The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for quiet regret. Don’t spend too long on that maudlin stuff though, because you’ve only got a limited time to make the most of what you love. And if you are reading this site, then you probably love videogames. Let’s see what’s been going on with them.

  • True PC Gaming interviews Arcen’s Chris Park: “What we do run afoul of, however, is that exact same problem but with complexity instead. During alpha the game grew enormously complex, and we still thought it was too simple. Turns out we had the opposite problem of what we thought. During early beta in particular, one of our big challenges was to streamline the ideas of the game so that they were more accessible to players. And the other challenge throughout beta was making the game adequately explain itself to players as they progress.”
  • It was a week in which many memories of the ZX Spectrum were conjured up. In this article from the Guardian our own Alec Meer said: “My colleagues and I on bewilderingly successful PC gaming site all owe its existence, and our respective 15-year-and-counting careers in games journalism, to formative gaming experiences with the ZX Spectrum. In fact, the reason we’re all writing about PC games as opposed to Xbox/Playstation stuff is the direct line from the weird and wonderful, homemade essence of Speccy games to today’s crazed indie games and mods on PC.”
  • Keith Stuart on the difference between the original bedroom programmers of the Spectrum era and indie devs today: “The coders of the 8bit era worked mostly in isolation. There was no scene – no scenesters. The Oliver twins weren’t invited out to cool micro-festivals in Austin; the Darling brothers didn’t do talks on the aesthetics of machine code at GDC. There was no GDC. When I interviewed Charles Cecil about his days as an 8bit game designer a month ago, he told me that the only time he met other developers was at computer trade shows, where they would invariably be selling their games on stalls next to his. They were rivals.”
  • An aesthetic for competitive play: “Bring back the LAN party!” Yes.
  • A brief history of Ensemble Studios: “Bill Gates was instrumental in solidifying Microsoft’s support for Age of Empires. Microsoft was already very eager to have their first blockbuster game. Many Microsoft execs were happy to jump aboard with our product, but some, including Bill Gates, had reservations. Eventually though, opinions unified when Gates declared, “This is a product that we will do everything we can to make a classic, like Flight Simulator, so the popularity goes on and on.””
  • Eurogamer gets an insider view of Guild Wars 2 creators, ArenaNet: “The best content designers don’t fall in love with the stuff that they do, because they know that it always has to change to get better. And they know that the best content is not stuff that you need to keep adding to, it’s when you’ve taken away everything you can take away from it that you need to call it done.”
  • Do stealth games allow players to address more complicated worlds than mere action games?
  • A Digitiser retrospective: “Its daily nature allowed it to beat most traditional print magazines to the punch on news, and while only having a limited colour pallete and a complete lack of screenshots, it was frequently the most visually engaging publication of its type. I mean, who doesn’t like single colour pixel effigies of Thom Yorke?”
  • Another article on Don’t Take It Personally, Babe, and one that is, well, a little more personal.
  • Quinns has been detoxing by not playing videogames, and getting stuck into the other kinds of games: “What we call “technology” is really a swimming pool so stuffed with sharks as to look like an undulating grey floor. It is this pool that ideas for video games must cross in order to exist. SNAP! goes a pair of jaws. The guns/punching/jumping in your game doesn’t feel satisfying. SNAP! The finished product is buggy. SNAP! You fail to assemble the finished project within the time or budget available to you. In a burst of foam and gore, your videogame is dragged down, down, through a gap in the shark mattress.”
  • The Russian city where the ground is collapsing beneath them.

Music this week is from Squarepusher.

More soon!


  1. Inigo says:


    • Lambchops says:

      The most important lesson I learned from Digitiser was to stay away from Mr T’s bins.

    • BooleanBob says:

      God, the mention of the reveal button brought the memories flooding back. Digitiser really was quite special.

    • noom says:

      The lesson I took from Digitiser was how easy it was to sneak swearwords into some place they shouldn’t be by having them written in zombie speak.

    • hypercrisis says:

      What a glorious way t go out. I really do miss the teletext days of digitiser and planetsound. Such an intimate ghetto internet

    • RogB says:

      I miss Zombie Dave

  2. Mr. Mister says:

    I think that just monitroing everything doesn’t count as “fighting the holes with science”: it takes “fight” out of the equation.
    Cave Jonhson wouldn’t be proud.

    • subedii says:

      To be fair, he would have been proud of the idea of building a city directly over the mine.

    • nemryn says:

      Twilight Sparkle would be, though, so it pretty much balances out.

  3. Paul says:

    That squarepusher song is fantastic.

    • Gonefornow says:

      Nothing beats Planetarium, though.

    • Chaz says:

      Maybe it’s just me but this sort of music doesn’t seemed to have moved on much in the past 10 years or so. I’ve got tracks from the early 90’s that are doing this stuff and better, by the likes of Hardfloor and Egebamyasi et al, or for the more minimalistic beats artists like Plastikman. Stuff that built on the foundations of the earlier electronica pioneered in the 70’s and 80’s and took it forwards in a new and exciting direction. The stuff that’s coming out these days seems to be going in a retrograde direction and retreading old ground. Perhaps that’s the intention, but I can’t say I’m too keen on it.

    • noom says:

      It is, isn’t it? Heard a 20 second-odd “preview” of that track on warp website a while back, and really wanted to hear the full thing. Wasn’t aware that it’d been uploaded in full.

    • magnus says:

      Indeed it is, but I’m having an Alien Vampires moment and it’s seriously difficult to get out of; link to

    • stretchpuppy says:

      Indeed that is fantastic!

    • Jason Moyer says:

      It’s a great track, but his purely electronic stuff tends to blur into a big mess in my head. I hope his next record still has lots of his fab bass playing on it.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      If you like that, make sure to check out more of his stuff. Of course this is all assuming you’re already familiar with the complete works of Aphex Twin aka Richard David James aka AFX, which if you’re not, you should do first.

      Also ‘Vedana’ by Zavoloka is lush:
      link to

  4. subedii says:

    What I would have liked from the Ensemble article is a bit more insight into just why MS closed down the studio.

    Speaking as an outsider looking in, it was just a bizarre period. Ensemble was just wrapping up Halo Wars and it was likely to be a successful game, the flight sim team was as successful as they always were. It’s almost like there was yet another change in management, they said “We’re focusing more on other places and the XBox division now, stop sucking up resources.”, and basically canned everything else as a result.

    And then re-instated the franchises that they had just killed off in different forms later anyway. It’s just really freaking weird, and the only reason I can come to that makes sense in my mind is just changes in management with different ideas on where to take things.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I suspect it’s another case of ‘managers gotta manage’. People can never just leave well enough alone, because that makes it look like you’re not doing your job. :)

    • SirKicksalot says:

      Ensemble was too expensive, eating more money than Rare and Lionhead but with fewer employees and projects, and delivered too little.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      There really isn’t a reason for Microsoft to do half the shit it does, but they just do it anyway. I’ve come to the conclusion that any developer directly under or closely working with Microsoft is eventually driven away (the latter. See: Bungie) or completely eviscerated and eventually shut down (the former. See: Ensemble). Rare was killed and resurrected as a shitty-Kinect-games studio, Lionhead’s on the brink of obsolescence after Molyneux’s departure, Ensemble has been pulverized, Bungie ran the fuck away, who’s left, really? Turn 10 and Epic, and even then Epic is just half-working with them. They’re making a PC exclusive game now, so they’re straddling a line between a second-party dev for Microsoft and third-party in general. How long until Microsoft runs Turn 10 into the ground? I’d give it about 5 years, then they truly have nothing.

      Microsoft is terrible as a gaming corporation. They’ve succeeded in the XBox department really against all reason, and they continue to perpetuate the absolute worst of the worst of the industry (remember, among the things they popularized was microtransaction DLC and paid online multiplayer. The innovation! The forward, progressive thinking! In what ways will they screw us next?!) while they’re at the top. And they’ll continue to kill studios and shelve IPs or necromance them beyond all reason while that’s happening.

      • malkav11 says:

        They’re not just terrible as a gaming corporation. Windows 7 is admittedly better than previous Windows incarnations, but it feels like the best ideas it has are cribbed mercilessly from better designers, and they’ve still found ways to make it annoying to use. Windows 8 looks flipping terrible as a desktop OS (no comment on its suitability for tablets, but they have an uphill climb against Apple and Google on that front). Office is bloated, unintuitive and has weird tics that seem virtually impossible to remove. Internet Explorer is unequivocally the worst browser on the market today. Etc.

    • RedViv says:

      Strategy games are sustained titles, not something you can churn out sequels for every year without boring people or spicing up the formula. They are not quite the best fit for this industry that thoughtlessly imitates another’s methods of profit, mostly without stopping to look at what it could achieve on its own.

    • Zenicetus says:

      “the flight sim team was as successful as they always were.”

      Well, not exactly. MS Flight Simulator considered as a whole, including all the 3rd party planes, scenery, and utilites was (and still is) very successful. But MS wasn’t getting a big piece of that pie.

      Most of the money was being made by 3rd party developers, and MS only gets to sell one copy of the base flight sim engine, per person. That’s a very small part of what most hardcore flight simmers spend on the hobby. So MS wrapped up the old studio, and came out with MS Flight, where they can lock up all the add-ons for themselves. That also gave them a way to integrate the Xbox, which was never going to happen with the FSX version of Flight Simulator or any future update of that engine.

      Makes perfect business sense, even if they did end up cutting loose a big part of their previous customer base, who won’t be attracted by the new “Lite” version of flight sim..

      At the same time, they kept one small foot in the “old” version by licensing the FSX code to Lockheed, who is now developing it as Prepar3D. That platform may end up as a successor to FSX, depending on how the civilian flight sim market shifts over the next few years with other competitors like X-Plane in the mix.

    • Tams80 says:

      Ensemble was closed down and then we ended up getting AoE Online which really pales in comparison to the rest of the franchise.

  5. AlwaysRight says:

    Good choice with Squarepusher (proper ‘complextro’ music) who looks like he is returning to form.

    My album of the week is: Actress – R.I.P

    It really is quite the thing

  6. westyfield says:

    Today’s music is the LA Noire soundtrack and Bohren & Der Club of Gore. Having returned from stalking the mean streets of Southampton clad in a trenchcoat, I’m taking advantage of the rain and having a smooth jazz afternoon.

  7. Loopy says:

    Really enjoyed reading the comparison article on stealth games and the film The Maltese Falcon, good stuff!

    • JamesPatton says:

      Thanks! It was great fun to write. And a nice break from writing “proper” essays…

  8. phenom_x8 says:

    For some of RPS folks that too scared to try windows 8 consumer preview, Ars Technica have some intriguing review about the new Metro user interface

    link to

    I’ve tried it myself, my most beloved feature was its new Copy Paste interface that can be paused and of course its new task manager. The rest of it? Sadly, I was uninstalled it ASAP because it was damaging my partition when I switched back to Win 7 (the dual boot problem, my win 8 installation harddisk are not recognized when I was boot with Win 7 and then suddenly the win 7 wipe ’em all).

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      It is not a carbon copy of the previous outdated version, therefore I, a reader of rock paper shotgun dot com, a person way better than all you plebeians, can only feel smug hatred towards it.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        I need to put others down to feel better about myself, so I won’t admit that its completely possible that a sequel of something may be worse than its predecessor.

    • nootpingu86 says:

      I was thoroughly unimpressed. Change for the sake of change is mostly the Win8 ethos, same issue with Vista that we had to wait until 7 for those changes to go down easier. MS can do nothing flail these days.

  9. wodin says:

    Shame Valley without wind is just a pretty poor game allround. They where struggling to stay in development after AI War. This game could be a nail in their coffin. You can tell the game came from experimentation instead of a grounded basis. It’s all over the place. The comment about original ideas and how they aren’t going to be original if you think of them before trying things out is a strange comment aswell.

    Also he was a modder but doesn’t understand the beauty of moddable games, which actually is a massive selling point.

    • sinister agent says:

      Where does he show a lack of understanding of moddable games? He says he’d like to support modding but it’s not practical because they’re constantly updating their games over many years, so it’d be too much extra work and would fragment their player base. There’s a big difference between not understanding it and understanding it but being unable to provide for it.

      • wodin says:

        He doesn’t but his actions suggest so. His company is struggling for funds, so you’dthink his next game would have as many plus points as possible and modding is a massive one. However he never designed the game to be modable.

        AVWW is nothing like how the original description would say it was going to be, and sadly for the worse. He made a very poor looking Iso engine and issued screenshots and they where so bad and the feedback was very poor he scrapped Iso view altogether. Insead of trying to get it to look good. The change was so severe the game became a platformer.

    • Gasmask Hero says:

      Supposition and personal opinions stated as facts, although this comment does raise an interesting point for me. If one thing is clear about AVWW it’s how much it divides people. Whilst that’s understandable in such a, shall we say, unique game I’m surprised over some of the negative reactions towards it. It was clear that many of the commentators on the RPS article for the game’s release either hadn’t played it since early beta or hadn’t played it at all but were still willing to mouth off about it’s supposed faults. If you don’t understand how to play the game then say so, but don’t make false judgements on it’s quality based on that.

      Also to my knowledge Arcen are quite happy over the gross of this game to date. If the company was in trouble as a result of this release and until Chris Parks says otherwise (and I have every confidence he would say otherwise) I think we can assume everything is fine. Casting unfounded aspertions over the finances of a small company can be quite damaging. So knock off the doomsaying.

      • wodin says:

        Actually I have the game.

        Also I never said once what I was saying was fact, but it was my opinion and how I see things. Please quote me where I said the word fact?

        I know Arcen has a dedicated following who went and bought several copies of AI War when they announced they where in trouble. This is all great stuff and very commendable. However in my eyes AVWW is not a game I’d consider good enough to save a developer who is in trouble.

        It’s design is all over the place which shows not only in it’s graphics but also gameplay.

        The original brief of this survivor adventure game sounded amazing. Instead we get a odd mix of game design ideas packaged up into a platform game.

        I don’t dislike it, yet neither can I say it’s something I’d recommend either.

        Finally I can comment on any article and about any financial issues I feel a developer may have. Especially as the same developer broadcast to everyone that they where in trouble, so lots of AI War owners ran out and bought more copies. So no I wont knock it off, sorry. If my one comment can damage a developer I either have awesome powers or the developer really is on a knife edge, worse than anyone could have imagined!

        Please don’t tell me what I can or can’t post. OpinionforumComment police are the bane of the net.

    • Professor Paul1290 says:

      I agree with Gasmask Hero on this, you’re stating your assumptions and opinions as facts.

      Even if A Valley Without Wind doesn’t do well, what I’ve seen so far seems to indicate that Arcen is at least partly expecting that possibility. Chris has said previously that Arcen is not in danger of disappearing, but a failure of A Valley Without Wind would mean having to lay some people off (obviously he would really dislike that).

      They already said that they have more expansions to AI War: Fleet Command already planned and still consider expansions to A Valley Without Wind to be a question of whether the game does well enough to make any further support worthwhile. This wouldn’t make sense if they absolutely needed A Valley Without Wind to succeed.

      Chris has also stated that he has been happy with the sales of A Valley Without Wind so far.

      Also, some of us disagree that A Valley Without Wind is “just a poor game all around”.

      • wodin says:

        see above.. I never once said the word fact or stated what I was saying was facts.

      • Phantoon says:

        I’ve seen Wodin post before, but you and that other guy are new.

        Accounts made for the purpose of defending the game, mayhap?

        • Vinraith says:

          You’ve seen me before, and I’ll second everything Paul just said. The financial information he’s citing, incidentally, is directly from one of Chris’ posts over on the Arcen forums from awhile back.

        • Professor Paul1290 says:

          I’ve been here a while actually. I just don’t post very much.

    • Tams80 says:

      I think it looks absolutely terrible; Photoshop done badly.

      I don’t care how good the rest of the game is if one part is so bad it makes me feel nauseous. It’s not a case of the aesthetics could do with looking but are good enough; rather it’s a case of they need to be redone entirely.

  10. wodin says:

    Conspiracy theory’s abound with the hollow earth ideas and the end of the world. Big holes do seem to be appearing all around the world though. Recently was one in Sweden or Switzerland or somewhere like that.

    Google about hollow earth and holes and you will probably found loads of pics pf them.

  11. webwielder says:

    What’s been going on with videogames? A lot of retrospecting and reminiscing, apparently. I don’t think any other art form has such a distorted ratio between time on this earth and time spent dreaming about the past.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Has any other medium changed so drastically so rapidly?

      • Pointless Puppies says:

        Exactly. It’s so fast we have to come back years later and actually analyze what the fuck went on because it flashed by back when it was “current”.

        A lot of other websites do nothing but keep up with the zippity-speed nature of the industry with zero analysis of the past. It’s all about HYPE HYPE HYPE LOOK AT SUCH-AND-SUCH THAT’LL COME OUT AT THE END OF THE YEAR. Then the game comes out, a review is slapped on it, and they go right back to HYPE HYPE HYPE LOOK AT THIS NEW GAME JUST ANNOUNCED.

        Honestly, it really doesn’t hurt to look back in the industry every once in a while. Also, let’s not forget we’re in the “lull” of the year where nothing worth discussing in depth gets released around this time.

        • GT3000 says:

          Music changes at a snap pace, provided you’re on the leading edge.

          • wodin says:

            Erm.. music hasn’t changed in the last 20 or so years mate. Kids are listening to what their parents listened to. Music has stagnated.

            Think how many different styles with their own youth culture came out between the fifties and the late eighties. Yet in the last twenty years there hasn’t been a youth movement because the music hasn’t changed.

            Usually a new movement or movements come along with a new musical instrument, think electric guitar and then synthesiser each inspired several new youth movements an genres. However a synth can replicate any sound we can hear so there will be no new musical instruments, thus no new styles of music.

            The last music youth movement was Rave back in 89 plus the Indie manchester sound. Both sounds are still current now.

            New music styles and their following is dead.

          • Kaira- says:

            “New music styles and their following is dead.”

            Seems to only prove that you aren’t really listening to music. In metal music alone recent times have shown great increase of styles – post-metal, avantgarde and abstract variations of different “base”-genres. And this is in metal music alone.

          • GT3000 says:

            You can argue neither has gaming when distilled to their core roots, like all forms of progress it is layers upon layer upon layers of experience and mindset. Music changes at a break-neck pace, you can divy up anything into “eras” but music is evolving all the time, glo-fi, chiptune, surfer, and nu-folkis are examples of that. Nevermind what’s on the horizon, videogames by definition have done the same. Damn a rapid innovation that brok all trends? Farmville?

          • AlwaysRight says:

            “music hasn’t changed in the last 20 or so years mate.” – wodin – 29 April 2012

            …Wow… just wow…

          • rohsiph says:

            Try World’s End Girlfriend or Kashiwa Daisuke, among others. New music, as other forms of entertainment, are seeing their audiences becoming smaller and smaller, more and more fragmented / diverse, but experimentation, invention, and innovation continue to happen. It takes more and more effort to seek it out and keep up, but it’s out there.

          • Tams80 says:

            @ rohsiph

            Wow, those musicians are fantastic! Thanks!

          • Casimir Effect says:

            @ rohsiph

            I think you’re the first person I’ve found who knows who those bands/artists are. World’s End Girlfriend have been a favourite of mine since I first heard them by listening to Mono, and the collab. album between those two bands is incredible.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Disregarding what the hip kids are discoing to, I can still stick my Boy Meets Girl CD from the late ’80s into modern hi-fi equipment and listen to its pleasant New Wave sound. If I want to play a game from the ’80s it’s time to faff with emulators. And since it probably came on floppies, I’ve got to find a drive (or an Internet copy). Then try to image it despite the copy protection if it wasn’t a DOS release. And if it was on 5 1/4″ or cassette, the difficulty ramps up again.

            Then, while listening to music is still pretty much a case of turning the ears to the speakers and tapping foot to the beat, the retrogaming means having to shift my brain back to a world of manual mapping, non-ubiqutious controls (WASD has spoilt us all), a complete lack of interactive help like tooltips or even button labels, and usually a difficulty “curve” that says “there are only a half-dozen games out this season, so you’re going to have to restart this one five hundred times to complete it to make it fill the time”.

            It’s damn easy to go back and re-evaluate music from thirty years ago. You can just type “Duran Duran” into YouTube. For games, it’s actually enough faff to not only run one but get through it to some extent that it makes some sense for fewer people to do it, then share their thoughts.

            So, no. I don’t really buy that music has made the same kinds of leaps and strides. If it were the mid-21st century, perhaps, but the technology has settled, and the styles mostly have for now too because there haven’t been the development-side technology shifts (e.g. synths) and cultural shifts (post-WW2 baby boom, hippie movement, cold war, post-cold war) that drove said changes.

          • wodin says:

            All music you’ve mentioned is just a rehash of something else, it’s not new. Sorry.

            Nothing I repeat nothing I’ve heard in the last 20 years sounds different to anything else thats gone before it.

            Your naming sub genres of genres that have been around for donkies years. Music has gone as far as it can. So all that happens now is re-hashing old stuff and mixing i up abit. Or suddenly someone increases a drum beat so give it a new genre name. Or they play metal music and then growl and call ti something else, when really it’s the same music as before but someone growls or it’s sped up abit.

            Finally your talking to someone with a huge range of taste and a collection of over 400 albumscd’s.

            New sub genres are not new musical styles.

            Most likely some new music is crossing two previous styles, but it isn’t new. Sorry.I listen to lot of diverse new music, yet some of it I can pull out an obscure 60’s band that was doing exact same thing. Advant garde music has been around since the sixties and was prolific in the seventies, go listen to Magma. Again sadly no matter how new you think a sound is, it’s more than likely all ready been done before, you just haven’t heard it. Thats why I’m someone who digs deep into the vaults. Those vaults have pretty much proved to me that really nothing new is being done, just people think it’s new because they haven’t listened to olde rmore obscure music.

            ALwaysright quote me as much as you want your comment proves to me you have limited your own musical preferences. Anyone who is a music geek and has trawled all the previous decades will see where I’m coming from. Then likely hood that someone can play me a new piece of music and I could then play them something very similar from the last forty years is high. Whatever you think, sadly it’s already been done before. There’s only so much experimentation you can do with a guitardrums and a voice. Take it from me it’s all been done at some point. Ad a synth that can create any sound we can hear and turn it to music brought along something new. Again though this has been done so much now that they just remix stuff alreayd been done.

          • Sorth_31 says:

            An answer to Wodin:

            While I would agree that music has, rather than evolve in leaps and bounds as it used to, rather fenced itself off. To say that there has been no new evolution is, frankly, a blinkered view. While we may not have had an extreme chage such as the emergence of the beatles, elvis or punk, you can’t just state there has been NO new music in even the last two decades. Similarities and equivalents will always exist and every band will take inspiration from those that came before. But to blanketly say there is “nothing new” is as bad as saying that, since Doom was the first popularised FPS there has never been a “really” new FPS since. Or since Lord of the Rings was legitamised as the modern fantasy stereotype that there has never been a new take on any of the races included in the books. Yes, what came after may not be as groundbreaking, and yes it may take some (easily attributable) influences. But to say it has NOTHING new is somewhat demeaning to those musicians that at least attempt to forge their own identity free of labels and, hell, even those that thrive within said labels.

          • AlwaysRight says:


            Your comments come across as wilfully ignorant and un-informed.

            Your stance on what categorises new music is like saying there havn’t been any new cars since Henry Ford or that there is no new art because we’ve already used all the colours.

            You think your a muso because you own 400 albums which is laughable, I buy at least that every single year, not including all the podcasts, mixes and radio I listen to.

            Also you have used no musical terminology in any of your arguments which leads me to believe you know nothing about music theory, sound design or production.

            If you are talking about there being no music ‘scenes’ that is also untrue, in only the last couple of years music cultures like ‘Juke/Footwork’ in Chicago and ‘Bubblin’ in Holland have come about which include not only new genres of music, but dance styles and fashion to go along with it.

            Your knowledge of synthesis is also lacking, they have not always been able to create ‘any sound’. Its a technologically improving area that has shifted alot.
            None of your ‘Donkeys years’ old bands have ever used granular synthesis and found sound techniques to create a resampled neurofunk bassline.

            Also regarding stagnation, Kaira is right that there has been a lot of development even in existing genres like Metal. Its not just about adding growling to existing music (this also shows how ignorant you are) but the technicality of playing, time signature changes and guitar sounds are all completely different. No one ever used to play guitar the way some technical death metal guitarists do now. Also with the invention of technology like the Kemper Profiling Amp new possibilities are opening up all the time.

            I don’t normally reply to this sort of rubbish on the comments section, but music is my passion and to think people can get away with saying ‘Music has gone as far as it can’ when I’m listening to more and more interesting and new music every year riles me up.

          • JackShandy says:

            I don’t want to knock music, but it was invented – what, 200,000 years ago?

            You can still go and ring up the people who invented video games.

            Ok, yeah, games always existed, but I’d argue Video Games are more different to Board Games than electronic music is to old music.

          • Kieron Gillen says:

            Last twenty years? Then Jungle/Drum and Bass squeaks in, and was genuinely shockingly new. I still remember first time I was in a club with a Jungle tune playing and simply having no idea how I was meant to dance to it.

            (You could say that it’s an evolution of earlier rave styles and some dancehall stuff, of course. But you could say that Punk was just a retreat of 50s rock and roll with Who attitude, if you were more into trees than forests)

            But that’s nit-picking. He’s really misdiagnosed how and why youth cults form in a post internet age. Even when I was a tiny human, having a genuinely new sound didn’t guarantee that (Cross-ref: Disco Inferno).

  12. Reapy says:

    I think the ‘bring back the lan party’ article has some interesting points. I agree that the best time to play a new multiplayer game on the net is when it is released. Everyone can learn at the same time, and you aren’t being teabagged immediately by everyone you encounter. A lan party won’t solve skill disparity, even on my NES back in the day it was hard to find a good game, the skill level was never in line between both players unless we both had the game and were ocding about it.

    Really the best way to learn is to always play with people just a little better than yourself. Too much disparity and the punishment comes before you can learn basic skills. Ideally you always want to play at people just above you, so you can learn from them and improve yourself, then move up to harder opponents.

    I don’t know that sirlin’s playing to win really says, win at all costs and be a dick. It really is just highlighting how a game can be much better when everyone is trying to win. Obviously learning in an environment where victory has meaning is silly, you don’t practice at the tournament and be mad when someone demolishes you.

    For myself, when I game, I play to win and try where I can to play well, but I also draw no satisfaction from beating an ignorant opponent. IRL I tend to figure games out faster than most people I’m around (have played too many ), but I always immediately teach and discuss strategy/mechanics with the people I play with because at the end a good game will be much, much more interesting with educated opponents. Not only that, but mutual discovery of tactics is a pretty awesome thing, often times much more rewarding than victory. (I guess which the article is trying to get around to).

    I think when the W/L column starts to matter, the form of competition really changes, and while it can really bring out some interesting stuff, there is a huge aversion to risk prevalent there tempering strategy/tactics. But it is another skill in itself to have consistent performance on demand.

    Anyway, really the golden rule is just read the situation. National tournament, anything goes in the rules, local game group… don’t be a dick. Online pub play…sort of a FFA isnt it? :)

    • Lemming says:

      Most fun multiplayer I’ve ever had was Quake 2 LAN at college with 9 other people. Nothing has ever even come close. Multiplayer with anonymous loud-mouth idiots or part-man part-machine elitist nutters is just absolute shit, frankly.

      • nootpingu86 says:

        Very true. Even if LAN play isn’t something most people like to deal with, the whole “gather ’round the console” thing seems less and less common outside of competitive gaming. Maybe I don’t hang out with enough people who play games like that, though.

    • jezcentral says:

      You can also try a game that has been out for years, but no-one had played. :P

      Alternatively, you can go to a LAN party because, like me, wife and children stop you gaming in self-indulgently huge chunks of time, and play on your own. It’s not all about playing multi-player, it IS all about having fun.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      I couldn’t read that article because it name-dropped both Tale of Tales and Sirlin right away. I just couldn’t.

    • JackShandy says:

      I’d say the Sirlin way (” It is beautiful to continuously improve yourself by trying your best to win games”) is focused on the game, while the Tale of Tales way (“You want to play with nice people who don’t particularly care whether they win or lose”) is focused on the people you’re playing with.

      They’re both valid, but I’d argue that you should be playing a game because you’re interested in the systems of the game, right? If you what you actually want to do is explore the systems inherent in a group of people, it’s probably much better to do it by getting drunk with them – then you don’t have the game in the way.

      It’s not binary, of course – good competitive games allow players to express their personality, so you can learn a lot about a person and get closer to them by playing a game against them.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        This equivocation of being social / being with people with getting drunk/drinking just plain makes me sick and saddens me for just how pathetic we all must be that we can’t discover shit about ourselves without it anymore seemingly.

        • JackShandy says:

          I dunno, are you just against using drugs to alter your mental/physical state in any way? Or is it specifically booze?

          Edit: In a convenience sort of way, I mean, not life-saving stuff – coffee, etc.

  13. pilouuuu says:

    Interesting the article about gaming detox. Sometimes I feel like that. Not so much like playing board games instead of video games, but leaving video games aside and start practicing other hobbies.

    Sometimes I get bored of the state of the industry and the fact that there’s rarely any innovation. I blame this console generation. Before them, at least there was innovation in terms of graphics. You were always thinking about how much better games would look in a few months. Sadly that also would mean that you’d have to buy another graphic card. But you had something to look forward to. Now we seem to be stuck in a Groundhog day of gaming and the same games get released again and again, just adding a number to their title.

    I’m sure games will overcome this stagnation at some point, but right now I feel burnt out with gaming, especially after the disappointment of Mass Effect 3 ending and I even prefer to read about gaming than properly playing.

    • Terragot says:

      I was in this place a few years back. It was around the time I picked up Mass effect 2. I kept thinking, ‘fuck is this really it? Have we really stop progressing now?’ There’s been no visible leaps into an interesting or cool future for the user (or player). There’s only been visible monetary leaps forward for the producers and developers (Kickstarter, cloud based gaming, DRM, another pixel platformer on steam, etc). Even companies like crytek, who were spearheading the PC platform into a high fidelity, open world jungle of fun, but then decided on the standardised simian based game-play elements fed through corridor interactivity.

      The last 3 years have been great for gaming, that is if you are an indie developer, big publisher or apple. But looking from the consumerist point of view, I wish I would have gone the library if ‘this is it’.

      • grundus says:

        Yes, yes, yes. I think it’s kind of telling that lately my gaming purchases have been more than two years old on average. Yes, there was BF3, but since then I’ve bought a load of racing sims (including 1998’s Grand Prix Legends), Descent 1-3, Syndicate, Fallout 1 & 2… Right now I’m enjoying building my own sim racing cockpit more than I am actually playing anything (though I am loving Gemini Rue, but I think it’s almost finished). I definitely feel like I need a break from BF3, though. In fact I’ve had more fun lately with Rainbow Six 3 (which I bought last month) offline than BF3 online.

        In short, wake me up if Dishonoured, Hitman: Subtitle, Ghost Recon whatever and/or Thief 4 are really, actually any good.

      • JackShandy says:

        “‘fuck is this really it? Have we really stop progressing now?’ There’s been no visible leaps into an interesting or cool future for the user (or player).”

        I can’t understand this at all. You didn’t actually put a time since there’s been any visible leaps here, and I can’t imagine it’d be longer than a few years (Months?).

        Like I said in the thread above: You can still ring up the people who invented video-games. If you think this medium is stagnant I don’t know what you’d think of books.

    • Avish says:

      I completely sympathies with your words pilouuuu. I recently bought Crysis 2, because I was interested in the graphics. It looks great (With DX11 and high res textures) but it feels rather empty. Go there, shoot that, sneak if you like, reload etc… Nothing to keep me wanting to go back and play it (Except for the fact that I payed for it, so I might as well finish the game).

    • InternetBatman says:

      I think that graphical innovation has been generally been replaced by artstyle innovation. But generally I’m more optimistic. In the past five years we’ve seen the explosion of newer genres, like tower defense, Dota, minecraft-alikes. Kickstarter is giving creators the ability to resuscitate older genres.

    • nootpingu86 says:

      I don’t think it’s improving at all. Gaming is changing form so it’s easier to turn old ideas (think RMAH, the push toward F2P for everything under the sun) into something that’s more consistently profitable. This will only perpetuate itself, there won’t be any innovation coming from that. The quality of games are still severely at odds with their nature as products.

      What people fail to recognize is that a vast majority of indie games aren’t innovative, they are hybrids that often misunderstand the nature of what they’re imitating. They’re kitschy trinkets carefully crafted to evoke nostalgia and little more.

      Kickstarter just tells game devs that simply having the right idea is all you need to get paid, not executing it. Given how prone gamers are to post-purchase rationalizations the true quality of these games will be obscured a great deal until people less personally invested in them have a look. The $35k an RPGmaker game raised is proof enough to me.

  14. Zwebbie says:

    Concerning Quinns’ detox piece: Firstly, I didn’t initially notice that he actually has part 2 and 3 up as well, so be sure to check those too if you missed them too.

    Secondly, I think Shut Up & Sit Down conveys the wonder of board games just a bit better than the set of articles, so do catch an episode if you’re interested.

    Thirdly, while Quinns definitely has a point in the social factor of board games, I’m also amazed at the cleverness of their rules, and their elegance. Plenty of ‘m also have players in different roles than just ally or enemy towards one another, and that’s a thing that’s sorely missing from video games too. It’s a shame I don’t see my friends often enough to make getting into board games worthwhile, but it’s saying something that I prefer to read descriptions and watch reviews of board game rules to interaction with video game rules these days.

  15. thebigJ_A says:


  16. Hoschimensch says:

    I like to point on my article, that I have wrote:

    link to

    It is a fictional videogame retrospective to a game that I think up.

  17. nootpingu86 says:

    So excited about the new Squarepusher!