The Sunday Papers

Sunday mornings are for waking up back at Rossignol HQ and being pleased that Rezzed was a success. Wish you had been there, etc. But anyway, let’s get back to the usual way of things and examine the evidence for people know what they are talking about when it comes to games.

  • This is great: Fun Is Boring on Gamasutra. “Fun is a lazy word. A bit like “game”. On first blush anyone can grin, nod their head, and think they understand what you’re talking about — but there are breathtaking gulfs between Today I Die and World of Warcraft, between Monopoly and Foursquare (both social networking or playground variants). Pete Garcin wrote a good piece last year about the problems of broad language, though he wasn’t looking to, “pick on ‘fun’ specifically.” Let’s pick on fun, specifically.”
  • Cobbett discusses “guilt by association” over on Eurogamer: “Games never have much difficulty making us feel like a hero. Cheerful psychopaths are the bread and butter of entire genres. Guilt? That’s trickier. It’s a rare game that even tries, and only a tiny fraction of those even come close to making it good to feel bad. Spec Ops: The Line is one of them, and while I am about to be critical of one of its big scenes, make no mistake: it’s a seriously impressive piece of narrative, blisteringly dark, and phenomenal in both storytelling and character development. I could enthuse about much of it, and almost certainly will at some point – when the big scenes no longer reside in Spoilerville and more than six people have actually bought a copy.”
  • Patricia Hernandez argues that the best ending for Mass Effect 3 is not to finish it: “Right now, that crew—what is left of it, anyway—is aboard the Normandy. We’re on our way to the Illusive Man’s headquarters, and from there, we’re going to finally put an end to this galactic war. The game asks me, as is customary to make sure that I know that there’s no turning back now, if I am ready. No. No, I’m not ready. I refuse to say goodbye, especially when I don’t have to say goodbye. I haven’t beaten Mass Effect 3 yet.”
  • Here’s a splendid article at Lost Garden about “Building Tight Game Systems of Cause and Effect”: “Not all systems are readily amenable to the intuitive formation of models of cause and effect. As a game designer, it is your job to create systems that are intriguing to master without being completely baffling. If the system is too predictable, it becomes boring. If it is not predictable at all we assume that the system is either random or spiritual in nature. Both of these are failure conditions if you are attempting to encourage mastery.”
  • The connections that Uplink made in Rich Stanton’s head are not for a mainstream audience, apparently. While you’re reading Stanton, head back over to EG for this Metal Gear Solid retrospective.
  • Designing for grace: “What strikes me about articles like Raph Koster’s “Narrative is not a game mechanic” is that for all intents and purposes, they might as well come from a parallel universe. People try to respond to them, but it’s impossible. To say that story is a form of feedback rather than a game mechanic is not so much to make an incorrect statement (well, it is, but let’s not go there now) as to make a statement about a different matter in a different language on a different planet in a different universe. It’s a statement entirely alien to the essence of what story actually is. It’s like describing people in terms of their chemical reactions. Not strictly false, and sometimes quite relevant, but missing the point by a margin of infinity.”
  • Electron Dance speaks to Johann Sebastian Joust dev Doug Wilson: “I’m personally very interested in design theory and new approaches to thinking about game design, but we should remember that not all games research is focused on design. I’m one of those idealists who believes that research can be an end in itself. Research can have practical applications, but we shouldn’t demand that it does. On this point, I think about some of my intellectual heroes – Hannah Arendt, Michel de Certeau, Dave Hickey. None of those writers have easy “applications,” but I still feel like reading them has made my life immeasurably richer.”
  • FeedTheRobot is reblogging some great content.
  • In related robot news, Tom from Big Robot explained the British Countryside Generator.
  • This gallery over on PCG shows the awesomeness of the Minecraft Westeros map. Incredible.
  • Your obituary is unlikely to be this exciting.
  • This is silly but also wow: Top 10 most promising technological inventions inspired by science fiction.

Music this week is some droning grinding sounds from Sleep Research Facility.


  1. AlwaysRight says:

    Is anybody else in the same boat? I bought Spec Ops the line based on rps’s WIT and other trusted reviewers glowing recommendations but I absolutely hate it.

    I’ve only just got to the bit were you find the sniper rifle but I find the gameplay utterly tedious. Does it get better? I’m keen to see this blisteringly dark story about guilt but I’m fed up with the game.

    • protospork says:

      I’m normally pretty offended by what the “Locked Into an Area to Fight Waves of Enemies” school of FPSes seems to imply about my capacity for shooting dudes, but I think of all the LIaAtFWoE games I’ve played, this one is the least offensive. Although the teammates’ cues for where the next wave is coming from are always wrong. Spec Ops’ cover system hasn’t killed me as often as usual, either.

      I guess what I’m saying is it’s made the best of a bad paradigm? I’m having fun.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      Who cares about gameplay if the story is dark and emotional. Get your priorities in order, this is a storytelling medium and gameplay is just incidental.

      • gwathdring says:

        Implying that story and gameplay are exclusive terms. Sure, gaming is about games and games probably feature gamepaly. But why can’t that gameplay be telling a story?

        Sorry, I haven’t played the game, so I really shouldn’t be bugging you about this.

        • AlwaysRight says:

          I’ve no problem with you bugging gwathdring, I feel the same way.
          Games have a unique advantage over other mediums in that they can tie the gameplay mechanics directly into the story so that they are one and the same.
          Spec Ops doesn’t appear (note I say appear because I havn’t finished the game yet) to do this at all as you don’t seem to have a choice in your actions… However you didn’t have that choice in Shadow of the Colossus but it worked.
          Many lauded ‘moral’ games have this disconnect, for example Bioshock was meant to have these big moral decisions but everything you met in the game was an enemy apart from the little sisters who were invincible. The only choice you had was to harvest them for personal gain or let them go, but the narrative was contradicted by the game mechanics because you got rewarded for letting the little sisters go anyway.

          (Also GTA4:
          Bellic – “I want to get away from killing and live a moral life”
          Quest 1 – Kill 100 people
          Bellic – “OK!”)

      • Vorphalack says:

        Books are a story telling medium, games are a game play, graphics, audio and story telling medium. SO:TL has chosen a game play style that does alienate a section of gamers. No matter how good the story is, the game itself will spoil it for you if you find the game play tedious.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          I assume their target audience is the demographic that enjoys those games but would like more meat to the storytelling. They have their own messages to convey about life, war and gaming as well but that audience appears to be who they are talking to.

          • Vorphalack says:

            Correct, but a lot of the reviews of this game didn’t really mention the game play or quality of the port at all, just focusing on the narrative. After reading the RPS WIT, I wasn’t even aware SO:TL had a multiplayer until I saw it on TBs youtube page. Unsurprisingly this did result in quite a few people buying the game who really don’t like the game play, either because TPS / cover shooters aren’t their thing or because it more or less contradicts the narrative. For all the people in that boat, I don’t really think it’s fair to say they have their priorities wrong. I certainly don’t think it’s correct to say that game play is ever just incidental.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      If you don’t like military shooters, then chances are you going to hate Spec Ops: The Line no matter what.

      Really, outside of the much-ballyhooed narrative (which I personally loved, BTW), it’s a very vanilla FPS with some glitchy online play thrown in to make it look like more of a value.

      • Azradesh says:

        It’s not an FPS. Honestly, do people not even know what these letters stand for any more? And while we’re at it, Diablo 3 is not an MMO.

        • CrookedLittleVein says:

          I’m glad someone pointed it out.

          OT: I quite liked Spec Ops, but then I rarely play military shooters.

          • malkav11 says:

            I don’t much care for military shooters per se because I don’t find real world firearms or a steady stream of soldiers to shoot all that exciting, but if the game does other things to make the experience interesting, I’m okay. The Line does this by putting me in sand-ravaged Dubai and fighting through all this wrecked luxury in deeply surreal setpieces, combined with the moral madness of the storyline. I also find Call of Duty games do a pretty good job of exciting setpieces.

            And, come to think of it, I really dig the ARMA games… sooo…

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Sorry, bad habit. It’s a Military Shooter in the 3rd Person.

    • Miltrivd says:

      That’s exactly what happened to me with Cyanide’s Game of Thrones. Lesson to be learned, make your opinion and don’t take recommendations to heart. I think gaming journalists have a small inherent problem that the rest of us don’t suffer: they HAVE to play a lot of different games, that includes awful games, so I think they end up forgiving and sometimes bypassing certain aspects putting them on (for them) annoyances and for the rest of us on absolutely hideous problems.

      • gwathdring says:

        I’m not sure the lesson one ought to take away from such an experience is “don’t take recommendations to heart.” Rather that “sometimes even well thought out recommendations can’t overcome the barriers of individual variation.”

    • AlwaysRight says:

      Thanks for the replies guys.
      @Foxes I understand what your saying, In the past Ive put up with games with terrible gameplay so that I can experience the story/atmosphere. I put up with Nier because the story was so interesting and I love the Silent Hill series and Metro. What Im wondering with this game is how many sprouts do i need to eat before Im allowed my pudding, and what is the quality of the pudding? because if its coconut cake Im spitting the sprouts across the room and flipping the dining table on the way out.

      @Skittle I do like military shooters, perhaps the problem is that Ive played too many. I think for me the problem is that the gameplay is so vanilla and uninspiring its ruining the rest of it for me.

      @Milt I think you’ve got a point there. But the RPS guys and Cobbett are such great reviewers and usually so close to my taste in games that Im wondering whether I should keep at it. I just hate it so much!

      • RegisteredUser says:

        “how many sprouts do i need to eat before Im allowed my pudding, and what is the quality of the pudding”

        Wasn’t there this argument brought up over in the Diablo 3 discussion(Kieron’s view?) that if a game makes you suffer for hours first, before becoming enjoyable, its a bad game rather than a good one?
        Or something like that?

        Metro is a good example to mention, because for all its okayishness in the shooting parts, it was a completely novel and unique experience in almost everything it did right off the bat. It was good stuff, and it had a lot of things that made it more than “just another generic shooter”.

        And thats where the contrast immediately comes in vs “Oh look, american soliders going after soldiers in the usual gear with the usual guns shooting arabian looking fellas. And there’s a cover button and cover and everything! Awesome.”

        I think you’ve pretty much got it straight with “the problem is that the gameplay is so vanilla and uninspiring its ruining the rest of it for me.”

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I am glad the first post is the EXACT example of what I had hoped to prevent with my massive over-posting in the WIT of this game:
      People who aren’t fans of pretend moralism/”art”(or just not the way they do it in this particular instance) in gaming (seriously, war movies have done this properly and so.much.better, and other games have done ethic quandries and art better), suffering a tedious, terrible port of a game that has NOTHING going for it from a gaming perspective, losing a good chunk of money(25 or 50 bucks), just because some setting items and story pieces are grizzly and tickled some reviewers “second layer to ALL the things, ooooh” bone.

      The game is nowhere as awesome as everyone makes it sound. It is actually just being a dick to the PC player constantly, disrespecting both him and his platform.
      It always pretends you have agency or choice, when it really constantly takes it away and never gave you choice in the first place. It allows you to play with kb/mouse, but then again doesn’t by making aim so jitter-jumpy and imprecise you want to scream at the screen.

      It handles terribly, it brings nothing new to the TPS table, and it suffers greatly from it. Which makes it a bad/boring/tedious/average game(!).

      That there are who’d sooner out of boredom shoot a crawling, dying civilian because they’d love to just get the fuck on with the game as opposed to being constantly annoyed by this “zomg, don’t you feel it, this being torn apart by conflict, this never changing mess of a conflict!” seems to have whizzed past a good part of the reviewer scene.

      And I’m not saying you aren’t allowed to like this pretend crap of “no real choice”, “war is so, so bad story”. Or even feel it makes the game worth playing to you, as a very special, differently geared person, able to overlook the actual gaming bits due to it.
      I am saying the people who make their living out of pointing out flaws and properties in games should not just jump to the conclusion that their readers in turn can compensate for all the stuff like they did.

      Looking at various forums, you(OP) and I not alone with this “ugh tedium/bad port” view.

      This is me, feeling justified in “what I did”.

      Commenting. Commenting never changes..

      • Wut The Melon says:

        I (think I?) very much agree with you; I haven’t played the game, but I’ve played some of the demo and read some reviews. From what I gather, the story is quite a bit better than your average game (and a lot better when compared with an average shooter), but this doesn’t really seem to connect to the gameplay. It’s a bit like Max Payne 3 in that way, the writing is pretty good, the game itself is pretty simple, and there’s almost no connection between the two: it’s a movie forced into a game rather than a good game.

        The question for me is: why is Spec Ops: The Line a game? Because from what I’ve played/seen/read so far, it would have been very much a B-movie, and the gameplay is pretty bad and unoriginal. Does the interactivity of the game add to the experience? The only argument I’ve heard for that is that it manages to make you feel bad when killing the enemies, to make you feel guilty, but does that really work and it’s simply wave after wave after wave in corridor after corridor after corridor after corridor? If the gameplay is as generic as it is and there is no story-interactivity, does it really add to the experience to be a game? I thought it didn’t in the case of MP3 or this game…

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        It seems like the controls are what really bothered you about Spec Ops. I feel they perform admirably in the campaign, while just the opposite of that in the MP portion (I’m not the only one who thinks this either — there have been a ton of complaints about the extreme sensitivity difference between the SP and MP controls).

        As far as your comments about the story, I was under the impression that the choices you make in the game have a variable effect on how the rest of the plot lays out. I haven’t finished my first playthrough yet, so I can’t comment on whether the entire storyline is as static as you claim it is. I have my doubts.

        In essence, I think you’re letting your hatred of Spec Ops’ base game mechanics sour the rest of your experience. Fair enough, but it seems to me you’re slipping dangerously close to accusing those of us that actually enjoy The Line of willfully ignoring the shit parts because we sheepishly absorb the good parts.

        We get it, you don’t like the game. That doesn’t mean the rest of us are incapable of casting a critical eye on it. You really need to get off of your high horse.

      • njolnin says:

        You’ve really gone to great lengths to portray this game as something that PC gamers should feel offended by, but having played the game, I really struggle to see where you’re coming from. I got hundreds of kills in the game, most of them from headshots. I just pointed and clicked-the experience was no more difficult than any other game I’ve played. Almost too easy, in fact, even on Hard.

        If we’re talking about the multiplayer, though, yeah, something got messed up there. It seems impossible to reduce the cursor sensitivity in-game for multiplayer.

        Just curious, but are there any good PC ports of console shooters? This may offend, but it seems like you’d decry any PC port.

        • RegisteredUser says:

          Deus Ex: HR did a decent attempt, Max Payne 3, despite various quibbles, too.
          Both ironically are originally PC games though, so that’s a bit of a sad case of examples to use..

          Basically that I even have to view them as ports instead of original PC franchises still is what is wrong right now. Why is the PC platform now an afterthought and almost feels like an inconvenience and not THE prime platform to aim for anymore for at least those genres that best befit it(to me, still the RTS and FPS, e.g.)?

          And maybe I got a special version of the game, but even when I turned mouse sensitivity to 1, when you tried to fine-aim, your reticule literally “jumped”. As in it always wobbled slightly around the pixel you were trying to aim at, as if it were unsure if you just pressed only the X axis, only the Y or kindasorta diagonal. Real fine aim felt nonexistant. And I’ve played enough Counterstrike etc pp to manage a headshot or 9000 myself.

          Compared to how for example Hard Reset(or Painkiller for that matter, or the aforementioned CS:S) felt – a completely different world and experience. There you aim at what you aim at.

          I know I can’t be alone with this, I’ve looked onto the steam forums and there are others complaining.

          Its obviously also the checkpointing, regenerating health, 2 gun quickswitch, low total ammo reserves count, cover based shooter approach in general I’m not in love with.
          Topping it off with encrypted .ini files needlessly, locked FOV, mouse smoothing, bad options etc, is just all piling on.
          There’s a lot to complain about, and my complaint is that this isn’t made clear enough for the relevant target group taking offense at this, not that some people might enjoy it regardless(even if I’ll readily admit I dont’t understand people who can really, really LIKE it the way I experienced it at all, I can understand that they might exist regardless).

  2. Jimbo says:

    “Your mum is a margin of infinity.” – Raph Koster

  3. pilouuuu says:

    I’m sleepy… Don’t beat Mass Effect 3! The DLC extended ending is OK, but instead create an ending in your head and stay with that.

    • McDan says:

      Yes, I thought this before but it’s nice to see it thought out by someone who can put it across well. Makes sense as well SPOILER SPOILER since after finishing the final earth mission you get put back to where you were just before/after the illusive man base mission (depending on your saves?). Which annoyed me more than the original endings.

    • Terragot says:

      I didn’t by Mass Effect 3 because it cannot tell the story i want to hear.

      At the end of mass effect 2’s suicide mission, everybody on the mission dies, everybody even shepherd. Watch the worst possible ending on youtube, it’s fantastic, it’s by far the best ending. Shepherd desperately try’s to reach the Normandy in time but misses the jump, only to have Joker grab his arm to try to pull him in, but his brittle bone disease crushes the bones in his arm, forcing him to – and at shepherds command of course, let Shepherd drop into the abyss.

      My mass effect 3 would have seen Joker desperately trying to rally support to fight the reapers, only to be ignored, and possibly locked up for working with Cerberus. Working with other military prisoners, He would break out with some of the scum of the earth, offer them their redemption and fight the reapers. Reapers would reap everyone, there would be no stupid child ghost thing. The universe would continue to be infinite and beyond comprehension.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Watch the worst possible ending on youtube

        Maybe if he didn’t keep pausing to deliver cheesy speeches, he’d have done better.

        It’s depressing that this is what constitutes “good writing” for games.

    • pilouuuu says:

      My ending is a mix of Star Wars and Return of the Jedi ending. The reapers are destroyed. Illusive Man confesses he is Shepard’s brother. It involves Shepard and two of his companions from the last mission receiving medals. After that all are together celebrating in London and the Volus are playing instruments and dancing! Shepard sees the ghosts of his lost companions and smiles. THE END!

  4. varangian says:

    >I refuse to say goodbye, especially when I don’t have to say goodbye. I haven’t beaten Mass Effect 3 yet.

    And I kind of wish I’d done the same. Whilst everybody else’s Shepherd was doubtless nasty and probably smelt mine was lovely. Having been shot at in virtually every part of the galaxy and kicked ass mightily in return she should have had the chance to retire to one of the less devastated planets, hang her sniper rifle up over the mantelpiece and raise lots of pale blue babies with the nice asari girlfriend I fixed her up with.

    • EPICTHEFAIL says:

      Well, mine got a retirement in the form of becoming an immortal mechanical war god (well, more of one, anyway), and jumpstarting a local version of the Culture, so it kind of worked out.
      I seem to be the only person in this universe that actually liked the endings.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Don’t feel bad; I have yet to finish the first two games in the series.

      “Endings” in the Mass Effect universe hold no meaning for me.

  5. jower says:

    Thank you for sharing!

  6. Koozer says:

    That is one hell of an obituary.

    • McDan says:

      Holy crap that is an amazing obituary. In related news there is a gravestone I saw online somewhere where under the mans name and dates of birth and death it read: “Killed 99 bears” which if I had done I would totally put on my gravestone too.

    • Mungrul says:

      Indeed, and this bit:
      “When detectives arrived to question La Rochefoucauld, his wife told them: “Don’t try to lock him up. He escapes, you know.”
      ..had me genuinely laughing out loud.

    • Skabooga says:

      Surely this La Rochefoucauld was some kind of physical manifestation of badass.

    • sinister agent says:

      This is the best obituary. Sample quote:

      When he came across a number of heavily bearded men hiding in a monastery, Pine-Coffin suspected that they were Eoka terrorists in disguise and asked his sergeant to give their beards a sharp tug. These all stayed firmly in place and he had to make a swift tactical withdrawal.

      When a man named Pine-Coffin dies and there’s not even room for a hint of a gag, you know we’ve lost a remarkable person.

      • LionsPhil says:

        On coming ashore, plastered in mud and wearing only a red beret and a pair of flippers, he was confronted by a party of armed Cubans. Mustering as much authority as he could in the circumstances, he informed the group that they were trespassing on British sovereign territory and were surrounded.

        The following morning, when the Royal Marines arrived to rescue him they were astonished to find him and his radio operator in a clearing standing guard over the Cubans and a pile of surrendered weapons. He was appointed OBE.

        Bloody hell.

  7. Bob says:

    The “Fun” article, as an over user of that word these two comments made by Sean Kiley hit the spot for me.

    1) Anything can be made boring by analyzing it to death.

    2) You know what fun is when you’re having it.

  8. EPICTHEFAIL says:

    The Top 10 SF tech thing was one long series of facepalms for me. Quite apart from the fact that Discovery did this about a decade ago, their lack of understanding of some of the phenomena involved (quantum entanglement =/= Trek-style teleportation) gave me a headache.

  9. Radiant says:

    It’s EVO this weekend.

    Street fighter x tekken and Street Fighter 4 finals tonight [plus a bunch of console fighters].
    Starts around 5pm UK time:
    link to

    You’ve already missed a bunch here’s a highlight:

    Dieminion vs Uryo [US Guile vs Japans best C.viper]

    • subedii says:

      Is it this year that KoF is going to be a major part of the proceedings, or is that next year?

      I don’t follow EVO much, but I used to be more of a KoF fan.

      • Radiant says:

        @subedii yep KoF is getting a lot of shine this year as the new one, KoF 13, has got both an arcade and console release and is really bloody good. the finals are tonight at, I think, 10pm UK time [3pm PDT].
        KoF is really popular in the americas, japan and korea with each area having it’s own style of play.
        They’ve ALL come out to Evo this year; so it’s been great to watch.

        Early pool play is exactly that pool play; it’s a mini tournament in and of it’s self.

        But make it out of that to Top 32 and it’s ALL killers from there on out.

        Top 32 is a fucking wall.

        Everyone who makes it out of pools thinks they’ll make Top 8 [finals] easy but, jesus, the players who come out on top of pools are ALL murderous.
        God help anyone who drops into the losers bracket.

        Even players like past winners Justin Wong and Fuudo talked about how brutal Top 32 was [both players have been knocked out btw which has been incredible to watch.]

        The finals tonight should be a great watch. But watch the stream again but skip past pools to near the end where it’s Top 32.

        Edit: Here this should be 5 hours of Top 32 [past the Battle Playstation thingum at the begining]

        link to

    • RvLeshrac says:

      I watched some of that. Amazing how completely unprepared all the “announcers” are. They don’t even have the most basic of information on any of the players. “Name” would be good, for a start.

      And the matches are just bad. I saw a ridiculous number of one-sided nonsense fights where Player X was just beating the holy hell out of Player Y for all four rounds. Are there no handicaps? Why are people who clearly just bought a copy of SFIV yesterday allowed to play against pros?

      I’ve never much cared for gaming tournaments anyway – there’s far too much glitching and taking advantage of balance issues for any of it to be taken seriously. When rule changes are made to eliminate imbalance or prevent low-level exploiting, the ‘pros’ get butthurt and refuse to play.

      • Baines says:

        Why would there be handicaps in a tournament?

        Less skilled people are allowed to enter because they pay to enter, and that helps fund the tournament. They get weeded out before the tournaments turn serious.

        Why do people enter a tournament that they know they are going to lose? Because they want to. Maybe they want the experience of being there. Maybe they want the chance to say that they fought against (and lost against) some super skilled player that they might never have managed to play against before. Maybe they want to test themselves. Maybe they want to say “I played at EVO, and you didn’t” the next time they are in an argument about game mechanics on a web forum. Only the people entering know, and the best way to find out would be to go there and ask them yourself, because different people will have different answers.

        And while I don’t like glitch exploits, bugs, or just poor design, I can see the logic in allowing them in tournaments. Some things are just too iffy to enforce, some would require rather squirrely rules to accommodate, and can cover things that can be done accidentally. How many hits/moves can someone land and/or repeat before you are considered exploiting an infinite? Do you bring in instant replay and spend the next ten minutes analyzing a completed game to make sure all moves fit vanilla execution, and don’t gain any extra pixels of range from roll cancelling or similar mechanics? What kind of penalties do you inflict for violations, particularly when some can really be legit accidents or even cases where people didn’t know a glitch existed? What do you do if you find that something in a previous game was a glitch abuse, particularly if it helped decide the winner? (And don’t forget that some players will hide exploits until tournaments, just so that others won’t know to be ready for them.) What if it is questionable whether some new technique is actually a glitch abuse? Did you give sufficient advance notice to players as to what you’ve deemed illegal? (You don’t show up to a boxing match only to be told right before the match that jabs to the upper left forearm are now illegal, or show up at the Masters to be told that left-handed swings have been deemed an exploit on the 9th hole.)

    • shaydeeadi says:

      There were some good matches in Marvel yesterday too, only caught pools but there were lots of interesting teams and good matches.
      Looking forward to catching up on the top-8’s on monday.

  10. KDR_11k says:

    Fun, n. Earth Defense Force.

    It’s that easy.

  11. Tei says:

    I think is the Higgs boson that give particles this mass effect.

    (sorry, somebody has to said it).

    • EPICTHEFAIL says:

      Now say it again, with proper English grammar.

      • Mistabashi says:

        I know this might come as quite a shock to you, but there are some people on the internet to whom English is not their native tongue.

        Hard to believe I know, but it’s true. Some of them have even been regular posters on this site for years, and have posted all sorts of interesting and insightful things, rather than making pointless posts criticizing someone’s grammar.

      • Arathain says:

        Dude, it’s Tei. He can post however he pleases.

      • lijenstina says:

        “Proper English grammar”. Usually a bland, unimaginative Ad Hominem attack used on the Internet by adolescent Homo Sapiens that practice, as their main way of communication, a collection of written words, sounds and symbols known as English. Gives the sense of false superiority. Worth one troll point.

  12. subedii says:

    Huh. Richard Cobbet thought Bioshock 2 was underrated as well. I never thought I’d find another person who shared that view.

    Gameplay-wise I’d say it was better than the first game. With regards to storyline and characters, I felt it was at least on par. Yes there was no huge “PLOT TWIST!” moment (which was a sensible decision, it would have been silly to try and recreate that), but amongst other things I felt it handled player choice a LOT better, and I also thought it was far more effective at deconstructing concepts like Objectivism, by showing things like the slums and presenting counterpoints in the forms of Lamb’s philosophies.

    • Dominic White says:

      I think the reviews for Bioshock 2 were just about on the money. As a gameplay experience, it was head and shoulders above the original game, and the expansion was better still. Story-wise, it wasn’t quite as tightly scripted as the original, but it wasn’t bad either.

      The way people talk about it online, it could be considered vaguely preferable to bowel cancer.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        Bioshock and Bioshock 2 were like a poor-man’s System Shock. They’re the stone-soup of FPS/RPG hybrids. “I think this is better than nothing but I’m not really sure.”

        What I’m saying here is that the games were just bad. Shitty engines and controls bolted on to a clusterfuck of a story based on the ravings of that stupid twat.

        Perhaps if the controls hadn’t been abysmal and the visuals hadn’t been *just slightly* better than a game nearly a decade older, they would have been better games.

        Absolutely none of the character of System Shock with *all* of the flaws.

        • subedii says:

          I felt System Shock 2 had better gameplay design in the respect that it actually made you think long and hard about how you were going to specialise yourself (as opposed to making you AWESOME at EVERYTHING FOREVER, just to varying degrees). Which is partly why I’m hoping they get things right with this whole idea of a “1999” mode in Bioshock infinite.

          Can’t say I had any issues with the controls. Or the visuals for that matter, apart from the overly ‘shiny / plastic’ sheen that far too many Unreal Engine games seem to suffer from for some reason. I mean the whole opening sequence of Bioshock was a pretty big “wow” moment for me.

          As for storyline / characters… I can’t really find too much to compare them on to be honest. I felt they both fit their games / settings.

          Apart from Delacroix who couldn’t even pronounce her own freaking name.

          • Azradesh says:

            Well Bioshock’s story followed System Shock 2 beat for beat and would’ve been roughly 10000000000000000000000 times better if it had ended with Ryan.

        • SirKicksalot says:

          Bioshock 2 was Undying without horror.

      • Mistabashi says:

        Well, the first one managed to hold my attention even through the slightly ropey last third of the game. The second one didn’t. While it was slightly more refined gameplay-wise and even had some better level design it simply didn’t have enough to make it feel less like more of the same.

        To be honest, I just don’t think Bioshock needed a direct sequel. The first game wrapped everything up plot wise, BS2 just seemed like an unecessary cash-in while not really adding anything significant to the formula (except a doomed MP component).

        Now, if they’d have made it a prequel set in the times before everything had totally gone South, and made it a bit less shooterey and a bit more sneaky-hacky-talkie I’d have been much more interested. Sort of Deus Ex in Rapture.

        • InternetBatman says:

          I agree entirely with this. It wasn’t a bad game, but it did feel unnecessary and largely unchanged.

      • Xocrates says:

        “Story-wise, it wasn’t quite as tightly scripted as the original”

        It was however, a lot more cohesive and coherent. Bioshock was a series of often marginally related setpieces (I find it telling that you could cut out both the medical pavilion and fort frolic and lose basically nothing plotwise), Bioshock 2 for the most part kept the setpieces relevant to the main plot and characters.

        Frankly, Bioshock 2 biggest failing was simply that it tried too often to be like the original game, which made the whole game feel unecessary and derivative, which is a pity since it improved the original in nearly every way.

        • malkav11 says:

          Yep, that’s the thing. I liked what I’ve played of Bioshock 2 so far. But a lot of it’s felt like either retreading the same ground as Bioshock (exacerbated by the devs seemingly going out of their way to recreate situations from Bioshock), or B-side material from Bioshock, rather than a genuinely new and exciting experience like Bioshock was. And for all that I know certain people (e.g. Tom Chick) praise it to high heaven, I just haven’t really been able to stay motivated to complete it. I need to do that one of these days.

          • RobF says:

            I went back to it a fortnight ago for another play through, marginally soiled by it falling on its arse every ten minutes on Win7/8 installs and yeah, the biggest crime that Bioshock 2 commits is that it spends the first half of the game boring the shit out of the player with Bioshock:Bioshock Harder.

            Go here, press that, click this, only without the twist to make it all worthwhile.

            But roughly around the halfway point, it really blossoms into something wonderful and finds its own voice. The second half is intimate and wonderful in all the ways Bioshock:The First was never trying to be and it tells great stories for a short while before it closes its own story off. And it’s great.

            Man, the barriers they put into stopping you getting there though, that’s the stuff videogames are made of.

    • qrter says:

      Tom Chick is a big fan of BioShock 2.

    • Jimbo says:

      I’d imagine about half of the people that played it think it was underrated.

    • Malk_Content says:

      I think my only problem with Bioshock 2, and the reason I never got around to finishing it, was that you never felt like a Big Daddy. You aren’t powerful, you don’t make the right sounds and you don’t move right. The gameplay was fun but it was as if they didn’t think about how the storyline (you are a Big Daddy) should effect the gameplay. But it is okay you get a drill!

      The only example I can really remember, and perhaps because it was the very first, was when I saw a group of splicers hanging out below a balcony. I thought back to what I had seen in the trailers of you jumping of a high area and knocking them away causing them to panic and scatter, as well as the fact that I’m a Big Daddy so 5 splicers caught by surprise in close quarters shouldn’t be a problem. Jumped of the balcony, lost half my health and got finished of in the time it took me to say, “bwuh?”

      • Apples says:

        As soon as I saw that you were supposed to shove snack cakes and bottles of wine through your Big Daddy helmet, I assigned it the label of “lazy sequel”. It really did feel like you were the same guy as the first game but with a drill instead of a wrench.

      • Mistabashi says:

        To be fair, they totally ruined the whole concept of the Big Daddy in the first game when you magically transform yourself into one by spraying-on some perfume and putting on a diving suit. The escort mission that followed very nearly made me give up…

    • Jason Moyer says:

      BioShock 2 was phenomenal, Minverva’s Den even more so. The gameplay is just so much better it’s hard to even go back to the first game.

      I also don’t understand the criticism of the story in the second game when the first one can be summed up with “Plot Twist A: It’s System Shock 2!!!” and “Plot Twist B: Except we turned it into a linear shooter!”

    • InternetBatman says:

      I felt that Bioshock 2 was good, but just too much of the same. The levels felt like a tour through reused assets. The weapons and powers felt the same. The little sister fights were neat, but they didn’t feel that unique and their agility seemed almost out of place in the ponderous world of rapture. I thought the theme of parenting was really, really overdone and the critique of collectivism was a bit too bland to be interesting.

      All in all it felt like a capable journeyman making something with his master’s tools.

      I’m not saying Bioshock was flawless. I never was able to get System Shock work in windows 7, so I can’t judge from that. But it was a really, really good shooter. It was unique, the corridors gave a pretty good illusion of freedom. The entire atmosphere and world was fascinating, even if the plot twist was predictable. It wasn’t perfect, but it was really good and new. Bioshock 2 lacked the marked improvement you expect in a sequel, which is why it was judged more harshly than its predecessor.

  13. Apples says:

    Some thoughts on the ‘fun’ article, since I’ve always been a proponent of non-‘fun’ games:
    “Spoiler alert! Raph calls the highest form of fun Delight — the learning that comes from matching new patterns, and improving ourselves in the most basic of ways.” This, I think, summarises why people are wrong when they say that narrative has no place in games, or that narrative is separate from gameplay. But I also think this statement is wrong, or at least incomplete. Literal pattern-matching is not inherently fun, or at least not the most fun one can have, and not inherently self-improving; how many of us had tons of fun doing those psych/intelligence tests where you have to say what shape comes next? How many of us felt any sense of achievement? A lot of games seem to be about taking that experience and wrapping it up in so much hyperbolic praise that you feel proud of a relatively unfun activity.
    On the other hand, narrative lets us recognise and extrapolate huge patterns, the patterns of life and relationships and faith and love and all sorts. It’s a more inherently meaningful activity and an inherently more enjoyable (especially long-term) activity, which will continue being enjoyable and meaningful long after I complete the game, because it will have become part of my pattern-matching algorithm for events that occur in real life. In the presentation for Deadly Premonition, they talk about including real-life elements like making coffee and shaving because the player will recall these elements when they perform these activities in real life – the game has become part of the way that they interpret real-life activities.
    Alone, that concept of ‘Delight’ does not explain why the narrative part of Deadly Premonition was enjoyable while matching the attack patterns of enemies, which should presumably have been simply amazing and delightful and fun!, was a boring and irritating piece of padding.

    I find the effort to find some kind of ‘trick’ to making people have fun slightly troubling. Yes, it is probably possible to induce ‘fun’ while playing through stimulating the creation of adrenaline etc (wasn’t there a game that was meant to do this? Can’t remember its name) but that fun seems useless to me. It’s like tapping into evolutionary mechanisms that are meant to make certain essential activities enjoyable, and then stimulating those mechanisms over and over and over, devoid of any context or purpose. Okay, I guess if you really just want to sit down and experience eustress for a bit, they’re fine – but is that really the end goal and the highest pinnacle of the medium of video games? Really?

    • RvLeshrac says:


      “If you don’t agree with my definition of Fun, you’re wrong, and you’re clearly not having any fun.”

      • Apples says:

        ironically this is pretty much what the whole “theory of fun” concept is trying to say, since it only seems to address very mechanical gameplay-focused games. I don’t think there is any room for the kind of games I like in any theory of fun I’ve ever seen.

        It’s less “YOU ARE HAVING FUN WRONG” but more like “Why are you all so determined to elevate fun to being the highest goal of anything”. I totally accept that people are having fun with some things (and, which theories of fun don’t really bother trying to address, that fun is subjective), but that doesn’t mean I have to consider those things to be inherently worth anything!

      • gwathdring says:

        Ack. Wrong one.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        Oh-so related: link to

      • Raph Koster says:

        Actually, that summary of what is in the book is really not all that representative of what I actually said. On the minor front, he gets the “Delight” term wrong. On the major front, you’re misapprehending “pattern” based on the short description given here, rather than what it really means, which is something more like “apprehension of systemic relationships being formed into mental schema.”

        Which is something you do with stories too, btw.

        Ironically, you cite the wrapping of pointless little pattern recognition up with big moments of feedback as a flaw in the premise. I wrote a somewhat controversial article about how bad that is for actual fun that was linked here on RPS a while back, called “Narrative is not a game mechanic.” :)

        Lastly, FWIW, the actual book “A Theory of Fun” contains the statement “no other medium defines itself solely by a single effect on the user, like ‘fun’, so why should games?”

    • gwathdring says:

      A lot of arguments against narrative in games remind me of Ancient Aliens. The most common piece of evidence given for something being made by aliens on that show? “Yeah, people COULD have done that … but why would you work that hard? For like … no reason?”

      Why play a game that makes you sad? That tells a story but doesn’t have the best button-pressing mechanics? That’s the gameplay equivalent of a poem? Heck, some people go up in arms crying pretension anytime *that* sort of game is made. All of these games are trying to hard or missing the point or just not fun enough. So why play them or even make them?

      Because meaning is … well, meaningful. It matters. It feels good to feel things, even if they aren’t necessarily good things when you’re feeling them. Because of all the times I’ve read an amazing book and wanted to *be there* and make my mark on that story, or at least play one of the rolls. Or seen a moving scene and wondered what it must be like to pull the trigger … could I do that? What about Jimmy? God, that would be a tough situation to live through. What WOULD I do if it were me?

      • Jason Moyer says:

        I think narrative is highly important in games. The problem I have with the way it’s implemented most of the time is that the narrative is completely non-interactive and/or not integrated into the gameplay in any meaningful way. I don’t think games need to do both of those things, but having one or the other is almost a pre-requisite for me when it comes to rating a game highly.

        • gwathdring says:

          But why is that necessary? There are many elements of a game experience you don’t get to control, and you probably never think about that being problematic. Why is the plot off-limits here? The narrative? Why can’t it be as much of a static driving force as the soundtrack? Or as much of a dynamic shaper of your play as the terrain through which you move?

          Not all stories that could or should be told through games ought to be player-driven or player-modified or player-controlled. It’s a complex medium, and it’s going to have a lot of variations. I’d argue most highly specific and concrete stories are best told linearly and without player disruption, but that’s a matter of preference.

          Edit: Well that got rather long when I tried to explain the second paragraph with evidence. I’ll hold off posting that unless necessary.

      • Azradesh says:

        In short, games don’t need to be fun, they need to be compelling.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        I’m a big believer in Victor Frankl’s position that happiness is not something that can be strived for, it must be emergent from the striving for meaning. I think of fun in the same way as happiness, as an emergent quality of immersion, emotional evocation, compelling narrative, risk/reward and mastery, and many other qualities that compell us to play certain games.

        Fun is just one of many experiences that might emerge from these qualities, it isn’t a requirement of a meaningful gameplaying experience.

        (I’d just like to plug Frankl’s “mans search for meaning” for anyone that hasn’t read it)

  14. Angel Dust says:

    I loved Spec Ops: The Line but I’m in 100% agreement with Cobbett about that particular scene. The fact that it would be so simple to ‘fix’ it is what makes it especially annoying. I wonder if they could patch something in?

  15. Lacero says:

    Raph koster has a reply up to the “fun is boring” and “designing for grace” posts:
    link to

    “I don’t know any “purely engineering-minded designers.” I definitely do not know any successful ones. If anything, design happens to be a profession that very strongly favors people who straddle disciplines, who can have an engineering mindset and an artistic one.”

    • Lacero says:

      ..and it’s mentioned at the end of “designing for grace”. I recognised the article names and commented before reading, bad me.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Read his comments below the line, too. Raph has been saying the same sort of thing for a very long time, and I’ve yet to see anyone who actually understands what he’s doing substantially disagree with him.

      This is good:

      But debates about the nature of art are beside the point, because my work on formal structures in games is not about art at all. It is about craft.

      “Gravity always works” or “games are models” in the sense that we know what paint is. We can debate whether a painting is good or not, and we can debate the line at which is crosses out of being a painting and into being something else — perhaps when lots of found objects are glued to it. But paint is itself the medium, and we know what painting is, and further, we can talk about brush types and brush strokes and layering methods and all the rest. We can have quite a sizable discussion about the craft of it without touching the question of whether it is Art.

      When I say that narrative is not a mechanic, I am doing so in the sense that I am saying “mise en scene is not a dolly shot” or “chiaroscuro is not the Golden Section” or “a boss monster is not a joystick.” I am trying to pin down technical craft terms.

      Oh, and if you missed it, the original Narrative is not a game mechanic article.

      • Lacero says:

        Raph Koster is by far the best analyst of games. I just wish he would update his blog more often!

      • Consumatopia says:

        Eh, that Narrative is not a Game Mechanic piece just convinces me that he isn’t, really, just “trying to pin down technical craft terms.” Look at the last two paragraphs:

        I also feel fairly comfortable in labelling a game with that sort of structure as “a bad game design” even if it may be a great game experience. The bar that designers should strike for should include a rich set of systemic problems precisely because that is what the medium of games brings to the table. It’s what lies at the center of the art form.

        If the systems of your game are outweighed by the feedback, you should grow suspicious. And if they are outweighed by feedback that takes the form of movies, you’re making interactive movies first and games second.

        He isn’t just defining the craft, he’s reaching normative conclusions about what designers of interactive media should do based on where the “center of the art form” is–the art form that he’s defining.

        • Raph Koster says:

          I didn’t define the art form — it’s been defined accretively over the course of 30 years. You can go back to Crawford to find definitions closely matching mine.

          And I am not being normative for interactive entertainment. Just for game design. :) They are not the same thing. Game design is a subset of interactive entertainment.

          • Consumatopia says:

            And I am not being normative for interactive entertainment. Just for game design. :) They are not the same thing. Game design is a subset of interactive entertainment.

            Exactly. Game design is a subset of interactive entertainment. So why should designers of interactive entertainment follow your “game design” norms just because their work happens to stray into what you call games? Why should they be “suspicious” if interactive entertainment feedback outweighs systems? What’s wrong with making interactive movies rather than games? If one art form is a super set of another one, why should we care where the “center” of either art form lies? Who cares what games bring to the table. I guess 3d films excel at having pointy things stick out from the screen into my face–but that has precisely no normative implications for what sort of things I want to see in a movie.

            I think of game mechanics as useful tools that interactive entertainment designers may or may not wish to employ. It’s important for people to know how those mechanics work, as you’ve expressed well. But simple, “liminal” game mechanics (as you put it in comments at your site) can be useful in interactive entertainment as well.

    • Apolloin says:

      Exactly, Lacero – good Designers are Designers who can be both creative and organised. You need the awesome ideas, but you also need awesome ideas that can be turned into maths and stay awesome.

  16. MistyMike says:

    An interesting view on all that story/gameplay/fun/emotion thing in this article by a guy who IMO understands it all best
    link to

  17. IckyThump says:

    The makers of Survarium put up a new developer diary: link to
    At around 6:25 is the part I think will interest most people. There are also screenshots and new artwork on their facebook page.

  18. Universal Quitter says:

    Anyone else sick to death of hearing about the stupid Mass Effect ending? I mean, lawsuits, YouTube videos 25 minutes long, and endless soliloquies about it. It’s moved beyond the ridiculous and funny to being just kind of sad. If we want the gaming industry to be taken seriously maybe we should stop collectively making it a joke and stop demonstrating how emotionally unbalanced we are.

    • PopeJamal says:

      “Anyone else sick to death of hearing about the stupid Mass Effect ending?”
      *raises hand*

      In their defense though, Bioware DID just stoke the boiler of the QQ train by releasing their ending patch.

      Wow. What does it say about your game when the ending is “buggy” and you need to “patch” it?

    • Vorphalack says:

      But isn’t the ME3 ending backlash a perfect example of how powerful a game narrative can be? It strikes me that getting mainstream opinions to view game content as potentially thought provoking and mature is one of the biggest obstacles to the industry being ”taken seriously”. This extended farce does exemplify how invested players can become in a game narrative.

      As for creating an image of an emotionally unbalanced player base, disagree. Look back about a hundred years to when A.C. Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes. He was subject to a literary backlash for writing a fairly ambiguous ”final” confrontation to end the Holmes story. Strong fan reaction wasn’t seen as particularly ”unbalanced” because literature had been around as the principal medium of story telling ever since the advent of the printing press. People were a lot more comfortable with the idea of a book of fiction generating a strong emotional response. I see no reason why that shouldn’t carry over to gaming if the narrative is good. Now granted there will be some people just using the issue to troll or view whore on youtube, but it would be unfair to tar everyone’s response with the same brush.

      • LionsPhil says:

        “People got mad, therefore I created something emotionally meaningful” is the same crap excuse wheeled out by hack “artistes” time and time again.

        For the love of Pete, expose yourself to some actual emotive art. Hell, Schindler’s List will do.

        • Apolloin says:

          This! Getting 75% of your customers incensed because you make them feel like they just wasted about 100 hours of their lives whilst simultaneously insulting their intelligence is not like that bit at the end of Schindler’s List where Liam Neeson makes me sob like a little girl because of the pathos of the scene.

          If you want to blame anything for this situation, blame the rise of DLC and the Internet. We are now accultured to the fact that the games we buy are NOT FINISHED when we buy them. Back in the day when you bought a game that had a crappy ending you just made fun of it and maybe didn’t buy another game from that developer again.

          And don’t get me started on the concept of ‘artistic integrity’ – artistic integrity is when your decisions make your product better. It’s stupid mistakes when it demonstably makes it worse.

        • Vorphalack says:

          @ LionsPhil

          Are we arguing the relative strength of the Mass Effect narrative against all other consumable media ever created, or weather or not continuing to discuss the ending fiasco is still relevant or useful?

          If it’s the latter, your reply makes no sense. If it’s the former, you want another thread.

          • Hardlylikely says:

            His reply read to me like a straight forward answer to the (fallacious) rhetorical question in your original post.

            Outrage is not in itself a good measure of narrative or artistic power.

          • Vorphalack says:

            Then you have also missed the point. It is not relevant to this discussion weather you think Mass Effects narrative is good, or bad, or just mediocre. The irrefutable fact is that a lot of people are quite invested in the story, so much so that they continue to discuss, complain and defend it, depending on personal preference. The original discussion was about weather or not this continued debate is good for gaming and the image of gamers.

            My point is that is a good demonstration of how computer game narrative can affect people emotionally, generate a (mostly) intelligent debate, and prove to the main stream media that computer game narrative can be more than the latest murder simulator featuring Sgt. Huge McManstrong on a rampage across the middle east.

            Also worth adding, just to put another nail in this tangents coffin, that outrage is not an indication of bad narrative either.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        And let’s not forget that because of the backlash from his fan-base, Conan-Doyle re-wrote the ending (well technically changed its implications) by reintroducing Holmes in a new adventure, with the thinnest of excuses used to explain it (Holmes using his hitherto unmentioned mastery of an obscure martial art to save himself)

    • sinister agent says:

      Oh fine, I’ll just come right out and plug it. Rejected Mass Effect 3 endings (spoiler free, except for ME 1 and 2). If you’re sick of hearing about the real ones, it ought to be a nice antidote.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Dr. Chakwas hijacks the ship in a drunken attempt to find a good kebab. The Reapers are unhappy with the design of their new website.

        I’m getting strong flashbacks to TVGoHome.

  19. Tams80 says:

    That really is one exciting obituary! I just hope mine IS like it.

    It was more interesting than almost anything I’ve read recently. Better than a lot of fictional stories as well; so good you couldn’t make it up!

  20. pi8you says:

    Edit: Bah, Reply-fail, this is in response to RvLeshrac

    Because EVO isn’t just a tourney for the -tiny- handful of players that could be considered “pro”, and is open to whoever wants to come out and compete. It’s as much a con as a tourney and those

    1536 for SFIV AE
    1248 for UMvC3
    1072 for KOF XIII (amazing!)
    416 for SCV
    256 for MK9

    people (plus those in the numerous smaller side events) aren’t just there to play, but also to hook up with others that share their passions. So yes, this makes for lots of skill imbalance during the Friday/Saturday eliminations rounds, which is reflected on the streams until the pools are thinned down and we reach the later rounds, but it also occasionally reveals some unknown tearing through the ranks to wow everyone or big upsets like Ricky Ortiz getting knocked out of SFIV early on Friday.

    Yeah, the announcing could be better, but streaming these events is only a few years old and there are only a handful of people that are talented/skilled at announcing right now (with different levels of knowledge among the various series), and there just aren’t enough of them to cover 3 long days of streaming across at least 5 streams. So they work in shifts and get some extra help (from players that aren’t as good at announcing but have strong knowledge of the games) to keep from burning out. Toss in a few thousand people from around the world, any of which may be playing on the stream at any point and sure, there’s going to be issues with having a consistently good and informed level of commentary.

    Game balance is better than ever with modern entries, and while there’s definitely some characters that show up more than others, any number of characters are valid picks (with the top 16 players in this weekend’s SFIV AE tourney using 15 different characters between them!). Sure there’s still some glitches and balance issues :coughSFxTcough:, but by and large it comes down to player skill, and it’s exciting to watch.

    Give today’s streams a shot, it’s the cream of the crop and there’ll be a lot of great matches all day.

  21. Stochastic says:

    The “Building Tight Games Systems of Cause and Effect” article is easily one of the most informative and insightful pieces I’ve read this year. A lot of game design articles use ethereal, nondescript language, but Daniel Cook breaks down some of the elements that make games “work” using tangible examples. Brilliant stuff!

    I think game reviews could also benefit from incorporating some of this language. Instead of just saying that combat felt “wonky” or “bloated,” reviews could describe why games feel this way using these cause-effect elements Cook has identified (strength of feedback, nosiness, sensory types, mental models, discreteness, pacing, linearity, hidden information, probability, processing complexity, option complexity, social complexity, and time pressure).

  22. Mistabashi says:

    I’m really liking the terrain gen in Sir, You Are Being Hunted, can’t wait for something playable to come around. It’ll be interesting to see how AI works in such a system though, Stalker for example relies heavily on pre-determined waypoints and a pre-compiled ‘navmesh’ to make things work, I can imagine it’s going to be tricky to do similar things in a procedurally generated world.

  23. marcusfell says:

    Is Ghost in the Shell any good? This is the second time I’ve heard about it in the past three days, so I may as well investigate further.

    • dE says:

      It’s certainly not bad. It comes under the guise of some cyberpunk action anime but quickly ditches that in favor of interesting philosophical topics (about what is human) and some journeys deep down into the mind and insanity of mankind.
      It has also got some really beautiful scenes with serene yet strong music. In parts looking more like a music video than an action flick. In a way, it seems like it’s the Anime Version of Bladerunner. Some deep topics, showing the dark corners of the mind and it’s not afraid to be slow and ponderous at times, always questioning motives and decisions.

      I’d start with the Movie, if you like that, there’s so much more where that came from. Including two seasons and more movies. Some of the later movies are a bit hit and miss though (in my opinion).

    • LionsPhil says:

      If you mean the 1995 film, not really. The pacing is dire, the animation is crude (incoming anime fans with pitchforks and torches in three, two, one…), and the plot isn’t really as thought-provoking as it thinks it is.

      It does have a neat tankspiderbot in it.

      • Apolloin says:

        **SPOILER ALERT**

        The key element of the plot is entirely about what constitutes the nature of life and humanity. Initially that is a debate played out between the completely human agents and the completely cyborg agents within Section 9 but latterly it comes to be about a completely artificially created lifeform.

        What about THAT is not thought provoking? As we move towards cybernetic replacements for limbs and as we continue to develop robotics as well as increasing the number of systems that we interface with in a humanistic way rather than by pulling levers and pushing buttons (note the movement of Humanistic Interfaces into cars) this is a topic that is always in my thoughts, especially since other parts of the world seem to be in some sort of a competition to see how brutal and animalistic they can make being human into.

        As for gripes about pacing and animation, well, I’m afraid I’m not fancy enough to debate technical points. I may not know art, but I do know what I like.

        • Lacero says:

          It’s a 30 minute story told in an hour and a half with the rest padded by beautiful shots of a city.

          The pacing is perfect, for me.

        • PikaBot says:

          It fails to provoke thought for the same reason Witch Hunter Robin, for instance, does: It’s boring and nothing happens. There’s a philosophical debate going on but it’s almost entirely separate from the sorta-cool action movie that forms the meat of the film, and so unless you find Batou and the Major sitting on a boat debating the meaning of life for ten minutes interesting in and of itself (it wasn’t) it just becomes an exceptionally tedious obstacle standing in the way of something you would actually enjoy watching.

          Just about anything can sound interesting if you describe it purely in theory, as you did there. You know what else sounds thought-provoking and interesting? The story of a dude who built his whole life around revenge, who has to choose whether to give up that part of himself when he finds himself starting to give a shit about people again, or to keep clinging to the past and drag his life down the crapper. Now tell me: Did I just describe Berserk…or did I just describe Naruto? A theoretical discussion of a work’s themes is no substitute for an actual discussion of its merits.

      • Bork Titflopsen says:

        I agree with you on that, while certainly good in it’s own right, I feel people give it more credit than it deserves. If you compare it to other classic movies from before or around that time like Akira (1988) or Studio Ghibli movies like My Neighbour Totoro(also 1988) and Princess Mononoke(1995) GITS just get’s blown out of the water by the sheer force of their quality and polish.

        Both the comic and the series can be seen as some of the best in their respective medium and Major Motoko Kusanagi is one of the strongest female characters I’ve ever come across (and Batou is just a badass).

        • jezcentral says:

          Bork gets plus-one love-point for a My Neighbour Tortoro reference.

    • Lacero says:

      The film is a bit old, it’s beautiful but the animation has aged a bit. As I say above the story isn’t actually very meaty. I do like it though.

      The series (both) do a great job of exploring their topics, one for each series and both about people’s behaviour not science fiction. I really cannot recommend the second series enough, the first had the big internet reaction with the laughing man icon but the second does more than just suggest an idea and so feels more satisfying to watch.

  24. sinister agent says:

    Reply fail: it happens.

  25. Berzee says:

    “Grace is a paradox. That’s why game designers should read more Chesterton.”

    Was skimming the article about grace; that line pretty much guarantees I’ll read the whole thing thoroughly tomorrow. :)

  26. newprince says:

    Ugh, another article telling me that having fun is pedestrian and uninteresting. Game design needs an ivory tower like I need a hole in my head.

    These would be academics think they can prove to me that having fun is not an end in itself? Not the highest pinnacle of what I want out of a game? I’m sorry, but for me it is, and you won’t be able to tell me otherwise. Even in DayZ when I’m freezing, bleeding, running out of ammo: these guys would say I’m not having fun, and having some sort of cathartic cleansing blah blah blah. Nope. Still having fun. Delight? Yes, let’s start throwing semantics we’ll never agree on out there. Sigh