Sundays are for writing The Sunday Papers – mostly. Another fortnight has gone by since I last did so however, for which I can only apologise. Let’s me make it up to you with… links to articles about games.
Yussef Cole at Unwinnable wrote about Cuphead and the racist legacy of the animation period it references. This is great criticism.
So when Cuphead uses imagery of gambling, heaven and hell for its setting, it employs images and tropes that were established originally to make moral statements about the lazy and savage blacks of Harlem and their sinful “jungle music.” Calloway’s likeness may take the form of dice in Cuphead, but he is cast as a caricature in shorts like Clean Pastures and Swing Wedding -which depicts minstrel frogs who share a troubling visual proximity to the Ribby and Croaks boss characters in Cuphead.
At GamesIndustry.biz, Brie Code argues for a future she would want to live in, for games and for the world, and how we might get there.
Because of the internet, we aren’t stuck walking through the snow to the library, cursing ourselves for forgetting our gloves, discovering the library is closed, and then walking home risking frostbite in our hands and still wondering, ineffectually, whether a hurricane is a cyclone or not. We are moving on to deeper pursuits. We are free to learn fast, to exchange ideas, to connect, to validate our own experiences with others like us and therefore to stop questioning ourselves, and from there to build something out of all this.
When Valve were initially planning on turning Half-Life episodic, they contracted external developers to develop entries in the series. That included Warren Spector’s Junction Point, which worked for a year on an episode centered around Raveholm. Rick Lane spoke to Spector about the project, covering its intended story, mechanics, and eventual demise. It’s a good read, though there’s a lot that Spector doesn’t remember.
What Spector can recall, and in considerable detail, is the magnet gun, and how it would have functioned. “If I remember correctly, it was team lead Matt Baer who came up with the idea for the magnet gun,” he says. “It went through several iterations, but the one I remember was one where you’d fire a sticky magnetic ball at a surface and anything made of metal would be forcefully attracted to it.”
Joyce Weisbecker became the first female commercial video game designer in 1976. Fast Co Design (Fast Company Design? Co.Design?) spoke to Weisbecker and tell the story.
“I know there were no other women at RCA doing the programming,” she says today. “A couple of guys did and they were employees. I think I was the only person outside the company that actually got paid to do a video game. So I was the first contractor . . . and possibly the first independent video game developer, because I came up with the idea and pitched it, and they said okay.”
I liked this twitter thread by Xalavier Nelson Jr, which argues in defence of Hotline Miami 2. I disliked the game but this is a compelling argument.
I also enjoyed this thread by game developer Loren Schmidt on procedural colour palettes.
I’m interested enough in Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds to be hoovering up each new detail of the game’s in-development desert map, and so I enjoyed Ian Higton’s video for EG charting the way the map has changed since it was first announced.
Also at Eurogamer, Chris Bratt attended Blizzcon and spoke to attendees about harassment on Overwatch servers. It’s pretty heartbreaking to hear the people who say they’ve simply learned to be silent.
I never plan on pitching a game to a publisher, but I still found this GDC talk by former Sony employee Brian Upton interesting and entertaining. 30 Things I Hate About Your Game Pitch.
Music this week is again Shiina Ringo, though this time let’s go with God, Buddha (or God, Nor Buddha?). I’ll return next week with hopefully more energy and a better haul of links.