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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for selling your car, assuming it starts when the nice people come down to see it. Let’s not think about it too much and distract ourselves with some fine games writing from across the internet instead.

Rich Stanton wrote about Trials of the Nine, Destiny 2’s PvP more that can only be played on weekends. I fear I’ll never get the chance to try this, because it sounds great.

The first time I heard about Trials of the Nine, Destiny 2’s premiere PvP mode, it sounded like a pain. My issue wasn’t anything to do with the mode so much as it being time limited — you can play it over the weekend, but not during the week. “What if I want to play on Wednesday?” When I eventually had the chance to experience the Trials, however, it became clear why Bungie had done this. Trials of the Nine is designed to feel like a special event, and everything is about how the mode and matches are framed.

David Shimomura at Unwinnable writes that the game take is the worst take, which criticises articles that tackle real world subjects through the prism of games for being reductive and missing their mark. I feel like the article suffers for not using real examples, though I understand why it didn’t want to point fingers.

“Prestige” game writing has always operated under a kind of broken promise. We want to dive deeper into topics, challenge big ideas and current events, but there’s really very little prestigious about what we’re doing, or pretending to do. When we say prestige, we mean good. We just want to write good articles. Instead, we, Twitter, and our echo chamber have convinced ourselves that “How Are Gamers Affected by Obamacare” is a worthy headline.

Another Lost Phone is out now, which surprised me since the first game, A Normal Lost Phone, came out just earlier this year. Brock Wilbur spoke to the development team about the sequel, what they hoped to do better this time around, and the challenges involved. This made me want to play it.

Asked about transitioning the original title to this more elaborate version, art director Houali said that the impact the first game made upon players seemed to be something they could easily build upon because there were so many other subjects the team wanted to tackle. Diane Landais shared that the team through this would be easy to accomplish by simply adding a few new apps. Then Landais laughs because, of course, nothing is that simple.

I was going to link a Twitter thread but now I don’t have to. Robert Yang wrote up Matt Walker’s Twitter thread writing up a CEDEC 2017 talk where designers from Nintendo talked about how they designed Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Specifically how they designed the topography of its open world, and it’s fascinating.

Nintendo’s talk is about how they aimed for dispersed player flow instead, to get a more even distribution of player routes, and allow for more individualized traversal. To do so, they agreed on a concept of “gravity.” Instead of marking out a specific path somewhere, they would create these sort of bowls / funnels that direct the player to “orbit” around certain landmarks and points.

At Kotaku, Laura Kate Dale wrote a list of the videogame characters you never knew were LGBT. Mostly you don’t know because the fact was only revealed in sources outside of the game, such as comics, short stories, developer interviews.

Oryx is the titular character of Destiny: The Taken King, and he’s a transgender male character. He’s a king of darkness who had the power to bend reality to his very will, had been designated female at birth and transitioned to male during the ritual that granted him these godlike levels of power and strength.

While both Laura Kate Dale and Keza MacDonald worked together to write the highs and lows of PlayStation Vita. Anyone I know who owned a Vita only ever seemed to use it to watch movies. I eventually bought one secondhand so I could play Persona on it, but it came with a broken screen. I sent it back and never replaced it. This article only partly makes me wish I had, but it’s interesting throughout.

So: what went wrong? A big blow for the Vita, particularly in Japan, was Capcom’s decision to move the Monster Hunter series from Sony handhelds to Nintendo’s. Monster Hunter games – especially Freedom Unite, which was omnipresent in Japan at the end of the ‘00s – sold a combined 10 million copies on PSP. But Monster Hunter Tri came out on the Wii not long after the Vita launched and on 3DS a few years later. Monster Hunter 4 on 3DS was a mega success. The Vita had plenty of Monster Hunter-inspired games, including some weird and interesting ones like Keiji Inafune’s Soul Sacrifice. But without the real thing, the PlayStation Vita never really had a system-seller.

Speaking of handheld devices and indie games, Christopher Dring at GamesIndustry.biz spoke to developers about the Nintendo Switch gold rush. The platform has a captive audience who don’t have enough games to play, but is it even now getting too crowded for indies to really capitalise? My gut says no.

Savvy indies have flocked to the machine and the escalation has been rapid. Last week, some 18 games were made available on the Nintendo eShop. It might not be anywhere near Steam levels, but it raises the question: Is it already ‘too late’ to capitalise on the Switch opportunity?

What happens to your Steam account when you die? Chris Bratt investigates as part of his Here’s A Thing series.

The Blocktober hashtag rumbles on, as developers continue to share screenshots of their in-progress level design work.

Ian Sinclair has a new book out, again exploring London, but this time charting its rapid death to artisan bakers and corporate sponsorship. There’s a review in the New Statesman. I love Sinclair’s writing on cities and me and my beard are excited to read this new book, perhaps over expensive coffee and some sourdough in one of Brighton’s artisinal bakeries. I am the problem.

Writing in righteous anger as much as sorrow about a city in which the virtual has supplanted the actual, Sinclair makes a series of polemical peregrinations, a kind of loser’s victory lap. He waywardly beats the bounds from his home in Haggerston, with its park (the playing fields co-opted by an academy school managed by a Swiss finance company) and shuttered public baths, to the Shard’s sky-high luxury pool, and on to Forest Gate, Barking, Penge West, Anerley (“exotic names. But is this London?”), Waltham, Tilbury, Gravesend and Hythe.

Music this week is Saint Saviour’s This Ain’t No Hymn, though I prefer this live version.

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Graham Smith

Editor-in-chief

Graham is to blame for all this.

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