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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.

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Jim Rossignol

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