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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for nursing a headache. There, there, poor brain. It’ll pass. You just sit there in a quiet dark room. The rest of us will go get some breakfast. And perhaps something to read.

  • Richard’s Skyrim diary is a thing to behold: “Even without eyes, Triss manages to follow along for a while, only to vanish early and never re-appear. So, pretty much like The Witcher 2 then. Alone, I find myself wandering through the snowy forests towards Helgen, and quickly discovering that my gear is nowhere near warm enough for even these climes. Before long, there’s snow all over me, and things only get worse when night falls. The temperature drops along with it, and in this Skyrim, night is pitch black. Then the messages start appearing. Messages like “A Forsworn is hunting you.” Gulp.”
  • PCGamesN produced a frightening piece on the health risks of extended gaming sessions: “Although reports of sudden death of gamers stretch back almost a decade, most originate in Asia and have been given little in the way of analysis or even visibility in the English-speaking media. That’s allowed gamers to ignore stories that aren’t much more than footnotes. A rare exception occurred in February of this year, with the death of 23-year-old Taiwanese gamer Chen Rong-yu providing concrete (and disturbing) proof that people really were dying while playing video games.”
  • This article on the techniques used by F2P and gambling is interesting: “Sticker books, penny falls and claw machines all have a great deal in common with the IAP and free-to-play world. And, indeed, are considerably harsher in many ways. The things you buy in a game might well be virtual, but within that world they almost always have hugely more use than a sticker does in the real world. And sticker packs are usually located at exactly the right place to calm an annoying child on a trip to the supermarket – they wear their pester-power intentions proudly. Behave like a not-bastard and Daddy will buy you some stickers when we get to the end. Presuming your children are old enough to grasp the principles of delayed-gratification, you have yourself a whole mess of behavioural economics and no mistake.”
  • The beauty of videogame deaths? “What there is a possible lack of in gaming is death being aesthetically pleasing. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I am quite certain there are people who think that Sub-Zero ripping out someone’s spine is the equivalent of virtual sculpting, how many games put an effort in making death “beautiful”?”
  • TPCG’s The Online Backpacker continues: “Why is the environment so darn massive compared to your avatar? Perhaps Bioware had visions of a best case scenario, their environments so packed full of keen players that they’d have trouble passing each other in the hallway if the corridors weren’t a hundred feet wide. Making the world so big seems like wasted effort now, as there are never more than thirty people on the planet when I log in. Or maybe it’s another convention, a dictate of standard MMO design. Either way, there are no small spaces in The Old Republic – no cramped hidey holes or secret passages, no cosy nooks or homely chambers. Everywhere is big.”
  • Eurogamer on the making of Borderlands 2: “The idea behind Borderlands’ gameplay was a simple one that now seems obvious: Diablo with guns. And it comes as no surprise to learn that pretty much everyone at the company has played Blizzard’s loot grind behemoth. “Back when I was in college my friends and I always talked about a game, and said, you know what I really want? I really want to play a first-person shooter and Diablo together,” Borderlands lead designer John Hemingway tells me. “That’s our dream game. We all went our separate ways. I ended up going into the game industry. I interviewed with Gearbox, and they had just started development of Borderlands and they showed me what they had. My jaw dropped. I must work on this game. I got hired and here I am.””
  • Gamasutra has a big piece about DICE and their learned game development methodology: “You’ll really love our office, and we’re spending a lot of time taking care of it. Both in keeping people happy in the studio, but also because of what we’ll be talking about here. We have semi-open areas. We have a room where maybe you can have 12, or another room where you can have 24 people, and then we have smaller rooms. And depending on what kind of pod we have — because we do organize the teams into like, you can have a narrative pod, or maybe a bigger single player pod, and then you can have a multiplayer group, and these kinds of things. And then we try to put cross-functionality people in there, so you have programmers, and designers, and artists, everyone sitting together. It doesn’t work having all the artists in one corner, and all the programmers in one corner — that’s a recipe for disaster.”
  • Amazing Bldgblog post about the caves of Nottingham, and the laser scanning thereof. Generates some imagery that gamers will be familiar with.
  • This sells Guild Wars 2 to me better than any review I’ve read.

Music this week is Aidan Baker’s Closure Axiom.

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Jim Rossignol

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