The Sunday Papers
Week's Best Words
Sundays are for recovering from a train journey to nowhere. Best make a tea, put on some new music, and settle down with words about games.
Last month, I worked mostly on Games for Places, a set of games for outdoor spaces, produced by Forma Arts, across East Durham. We designed five games for each of six different sites, and then stencilled them on the ground, along with all the other elements the games needed to work: Get from HERE to THERE, but only step on the paving stones with arrows painted on them, and always face the same way as the arrows. Walk your dog along this path we’ve painted with leaves, and get a point every time it steps on one - unless the leaf is yellow, in which case you lose.
“It’s just down here on the left,” Molyneux barked, his voice now quivering with excitement as he barreled around yet another corner. I was having to jog to keep up. “It’s probably the biggest room I’ve ever seen. Wait, yes, it definitely is. And it definitely exists. And it’s filled with… ehh,” the creator of Populous stopped in his tracks and looked thoughtful for a second, panning his eyes around the corridor until they fell on an oil-painting of a proud shire horse.
A sign of truly great narrative games is the justification of every single camera takeover by placing the played character in a situation that allows for a smooth transition. Here, that’s the only reason this half open door is placed here. Since it’s already half open, like Joel’s bedroom door, there is no “triangle” interaction required. The goal of this door is to justify the exact position of Sarah in her animated entrance into the room, therefore the position of the camera, to allow for a smooth take over for the rest of the cinematic and the entrance and reveal of Joel, the very first in the game.
It’s tough to fall asleep in one country and wake up in another.
It seems like most people accepted this; however, if you’ve ever owned a business you’ll understand what that change meant. Connections, partnerships, money operations; everything broke.
Of course, we could’ve adapted with the necessary time, money and effort, but it’s still incredibly difficult when someone makes that decision for you. They’ve decided where you live and you can’t do anything about it.
We thought it was great because Warcraft 2 was the ideal game for us, for teenagers who needed that perfect mix of the stimulating and the silly. Real-time strategy games were still in their infancy and the mixture of resource-gathering and army management was a new, exciting and constantly stimulating way to play and to fight a war. It felt like you were perpetually spinning plates as you panned your camera across the battlefield, switching between combat and non-combat units, issuing new build orders, making sure your base was protected and sending armies out to further push back the fog of war, that thick black veil, that was draped across all the RTS games of the era. You were both an economist and a strategist. Fail in one role and you could not succeed in the other.
This feed will be provided by “the other”, a volunteer who will wear a pair of spectacles equipped with cameras that record everything they do from the first-person perspective and send this live to Farid’s headset. The artist will have no other contact with humans. He will live in the experience of this other person.
The point is discover how adaptable the brain is to another physical body – and whether our sense of self comes from inherent personality or cultural identity. It is, of course, a question philosophy has toyed with for hundreds of years: is the body a mere sensory vessel for the brain, or is identity inextricably linked to its physical manifestation?
For example, the main aisle of IKEA is supposed to curve every fifty feet or so, to keep the customer interested. A path that is straight for any longer than that is called an Autobahn: big and boring. And if you look at the level design of a contemporary first-person shooter, you’ll find the same thing. The path is constantly curving to keep you enticed by what lies around the bend. This path through IKEA creates what’s called “organized walking.” And, like any good tutorial, there are no attendants in the showroom, so you have to figure it out yourself.
In my day first-person shooter corridors bent to block the player's view and mask a limited draw distance.
Comedy Cellar all week. If I messed up a word here and there, which I did, it could really be get-him-out-of-here offensive. But you just watch to make sure nobody tapes it. You watch and you watch hard. And you make sure the doorman’s watching. What Patton’s trying to say is, like, comedians need a place where we can work on that stuff. And by the way: An audience that’s not laughing is the biggest indictment that something’s too far. No comedian’s ever done a joke that bombs all the time and kept doing it. Nobody in the history of stand-up. Not one guy.
More chiptunes this week, though more ambient and relaxed than last time: minusbaby's Strong Arctic Winds Take Terns.