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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for planning the year ahead. It will contain victories. It will also, likely, contain videogames and many thoughts about them. So let’s make like we meant to go on and find victory in fine words about videogames.

  • Cobbett’s weekly Crapshoot remains one of the best sources of the worst of PC gaming. This week was something I’d never heard of, a Myst pisstake, Pyst: “Probably the weirdest part of the whole thing – other than that it sold well enough for a sequel to be on the cards – is the song that plays at the end. Goodman sings it, and it’s called “I’m Pyst”, but what the hell it’s meant to have to do with anything, I have absolutely no idea. It’s only King Mattrus singing in theory, nothing about it involves Myst in any way shape or form, and… well… listen if you dare.”
  • Eurogamer examine the issue of retailer-exclusive pre-order bonuses: “With that in mind we approached a number of UK retailers, publishers and developers to find out more about the process, why it happens and whether gamers are doomed to suffer as a result.”
  • The Economist on Vietnam’s latest contribution to PC gaming: “7554, as the new game is called, is set at the tail end of French colonial times and pits the Viet Minh against the European occupiers. The title refers to the date of Vietnam’s great triumph at Dien Bien Phu, on May 7th, 1954. The war, which began in 1946 and whose end that victory marked, sealed the fate of the French in Indochina. The final push, orchestrated by General Vo Nguyen Giap, who turned 100 last year, is still celebrated and nearly every city, town, even hamlet has a street named after it.”
  • True PC Gaming have a piece about Fallout: New Vegas, which is I game I keep meaning to play: “Obsidian’s thoughtful attention to the politics and economy of what would otherwise be juvenile fantasy is admirable, as is their skill at building a world. Though the writing is oftentimes spotty (particularly at the end of every DLC chapter,) there are more than enough moments of environmentally-told storytelling mastery that make up for it.”
  • Electron Dance has a few interesting thoughts on Neptune’s Pride: “We’re witnessing a case of survivorship bias. It is the epic game diaries that have sold Neptune’s Pride to the public. Sometimes fragments of aborted stories from the game’s forgotten victims will bleed through but engaged, committed players are the ones who write the meat of these diaries.”
  • Creative theft in Social games, over on Gamasutra.
  • When a console gamer is converted to the way of righteousness: “It amazed me how often my console sensibilities prevented me from recognizing the ways PCs make gaming easier. When I stumbled over controls I disliked I scowled in disapproval before realizing I could remap every key on the keyboard. When framerate started to dip I could make a quick stop in the options menu and influence a game’s raw performance — an absurd notion for a console gamer. And to those of you that have spent your entire lives preaching the superiority of a mouse and keyboard in first-person shooters: I see your point.”
  • Also at IGN: Why We Love Superheroes.
  • The Four Lenses of Game Making“: I am not sure how useful this kind of reductive analysis is, frankly, but there it is: “Rather than talking about games in terms of two lenses, I use four (potentially five, but I’ll come back to that). Each represents a common set of assumptions and predispositions that I often see in makers, and there are correlations between them which makes for an interesting (though perhaps deceptively symmetric) diagram.”
  • Also in game analysis news, Pete Collier on “compulsion loops” goes like this: “My definition of a compulsion loop is that it is a construct designed to keep someone engaged by marrying their action/s with an appropriate level of reward. But in essence it has been around forever, we just didn’t have a name for it. The greatest creators of entertainment have had an innate understanding of it since we all sat around the fire scratching our heads as Neanderthals. It’s nothing new. Different mediums achieve it in their own way, but all essentially reward for attention and effort and when this equilibrium falters the loop dissipates.”
  • A bit late, but here’s Shut Up & Sit Down Christmas special.
  • The connection between Metal Gear Solid and Grant Morrison’s run on Animal Man.
  • Cliffski’s “The Bite-Sized Hardcore” manifesto.
  • Phonograph talk about the connection between procedural generation and improvisation.
  • Eurogamer has a Far Cry 2 retrospective, which is odd because I was playing it this week, too.
  • Chris Dahlen on Dark Souls is worth a read.
  • From the depths of last year, but this post on the nature of “winning” in games is worth a nose.
  • I appreciated Kirk Hamilton’s round up of the best video game music over on Kotaku.
  • The best real-world photo bloggery I have seen this week.

Music this week is all appropriately midwintery dark, from The Haxan Cloak. I am loving the whole album, however. Just my cup of gloom.

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