The Sunday Papers
Sundays are for placing a squeezy bottle of honey that's hardened on your radiator, in the hopes that it'll soften and become truly squeezy again. Before you wait, let's read this week's best writing about games (and game related things).
Over on Prospect, Edwin Evans-Thirlwell examines the re-release of Goldeneye 007 on Switch and what we've lost, given the route multiplayer games have taken. Funnily enough, my experience of Goldeneye mirrors his. I also can't detach my time with it from being in Japan, sitting cross-legged on a shiny wooden floor, and playing it on my friend's N64. A great time.
Splitscreen gaming is a fading tradition today, but a powerful and perhaps even radical one. It epitomises the idea that games are fundamentally to be shared, a commonplace that some videogames publishers have sought to erode for profit’s sake, in particular by shifting the emphasis from physical copies to downloadable games that can only be played by an account holder. It also created a culture in which memories of multiplayer games are also memories of specific people and places. I can’t detach my time with GoldenEye from thoughts of my N64-owning childhood friend and his brother, of their sitting room and the light through the window, the carpet under my crossed ankles. I didn’t have an N64 as a kid, so it’s only thanks to this friend that I’m able to remember GoldenEye at all.
Jordan Oloman wrote a post on how Valve's The Orange Box came to be for Techradar. Oloman chats to former Valve devs who recall working on a bundle of supreme value. Lots of insights into their "community-first" approach to TF2 and their worries surrounding Portal's release.
“This will sound strange from the outside, but at one point an artist loosely tied to Portal made the pitch that the world should have dead bodies in it,” he continued. “That felt alien to many of us, heck all of us, but they were adamant about it so we asked Gabe (Newell, Valve President) to weigh in. We called a meeting and Gabe asked what we were discussing – he was so incredulous that someone would suggest it that he didn’t believe it was a real question - he simply said - ‘why would we do that in an incredulous way?’ That answered that, and we spent the rest of the meeting talking about how awesome it was shaping up,” Faliszek continued. “Then the overall tone really came into focus when (Episode One and Two, Portal series writer Erik Wolpaw) and the team nailed the ending – it wasn’t just a harder version of what you played, but it was the end of the story.”
On Hit Points, Nathan Brown wrote about the many deaths of live-service games in recent times. An interesting look at the difficulties of console/PC live-service development, and how the mobile market's soft launch approach might be a better way of testing the waters before going all-in.
While live-service developers are chasing the dream, and aping the style, of today’s console and PC smash hits, the roots of this sort of thing lie in the boggy, bloody battlefield of the free-to-play mobile space. Yet the pretenders to Fortnite’s throne have failed to notice the smartphone sector’s greatest trick: the soft launch. Mobile-game developers don’t just throw a game straight out into the world: they launch it in a select few territories, measure its performance against their key performance indicators, then turn a few dials and see if things improve. If a game does well, they’ll announce it properly and launch it globally; if it doesn’t, they’ll quietly kill it off, turn their attention to their next prototype, and start over.
For Games Industry.biz, Christopher Dring argues that it's time to kill the Nintendo Direct. Have Nintendo - a company that's historically been so unpredictable - become too predictable with their showcases?
I was never a fan of the Wii U. It wasn't the best system. But I look back at that era and saw a Nintendo that was trying to create their way out of a hole. When it had digital events lacking in big content, it entertained us by presenting the show as muppets or Robot Chicken characters. When its line-up was lacking, like it was back in 2016, the company steered all in on Zelda: Breath of the Wild, making it one of the most powerful launches Nintendo has ever achieved. Remember that E3? It lingers in the memory more than the ones where Nintendo presented dozens of titles.
Music this week is Fiend by Ark Patrol. Here's the Spotify link and YouTube link. For whatever reason, this seems to hit all the right brain receptors.
That's it for this week folks, have a great weekend!