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The Sunday Papers

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A plain white mug of black tea or coffee, next to a broadsheet paper on a table, in black and white. It's the header for Sunday Papers!
Image credit: RPS

Sundays are for forcing yourself to go for a run in the morning, doing so, feeling great for all of five minutes afterwards, then crumbling to dust. Before you stretch your calves, let's read this week's best writing about games.

Digital Artist Mike Winkelmann, also know as "Beeple", recently sold an NFT for $69 million. If you've browsed the web recently, then you've probably bumped into this bit of news already. But if it means absolutely nothing to you, don't fear, for I found this explainer by Terry Nguyen a very handy grounding in everything "non-fungible tokens".

Non-fungible digital assets are unique goods that don’t have interchangeable value. That definition might seem abstract, but these kinds of assets have existed since the early days of the internet, according to Devin Finzer, CEO of the NFT marketplace Open Sea. “Domain names, event tickets, in-game items, even handles on social networks like Twitter or Facebook, are all non-fungible digital assets,” Finzer wrote in an exhaustive explainer on NFTs. “They just vary in their tradeability, liquidity, and interoperability.”

And once you've given the above a read, Everest Pipkin wrote about how NFTs/Cryptoart are an absolute disaster for the environment, and in many other ways too.

Because PoW coins ask the investors of tomorrow to buy in at ever increasing computational power, we have ended up in a horrific spiraling excess of energy usage and ecological devastation. But the exact same system with the outsized computational power removed is still one that rewards early adopters and those with existing wealth, all on the backs of people convinced that if they join today, maybe they too will get rich.

Onto a different, better sort of art. Over on Eurogamer Christian Donlan wrote about Animal Crossing's neat hidden joke about a Leonardo mystery that's still being debated. Arrive for a cute animal and a cute joke, stay for a quality art history lesson.

Close your eyes for a minute. Picture the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, smudged beneath that dirty yellowing varnish that the Louvre has decided never to remove, not because it might damage the painting, I gather, but because in our collective consciousness now, the Mona Lisa is this odd yellow-green thing, bottom of the pond, almost a bank note, really, or sticky on the wall of some old boozer. Anyway, picture the Mona Lisa. And tell me: does she have eyebrows?

For Polygon, Nicole Carpenter wrote about how Neopets is reckoning with black market pet trading. I did not expect there to be a menacing side to Neopets, but it appears I am innocent and naive.

And so, a black market for pet trading has existed for as long as unconverted pets have been desirable. On the black market, people can pay real money (or, sometimes, other currency) to purchase an unconverted pet — one that may have been obtained through illicit means. The Neopets website has notoriously bad security, and it has a huge number of inactive accounts that never get purged, like they might at more active websites. In 2016, Neopets, now owned by JumpStart, was hacked and tens of millions of accounts were breached. Information was posted on the internet.

And over on Twitter, a bunch of game developers expressed their hatred for doors. For PC Gamer, Steven Messner wrote up a nice summary of their anger towards entrances.

It's easy to see how doors can exponentially complicate the logic of a game. Say an NPC in The Witcher 3 wants to turn in for the night. Without any doors to consider, all the AI has to do is map a route from the character's current position toward their bed. Throw a door or two in the way, though, and that NPC now needs to recognize there's a door in the way and have logic to control how it interacts with the door. But what happens if two NPCs use the same door at the same time? How does an NPC know whether a door opens toward or away from them? It's a problem so profoundly knotted that game designer Liz England, who has worked on games like Watch Dogs Legion and Sunset Overdrive, named it "The Door Problem."

Music this week is my 2020 most played track, Fujii Kaze's "Kiri ga naikara" which translates to "Cause It's Endless". A funky pop track which I simply cannot get enough of.

Finally, here's a little treat for the Yakuza fans out there. Over on Game Informer, Blake Hester's interview with Yakuza's creator, Toshihiro Nagoshi, is a cracking read.

Alright, I'm off. Hope you're having a delightful weekend so far!

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