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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for re-introducing baby to grandparents, and hoping the weather stays nice for the week. We can round up some good games writing but the plane lands, though.

At PC Gamer, Luke Winkie profiled a father who quit his job to run a Minecraft server for autistic kids. An excellent thing.

Running Autcraft earns Duncan significantly less money than his former day job, but he takes donations on Paypal, sells cheap in-game perks (like bypassing the teleport cooldown), and hosts 131 backers on Patreon who contribute $1,557 a month. This is a place to play, where many kids on the spectrum make their first friends. They can interact with one another without feeling lost. It’s supposed to be the happiest place on Earth. Your average free-for-all Minecraft server isn’t much different than a middle school hallway, but Autcraft is different. It’s a refuge.

I played The Witcher 3 for six hours and then drifted away from it, but I’m still interested in learning how it was made. I therefore enjoyed this GDC talk from Kacper Niepokolczycki on how they built the city of Beauclair.

Mr. Donlan at Eurogamer writes that things in games are having a moment, about all the wonderful physics-simulated stuff that now inhabits every game world.

I half remember a brilliant review from the old, old days – which in games probably means it was around ten years ago at most. This review was for a shooter sequel of some kind, back in that period when designers were starting to experiment with putting physics objects into their games for the first time. The shooting was fine in this particular game, the review stated, but the environment was a problem. All those physics objects, those parts of the background of games which were suddenly, emphatically, promoted to being parts of the foreground. They got underfoot. They got in the way. They turned a John Woo ballet into a prolonged Laurel and Hardy pratfall. I wish I could remember the game, but in truth, the date alone would do. The date that games first encountered things – properly encountered them – and then discovered that games and things had to coexist.

Multiple people recomemnded Django Wexler’s latest Crusader Kings II diary to me, and it is indeed worthy of recommendation.

Last game, my goals were to establish the Empire of Israel and rebuild the Temple, and thereafter to generally grab as much territory as possible. This time, the objectives are similar but not identical — I want to reform Germanic paganism into an “organized” religion and fight off the Christians, establish the Empire of Scandinavia, and ultimately reform the tribal Norse into a feudal society. Assuming I get that far, which is by no means guaranteed, then we’ll see what’s next — becoming King of England sounds attractive, and there are Germanic holy sites in Germany that need taking. Let’s get started!

Pip ate a boardgame for Shut Up & Sit Down this past week. I’d like to eat it too.

In the time it takes my companion/opponent to move his knight to a new square I have broken off a piece of the game board and stuffed it into my mouth, crumbs on my T-shirt volunteering the specifics of my crime.

On the plus side, I am road testing one of Jenn Sandercock’s edible games – The Order Of The Oven Mitt – and thus I have a mouthful of gingerbread rather than cardboard. On the less plus side you aren’t supposed to eat the board yet and I’ve just remembered I don’t like gingerbread.

At New Normative, Rogan Louwrens draws connections between glitching in games and speedruns and queerness in the real world. That, “Glitching is by its very nature queer. Or rather, queerness is by its very nature an act of glitching.”

‘Okay, now this part is a little confusing,’ Narcissa says near minute 47. Utterly failing to contradict herself, she starts by dropping a fish from a bottle and catching it again. ‘I’m gonna try to play my Deku stick, which it’ll dupe over because I don’t have any,’ she continues, if that means anything to you. ‘That’s gonna write a bottle over my B button, which also sees that I have the fish, which wrote 20 Deku nuts [into my inventory].’ Next she throws seven Deku nuts – no more, no less. ‘And now I’m gonna drop another fish. I’m gonna catch this fish.

‘Now I’m gonna backflip and play my bomb.’

Tim Colwill writes at Polygon about how Valve is not your friend. Which is true, but they’re not your enemy either and the valid criticisms here are mixed in with misremembered history and buried underneath a mountain of polemic.

Perhaps Good Guy Valve did exist, at one time. But beneath the glassy smile of Good Guy Valve today lurks an altogether more cold and corporate beast, a textbook rent-seeker that is profiting from both hostile practices and a bizarrely customer-supported near monopoly on PC game sales.

Music this week isn’t music but is this real-time video of Mateusz Urbanowicz painting in watercolour.

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Graham Smith

Editor-in-chief

Graham is to blame for all this.

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