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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for doing what you didn’t have time for last weekend and writing a roundup of the week’s finest writing about videogames.

Cliff Harris has been re-balancing Democracy 3, a three year old game, and takes the opportunity to talk not just about those rebalances but the risks and motivations for making them in the first place.

Anyway, having a big success can be a huge curse. If Democracy 3 makes me enough money that I can keep tweaking it by 1% in order to earn a decent living, why ever take a risk on making something new. This is a problem a lot of companies face. Microsoft are cursed by windows. They cant create a new O/S or office suite from scratch, it makes no economic sense, because windows & office are such cash cows. Its not so much a sunk-costs issue, but a sunk-profits issue.

Gamasutra’s Deep Dives continue with this look at the ‘natural movement system’ that enables Dying Light’s zombie parkour. It’s probably a harder problem and more complex solution than you think:

The idea that eventually became our Natural Movement system was one that scans the environment in real time and decides if the player can climb or interact with the objects based on set of criteria. It considers the whole area around the player to determine what kind of actions can be performed — i.e. climb, jump over, slide under etc. The same system would then analyze the surrounding geometry, player parameters (like speed and position) and decide what potential animation to select as the best possible action on-the-fly.

Chris Donlan argues at Eurogamer that the guy in Doom is playing Doom, as indicated by the zealous glee with which he approaches his every action. I am as equally surprised that Doom works.

Tricky one, Doom. Tricky one to reboot, or deboot, or whatever it is that id Software has been tasked with this time around. Tricky lineage to negotiate. How do you expand upon a game whose force and purity all but created the pace, mechanics, and look of a generation of shooters? How do you do that, all the while knowing that in the sheer unadorned potency of the original game there is something that can only ever be damaged by elaboration? Returning to Doom, surely the temptation is to make Doom more complex – but complexity only makes it less like Doom. Amazingly, though, despite the odds stacked against it, the new Doom feels a lot like, well, a lot like Doom. It has that same headlong rush, that same engine of wet splatter chugging everything forward. I’ve been playing through the campaign while trying to work out how they’ve done it, how developmental hell turned out a game that is such a joyous blast to play. And I think a big part of the game’s success comes down to one weird thing: the guy you’re playing as in Doom is playing Doom.

Danielle Riendeau at Zam takes a leaf out of the Toast’s book and writes about what it would be like if Overwatch’s Zarya was your girlfriend:

If Zarya were your girlfriend she would send you facebook messages all day long containing either a) links to videos of various Olympic athletes performing feats of extraordinary athleticism b) vines of that shiba inu dancing to various pop songs.

Rob Fearon fights that old fight against snobbery over game making tools, in light of some changes to Unity’s pricing and splash screen:

Whatever you make your game in, Game Maker, Unity, Unreal, Flash, HTML5, hand weave it and put beads on it and a bit of glitter, still the same thing. The vast majority of people who will ever play and enjoy your videogame, the vast majority of people who will pay you to play your videogame do not give one single solitary shit what you wrote it in. The vast majority of people only care about two things. Is it good and has it not fallen over like a drunk on a bouncy castle in a high breeze? Can I say ‘vast majority’ a few more times as well? I was enjoying that.

We did two reviews of the Warcraft movie ourselves, but cheeky RPS fansite PC Gamer has done a few more anyway. Here’s Chris Thursten’s take:

There are moments when the level of environmental detail is genuinely startling. In an early establishing shot of Ironforge’s exterior you can trace the contours of World of Warcraft’s dwarven starting area. Later, as human forces prepare to march from Stormwind, that enormous gateway is present and correct: including the awkward wall in the middle that you have to walk around as you enter the city. In World of Warcraft, that wall serves to break your line of sight to make it easier for the game engine to handle the transition from Elwynn Forest to the city interior. This movie is so faithful to the source material that it incorporates rendering performance tricks from 2004.

Videogame Development: The Bad Old Days.

Music this week is Charles Bradley’s Ain’t It A Sin.

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