The Sunday Papers

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?

25 Comments

Top comments

  1. imperialus says:

    Yeah... those comments... ugh. I remember quite distinctly absolutely demolishing my Dad's Civilization savegame when I was about 7. I mean how could I not play? He had bombers, and aircraft carriers and all sorts of cool stuff while my save was still puttering around in the middle ages.

    He got his revenge almost 30 years later though when we were playing Civ V online supposedly as allies. He quietly built a massive nuclear arsenal, and flattened me in a single turn. As the nukes my indignant sputtering and cursing over the skype call was responded to with: "Never forget March of 88. A day that will live in infamy."
  1. Spacewalk says:

    Music of every week is High Spirits.

  2. kwyjibo says:

    How is Sword & Sworcery considered an “art game”? It was a traditional adventure game. If you got the impression it was an art game, it was marketing so that the iCrowd who are embarrassed about games could write about it.

    There was a time when anything marketed as “art game” would get coverage by default, regardless of its merits, so that writers bored repeating Call of Duty press releases could appear cultured.

    But now there’s so many of them, none of them get any coverage. And even the ones that do, the reaction is mostly apathy, because they’re neither good games nor good art. Thanks indiepocalypse!

    • Baines says:

      The art game moniker comes in part because Sword & Sworcery very much looks like a game where art took precedence over game design. Heck, when people criticized design issues, others stepped in to defend the title with the argument that it was more of an art game than a regular game. It was also released during the early boom of the modern indie market, when various titles were seen as a bit art-y. And its very creation came about because a pixel artist went looking for people to make a game out of his artwork.

      I’m not saying it is an art game (and instead just think it is just a not-that-great game), but it has always had that connection.

    • BooleanBob says:

      It called itself an EP for Gods’ sakes. Games can be whatever they want but when you explicitly don the trappings of musology you’re sending a clear signal with your marketing.

      I agree with the ‘two stools’ problem that I think Joel kind of gets at and you do in your last paragraph. It’s not a problem that art games exist purely to be art. In fact that can have rather good results. It’s that when they hedge their bets by throwing in a few bones of traditional games design that things start to go wrong.

  3. Scraphound says:

    Steer clear of the BOTW article’s comments section. I do this to myself every time. Smile at the clever irony. Check the comments to see what thoughtful remarks my fellow readers have contributed.

    Then lament the failed educational system while desperately hoping those posting are no older than 12.

    • imperialus says:

      Yeah… those comments… ugh. I remember quite distinctly absolutely demolishing my Dad’s Civilization savegame when I was about 7. I mean how could I not play? He had bombers, and aircraft carriers and all sorts of cool stuff while my save was still puttering around in the middle ages.

      He got his revenge almost 30 years later though when we were playing Civ V online supposedly as allies. He quietly built a massive nuclear arsenal, and flattened me in a single turn. As the nukes my indignant sputtering and cursing over the skype call was responded to with: “Never forget March of 88. A day that will live in infamy.”

      • Scraphound says:

        “Never forget March of 88. A day that will live in infamy.”

        I think I like your dad. Ahh, the ides of March. The day Rome succumbed to nuclear obliteration. Never forget.

      • Premium User Badge

        Skabooga says:

        Your father has just become my hero.

      • UnholySmoke says:

        Launched a nasal jet of tea all over my keyboard. Priceless.

      • Jay Load says:

        This might just be the best gaming story I’ve ever read. Your Dad is a legend.

      • kshriner says:

        +1! Haha, awesome share. Thank you.

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        That is priceless!! Your dad sounds awesome.

        I guess my own dad would have to find a way to nuke modern Windows on my computer in a way that’s recoverable by fiddling with autoexec.bat and/or config.sys, but that doesn’t sound quite so amazing…

    • simontifik says:

      Oh man, why are comment sections like a car crash. I know I shouldn’t slow down to look but I can’t help myself.

      A guy who is putting lockable cupboard doors on shelves to stop his kid getting his hands on a Transformers collection…

  4. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    My candidate for music of this week is courtesy of Insignus from the “Get hyped” thread on the forums:

  5. Wulfram says:

    “The players will come for the cute characters, and stay for the cruel mathematics.”

    This sounds more attractive to me than is probably intended.

  6. causticnl says:

    They are doing a Dear Esther live concert tour in the UK link to lauraducceschi.co.uk

  7. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    There’s an interview up about the writing process for 80 days and it’s pretty good stuff.

    link to inklestudios.com

  8. Ghostwise says:

    The Tim Rogers article is a tad chaotic, but it’s fun.

    And yeah, video games did teach us great way to manipulate people. We are nearing the point were it’ll be feasible to manipulate most primates into extinction via FaceBook crapgames, freeing the Earth for the secret feline overlords before it’s utterly broken.

    Not that I would know anything about that, obvs.

  9. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Ah, yes, the RPS Podcast was my music and “music” earlier today. :)

    Thanks for the link to the improv+game stuff! A bit unstructured and… experimental?… for my musical tastes, but I love the concepts.

    The closest I’ve gotten was arranging and helping perform a medley of Nintendo music for a couple wind ensemble pops concerts back in college. It served as the backing track to the final round of the year’s Smash Brothers tournament played on a big screen, and it was great fun for me (and presumably others), but the only improvisation was a big repeat when the round went into overtime. Being a not-so-great musician myself, I can only imagine how difficult and rewarding the stuff these folks have accomplished would be. As the one with the gamepad or kb+m, I imagine it’d be a real dream having a live acoustic backing track of any sort.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Kiwilolo says:

    Speaking of the RPS podcast and music, what is the theme song for it? I’m in love with that song and can’t find the name of it anywhere.

  11. Kurokawa says:

    Worst offender in the “art games ruined by gameplay” category’s got to be Naissance for me.

    It’s a beautiful examination of abstract architecture, full of surprise and joy and wonder.

    And then it turns into a terrible first person platformer of the “one wrong jump means certain death means you have to repeat the whole section” kind.

    Few games frustrated me as much as this one…

  12. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I got depressed halfway through that series about games monetization, and had to stop reading.

    Man.

    I’m glad I work in IT, instead of being a businessman. Thinking about nothing but manipulating people out of their money sounds depressing as hell.