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The Sunday Papers

Sundays! Sundays are for grand victory on the field of battle! The smell of smoke and blood in your nostrils, the knowledge of having trampled the bones of your nemesis. Yes, Sundays are for the champions who write their own history. But are these some of those? Let's find out...

  • This piece by MMO designer Raph Koster fascinated me. It asks "Is immersion a core game virtue?" and then decides that "Immersion is not a core game virtue." Regardless of how nebulous a concept "immersion" actually is, I find it totally unconvincing, as it seems to be a piece of writing about Raph's perception of where games are as a medium, and I am not sure that I agree. "Immersion does not make a lot of sense in a mobile, interruptible world. It comes from spending hours at something. An the fact is that as games go mainstream, they are played in small bites far more often than they are played in long solo sessions. The market adapts — this reaches more people, so the budgets divert, the publishers’ attention diverts, the developers’ creative attention diverts." But personally I only see what Raph is talking about here as diversification, not an overall change. The kind of games (and resulting imaginative engagements) Raph is talking about are not gone, there's just a lot of other noise, too. I think he's making a mistake of following trends in the market and seeing that as the whole picture.
  • John Bedford talks "building better worlds" over at Eurogamer: "I can't shake the conviction that it's impossible to maintain the illusion so essential to a great MMO experience via a series of convenient loading screens - a constant reminder that we are participating in a fragmented world that neither exists, nor persists. To put it simply, the design of MMOs post-WOW feels archaic. If the world defines your game, it seems logical to build a tangible and persistent world first, before filling it with story and characters. Build technology to suit your world, not the other way around."
  • Where are all the RPGs in the IGF? EXCELLENT POINT. I was going to raise a similar point myself. "Realistically, I’m not sure that there’s really any one party we can blame for all of this. The IGF could certainly do more to accommodate long-form games like RPGs in terms of the judge/jury process. It might be smart for them to have entrants submit an “approximate time to complete the game” so judges can budget their time better; giving the judges and juries more time with the games could be helpful as well. Also, it would probably be a good idea to make sure that the judge pool adequately represents the RPG developer community, as a precautionary measure if nothing else."
  • Jonny Cullen is a PC gamer now: "It cost £830. I picked up copies of Skyrim, Battlefield 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic before I bought it. While I’ve yet to try Battlefield 3 as of writing this piece – thanks, Origin! – I can run Skyrim at the highest setting with no problems or glitches. It looks stunning." Welcome, Mr Cullen. Welcome to the one true format.
  • Paul Hyman asks: Why Are Racing Developers Heading to the PC? "The console track has narrowed to just a few high-profile vehicles, like Sony's Gran Turismo, Microsoft's Forza Motorsport, Electronic Arts' Need For Speed and Codemasters' Dirt. Indeed, many studios with racing experience have shuttered as demand for other titles has disappeared. Meanwhile, independent racing specialists -- mostly European, like Eutechnyx, Slightly Mad Studios, Nadeo, and ShortRound Games -- say the PC track is wide open and they can only speculate why the confusing traffic pattern exists."
  • On Beefjack a teacher talks about Kids and Call Of Duty: "“Who are you to tell me how to raise my kid?” says the father of one of my fourth grade students, scoffing at me from across the table. Let’s call him Mr Scott. “You’re just a kid,” he adds. Mr Scott is replying to my suggestion that mature-rated videogames perhaps wouldn’t be the most appropriate entertainment for his nine-year-old child. But he’s right, of course. Relatively speaking, I’m just a kid too." I think one of the great things about the current generation of parents being gamers is that they are going to be wise to this stuff and be able to get their kids playing the appropriate games. The current situation is like having a generation of parents who had never watched movies or something. "No problem, little Mikey, if all the kids at your kindergarten are watching Tenebrae, then you should too."
  • This PDF document from offbeat game-inventors Hide & Seek is interesting. It is entitled "10 games from 2011 that tell you all about 2012."
  • Why do we tolerate bugs in games? (Do we?) "Are fault tolerances desirable? Do they help us to enjoy what would be otherwise frustrating games, or are they holding back the progression of the medium by supporting 'goodenough' games that frustrate players who should be enjoying them?"
  • The best boardgames coming up in 2012.
  • A look back at Consolevania.
  • The issue of gender in Dance Central: "In the early days of prototyping Dance Central, Boch noticed some players hesitating on dance moves that felt "sexy" or "hip-focused", or traditionally feminine -- not only male players, but female participants who seemed to feel uncomfortable expressing themselves in that particular way. The design challenge was to find a way to allow players to perform the dance moves without requiring them to undertake certain subtleties that might be at odds with a person's sense of self."
  • My image of the week.
  • This week's music is the emo-ambient of Bvdub.

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