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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for staring in bemusement as the BBC attempts to self-destruct, and being grateful that there’s good games writing out there with which to distract yourself.

  • It’s tempting to wonder if other people have put more thought about what they want to see in Elite 4 than David Braben. One of the most interesting discussions of what should be in there comes from PCGamesN’s Steve Hogarty, who really gets to the nub of the issues: “‘Cooperate on adventures or chase your friends down to get that booty,’ wrote David Braben on Elite: Dangerous’s Kickstarter page, betraying a keen understanding of why the game he co-created was any good. But what is that booty?” This is insight.
  • Old Frieds: An Ode To Defence Of The Ancients: My goodness, if you want someone to write entertainingly about DOTA, you turn to Cara Ellison. “‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!’ I scream, mashing the push-to-talk button down so hard it was almost pressing through the keyboard into wood. ‘AAAAAAAAAH THEY FOUND ME AAAAAAAAH!’
  • What’s Inside The Skinner Box?: Could Molyneux’s box of tricks be one of the most exploitative games ever made? That’s the argument being put forward by Chris Chapman on his Trioptimum Trumblr. “So, let’s play a game. There’s a huge sheet of graph paper, about 400 square metres with a 2mm grid, and every player—thousands of them—is holding a pencil. You all simultaneously colour in the tiny squares on the graph paper, one by one.”
  • Exploring Dear Esther With Robert Briscoe: Jamie Donnelly goes into extensive depth with Briscoe over on Beefjack about Dear Esther and what lies beyond it. At the start he notes, “It divided audiences, and while everyone seemed to agree its ability to tell a story through its environment was incredible, some couldn’t get past the fact it contained no traditional gameplay to speak of.” I’d point out that I couldn’t get past the fact that it just wasn’t very good at telling its self-important story. But hey-ho!
  • Dark Souls Diaries: Matt Sakey has been keeping meticulous records of every death he’s experienced in Dark Souls, up to around 700 now, and telling his “disinterested” friends. He’s edited those communications into a series of articles.
  • Hollow Worlds – Looking For “Look At”: Richard Cobbett does love a grumble. Here he is on Eurogamer’s soapbox, pointing out that open worlds really need to improve. He rather brilliantly argues that games need to reintroduce the adventuring concept of “look at”.
  • Unpredictability And Control In Turn-Based Combat: I think usefully following on from Jim’s argument that games are best when everything’s going wrong comes an essay from indie developers Sinister Design’s Craig Stern. Here he’s exploring the role that random elements of gaming play in create tension, and the costs involved. “Randomness creates uncertainty, it is true, but so do other elements. This piece will examine a variety of tension-building elements, from the basic die roll to other methods that—quite undeservedly—receive less attention and respect.”
  • Change The Game: Yannick LeJacq takes a look at games journalists’ reactions to freemium gaming, and what he calls “the gamification of an industry”. “What scares game critics about gamification is the thought that it saps any of the artistry from games themselves. Stripping them to their bear essentials, they worry that the magic of games may be revealed as nothing more than a few titillated nerve endings, quivering at the excitement of a possible reward.”
  • Journey – And Evening With Robin Hunicke: Daniel Golding at Crikey.com reflectively contemplates on an evening’s audience with Journey developer Hunicke, and the emotions the game engenders. “There is not an ounce of exclusion in Journey’s blood. It is a game that has the warm embrace of pensioned romance, or the familial caress of shelter from cold rain.”

Want some music? It won’t be as good as Jim’s! This week I think it’s important to remember how great The Hold Steady’s Citrus was.

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John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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