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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for looking at far away places on the map and feeling a bit like Truman. I should like to go to Fiji. One day. Now though, it’s time to consider other escapes, and the things people write about them.

  • We’ll have our own feature on this soon, but I wanted to link to Gnome’s Lair’s coverage of Wing Commander Saga, the freeware project intended to bring that franchise back to life in the Freespace 2 engine: “Features don’t make games great. What makes them great is the love poured into them, great game dynamics, and solid storytelling–and we’ve done our best to make sure Wing Commander Saga has all of that. We, as designers, wanted to ensure that the entire experience is exciting: the game makes you feel that you are not just watching the action but actually stepping into the role and experiencing what it is like to be Sandman.”
  • Tom Jubert writes a response to the BAFTA talk by Bioware: “The punch that’s pulled – the willingness to actually pin down what art is beyond what we think it is – renders the art world a much less interesting place to be. It means there is no right and no wrong in taste; that the statement ‘video games are art’ is meaningless, because we can say with equal validity ‘Kenco coffee is art’, provided someone somewhere considers it so.”
  • I’ve been meaning to link this for a while, and finally remembered. Campbell’s “The Dark Side Of Digital Distribution“: “While we can’t think offhand of a more heinous or blatant case, Touch Racing is far from a unique one. (The first well-documented iOS example was probably Paper Toss, originally a free game but which was downgraded with ads just before it started to add content.) WoSland is a pretty wily consumer, and currently has eight apps sitting in its iPhone’s “update” queue which are never going to get those updates, because the “update” in question is in fact a downgrade, removing functionality and/or adding ads. We’ve deleted many others altogether for the same reason.”
  • Why are adults still launching tabletop war?” asks the BBC, somewhat condescendingly. Kieron Gillen replies: “[There’s] the satisfaction of looking at ranks of badly-daubed Skaven (man-sized anthropomorphic rats) and knowing they’re yours and you made them in a real way.”
  • Bogost’s review of Journey at The Atlantic: “When they speak about their games, Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago often express a hope that they might explore or arouse positive emotions in their players, emotions they do not feel from other sorts of games. Isn’t this sense of delight and vitality precisely what they are after? Yes, to be sure. But it is also the thrill of all victories, and the vertigo of all dizzinesses. Chen and Santiago sell themselves short with this this trite incantation about emotions. For their journey has not been one of creating outcomes, but of culturing a style, an aesthetic that defines the experience without need for their aphorisms. Instead: the sand and the ruins. The wind and the fabric. The silence of a cryptographic mythology. The vertigo of breeze, the swish of dunes.”
  • Notch at the BAFTAs.
  • When games were more than a download: “Some experiences are better for a little struggle though, and I maintain that clicking a link in Steam – or, if you swing that way, Origin – simply isn’t the same. It’s more convenient, no question. It’s faster. But just like a paperback book still feels more real than a Kindle download, there’s something to be said for a physical thing to lust over and lay your hands on. A row of games on a shelf may take up space, but it also acts as a personal trophy cabinet, an at-a-glance reminder of battles won, universes saved, calls of duty successfully answered. A set of bland DVD cases lacks the same oomph, and even those are on the way out – especially on PC, where direct-download services are king.”
  • The Mittani talks about giving players a voice in Eve Online: “Yet, on the whole, the CSM project has been on the side of CCP’s bottom line since the beginning. The CSM was vehemently critical of the Tyrannis and Incarna expansions before their releases, both of which were duds — duds which came to threaten the company’s survival. The Crucible expansion, on the other hand, is a laundry list of CSM-sponsored changes to the core gameplay of EVE, and the disaffected customer base has responded by re-subscribing in droves. Democracy can be dangerous if you defy it, but profitable if obeyed.”
  • Some Economics of Pay What You Want Pricing.
  • Warren Ellis asks: Is Magazine Publishing Really Screwed?
  • This guy does not do enough to influence game design.
  • Speaking of buildings, Arno Raps really knows how to photograph them.

No music this week. Just this image, via Mr Sutcliffe. Choose your own theme to that. (Even if it is the obvious answer of Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack.)

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Jim Rossignol

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