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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for filling our pipe up with mustard and having a good old smoke in the library. Because the library is where one must reside to give a proper impression of our acumen and capacity for understanding. Another way of impressing intellect upon human typicals is to be seen reading long strings of English words. I’ve provided some of those below, for your edification.

  • Kotaku talks to the guy who tweeted about the assassination of Bin Laden a gamer from Abbottabad. Turns he knows some terrorist types, and says Taliban gamers like a bit of Terrorists Win! “The Taliban I knew told me how good Talibans are at C.S and how that game helps them in keeping their senses sharp…. [he] told me one thing to keep in mind, Talibans will always play as terrorists..lol..these Talibans have a computer like memory and this makes them geniuses at using PC’s just like a grease monkey is for a car.”
  • Tap Repeatedly have an exclusive interview with ArenaNet’s lead writer, Bobby Stein. Here’s a bit of what he has to say: “Say you’re travelling a road between two towns, when a guard approaches you in a frenzy. He emphatically tells you that the estate he’s guarding is under attack, and that the family–including a small child–is in danger. You storm the property and cut through waves of pirates. Meanwhile, you hear the owners down below cowering in fear. But you’ve arrived a few moments too late. You overhear the kidnapping take place, and the pirates whisk the little girl to their hideout for ransom. If you’re quick about it you can even watch them make the journey. An event chain like this is extensively voiced, so everything from battle chatter to context-relevant dialogue is triggered at key moments to make you feel like you’re in the middle of a tense situation. The characters have personality and motivation, and it comes through during each event.”
  • How Minecraft Taught Me To Dream seems an unlikely title for an article, but there it is. The author, apparently, has a better imagination now that’s he’s played Minecraft: “Minecraft propels someone like myself to have more creative vision and confidence. I’ve had ideas of grand lava- and water-falls to surround my base; a rollercoaster; monster traps; a canal system with working locks; a sky-fortress; a memorial to mark my tragic death at the hands of a group of marauding creepers; an armed netherwold expedition, and more. I have Minecraft and its community to thank for helping me have these ideas.”
  • Eurogamer have a chat with Pirhana Bytes about why Risen 2 will be a better game than the first. They also try to explain how their games are more about the everyday stuff of the fantasy worlds they take place in: “Dragon Age is far more into epic battles and war. We always try to have the player solve a certain problem in the world, but it’s not like he’s the saviour of the world – he is the saviour, maybe, of the village. He is not killing a god of evil but he is killing one of his minions who is particularly dangerous. We go one step more towards the reality approach: what one person really could do, not the superhero stuff.”
  • Eurogamer’s Gaming For God article is also interesting. A quote from Christian developer Chris Skaggs: “We lean on what C. S. Lewis said when he wrote The Space Trilogy. He wanted the books to appeal to people who would never go to church and encourage them to think about eternal things. I feel our role is not to be Christians making games for Christians, but to put ourselves, including our Christianity, into mainstream work.”
  • “The Retired Gambler” on Electron Dance attacks the idea of scores, achievements, and other reward aspects of game design: “Score, prestige or achievements – they’re all design illusions, trying to paint a sense of worth over actions that are provably worthless. But it just doesn’t work any more, because time is too valuable to waste on something which is empty and unrewarding. You see the whole damn lie for what it is.”
  • RPS-chum Mark Wallace has been blogging about the design of his RTS game, and spends some time thinking over one of the fundamentals of PC gaming: the tech tree. “On the surface, tech and talent trees seem to be about a creating a natural course of evolution and customization for a player’s character or forces. If you don’t look too closely at them, they just provide a framework for the progression of play, so that you don’t spend the whole game with the same set of abilities (which is actually just fine in other contexts, like platformers, for instance). But look at tech trees from the other side of the code, and there’s a lot more to them.”
  • A write up of Erik Wolpaw’s recent talk at NYU. One of the attendees at this event told me that he was asked what websites he liked. He said “Rock, Paper, Shotgun.” Bless him. While you’re on Gamasutra there’s an article about the Portal 2 ARG, too.
  • When videogame plots are actual military projects.
  • English Russia remains one my favourite websites. So much of the phrasing is just beautiful: “Ukraine has its own rocket forces of special purposes.”

This week’s music in the Rossignol research crater has been glitchy ambient and doomed country. A typical week, and nothing new. I’m sorry.

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Jim Rossignol

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