The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for sleeping. One of the days has to be for sleeping, right? Eventually there will be sleep and Sunday seems good.

I gave this its own post earlier in the week, but let’s start with Vice’s write-up of Tibia’s locked door, which requires you to be level 999 to enter and only one player has ever passed through.

In the online MMO Tibia, there’s a door with a simple message: “You see a gate of expertise for level 999. Only the worthy may pass.” This week, a player named Kharsek passed through that door. It took him nine years to build up enough experience to hit level 999. But once he passed through the door, Kharsek disappeared, and took the secrets with him.

Everyone has been talking about No Man’s Sky this past week. In light of its day one patch, Rami Ismail of Vlambeer wrote about the process of passing console certification.

Did I mention all of this is poorly documented? One console has a field that says ‘assets file’. It doesn’t mention what the assets file is, nor what it does, or what these assets are. If you don’t add the file, it can’t process your submission. If you add it, but it isn’t ‘right’, your build can fail. You lose a week. If there’s a checkbox somewhere in the hundreds or thousands of obscure rules that you missed, you lose a week. If there’s something that’s subtly different between Europe and America, you lose a week. What I’m trying to say is that certification could take a week, and in the worst cases, it could take months. From personal experiences, I can say that it can make developers cry. It could delay your game. At the end, though, the game that launches checks every checkbox. You’ve got your proverbial “Seal of Quality”. Your game is allowed to launch.

This is a couple of weeks old, but I kept seeing it linked in new places till I finally read it. Simon Parkin popped up on Gamasutra to write about the desks of 22 different game developers. Nice desks within.

“I have a stash of paper prototyping gear, and a rat’s nest of phones and charging cables and a plant that smells of cookies. Also important to me is being in downtown Manhattan. I hate making games away from people. Years of working in real-world, live-action games means I’m used to my audience being in the room with me, all the time, which isn’t often the case in digital game production. I find it incredibly important to step outside the office and immediately be surrounded by people who are playing our games, or games like our games, or games that are interestingly different from our games. And I love that I’m so close to art galleries and fashion studios and secret gardens and grimy dive bars. My new project is intensely inspired by the world around me – I’d struggle to find those touchpoints in a bland business park.”

Rich Stanton wrote about the Rocket League world cup for Vice, with some bold opinions.

This was the beginning of a streak that would take iBP to the final, but simply listing results would be dry. The privilege of the RLCS was seeing Rocket League played with superhuman skill at a relentless pace, the kind of knife-edge competition where the tiniest mistake loses everything. At this level it becomes a different game, almost like ping pong, because both teams are so skilled at striking the ball in the air. There were languorous stretches where the ball was batted back-and-forth by mid-air combatants, hornet-like aerial duels, and sensational hits from space.

Keza MacDonald writes at Kotaku about Abzu and how it made her feel more connected to nature.

Video games, like most of the technology we use in our everyday lives, often distance us from the natural world. If there are animals in games, we are usually supposed to hunt and kill them (Tomb Raider, Far Cry) or ride around on them. Rarely are we supposed to just watch them, be with them, marvel at them. Abzu, by contrast – a game about ocean exploration that I played and finished in one four-hour stretch on Friday – is a game about being in nature.

I am not familiar with the works of YouTuber SteveOHobo, but I also wasn’t familiar with Super Mario Strikers and so I enjoyed learning about it.

Music this week is Ryo Fukui’s 1976 album Scenery.

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22 Comments

  1. Von Uber says:

    I mentioned this last week, but i am still surprised there has been no mention/ news article of Bioware closing its official forums and then completely deleting them forever (those same forums even the EA help desk points you too for help!).

    Needless to say the forum itself is in a bit of a meltdown (especially given the official reason for the closure is to enable them to better connect with their community – so they are closing their official community) with attempts at salvaging the millions of posts and years of lore discussion etc into alternate forums before they are gone forever. Bioware’s facebook page makes for some fun reading, people are not amused.

    It’s quite remarkable, I don’t think any other computer game developer has done this whilst it is still massively successful and has a new game due to be released?

    • karnak says:

      Mental sanity and lucid thinking is not an attribute of our current times.

      The fact that Microsoft (and this is just an example of current corporate rationality) went from Windows 8 to 10 without a clear justification for such an absurd leap should have been a sign.

      • wcq says:

        It was probably done to eliminate any chance of confusion with Windows 9x systems.

        • MajorLag says:

          Almost certainly it was done to avoid problems with poorly written code that checked the name of the OS for the starting characters “Windows 9” to determine if it was running on Windows 95 or 98.

    • Turkey says:

      So weird. I just read through the official statement and it doesn’t seem like they give a reason for shutting it down at all.

      I’m guessing it’s some kind of EA corporate mandate thing that all their branches are only allowed to communicate through social media. Maybe it’s so they can funnel everything through EA approved official channels?

      I dunno. Maybe I’m totally missing the mark here, but it seems like Bioware’s made a few too many mistakes sales wise and are getting some of their freedoms revoked.

      • Von Uber says:

        The intention is to use Twitter, Facebook or Reddit apparently.

        Don’t know about the rest of you, but I for one welcome having indepth lore discussions, bug fixes or mission guides in 140 characters or less.

    • Baines says:

      While not on the same scale, there is an “Ask Capcom” board at the Capcom-Unity site where you can theoretically ask Capcom questions and get official answers. Except Capcom employees stopped posting in that board after Seth Killian left Capcom.

      The board, which already had a fair share of legitimate complaints about how Capcom wouldn’t answer many questions, was then composed entirely of people asking questions and people responding to say that they’d never see an answer. Capcom-Unity decided to silence complaint, but didn’t want to close the board entirely, so they locked it so that while anyone could start a thread, only certain people were allowed to reply to existing threads. So now the “Ask Capcom” board consists entirely of single post threads asking questions that no one will ever respond to (because no one authorized to post replies ever posts replies.)

    • PancakeWizard says:

      Am I the only one that finds the subsequent meltdown and ‘saving lore’ stuff far weirder than a company just shutting down forums it doesn’t want?

      • Geebs says:

        It’s only weird if you don’t usually spend 8 hours a day shipping Wrex with Iron Bull.

        There’s probably a form of memetic compression which could cut down the amount of space the “lore” takes up. For example, you could replace all references to Mass Effect 3 with a picture of a giant wrecking ball covered in shit.

    • Hobbes says:

      It’s more indicative that they’re likely lining up to shellack Bioware sooner rather than later. Bioware, prepare to go the way of Maxis.

  2. Baines says:

    The Gamecube’s Super Mario Strikers might seem more genre defying if it hadn’t come three years after the Gamecube’s Sega Soccer Slam.

  3. pertusaria says:

    Rami’s article about console development is a good read and makes good sense. I wonder, however, about people who have crap internet / maybe no internet and may have stuck with consoles in part because they are (or used to be?) less reliant on internet than PC gaming is. For those folks, is there a point at which it’s safe to buy the disc in the shop in the knowledge that the Day 1 patch will be included on-disc, or do they have to wait for a GOTY version or something?

    If this is a strawman and people with modern consoles but no internet don’t really exist anymore, feel free to say. I remember this being talked about when the most recent consoles were close to launch, but time moves on.

    • Chris Evans says:

      It’s interesting isn’t it, there’s going to be a percentage of the population who own a console, but don’t have regular internet access.

      Of course, there are also those who have internet usage caps (which are one of the worst things about broadband supply). A large day one patch can eat into that quite quickly.

      • Turkey says:

        Yeah, I remember buying data being kind of the standard way people got their internet when I lived in Perth for about a year. We eventually got a line, but the speed was absolute garbage.

      • Baines says:

        It was a pretty big deal when Microsoft announced the Xbox One would require users to always be online. It brought into the news just how many people still don’t have 24 hour access to internet services.

        It was an even bigger deal when Microsoft’s PR kept stepping into stupid statements when trying to justify keeping the online connection requirement. Some in the military, for example, didn’t take some of his comments very well. After all, deployed soldiers don’t necessary have constant access to a connection. Same goes for the crews of nuclear subs, who do have game consoles, but may have very limited periods of online connection.

    • GWOP says:

      It’s not just games anymore. When the WiiU launched, it needed a 1 GB+ day-one patch for its browser, Miiverse, Wii backwards compatibility and firmware update.

  4. theapeofnaples says:

    Good album, that.

  5. Chris Evans says:

    I know RPS did a big interview with Dan Marshall, the man behind Behold the Kicmen recently, but over on The Reticule I’ve got a and full Q&A with him as well.

  6. Synesthesia says:

    God, yes. Even as an argentinian, Mario Strikers is just insanely good fun. I still emulate it and play it with friends, often.

  7. GWOP says:

    I’m at a bit of a loss, can someone help me out? I’m trying to remember the name of an award-winning indie space game that RPS featured a few years back. You were a native on a alien planet, about to take off on a mission to explore your solar system. The starting area featured a museum, and there was something creepy in one of the planets in the system…

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