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The Sunday Papers

Sunday! It's the day of the week when your latent super-powers are at their most useful. Let's see if we can use those innate abilities to find interesting reading material. Hmm, it's somewhere around here.

  • Games and the making of ominous architecture: "Regardless of what monstrosities we face, digital environments must capture our attention and establish a grim atmosphere. Yet for the most part, the architectures of horror games draw on symbols that we commonly associate with fear and revulsion. From Castle Wolfenstein to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the stonework, mildew ridden basements, dark hallways, and cobwebbed attics of gothic mansions remain established horror locales. Many games, including the two above, use their environments remarkably well. Regardless, the frequency of candlelit masonry tests my patience." (I wrote something similar a few years ago.)
  • There are a lot of Molyneux interviews this week, so perhaps read this one: "What I love about cloud computing - and this hasn't been explored yet - is that it allows for something that we as gamers haven't had since the start of gaming, and that is persistence. We don't have worlds or experiences that can continue and last for extended periods of time. We need to get rid of saved games."
  • Split Screen talks about the value of games: "One of the wonderful things about the current state of gaming is indie development. Fez was released yesterday for just 800 Microsoft Magic Beans; Dear Esther was originally a mod that became a commercial release through Steam. I played through Dear Esther in around two hours, which is slightly better value than a trip to the cinema in hours-per-pound. Yet, I feel… dirty thinking about it in those terms. Isn't it ultimately self-defeating to try and pin a commercial value on an experience like Dear Esther? Shouldn't we be looking at the quality first, regardless of price? Would you describe a music album as better value because you listened to it more than another one?"
  • I'm vaguely depressed by the top two feature articles on Gamasutra both being about "fun": The Structure of Fun: Learning from Super Mario 3D Land's Director and The Origins of Fun, in which a game design offers his own philosophy of the concept. I get it, fun sells, but the determination with which folks want to reduce games to that banal little word makes me wonder at what people expect them to do.
  • Why do games so often deliver such terrible endings?
  • Interesting Kotaku piece on age ratings: "I had a feeling that the remake thing was the factor for Halo. Societal standards can change dramatically in 10 years. If you watch TV, you know this. HBO's Game of Thrones has sex scenes in it you'd have had to pay a quarter to see in New York's Times Square a few decades ago. People can curse on network TV these days, or at least say things that would have been banned not long ago. Violence on TV? More extreme than ever."
  • Parkin wonders whether pixel-art has perhaps run out of vitality: "Nevertheless, Fez feels like something of a full stop to the pixel art homage movement. What started out as a rebellion has become a cliché and, while Fez is too smart and assured in its own identity to slip into cliché, it feels as though this default fashion has run its course."
  • Parkin also talked to Miyamoto this week, which reminded me of this Parkin Miyamoto tweet.
  • Tom Chick on Journey: "There’s no challenge and no real gameplay, which isn’t necessarily a criticism. It’s sort of like Shadow of the Colossus without any colossi, or Ico without the little girl. It does have multiplayer, though. Other players run around in your game pulling your switches, mashing their circle buttons to activate the “hey, over here!” beacons, and basically going the same place you’re going without any meaningful way to interact with you unless you both know Morse code. How’s that for a metaphor for online gaming?"
  • 270-part tutorial to making an action RPG in Unity.
  • High-end PC vs 360 versions of The Witcher 2 analysed.
  • Lego News: I can't believe this only has 1700 supporters! Sign up! Support it!
  • Every house should have one of these.
  • Writer stuff: Will Self on JG Ballard.
  • No music this week, instead this via Mr Sutcliffe. Crikey.

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Jim Rossignol