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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for cooking something new. What new recipes should we attempt together? Read the week’s best games writing and then let loose your suggestions in the comments below.

This was linked in the comments last week, but you might not read those, so: a developer at Kotaku wrote about how they accidentally made a racist videogame. A straightforward argument for the benefits of diversity.

The worst moment of my career was imminent. Just before the launch event, we were fixing bugs and going through Xbox certification when one of our artists dropped a bombshell.

“Dude, how come the game doesn’t work?”

I looked at him blankly.

“What do you mean? I played it this morning and it worked fine.”

This is almost a year old but I missed it at the time: Tom Phillips at Eurogamer on what went wrong with Spintires development. This is before the supposed ‘timebomb’ bug happened but still contains more detail into the publisher and developer than I’d seen before.

It’s fair to say Spintires has made Oovee a lot of amount of money. How much money? Oovee hasn’t said – and it is this refusal to divulge the company’s finances that has left fans restless. Oovee’s earnings before Spintires were small – in the four figure range. After? Well, there’s this local news story from February 2015 about Saxton and his £135k Mercedes, complete with personalised Oovee number plate. It had been splashed by paint stripper just two weeks after Saxton had purchased it. Whoever was responsible had acted out of a “combination of opportunism and jealousy,” a “livid” Saxton said at the time. One year on, Oovee had far bigger problems – it was about to have all of its assets seized by the crown.

At Gamasutra, William Pugh writes about his own journey from co-creating The Stanley Parable to founding Crows Crows Crows, developers of free games like The Temple of No and Dr. Langeskov. It is funny and earnest by turns.

After taking our first project to a festival in 2014, I nearly quit the industry altogether. Our game had excellent aspects to it but it was broadly flawed, and it would have definitely disappointed those who had the perception of me as one of the minds behind the IGF winning, BAFTA nominated Stanley Parable. The walls were closing in — if I was to capitalise on the success of my first game & not fade into obscurity, I would have to release something soon, whilst TSP was still floating around in the public conscious, but if I flipped back to the Source engine & attempted to replicate TSP’s process too closely I’d be pushing the problems down the line and trapping myself in the long term.

While at Gamasutra, read this Deep Dive by Louis Philippe Dion on dynamic audio in destructible levels in Rainbow Six Siege. I knew the audio was incredible and important in Siege, but I’d never considered the challenges of changing soundscapes as walls get knocked down.

There are basically three main concepts in the physics of sound propagation: Reflection, which is when a sound bounces off surfaces; Absorption, which is when a sound passes through a wall but absorbs certain frequencies along the way; and Diffraction, which is when sound travels around objects. You can hear these phenomenon in everyday sounds. Many other factors of real life come into play for localizing sound but I will focus only on the propagation side of physics and how we managed to simulate it.

At PC Gamer, Steven Messner writes about how the Prison Architect developers broke the Geneva Conventions. You may have seen the video about this made by Introversion themselves, but this digs a little more into the issue.

When Mark Morris and Chris Delay of Introversion Software began working on Prison Architect, they knew it was a game that would stir controversy. They never expected, however, that a simulator about the incarceration of cute, blobby humans had the potential to make them criminals themselves. Their crime? Displaying a tiny, five-pixel wide red cross on the hood of the ambulances and backpacks of paramedics. It might sound laughable, but it just so happens that those five pixels arranged just so are an internationally protected symbol.

Waypoint started a new (their first?) weekly video series called Guide To Games, in which they highlight “a specific game, its influences, and its legacy on the gaming landscape.” The first episode deals with the first Titanfall. The format of the video is obviously designed for embedding on social networks, but they’re punchy and digestible and I think I’ll like them a lot as they inevitably cover games with which I’m less familiar.

Joel “Electron Dance” Goodwin released the first two chapters of his coming book via Itch. It’s about the indie revolution and the issues it faced and faces, and I’ve read some of it and it’s good.

Adam linked me to this excellent article by Steven Johnson (author of many popular science books) on what children (and adults) can learn by designing a board game. It’s an activity he undertook with his son, and it’s a great article.

Games that rely on actual probability tables — like sports simulations or Dungeons & Dragons — can be great tools for teaching a fourth- or fifth-grader basic math, but I would argue that the more important cognitive tool you sharpen is the ability to make rough estimates in your head. Blossom didn’t have anywhere near the statistical intricacy of my dice baseball games, but you still found yourself doing rough probability estimates in your head constantly: There are about 25 cards, and two pest cards, so there’s a little less than a 10-percent chance that you’ll draw a pest, which means in a two-player game, you’ll get a pest once every six hands or so, but you could easily draw 10 hands without getting one at all if you were a bit unlucky…

Music this week is not music at all but a noise generating website. I used to be a dyed-in-the-wool believer that pink noise was best, but I may soon change allegiances to brown noise.

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Graham Smith

Editor-in-chief

Graham is to blame for all this.

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