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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for waking up at the crack of dawn, donning slippers and monocle, and heading down to the study for preparation of the day’s documents. What would the message hidden them actually say about the state of our civilisation? Only one way to find out…

  • CNN’s Gaming Reality series is pretty formidable. Their large piece on Korea hits some familiar notes, that nonetheless resonate: “Take Seung, a 17-year-old I met in Seoul. He didn’t want his real name used because of stigma associated with gaming addiction. Like MarineKing, he grew up idolizing the pro players he saw on TV. He told me he wishes he could stop playing, but he can’t. He spends sometimes 12 to 14 hours a day, he said, tapping away on the keyboard playing online games like “Maple Story,” “Sudden Attack” and “StarCraft.” Seung attended several counseling sessions for gaming addiction — supported by the government — but said that wasn’t enough to make him stop. He’s not sure he’ll ever be able to.”
  • Or this article about gaming in a US school: “The magic of the school is that, just like in a video game, when one challenge ends another begins, co-founder Salen said. You move to the next level. The school is designed to create challenges that the students actually want to tackle, without worrying about grades or tests, just because they’re actually interested in the world. Games “create a reason for young people to want to engage in a problem or around a set of content,” Salen said. “And then you make those resources around them available so they can do work and practice around that problem.””
  • Craig Stern tackles the “what is indie”? question: “When a multi-million-dollar game with a team of nearly 50, created with the backing of a major publisher, can get into an “indie” bundle with nothing more than a collective shrug of indifference, the indie community is in deep trouble. This article is an attempt to address a root cause of the problem.”
  • One man’s account of GamesCom: “As if my life were a sitcom, the moment I entered the first big hall was when one of the stage shows started. A dubstep trailer echoed throughout the whole area, the stage occupied by cosplayers there to promote the game. This wasn’t what got to me, though. The moment one of the employees showed up on stage, likely a developer or community manager, the crowd went wild. “Do you want free stuff?!” he yelled, showing a paper bag full of swag, zoomed-in and displayed on the actual stage monitor. The audience yelled with the sync of a Swiss avalanche. You could practically hear the drooling. This was happening on a press day? Who was I supposed to be disgusted with? The media in the audience or the developers on stage? The ones acting like a pack of badgers or the ones exploiting that? The whole scene made me sick and I just kept walking. Somewhere, anywhere, just to get away.”
  • The Extra Credits chaps have been busy with stuff like this and this.
  • Default Prime talks to Steve Ince: ” I think for those developers that want to have a story that’s important, I think they really need to intertwine it very much. So, the gameplay objectives are linked to the story objectives. And so the way the character moves through the game, it needs to tie in with the way that character moves through the story. The more they are intertwined, the better, because then you have a seamless experience. You’re delivering the story as part of the whole gaming experience, it is not running parallel or anything like that – it is very much an integral part of the whole experience. And I think that is vital, really. And I don’t think that developers particularly are against it being integrated. I think that part of the trouble is that no-one has as fully worked out the best procedure.”
  • Why We JRPG: “Lest anyone doubt the possibility of a new JRPG doing all the things I’ve described, along comes Xenoblade Chronicles, the best pure RPG of this generation. Tom Chick calls it “a landmark achievement in the genre,” and he’s right. Better than any game I can think of, Xenoblade Chronicles embraces its systemic elements and enables players to leverage them in fun, consequential ways.” Agreed, it’s an amazing game.
  • Eurogamer’s podcast post-mortem of Planescape Torment only adds to the clamour for a remake.
  • Colin Campbell nods in the direction of the now-closed Psygnosis (Sony Liverpool): “The biggest payoff was in the PlayStation launch game, Wipeout, an ultra-fast, colorful, cool racing game that lit up fashionable magazines of the day, and was featured in trendy nightclubs. This was the game that allowed Sony to market its new console as something for grown-ups, for the hip kids who had grown up with the NES, wanted to keep playing, but needed an identity other than that projected by home computer-owning enthusiasts.” Psygnosis actually made me buy an Amiga, too, when my cousin showed me Lemmings (although strictly speaking that was DMA) and The Killing Game Show one fateful afternoon. And that was that.
  • Chris Crawford has been reflecting on his failed Kickstarter: “As it turns out, my model was only right for what Kickstarter used to be,” said Crawford. “That is, Kickstarter used to be a semi-charitable operation in which people could assist worthy creative projects that might not make it commercially, but still ought to be done. But in the area of games and comics, this is no longer the case.”
  • This is a fascinating tale of the creation of shooter Retro/Grade, with some familiar lessons: “We approached developement … not in the best way for an indie. We came from the big budget, AAA … I don’t even know what ‘AAA’ means anymore, but we came from large teams and teams that valued polish,” Gilgenbach said. “So we spent a lot of time polishing the game of details on little details, [and] some of them we ended up scrapping because we had to change the way we did the graphics in order to stay competitive.”
  • io9 has a piece on How to Create a Scientifically Plausible Alien Life Form. Useful!

Music this week is in tribute to Neil Armstrong, Brian Eno’s An Ending (Ascent). Armstrong did what needed to be done. I have a strong feeling that the rest of us failed him.

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Jim Rossignol

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