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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for packing before taking your kid on a plane for the first time. Nothing can go wrong, right? Let’s… Let’s not thing about it. Let’s round up the week’s best games writing instead.

I don’t know whether I’ll find the time to play Mafia 3, but I enjoyed Austin Walker’s interview with one of its writers.

So I’m just curious how… How is a player like me, who hears that shit for real—not “nigger magic,” obviously, I don’t do much magic—but who has had “nigger” hurled at him by dudes carrying bats, who has received lynch threats… How am I supposed to react when I hear that in the moment-to-moment gameplay, and not just in a specific bit of characterization.

[Pause]

Digitiser wrote about Half-Life 2, with a specific focus on how great the Gravity Gun is. I don’t know that I agree with the following paragraph, though I suppose it might depend on your definition of “first-person shooter” and where it tips over into neighbouring or new genres.

This: I can’t think of a first-person shooter since Half-Life 2 which has really tried to do something original with the genre. By that I mean something which feels entirely new, and offers new experiences that you’ve never had before. Imagine unwrapping a loaf of bread, and slicing into it, and there’s a can of Tuborg baked inside. This was Half-Life 2.

This got its own post earlier in the week, but at Gamasutra Martin Stig Andersen, sound designer on Inside, wrote about how he recorded the game’s sounds with the help of a human skull. Worth linking twice.

People are often shocked when they hear themselves recorded, because things sound totally different inside your head. Things sound much softer in there, more full, in a way. This is because a large part of what you hear is your voice resonating inside your body, in your jawbone for example. Try blocking your ears while you speak or sing; that’s the sound I’m talking about.

So I had the basic idea of trying to recreate sounds as they would sound if they were happening inside your head. That was the curious thought that led me to acquire a human skull and experiment with it.

While also at Gamasutra, Torben Ellert, lead online designer of the new Hitman, wrote about designing the game’s elusive targets. That’s the feature whereby the developers periodically add a briefly available new target to an existing level, which players have a single attempt to try to kill.

Hitman is a party game. No, seriously. The game’s serious tone with its lethal undertow of grim humor makes for immensely shareable experiences. From the beginning, we knew we would see highly skilled players working together to take out the targets. But it still surprises me how quickly they crack a Silent Assassin play-through, and begin to refine it. But, obviously someone has to go first, and make the mistakes so everyone else can learn from them.

At The Guardian, Holly Nielsen and Kate Gray team up for a feature on the best and very worst sex scenes in videogame history. To repeat the warning from the top of the article: “This article contains sexual references, including but not limited to: interspecies sex, taxidermilogical sex, extraterrestrial sex and post-coital human sacrifice.”

Kate: So, when we decided to write this, we did a lot of – ahem – research. This mostly consisted of watching the relevant sex scenes in a busy-ish cafe and saying “Oh my” a lot. But we also looked up what other people liked in a video game sex scene, and this was one popped up over and over again. And, quite frankly, we’re a little baffled by that. We assume these ‘best video game sex’ lists are usually written by guys, but you have to be especially naive to think that good sex ends with bleeding out on a sacrificial altar.

PC Gamer’s Andy Kelly designed a Doom map and then got Id’s designers to critique it, which, dang, I wish I’d thought of.

This was another criticism: that too many of my traps were tied to picking up items. This assumes that a player’s going to pick up absolutely everything, and means many will miss out on some or all of your set-pieces. They also noted that the green lights I’d pointed at a few doors to make them stand out to the player were confusing, because they made people think they were locked with a green keycard. Of course! I should have thought of that. Other negative points included the wave event being too long (I should have had three waves instead of four) and a lack of text or points of interest to assist navigation, especially at branching paths.

This is a great track from the GNOG soundtrack.

But music this week is various lofi hip-hop mixes on YouTube. Try this one.

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Graham Smith

Editor-in-chief

Graham is to blame for all this.

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