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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for magnetically aligning ferrous particles and awaiting the release of the new Pye Corner Audio transmission on Monday. Perhaps we can find something to do in the meantime, eh?

  • Killscreen continue to produce some worthy reviews. Mr Zacny just about nails Need For Speed: The Run, like this: “The mission is scripted to make most of this lengthy race utterly pointless. You cannot pull ahead, and you cannot fall behind. I tested my theory by driving across the bridge like Miss Daisy was napping in the back seat. I calmly sidestepped the oncoming cars while the overwrought soundtrack gave itself a heart attack. Nor did I push too hard through the subway tunnels. No matter what you do, Jack and the wise guy will end up side-by-side in Brooklyn, and Jack will be forced to escape into the subway. And no matter how quickly or slowly you go through the subway tunnels, Jack will always come flying off the tracks to land a few car-lengths behind his opponent. Nothing you do makes a difference.”
  • Do MMOs need death? “What if I proposed a new Earth, where no humans could die, ever. Also, we could never be stolen from. Once you bought something (which is the ONLY way you could lose money), it would be in your possession forever, unless you gave it away. Nothing would break down and become broken; everything in the world is indestructible unless you are supposed to destroy it for a gain. Then that thing will respawn so you can do it again later. Everyone in the world can only go UP in the world from where they are when they start out. Everyone can, and will be a super-powerful bad-ass if they simply just log enough time.” Having talked to the Salem devs this week, I think death is going to make a come back as a mechanic in MMOs.
  • Sneaky Bastards is about stealth games.
  • Yang has some post-mortem notes on the Level With Me project: “I was shocked, then, by the most common line of criticism I saw: a refusal to read, an insistence that a level without a puzzle-y Portal puzzle is a bad level. It’s like the rhetorical equivalent of donkeyspace. I literally can’t go through the mental gymnastics required to conclude that challenge is the only interesting thing about first person single player games. Comments like that make me miss all the people who said it was pretentious; I want a higher level of criticism.”
  • Starbreeze talk Syndicate, and AAA development, with this interesting news: “When I look at any project, I look at it from a commercial standpoint, I look from a creative standpoint, and a production standpoint. So it depends on what kind of game we’re doing. We’re not doing that right now, but we’re actually self-funding one original IP right now. If we’re going to take it to market ourself — I haven’t decided yet. It’s always about how you maximize what you can do.”
  • More from Raph Koster with Narrative Is Not A Game Mechanic: “Games are a compound medium. They are made up of multiple other media, typically in the feedback. In other words, we rely on media such as film, writing, visual arts, music, and so on in order to provide the feedback. Games that do not rely on these other media much tend to get called “abstract” — a completely stripped bare game is actually a mathematical diagram or formula, not something easily seen or comprehended, so all games have to make use of other media at least a little.”
  • Eurogamer’s Amy review: “Amy fails on all counts. It’s plagued by jerky movement, poor scripting, weak puzzles and shoddy checkpointing, but it’s also a characterless mess of themes and ideas swiped from a dozen better horror titles. Neither quirky enough to be forgiven its unfinished feel nor polished enough to satisfy the base gaming itch, Amy is a crushing disappointment with little to recommend it.” And so on.
  • Questions from the community on Tomb Raider. I’m not sure why I am linking this, other than being able to point to the idea that there is a community for everything.
  • Are you a playthrough perfectionist? Share a life with a completist? Grave has some thoughts that you might share: “The Perfect Game is a sop thrown to the Completionist. It justifies his or her compulsion to do everything by rewarding them for their toils. Struggling to choose between saving the city of Amaranthine or the fortress of Vigil’s Keep? Struggle no more! You spent the extra time and effort upgrading the Vigil’s walls and rearming its soldiers, it will stand without you. Onward to Amaranthine! Sound familiar?”
  • It’s interesting for me to read people’s taste in games, even – or perhaps especially – when it is totally antithetical to my own. BrainyGamer on Zelda, and Leigh Alexander on Zelda.
  • Reasons why beginner games journalists should write for free.
  • Reasons why beginner games journalists should not write for free.
  • A brilliant promotional video by Si Spurrier.
  • Brian Appleyard interviews Geoff Dyer, in which Dyer talks Tarkovsky’s Stalker by way of trashing Julian Barnes.

Music this week is Silent Girl by Red State Soundsystem, which is a tribute to a character in Kieron Gillen’s Phonogram comic.

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