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The Sunday Papers

Sunday mornings are for waking up to hear about a meteor. Poor old space rock, burning up in the atmosphere. All it wanted was a closer look at that big blue-green thing. Oh well. Perhaps I can distract myself from the melancholy of its demise with some writings about videogames. Yes, let’s try that.

  • Rowan Kaiser on “How Mass Effect challenged my definition of ‘RPG’“: “The big question surrounding Mass Effect in genre terms is whether it is a role-playing game or not. Unlike most games, especially every other major BioWare release, the answer isn’t obvious – it depends on how you look at genre. That’s a big concept, but it can be examined in a few different ways. I tend to think there are three main ways that people try to define the role-playing genre, which parallel the three questions described at the start of this piece: “Do you play a role in the game?” “Does the game work like other role-playing games?” And, the most complicated one, revealed by the oddity of the film grain, is, “Where does this game fit in the history of role-playing games?””
  • On making the natives playable in Colonization: “if (!isNative()) appears in CvPlayer.cpp, one of the core game’s files, 23 times. When it is put in the context of if (!isNative()){return false;} the logic of the sentiment reads like a sentence. If a given people “isNative” then the game should “return false,” that is, the system should negate a given rule set in place for all of the other peoples who have not explicitly been marked as “isNative”. What matters here is that the isNative label is used to turn off the abilities and characteristics of what it means to be a people.”
  • Amazing analysis of the medusa’s head. Here’s a sample of what to expect: “Note that a challenge based on this visual concept, wherein an enemy moves between the two viewports, would not work with anything other than the medusa head. A ground-based enemy has one dimensional movement, so it doesn’t move enough. The heads are not the only enemies which can leave the ground, but all the other flying enemies have AI, and so their unpredictable behaviour takes center stage when you fight them. Only the medusa head is sufficiently simple, variable, and clean.”
  • Meanwhile IGN asked: “When a game becomes a service, what do publishers owe their customers?
  • “Body horror” in the The Binding Of Isaac.
  • Eric Lockaby’s “Art Game Thunderdome” is worth a watch.
  • Giant Bomb summarizes the events of the fighting-game sexual harassment furore: ““This is a community that’s, you know, 15 or 20-years-old and the sexual harassment is part of a culture,” said competitive fighting game player Aris “Aris” Bakhtanians on a recent live stream for Capcom’s Cross Assault show, “and if you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community.””
  • The story of the man who created Final Fantasy: “Hironobu Sakaguchi is a designer exceeded by one of his earliest creations. This rare press trip to the UK, the first in over a decade, is to promote his studio Mistwalker’s latest Nintendo Wii title, The Last Story. Later that night, at a public BAFTA interview an audience member asks him if he’s bored talking about Final Fantasy and he admits that, yes, after an afternoon being quizzed about the series by so many European journalists he is so very tired of it.”
  • A Podcast interview with Sheldon Pacotti, who was the writer on Deus Ex.
  • A private military contractor discusses the portrayal of soldiers in videogames: “My friends and I are not represented anywhere in mass media. People need to realise that their wars are not fought by the guy on the news that lost a leg and loves his flag — he was the FNG [ed: fucking new guy] that got blown up because he was incompetent, who left the fight before it turned him into one of us. The world needs to be made aware of my kind: the silent majority of fighters, those that do not care about politics, religion, ethics, or anything else other than war for war’s sake.”
  • Should More Indie Developers Be Saying ‘Just Pirate It’? Yikes.
  • There’s going to be a lot of writing about Mass Effect in the next couple of weeks. There’s this Gamasutra interview with the team, too.
  • Not exactly a piece of writing, but sort of amazing as an undertaking – and certainly something you will, as a PC gamer, end up using one day if it works – PCGamingWiki, a wiki which intends to put the fixes for all the PC games ever in one place. If they manage it, this could be one of the internet’s greatest resources.
  • With DLC still not seeming to have a standard model, Craig Lager offers some suggestions.
  • The Three Moves Ahead podcast discusses Conquest Of Elysium 3.

Finally, more beautiful noise from Bvdub. I’m going to get back to Mass Effect 3. I wanted to link the track that was played at the most melodramatic part of the game so far, but I haven’t been able to identify it. I am pretty sure it is by one of the numerous electronic artists I listen to and link on here, and hopefully I’ll track it down soon. Anyway.

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Jim Rossignol

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