Sundays are for finally reigniting your D&D campaign - organising a game with friends in four different time-zones is both wonderful and infuriating. Could the same be said of the best writing about videogames from the past week?
I'm a little in awe of Braden Moor. Waypoint's Patrick Klepek has been documenting the man's ongoing attempts to beat a ludicrously hard Super Mario Maker level of his own devising. Month after month, he streams his every defeat. It's legitimately inspiring.
Last August, Braden Moor sent me an email. It was update on his progress through Trials of Death, a twisted creation of his own making in Super Mario Maker, a nightmare that chews through Mario’s lives and the neverending patience of its singular player, Moor. (Super Mario Maker, cleverly, requires creators to beat the levels they’ve constructed before others can play them.) Trials of Death needs every second of the game’s eight minute timer to finish. He still hasn’t seen the end.
For VentureBeat, Tanya X. Short argued that your game studio doesn’t have to survive to succeed. Doesn't it, though? There are interesting thoughts here, but I can't help but think Short undersells the importance of financial security.
Consider if you were to start a studio today. Would you rather lead:
Studio A, which creates a series of profitable but otherwise unremarkable games under budget, then closes.
Studio B, which creates one masterwork, which doesn’t earn back its investment, then closes.
There isn’t a right answer here, but knowing what your answer is, and committing to it, is essential.
For Next, Paul Dean spoke to the NASA scientists who are collaborating with videogame artists to envisage a futuristic - but realistic - colony on Mars. I'd forgotten all about Project Eagle. How on Earth did I forget about Project Eagle?
“We took license in pushing the technology and where the base might be into the future, but without violating any major principles,” he continues. Blackbird’s original concept was much closer to the recently decommissioned space shuttles, but then NASA reminded them that the atmosphere on Mars is too thin for such a vehicle to gain lift. For the same reason, drones were also removed in an early revision. Out, too, went solar panels, because NASA engineers think that energy would instead be generated by powerful nuclear reactors sunk into the planet’s surface, with most other structures existing partly or entirely underground in order to protect their inhabitants (and the food that they grow) from radiation.
Cat DeSpira looked back at anti-videogame propaganda from the 80s. I was vaguely aware of the phenomenon, but not the extent of it. Caricatures flooded newspapers. They got police to patrol near arcades so they'd look dodgy. Someone drew Pacman as the pied piper. What a time to be alive.
But for what it’s worth, despite the then negative perceptions of a new technology, 80s anti-video game graphics on video game related articles left an interesting impression of an era when parents were paranoid, even terrified, of not what they knew but only what they thought video games were doing to their children. These neurotic and often mean-spirited images give indication of just how widespread the fear was, and also why conservative coalitions were formed to ban or restrict the use of video games in arcades beginning in 1981.
On Kotaku, Cecilia D'Anastasio asked Smash Ultimate players why they're all teabagging each other. I can see why some might regard the practice as innocuous in certain contexts, but I think it inevitably slops more muck on the quagmire of toxicity swamping multiplayer games.
Nearly everyone I spoke with told me they think it’s happening so much because taunting is disabled in these games. “Understand that we just want to communicate in online matches, but we’re just left with crouching which can make the online experience very frustrating. I hope that Nintendo can trust us to taunt online instead of leaving us frustrated with wondering whether our opponent is t-bagging to disrespect or just say ‘that was crazy,’” said user KittyDerpKat.
Also on Kotaku, Kate Gray slapped some asses in Slappy Ass. I know. Just click through for the story at the start, OK? (The rest is also quite good, look.)
It seems like once the ass is used to being slapped, however, that the meter fills up slower. It feels less like a fun slappy game at this point and more like one of those endless clickers, even if the “clicking” part is slightly more interactive than usual — the disembodied buttcheeks have a pleasantly perky bounce to them, and redden nicely whether you’re spanking, whipping, or portal-torturing them.
Adam Conover has launched a podcast called Humans Who Make Games. If you can get past the clunky and suspiciously familiar name, his chats with Edmund Mcmillen and Derek Yu might be worth a listen.
Music this week is Beginners Luck by King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard.