You'll find links to everything below - from attacks on Tom Bissell to concerns that procedural generation focuses too much on mathematics and too little on humanity. Plus two free browser game recommendations! Enjoy these links or your money back!
"Critical Miss" by Gobi (Fuyoh!), 24 June. Gobi lashes out at Tom Bissell in a sustained burst of wordy violence. Someone might venture that Gobi has cherry-picked quotes here, but there are... a lot of them. There's a point to this which I won't spoil. Thought-provoking.
The mealy-mouthed wording indicates even Bissell realises this is not a winning argument. Nevertheless he persists in making it, leaving the reader wondering how the Xbox 360 controller with its colour-coded buttons better approximates the experience of firing a weapon. The controller’s fuzziness in target acquisition necessitates a feature called aim-assist — the equivalent to a firing range instructor discreetly repositioning a misaimed weapon for the hapless shooter. Bissell’s arguments are often just as imprecise and, writing as he does for non-gaming sites, there is no editorial aim-assist to get them on target.
"There Were Tanks At Tankfest: A Report" by Brendan Caldwell (Rock Paper Shotgun), 02 July 2012. I've had a difficult relationship with RPS over the last year as they've ramped up their output to cover every new game trailer and micropress release in the PC gaming space. I used to read everything on RPS but find there's too much content to keep up with now and I imagine that's the same for many longtime readers. But I'm still one of the few paying a subscription because there are fantastic pieces hidden amongst the clutter. Here, Brendy C is supposed to be writing about World of Tanks but, er, he doesn't. The result is perhaps the most surreal interview you will read this year. (I still don't forgive World of Tanks for boothbabing it during Eurogamer Expo last year.)
RPS: If people were tanks and tanks were people, do you think that the people (formerly tanks) would ride us around (that’s the tanks, formerly people) and make us shoot each other and hold big shows about us and generally make us do all the dirty war things they wanted to do?
VK: Do you mean, would the Tank Race make a World of Humans game?
"Chasing the Dragon" by Lee Bradley (Eurogamer), 22 June 2012. Last year I spent two weeks writing about Chris Crawford's SCRAM and Crawford himself stopped by in the comments. He mentioned his life's work Storytron was "a commercial failure", and now needed to earn some money before continuing with it. Here Crawford talks to Eurogamer about what Storytron has done to him (via RPS).
“I’m nearly 62 years old and it’s not like I can go out and get a job,” he says. “We may lose the house, that’s just one of the risks we’re taking. And it’s kinda scary. But, so far we’re holding together and we’ve got maybe five years for me to earn a significant amount of money. And if I don’t then we lose the house.”
"Ah, I Just Need To Share This Day Z Story..." by Jim Rossignol (Rock Paper Shotgun), 08 June 2012. I also put this one out over Twitter. I've been reading the odd Day Z story here and there, but this one is wonderful because it's really about cheaters in all online multiplayer games.
And I realised exactly what that fucker was doing. He’d logged off. Not only logged off, but logged off because he’d seen me. He was going to cheat. He was going to exploit Day Z’s awesome persistence feature to try to kill me unfairly: he was going to log onto another, different server, move to roughly my location on the map, and then log back in to this one.
"The Person and the Persona" by Jonas Kyratzes, 10 July 2012. I know last week's Designing for Grace received a lot of attention but I already spent enough time recently wandering through the halls of ludology; I've made my peace. I find Jonas' latest essay somewhat more fresh. It talks about how the online persona of "Jonas Kyratzes: Indie Game Developer" came to exist. Was it by design or by accident?
"Sometimes I wish the persona could be divided from the person, though. The trickster is weighed down by his poverty. I share my struggles because I think it’s important to talk about economics and class and illusions of market meritocracy, because not every indie can afford to fly around the world attending cons or game jams on the beach. But sometimes I wish you couldn’t peek behind the mask and see my worried face."
"Trolls Versus the Straw Feminist" by Amanda Lange (Second Truth), 10 July 2012. The always reliable Amanda takes on the Anita Sarkeesian story.
There's nothing wrong with hot women in games, as long as there are also some "ugly" or average-looking women in games too. And while it's possible to find such women, they don't tend to be the celebrated headliners. That is, in order to find women that break the mold in games, it's necessary to sometimes look at more obscure characters and games.
"Thoughts on Procedural Content Generation" by Clara Fernández Vara (Vagrant Cursor), 15 June 2012. Clara said she was going to reply to some of the comment discussion on her Electron Dance interview via blog post. I assumed she was going to drop a comment to let us know that the post was up, but no! Stealthily posted a few weeks ago, her response is a much broader version of my concern that procedurally-generated adventures were just fetch quests.
Another presenter called the story “filler” in the context of RPGs, which can be just generated to give you a motivation; when I called him out, he admitted that it may not be the best term. The fact that human feelings and behaviour are reduced to numbers, and that narrative is considered filler, may be symptoms of the subconscious disregard certain computer scientists may have for human behaviour.
"The graduate of 2012 will survive only in the cracks of our economy" by Paul Mason (The Guardian), 01 July 2012. I used to think my generation had it bad, being arm-twisted into covering the pensions of two generations and forced to watch our student grants slowly morph into loans. But the new generation doesn't even seem to have a future.
"That was the old curve. Then I drew the new one. It curves down: wages don’t rise; you can’t get on the property ladder. Fiscal austerity eats into your disposable income. You are locked out of your firm’s pension scheme; you will wait until your late 60s for retirement. And if it all goes wrong, it’s touch and go whether the welfare safety net will still be there."
Click the images for the games.
Towards the Light: A 7DFPS entry by thefuntastic, picked up via freeindiegam.es. It'll probably cost you no more than five minutes play but what little it does, it does very well. (Windows download.)
The Love Letter by Axcho and Knivel: Can you find out who wrote you a love letter without dying of embarrassment? Another short one, but fun with a sense of humour. (Browser.)
I Can't Read Show Me Pictures
I'm not often interested in trailers for shooters, particularly not multiplayer, but here's one I've watched several times. Backed by an awesome remix of The Crystal Method's "Play for Real", the documentary-like quality of the editing is pretty smooth and there's such a zip to the action. I present the announcement trailer for ShootMania: Storm. (Via RPS)