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The Sunday Papers

Sunday! At last! All these years we’ve been waiting for it to be Sunday and it’s finally here. A whole day off. If only it could last forever. Well, we’d better make the most of it. There’s no telling we might get another one. It might not even be in your lifetime. And that’s factually true! A relaxing way to spend a bit of your morning could be to read some things about videogames, but then that’s not vital or anything. Just a suggestion. I’ll leave these links here for you, just in case.

  • Richard Cobbett has been a busy boy of late, and you should probably read this sprawling, hiarious Police Quest edition of Crapshoot: “I’ve never been an American beat cop myself. I don’t even really know how American cops work outside of TV and movies, not just because I’m far too boring to ever have gotten on the wrong side of the law, but because – as you can probably tell from my accent – I’m English. Yes, from England. God Save The Queen, and all that. It means I grew up with a very different kind of police force. Our police don’t usually get to carry guns for instance. We don’t have many donut shops. Instead of Miranda Rights, our officially approved caution is “You’re bloody nicked, mate!”, to which our villains admit “It’s a fair cop…” and resignedly hold out their wrists for the cuffs… “
  • Wow, this is depressing.
  • VG247 talked to Relic’s Morten Haugaard about “Reclaiming The Space Marine”. They can eat dirt, you know: “Warhammer 40k has been around for 25 years. We were the original space marine. Lots of other games have drawn inspiration from us. In terms of the aesthetics and the weapons… I mean, you look at the chainsword and you look at some other games. I mean, the chainsword was first. We really want to take back and own what a space marine really means. They’re hulking badasses who aren’t afraid. They don’t hide behind cover. They don’t crouch in the weeds. They run into combat and just wreck people – just destroy them.” A bit like RPS’ blogging style, there.
  • VG247 have also been looking at how Portal could be used in education.
  • A note from Marek Spanel on ten years of Bohemia’s soldier games: “in the years immediately following the original release of Operation Flashpoint, our focus was based on riding on the wave of its success. Operation Flashpoint: Resistance was released one year later and to many of Bohemia’s developers it is their favourite game to play to date. Sometimes, though, I feel we made a mistake not taking this even further, especially on the multiplayer and engine side, and by not extending it into a full-blown sequel. However, we didn’t want to create a sequel at all back. Instead, we wanted to do something completely different: an RPG Wild West game. Aside from prototyping it, we started numerous other ventures simultaneously: OFP: Elite for Xbox, VBS1, OFP2 in Vietnam and several other projects that did not come to fruition, but elements of which fed directly into later games. VBS1 was struggling to establish itself within the serious military domain (where its biggest rival was, surprisingly, a heavily modified Operation Flashpoint known as DARWARS Ambush!).”
  • More on Cloud gaming, with a profile of OnLive and Gaikai – two quite different approaches – over at Gamasutra: “The two entrepreneurs are approaching cloud gaming from distinct angles. OnLive is a consumer-facing service that sells streaming game access to consumers via a storefront, giving publishers a cut of those sales. Gaikai, on the other hand, is business-facing, positioning itself as an “enabling platform” — retailers and publishers pay Gaikai for its ability to provide streaming technology in order to reach gamers directly. But the differences go even deeper than the distinct business models. Both companies have very different approaches to utilizing the web, different approaches to their networks and different visions of where exactly the cloud will take gaming. Turns out that there are real businesses, new technologies, and fascinating ideas behind this ambiguous, fluffy term “cloud gaming.””
  • While you’re at Gamasutra you should also check out this intriguing article on using psychology to define game level design. It’s all about pandering to our primitive instincts, apparently: “Games take advantage of this weakness and reliance on tools by using something I like to call “the problem of the protagonist.” This describes a common situation in many games where a character finds him or herself in a position of natural weakness compared to his or her enemies. This simulates humanity’s own natural disadvantages against the beasts that made our pre-agricultural lifestyles a hassle.”
  • In a week where “free” became ever more the focus of PC gaming, Comrade Cobbett also talks about the problems with the idea of free: “Free-to-play and microtransaction based games always make me feel oddly guilty – like someone just offered me a plate of biscuits only for me to scowl back and reply: ‘No. No, thank you.’ “
  • Insert Credit have been cheerily writing a new manifesto. It’s a series of essays that are about games journalism, and what the authors think about that most significant of journalisms. I like that this one has a “skip cutscene” option.
  • Lots to this post, entitled Playing with race and gender in Mass Effect: “Fans of Lady Shepard often talk about how jarring it is to see Mass Effect promotional materials showing the default male character instead. And it is! The lady version of the character is so memorable and feels such a natural part of the story (thanks in no small part to Jennifer Hale’s fantastic voice acting) that watching a trailer only to see some dudeish lunkhead come barrelling onscreen is bewildering. Who is that guy? Where’s Shepard? Shepard’s not male! Some 80% of players choose the male version of the character, so of course he’s going to get the marketing spotlight (although this will be changing soon).”
  • Do humans have Geomagnetic vision? (…No?)
  • A rigorous defence of Duke Nukem Forever shows why – despite it being rubbish – the majority of the damning reviews were wrong and mad. It names and shames! Ah, the Internet is great.

Music this week is some whimsical whimsy, from Motopony. Ooh, gentle. But also Nick Cave. Seize the mantle! Not whimsy.

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Jim Rossignol

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