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The Sunday Papers

It's sunday, there is the papers

Sundays are for eating. Don’t stop! Eat and eat until you are like a balloon stuffed with cake, fit to burst. Only when you are precariously heavy with meat and plant-matter, can you stop, sit down, and have a look at this week’s words from the world of games.

  • Will Porter’s retrospective look at the Acorn Archimedes is a thing you should read. Here’s a bit of what Porter wrote: “Yes, the Acorn was a gaming backwater. I’m not going to deny it. Like most tepid shallow pools though, there was a ton of interesting stuff growing in it and occasionally some great stuff floating in from elsewhere if the wind was in the right direction. My Acorn gaming habit was in a gated community, but I’m oddly proud of my hectic spanner-chucks in Mad Professor Mariarti, spherical space platforming in Fervour and mushroom tree destruction in Apocalypse. God bless the Archimedes. For the middle classes shall not see her like again.”
  • There aren’t enough women entering science as a career. Can video games help? Science Daily investigates. Kotaku also has a few words on this.
  • Penumbra writer Tom Jubert has been off visiting Ice Pick Lodge in the far-away land in which they live. He’s written about it, too. It has a certain flavour to it: “5am – I wake up to hear Nikolay singing “What shall we do with the drunken sailor” in his sleep.”
  • Bit-gamer have been talking about how death in games is handled. Here’s a bit: “Death is the focus, the challenge, the enemy to overcome. As you commit each section of a level to muscle memory, you steadily beat death. It becomes more than trivial because it’s wholly accepted. ‘Oh I died. Oh I died. Died. Died. Dead.’ The death state exists for a micro-second before the stage is reset and everything is as it was – the player close to immortal because death has no significance. Clearly this only works in a game in which this concept is the very focus – but it’s a death mechanic none the less.”
  • People didn’t seem to react well to David Braben’s suggestion that we might have “a Metacritic that rates game reviewers”, largely because it seemed to point towards reviewers bowing to some kind of consensus. Us being wrong/mad is much more valuable. Metacritic’s Marc Doyle responded to Braben’s suggestions over here.
  • An investigation of the use of bots in farming cash in Eve Online.
  • Paste Magazine on games being “over the top”, with particular reference to Bulletstorm and Bayonetta.
  • Lawrence Russell takes some time to respond to Julian Widdow’s discussion of inspiration in game design: “…just because I can’t negate thinking about this other game doesn’t mean I can’t find an original idea. I call this the “bad photocopy method”. This method is my favourite for turnaround time although it does require someone else. I start by describing the existing game to my best friend. My explanation of it and his interpretation of my explanation is no substitute for playing the game. The image in his mind will be completely different. I further this by asking him to draw how he envisions the game and get him to explain the GUI and the game elements.”
  • Stu Campbell examines video game pricing, and the profits made by slashing prices.
  • Leigh Alexander on the Dickwolves thing. There’s a sentence I never expected to write.
  • Game Theory’s documentary on game story-telling.
  • Jonathan McCalmont on Heavy Rain: “Heavy Rain is a game that cruelly exposes our own refusal to embrace our freedom. Games such as Bayonetta (2009) involve more button-pushing than a Borgia family reunion, and yet – despite the phenomenal amount of physical interaction demanded of the player – the game gives them little or no control over either the nature of their character or their character’s path through life; it’s not as though you even have the choice to send her home to put on some proper shoes. Heavy Rain gives you more creativity and more sense of responsibility over the development of your characters than practically any other video game… and yet it is a game that demands little from its players but a few timely button presses.”
  • BLDGBLOG interviews Mike “Hellboy” Mignola: “Shipwrecks are great—but ships in general, even when they’re not wrecked, as long as they’re old school sailing ships, are wonderfully Gothic. I don’t know that I’ve done a lot of stories—if any stories—with ships that are 20th-century ships. I like the romance and the spookiness and the tragedy that goes with that old time sea travel. Those stories pertaining to ships are huge. I love them. They’re a big genre within ghost story fiction.”
  • Peter Pomerantsev on the unfolding of Russian TV.

This week in music I’ve mostly been digging through old blues stuff. This John Lee Hooker track has had a lot of time from me.

More soon!

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Jim Rossignol

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