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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for driving along the motorway, humming the theme tune to Quantum Leap. Perhaps when you reach your destination you might end up reading some words gathered from the Internet. But perhaps not.

  • Sinister Design on RPG character creation: “To analogize: class-based character creation is the Apple of character creation systems, founded upon the use of a few pre-built constructs that share the same core components and come in a limited variety of flavors. By contrast, skills-based systems are the PCs of the character creation universe, cobbled together from a dizzying array of components that can combine in interesting (though sometimes deeply flawed and incongruous) ways.”
  • Derek “Spelunky” Yu talks to Eurogamer, and talks Dark Souls (and other stuff): “”One of the things I love about Dark Souls is that it doesn’t really tell you how to do anything,” says Yu, still groggy with jetlag from a recent holiday in Japan. “But it also lets you do and try so much that doesn’t work. At one point when I was playing, I turned a corner and there was this ghoulish-looking character behind these metal bars. As soon as I saw it, I jumped back and, really without thinking, I threw my spear and stabbed him dead. It turned out to be a shopkeeper.”
  • Speaking of which, Gamasutra have been delving into the design of same said game: “A lesser game would have had given the player a message like “Try throwing the monster lure at the fire to kill the armored boar!” when they picked up the monster lure items. By not explicitly telling the player what to do but by leading them towards the answer, Dark Souls allows the player to feel clever for figuring the solution out.”
  • Eurogamer’s “The Re-Making Of X-Com“: “It’s clear all of Jake’s design decisions were made out of a genuine love for XCOM. Take the decision to reduce the squad size cap, for example. Some fans have lamented this move, but Firaxis makes it sound like perfect sense. “It’s pretty simple,” Garth explains. “When we had more squad members in those prototypes each move was less meaningful. We found five to six to be that sweet spot. After that amount the map time also dragged on. We want the experience between strategy and the HQ to have this nice flow where you’re going back and forth between them. We don’t want you playing for an hour-and-a-half on every single map because you would lose momentum.””
  • Tom Francis’ illusionist-based Skyrim diary concept is fun: “I’m playing Skyrim with a rule: illusion magic only. No direct violence, just pure deception. I’m seriously low on health, completely out of mana, and trapped in an awkward corner with a lightning mage bearing down on me.”
  • Edge on The Making of Limbo: “At the time, the future creator of Limbo was living on a farm in Jutland. “My parents weren’t farmers,” he explains, “but they had a small farm with a lot of animals for fun.” Little Arnt, shy and quiet, used to like wandering off into the nearby woods. He’d spend hours following the stream that ran between the trees, often dropping strange insects and leaves into it and following them as the current swept them downstream. “I always had this thing for small animals and parasites – I hated them, even as a child,” he remembers.”
  • Specs ‘N’ Headphones discusses the problem of NPCs in AI and Emotional Attachment: “A problem that affects all media is dialogue diversity – it’s not uncommon to have a work where all the characters speak in a manner very similar to that of the writer. The writer knows how they sound, and so by writing in their own ‘voice’ as it were, it’s easy to write in a way that’s (superficially) convincing. But when too many characters sound similar, the suspension of disbelief falls apart, and no one sounds convincing.”
  • Venus Patrol hosts a “devlog magazine” for the TIGSource forums: “Every week on Venus Patrol, using screenshots posted to the TIGSource threads, I’ll be building a visual map of the most inspiring projects of the past several days. Soon, this series will be a nice timeline of awesome games evolving from start to finish, and hopefully sharing them here will help get these games the exposure they deserve.”
  • Hookshot on “Death of a Noby Noby Boy“: “I‘m frustrated with the industry as a whole,” he said. “I can’t seem to predict where it’s going, which makes me feel uncomfortable. Or maybe I just don’t like where I think it’s going. I’m not sure.”
  • Hmm: “How video games helped me go on “Don’t Tell The Bride”: “Having cameras follow you each and every minute of the day is enough to put even the calmest soul on edge. Every conversation I had with every shopkeeper, tailor or florist was recorded, and I was keenly aware that any slip-up in the conversation on my part would be broadcasted for the world to see. Fortunately, I had an ace up my hole: Mass Effect. The key driver of success or failure in Mass Effect is how you handle conversations with other characters. The countless hours I had spent bartering with Hanar shopkeepers, or dodging bar-fights with angry Krogans meant that negotiating a price for three ivory bouquets was mere childs-play. The florist never stood a chance.”
  • Electron Dance did a podcast with Introversion.
  • How to steal a space shuttle.
  • Digital death.
  • No, you are not entitled to your opinion.

Music this week is this.

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Jim Rossignol

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