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The Sunday Papers

Sundays! Days of quiet contemplation of the victories ahead. Sundays! A time to consider the ideas offered by your fellow gamers. Sundays.

  • I could have sworn I’d already posted this article on “The Simulation Dream”, but I see I have not. It’s essential reading. “That’s the Simulation Dream – the idea of making a complex simulation of a story world, which creates fascinating emergent stories as powerful as those you might write yourself. The idea bursts with potential. And it appears everywhere. Early in the development of BioShock, that game had an ecology too. There were three parts to it. Splicers would hunt Gatherers, who were in turn guarded by Protectors. The player was supposed to interact with and manipulate this ecology to survive. But these dreams shattered.”
  • Chris Plante’s piece on Xbone’s user policies explains why the console has taken on so many of the bad policies you find on PC, without exhibiting any of the advantages. This kind of article explains precisely why you should just get a PC instead of the new Microsoft console, and also puts some perspective on the “well Steam is just as bad” argument: yes, that’s narrowly true, but on the PC there are alternatives to Steam: “PC games can be given away by developers. PC games can be sold without DRM. There are alternative retailers, allowing the consumer to choose where he or she buys from. And because there is choice, there is competition, and because there is competition, there is competitive pricing. On PC, you can “donate” to the Humble Bundle and choose precise amounts of cash to award a game’s creator. On PC, you can play alpha builds of games that are months if not years from completion, and participate in some capacity in that game’s development. On PC, publishers are free to do all of the awful things offered by the Xbox One. But they’re also free to do things that are responsible and consumer-friendly.” Plante is fast becoming one of the best writers on the web right now.
  • Videogames need to become shorter to mature.
  • The tiresome dietary politics of Don’t Starve: “But here we have a game about survival, a game called Don’t Starve, that cares about more than whether or not you are able to keep yourself from starving. It cares about whether or not you can keep yourself from starving in a way it finds morally acceptable. And if you try to take another path to survival than the one the developers want you to, it will throw huge roadblocks in your way to stop you. And we’re not even talking about extreme things like cannibalism here — we’re talking about killing a rabbit for its meat.”
  • Eurogamer has been on strong form of late, with articles such as Ellie Gibson on British TV show, GamesMaster: “GamesMaster went on to run for seven series and 126 episodes. Today it is still regarded by many as the best games TV show ever made, including that one with Gaz Top and the other thing with the three girls in vests. But it was almost never made at all, according to Hewland.”
  • Also at EG, there’s Stanton vs Curiosity: “It makes you realise all of Curiosity’s statistics are really deflections. Four million downloads sounds great, and then in the winner’s video Molyneux mentions tens of thousands of simultaneous users as a highpoint. On that note, awfully convenient it ended up with a UK winner. In this RPS interview Nathan Grayson casually destroys Molyneux on details. This is emblematic of Curiosity’s true nature: the scienciness of it, all lab coat and no trousers. Curiosity suggests something innocent – inquisitiveness for its own sake. But this could just as well have been called ‘Avarice,’ and with somewhat more accuracy. Curiosity was always promoted on the promise of its reward, and Molyneux even adapted the lottery’s catchphrase to his own patter: “it could be you.””
  • The second part of Electron Dance’s series on shooters: “Space Giraffe is a game that demands attention, patience and experimentation. It does not reward players immediately and, frankly, can feel like a mess because it throws everything at you in one go – overpowering visuals and lots of new mechanics. Jeff Minter put out a game that Jonathan Blow hoped would “raise the bar for game criticism” and pondered whether it was the Ulysses of videogames.”
  • The tale of the Ukrainian breakdancing game designer.
  • A lovely piece on Apple’s awkward relationship with gaming.
  • I kind of have a crush on Clint Hocking, even if I did slate Far Cry 2. Sorry, Clint.

Music this week is Jon Hopkins’ Immunity.

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Jim Rossignol

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