Sundays are for inhaling the smell of a new book. Before you lean in, let's read this week's best writing about games.
For Videodame, Khee Hoon Chan wrote about why Gas Station Simulator is a delightful chore.
Labour is an exquisitely rewarding endeavour here. The station is in a barely presentable condition for customers, so you’ll need to give the station quite a bit of an overhaul, starting with sweeping away the sand-encrusted shoe prints on the ground, clearing the trash bins that are stinking up the place with green fumes of odour, and picking up the rubbish strewn about: beer cans, discarded tires, random pieces of papers and receipts, and even old furniture. Every inch of sand and dust you wipe away adds to a cleanliness meter at the top left hand corner of the screen, and the trash you’ve collected in a garbage bag can be tossed — from a distance — to large garbage disposal containers for achievement points. Even the simplest chore is gamified here; the game rewards you with an encouraging chime whenever you break a personal record for longest distance of rubbish thrown into these containers, which fills me with an immense, yet inconsequential sense of accomplishment. Then there’s the grimy walls of the station, which can also be covered with a thin, even coat of paint of your choice — a repetitive yet unexpectedly soothing activity you can immerse yourself in amidst the bustle of managing the gas station.
The Code Corsair did a big 'ol analysis into the rendering of Mafia: Definitive Edition. One for the techy folks, unlike me, who nodded along in confusion.
Mafia sports an unusual solution for clouds. It starts off by rendering a big dome-shaped object, with depth testing turned on, creating a stencil mask so that the later shader only writes to the visible sky pixels. In that shader, 3 textures are sampled, a couple of 3D textures with 8 slices unwrapped as 2D textures, and an actual 3D noise texture. The choice of 2D textures emulating a 3D texture is a recurring pattern as we’ll see later. One of the 8 slices in the texture is generated every frame to do the cloud simulation, i.e. every 8 frames a cloud cycle is completed.
For Eurogamer, Chris Tapsell and Robert Purchese asked: "What does gaming's all-digital future mean for the climate crisis?"
Illustrating this trade-off, as Aslan notes, isn't easy, because there are more than just the two variables. One thing is clear: essentially, buying a physical disc is almost never the most carbon-efficient way to play video games on a console (there's just one very specific case, of a 128GB game played for around 30 to 34 hours, which can be found in Figure 68 pages 250-251, if you're interested). With the choice between cloud and digital, however, it's less definitive. The larger the file size, the less efficient a digital download becomes, compared to playing it via the cloud; but, the longer you play it for, the less efficient cloud-gaming becomes.
For CNN and The Conversation, Arnold J Wilkins wrote about why looking at buildings can actually give people headaches. It goes without saying, but I wouldn't recommend reading if you get headaches, migraines, or epileptic seizures from looking at repetitive patterns.
Because the repetitive patterns of urban architecture break the rule of nature, it is more difficult for the human brain to process them efficiently. And because urban landscapes are not as easy to process, they are less comfortable to look at. Some patterns, such as the stripes on door mats, carpets and escalator stair treads can trigger headaches and even epileptic seizures.
Finally, Tokyo Lens put together a video on why Japan's arcades are disappearing. A great shame, this.
That's me. Have a solid Sunday everyone!