      Haha! My third time sending in a beta application and I finally got a confirmation email!

  3. BooleanBob says:

    Aww. Good articles all, but an opportunity missed, methinks. If you had been more effusive about Worms being in that top UK games list, and even a tiny bit less so about Robotron, we could have had the Rev in here ranting up a storm.

  4. The Pink Ninja says:

    Q: Why should we go into space?

    A: Closest thing to Freespace 3 we will ever get :'(

  5. mlaskus says:

    I loved Mafia, it followed a really great story and had a unique feel to it that kept me immersed all the time.

  6. pkt-zer0 says:

    Oh hey. “Why no cover mechanics for Starcraft 2? We tried it and it didn’t work.” But how could they resist INNOVASHUN!

    • KikiJiki says:

      Quite possibly because Starcraft 2 is not developed with you or I in mind, but for the professional leagues of South Korea et al.

    • mandrill says:

      Because they are Blizzard and don’t know what it is.

      (OT: could someone please fix the login so that:
      a) the form is on the front page
      and
      b) it doesn’t log me out of my own WP dashboard whenever I log in here, some cookies are interfereing with each other I think.
      Thanks)

    • Joe says:

      It’s a scientific exploration that’s being financed with limited resources and diminishing interest but which could ultimately be of huge importance. Meaning, who care if it’s robots or humans, provided that we keep pushing and finding out new things.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Cover wouldn’t fit in with Starcraft’s playstyle. In addition, you’ve already got chokepoints, and a huge advantage for having the highground, a cover system would just lead to more turtling.

  7. Sagan says:

    Saira being too similar to and too different from Knytt is an interesting point, though I would disagree about the how.

    On the one hand it’s too similar, and since everyone who plays it has already played Knytt, it’s not a particularly impressive experience, so I would imagine it gets less word of mouth because of that.
    The bigger point though would be, that you can’t really write a lot about Saira that hasn’t already been written about Knytt. I think that explains a lot of the silence.

    And then it’s too different. My point here would not be about the puzzles though, I liked those and I thought they fit.
    I think what’s too different is the atmosphere of the game. It’s just slightly darker and more serious than Knytt was. And it’s just slightly less fun to explore gloomy places than it is to explore lively places. Just the first images that I came across when searching for Knytt, were this and this. There is nothing like this in Saira. Sure, Nifflas did a great job of making those gloomy places interesting visually and rewarding to explore, but still they aren’t places that you want to spend time in.

    It still is a lovely game though.

  8. Severian says:

    The Warren Ellis article, like so much that Wired publishes nowadays, was atrocious. Poor logic based on facetious opinion (“all of these arguments are weak-minded bullshit”) and juvenile humor (“The only people clamouring for space launches to Mars to recover the wandering robot skateboard currently stuck in a sandtrap there are, well, the people who want to make it their android whore.”). He’s against robotic space travel because it doesn’t spark our imagination? Huh? Hasn’t he read Asimov? Watched Blade Runner? Robots in space = pure awesome. See: I can make facetious arguments too based on personal emotional opinion with no legitimate argument. Pay me.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      He might be making fun of robotic exploration, but he’s ultimately arguing *for* manned exploration. It’s an important point. Why should machines be the things that experience other worlds? You are underestimating how much we’ve relied on “emotion” to get us this far. Without it there would have been no space race, and likely no man on the moon. Going into space isn’t all about logic, so don’t go arguing that it is.

    • Robomutt says:

      Yup. Cocks to him.
      link to xkcd.com

    • Severian says:

      It might be just me, but when I see pictures from the Hubble, I “experience” those supernova and nebulae. When an unmanned spacecraft sends back pictures of Jupiter or Pluto, I “experience” those as well. Does an actual live human need to walk on Mars in order for me, a couch-riding non-astronaut, to “experience” it? Isn’t a robot just a technological and philosophical extension of human consciousness (not hippy consciousness, but “brain in a vat” consciousness)? Doesn’t sending a robot first (and human later) just make a hell of a lot of sense, from a purely safety standpoint? Etc.

    • mandrill says:

      So when you listen to a live recording of your favourite band, do you experience the concert in full? You miss out on a whole slew of data that your senses provide you with: The elbows of the people in the crowd next to you, the body odour, the pheromones eminating from the pores of those who are sharing the experience with you.

      Its the same with Space travel. A robot doesn’t let you feel the ground beneath your feet, or the difference in the gravity. A second hand alien sunset is filtered twice (once through the cameras on the ‘bot and once through your perception) and will be missing so much.

      This: “All of these arguments are weak minded bullshit and fail to address the central issue: if animals all live in the same place, one little accident can remove them entirely from the gene pool. And I didn’t spend all these years evolving the ability to operate a bottle-opener to have all possible minions immolated in one go. (It may be true that other biospheres are far less kind to human life. But so is Glasgow. We adapt.)”

      Is what I’ve been saying for years. We could all die here and everything we’ve achieved will be lost forever if we do. The further afield we are spread, the better.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Severian, yes, it’s absolutely an extension. But it’s an extension in the way that poking something with a stick is an extension. You might be able to get a feel of the poked thing because you can’t reach it, but it won’t be the same as having the thing in your hands to manipulate. I’m not going to argue against the value of extended consciousness – not least because it’s one of the major themes of a book i am writing :D – but you have to look at the limits.

      No one’s really saying we shouldn’t send robots, but there *are* people saying we shouldn’t send humans. The finance, hell the /emotion/, of the current situation is that we’re not getting off this rock, and so we should just let the machines do it.

    • Severian says:

      @ mandrill

      Yes, but…

      1. I can actually go to a concert. I don’t need a PhD in engineering & 1000 hours of flight time. Not many of us will actually ever be astronauts, so really, the argument is: is it different to us (the “common man”) to experience space exploration when another real human is doing it vs. a robot? I can actually see someone arguing that there *is* a difference between these two possibilities – based on our innate ability to emphathize with other humans’ experiences – but I’d say the difference is minimal, and not worth the disadvantages.

      2. I don’t see why robot-exploration is antithetical to human space exploration. As I say, doesn’t it make sense to send the probes/cameras/robots in first? Doesn’t that make it easier for us to figure out the best way to ultimately get out colonies on other planets? I too am in favor of spreading homo sapiens to other worlds – but why not use machinery and technology to do it?

      Why all the anti-robot hate?

    • BarneyL says:

      “The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn’t have a space program. And if we become extinct because we don’t have a space program, it’ll serve us right! ” – Larry Niven

    • stahlwerk says:

      I’m in the middle of my first Mass Effect playthrough, reading all the codices and even enjoying the mako sections a lot. It really is amazing how Bioware managed to create a believable history of space exploration and culture (safe for the element zero leap of faith / deus ex machina). And it is inspiring me to think about space as a romantic possibility again, instead of the cold, feature- and pressureless void it is so often depicted as in the recent discussions.

      Maybe since (if?) games can (could?) change an individual’s perception of human issues, someone should try creating a gripping game about or set in 10-20 years, during humanity’s first baby steps into outer space. (But don’t make it too german, i.e. exciting NASA budgeting simulator ;-) )

      Some sort of civilization-like game for all the steps between “yay rockets” and “alpha centaury roadtrip, anyone?”.

    • Samuel Erikson says:

      @Severian The arguments that Ellis called “weak minded bullshit” are just that, and endemic in arguments made by the American public. Please note that what follows is from an American perspective.

      In the past, people have offered me arguments against this. That we should fix our biosphere before running off to another one, for instance — as if we’re utterly incapable of doing two things at once. This sometimes leads to the further argument that the human race doesn’t deserve to persist, and that it is arrogance to wish to protect the species and its achievements. I personally believe that if that is your position, you may as well just kill yourself now. I’ll help.

      Ellis hits the nail on the head re:biosphere & incapability of multitasking. People make the same argument about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell–that the military should focus on getting out of X, and that it can’t do anything else while focused on X. See also: Gay marriage vs. fixing the economy. (Yes, yes, differences in scale, blah blah blah.)

      As for the types that want the human race to disappear, the fact that they’ve not killed themselves invalidates any argument they might try to make.

      People argue that the money could be better spent elsewhere. Honestly, that’s an argument that can be applied to pretty much anything. Imagine how many starving people could be fed if, say, a 100 per cent Simon Cowell tax was levied on any instance of Simon Cowell. Imagine if anyone caught spending money on Stephanie Meyer novels could be rendered down into their constituent chemicals and scattered on barren land as organic fertiliser.

      Many Americans think that NASA having a multi-billion dollar budget is insane, and that the money would be better spent elsewhere. What they don’t understand is that the US government has a budget that runs into the trillions. They simply can’t process numbers of that size. On top of that, they think NASA is doing nothing at all (part of this is NASA being bad at PR).

      The people making the first and third arguments are best described as the shithead contingent (they’re also generally right-leaning):
      link to thepaincomics.com
      link to thepaincomics.com

      As for those making the second, well… those are split fairly equally between the extremes of the left and right, but some good examples would be PETA and Dominionist/Apocalyptic Christians.

      All of these arguments have been made before and refuted before, but the people that continue to make them will never actually learn. As such, the only thing to do at this point is to dismiss them out of hand.

      [The robot thing is a different issue, and one that does merit quite a bit of further debate. I’ve mixed thoughts about it, and little interest in debating it.]

    • Bowlby says:

      “In the past, people have offered me arguments against this. That we should fix our biosphere before running off to another one, for instance — as if we’re utterly incapable of doing two things at once.”

      The thing is, with a limited amount of resources, wouldn’t we get the former done faster if there was more money to invest? And once that’s done and dusted, we could then refocus our efforts on space exploration.

    • Wulf says:

      All I’ll add to this is the logical approach…

      It’s very difficult to shield human tissue from all the crap that our atmosphere saves us from, if certain kinds of radiation slip through the shielding then the human astronauts are very dead. The point seems to be that we haven’t evolved to be equipped for space travel, and our Science is not yet at the point where we can deal with even the most boring and everyday dangers of space. Thus sending unmanned drones which are more durable and easily shielded than humans is the way to go.

      I’d love to be out there exploring the stars, too, because I’m a romanticist and I love stories, I’d love to have stories of space to accompany that, but as a realist it’s fair to say that until we can keep humans relatively safe out there, unmanned drones are a realistic option in the interim until we can. And it’s far, far more simple to replace a non-sentient unmanned drone than it is to replace a human life.

    • Wulf says:

      @Severan

      As an armchair psychiatrist I’ve actually seen–in person–and read about a lot of instances where a human reacts this way because humanity is behaviourally conditioned to believe itself the dominant species, and therefore gets an inferiority complex when other creatures are brought into play which could do things better. And this leads to a mindset where the person believes that a human must be involved in everything, from stories to space exploration.

      This has a lot to do with why people prefer seeing a human in a story because they honestly believe that they would be unable to empathise with a non-human creature, this includes just about anything and everything that isn’t human. I’ve asked people why they prefer humans in films and that’s the response I’ve received, always, invariably the same response. Then I point out films like Dragonheart and Wall-E, in which non-human creatures clearly convey emotions very, very well. And what I get is mumbled, token responses.

      People want humans in space for this same reason, because they’re afraid to believe that something could convey something to them as well as another human could, they’re terrified of the mere notion that something could do the job of a human just as well, and it makes it easier for them to sleep at night if they continue to see humans as some sort of Master Race that excels at every possible craft. In the curent day, a properly programmed machine can reproduce the works of an artisan with only on a 0.1% margin of error. And of course they don’t like that either, it’s machines stealing human jobs.

      This is a mindset that I try my best to break people out of, because it means that we want humans in our stories, humans in our history, and if we ever encounter a spacefaring race we’re going to come over as incredibly fucking narrow-minded and xenophobic.

      Point of this? I can be just as facetious as Warren Ellis with the other side of the argument, the only difference between myself and him is that I’m not a celebrity which people drool over.

      Further point of this? There can be romance in just about anything, not everything has to involve a human being.

      @Bowlby

      I completely agree.

    • TeeJay says:

      There is an argument that says money is best spent on robotic flight and having manned missions just adds to the costs and difficulty without giving any great advantages from the point of view of scientific research or even pioneering/prototyping future space travel.

      A different rationale is “adventure” and “marking our territory” – the former is also why people set store about ‘the first person to climb mountain X’ and the latter relates to the historical way of claiming ‘ownership’ of land – eg sending a naval captain to plant a flag and make a speech. This is more ‘metaphysical’ objective, rather than pragmatically saying that people are ‘needed’ or ‘useful’ on a Mars mission for example.

      People *should* argue about whether money could be better spent elsewhere whenever it is public money coming from tax revenues (unlike the spurious examples of people choosing to spend their own money on pop music or novels). “Spent elsewhere” doesn’t just mean having a debate about the relative size of the space budget versus road-building/schools/police/health/military/opera houses/etc, it also means debating the amount of space money allocated to paying for manned missions versus unmanned missions, and how much “value” each option offers. If the space budget (like any other) is finite then you have to ask ‘what can we achieve within this budget’ and ‘will doing manned missions mean less money for other space stuff’.

      I am not an expert on the current state of space travel technology but I’d hazard a guess that the most sensible approach is to at least continue *research* into manned flight, even if the next generation of long-range missions are all non-manned. Eventually the cost and technical challenges of adding humans will be far lower. Also pooling expertise internationally seems wise, rather than treating it like a “me-too” nationalistic pissing contest or a thinly veiled military arms race.

      Ultimately the public who are paying for space exploration have to decide what it is they are paying for and what they want to get out of it. Do they want the maximum amount of scientific knowledge and research or is it some kind of metaphysical ‘proving a point’: kind of saying “we have sent a human being to Mars and back, look at what we can do, aren’t we big and clever, wow I really feel better about myself and the future now!” kind-of-thing? How many extra billion dollars is this “feeling” worth over and above anything else useful that comes out of such a mission? How far it is necessary for sections of the public and media to have this kind of feeling before they are willing to keep financing the space programme overall – including the others bits which are too scientifically complicated to understand? And is this something scientists and/or politicians *should* be pandering to – or should they be trying to steer people towards “loving the robots” instead? Does the public – or anyone else – even understand what the future technical or scientific benefits could be anyway? After all “moon colonies” aren’t the big breakthrough of the space race and nowadays noone really sings the praises of long-range missiles – but the civilian uses of satellite communications and imaging are massively useful and looking out into space has become a new laboratory for physicists. Can we genuinely have any sensible discussion that revolves around “colonies on Mars”?

    • Gap Gen says:

      The reason the NASA plan was changed was because the previous one was a massive pipe dream of a president who thought that massive public spending and lower taxes constituted good economic management. Sure, he was a social conservative, but economically he was as far from conservative as you can possibly get. The new plan is one that is at least financially feasible.

      The main problem with human space travel is that humans really aren’t designed for it. Plus, there’s no commercial reason to go to Mars, unlike the New World 500 years ago. The Space Race was just two superpowers spunking public money on rivalling each other in Earth orbit.

    • Urthman says:

      Mandrill, seeing a band live is a lot better than watching a youtube video of their performance. But seeing Jupiter out the window of your spaceship or through the helmet of your spacesuit is probably going to be less amazing than seeing a video taken from a camera on a robot that can go places you can’t go and survive things (acceleration, too much gravity, too little gravity, radiation) that you can’t survive.

    • JuJuCam says:

      Regarding the romance of robots, I watched a fascinating documentary yesterday about the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, which was a 6 hour race of unmanned ground vehicles across a stretch of the Mojave desert. As the race went underway I found I was internally backing my favourite robo-car, cheering at its successes and worrying at it’s setbacks. Robots are awesome. The video is up on Google vids, shouldn’t be hard to find.

      On the subject of space travel, however, I do believe that exactly because sending men into space is so difficult it is worth persuing, while we are relatively rich in resources to make the attempt. It may come to pass that we simply aren’t able to colonize space because our world is too broken and depleted to even try, or a world killer asteroid is on a collision path and we don’t have time to do anything but hold our balls and pray. When that happens, will the legacy of our species be a human colony on Mars, or a fleet of automated rovers and probes, reporting beautiful images of the vast expanse to a deaf Earth?

    • El Mariachi says:

      @ Wulf

      And it’s far, far more simple to replace a non-sentient unmanned drone than it is to replace a human life.

      Not really. Not many people can build an interplanetary unmanned drone.

    • qrter says:

      People argue that the money could be better spent elsewhere. Honestly, that’s an argument that can be applied to pretty much anything. Imagine how many starving people could be fed if, say, a 100 per cent Simon Cowell tax was levied on any instance of Simon Cowell. Imagine if anyone caught spending money on Stephanie Meyer novels could be rendered down into their constituent chemicals and scattered on barren land as organic fertiliser.

      Yes, mr. Ellis, that argument can be applied to pretty much anything (well.. not really anyway, because Cowell and Meyer aren’t paid out of tax-collected dollars to start with) – which still doesn’t answer the actual question. Why should huge amounts of money be spent on this, instead of other things that cost huge amounts of money?

      I mean, that’s like if someone says “Whoa, that’s a large amount of money”, the other person saying “Yeah.. but if you spend it on something else, it’ll still be a large amount of money, so why think about it..”.

      @Urthman:

      But seeing Jupiter out the window of your spaceship or through the helmet of your spacesuit is probably going to be less amazing than seeing a video taken from a camera on a robot that can go places you can’t go and survive things (acceleration, too much gravity, too little gravity, radiation) that you can’t survive.

      No. Nooooo. I have never seen Jupiter out of the window of a spaceship or through the helmet of my spacesuit, but I am 99.9999% sure it would be an utterly mindblowing experience. Watching footage of a robot going about its business could never be even slightly comparable.

  9. Zaphid says:

    Yeah, criticizing a game for being true to the period is really silly. That would be like saying Arma doesn’t keep track of how many headshots you scored. The game was good, police wasn’t actually just a source of weapons like in many other games, you always had to judge whether it was worth to cross the line.

    If they want to blast it for not being good sandbox, I give them that, but not mentioning the story, which beats probably every single GTA to a bloody pulp with a baseball bat, should be criminal.

  10. Sagan says:

    In the Doctor Who discussion there was the idea that Tomb Raider might be better without shooting.
    Everyone who agrees with that should buy Saira. It probably is the closest thing out there to Tomb Raider without guns.

    • Wulf says:

      I really would like to love Sairah, but those tiny puzzles which seem to be biased against the visually disabled just put me off in the demo. If anyone knows Nifflas enough to actually get his attention, they can poke him about this, because that’s the sort of game I’d buy if I could actually play it.

  11. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I love the Sunday Papers. Always something interesting to read, that I missed during the week.

    Rob Fahey on the Digital Bill does come up with an interesting concept. But I think it is deeply flawed in scope. It’s not the “remix and parody culture” we should worry about. These are sub cultures founded on principles that will always exist in a society and will always (as they always have been in the past) occasionally targeted by copyright holders. The new tools aren’t going to change anything, neither they will give copyright holders new instruments they don’t have already. Rob’s bringing another bogyman to what’s already a bogymen party.

    I speak about why I defend laws like this on my blog. But on the followup article I’ll address the issue of the big bad wolf becoming bigger, and why should I care. You see, it just so happens laws like this give me and my small garage outfit finally(!) a real chance to defend my copyright without having to rob a bank.

    Nathaniel Berman on Pokemon’s, confuses realism with suspension of disbelief. The latter, a trait dependent on culture, age, own life experiences, etc.

    An 8-15 year old boy or girl are not really much interested in realism. And their permeability to suspension of disbelief is high. They are after all living the best years of their lives on what comes to their ability to move their minds into worlds of fantasy and imagination.

    Warren Ellis on space travel is my favorite article these Sunday Papers. That because I have this one big love affair with space. His words find a real chord with my own beliefs in this area. And it pains me greatly that I’m not currently living a moment in world history when humanity is actively engaged in exploration.

    • TeeJay says:

      “I’m not currently living a moment in world history when humanity is actively engaged in exploration”

      But you are.

      (It’s just the level of hype, media and marketing that’s changed)

  12. Thermal Ions says:

    I tried Saira, I believe after an article here on RPS, but it just didn’t grab me. I agree with some of the points in the article, particularly the puzzle / platform clash. I recall an annoying section fairly early on that I got stuck doing over and over – can’t recall if it was a timed one, or just having to get the boost and jumping at just the right second to make it – while consciously trying to remember which key did what. The story itself didn’t grab me much either – but then maybe I’m just a Philistine.

    The price, well it didn’t even come into it for me – I’d still pass it up if it was on 75% off steam special.

    The floor is now open for those aghast at how I could hold such views.

  13. Metal_circus says:

    To call Mafia average is barbarism. as has been discussed above, it’s story is one of the best in game history and the ending is utterly perfect and satisfying, a rarity in video games to say the least.

  14. A-Scale says:

    Only a tasteless bastard would not adore Mafia. If you want to go beat up hookers, play GTA. If you want a great story and the 30s mob experience, play Mafia.

    • AndrewC says:

      You know the mission in Mafia where you have to infiltrate a brothel to kill a prostitute-turned-informant? You get shown a picture of the lady at the start and are then charged with killing her. I, of course, forgot exactly what she looked like so, with heavy heart, decided to hunt down and execute every last cowering woman in the building – a ‘sandbox’ act far more ruthlessly horrible than thumping GTA’s whores with giant dildos.

      Of course, it turns out you just had to go into the right room and the informant-prostitute cut scene would be automatically triggered. So, really, my soul-killing act was only made possible by the deeply obtuse mission design of the game.

      But then, and I guess this is my conclusion, that I, and most people here I’m guessing, were willing to put up with that obtuse and often infuriatingly exacting and linear mission design is a testament to the sense of character, narrative and atmosphere that the highly limiting open world rules of Mafia gave. It all made sense, and so we accepted it even when it got Really Bloody Frustrating.

      So as Wilson And Jimbo said above – the writer of that article can’t seem to accept that an open world design decision can be used for lots of different effects, not just to create a knockabout playground. As such the article is just another example of the lack of perspective that leads to ‘i don’t like it, therefore it isn’t any good’ arguments. Oh well.

    • AndrewC says:

      Then again, is anybody here going to rubbish Just Cause 2? Or defend Scarface?

    • malkav11 says:

      Defend Scarface? Absolutely. It’s a surprisingly excellent game. And it does a lot more to incentivize the basic gameplay than any sandbox game up to that point. The whole point is to fuel a massive drug running operation in order to rack up piles of cash because cash buys you things. And unlike other sandbox games, they’re meaningful things. When you’re in the upper echelons of the game, you -feel- like a kingpin. You have henchmen. You have a private fleet of vehicles which can be delivered to you at a phone call. Radio? Screw that. You have your own private tape collection with tunes you can play at any time. You have a mansion that you can decorate as you see fit. You don’t do missions from random losers, you work on your own behalf and help other people only as it makes it easier to work your drug operation. You kill rival gangs both because their presence offends you and because when they’re gone your deliveries go more smoothly. Everything in the game is driven by the overriding goal of owning, as Montana himself says, “The world, Chico, and everything in it.”

      I also enjoyed the wanton carnage of the gunplay, the ludicrous swearing, the silliness of the “balls” meter (but so appropriate!), the ability to talk to just any ol’ random pedestrian.. lots of great stuff there.

  15. dhex says:

    having never read any of ellis’ work, i don’t know if being didactic is his “thing” or what.

    “And if you think that this is a good idea, just ask yourself how reliable your local rail service has been since deregulation.”

    hi warren, meet amtrak:

    link to en.wikipedia.or

    who runs amtrak, warren?

    thanks, warren. good night, warren.

    my prediction is that private space exploration will be at the very least far more interesting than state-run exploration, if not far more awesome.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Dhex: Warren *is* talking to a Wired UK audience about UK trains though.

      KG

    • dhex says:

      is he aware that nasa is not a uk agency? :)

      all of the local municipal rail agencies here – to my knowledge – are also state-run. iirc the BMT was the last to give up the ghost in the u.s., basically forced by fiorello laguardia into selling to the city.

      his point is poorly-argued, but the more salient issue is that anyone who says “people should pay billions to excite me” is probably underestimating the value of his excitation to the general public.

    • malkav11 says:

      Amtrak has, in my very, very limited experience with it, been a far more reliable and pleasant travel experience than bus or plane (albeit slower than the latter). The trouble is, there’s only one or two trains a day in most places that the trains serve and none at all in the vast majority of the country because people have opted out of using rail to get around and there’s no funding or public will to keep up the sort of comprehensive, useful train network that Europe enjoys.

      (America is also more sprawling and empty, granted.)

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Dhex: NASA being American is irrelevant when choosing an example to present to British people why moving transport from public to private hands can lead to questionable results.

      (It’s worth noting, my own agreement or disagreement doesn’t even come into it here.)

      KG

    • dhex says:

      Dhex: NASA being American is irrelevant when choosing an example to present to British people why moving transport from public to private hands can lead to questionable results.

      it’s easier for his audience to understand his rhetorical point, but it’s got nothing to do with the future of space travel/tourism/whatever. but the comparison is a bad comparison – like the rest of the article is a bad article – in that it’s a collection of non sequiturs revolving around “space travel is cool!”.

      a more 1:1 example about transit and transport would be the deregulation of both trucking and airlines in the u.s. by notorious republican free marketeer jimmy carter, but that would shoot his point in the head. this might put it out of its misery, but dude clearly knows shit about fuck. wikipedia tells me that this is apparently his m.o. and that it’s a bit like getting mad that tom clancy has an unbalanced view of american military projection across the world, so perhaps the real windmill tilting is my own.

      mal: amtrak is the corn subsidy of the rail travel world, which is why it’s run the way it’s run. it’s the worst combination of public inefficiency, private contractor malfeasance, political kickbacks and parasitic subsidies.

    • Fiatil says:

      Wait, are you using Amtrak as an example for a good privately owned rail service? Because err, that’s stretching it juuust a bit, what with the article you linked saying:

      “The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak (reporting mark AMTK), is a government-owned corporation ” and “All of Amtrak’s preferred stock is owned by the U.S. federal government. The members of its board of directors are appointed by the President of the United States and are subject to confirmation by the United States Senate. Common stock was issued in 1971 to railroads that contributed capital and equipment; these shares convey almost no benefits”‘

      Seems to me like it’s a “private corporation” only by the loosest of definitions.

    • malkav11 says:

      He’s using Amtrak as an example of how awful government-run rail is. When a) it’s not actually particularly awful, it’s just extremely limited and underutilized, and b) the existence of a bad government rail option in America wouldn’t really prove anything about British rail and the deregulation thereof.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      What he’s being is ridiculously americentric and showing an awesome lack of understanding of how to write, within a specified, limited wordcount, for an audience other than his own.

      In short, sometimes you can tell dhex wrote a lot for Gamers Quarter.

      KG

  16. Wulf says:

    Yay, I do like the Sunday Papers!

    This whole Digital Economy Bill does make me sad and for many of the reasons mentioned, if they measure suspicion by how much money one doesn’t channel into these useless monoliths, then I’m totally boned. I’m completely and utterly buggered. Most of my money goes out on strange adventure games, indie games, and things of the sort as those make me happy. It’s money that they can’t possibly track, and money that isn’t going to end up in the hands of the big boys. Even when I buy The Witcher 2, that’s yet more money that’s not going to those bozos.

    I would really love to think that the piracy of modern day isn’t really piracy at all, but most people realising what I’ve actually come to realise: The mainstream is boring. I’ve known that for years. And as much as I love Mass Effect 2 I’ve been having more interesting story experiences in a couple of days of Sleep is Death, despite me getting terribly confused as the controller at some point and making some hilarious cock ups. That’s just the way things are, these days. And the vast majority of what I have installed at the moment is indie. Not all indie works for me, but most of it does.

    As for the best UK game? I’m going to cause a few rolled eyes here and say Dizzy, because I had no end of love for the Dizzy series. Despite the fact that I really didn’t like the lives system, everything else about the game was actually really fun! But I had a lot of loved games on the home computers back then, and despite that, Dizzy will always stand to the forefront of my mind. Especially Fantasy World Dizzy. (Though Treasure Island Dizzy gets love from me for being a very strange entry and doing interesting, sandbox-y things that were way ahead of their time.)

    Sairah is a very interesting game for me and mostly because it doesn’t live up to the potential of Knytt/Knytt Stories, the problem is that Sairah had very tiny levels, and they were nothing like either of the Knytt games, I had to accept that at first, but the thing that really got me down and the reason I stopped playing? You know those puzzle bits that popped up? They could’ve taken up the full window and been really visible, but instead they were inside a tiny window in the game window, I couldn’t see anything. I used Windows Magnifier for 90% of the time I was playing that game. It got a little old so I got tired of it. Some indie developers are great with accessibility but not all of them are.

    If there’s one message I want to give indie developers: The gaming audience is getting older and our sight isn’t what it used to be, building some accessibility into your game and having the option to turn tiny things into bigger things–with scaling elements and font sizes–will not ruin your game, and those who suffer with visual disabilities will be far more incllined to actually buy your games. I’m sure I could have come to love Sairah despite it being so different from Knytt, but… :/

    Sleep is Death is an interesting phenomenon because you can do just about anything with it, if you want to spend 20 screens letting a bunch of characters philosophise then you can do that, and that’s interesting because you really have to be able to look at things from different sides to be able to do that, to present ideas from other angles. I’ve always taught myself that that’s a good thing to be able to do, taking after Grant Morrison in that regard, and so I took to the challenge. In fact, that can be as difficult as action scenes, where you’re forced to paint new art in a very short space of time.

    But anything that you can do with graphics and text you can pretty much do with Sleep is Death, and that can be a real eye opener, and a mind opener, too. If used correctly it can really involve the other player and leave them enthralled with the story. For that reason, it could also be a great tool to teach bright kids about things. One could write scripts about violence, drugs, and other considerations that would be easier for a child to understand in that kind of environment. Maybe I’m putting too much of an expectation on the intelligence of the average spod here, though, I don’t know.

    The kinds of things one can do with Sleep is Death are interesting though, and even go beyond both my ideas and his. Also, one other thing I’d like to say about Sleep is Death is that I’m grateful to Rohrer for making it really accessible. The icons are big, the text is big, I have no trouble seeing or controlling anything and it all works so well, no one complained about it being accessible either. We didn’t have anyone being a dick and complaining about the interface being too big or anything. So accessibility can and does work. Stop being so afraid of it.

    I loved Robotron 2064 but what I liked most about it is how it continued to evolve over the years. There were games like Smash TV and Robotron X which really evolved the genre, there was the odd throwback that did nothing for the series (I’m looking at you, Geometry Wars) but they were drowned out in better games like Bullet Candy and Everyday Shooter. It’s nice to be able to see the path of evolution in a genre so clearly, and with perhaps Everyday Shooter being the most evolved example, and Robotron 2064 being the least, one can almost track the introduction of ideas all the way up. There have been plenty of other arena shooters too, where one controls with one stick and shoots with the other, all inspired by Robotron 2064.

    Pokemon? Eh. I always preferred Monster Rancher. …why are you looking at me like that?

    I always felt that Warren Ellis was the poor man’s Grant Morrison, or maybe I just still hold a grudge against him for being such a dog hater, so I’m going to skip over that. Sorry.

    And that’s about all I feel qualified enough to talk about, this week!

    • Wulf says:

      Addendum.

      One thing I’ll add is this: I’m sorry if I offended anyone with the absence of things said about Mafia, but if I really did go to any lengths about it I’d just be a voice lost in the crowd. I liked Mafia for being different, this should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who knows me, but I can’t really say that better than other people have. So… if I have nothing to add…

    • A-Scale says:

      I read nary a word of that. TL;DR can’t begin to explain my feelings about your textblock.

      EDIT: Ironically, I rarely read more than the word “A-Scale” at the top of a comment for it to be TL;DR for me. I’d normally have deleted such an unhelpful comment, but because it’s got so much talk beneath it, I’m going to keep it and an Edit stating that it’s out of order. A-Scale. Grow the hell up and stop being so rude. – KG

    • Wulf says:

      “I read nary a word of that. TL;DR can’t begin to explain my feelings about your textblock.”

      That’s okay. My philosophy is this: If you can’t be bothered to read, and read properly, then whatever I have to say is likely not meant for you.

      What I will say is that there’s a massive difference between being lazy or being unable to understand. The lazy person is either not going to bother to read, or worse, they’ll make a half-arsed attempt at reading and then they’ll jump to conclusions. Of the two, I’d honestly prefer the former, so I suppose I should thank you. I do ramble and that encourages questions, if I say something that seems strange or even incomprehensible on the surface and someone asks me about it, that’s fine, I love questions. Questions are awesome. Questions are just as good as when someone actually reads and understands my point of view.

      And to be honest, I’d rather have someone not read what I have to say than twist my words and make out that my harmless opinion is some sort of campaign against their existence, laid out in a very objective and inarguable way.

      Maybe that’s why I write a lot in the first place. Maybe I should be writing even more in order to scare the half-arsed sorts off, there’s a thought.

      That was actually quite enlightening, thank you.

    • Markoff Chaney says:

      Hear Hear Wulf! If one can’t be bothered to read proper word thinks, they might prefer other gaming news sites. I, personally, love reading your thoughts and the majority of our posters within our fine community. Keep the cogent intelligent turn based conversations going, good RPSers, even if I primarily lurk.

      RE: gaming with disabilities – While I still have some functionality left in my ears, I won’t play an adventure, RPG or the like without subtitles. Too many concerts as a youth and too much time spent right by my bass stack with unprotected ears in years gone by. I can imagine how disappointed I would be with my favorite hobby if my legally blind eyesight couldn’t be corrected with lenses to allow me to go at least to 20/20.

    • sfury says:

      @Wulf – awww, you’re just a graphomaniac, admit it! ;]

      with that said – I did read large parts of your comments

    • qrter says:

      I have to confess, I skip most of Wulf’s longer posts. Nothing against the guy, but he could use an editor.. ;)

    • MD says:

      For the record, I certainly appreciate Wulf’s comments. I don’t agree with everything he says, and I don’t read everything he writes. But when I’m in the mood, they’re great. Always thoughtful, often personal, usually entertaining. And shit, they are a brilliant antidote to the “caring isn’t cool, and making an effort is a sign of vulnerability! Let’s all spout memes and one-liners and be generally unpleasant” attitude that pervades so much of the internet these days. My only regret is that I’m usually either too lazy or too stupid to engage in some of the more interesting discussions that happen here. Takes all kinds though, I guess! But one Wulf/Vunraith/other thoughtful commentor is worth a hundred of me.

    • MD says:

      Heh, “Vunraith”. My apologies.

    • Gassalasca says:

      Sometimes I read Wulf’s walls of text, sometimes I don’t. Usually I find them thoughtful and compelling. But I always feel he could have said the exact same thing as effectively using less words.

    • MD says:

      Perhaps. (And perhaps not.) But brevity isn’t everything.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I’ve edited a comment on A-Scale’s post. That sort of unsolicited commentary isn’t welcome.

      Wulf: I think you’ll find I’m the poor man’s Grant Morrison.

      KG

  17. malkav11 says:

    Also, I may be a philistine, but not only have I not played Saira, I have not played Within a Deep Forest or any of the Knytt games.

    I know, I know, I should, they’re free. But I haven’t.

    • Wulf says:

      If my opinion is worth anything to you, you should play Knytt Stories and perhaps Knytt if none of the others. Knytt Stories is a beautiful and well constructed little thing which I can’t find fault with, it also has numerous player levels available for it. And if nothing else, I believe that everyone should experience Don’t Eat the Mushroom at least once.

    • MD says:

      I haven’t played Knytt Stories yet, but I would definitely recommend Knytt if you’re at all interested. It’s low-stress, and doesn’t take very long to complete. It’s also a really refreshing, beautiful experience.

      I enjoyed WADF as well, but that’s a rather different beast. It’s certainly charming, but it’s a bit more of a ‘gameplay’ game, rather than an ‘atmosphere’ game. It’s actually wonderfully atmospheric, but you have to enjoy a bit of a challenge to appreciate the game, I think.

  18. Bret says:

    Wait.

    That UK gaming list.

    Isn’t, well, UFO: Enemy Unknown from the UK?

    Why isn’t it on the list, while stupid Goldeneye is?

    • Wulf says:

      …that’s a thought, isn’t it?

    • Starky says:

      Yup, Mythos games are British, but most people link the game with MicroProse (the American Publisher) I think, and forget that it was a British Designer who made the game.

      Still failing to include it is a crime – given it is probably the greatest PC (in the personal computer original meaning) game of all time, as much as I loved Worms and Lemmings, they didn’t even come close to X-Com.
      Only Frontier Elite did (I missed Elite somehow).

    • Mr_Day says:

      Taken from the piece on GTA in that article:

      “As pedants though, we do have to point out that ever since the studio took the name Rockstar it has been a subsidiary of Take-Two, who are based out of New York. Fortunately, the GTA series first kicked off back when Rockstar North was still an independent developer called DMA Design – so the first few games in the series definitely qualify for our purposes.”

      Some of the other games their have publishers that are’t British, but didn’t warrant that disclaimer – it almost seems that any form of American involvement warrants claiming something to be American.

      Like victory in WW2. OH SNAP!

      I’ll shut up. It is for the best.

    • TeeJay says:

      I don’t think they properly explored the argument about what makes UK ownership “important”. They implied that when a small UK development house becomes part of an international (aka foreign-owned) company then talent and money is sucked out of the UK and invested elsewhere, but they didn’t actually go into concrete details about this process. Also consolidation has happened to small studios everywhere – lots of smaller US studios were bought out and cpnsolidated by and others – not just UK ones – and typically operations were maintained in each country during this process.

      Another way of looking of looking at ‘foreign ownership’ of UK companies (not just game developers) is that the UK is an attractive place for people to invest and that overseas investors don’t always simply “suck out” all talent, investment and activity but often put things *into* the UK. It can also help improve the “survivability” of a company in an international market.

      There is a question of how far it really matters who “owns” a company, as long as it hires and employs people within the UK, invests money in UK-based operations, takes inspiration from UK culture and ideas and releases well-priced and decent products onto the UK market? IE. Not who owns it, but what it actually *does*.

      It was a bit disappointing that the UK-week stories didn’t have many hard numbers – eg number of UK developers working, number of UK games released, vauie of sales of UK games. It didn’t go into how many UK developers have switched to working overseas. All in all it was a bit vague and subjective about everything.

    • Mr_Day says:

      @TeeJay

      Fair points all. If Rockstar née DMA* are still using their original staff, but are funded by someone else, it shouldn’t change how you view their output. But what if this new found investment also meant that this foreign investor suddenly had say in how the company is run? I am mostly thinking of EA here, back when they took ownership of companies like Bullfrog and told them to make Theme Park games until they were all re-assigned**.

      * Hey, it still works. If you assume Take Two married them.
      ** OK, here I am just being a dick, but you see my point. Yes, I do know that EA don’t do it anymore.

  19. bhlaab says:

    That Mafia article seems to carry the hypothesis that a good open world game is all about side missions and dicking around. “Can I…?” being answered by “Yes”
    But they also sing the praises of San Andreas, which, when you get into an actual mission, they’re all completely linear. They tell you exactly how to accomplish your goals. If you deviate from the plan, you fail. Can I avoid the car chase by finding a good sniping spot and taking out my target fom there? NO. Go in through the front door or nothing at all.
    Sure you can go shoot pool, but when the main attraction isn’t a sandbox what’s the point?

    I’d love to see a GTA game that approaches its missions like a Fallout game.

    • TeeJay says:

      There is always the “Far Cry 2″ method of giving you choice about how to take out, for example, a weapons truck convoy – suddenly appearing from nowhere (on another part of the map) and driving round and round in circles.
      I’m not sure what happens if you never get round to taking them out. An endless circlular route and all other missions locked?
      Far Cry 2 = the marmite of sandbox games.

    • Vinraith says:

      @TeeJay

      Yeah, much as I enjoyed Far Cry 2 I think Red Faction Guerilla got the “convoy interception” thing down much better. They travel a known route with a beginning and an end, you pick your point of interception, if they make it to their destination you just fail the mission. It also made for some great “oh shit, I fouled up the interception, I have to find a way to get ahead of them again” cross-country driving.

    • bhlaab says:

      Far Cry 2 is a pretty good model for open world design, but the execution is a bit fouled up. Well, more than a bit. Plus it just doesn’t have the variety that a mission-centric game needs.

      It’s strange, GTA 3 did allow for quite a bit of outside the box thinking when it came to missions. But they seem to have ditched that in favor of “cinematic” gameplay (ie: watch our cinematic, don’t play the game)

    • Vinraith says:

      @bhlaab

      Far Cry 2 is one of those games that could have been made into something truly spectacular if it had allowed modding.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m with Vinraith on this one. Whilst I thought that FC2 did a decent job, it was really RFG that nailed the feeling of having a mission which you could really approach how you wanted. At any point, from any angle, with any weapon, and the game was setup to deal with it. In fact, so was Saints Row 2, even more so than Grand Theft Auto, as I recall. It’s just that that developer is very good at creating that sort of sandbox. To me, their games represent the purest sandbox.

    • bhlaab says:

      I haven’t really played RFG because my core2duo can’t handle it particularly well but it seems to me that it suffers from some of the same underlying issues as Farcry 2– it’s an open world game hinged upon one central concept (infiltration and shooting in fc2, destruction in rfg) and I don’t think that’s enough to sustain a sandbox environment.

    • Vinraith says:

      @bhlaab

      Your impression is not incorrect. RFG’s destruction is a lot of fun, but wears thin after awhile, and the gun play is far inferior to FC2’s IMO. When all was said and done, while both felt a little light from a gameplay/scale ratio standpoint, I played all the way through (and thoroughly enjoyed) FC2 but abandoned RFG by the midpoint. Nevertheless, RFG does a lot of things right.

    • JuJuCam says:

      Just like to pipe in here and mention that a recent patch has cleaned up most of the reasons RFG is considered a “bad port” on the PC so if you were experiencing unnaturally high speeds and other issues it’s a good time to give it another try.

      Unfortunately, it’s gonna be too little, too late for most people. For my part Just Cause 2 has pretty much ruined my expectations of this genre and I now find RFG that much more difficult to enjoy.

      Vinraith, I had the opposite reaction to these games to you. I found FC2 tiresome before the second map opened and knowing it was coming I gave up on it before I even reached it. RFG got annoying towards the end but I still found it enjoyable enough to play through to completion.

      Agreed about modding, though. Why release a game at all on PC without modding capability when it provably extends the product lifecycle of the title?

    • bhlaab says:

      No, i was experiencing unaturally slow speeds whenever a sizable structure collapsed even on the absolute lowest settings possible.

  20. clive dunn says:

    Is Obama the new Dr Beeching?

  21. Mac says:

    KG kept this quiet …

    link to forbiddenplanet.com

  22. drygear says:

    I’m really digging the mashup. I haven’t heard the Bjork song it comes from, but I think I like this better than Way Down in the Hole.

  23. Angel Dust says:

    Could someone please explain to me what is so brilliant about Mafia’s story? Now before you all start getting angry with me allow me to say that it’s certainly not terrible but it’s little more than hodge-podge of gangster cliche’s. Now that wouldn’t actually really be a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that the game has ZERO character development. None of the characters (bar Tommy) are fleshed out at all beyond the generic archetypes they are based on (the Don, the Joe Pesci guy, the bespectacled accounts/lawyer man) and many scenes fall flat because the emotional connection to the characters simply isn’t there. The reason the ending works so well is because Tommy is fleshed out quite well and therefore we have an emotional involvement in the scene but at no point do Paulie, Sam, Frank or Saleri feel like my friends/comrades. The problem is that story escalates far too quickly into the Mob-war. It needed a larger first act, with more missions of day to day Mafia business and much, much more in the way of dialogue whilst driving. That might have made many of the long drives more interesting too.

    Despite all that I did still enjoy Mafia because of the varied mission design, a keen sense of how to set a scene and the well realised city. I also actually liked all the restrictions like speeding tickets, red-lights etc and had no problem at all with the less open ‘open world’.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I don’t remember where exactly, so this has to go without a quote and you’ll have to take it a face value, but I remember an interview where it was said there was a clear intention to stick to the Mafia stereotypes and the game was largely based on mafia movies ans series. Sopranos, Goodfellas, Godfather, etc.

      So there may seem to exist an intentional collage of these stereotype. Which invariably does render any criticism going that way a bit pointless.

    • Schmitzkater says:

      As far as character development goes, there was actually quite a lot going on there, even if it wasn’t as in-your-face as Tommy’s was.

      When (SPOILER ALERT, though I really don’t think that’s needed for Mafia anymore) Sam suddenly turns on you, I was actually pretty devestated. This was a guy that we did a lot succesful missions with, he seemed reasonable, and we even saved his life in one of the earlier missions. He just has that moment, when he realizes that he HAS to choose sides.
      Sam reveals that to Tom, during the opening of the last mission in the museum, and its one of the first times you get to see him have to make a choice for either his own life being save and secure, or, trying to save his friends lives but possibly messing up his own in the process.

      There’s the Don, who you’re never quite sure about. Where does he stand, does he actually abuse his “family”, make more money than he lets on and bring everyone into big danger in the process (as seen during the diamond shipment)? Or is he the straight-up guy he actually pretends to be in front of Tommy all the time?

      Sure, many times these are more reveals of the characters, rather than developments, but those are happening just as well.
      Paulie realizing the Don isn’t what he thought him to be all those years, Frank valueing his family’s and his own well-being higher than that of the Salieri Family and finally Sam having to decide for his traditional, well-led life or risk losing it for that of his friends are crucial ponts in the story and the character’s development, but pretty much all happening subdued and in the background.
      It is Tommy’s story, after all.

  24. Grape Flavor says:

    What’s so terrible about this Digital Economy Bill anyway? It sounds pretty good to me. Admittedly my knowledge of it is based on a quick Google search.

    Personally, it’s always struck me as funny how as soon as you mention the internet everyone’s ideology morphs into hardcore anarchism. What started this whole idea anyway, that the internet is some hallowed ground where laws should never be enforced and is not subject to common sense regulation like every other aspect of life? People seem to accept the idea of government making laws to protect a fair economy, but as soon as you bring the internet into it everyone cries “FASCISM” and takes to the streets. Maybe people got sucked into the idea that the internet is some totally anonymous new dimension where none of the old rules apply and actions have no consequences. Well, it’s not. It’s part of the mortal world just like everything else. No one’s any more entitled to criminal jackassery on the internet than when they’re walking down the street.

    So educate me, what’s the big deal here? RPS writes about it like it’s the Apocalypse, please explain this to me. I don’t want to turn this into a discussion of whether there should even BE copyright law or not, I’m quite sick of having that awful conversation. Just tell me what, if any, hidden clauses are in this act that make it so horrible.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      I read the article in the Sunday papers here and all the guy does is go on about how this bill “favors” big corporations over individuals, without actually analyzing the issues being debated. If the big corporation is in the right and the individual is in the wrong, I say go for it. I’m sick of this pseudo-Marxist Michael Moore philosophy where all business entities inherently “deserve” to be slapped down regardless of how valid their position is or how flawed and/or illegal the “little guy’s” position is. Sound like this guy is just a piracy apologist who gets outraged when the laws are actually enforced.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      The Big Corporation criticism slightly annoys me too. Mostly because it is so disconnected from everything else. As if everyone hates economies of scale, free markets and capitalism. Or if anyone really expects a large corporation will not take the natural step of protecting itself. It’s just pretty much insane to reach a certain size and not starting to lobby in order to protect yourself.

      Meanwhile, people tend to forget that the big business brings in a significant share to a country’s GDP, which invariably acts as a proxy to the standard of life that allows for the subsistence of a wider middle-class and the benefits it carries. Like… oh, I don’t know, buying games and paying for internet access where one can pretend they are all Marxists.

      It’s funny because very few really want to think in terms of the other side of the equation.”I want to make my backups! I want to get my pdf version! The government is evil! The big business owns the government, etc”. They criticize the big business for looking at his own belly, when in fact they are looking at their own belly themselves (and for much less). A parody of demagoguery. Especially when the vast majority of the pseudo-marxists would never turn down an yearly 1,000,000 employment opportunity on the big business. Just so they could buy more games and faster computers.

      Yeah.

    • Tei says:

      On countrys where the corporations have free control, the ecosystem is destroyed and the populace is slighty more than slaves.

      Get a grip, guys.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Absolutely Tei.

      But I’m directing my criticism only at the “Big Companies Suck” mentality that is the extent what many can muster. Not at those that lighten up and at least can limit that phrase within a certain context.

      In any case, governments in your country, mine, and generally elsewhere have in place many laws to regulate businesses and their actions. In fact businesses, despite what many perceive them to be, are highly regulated in countries like UK, France, Germany and USA. So I’m not really sure what countries you are talking about. Unless you mean China. But that is really a terrible example to give.

    • Jay says:

      As far as I’m aware, if a corporation knows somebody is infringing their rights, then they can take the individual to court over it, and they should exercise that. But why should a corporation waste its valuable time and money taking somebody to court for a fair trial when they can get the government to impose responsibility elsewhere and have the tax payer cover the expense. We’re all criminals anyway, otherwise they wouldn’t have wanted to censor the web too.

      Besides, it’s not even the content of the bill which was most concerning. It’s the circumstances under which is was proposed and passed.

  25. the wiseass says:

    Warren Ellis wrote Transmetropolitan, that guy will be forever right in my book. Even more so after I read that space article.

  26. RobF says:

    The Saira article is a bit weird isn’t it? I mean it’s good for opening up the indie/press issue once more but the reasoning behind the article is barmy as heck and full of oddities.

    The paragraph following on from Missing The Platform is just out and out bizarre. Nifflas=superstar of indie, amazing designer, hey indie kids like platform games, puzzle games are ace, platform+puzzle game+level editor+lots of levels+SUPERSTAR DESIGNER=inevitable win surely? What? Huh?

    I’d argue that most people don’t have the foggiest -who- Nifflas is nor do they care. It’s arguable whether that’s the way wot things should be or not but such an odd default position to come from. I know the “indie scene” (with deliberate quotes, natch) often overstates the importance/celebrity of those who surf within the good ship indie but a bit of perspective might help here.

    And the price thing:

    “Saira was in the exact same position as VVVVVV – it seems to have been left out of this discussion simply because Nifflas wasn’t vocal about it, while Terry Cavanagh was.”

    Was he? Where? Missed that.

    I’m sure there’s many reasons for Saira not being uber mega successful, I’m not sure any of them are touched upon in the article bar the brief mention of the uncomfortable way the platforming/puzzling is paired up.

  27. Angel Dust says:

    It’s obvious that Mafia was intended to be a homage to all those classic gangster films but its non-existent character development means it never rises above the level of pastiche. Ok, so we have the live-wire, right hand man but flesh out those characteristics in THIS story, don’t just rely on a model that has a passing resemblance to Joe Pesci and don’t TELL me he is my, the player character’s, friend, SHOW me. Build the relationship through missions that involve us helping each other out with personal favours and through some ‘off-the-clock’ conversations between missions. GTA IV’s friend system rightly gets lambasted for the way it’s implemented but the idea has some merits. Mafia in fact had a great place in Saleri’s for fleshing out the relationships, without that needy-driving-all-over-the-city-bullshit of the recent GTA games, between characters, but never used it effectively. Paulie and co would always say “I can’t talk now’ etc and intially I assumed that Saleri’s was going to be used as a hub to touch base and ‘chat’ with your fellow mobsters but that was sadly not the case.

    • Angel Dust says:

      Bah, fucking wordpress! This was intended to be a reply to Mario Figueiredo a few posts up.

  28. Mr_Day says:

    Read ‘their’ as ‘there’.

  29. nam says:

    it is all about heroes, without astronauts there are no heroes… and no dreams.

  30. Spinoza says:

    Me likes the Tom Waits vs. Bjork … nice one

  31. Urthman says:

    No. Nooooo. I have never seen Jupiter out of the window of a spaceship or through the helmet of my spacesuit, but I am 99.9999% sure it would be an utterly mindblowing experience. Watching footage of a robot going about its business could never be even slightly comparable.

    I’m guessing you mean the feeling of “OMG! I’m really here!”? Because the view out your porthole or faceplate is, objectively, going to be much worse than watching the same view from a video camera on a nice big screen.

    The problem is that once you get over the “OMG! I’m really here!” feeling, you’re going to find that most of exploring the solar system in person is going to be less immersive than or at best indistinguishable from exploring it by remote control with robots and cameras. Either way there’s going to be lots of steel and glass and screens and electronics between you and the rest of the universe.

  32. manveruppd says:

    Second time in a week that Kieron has mentioned Tom Waits, or is it me? :p