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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 RockPaperShotgun.com 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!

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Jim Rossignol

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