Sundays are for relaxing. It’s a long weekend here in the UK, but by freeing me from the burden of work – I say, while writing this at 10pm on a Saturday night – I find it’s really just freeing me to spend time thinking about parts of the site I don’t normally have enough time for. (In other words, I’m sending emails bugging other people on the team.) For now, onwards with the week’s best games writing.
A group of No Man’s Sky players ‘settled’ in a particular region of space in order to work together and map its systems. Then the 1.3 patch shifted those systems, their trade routes, and the planet’s terrain such that the area became unrecognisable. Now the people who had settled there need to find a new home, as reported by Gita Jackson at Kotaku.
According to player 7101334, the founder of the Galactic Hub, it was supposed to be a place where No Man’s Sky players could settle into an organized community. The goals of the project were to create a place in the enormity of No Man’s Sky where players would have familiar landmarks, so they could get started with a bit more of a guide. Scott, also known by his handle UniDestiny, said over the phone that the first thing every player would see when they got to the hub was the Lennon star system, which is the designated entry point into the Hub for all players. “Everybody posts a pic of getting there, and going down on the planet,” he said. “For some of us, it took a long time to get there.”
Cultural junk food gets less respect when it’s girly. Katherine Cross at Gamasutra argues that manly junk food like Die Hard is celebrated as “an acceptably good time”, while Twilight and Jupiter Ascending are dismissed, and that the difference is gender.
Where manly junk food of the Die Hard vintage is considered an acceptably good time at the movies, something like Twilight is regarded as an abomination fit only for a cleansing flame. A more muted but still omnipresent sneering accompanied the release of Jupiter Ascending as well. Or consider the difference in cultural regard between spy novels and romance novels; Ian Fleming is worthy of the Vintage Press special edition treatment, despite his undeniably schlocky writing. It doesn’t take a genius to see why, of course.
At Gamescom, Matt Lees of Shut Up & Sit Down and Cool Ghosts gave a talk about cultural complicity: how all of us working in and around games are responsible for the tone, atmosphere and people that make up games culture, and what we can and should be doing to make those things better through our work.
I’ve enjoyed reading all the re-visits to No Man’s Sky this past week, including Austin Walker’s enthusiasm over the new story at Waypoint.
In the second major act of the new main questline, you’re searching for a missing friend and working with a mysterious cybernetic ally, whose lines are written with a sharp style of disaffection and indifference. These quests offer a bit of tutorialization if you’re starting a fresh game (guiding you to some key tool upgrades, getting your base up and running), and even these drip-feed tantalizing ideas about the game’s world and people in a way that the original No Man’s Sky never managed to do successfully. What phrases like “double the lore” fail to communicate is that the lore is actually good, and as importantly, it’s delivered in a surprising number of ways.
Pip linked me to this, presumably because she’s got a Google Alert set up for “Poirot”. Ian Boudeau writes at Paste that Hitman is an accidental Agatha Christie game.
Hitman shifts the perspective of a mystery story not to the continuously baffled dogsbody, but to the object of the investigation: the killer himself. As Agent 47, you’re not following someone around the way Watson or Hastings must, and you’re not looking for obviously-highlighted gameplay nodes, the way you do in Arkham or Assassins Creed games.
PC Gamer published their annual top 100, giving you an opportunity to go complain that number 32 is higher than number 77 and so on.
Tom S: A World War II RTS that distills the noise and fury of Saving Private Ryan into a clinical game of take and hold. The first Company of Heroes is still a design peak for Relic. The asymmetrical power curves of the Axis and Allied forces create an absorbing tug-of-war. In a long-fought game infantry armies give way to tank warfare, and the destructible maps are gradually levelled. There’s a sense of escalation to every fight, and the campaign features some of the best levels Relic has ever made. I keep coming back to it every year to see if it has faded yet, and it still hasn’t happened. It looks great for an 11-year-old game, and sounds incredible, too. The unit barks are baked into my mind, but the chatter still gives the battlefield a sense of life, and the ker-chunk discharge of a tank’s main weapon is as impactful today as ever.
Bryant Francis and Alex Wawro at Gamasutra spoke to Mark Essen about Nidhogg 2 about the changes to the art style between the first and second game.
The new Taylor Swift is percolating in my brain. I love pop music, if that’s not already clear, and I like a good deal of Taylor Swift’s previous music. The new track seems bad? But bad in a way that’s still getting stuck in my craw. I’ve heard it described as being like Taylor Swift’s parents paid for her to record a song – a la Friday – and like Friday, it’s an earworm anyway.
But as a backup, let’s say music this week is Sober by Childish Gambino.