Sundays are for going to a socially distanced picnic, as a goodbye to parents and children from nursery before our kids all start school on Monday. What a strange time.
The former staff of Deadspin have formed a new sports and culture website, called Defector. They tell the story of how they got to this point here, from the mass resignation from G/O Media to the reasons why they’re starting something new.
This site exists because of the events of Oct. 29, 2019, when we all still worked at Deadspin. That was the day that Barry Petchesky, who had been a writer and editor at the site for over 10 years, and was at that point the site’s acting editor-in-chief, was fired. He was marched back to his desk by G/O Media CFO Tom Callahan, who made Petchesky hand over his keycard and collect his things while I and a handful of my colleagues demanded to know why he had just been fired. We’d all sprung up from our chairs and started barking half-formed questions, to which Callahan responded by pointing at one of our computers and sneering, “Just look at the home page.”
It’s been fun to see Crusader Kings 3 come out and have so many people writing about a historical grand strategy game. At Vice, Gita Jackson reviewed the game, and marvelled at its human simulation.
Brushing up against the limitations of Crusader King III’s imagination is jarring, if only because it’s hypnotic to play. You’ll spend hours feeling as if these other rulers are real people, so in sync with the needs of your ruler that you find yourself truly getting a little squirt of dopamine when another character dies.Crusader Kings III has added a new system where events in a character’s childhood can create friends, childhood crushes or rivals, with buffs and debuffs to match. I once had the luck to have my character’s rival be my bishop, meaning they hated my guts and were also an un-removable part of my council. Despite being incredibly pious, and in fact having a focus in the track that included piety, this bishop would not approve me as a good Russian Orthodox, and denied me the levies and taxes from my church holdings. When he died of the bubonic plague, I cheered.
The cheeky RPS fanzine published their yearly top 100, with some interesting inclusions and omissions, as always. Here’s a single entry, chosen at random:
Hades manages to squeeze the fight, rinse, repeat roguelike mechanic into the narrative, and do so in a way that’s genuinely entertaining. Each return trip back to Hades’ Underworld is a chance to try out a new weapon or upgrade, and that’s kept me coming back for more.
Both challenging and rewarding, Hades doesn’t demand your finest form on every run—so you needn’t be petrified of diving back in for another mad dash attempt at escaping the underworld.
Blaseball hasn’t got its hooks into me, but I wish it would. If you’re not familiar: blaseball is a recent internet phenomenon that’s part baseball, part WWE, and part Calvinball. It’s as much about the culture around it as the game itself. It strikes me as the kind of thing we’ll look back at a year from now having mostly forgotten our brief obsessions with it, but I still think blaseball contains a germ of the future. For Unwinnable, Ben Sailer writes about the game’s appeal.
If this all sounds weird, it’s in part because baseball is weird even on its best day. This season in particular might be its weirdest on record too. So far, we’ve seen Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz’s head pass through a virtual crowd on live TV. The Philly Phanatic, one of the game’s most beloved mascots, has been forced to dance by himself. The Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals both had multiple players test positive for COVID-19, in the latter’s case allegedly after hitting up a casino (could have just bet on Blaseball, guys). An Oakland A’s bench coach is under fire for issuing what looked like a Nazi salute during a game, claiming he was trying to do some kind of socially-distanced handshake.
Also at Unwinnable, Amanda Hudgins writes about the monetisation of WebToons apps. WebToons are digital comics made with phones in mind, and originate in Korea. I got really into reading manhwa via the WEBTOONS app early in lockdown and never ran into any monetisation, and never even worked out what the business model was. Hudgins is writing about three other apps, called WeComics, Tappytoon and Lezhin, which have ad-supported and microtransactional models that sound like hell. Or like any other free-to-play game.
WebToons operate in a sense similar to platform exclusivity. Want to read the aforementioned King’s Maker? You’re only going to find it on Lezhin. Well, now that you’re on Lezhin and you’ve bought into their currency model, that’s fine, you’ll be able to read the sequel to King’s Maker there, right? Well, not exactly because King’s Maker: Triple Crown is actually on Tappytoon. If you want to read the official translation of the manhua companion to the extremely popular Chinese television show the Untamed, The Master of Diabolism however, well it’s not on either of those applications. It’s actually only on WeComics.
I wish Jay Castello only wrote for RPS, but alas, here she is at Eurogamer covering why Shintaro Kazama is the real villain of Yakuza Kiwami. Warning! This article is full of spoilers, and I’m not even going to quote from it.
Music this week is Afro Oven by Copy, which is fun both to run and to write to.