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The Sunday Papers

Sundays: the enemy of man since time immemorial. They must be defeated. How can we do this? Only with a potent mixture of games and literature. With that weapon, and our tonic teas, we might live to see that next precious Monday.

  • Ah, this is good, and kind of psychologically monstrous. F2P money-grabbing tricks categorised: "The technique involves giving the player some really huge reward, that makes them really happy, and then threatening to take it away if they do not spend. Research has shown that humans like getting rewards, but they hate losing what they already have much more than they value the same item as a reward. To be effective with this technique, you have to tell the player they have earned something, and then later tell them that they did not. The longer you allow the player to have the reward before you take it away, the more powerful is the effect." It's like monetisation essays on F2P games are al the criticism of that area we need.
  • The end of Game Developer magazine, and some thoughts from its crew.
  • How science has informed the latest game fictions: "Another hot topic was the concept of quantum superposition, the idea that particles can be in two places at once. Elizabeth and Booker can be said to be walking, talking quantum superpositions: The same two characters exist in this infinity of universes — in all their theoretically possible states — until you, an outside observer, play the game. Your act of observation is what's "different" about the universe in which the game's events take place, and it is implied that this is what ultimately decides their fates."
  • Mr Cobbett continues to catalogue the weird and the awful.
  • "Flight" in games: "Jumping from a lofty height in Just Cause 2 is purposeless, only used to record a stat, but the exhilaration of falling with Rico, even from the comfort of a couch, is overwhelming. Sky-dancing with a helicopter makes it better. Because, why not? In film, to recreate a similar scenario is a controlled endeavour. Games permit the closest and most abstract interpretation of skydiving except for actually jumping from a plane. And, for the sadistic, how inhumanly the body contorts as a result."
  • Are MMOs being replaced? "DayZ and Minecraft came from nothing. They were creations of one brain in each case, built quickly and cheaply. They blossomed because they were new, risky and built on the creativity and participation of their players more so than their creators; although they weren't blank slates, they weren't staid, monolithic theme park MMOs trying to please everybody either. They had what came to be acknowledged as a tightly focused appeal, despite their many players and shared worlds, and that is now catching; Camelot Unchained, for example, is a Kickstarter MMO with a budget of $5 million and an unwavering focus on a niche audience that wants a hardcore PVP game. In some respects it's risky and uncompromising, but it seems wise to the lessons learned by its most recent peers, which is exciting."
  • The Guardian's Keith Stuart on "why all video game dystopias work the same way": "Game designers could also look to the weird, transcendent Armageddons constructed by JG Ballard. In books like The Crystal World or the short story collection Vermillion Sands he envisages surreal new societies and beautiful, psychedelic threats to human existence. It's not the right-wing fantasy of armed militia groups protecting their wagon circles. When I interviewed Jen Zee the lead artist on Supergiant Games' brilliant RPG game, Bastion two years ago, she told me, "When I joined the team, Greg [Kasavin, creative director] told me that the story is post-apocalyptic, but that they also wanted to emphasise the fact that, in the face of destruction, there's often beauty as well. That resounded with me, because I've had my share of grey and brown apocalyptic games. I wanted to introduce rainbows into the post-apocalypse! The rich and colourful style was informed by that.""
  • More The Last Of Us stuff from Leigh Alexander, who argues that if we are going to get linear toughguy apocalypse games, The Last Of Us is the least we should expect: "Restraint of all kinds is good for storytelling. There are virtually no onscreen UI elements. You will not be interrupted with trophy alerts about irrelevant bonuses to collect. The grim affirmation of life you undertake by choking your 25th assailant to death lest they notice you and hurt you is not accompanied by a clever little title for your feat. You are not likely to forget you are playing a video game, nor should you, probably, so it’s pleasant when a game doesn’t insist on constantly reminding you just when you’re starting to feel something. It’s often quiet, with music sparsely used only when it suits -- there are no swelling violins to let you know when you ought to be on guard. You just are on guard. "
  • Look, list features can be about opera in games.
  • Eurogamer's The Making Of Star Fox: "How Argonaut and Nintendo came to be partners is a remarkable story of technical wizardry and rule-breaking. When you're a tiny team operating out of someone's house, you don't just waltz into the HQ of a multi-million dollar industry leader. It takes something special to get on the radar, and Argonaut got Nintendo's attention in the most brazen way imaginable - it defeated the copyright protection mechanism on the popular Game Boy console. "They had the Nintendo logo drop down from the top of the screen, and when it hit the middle the boot loader would check to see if it was in the right place," recounts Argonaut founder Jez San."
  • Modernity is almost in the future! Just a little bit more spacey, and we're all set. But also: oh dear.
  • Gunkajima is actually on Google Streetview.

Music this week is Solar Bears - Supermigration

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