Sundays are for sleeping through the night. Maybe? Hopefully? Finally? Please? I guess the day can still be about reading about videogames.
At PC Gamer, Alex Wiltshire – a frequent contributor round these parts – wrote about the psychology of loot boxes. There’s lots of good detail in here about the specific ways Blizzard design their loot boxes in Hearthstone and Overwatch. Personally, I like games with loot boxes you need to shoot with a gun to open. Also! This article includes my favourite pigeon anecdote.
This behaviour is actually common across many species: Skinner discovered in 1947 that even pigeons exhibit it. He observed that they’d practise little rituals in the hope that they’d cause food to appear, including turning around in their cages or nodding their heads, and yet the food was given to them at entirely regular intervals. The absence of any explanation of why the food appeared had conditioned them to believe their actions caused it. On a deep level, our own minds work the same way.
I enjoyed this wonderful piece by Chris Donlan at Eurogamer about how having a dog has turned his life into an RPG. Particularly because I live in Brighton now and crave the wisdom of older people.
Cricket has changed two things that, it turns out, do a lot for my experience of the outside world. When I go into town with her, I now discover that I am not allowed in most shops or restaurants. Most business in Brighton are now set decoration – like most businesses are in an RPG. And I also discover, as Cricket and I sit outside Waterstones while my wife and daughter go inside, that people want to come up and talk to me. You know, like in RPGs.
Mr. Biffo has come to the same conclusion as every parent: the Nintendo Switch is for old people and that’s why it’s awesome.
Nintendo feels real, feels genuine, feels like it doesn’t give a shit about being cool. Those days have passed, and – as I get older – I despair at anyone’s attempts to mask who or what they really are. Whether you’re a person or a games console, just be yourself and stop trying so bloody hard. You’re not for everyone, not everyone is going to like you, just accept that and be you so that you can be embraced by those whose tastes you match. That’s the Switch. Life’s too short for anything else.
Rich Stanton at Kotaku wrote about Starfox 2, the ‘lost’ Starfox sequel which had just been released with the SNES Mini. He appraises its qualities and faults in the context of the time it was made.
What’s happening here is that Starfox 2 has a structure that, at the time, must have seemed like a great idea. This is a game all about replay. That was a quality at the time it was made, but now almost works against it. I played on Normal and, without dying once, finished the game in around 40 minutes. What Starfox 2 now expects me to do is to play on Hard mode, try different combinations of pilots (you have six to choose from, and two can be active at any one time), ferret out the secrets and better my final ranking. You can’t criticise the game for that, not least because this is a well thought-out way of evolving Starfox’s multi-route structure. But I’m not going to be doing it.
Tim Rogers is making regular videos for Kotaku, and this past week tackled Plunkbat.
Polygon have launched a new regular series: Pat’s Pets. In it, they review animals from games, and the first episode is about Red Dead Redemption’s horses.
These photographs are wonderful.
Music this week is Aliquot by Poppy Ackroyd.