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The Sunday Papers

Featured post The funny pages.

Does it matter if you write some functioning code but don’t understand why it works the way it does? Sundays are for finding out, in between playing so much Floating Point that you dream about playing it in a Japanese tournament.

  • Jon Blyth, the funniest writer in videogame journalism, is no longer working in videogame journalism. He’s left his role as associate editor on OXM to go run a pub in Nottingham, which in many ways is the game journalist equivalent of being put out to stud. He’s typically apologetic:
  • I’m sorry to anyone who missed my gently coded warnings. When I said “we can’t wait to find out more,” at the end of a passionless regurgitation of a feature list, that was the closest thing I could professionally say to “I don’t even know what this game is”. The first time I heard someone say “we’ve really listened to our community”, I was impressed, and reported keenly on this consumer-orientated and responsive attitude. By the end of my career, all I wanted was one developer to say “we’ve ignored our community, as they are plainly fucking idiots”.

  • Over at Kotaku, Cara writes about American roads and videogames. And doesn’t once mention FUEL, the best game ever made about roads.
  • Tom Harper, the Curator of Antiquarian Mapping at the British Library told me last year that SimCity will go down as one of the great maps of the 20th century. “It has fashioned the world view – through maps, 3D perspective views, information expressed geographically – of a whole generation of European and North Americans,” he said. “The video game environment may have reflected much of their makers but subjectiveness is to be expected with the creation of any virtual world. …The player begins with a blank canvas: some grassy ground, some trees and a river on which to develop a city from scratch. Now, one might suppose from the idea of creating a city from scratch, the grid pattern development, or even the idea of undeveloped land as somehow a blank canvas, that the maker of the game was American in origin.”

  • Leigh Alexander took a break from writing all the game journalism in order to write a short fiction piece about writing game journalism. About the Atari dig for long lost ET cartridges:
  • The thing that makes me answer Phelan’s call promptly is imagining the first line of whatever Gentle would probably write about the landfill dig: I’m standing at the precipice and I am neither here nor there, and I’ve just risen from a hotel bed with a heartache and a dick-ache or something like that. This guy would inspire a hundred fellow-Gentles to leave comments like “oh man, I too have loved.” And “brilliant piece”, that death sentence of a comment.

  • Top videogame bread.
  • This is old but Eurogamer re-posted it this past week. Will Porter on the zombie game Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw were making before they joined Valve, which was stolen from them during a burglary.

    “It didn’t make a lot of sense,” sighs Faliszek, when we meet up in a crowded Starbucks to rake over the coals of The Great Zombie World Robbery. “You went down to Hell and fought zombies. But then, it wasn’t really Hell. It was a place where everyone who’d ever died was there in zombie form.” Not exactly zombie canon then? “Well, I don’t know why everyone in the afterlife would be a zombie. But… shut up! That’s how it worked!”

  • Stick with Eurogamer for something new. Christian Donlan writes ‘The game developer, the CIA, and the sculpture driving them crazy‘. That seems like an impossible title, but exactly describes the subject:
  • Although Dunin is now recognised as one of the leading authorities on Kryptos, arranging that first sighting would not be easy. Kryptos is an unusual piece of corporate art and, since the corporation in question is the Central Intelligence Agency, your chances of just rolling up at the gates and getting inside to take a look at it are not high. Kryptos was commissioned by the agency in 1988 for its new headquarters, and the piece was finished and installed in 1990. In essence, it’s a large wood and copper sculpture shaped like a scroll or perhaps a flag, with its face divided into four sections. These sections – sometimes known as K1 through K4 – contain four stencilled ciphertexts composed of around 1800 letters between them. To date, the first three texts have been cracked. Only K4, almost a quarter of a century after it was installed in a building that’s atypically full of people of the code-breaking persuasion, continues to repel all efforts.

  • VGJunk digs up a load of old adverts that sell their videogame by marketing how bad they are for you. This is an unusual trend I’d never really considered before, but an important part of what made videogames in the ’90s seem counter-cultural and cool rather than tediously mundane. Special shout-out for the one with the kid who seems to be microwaving his own crotch:
  • Catch the Taito heatwave! Catch its powerful radiation right in your crotch, rendering you sterile for the rest of your life!

    Imagine if you went over to a friend’s house and they were sitting in that splay-legged position while they played their NES. Yeah.

  • Sports journalism may well be the best kind of entertainment journalism. It makes sense that crossing it with videogames would produce some of my favourite work. Jon Bois previously tortured the Madden series into submission, but more recently has turned his attention to bringing an end to basketball in NBA2K14.
  • This will be a death of the spirit. I want every single player in the league to be the worst player in the world. I want to render the NBA an unwatchable, miserable experience in which the notions of self-respect, good ideas, and effort go to die.

    I created 80 players and named each of them after the folks who sent me the poems about the NBA’s demise that I liked the most. (I read all 645 of them, and most of them were delightful.) These players are designed as pitifully as NBA 2K14 would allow: 5’3, 145 pounds, and awful at every basketball skill: shooting, passing, rebounding, defense, awareness, everything.

    It gets better and better from there.

  • I’ve been to E3 three or four times (I honestly can’t remember) and I’m relieved not to be attending this year’s show. I’ll miss the cameraderie with similarly grumpy, sunbaked British writers, and the sandwiches, but otherwise I’m glad to be viewing the confernece from afar. I’ll have a far better view of what’s actually happening, and I won’t need to navigate the concrete wastes of LA. This isn’t videogame related, but it’s a hell of a town.
  • This is the menu at a place called Cafe Gratitude. All of their dishes have “positive affirmations” rather than “names”, so when you order you’re meant to be like “I am beautiful” to the waiter, and then the waiter will look at you all sincere and go “you ARE beautiful!” *shudder*

    When I’ve told friends from back home about Cafe Gratitude they’ve been like, “ew, are you fucking kidding me? That place sounds like the worst thing ever” but here, people are all “I don’t see what your problem is, dude. Try not to be so negative all the time.”

    I could write the same kind of article about Bath, of course.

  • You should watch this re-make of the Hotline Miami 2 trailer, built using Team Fortress 2 and Source Filmmaker. For a glimpse of how similar it is to its 2D top-down source, try this.
  • I am hungry for new music and finding nothing to sate my appetite, but I’ve been enjoying Pomplamoose’s second season of covers and crafty music videos.

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    Graham Smith

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