Sundays are for being unexpectedly busy and therefore failing to round up the week’s best games writing. Sundays are for guiltily returning to make amends. Don’t call it a comeback.
- This was last week’s best article, but it still hasn’t had enough attention: on the compelling, compulsive ‘game’ of Steam trading.
- Mark Johnson, developer of vastly ambitious 4X roguelike Ultima Ratio Regum, and a regular in the Sunday Papers, wrote on Kill Screen about the demonic properties of an ampersand.
- Over at Eurogamer, Simon Parkin interviewed Keiji Inafune. about his long career, at Capcom, making Mega Man, and now as founder of serial Kickstarter-user Comcept.
- For the Guardian, Laura Kate Dale writes about whether Unity has an image problem stemming from the growing number of cheap, rubbo games made with it. Only among snobs, say I – but Dale speaks to Unity CEO John Riccitiello for more interesting thoughts than mine.
- How is game making like poetry? Katriel Paige writes for Offworld about the connections been code, poems and an old Japanese practice called renga.
- Over at PCGamesN, Steve Hogarty writes about his trip to Russia to visit the offices of Wargaming.net and have a play of World of Warships. This go from funny to bad to funny again.
- The International Computational Creativity Conference was last week and all the videos are online. They’re huge, single videos for each day, but there’s a wealth of interesting stuff in there. This link should take you to the timestamp for the beginning of Michael Cook’s talk about the Procedural Game Jam.
- Jon Blyth has fixed Her Story for you, in case you were worried. Spoilers inside.
- Hannah Nicklin is doing a series of talks at VideoBrains on psychogeography and games, the first video of which is now online. Hannah is also writing the series up as articles for us, the first of which went online last Friday.
- Our own Pip Warr was also a speaker at the event and gave an excellent talk on women and esports.
- This is old but new to me: Ian Hardingham of Mode 7 on how the AI functions in turn-based future sport Frozen Cortex.
- Matt Lees’ series of E3 2015 Abridged videos are now complete.
There’s a weird heaviness in my chest and a dull, throbbing ache throughout my body. I’ve been doing this almost a month, now. In most cases, only to buy nothing at all once I see the featured games of the day–but if I stay up a little bit later…
Maybe a user will want the extra copy of Half-Life I have in my inventory.
Maybe I can get BattleBlock Theater for a friend with a little salesmanship and a few Trading Cards.
Maybe I can find a good deal before being drowned in a tidal wave of traders advertising their wares, and scammers wishing to take advantage of those new to this way of life.
Descending the staircase in the dark halls of Gehennom, I come face to face with Asmodeus, the “overlord of all hell.” He offers me a grim choice—give him a large portion of the gold I’ve so carefully hoarded away from the creatures that inhabit the rest of this dungeon, or refuse, and presumably fight this demonic prince. Alternatively, I know that if I draw Excalibur—which I was gifted earlier in the dungeon by dipping a longsword into one of the few fountains found in the upper floors—he will be blinded by its brilliant aura, anathema as its light is to all demons, and attack me anyway.
Today, in a plush-carpeted meeting room that smells of old coffee and new plastic, hidden inside Microsoft’s stand at the E3 conference in Los Angeles, Inafune’s un-Japanese outspokenness has not dulled. “The truth is this,” he says. “Had I been born in America, and had I sold 30 million copies of my game Mega Man, I’d be retired by now. But that’s not how it works in Japan, is it? Even if I’d have come up with Minecraft I would never have become Notch. That’s just how our society works.”
To Riccitiello, the sheer omnipresence of the platform is a mixed blessing. Its affordability and robustness has made it the first choice for small scale projects, but this also means it has become associated with amateur productions. “The truth is we have millions of developers using our software,” he says. “When you have that many customers, you are going to have lots of college and high school projects with your engine name attached. Occasionally you get somebody who has clearly got something, but for the most part, a couple of inexperienced developers making their first project won’t usually yield a great outcome. They get a much better standard of product than they would have without using Unity, but it’s still not up to the standards of a high-end commercial game.”
One of these games was called renga, which basically means “linked verse”. A group of people would gather in the evening when it was cooler; one person would start off the poem with the first three lines, in strict 5-7-5 syllable format, and another person would use those three lines to come up with another set (this time of two lines of 7 syllables each). They used syllable counts instead of rhyming as it was more challenging, because of the way the Japanese language works.
In this way, linked chains of poems could be made, with the challenge coming out of “jumping” from one set of images to the next and making it all seem coherent in some way. This emphasis on strict format is a bit like computer programming, in which commands and their permutations can be arranged to make the computer calculate something you want. In the end, manipulating the form is what causes art to emerge from what would otherwise just be bunches of calculations.
On my last evening in the city, while trying to find my way back to the hotel, I refused to get into a random man’s car. He insisted that his car was actually a taxi, and he produced a second, bigger man who corroborated this in a way that left me even less assured than when we began. The three of us discussed the matter of what is a taxi and what is not a taxi for a very brief moment before the second man grabbed me by the collar and demanded I pay him a taxi fare that coincidentally amounted to all of the money I currently had.
Everyone’s talking about Her Story, aren’t they? And I don’t know about you, but when everyone else is talking about something, it’s essential that I wade in there, my jaw rotating in all three axes. And when I’ve built a hot orb of opinion plasma about the size of an R-Type charge shot, it’s time to jam my freshly minted tuppence into the spinning doors of public discourse. And you can take that metaphor to the bank.
Music this week is third EP from Carpenter Brut. It’s the soundtrack to a robot horror movie, and all three EPs are on Spotify and as a single album here.