The Sunday Papers

Next the Chaos Retrospective piece, probably, except not.

Sundays are for heroic dwarfs entering the gold-filled lair of the sleeping malevolent dragon of games journalism, and awaking it, saying it’s the 300th anniversary of the Sunday Papers, and whether it would deign to rise up one last time and scour the earth with its fiery prose and/or compiling a list of the finest recent writing (mostly) about games. And the Dragon did rise up, and its wings blotted out the sun, and it said “Okay – as long as I can get it done before I finally get around to going to see the Hobbit this afternoon.” And the Dwarfs said “Sure.” And the Dragon said “Great, let’s do that then.”

Does anyone remember how the “Failed” gag “worked”? It’s kinda foggy.


  1. Stardreamer says:

    Sundays are for trying to read RPS’ Sunday Papers without missing Keiron Gillen’s distinctive brand of wordsmithery, musical evangelism and faintly disconcerting non-obsession with the admittedly female Ms Leigh Alexander.

    …failed. :)

    • Premium User Badge

      Gassalasca says:

      Welcome back, Kieron, if only for one rainy afternoon.

    • welverin says:

      Read some of his comics, they’re pretty good.

      I’ve particularly like Uber.

    • sonofsanta says:

      And for wondering, upon spying that hallowed byline ‘neath headline, why we didn’t get a KG Advent Wrap-up this year. Tell us what to play, KG! WE ARE LOST WITHOUT YOUR PASSIONATE POP-CULTURE DISMANTLING OF ALL THINGS

  2. Mo says:

    Before all the “who is this chap” wisecracks get here, let me just say it’s nice to have you back, even if it’s just for a single post. Do come by more often though, yes?

  3. Will Tomas says:

    Welcome back, Kieron, do pop by more often! Always lovely to see you.

  4. Godwhacker says:

    Happy 5.769230769230769th anniversary, everybody!

  5. The_B says:


  6. Dog Pants says:

    I never thought of Crapshoot as depressing, mainly because most of the games Richard writes about were crap and I didn’t play them at the time. For me it’s more of a distillation of the enjoyment we’ve all had reading good reviews of bad games (even though not all are bad). Either way, Die By The Sword was the most enjoyable Crapshoot I’ve read for a while.

    • Oozo says:

      Indeed, it’s an enjoyable read… and it’s not a bad game by far. While it lends itself to wild flailing around — especially when played with the mouse or the a joystick –, you actually could be fairly accurate when playing with the number block of the keyboard.

      It was one of the most popular LAN games for a few friends and me back in the day, and after a while, we started having contests in how many orcs you could decapitate in a given time. It was much more skill-based than depending on randomness… I would even say that it was better than much of the motion control that came after it, even if it does not look the part. (Then again, I haven’t played it for a lot of years, so maybe I’m wrong.)

      PS It was worlds better than the “Clang” demo, as well… or at least less unintuitive.

    • DrMcCoy says:

      What I find more depressing about Crapshoot is how the PC Gamer website is so completely broken and utterly unusable.

      I stopped reading Crapshoot when the RSS feed went bust. Now the generic RSS feed seems to be back, but I’m only interested in Crapshoot; I don’t want to wade through dozens of articles I don’t care about just to read a Crapshoot once a week.

      The search is also really bad. Searching for “Saturday Crapshoot” results in a randomly sorted mess, and the results don’t even include all Crapshoot articles. I have no idea how to get a list of articles I missed between where I stopped reading and now.

    • DrMcCoy says:

      But I did find it really funny when Crapshoot reviewed a game I RE’d for ScummVM: Geisha. Yes, that game is pretty horrible and I only added support for it in ScummVM to get it off my TODO list and because most of it was already working in the vanilla gob engine; the only thing missing were the arcade minigames.

      • InnerPartisan says:

        You are completely right, dear Pille, about about the regrettable brokenness of the PC Gamer site (I’m really glad that the UK podcast transformed into The Crate & Crowbar, btw) – but as for the crapshoot articles, you can find a comprehensive (albeit not searchable) index of them on Mr. Cobbett’s own webpresence/blog-thingy:
        link to

  7. Premium User Badge

    Gassalasca says:

    Oh dear, in Brice’s article, in the very first paragraph, there are “it’s presence” and “how it effects me”,

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Mattie Brice is a fairly terrible writer with nothing interesting to say and little understanding of the issues other people are talking about. She seems like a perfectly nice person and everything, she’s just intensely uninteresting when she gets anywhere near a discussion of game design.

      • ceriphim says:

        After seeing both of your comments, I decided it couldn’t be that bad and went to read it.

        It was that bad. I would go so far as to say, genuinely and with no malice, that I found it aggressively unreadable.

      • The Random One says:

        The reason there are a lot of “oh you’re just being transphobic” responses is because there are a lot of people like you, who pretty much say “oh not to be transphobic but”, identify them as part of a ‘scene’ to try and box their criticism away, and imply they only got famous because they’re trans* or whatever.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        The people in that ‘scene’ (whatever that is) don’t know/care much about the ‘design’ part of game design.

  8. DrMcCoy says:

    So, where can I get a plain old epub of that Breathing Machine book? I just see device-bundled (which I don’t have) crap or “desktop readers” (proprietary binary blobs, and not on GNU/Linux). Google Play lists “reading using a web browser” (which is quite stupid), but even if I wanted to go this route, Google Play has no “Buy” button for me there where other books show it, just “Add to Wishlist” and the book doesn’t appear when I explicitly search for it; probably some region-locking shit.

    • Premium User Badge

      Hodge says:

      Was about to say the exact thing. I can’t get the purchase link to show up on Google Play either and I’m reluctant to buy it from the others because the DRM sounds like it won’t play nice with my devices.

      It’s frustrating because I really, really want to read it (I’ve even got a short weekender holiday coming up which I was hoping to save it for). So yeah, my kingdom for an epub.

      • Lorewin says:

        Buy it from Amazon, or really any other source. Amazon’s easy as you can download it into their Kindle for PC app, other vendors will have similar.

        Install the free and open source Calibre (, have a quick look for DRM plugin for Calibre, import your downloaded Kindle book and convert into epub. (Both apps will run under Wine if you swing that way).

        It is admittedly a hassle to install two programs to achieve this the first time, but on the plus side gives you unfettered access to any other books you might want to buy from Amazon in the future.

        Calibre’s also a good ebook library manger too.

        • dE says:

          Calibre is pretty much a must when dealing with E-Books of any sort.
          I’ve had a cheap E-Book Reader for the longest time and little did I know that it had mythical functions that are in some magical cloud kingdom in comparison to E-Book Software on the Tablet. Text-Reflow? Sure we’ve got that! Says the Review. You can activate Text-Reflow (kinda only per page but, we ain’t mentioning that of course). Then deactivate it again, switch pages, activate it again and pray to god you find the place you stopped reading at. Who the fuck thought that to be a good idea for crying out loud?
          I was one step short of just giving up on it, but Calibre saved the day. That and Marvin.

  9. SuicideKing says:

    He has returned to Castle Shotgun! On this blessed day of the Sun! Open the gates I say!

  10. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    Who is this Karen Gillen?
    Christ, that joke stopped being funny a long time ago.
    Always a pleasure, Kieron, good show!

    (Don’t worry, Graham, you are bloody marvelous aswell.)

  11. Alexander says:

    Hey, Kieron, what’s up?

  12. Lambchops says:


    • Gap Gen says:

      In case that was a genuine question, the intro paragraph would mention avoiding linking to whatever the music was at the end, then linking to the music, then writing “Failed”.

      If not, then… failed?

  13. Lambchops says:

    That article on legal highs was very well written and researched and while not perhaps containing many new insights is well worth a read.

    Always struggle to read those articles without a veneer of anger. It’s all very well people developing new compounds and trying them out themselves; it’s incredibly stupid/brave but ultimately they are only putting themselves at risk (though the argument could be made that by publishing their results they may be putting others at risk, though I’m sure that the academics mentioned in the article are up front about the risks of the compounds they produce and so I don’t think that argument is entirely fair).

    However, those trying to make a profit out of it by selling untested compounds for profit – they are just highly immoral people and deserve to end up locked up for putting people’s lives at risk to earn a quick buck. They are no better than the likes of that guy who got jailed for selling fake explosive detectors.

    If I was going to be taking psychoactive drugs I’d stick to the more well established ones, illegal or not, as at least the risks are known. Personally I don’t though, purely because I don’t think I’d ever be able to be sure that I was getting exactly what I was supposed to be getting; I’d want Walter White style quality control guaranteed!

    • InnerPartisan says:

      While you’re not wrong that the people peddling this stuff are of, shall we say, questionable moral character – I think there’s an argument to be made that, as always, the prime culprit is the War On (Some People Who Use) Drugs.
      Prohibition – in addition to causing far more human suffering and societal costs than the drugs it, ostensibly, protects society from itself – is, in fact, directly responsible for the emergence of both so-called “designer drugs” and the really nasty stuff. With legal, clean and regulated amphetamines available, nobody would even dream of taking crap like crystal meth. The same goes for vile shit like crack/freebase (-> cocaine) or that flesh-eating stuff of horrors from Russia, krokodil (-> Heroin).

      While support for the legalization of “soft drugs” like cannabis is, thankfully, almost mainstream by now among lefty/liberal types (amongst whom I count myself, btw – I’m most definitely not a Libertarian), advocacy for the legalization of all drugs still earns me gasps and horrified looks even in those circles. But I really, really, do think that legalization, regulation and taxation is the best, most humane way to deal with the “drug problem”. Because it’s not really a problem, but a basic human desire.

      Uhm. Sorry for the ranting. On to computer games, again :D

      • Lambchops says:

        I’m certainly not in disagreement with you there, though deciding where the line is to be drawn is a difficult task, especially given how different people’s consumption habits (and thus their potential impact) can be. Certainly no easy answers; though there’s some fairly obvious candidates for anti-drug laws being relaxed.

      • joa says:

        You don’t think something that is a “basic human desire” can still be a problem?
        Anger is a pretty basic human emotion – but we still make it illegal to assault folk, you know?

        Someone smoking some pot is one thing, but wasting your life away with an addiction is something different. And if we can make the latter more difficult for people to do – that’s a good thing.

        • Reefpirate says:

          This is where I barge in and say why the hell do you care if someone is ‘wasting their life away’ on a harder drug? If the consequences of using the drug regularly are so disastrous (which is true in some cases) then why bother being more punitive to those people?

          “This drug is horrible, it will ruin your life if you take it… So therefore if I catch you taking it I’m going to ruin your life way way more in the bowels of the criminal justice system’ seems to me to be a very malicious way to use state power against victims of drug abuse.

          EDIT: Also, the difference between anger turning into assault and addictive personalities getting hooked on drugs is that the angry violent person will be directly interfering in someone else’s life whereas the drug addict is only hurting himself. This is a pretty huge distinction if you ask me.

          • joa says:

            Drug addicts don’t only hurt themselves though – they hurt everyone around there. What about the addict who cannot support his wife and children? What about the addicted single mother who cannot raise her children properly? There are serious effects. Your view that they only hurt themselves is only true of people with literally no ties to anyone else — which is not the real world.

            The point of the illegality of hard drugs is not to punish but to discourage people from using them, and in the case that they do, it is to rehabilitate them. The people who are truly punished by anti-drug laws are the dealers, those who make money providing others with a means to mess up their lives.

          • Reefpirate says:

            Oh yes, the dealers are really suffering under this regime aren’t they? They’re making so many billions of dollars they can’t even count it!

            If a drug addict is neglecting his children or not paying spousal support then how about you prosecute them the same way you prosecute non-drug addicts? You don’t need to be a drug addict to be a dead beat, and there’s no lack of ways to punish someone who does harm to their family.

            This idea that it’s a deterrent in light of the decades of data we now have is borderline dishonest. Drug abuse tends to go down in jurisdictions where drug abuse isn’t criminalized and consumption rates of harder drugs haven’t gone down in jurisdictions where it is highly criminalized.

            The deterrent argument, in my opinion, is one of the weakest arguments in favor of a multi-billion dollar program that infringes on everyone’s personal liberties, wastes scarce law enforcement resources and achieves absolutely nothing but a more criminalized society.

          • malkav11 says:

            People who abuse alcohol can be just as detrimental to those around them (I suspect it actually actively contributes to more abuse than many “hard” drugs but that’s purely conjecture on my part) and themselves but alcohol isn’t illegal and people who abuse it under most circumstances are not imprisoned or charged with crimes for doing so (the main exception being driving while drunk, but Driving Under the Influence counts any kind of intoxication and frankly isn’t enforced as strictly as it ought to be given how dangerous it is).

            The simple fact is – the criminalization approach has not stopped or even substantially reduced the drug trade or the damage drugs do to people’s lives. It is empowering and abetting criminal enterprise, filling our prisons (and putting people in prison is a great way to dramatically lower their ability to find honest work while hooking them up with a network of people who know how to make a dishonest living), costing us enormous sums of money, and doing little to nothing to help people with their problems. It’s time to try a different approach.

      • MarkB says:

        I have to disagree with the idea that stuff like Crystal Meth/Crack/Krokdil wouldn’t be used if all drugs were legal. People don’t do crack because cocaine is illegal, people do it because it’s cheaper than cocaine. Prohibition does contribute to the inflation of drug prices, but crack would still be cheaper than cocaine if both were legal so there would still be a market for it.

  14. Moraven says:

    The Breaking Madden had me laughing all the way through.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Worth pointing out that if you use Twitter, Beeftank’s feed is worth following (@BEEFT4NK).

    • Wahngrok says:

      The hillarious part of the Mom quarterback is that in order to get on the roster you had to give at least a dollar to a charity of your own choice. Jon Boise’s mom entered and got “lucky” in the random draw (as did I, yay). It turned out to be quite prophetical and I am happy to have been clobbered by the Seahawk offense. :)

  15. stkaye says:

    Ah, yes, how I loved Severance: Blade of Darkness. Enormous fun, and some genuinely great level design. A little-recognised great. I remember watching the first few Lord of the Rings movies and running home to reinstall, because the combat had that very satisfying, visceral feel to it. Too hard to complete for this rubbish gamer though.

  16. welverin says:

    Since you brought up colonial football twice, let me add this article from Polygon on a former NFL player who became a designer at EA.

    It’s about the mans transition from player to game designer so ignorance of brand of football shouldn’t impact anyone’s enjoyment of the article.

  17. drewski says:

    I knew there was a reason I liked football.

  18. RiffRaff says:

    I appreciate that american football is very in depth and tactical and what not, but by fuck is it boring. And its boring not because its an rpg, its boring because its watching other people play an rpg. A season of american football is like sitting down to watch a 90 hour lets play of wizardry 8, where the player covers part of the screen for fear of giving away their tactics, and every five minutes they are interrupted by cheerleaders or truck and beer commercials.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Rugby union is (more or less) American football without the constant ad breaks and the ridiculous equipment. It’s fairly enjoyable.

      So watch the Six Nations instead. It’s going on right now.

      • welverin says:

        Or you could watch American football the way I do: record it and fast forward through all of the ads and breaks between plays. Much, much faster and more enjoyable when you skip all of the boring bits.

        I’ve been watching it for most of my life and I could never sit through a game live again, I just can’t tolerate any of the down time. Of course, it’s how I watch everything now.

  19. Radiant says:

    Jesus christ; London’s not that bad.

    • Radiant says:

      Ok yes, it is a city that actively tells you that, no, you are not special and it does not want you.
      But it’s not your mum.

      It’s a city; where there are a million people who can do what you do but better.
      To live in London you have to be /exceptional/ in what you do.

      Maybe that’s why it wasn’t that bad the second time around.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Having moved from a city where I was the only person doing what I do to one where there are other people doing it better, I kinda prefer the latter. I get that for something creative like game design, it can be frustrating to be in someone else’s shadow, but the great thing about indie games is that there’s always a small niche you can crawl up into and make your own.

  20. Llewyn says:

    So we have Thorin Rossignol, Bombur Walker, Dwalin Meer, Oin Smith and Gloin Smith, Ori Pearson and Kili Grayson. Quite a delegation to see the dragon!

  21. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    Speaking of American Football games it always cracked me up when the ambulance came on in Madden ’92 and ran everyone over:
    link to
    Yes, I have been waiting for any excuse to post that.

    Great music too.

  22. Bent Wooden Spoon says:

    Fuck me. It’s back…


  23. strangeloup says:

    I feel like I am wallowing in needlessly obscure Japanese games a bit too much when I saw ZZT and immediately assumed it was about Zettai Zetsumei Toshi.

    I suspect that was just me.

    Edit for potential usefulness: If folks are looking for the UK kindle version of Alexander’s book, you can find it here for about three quid. One of the Amazon links on her site is broken, and the other one goes to the US site.

  24. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    I though this column is supposed to feature new writing? The Kotaku Football review is at least a year old (though it is very good).

  25. drvoke says:

    That ZZT story got me thinking about those halcyon days of the mid 90s… getting a copy of Corncob 3D by mail with a spiral bound manual and a floppy disk… Or how i got my first copy of Wolfenstein 3d, shareware version, by sending the sysop of a local BBS $2 and they mailed me a disk with wolfenstein and some other shareware games because my modem was too slow to download them within the daily time limit… everything was so personal back then. *Nostalgia Sigh*

  26. JanusForbeare says:

    It’s the 300th anniversary of the Sunday Papers? How is that possible if RPS has only been around since 1873?

    • Gap Gen says:

      Having a bear around that stretches off into the cosmic horizon tends to do strange things to your space-time tensors.