Posts Tagged ‘Idle Musing’

Idle Musing: The Fundamental Importance Of Voice

It’s mid-May and it’s raining outside. Someone I can’t see is making me laugh. These omens suggest that it is time to return to my Idle Musing column. Something else inspired this, too, which was last week’s Planetside 2 Call To Arms. I had intended to film the whole thing and then chop it up for YouTube commentary, but once I was on the Mumble voice server, I found myself running a platoon. Then I found myself marvelling at the effort the RPS guys had put in to the organisation of allowing players to communicate. There were dedicated radio operators in each squad. And then I was thinking about voice comms. And not doing any filming at all.

I suddenly realised how voice communications had invisibly underpinned a decade of the most incredible gaming experiences. This is a missive to their importance, the joy they brought.
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Idle Musing: The Joy Of Bodily Functions

Occasionally – just occasionally, mind – games choose to add some of our real-world bodily functions to the characters we control in them. Hunger, thirst, even nausea and sewage creation. For some reason, this is peculiarly satisfying, and as such is almost always popular with players: as most strongly evidenced by the popularity of The Sims, with its filling bladders and exponential human smelliness. But it is not just in the human-petting genre that we find such earthy processes: from Stalker’s insatiable hunger for bread and sausages to San Andreas’ hilarious obesity problem, games occasionally deign to amuse us with the things that we wrestle with every day.

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Idle Musing: The Joy Of Tweaking

In the real world I am not much of a tinkerer. I can fix a few bits and pieces on a car, and build a PC, but when it comes to actual tweaking and tinkering, figuring out what I can be boosted, what can be overclocked, and what must be tuned, my talents – and my ambitions – are fairly limited. Not so in the gaming world, of course, where I have spent thousands of hours plugging objects into equipment slots and pulling them out again, just to watch the variables shift up and down. Watching the numbers change, it seems, is sometimes enough.

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Idle Musing: The Joy Of Making Time

With the Easter weekend coming up and my family poised to descend upon me in an inexorable tornado of baked goods and idle gossip, I realise with a heavy heart that I won’t have much time for games in the next few days. That’s okay, though, because I know I’ll make time soon. I’m also comfortable in the knowledge that I live a relatively charmed existence, blessed with leisure time and technology, always poised to flip open an electronic hatch and escape into something pixellated.

Looking back, I realise that I’ve dedicated the best part of a life to precisely that. And it is a strange joy.

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Idle Musing: The Joy Of Falling Through The Floor

However hard games try to create worlds, they remain artifice. They are stage sets. Painted boxes. And when you step outside them, you get to see how unreal that game world actually is. This, from time to time, can be a wonderful thing. Let’s raise a glass to the strange lands that lie outside the game you were meant to see, that glitchy empire of the game outside the game.

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Idle Musing: The Joy Of Being An Invisible Bastard

Many games feature invisibility in some form. An excellent moment I recall from my days in World Of Warcraft was necking an invisibility potion to run past a load of mobs I couldn’t fight, while my rogue friend stealthed his way through. (If only that game had more such emergent highs.) Anyway, the Invisible Bastard joy I want to talk about is probably only applicable to Eve Online, although I’d love to know about any parallels in other games. It’s a thing that stood out for me over the years and something I loved, because it spoke of persistence, human psychology, the value of patience and the delight in being a big meany. I would leave my laptop logged into Eve, with a character cloaked in various star systems, and do nothing, for weeks.

Why would I do that?
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Idle Musing: Watching The AI Fight


Over Christmas I drew up a list of little things about games that have always intrigued, interested, or appealed to me. I’ve been adding to it over the past couple of weeks, and I’ll be writing about these little nuances of gaming in the coming months. These are just idle musings, but I hope you’ll find them to be food for thought. Today’s is about the odd joy in seeing AI entities getting into a fight.

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Idle Musing: The Joy Of Unwinnable Skirmishes

There he is.
Or at least against the odds skirmishes. This is an afternoon ode to that time when you set up a skirmish mode in an RTS and pitch yourself against extraordinary odds (perhaps with a chum to help you). It’s one of those little pleasures that I think most RTS players understand, but is probably unknown by, well, the rest of humanity.
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