The Sunday Papers
Sundays are for travelling at 500mph through the sky, between continents. Somewhere, below in the thin haze of silt and muck that constitutes our civilisation, there is an internet. And in that series of tubes there is writing, and that writing contains things about games. These are some of they. Them. Those. Thesm. Thoosem.
- The Bygone Bureau explores a land where, many, many have been before: the land of Minecraft. Fortunately they find themselves equipped with a certain turn of phrase, like this: "Legos come in two distinct philosophical stances. Traditional existentialist Legos present you with a box of colored, stacking bricks and no reason for being. For those who feel that life has a set purpose and innate, god-given reasons for being, there are themed Lego sets. No video game before Minecraft has presented the player with a world as simple, beautiful, and engaging as a box of random Legos or wooden blocks or loose change or sticks or shells… toys whose only purpose is to soak up human consciousness and light into being upon a human whim." Yes.
- Yahtzee asks: "What If We Levelled Backwards?" Only he actually asks "What if We Leveled Backwards?!" which is slightly different. Here's a bit: "Now, at first glance, this idea seemed completely indefensible, even to me. "Make the player stronger as they proceed" is part 1 of lesson 1 of game design 101. What possible motivation would the player have to keep playing if they're just going to get weaker? Traditionally one keeps a game interesting by routinely adding new gameplay features, not taking them away. But we can only break free of a dreary cycle of churned-out me-toos by taking a step back and completely reassessing. And the more I think about it, the more levelling backwards makes sense." Read the full thing to see if it makes sense. (It kind of does. And I've actually been working on game ideas relating to accelerated decrepitude. Hmm.)
- Our kid Phill has spent some time pointing his brain at the Dead Island trailer. Here's Wot He Thinks.
- You've probably read Parkin's The Boy Who Stole Half-Life 2, but just in case you missed it, that's the link.
- And Parkin has been a busy boy, here he is over on Gamasutra talking about "The Difficulty With Difficulty": "In contrast to Space Invaders’ neat mechanical rows of shuffling aliens, Defender’s attackers arrived in a squall of chaos. Its designer, Eugene Jarvis, wanted to make what he later dubbed a ‘sperm game’, an experience that would appeal to thrill-seeking males, offering the player a rush of excitement derived through bedlam and difficulty." SPERM GAME.
- Games are anti-depressants, says "science". Yes, we know, reply smugly boyant gamers.
- Things like Suparna Galaxy seem to be a direct side-effect of the internet. Make a joke and then run with it, RUN, until Wikis brim over with your excess irreverence.
- Many of us have experienced the strange alienation of playing a really good game of Neptune's Pride, but few of us have bothered to account for it like this chap. Here's a bit: "It's this special blend of paranoia and real-time activity that gives Neptune's Pride its reputation for riding roughshod over players' lives. The constant, hounding fear that any time you are offline, something bad can happen to you. This pressure is what drives some players to throw in the towel well before the game reaches its conclusion." Did he quit like a quitter? I don't know, because the diary isn't finished yet.
- Will Wright says that games are not the right medium to tell stories. AND I BELIEVE HIM, JOHN WALKER.
- Ars Technica are doing some good stuff of late. Here's what they had to say about Bulletstorm's issues on high-end PCs.
- Brain-training for memory athleticism on the NYT. Here's a bit: "The scene I stumbled upon, however, was something less than a clash of titans: a bunch of guys (and a few women), varying widely in age and personal grooming habits, poring over pages of random numbers and long lists of words. They referred to themselves as mental athletes, or M.A.’s for short. The best among them could memorize the first and last names of dozens of strangers in just a few minutes, thousands of random digits in under an hour and — to impress those with a more humanistic bent — any poem you handed them." I perform a similar feat, but with the position of power ups on any given Quake 3 map.
Music! Goodness, this has been a week of one exquisite ambience, and one cut-and-paste beat artist. Anyone for the taking?