The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for spending time with visiting friends, but we can still squeeze in some time to gather and read some of the week’s best writing about videogames. Apologies for its brevity.

Production editor Tony Ellis departed PC Gamer this past week after 14 [prod to check] years at the magazine. You’d be forgiven for not knowing the name since production editors are less likely than the editor and writers to have their picture smeared across every page, but word-by-word they’re arguably more responsible for shaping the tone and quality of a magazine than anyone. Tony was the longest-serving staff member at PC Gamer and in his position helped shape successive generations of writers, both full-time and freelancers, and many of us at RPS benefited at one point from his careful editing and ruthless feedback. Years later, I still regularly recall his advice when I write and edit other people. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

There’s very little of Tony’s own writing online unfortunately, though you can find a few short pieces at his PC Gamer author page. Just know that when you’re reading anything else there, or here, or many other places online, Tony had a hand in improving it or in improving its writer.

At Eurogamer, George Osborn attended a Football Manager multiplayer tournament with a growing public crowd and online following. This sounds like great fun.

Once the decision had been made to go ahead with the tournament, two challenges emerged: establishing a format for it and then recruiting tournament participants. At the broader level, the tournament was structured as a heat-based knockout system. Between the 6th April and the beginning of May, the team decided to host four sixteen-player tournaments in London, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow with the winner of each going through to an outright grand final on 4th May in the capital.

Bayonetta’s release on PC has provided an excuse for the internet to re-praise the game, which is a good thing, because it’s more than deserving. Here’s Simon Parkin, also at Eurogamer, on why it’s still the best brawler around.

Ōkami, painterly and poised, was a fairy-tale told with elegance and style. You played as a wolf god but this was a game rooted, not in the mystical, but in the pastoral. Wave a celestial paintbrush and you could revive wilted plants, raise vines, and even summon the sun. Such magic was localised, alas: shortly after Ōkami’s release, Capcom shuttered the game’s developer Clover Studio. A few weeks later its director, Hideki Kamiya, struck out on his own, co-founding Platinum Games (initially known as Seeds). It took three years to build, but when Bayonetta emerged in 2009, it showed Kamiya in a very different mood. Furious, playful, lascivious and grand, the game’s Sarah Palin-esque star wore slick leathers, thick-rimmed frames and a demon-possessed hairdo. Yes, this was break-up game development writ large. Here was a boisterous counterpoint to Ōkami’s tender refinements, a screaming f**k-you to constraints of genre, of style and even physics.

Pip Turner writes about Proteus and nature, juxtaposing real walks with his experiences in the game.

Proteus understands the ever present subtle movement of nature. It flows and twists and turns. The island lives: frogs jump, trees shed their leaves, seasons change. Day turns into night, stars winking as you journey beneath them. An ever changing dynamic score by David Kanaga only emphasises this eternal change — the music drifts in and out. Leaves sparkle, sharp structures and statues cause your hairs to stand on end. Stars spread themselves across the sky leaving you wide eyed with wonder.

Martin Kitts at Games Radar tried to kill every target in Hitman with an explosive rubber duck, with mixed results. The article is using this as an example of the game’s flexibility and quality, though some of the stories, I think, reveal the game’s limitations.

There’s no special person who needs protecting, no ‘game over’ for killing too many civilians. You’ll never be forced to stay within a particular area and you won’t have to go back to a checkpoint if you get spotted. Even the most liberal open-world games will make you replay a mission for failing some of those conditions, which makes Hitman all the more remarkable when you consider what a traditionally rigid genre it comes from. However hard you try, you can’t break it. Hitman is the Tonka truck of stealth.

I watched all of Noclip’s documentary on the making and elements of Spelunky. I’ve yet to finish The Witness doc but I will.

At Kotaku, Jason Schreier pulled some cool GIFs of engine rendering techniques out of a documentary about the making of Horizon: Zero Dawn.

Music this week is Lipstick Adventure.

From this site

15 Comments

  1. LearningToSmile says:

    Maybe I should give Proteus another try – it was one of the walking simulators that left the faintest impression on me.

  2. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    I feel obliged to point out that while the NoClip episode on The Witness is very good, it’s also extremely spoilery. It does begin with a spoiler warning, but the warning is worded far too gently considering that the second half of the video spills the beans on the game’s best kept secret and its coolest moment. So I’d advise against watching it if you don’t know what I’m talking about here.

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorLag says:

      I feel obligated to chime in and emphasize this point. Literally the most interesting parts of the game are given away. If you watch it before playing through The Witness, you will regret it.

  3. Railway Rifle says:

    Out of all possible ways to describe Bayonetta’s character design, I don’t think “Sarah Palin-esque” would have occured to me. I see what he means, but still.

    • pepperfez says:

      The fact that “dark-haired woman with glasses” has somehow been claimed by that hateful dimwitted grifter is, if not the worst thing to come from her candidacy, at least the most irritating.

  4. Railway Rifle says:

    Also, I’m a little disappointed that Lipstick Adventure is a music recommendation and not a contemporary RPG. Light on combat, heavier on charm and social mechanics.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Ben King says:

    I swim in a small games criticism media pond and after catching up on some Crate and Crowbar episodes hopped over to listen to a little round table chitchat on development with some “immersive sim” designers over at PCGamer.
    link to pcgamer.com

    • Catterbatter says:

      Oh wow! I clicked on that link, saw Tom Francis, scrolled down to see how they profiled him, and found out he wrote the article that convinced me to play Deus Ex. I like that Tom Francis.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Phasma Felis says:

    Did you mean to leave “[prod to check]” in there? Or was that the joke, since it’s about a production editor?

  7. kwyjibo says:

    Now that he’s standing down as MP, I’m sure Osborne will have lots more time for Football Manager.

  8. H-Alien says:

    referring to the Horizon: Zero Dawn docu – May I just say that the VPRO is one heck of an awesome broadcast company. Besides stuff like this docu about game making they produce top notch non gaming related programs. Perrty much the only telly programs I watch always turn out to be VPRO. Sometimes we just don’t appreciate good telly enough (on public channels, imagine that).

    …..and back to gaming :D

  9. MiniMatt says:

    Bonus Sunday Paper offering – Kokatu has a *really* good piece up on autism and gaming. Lots on how ASD people can find games helpful, how it’s become a term of abuse in more toxic communities, and oddly conflated with “nerd” in others.

    I’ve only tangential experience with the condition but it looks like a really well researched and pleasantly approached piece.

    link to kotaku.com

    • H-Alien says:

      Thanks for the heads-up!

    • Premium User Badge

      teije says:

      Yes, quite good. Forwarded to my wife to “get” some of the appeal of gaming for someone on the spectrum.

  10. Catchcart says:

    Pip Turner’s piece captures the sense of Proteus quite nicely. For something less dare-I-say impressionistic, I think Yahtzee’s “Let’s Drown Out” of the game does a very good point-counterpoint job of communicating why the game might appeal or not appeal to different audiences. As a bonus, it’s also hilarious.