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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for being brief.

  • Keith Stuart at the Guardian looks at the influence HR Giger had over videogames.
  • In turn, the Alien movies would go on to inspire a whole generation of game designers and artists. The first-person shooter Doom mixed demonic monsters with claustrophobic sci-fi environments, and Giger’s weird organic interior designs doubtless inspired the game’s miles of intestinal corridors and womb-like interiors. The influence was surely there too in Valve’s atmospheric Half-Life adventures, with their repulsively transmogrified humanoid creatures, and face hugger-like Head Crabs.

  • Simon Schreibt, whose in-depth examinations of videogame engines and rendering techniques I’ve linked below, turns his eye to windows. This one is all about the GIFs in tandem with the words.
  • Paul Dean spoke to Amplitude, the creators of Endless Space and now Endless Legend, about being at the forefront of early access games.
  • Games2Gether launched in May 2012, almost a year before Steam Early Access began, and may well have had some influence on its development: “It’s only after the final release of the game that we had the Valve guys come over to Paris and tell us ‘You know, I think you were the first people to do this,’” says creative director Romain de Waubert. “It was pretty cool.”

  • Polygon go big (because they don’t know any other way) on the people who make fan translations of Japanese games. This is a fascinating subculture of wonderfully dedicated people.
  • In June 2007, Erbrecht and two other project members abandoned their own failing translation to join the team of the “drama-free” Mandelin team. The project began to gather more steam, collecting another translator who had also begun yet another Mother 3 localization, as well as two more emulator experts and a programmer who created tools to integrate the language patch into the game. At this point in the project, Mandelin noted that team members tended to come and go fairly regularly, with the team retaining 20 members at its peak. Again, like Erbrecht’s team, working in the time between class and the job that nets you a paycheck was tiring, and not being paid for a project of this scope comes with unfortunate side effects including resentment and burnout.

  • Quintin is going to make you buy a boardgame. Over at Eurogamer, away he goes.
  • I want you to imagine poker. It’s not untrue to call poker a perfect game. It’s also not untrue to call it occasionally boring and exhausting, and to disapprove of its chapped mathematical underbelly.

    Now, imagine if poker was made for gamers. Imagine if it was wildly inventive, with a mean streak and a wicked sense of humour. Best of all, imagine if it was a different, surprising game every single time you sat down to play. Or don’t imagine, and pay £40 for this set of linen-finished cards, plastic UFOs that stack like poker chips and gorgeously illustrated aliens. Odds are, you’ll be very glad you did.

  • Leigh Alexander at Gamasutra writes about the guilt of not living up to expectations of a “passionate” gamer, by playing games you’ve played before or games which are considered casual:
  • I give keynotes, I do interviews, I write editorial in urgent support of design innovators. I play interesting games so I can write interesting articles about interesting people. But honestly, the game I’m spending the most time on is a sort of farm game where you connect wheat in a field to produce chickens and then you connect up the chickens to produce pigs. I back things on Kickstarter because I want them to exist, not because I necessarily am slavering to play them myself. My inbox fills up with codes for DLC packs that I “star” for later but never use.

  • Simon Parkin at the New Yorker writes about the last players of Meridian 59, one of the first MMOs.
  • The royal city of Barloque was once a bustling virtual place. Its streets were filled with a babble of voices: residents visiting Joguer’s Herbs and Roots store, tourists settling down for a tipple at the Browerstone Inn, griping criminals en route to the old jailhouse. Barloque is the capital of Meridian 59, the first computer game that allowed people from around the world to gather and quest together via the Internet. At the peak of its popularity, soon after the game’s release, in 1996, tens of thousands of players lived among its crudely rendered scenes, filled with pixelated trees, shifting lava, and tired mountains. They’d battle over resources, form and break alliances, loot and terrorize one another, and assume new identities for hours at a time. As with any place where humans gather, friendships and rivalries blossomed. Two players who met in Barloque got married: a relationship seeded in fantasy, consummated in reality.

  • Edge speak to the editors who oversee every Ubisoft game, providing feedback on art, writing, everything.
  • Serge Hascoet joined Ubisoft in 1987 as a designer and tester of sorts, working on Iron Lord and Skateball for the home computers of the day. Over his 27 years with the company, he has been a game designer and studio head, but today he shapes Ubisoft’s creative direction as its chief creative officer and head of the editorial team. It was Hascoet who insisted that cutscenes were a redundant method of storytelling in the early ’00s, Hascoet who mandated that every Ubisoft game should aim for 60fps, and Hascoet who is driving the company towards open worlds and systemic games as it transitions to a new generation of hardware. His contribution to games is immeasurable – not simply because of its enormity, but because he has sat for fewer than half-a-dozen interviews and is quick to direct the spotlight onto anyone else. He refuses to be photographed individually, and is only prepared to go on record for the sake of his staff.

    Music this week is any of the mixes from musicForProgramming(). It’s good from the start.

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    Graham Smith

    Editor-in-chief

    Graham is to blame for all this.

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