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The Sunday Papers

Sundays. Sundays are for obsessively going back through a collection of writing from the past ten years and trying to work out the bits that might just be valuable in the next ten years. It’s also for grabbing an internet-telescope and peering out into the murky reaches of videogame commentary. What is that big tentacled thing in the mist?

  • Bulletstorm is looking fantastic, but the puerile nature of the manshoot has some people concerned – like Richard Clark over at Gamasutra. His take is well worth reading: “By encouraging players to pull off such skillshots as “Facial”, “Gang Bang” and “Bad Touch”, Bulletstorm becomes far more than just another violent videogame. Mortal Kombat’s spine-removal and explosive blown kisses seem perfectly reasonable (and very well may be) in the face of Bulletstorm’s seemingly complete lack of any social responsibility.” Made all the more interesting by the lead designer of Bulletstorm, Adrian Chmielarz, turning up in the comments: “I do believe this industry will only be considered mature only once it stops being ashamed of itself.”
  • Magical Wasteland is an excellent blog that you should all read. The author is not always right. Sometimes he’s wrong. But he’s often interesting. He manages to be interesting when talking about the Games As Art debate (I know!), like this: “Or take crying: people cry all the time at overly sentimental stories because they feel for the characters in them. Maudlin romances and soppy ballads regularly earn a great volume of tears but no particular admiration from the gatekeepers of art. In other words, the inducement of crying does not equal art, it does not lead to art, and the pursuit of crying in pursuit of art is as misguided as measuring a film by its box-office receipts. “Where’s the game that will make me cry”– a phrase bandied around in the game industry as a shorthand for these kinds of problems– is the wrong question, no matter who asks it.” Damn right. I cry at TV commercials and the sad noises my washing machine makes.
  • Quinns wrote about a boardgame: “Space Alert is a game of panicking, of screaming at your friends, and asking them where they are and what they’re doing because you’re standing at the main laser and slapping the fire button and nothing is happening because there’s nobody in the engine room to feed it power, and you’re swearing and swearing as a fucking alien bomber zips closer and closer and GOD DAMNIT PAUL GET IN THE FUCKING ENGINE ROOM BEFORE I TURN YOUR ANUS INTO A EARRING. I CAN DO THAT. I’VE BEEN TAKING NIGHT CLASSES.”
  • Some thoughts on the issues of gathering and building in the RTS genre.
  • Eurogamer ran a big old interview about Daggerdale and the future of D&D games, although really it’s about why people love action RPGs: “We chose to go the action RPG route because it’s something that the team felt very passionately about. It takes the two great loves that the team has and marries them together in a really cool, unique experience. So brawling is something that we all really enjoy, the action side of it brings with it a lot of opportunities to create white-knuckle gameplay. It’s something we think fits really well with the RPG portion of it, which allows us to develop a character and customise that character through a longer period.”
  • Oof. This one is like a bone of contention on fire – Auntie Pixelante vs Jim Sterling. Oh dear. Messy.
  • This amused me: Why Dead Space 2 is a direct attack on Scientology. And then the claim that it isn’t by the devs. It’s inspired by Carl Sagan, apparently. I am inspired by him too!
  • This is probably my article title of the past couple of weeks: My wife shoots people in the head, then presses reset. It’s about a wife who plays Fallout 3, and her peculiar conceptualisation of save games and restarts.
  • Oh, actually this is a good title, too: We’re Very Uncomfortable With The Copenhagen Game Collective, but even better if you take into account the first line: “It began with a sex game in a dark room.”
  • I was certain had posted this link before, but history says not: Paste magazine on “Home” in videogames: “The brilliance of Minecraft is that there is no actual “game,” no end-goal towards which players must strive. There is only one rule: when night falls, monsters come out, and they will probably kill you. By necessity the very first order of business in a given game of Minecraft is to build a safe haven, a home.” John wrote something similar a while back.
  • Bioware talk a bit more about SWTOR’s dungeons flashpoints.
  • FuckYeahVanGoghTiltShifted… An actual use for depth of field effects?
  • Journalist Stephen Fung put a PC together in just over four minutes at the Build Your Own PC Race for Charity in Las Vegas.

Music this week is a track from Ravedeath, 1972, the forthcoming album by electronic noise conjurer Tim Hecker. He’s one of my favourite artists in the fuzzy world of ambient and I am keen to see how the new album turns out, later this month.

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Jim Rossignol

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