Sundays are for baking something. Inspired by one of the articles below, maybe donuts? Find out which article by reading on through a roundup of some of the best articles of the week.
At Eurogamer, Chris Bratt has started a new video series called Here’s A Thing, which highlights small, interesting details and facts about games. The second episode, linked here, is about why the creation of each new Civilization game is led by a different designer.
Robert Rath writes at Waypoint about how a transit planner helped him improve at Mini Metro.
“A grid network is just a structure built out of that pattern, repeated over and over,” he says, ideally with lines that run all the way across a city and meet at 90 degree angles. Usually these lines run on north-south and east-west axes, but spider web patterns can work too. “This is why smart cities that aren’t [street] grids still try to create grid effects with their network.”
At Gamasutra, the latest Deep Dive is into the crowd simulation of Planet Coaster. This is super detailed in terms of the game’s aniamtion, pathfinding, and lots more.
We also spent some time looking at how the guests would behave in a group or family. Due to the nature of flow fields, you can’t easily ensure different particles will stay together even if they are going to the same goal, as the flow dictates where each individual particle moves. The solution was to put groups into a single particle in the simulation and move them as one unit. Each group has a radius within which members can move without affecting the flow simulation. Originally the family members were locked in formation but this looked very odd, especially when they turned corners, so we programmed in more freedom so they could rotate individually inside the particle so the relative positions of family members would move and shift over time for a more convincing look.
At Eurogamer, Rob Fearon asks that everyone stop screaming. We do our best not to contribute to any screaming, even while being critical of things, which is why eg. we don’t cover most “game controversies” eg. 15 people with a change.org petition as if it’s news. We hope you notice.
The run up to Mighty No. 9’s year-late launch felt like constant screaming. No-one even mentions it now, that all seemed hardly worth the effort. People downvoted a Call Of Duty In Space trailer whilst screaming, people screamed about translations and volleyball and then No Man’s Sky happened and hold me, I need a lie down. And don’t get me started on the ongoing circus around Star Citizen.
At The Guardian, Kat Brewster writes about what games taught her about vegan cookery. I am vegetarian and I do vegan baking but videogames didn’t teach me shit.
When it comes to games, I’m not alone in my obsessive pursuit of self-imposed restrictions. The concept of the “challenge run” – where players voluntarily add constraints to their playthroughs – is increasingly popular. A quick search on Twitch or YouTube will yield hundreds of results, whether it’s taking on the exceedingly tough Dark Souls Soul Level One challenge, racing against time finishing epics like Deus Ex in under an hour, or completing something like Fallout 3: New Vegas without killing anyone (or instead, killing everyone, if that’s your bag).
I saw Rich Stanton tweet this past week about how no one read his retrospective of Earthbound, written in the wake of Satoru Iwata’s death. It’s good, so here it is. Read it now, make Rich and yourself happy.
‘Human’ risks being a meaningless term so let’s define it in relation to a video game: a world and inhabitants that have emotionally engaging qualities. Ness is program code and a handful of sprites stitched together, but in my head I feel I know him, even like I’m friends with him. What kind of design leads to that and, for example, what kind of design leads to your average AAA Nathan Drake? The latter and his ilk go instantly into my mental box marked ‘video game character’ – I never for a second consider them anything more than a 3D model.
This was all over the place this past week. The developers of a side-scrolling platformer called Poncho wrote a post-mortem about the game, its development, and the mistakes they made along the way. It’s full of some terrible advice and some criticism of their publisher. Then the publisher responded, with another response from the developer below that. I wouldn’t normally link to ‘controversies’ in The Sunday Papers, but I feel like there are things to learn from all of this, so here you go.
If you ever get this feeling: “Meh, it’s good enough, let’s just release and be done with this hell”. Wait. You will regret it, even if you’re on the brink of homelessness and need money, suffer through it and wait. It will be worth it. You probably won’t make much money. Don’t risk your finances for years by going into debt and putting all your chips in.
I enjoyed Mark Brown’s recent Game Maker’s Toolkit video on The Last Guardian and the way it communicates its central relationship through the language of games.
Music this week is some chill jazz. Try Differently, Still by Badbadnotgood.