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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for rest. But I can’t rest. Too much to do. Too much to know. Read:

  • Wired’s profile of Dean Hall and Day Z is an interesting read. I’m not sure about that training exercise, though. “Dean Hall was close to death in the jungles of Brunei. It was December 2010 and the officer cadet in the New Zealand army was alone on a survival-training mission. Given only two days’ worth of food for 20 days, he supplemented his diet with raw fish and ferns. He slept on a bed of sticks, and by the end of the mission he’d lost 44 pounds from his already lean frame. There were other trainees out there, and he started to plot raids on their food supplies. He thought of himself as an honorable person, but he was too hungry for honor. As he approached one man’s camp, the guy spotted him and tossed him some rancid ramen. Hall boiled the noodles and wolfed them down.”
  • Academics doing procedural gun generation: “We’re reading Team Blockhead Wars: Generating FPS Weapons in a Multiplayer Environment by Eric McDuffee and Alex Pantaleev. The paper describes a system they built that can create new weapons dynamically for an FPS game, and then use computational evolution to keep producing and mutating the weapons as players play the game and test the weapons out. It’s a lightweight system, but one that seems really promising right now, and easily extensible into different game genres or types of FPS.”
  • A F2P monetisation consultation explains why he is not a cancer on the games industry: “I know it’s hopeless; it is impossible to change someone’s mind on the internet. But I wanted a chance to explain that I am not a cancer on the games industry and if anything, my accidental career as a monetization consultant is a side effect of the true problem affecting the version of the games industry that Gamers hold dear.”
  • A music history of videogames.
  • Will Porter writes a list feature for how to write about games. “Being shit at games, or claiming that you’re shit at games, is the gateway to exceptional games writing. On a broad level folks appreciate honesty. They don’t like blowhards who proudly affix their ‘hardcore gamer’ name-tag and bang on about how they ‘beat this’ and ‘aced that’. Well, quaint British folks like me don’t like it anyway.”
  • Chris Schilling on intelligent new systems in games: “In the course of writing this, I found an unlikely ally. At a DICE event in Las Vegas back in February last year, David Jaffe spoke out about developers favouring story over gameplay. An over-emphasis on story, he claimed, “is a bad idea, waste of resources, of time and money and worst, has stuffed the progress of video games, to our own peril.” I don’t entirely agree with Jaffe’s assertion that games have “historically, continually been the worst medium to express philosophy, story and narrative” – there may be some truth in it, but why shouldn’t we challenge that notion? – but I do think he’s got a very good point when he says “we’ve let the gameplay muscle atrophy.””
  • While you’re over at EG, read this interview with Hideki Kamiya “You’d think he’d be terrifying. Hideki Kamiya, the creator of Devil May Cry, Bayonetta and Okami, has a persona that has come to light through his brilliantly candid and often terse Twitter outbursts and has been cultivated since before he got into games: there’s a famous photo of a young Kamiya in a leather biker jacket, holding a Union Jack-gloved fist to his chest while a relative dressed in pink, perhaps his mother, stands politely beside him.”
  • On San Andreas’ Herobrine Bigfoot sightings: “Silver and Krimmel are not the only players who claim to have seen Bigfoot in the virtual forests of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a video game released in 2004 in which players assume the role of a young gang member, Carl Johnson, in a story that draws upon various real-life events in Los Angeles, most centrally the rivalry between the Bloods and Crips street gangs. The game, set in 1992 within the fictional state of San Andreas, a geographical amalgam of California and Nevada, sold more than twenty-seven million copies worldwide. If the game’s developers had included a rare occurrence of a Bigfoot character in the Back o Beyond, occasional sightings from the masses of scouring players would be inevitable. Within months of the game’s release, videos allegedly showing sightings of Bigfoot appeared on YouTube, while viewers debated their authenticity in the comments.”
  • The team behind Last Jungle In Sector 17 talk about their failed Kickstarter: “Maybe we didn’t have enough following before the launch, maybe our Kickstarter pledge “prices” were calculated badly, maybe our Kickstarter video was badly edited or maybe the game just sucks, whatever the reason, I hope this is a lesson for all future indies who plan on crowdfunding their title. I’m not saying that this is what to expect, but I hope it gives a general idea of current attitude towards projects like ours.”
  • Some intelligent commentary in this Chris Pruett interview: “I think hardware will eventually become a standard, and games themselves will drive purchasing decisions. I think this will make a much larger array of games commercially viable, both from big and small developers, and I think it will lower the cost of game production significantly. I think that standardized hardware will also lower the cost of entry for players, and thus widen the audience that buys games. In short, this is a move that takes video games from being a large niche to being something that is available to the mainstream. And unlike today, it won’t be limited to mobile platforms (or, to put it another way, all our platforms, including our TV consoles, may be mobile).”
  • Chris Dahlen on slow games: “I recommend Knytt Underground to all of my friends, always with the caveat that they have to give it time, and they have to commit to those first few hours when nothing seems to have a point. The opening is like a test: if you can’t be patient this long, maybe you don’t deserve this vast, handcrafted world that Nifflas labored over for you. Maybe you’re a maximizer. We can’t have that in here.”
  • Lord Smingleigh is now writing regularly on Quinns’ boardgame site.
  • The cheapness of the current hype in the console war. As ever, hardware is nothing for a medium for games. Focus on those, please, corporations.
  • The dev scene in Vienna and Expander.
  • On UVB-76.
  • Woah.

Music this week is the title music from Sir, You Are Being Hunted, all day long. But I should probably share something less intense. So try this.

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