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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for waking from dreams about how international finance is an abstract mess based on superstition. Thanks, unconscious, we already knew that. What do you want me to do about it, exactly? But perhaps we can divine some truths among the entrails of another pseudo-science, that of writing about the strange family of activities we call games.

  • What does Quintin Smith do these days? Well, he writes odes to in-game menus: “I love this stuff. And if you do pore over it like some bizarrely specialised future archaeologist, it loves you back. The range and depth of talent packed into Arkham City’s menu, where characters are caught mid-fight, in the rain, as the camera pans past them, got me more excited than anything in the game’s marketing. There was no risk of disappointment anymore. The game would be a tour de force from start to finish.”
  • Stuart Young is a PC gamer discovering MMOs for the first time: “So I went down the rabbit hole to MMO Wonderland. And it is a wondrous land indeed – a world where po-faced genre fiction collides with constant fourth-wall demolition. A world where strange game mechanics intersect with a stranger secret language. This was the gamiest of games, Tetris with a plot, the slowest of RPGs, and an odd but strangely compelling experience.”
  • Gamespy, meanwhile, asks whether we have simply outgrown the MMO: “An open, explorable world? TERA, Lord of the Rings Online, and even Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising have that in some form or another. A fulfilling story? Star Wars: The Old Republic had that in spades, but six months later the limited appeal of adding engrossing storylines on the standard MMORPG experience seems all too apparent. The pieces, it seems, are usually in place; developers just exhibit varying degrees of competence when getting them to work together. But even when they do a decent job, as in Rift, the MMO itself rarely succeeds in snaring new souls like they used to.”
  • Yannick LeJacq concludes that Diablo III means that gamers need a bill of rights: “Even the most radical libertarian would probably agree that a government must perform two essential functions: keep you alive, and protect your property. Blizzard, then, failed in both tasks once users began losing control of their virtual selves or the goods they had earned. To its credit, the company has already gone to great lengths to repair this. But a more pressing issue is how gamers themselves process these concerns. Maybe the arbitrary cultural taxonomy “gamer” itself is defunct. Instead, a new notion of citizenship is needed as people enter into these increasingly elaborate digital universe”
  • Emily Gera over at The Verge looks at where The Two Guys from Andromeda got to during their 21 year hiatus: “It was very difficult to try and sell a publisher on the idea of doing another adventure game because they all assume the genre was dead. We always wanted to do these things but there were no opportunity with publishers. It became Generation Xbox,” says Murphy. “There was really no interest in it.”
  • Meanwhile Kotaku examines the case for games as music:
  • Also at K-mart, this fascinating interview with EA’s Peter Moore: “I remember going to a lot of going-out-of-business sales in 1999, south of Market, but this ability for us to learn from the lessons of music… Maybe we don’t sell our games up front and it’s all about [making money later]. Maybe it is like music. Music is now all about going on tour and concerts, go do corporate appearances, sell your merchandise, build your online website, find ways to do it that way, because they don’t make much money after Apple takes its cut, and that’s where most of us get our music.”
  • An essay about System Shock: “Terror is the anticipation of something being revealed; horror is the realization or exposure of something once hidden. Each requires the other.”
  • Curt Schilling has begun to talk about what happened at 38 Studios.
  • Was the sound design in Max Payne 3 a big deal?
  • These “psychology of Diablo III” articles don’t say anything you won’t have noted, at least implicitly, whilst playing. But hmm.
  • This explanation of the Curiosity Mars lander is extraordinary. Also: Phoenix lander.
  • This story is somehow the best and worst story at the same time. People are scum. People are amazing.

Music: I’ve linked to Nils Frahm in the past, and this isn’t new, but I am listening to Familiar this morning, and oh, so beautiful. Sigh.

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Jim Rossignol

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