The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for trying to get out of the house and experience some fresh air around your kid’s extraordinarily long naps. And for staying in and reading (and watching) about videogames for their duration.

Game-related Thing Of The Week is obviously Cool Ghosts: Episode 1, a 25 minute video from Quinns and Matt Lees that wraps game crit in a narrative framing device like Consolevania of yore. It is funny, strange and has the raise the bar. The bar is up there now.

While I’m linking videos up top, Mark Brown highlighted 5 amazing levels from 2017 on Game Maker’s Toolkit.

And this Polygon job application is brilliant.

Let’s do words. Amr Al-Aaser at Waypoint writes about Assassin’s Creed Origin and what it gets right about Egypt that other games get wrong. I’m glad people are still writing about Origins; it feels like a game that’s better than people had the time to realise.

Curiously, it’s in the recent Assassin’s Creed Origins that I found some reprieve. Origins carries with it the heritage of Orientalism, of the mystic Egypt and the overzealous Egyptological obsession. As Christian Donlan explains in his Eurogamer review, by setting it during Ptolemaic Egypt, Origins can explore both a living Egypt and the one receding into myth.

Wesley Yin-Poole writes for Eurogamer about why players believe FIFA cheats, giving artificial advantage to teams that are losing in the dying minutes of matches. I have sympathies with these feelings, as someone well versed in the bullshit of FIFA.

Have you lost inexplicably while playing FIFA? Have you ever conceded an equaliser to an opponent who all of a sudden turns it on in the last second? Do your players decide they’ve had enough for no good reason and run as if they’re stuck in the mud? Most FIFA players – and I include myself in this – will remember times when the game has done something that doesn’t seem fair.

How does the line break in prose relate to interactivity in videogames? This thoughtful article (with too few line breaks) will explain.

In videogames it’s more like “ah, who’s there?” followed by the yawning, unfillable gulf of disembodied time while you wait for the player to do something – or like a space where time ordinarily would be, nothing passing, events happening but in such a modular and indefinitely reproducible manner that it’s hard to link them to any actual sense of temporal movement – just this blank, watchful abyss, as everything seems to hover in place, until you hit the button – and only then, if you’re lucky and whoever’s playing it hasn’t walked away, do you get “help, i’ve been shot!”. It doesn’t matter how brief the pause for input was between them – the fact that control over pacing was, for however brief a period of time, suddenly pulled from the fiction’s internal structure and ceded to some exterior presence while the fiction itself sat there doggedly idling is enough to sever all sense of causality between the two events.

Cecilia D’Anastasio at Kotaku spoke to multiple staff at Gazillion Entertainment to chart the studio’s last days before its closure and the shut down of Marvel Heroes Online.

One former employee who wished to remain anonymous said he’s been having trouble sleeping now that he doesn’t have a paycheck. With no severance and without receiving over $5,000 he’d accrued in PTO, he doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to scrounge up January’s rent for his current apartment. He’s considering breaking his lease and moving. He described himself as “scared” and “anxiety-ridden.” Worst of all, he told me, he fears that this will happen to him again. The same month Gazillion shuttered, Telltale Games laid off 25% of its staff. The studio behind Torchlight shut down, too. Is this just what working in games is like?

Someone made their shed in London the highest rated restaurant on TripAdvisor.

Olive Yang was “royal-turned-warlord, whose CIA-supplied army consolidated opium trade routes in the Golden Triangle in the 1950s, had tabloid-fodder romances, and later in life served as a government peace broker with Kokang rebels”. That’s a life.

Oh no.

Music this week is “Nobody Cares About Your Dreams” from the Cool Ghosts video I linked above.


  1. Mags says:

    I’d be curious to see someone have a proper look at depictions of Ancient and modern Rome in video games and compare and contrast it with Egypt.

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  2. phenom_x8 says:

    Best Story of this week, real life American Truck Simulator (that didnt play it)
    link to

  3. thaquoth says:

    Cool Ghosts is such a treasure.

    • gwop_the_derailer says:

      Causes terrible withdrawal, though. It’s been a month since my last hit of Sponge Squad. :(

    • Premium User Badge

      keithzg says:

      The long silence before this new “episode 1” was definitely worth it in retrospect. Games criticism by way of Noel Fielding, basically? Sign me up!

  4. Baines says:

    I felt I’d guessed where the FIFA cheating article would go from the blurb along, but it slightly surprised me. It didn’t do a blanket “It’s all in your mind” conclusion.

    Mind, the conclusion it drew was still wrong. At this point, the issue isn’t a lack of transparency (the article’s conclusion), it is a lack of trust. EA could publish the entire code base of FIFA 2018 and people would *still* doubt them.

    • Michael Fogg says:

      It’s like the ‘Xcom cheats, I just missed a 95%’ debate

      • Baines says:

        That’s most likely the cause, yes. People don’t understand chance, and they fixate on negative results as well.

        Do I think FIFA’s AI cheats? Maybe, and the answer itself probably depends on what you consider cheating. But that isn’t the question being asked. Do I think FIFA’s AI cheats more near the end of the match? Honestly, no I don’t. I think that perception really is just in peoples’ heads.

        The problem is that I wouldn’t bet my life on that conclusion, because I don’t trust EA. I don’t trust that someone at EA wouldn’t for some reason think it might be a good idea, I don’t trust what EA says, and I certainly don’t trust when they deny something. That distrust is enough to wedge a shadow of doubt into the logical conclusion “Its all in your head”.

        • Nova says:

          Only XCOM actually cheats even for the players benefit sometimes.

    • Megatron says:

      Well, EA are the publisher who swore blind that Sim City needed an online server connection to be able to play the game so it’s not like this kind of mistrust is entirely player generated, is it? Cue expression about Reaping and Sowing.

      Given EA’s history I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a revelation in a month or three about a ‘rubber-banding’ system, similar to some racing games, the FIFA games use to generate excitement (and assist sales).

  5. rustybroomhandle says:

    They’re raising the bar? Hah the joke is on them, the game is not high jump, it’s limbo!

  6. Ghostwise says:


  7. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    So good to see CG back in the saddle and making something truly special. The Passpartout bit was especially gripping for anyone who’s followed them through their highs and lows over the last two years.

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      And of course my praise Lees’ Passpartout review (in which he describes the despair of creating something for yourself and having the world turn up its nose at it and ask for something more conventional) is followed by a thread of people turning up their noses at Lees’ new attempt to create something different with Cool Ghosts.

  8. DeepSleeper says:

    I really wish talented game reviewers would stop wrapping their reviews in “narrative devices” or skits or wacky comedy bits. Please stop gurning for the camera and just be a human being talking about video games.

    I got 15 minutes into Cool Ghosts before the terrible “watching TV in the afterlife and it’s all about games ohhohoho” premise sent me running. It’s not funny, it’s not FUN. I’m here to hear intelligent opinions about video games, not watch a man lay on the floor drooling foam out of his lips.

    Going by comments and such I seem to be in the minority here, I’ll admit.

    • Baines says:

      In under two minutes, I was already jumping ahead trying to find sections of the video that actually talked about games, or indeed just to figure out whether or not the video *did* talk about games and wasn’t just a lame attempt at a sketch comedy.

      When I did find those bits, well… It couldn’t keep my attention enough to actually sit through them.

      Which isn’t to say that I cannot appreciate a decent production that wraps reviews in comedy bits. I watch plenty of such videos, from a handful of people that I think can pull off “decent” on enough of a regular basis.

      • DeepSleeper says:

        I actually quite enjoyed the commentary on games, when it showed up.

        Sold me on Torment too.

    • gwop_the_derailer says:

      But at least you got one useful video out of it that will come in handy in the future, right?

    • MrBehemoth says:

      The things you want exist and you can have them, so there’s no need to disparage other things for not being the things you want.

      • DeepSleeper says:

        That was the gentlest, lightest criticism it is possible to have regarding videos on the internet. Rein it in there, paladin, your knighthood is not required here.

  9. quasiotter says:

    I love thecatamites’ writing, even though it’s so opaque that it takes awhile to sink in. But I still don’t really understand it, maybe because I just read it impressionistically (which reminds me of how one is “supposed” to read Finnegans Wake… that I “read” and “translated” through THPS gameplay… for grad school… link to )

  10. and its man says:

    I find this Polygon application video terrible. Self-infantilization on the web is worrying.

  11. corinoco says:

    “Is this just what working in games is like?”

    Come try working in Architecture then. The same shitty pay, long hours, no paid overtime, no leave, suddenly vanishing work; with the added bonus when someone’s little crotchfruit smacks their hyperactive little head on a railing and you get personally sued. (Thanks, Australia liability legislation! Architects can be held personally accountable separately to their employer. Thanks)