Easter weekend waylaid my ability to gather papers last Sunday, which means that my link document is overflowing. Quick! Let's splurge everything as fast as we can.
- Chris Livingston has been playing Pillars of Eternity as a part of bears, as his wont.
- This case study on Clash of Clans - "What is the secret behind the financial success?" is hilarious, disagreeable nonsense.
- Simon Parkin at the Guardian scored a coup by interviewing Hidetaka Miyazaki, the creator of Dark Souls and more recently Bloodborne.
- In response to a group of headteachers who treatened to report parents who let their children play 18-rated games, an anonymous teacher has written an article on Eurogamer contextualising the letter both in terms of why headteachers felt it was necessary and how games are affecting children in class. A debate worth having.
- I like reading about how all journalism is doomed, because it means I won't be surprised when I end up homeless. Here's The Economist's Tom Standage on their digital strategy, which I think is meant to be in some ways hopeful. I like the implicit trickery in comments like the following, though.
- This is quite the headline: Fans have dropped $77M on this guy's buggy, half-built game. Star Citizen gets the Wired treatment.
- This Sunday Papers spreads across two weeks' worth of links, which means that you get a second Simon Parkin article. This one is on Eurogamer and is about how eSports winners might use drugs. Which sounds absurd until you consider how many eSports are reflex and concentration based and how quickly those things fade as you age.
- Nathan Ditum spent some time with Dying Light and found a bridge that reminded him of the possibilities of videogames. Which isn't bad going, really.
- The Private Eye is a pay-what-you-want comic by Brian K. Vaughn and Marcos Martin about a world in which all the personal, private information of the internet has spilled out into the world.
- It's the fifth anniversary of Joel Goodwin's Electron Dance, which makes it a good time to flip through this list of the site's nine most popular articles and see if there's anything you missed.
- Edge Staff, that most prolific of authors, has posted an old magazine article over at its new home at Games Radar+. It's on the collapse of Star Wars Galaxies, an MMO too interesting for this world.
- Megagames are games that are mega, like boardgames played by three hundred people. That's the case in Watch the Skies, in which players take control of the countries of the world in the midst of a potential alien contact situation. Shut Up & Sit Down were invited to take part in a recent session in London and recorded their experiences as it happened. Part one is here, part two is linked at the bottom of that post.
- What could be more uncouth than promoting ourselves? I know, right. But there's been some great work on these pages of late, including a couple of wrapped series that you should read in their entirety now if you haven't already. First up, Rab Florence's six-part video series on his gaming past and how those memories have shaped him. Second up, videogame scientist Michael Cook's five-part text series on gaming's future and how you, me and academia can play a part in crafting a more exciting tomorrow. Also, if you're not reading Alec's Cities: Skylines succession diary, you really ought to be: part one, part two. OK, cool.
I've been playing Pillars of Eternity as a ranger, and her companion animal is a bear. It follows her everywhere and can be sent into combat. After a few hours of play, I asked myself the same question we probably all have at some point: "Can I play Pillars of Eternity as all bears?"
Short answer: of course not. However, a long time ago a very wise in-flight magazine told me that success is a journey, not a destination. Here's how I tried to complete a quest in Pillars of Eternity as a bunch of bears, and almost actually did it.
"Melt's concept of time is new and somewhat unknown. It has features from both the immaterial and material world and it varies according to the viewpoint. Clash of Clans uses this brilliantly!
Miyazaki describes himself as a difficult child. “Unlike most kids in Japan, I didn’t have a dream,” he says. “I wasn’t ambitious.” He eventually found himself aimlessly pursuing a degree in social science at the well-respected Keio University. As he approached graduation, he considered applying to a game development studio, but drifted into a job at the US IT company Oracle Corporation.
Several years later, he started thinking about video games again. He met up with some former college friends who suggested new titles to play. One was Ico, a mystical fairytale in which players assume the role of a boy who must lead a waif-like girl by the hand along a castle’s craggy ramparts, pursued by their ghoulish captors. “That game awoke me to the possibilities of the medium,” says Miyazaki. “I wanted to make one myself.”
It's a very real impact. I've personally not seen children acting more violently because of games. The impact is more them being frightened of things they've seen or things they've played. Five Nights at Freddy's was very popular in our school for a while. Five Nights at Freddy's doesn't sound particularly frightening. It's on the App Store. It's one that could fly under the radar of a lot of parents.
I had two children in particular who'd been nodding off at their desks. When you speak to them separately they all say, 'oh I couldn't sleep because I was scared of this game' they'd either been playing, or their friends had coerced them into playing. I think that's a problem.
And I know everyone says that, but in our case it really is true, because what we actually sell is what I like to call the feeling of being informed when you get to the very end. So we sell the antidote to information overload — we sell a finite, finishable, very tightly curated bundle of content. And we did that initially as a weekly print product. Then it turns out you can take that same content and deliver it through an app.
Knight was one of the 200 people who bought a $2,500 Javelin Destroyer. Why not? A month later, he upgraded to the special $10,000 Wing Commander package, which includes 44 ships and access to a private, in-game VIP spaceship lounge called the 1 Million Mile High Club. He's declined some of the other perks he's earned, such as the chance to spend a day with Chris Roberts. “He has better things to do,” Knight says. Like finish the game.
Adderall, referred to by some users as 'Addy', is a prescription amphetamine usually prescribed to treat narcolepsy and treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In sufficient doses, Adderall (and other related drugs such as Vyvanse and Ritalin) greatly increase the user's ability to concentrate and ward off fatigue. As such, it's often referred to as a "smart drug", infamously used by students who need to study for extended periods. But Adderall has other side effects. It can improve reaction times, cognitive control and even temporarily build muscle strength - properties that make it an ideal enhancement for athletes.
I did not die. So much so that I was able to swim to the base of the next section of bridge, where I found a small platform I could climb onto. From here, a doorway into the hollow interior of the support. A way up! Also, a way of falling down. My parkour skills were put to the test inside this concrete tower, where an unconventional design had seen a ladder eschewed in favour of a series of hazardously navigable ledges and platforms.
This was the beginning of my love affair with the geography of the bridge. I didn’t write it any letters, but we spent many sunsets together, which often led to me being brutally murdered when the sun finished setting and marauding superzombies arrived. I loved how my exploration was rewarded, how my intuitive hope had been anticipated and turned into interactive space, and that there were layers to this place worth uncovering. I loved the stark angles of the architecture, the pleasure and freedom of clambering across it. And I loved that it nothing to do with what I was supposed to be doing.
The game’s scope could belong to an unlikely sounding Kickstarter pitch, so perhaps it’s little wonder that Sony Online Entertainment shuttered its Star Wars MMOG in December 2011. In its final form, Star Wars Galaxies was a mess of contradictory creative urges whose design and technological foundations had been stripped out from under it – but it was an ambitious mess, the type of game that players often ask for but rarely get.
Last year, we were invited by the UK Society of Megagame Makers to save the world from aliens in a colossal 60 person game titled "Watch the Skies". You can see our floundering, corruption and "charm offensives" as the nation of Japan in this video.
This year the Society invited us back for the sequel. With over three hundred players, this would be the most mega megagame ever staged. A game so big that the Pope was not only a player, he had his own team.
Music this week is the new Makeup and Vanity Set album. It's all moody, throbbing, electronic, much of it instrumental, but you should start here. It's all streamable, but you can buy it and get a short film alongside.