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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for sunshine pouring in through the window. I am so looking forward to summer this year. To pass the time I’ve been reading the internet. Here’s some of the stuff I found.

  • Here’s an article about games that are not just for computers, but by computers: “Angelina uses computational evolution techniques to search design spaces for playable games. Using a fairly simple design language, Cook specifies certain parameters such as layout constraints and rule-set variations – effectively defining a genre. Angelina iterates through a vast number of semi-random permutations of these, where each permutation is a potential new game. The evolutionary aspect of the process comes in when the system selects the better candidates of each iteration – or generation – and combines them to form the seeds of the next. But in Angelina’s case, there are two phases to the process. First, selecting the component game-parts – layout, mechanics – and secondly; picking a playable integration of these. Cook refers to this as ‘cooperative co-evolution’.”
  • Dear Esther has provoked discussion all over the place. Here’s some.
  • The Art Of Homeworld.
  • The story behind Stalin vs The Martians: “You promised an updated version would be on the way, but several years have passed without a whisper of it, during which time no one has been able to purchase the game. What happened to this version?” “We lied.”
  • Eurogamer’s “The Rise and Fall of Sega Enterprises“: “At the start of the decade, Sega stood astride the gaming world like a colossus; it had smashed Nintendo’s vice-like stranglehold in the US and conquered Europe with its street-smart marketing. But by the close of the ’90s, the company’s reputation was in tatters, its user-base had all but collapsed and it was driven dangerously close to the yawning abyss of insolvency.”
  • A critique of Portal 2: “A few hours later, the game punts you into a dank brown cavern that is Portal’s equivalent to a boring FPS sewer level. Something happens while you’re down there. Instead of coming together, the game slowly begins to fall apart. Physics-defying gels introduce even more levels of secondary thought required to play the game. Portal-friendly surfaces are suddenly very scarce, very tiny, and very far apart from each other. During the first vital playthrough, the test chambers became a chore somewhere around Chapter 7. As they got increasingly difficult, they repeatedly screeched the finely-tuned pacing and flow of the game to a halt, reducing their place in the gameplay formula as elaborate obstacles.”
  • On The Love Letter: “…the game’s premise couldn’t be simpler: Read your love letter before next class begins. End of story. The whole set-up has extreme implications, though, due to the way the situation is framed. You MUST read the letter in its entirety to discover the writer’s identity; otherwise your opportunity to meet your potential love interest will vanish in a heartbeat. Given that you were absent during the day’s very first class, you know your schoolmates WILL now be eager to see what “SUP!”. Doubly so, should they catch you red-handed with a love letter!”
  • This week seems to have contained plenty of anger and lamentation about the idiots of the internet: “Every gamer with more than one brain cell was disgusted and outraged at the whole affair. Notice that I didn’t say they were surprised, because who would be? This is the gaming community’s elephant in the room: it’s got an ejaculating penis and a swastika drawn on it.”
  • And an article from Forbes on the subject.
  • While we’re with the mainstream press, here’s the BBC’s Front Row on videogames.
  • A great interview with the Limbo team.
  • Digital Foundry’s Alan Wake PC analysis: “On PC with max settings, there is a surgical precision to almost every single rendering element, and clearly, obviously, everything looks a lot whole lot better. But there is the argument that with much of the grime and haze lifted, the atmosphere just isn’t quite the same – and with very few (if any) improvements to the base artwork, some of the lower resolution textures are that much more noticeable too.”

Music this week is actually a video, filmed on location at Chernobyl and the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The expedition was organised by RPS chums Unknown Fields.

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Jim Rossignol

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