Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

Welcome! Welcome! Pull up a pew – anywhere will do. Let us now pray and give thanks to The Gods of Blogging About Videogames for this bountiful harvest of tasty reading we are about to receive.

Today, we give thanks for the Polycat blog, and its excellent summary of the pros and cons of eliminating numerical health values from games. A rather interesting point is the argument that what it can do is act on the player psychologically similar to being shot at and not hit in a real combat simulation. It’s noted that it becomes a trade off for the fact that for you and your enemies it’s a little too easy to hit each other and the alternative would be… frustrating? Boring? All of the above? Go read and see for yourself.

We also thank thee mighty Deity of Digital Gaming for this think-piece by David Wildgoose of Kotaku AU about ‘The Morality of Megaton‘ and how Bethesda hid away some of the more… unsavoury details about the inhabitants of Megaton and left it up to the player to discover them.

Prithee deliver more unto us like JC Barnett’s ‘Memories of Days Gone By‘ and its discussion of platformers and where they’ve all gone since the end of the 16 bit era. Largely it’s in the context of a discussion of the Banjo-Kazooie games from the N64, which are so dear to my own heart. Barnett says,

The first few generations of 3D games are, frankly, ugly as sin these days. Banjo-Kazooie and Tooie however still seem to stand up pretty well. The textures are rough enough to count the pixels, as are the models and their polygons, but Rare still managed in those dark ages to squeeze a lot of character out of their worlds with cute animations and design.

Dear Lords of First Person Shootage, we thank thee especially for the work of your hands, wrought by your servant CLINT HOCKING. He has most recently aggregated some demographic information on the generational groups of people that are now making the games we consume and it looks very interesting – check out the slides and text of his presentation.

We give thanks as we break this bread which is the body of L.B. Jeffries post on Traveling in Games. It is something of which I am quite fond and I find the simulacra of games representing the boring parts of everyday experiences to be oddly compelling at times. Games should be fun? No! Games should be boring!

We give thanks for our good fortune at not being the Eurogamer reviewer Ed Zitron. This week he played an indeterminate amount of the Indie MMO “Darkfall Online”, leveling some pretty harsh criticism at it and awarding it a 2/10 score. The developers got angry, claimed that he didn’t use his press account for more than, at best, two hours (hardly enough to review any game, let alone an MMO, they argue) and say they have server logs to prove it. Eurogamer hemmed and hawed but stuck with the reviewer, at the same time offering to have the unimpeachable Kieron Gillen review it so readers could compare/contrast the two. Said game developers declined said offer, and stuck with the line that the original was a farce and was in need of removing. Which Eurogamer isn’t willing to do, so for now they’re (according to The Escapist, and the Developers Own Forums) wearing the review as a badge of honour.

A few questions come to mind — the issue of how long it takes to review a game hasn’t (to my mind) been satisfactorily answered. Does it have to take 10 hours of banging your head against a brick wall to comprehensively “review” brick wall banging in all shapes and forms? Conversely, can one make claims of any kind of authority of review without at least covering what most people would likely see? If that is too lofty a goal, should reviewers even bother to try? I don’t know the answers, but if you’ve read anything that makes a case for anything related to this point, drop us a line in the comments and I’ll retroactively add-in some links for interested readers.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of canceled games and closed studios, I will fear no Vapourware, for thou art with me. Being the big happening story this week, the closure of 3DRealms generated a lot of interest. ¬†Duncan Fyfe applied his pen and his wit in creating a story of melodramatic tragedy in ‘Twenty One Guns‘, which I would have called ‘The Duke is Dead’.

If you’re more into the poking-fun at the absurdity of the dearly departed studio, have a look at the list Randall Munroe from XKCD put together which is “a list of things that happened since the List of Things That Have Happened Since Duke Nukem Forever Was Announced was written. Suitably Meta.

And lastly, as if that weren’t enough craziness to go around, you really need to read about “The Chair Story“. It’s like Hunter S. Thompson’s ghost came back to life at the mention of hookers and booze and possessed this dude. Pure, dripping, acidic Gonzo at it’s worst/finest. This week’s must-read.

And that’s This Week in Videogame Blogging.