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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays. Sundays are for staring into the abyss and then, when it stares into you, giving it the V. It might also be for rounding up a batch of the best writings in the game-o-sphere and laying them out for all to see.

  • This week’s links have been dominated by Starcraft II stories. There’s the story, via TeamLiquid, about the mum who learned the value of Starcraft II, which is worth a read, despite not really convincing anyone with that “oh children are the greatest” line of thinking. Then there’s this article on the Starcraft pros, which features the chap whose mum appears in the previous article. Finally there’s this article over at Edge Online which deals with the battle for control of Starcraft in South Korea. This time, it seems, Blizzard were ready to take on the organisations which had made so much money from e-sports in the years follow Starcraft’s original surprise success. Fascinating stuff.
  • Don’t like the idea of Farmville? You’re not alone, but I wonder if you’ve bothered to articulate that dislike with any kind of analysis of what’s not to like? Laurie Penny has, over at The Guardian: “The bitter irony, of course, is that FarmVille itself is a neo-feudal state, where rich virtual landowners exploit the free labour of virtual farmhands to make real profits. For all its evocation of rustic utopia, this and other farm simulations are ruthless markets whose exploitation of human emotion is anything but virtual.” Strong.
  • My comrade in game creation Tom Betts has been doing some research, and that included dissecting the work of Eskil “Love” Steenberg, interviewing the Dwarf Fortress mastermind Tarn Adams, and examining the work of Introversion. An extraordinary amount of good stuff in there, and I think the piece on Love is the most interesting. Tom is the programmer for my Channel 4 game, which got announced recently. More on that here.
  • For more game development thinkfood, have a look at Ace Team talking about how they reconciled 2D and 3D art styles for their crazy-looking art bowling project, Rock Of Ages. “Medieval art (Byzantine, Romanesque, etc.) doesn’t really have any 3D perspective, and has rather flat lighting and colors. You can use the same shapes and color palette, but if built completely in 3D a lot of the charm of the style is lost. Another concern was not hurting gameplay, where the navigation through the environment with the boulder (which plays much like marble games or racing games) needs the exact opposite: good perception of depth and perspective.” And the solution is intriguing…
  • Back at the Guardian and former Sunday Papers editor Kieron Gillen can be found having a chat with Dan “Dear Esther” Pinchbeck and some other shifty types. And, while we are in the land of podcasts, a few people have suggested that I link the Gamers With Jobs 1998 podcast. I’ve not listened to that yet, but it’s reportedly a fun time. (And a great time for PC games.)
  • Following various defences of the tabloid nature of the gaming press over the past few weeks, here’s a damning take from Chris Hecker, based on his own experiences with being quoted for the headline. It’s one of those stories that make you wince a bit.
  • A fun and informative list from Gamasutra, detailing the top 50 game developers in 2010, as they see it. What’s interesting about this – and makes it worth reading – is the number of times you can connect something you have seen in a game with the person actually responsible for it. It’s a real “Oh, he’s that guy” kind of a read.
  • More on the Marvel Brothel story from Harbour Master.
  • Prolific mod maker (or perhaps he should now be know more for his writing) Robert Yang talks about Gay (But Not “Gay”) Characters In Videogames. Here’s a crucial bit: “Insisting that difference along any lines, like sexuality (or race, in the case of Grace Holloway from BioShock 2) is “irrelevant” or “doesn’t matter” is a dangerous argument. I’m not sure what Western country you’re living in, but more often than not, being non-straight, non-male or non-white is going to affect your life in some profound way.” For this reason, says Yang, games need to deal with both sex, and with how all kinds of sexuality end up defining us.
  • The New York Times turns balancing the US deficit into a game. Sort of.

Right, I’m off to collect my binoculars scan the horizon for the arrival of my enemies. Music for this procedure will be provided by C418’s life changing moments seem minor in pictures. Yes, that’s the album from the chap who did the Minecraft music.

More soon!

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Jim Rossignol

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