The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for not actually being attached to your node of Precious Mother Internet, and instead wandering around in the midwinter gloom of a holiday camp, somewhere in The West. Fortunately, you have already prepared a list of interesting web-materials for other people to browse through, and need only set it in motion…

  • Do you read much of Troy Goodfellow’s blog? You probably should. Here he is writing about the Aztec national character, as seen through the lens of Civ. He’s doing a bunch of similar Civ posts. But there’s lots more, like this look back at Soldiers Of Anarchy. The podcast is worth a look, too. So go look!
  • The increasingly outspoken Mr Minecraft has had a thing or two to say about piracy this week. “If someone pirates Minecraft instead of buying it, it means I’ve lost some “potential” revenue. Not actual revenue, as I can never go into debt by people pirating the game too much, but I might’ve made even more if that person had bought the game instead.” It’s just common sense, eh publishers?
  • Simon Parkin’s piece on videogame music is definitely worth a look. I wrote something covering similar topics a couple of years back.
  • I agree with the principle of this editorial on the need for new experiences within mainstream games. Limbo is a clever example to run with, too. Limbo was pretty, atmospheric, and had some clever puzzles, and it’s exactly the kind of thing that someone like me will point out is an old fashioned trial-and-error, death-fail side-scroller. I’m personally not clamouring for many more of those, which is kind of the point the author is trying to make here, I think.
  • 1C UK’s Darryl Still talks about the relationship between retail and digital distribution: “To recap: on a sale over the counter today, we can have our £3 by the end of March, or on a digital sale, we can have £20 by Christmas. Remind me why we should choose to go with retail and decline to let Steam sell the game?”
  • Also on the topic of games distribution, the master of the Bargain Bucket, Lewie Procter, has created an awards event for the most bargainous bargain platforms – retail, digital, and miscellaneous – of the year. Comprehensive!
  • The Wall Street Journal examines the appeal of Angry Birds (the mobile game, obviously): “The author Salman Rushdie in a recent radio interview called himself “something of a master at Angry Birds.” And comedian Conan O’Brien posted a YouTube video recently to promote his new talk show, in which he boasts that he’s on level four of Angry Birds.” Maybe, but I’d kick your arse at Quake, Salman!
  • More from Meer on the PC landscape and future after the graphics card wars. (Registration required!)
  • Also, Meer points out this video of a special new gun, which is about as frightening as things can be.
  • A couple of interesting observations about the possibilities for applying psychology to game mission design: “34% of people who got a 10-stamp card with 2 freebies ended up coming back enough to redeem the cards, compared to 19% of customers who started with an unstamped card requiring only 8 stamps.”
  • The Irrational Podcast interview thing features Zack Snyder. Worth a listen.
  • Spacelog is awesome. Also note how crude some of the tech is: they were navigating Apollo rockets by looking at the constellations.
  • This dude’s art needs to be a game.

If I were listening to music right now, which seems like something I might do, then it would probably be this. I’ll be seeing you next week, Sunday Papists!


  1. DJ Phantoon says:

    This… week? Notch’s post is from September 14 (I wondered why it felt like I had read it before)

    Maybe the wrong link?

    • Auspex says:

      He re-linked to it on Twitter after talking to some politicians.

    • Andreas says:

      Kind of disagree with Notch on piracy – yes, you’ve only lost potential revenue, but if you NEED that potential revenue to break even, you’ll still go bust. Ask Bizarre Creations. Assuming none of the people who pirated the game bought the game is a bit strong, just like taking the industry line and assuming all of the people who pirated it would have bought it.

    • frymaster says:

      it’s worth pointing out that notch is also undergoing a mini-backlash from parts of the (rediculously rabid) minecraft community, as he’s pointed out that since current single-player mods are derived by decompiling his code and then re-releasing the modified modules, it’s not something he approves of, or will discuss or endorse.

      (Of course, he’s considering adding in a proper modding API, but that’s for the future)

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      @Andreas: Why are you namedropping Bizarre Creations here? Them going under had nothing to do with piracy.

    • jalf says:

      @Andreas: what you “need” isn’t relevant though. If you “need” to win the lottery in order to not go bust, that still doesn’t mean you’ve “lost revenue” by not winning it.

      His points still stand: when people pirate a game, the owners don’t *lost* anything, other than *potential* revenue.

    • Nobody Important says:

      If you need potential revenue to survive, you picked the wrong business plan.

    • Chris D says:

      “If you need potential revenue to survive, you picked the wrong business plan.”

      Doesn’t that describe all start up businesses?

    • mastersmith98 says:

      I think what Andreas is getting at is that most big publishers or small companies that aren’t quite indie rely on this business model of having a budget that is recouped with sales, but also makes enough profit to be a viable revenue stream. While this isn’t the case with most Ubisoft games, who are just disappointed by the expected revenue of the game and think they can force users to buy their games by having tough DRM solutions, some developers stake whole percentages of their company’s stock in order to fund their first few projects hoping that they’ll be able to make enough money to not have to sell anymore of the company off.

    • DrGonzo says:

      It’s shitty business models sending them bust. Stop spending all your money on one product and risking everything on it. Make smaller games, release more often and launch as many games as you can at the same time. It’s what TellTale do and it’s made them huge and successful.

      Or just keep blaming piracy and don’t address the real issues.

    • Jimbo says:

      “…I can never go into debt by people pirating the game too much…”

      *He* might not be able to, as he has already more than covered his development costs, but others less fortunate could quite easily find themselves in debt as a result of piracy.

      All ‘actual revenue’ was ‘potential revenue’ at some point. Without potential revenue there cannot be any actual revenue. At some point you are losing potential revenue which *would* have become actual revenue were it not for piracy – no, you cannot point to a single act of piracy and say that is the case, but it is reasonable to say so if you consider piracy as a whole.

      You will lose *some* sales due to piracy, and if there are enough- enough to make the difference between breaking even or not- then you could quite rightly say that you are in debt due to piracy.

      Of course, you could replace ‘piracy’ with ‘anti-piracy measures’ in the previous paragraph and it would be equally true. We can never know for sure which has more of a negative impact (financially) because it’s impossible to keep all other variables the same in order to collect meaningful data. For the publishers it’s a balancing act between accepting piracy and fighting it, with each publisher making their best educated guess at where the most profitable point on the scale is.

      I will say this though – I never pirate games, but I absolutely won’t buy from any company which suggests that piracy is ok. I’m not ok about being the half that pays so the other half can freeload, and I won’t fund a company which tacitly condones that situation to continue. Maybe a soft stance on piracy will lead to others buying from them though, so that’s another balancing act for them to consider.

    • Taillefer says:

      Pirates seem to be treated as having infinite money. All of them couldn’t have bought everything. Maybe piracy helps keeps money more evenly distributed among the industry instead of the sales of Super Dev Studio increasing 1010% and leaving Ultro Dev with very few sales. A pirated game for one is a gained sale for another. I made that up, but you never know.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I’m sorry Mr Minecraft, but you didn’t even lose potential revenue. You lost nothing at all!
      Since a lot of studies have proven what should be common sense: Even if you make free copying physically impossible, that still does not mean that people will buy it! They still won’t. Because the reason they didn’t still exists. It might be lack of money. It might be that it’s not worth the price for them. It usually is that people just want to try it out before giving you any money. There are countless reasons.
      Because against popular artist extortion Mafia opinion, people don’t download it freely because they are dicks. If people respect you, they will want to give you something in return.
      The thing is: Since information is free, you can not demand anything. Just like when you play music in the streets. It’s your job to get the respect that makes people think you deserve something in return for what you gave them.
      And denying the above, does not make the facts go away, anyway.

    • Baines says:

      No, you get into debt making the game. Barring some bad decisions, the worst piracy can do is prevent you from getting out of debt.

      Game companies and the RIAA talking about piracy is like politicians talking about taxes. Either through greed or a disconnection from reality, when it comes to not getting as much money as potentially possible, they all treat “potential money” as if it were “actual money”.

    • A Poor Indie Game Dev says:

      @ChrisD: “Doesn’t that describe all start up businesses?”

      Quoted for absolute goddamned truth. You go into business because you estimate that this is what will make you enough money to meet your goals. (My goals are “keep eating and a roof over my head.” Others may want global domination or somesuch) If your potential revenue estimates don’t match up it’s not a good idea to go into business.

      Notch, sadly, seems to be following in the footsteps of Jon Blow in believing that his game’s success means that his assorted opinions have some increased value. Maybe he doesn’t care if people pirate his game, but I’d rather keep control of my work, thanks; that includes both faceless EA ripping me off or some punk kid downloading a torrent because he already spent his pocket money. Guess it’s easy to be casual when you’re making big bucks on the game that happened to become the current darling.

    • jalf says:

      I’m sorry Mr Minecraft, but you didn’t even lose potential revenue. You lost nothing at all!
      Since a lot of studies have proven what should be common sense: Even if you make free copying physically impossible, that still does not mean that people will buy it! They still won’t. Because the reason they didn’t still exists. It might be lack of money. It might be that it’s not worth the price for them. It usually is that people just want to try it out before giving you any money. There are countless reasons.
      Because against popular artist extortion Mafia opinion, people don’t download it freely because they are dicks. If people respect you, they will want to give you something in return.
      The thing is: Since information is free, you can not demand anything. Just like when you play music in the streets. It’s your job to get the respect that makes people think you deserve something in return for what you gave them.
      And denying the above, does not make the facts go away, anyway.

      Urgh, as much as I loathe the big publisher’s insane anti-piracy talk, if there’s one thing that’s worse, then it’s people making up “facts” to “prove” how beneficial piracy is.

      We have this thing called “logic”, which is sometimes used to construct arguments. You should try it some time.

      I’m sorry Mr Minecraft, but you didn’t even lose potential revenue. You lost nothing at all!

      Are you saying that there does not exist a person on planet Earth who would pirate a game *instead of* buying it? Because that’s the only way in which your statement can be true. It just takes one person who would’ve bought the game if he’d been unable to pirate it, to show that he lost potential revenue. And I’m pretty sure such a person exists. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve met this person. There may even be more than one.

      Since a lot of studies have proven what should be common sense: Even if you make free copying physically impossible, that still does not mean that people will buy it!

      Studies generally can’t *prove* much. They can provide data which can be used to construct proofs (or more often, to show statistical trends, but with no *proof* involved). Several studies have indicated that preventing people from pirating *probably* won’t generate a major boost in sales. But that is not “proof” of anything, and it certainly does not “prove” anything about what would happen if free copying was made physically impossible.

      It is also pretty hard to take you seriously when you talk about “proof”, and then just resort to hand-waving “many studies”. Which studies exactly? And how many have shown the opposite? It’s not “proof” just because you say it is. And it can never be proven until it is verifiable. Which means that saying “many studies” is completely worthless.

      Because the reason they didn’t still exists. It might be lack of money. It might be that it’s not worth the price for them. It usually is that people just want to try it out before giving you any money. There are countless reasons.

      And one of those reasons is “I was able to get it for free, so why should I pay?” And *that* reason would be gone. hence *some* people would most likely buy the game if they were unable to pirate it. But I know it is so much more comfortable to come up with the “ideal” pirate, the one who has only the noblest intentions, and only pirates games when it is for the Greater Good. Problem is, this does not describe everyone who’s ever pirated a game. Your logic is just as flawed as those who say “pirates are *all* evil scum, who should be hanged at dawn”.

      Because against popular artist extortion Mafia opinion, people don’t download it freely because they are dicks. If people respect you, they will want to give you something in return.

      And the proof of this is…?

      The thing is: Since information is free, you can not demand anything.

      Is information free now? I thought we had laws and things about intellectual property and the like. We also have state secrets, trade secrets and whatnot, all information which is certainly not “free”.

      Since information is not free, your argument falls apart. Or would have, if it hadn’t done so already.

      Just like when you play music in the streets. It’s your job to get the respect that makes people think you deserve something in return for what you gave them.

      And just like if you run a supermarket, it’s your job to “get the respect that makes people think you deserve something in return for the apple they took from your shelves”?

      That’s nonsense. And you are (willfully?) conflating a few fairly different concepts here, such as “what the world is like”, “what would be in *my* best interest”, and “what the world should be like”.

      Here’s another theory for you to consider: if I own something, is it not my decision what to do with it?
      If I build a car, isn’t it my decision who gets to drive it? Or do I have to “earn your respect” so that you won’t break into my garage and steal it?

      (And of course this analogy doesn’t in any way fit the games piracy case — and I never claimed it did. But if we went with your crazyworld logic, then it would seemingly apply to everything. Music, games, books, ideas, cars, apples or nuclear warheads.

      And denying the above, does not make the facts go away, anyway.

      Just like saying the above doesn’t make it true.

      And your logic that “there exists a pirate who would not have bought the game if he had been unable to pirate it. Therefore no pirate would have bought the game if they had been unable to pirate it” is either idiotic or dishonest. You pick which.

      Of course, the opposite is equally false. Doesn’t it give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside that you’re just as wrong as the big publisher execs? And that you are making the exact same mistake as they are?

    • liq3 says:

      Are you saying that there does not exist a person on planet Earth who would pirate a game *instead of* buying it?

      99.9% of pirates wouldn’t buy it even if they couldn’t pirate it. Russel Carrol said that for every 1000 pirates stopped, Reflexive sold 1 additional copy.

    • Baines says:

      1 in a 1000 might be believable for lost buys out of pirated copies.

      The hardcore pirates will download anything, even if they never play it. If piracy weren’t an option, they wouldn’t touch the vast majority of those titles, if they touched any at all of them. (In music piracy, these are the kind of guys that would download more mp3s than they could even listen to in 10+ years.)

      More casual pirates might download everything that interests them, the stuff that they consider worth buying and maybe curiosities that they’d never consider putting down money for site unseen. While it might seem like this is a source of a lot of lost buys, you’ve also got to consider that most people can’t afford to buy everything that they want to buy. If piracy weren’t an option, they’d still only buy a fraction of what they pirated.

      And what of those noble pirates who do buy what they like after pirating a copy? Those purchased games don’t count as lost buys either, because they are already counted as actual buys. Those pirated copies inflate the piracy numbers, and in those cases eliminating piracy won’t increase the number of copies sold. (Some pro-piracy people will argue that for these cases, eliminating piracy will actually lower the number of copies sold, but the overall reduction may be even more questionable than estimating “lost buys”.)

      We can’t ignore multiple copies as well. Pirate something, delete it, decide to play it again so you pirate it again. Or get a new computer or replace a hard drive and download a new copy. People do that with games they do buy, so surely they do it with pirated games as well. Rack up some more pirated copies that wouldn’t be extra buys in a world without piracy. Probably accounts for a minor amount versus the overall figures, but there are several such things that account for minor amounts.

    • RaveTurned says:

      Notch, sadly, seems to be following in the footsteps of Jon Blow in believing that his game’s success means that his assorted opinions have some increased value.

      Um, well no. He’s just posting on this blog and Twitter like millions of other Internet users. The value of his posts come from the number of people who read, comment on and otherwise disseminate those opinions to a wider audience. Much as you are doing yourself, in fact.

  2. MartinNr5 says:

    @DJ: No, Notch had a talk with Swedish politicians this week about his views on piracy which are summed up in the post that Jim links to.

    Bah, forgot the reply button + beaten to it. /shame

  3. Auspex says:

    I didn’t like Limbo at all. I think the problem was that I played it after playing Super Meat Boy for 2 months and I got really annoyed at how slow the boy was as well as his inability to slide up walls.

    I realise that they’re two very different type of games. SMB is the better type.

  4. Thants says:

    Wow, that site is not impressing me. Registration to read an article and 14 flash ads on a single screen. Fourteen separate animating ads visible at once!

    • 4026 says:

      I prescribe bugmenot and flashblock for those two issues, respectively.

      But you’re right, it’s not a website design that really encourages loyalty.

    • jeremypeel says:

      I’d say that the copy does inspire loyalty, though.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Protip: It’s called AdBlock Plus and Bugmenot. (Honorable mention: Greasemonkey.)
      Welcome to the 21st century! ^^

  5. [21CW]2000AD says:

    Are free flash game sites like Kongregate and Armor Games unavailable on iPhones or something? I’ve seen my mate playing a blatant rip off of Canabalt on his and now Angry Birds looks like a reskinned Crush the Castle.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      No, the iPhone cannot play Flash games. But a number of games there get ported to the iPhone; Canabalt, for example.

    • Adam says:

      I played Crush the Castle, and Crush the Castle is no Angry Birds.

    • Xercies says:

      I don’t see why not they seem very similar concepts.

    • Delusibeta says:

      Kong does have a mobile version, primarily for Android phones, however. Blame Apple’s refusal to support Flash there.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      It’s not Apple, per se, because Apple could always change that decision. It’s Steve Jobs, the megalomaniac, who has decided that. If he ever steps down from power (of course that won’t happen, he’s a megalomaniac) then Apple could get a little more friendly with Adobe. And maybe Sun, because they don’t want Java on iPhones either.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, much as I like my iPhone, the single biggest problem Apple have at the moment is Steve Jobs, who lets his personal grudges guide a multi-billion-dollar corporation.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Why is it a problem though? They make bucket loads of cash, it seems to be working very well from a financial point of view.

    • FDS21 says:

      It doesn’t matter now – Apple is now a toy company ONLY since they decided to stop making rack mounted servers a month ago. Their solution? Buy a Mac Pro or a Mac Mini as your server??? Bwhahahahaha.

    • Mo says:

      Apple has a perfectly valid set of reasons to not include Flash on iPhone. Jobs wrote a note on it, just search “Thoughts on Flash” on Apple’s site.

      That said, even if Flash did end up running on iPhones, the games would need porting anyway. It’s the same idea as getting a hacky console port on PC.

  6. terry says:

    So is Limbo finally PC-bound?

  7. 4026 says:

    Not a lot of surprises in that SavyGamer roundup, but it did hammer home to me just how hard Steam is wiping the floor with other DD outlets atm.

    • Paul B says:

      Also kudos to Amazon, which was a big winner too. It’s my online retailer of choice when it comes to videogames (and most other stuff to)

    • Bhazor says:

      Blizzard as the worst value developer? Really? In a world containing Zygna?
      “They sure know how to milk their customers with WoW and now Starcraft 2 is being delivered in 3 full-priced chunks.” – CroMagnon
      I’m still amazed there are people thinking like this. Y’know they should probably play it before reviewing it.
      “They keep doing everything they can to wring money out of WOW players” – Annnnnonymous
      Like the recent reconfiguration of the entire game in a free patch?

    • qrter says:

      Can any patch for a game that asks a monthly fee truly be called a ‘free patch’?

    • Dominic White says:

      Seriously – WoW players pay $180 a year, plus $30+ for an expansion. Nothing is free there.

      By comparison, F2P MMO Atlantica Online recently added a whole SECOND GAME linked into the main game, for the price of nothing. To access it, you have to pay… nothing! That’s free, this isn’t.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Gotta agree. Blizzard do charge rather insane amounts. As far as I’m aware you don’t actually have to pay anything to Zynga to play their games. So that’s a pretty awful comparison.

      I would say Starcraft 2 cost to much as it was, let alone being split into 3 games. Then you have the fact it’s shit to add on top of it. Then the whole same game as 10 years ago, bla bla bla. We all know whether we like it or not so it’s pointless me telling you I don’t.

    • Thants says:

      I don’t care if you like it or not, there’s no way you can argue that Starcraft 2 isn’t a full games worth of content.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I would say it’s just a repeat of the same content from the first one with shinier graphics.

    • malkav11 says:

      And you would be massively wrong, at least as far as the singleplayer goes. The creativity and variety of mission design on display in the singleplayer campaign of Starcraft II is amazing, and that’s before you factor in the RPG-ish campaign elements like research, mercenaries and unit upgrades, none of which was present in the original game. The multiplayer, admittedly, is consciously similar because it has a rabid community that didn’t want it to be radically different. But I wasn’t ever in it for the multiplayer, so I can’t say as I care.

  8. Feste says:

    Three Moves Ahead is one of the best podcasts I listen to, I highly recommend it. They often manage to get developers on talking about design decisions, which is pretty impressive, and Bruce Geryk is a wonder.

    • Paul B says:

      Yes, might have to give it a try. Was very impressed by the linked Sunday Paper’s article on Civ’s Civilizations. I highly recommend checking out the other two pieces on America and Babylonians, to those who enjoyed the Aztec piece.

  9. Koldunas says:

    perfect music choice. broken flowers soundtrack ftw!

  10. Lambchops says:

    Haha, the Savygamer awards are great. Being the only major retailer of note in the UK that actually stocks a reasonable number of PC games Game have managed to scoop both most hated reatailer but also least hated retailer under their Gamestation guise. Curse their monopoly!

    Oh and that guy mentioning HMV ruining the gaming section in Glasgow Buchanan street is spot on. Of course the biggest travesty in terms of games retail in Glasgow was CA games closing a couple of years back. The demise of small independant shops with friendly passionate staff is just rather sad. Moving down south hasn’t helped either as I can’t seem to find any independent shops in Oxford. Mind you they don’t have any indie music shops either. Or a Greggs. No bloody Greggs! Shocking, I tell you, though I feel I’m drifiting somewhat from the point.

    • Auspex says:

      I’m “that guy”! And you’re totally right about CA Games: I once bought Shenmue 2 there and the guy behind the counter got really excited. They also once advised me not to buy a game once because “it was terrible and 3 people have already returned it inside a couple of days”. (might be why they’re not in business anymore now I come to think about it…)

      There are Greggs in England but they don’t do proper morning rolls, which I think we can all agree is the best thing about Greggs, so whenever I visit family down south I have to bring an enormous bag of Greggs rolls down with me

    • Rich says:

      No Greggs in Oxford? They have one in Banbury, and that’s only half an hour north.
      Not to mention hundreds of them here in Sheffield.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Greggs is… a coffee shop? Wait, sorry, English. Coffee shoppe. Or is it an obnoxious family of people that are infamously annoying?

    • Mistabashi says:

      Greggs is what would happen if Macdonalds decided to launch a chain of bakeries.

    • Koozer says:

      Greggs is what happens when God decides to intervene and creates the perfect dinner (lunch to you southerners) after a hard morning’s miscellaneous activity.

    • Lambchops says:

      Greggs is twice your recommended daily intake of sugar and salt in a sandwich and a piece. But such tasty treats!

      I think if I decided to cycle all the way to Banbury I’d be needing me a Greggs to rejuvanate!

  11. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    The XM25 appears to be what results if you combine, adventure game style, a laser rangefinder, a grenade launcher, and a digitally timed fuse. The significant part of this invention is realising the tactical opportunities that arise from it. Since it basically renders cover obsolete, can we give this weapon to all FPS enemies in future? I want a good excuse to completely do away with “cover systems”.

    As for navigating spacecraft by the stars—what alternative is there when you’re not orbiting a planet? Since we don’t have a network of interplanetary navigation beacons yet, the stars are the best point of reference available.

    • Lambchops says:

      Wonder what you get if you combine a fork, bungee cord and a telescope?

    • 4026 says:

      Funnily enough, before BF:BC2 turned up with its own tricks for making cover obsolete, BF:2142 had a weapon that was basically the XM25. The under-barrel grenade launcher the assault class got had a variable detonation range that got set to whatever you were aiming at when you scoped, so you could literally use the exact tactic described in that video: rangefind distance to cover, extend range by 2m, fire over cover.

      It was a poorly-explained feature, so not a widely used tactic, but fearsomely effective in those bulkhead-heavy titan battles.

    • MrMud says:

      Wonder if it is going to work after the failure of the OICW.

    • EthZee says:

      For any fellow console owners, this gun actually has already made an appearance in Metal Gear Solid 4. As it’s a game that’s traditionally about sneaking about, it’s not the most suitable weapon. And its feature-set is limited; you can lase the range of the target through your sights, then manually adjust the detonation range to get the grenades to detonate in mid-air; but you can’t fire it through walls or cover. It does allow you to use stun grenades, though, so it could be useful.

      And the OICW, the weapon this gun is a successor to, is very accurately modelled in the UT99 mod Infiltration. Not only do you have the assault rifle part, you can do all the above (manually adjust range, fire grenades through walls… you can even make the grenade rounds bounce into the air when they land, so to airburst more effectively).

      Pretty awkward to use in the middle of a firefight, mind.

    • Lack_26 says:

      You have to love the XM-25, a couple of engineer friends read about it a year or two back and where planning to try and make a paint-ball version. Don’t think it ever got off the drawing board though. Still, nice pipe dream. Their paint-ball mortar caused bloody havoc when we used it, though.

    • Unaco says:

      Soldier of Fortune II Double Helix had the OICW in it. It had the Airburst Grenade Launcher underslung.

    • wcaypahwat says:

      Mmmm, All I thought when I saw that was ‘hey, isnt that half an OICW?’

      Then again, I was rather pleased when I picked up a G11 in codblops (shush, you!)

    • Arathain says:

      Wait, so the XM25 is an infantry carried rifle that fires an armour-piercing explosive round. So it’s a Bolter from Warhammer 40K, yeah?

    • Fumarole says:

      The XM25 is basically the OICW with the rifle part removed, leaving just the 25mm grenade launcher. And that linked video is old, it is from 2009. The XM25 has already been deployed to Afghanistan. I have a feeling it will be a tremendous success. The weapon that is, not the war.

    • DrGonzo says:

      The OICW wasn’t really a failure. It’s just no countries believe that human life is worth spending that much money on.

    • Weylund says:

      Every time troops in the field use a Javelin missile – one round – to eliminate a suspected enemy position, it costs the government $171,000.

      And that happens fairly often. :)

      $25K for a very good squad weapon (especially if they’re relatively durable and can be rotated between units overseas) is pocket change.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Considering the OICW spawned the XM25, no, the OICW program was not a waste at all. Besides, we Americans already spend like, thirty times more on defense than you people do.

    • Muzman says:

      I’m sure someone’s done the modelling somewhere already that the force with these things will go broke before defeating a determined bunch of reprobates with some AK derivative.
      “But we could hit behind cover Sarge?” “We lost, but we lost cool son.”

  12. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    That gun is just another outcome of the huge amount of money the US have been throwing at weapon development post 9/11. The people who designed it are always going to claim its an amazing game changer but the tech advantage the US has over the Taliban and other people they’ve been fighting is already vast.

    The fundamental fact is when fighting a war of occupation technological advantages don’t really mean much. This new grenade launcher will funnel more money into the MIC and probably feature in the next modern warfare game but it wont make a significant difference on the ground.

    • Weylund says:

      The M32 MGL, which is essentially a heavier, lower-tech weapon that fills the same role, has been a big hit with the Marines. Some SAW-equipped units are actually replacing their SAWs with it.

      link to

      Granted, the 25mm round will probably not tick the “generic suppression” column as well as the 40mm, but if the offset is that you can kill guys behind cover out beyond a few hundred meters, I think the field will take to it.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Military funding post 9/11???

      Try the past, say, sixty years? The military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us all about is alive, strong, and not going anywhere anytime soon.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      @ DJ Phatoon

      While the MIC has been going strong for sixty years 9/11 was used to justify a significant increase in military research funding on top of the already absurd amounts of money the pentagon received.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yes, but it was little more than an excuse. If 9/11 hadn’t happened it would have been something else, so for that reason I don’t think 9/11 is actually relevant. If you know what I mean?

  13. BooleanBob says:

    I was going to suggest by way of comparison Stuart Campbell’s piece on Angry Birds. Having been written in the Rev Stu ‘house style’ it is ever such a teensy bit contrarian and polemical, but interesting all the same.

    It seems to have disappeared from the podgamer site, however, despite numerous callbacks from other writers on there. So, er, I guess I’ll link you to Ben Croshaw’s take on the same, which, written in the Yahtzee ‘house style’ is ever such a teensy bit contrarian &tc.

    • Auspex says:

      RevStu has stopped writing for Podgamer link to

      Sadly he’s (they’ve?) taken down all his old post too. I hope he puts them up on Wosblog or something instead.

  14. Shroom says:

    Interesting one on the music but i’m yet to see (or should I say hear?) a game with music that actively adapts to the gameplay without rapidly switching between styles/compositions, as in something that uses the same piece of music but changes key, tempo, arrangement on the fly to adapt to gameplay. Once saw a computer science student at Imperial show a very simple version of an on the fly game music adaption program that was veryyy interesting.

    • frymaster says:

      it used the “rapidly switching” technique, but I always thought the music in x-wing was a brilliant execution of the dynamic music idea

    • Fumarole says:

      Left 4 Dead does dynamic music changes like this. Or is that not what you’re talking about?

    • Investigator says:

      I’ve been investigating this type of music…but very few people seem to actually “understand” what it is I’m trying to suggest. I’m not sure if this is a problem with my description, a lack of knowledge of games within the music community or just a general confusion as to what I’m trying to suggest. I was originally planning to try and construct my own version of this as an independent study here (college), but I can’t find a teacher who understands what I’m trying to do and as a result I’m going to have to do generative music instead with little connect to games…

      I would argue that L4D very much uses the “suddenly jump from one piece of music to another” style, though they are better at disguising the jump with screams, yells, and gunfire…

    • Shroom says:

      No L4D doesn’t really do a dynamic change, it does simply change music tracks, for instance when the is a panic event/horde there is that very definite switch with the bass line thing I remember well.

      What I mean is that you’d have ONE piece of music, for instance Beethoven’s 5th (not that that would be used obviously) but by dynamically changing ELEMENTS of the music itself (i.e. scale, key, pitch, harmonics, tempo, orchestration) but not entirely changing the piece of music itself you could achieve a system without breaks where the piece of music changes, possibly adding to the immersion.
      But then again, noticing a key change in Beethoven’s 5th would also be quite obvious and immersion-breaking. In short, such a system would be VERY VERY hard to implement.

      When I saw that student giving a demonstration of his version it was extremely rudimentry and the changes in tone were huge (he was using “The Entertainer” as his music and went from very happy to as sad as can be) but still dynamically changed with the action, so somehow it could be possible. Although I can’t imagine a major studio taking that kind of gamble on giving the funds to someone to investigate it.

    • Investigator says:

      That’s exactly what I was trying to determine how to do. I would want different “tones” of the same piece that would be smoothly transitioned between depending on the current actions of the player…and in my mind it would be most applicable to games like Oblivion and friends.

      I was thinking (from the view of a first person shooter…) that after a small burst of consistent actions the “conductor” could determine that that new set of actions most likely is implying, lets say, stealth or cover (perhaps differentiated by health) and these would be determined based on the player crouching, moving slowly, or sitting still. It could also be weapon dependent…and since we know ALL the variables that the player is interacting with we SHOULD be able to take those and analyze them to determine what music “tone” is best…

    • pilouuuu says:

      Haven’t you ever played Monkey Island 2? Woodtick is the best example of what you say. I wish more games did something like that…

    • Shroom says:

      That sounds like a great way of doing it Investigator, I like how you think. I’d say the largest problem wouldn’t be setting up your “conductor” to know what ’emotion’ (for lack of a better word) to change the music into but the changing of the music itself.

      In your situation of stealh/combat etc that could be achieved by layering/removing instruments (e.g. no beat when in stealth, low bass then those come in when actions occurr) the harder thing to do is change the ENTIRE mood of the piece and still make it sound like a coherent piece of music. The issue would be that you’d need a piece that could be adapted to (effectively) any mood and therefore might only be able to provide an average feeling of ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ or ‘danger’ or whatever rather than the highly refined version a single piece of music would provide.

      And no pilouuuu, i have not played Monkey Island 2, i shall investigate!

    • RaveTurned says:

      This discussion reminds me of a particular entry in Introversion’s development blog for Subversion. Their plan is to have a multi-track music system that varies the volume of the different tracks (i.e. different parts of the same theme) depending on the player’s situation. There’s an early video of the system in action too. Here!

  15. pignoli says:

    Did anyone else not see that gun and immediately think ‘sweet jesus they’ve made a boltgun’ ?
    Our fantasies of being space marines are slowly coming to fruition. Except not for us pasty geeks.

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      The resemblance, in terms of function, is pretty sparse really. I think what you may be looking for is

    • Rond says:

      I don’t think it resemles boltgun even in the slightest. Boltgun is fully-automatic, and it shoots fuel-propelled rounds (basically tiny rockets) that aren’t meant for airburst, but rather for hitting the target and exploding inside it.

    • Arathain says:

      I’m with you, pignoli. It’s the first thing I thought of. Hush, you pedants, we’re having a “the future is now” moment. We have jetpacks and flying cars, you know.

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      Well, I meant to post a link above, but my HTML skills apparently suck and the Captcha Monster ate my correction, forcing me to finally register. Let’s try again:

      “I think what you may be looking for is: link to

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Well, yeah. We actually do have jetpacks and flying cars. We just don’t see very many of them because the technology needs work. What’s far more exciting is RAILGUNS!

    • DrGonzo says:

      Ah yes, but which is cooler? A Rail gun or a Guass gun?

  16. Farfarer says:

    Ian McQue’s art is in lots of games. He’s the lead concept artist for Rockstar North ;)

    • RogB says:

      its a shame that someone with that much imagination is being pretty much wasted there. Im sure he’s rolling in it though, so probably doesn’t care much :)

    • Dreamhacker says:

      But what if he teamed up with a programmer and went indie? We could see some really cool games stem from such a venture!

  17. Michael says:

    The more games become an exercise in applied psychology, the less I’m interested in them.

    • Investigator says:

      I think as they become more applied psychology they allow for more direct and intended modification of the emotions of individuals. Basically, it should make games that have the intention of being good experiences (speaking of games with plots/stories/intended emotional elements) more capable of being just that.

      The problem is that it also enables things like FarmVille to exist… Basically it comes down to how the developers use it and its very quickly going to become an extremely moralist debate for whether or not games should be allowed to take advantage of these elements of humanity.

      It is like all science: there are great negatives and great positives and you can’t have one without the other.

    • Michael says:

      Artists have been able to influence (and manipulate) people’s emotions for centuries. If you surrender intuition in favour of scientific rigour, you lose personality and humanity. Certainly the results of psychological research are available as tools for artists but to use them without an intuitive level of understanding risks placing crude, artificial systems at the heart of your work. The psychology itself then becomes the subject of the work.

    • Investigator says:

      I like your analysis here, it’s completely accurate. You do have to understand the system in order to use it effectively, and it has to be an interesting and/or creative way of arranging the system among other systems for it to a positive piece of art about the intended subject/subjects.

      Quick side note: Valve seems to be a positive example of using psychology in their works.

    • Michael says:

      Thanks. You bring up two excellent examples. Valve’s games are built around characters and images born of love and creative passion. They are doubtless well aware of the work done in studying the psychology of games but they use it only as an aid – an alternative to more explicit direction.

      Farmville on the other hand, is practically a game about the exploitative use of psychology. The farming motif is merely tokenistic. The raison d’etre of Farmville is as a deployment of manipulative techniques designed to encourage compulsive behaviour. It’s born out of greed and exists only to generate profit. Players gain nothing from playing it.

      So yes, psychology isn’t evil but the more it gets applied in a game, the less interesting that game becomes.

    • Investigator says:

      That’s where I have a problem with your argument. The idea that there is a direct relationship between how much psychology is used versus how much fun/interest can be drawn from the

      I’ve always felt it is the goal of the people using the psychological tools more so than the use of the tools themselves that cause the problems. FarmVille has the explicit goal of making money, so they use the tools in the way they think will best maximize profit (and it become a slot machine of sorts). Valve uses the tools (and frequently the same tools) in order to create a game that is interesting and fun to play. They are creative to the degree they wish to be, with Zynga not wanting any form of creativity and Valve wanting to maximize creativity (well, maybe not maximize…).

      I’m a strong believer of “Math can be creative, too!”

    • Investigator says:

      *the game. Of course.

      Where did the edit button go?

  18. JohnArr says:

    You know it’s amazing concept art when you can hear engines thumping and smog-horns blaring, smell metal and oil and feel the old rust-bucket pulling to the left, even though you’ve just paid through the nose for a new goddamn vector linkage.

    • Rich says:

      I’m wondering what type of game would be best suited to the world this guy’s created.
      Adventure RPG? Not too combat oriented, I think.

    • Arathain says:

      Sounds like a concept like Hardwar would work. Pilot for hire on smog-ridden future world, that sort of thing.

  19. cheeba says:

    I love Three Moves Ahead, tremendous stuff for a strategy/mechanics beardo like me. It’s just a shame they don’t get Tom & Bruce together on the podcast very often these days, it was a joy listening to them rip into each other (all in good fun, of course). Definitely my fave regular podcast.

  20. Xercies says:

    I know want to model those concept arts!

    I agree that we need new experiences, we also need the big publishers to have indie wings. so basically maybe some of there developers with some ideas can make a game get a bit of money for it and it gets released. This could make quite a few good games with a bit of budget and also have happy developers in the office because they get to have there ideas released. You could have a rota like every 3 months a new team creates an idea. Why do these businesses not have these ideas?

    Steam will rule the world and we cannot stop it!

    Hmm didn’t know that about the stamp thing…kind of makes sense in a way.

    • Navagon says:

      “we also need the big publishers to have indie wings”

      That totally defeats the purpose. Not least of all because they wouldn’t be independent anymore anyway. But also because you can bet that the publisher would put their oar in as usual regardless.

    • Xercies says:

      I keep comparing it to films but basically some of the best films(the ones that are always at the top of imdb and the like) came out of indie wings of major companies of the time. the problem with indie is that you get a certain kind of game, but what if an indie got a bit of money for their vision. it could be a fantastic game.

      But yes the publishers of games now a days are a bit to involved in whatever they want to make. Though EA seems to be a lighter on this regard and they seem to be doing what i seem to be wanting at the moemnt.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      A lot of film studios will freely admit that they need to make a few ‘blockbusters’ each year so they can fund the ‘artistic’ or ‘indie’ movies that they actually want to make. Actors, Directors, Producers etc often say the same. I would champion this business model as it means the masses get a couple of things they enjoy while the rest get half a dozen. Everyone benefits.

      I’ve also read similar things being said by book publishing companies & the music industry seems to following suit too. Eventually when the games industry grows up it may be in the same boat. Actually looking at Ubisoft employing guys like Michel Ancel, Eric Chahi & Julian Gollop & we’re almost there already.

  21. Navagon says:

    1C sounds like they’ve got their heads screwed on straight. But There’s definitely some regional pricing bullshit going on there that I’m not happy about.

    I’ll tell you what. If 1C buy the rights to globally release Deep Shadows games Precursors and White Gold with a proper English translation then all will be forgiven.

    • Mistabashi says:

      Precursors definately looks intriguing. By all accounts there’s a huge amount of dialogue in it though, which is probably what’s holding them back from releasing it over here.

    • Navagon says:

      There’s an unofficial translation that I’ve been playing it with. It does the job. But naturally it would require all the voice acting for each language.

    • Mistabashi says:

      Does it include the NPC / quest dialogues? And if so, do you have a link by any chance? I remember looking it up not long ago, but the only one I could find was mostly just for the UI text, and I didn’t really want to try to play it without being able to get a vague understanding of what missions I was being offered etc.

      Also, is it any good?

    • Navagon says:

      I’ve got a thread on how to buy and patch up both games here.

      The translations cover NPC dialogues and essentially anything written in the games including the whole interface and item names. There are also subtitles applied to the cutscenes.

      The translation for Precursors seems to be very good so far. It doesn’t exactly flow like natively written English but it beats some official efforts to translate other Russian games. White Gold is a bit more patchy. Some of it is very good, but there is some minor dialogue in there that’s complete gibberish. It’s rare and completely unnecessary though.

  22. strange headache says:

    On that savygamer thing, I’d have liked to know how many people actually participated in the votes. Because in the article it’s usually the same people commenting on these awards giving me the impressions, that not many people contributed to this, making the results less than representative.

    Although I must admit that I share most of the conclusions coming from these awards.

  23. FhnuZoag says:

    Ah, the XM25. Goodbye, concept of accuracy, hello, massive collateral damage.

    • Urael says:

      It’s the American way. :)

    • Weylund says:

      @FhnuZoag: Err… which is the most accurate, a grenade launcher fired by “feel”, a mortar fired based on imprecise calculations, or a weapon that’s designed to shoot precisely within a meter of any given target at well beyond 500 meters?

      Here’s a hint: it’s not what we have currently, i.e. the first two. And those two weapons are relatively precise compared to airstrikes and heavier guns. Kill the insurgent behind cover and forgo a stick of 500lb bombs dropped from 300 feet? Yeah, I think that’ll up collateral damage. Right?

    • FhnuZoag says:

      I dunno, how about an old fashioned rifle bullet fired by a dude at someone he can actually see, instead of into a window in which he has absolutely no idea who is inside?

    • Weylund says:

      Ahh, I see. You’re advocating that our forces not use indirect weapons in any fashion, then, right? Most firefights in Afghanistan – and indeed in most wars – are brought to a conclusion with ordinance bigger than bullets, because when people start to shooty-bang at each other, the “dude [you] can actually see” is going to be kissing dirt and waiting until he can shoot you more effectively. To avoid being shot, our guys drop artillery where they THINK said dude is.

      The XM25 – which allows our troops to selectively target behind cover very precisely – is a lot less likely to kill civilians than dropping a shitload of 155mm – or even mortar shells – on an area. *That* is the alternative. The XM25 isn’t replacing small arms fire, it’s reducing the need for indirect fire.

  24. Urthman says:

    My favorite part of that Zack Snyder interview is where he says, without any sarcasm or irony:

    “I know this sounds totally crazy, but maybe a director making a movie about a video game would almost have to somehow almost play the game or something weird like that in order to really understand it.”