The Sunday Papers
Sundays are for remaining steadfast, even as all common sense suggests otherwise.
- Writing for the New York Times, Chris Suellentrop salutes the underappreciated women videogame pioneers, and discusses the need for exhibitions which celebrate their work.
- Recently I pointed towards the work of Laura Michet, an erstwhile and excellent writer about videogames on the internet. She's dabbling again and writes about the augmented reality mobile game Ingress, in which two teams of players capture portals mapped upon architectural points of interest.
- Ben Overmyer write a short, sharp post about his experiences with Star Wars: Galaxies, Sony's ill-fated and deceased MMO about joining everyone's favourite exciting sci-fi universe and becoming a carpenter or farmer.
- John starved to death in Eidolon, a pretty, contemplative survival game. Its creator has written on Gamasutra about how much it cost to make, how much money it's made back, and what that means for the future of the company. Always interesting to see numbers.
- I bought a PlayStation 3 this week, doing the thing of nipping in at the end of a console generation when everything is cheap and hoovering up everything classic or obscure. That's also given me the chance to play the just-released Hohokum, which is a gosh damned delight. Simon Parkin gets it over at Eurogamer. Kill Screen, as ever, does not. Rob Fearon is, as ever, correctly, gently cross about it.
- The BBC on 'video-less' videogames suitable for the blind and curious.
- Over at PC Gamer, Tyler Wilde talks about Mountain; mainly, why critics like it and Steam user reviews don't. I don't agree with everything said, but I do agree with this:
- As, I guess, some American channel is showing every Simpsons episode ever, read The Toasts celebration of Ralph Wiggum.
The first commercially released game designed by a woman is believed to be Ms. Shaw's 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe for the Atari 2600 in 1980. That year, Dona Bailey programmed the colorful arcade shooter Centipede for Atari. Ms. Shaw designed River Raid, a game I spent countless hours with as a boy, for Activision in 1983. Roberta Williams wrote, among other pioneering computer games, King's Quest in 1984.
FN was a long-time player who had submitted most of the portals in the downtown area where I work. As we walked along the block, he told me seven or eight quick little stories. Over the next few weeks, he would keep me up to date on which town halls are built over ancient graveyards, which murals have been painted over by the town, which churches used to be which slightly different kind of churches, and which street-side electrical box was recently “lost”– really, lost from the curb, and nobody knows who took it down– by the municipal utilities department. Wow, I thought. I guess this game really makes you pay attention to your community. That was definitely a wholesome way to spin it to myself.
I felt like I needed a wholesome explanation for what I was doing. I did not tell anyone in my office that I’d been out on the street meeting strangers and swapping tales of municipal corruption. “I really like this triangles game,” I told them. That’s how I thought of it: the game where you go for a stroll and make triangles. Nothing too weird. Nothing embarrassing. But I was embarrassed, a little. I was meeting people in public. That’s kind of weird, isn’t it? But exciting. And I’m an adult now. I can meet internet people in the street if I want.
Regardless, come launch day, I was in the game and playing. It was an experience to be remembered. My character was created as an Artisan, the prototypical crafter from the game. In those days, the game was based around a freeform skill system that allowed you to combine a variety of different “professions” to create your character. I strongly remember specializing in weaponsmithing and carbine use, a combination that wasn’t very popular at the time. I spent many hours speculating with my low-level mineral discovery devices so that I could gather enough materials to build the newest type of weapons and armor.
Related and previously linked: Chris Thursten's similar take, prompted by the game's 2011 closure.
So far, including pre-orders, we’ve moved ~1800 units, which amounts to ~$28k gross (including Humble tips and OST sales, before distributor cuts or taxes). 75% of this is through Steam, 25% Humble, even though we include on the Steam store page a request that people buy through Humble, who gives us a better deal as well as funding charity.
Related: the same information for the more successful Shovel Knight.
I’ve been running Mountain for two days now, and I’m not spilling over with praise for its ambient melancholic introspection. It’s not brilliant, but I like it. I like it because it can’t be described as “solid,” “visceral,” or “deep.”
Those words are ugly shorthand writers use when they’re tired of describing complex things, or don’t understand them. Controls are “solid,” combat is “visceral,” customization is “deep”—I’m sure I’ve been guilty of using them all (shame on my family). It isn’t good writing, but sometimes it’s hard to get excited about the umpteenth iteration of ‘the sniping mission.’ In a state of fatigue, limp clichés are easy and comforting. “Look, we all know what this is,” they say, “So let’s just agree that it’s fine and move on.”
But Ralph is more than Chief Wiggum minus power. Ralph’s goodness is not the absence of malice. Ralph’s goodness is pure and unself-conscious. “Was President Lincoln okay?” he asks Ms. Hoover worriedly after learning of the Ford Theater assassination. It’s the last day of school, and everyone else has already left for the summer. Ralph’s not leaving until he makes sure that President Lincoln is doing all right.
Music this week is Taylor Swift's Shake It Off, over and over and over and over and over.