Sundays are for childcare and comment moderation, sometimes more so than they’re for rounding up a weekworth of good videogames writing. Sometimes. This weekend we return to distract you from long weekend with some more good reads. Let’s be quick.
At Eurogamer, our own Alex Wiltshire writes about Mass Effect Andromeda and the quest for great facial animation. Interesting details from interviews with animators in this.
Cubic Motion, which provided motion capture for Horizon: Zero Dawn’s cinematics, produces algorithms called solvers, which take these scans and use them to interpret highly accurate and nuanced facial animation from motion capture data. “So you might take a smile, and break that down into ten different controls on the rig, and our tech then takes the actor’s performance and does a solve for each of those controls to create the animation.”
At the wonderful Waypoint, Jack de Quidt writes about Ghost Recon Wildlands, its beautiful world, and the suffocating effect of its ultra-violence, dumb politics and squad of hyper-masculine berks.
Right after beginning the game, I noticed a strange thing. Climbing into a car without waiting for my squad, I set off suddenly into the countryside and made it a short distance before, soundlessly, they appeared in the empty seats. I stopped, and got out of the car, and they piled out too. I climbed back into the vehicle and screamed away down the road without them, only for them to pop back. The squad will appear, faultlessly, in boats and helicopters and semi trucks. Sometimes they’ll begin an anecdote about a general who wanted to be paid by reference to how large his balls were. Sometimes they’ll open fire out of the windows.
Also at Waypoint, Jake Tucker on what it’s like to curate an indie games event, based on interviews with organizers of Feral Vector, Wild Rumpus and Now Play This.
Holly Gramazio, half of Matheson Marcault alongside fellow game dev Sophie Sampson, is the director of Now Play This, and has another audience to think of. Now Play This, part of the annual London Games Festival, has to appeal to casual fans and people drawn to an event billed as culturally significant and held at the capital’s Somerset House contemporary arts center. In other words, people who probably aren’t literate in the language of video games.
At GamesIndustry.biz, Nicholas Laborde writes that games have the power to change lives, based around an anecdote of a game he made that compelled players at its end to call a loved one. I am suspicious of thinking along these lines, as I think it often leads to well-meaning but shallow games which wear a mask of worthiness to mask minimal intrinsic value, buuuuuuuut it doesn’t need to be that way.
I’ve since become fascinated with the idea of games having a real-world component as part of their gameplay. This is not about a motion or fitness- based component (and is certainly not to discredit those games); rather, this is about causing real-world change as a result of playing a game. When the impact of Evangeline’s end-goal hit me, I can say that it was the closest thing to a “spiritual” moment I have ever experienced. I knew that I had to keep pursuing the idea of real-world action as part of game design. As Raconteur Games begins pre-production on our third game, we’re thinking of this real-world component and how our game can make the world a better place simply by players entering into our world.
Vanity Fair profiled Uwe Boll, infamous terrible film director of many game adaptations. He runs a restaurant in Vancouver now.
For someone known for his trolling and vituperative outbursts, Boll is also an instantly likeable and convivial host. We meet at Bauhaus, in the Gastown district of Vancouver, the restaurant he opened just before he decided to quit filmmaking. “That’s the wiener schnitzel,” Boll says over the pounding noises coming from the kitchen. “They have to hammer it.” There is one gigantic painting on the Bauhaus wall that says, in giant letters: “ART.”
Joel Goodwin attended Rezzed this year, and didn’t say hi. The bast. But he did write up lots of the games he played there, which you can find via this index post.
Radio 4 series Only Artists featured novelist and games writer Naomi Alderman in conversation with ceramicist Grayson Perry about computer games.
That’ll do. It’s a holiday, after all. Music this week is this live cover of a Nujabes track.