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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for waking up early to see what the previous night’s hype ceremony has disgorged into the guts of the internet. Then, later, you turn to other things. Words on those games. What might there be amongst the debris? Let’s scavenge.

  • It’s difficult not to be impressed by Totilo’s profile of Tim Sweeney, a programming legend who is about to be added to the Hall of Fame of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. Totilo talks about what Sweeney the man he is, and explains a bit about why the mind behind Epic’s tech is so important: “These days, if a company wants to show off how impressive their new computer, phone or console is, the easiest path is to get the latest Unreal Engine on it. They want Sweeney or one of his colleagues on stage showing how well it runs and how easily people can make games with it. “He enabled us to make fun games that I call ‘system justifiers,’” Bleszinski explained. “He made an engine that made it easy for developers to make good-looking things fast, which then let you get a great-looking game on an iPad 2 or through a 3D card and show your wife that ‘this is why I got this.’””
  • Mr Yang is coming up with plenty to say as a result of his Level With Me series: “the long con of these first person military manshooters is to tell you so many small unbelievable lies so you’ll swallow the big ones: that it is possible to optimize a path to victory, that victory in war is even possible, that war involves soldiers and personal agency, and that war is fundamentally fair and just in the context of a balanced game system.”
  • It’s worth having a read of this article which poses Dark Souls vs Skyrim in the telling of tales: ” The problem is that Skyrim is a videogame, and when it’s in narrative mode it stops being one. This passive delivery is the rock on which Skyrim’s lore founders – flicking through virtual pages or skipping through conversations counts as interaction, just, but it’s of a rather dull variety. Dark Souls’ approach is the opposite of overbearing. Scraps of information are at a premium and there’s almost no exposition beyond an intro video and what can be gleaned from the brief lines of a rare NPC. The pithy descriptions of items and the clues in its environment’s details are where Dark Souls’ story lies. Everything can be ignored, in other words, without your having to skip through it.”
  • And when you’re finished with that, Tom Betts has written a companion article: “[In Dark Souls], like STALKER, there is a powerful sense of autonomy in the game world, and like GSCs scarred wastelands there is also a real sense of loss in leaving this world. Because unlike most other linear script-driven cutscene games, the story isn’t there just for you “the player”, it feels like it is there despite of you, and will continue to be there long after you have turned the power off and walked away.”
  • The men from Shut Up & Sit Down have a chat about player interaction via board games: “To me, this hobby is never more tepid and geeky than when you’re sat around a table and playing a game that doesn’t encourage you to talk, laugh, or otherwise bring you into contact; when a game simply presents each of you with the same challenge and says that whoever does it best, wins. To me, it’s only in those occasions that this hobby starts to resemble the stereotype non-gamers have in their heads.”
  • This video lecture by Jon Blow and Marc Ten Bosch, which was given at Indiecade earlier this year is called “Designing to Reveal The Nature Of The Universe”, so that should give you a reason to watch it.
  • Gamasutra looks at the Russian gaming market: “And while only 50 to 60 million Russians have internet access, that is expected to increase to 80 million in the near future, creating a high potential for game market growth from the current size of the marketplace, which is about $1.5 billion (including an estimated $210 million spent on game downloads).”
  • Digital Foundry looks at Batman’s tech on PC: “the PC version is the one to get.”
  • I just missed out on mentioning this last week, but GameSetWatch, a stalwart of the esoteric games blogging sphere for many years, has closed its doors. A bit of an end of an era, that. Good luck to all its former columnists.
  • Most of you will have seen this earlier in the week from other outlets, but it’s worth a link here too: The Best Battlefield 3 clip so far.
  • There is nothing in Skyrim that people will not blog about. I give you: a discussion of the weather.
  • The Economist has a huge special report on videogames. It’s about the biggest bunch of videogame articles by mainstream press I’ve ever seen. There’s even a sensible piece about game violence. Imagine that! (Actually, The Economist does tend to lean a little towards the libertarian, so this shouldn’t be too surprising.)

Music this week is “Tully Goes To The Docks“, which is “an ambient orchestral piece for toy piano and strings. It is entirely generative, meaning it was written by software with no human interference beyond setting up initial conditions.” If you like the track please cough up a dollar or two to actually buy it.

If you have links you want to see go into the Sunday Papers you can email me in the header of this piece, or tweet me up.

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