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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for waking up early in the freezing cold. It's for contemplating the winter, and making a cup of something hot. It's for remembering that there's an internet full of people in nice hot countries, who are busy laughing in the sunshine. Bastards.

  • Why Devs Owe You Nothing, by Marsh Davies. "HL2 isn't a service. Fans aren't asked for repeat payment, and they are under no obligation to support Valve in any way. When they complain it has somehow been exhausting to be a fan, it is baffling. It is extremely easy to be a fan; you don't even need to get out of your chair. And yet, that sense of entitlement remains, fed by flattery from social media, by the ongoing confusion over digital rights, by the increasing collaboration of developers and communities."
  • One Life Left, the celebrity gaming podcast, features our own Kieron Gillen. He talks about computer games.
  • Who killed Rare?
  • On The Mountains of Skyrim: "The word we seem to have settled on is "epic." Strictly speaking, however, "epic" defines an object in its entirety - originally derived from epic poetry. The concept of an "epic moment" is fundamentally a contradictory one. There is another term, rooted deep in literary and aesthetic theory that describes such moments far more accurately. As yet it has not entered the gaming vocabulary in any meaningful way. Now, however, the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, has provided a unique pathway for the discussion of videogames' relationship with "the sublime," for Skyrim both embodies sublime theory in its design, and evokes sublime moments as a creative work."
  • Interviewing Richard Hofmeier (podcast).
  • More writing on Amnesia. Skyrim aside, I bet this game has produced the most critical writing in the past couple of years: "Scripted sequences are rarely an elegant affair for the player. It’s always a shame to see a designers hard work ruined because a player does something the designer didn’t take into account when designing the scripted event. So, generally, it’s far better to uses instances and toys that the player can then freely muck about with (see minecraft), than to bog the player down with an unessential linear script (which unfortunately Amnesia does). Ignoring the story – which Amnesia delivers badly – Amnesia does use scripting extremely well."
  • A retrospective of Star Wars Episode I Racer, which made me realise how much time I actually spent playing that game. Weird.
  • How game developers and museum curators can worth together to make games: "That game, our most ambitious yet, is High Tea. It takes the form of a strategy or trading game in which the player adopts the rôle of a nineteenth century British smuggler active in the Pearl Delta during the 1830s, the decade before the outbreak of the First Opium War. The subject matter was taken from our wide-ranging exhibition about the history and culture of recreational drug use; High Society. The exhibition took an illustrative approach to its subject rather than a didactic or historical one, including both contemporary illustrations of the opium trade and a large installation ‘Frolic’ by the artist Huang Yong Ping, including a giant opium pipe."
  • On RPG protagonists: "What is important is the idea of a player character and a player avatar. There’s only one fundamental difference between the two concepts: the character. The player character has enough character and history to stand on her own outside of your, the player’s, influence. This has parallels between the concepts of a traditional strong protagonist, which I’ll get into in a minute. The player avatar, on the other hand, has no meaning outside of what you put into it. It cannot exist in a vacuum, unlike the player character."
  • Comrade Pixel Prospector sent us this video of 800 Amiga games, but also this article by Jeff Vogel: "It's great being a bottom feeder. I get to lurk in my basement and watch the titans of the game industry punch each other silly far above me. I don't work 80 hour weeks. I design my games to be writable in the period of time allotted, and I release them when they are actually ready."
  • This article by Deborah Orr starts with all-too familiar stuff about online privacy, but ends up proposing how the "civilising" British identity can be resurrected for the net. A fascinating idea.
  • I'm buying this.
  • Lo-fi 3D printing.

Music this week is actually from last year, but it's more Strange Old Man Music from the depths of England, I thought you might like Kemper Norton.

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