The Sunday Papers

Sundays. Sundays are for designing videogames in a cottage somewhere in The West. But before that gets done, it might be worth spending some time with the wise and unwise writings from the world of gaming commentary. Also: making tea.

  • Veteran producer-man Julian Widdows argues for why designers shouldn’t “cross the streams”. What he means by that is that designers shouldn’t start referencing other games when designing their own, if they want to get along in the process of making new stuff: “Let’s assume you’re trying to come up with an original game, a fresh approach to an existing idea, or just the solution to a thorny mechanical issue. All of this requires fresh and original thinking. By mentioning other games you’re immediately falling back on unoriginal, unfresh thinking, and are corrupting people’s minds with a whole range of thoughts that are almost impossible to negate after, very much like the colour orange. This isn’t limited to the mechanics, as our mind is hard-wired to look for connections to ideas presented to it. Let’s use Gears of Wars as an example and our previous statement as the seed “We could have the cover mechanics from Gears of War.””
  • No Added Sugar considers Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry and the possible “Spectre of Techno-Fetishism”: “The fact that many of the articles- like the ones about pad lag- explore technical differences between games that are so minute as to be below the level of human perception makes the prominence of their articles so objectionable.”
  • Command & Conquer: Whore Trucks. I… what? Here’s a bit: “The whore trucks in the Red Alert games were far more penis like than the ones in the umm non Red Alert C&C games because at least the ones in the original looked like they could take a bullet or two. The trucks in Red Alert just looked like regular old combine harvesters. Not only would I start to tear up when an undefended whore truck was under attack because it just isn’t on to hit a man in the whore truck but I imagined that the little trucks were driven by farmers. They weren’t soldiers.”
  • Bit-Gamer run with the game dev story of Game Dev Story: “‘Graphics don’t matter,’ I yelled at my staff, convinced I was directing them to make a game that would be remembered for decades to come. Sadly, Mankey Island reached only the edge of the Top 30 and the critical response wasn’t just mooted, it was brutal.”
  • The Brainy Gamer’s Michael Abbott is another writer taking some time to consider Metro 2033’s world design. He has some interesting stuff to say, but then admits he hasn’t played Stalker in the comments below. Burn the heretic!
  • To make recompense to our irradiated Gods, I make the offering of this gigantic article on Stalker. It says stuff like: “The storyline, characters, and even music of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series adeptly connects the player to the environment by removing him from reality, enhancing the feel of the world. This structure allows the series to comment on specific themes. Overall the morality tale of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a commentary on greed, on incomprehensible entities, on connections men form with places. By linking the player to the land as effectively as the Stalkers themselves are tied to the Zone, GSC creates a world and a fiction that, however circuitous, does help the player feel for the people, the place, and even the C-Consciousness, to whatever degree a person is able to empathize with something so decidedly alien.”
  • VG247 talks to Bethesda’s Pete Hines about how 2011 is their biggest year so far, and also on what happened in 2010: “We have done a lot of work with Obsidian to try and address the issues as you mentioned, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. I certainly don’t think it’s indicative of the level of quality of the product that we put out. We did release one or two updates for Fallout 3, but given the size and scope of that game it was a really well-done, stable, fairly bug-free experience.”
  • The Old Republic fanblog TORWars chats with SWTOR’s David Bass: “I’m fairly certain your superiors wouldn’t approve of the mass genocide of an entire race. The Republic would never condone it, and the Empire would most likely prefer to rule over them rather destroy them completely! In other words, no Gungans as target practice.”
  • Ben Bashford talks “emoticomp”. Interesting take on how everyday designer people should approach the design of objects, asking questions such as “How does an object’s character and/or behaviour tie in with communicating its purpose in life, how it looks and how it should be used?”
  • Christian McCrea explains why game developers do not need a “games consultant”. Not sure I agree with this, to be honest. I know some extremely talented people who have consulted on – and radically enabled – a wide variety of games. I feel like this piece is venting from some specific beef with game consultancy, and isn’t actually universal for the concept. It seems more aimed at social games, anyway, and we are all allowed to hate those.
  • Cory Doctorow calls for a critique of net activism. This is basically a discussion of The Net Delusion, but I think it has some important implications: “The world needs more people seriously engaged with improving the lot of activists who make use of the net (that is, all activists). We need to have a serious debate about tactics such as the Distributed Denial of Service – flooding computers with bogus requests so that they can’t be reached – which some have compared to sit-in demonstrations. As someone who’s been arrested at sit-ins, I think this is just wrong. A sit-in derives its efficacy not from merely blocking the door to some objectionable place, but from the public willingness to stand before your neighbours and risk arrest and bodily harm in service of a moral cause, which is itself a force for moral suasion. As a tactic, DDoS has more in common with filling a business’s locks with super glue, or cutting its phone lines – risky, to be sure, but closer to vandalism and thus less apt to convince your neighbours to look sympathetically on your cause.”
  • Bearded Londoner Matthew Sheret talks about storytelling.
  • Cheap and cynical list features like this get sent into RPS’ mail all the time. I never post them! Oh.
  • Finally, I can hardly believe this tale of heroism is real, but it is incredible and life affirming.

And that’s all the for week. And yes, musics. No ambient/electronic/guitar-moaning fare this time, and instead something tight. Musically this weekend has been important to me, because I realised that I actually do prefer Papa Don’t Take No Mess to The Payback. A significant realisation that says something about the state of my soul.


  1. Arvind says:

    40 people? This guy must have balls the size of the pacific ocean.


  2. tungstenHead says:

    Quinn’s Spell Check piece should probably get an honorable mention as one of the best pieces of games writing from this past week. I think I saw it reposted pretty much everywhere.

  3. trooperdx3117 says:

    Good god 40! Thats almost Arnie levels of insanity!

    • Starky says:

      He killed 3 of them, injured 7 and caused the rest to flee…

      Gurkha’s are take the piss hard – a level of HARD that makes even the likes of the SAS and other special forces soldiers look like big girls.

    • Muzman says:

      Indeed. I thought ’40!. Wow’ Then ‘oh, he’s a Gurkha’. Not to take anything away from him personally, but they are generally scary guys. A kukri is basically a 2kg meat/bone clever that’s all edge. None of this stabby, slashy business. It’s for limb removal.

    • sfury says:

      I believe it went something like this – link to

    • Dexton says:

      I was going to mention the Oldboy corridor fight scene, pretty amazed to hear that one man could pull it off in a real situation!

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      Would hardly call SAS soldiers big girls. They are trained to terrifying extremes. Gurkha’s just use big knives.

  4. Robin says:

    The No Added Sugar piece couldn’t be more wrong. Out of all the games sites and all the tech sites online, nobody else is doing what Digital Foundry is doing, and that’s frankly terrifying.

    It has become standard practice in the rest of the games press to treat differences between implementations of a game as a taboo subject, out of laziness and fear of upsetting fanboys. It’s extraordinarily difficult to find out which is the definitive version of a game, even in cases where the performance and features vary radically from platform to platform.

    (Case in point, Monkey Island 2 SE – where some sites have lumped together the feature-stripped, barely playable iPhone version, the bugged console versions and the complete – but still rather clumsily implemented – PC version in the same review.)

    You would never get an inkling from the games media that most AAA multiformat releases wheeze along at 20-30fps on console, and the visuals, controls and loading times are like night and day compared to the PC versions. Is this serving consumers or publishers?

    If DF’s readers want to maximise the quality of experience they get for their outlay, I don’t see any reason to begrudge them for that. It’s no different from any other technical hobby, and it’s not being forced on anyone. Nobody would confuse a DF article with a review.

    The Matt Sakey Stalker piece is excellent, go read that.

    • The Hammer says:

      Exactly how I felt. I can’t say I read every Eurogamer review, but I don’t really see any DF-talk seeping into those opinion pieces. The author of that blog post is conflating DF’s content with that of the entire site.

      Also, DF is a great standard-bearer for consumer awareness, too. The recent HD cables article is a case in point.

    • Moni says:

      I agree with the point that Richard Leadbetter tends to end his articles with a little throwaway comment about the gameplay. Those comments always feel out of place, when the article is wholly objective, scientific, even.

    • Mark says:

      I really disagree with No Added Sugar’s article.

      Is Digital Foundry’s technical analysis interesting?

      Yes. Obviously to a great number of people.

      Is it relevant?

      Yes. There are many aspects around video games which are appreciable. Their technical achievements, or shortcomings, are part of this.

      Is this type of coverage taking over the site?

      NO! As far as I am aware, Eurogamer’s previews and reviews do not take into account the technical achievements of games past whether the writer considers them significant in adding or detracting to the experience – a qualitative judgement.

      I think what I resent most about the article is its fascistic tone. It’s like, I don’t like this style of criticism and so it should be banned. And the idea these two fundamentally different analyses of video games conflict somehow is completely wrong. They demonstrably coexist quite nicely, in very clearly marked off sections of the site.

      Maybe I’m being too sensitive, though. I do that sometimes.

      Edit: the part when they mention how Leadbetter occasionally throws in some qualitative analysis of gameplay is right on the money. He should stop doing that, as it’s completely inconsistent with the technical focus of these articles.

    • Lambchops says:

      Yeah I think the article overstates the prominence of Digital Foundry. Personally I don’t read it, most of the reasons why are mentioned in the article; the obvious “Face-Off” fanboy baiting no doubt leads to intorelable comments sections. I don’t own most of the platforms and i’ve never been one to care about the merits of one ludicrously named visual effect over another. However a lot of people do and it’s nice that there’s something out there for the more technically minded to get enthused over.

      it’s perfectly easy not to read it.

    • Mark says:

      “it’s [Digital Foundry] the most objectionable content on the site and even poses a threat to the sort of games criticism we espouse on No Added Sugar.”

      Not only that, it even poses a clear and present danger to this nation. This world. No, the universe!

      Come on. These are two fundamentally different types of analyses, with very different emphases. They have completely separate purposes. They do not conflict.

      I have more to say on this, but I’m not going to. This article is so very clearly wrong it just annoys me thinking about it.

    • Veracity says:

      I’ve peered at it a bit trying to be reasonable, so far only reinforcing the initial reaction that the anti-DF post is the most frightful bollocks. I’ve found most DF articles I’ve read preternaturally dull, sure they’re infomercials for Leadbetter’s magic capture technology, and I think the face-off features are blatant comment war baiting on EG’s part, whatever their merits. But it’s an awful target for what (I think) Cullinane is complaining about, since DF at least aims to minimize speculation and reliance on manufacturer technobabble in favour of independently verified facts. And people are going to confuse a bunch of pixel-counting with a GT5 review? No.

      Incidentally, about the “limits of human perception” guff, if he means the article I think he does, it was in response to people complaining about perceived sludgy input in some games.

      Also a strange time to be complaining about this. Tech fetishism (unless control/display gimmicks count) seems to be widely at its lowest ebb in a long while – most people are quite satisfied with now “ancient” console hardware. Including most PC gamers, who are playing console ports in DirectX 9 and Bejeweled.

      Maybe the article just falls flat unless you’re happy to swallow its rather vaguely stated idea of what writing about games should be (what, all of it?). Is this something we’re expected already to have taken on board (or to go and find) elsewhere on that blog?

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      It seems this discussion is missing blunt ad hominems.

      Mark Cullinane is a big whiny baby and hates himself and his life.

    • plugmonkey says:

      How is Digital Foundry ‘raising the bar of entry’ into video games? Have you ever seen a DF article that compares an indie game to a AAA big studio release? One that comes down in favour of graphics over other features?

      It only ever compares different versions of the same game. That’s not glorifying graphics over innovation or gameplay. The gameplay of all the samples being compared in any given test is a constant. This provides valuable consumer information on which version to buy.

      Unlike No Added Suger, which provides irrelevent pretentious horseshit.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      Ah, what I would give to be able to use phrases like “frightful bollocks”. American English is so dull.

  5. CMaster says:

    That STALKER book chapter was interesting, although largely it tell us what we already know – the star of the STALKER is the zone itself, not any of the characters.

    One thing that always struck me about The Zone is that it makes sense. Even though it is obviously impossible, each STALKER game lays out the rules about how the zone works (they change between games) and sticks to them. Over time, explanations are provided for how and why so much of what happens does.

    That said, I always felt that the zone was a little too deadly. I recall a lot of my immersion being shattered (some of it came back later, as you got wrapped up in big events) due to Garbage. The constantly high level of violence there, with dozens if not hundreds of Stalkers and Bandits dieing every day made it impossible to believe. The environmental dangers were fine, and I never felt such disconnect when in say Yantar – it was just the level of human on human slaughter in Garbage was that of a battle in a war, yet apparently when you get there it is just an ordinary day.

  6. Mike says:

    Strongly disagree with Widdows. We’re building a vocabulary, a culture, a way of understanding common problems and their solutions. Reference to other work is key. This is as much science as art.

    • Starky says:

      I second this disagreement, originality, or innovation (god i hate that sodding word) don’t come from ignoring the past but embracing it.

      New mechanics and better games come not from ignoring the gears cover system but instead asking “how can we make the gears cover system better?”

      Then idea’s start flowing – well more fluid movement over and around cover for both players and AI, more varied walls (no more waist highs), destructible cover, improvised cover (rocket launcher that tree, it falls down and thus you have cover).

      Where ignoring it in a 3PS just sends you backwards in terms of genre progression.

      People trying to make an original game, movie, art, music or product/invention shouldn’t try to be original, down that road madness (and shit) lies.
      Instead they should be aiming to improve, twist, riff and expand upon old idea’s.

      There is no such thing as “fresh and original thinking”, just pretentious twats who like to think they are capable of such.
      Nothing is created or exists in isolation.

    • AndrewC says:

      Well, there you go.

    • Vandelay says:

      My immediate thought when seeing the article was much the same. More to the point, I thought that the problem isn’t developers thinking “let’s use Gears of War’s cover system”, but developers thinking about using anything from Gears of War. Developers should be looking at classics of the genre, those games that are still widely held in high esteem, and not just games that have recently sold bucket loads. If all developers said to them selfs “let’s do what Deus Ex did,” or “let’s do what Half Life did,” or “let’s do what Planescape: Torment did,” then the gaming landscape would be a much pretty place.

      Basically, they should be looking at the games I like.

    • Phydaux says:

      Starky and Mike are right. As a non-gaming example the first iron bridge ever built, was built and designed using carpentry techniques. Not a “brand new” completely original design. It was an improvement of what was before, showing the way for what is possible in the future. It would be silly to say it’s not original or innovative just because it takes from what went before it.

    • Archonsod says:

      Yup, though I think the key part of the article is it’s talking about making an original game rather than a better game.

      As a general rule, the games which first implement a mechanic or come up with a certain concept tend to be forgotten, it’s the one’s which come afterwards that either iterate on that concept or else combine it with other concepts (whether existing or similarly new) that are lauded.

    • P4p3Rc1iP says:

      When I first read it, I thought he was right, but then I started thinking and quickly took that back. There is no such thing as a completely new and original thing. Only madness. Wolfenstein may have been the first first person shooter, a new genre, something amazing. But it wasn’t completely new, 90% of the gameplay already existed in a different form. The only new thing was the camera.

      If you come up with something so ridiculously new and original, people will think you’re mad. An audience needs some sort of reference to judge your creation by. Even Geiger wasn’t all original, and wasn’t Dali and the whole art scene with him called mad? Only years later the general public started appreciating it.

      I also should add that for most developers, making games is their job. They need to pay rent and feed their children. The can’t just live off original ideas, they need to be sold as well.

      Anyway, the point is, like people above stated, a new masterpiece is built upon generations of innovation and is perfect at all it does, but not completely new.

    • Weylund The Second says:

      Guys, “ignore what has come before” isn’t his point. He’s saying, if you like or dislike a game mechanic, take it apart and see what makes it tick, then talk about *that*. Don’t just say “Gears of War cover system” because that has implications far beyond the mechanic itself. In the Gears of War example you might say “a sticky cover system with one-button shooting”, or something.

      I totally agree with him. It’s super-distracting to talk about other games – make the context *your* game.

    • Zwebbie says:

      Mike: remember such designers as Will Wright, who looked outside of the scope of games to find interesting problems and solutions. Sim City and The Sims are based more on literature on urban planning than on other work in games.
      I suppose the problem here is that Widdows suggests that you shouldn’t think of proven solutions for common problems, when I think a much better suggestion would be to come up with new problems entirely.

    • Xercies says:

      Actually I kind of agree with him and don’t think your getting the idea of what he is saying.

      As my friend’s teacher said to him while he was doing a theatre thing, don’t watch films about the theatre prodction that are wildly out of the actual context/date its set, like in space otherwise you will automatically put your production in space.

      In other words if you think gears of War cover machanic your going to put a gears of war cover machanic in instead of actually looking at it objectivly and seeing if you need a Gears of war cover machanic in or you want something different. But as soon as you say gears of war cover mechanic theres no going back.

      But what he is saying is that if you are going to use a cover machanic do go look at Gears and wars and the others and see what they did wrong, just not in the design meetings basically hold yourself to that kind of gameplay.

    • bob_d says:

      My problem with his prescription is that it’s largely impossible. Once someone starts describing a mechanic, if it’s at all similar to an existing game, I’m going to be thinking, “Oh, like in X.” No one needs to explicitly mention the specific game for it to pop into my head.
      “Not thinking of orange” is difficult even when you simply describe a color that’s “somewhere in the spectrum between yellow and red.”

    • Dinger says:

      Hey, between Yellow and Red? How about brown?
      The psychological term he’s getting at is the “anchor and adjustment heuristic”. The classic experiment was to ask a bunch of people a question, preceded by a statement. “Let’s say that N% of the UN member nations are African nations. What is the actual percentage of African member nations in the UN?” Normatively, N% should have no result on the outcome — the testers presented it as a completely arbitrary percentage. In practice, the answers given skewed away from the average answer given by a control group and towards the direction of N%, whatever it was when given to that person.
      So, what happens when you say “let’s take a Gears-of-War cover system”, instead of “let’s take these elements”, is that instead of identifying and taking the things _you like_ and _that work_ from a mechanic, you end up tacitly giving value to stuff that’s irrelevant or even deleterious to the experience you want.

      That’s what he’s saying. He’s not saying “reinvent the wheel”; rather “spoil the Egyptians of their Gold and Silver, just don’t call them Egyptians.”

    • Kadayi says:

      Seconded as well. Design is purely iterative process. It’s rare if ever that you are dealing with something that’s not been tackled before, so it’s sensible to consider the ways it’s been addressed by others, to look for opportunities as to how you can build a better mouse trap. The only problem that ever occurs with a game is when it simply repeats an approach others have employed, rather than builds upon it. Sure it’s sensible to say ‘cover system’ rather than ‘gears of war cover system’ but sometimes it’s useful to give an exact reference.

    • bob_d says:

      @Dinger: Yeah, absolutely. I understand what he was getting at, and I actually agree with it. I’m just not convinced about the practicability in all situations. Technically, brown isn’t between red and yellow on a 1D spectrum- it’s between red, yellow and blue on a color wheel. This is part of the issue – we can describe things precisely, and others will read something else into it. This can work to our advantage – describing orange and having it be interpreted as brown, allowing for the exploration of directions that weren’t intended by the speaker and which certainly wouldn’t have happened if they had simply said, “orange.” (I.e. it opens up a dialog, rather than locking it down.) But on the other hand, knowledgeable designers will recognize similarities in mechanics to other games, and we’re back to the place we so assiduously tried to avoid. I’ll concede that perhaps it’s not that bad, though. Potentially various people are thinking about different games, which would be an improvement.
      To say, “let’s use mechanic X like the one in game Y” is most certainly a lazy shortcut that removes design possibilities and should ideally be avoided, but more than that, I think ultimately what’s also needed is a far more thoughtful and deliberate use of language in general by designers. I’ve seen far too much sloppiness in that regard.

  7. Moni says:

    I don’t like the word “minute”: It’s far too similar to the word ‘minute’, yet has nothing to do with time. In fact, I find the m-word offensive, please refrain from its usage in future.

    • rayne117 says:

      And why is it pronounced “min-night” when you talk about something small? Stupid. So very stupid.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      A minute is also minute amount of measurement, 1/60th of an angular degree to be exact. If your brain lacks the function to process context I can see how could be a problem.

    • Weylund The Second says:

      @Mad Hamish: Was that a throwaway insult or commentary on actual disorders? It’s absolutely true if the latter.

    • bob_d says:

      @rayne117: Where is it pronounced that way? I’ve never heard the adjective pronounced any other way than mīˈn(y)oōt or mən(y)oōt.

  8. manveruppd says:

    Controller lag is “below the level of human perception”? Spoken like a true console gamer tbh…

    Seriously though, I’m with Robin: while graphics don’t really matter apart from on a superficial level and a game’s technical aspects are usually not the primary contributing factors to how enjoyable its gameplay is, bad technical implementation can mar our enjoyment of even the most brilliantly-conceived and designed pieces of software. You might have the best cover system of any shooter ever released, but if the framerate stutters and drops to 15FPS ever few seconds nobody’s going to enjoy it.

    Plus, all that aside, games are quite sophisticated pieces of technology. It’s the main reason why most of us own the machines we do, when most browsing and office work could be done on 8-year-old PCs with little problem! If someone’s interested in the technical aspects of gaming, it doesn’t mean that he prioritises that above gameplay, story, and all the other non-engineering, “creative” aspects of gaming. It just means he/she is interested in technology, and that’s no reason to be snobbish towards them! All the creativity in the world couldn’t put a game together without some coding or engineering knowledge.

    Oh, and don’t anyone think that article hit a sensitive spot: I don’t work in the gaming industry, I’m not a programmer, I’m not an engineer, in fact my education is in the humanities.

    In case Mr Cullinane was wondering what REAL techno-fetichism is, it’s not DF – it’s this:
    link to

    • terry says:

      I….good grief.

    • Starky says:

      “Controller lag is “below the level of human perception”? Spoken like a true console gamer tbh…”

      I’m not a console gamer, I own a xbox 360 and it collects dust in my cupboard and I can tell you that controller lag is a myth – or a symptom of faulty hardware.

      The latency of wireless input devices is in the range of 10-30 milliseconds, some even as low as 5ms.
      Any of which are utterly unnoticeable by humans, and frankly anyone who claims otherwise is talking crap or deluded.
      Average human reaction speed is 200ms, it takes 40ms to blink, it takes about 40-50ms to press a key on a keyboard (or most mechanical input devices), that’s after reaction time – as in travel distance. the time it takes between the key starting to move down and the key registering – the travel time of the finger.
      Hell most USB keyboards update every 8ms.

      Anyone who spends any significant time using Midi controllers learns exactly what is noticable when it comes to latency.
      100ms is bad, it is a barely noticeable delay, but distracting when you are playing a fast response instrument like a drum pad.
      75ms is acceptable, but not ideal.
      50ms or below is unnoticeable. The human brain just doesn’t process fast enough to notice. Though people love to claim otherwise like they are special and have super human senses and central nervous systems, they are wrong – I’ve tested it personally (though for Sound engineering input device purposes not computing).

      Hell part of it is psychology.
      You let someone play a drum pad midi controller with 60ms delay and tell them it they will swear they can notice it.
      You let them play the same pad with the same delay telling them it is 30ms and they will swear that it is much better and improved and now unnoticeable.

    • manveruppd says:

      @Starky: yeah sure, but you’re talking about PC equipment. The stuff DF was testing was mostly console games and I believe the least laggy game he found was Burnout:paradise at 60ms or so (?), and he measured lots of top-shelf FPS titles at upwards of 100ms (one of them dinging 200ms iirc), so well above what you class as “noticeable”.
      I agree with you, it’s not an issue on PCs, that’s why I said spoken like a console gamer – they’re used to a slight lag! :)

      @Terry: was the good grief at the link? :p

    • Deano2099 says:

      But when you add that lag to the lag between console and TV (which keeps going up as more fancy processing is added to TVs) and other stuff like Kinect processing lag… it starts to matter.

    • Starky says:

      Damn, I stand corrected…

      I’ve never encountered it myself, but as I say I’m not a console gamer, I play some console games, but given the choice I go PC almost every time (PC + 360 controller > 360), I never thought for second consoles would be pushing response latency to 150ms or more due to low FPS and long frame processing times.
      While that isn’t controller latency itself (input lag based on wireless vs wired controllers is still a myth – which is what I thought you were talking about) – it’s not the controllers fault, it is total latency overhead (from controller to screen display that is rather poor for games to be topping 150ms.

      Yeah that is indeed into the noticeable and annoying range.

      That is what you get though from a game only updating 20-30 times per second.

    • Uthred says:

      “Controller lag is “below the level of human perception”? Spoken like a true console gamer tbh…”

      This is a perfect example of the kind of unthinking PC “fanboyism” that generally sullies the comments sections. There are entire game genre’s that are more or less non-existent on the PC where input lag is of critical importance, making assumptions based on what gaming platform they prefer is idiotic.

    • Archonsod says:

      It’s not unthinking fanboyism. Most of the “my console is better than your console” debates, at least between the Xbox and Playstation crowd, really do end up quibbling over technical data which is completely irrelevant and un-noticable to the average user. You don’t tend to get that on the PC, primarily due to the “I paid three hundred quid for this graphics card, so it damn well better improve things or it’s going back to the shop” effect.

    • Starky says:

      Except he’s not being unthinking at all, I had to google the article he referenced, but he’s basically correct…

      see the table:

      link to

      Street fight 4, a perfectly fine and practically unnoticeable 67ms (not including display latency, which might push it to 100ms total, again only a tiny space of time).
      Same with guitar hero.

      While GTA 4 and some big FPS games push 133+ which is a noticeable delay.

      While input/controller lag is a bit of a misnomer (and the reason for my initial disagreement) as it is total system latency he’s correct that some console titles have a very noticeable level of latency.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      100ms is easily enough to completely break any attempt to play drums to a reasonable standard. Under 60 or so is into “playable, but difficult” territory, and easily sufficient to put a drummer off his groove. 30-40ms or so is the maximum for a decent performance, and I’d assume that goes for video games too. The hand is quicker than the eye.

    • Starky says:

      Nah, video games don’t require near the timing of say a Akai MPC – where you really need under 50ms. 30-40 is ideal, not maximum BTW, anything lower than that and with any real quality digital instrument you’re going to be losing too much sound quality and risking buffer overload, even using a quality firewire audio I/O with ASIO drivers. Such drivers tend to mislead when they say 10ms delay anyway, that is true from the audio device to the speaker output (the time taken for the audio processor itself to do it’s work), but it doesn’t take anything else into account (such as the delay in the DAW/VSTi itself).
      good rule of thumb is to add 25ms to whatever setting you have in your drivers.

      30-40 ms is about the best you can achieve from drum pad to speaker, to ear.
      My current setup is about 60-80ms total (20ms reported latency in Ableton Live + 40 ms system overhead – including monitor amplification delay which is rated at 25ms), and even the fastest pad pushing feels instant and responsive, for more complex tracks where I have to increase the buffer size pushing latency to near 100ish ms it is still perfectly playable (55ms in Live) 0.1 of a second isn’t much.

      50 ms is usually fine, and well under the usual accuracy range of drumming. That is, even the best drummers have a beat accuracy of +/- 150ms.
      Which is what makes it sound live, gives it the groove.

      Ever quantized anything to be exactly perfect? It sounds mechanical and awful – where a drift of +/- 200ms sounds real and human.
      Which is why most DAWs have a feature to do that for those programmed beats – a hihat every 16th note sounds crap, but that same hihat with a weighted (towards 0) 0.2s (200ms) drift sound much better.
      As does introducing a random velocity range.

      100ms total latency is fine for videogames – even PCs don’t do much better than that (50-70ms from keyboard to monitor, then +33ms for most displays). PC’s can lower this by reducing the number of frames rendered ahead (defaulted to 3 on most drivers) but that can make frame rate choppy indeed.
      It’s when you get over 150 things get problematic.

    • manveruppd says:

      Just to point out, I’m not really a PC fanboy, I just felt annoyed by the dismissive attitude of that writer to the topics covered by DF. Sure, once in a while the guy posts a couple of side-by-side comparison shots and I have to peer till my eyes bleed to see a difference, but some of his articles are about genuinely impressive technical feats which it’s kinda shocking to see brushed aside in that way.

      And yes, I know that some console games are quite fast and responsive, the “spoken like a console gamer” comment simply meant that latency>100ms would have DEFINITELY been noticed by most PC gamers cause we’re just not used to that kind of lag – except when I was trying to play Quake 3 on 33.6kbps dial-up! :p

    • Phydaux says:

      “Console gamer” hmm… I didn’t realise I had to take sides.

    • Muzman says:

      In one way I kinda sympathise with the author, but the ire is off target. It’s generally the fanboys that slaver over this stuff in the never ending pissing contest between PS3 and 360 that get on my nerves. And tech wankers in general for that matter.
      But DF is definitely investigating an area that could use some examination and the information has its uses. If he doesn’t want to wade through the fetishists I suggest he stay away from photography, or video cameras, or cars, or computers, Hi-Fi, televisions, audio/visual production… in fact just stay away from electronics all together. (only to end up at some luddite art retreat in the woods, where all seems safe at first, until people start debating the different effects of brush hair on a stroke of paint and the readability of typefaces (and you better believe that they do))

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I mean the additional lag introduced by the controller; we already know how to compensate for the way our senses and brain lag behind.

      If the latency was a timing offset in a random direction, that would be better. In reality, a drummer who’s playing against a lag over a twentieth of a second is going to continually perceive himself as falling behind the beat and try to keep up, and everything will go horribly wrong, much worse than recording a drum track with no latency and then manually delaying it even 100ms. Quantization doesn’t come into it.

    • tomeoftom says:


      Thanks for that, really interesting to learn. (I’ve just been dicking about with Ableton and learning about driver latency etc, so this has eased a lot of my tech paranoia.)

  9. Starayo says:

    Heh, game dev story. Fantastic game. Got it on my android phone, played for dozens of hours.

    I’ll always remember my long line of Steve Quest MMOs, I through IX. They made me billions.

  10. Radiant says:

    You have to cross the streams.
    You have X amount of people in your team to make a game, the easiest way to get all of them on the same page is to say that your X mechanic in your game works like Y mechanic in that other game.

    Also sidebar: you can’t keep banging on about no one learning the lessons from half life and then say don’t reference other games.

    • Wilson says:

      @Radiant – That might be the easiest way to get everyone on the same page, but it isn’t the only way. A good explanation could do just as well as a reference, but it is harder. But then, surely some effort is generally required to do things that are a bit different (if that’s your goal, as I think he mentions in the article).

    • Radiant says:

      But it’s the difference between filling an entire page with the tiny unread minute of /exactly/ how the guy your controlling should move or writing one sentence:

      Cover mechanic; like gears of war but with more sliding on your arse.
      ( Vanquish)

      So long as /you/ know why your doing it finding the fastest and easiest way to describe it to someone else is the only thing that matters.

      I make a game every month – five weeks.

      It’s so much quicker and easier to brief an artist by saying: “look at this cover of the Untouchables mix that up with the guys from Platoon”
      (Call of Duty)

      Then it is to describe every single inch of the picture you want, the way every single person is standing and what bloody motivation each of them has.

    • Radiant says:

      Or “See Lethal Weapon? Change the black guy to a cat.”
      (Jack and Daxter)

  11. Jinnigan says:

    Re: “Don’t Cross the Streams,” I want to reference William Upksi Wimsatt, author of the book Bomb the Suburbs, talking about stealing styles as a graffiti writer:

    Although being a new jack seems undesirable in any hip-hop art form, you should enjoy it while you can. At this stage you can bite all you want with no remorse. All your elders will say is “Aw, isn’t that sweet, kootchie kootchie koo.” So steal that freeze, rob that rhyme scheme, and loot whole letterforms. Don’t worry about giving any credit, we’ll pat ourselves on the back and brag about how we’re influencing the next generation. But style isn’t a crutch or a schtick. It is understanding why the connection you bit flows or why the baseline you boosted bumps. Style is the process to an appealing end. Once you’ve studied it, you can reinvent your own style. Pretty soon, somebody will steal your secret sauce and the cycle will be renewed.

    Or, in other words, steal! But don’t just steal for no reason. Understand why that particular element you’re stealing works so well. What is it, exactly, about the cover system from Gears that works so well? Is it the puzzle-game mechanics? The “Black Hawk Down” sense of action-hero it provides? Or something else? And once you understand that, you can make a new twist on the cover system, one that is perfect for your own game. And that, in my opinion, is originality.

    • Wilson says:

      @Jinnigan – I got the impression that’s what he was trying to encourage, through not mentioning the reference games. You can still think “hey, a cover system like in Gears of War would be cool”, but to get that across to everyone else, you’ve got to think of why it would be good beyond just saying “it’s like in Gears of War” so you can describe the mechanic without name dropping another game as a shortcut.

    • karry says:

      “hip-hop art form”

      What ?

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Welcome to the 1980s, karry. :)

    • Nogo says:

      I agree with him entirely, especially because he noted that crossing the streams is entirely OK, just not in proper design meetings where the intended focus is on your game and your player, not GoW’s.

      The way I framed it is similar to how an art critique is done. You can’t just say something is ‘interesting’ or ‘weird’ or ‘bad.’ All of those words are overly broad and have entirely subjective baggage attached to them preventing the artist from learning anything useful.

      A good critique gets at the nuts and bolts in minute detail so the effect of the work is understood. Sure it’s tedious to describe an entire frame, as if for a blind man, but then the overall effect is considered a sum of effects, and now the author can cherry-pick the useful information from the noise.

    • RakeShark says:

      Let no one else’s work evade your eyes!
      Remember why the good Lord made your eyes!
      So don’t shade your eyes, but plagiarize! Plagiarize!
      Plagiarize, only to be sure to call it please… Research!

  12. Cooper says:

    That whore truck blog is fantastic.

    I particularly love the meticulous breakdown of the inconsistencies in the evolution of two pokemon.

  13. Basilicus says:

    Bishnu Shrestha is indeed brave, but initial reports in The Telegraph of Calcutta listed the number of robbers at 15 and said he defended the woman in response to a theft, not attempted rape.

    Other reports list the woman at 29 years of age, not 18, and others say that she pleaded for Shrestha’s help, and say nothing of her parents being present. All agree that he did kill three robbers.

    I don’t mean to rain on Shrestha’s bravery. His act was incredible, no matter the numbers. I do not know which version of the story is true, but as a former reporter and current part-time contributor, it irks me when news organizations can’t be bothered enough to do the most basic research on their stories. I know here in America that level of journalistic laziness has become a dangerous and deadly facet of our culture.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yes, it absolutely reads in a “it was THIS BIG” way. Still, a good story is a good story.

    • Soon says:

      “They say he killed 3 men with a cookie.”

    • Radiant says:

      OR it could be read another way.

      Mad man goes crazy on a train; maims 40 people.
      Claims the entire train tried to rape one woman.

  14. Davie says:

    Ah, that story about the Gurkha was fucking amazing. It sounds like the plot of a Die Hard film. Hell, he made it on Badass of the Week: link to

  15. PleasingFungus says:

    “look at me I am Tim Rogers”


  16. mikalye says:

    The article I expected to see was some comment on the experience: link to in which Activision issues a cease and desist letter and then changes their mind.

  17. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    That whore truck article got a few adolescent chuckles out of me, I must admit.

  18. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    “Papa didn’t cuss,
    He didn’t raise a whole lotta fuss.
    But when we did wrong,
    Papa beat the hell out of us,

    This is my favourite JB era. If you like Jim’s link pick up In the Jungle Groove and Motherlode.