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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for wondering whether Portal 2 really will be released early. Also, perhaps, for gentle reminiscing. Not too much, mind, or you’ll get upset. Better to think of The Now, and the issues that surround it like Nic Cage’s head in a basket full of bees. Here are some relevant writings:

  • Tom Armitage is a clever creature. He’s written a fascinating piece about how action RPGs owe their genetics to Roguelike games, in this piece called “How Rogue Ended Up On The Sofa“. Here’s a bit: “They are not games to be played casually; that dungeon will eat you alive if you don’t treat it with the respect it deserves. But: they are games that can be played as a casual part of life. A short session here, resulting in failure, might also result in better understanding of the effects of a particular potion. A quick burst before saving the game, to pick it up later, might solve another of Nethack’s Sokoban levels. And, out of short, flawed, ten-or-fifteen minutes runs – before being booted to the command prompt again – comes the years-long journey to the surface.”
  • Comrade Hamilton has a think about genres over on Paste Magazine. He describes the piece as “a bit esoteric”, but I say don’t worry, Kirk, you’ve still got a long way to go before it’s too esoteric: “We used to have “Rock ‘n Roll,” but now we’ve got Emo, Screamo, Hardcore, Crabcore, Shoegaze, Shitgaze…. sub-genres coupled on top of sub-genres until the entire thing feels meaningless. Jazz underwent a similar fragmentation as it changed over the years—first to Big Band and Bebop, then Cool Jazz and Hard-Bop to New Thing and Free Jazz and Electro and Neo-Hardbop, all the way up to the dreaded “Rock with jazz elements.”” I’m fairly certain we need to take the musical convention of “core” and “-o” and apply it to games. “Shootcore,” “Strategy-o”, “Jump-o”, “Grindcore…” actually those are musical genres already. I’m so confused.
  • Ars Technica is fast becoming one of the most read sites on the Rossignol roster, and they’ve managed to make The ‘Papers again with this piece: How Early Reviews Hurt Sales Of Indie Games. Some interesting points, based mostly on Anomaly’s recent launch experience. I’d add to that stuff like my own discussions of Revenge Of The Titans, which I think I was pretty critical of when I took some early glances at it. Now, of course, it’s a completely different game with all the issues fixed, but for any gamers who read just my early impressions, the thought that it was flawed is liable to have stuck. If that’s you, then you should go play the new demo.
  • Foreign Policy’s piece “The World of Holy Warcraft” reports on “How al Qaeda is using online game theory to recruit the masses.” I… What? “LFG!” “Come, join our death-cult crusade!” “Tank plz.” Actually, it’s funnier than that. It links gamification with terrorism. Haha. Perfect.
  • Twenty-five years of Ubisoft! MCV celebrates, sort of.
  • Kill Screen is getting good. Here’s some samples of that goodness here and here.
  • Eric Schwarz has something to say about Dragon Age II and the unreliable narrator technique: “The more I think about BioWare’s implementation, however, the more I see it as an unsuccessful experiment – though an experiment that was well worth trying. In the following article, I’d like to outline why I think so many games have shied away from unreliable narrators in the past, but perhaps more importantly, why the unreliable narrator as a storytelling device is fundamentally in conflict with videogames as a medium.”
  • Handwaving console musical-shooter Child Of Eden was shown off in London last week, and I happened to be there. So did Simon Parkin, who wrote up the experience. Yes, very pretty.
  • Also on GameSetWatch is a discussion of randomness and the possible application of games to explore it: “To a human mind that’s precisely what randomness is: brutal. Our flashy pattern completion engines are always looking for ways to soften its impact, which has ramifications for how we create and understand video games, even if we aren’t consciously aware of it. For games to be fun, we often want them to reduce randomness.”
  • VG247 have some impressions of fantasy epic Kingdoms of Amalur: “There really is a noticeable Fable feel here. It’s partly to do with the look of the one-button combat, but mostly it’s about the colours, the warm glow that emanates from everything in the world, the stocky character design, and indeed the British accents. There’s not much here, frankly, that looks like a Todd McFarlane world – at least, not yet.”
  • Digital Foundry talks occlusion rewidgeting with Crytek in The Making of Crysis 2.
  • Eurogamer also has a Guild Wars 2 interview that is worth reading.
  • This is too beautiful.
  • This exploration of the nature of puns is excellent, and clearly a topic close to RPS’ heart.

Music! How about this trendier-than-thou piece of synthpop? No, you’re right, it’s not really me. Far more likely to stay with the Rossignol consciousness is something like this second volume of spooky Englishman music. Beautiful.

Until next Sunday, folks…

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Jim Rossignol

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