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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for the same thing as every other Sunday. That’s not so bad. Let’s begin the traditions by rounding up the week’s best writing about videogames.

Apparently some people are living in vans and making videogames while travelling around. This is interesting, though these stories (person does X and makes games) are going to gradually become plentiful as a natural side effect to more people making games. Good lede:

The first person Tom Sennett told about his plan to make video games while living out of a van was the guy he bought it from off Craigslist. The second was his boss when he quit his comfortable office job in New York City. His family was, needless to say, confused when he finally got around to them.

Mark Brown made a video this past week on the return of the immersive sim, via games like Deus Ex Mankind Divided and Dishonored 2. Although personally I feel like the mechanical elements of the immersive sim, even if not the principles, have been subsumed by neighbouring genres so much that Mankind Divided and Dishonored feel like “stealth FPS” games more than immersive sims as we once thought of them.

Over at Kotaku, that Nathan Grayson chap writes about the guy with the lowest possible rank in Overwatch. It’s a shame this isn’t about a sad man who is terrible at games, although I enjoyed the observation of this person who crawled to the bottom on purpose.

“In the mid-30s, I met the angriest people in the world,” Brown said. “It’s somewhere in that mid-30s and upper 20s [area], these are just the angriest people in the world. They think they should be doing better and they’re really not good enough, or these are just people stuck on really bad streaks.”

PC Gamer published their annual Top 100 online this past week. Outcast isn’t at 57, which is a crime, but Dragon Age 2 is at 94 which is some top trolling.

Tony: In most RPGs, a town is somewhere you pass through, solve everyone’s problems, then never come back. You live in Kirkwall for ten years. You invest so much time in this setting, you build up so much history, that it becomes a place in a way few RPGs ever achieve. Somewhere you lived. People whine about the over-familiar scenery, but since when did we play BioWare games for their floorplans?

I know how much you all want more articles about No Man’s Sky, so here’s Michael Cook writing about the game in the context of how we talk about procedural generation.

That’s why I think this approach might be helpful, because by telling stories about what our generators do to make a single piece of content, it helps us ask ourselves what bits of our generator are most interesting. Most of the coverage of No Man’s Sky is focused on its planets and universe, which draws the wildest claims, but turns out not to be wildly new or innovative. Compare that with this New Yorker article about how its animal calls are generated. No wild claims. No ambiguous language. A focused story about interesting work on a cool generator, told in a way that I felt was accessible to me even with no audio background at all. Ambiguity doesn’t help anyone, and often it can lead to us brushing over the really good stuff.

I enjoyed this evisceration of Kevin Smith’s ouevre, particularly Chasing Amy, by someone who was once a fan. I don’t feel quite the same vitriol but I do now cringe at parts or all of some of those films.

Chasing Amy was always an uncomfortable movie, a film that encapsulated the worst aspects of narcissistic nerd entitlement at its late-nineties peak, but twenty years later I couldn’t even bring myself to finish rewatching it. When it was released, I begged my father to drive me to Raleigh’s Rialto Theatre and left that first showing enraptured, believing that some aspect of my privileged nerdy male “struggle” had been set to film. Kevin Smith was the first director whose scripts I had ever read; before I’d encountered his work, I hadn’t ever considered the form. It helped that Smith was such a dreadful cinematographer, a fact he admits without shame, because it meant his movies were the equivalent of ninety-minute script readings. Yet why, in the course of dreaming about becoming a “Hollywood writer”—whatever that meant—had I lingered over this material? How had it ever resonated with anyone at all, myself included?

Maybe next week I will break with tradition and change the header image. But for now, I am technically writing this on a Friday and that means it’s time to go to the Love Psych, baby.

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Graham Smith

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