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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for checking what’s left on the house move todo list. Only a little over a week left until we abandon an non-EU tax haven island for a larger, aspiring version of the same. Let’s pack our bags with some of the week’s best writing about games.

Mark Serrels’ son is ruining his Zelda: Breath of the Wild save. This is something I recognise but have not yet precisely experienced, but all things in due course.

The next step is the arrows. I always check the arrows.

Before my son discovered Zelda I had near infinite supply of every arrow in the game. I had about 200 regular arrows and around 50 of every other type. I had 50+ Guardian arrows which are super rare and super expensive.

Alex Wiltshire, often of this parish, spoke to developers about how they deal with bugs. There is some good anecdotes within, and we’d all benefit from understanding more about these kinds of game development processes.

The player side of the experience of bugs is straightforward. They raise amusement, irritation and sometimes spluttering anger, and they should all be fixed. But players don’t really know so much about the developer experience. That’s despite the relationship between players and developers growing closer than ever over the past 10 or so years. In the era of internet-delivered patches, Early Access and the rise of indie development, players are caught in the swirl of the development process as they pore over changelogs and offer feedback.

This is from last year, but I only read it this past week. Patrick Miller, designer at Riot and exert in fighting games, wrote an article to help you decide which fighting game is right for you.

Marvel is obsession. Marvel is the highest highs and the lowest lows. Marvel is the largest predictor of unemployment, underemployment, and semi-professional poker-playing among my friends. Marvel is the battleground between the cosmic forces of Order and Chaos, and if you play Marvel, you might just learn where you stand. You don’t quit Marvel, you recover from it. The spirit of Marvel is in you.

This is great: Joel Goodwin writes about the frustrating tendency for art games to rely on “unambitious and disappointing” traditional game mechanics. Aka stop trying to make your art games into games.

Outside of small, free stuff, the first game I can remember that triggered this type of stomach-lurching disappointment was Sword & Sworcery (Capybara Games & Superbrothers, 2011). Sure, it had Twin Peaks references and occasionally you got to manipulate the environment in interesting ways but then there was a bit where you had to find invisible hotspots floating in the air and hit them in the right order. This was the great Sword & Sworcery? A few memory games? I even felt a twinge of dissatisfaction in my beloved Kairo (Locked Door Puzzle, 2013) which had a sequence puzzle among its earliest challenges.

Someone linked this in the RPS this past week, which prompted me to read it again. Tim Rogers at his best, talking about social games.

I am sitting at the head of the table playing Action Button Entertainment’s ZiGGURAT on my iPhone. I designed this game and am the director of its team of three people infinitely more talented than I am at everything except math and acting like a jerk in public. During this meeting no one is going to mention my game — though during the next one, the guy with the money is going to ask, while someone else is at a toilet break (he drinks a lot of green tea), “What is that? It looks awesome,” and I’ll say “I designed this game” and he will ask to play it; he’ll die six times, his groan of excitement upon death gradually escalating to football-spectator volume by the sixth death. He’ll hand my iPhone 4 back, casually touch his fingertips to his forehead, and say, “I want that.” Then, after a pause, once I’ve jumped back into a game, he’ll say, without a trace of irony, “What is your monetization strategy for that?”

Final Fantasy XIV is experiencing a “housing crisis.” This is because “there are around 2,600 housing plots for twice that many players on any given FFXIV server.” Katherine Cross writes about it for Gamasutra and argues that players shouldn’t be angry at each other about it, and that Square Enix should recognise that it’s their design that has created the situation and resulting fallout. From a Kotaku story linked within:

Frustration over Final Fantasy XIV’s housing shortage has come to a head after two players angered a lot of others by buying up 28 homes in the land-strapped massively multiplayer online game. Now, players are questioning whether virtual housing is an equal right or a privilege meant for the rich and over-dedicated.

Joost van Dongen improvised a live musical score while people played Journey and Ori and the Blind Forest. Interesting! There’s a post about the performances here, including some video. I’d love to play a game in this situation. Also check out van Dongen’s Cello Fortress.

Usually when game music is performed live the original soundtrack is replicated by musicians on stage. We however completely ignored whatever the original soundtrack had sounded like and improvised based on what we saw. The resulting music is different with each performance and sounds nothing like the original soundtrack. The fun of improvisation is that it’s entirely in the moment. You don’t know what’s going to happen and it will never happen in the exact same way again. A truly live experience! Sometimes we might make mistakes, but sometimes we might also improvise the most intensely awesome music. Doing this in response to a game that’s being played live is really exciting!

Music this week is, I’ll be honest, nothing. Go listen to the RPS podcast instead?

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Graham Smith

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