The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for trying to make a videogame. I’ll be honest, that’s what they’re always for, I just don’t mention it. But they’re also for rounding up some games writing from across the week.

At Gamasutra, Bill Borman did some statistical analysis to try to discover ‘hidden gems’ within Steam. It is, by his own admission, not a perfect method, but it does turn up some interesting results.

Wuppo is again a good example of this system. It’s looking like it’ll get around 329 reviews per year since it has 200 reviews now, but it’s been out less than a year. This is above the 150 reviews/year “no effect” cutoff, but the penalty also comes in slowly; so because it’s such a good game and it’s not that popular it still gets in at #15. Castle Must Be Mine and The House in Fata Morgana also make it in from the previous list, with the latter shooting up to the top spot now that all the big popular games are gone.

Sticking with Gamasutra, Alex Wiltshire spoke to developers at Arkane Studios about balancing storytelling and player choice in Prey. And about poop food. Top stuff.

Talos-1 runs on eels.

This large space station, setting to Arkane Studios’ recently released emergent sim Prey, deals with its residents’ effluent by sending it to large vats where it’s consumed by the things. When they’ve grown large enough, the eels are caught and butchered and their flesh is sent up to the station’s restaurant to be served back to the crew as sushi, setting up a self-sufficient cycle of energy.

At Kotaku, Gita Jackson reviewed the best dressed characters of E3 2017.

Billie Lurk looks incredible in the trailer for Dishonored: Death Of The Outsider, and a lot of it has to do with this look. I would commit sins to grab this cowl-necked leather jacket with its bright red panels, which seems tailor made for the discrete murders Bille performs. Not only is it practical—leather is a tough material that’s hard to puncture—but it makes her look like someone you don’t want to fuck with. I also really like the silky handkerchief tucked around her neck, which softens up a very hard, edgy outfit.

At Glixel, Steven T. Wright talks to Tom Fulp, the founder of Newsgrounds, to talk about the website and the early-’00s Flash gaming scene. I never used Newgrounds much, and when I did it was mostly to watch Ultimate Showdown over and over, but I did play a lot of the games referenced elsewhere such as Spank the Monkey. (And in the game?)

But for those of us who couldn’t afford or couldn’t bother to build a nuclear-grade PC to sample the likes of Half-Life 2, Flash games offered an enticing alternative. Perhaps the high-octane juvenile thrills of games like Spank the Monkey and Club a Seal couldn’t quite compete with the likes of Counter-Strike or Call of Duty, but then again, Spank could run on your grandma’s old Compaq.

Rab Florence has taken up residence at Waypoint with a monthly column about deaths in games. This week he looks at the taut swordfighting of Bushido Blade, and how performance factors into its duals.

In Noh theater, the beat of the kotsuzumi drum accompanies the performer, supporting and anticipating his decisions. Here, I feel my heart beat, and I raise my sword to a more defensive position. It is a motion that brings the world back to an apprehensive stillness. My opponent waits, again. There is no rush to the curtain call in this performance.

The audience is enthralled.

At Heteropias, Ewan Wilson writes about the lifecycle of a Rust server, which begins as a barren wildland, then becomes populated by human structures, and then is left to crumble and rot.

Prior to the appearance of crude stone and sheet metal blocks thrown down by players, Rust maps begin as wild, empty stretches of procedurally generated tundra, rocky desert crags, and verdant hills. Alongside this natural terrain squat the primordial “monuments”. These structures are tactically positioned across the game’s post-apocalyptic island to entice wandering players with the scrap and high-level technological components. Whilst the week long wipe cycles mechanically establish and manufacture Rust’s structure of growth and decay, the monuments work to cement the game’s overriding atmosphere of societal breakdown.

This Twitter thread is interesting, in which game designer Liz England writes about Scribblenauts and assumptions players made about what was handcrafted vs. systems-driven.

I enjoyed this video of Chris Bratt and Aoife Wilson handing out Eurogamer’s E3 awards.

Music this week is Jack de Quidt’s soundtrack for the latest series of Friends at the Table, which is now complete.

17 Comments

  1. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    Just because the Gamasutra article reminded me, why did the “you should always play the female when given the choice” running joke come about? I think is was Mass Effect that really kicked it off, but I never really knew why (the fact I bounced off the first Mass Effect maybe not helping).

    • gwop_the_derailer says:

      I dunno about other games, but in Mass Effect the driving factor was that Jennifer Hale played a more entertaining asshole than Mark Meer.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ghostbird says:

      It’s a running joke? I thought it was common sense.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I always saw that as a MMO thing. People tended to be less assholish and more generous when first meeting you if you had a female avatar.

      • aircool says:

        For me it was, if you’re going to spend hours at a time looking at a computer generated arse, may as well make it a female arse…

        • BryanTrysers says:

          That was Ian Livingstone’s claimed reasoning for Tomb Raider “What would you rather watch – some hairy-arsed scaffolder … or the pert-bottomed, large-breasted Lara Croft?”

        • DasBlob says:

          For me it was that in RPGs I liked to build characters with high dexterity/intelligence and low strength/constitution, but many RPGs did (and some still do) offer only two body types: Waif-like female and hulk-life male (I exaggerate a bit).
          Mass effect did not have that problem – but then I went with FemShep anyway because of Jennifer Hale.

    • Alex Wiltshire says:

      Ha, it’s funny, Ricardo referred to Morgan Yu as a he during our interview, and because I’d completely forgotten that she could be male, it sounded completely weird.

  2. gwop_the_derailer says:

    Those Rust screenshots are great. They look like a more cheerful STALKER.

    • fupjack says:

      More cheerful STALKER? I’m not sure how you could make a less cheerful version.

      That being said, I may try Rust now that you said that.

    • Monggerel says:

      STALKER not cheerful enough?! Madness!

      The game is positively Cheeki.

  3. Arglebargle says:

    Bushido Blade was about miai, irimi, bridging the gap, entering, distance. Feeling the movement of your opponent, judging the arc of their swing. Knowing when to dance backward, when to dance in. Still one of the best abstractions of that sort of fighting game. Blades twirl; bamboo falls, so slow.

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      MajorLag says:

      Or, you know, running around your opponent in circles until you can run into the back of their legs, tripping them.

      I really liked Bushido Blade. One of the most unique fighting games I ever played.

      • Holderist says:

        Agreed. Arguably the best sword fighting duelist game next to Jedi Academy.

  4. Premium User Badge

    quasiotter says:

    Wow, me too! I don’t know why I watched it, because characters killing each other made me sad, especially as a teenager. Heck, watching or playing Smash Bros. weirds me the heck out…

  5. Ghostwise says:

    The “hidden gems” stats experiment is fun.

    Though having many such games belong to niche genres that a stereotypical gamer would never touch isn’t an utter surprise.

  6. frogulox says:

    I had no idea rust was actually kind of attractive. It was logged in my head and muddily textured naked mans in hastily potulated autoforest.

    Some of those shots look lovely.
    Game lovely.
    Probably not actually lovely.
    I imagine them in reality with graffiti battles scrawled from end to end, piles of industrial refuse built up in corners in addition to the weathered stone and cracked window panes.