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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for sitting somewhere in the Cambridgeshire countryside, hoping that RPS’ shonky automated scheduling has actually published The Sunday Papers that you prepared the day before. There’s simply no way of telling. Maybe it’ll end up getting published on Monday. Or perhaps it’s already been published and folks are merrily commenting away on the selection of links and things that you have compiled. The not knowing is the worst.

  • Eurogamer have a huge breakdown of the relationship between LA Noire creators Rockstar and Team Bondi. It makes for quite a read: “Every dog has its day and there’s going to be hell to pay for this one. I’ll never forget being treated like an absolute **** by these people,” says Team Bondi lead Brendan McNamara. Oof.
  • Sinister Design suggest 12 ways to improve turn-based RPG combat systems. Here’s one: “Give the player at least six characters. This one is absolutely key, and yet most western RPGs of the past 20 years have missed it. Imagine playing chess with only four pieces–you’d be looking at a game with greatly reduced tactical complexity and far less interesting matches.” I say “what turn-based RPGs are those then?”
  • This is an odd one. Caretaker development, in bringing the Oddworld series back from the past. VG247 talks to Just Add Water’s CEO and creative director, Stewart Gilray: “Four weeks before both Stranger’s Wrath and Munch’s Oddysee were due to launch on PC we also took over on Munch’s Oddysee, the development of which had become been a little troubled, shall we say, and we worked to get that to a releasable state. To be honest, we got a bit of stick from the PC gaming public for not delivering to them everything that had been promised and rightly so. So, we spent the first couple of months at the beginning of this year improving those titles, adding things like anti-aliasing and upping the frame rate.”
  • Mr Yang has been writing a love letter to a bridge. You know the one: “The bridge is made of widely spaced (2 inch thick?) wood planks resting on an exceptionally weak-looking wood frame that wouldn’t support the weight of a leaf in real-life. And the wood looks pale, old and rotten. And maybe there used to be railings but half of them have collapsed (?!) — it looks like a single bullet will shred the whole thing, or your feet (and grenades) will fall through the gaps; in short, it looks dangerous.” Pah, they always fall in love with the dangerous bridges.
  • Industry Gamers have got Mr Carmack predicting that mobile devices will be more powerful than consoles within a couple of years time. This feels like a bit of a non-headline: “MARCH OF TIME INEVITABLE, THINGS TO CHANGE, FEW INTERESTED.”
  • Simon Ludgate is writing a series about how MMO economies work: ” MMORPGs don’t scale. They can’t, really, because players of all different levels might wander into the same area at the same time. You wouldn’t want a game that would spawn a level 50 monster right next to a level 5 player just because a high level player was riding past. Thus MMORPGs scale their content in the same way that classical JRPGs did: monsters of various difficulty levels are intentionally painted over the landscape. Here’s one of my favorite examples of this: a map of Dereth, the game world from Asheron’s Call, showing the relative levels of monsters.” Hmm, I hope Mr Ludgate has played some Eve Online before he embarked on this. I notice that he doesn’t talk to anyone from Eve, meaning he’s taking MMO to mean “Everquest derivative”. Depressing.
  • An article about “crunch” at game studios. The conclusion here is that people should “get out” and make their own games, which I am not sure is entirely useful advice, but also that game directors need to step up to stop it happening. And they do, but it’s also worth noting that project management of larger projects is one of the hardest problems that the industry faces, and few people are really good at it. Crunch is often a result of that, and I can’t really see there being any easy solutions.
  • The Gambit Game Lab podcasts are getting really good. The current series is all about interviewing former members of Looking Glass. Which is making me wonder when we’ll get another studio that has as much impact.
  • EGTV talks about “The Future Of PC Gaming“. Which as we all know is very exciting. It’s EVEN MORE EXCITING WHEN EXPLAINED BY ALEC MEER AND WILL PORTER. Hot.
  • Ian Bogost looks back at something he wrote in 2004 about asynchronous multiplayer gaming, and sees what he got right and what he got wrong. It makes for interesting reading in the light of the past few years.
  • The Cosplay video is hilarious/incredible.

Music this week is by Spaces, who kept me noised with the progness of Nothing Exists but Atoms and the Void as I contemplated the inspiring, elegiac sight of last space shuttle launch. Sigh. Anyone else worried that humanity is now increasingly post-Space Age? Just me then…

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Jim Rossignol

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