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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for starting up that old Minecraft server and looking at the palatial constructs you built a year ago. I missed you, golems.

  • Confessions Of A Failed Indie Game Developer: “When I say I started building a game, this isn’t strictly true – what I actually built was a graphics engine. The game design gradually formed as I was working over the first couple of months. I knew that my art skills were greatly lacking, so I had a vision of a stark first person sci-fi setting, with simple geometry, small rooms and no human characters – the game mechanic based on switching between alternate universes and changing the direction of gravity in order to solve puzzles. If this sounds a little like Portal, you’re right – that game was a huge inspiration for the project.”
  • I Hate Strong Female Characters: “What is Sherlock Holmes like?” He’s a brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, polymath genius. Adding the word “strong” to that list doesn’t seem to me to enhance it much.
  • Lots of writing about Gone Home this week, including this and this: “So you edge closer and you pick up a bottle next to the bathtub and read the label: “red right hand”. It’s hair dye. And you realize that this isn’t a game that’s interested in evoking the limited range of emotions most videogames are content to deal with, and that maybe it’s even playing with your “games literacy” which is a polite way of saying your internalization of the awful tropes that have come to dominate our understandings of what videogames are supposed to do.”
  • Edge on the making of Thomas Was Alone: “Uploaded to gaming portal Kongregate, Thomas Was Alone quickly racked up 100,000 plays. “A switch flipped for me,” says Bithell. “Even though I was working in the industry, I saw games as a closed shop. I thought you couldn’t get people to play your game if you didn’t have a massive marketing team or lots of money.” In a sudden epiphany, he realised that was wrong: “It was a fantastic mix of optimism and stupidity.””
  • Polygon on player harassment of devs: “I did my best to avoid actually reading any of it, so I’m not quite certain how bad it got,” Hepler said. “I was shown a sample of the forum posts by EA security and it included graphic threats to kill my children on their way out of school to show them that they should have been aborted at birth rather than have to have me as a mother.”
  • Digital Foundry on Titanfall tech things: “The good stuff we chose the Source Engine for – 10 years of gameplay stuff – also means that there’s 10 years of legacy audio code that has so many things that are unnecessary. It’s unbelievable, like a spaghetti-style codebase. So it got to the point where what we wanted to do was way easier than using what was there, so we started over. We’re not doing HDR audio… It’s kind of funny because it’s more like LDR audio because you’re limiting the range of what you can hear, but hey – it’s great, it’s awesome – but we have a finite time to finish the game, and we have our own sound designer who previously worked on Battlefield and Medal of Honor so he knows his way around making good-sounding games.”
  • An interview with Alan Moore.
  • A review of Gencon ’13: “This is Gen Con. Its origins lost to the mists of time, the nearly half-century-old gaming party — for that’s what it is — is probably the largest annual gathering of tabletop gamers outside Germany’s Spiel. I arrived midday on Thursday, just as Day One was getting into full swing. The Indiana Convention Center is a massive place, and, as is the habit among Actual Journalists, I wandered into it unaided by map or signpost, following the flow of musky t-shirts into the first exhibit hall I could find. The simple elegance of what greeted me there felt both surprising and inevitable at once. Because what’s special about Gen Con is that it’s about the one thing most important to the cardboard arts: playing games.”

Music this week is some Sun Araw.

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Jim Rossignol

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