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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for contemplation of stupidity. Can it be defeated? Possibly, but we rely on the clever people remaining steadfast for year after year as the waves of stupid crash in like a tsunami. One day, perhaps, the clever shall be able to rest. But not today. Today they must write, and write they do. Here is some of what they offer us.

  • Troy has finished up his Nations As Characters series. It’s one of the most interesting long pieces (if you like the history and the strategy) to have emerged this year: “Historical strategy games owe a debt to science fiction games, because there is an assumption that two races that evolved on different planets will have different talents or cultures. Master of Orion, Starcraft, and maybe some fantasy games, too, showed how differentiating factions made gameplay more interesting and varied. Playing the Civ 1 French wasn’t that much different from the Civ 1 Egyptians. Klackons and Psilons, though…”
  • Okay, so there’s been a lot of Id-related, and specifically Carmack-related materials coming out of QuakeCon and so forth, but Kris Graft’s interview with John Carmack is splendidly comprehensive. It also gives you a taste of the world he lives in: “My marching orders to myself here are, I want game loads of two seconds on our PC platform, so we can iterate that much faster. And right now, even with solid state drives, you’re dominated by all the things that you do at loading times, so it takes this different discipline to be able to say “Everything is going to be decimated and used in relative addresses,” so you just say, “Map the file, all my resources are right there, and it’s done in 15 milliseconds.”
  • More Eve Online scamming: “The same story applies to ourselves. It’s been a lot, really a LOT of work. We fulfilled over 800 withdrawal requests. We answered over 6,000 mails and processed more than 15,000 payouts. Its been an incredible event. And, isn’t that beautiful after all? This can only be done in EVE Online. Enjoy this game, it’s one of a kind. We’d like to conclude with the words of CCP : EVE is real!”
  • Andrew Doull’s proceduralism series continues with some thoughts on procedural architecture design: “When we talk about architecture in game play, we don’t think of buildings and naves and antechambers: we refer to choke points, and cover, and objectives. The topology of the space is much more important than its aesthetic or fidelity. The most successful (and perhaps only successful) procedurally generated game spaces so far are all based on Rogue, with its simple room and corridor design.”
  • An article about Kim Shee-Yoon, a female Starcraft II pro – it’s a shame this isn’t an interview.
  • If you are interested in strategy games you should listen to Three Moves Ahead.
  • Part two of Alexander and Hamilton’s Deus Ex letters.
  • It won’t be getting coverage on RPS, for obvious reasons, but I can’t help be interested in Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor. EG’s preview: “It’s a brilliantly mechanical interface, all whirring steel, cheap LEDs and occasional spouts of steam; a future war told with the trappings of World War 2-era machinery.”
  • That mysterious “Big Robot” games studio puts out some test videos of their second game…
  • VG247 take some time to analyse the biggest stories from GamesCom: “PC’s not a “primary platform” – as Capps put it – for most developers. Some don’t even mention that their demos are running on PC unless directly confronted about it. The biggest gaming platform in the world’s evolving in a big way, but it looks like developers haven’t quite caught up just yet.”
  • I missed this previously, but Killscreen’s Duke Nukem Forever review is quite the thing: “reviewing Duke Nukem Forever is a bit like reviewing your adolescence. You are being asked to tell the drunken, spray-tanned uncle that his moment has passed, or you have caught your high-school teacher sipping margaritas as gargantuan as his loneliness at Applebee’s. Duke is having his Norma Desmond moment. “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.””
  • Nightmare Mode talk to Michael Samyn from Tale Of Tales in a sprawling interview. Here’s a taste: “The thing that makes me hopeful and fills me with confidence is exactly the raw capacity for beauty and immersion [that] contemporary video games display. And also the clear desire in their designs to be more than just playthings. Video games now want to tell stories, want to take us away, immerse us in their worlds, etc. Sometimes, when the demands of the formal game play are relaxed, they get very close to fulfilling this dream. It feels like any minute now, video games are going to “break through the game barrier”. And then they will become the rich medium that we have all been seeing in it for years, the medium that will be to the 21st century what film was to the 20th.”
  • This review on Pop Matters reminds me how much good material they are putting out.
  • CVG talks to Frank Gibeau about possible remakes from the EA stable: “”We’ve got 25 years of good IPs and I’ve worked on a few of them in my career like Road Rash and the Strike series. So I have a strong affinity for a lot of the things we’ve done in the past.”
  • Susan Greenfield talks about how new technologies “might” be changing the way the human mind works. You think, Ms Greenfield? I’d argue that any significant behavioural adaptation is going to change how our brains work – even the most cursory look at evidence for brain plasticity reveals that. But then she goes on to argue that the lessons we learn from gaming might be that “there are no consequences for your actions”. Yes, because the net result of playing games is that we believe them to be lessons about the real world. We don’t think they are IMAGINARY or anything. Jesus Christ.
  • Awesome vintage space exploration photos.
  • Beautiful sci-fi vignette construction on Bldgblog.

Music this week is from A Winged Victory For The Sullen.

More soon.

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Jim Rossignol

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