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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.

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Jim Rossignol

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