Sundays are for doing something other than looking at Black Friday deals. Anything, really.
Before becoming a journalist and long before taking up residence as The Guardian's games man, Keith Stuart briefly worked in development. He recounted his experience as the designer of an ant RTS at Eurogamer.
A few months later I had a bulky design document and a few concept sketches. Then Paul told me we'd have to go to Putney and pitch the concept to Domark. But not just anyone at Domark - we'd be pitching to the company's MD - Ian Livingstone. Ian Livingstone the industry legend who brought D&D to the UK and wrote those Fighting Fantasy books with Steve Jackson. That guy. That's who I'd be pitching my game to. The king of games.
The ever entertaining Chris Livingston undertook a noble quest for PC Gamer: finding the ugliest NPC in the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
I came across this fellow, Jorck the Outcast, living in Bravil. And, yikes. I mean, wow. I almost physically recoil. He has a weird, tiny fish-mouth that's too far from his giant nose, and no chin despite an expansive upper-head area. When he speaks his whole faces stretches weirdly like it's made of fleshy salt-water taffy. Guh-ross. After I finish gazing in baffled disgust at Jorck, I start finding more uglies on my travels. A lot more. Peer in horror at them below.
Elsewhere at PC Gamer, Andy Kelly wrote about what virtual toilets have to teach about game design. Special marks for that strapline.
As for the process of building a videogame toilet, it can be a surprisingly tricky task. I ask Frictional artist Aaron Clifford, who created Soma’s peerless khazi, about the process. “The toilet was in good shape, but I wasn’t happy with the flush. It didn’t do it justice. It was impossible to make a decent swirling effect using particle systems, so I used an animated water texture that moved along a strip of polygons. Then all I had to do was bend and twist the strip to have the water flow down the bowl.”
At Waypoint, Patrick Klepek writes about the Sleeping Dogs sequel that will now never be made, since developers United Front Games have closed down.
The plan was for Sleeping Dogs 2 support full-on co-op, as well, with players being able to run around the world solo or team up for co-op-specific missions and challenges. Some of these would have been as simple as vehicle races, fight club challenges, and fending off waves of enemies, but Sleeping Dogs 2 hoped to differentiate itself through the presence of procedurally generated missions that could be played in co-op or in single-player. In theory, the game would have analyzed where the host of the co-op session was in the single-player story and assemble a unique "campaign" from various existing pieces—characters, objectives, etc.
I haven't listened to it yet, but part two of Soren Johnson's conversation with Sid Meier is now up as part of the Designer Notes podcast. I enjoyed part one and I'm sure part two will be good also.
As Watch Dogs 2's release on PC grows closer, Eurogamer's Martin Robinson looked at the last Ubisoft game to be set in San Francisco. That is, Driver: San Francisco. Of all the games about being inside a coma, this is my favourite.
Even now, five years on, it seems unbelievable that Driver: San Francisco ever saw the light of day. It seems inconceivable that people of sane mind and body with millions of development money at their disposal sat in board rooms and all nodded sagely as the grand plan was laid out before them. Let's make a driving game where the hero spends almost the entirety of its running time in a coma! Because why ever not.
Music this week is The Meaning of Love by Chrome Sparks.