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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for pulling apart a sickly PC and swapping out components until we finally figure out what is causing that problem. If only all things in life could be fixed through such trial and error element-swapping. Inevitably, in the moments between these tinkerings, we will take some time to cast our gaze over articles written on the subject of computer games, for they are many.

  • Interesting argument of the week goes to Craig Stern writing a piece “against narrow design”. He explains: “I want to address an unfortunate intellectual current I have seen coursing through the indie community as of late. It generally appears under the moniker of “gameplay vs. narrative,” advanced in articles asserting the fundamental incompatibility of narrative and gameplay and suggesting (usually with little to no analysis) that we should discard one (always narrative) in favor of the other (inevitably, gameplay).” There’s a response to some of Jon Blow’s theses, and to other suggestions that non-gameplay elements of design should be discarded in favour of “interactivity”. It’s an argument I totally agree with and have made elsewhere myself. Great games are almost always a presented in a way that is coherent with and best expresses the way in which they play. Often “graphics versus gameplay” arguments are spurious and make no sense at all, because the graphics and gameplay are, as an experience of the player, all part of the same continuum. Anyway, go have a read.
  • Here’s another interesting argument: “Open-world RPGs should have DF-style systems instead of fixed quests. Otherwise, all the walking from place to place is just filler to help you level.” And the full text of that thought is here. I can’t disagree with that, either.
  • And here’s something else I do kind of agree with, although not for all the same reasons: Will Porter on “Why I Love Doom 3.” He points out that there is some neat design in there, despite everything: “To bring up a more minor point, meanwhile, it’s a real shame more PC games haven’t picked up on the function where you simply wander up to a computer screen and click away on it with your mouse, or indeed sift through emails on a PDA that have apparently been sent by Finchy from The Office about an upcoming pub quiz.”
  • Are hardcore operational-level computer war games essentially unplayable? Tea Leaves seems to think so. There are some suggestions about why that is, and how UI design can fix it.
  • Beautiful, beautiful: an illustrated guide to Minecraft. Oh, Internet, you tease us with such beautiful things.
  • FuckYeahTrackmania.
  • Patton Oswalt on the popularisation, death, and need for rebirth of geek culture. Interesting stuff.
  • EA CEO says that digital downloads will surpass retail in 2011. Odd, I thought that had already happened. Must be imagining things again. Look, a fairy!
  • Ah yes, lists. I was going to post a bunch of lists of PC games of the year, but then I decided that no one would care, because we all know the HARD TRUTH, because we all read RPS, which is where Objective Truth is forged. So I settled for some random stuff. Here’s the first one in our file: Flash Of Steel’s end of year strategy wrap-up Reminds me that I still haven’t played Greed Corp. Perhaps I never will. I am playing something super-awesome today, though. Will write about it in the week.
  • List two: PodGamer’s review of the year in mobile gaming gaming. Part one. There are other parts. And that’s a good site for your hand and wrist computers. We all have wrist computers now it’s the future, right? Okay, good!
  • List three: former The Sunday Papers editor “Kieron Gillen” writes about his musical tracks of year. It’s an epic haul in terms of obscurity this year, beating the previous record for me not having heard them by two tracks. I’d only heard four of them in 2010. Next year we’re going for none at all.
  • Back in the realms of proper stuff about games, we have a post by Jeff Vogel which argues that game creators should not read their forums. But wait! Counterpoint Cliffski says they should. Who is right? YOU DECIDE.
  • About the Average Gamer. This is a useful graph that you might want to keep handy for spurious marketing opinions that will appear later in 2011.

And that’s that. If there’s a music for this week, then it must be this. Now, back to the innards of that machine. Perhaps I need to threaten to drop it in the bath. Computers are afraid of water, I hear. Or is that cats? Either way, they’re both getting the hose if they don’t behave.

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Jim Rossignol

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