Links updated July 4th 2017

Let’s play a game – it’s called ‘catch-up on the must read things I missed from last week’. First up, Simon Parkin talks about the Develop 2009 conference [editor note 2017: dead link], bringing this juicy bit of info back home to share with us:

I learned a few things I didn’t know before, such as the revelation that Half-Life 2’s artists wrote three supporting pieces of fiction for every location on the game, one describing what happened there two days ago, one two weeks ago and another two years in the past. “This historical record (which ran longer than the entire story for the game) gave every location in the game a sense of place, history and verisimilitude,” said Viktor Antonov, the game’s art director, “something far more nuanced and rich than simply slapping some graffiti on a wall.”

Then he wrote up a longer piece about the talk on the relationship between real world architecture and game architecture.

The Reticule scored an excellent, in-depth interview with Javier Maldonado, creator of the ground breaking Masq. A blend of comic book visuals and responsive interactive storyline, Masq was the first game I’d played that actually used sex in a non-awkward, compelling manner. Here’s an excerpt in which he talks about

Javier: …if I can extrapolate from my experience with other games: at best the story is “decent” compared with linear media such as movies or TV, and the point of [mainstream] games is not really playing the story, but the story is a device to “dress up” the game. In Masq the story IS the game.

So, that’s last week covered – now we can get into This Week In Videogame Blogging.

David Wildgoose of Kotaku Australia talks about 10 Ways He Would Improve Oblivion. This is one of my favourite hypothetical games to play and it’s only because of the incredibly active modding community for Bethesda games that means lot of these random ideas can come to fruition.

The Blue Casket republishes a piece that ran in The Escapist earlier in the year but remains compelling in our contemporary situation – it’s called ‘Storytime with Agent 47‘ (Edit 2016-09-28 – link removed due to security concerns) and it’s about the writing of game diaries by games writers/journalists/critics. It seems particularly relevant to me in light of all the thinking that’s going into game stories and player created vs. designer authored stories at the moment. The author wonders, “…is this a brave new world for writers who game? Or will it remain a geeky subculture for gamers who write?” That’s a very good question, and one I am personally more than a little interested in seeing the outcome.

If you caught last week’s TWIVGB, you may well have observed that GM Backlash’s tales from the early days of Ultima Online were one of the must-read pieces of the week. To the delight of his fans, Backlash is back again this week with ‘Further tales of an omnipotent public servant’.

Ellie Gibson at Eurogamer does what I suggest will become this year’s only must-read interview, with Mark Rein, head of Epic Games. It reminded me of something written by the writers responsible for Cartoon Network’s Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. If you’re unfamiliar with the cartoon, the premise is that a standard interview is conducted with a celebrity in which they are asked a series of questions which, as the show is being put together, get  intercut with entirely different questions asked by the host, Space Ghost. It’s probably better to see it in action than try and explain it  so here’s my favourite; a star-studded episode featuring singers Bjork and Thom Yorke, [editor note 2017: dead link] the former of whom is already pretty big on the non sequiturs. Space Ghost somehow manages to make it even weirder.

I’m beginning to wonder if the term “enthusiast press” is a bit of a misnomer. Perhaps it should be called the “bulimic press” because it’s forever vomiting up the things it’s IV-drip fed by Public Relations stooges. Mitch Krpata does another ‘let’s present what they’re actually saying devoid of its hyperbolic context‘ in order to demonstrate just how meaningless the things it’s saying really are.

The Brainy Gamer hosts a fantastic interview with the game designers Clint Hocking, Manveer “both amazing and humble” Heir and Borut Pfeifer. A podcast not to miss.

And lastly for the week, here is a great little vignette from Julian ‘rabbit’ Murdoch at Gamers with Jobs, wherein his daughter comes up with the idea for the best selling PC game of all time, entirely unprompted. It’s also impossibly adorable.