The Sunday Papers
Sundays are for ingesting mystery (legal) substances in the name of science. Before we consume mystery, let's consume the week's best writing about videogames.
"So, we have a value called Stealth, which tells us at any given moment how stealthy the player is being - how much noise they are making, how close they are to an enemy, the enemy's awareness of the player.
"We use that to both change the music and the mix. We will lower the atmosphere and raise up the Alien's sounds and Ripley's breathing rate.
"You don't want to be making any noise at that point, so we'll start to raise up your sounds a little bit just to put you on edge."
Before Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor's release, a curious thing happened: critics on YouTube (and some in the traditional press) tried to obtain early PC copies for review, but couldn't. And yet, YouTube entertainers were able to—if they agreed to terms like, "videos will promote positive sentiment about the game."
The message is clear: A game doesn't stop being interesting once it has been released. What happens to games after they come out—what gamers do with the games they play—matters. It's exciting. It's interesting. It's part of a game's life. It's something we should be covering not haphazardly but with an institutional intent to make it a priority.
'm trying to create a magazine that communicates the incredible experiences gamers have. A magazine that reports on the amazing transformations that dedicated communities have wrought upon the games they love. I think such a magazine would print articles about the destruction of Kerafyrm The Sleeper in Everquest. It would report on the morphing of games like Grand Prix Legends and Interstate 82. It could relate the tale of a dramatic duel in Jedi Knight 2 or cover the phenomenon of swoop bike races in Star Wars Galaxies. Anything at all. Single-player gaming, multi-player gaming, modding, MUDs, indy games. The building of the Space Station in There, the development of unique in-game body language. A well-argued opinion piece on the state of videogame interfaces. Crazy antics on stunt servers or a simple essay on how a game stirred an individual's emotions.
"I'm certainly not in favor of any sort of censorship - we're artists, we're creative and we should be able to do what we want. On the other hand, it's hard to say our games are immersive and grab people, allow them to participate and make them the stars, and then say that there's no impact, or that it doesn't affect them. So I think we have to walk that line. I think people know the difference between fantasy and reality - gamers are very mature and intelligent people. However, whatever we can do to create a positive climate we should do," he said, after noting that his games never "glorified violence."
The Star Citizen grey market emerged out of a couple of important design decisions by CIG. One, the developer sells certain ships for a limited time or in limited numbers, creating a demand for products that aren't available to all players at all times. Two, in the final game your ships can be destroyed. The answer? In-universe insurance that protects players' investments. It's clear that when it comes to Star Citizen's virtual spaceships, the stakes are high.
Sooner or later – likely sooner, at some point in level one – a fleeing bystander will catch a bullet. The weapons are ferocious and scattershot, the way they would be in the hands of an unskilled clown. Inaccuracy is built in and compensated for. It was clearly a conscious decision to exclude the traditional ‘tightening’ reticle when you squeeze the left trigger; the guns are supposed to be indiscriminate. You’re supposed to miss; innocent people are supposed to die.
It’s been a really awesome series to write though, not least because it’s been totally unsupervised – I picked the games, I wrote whatever I wanted about the games, and I stuck them online without them going through any approvals or editing. When I did the videos, I just did the videos. Doing one as a text adventure was entirely that doing a text adventure seemed funny the night before, and I typically wrote all of them on the night before they went live. It’s not a wise approach to professional writing, but it’s quite a good one for humour – a deadline that leaves no time for second-guessing often leading to far crazier, wackier ideas. It seemed to work out.
Music this week is lopsided, because one of the ears of my headphones broke. But you can take Music of Bleak Origin by Necro Deathmort and tell me what's on the right channel.