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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for psychic attacks on your enemies. Because indulging in telepathic warfare is time consuming, you might want something to read. Hey, here’s something now:

  • Totilo’s article on Jon Jacobs is one of those stories about gamers that is weird precisely because it is so human. The focus of the piece is on Jacobs’ attempt to immortalise his dead fiance in an online game, an Entropia spin-off called Next Island, which encapsulates her interest in the technological singularity that Jacobs, as a Kurzweil follower, hopes will be on us by 2045: “Jacobs considers what he did for Tina to be a partial gesture toward the opportunities of 2045. “Obviously, I can’t bring people back to life, but what I can do is draw attention to the way things are going and pay tribute in a way that was never possible before and, you know, extend an artists’ legacy through virtual reality.” The artist’s legacy aspect is important to Jacobs and, he believes, would have been to Tina. She was a singer, lending vocals to a European club hit called “To The Club.” And she had other songs, which can now play in Jacobs’ virtual world. He says that his son, now 11, wants his father to make quests for the virtual Tina to dole out to players.”
  • This is excruciating. Firstly there was this unfortunate editorial on the relationship between Warhammer 40k’s Space Marine and Gears Of War. And then there was this awkward apology for and partial defence of that bit of writing. Overall they add up to a grand lesson in the predictability of the Angry Internet Men, and also why no one should ever write anything on the internet.
  • Troy Goodfellow talks about “turning points” in strategy games: “I often return to the idea of strategy game as story telling, as one of a handful of genres where the outcome is not known and where, even if you are very good a game, you can spin a yarn about the struggles that got you to the top. The more I think on it, the more I think that it often comes down to turning points. All us amateur historians love the idea of turning of points in history. These are those moments on which the destinies of nations and men and women turn, where if the outcome had gone another way the entire course of history would have been different.”
  • PC Gamer’s Tom Francis has a go at defining what makes games good: “A few times lately, non-gaming friends and relatives have asked me: what’s the appeal of games? Good question! The people who don’t ask it seem to assume it’s something terrible, like bloodlust, or it’s some unknowable new drug they will never understand. It’s also a useful one for anyone involved with games to ask. It’s one game critics like me should be able to answer reflexively. It’s one developers should answer before they start making something. And it’s one gamers should probably think about before writing a one-star Amazon review saying ‘lol ass’.” It is bloodlust. But also, I think Francis is on to something with “feel”, I suspect it just need a bit more elucidation to make it clear what he means.
  • GameSpy’s David Wolinsky revisits Ultima Online: “But I know it also just isn’t possible to get a feel for everything UO has to offer in a month. I logged the hours, but I didn’t get any closer to even feeling like I had graduated from “newb” status. It would take me a year, if not longer. I got slightly more adventurous with my mage, venturing far out of town but unable to face down enemies alone; I’d flee for my life, stopping only to tame animals. I had a posse of two dogs, a cat, two rabbits, and a rat — and woe to any enemy who crossed our path. Actually, pity me: The animals would stay and defend me while I would run back to town huffing, puffing, and shrieking “guards.””
  • Cliff, did you write this post on How To Work Out Why A PC Game Keeps Crashing because you you knew it would do well on Google? Eh?
  • Ben Abraham points me towards this piece on Fate Of The World: “Even given some highly unlikely premises (“Hey, guess what, we’ve got unlimited fossil fuels after all!” or “As of today, the entire global population is united behind environmental causes!”) it’s still damn near impossible to get the whole mess under control. And while there’s a certain grim educational aspect to the choices you get to make and their unintended consequences, (Want to transition China’s transportation grid off of fossil fuels and over to electric? The manufacturing requirements will dramatically increase emissions over the short and medium term to do it!) the real fascinating lesson is what it showed me about myself.”
  • VG247 talk to American McGee about the new Alice game: “Have you seen the trailer for that Red Riding Hood film? I don’t know that I would consider that… There’s an episode of South Park that made me laugh because there was a whole Twilight thing taking over the school, and the Goth kids – the original Goth kids – were getting quite upset because they were being categorised as emo and Twilighters, so they had to go and destroy Hot Topic, the source of all evil.”
  • Eurogamer make an argument for the Top Ten Test Chambers In Portal 2.
  • Charlie Brooker says Hollywood shuns intelligent entertainment. The games industry doesn’t: “Portal 2 is essentially a demented series of puzzles – like being stuck inside a physics-based logic problem designed by the Python team; LA Noire is a trad adventure game. Adventure games used to be as close as gaming got to fiction. They started out as interactive text-based shaggy dog stories (a prime example being Douglas Adams’s fantastic Hitchhiker’s Guide Infocom adventure), transformed into point-and-click comedies (such as Monkey Island), and then largely went away for a while, as the gaming industry focused on gung-ho shooters aimed at teenage boys. The size, scope, and sheer self-assurance of LA Noire marks a major comeback for adventure games – for interactive fiction – and, potentially, a huge leap forward for wider acceptance of the medium as a whole.”
  • Our 19th-century correspondents sent us this story on how music-on-demand was available in 1892.
  • The Robot Librarians Of Chicago.

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