The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for hanging out with your kid, taking them somewhere fun, and hoping they’ll play on their own for at least a few minutes while you browse on your phone. Quick, before he or she notices the phone in your hand – click these links to the week’s best games writing.

The lovely Rab Florence, our former Cardboard Children columnist, is launching a new tabletop game review show. It sounds very Rab: Cast The Bones is described as, “a Lovecraftian horror satire about a dead board game review.” I will definitely watch this. It’s currently up on Patreon and at the time of writing a little more than halfway towards its funding goal.

Board game video reviewer Ben Eddings had a small but loyal viewership. His folksy lo-fi review show “Cast The Bones”, created in his own home, made him a small living and gave him a sense of purpose. But now Ben Eddings is dead. And his story has caught the eye of a journalist, Sophie Bakerleigh. What happened to Ben Eddings? Who is uploading videos, pretending to be him? Why is his cult still growing? And who is the true designer of the sprawling, poisonous board game The Lord Of Blank Faces?

Chris Donlan used the release of a mobile spin-off to talk about why the Titanfall series might have failed to capture the huge audience it no doubt deserves. I agree 100%.

Titanfall’s fiction is of a very utilitarian future. It’s mining corporations in space, as far as I can tell: everything’s beige and grey and quarry-ish. This is intentional, of course: Titanfall’s selling you its fiction with all this stuff, and it seems to want to make mechs that fall out of orbit seem entirely plausible. But it also serves to hide the true wit and invention that lurks at the heart of this series: a series where you get to flip time back and forth to create platforming speedruns, or in which a house is built around you during a fight through a training facility.

I enjoyed this new podcast from Kotaku, Fave This. In the first episode Gita Jackson and Patricia Hernandez discuss “why it’s harder to become friends with strangers online now.”

Samuel Roberts at PC Gamer talked to developers about whether games respect their audience’s time, and the ways they’re changing to do better.

“I do think that every game dev who’s responsible for checkpoints should be forced to spend a year raising a child,” Kennedy says. “Sometimes you don’t have any option but to put the controller down. I think there are strong reasons to prevent someone from pausing or saving, but those reasons are sometimes overwritten because the real world has children, fires and grocery deliveries.”

Also at PC Gamer, Joe Donnelly tries to win a chicken dinner in Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds using only his fists.

I grew to understand what Gil Lawson was getting at when she suggested Battlegrounds’ map gets more haunting as you play it, happening upon quaint nooks and crannies I hadn’t previously realised existed—all the while becoming interminably frustrated by my inability to tuck my bloody legs beneath a bed frame or under a hedge or behind a parked car.

This story of how a crude joke snuck into a small town newspaper with disastrous (and expensive) consequences is wonderful and sad.

At first glance, it is a curious addition to my collection of misfit items, the others of which have obvious personal resonance. The headline, INEXPERIENCE FACES GREEN WAVE SOCCER, suggests nothing beyond some sort of small-town newspaper sports preview story, and the byline (Nick DeLeonibus) is that of a name that rings unfamiliar to most. Upon closer inspection, you can ascertain that the piece appeared in the Gallatin (Tenn.) News Examiner in the winter of 1997.

The secret rhythm behind Radiohead’s Videotape.

Gary Lineker is unexpectedly the hero we need.

A short Sunday Papers this week, because I didn’t read much and didn’t enjoy much of what I read. If you’re still craving words, I cheekily suggest the articles we published here over the past week, as surely there’s something you missed: reviews of LawBreakers, Nidhogg 2, Agents of Mayhem and Rez Infinite, Observer and Ultimate General: Civil War; a hands on with Twarhammer’s Skaven; what games can learn from the overlooked strangeness of the middle ages; how there’s a (co-op!) Dragon’s Dogma sequel you could be playing right now; the making of Long Dark’s aurora; the joy of cruising in Burnout Paradise; the things that make Pyre’s take on revolutions unique; a new episode of our podcast, and a bunch more.

Music this week is still bands from Japan. Try Shishamo’s Bye Bye.

36 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Indigo says:

    Aaaand… Bioware/EA have officially cancelled any DLC/SP additions and patches to Mass Effect Andromeda yesterday…
    Link to Bioware blog

    • Premium User Badge

      Grizzly says:

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo

      Although tbf that game is already full with content.

      • welverin says:

        No dlc? eh. No patches, that’s not good.

        I gave up on the campaign, because the random crashes sapped my will to keep playing.

    • mpk says:

      As disappointed as I was with MEA, this news is even more disappointing.

  2. Faldrath says:

    That Radiohead video is absolutely brilliant. Thank you for sharing.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      Yeah, thanks for sharing. I’m not particularly into their music (too Pink Floyd-depressing for regular listening), but I admire and like reading about the genuinely interesting stuff they do from time to time.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      She has done some other really good videos for Vox including a video on how Grey Poupon became so widely used in rap lyrics and she did a recent one on the origin of the 80s drum sound.

  3. Pich says:

    Another week of japanese music, another batch of recomendations from me:
    World’s End Girlfriend is one of the best post-rock artist around nowadays link to youtube.com

    Shinsei Kamattechan first album is a great and depressing noise rock record link to youtube.com

    and since this is a PC gaming website, i have to mention something from Touhou, which imo still have the best soundtracks in videogames link to youtube.com

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Thanks for these. Of the three I’m enjoying Shinsei Kamattechan the most so far. Clicking about on YouTube led me to realise they did the song over the end credits of Attack On Titan season two, which we just watched a couple of weeks ago.

  4. Kollega says:

    What’s interesting about Titanfall 2 is that for me, personally, the “thematic beigeness” was one of the upsides to the game. I actually wanted a sort of semi-plausible, used-future military sci-fi game in my life, which at the same time would be more than just a ripoff of Aliens… and Titanfall delivers, by actually making this sort of thing well-depicted and interesting enough to keep attention on. I feel that being outright cartoonish would actually detract from the game, and the way it is now, with down-to-earth-looking aesthetics for insanely advanced technology, and some much-needed color added to grey military sci-fi corridors by all the wallrunning and giant robots (and by having environments in colors other than brown), it looks exactly right for what it is.

  5. Baines says:

    Titanfall failed to capture a huge audience because it wasn’t Call of Duty or Battlefield, nor was it a masthead release (Halo, N64 Goldeneye/Perfect Dark) for a console. Regardless of its pedigree, it was “just another FPS” (unlike Destiny, which was able to bill itself as an MMO by Bungee).

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      And the first was multiplayer only, so absent rave reviews I’d assume the single player was only grudgingly added in the second and toss it on the cheap sale wishlist, but its Origin only so meh who cares?

      • Premium User Badge

        Graham Smith says:

        But Titanfall 2 got great reviews, every one of which praised for its singleplayer?

        Also, I don’t think those are the only situations in which shooters can be successful. I mean, look at Steam right now. PUBG? Warframe?

        • Zenicetus says:

          Those great reviews about the singleplayer also mentioned that it was a fairly short campaign. IIRC, something like 6 hours? Not exactly a selling point, for someone like me with zero interest in the multiplayer game. Not at full price anyway, and it seems games live or die now, based on their performance in the initial sales period.

        • Hedgeclipper says:

          Did it? I mean I’m sure it must have since you’re the professional here but my recollection of the RPS one was mostly about the multiplayer with a bit of ‘oh yeah and they added a short single player’. There certainly didn’t seem to be much word of mouth about them doing a great job of it.

          • pandiculator says:

            With all due and loving respect, TF2’s singleplayer was so good it got its own separate review here on RPS: link to rockpapershotgun.com

            And was on the 2016 Advent Calendar, as the best FPS, in a year that gave us Nu-Doom and Devil Daggers. So, it had its praises well-sung, at least around these parts.

          • Hedgeclipper says:

            “Before getting into the good stuff, a quick note on length…. game only having arrived today, but I fear I’m already close to the end. I’m only four hours in but reviews on Eurogamer and elsewhere reckon the whole thing is around five hours long.”

            So yeah the review was pretty positive I guess I got hung up on the length and five hours isn’t worth full game pricing to me regardless of how good it is. It still isn’t a game people seem to nominate much for good recent shooters though.

      • Urthman says:

        Titanfall 2
        Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
        Need For Speed: Most Wanted
        Dragon Age: Inquisition
        Crysis 3

        All games I’m theoretically interested in checking out someday but I keep forgetting they exist because they’re Origin exclusives.

        • Premium User Badge

          Grizzly says:

          Origin is a better games launcher then steam.

          There I said it :-P

          All the mentioned games are in that Origin vault now, too! So you can pay a monthly/yearly fee to err, rent all of them. It’s quite cheap, 25 euros per year is ridiculous for all the battlefields and Titanfall 1+2, and catalyist, and inquisition, and all the crysis games, and the Sims 4, and FIFA17, and this war of mine and orwell and all the need for speeds and

          Yeah

          • Premium User Badge

            Grizzly says:

            Oh! And Wing Commander.

          • malkav11 says:

            How so? I can’t think of any context in which Origin performs better than Steam, and a whole bunch of things it either does worse or not at all.

        • Zenicetus says:

          Yeah, that’s the other thing, and I’m sure it didn’t help sell it as a singleplayer campaign.

          I’ll put up with Origin for something REALLY good, or something that might be a train wreck but I’m still interested in the legacy (hello, ME Andromeda). I never got the impression that Titanfall 2’s relatively short singleplayer campaign met that criteria.

          Imagine if the new Wolfenstein game was focused mainly on multiplayer, and “Oh yeah, there’s a short singleplayer campaign attached.” How successful would that be?

  6. Dinger says:

    That Pearlman article is pretty good. Reminded me of back when I did software testing for an independent house a long time ago (someone mentioned Full Metal Planète; we did some final testing on that), 88-89ish. We’d often use the high scores for a variety of crude jokes. An NFL-alike game that didn’t pay for the licenses, so could only mention the towns (e.g., Green Bay, or Washington, D.C., but not the “Packers” or #). Well, we’d make sure in the leaderboards, the team names were differently-offensive, e.g., a dysphemism for anal sex for the Green Bay team, or making the Washington, D.C. team less offensive by naming them after prepuces). Similarly, we’d fill the high score lists with obscenities.

    Well, our boss didn’t tell us of the practice that some of our clients had of mastering the final test disc. The logic being: after all, if it worked for the testers, you know that copy is good. But when you have 10,000 copies of an obscenity-laden Amiga Outrun out in the wild, well that’s a teachable moment.
    Fortunately no libel, and no jobs (that I know of) were lost.

  7. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    I accidentally read the comments on that tweet. Does anyone have a bottle of rye I can borrow?

  8. Stargazer86 says:

    Who knew a story about donkey dicks could be so depressing.

  9. stringerdell says:

    Not surprised about Gary Lineker to be honest, good man. He isn’t afraid to speak out on various issues, catches a lot of flak for it in the red tops

  10. Cederic says:

    Gary Linekar appears to want May to criticise him.

    But maybe I came here for games writing. Silly of me.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      You don’t seem very upset by the sports article.

      • Metalfish says:

        Or the music that appears on this feature every single week.

        I do wish the “I wish [hobbyist website] would focus only [product without context]” people would all band together so they can be tedious elsewhere. Probably somewhere entirely void of all human culture or they’d be massive hypocrites….

        • Premium User Badge

          Graham Smith says:

          The Sunday Papers has always linked to non-games stuff – it does it a lot less now than it used to, but there are still a couple of links each week.

  11. freedomispopular says:

    Battlefield 1 release date: Oct 21, 2016
    Titanfall 2 release date: Oct 28, 2016
    Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare release date: Nov 04, 2016

    I’m pretty sure that’s the real reason for Titanfall’s relative lack of success.

    • April March says:

      I don’t know – I don’t think Titanfall is, strictly, a game for the COD/BF crowd (pronounced cod beef… crowd). If it didn’t sell because of that it might have been a failure to market to its audience rather than just a poorly chosen release window (which I guess would also count as a marketing failure).

      Then again, my Origin trial expired before I could play it, so I don’t know if my thoughts on it are correct. 🙁

  12. Chillicothe says:

    “…but those reasons are sometimes overwritten because the real world has children, fires and grocery deliveries.”

    And which is more important to an adult? Yeah.

  13. yhancik says:

    Yay, more Japanese music!

    Here’s another one: link to saicobab.bandcamp.com

  14. GeoX says:

    That Pearlman article is indeed wonderful and sad. Here’s a bit that struck me:

    “I can’t overstate the impact of the insinuation of homosexuality,” Kelly says. “I am not making a judgment on homosexuality at all. At all. But this was 20 years ago, in a conservative town and a conservative family. That was devastating.”

    Yeah, I know, the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. STILL, I can’t help thinking that even in this weird, alien world, the gay thing would be overshadowed by, oh, I don’t know, the BESTIALITY thing? Just goes to show.

  15. Carra says:

    Releasing Titanfall 2 in the same week as Battlefield 1 & the last CoD game doesn’t help much either.