The Sunday Papers


Sundays are for repair. The battles of the days and nights before can be forgotten with a cup of tea and some time with a friendly, glowing screen. Let’s see where that takes us.

  • “Things I Ate In Skyrim”: “I found myself at a crossroads. I could follow the stony trail toward Riverwood, the game’s first village, or I could take the road less traveled. That’s when I noticed the lovely insect floating above my head. The butterfly lit upon a large rock, then took to the air. I looked up, plucked the creature out of the air, and checked my inventory. I’d already plucked its wings from its body—presumably to be mixed into a potion. Rather than waiting to find a use for this strange reagent, I ate the wings.”
  • I am enjoying the Ambient Challenge blog. This week: Riddick. “Videogame exposition is a curse. In traditional storytelling, bad exposition is often just a nuisance. The story continues and the audience puts together loose pieces on their own. In videogames, however, if the player doesn’t know what to do next or how, the story might grind to a sudden halt. The intended pacing of events can be radically rearranged. Players can find themselves wandering from one location to the next with no clear idea of what they are doing or why. Videogames tend to err on the side of caution, and the result is exposition-heavy writing — constant digressions to explain events and restate goals — with a clunky and unnatural feel.”
  • Lewis Denby interviews Ken Levine: “Levine interrupts. “I don’t view BioShock as a critique of objectivism. When Andrew Ryan says at the beginning, ‘Is man not entitled to the sweat of his own brow,’ who can say no to that, right?” Instead, he says, it’s an exploration of his own “uncomfortableness with certainty. Of political surety, of thinking you have the solution. Whether it’s religious certainty or political certainty, I get very uncomfortable with that, because I don’t feel certain myself. And I think that if you look at guys like Andrew Ryan and (Columbia’s leader) Comstock, they are very certain of their view of the world, and it is that very rigidity that often destroys them.””
  • Is everything interactive, not just videogames? Yes, says Eric Lockaby.
  • The story of Enslaved – Odyssey To The West. One of those games that should definitely have arrived on PC, but now never will.
  • It’s interesting to see game designers discussing how (hard) difficulty in games can work in their favour.
  • Kirk Hamilton has brought a lot of charm to Kotaku: “You will die, and you will die often. And the kicker? After each death, your foes will laugh at your corpse. Despite its toothy grin and good sense of humor, sometimes I just want to punch Uncharted 3 in the nuts.”
  • Cobbett remembers GTA: London 1969: “GTA: London is the only game in the series to be set in a real place… though not to the extent that you should use it to find your way around or anything… and was an expansion pack for the original GTA. Somewhat unusually, it’s also one of the few expansion packs to get its own expansion pack, London, 1961, which was released as freeware and would have taken over from its parent game as the earliest point in the GTA timeline had the series had even the slightest interest in having one back then.”
  • Speaking of the GTAs, Eurogamer remembers Roman Bellic: “He’d call up at the most inconvenient times, with inane requests. “Hey cousin, it’s me” he’d bleat. “Want to go bowling?” And we’d grit our teeth and get back to finding the perfect stunt spot, evading the cops or whatever wacky scrape we’d managed to get Niko embroiled in. It soon became a meme: GTA4 was the game where your idiot cousin wouldn’t shut up about going bowling.”
  • While you are over at EG, have a read about Take On Helicopters anti-piracy tactics.
  • Best statistics question ever.
  • Exquisite retro Russian science magazine covers.
  • ‘Will Japan Build A Backup Tokyo?’ is my headline of the month.

Music this week is Tim Hecker’s Dropped Pianos. Beautiful, beautiful.

144 Comments

  1. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    “Narratives are for jerks.”

  2. BurningPet says:

    What is the difference between Take on Helicopters Anti costumers tactics and regular DRM?

    How does it detect if the game is registered? i bet that by calling home.

    so what should a poor costumer do when he is playing 2 hours straight on a train?

    • alundra says:

      it wouldn’t be the first game to call home without anyone noticing, the original assassin’s creed did phone home, the servers it tries to connect to have been taken down and now the game is unplayable without blocking it with a firewall or unplugging the internet connection altogether.

      I can understand ArmA’s angle with this, some pirates are too cynical and try to get support from the official channels, that pretty fucked up if you ask me.

      As long as this is not impeding the legal users the fair use of the product in question, *and* if it’s not an always online bullshit, this piracy countermeasure is as good as it gets.

    • Janek says:

      I suspect it’s far more likely to be a succession of hidden triggers within the exe, set up so that the modifications in any crack would set off these visual glitches. Certainly worked that way back in the days of Operation Flashpoint.

    • soldant says:

      FADE protection is notorious, it’s been around since Operation Flashpoint. Almost everything uses DRM to some extend these days (Steam being the biggest of the lot), and FADE is easily one of the least troublesome of the lot.

    • royaltyinexile says:

      “What is the difference between Take on Helicopters Anti costumers tactics and regular DRM?”

      I’d say that, relative to other, more invasive measures, Bohemia’s protection punishes the paying customer less.

      Nothing is perfect, though, DRM policy merits a discussion larger than a comment box, and that’s just a personal opinion.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Fade has already been bypassed via a simple windows registry fix and a cracked exe. I think UBI’s system is still the most difficult to circumnavigate to date, though not impossible.

    • GoJays2025 says:

      It’s actually not a great system.
      1. Pirates may not be buying the games, but many will legitimately think that this is an inherent problem for the game and may damage the game’s reputation spreading misinformation.
      2. People who pirate to demo (this is a larger phenomenon than most people would think) might not want to buy after trying this due to the ‘glitches’.
      3. After this is known, a proper crack will follow and again, pirates will have the best version of the game. I mean, you don’t know how prone this thing is to false positives, and when it’s eliminated with the crack, the only people it’s going to bother is once again legitimate users.

      These ridiculous DRMs just don’t work to prevent piracy without hurting buying customers (even then I don’t know how much ‘prevention’ they might do – almost all games get cracked on day one anyway).

    • Dwarden says:

      the difference is that our solution is not punishing or annoying legal customers at all …

      simple and effective :)

    • Wulf says:

      And what if a legal customer is just the sort of person that doesn’t like DRM, and decides to crack the game they’ve already bought? This is a very common scenario. This legal customer then finds that the game they bought is filled with graphical glitches that make the coders of the development team in question seem incompetent.

      The legal customer is left feeling irascible about this, but they uphold the benefit of the doubt for good will. They head to the forums to ask for aid in solving this problem, the CEO almost immediately insinuates that they’re a crook and bans them from the forum for being completely incredulous as to the reality of this situation. If I was accused of being a crook incorrectly, I wouldn’t be so ready to hand over my details to what would seem to me like an ego-maniacal forum man, either.

      After this, the legitimate customer then goes on to tell people that the game is as buggy as shit and that the development team are made up of complete jerks.

      See… I may not be the smartest person in the world, but this doesn’t seem too clever to me. It doesn’t seem simple, effective, nor does it provide any promise that it won’t effect legally buying customers, because in every likelihood, it would. In my scenario (which many here would realise is all too possible), both the purchaser and the developer are harmed by this.

    • GoJays2025 says:

      I hear ya Dwarden, people who buy should in theory have a better version, but can you guarantee no false positives? I believe the games that utilized the similar FADE system had a few customers complaining about that.

      And again a lot of people won’t realize the ‘weirdness’ is actually a protection measure, which through word-of-mouth could influence potential buyers’ decisions. Furthermore, those who are doing the pirate-to-try thing probably won’t want to buy a game that have been ‘glitching’ on their computers.

      I always say the best thing to encourage people to buy instead of pirating is to provide a superior product in some way. I’m not sure this is the best way to do it though, I can’t assume the above situations are actually going to be problematic, but I do think it’s not as a great system as you might think at first glance. Then again, it’s your project and it’s up to you to determine how effective this is. I hope it won’t prove to be a problem for you guys, you’re trying something new, kudos to that.

    • Unaco says:

      @Wulf

      Why would the legitimate customer try and crack FADE? It’s not DRM… it doesn’t restrict legit customers, so why would one need to crack it? It’s copy protection… it doesn’t phone home or need a connection, or anything like that. It checks the integrity of the exe, all under the hood and at no inconvenience to the customer. Cracking may be common with other copy protection/DRM schemes, but not with FADE, because ‘cracking’ it doesn’t improve legit customers experience, doesn’t remove obstacles to use, doesn’t make it more convenient. They have NO NEED to crack it.

      If you’d investigated FADE even briefly, instead of coming up with your verbose screed against DRM, and your fragile chain of events, you would see that little house of cards you built up crumbles at the first step. Legit customers won’t be affected. You disappoint me Wulf. I am disappointed. You are disappointing.

      It’s served Bohemia, and its customers, very well since the original OpFlash… That’s OpFlash, ArmA, ArmA2, Operation Arrowhead. And now ToH… all with no major problems, no major false positives, no controversy. No legit customers have complained about it, because it’s never affected them.

      As far as pirating to demo… why don’t they actually PLAY THE DEMO, which Bohemia are very good at releasing? Seriously. And as for performance… it doesn’t affect it. In OpFlash it made the players weapons less accurate, less powerful, and made them more vulnerable, while making enemy more resilient. The game ran just as it would have, but it was a pain to play. It still even gave pirates enough to check performance. ToH helicopters seems to not have a performance hit either, just comically and obviously blurry visuals… which, with a minor investigation, will be discovered to be due to FADE.

    • Durkonkell says:

      That seems like a pretty convoluted chain of events, Wulf. The reason a legitimate user would want to crack a game is because the DRM in some way inconveniences them. If FADE doesn’t require a CD check or phone-home to a central server, why would an end user even notice that the DRM was present, let alone decide to crack it?

      The only real concern of mine is the false positives thing and whether it is an issue for any – however small – group of legitimate users.

      Also: Hello, person from BIS! Looking forward to Arma 3!

    • BurningPet says:

      If it doesn’t require a periodically call home action, then this is indeed a good and smart tactic.

    • Dwarden says:

      @Wulf, CEO banned noone, it was day or later some moderator which was standard action for suspects of illegal copies (read our BIFforum rules), it’s been there for years.(also the person You seems to defend so far failed to provide proof of purchase)

    • GoJays2025 says:

      @Unaco

      You may disagree with what I have to say, but that’s okay, I kind of expect it, I would just like to share a different perspective with you…

      The thing about demos is that in a lot of the cases having fun in the demo does not mean you’ll have as much fun in the full game, or even vice versa. Just like you can’t judge a movie based on a 15 minute clip, you can’t completely trust a game based on its demo – important features are removed, functions are often limited, and the gameplay portion that they choose to show in the demo may not be a full representation of how the full game will play out (maybe the rest of the main game is only half as fun as what’s shown in the demo). System requirements may be different for demos and full versions as well, since demos are often earlier builds of the final game (it’s rare, but it happens). Given all of that, if somebody had access to a full, uncensored version to test with, why wouldn’t they use that instead? Heck, not every game even has demos – Take on Helicopters for example.

      In response to your FADE comment – if I pirated Operation Flashpoint and turns out the difficulty level just skyrockets after a while, there’s no way I’d know it’s because of the game being pirated. Yeah some research would uncover the FADE system, but I think it’s very possible people would just uninstall it and never recommend it to anybody because they didn’t enjoy the experience. Even pirates who never buy can indirectly influence buyers through word-of-mouth, so I’m not sure you want to do this to them. All I’m saying is that these types of protection CAN have this side-effect, but definitely won’t cause as many lost sales as punishing DRMs.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      If memory serves, one of the lead developers on Iron Lore’s Titan Quest has publicly posted that their implementation of a similar system actually worked against initial sales due to the word getting around that the game had glitches/bugs. And we all know what happened to Iron Lore.

      Will see if I can round up the post.

      EDIT: Can’t seem to find the post I was looking for – I thought it was by medierra (Arthur Bruno) over on titanquest.net but the search by poster is a bit lacking there. Could only find a story about THQ commenting on it: link to tgnforums.stardock.com

      EDIT2: Closer but no cigar: link to titanquest.net

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      ThermalIons I believe this is the link you’re looking for -> link to quartertothree.com

      I can’t take credit for finding it though, I read it when it was originally liked here -> link to rockpapershotgun.com

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Can’t really blame the devs from wanting to inconvenience freeloaders, they must have been chuckling while setting up this system thinking of the fooled pirates. But I’m not sure it reaches its intended goal: the only way it can be worth it for the company is if:
      (money from sales to people who pirate the game, stumble upon that DRM and understand what it is, and then go buy the game instead) > (costs of developing and maintaining this DRM, including loss of good will from existing customers)

      It’s obvious that some people won’t even understand that the legit copy is free from these defects, or will just be pissed off that the devs tricked them and play something else. Or, will search the web patiently and obsessively for an updated crack and won’t even think of using their wallet. So I wouldn’t bet on the above formula.

      Also, I used to pirate pretty much every game I heard about, and ended up playing and enjoying maybe a quarter of them (or less). I later went back and bought that whole subset when I had actual revenue. Even in pirated form games are competing for a gamer’s attention, and if your game wins this contest and the gamers’ heart (hard, if it’s glitchy for no apparent reason), chances are he’s going to want to support the company who made that game. Unfortunately it’s hard to evaluate how many people will act that way, but all you need is to exceed the net revenue of said DRM.

      You do need a mechanism to reserve support to legit customers though… have them create a passworded support account linked with their product key, that should be sufficient. On the other hand you don’t want to block pirate players from your modding forums, I think, since they might actually make good mods for your paying customers.

  3. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    The Kill Screen article was awesome! Though I was hoping it would end with how he killed a dragon and then plunged his fork into it…

    • Davie says:

      Something about the fact that you can pluck bees out of the air and eat them makes me inexplicably happy.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It amused me as it simultaneously mildly depressed me with all of Oblivion’s unsolved foibles.

  4. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Nice statistics question, lol.

    The right answer is apparently B. But that answer isn’t random in that case. To get the correct answer in fact, I only have 1 in 4 chances. But that means the right answer is 25% (A or D), not 50% (B). However because there’s two right answers, B is the correct answer. So there’s 50% to pick 25%.

    However If I pick 25% i’m wrong. Because the answer is 50%. But if the answer is 50% then I have 25% chance of picking that. Which means 50% is wrong.

    A paradox.

    • Janek says:

      The answer is in fact zero, since P(picking zero) = 0.

      It’s a nice little riddle (although being pedantic one could say it’s probability rather than statistics ¬_¬)

      Edit: God, have a look at all the people getting it wrong in the comments on the original site, then steadfastly arguing with the few to get a mathematically consistant answer.

    • Jimbo says:

      The chance of me randomly picking a correct answer is always 0%.

    • Kdansky says:

      It would be more amusing if C had been “0%”, then it would be a paradoxical question. This way, the correct answer is 0%, and you cannot pick it from the list, but at least an answer exists.

    • micro_explosion says:

      The answer is B. It’s not asking you to answer the question randomly just what the chances are if you did answer randomly.

    • lcy says:

      Not a well posed question – the mechanism by which you make a random answer is not specified. Neither is the rules of the test – must the answer always be selected from the options? If it must then any answer might be correct:

      Suppose that I decide between B (50%) and C (60%) using an unbiased coin (thus, a random choice). The answer is thus B.

      Suppose that the coin will come up C three times out of five due to it’s weighting – the answer is now C.

      Suppose that I toss two unbiased coins – two heads indicates A, one head indicates B and no heads indicates C. The answer is now 25%, either A or D.

      If the answer does not have to come from one of the options. Still, we require more information, since the random generation scheme might still be one of the ones I outline above. Other alternatives include:

      Suppose that I choose from {A,B,C,D} with equal probability – then I will arrive at 25% half the time, and 50% or 60% with 0.25 probability. Under this generation scheme, the answer to the question is 0%, which is not one of the pre-provided answers.

      Suppose the options are not a constraint, and that I generate an answer in the closed set [0,1]. Then the answer is also 0% – the probability that I will select 0% is infitesimally small.

      Any answer you like – the question is not restrictive enough.

    • IDtenT says:

      The way I interpret the question is that your final answer is not one of the options. It’s a question inside a question. Thereby the answer is a pretty obvious 50%, not B.

      Even if you have to choose one of the options, the B still makes sense if you distance from the fact that the answer itself does not require you to choose randomly. It posits that if you were to do so randomly. It’s a two part question.

    • LuNatic says:

      Schrodingers cat in a question. I like that. What would you all do if c) was 0%?

    • Soon says:

      “0%” still couldn’t be considered a correct answer, so the chance of a correct answer is still 0%.

      Try it:
      “What is the correct answer to this question?”

    • TheTourist314 says:

      Actually, there are only three unique answers, ignore the fact that there are four. It’s a trick; not really a multiple choice question. The real answer is 1 out of 3. There is at most one correct answer out of the three unique choices, so it’s 1 out of 3 (or .33 or 33%).

      QED

    • Noc says:

      And if your answer is 33%, and 33% is not on the list of valid answers . . . then your chance of randomly selecting 33% is 0.

      Unless, of course, you expand your selection field to something like “all real numbers between 0 and 1,” at which point you get an answer rather different than .33.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      The question is logically equivalent to “are you still beating your wife?”, and the answer is the same: the question is wrong!

      Fun to try to wrap your head around, mind.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      It’s a paradox/joke! The clue is in the warning “try not to think too hard about this”. Guessing out of 4 answers will give you a 25% chance of getting the right one, however as two answers are 25% you have a 50% chance of getting it, contradicting your answer, however you would only have a 25% chance to pick answer B) 50% if this was the right one, contradicting this answer also. The 60% option could be any number. The multiple choices available are contradicted by the method asked to pick them.

      I see it as a bit of a joke about students using guesswork to answer multiple choice answers; multiple choice exams were often derided as “multiple-guess” when I was at uni, bit of fun to pose one where guesswork by its very nature prevents the answer from being answerable.

    • therighttoarmbears says:

      Correct me if I’m thinking about this wrong, but it seems that the correct answer does seem to be 0% – which is not a valid answer. Making this a non-sensical question. “Choose a correct answer from the following, none of which are correct”. Which means you can answer whatever you want, right? If your supposition (P) is false, then you can put any answer in the Q and it will be a true, meaningless statement. For example, you can say “if 1=0, then I am the king of the universe”. True statement, but meaningless.

    • Olivaw says:

      I’m actually not sure that IS a paradox!

      See, the answer is both 25% AND 50%. Because there are four possible answers, and you can only pick one, your probability to pick the right answer will always be 25%. But since 25% appears twice in the answers, the odds are 50%, and therefore B is the only correct answer, which brings the probability back down to 25%, which means B is still the answer.

      I feel like if I’m able to puzzle it out so it doesn’t hurt my brain, it can’t possibly be a real paradox.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      But you would only have a 25% chance of randomly picking B) 50%, contradicting the question. If you were to decide the answer was 50% and picked it you would not be answering the question, as you would be choosing deliberatly and not randomly.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Gassalasca says:

    Yeah, I listened to Dropped Pianos a few weeks back on repeat. On a rainy afternoon. Mesmerizing.

  6. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    The backup Tokyo idea might be more necessary than it might seem. Tokyo stands on the meeting point of three tectonic plates in a country already known for its seismic instability. The last major earthquake they had was back in 1923(the Great Kanto quake), so a strain has been building up for nearly a century. When it inevitably snaps, well… Someone once described Tokyo as ‘the city waiting to die.’

    • Eddy9000 says:

      They had obviously never been to Swansea.

    • drakkenson says:

      I suspect they want their own pet project to assign to political clients, just like the previous government party (Liberal Democrat if I am not mistaken) had a lot of dams. Which were scrapped when this party came to power.
      Nevertheless, having a backup command and control center is always good, although they do have an emergency coordination facility even now.

  7. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Why all these links to Spotify? I don’t want to have to install stuff to listen. Why not just Youtube or Grooveshark?

    • mrwonko says:

      Just take the October 9th Sunday Papers’ link, it’s on Sound Cloud. Made me buy that CD.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Huh. Didn’t realise I’d linked it already. My brain is too small.

    • felisc says:

      in the same laptop music theme, this sunday could be filled with the yummy “Mass Mirage” by Yellow Swans.
      Ah laptop music on the weekend… <3

    • rayne117 says:

      If you can, just download Spotify. So freaking awesome.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      “I don’t want to have to install Spotify…”

      “Just install Spotify…”

      I’ve had to stare at question and answer pairs like this all week. This is the most annoying thing you can do in both real-life and the internet.

  8. phenom_x8 says:

    This interview with Dice’s creative director by patrick Garrat here rather nice to read ! Enjoy!

  9. pkdawson says:

    “I don’t view BioShock as a critique of objectivism. When Andrew Ryan says at the beginning, ‘Is man not entitled to the sweat of his own brow,’ who can say no to that, right?”

    Why do I get the feeling that this is another George Lucas situation, where the creator has no earthly idea why his creation was so brilliant.

    Rapture was very obviously Galt’s Gulch. To deny that is…bizarre.

    • iucounu says:

      I don’t think he’s denying that; he’s just saying that sticking dogmatically to ideas that sound reasonable in small scale is one of the things that leads to you having an underwater dome city full of crazed mutants. He says in the interview that Rand’s ideas can work in the context of Atlas Shrugged because she can populate the book with unreal, perfected avatars of her philosophy, whereas he was interested in seeing what would happen if you had actual human beings instead.

    • pkdawson says:

      Yeah. But then he’s contradicting himself, because how is that not a critique?

      I think of it more as satire, but regardless, it’s a deliberate attack on Objectivism. I don’t believe there are any other major philosophies examined in such a way in BioShock. It’s all about mocking Atlas Shrugged.

    • iucounu says:

      I guess he’s denying that he has a beef with Objectivism per se, saying rather that he’s trying to critique ideology. That said, it’s the most fertile ideological ground for satire that I can think of these days: a sociopath’s philosophy that’s somehow mainstream.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I dunno. Every major character is a fanatic, and they’re not all objectivists per se.

      KG

    • Lewis Denby says:

      Unless you’re the angry man in the Telegraph comments thread, who’s astonished that I would be so stupid as to bring up Objectivism at all in relation to a video game. ;-)

      Kieron: Ryan’s clearly an Objectivist, though, and it’s his idea of a perfect society that collapsed because, inevitably, it became populated by imperfect people.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Yeah, I know. But I’m saying there’s more belief structures in the game than just Ryan’s objectivism.

      And it’s not just an objectivist critique, because – in the end – he’s entirely right about the Looters, as embodied by Fontaine.

      KG

    • AndrewC says:

      @LewisDenby: the problem with Ryan’s society was that the people weren’t good enough for it? You scare me.

    • choconutjoe says:

      @AndrewC: I think the point is no one would be perfect enough. Human beings are imperfect by their very nature, hence the ideology fails.

    • AndrewC says:

      Where’s this concept of ‘perfect’ coming from? If a society does not meet the needs of its population then *it* is imperfect. This idea of humans being not good enough for the ideal society is like that Greek Myth where the hostel owner cuts the feet off of his guests so they fit his short beds.

    • choconutjoe says:

      @AndrewC: Yes. Exactly. Glad to see we’re all in agreement.

    • AndrewC says:

      Excellent! We should start a society!

    • Marcel says:

      I think it’s a shame that a lot of people think Bioshock is a good critique of Atlas Shrugged. It’s not like it can’t be done at all, but thinking that unless people are avatars of perfection then they must be batshit insane and will inevitably harm other people seems like a bit of a big leap.

      The parallels to Galt’s Gulch fail since the book emphasises that the only reason the characters are together in Galt’s Gulch at all is because they share the same ideals and philosophy (so even if you disagree with the philosophy, you can’t really knock the idea of voluntary association). The parallels to objectivism fail when Andrew Ryan mentions that rapture exists so that ‘petty morality’ can’t get in the way or something.

      As a mild tangent, the key Andrew Ryan scene fell a bit flat for me. It made a big play that you don’t really have a choice as the player at all, but then I don’t think Bioshock really established that we have a choice anyway. That said, I’m sure I’ll check out the new game when it’s out.

    • Muzman says:

      Come on. We all know that Ken has to say these things or he gets Letters from objectivists.
      Long, self important (what else?) letters.

    • Arglebargle says:

      In a perfect world, every ideology works perfectly.

    • Cryo says:

      He says in the interview that Rand’s ideas can work in the context of Atlas Shrugged because she can populate the book with unreal, perfected avatars of her philosophy characters have a perpetual motion machine.

      Fixed.

    • Urthman says:

      I think it’s a shame that a lot of people think Bioshock is a good critique of Atlas Shrugged. It’s not like it can’t be done at all, but thinking that unless people are avatars of perfection then they must be batshit insane and will inevitably harm other people seems like a bit of a big leap.

      This. Atlas Shrugged is completely idiotic, but Bioshock is almost as dumb. Every character you meet is an insane caricature of a real human being. The environment is brilliant and some of the writing in the audiologs is OK, but the main story is has a pretty ridiculous plot and characters that don’t resemble “real people” at all.

      Not surprised at all to hear Ken Levine saying stuff that makes you suspect that he thinks Atlas Shrugged makes sense in a lot of ways but just has a few flaws or some nonsense like that.

    • Reefpirate says:

      Good for Levine to resist the urge to feel smart by bashing a fairly complex ideology by summing it up in a few short insults.

  10. Inigo says:

    “I don’t view BioShock as a critique of objectivism. When Andrew Ryan says at the beginning, ‘Is man not entitled to the sweat of his own brow,’ who can say no to that, right?” Instead, he says, it’s an exploration of his own “uncomfortableness with certainty. Of political surety, of thinking you have the solution. Whether it’s religious certainty or political certainty, I get very uncomfortable with that, because I don’t feel certain myself. And I think that if you look at guys like Andrew Ryan and (Columbia’s leader) Comstock, they are very certain of their view of the world, and it is that very rigidity that often destroys them.”

    I liked electrocuting things and hitting them with a wrench.

  11. Kdansky says:

    Skyrim features the incredibly stupid EAT EVERYTHING DURING COMBAT feature still? I need a mod.

    • Arglebargle says:

      …and how many other amazingly awful bits have carried through?

      The ‘I win’ button of camouflage? Etc.

    • Davie says:

      But you can eat bees. YOU CAN EAT BEES. All drawbacks are irrelevant.

    • JackShandy says:

      Oh no, I’ve used an item in my inventory! Now my immersion is ruined. I will have to turn off the game.

  12. asshibbitty says:

    “Somewhat unusually, it’s also one of the few expansion packs to get its own expansion pack, London, 1961, which was released as freeware and would have taken over from its parent game as the earliest point in the GTA timeline had the series had even the slightest interest in having one back then.”

    Is this one of those interactive sentences?

    Bohemia didn’t invent this kind of copy protection, and it’s definitely not smart. They are really behind on this, most devs are trying to convert pirates to buyers, Bohemia is still trying to fuck with them. I think a few virtual synths had similar protection back in the day, and it only bred animosity towards the dev.

    • shaydeeadi says:

      Was that a mis-pasted quote? Since the next paragraph seems to be talking about DRM I filled in the blanks, and if you mean dongles/iLocks in terms of softsynths, they were terrible. Some companies tried to create an industry standard authorization key that all your licenses would be stored on, theoretically it was quite cool, but the workarounds took all of a week to show up. They just ask for serial codes now.

      EDIT: Read the article, that stuff was funny, they usually tell you it’s gonna happen too.

      I had a copy of Cubase SL2 that I bought legit several years ago, the dongle did a auth check so frequently there was chronic slowdown on the DAW, so I got the priated version with drastically better performance.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Uh… what? There’s nothing about DRM anywhere in the article.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      Clearly it’s satire, the DRM has prevented him from talking about GTA

    • asshibbitty says:

      Eh. I attempted to comment on three articles at once. Richard, that’s a crappy sentence you’ve put together. So I referenced the linked interactivity article to allude to that.

      @shaydeeadi
      No, actually some commercial VSTs and Mac equivalents used to do exactly that: noting that the user’s used a crack or a serial generator, then starting to quietly alter parameters, or doind something else nasty. Probably lost a few sales this way. The point is if you are a business selling things, don’t actively alienate customers.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      The point is if you are a business selling things, don’t actively alienate customers.

      How about customers don’t rip stuff off in the first place & businesses wouldn’t feel this sort of stuff is necessary?

  13. AndrewC says:

    I agree a whole bunch with the Eurogamer article about GTA. Especially:

    ‘As gamers we’re conditioned to have a very mechanistic view of plot and character. “What do I get out of this?” is the unspoken question whenever we engage an NPC in conversation… They cease to be characters and become little more than help dispensers, ticking checklists off in our mind.’

    Game mechanics are inherently sociopathic. Discuss!

    • Hanban says:

      That’s how I deal with real people! Why talk to anyone if they can’t give you something, pointless!

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      It’s curious, with the surge in GTA4 game play debates why no one recalls being able to turn off the cell phone and just do whatever you wanted for as long as you pleased.

    • AndrewC says:

      edit: sorry, this was in response to a seemingly deleted comment that suggested that games characters aren’t real, so who cares how you treat them.

      Well that’s a thing, isn’t it? Fictional characters aren’t real, but we care about them, which is one of the reasons fiction works. But if games work to constantly undermine that care, then the fiction breaks.

      This leaves us with removing fiction from games entirely, or accepting that the common attitude of selfish gain/loss calculations towards characters hurts a game’s ability to create nuance or humanity.

      Me, i’m on the side that says fiction can work in games, and that, in fact, by letting us choose how to interact with characters, games offer the possibility of greater empathy and attachment to these not-real people than other mediums. If we don’t change the attitude, then the only stories games can do will be selfish, nasty, inhumane ones. Fun, oh god yes, but nasty.

      If we lose the possibility of a character like Roman, who has pretty much no effect on the mechanics of the game, we lose something from games.

    • Prime says:

      My counterpoint to that, Andrew is while I absolutely agree with having characters such as Roman in games, he was absolutely fundamentally the worst type of character to put in GTA based on the sheer aggravation and frustration that his over-use of one of the fundamental game mechanics in GTA IV, the cell phone, caused the player.

      Save that for other games – before IV, GTA had always been anarchic fun with as much freedom as you wanted. Roman and that damned cell-phone actively worked against that philosophy, damaging the fourth game immeasurably, to the point where a significant fraction of GTA’s fanbase now seem more excited by Saint’s Row 3 than by GTA V, myself included.

    • AndrewC says:

      The 3D GTA’s got progressively more story, character and atmosphere -centric. 4 was not out of the blue.

      It is fine if you do not want that sort of thing, but try not to mis-represent history.

    • Muzman says:

      It’s an interesting point and I think generally true. But it’s implementation based in the end, I’d have to say. There’s a lot of games with characters that require a certain amount of ‘maintenance’ where it only serves to strengthen the bond between you and they. Perhaps not with everyone, but often enough.
      GTA 4 was kinda awkward with it because the game’s pedigree and much of its content and mechanics is telling you to just go and muck around while the plot and the “relationships” are basically telling you not to (I found that to make Nico’s story and character, as presented, make sense you had to do no typically GTA-ish things unless you were in a mission or something. y.m.m.v).

      Someone should come up with one of those ironic life lesson sorts of games like You Have One Chance as a mod for GTA4, called Suicidal Best Friend or something. It’s completely straight. No GTA craziness with guns and so on. Run a red light and get caught, you’re taken for some of your dwindling money etc.
      In it you have ever increasing numbers of real life errands to run, through traffic and public transport, while constantly having to check up on your clinically depressed friend so they’re not too lonely, don’t get hold of any knives or guns or drugs. His/her interests are also extremely dull. But your state of mind will deteriorate if you don’t get out and have some fun yourself from time to time, including many traditional GTA temptations.
      Some sort of miserable responsibility simulator. It’d probably be darkly ironic how many of the mechanics existed in the game already.

    • Taffer says:

      Just a +1 to AndrewC’s post, GTA:SA featured girlfriends that gave useful rewards and required regular dating, they even phoned your mobile if you were in town. If you were on foot you could answer but if you were in a car, automatic -1 relationship.
      And eating. That’s a nice 3-day adventure you’re having there, but you’re starving to death.

    • Prime says:

      It is not misrepresenting history (where did I do that?) to say that the GTA games before IV possessed no one feature, like the mobile phones in GTA:SA, that detracted from those games as much as it did from IV. The sheer amount of bitching on this topic since the game’s release should attest to that. Even with characters in them, those games were great fun to play.

      You can see a steady rise in the importance and number of cut-scenes as the games progress, this is true, but GTA IV went far further with that than any game previously. It also marked the first fundamental shift in tone, away from the wilder stunts, the collectables, the kill frenzys and all the other little things that made the GTA games so much fun to play and rewarding to explore (unlike GTA IV’s ludicrous pigeon hunt), and decided it wanted to be a serious, weighty, emotionally brown gangster movie that just happened to have a game in it, albeit much less of a game than in any previous iteration, focused on repetitive driving chores and cut-and-paste shooting galleries.

      And who on Earth thought it a good idea to make your character drive to pick up every friend you wanted to hang out with, then drop them off again? What, there’s no taxis or buses or people owning their own cars in this town? Even Roman, who owns a goddam taxi company, and could get any of his employees to drop him off? Or Brucie with all his fancy motors?? Not once on one of these tedious Friend Quests does your friend say – “Great, I’ll meet you there“, because someone in Rockstar mistakenly thought that driving miss daisy was a great way for a player to interact with their game, that it was fine and realistic, while someone else, just as mistaken, thought that having these friends phone up every ten minutes (real time) to suggest this ludicrous waste of time was also adding to the experience.

    • Outright Villainy says:

      Roman was nowhere near the top of the list of things that halted the fun times in GTA 4. I just finished Lost and Damned yesterday, and guess what, getting rid of Roman didn’t suddenly turn it into Vice City ver 2. The biggest inhibitors of fun in the game are still the stodgy controls that favor animating the character realistically over actual control, my character always awkwardly stumbling a few steps here and there, shuffling everywhere; it feels like you’re driving when you’re walking. The car handling was also made really sluggish, so you couldn’t just gun it everywhere, and had to brake at every single turn, no matter how frickin’ slow you were going

      Red Dead Redemption alleviated that a lot, giving much tighter walking/shooting controls, and horseys were fun to ride too, so it’s not like fun mechanics can’t exist in a serious narrative.
      GTA 4 just got bogged down. I enjoyed the story of 4 well enough, even with the dichotomy of murderizing everyone all the time whilst soliloquizing about the horrors of war , but I enjoyed RDR a helluva lot more, since you were able to navigate the world with some degree of competence.

    • Prime says:

      I completely agree with everything you’ve just added, Outright Villainy. The controls of both Nico and all vehicles are so stodgy and fussy by comparison to the earlier games. Well said.

  14. pseudoanon says:

    So the Japanese are finally building Neo-Tokyo?

    • Starky says:

      Well yeah, obviously, it will take them about 20-30 years to complete, and 2040 is about when aliens (or rebel humans from space colonies, or humans from a parallel universe or time-line) will attack earth and Neo-Tokyo will be required as a base of operations for our 1 prototype mech defender. Based on alien/enemy tech itself obviously and piloted by a 13 year old boy.

    • Premium User Badge

      Skabooga says:

      Angst production increases by 300%.

    • Tams80 says:

      Oh Starky! You just made my day!

  15. Hides-His-Eyes says:

    <3<3<3 Tim Hecker, cannot say enough good things about Ravedeath…

  16. kwyjibo says:

    Shame about Enslaved, not that anybody would have bought it on PC, because a sci-fi Journey to the West with robots appeals to absolutely no one. It’s a shame, because monkey sports quite a nifty hat.

    • Icarus says:

      I’d have bought it :(

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      The demo did it no favours. The game looks fantastic, and the art-dorection and performances are interesting.

      But as a game, its very much Press-x-not-to-die at its worst.

      Interactive movies@ underwhelming since 2003.

    • Prime says:

      Hah! Yeah, I’d have loved to have played this. Typically short-sighted publisher thinking: Game didn’t ‘perform’ after a month on the biggest platforms = consign it to memory.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Prime: it basically wasn’t very good. Its a corridor, the fighting is light/heavy/block standard fare and the platforming was littel more than “push towards the next glowing ledge”. It just a very good game…

    • Brahms says:

      Recently played it on my 360 and felt that although yeah, the gameplay wasn’t too much to write home about (Fighting the dogs on my cloud was a high point) the story, acting and art were top notch. I recommend it at whatever bargain price it’s currently available at and would love to see it rendered on a high end PC because it really did look gorgeous.

  17. mickygor says:

    Looking forward to Tokyo 3!

  18. CaLe says:

    The things I ate in Skyrim aricle is supposed to be read in a Hannibal Lecter voice right? Right?

  19. Prime says:

    “Roman offers none of these things. He never gives but always takes, demanding time and attention when you want to be getting on with the shooting. To get a little analytical about it, he makes requests of the nurturing emotional side of our brain right when our instincts are telling us that we should be beating our chests and feeling testosterone course through our veins. In doing so, he confuses, distracts and annoys. The common consensus is that his inclusion was a terrible mistake. I think that Rockstar knew exactly what it was doing.”

    Rockstar may have known what they doing but it was still a fucking mistake to do it! I think you’re right: Rockstar walked fully aware into knowing they were deliberately breaking the GTA series’ madcap sense of chaotic role-play, but their donkey-headed mistake was thinking it would make things better, make GTA a better game to play.

    It REALLY fucking didn’t.

    It might have possibly had some emotional pay off for the leaden, cliched cut-scene movie you were making us suffer through in-between actually being allowed to play GTA IV but by god was that tiny note of emotionalism really worth the incessant nagging and the tedium of having to personally haul him and everyone else in the city backwards and forwards again? NO, Rockstar. NO. Do it in GTA V and I’m not going anywhere near it. Not a warning: a promise.

    • Inigo says:

      I made the apparently wise decision to buy GTA IV only after people had picked it apart and documented the mechanics. The game becomes far more bearable once you learn you can cancel social activites after agreeing to them with absolutely no repercussions whatsoever.

    • Arglebargle says:

      I found that GTA4 became much more bearable once I deleted it from my hard drive.

    • CaLe says:

      GTA4 is clearly the best GTA game so far.

    • Prime says:

      Clearly the best-looking game so far, but I’ll fight you on everything else. I had waaay more fun with 1, London, 2, 3, Vice City and San Andreas.

    • Premium User Badge

      Skabooga says:

      I quite favor GTA2 myself.

  20. moxmoxmox says:

    http://www.cc2biz.com
    free shipping
    competitive price
    any size available
    accept the credit card

  21. pipman3000 says:

    In unrelated news that Lord of the Rings mod for Mount&Blade that hadn’t been updated since 0.808 just got it’s 3.0 release last week :D

    The Last Days

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Not for Warband?

      Sad face.

    • Weylund The Second says:

      Oh, you just made my Sunday. I’ve been waiting for this for years. Shame it’s not for Warband, though. Now I need to go track down my copy of 1.011.

    • Davie says:

      I don’t understand why people are still modding for the original. It’s obsolete in every possible way now, and does nothing that the later two don’t do better.
      …and, of course, I don’t own it, which makes me angry that I can’t play this mod.

    • Durkonkell says:

      Redownloading M&B now!

      This looks pretty amazing. I do wonder why they never switched development to Warband, though. Maybe the modding API is different enough that it would have been in essence starting again?

      Still, absolutely looking forward to trying this out when the download finishes.

      Thanks, Pipman3000. Thpman3000.

      (EDIT: The manual states “This mod is not for Mount&Blade Warband (yet)”, so it looks like porting it across isn’t ruled out.)

  22. Inglourious Badger says:

    Wow, I love those Russian magazine covers, good find! My desktop background has duly been updated

  23. Inglourious Badger says:

    Oop, my existing comment ahs disappeared, else I’d add this to that, but that Skyrim article is the first one to get me truly excited about its imminent arrival. THAT’s the sort of game I want to play, living off the land hunting deer and stealing carrots. Like Minecraft with better graphics. Excited!

  24. NathanH says:

    As far as I can tell, the article about interactivity in games can be condensed as follows:

    “People say the special thing about games is interactivity. This is wrong. For a bizarre definition of interactivity that nobody else would adopt, everything is interactive. Instead, the special thing about games is that only they satisfy a special type of interactivity that I will give a fancy name but in fact is equivalent to everyone else’s definition of interactivity.”

    Thanks for that!

    • iucounu says:

      Agreed. The other insight I gleaned from it is the critical distinction between games and other media, viz. “You control a little man.”

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      There is a subtle but important distinction to make: games are distinguished by systematic interactivity. Interactivity within a set of rules.

      I couldn’t stomach reading the whole thing, but I saw lots of words that didn’t really make that simple point.

    • NathanH says:

      I suppose, TillEulenspiegel, that I could argue that any interactivity is “systematic” in the sense that it follows rules, even if the rules might be incredibly complicated and nobody understands them, but then I think I would be well on the way to being the sort of person who writes lengthy blog posts that are more-or-less empty of content… so I will say instead: Fair point.

    • iucounu says:

      Well, if you were to take his definition of interactivity you’d argue that the interpretation of language or the appreciation of a painting is a systematised game, but then I think you’d be using a pointlessly inclusive sense of the word.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      even if the rules might be incredibly complicated and nobody understands them

      Well, sure. Everything ultimately obeys the laws of physics. In this case, I mean rules wot someone wrote on purpose. Artificial constraints.

      I was thinking specifically in contrast to various kinds of interactive art exhibits, most of which could not be categorized as games.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      a pointlessly inclusive sense of the word.

      More than that, it’s simply wrong. Interaction means there’s a two-way street (“mutual or reciprocal”, per the dictionary), that there’s some kind of response to your actions.

  25. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    Those Russian covers were fantastic, thanks for that link Jim!

  26. Kenny says:

    “Despite its toothy grin and good sense of humor, sometimes I just want to punch Uncharted 3 in the nuts.”

    Then change it to ‘Easy Mode’ you ass, don’t moan about the game when there is a feature catered precisely towards the issue you’re railing against. Honestly.

    • Agnol117 says:

      The question, though, is “Why should he have to?”

      I’ll be honest: I haven’t gotten a chance to play Uncharted 3 yet, but if it’s anything like Uncharted 2 (and I strongly suspect it is), the issue isn’t that the game is too hard, it’s that the difficulty is almost nonsensically inconsistent. There are points that are, on medium, frustratingly difficult and yet are sandwiched by fights that are almost laughably easy. That kind of almost arbitrary difficulty is nothing short of poor game design, and unfortunately, it’s becoming annoyingly more commonplace.

    • mondomau says:

      Agnol117 – That’s pretty much what Hamilton is stating in the article, the article Kenny clearly didn’t bother to read before mouthing off and being needlessly insulting.

    • gwathdring says:

      I haven’t played Uncharted, but this is my main problem with Dragon Age: Origins. In the less orthodox fights when I’m working with something other than my favorite party combination, I enjoy the light tactical elements that are required of me on the Hard difficulty level. I like feeling as though I have to work had in the battles that are difficult for my heroes in-world. It makes their accomplishment a little more mine and I feel that much more engaged and connected. But for most of the game, arbitrary fights against non-plot related enemies range from boring to fight on Hard to extremely difficult to beat even on Easy.

      Most of the time, now, I switch into easy so I can plow through any fights that aren’t absurdly difficult … and then crank it up whenever I get to a fight that looks like an interesting challenge. I wouldn’t mind as much if the fights were difficult tactically, but far too often Dragon Age makes fights more difficult by cranking up the health, armor and damage of the enemies in such a way that my optimal tactics vary little from encounter to encounter and I’m mostly micromanaging potion consumption as I hit the same combination of abilities that won me the last fight. It disappoints me a bit because I can’t think of how to make the parts of the gameplay I enjoy really work without the bits I don’t. There are simply too many variables to balance combat properly–party combinations, ability trees, equipment found, random encounters, potions, poisons, bombs … and I love all of those consumables to death except the god-damn health potion.

      I encounter this problem in a lot of games, really. And to an extent it isn’t really avoidable because each player has different skills and finds different thinks more or less difficult.. But it can be made less frustrating by giving encounters their own feel, making fights their own characters in the game .. and also by avoiding the healthbar as a measure of difficulty.

  27. D says:

    And if your answer is 33%, and 33% is not on the list of valid answers . . . then your chance of randomly selecting 33% is a bullshit question.

  28. bluebogle says:

    I get the feeling Enslaved would get a whole new life onto itself if it came to the PC. Such a shame it never will.

  29. Lee Kelly says:

    Thanks for the link to Ambient Challenge, Jim. I am flattered to be included here two weeks running! Maybe I can make it a hat-trick if I finish my L.A. Noire piece before next Sunday … and before Skyrim arrives to devour my life.

  30. Tams80 says:

    One of those science magazine covers has a Ekranoplan on!

    Ah, the misspent time searching for them on Google Earth…

    As for GTA: London; you can still buy it on Amazon and I presume elsewhere. I do have fond memories of it. The first ‘adult’ game I played. =D

  31. coldvvvave says:

    How nostalgic, I had some of these Technica Molodyozhi magazines somewhere.

  32. Burning Man says:

    That interactivity article pissed me off. There’s reasonable discussion, and then there’s mental masturbation. “You think the sky’s blue? Maybe it’s only blue to you! Maybe what’s red to everyone else is blue to you!” Yeah. I’ve heard that before. Pointless.

  33. jalf says:

    Take on Helicopter’s DRM is not “smart”, it is extraordinarily dumb.

    It convinces pirates that the game they pirated is broken. And then they’re sure as hell *not* going to ever pay for it.

    Yeah, it’s not the first game to try something like this. I recall an adventure game or something, which removed a few key items, so you couldn’t complete a puzzle. Again, pirates thought the game was just bugged, and went “oh, I’m glad I didn’t buy this piece of shit”.

    Why are game developers so dumb sometimes?

  34. jrodman says:

    There are legitimate reasons a legitimate user would want to modify the executable in such a way that would driver this “weak DRM”. For example, a user may want to localize the game to a language that the game does not support, and that the publisher/etc do not feel the interest or likely return on supporting.

    DRM of this nature is less bad, but it is still not good.