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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for remembering bugs of games past. The one where snakes couldn’t bite you if you were laying down. The one where, out of nowhere, you got a jeep, driven by a man in a red beret. Those were good bugs. Sigh. Anyway, there’s a lot of other things going on in videogames. Let’s have a look at some of those.

  • Simon Parkin’s The Rise and Collapse of Yoshinori Ono is essential reading: “But Ono is a far smarter man than the scattershot front might suggest. Despite his relatively high position within the company, these outrageous attacks on his employer are too sustained and calculated to be a momentary lapse in judgement and, while he is clearly angry for having worked himself into hospital, there’s a smile and quickness behind the eyes that suggests he is fully in control of all he’s saying. He clearly takes pleasure in his irreverence, even if there is a genuine seed of resentment at its core.”
  • On Beefjack: “Last October, Hollywood came calling for Canabalt developer Adam Atomic. Lions Gate Studios wanted a game to promote major motion picture The Hunger Games. Here’s what happened next.”
  • A SpaceChem post-mortem: “The PC was the best possible platform for a game like SpaceChem. The barrier to entry is extremely low compared to similarly “open” platforms like the Apple App Store and Xbox Live Indie Games. Almost every person who reads about your game on a computer is capable of buying and playing the game within a few clicks.”
  • PCG’s “Day Z moments” post is amazing.
  • This old Bungie article is fascinating, and worth a revisit, which is exactly what its author does: “The clearest example of the acceptance of reinforcements in game design is the widespread use of achievements. Achievements are a really interesting case for study because there often isn’t any tangible reward past the achievement itself. Some games, such as World of Warcraft, have used achievements to direct players towards alternate modes of play they might find more fun, such as exploration or PvP. In my eyes, helping players find more fun in the games they’re already playing is one of the best uses of reinforcements.”
  • Nightmare Mode on Bulletstorm’s strange failure to find an audience: “Bulletstorm directly positioned itself against the immense popularity of Call of Duty and Halo. In an age in which almost every major shooter had adopted at least the veneer of realism, Bulletstorm recognized the inherent ridiculousness of the genre. After all, these were games that universally revolved around an individual killing thousands of other people. This isn’t just wildly implausible, it’s outright sociopathic. Instead of pretending otherwise, Bulletstorm took that ball and ran with it.”
  • This seems like an odd place for this discussion, but the Sydney Morning Herald discusses Metro 2033’s system of morality: “Artyom’s (the main character) metro is under threat from the Dark Ones, and he must venture to Polis, a kind of Canberra in the metro, to seek assistance. This puts everyone, including the player, into some pretty harrowing situations, complete with moments that question the player’s moral standing on a number of issues. Metro 2033 never informs the player of the potential impact of moral choices, and that they are in fact, being tracked.”
  • Joe Martin’s podcast series continues, this time visiting the brain of Brendon Chung: “I feel that having an identity for you game is very important. One thing a lot of games have a problem with is that you look at a static screenshot and it just looks like this generic thing, like ten thousand other games…If you have an opportunity to make something and put your name on it, I feel it should reflect something that’s very unique to you. Something which hasn’t already been done a thousand times, because what’s the point in doing something that’s already been done?”
  • Games That Exist consider Diluvium : “When Tom Bissell wrote about L.A. Noire, he said (I’m paraphrasing) that it fails as a videogame, but he loves it, so maybe we’re not calling it the right thing. Now, I’m not saying Diluvium fails at anything, and it’s about as similar to L.A. Noire as a rabbit is to a rattlesnake, but what impresses and delights me about Diluvium has nothing to do with quintessential videogamey stuff like victory or failure or objectives. It taps into a different part of my brain. And I thought of Bissell’s piece from last year because, in trying to write about these things, I’m becoming increasingly unsatisfied with the connotations of the term “videogame” and my own expectations of how a videogame is supposed to engage me.”
  • Denby looks back at Anachronox over on Eurogamer: “Remarkably, though, it doesn’t rely only on its humour to form its personality: the game world also is one of the most exciting I’ve ever explored. Anachronox itself is a grand central hub for the game, an impressively large city split into different districts, all buried inside a hollowed-out planet whose tectonic plates shift around every so often. Artificial gravity allows different sections of the city to operate over the top of each other, so you’ll stroll round a corner to see people nonchalantly getting on with their lives halfway up the wall opposite.”
  • Some angry stuff about the 38 Studios’ collapse, and it’s pretty angry.
  • Exciting self-promotion corner: Here’s a screenshot from Sir, You Are Being Hunted, and here’s an entire gallery of environment shots.
  • Just Cause 2 multiplayer looks kind of awesome.
  • The Dishonored Tumblr is pretty cool.
  • This floating sphere thing is amazing. I want one.
  • Look at this picture.

Music this week is Torley’s Glitch Piano.

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