The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for recovering in the sunshine. Could it be the last day of sun before northern Europe is eaten by wintery gloom? Best make the most of it before making preparations for the dark.

  • Soren Johnson wrote a post-mortem of his time working on Spore. It makes for interesting, if occasionally rather obvious, reading: “Spore’s biggest issue was that the play at each stage was fairly shallow because the team was making five games at once. (At one point, Will described each of the game’s five stages as light versions of classics – cell is like Pac-Man, creature is Diablo, tribe is Populous, civilization is Civilization, and space is Masters of Orion.) However, making five different games at once is a bad idea; making one good game is usually hard enough.” From this perspective it’s sort of amazing that Spore hung together as well as it did.
  • Killscreen on Salty Bet: “This is not a fever-dream of my thirteen year-old nephew. This is Salty Bet’s Dream Cast Casino, the unholy copulation of a 4chan post and a cockfight. Salty Bet is an online fighting game where automated bots battle other bots 24/7. The audience cannot directly participate, but they can bet fake money, and jeer “POTATO” at inept bots. These seem to be people with questionable upbringings—your NeoGAF and Something Awful and Reddit hangers-on—who gather by the several-of-thousands at the nihilistic epicenter of the web, where pantsu and Thriller and an Everything is Terrible! meme of a kid churn in a queasy disarray.”
  • Tom Clancy is dead. Do not make Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, jokes. It’s too early. Instead, head over to Kotaku and think about his awesome legacy. Few of us will have this kind of influence on entertainment: “Under Ubisoft, the Tom Clancy games became an interesting sort of proving ground for talented game designers. On the one hand, these games all had to exist in a charmless world defined by men with guns. On the other, they were almost universally smarter than other shooters, more unforgiving, and required players to use their heads. Talented game-makers like Clint Hocking, Maxime Béland, Patrick Plourde, and plenty more have cut their teeth on Clancy games, and tracking down which designer made which game can be a fun exercise.”
  • Owen Faraday got to play Chaos against Julian Gollop, and this is what he wrote: “The multiplayer is quick and delightfully cut-throat (we’ve already been through a couple of matches this morning) but Gollop has big plans for Chaos as a single-player game. “The AI opponents will be quite important. They’ll have their own individual spells and equipment and their own personalities: how cowardly or aggressive they are, how deceitful, how often they change their minds about a strategy. They’ll have dialogue, too.”
  • True PC Gaming has been as busy as ever, with an article (which perhaps shoots some very large fish in a small barrel, asking about the use of quicktime events, and an article looking at underappreciated indies. Some great stuff in there.
  • A diary from The Shivering Isles in Oblivion: “The Shivering Isles is also famously mental. Those Isles are a bizarre place ruled by the god of madness, Sheogorath, whose rules are about as sensible as you’d expect from a god of madness. Sheogorath is in need of a mortal champion – you, of course – but you aren’t the first person who has been drawn to his surreal home, so the entire place is full of people who have been dragged in previously and driven mad by the place. There is not a single person in The Shivering Isles who isn’t batshit insane, apart from you.”
  • An account of Dwarf Fortress being exhibited at NYC MoMA: “In fact, seeing the display, I was a bit flummoxed that I had learned so much more about the game from the text of a New York Times Magazine article than actually seeing the object in one of the most preeminent museums in the world. In fact, the truly stunning thing about Dwarf Fortress is how the game makes you painfully aware of the stupendous number of challenges and choices that we take for granted. We live in a world with nested landscapes: some visual, some institutional, and the game is not just an ASCII screen saver, it is a meditation on how overwhelmingly complex it is to even make a crude dwarf chair, let alone the low-slung museum-pieces sitting in the next room over.”
  • Holy shit at this: Timothy Leary Video Games Unearthed in Archive: “Most of Leary’s software projects had a strong self-help bent, and aimed at helping users understand and improve their personalities through digital rather than pharmaceutical means. “Isn’t precise thinking about yourself the most basic tool for managing your life successfully?” players are asked at the beginning of “Mind Mirror” (1985), Leary’s one commercially released product, which allowed players to create, evaluate and role-play different personalities based on psychometric ideas from his 1950 Ph.D. thesis, “The Social Dimensions of Personality.””
  • Stumbled on this old Steve Gaynor article on the FEAR games, and that’s worth a read.
  • A Shelter post-mortem on Gamasutra: “At the time of the announce trailer we hadn’t decided if the main protagonist would be a badger or not. I remember that in a meeting we discussed that it could be easier for us to not connect to real animal life, because we could then have free reins to experiment with the hunting mechanics and how you would behave in the game world. In the end, it showed, it did not really matter that ”our” badger unrealistically was throwing herself against trees to make apples fall down or that she tracked down and killed foxes. The importance was her being a badger because it led to connections to funny clips on YouTube (Randall’s honey badger), a certain state in the US, the cull in the UK, and literary references like ”The Animals of Farthing Wood” and ”Watership Down”. In the end we fell in love with our badger and so did everyone else.”

Music this week is Kazuya Nagaya – The Sea Spills Over Into The Sky.


  1. aldo_14 says:

    The most disappointing thing about Spore, for me, was the lack of evolution. It may have not been the intent of the game, but it was the theme that I – and I think a lot of people – perceived.

    There’s a mention in Sorens article of how the procedural generation used a few kb as pseudo-DNA; it’s almost tragic that there wasn’t some option to utilize that, perhaps in a pseudo genetic algorithm manner, to evolve rather than design characters. Ok, evolution is somewhat of a random process (at least, the mutation part is) – but maybe incorporate a game type structure in terms of the selection aspect.

    Natural selection offers a simple thing in terms of level progression; the stronger the creature, the longer it survives. But sexual selection – attractiveness – could offer player agency in some interesting ways. Imagine that the creatures are divided into male/female (which is which doesn’t necessarily matter – just the concept of different genders). The player could choose to increase their attractiveness through certain tasks – be it social, RPG type ones (such as gathering food, protecting from attack), or competitive ones (such as hunting individually, challenging larger males). In doing so, they would ‘attract’ different types of mate – serving to reinforce particular traits (for example, winning battles attracts physically stronger, more aggressive mates who confer a mixture of both parents characteristics to the next generation – and the next set of player avatars).

    I understand the reason why they took the design based approach – it gives the player more control and ergo more investment in their little civillisation. But to me it diluted the game from being a sort of Sim-Universe deal into more of a toy. Moreso, I don’t think following a more evolution based approach removes agency; because the player still has awareness of the system, and can make a decision in which direction to go.

    To a degree, the evolution of the avatar would shape the behaviour, but it’s not necessarily a one way cliff. Similarly, at least you’d tie the individual phenotypes – which claws, etc, a creature has – more specifically to some behaviour or advantage, rather than being jewellery with fairly abstract (and bounded) statistical effects. also – and it’s been a while, so I may be wrong – I don’t think the body parts had a very clear drawback. So you didn’t get the sort of cheetah effect (er, what I mean is, there’s a check on how far a particular trait can evolve – like a cheetah ultimately will hit a particular optimal speed, and any mutant with a faster speed will be selected against because of the resource cost in running that fast).

    • The Dark One says:

      There’s something amazing in the idea of Powers of Ten: The Game, but if you’re going to sacrifice depth for scale, you had better make sure that sense of wonder and grandeur permeates its every nook and cranny.

      • Yglorba says:

        I’m a bit surprised that they said that idea of powers-of-10 as being the core failing of the game. I don’t think it was quite that; the problem was that they decided to rigidly divide each stage up like that.

        Katamari Damacy, much later, would nail the idea of constant (ultimately explosive) growth far more perfectly — the trick is to make sure that your gameplay and interface remain the same the whole time. If Spore had managed to do that (no matter how much wrangling or handwaving it took to justify it), it would have been an incredible game.

        How about this? You start as a cell and evolve up through creature the usual way. Tribal / Civilization, though, involves evolving your creature into a village that eventually becomes a city — which is, essentially, like a static creature with powerful long-ranged attacks. Eventually you turn it into a spaceship (which is controlled like a flying creature) for the space section. Bam. Silly and handwavy, but it would make a fun game.

    • Rizlar says:

      Should the editor enable unparalleled aesthetic customization, at the expense of gameplay consequence, or should the game mechanics support every choice made by the player, even if that meant limiting the flexibility of the editor?

      The second one. He even acknowledges that the cell stage designer was much more interesting and satisfying because of this quality, despite being very simple. User-generated creatures that are amorphous blobs of limbs, while being incredibly strong because of lots of +5 claws etc is the game’s biggest failing. Even without the simulation of evolution, the game should have just made creature designs matter, which would have led to much more interesting, emergent stuff.

    • InternetBatman says:

      The problem with making a game too much about evolution is that it is very hard to actually give the player something to do, unless the player is natural selection and the creatures are automatons. Spore already had a bit of the differentiated tasks you talk about, but it’s very hard to program the amount of reactivity you want (especially while making it plain and not overwhelming). Furthermore, the game would have a much harder time modeling evolution, because the evolution level is a reactive process, not one with an end in mind. What would happen if you never developed intelligence? I’m don’t think your ideas are bad, but they would take a hell of a lot of complexity and be very, very hard to balance.

      I think Spore could have done two things with creature. One is ditched the evolutionary narrative entirely, but kept the iterative nature of evolution by making the food bar far more exacting and giving each adaptation a cost in food/s (which is similar to what you argue), and eventually letting players end their creature there. The other is completely remove the player control over the creature, and turn creature mode into Populous. You keep creating selection level pressures, until you get to an intelligence arms race point.

      To be completely honest, I really liked Spore. I played it with my fiancee and she really liked Spore. I don’t think the decisions they made were bad, and they accomplished some amazing technical stuff. I think it needed less radical core gameplay revisions in what I saw as the working modes (microbe, creature, space), and more focused iteration. Each level is almost there, and if they had maybe a year and a half of iteration, EA would probably still be making Spore games. On the other hand, Tribe was wholly unnecessary and Civilization needed to be dramatically remade (perhaps something closer to simcity).

      I think it would be interesting for a major publisher to do something on the scale of Spore again, but have five entirely separate teams making five separate games (that sell for $25 a piece), with what input you want passed between each game decided close to the start.

      • LionsPhil says:

        You keep creating selection level pressures, until you get to an intelligence arms race point.

        I think this would have made for a more interesting game. Didn’t the ancient SimLife cover some of that ground previously?

      • aldo_14 says:

        The problem with making a game too much about evolution is that it is very hard to actually give the player something to do, unless the player is natural selection and the creatures are automatons. Spore already had a bit of the differentiated tasks you talk about, but it’s very hard to program the amount of reactivity you want (especially while making it plain and not overwhelming). Furthermore, the game would have a much harder time modeling evolution, because the evolution level is a reactive process, not one with an end in mind. What would happen if you never developed intelligence? I’m don’t think your ideas are bad, but they would take a hell of a lot of complexity and be very, very hard to balance.

        Yeah, I recognise there is an issue of agency and where player fits in. To a degree – and I actually liked Spore – it’s more a case that I wish they’d done something without knowing what that thing is. But I do think that you can, at the very least, incorporate a concept of the evolutionary process in terms of mutation and recombination.

        (NB: the intelligence thing is somewhat simple; to incorporate the good old fashioned idea of being ‘uplifted’ by an alien race. It’d be a cheat, of course, but it could be exploited as a way of changing the next ‘level’ of gameplay if there was a more complex relationship system between various races)

      • Lemming says:

        “The problem with making a game too much about evolution is that it is very hard to actually give the player something to do, unless the player is natural selection and the creatures are automatons. “

        It could’ve been great as one or the other. Imagine it was either:

        a) a game where you took direct control of your creatures (as you do in Spore), but the evolutionary ‘upgrade’ choices you get along the way are based on how you played ie. be aggressive and the upgrades are all attack-type additions. So the creature you end up with is unique, but it’s a result of forced choices that allow for multiple plays through and ‘ what if?’ scenarios.

        b) You are natural selection, you don’t have direct control of creatures but you can influence them by their design.

        • InternetBatman says:

          Like everything else, Spore does this to a small extent. Your upgrades are partially random and partially based on other upgrades. So if you keep upgrading aggression, you’ll find more aggressive stuff. It’s not refined, but not much in Spore is.

      • Johnny Go-Time says:

        I think everyone who was let down by the lack of Evolution-based fun in Spore will enjoy this project:
        link to

        Indie game dev who seems to know a lot about everything – the devblog articles are fascinating & the project is fairly far along.

    • LionsPhil says:

      (I got overexcited with links and made the goddamn comment system eat it. Gah.)

      I quite like the linked Flunking Spore article, and the (stupidly tiny) emedded video.

      “And once you’re satisified that your species has been intelligently designed…”—ouch.

      The viking ship that Soren links is cool, too, even if I think Spore’s animation was always a bit overhyped—it’s generated a creature which just levitates around doing its precanned motions.

  2. Anthile says:

    Also on EG: My life as a Pokémon trafficker by Rich Stanton.

  3. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Wow I did not care for that Kill Screen article at all. The author seemed to be really struggling to try and find a deep meaning or something regarding a fun internet time waster and settled on sneering at everyone else who likes it while assuring the reader how much he “gets” it. Everything else I’ve read about Salty Bet communicates a much more sincere enjoyment of it.

    • pepperfez says:

      I think his main mistake was reading the stream chat, which as everyone should know is always Youtube-comment-caliber filth. But, “The community is marked with feigned idiocy and vitriol, the antithesis of communities that exist off-line, except maybe in West Virginia” is a pretty gross and stupid thing to say.

  4. SuicideKing says:

    H.A.W.X 1 and 2 were terrible, just saying.

  5. MrFred says:

    On the subject of Tom Clancy, whilst I would never want to speak ill of the dead, I’m surprised that RPS hasn’t noted that he was also a life-long, extremely influential Republican (and thus that his legacy is not Entirely awesome – especially as far as support for women and gays goes. Though I don’t know what his personal stance on these issues was, the party he supported and funded is notoriously extreme regarding them). For a website that is concerned with gender issues almost to the point of controversy it’s a surprising omission. The rights of women and homosexuals matter outside of the gaming community as well.

    • Poita says:

      @MrFred. So what’s your point? Only people of your political and social persuasions deserve to have their work appreciated at the time of their death?

      As for Spore. I did find all the pre release fawning over Will to be irritating. It was at Segway or Prometheus proportions.

      • Bull0 says:

        I was rather baffled by this too. Some games were made about his fiction but by the by, he also had politics, let’s judge him on those instead of on the games because that’s a good idea

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        “Only people of your political and social persuasions deserve to have their work appreciated at the time of their death?”

        Can we only appreciate people by talking about uncontroversial things? If you can’t be honest about someone once they’re dead, when can you be? Mr. Fred didn’t seem to be calling for a hateful screed, just noting a possible omission.

        • Poita says:

          Fred is being hypocritical as it would not be ‘noted’ upon the death of a left wing creator that he was a ‘lifelong democrat’ and had controversial views (to the other half). Fred is insisting that there be an ‘assumption’ that there is something wrong with one political view but not another by insisting that it be ‘noted’ that he was on the right but the same would not be expected if a person was on the left.

      • HadToLogin says:

        So, RPS is back to PAX, as they will not judge them for all that gender-stuff?

    • cpt_freakout says:

      I know he founded the studio that brought us the first Rainbow Six, but did he really have any considerable input in the rest of the Clancy games? I mean, enough as to be speaking of his legacy when it’s really just his themes spun into some really good games (and I say that in terms of mechanics, because even if I’ve played all Splinter Cells and love almost every one, I can’t even remember what the whole damn story was about) by people who definitely are not him. Sure, his novels sold extremely well, but I think many of these tribute-sort-of pieces erroneously conflate success with quality; I think his literary legacy is deserving of being completely forgotten in due time, while the games should not be, if only because they introduced some great mechanics and some great devs to the world.

      • Curry the Great says:

        I don’t know much about the guy, other than that he had to do something with rainbow six games. I remember that Ubisoft at one point bought the rights for a million or a couple from him to stick his name on whatever game they chose. He didn’t have anything to do with those games. That devalued his name completely for me.

        • WrenBoy says:

          Heh, if that devalued his name for you try reading one of his books.

          • Arglebargle says:

            He was terrible at writing characters. The military equipment often had far more personality than his characters.

          • Curry the Great says:

            Oh yeah, I was thinking about him in the context of games. Never read a Clancy book.

    • Shieldmaiden says:

      In this case, it’s an article being highlighted in a weekly round-up. I’m sure if someone wrote an interesting article about Tom Clancy’s political views that were relevant to gaming, it’d end up in the Sunday papers.

    • Vinraith says:

      It’s funny, because while I’m well aware that Clancy held some unpleasant political views, the games themselves were somewhat progressive. In particular, Rainbow Six was among the first military shooters I saw with talented women in lead combat roles. In fact, the games only became typically troglodytic after Clancy no longer had any influence over them.

      • FluffyHyena says:

        Exactly, Rainbow 6 is the first game I remember where you could chose not only male or female characters, but also Asian, African, European, etc. While avoiding clichés and prejudices.

      • bill says:

        I think many of the R6 characters came from the book.
        I have no idea about his political/social views, but from the 2/3 of his books that I’ve read he seemed reasonably open to other races/sexes. Of course, it was all war-porn, so it inevitably ended up with most of the characters being American White Males. But he did mix it up a bit.

    • derbefrier says:

      you do realize what you just did dont you. You admitted to not knowing his political views than in the same sentence told us he hatesd women and gays just because hes a Republican. This ladies and gentlemen is a testament to how well the liberal propagandamachine runs. Proof? we dont need no proof in the liberal party we just make it up as we go along!!! you fucking jackasses. IF you gonna speak ill of someone at least have the decency to find out if its true or not. put the goddamn koolaid down for a minute and realize the liberal generalization that all republicans are women hating queer bashers is just as ridiculous as saying all liberals are hardcore Marxist communists.

      with that said a simple Google search reveals Clancy has said some crazy stuff(as famous people generally do) but I could find not anything that would suggest he has the views you ascribed to him. so basically you need to shut up

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        He dedicated one of his books to Ronald Reagan, America’s Thatcher. That’s not exactly subtle.

        • Ninja Foodstuff says:

          I consider myself very liberal, but I have a lot of time for Mrs Thatcher. People have complicated political opinions

          • LionsPhil says:

            Yeah, Thatcher had some very agreeable ideals:

            I came to office with one deliberate intent: to change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society — from a give-it-to-me, to a do-it-yourself nation. A get-up-and-go, instead of a sit-back-and-wait-for-it Britain.

            Big on personal empowerment. As usual that conflicts with societal compassion towards the struggling, but that’s a mile away from the hate-fuelled extreme of American Republicans.

          • PopeRatzo says:

            You have time for Margaret Thatcher, who famously referred to Nelson Mandela as a “terrorist”?

            I hope you don’t too much time for her, because she was an evil old bitch, who had nothing but bad intent for you.

          • Nick says:

            Uh, he *was* a terrorist.

          • SuicideKing says:


      • agreed says:

        I wouldn’t characterize Republicans voters as women hating queer bashers but the candidates they elect to office are women hating queer bashers.

      • dE says:

        From an outsider perspective, the whole american “Propaganda Machine” Accusations flying left and right, with funny amounts of Drama Queen on top, are some of the most hilariously over the top comedy sketches to date.

        • The Random One says:

          Especially since, if your country’s political system is a tad more sensible, it amounts to a right-wing party calling out another right-wing party for not being right-wing enough/being too right-wing.

        • PopeRatzo says:

          I know, I wish US politics were more civil and low-keyed like those in the UK, where politics is polite and the media is insightful and honest and everybody looks out for the little guy.

      • bill says:

        You are right to criticise the original post. It’s remarkably dumb to assign racist/homophobic views to someone just because they happen to be a republican. (since that’s basically half the country).

        But then you did exactly the same thing and assumed that he was being dumb because he was a liberal. Or due to some form of exclusively liberal propaganda machine.

        Unfortunately, both sides seem to be very dismissive of the other side, and hold extremely stereotypical views of those who support the opposing side. But I wouldn’t say the liberal side was any worse than the republican side.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Clancy, despite his conservative views, could say some interesting things at times. Things like “don’t forget whenever you fire a bullet someone makes money.”

      I didn’t read him beyond his earliest novels, but for all their technospeak and military-fetishism, I don’t remember them glorifying war. Nor having any particularly negative portrayal of women, regardless of your own desire to witchhunt over it.

      Worse for you, you admit you don’t actually know his views.

      • FluffyHyena says:

        I read his novels until The Sum of All Fears. From what I remember of them, women in these novels where mostly noticeable for being out of the picture. Apart from one female lead character in the Sum of All Fears, who was so hysterical calling it a cliché would be an euphemism.

    • acheron says:

      …this might be the worst comment I’ve ever read at RPS, and that’s saying a lot.

  6. Cross says:

    I was surprised not to see this article in the papers:
    link to

    Both because it has massive implications for Valve’s chances with the Steam Machines, and because YAY! More people game on PCs than consoles, and consoles are the ones dying now!(!!)

    Give it a read.

    • nebnebben says:

      I don’t think anything dying is a good thing….

      • aldo_14 says:

        Well, Hitler dying was probably a pretty good thing. So, horses for courses and all that.

        • jalf says:

          Why, exactly? It’s not like he was in a position to continue the war at the point when he was killed. Would we all have been worse off if the war had ended without him dying? It’s good that he was removed from power and all. Him actually dying seems less significant.

          • WrenBoy says:

            Well said.

          • The Random One says:

            But Nazism dying was a pretty good thing, and since it died like consoles might, that is, figuratively, that seems like a more apt comparison?

            Also I now imagine an old Hitler spending his last days after his prison sentence is complete in a small Austrian village, writing awful books and painting surprisingly good paintings. A BBC reporter interviews him and he praises the Beatles.

          • j3w3l says:

            actually I read somewhere a long time ago that I can’t remember now that if he had died earlier the war may have gone further in favour of the Germans. His first commander was a much better strategist and not prone to the flights of fancy and delusions like Hitler was from time to time.

      • ScottTFrazer says:

        Everything NOT dying, on the other hand, would be an incredibly BAD thing.

        So there’s got to be a balance.

    • RobF says:

      I don’t know what it is about the videogame crash that brings out the almighty stupid but the chances of replicating those circumstances given what we have now are pretty slim. If we assume that the report is right (it’s not but let’s ride this one out a mo…) that it was the super saturation of consoles that went towards a crash, the amount of consoles available in 1983 versus the amount of consoles available now is massively out of whack. We’ve got, what? 3 or 4 now? Amazing. How many in 1983? I ran out of fingers. When people talk about saturation in relation to the crash of 83, they don’t mean “everyone had one” they meant “there were bloody loads of these different models everywhere you looked”. Wonky parallel.

      But that wasn’t the case anyway, that was a minor data point. Far more profound was the returning of stock in large amounts causing companies to buckle, the mass clearout of stock when it couldn’t be sent back or sold and a glut of crap games to boot. All amidst a background of other things going on.

      It’s all these things coming together at the same time that caused the crash and even then, and I don’t know why this bit keeps getting forgotten given it’s important, it was localised to NA. The rest of the world toddled about its business absolutely fine, thanking you. Given we’re now hyper-global in reach, the chances of that happening again are pretty much slim to none whatsoever.

      So reproducing just one of these scenarios (the other popular one that people like to pull out is “well, there’s lots of crap games now so…”) will not reproduce the rest of the things that brought the crash to bear regardless.

      There’s a good chance there will be a reduction of the console audience this generation but at the moment, as far as launches go, all life signs are good for the big two. There’s a guy in the comments bringing up some NPD stuff which discusses amount of people taking the plunge at launch but y’know, we’re working to 5 or more year lifecycles now and no-one is going to expect consoles to carry their entire audience across in the first year or so, not when the existing gen is still good enough. If pre-order numbers are anything to go by, people are making the leap on a fairly unprecedented scale.

      There’s a lot of talk about how consoles are under threat and all that jazz but generally, they’re doing fairly fine and some people with vested interests (*cough* F2P advocates etc… *cough*) like to talk like they’re yesterdays news because they can’t run riot all over them. That message hasn’t really reached the public! People seem preeettty happy with the things. The developer side is still being fleshed out and fought over, all of the big 3 made some pretty large mistakes there and we’re seeing a lot of course corrections starting to trickle through to make each one more dev friendly. Some, naturally, are friendlier than others.

      Of course, there’s still time for things to go terrifically tits for one or more parties but you can pretty much guarantee it’ll bear no relation to the great misunderstood by idiots crash of 83.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        it was localised to NA. The rest of the world toddled about its business absolutely fine, thanking you.

        This irritates me more than it should.
        The UK (and probably the rest of Europe) didn’t care either way, we had crazy inventors like Clive Sinclair, egotistical businessmen like Alan Sugar and the geniuses at Commodore creating magical 8-bit machines for us to learn how to write our own games in our own bedrooms.
        Japan didn’t care either. Nintendo & Sega emerged stronger from the crash because it wiped a load of what may have been turned out to be competition off the map & allowed them to make some cheap acquisitions along the way.

  7. Michael Fogg says:

    Great points about combat situation design on the basis of FEAR.

    A game which realises them beatifully is Far Cry 3 (the outposts are mini arenas). A game that screws it up is, sadly, GTA V (mostly closed corridor popamole).

  8. Yosharian says:

    Fucking Spore. That game was shit! It’s difficult to make 5 games in one? No shit! Anyone would have known that! That game was hyped to the balls and it was absolute crap.

    • Smion says:

      I mean, just like, what the fucking shit were they thinking? What a bunch of shitty-ass dumb motherfuckers! No wonder they cocked that shit up and turned it into a steaming pile of bullcrap. Jesus shit-fucking Christ!

      I think I kind of lost track of where I was going with this…

      • Bull0 says:

        Motherfucking shitty fucking people with their shitty fucking game that they tried to make that wasn’t as good as this guy thinks it should’ve been, seriously, no shit, it fucking sucked fucking balls fuck fuck

        …I quite liked Spore but I was able to appreciate it in spite of the hype. People who believed it would basically be Sim Universe were living in a dreamworld. As it stood, it was a neat, original game, albeit with some big flaws (the tribe and civ sections were for me the weakest)

      • Yosharian says:

        Yeah.. shit!

    • Shuck says:

      “It’s difficult to make 5 games in one? No shit!”
      That’s not as obvious as you’d think, especially since you could view many successful games as collections of mini-games (and the designers did, in fact, think of them that way when making them). How those mini-games hang together, what they hang off of, etc. make a big difference, and that can be fairly subtle.

    • The Random One says:

      Go home, James Rolfe, you’re drunk.

  9. Henson says:

    I’ve always thought that Final Fantasy 9 had one of the best QTEs, in the swordfighting. You got scored based on how quickly you pressed the buttons, but were not given a Game Over for taking too long. It was challenging, yet could be retried over and over to improve your score. Not to mention that swordfighting to that awesome music was just plain fun.

    The article mentioned Witcher 2, and while I don’t understand why they went for QTEs instead of a modified combat section for the fist fighting (like, I dunno, the first game did), I wonder if they would have worked if only the game (a) required you to respond quicker, and/or (b) required more complex input. It could afford to be challenging because it is repeatable and success not required.

    • GameCat says:

      That swordfight was just part of a in game theatre play and it was so good that audience demanded encore so you could repeat it.
      BTW, I never couldn’t make that bitch Queen Brahne be impressed with my swordfight. :x

  10. kyrieee says:

    That killscreen piece was great. I don’t dare open Salty Bet again though, I was trapped there for over a week. I didn’t know I had a gambling problem but apparently I do.

    • terry says:

      You think? Even for Killscreen that article was astoundingly low on insight.

      • kyrieee says:

        Yeah it was mostly descriptive but I enjoyed the description.

        • terry says:

          He could’ve tried interviewing Salty. It’s not hard to. The article kinda smacked of “I watched this for an afternoon while trying desperately to think of something to write about”.

        • FluffyHyena says:

          It felt like he noticed this game is a social phenomenon, tried a bit to explain why; but then, not being able to put his finger on it, just gave up.

  11. BooleanBob says:

    Is it too early? I’m not sure. What does Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon? Sorry.

  12. PikaBot says:

    The QTE article seems to define QTE quite strangely; I think most of us would call Just Cause 2’s console hacking a simple minigame, and we would likewise recognize GTA San Andreas’ wretched dancing and low rider sequences as poorly realized rhythm games (and also not entirely optional, since you have to do each of them at least once).

    They’re right that Tomb Raider’s QTEs are a sin before god, though. I’m not even usually that down on QTEs but my god, those were the pits.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I didn’t find JC2’s QTEs that bad, actually, pretty much because it does indeed use them as minigames. When they’re about to happen, it’s because you did something, so you can always predict them and get ready for the little game of Simon-says on the number keys. They make certain actions that wouldn’t fit well under normal controls (wrestling for vehicle controls, hacking) not auto-succeed while also not being so heavy a minigame as to break the flow (hell, I’ve died—hilariously—before now because the boat I was fighting over the controls for kept speeding along, straight into a cliff). Fun other, lesser games might deprive you of by having the character do it with just a timed press of X is mostly done within the normal flow of game controls, like the sequence of jumps in the finale. Honestly, if I had to sum up what JC2 gets right, it’s letting you do all the cool things Rico does, not your X button.

    • Stardreamer says:

      Just Cause 2’s QTE minigames were brilliant, in the same way that Deus Ex’s numeric door pads were great. Both asked you to inhabit your character just a tiny bit more closely, as your fingers exactly mirror what was begin asked of the on-screen character. Deus Ex even styled its keypads after the number pad on just about every keyboard since the birth of Christ. Utter genius. They were always a bit tense in JC2 which made them fun to play, especially if you got them right and were treated to the biggest explosion in the game – the pipelines going up like the End of the World!

    • Freud says:

      I’m not a fan of QTEs normally, but it absolutely drives me nuts when games with a functioning combat system decides to use QTEs in boss fights.

      Yes, I’m looking at you Far Cry 3. What the hell were you thinking?

  13. Frank says:

    The Red Cross is working with the Arma devs and others on making their realistic FPS games more humane and less arcadey:

    “The idea of an action adventure that put the player into a series of defining humanitarian situations allowing the story to spin-off in the player’s moral direction is interesting – but it’s hugely unlikely in the action cinema world of the modern shooter.” … nonetheless they’re attempting it.

    link to

    • LTK says:

      Sensationalist reporting, ho!

      All you need to know about that is what the ICRC themselves have to say about it:

      link to

      • Sheng-ji says:

        What I want to know is why the Red Cross are interested in this.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for educating people who want to learn about something and the things suggested sound really quite interesting (in the hands of a talented dev team) but I don’t see what the red cross are hoping to achieve? The information is already freely available to those who wish to learn and those who don’t – well, you can lead a horse to water etc. – I don’t think making games better is high on the red cross’ list of priorities – surely they don’t believe this could influence real life soldiers to behave differently, when 50 or more well regarded studies conclude the exact opposite.

        • LionsPhil says:

          I assume it is for us, the non-military personell with our weird, armchair impression of war based on a mixture of (delete as appropriate) “realistic” military shooters like Call of Battlefied / “realistic” military shooters like ARMA / “realistic” military shooters like Spec Ops: The Line / that one time you got a LUDICROUS KILL in UT / playing C&C / playing a “serious” RTS like Ground Control / playing something filled with hexes and Tim Stone’s dreams / war films / tank fetishism / war documentaries / war dramamentaries / the military in monster movies / Tom Clancy novels / liberal guilt / ’60s anti-war pop lyrics / tanks tanks tanks / skimming the Wikipedia article about War crimes / idle drunk boasting about how many terrorists you’d kill if they invaded / watching clips of BigDog trotting about / TAAAAANKS / random stuff you just made up because it sounded cool.

          Few people are stupid enough to take any of those as gospel, but that kind of cultural impression of something just stews and colours your worldview (particularly your taste for war when the politicians start a-stirring), and presumably the ICRC would rather that colouring better represented their work and the ethical/humanitarian complexities of mass professional state-sanctioned killing beyond “fuck yeah”.

      • Frank says:

        Yeah, better link there. Looking back at the Guardian piece, they’re just putting words in the ICRC’s mouth half the time.

        One thing that bothers me: it seems that the ICRC wants to play both sides.

        In your link, they talk about “opportunities” and “exploring” their proposal, which to gamers who despise modern realistic FPSs (like me), sounds like it couldn’t make them worse.

        On the other hand, they also talk about making “sure the law of armed conflict features”, which does sound like giving their issue precedence over good or interesting game design.

  14. Baines says:

    My main issue with Salty Bet is that it showcases the worst of MUGEN design. Every battle that I’ve seen there has been horribly one-sided because the characters are so extremely unbalanced.

    MUGEN development was always a messy Wild West, with people ignoring the the suggested character design guidelines at will. Even the better character makers would inflate stats for “bosses.” Others would just make their dream characters who had everything and the kitchen sink. Some just wanted to make their characters stronger than every other character, because their characters were “the best”. And then you had some DBZ makers who made their characters on a completely different scale, because they wanted their DBZ characters to completely crush anyone that wasn’t at a DBZ-level of strength.

    That didn’t even get into the inherent imbalance between the different game engines/designs that people were copying.

    And Salty Bets reflects the worst of that.

  15. iridescence says:

    They should have made a separate Spore game for each phase of evolution/development. Maybe then it would have turned out as something other than a mentally challenged mess. Trying to mush it all together in one game was way too stupidly ambitious.

  16. Jody Macgregor says:

    Part two of the Shivering Isles game diary is up now for your enjoyment: link to

  17. Jupiah says:

    Man I loved the Shivering Isles. The best part was the moment you really thought about all the things Sheogorath was ordering you to do while as you work through the main quest and you realize that your character was becoming just as insane as the rest of the loons populating that dimension, because only a complete sociopathic lunatic would willingly do those things and want to become Sheogorath’s champion. I mean, one of the mandatory quests requires you to lure some random adventurers into a trap filled dungeon and torture them until they go mad!