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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for meeting long-time and long-distance freelancers for coffee and videogames, then sloping home in the rain to gather links to the week’s best writing about videogames.

  • Paul Dean nipped in at the last second by sending me through his in-depth profile of Fredrik Wester, CEO of Paradox Interactive. It’s a good piece.
  • “I’ve come to realise that working very closely with me can be challenging for people,” he says. “I’ll say, maybe, ‘[These are steps] A, B, C…’ but then people have to figure out the rest of that alphabet. I know exactly where we’re going to go with the company, but I also know that a lot of this only stays in my head and only comes out in fractions when I talk to people. I need to sit down with myself, remind myself that I’m now communicating with 180 employees. When you’re just ten, you can talk to people every day, everyone will know everything. There’s no challenge in communicating. The last two years, I’ve had a lot of work to do figuring out how I keep all our people on board, rowing in the same direction. I’d say my job is now a totally different thing to how it was even three years ago.”

  • At Offworld, Daniel Starkey writes about how piracy gave him a future. It talks about poverty and a childhood spent stealing in order to attain cultural currency as much as actual currency.
  • Before too long I had $300 as well as a spare monitor and case, enough to build a basic system. My first pirated PC game was Deus Ex. I’d heard about it a few times, and it sounded interesting. “A game about politics,” was how a friend pitched it to me, though it’s also been described as a “cyberpunk-themed action role-playing video game.” Within a few hours I had it running on my cobbled together PC, and it was a revelation.

  • At Mammon Machine: ZEAL, Robert Yang writes about bodies and videogames, the limitations of the ways we simulate them, and how we might do better. It’s a funny piece, and lightly NSFW.
  • Ragdolling into oncoming traffic in Saints Row’s “Insurance Fraud” mode inspires you to pay much more attention to the traffic simulation and civil vehicle types. Player-made glitch videos of combusting skater boys in Skate 3 transform the game’s benches, lampposts, and awkward crawlspaces into opportunities for transcendence. The mannequin sliding downward in Stair Dismount makes each step felt, unlike many 3D games where the stairs are secretly plastered over into invisible ramps. What better way to talk to the world than by planting your face into it?

    A ragdoll is an awkward body in flux that we share with the game engine, whose every movement is unknowable and unpredictable and must be negotiated. Even the most realistic motion capture cannot compete with this kind of truth. Our vulnerability and awkwardness is what makes our bodies alive.

  • Reader ‘A Person On The Internet’ wrote in with the next three links. First, Gamasutra’s recent deep dive into the design of rocket jumping in Rocket League. I haven’t played Rocket League since Gamescom, and I think its spell over me might not be broken. Till I play it again for a second and then I’ll be hooked once more.
  • We fell in love with rocket boosting because it’s an interesting mechanic: it’s not automatically going to work every time, and it does require a bit of player skill to pull off. For instance, if you’re flying over the ball and you want to stop yourself with a rocket boost, you have to overcome that momentum — you can’t just hit a button and fly off in a different direction. You have to learn how to finesse it, and that was really cool for the obstacle course game we were originally trying to create.

  • Rich Stanton follows on from calling Metal Gear Solid (maybe) the first modern videogame by calling Metal Gear Solid 2 the first postmodern videogame

    Metal Gear Solid’s enormous sales and critical acclaim are what every developer dreams of, but Kojima instinctively understood it came with a cost. His previous games had flitted between worlds and genres, but now he was duty-bound to make Metal Gear Solid 2. And this was an acute problem, because MGS was in part known for tricks and twists – Mantis, unique boss battles, breakaway sections like rappelling or imprisonment – that couldn’t be repeated. Repetition is inherent to the concept of a sequel, so is that what people want from MGS2? Another Shadow Moses?

  • Also on Eurogamer, Keith Stuart writes about why he will never call videogames a hobby. I think I disagree with some of its underlying assumptions about the limits of hobbies.
  • And this is why I cannot call games a hobby. I know, I know, a lot of people do – and that’s fine, it’s up to them. I just think they’re sort of wrong. Now please, I don’t really want to get into dictionary definitions of the word ‘hobby’. That’s because heading into an argument with a dictionary definition is a bit like complaining that a particular parody of Star Trek can’t be funny because it mentions the wrong version of the Starship Enterprise – it’s really quite boring, and it trivialises the discourse in a smug and reductive way. I suppose that, to me, a hobby is something that we enjoy, that we spend time on, but that doesn’t necessarily tie in to other areas of our lives, or how we perceive the wider world. It is a discreet enjoyment, and its meaning can be almost superfluous.

  • Pip Turner sent in his diary of experiences with Bethesda’s Fallout Shelter. Inside: inconvenient death and creepy breeding.
  • None of seem to realise how close they and the vault were to death and how close they were to never seeing the light of the fluorescent bulbs buzzing above their heads. Never mind eh! All in a good days work. I’ve sent a couple dwellers off to explore the wasteland whilst I sleep. Nothing much to report apart from one small thing. Instead of assigning Paul Bush to sleep with every woman again, I instead paired people off into couples, letting them happily make children. What I didn’t take into account was the current children of the vault. See images a[x] and b[x]. They know. THEY KNOW.

  • Nate Robinson sent in his webcominc, MAN v. BACKLOG, in which he makes a comic for each game he plays from his backlog of unplayed games.

Music this week is Turn It Around by Lucius. I haven’t watched the video.

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Graham Smith

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