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The Sunday Papers

Words and music

Sundays are for asking an old question: spaceships or submarines? Then laughing, because the answer is inevitable.

  • Tom Bramwell at Eurogamer did what I want to and wrote a review of the FIFA World beta. I'm struggling to stick with the game because the Origin overlay doesn't work for me and I therefore have no means of buying FIFA points. You can advance without them, but I'm finding the rubbo starting team tedious to play with after only recently advancing through FIFA 14's Ultimate Team mode.
  • But even in its current form as the bedrock of FIFA 14, it is still far from perfect. Perhaps the most fundamental issue is that it has always felt like a free-to-play game tacked on to what is already a premium purchase. Although it is possible to play Ultimate Team without spending any money, the emphasis is very much on buying packs that contain players to ease your progress, and it takes a long time to earn the in-game coins to do this, compared to a very short time to buy FIFA Points to pay for them instead.

  • This week's Three Lane Highway over at PC Gamer is about heroism, and why being a good Dota 2 player requires you to abandon typical notions of the player's role in a videogame. Life lessons and hot videogame chat, as is Chris's wont:
  • It is the most human thing in the world to want to be the coolest person in the room. Competition for status is written into our society and culture. It is why we valourise the assertion of individual will and downplay collective success. It's how teenagers figure out who they are. It's how democracy (sort of) functions, how movies get made, how lies pass into general acceptance. It's a process we can't shake, a process that generates politicians and celebrities and bullies and—to the point—some really, really shitty Dota players.

  • Linked from within, this article by David Sirlin about people who don't play to win, is also worth reading. I like anything that introduces and defines terminology.
  • In Street Fighter, the scrub labels a wide variety of tactics and situations “cheap.” This “cheapness” is truly the mantra of the scrub. Performing a throw on someone is often called cheap. A throw is a special kind of move that grabs an opponent and damages him, even when the opponent is defending against all other kinds of attacks. The entire purpose of the throw is to be able to damage an opponent who sits and blocks and doesn’t attack. As far as the game is concerned, throwing is an integral part of the design—it’s meant to be there—yet the scrub has constructed his own set of principles in his mind that state he should be totally impervious to all attacks while blocking. The scrub thinks of blocking as a kind of magic shield that will protect him indefinitely. Why? Exploring the reasoning is futile since the notion is ridiculous from the start.

  • Staying with esports for a moment, Polygon's Emily Gera examines the lack of female pro-gamers within the competitive scene. This is a good piece that gets into the ways in which business concerns shape audiences, even if elements of Polygon's style guide makes me feel itchy.
  • While often blamed on sexism in the pro-gaming community, the low numbers of professional gaming women is in part a result of marketing strategies aimed to encourage a much more specific demographic: men between the ages of 21 and 34, according to the research company. As companies like Intel and Coca-Cola begin to invest in eSports they do so with an eye toward connecting not with the profession as a whole, but specifically "affluent young men," according to a study from SuperData Research.

  • PCGamesN posted the second part of their feature on Ukrainian game developers living and working through the ongoing revolution. This moves further away from games than the first part, because how could it not, but it's still a good read.
  • “There were a couple of moments when something bad was starting to happen and they’d call a red alert, calling for people across the city to come and help,” said Oleg Yavorsky, marketing director at Vostok Games.” It would be night time and taxi drivers would take people free of charge, getting them to the centre. The police would be cordoning off the centre trying not to let anyone filter through. At some points it was really worrisome. What was going to happen?”

  • I missed this earlier in the month, but over at PopMatters Scott Juster writes about the fun and increasing rarity of getting lost in videogames. It's for this reason that I liked Skyrim's somewhat crappy map.
  • In classic video game fashion, Miasmata opens with you washing up on an unknown island where mysterious and ominous things are happening. You’re sick, low on supplies, and there seems to be some combination of human-made and supernatural danger lurking in the jungle. However, the most dangerous thing I’ve encountered so far is my own sense of direction. The island is uncharted until you take manual steps to fill out the map. Once you identify certain fixed landmarks either by finding scraps of other old maps or by thoroughly exploring a region, you can use those known vantage points to triangulate your position in the world and thereby fill in the map.

    The answer is both.

    Music this week is Drokk, an album of music inspired by Judge Dredd's Mega-City One. I now badly need more chilly electronic music about future cities.

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