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The Monday Papers

Sundays are for realising that you have no internet, and must now survive alone in the wilderness. Cut off from the mothership, I scavenged autonomously on the surface of that alien planet until I was rescued on Monday by a trip into town.

  • Rick Lane discusses a topic close to my own heart: sword-fighting in games: "Even the basic action of swinging a sword is wrongly depicted in gaming. In The Witcher 2, for example, sword-fights often consist of a series of traded blows. You swing, the enemy dodges or parries, then the enemy swings and you parry. A real sword-fight is a far more complex, nuanced affair. “We’ve got only two things that look remotely like a parry in the traditional sense." Martin says. “It’s entirely possible, with a two-handed weapon, to parry an incoming blow with one end of your sword while cutting the top of the other guy’s head off with the tip. So you’re basically parrying and attacking with the same weapon at the same time.”"
  • Brainy Gamer's things of the year is worth a read: "I've been thinking about things that stuck with me playing games this year. Little moments. Surprises. Disappointments. People who made me stop and think. So I decided to make my own highly subjective list to account for them. Here are a few of my favorite things (and one not-so-favorite), 2012 edition."
  • An amusing, but saddening piece about how bold futurist positivity is missing from Star Trek Online: "What Star Trek Online presents is a war-ravaged future where factionalism is the rule of the day. Allies are on the verge of becoming bitter rivals, ancestral homes are wiped out, enemies infiltrate the highest ranks of leadership, and the most common response to a tense situation is to atomize someone with a high-powered laser rifle. There’s a bit of a disconnect from the “highly evolved” state of humanity that Captain Picard triumphed, to be sure."
  • Beefjack interviewed The Tomorrow Corporation about Little Inferno: “We enjoy the bewildered Youtube comments from folks like: “What?! You throw things in a fire to get money to buy more things to throw in a fire? That’s pointless and stupid!” And of course it’s pointless and stupid! The characters in the game muse about the very same thing in different ways.”
  • PC Gamer suggest the 15-best co-op games, which reminded me that I want to play Alien Swarm again: "People love swarms. The swarms of aliens in Alien Swarm (clue’s in the name), are best dealt with by coordination: one of your group becomes point-man, clearing rooms with shotguns and flamethrowers. Another takes up the rear, machinegun blaring to dissuade any would-be alien pouncers. This coordination is the result of a kind of natural, happy trance that players fall into, rather than tiresome enforcement."
  • Some serious criticism of games journalism from Mr Kuchera: "You find yourself in surreal circumstances once you begin to see how bad sourcing in game reporting has become. I once got into an argument with a site about a PAR story that was re-written without a single link back to our content. It turns out they were actually re-writing another article that had re-written our article and only provided a single link at the bottom. The problem was fixed once I had contacted the editors at both sites, but you can literally spend every morning unraveling the game of telephone if you let yourself."
  • An interesting article on different gaming educations, replying to my "educated elite" comment: "One way to phrase this is that education is itself a game in which players are rewarded for learning certain skills and having certain abilities and that our culture thinks some of these games are more hardcore than others. In his book Half-Real, Jesper Juul defines games as having “negotiable consequences” and illustrates by contrasting ‘games’ with ‘elections’. But elections are negotiable too; their consequences have already been negotiated by power elites and their inherent negotiability is obscured by the respect or even pseudo-biblical reverence we give to constitutional authorities. Accordingly, some of these games are broken."
  • The TPCG podcast features Jonathan Chey, and contains some discussion of System Shock 2, among other things.
  • Mary Hamilton wrote something pretty stark.
  • Patricia Hernandez on Journey: "Nearly defeated, my chime does not radiate like it once did. But I keep climbing the mountain. I keep climbing the mountain even though the storm pushes me back. I keep climbing the mountain even though gravestones surround me everywhere. And when I finally fall into the snow, when this overwhelming, undeniable force finally buries me, I don’t feel surprised."
  • Last year a friend of mine bought me a huge book with a lot of these in. The best of Communist architecture, basically. They still amaze me.

Music this week is from Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin.

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Jim Rossignol