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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for having a long lie, which used to mean staying in bed for as long as you wanted but now means staying into maybe 9am. It is genuinely a much greater luxury now, where there is greater contrast. But I suppose Sundays are also for catching up with the week’s writing about videogames.

We gave this its own post earlier in the week, but maybe you missed Julian Benson’s deep dive into the troubled development of Star Citizen. It’s maybe not as juicy as you’re expecting, but still an interesting (if long) read:

Because so much of the engine was being replaced, and updates were continually being pushed out to the different studios, it meant a lot of work had to be redone. “Something gets changed and breaks what you’ve done, so you have to go back and do the work again and again,” a source told me. “This is why you make sure your tools have been written and finished before you start building the game.” The source admitted, however, that “saying that as a criticism of CIG [specifically] is kind of unfair because virtually every game studio in the world suffers from that problem… In this instance, simply because of the scope of the game and the amount of rework being done it was particularly bad.

This is real nice: Michael toy, Glenn Wichman and Ken Arnold are the three creators of Rogue – as in, the original Roguelike. They were recently on a panel together to discuss the making of the game, and they talked about the initial intent behind permadeath. Bryant Francis at Gamasutra reports:

More important to the roguelike genre, Wichman says, is simply the inability to undo decisions that lead to death, rather than permanently stopping someone’s playthrough. He even challenged the audience to think of a new way to describe this system. “Permadeath is not the right name for that, so that’s my homework to all of you: come up with a better name.”

Keith Stuart writes at The Guardian about how walking sims became as important as the first-person shooter, which is a bold (and in my eyes untrue) title. Still:

It was a determination to reduce the elements of a first-person shooter to the absolute fundamentals that led to the development of Dear Esther. Since then, the genre has become an important force in its own right. Mainstream game developers play indie games; their teams have similar ideas and wonder about similar questions. It is possible to see the influence of experimental games in the Bioshock series, in the work and philosophy of Ubisoft, even in the Call of Duty series, where the surreal, hallucinogenic memory sequences that have come to typify the Black Ops titles, with the same focus on environmental and audio effect over player input.

I enjoyed this profile of Pete Wells, the New York Times’ restaurant critic, in the New Yorker.

I also enjoyed this article in the Guardian by Riz Ahmed, about the similarities between Hollywood auditions and airport interrogations (and a whole lot more besides).

Rick Lane wrote a retrospective of Spore for Eurogamer. I agree wholeheartedly with his assessment:

Poor Spore! The way people speak of it nowadays, you’d think it was a rogue copy of Duke Nukem Forever that had gone around the houses bludgeoning everyone’s nanna. The slightest mention of Will Wright’s white elephant seems to make the Internet angrier than a thousand Mass Effect 3 endings. I find this a little tragic, because there are few games in existence with better intentions than Spore. Whatever else you may think of it, there’s no denying that it made a genuine effort to find the joy in Life, where so many others only derive pleasure from death.

At Paste, Jack de Quidt wrote about the slow motion tragedy of RimWorld. I cannot get enough stories about RimWorld.

The raiders attacked again, and, at first, it seemed to have gone okay. We fought them off, and it was only as I looked through the interface after the battle that I realized something had gone horribly wrong. Roach was fine, he’d made it out with nothing more than a bad mood. Doc, though, had been beaten over the head pretty badly by a raider with a club.

Look, being smacked over the head with a lump of rock is distracting, right? It’s distracting. That’s probably why, at some point in the battle, he’d accidentally shot Yutte in the stomach.

This is a great idea for a feature: at PC Gamer, Luke Winkie spoke to community manager’s about what it’s like to deal with a community on fire. As all communities seem to be all the time, of late.

Micah Whipple didn’t believe in Real ID. It was unveiled in 2010 as a new social initiative in the Blizzard forums, effectively forcing players to register their real names instead of Battle.net aliases to cut down on the witch hunts and treachery that so often define anonymous, online public spaces. Whipple thought the policy would be unsustainable and unenforceable, but as a World of Warcraft community manager it was his job to go to bat for it. The CM role is simple: be a plebeian, embed yourself in the community, serve as liaison between publisher and community, and most importantly, stay optimistic.

Gamespot’s Tamoor Hussain spoke to co-founder and CEO of Ubisoft, Yves Guillemot, about many things including their attempts to avoid a hostile takeover by Vivendi.

Three or four years ago we were investing huge amounts to create games for the future, but our [financial] performance was not that good. We were investing in The Division, Watch Dogs 2, and all the games that launched in the last two years. We knew the industry would come back with new machines and that it was very important to invest at that time. But all the market was saying, “You are dead. It’s all free-to-play on PC now so your business is over.” We believed in our industry, we knew what our customers wanted, and we changed to surprise them. We knew that if we did a good job, they’d come back. That wasn’t the trend though, the industry was saying that was the old way to do things. We had to be free enough to take those risks and bring those games.

That’s it for this week. Here, take this music with you and chill: Nujabes’ Modal Soul.

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Graham Smith

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