The Sunday Papers

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.

From this site

49 Comments

    • Eldritch says:

      Ooo, they look great. Thanks!

    • gwop_the_derailer says:

      Talking with designers working on very different games to find common philosophies was a great idea.

      Thanks for the links.

  1. Person of Interest says:

    The Rogue discussion panel, and all the other talks from the Roguelike Celebration conference last week, are available on YouTube. I’m enjoying Nicholas Feinberg’s talk now.

  2. phelix says:

    The Guardian article about walking sims is interesting but ultimately superficial.

    It also compares No Man’s Sky directly to Dear Esther in terms of influence. I mean, what? One got people angry because it attempted to redefine what ‘game’ means. The other got people angry because of broken promises, deceptive marketing and shitty porting. Apples, meet oranges.

    • waltC says:

      People who pre-order games at full pop have only themselves to be “angry” with if it doesn’t work out…;)

  3. Rizlar says:

    The community managers article is great. Games culture occupies a special place on the internet. Which means it’s at the forefront of all the deplorable stuff that happens but also positioned to actually make sense of things and find a better way to communicate en masse, online.

    More of this sort of thing, please!

  4. DefaultVillain says:

    Redefining permadeath as a term in roguelikes, huh?

    How about “consequences roulette”? “Do you feel lucky, punk”? “Teaching people that they’re actually quite bad at complex systems in information-scarce environments”? Or, my favorite, “a dependable, quickly blossoming friendship with the Game Over screen”. We can call it “checkmate” if we wanna sound juvenile, edgy, and irritating to every actual chess player that overhears us, while still managing to impress the plebs. Or maybe just call it the Mistakenator.

    I’ve been playing Roguelikes for a solid decade, and they’ve taught me some pretty important lessons about risk assessment.

    Between a sure thing that gives you a slight advantage or a gamble with a high stake and a big pay-off, always take the sure thing unless you’re screwed either way. The gamble seems really seductive, the first time, all legs and sweet promises of a reward… and then you’re at the Game Over screen, wondering where it all went wrong.

    The second time you meet The Gamble, you’re a bit wiser, but sometimes you fall for its smoldering gaze and finger-crooking invitation. But your old friend Game Over’s always there to remind you how bad of an idea it was. And after the tenth Game Over, or the twentieth, or the fiftieth, or the hundredth if you’re really stubborn, you finally start to catch on that while Gamble’s really great if it pays off… it’s usually just a fast way to meet your old pal, G.O.

    And then you start to realize “damn, dude. People make these mistakes in judgment and assessment all the time, and while all I’ve got to show for it is the seven hundred and twenty second entry in my graveyard list, a lot of somebodies out there are paying for a similar mistake without the benefit of a couple hundred runs worth of practice in identifying bad judgment calls.”

    I think I’ll just stick to permadeath. It gets the point across. But seriously, I’d play a Roguelike called Consequences Roulette.

    • Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

      “A gentle incentive to vary your build”? “An opportunity to revisit the places of your character’s youth”? “A rumination on the savage butchering of a generation in WWI”? “A magnificent stimulus to local trade”?

    • Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

      Or, to work with one of your ideas: “Turns out it was five bullets”.

      • poliovaccine says:

        I tend to use “the slow hideous nausea of the revelation of your utter lack of consequence or control in an indifferent universe blasted by freezing solar winds where the awning flaps” for that and almost anything else… I’ll stop using it when it stops being true

    • Monggerel says:

      There are many games (not just Roguelikes, nor just videogames) where focusing on incremental improvement is in fact one of the least safe options there is – in other words, there are cases where a gamble may or may not pay off, but just doubling down on what seems reliable is a surefire way to get eliminated.

      Eg. an outside-context problem (the Golden Horde, or Imperial Spain with gunpowder, or aircraft carreers or or or) can only be approached from an experimental (ie. high-risk) mindset – if it can be approached at all, of course

      • poliovaccine says:

        Gotta love Dark Souls for gimmickizing the death system. Hard to say, actually, why it works so much better in Dark Souls than it does in BioShock – neither are “permadeath,” of course, if anything the opposite…

        …but that’s just it… in BioShock it can be easy to feel like death has no consequence, because “all that happens is you lose a chunk of your health and cash points, and restart back at the nearest checkpoint/vita-chamber,” and you can even whittle down big daddies by gaming the death system in that lame, unsatisfactory way you’d actively avoid if you could, but which manages to happen on its own if you wind up getting stuck at a hard part…

        …and then you have Dark Souls, where death means “all that happens is you lose a chunk of your health (semi-permanently/til you use a rare item – “punishing” no moreso than FO4’s RADs) and you lose *all* your cash/soulpoints.” For something so superficially different, there’s a lot contributing to the one feeling like a difficulty mechanic and the other feeling like a cheat. Obviously, enemies respawning when you die is a biggie, tho that does force the design to rely on repetition, particularly to teach newly-invested players. That is risky business, flirtatious w boredom..

      • P.Funk says:

        I’d argue in that sense that its not a gamble if its objectively sub optimal play to not go for the riskier choice since describing it as you do merely defines the gamble as the choice that isn’t the safest for the immediate short term. Safe short term choices are still gambles in games that have much longer term consequences, and so safe short term choices are still a bad gamble because you meet Mr. Game Over except it becomes inevitable. This probably is where a psych student comes in to tell us about some human tendency to always favour near term safety regardless of long term consequences.

        In my experience short term safety leading to long term death is the most depressing form of loss since you realize that you had already lost the game about 2 hours earlier and that means you need to repeat 2 hours or more of play. That’s what did me in with one of Factorio’s scenarios that I’ve never returned to. I was just not playing fast enough, being too picky about optimizing my build short term while not optimizing the rate I was advancing my progress.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Oddly enough – and I am NOT saying you are one – a common traits of psychopathy is the ability to ignore a gamble (even a very appealing one) in favor of a sure thing. Every time.

      Even when the gamble can benefit numerous additional people – especially if its group focused – and the sure thing is selfish, psychopaths, according to research, tend to opt immediately and utterly guilt free for the sure thing.

      Oddly, one would think this a handy survival trait. Unfortunately, it tends to show up as a much weaker impulse or much less common choice in so called sane, civilized members of society, and more often and consistently in people who meet the criteria for psychopathy.

      Not that sane people CANT take the sure thing. Or wont. They will, and they do. But its far more common and consistent for those deemed psychotic to do so, while more normalized citizens will often opt for the risk, especially if the possible reward comes with a sense of altruism attached to it, in that it might benefit a group as opposed to only the individual.

      Food for thought. The book I read about this – something about “Good Psychopaths” featured a consultant who was British SAS, by the way. Just a quick factoid.

      • poliovaccine says:

        A fundamental problem for game designers trying to immerse you in an open-choice world is how to incentivize “good” behavior, with nonmaterial, emotional gains, against “bad/sociopathic” behavior, where the material gains are concrete and clear (after all, “if crime didn’t pay there would be no crime”). This stuff is far less obvious when you take for granted that this is a simulated, impermanent world, in a vacuum away from “real,” significant consequence.

        Basically, if you’re playing GTA, what incentive do you have to *not* beat up the hooker when she’s finished so you can take back your cash? There’s no “good karma” points in that game, and even if there were, in order to be even roughly equivalent in value, you’d still have to be able to somehow use em to buy guns..!

        That is also the fundamental dilemma for the sociopath, particularly those “bad sociopaths” who may be intelligent enough to regard all of life with a qualitative system of cost-benefit analysis, but not quite enough so to comprehend that “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” so to speak (catching flies is a filthy habit anyway, haha). It is that fundamental sense, to them, that they are more “real” than everyone else… that they have agency, whereas others are just primitive, writhing sacks of manipulable reactivity, who deserve no credit for their opinions or beliefs, whose convictions they perceive to be “merely” a result of programming and circumstance… who function simply as AIs, as quest givers and set dressing and enemies, but always in a single-player game… and hey, microcosm-to-macrocosm, as above so below, how many times have you found yourself bored and unimmersed in a game, and maybe stuck on a level, so you just quicksave and then blow off some steam real quick getting giggles at arbitrarily executing all the friendly NPCs and their cattle in the town of Novac..? Some fucking people really do that in the great roguelike of life…

        How you inject empathy into a simulation is almost a moot question, because, so long as you take the view that it’s a simulation – and of course you already know that many intelligent people, sociopaths or not, take that view of our current reality itself – you can’t ascribe it any of the same import as what you call “real.” So long as you believe it’s “just” a simulation, it is that much harder to conceive of the NPCs as having other players behind them… unfortunately, this is not just an idle concept in some folks’ minds.

        The better question, rather than how to incentivize empathy and moral behavior within a simulation (which can’t easily be done with material rewards without it then ceasing to be morally-determined behavior), is maybe just how to successfully immerse the player in the simulation… as in, don’t incentivize morality itself, giving rewards one way or the other for sparing Little Sisters or whatever – instead, maybe leave that mechanic in, but with *no* “tangible” rewards of any kind attached, and then incentivize the player to further *immerse themselves* in what is, at bottom, always going to be a simulation… and I think that incentive for *immersion* is transacted on entirely a different level than material cost-benefit analysis… degrees of immersion are trafficked in *awe,* and in *charm,* and *personality,* and *heart.*

        Ever play an RPG where you lost a member of your party, and while, technically, they were totally replaceable, their skills and items all having potential to be outfitted on someone new, but dammit you don’t *want* someone new, you want Arcade Gannon/or whoever! – and so you reload the game til you can beat that portion without losing your favored character? That’s what I’m talking about. Losing the character may not be an actual fail state, but if you *like* that character enough, it is a fail state to *you.* For instance, when I play State of Decay, I start over if I lose Marcus, tho I can lose someone else with equivalent stats and still “life/the simulation goes on…”

        It’s basically like how only behaving yourself to stay out of prison or hell has never been truly moral behavior and it never will be. I got more pangs of guilt and emotional consequence from that one, fleeting moment in Metro 2033, very early on, when you’re moving thru the initial market and someone meekly solicits you for some charity/spare ammo… at no point in that game, but especially not in that early portion, is any ammo “spare” – that perpetual shortage of ammo, combined with the element of ammo doubling as currency, is one of the game’s most brilliant tension-building mechanics. You’re presented with a bleak, unforgiving, openly hostile world which has humanity itself on the backfoot, and there is no incentive whatsoever to give this guy ammunition. He makes no offer of trade, I think he might mutter something sheepish about paying you back later, but it’s not presented in any kind of way that makes you believe it, and anyway, it doesn’t seem likely you’ll ever be back this way again… so why do I give him the ammo? Because of the overweaning sense of small, dense community built into that world, the ethos of duty and service laced into your consciousness by overheard conversations, by ambient scenes of need or suffering, by junk merchants’ plaintive entreaties for business broadcasting a pervasive economy of lack… and, with all that built up around it, the factor to actually tip my decision is the authentic sound of misery in his voice.

        While it would be very videogamey to reward me for that decision with some instant gratification – say, he gives you “this old key I found” for some unnatural reason and, lo and behold, it opens the only locked locker in the level and that locker is full of ammo and guns… but Metro 2033 is actually *good,* so that didn’t happen. Instead, I walked away doubting whether I should really have given him the ammo… and the game never gave resolution to that doubt. That NPC, in that moment, had me thinking of him as a person. The quality of the world-building was such that I felt the need to give the ammo because “we’re all in this together” and “anyway, it’s the right thing to do.” Frankly, within the context of the simulation, neither of those things are true… but they *are* true within the context of the (ultimately imaginary) *world* of Metro… The bottom line is that the incentive is greater to play as a “character,” instead of just a “player,” because it’s more *fun* that way… and if there’s a formula for producing that, as someone on the consumer end of these games, I’m not sure I want to know it..!

        /rambly tangent cus this stuff was on my mind already

        • malkav11 says:

          Not that it’s really relevant to your point, but there was never a mechanic in GTA where you could beat up a prostitute to get your money back. It’s a persistent myth. What’s actually happening is that they’re pedestrians and when you kill pedestrians they often drop cash. It’s not linked to your payment of them whatsoever.

    • MajorLag says:

      I was thinking along the same lines, something like “Consequence Enforcement” or “Decision Immutability”. Unlike most games where you’re only a few seconds away from erasing a mistake at virtually no cost to yourself, this mechanic forces players to truly think through their choices.

    • Rizlar says:

      ‘No Backsies’

    • geldonyetich says:

      It’s literally arguing semantics, and good luck with that.

      However, if “the inability to undo decisions that lead to death” is what he wants a catchall term for, it’s “persistent consequences” or “your decisions matter” and it is about as new a concept for video games as crates.

  5. Frank says:

    (Huh, stripping down this post and trying again since it got “blocked” when I first posted it:)

    And Ian Bogost, who frequently appears in the Papers, has a piece on VR man Palmer Luckey, “nerds”, “the ostracized”, “misfits” and “outcasts” (who, to him, are all one and the same):

    Misfits often stay misfits, even when fortune, power, and influence comes their way. And when it does, an outcast never forgets that he (yes, of course, he) was once cast out. If able, he takes revenge—preferably by burning down the institution of popularity itself.

    Personally, I find this gross. Sure, I don’t like trolls, but I don’t know how he can generalize to so many; much less to psychoanalyze them all at once. Plenty of people stay outside the mainstream by choice and offer us a different perspective from there. We call them iconoclasts and it is usually a compliment.

    • Frank says:

      Looks like the cite= part of the blockquote doesn’t actually put the link anywhere, so: link to theatlantic.com

      • P.Funk says:

        The atlantic? Oh… I try to steer clear of them.

        • Frank says:

          I almost always enjoy the stuff that makes it into the published magazine. …Maybe lack of editorial oversight of this online-only post is somewhat to blame here, but mostly I think the piece belongs to Bogost.

    • poliovaccine says:

      While I do take your point, I might argue that your point is nonetheless embedded within the one you’re responding to – it’s not necessarily calling someone a troll to say they remain an outsider and attack the institution of hierarchy that made them that way. For reasons I’ll withhold for now, I tend to conceive of myself as a permanent misfit, and I tend to see that particular point being made as one I personally relate to, one which is accurately descriptive of many other folks I know, and one which is maybe a bit general and incautious in its speech (“revenge” has an undeniable supervillainous connotation), but nonetheless worth saying. I think the major hang up you encounter is taking the way it’s phrased – understandably – as implicitly negative.

      But if you put that connotation aside and take more of the point the article was *trying* to make, instead of the clumsy one it actually said, I don’t think that point necessarily precludes yours from also being true. Tearing down the current, common institution of what determines popularity is precisely what an “iconoclast” does… this article just paints that bit in some broad, garish strokes which make the language easy to argue with… but I think if you take a charitable view of what this author was trying to say (more of one, frankly, than the slipshod wroting deserves), you might see how I come to defend that point.

      Though ultimately, like I say, my first and foremost rubric for gauging a response is my self-identity as a bit of a died-and-cast misfit myself (those reasons I withheld til now are mostly adolescent-onset schizophrenia, almost a decade of subsequent heroin addiction, and enough LSD to put Syd Barrett right again and still have the bottled mania left over to power the supercolliders at CERN – not that there have been lasting physiological changes, but, uh, I’ve been exposed to a view of things which is quite impossible to send back, should I even want to, and it is no stretch of the imagination, nor is it any kind of self-pity, to resign myself to the reality of my own permanent weirdness… you cant describe quantum phenomena in the first person and expect any less… and yet, I’m only as weird as people think – your ideas are only whack until you can convince someone else to entertain them… I just work in IT these days, so weirdness doesn’t show much, by lack of significant contrast hahaha..)

      Btw, this is only meant to respond to that one particular point out of the article. It had a chance to say some interesting things, by virtue of the material, but the author wasn’t suited to the task. There is too much of that clumsy, shortsighted, overgeneral, incautious writing to it overall, and I wouldn’t be replying about it unless you, the commenter, hadn’t made a good counterpoint which illistrates exactly those shortcomings… as it is, that clumsy writing unmakes about every point the author sets out to make.

      But I did find that particular bit resonant in spite of itself, and so when I saw your reply about it, I wanted to dispense my two bits.

      Cheers

      • poliovaccine says:

        Sorry, double negative towards the end there – you, the commenter *had* made a good counterpoint, as in you *did* make a good point, where what I actually typed would mean the opposite… so hey, if we can’t have an edit button, how bout an emoji bemoaning the lack of one..??

      • Frank says:

        Yeah, I now see your point that a more charitable interpretation is possible. Thanks for your thoughts on it.

        Even looked at charitably, it’s hard to get past the gender stereotyping (“yes, of course, he”) and insistence that tearing things down must be an act of revenge, when it’s often driven by idealism (perhaps again like a supervillain). But, as you say, not much point getting into the minutiae of a rather flawed essay.

        Re the typo, yup, I got your meaning :)

        • poliovaccine says:

          Yeah, actually, wow… I managed to somehow read right past that bit about “yes of course, he” without it actually registering – I guess I was too busy thinking about the rest of the sentence and your own point about it – but, uh, sheeziz, that is… kinda out of left field, actually.

          I mean, usually when someone comes out with some racist or sexist or misogynistic line, I don’t have to agree with it to at least still comprehend the perception they’re having and responding to… typically I’ll have witnessed its correspondent thought process in action before, in the shape of some dick fighting some poor stranger on the bus or something… but the idea that “outsiders” are always male is just confusing to me. How can men rule the world and also be the big victim of it? I actually don’t understand that line at all, except maybe along the most prepubescent notion of gender pride/gender dominance..? Like, boys are better cus girls have cooties…??

          This isn’t hyperbole or anything, I legit don’t get it, haha… by all means, if you (or anyone else who’s reading) think you know what he’s talking about, please do point it out to me – don’t worry, I’m not the sort who’ll then call you sexist just because you’re capable of explaining it haha… I’m just, uh.. not even able to do *that*… and I am earnestly curious…

          Thanks for pointing that out – interesting, anyway… Boy I sure do resent when the wrong person writes about a topic. There’s some good discussion to be had in the reality this essay responds to(!), but holy mustard did the author fucken bungle it…

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            BertieDugger says:

            How can men rule the world and also be the big victim of it?

            That seems rather obvious to me. Not all men are the same. Not all men rule the world, and not all men are outsiders or misfits who feel rejected by the dominant paradigm.

            It’s not an article about all men, and it’s not sexist (as you seem to be saying) to claim that misfits who seek revenge on those who slighted them are usually male (I’m not sure I agree that it’s always men, but I don’t think it’s sexist to make that assertion).

          • Llewyn says:

            Some of what Bertie says above, but also I think that Bogost isn’t referring to the ‘outsider’ in this context as actual victim, but self-identifying victim.

            That is, we all know there’s a lot of inequality in the world of the form of groups of people being oppressed by another more dominant group (usually middle-aged, middle-class white men, ie me – I’m sorry, ok?) The real victims of that oppression usually know that they are part of a group and don’t think they’re being targeted individually, which I’m sure doesn’t make matters any better.

            Bogost’s ‘outsider’ presumably feels that he is being individually oppressed, either by a system or by individuals, whether he is genuinely oppressed or not. He may burn with a righteous anger and desire to prove the world wrong. It’s him against Them.

            Those sort of people are, in my limited experience, almost always male.

            The above is merely my interpretation though, I have no idea whether this is what Bogost actually meant.

          • Llewyn says:

            Oh, for goodness’ sake. Only the first ‘think’ was supposed to be italicised.

            The System is conspiring against me.

    • Shuck says:

      Yeah, it’s hugely problematic to lump together “nerds”, “the ostracized”, “misfits” and “outcasts” and use them to contextualize a particular strain of anti-social behavior that included spree killings and, in this case, funding a white supremacist hate group. Especially since the “outsiders” we’re talking about are very privileged people to begin with.

      • pepperfez says:

        I think it’s specifically the combination of identifying as an outsider and having tremendous privilege that’s at issue here. If you’re a billionaire who considers himself an underdog with something to prove, you have some serious personality issues.

    • Josh W says:

      Yeah, this is an amazingly bad piece. The number of dubious and self defeating identifications he makes..

      “Wow isn’t it surprising that the occulus rift guy funded racists”

      “No it’s the opposite of surprising, it’s inevitable, anyone who wants to create inventions that change the world is inevitably motivated by seeking revenge on society, and so is by nature anti-democratic and cruel to other minorities”

      Maybe add a few exclamation marks.

      I’m going to make some outrageous statements now, hold onto your hats:

      Idealism and desire for material progress =/= Exerting maximum force
      Technology =/= Denial of reality
      Remembering times of oppression or being outcast =/= Seeking Revenge

      It’s strange to start your story with a “truth is stranger than fiction” thing about old movies, and then repeat the narrative logic of “Carrie” in full with no irony.

  6. TillEulenspiegel says:

    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.

    This hurts my brain. What do shooters have to do with anything? There were plenty of first-person non-shooters before Dear Esther.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      I haven’t read the article, so I don’t know the context of the quoted text, but it also seems a little odd not to consider shooting to be a fundamental part of the first-person shooter.

    • Turkey says:

      It’s a well known fact that Dear Esther was originally meant to be a shooter. Then one day the developer was reading a programming book in front of his computer which obscured the gun on his screen. Eureka!

    • Jeroen D Stout says:

      From what I remember Dear Esther was conceived as a shooter with elements removed, even if long before it games like Riven flirted a lot more with making the investigation of the landscape more important than the ‘gamey’ elements.

  7. Michael Fogg says:

    Can anyone else see a big ‘preorder now’ Xcom 2 banner on the gamespot Ubisoft interview? I think something’s wrong with their ad system :)

  8. Distec says:

    “…I defended the proposal by giving people my real name as proof it wasn’t going to be a big deal. My name was information that was freely available, so it seemed like a non-issue,” says Whipple. “But as one could expect I became a target for the whole thing and received a lot of death threats, threats of sending stuff to my house, releasing whatever info they could find.”

    This is horrifying, and yet it was also probably the most succinctly made point, ever.

    And it’s why I’ll never understand the small movement of people who think we need less anonymity online in order to have a “safer” internet.

    • P.Funk says:

      Its really quite amazing how hostile many people are to traditional ideas of privacy. This idea that I should have to be identified clearly everytime I interact with the world, and today that means on the internet, is no different than if I were compelled to present papers to be inspected publicly on demand, which most would associate with some sort of fascist nightmare from the early 20th century.

  9. Karyogon says:

    Supralinear.

  10. poliovaccine says:

    On the subject of “permadeath” – are there types of games where it is or isn’t optimal? Or is it a primary enough feature to change other components of the total equation?

    What I mean is, for an example, Just Cause 2 was designed as silly, bombastic fun, and so a lot of people responded to a sudden difficulty spike partway in by just using trainers and such to actually have infinite health – because that actually made the game *more fun,* allowing more crazy antics without any irritating yet otherwise inconsequential deaths interrupting them – whereas it’s obviously easy to think of at least a jillion more games where that infinite health business would just ruin it instead.

    But if Just Cause 2 were a “roguelike,” would it encourage people to play it as some kind of ginormous island sandbox Splinter Cell, where huge catastrophes are fully possible but not at all desirable? Or to use the game’s tools, and those big, choreographable disasters between cars and jets and your explosive arsenal and your grappling hook in some dramatically different ways? Would it result in something almost like a James Bond game, where big stunts must be balanced with careful planning and discretion? Or would it just piss people off and make them go play a different game altogether..?

    Permadeath seems to lend well to platformers/arcade-style games, but is that just cus we’re used to it? It’s hard to imagine permadeath working well in some in-depth RPG where you meticulously level up abilities and stats in a custom and personal configuration, only to lose it all at your first and final mistake… and yet, as I write that sentence, I start to envision ways where it could at least potentially work. I mean, in old arcade games, “lives” were often a finite commodity. That sort of thing might almost lend itself to a barter system in something like Dark Souls today, in some cool-looking marketplace of the damned, where sometimes the price gouging is literal – dig me?

    Curious to hear other thoughts on the notion. Also, whether or not you think permadeath is that primary of a feature, what are some other features you believe are primary/far-reaching/consequential/powerful enough to alter the whole equation of what a game (or at least its gameplay) actually *is*? Stuff like first vs. third person perspective, vs. both vs. top down and isometric, or stuff like open vs. linear, the inclusion of an inventory, the inclusion of skills and stats, the inclusion of friendly NPCs, etc, etc? Those are a few at least potential such potent, primary features I could think of off the top of my head, but those could be both added to and argued, I’m just trying to give some prompts/examples.

    And specifically about permadeath, is it necessarily one of those types of features, a literal “game changer?” If so, why so, and if not, when not?

    And is there a logical next step/natural evolution? A next best step in death mechanics?

    Personally I feel some things in general which stand long and venerated enough are needlessly consecrated, which prevents innovation along those same lines that are purportedly valued so much – that’s speaking of videogame design standards or anything… and sometimes I worry permadeath will turn into that, and basically become the next “jumping puzzles.” In the sense that it will have been a once-innovative but now-tired old trope upon which paralyzed designers rely to shortcut any number of things. It seems like it will be made archaic when a new and better consequential-death mechanism can be dreamt up… something which incentivizes both surviving, and also not save-scumming, but rather wanting to play along with/live with the consequences of whatever your various choice… suggestions freely welcome.

    Cheers – I’ll be interested to read it if anybody responds..!

    • hernique says:

      I think you’re reading too much into it. Permadeath is one mechanic and of course it changes a game (as much as if Just Cause 2 was a turn-based affair, silly notion but because it has no application), it’s a question of design. There’s no better mechanics or evolution, because it’s a matter of choice and intention.

      The revival of permadeath is, in fact, a cultural response to the notion that games had become too easy or in the habit of handholding too much. There are games where there’s no fail state. Games can be whatever people want them to be I reckon.

      • Drakedude says:

        A roguelike is a game with no fail state. I sure as fuck don’t play roguelikes for the masochism, i play them because theoretically you never have to replay a level. That’s what the creator of rogue himself is saying.

  11. hernique says:

    thanks for reminding me of nujabes

  12. Distec says:

    What a shame that this article feels the need to throw in a pointless reference to Elliot Rodgers. Also a shame to see the pearl-clutching over Peter Thiel. I know that the journalist “class” wants me to be super concerned that the destruction of a morally bankrupt and unethical dumpster fire like Gawker required a billionaire’s money, but… nah, I’m really not feeling it.

    What the fuck either of these things have to do with Mr. Palmer funding MEME MACHINES outside of the most tenuous of connections, I have no idea. There’s good subject matter to be mined out, somewhere in there. Which is why it’s so unfortunate that Mr. Bogost elects to shit into his own lap periodically throughout the piece.

  13. invitro says:

    Winkie’s article includes this: “There are legitimate reasons to be angry about videogames [sic]”. Hmm, I don’t think I’ve ever been angry about video games. Maybe I’m playing the wrong (right?) games? What are these legitimate reasons? Video games don’t seem to be nearly important enough to be worth getting angry about.