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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for remembering the costumes from the night before. And were all those beers a good idea? It’s hard to say. Perhaps we can trade these thoughts for meat. Pig meat, to be precise. While the hot fat pops and sizzles, we shall browse a collection of internet wordthinks.

  • As part of Kotaku’s PC gaming week, they’ve been asking various industry types what they think the future of PC gaming holds. Riot Games’ Marc Merrill said that the capacity to respond to player feedback and change even fundamental designs as the game is played would be definitive of PC gaming: “The future of PC gaming is being responsive to players and letting them decide the direction and priorities of game development.” It’s something lots of people have been observing about online gaming for a while now. But we’re also beginning to see why that might not be such a great idea, aren’t we? Can we really afford to lose the priority status of the vision of the designer?
  • Christopher Thursten penned a cracking analysis of Metro 2033, largely by way of comparisons with Bioshock, which contains observations such as: “Near-simulation and sustained learning provide a connection to the world curiously missing from the majority of western games, and particularly Bioshock. What does it feel like to have your arm turn into a seething beehive? Apparently, it is much like shooting lightning from your fingers, or plucking a grenade out of the air with your mind, or by extension, firing a pistol or swinging a wrench. All require no more thought than a trigger squeeze.”
  • Margaret Robinson seems to be enjoying finding different, highly articulate ways to describe Minecraft. At the recent Playful event in London she used the game itself to present an explanation of what Minecraft is. Here’s another take by her. This snippet is particularly significant to my own thoughts on this kind of design: “It could be overwhelming, but the dependency structure within the game assures that it’s not. I need wood to make a crafting table, I need a table to make a pick, I need a pick to get stone, I need stone to get coal. The tech tree becomes the mission structure, as I seek out each thing to get the next, each a manageable, discrete task.”
  • Minecraft is not a 2D side-scrolling fighting game. Here is a history of 2D fighting games.
  • This is a week or so old, but I somehow missed it before. It’s Jeffrey Matulef talking about design in Assassin’s Creed and Spy Party. Matulef says: “Playing as a spy I was extremely self-conscious as every action I performed felt obvious. Adding extra stress is that you can see the sniper’s laser sight caressing the party goers. I’ve never felt the same kind of pressure in a stealth game before.”
  • Rob Fahey suggests that the real issue with California’s M-rated games law could be commercial censorship, with retail chains simply not stocking violent products, therefore destroying the boxed product market. Could be. Seems to me like that would simply usher in that purely-digital console generation a little bit faster. (And Fahey suggests that is the “real” issue, whereas I’d be inclined to suggest that the general threat of censorship to all media is probably a bigger deal.) There are other issues too.
  • The latest generation of 2D platformers is not just a burst of awkward nostalgia claims The Brain Gamer. “I say we’re witnessing an exhilarating burst of collective creativity among designers, drawing inspiration from video games’ richest mine. If you love side-scrollers, this is the best time to be a gamer since the end of the 16-bit era. We’re in the midst of a platforming renaissance, and that’s a thing to celebrate.” Bacon is also a thing to celebrate.
  • I enjoyed this piece on digital revision over on Pop Matters. “I am loath to put Portal’s new ending in the same category as “Han Shot First” and “walkie-talkies instead of guns,” but the revision comes dangerously close to the aforementioned instances of flippancy in terms of its disregard for the message found in the original version. Having Chell dragged back into the facility by an apparently new character undercuts the isolated, personal contest between Chell and GlaDOS.” The article also quotes Kieron, for some reason.
  • Speaking of men we love to hate: AskMen put Bobby Kotick in their list of most influential men 2010. It’s horrible because it’s probably true.
  • “But will it run off my USB, or does it require an external adaptor?” Japan’s latest android woman comes scrambling up the sides of the uncanny valley to give you horrendous basal-ugment feelings of unnaturalness. A real-life NPC.

Music this weekend comes from Tribe Of Astronauts’ Digital Space Birds, which I really just clicked on because of the name.

More soon.

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Jim Rossignol

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