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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are days for rest, which means finding joyful things with which to recharge and refresh ourselves before a new week begins. Is such a thing possible on this internet? Let’s hold hands and try together.

  • Contributor Marsh Davies sends through this interview from a (very particular) Trespasser fansite with game writer Austin Grossman. It’s so invested in its subject matter that the interview intro doesn’t even bother mentioning Grossman’s other work; you know, like Deus Ex, Thief, System Shock, Dishonored and some wonderful novels. Still, top Trespasser infos await within:
  • Was it always a sure thing that Richard Attenborough would be reprising his role for Trespasser? What were the recording sessions like?

    It wasn’t a sure thing but we heard early – I wasn’t in in the decision but I’m quite sure Steven Spielberg must have twisted his arm a little. You can imagine how nervous we were going into the recording with Richard Atrenborough. We were desperately jet-lagged, the taxi driver got lost, and to add to the insanity it was at Twickenham Studios where The Beatles and every other famous British person ever had recorded. But then we got there and he put everyone at ease. He was relaxed, incredibly kind and funny (he made us call him “Lord A” the whole day). The truly stunning thing was how attentive and respectful he was to us, a bunch of random game developers. Here was this legendary actor going carefully and thoughtfully through every line of our script, treating us like colleagues. It was an unforgettable lesson in decency and professionalism.

  • Eurogamer’s Tom “Tom Bramwell” Bramwell writes about how he wishes more games were just a vertical slice; ie, shorter and more focused towards a particular experience. I’m with him.
  • Horror is a great genre for this sort of thing because it throws up precisely the kind of settings and scenarios where familiarity breeds contempt, so the whole thing is geared towards remaining elusive. But you can also see signs of it working in other genres. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is pretty much a vertical slice for The Phantom Pain. That game offers another hint of a path forward for vertical-slices-as-games, too: it can be over very quickly, delivering great systems and ideas in a concentrated burst of high quality, but the way it then repurposes and reimagines itself suggests that the right kind of vertical slice can also expand to fill however much time you might want to devote to it.

  • Marsh Davies also points me towards the return of Breaking Madden, Jon Bois ongoing efforts to push and pull the Madden series’ American football simulation to breaking point. The best game jornlizms inside:
  • A year ago, Breaking Madden began as an innocent, fun little series of posts. I created funny-looking players in Madden NFL 25, tweaked the game’s settings, and orchestrated some digital slapstick. I introduced a round little man, Clarence BEEFTANK, who could bowl over a half-dozen men at a time. I asked questions of my Twitter followers, and if their answers made me laugh, I’d put them in the game. For quite a while, it was a happy time. It really was!

  • The PC Gamer Top 100 is now online. Obvious oversights and mistakes aside, Top 100 lists are always a fun way to start a conversation, to focus your thoughts about what you value you in games, and to rile up some internet blood. And if you’re not an expert, a great way to find games to play:
  • 49. Outcast
    Richard For the five people who could actually play it at launch, Outcast was an eye-opening glimpse into the kind of game we now take for granted, years before anyone else could even think about pulling it off. Its sprawling organic 3D worlds made it look like a tech demo, but every bit as much care was given to the action-RPG within. Populated by AI considered revolutionary at the time, this was a real place with a real sense of life; goofy in the classic tradition of French games, but absolutely serious about giving us a Legend of Zelda game to be proud of. And it pulled it off splendidly.

  • Sticking with PC Gamer, Chris Livingston has round up some typically awful Steam user reviews. Thanks to Person for the submission.
  • Some guy called Rab Florence is in the mood for games.
  • Games are important. They are beautiful, joyful things. They’re an escape. They can deal with dark matters and still be an escape.

    Games are toys. You pick them up and play with them – lights and sounds and colours – and you go away feeling younger.

  • Three Moves Ahead, a podcast about strategy games, is still going and still wonderful. Episode 272 is about ‘flight during World War I’.
  • Oh right, Rab has been writing other good things over at Amusement Arcade too. Let’s swing back for his review of Hohokum, which I mentioned a couple weeks back. I used to love the superhero-flight ability you could trigger in Lemmings 2: The Tribes, because you could spend ages circling around levels, dodging obstacles, and the power would never run out unless arced upward too sharply or crashed. Hohokum has that same feeling of tracing and flight, only without the miserable tension of flopping back to earth. Anyway, Rab’s short thoughts:
  • If you’ve been keeping up with the Commodore, you might remember an old C64 game called Gribbly’s Day Out. You were a weird alien thing with big feet, and you had to jump around a weird alien world, collecting your babies.

    The game was very hard, but I played it every day. I played it just so that I could bounce around an alien world as a weird alien with giant feet. He made funny noises and stuff when he bounced. It went BOUNG! BOUNG! BOUNG!

  • See also.
  • At Geekwire, Mónica Guzmán talks about her vicarious experiences with Twitch game streaming, to perhaps explain the Amazon acquisition to a confused audience, and in the proess relate sweet stories of passionate gaming amidst family life.
  • Gaming doesn’t need to court a mainstream audience to boom, and digital tech is making this more true than ever.

    There are not just games anymore, but hungry game communities. Those communities are finding such rich new depths to mine, that all game companies have to give them — other than brilliant, engrossing titles — is shovels and dirt.

    I see those depths in Jason’s gaming. Twitch is now essential to his CS:GO experience, but so is Reddit, YouTube, Valve’s player-oriented Steam platform and e-sports tournament channels like ESEA and CEVO.

  • Over at Kotaku, GB Burford goes step by step through the reasons why Halo 1’s Silent Cartographer is such a great first-person shooter level.
  • Of all the levels in the game, The Silent Cartographer feels like a vertical slice of every element that makes Halo, well, Halo. How do all these elements work together to make a good shooter? After all, we live in a post-Halo world. Surely in the 13 years since its release, shooters have evolved and we’ve got better shooters to choose from, right?

    Music this week is The Blow. Start with Hey Boy, though there are more and newer singles and albums up on Spotify.

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Graham Smith

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