The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for maaaaybe going to the UK board games expo. I’m writing this from the past, so I hope future me is happy with whatever decision he made.

For PCGamesN, Jake Tucker wrote up the story of how his twitch stream got ambushed by fans of an unpleasant ‘influencer’ known as Dr DisRespect. It’s a reminder of how awful some folk on the internet can be, but the best part is about how not all of those fans were there to hurl abuse. Reading it has changed my impression of how homogeneously hateful the followers of certain streamer types are, at the same time as vindicating my existing assumptions about a large percentage of them.

What was interesting is the language people were using in the chat, both to harass me and to decry that same harassment. Those who showed up, those that weren’t dropping racial slurs or personalised insults, called me a punk kid, mirroring comments that Dr DisRespect had made when he mentioned me. Those that spoke up against those being abusive claimed that the harassers weren’t members of the Champions Club – a name for the subscribers of Dr DisRespect’s Twitch channel – and offering me firm handshakes in solidarity.

The answer to the question Steven Wright asks in his piece for Kotaku – “Does’Role-Playing Game’ Mean What it Did a Decade Ago?” – might well be ‘of course not’, but that doesn’t mean the specifics aren’t interesting. I enjoyed seeing the perspective of a Torment: Tides of Numenera dev on what counts as the genre’s important defining elements, even though the only time I really think about genre labels is when I have to tag posts with them for boring advertising reasons.

Ziets recalls that early computer RPGs like Wizardry and the original Bard’s Tale essentially ported the most popular editions of their tabletop progenitors like Dungeons and Dragons to the personal computer, eschewing epic tales of sword and sorcery to focus on the tactical guts of the pen-and-paper experience. “Originally, most RPGs were Tolkienesque, monster-slaying fantasies,” Ziets says. “Now we have RPGs set in science-fiction worlds, modern times, etc. Similarly, most early RPGs had some version of D&D stats and skills, but many are now evolving away from strict adherence to those rules.”

On Waypoint, Rob Zacny’s look at State of Decay 2 is worth checking out – even if you’re like me and have next to no interest in the game. Rob talks about what makes zombie fiction work, and why State of Decay 2 does not.

Because it fails to support the themes of these stories, State of Decay 2 ends up missing the point of its own genre even as characters occasionally mouth its commonplaces. Survival stories in general and zombie survival stories in particular tend to ask questions about what is essential to our humanity outside the trappings of civilization and its comforts. When need and danger are close by, who are we really? What do we reveal ourselves to be?

On Gamasutra, Katherine Cross doesn’t pull any punches in her take on what’s wrong with Steam’s approach to banning porn. I was once in an aesthetics seminar that was eerily similar to the class Katherine talks about, where the conclusion was much the same: defining porn is a fool’s errand.

Even a “logical” process will still take certain subjective values as givens and goals. Rather, adjudging what is and isn’t pornography, and using that vapid standard to make curation decisions, is always bound to fail in some critical way and never accomplishes its stated aims. Such a standard, in fact, eludes greater moral responsibilities. It’s a coward’s way out, ducking more complex questions in favour of quick and dirty solutions. The case of House Party remains illustrative. Ban it or don’t. But if the stated reason for a ban is because it’s “pornographic,” this feels craven; if you’re actually expressing a value that holds the game to be reprehensible because it’s rapey, then say that and allow us all to debate that proposition. Calling it porn is thought-terminating.

Gamasutra also did a neat round-up of developer’s favourite idle animations, collected by Joel Couture. Nobody mentions Rayman, so I understand if you don’t bother clicking through.

Splendidland (Apple Quest Monsters): Idle animations are one of the many ways a game tries to convince us that it contains a living, breathing world. Your avatar responds to your inputs and moves around, going from point A to point over there, but they also respond to your lack of input; not playing the game is an interaction. “Oh, look at that!” you said, pointing your finger at the screen excitedly.

On Kotaku’s ‘Talk Among Yourselves’ community section, ‘Toolsoldier’ wrote about how Undertale helped him to grieve.

Saving everyone during the true pacifist run and breaking the world destroying everything in it during the genocide run, each of these paths gave me what I needed during my grieving process: control. When I needed to feel empowered to save something so that I could lift my spirits, I took the true pacifist route. When I felt helpless and angry that I couldn’t save my sister, I broke the world down during the genocide run.

On Youtube, Writing on Games put the concept of Punk under a microscope. This is the first of Hamish’s videos I’ve stumbled across, but I bet it’s not the last one I’ll end up linking here.

My Discover Weekly Spotify playlist was so good that I’m spoilt for choice for music this week, but let’s go with The four forty five blues by Goldfish.

51 Comments

  1. Sin Vega says:

    The best idle animation was in Hudson Hawk, inevitably on the Amiga. The player character would check his watch or tap his feet or what have you, then after a while he’d start sweating. If you left him static for longer than that, a concert piano would drop out of the sky onto his head, killing him.

  2. Infinitron says:

    On the RPG Codex forums, George Ziets admitted that his characterization of early RPGs was mistaken: link to rpgcodex.net

    • Babymech says:

      I was about to say… the obvious lack of research, just get a simple narrative line for an article, was pretty barefaced. I’m happy that he found out about it, and accepted the update somewhat graciously (though ‘I was a kid at the time’ isn’t a good excuse for not reading up on the topic (at least a wikipedia entry) now that he’s a grown man).

      • Archonsod says:

        His excuse doesn’t really fly. I was a kid in the 80s, and what I remember most about Wizardry was the great story and the sci-fi elements (heck, even D&D had it’s sci-fi settings which spawned games; Spelljammer and Dark Suns). As a middle aged curmudgeonly bastard I’m constantly complaining that fantasy was better back then precisely because Tolkien’s influence was generally minimised in favour of the more open approaches from the likes of Carter and Moorcock.
        Fair enough the games had a wealth of stats, skills and numbers, and people could get obsessive with them, but no more than they do with Diablo or the average MMO. I don’t see much difference in the min/max discussions over Mook psychics in Wizardry 6 versus the min/max discussions over Geralt in Witcher 3.

    • Hartford688 says:

      Yes, I broadly quite enjoyed the article and discussion, but that statement was silly. Around 1980 I barely touched D&D but played Traveller (scifi), Bushido (Japan), Aftermath (Post apocalypse), Runequest (pseudo Classical) and Call of Cthulu (Horror). Plus various medieval/fantasy systems. All ran very different mechanics to D&D.

  3. I Got Pineapples says:

    On the other hand, I do think there’s something a little craven about wanting to move away from the awkward argument about the semantics of pornography, like the discussion of the idea of censorship, when it allows you to in turn proscribe that thing you don’t like without allowing for the historical weight that comes with that description.

  4. Babymech says:

    “Ban it or don’t. But if the stated reason for a ban is because it’s “pornographic,” this feels craven; if you’re actually expressing a value that holds the game to be reprehensible because it’s rapey, then say that” – that’s just silly; a company’s policy on what constitutes ‘rapey’ is as hard to define as its policy on what constitutes ‘porn’ – it’s hardly more courageous to ban one than the other. If I owned Valve I’d prefer to ban games that I considered rapey, but I wouldn’t pretend that I was somehow tackling the complex issue more honestly than someone who bans porn.

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      As I said above, it feels like an attempt to dodge the actual quandry (and, bluntly, the awkward in-group politics attached to it) by redefining terms.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I’d say it was very different. “Is this person a consenting adult and in a fit state to give their consent?” should be pretty straightforward to answer.

    • shde2e says:

      Rape has an actual, defined legal definition, which makes it much easier to enforce and clearer to communicate.

      It’s also much more specific, actual illegal to do, and widely condemned. Unlike the broader category of “pornography”

    • Lawlcopt0r says:

      Maybe, but it would be easier/better to ban games for actual immoral undertones rather than the ever-changing threshold that makes something too overtly sexy to the majority of people.

  5. kameradoktorn says:

    Lol at doing scorpion idle poses in school, did the exact same thing.

  6. shitflap says:

    I think that some articles that highlighted quality or interesting twitch streamers would be a useful thing to see on RPS.
    Anyone can go on there and see the horror that is Dr DisRespect’s chat, but highlighting some interesting or lesser known streams is something that I have been surprised that I have not seen on here yet.
    I only found out about TieTuesdays stream from the Jazztronauts article and that dude is a delight.
    Why no coverage or involvement from RPS in this kind of thing?

    • SaintAn says:

      Aren’t RPS’s readers adults? I don’t think we’re the target audience of streamers. That’s content more suited for every other gaming site that’s out there trying to get kids loyal to whatever corporate brands and streamer personalities the sites are trying to build relations with for profit.

      • shitflap says:

        I also am an adult and I think I follow your reasoning, that you feel that RPS has a higher caliber of reader, but the assertion that RPS is for adults and twitch is for the youth, I feel isn’t accurate in either case.
        Here are five streams I watched yesterday;
        someone speedrunning The Immortal, that I played on my Amiga in the early 90’s, some William Hartnell era Doctor Who, a cosplayer leatherworking parts of her costume for an upcoming event, someone playing Fists of Fire (1995) a digitised arcade game that was Mortal Kombat but with Jackie Chan and actors from his movies as the characters and finally some soothing The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.
        I don’t think the at risk youth was the target audience of any of those streamers.

      • Excors says:

        I think most streaming is a lot like music radio. In both cases you can find a few favourite streamers/presenters who will play games/music that you like, and they’ll natter on about what they’re playing or about life in general. They’ll broadcast for several hours every day, and you can tune in whenever you like – you’re not expected to follow every episode, and there’s so much repetition that you won’t miss anything important and can still understand their in-jokes. You can treat it as background noise or you can pay full attention, depending on your mood. There’s some viewer/listener interaction, which makes you feel like a part of a community rather than just an external observer.

        Old people like radio, and streaming seems like just a small evolution of that, so old people could like watching streaming too. Of course old people probably don’t like e.g. BBC Radio 1, and most streamers are far more juvenile and idiotic than even the worst R1 presenters, but that’s okay since you can just switch to a different channel – it’s not a fundamental problem with the medium.

        (Also I recently spent half an hour watching a streamer walk his dog on the beach. That’s pretty much the equivalent of Radio 4.)

    • Bull0 says:

      Am daily RPS reader, have exactly zero interest in stories promoting twitch streamers.

      • shitflap says:

        Am daily RPS reader, have exactly zero interest in stories promoting £1000 monitors.

        • Bull0 says:

          Separate discussion. I’m more interested in those than in “who’s who with the tweens this week”, thanks.

          • shitflap says:

            Seeing as you’re willfully misrepresenting the nature of the coverage that RPS doesn’t even provide, they must more adequately pander to your unearned sense of superiority.

    • Morcane says:

      The less we can do without Twitch streamer attention on RPS, the better it is for all of us.

  7. jaheira says:

    Pillars of Eternity 2 has some excellent idle animations. Xoti waves her lantern about, Eder sparks up, Aloth consults his grimoire etc. They put a lot of work into them.

  8. SaintAn says:

    While I hate Gamasutra, I do agree with them this time. Art shouldn’t be labeled porn, it’s prudish and dismissive. Porn is mindless banging, but these games have interesting stories, characters, settings, gameplay, good writing, and can invoke emotion just like any other well made story, so it’s fucking stupid to call them porn.

    Really annoyed me at how many blogs just mindlessly regurgitated the same shit about porn games being threatened by Steam recently without putting any thought into the subject. Shows how many just copy from one another adding nothing of worth to the world and making their readers more ignorant by the day with their “game of telephone” blogging. My feed was filled with that crap.

    • MrUnimport says:

      Maybe we should abandon the “mindless” connotations of the word “porn” then. That way we don’t get caught up in this silly game of trying to deny that a title with explicit sex scenes intended for viewer titillation is a form of pornography.

      • Kitsunin says:

        But the problem with abandoning the “mindless” bit is that we are now forced to say things like The Witcher and Game of Thrones are porn, and whoops we can’t do that because then we’d have to ban them.

        I still think we may as well go ahead and call them porn. At the same time we should definitely abandon the silly belief that porn isn’t art because aspects of it are designed to titillate.

        • RuySan says:

          GoT and TW are never porn in any definition. It doesn’t feature explicit sex/penetration.

          Also, being “porn” doesn’t discredit it as being art. There’s plenty of arsty porn.

          You just don’t seem a very informed invididual.

  9. Ham Solo says:

    “Dr. DisRespect” is someone who got killed over and over by the same dude on a stream of his and then tried to doxx him.
    Appearently he can’t take what he’s giving very well.
    One more arrogant twitch tw*t.

  10. Premium User Badge

    alison says:

    As a follow-up to the article on the Plunkbat bust a few weeks ago, here’s a Sixth Tone bit on the people who build and sell cheats: link to sixthtone.com

  11. malkav11 says:

    My candidate for best idle animations would be Saints Row 2. One of the many touches that makes it IMO the best game in the series (and I do enjoy the later games quite a bit) is that the developers went through and seeded unique nodes all throughout the city such that wherever you are, if you leave your character idle, they’ll move to the nearest node and do a custom, setting-appropriate idle animation. It’s insane.

    • Lawlcopt0r says:

      That’s insane! I love these little things that aren’t essential to a game (and thus aren’t added very often) but sometimes happen when a developer has a little time to spare and really puts a finishing touch on something.

  12. quasiotter says:

    The definition of “RPG” for me is “a game that takes too long to become fun.”

    I understand why people enjoy them, however. I just happen to prefer succinct experiences that favour idiosyncratic visuals/experimentation over heavy narrative exposition.

  13. Soyweiser says:

    Banned on steam. Porn. Not banned on steam: link to store.steampowered.com this. A game where you play: “in a world where everyone is gay, take on the role of Andrew, an elite gay soldier who hunts down any remaining straights.”

    IF you trust the developer’s word (I don’t) this game has been on steam for a month now, and it was not instantly banned for a TOS violation.

    • Soyweiser says:

      I meant, it is in the process of being accepted for a month already. Clearly it already exists for a month on the service, but the question is if the troll dev really submitted a game to steam already.

      • Baines says:

        Well, let’s see.

        The game has has a store listing apparently since at least mid-April, as the earliest forum post is April 18. It has a store page News posting dated May 7. The game has been visible for quite a while.

        The game is listed on Steam’s front page under Coming Soon.

        SteamDB lists four Packages for the game. There is the freebie license, a regular CD key, a dev/publisher-only CD key, and a cross region trading restricted CD key. These are all four dated “about a month ago”.

        SteamDB doesn’t list any Depots (actual executables), but that isn’t abnormal for an unreleased game. (As a quick test example, Shining Hotel is supposed to release tomorrow, but it doesn’t have any Depot listed.)

        The game’s release date has been changed repeatedly, but that would fit the dev’s story.

        So there isn’t any immediate evidence to deny the dev’s story…

    • GeoX says:

      Am I supposed to find that offensive? As a straight person myself, I think it’s a funny concept.

      • Mr. Unpleasant says:

        Let’s talk about the concept, because apparently you didn’t get it.
        There were and still are plenty of people and societies that discriminate against gays, lock them up, violate them or even kill them.
        This game turns the whole thing around and makes homosexuality the “norm” and gays are hunting down heterosexuals instead. So far, so highschool-student-humor.
        However reading the dev’s posts, the posts from people in the forums (the usual 4chan mixture of trolls and neonazis posing as trolls), and the actual text from the game screens it is quite clear that this isn’t some deeper commentary on the (quite real) persecution of gays.
        It’s people that believe their nuclear family is being marginalized in favor of gay rights, gender politics, progressive elites etc. It’s people that believe Western society is so tolerant that gays can be as excluding and heterophobe as they want while they “can’t even post the Trihard emote on Twitch”.
        It’s fascism (“You are Andrew, part of unit Gay 53X, an elite military unit that uncover[sic] and eliminate straights”) and homophobia under a very, very thin guise.

        • Soyweiser says:

          Yep, you can do commentary on the persecution of homosexual people. But this clearly isn’t that, this is just homophobia with the terms reversed and a thin layer of ‘it is just a meme’.

          Anyway, even if you do a commentary on the persecution of homosexual people, making a game about targeting people for their sexuality is against the rules of steam. So even if this game was trying to make a honest game about discrimination (which it isn’t imho, it is just trolling) it would be against the rules.

        • GeoX says:

          Okay. If the game is homophobic, then I unequivocally condemn it. I have no interest in defending that shit. But look, the initial post was NOT clear in this regard. The quote–which any reasonable person would think to be demonstrating the proposition–was pretty darned innocuous; therefore, it’s no surprise that I would infer incorrectly. I guess if there’s a technical, letter-of-the-law reason that a hypothetical non-homophobic game should also be banned, then that’s neither here nor there, but you can’t blame me for not getting a very ambiguous point.

    • Premium User Badge

      ooshp says:

      In a world threatened by overpopulation, this seems like a pretty good idea?

  14. Hartford688 says:

    The Jake Tucker article was very interesting, thank you.

  15. Cooper says:

    For the Twitch ‘invaders’ trying to call off the attack dogs in their community, their primary reasoning was because Jake Tucker is autistic.

    I wonder if they would have been so ready to stick their necks out otherwise? Would the same people would they have rallied against misogynistic comments against a female streamer? Would they have called out against homophobic remarks against an LGBTQ+ streamer? Would they have called out against racists comments against a black or minority ethnic streamer?

    ‘Upstanding’ members of a community don;t really do the community justice of they are only willing to call out vile attacks in certain situations. Racism, homophobia, misogyny etc, needs to be called out constantly, no matter who the target or the audience is.

    • Chairman_Meow says:

      And if “If’s and But’s” were candy and nuts it’d be Christmas every day! This is a noble and correct thought, but criticizing a good thing because its not a perfect thing is silly. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!

  16. Lawlcopt0r says:

    The Writing On Games videos are excellent, you guys should all check if he’s done a topic that interests you :)

    • mac4 says:

      The punk one, loved it. Almost inspired me to write one of those mini-essays that I never will.

      But, yeah. More of that, please.

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