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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for sitting inside, avoiding the boiling sun. You’ll probably want to shut the curtains so that you can concentrate on important writings about videogames, like the ones below.

  • This is kind of breath-taking: “For Superlevel, I went on a quest to test all 1.402 games of the Ludum Dare #23 – yes, every single one. I’d like to give you an overview over particularly innovative gameplay, wonderful ideas and exquisite digital entertainment. Have fun!”
  • Are Videogames Just Opiates in the Form of Stories? is just a splendid headline. It’s an interview with Jonathan Gottschall in which he (sort of) discusses whether stories can be bad for us.
  • While at Killscreen, check out Yannick LeJacq on Diablo III: “Diablo III has to make every corpse pop from the isometric perspective—a camera almost solely used today for the disengaged, analytical viewpoint of real-time strategy. Everything about the game therefore screams out at you to go faster, become stronger, get richer. Achievements bing and buzz at the bottom of the screen in an endless array of exclamation points. Creatures roar and charge at you with reckless abandon. The tiny bodies of zombies, crumbling walls and loose furniture, all erupt in beautiful nonsense around you.”
  • Tom Ewing discusses “de-gamification”. It can be desireable, he argues: “Part of the reason I think this, I admit, is my own experiences playing Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop games in the 80s and 90s, when the more I immersed myself in the hobby the more I was drawn to rule-light or even rule-free systems. D&D has – as you’ll know if you ever played it – a vast and hydra-headed system of rules. At first we would modify them, as almost all players did – dropping the ones that weren’t fun. But eventually we abandoned the rules entirely, shifting to what used to be known as “freeform” gaming – something more like interactive storytelling.”
  • Patricia Hernandez on Proteus: “The electronic hum of this digital nature speaks to my sensibilities well. Nature holds an element of mystique in the game. Proteus is at once both a comfortable place that we can all situate within our lexicons, but there’s also something piquant about it—and this drove my curiosity and wanderlust mad. I explore in Proteus to see what I already know—I won’t spoil too much, because Proteus is meant to be experienced—only parsed in a new way. I can appreciate it on my preferred terms, too: intellectually. There are no scraped knees here. There is, however, alt-tabbing out to read up on Proteus himself.”
  • Gamasutra interviews David Cage: “Games is a really wide genre where you can do very different things. You can do puzzle things, or you can do Call of Duty, or you can do Heavy Rain. You can do many different things. There should be a place for all. The market wants that to happen, and people want that to happen. But it was surprising to see how aggressive some people can become because they felt that were touching their holy grail. I don’t see any reason in that.”
  • Quinns on Diablo III’s hardcore mode: “My hardcore character, a Witch Doctor called Raki, is nuzzling up against the end of Act 2 now. And you know what? It’s incredible. If Diablo 3 is a bottomless abyss of numbers, rewards and explosive combat, Hardcore mode is the abyss staring back at you. It makes the game more tense, yes, but also more atmospheric, rewarding and so much sharper.”
  • Quinns on Day Z: “It doesn’t cut it to say that Day Z is a game of fragile alliances. What’s important about Day Z is what this game of survivors/zombies does to the world itself. It turns it into a devastatingly evocative apocalypse – the world gains a sense of place so fierce that simply waiting out the night in an old school, or being perched on a hilltop, watching a nearby town through the scope of your gun, is riveting.”
  • And a lot more on Day Z from Day Z Diary.
  • Digital Foundry – which famously dismissed cloud gaming – has another look at the tech: “Current cloud technologies usually overshoot the 50ms target by some margin, but in the Bulletstorm example above we have a shining moment where the technology seems to be hitting the target. It does not do so consistently (re-running the test on Friday night at 6.30pm saw lag increase by two frames, and other Gaikai titles we tried came in at over 200ms), but the fact we get there at all is a seriously impressive achievement. NVIDIA’s aim seems to be all about increasing that 50ms window as much as possible and getting more value from the time available by centralising the capture/encode section of the process.”
  • A report on the last Gamecamp: “There was a fly in the ointment. Some sessions apparently boiled down to one person giving a long, rambling and overbearing speech to a mute and incredulous audience presumably too embarrassed to interrupt. This would be no problem if the rules of the Camp did not explicitly plead for “conversations, not presentations”. I was unlucky enough to be present at one of these sessions; I didn’t bother to discover the culprit’s identity, so I couldn’t name names if I wanted to. But if you wish to hold forth, there are plenty of ways to do it. You can have a Twitter feed. You can register a blog (look at me, Ma!). You can write angry letters to the Daily Mail and sign them “Disgruntled, of Internet”. But however brilliant you are – and the session in question was not brilliant – doing it at a collaborative conference is against the spirit of the entire event, and no fun for anyone.”
  • Joe Martin’s new podcast, Unlimited Hyperbole, starts with him and Dan Pinchbeck discussing STALKER: “Why did the game make Dan re-evaluate his PhD on narrative in computer games? How did the tortured development process create a better game than if work had gone smoothly?”
  • True PC Gaming interviewed Remedy about Alan Wake: “We are PC gamers at heart. Our first title was on PC and I certainly at least hope for simultaneous launches in the future. I think when the decision is in our hands I know which way we would go, but having said that, the decisions aren’t always in our hands.”
  • RPS chum Lewis Denby interviewed Molyneux: “Well, I’m going to say what 22 Cans is doing defines what is – if you’d like to call it that – a ‘Peter Molyneux game’. I’m a little bit nervous when people say ‘Peter Molyneux game’, because all I am is… I’m just the inspirer of the great people that I work with. I always have been. It’s not that I’m a brilliant coder, or even particularly good at putting my ideas down on paper – it’s just being able to take everyone and say, “Look, let’s do this in this way.” If you had to use one word, what I’m trying to get to is ‘life’. Life, and a unique experience to you. Even back in the first game that I did, Populous, it was all about this little living world, and I always found those fascinating. And what I found fascinating is how you interact with that living world.”
  • Daniel Thron, the chap who directed the cutscenes for the first three Thief games, sent us a link to his latest short.
  • A nineteen year old Egyptian student has patented a space propulsion system based on Quantum physics. At 19 I think all I could boast was that I was very good at Goldeneye.
  • I can’t remember if I linked this anywhere, but I am quite pleased with our Interactive Village Name Generator for Sir, You Are Being Hunted. (Which is the game I am now working on.)

Music this week is Graveyard Blues by John Lee Hooker. (Something about old blues records on a sunny Sunday morning that is perfect to me.)

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Jim Rossignol

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