Sundays are for feverish last minute packing, and attempts to justify including Cosmic Encounter in your luggage.
On Kotaku, Patrick Redford reviewed the climbing walls in an Overwatch map. It’s a project that’s as daft as it is entertaining, and gave me flashbacks to a climbing centre trip where my own fragile little game journalist arms failed me after half a dozen ascents.
This problem is not realistic, even in a decorative rock gym made for genetically enhanced gorillas to get in shape on the moon before they murder a bunch of humans in a video game where I get owned nightly by 14-year-olds. Working on that dyno would destroy you, and even if you got it, there’s nowhere to put your feet.
Also on Kotaku, Sean McGeady’s explores Bloodborne, catharsis and the Beast Within. I recently read an interesting chapter in a book about the biology of human behaviour that rejects the idea that our hunter-gatherer ancestors defaulted to a warlike state, which I think should be acknowledged in any discussion about the darker side of human nature. Still, I agree with much of this – though not the part about the dichotomy between beast and scholar. It’s all about context, both in terms of whether those descriptors are actually incompatible and for how the same person can swap between the two.
Directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki and developed under the working title Project Beast, Bloodborne is a heady cocktail of thrilling combat and oblique myth. But beneath its video-game tropes and Victorian Gothic sensibilities lies a delicious meta-narrative about catharsis, horrific violence and horror itself. Miyazaki’s masterpiece is a veritable buffet for the alligators inside.
Over at Eurogamer, Kirk Mckeand spoke to 14 year old Jack Kelley about how playing Firewatch changed his life. It’s always nice to read about a game having such a profound impact on someone, even if I can’t help but be a little baffled Kelley’s fascination with fire towers.
Kelley’s young brain is packed with trivia like this. On his bedroom wall is a board filled with information, including types of towers, what makes them unique, and even a list of the names of the lookouts who were stationed at different towers at certain times. Since he started travelling to visit firewatch towers, he and his father have visited over 140 of them – an average of more than one per week. It is no wonder he knows so much.
Mentioning Derek Parfit and Jean-Paul Sartre is basically a cheat code for inclusion in the Sunday Papers. Malindy Hetfeld does exactly that in her piece about videogame characters that struggle with their identity on Eurogamer, though I’m deducting philosophy points for bringing up Sartre and then not talking about the similarities between Night in the Woods and Nausea. I’m 90% sure I’m not just imagining them.
Existentialists like Sartre believe there is ultimately no meaning to life – there is no higher power holding us accountable, no jurisdiction that couldn’t fail us, no destiny we need to fulfil. Mae struggles with existential questions: she dreams of a god that tells her they don’t care about her and has difficulty going the way society prescribes, leading from school to work to a family and hopefully some kind of legacy.
Waypoint’s Rob Zacny wrote about his attempts to play the Division while ignoring its problematic politics. I haven’t played it, and am now even less likely to – I wasn’t aware of just how insidious the game’s message seems to be.
The narrative justifications deployed through The Division are silly, but its politically-inflected fantasies are much more immediate now than they were in early 2016. The sight of special forces wannabes (in and out of uniform) strutting around in their catalog-ordered kit is a near-daily feature of American life. The belief that there is no greater calling than to maintain order at gunpoint and save the fallen, cosmopolitan American city from itself, is less a fantasy than the animating principle of the various facets of American revanchism.
Jason Rohrer chose sell his latest game, One Hour One Life, through his own website rather than Steam. His thoughts (and graphs) about the game’s increasing sales numbers since its release are interesting, though I was most struck by this opening paragraph about his first game’s release on Steam. These times, they have a-changed.
Back in 2011 when my game Inside a Star-filled Sky launched on Steam, Valve worked with me directly to pick a release date that had no major conflicts. My game was the only game that came out that day on Steam. I’ll repeat that for emphasis: my game was the only game that came out that day on Steam. It remained on the new release list for almost an entire week, sitting there on the front page of Steam for everyone to see.
Chris Hecker, of Spore and SpyParty fame, made an excellent appearance on the Designer Note’s podcast last month. I haven’t listened to part 2 yet, but I bet it’s good.
DoubleFine celebrated International Woman’s Day by interviewing the women that work there, which is neat. I like the blend of origin stories and career advice.
New Cool Ghosts! New Cool Ghosts! New Cool Ghosts!
While I was writing these papers, Adam linked the RPS treehouse to this video of Andy Daly (as Forrest MacNeil) reviewing what it’s like to eat 15 pancakes – “being Daly, it starts gentle and escalates into abject despair and awful insights into the human condition.” Yep. Yep it does.
Music this week is Highway Shoes by Holy Moly and the Crackers, which I’ve cleverly picked because I’m swanning off to New Zealand for the next three weeks. Ta ra!