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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for feeling the after-effects of too much black beer. As you languidly lounge, longing to recover, you discover a trapdoor in the internet. At first it seems dark, but soon you will see tiny grains of light.

  • Keith Stuart on Far Cry 3: "Freedom within recognisable constraints is the perfect game state - it is textbook design. Far Cry 2 messed this up because everything was so big and soooo far apart, and the systems grinded against each other. Narrative and ludology constantly bickered and occasionally fought, and when the player stepped in and said 'stop it guys, it's not worth it' something bad would usually happen. Far Cry 3 is a regimented democracy in which the aristocracy (the missions) live in benign separation from the proletariat (the open island) everyone knows their place. And there in the background, facilitating the interplay between the two, is the great fast travel system, which lets you gather resources for a mission without having to drive around for hours in a jeep. Exploration is always, always, on your terms."
  • Tom Bramwell on microtransactions: "I blame the platform holders, to a large extent - especially the console makers. It all goes back to why I found the PlayStation 4 announcement a bit disappointing. Sony and Microsoft's new systems may have their fair share of innovations, but when those innovations are confined to things like business models, sharing options and horsepower, that's the only place where corporations like Electronic Arts can concentrate their own new ideas. Perhaps, if PlayStation 4 and the new Xbox were designed with a philosophy that originated in furthering game design, that's where EA would focus instead."
  • True PC Gaming have been as busy as ever, with interviews with Deadlight dev and the DmC guys.
  • Ruminations on game music in Read Dead Redemption and Far Cry 3: "The song itself is non-diegetic – that is, it does not “exist” in the “game world”, but is artificially laid on top of that world. When you drive around Grand Theft Auto’s Vice City listening to Gary Numan or Tears for Fears, you are hearing diegetic sound: the songs are being played by Wave 103, one of many fictional radio stations in the game. In Red Dead, the howls of coyotes, the sounds of your horse’s hooves, and John Marston’s speech are all examples of diegetic sound: we are given a clear grounding of where those sounds emanate from. But Jose Gonzalez isn’t riding alongside Marston as he enters Nuevo Paraiso."
  • This man used to smoke a lot of dope. But didn't we all? "I remember the remainder of my undergraduate college experience through the haze of a thick cloud of pot smoke. In my senior year I lived with a friend who owned a Mac and a copy of Bungie's original first person shooter, Marathon. I had enough doses of sobriety to compare playing Marathon sober to playing Marathon while I was baked. The difference was pronounced. Ripping a bong hit before I sat down to fight the Pfhor was a no-brainer, and the late-night smoking and NHL sessions with my former roommates continued as well. If I hadn't been a film major with no tests to take and nothing to study in my last year of the program I doubt I'd have graduated."
  • On synergy in games: "Reading and game playing are both about personal growth, but they approach it in different ways. Reading is about being exposed to ideas, expanding your horizons, and finding new ways to view the world. Game playing, in contrast, is about testing one's self and growing through skill acquisition. You play games on the most basic level to test yourself and improve."
  • The emotional price of making videogames: "Payton is struggling with similar issues and has become increasingly aware of struggling with a healthy work-life balance since starting to work for himself. "I've worked a minimum of 70 hours per week since République began development in November 2011," he explains. "As I did with Halo 4, I only play games, watch movies, and read books that are relevant to République--that's my hobby. Making games is my hobby; it's my passion, and it's my lifeblood, as I liquidated everything I had to get this sucker off the ground. I even sacrificed my relationship with my girlfriend, ending a five-year relationship."" Dude!
  • Ruminations on realism: "Games have a huge advantage over the confines of the real world: each game has its own set of rules — its own laws of physics and matter and energy. Every new game we try is a whole new set of rules to learn to live by. We learned early on that mushrooms slide across the ground while stars bounce off it. Walking on steak dinners and hams can instantly replenish our health. Orange portal entrances lead to blue portal exits, and vice versa. Driving a battlemech into a lake helps prevent overheating. And you may not be able to shoot that Sectoid cowering behind that fence, but you can surely vaporize that fence with a well-placed plasma burst."
  • And, by contrast, an article on games as impressionism: "Impressionism only works as a reflection of some reality, though – in this case, we have to posit the notion of some “real” Whiterun, with a population of thousands, that exists in the “actual” Tamriel. The game is only showing a representation of that city, as best it can. It’s brush strokes of experience that create a loose shape for your brain to fill in. The fact that, of course, there is no actual Whiterun either makes this thought exercise that much more pure or that much more wasteful. Your choice."
  • Here's a realism round-table from whence they originate.
  • Be afraid.

Music this week is Jacaszek's Goldengroove. Also I found this again the other day, and it is the greatest. Shame there is no official version.

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Jim Rossignol