Sundays are for moving. Actually at this point I'll already be blinking in the Brighton sun, acclimatising to southern life. And maybe reading the best writing about video games from the past week.
I love this one. As Patrick Klepek reports for Waypoint, Spelunky scientists recently made a breakthrough that’s revolutionised the high-score scene. Also, Spelunky scientists are a thing. This is a great writer, telling a fantastic story.
“What the Spelunky community has done with the game has already blown so far past what we thought was possible,” said designer Derek Yu on a recent episode of the Spelunky podcast The Spelunky Showlike. “I don’t know. For me to now be like ‘Hey, now that’s too much. That’s where I draw the line!’ [laughs] It doesn’t make sense. They’re already way into the stratosphere, I can’t even see them at this point. It’s just another cool thing.”
Also on Waypoint, Danielle Riendeau explains her fascination with the worlds that exist off the beaten tracks in racing games. These are great questions that I've never thought to ask.
There’s a course in Mario Kart 64—Kalimari Desert—that famously has a train in it. Speedrunners have found a way to use the train and the tracks as a shortcut, which is cool. But when I was young, all I could imagine was where does that train go? Are there towns in this desert? Trails? Mountains people climb? Are there Super Mario Bros. levels just off the beaten path? Is there adventure out here?
Chris Bratt’s short Eurogamer interview with the Civ 6 Gathering Storm devs is interesting, because at first I accepted the quote below at face value. Then I remembered that seeking to accurately represent the world is one of the most political things you can do in 2018.
There's no ifs or buts here, human activity is contributing to global warming.
"No, I don't think that's about making a political statement," said lead producer, Dennis Shirk. "We just like to have our gameplay reflect current science."
"We did do our background research on trying to figure out where the global temperature has been over the last 150 years and what types of factors influence it," continued lead designer Ed Beach. "So we feel like we don't have to make a political statement, but we can take the common wisdom of the vast majority of the science community and embed that in the game and that becomes something really interesting for players to be able to engage with."
For Kotaku, Alyse Knorr dug into the history of 'damsels in distress'. I spent equal lengths of time laughing, head-shaking and tutting.
The Ramayana is an ancient Indian epic and cornerstone of Hinduism that dates back over 2000 years. In this story, Rama, a god incarnate, must go on a magical journey with his brother Lakshman to rescue his wife Sita from the terrifyingly ugly monster Ravana, who has taken her as his bride. The plot of 2017’s Super Mario Odyssey is the same as the Ramayana’s, only in this case the parallel to Lakshman isn’t Luigi but a a sentient hat named Cappy.
Also on Kotaku, Gita Jackson chronicled her attempts to become a famous actor in Sims 4 - in the shadow of her more successful influencer flatmates. I'm very glad I read this, even though I did shudder a little at the word "Simstagram".
I don’t get what Patrick’s doing, let alone why anyone would watch it, but he’s got nothing on Allison. When I asked her what her job is, she said, “Social Eater.” She even went down to the department of labor to officially register herself as that. What does it mean? She turns on her drone while she cooks and eats. That’s it. She’s not even that good at cooking. She set the stove on fire the first day we moved in while making a grilled cheese!
On Gizmodo, Beth Elderkin wrote about religiosity in Odyssey, and why it resonated with her. I think towards the end she tries to have her baklava and eat it, but there are some interesting thoughts here about how the ancient world engaged with its deities.
That’s mainly because it has one thing needed to make any belief system feel plausible: uncertainty. Faith is complex and requires dedicating yourself to something you don’t know to be absolutely true, sometimes mixed with allegorical tales you know to be false. The characters within the game may believe in the gods that modern society has come to accept as mythological beings, but there’s also room within the game’s world itself for human curiosity and introspection.
Here's a chilled out look at the chilled out world of Japanese board game cafes.
Will scientists one day build a foolproof AI lie detector? I haven't finished listening to this episode of Chips with Everything, so I dunno yet.
"Why are humans suddenly getting better at Tetris?", asks Vlogrother John Green. The answer is lovely.
Music this week is Nobody Knows That I'm A Fraud by Grace Petrie.