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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for waking up from a night of fever dreams and ohgod. So. Weak. Lung plague for real, and I am dying. This is how it ends.

  • Digital Foundry looks at what the next generation of consoles will mean for PC specs: “PlayStation 4 in particular offers a substantial challenge to the PC as the top-end gaming platform – a state of affairs that may surprise many. Sony’s new console has often been described as a mid-range gaming PC in terms of its overall technological make-up. Rip apart the various components and the claims have some merit, but with the benefits of a closed box design and a unified memory set-up, the new console has certain qualities that could even give high-end PC rigs a run for their money.”
  • Michael Abbott on Bioshock Infinite: “I have a feeling that Bioshock Infinite will finally be seen as the apotheosis of the FPS genre, a culminating achievement that signals both a peak and an end. I’m sure other designers will take their shots, and I wish them well, but it’s impossible for me to read quotes like the ones above without amending them in my head with “…for a shooter.” That doesn’t mean shooters are empty experiences. Not at all. It simply means that staring down the barrel of a gun as a default point of view may not leave your possibility space wide open.”
  • Tim Rogers on Bioshock Infinite: “In short, Bioshock Infinite makes me sad. Bioshock Infinite makes me sad that I’m not offered the choice of a dozen more games like it every year. I want so many games this big, and this weird, and this stuffed full of stuff. I want this game to be successful. No matter how stupid I ultimately decided it was, I want it to succeed, so that we can start breaking the cycle of every triple-A game being about some super-boring regular dudes on earth fighting in a desert or a jungle. I want to go weird places with weird people — in real life and in videogames. I know it’s cool for “people like me” to hate Bioshock Infinite unconditionally, because that’d be the opposite of what everyone else is doing, though I arrive at the end of this critique genuinely conflicted.”
  • True Pc Gaming interviews the man from Futuremark: “3DMark Fire Strike, which is our latest high-end benchmark test, uses a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine that supports tessellation, ambient occlusion, volumetric illumination, particle illumination and a variety of lighting and shadowing techniques. With post-processing, the engine can produce depth of field, bokeh, particle based distortion such as heat haze, lens effects, bloom and anti-aliasing. One of the coolest new tech features in 3DMark Fire Strike is the smoke simulation, which is calculated on the GPU using Compute Shaders. The simulation uses grid-based fluid dynamics to allow smoke and particles to react realistically to other physical objects in the scene, swirling into vortices as the characters fight through physical modeling rather than canned animation.” Hot sex.
  • Business Week profiles Eve Online: “During the peak of its power in 2010, the Legion of Death ruled roughly one-quarter of the Eve universe; each of Death’s 30,000 soldiers represented a person under his command, tapping away on his computer. To the winners go prime territory rich in trade and industry, while losers are pillaged and banished to lesser areas. “You don’t understand what it’s like to manage that many people,” Romanchenko reflects. “It’s not playing a game. It’s like having a second job.””
  • Rob Zacny on some kids playing Riptide: “We say these things are meant for adults but you can only play so many murderous open-world minigame collections before you start to suspect someone is either lying to themselves or to the public. I don’t think it’s the mature games audience that’s clamoring for more homicidal Short Attention Span Theater. Yet it seems like that’s becoming the standard template for a major game. Not too hard, certainly not complicated, with just enough cruelty and cursing to make it edgy, and nothing approaching a worldview.”
  • The Guardian profiles Anna Anthropy and the Twine revolutionaries: “Money is a big issue when it comes to developing games. Anna sees Twine as part of redressing a balance that was tipping towards expensive software only available to large companies. “It’s a big deal that Twine is free,” she deliberates, slowing down slightly. “Any obstacle, however small, to making games will put off a lot of people. If you look at something like Game Maker, which is another tool for making games, that tool now costs a hundred bucks. And in the past there have always been free versions available, and the new free version of that puts a watermark on every game made unless you pay the hundred dollars.”
  • Nothing to do with games, but somehow everything to do with it in my head. An interview with Jeff Noon: “It’s hard to recapture the sense of how strange and beguiling Vurt was when it came out. It was set in a phantasmagorical alternative Manchester in which humans mingled and mated with sentient dogs, robots, telepathic “shadows” and creatures from – or contaminated with – the titular “vurt”, a parallel world that was some unspecified mix of consensual hallucination, virtual reality game and drug trip to which you gained entry by sucking on coloured feathers. The thing about the vurt world, though, was that it was in some sense real. For everything from our world that got lost in the vurt, something from the vurt world came back. The novel’s protagonist, Scribble, had lost his sister Desdemona to the vurt and got a dribbling, many-tentacled Thing from Outer Space in return. Vurt follows his attempts to find her.” Yeah, see, now its stuff like that which makes me certain that games aren’t really exploring quite enough imaginative terrain. If it’s Aliens again, well, fuck that.
  • Shut up & Sit Down on licensed board games: “The Walking Dead hits that mark, but in doing so may find it hard to satisfy either end of the spectrum. It’s not deep enough for strategy geeks, but it’s not clear and simple enough for those new to the hobby either. While the trappings of the show are well represented, a lot of the nuance and menace seem to have been sacrificed in favor of broader appeal. While you can’t fault the game for its level of sales, Cryptozoic might have produced a better game qua game by targeting one end of the spectrum or the other.”

Music this week is Chilly Gonzales’ piano concert.

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