Jun 30 2006

Word Hydra

My Titan Quest review is up on Eurogamer. I enjoyed the game a great deal, but I’ve subsequently come up with a load of Greek-legend observations that really should have gone in to that review.

For example: aren’t 90% of the greek heroes tales about how they used their brains to outwit an enormously overpowered monster? Where’s the bit where having sex with the cousin of a god is more important than doing the right thing? Or: aren’t grindy RPGs a bit like Hadean torture. Twelve tasks of Hercules? How about the one task of Rossignol: kill the beasts.

Jun 30 2006


Things in games almost always turn out to be what they appear to be. There’s very little perceptual trickery in games, and almost no blurred lines. The industrial landscapes never look like this. Stories never (deliberately) have a David Fincher dream-logic twist. Everything is too immediate and makes too much sense. Escher levels are rare, although they do occur.

When games command the attention of so much sight and sound, why aren’t perceptual tricks the norm in games? Is it just because they’re hard to pull off? Or is it because they are a trick in the first place?

Jun 30 2006

Brothers In Arms

Cheap thought: Brothers In Arms squad combat, which relies on suppressing fire and flanking routines, is as big an innovation for FPS combat than anything Half-Life 2 did with physics. Brothers In Arms squad combat, which relies on suppressing fire and flanking routines, is as big an innovation for FPS combat than anything Half-Life 2 did with physics. The immediacy of the squad orders and the effectiveness of cover is unlike that seen in other games of its ilk.

It’s remarkable how many people wrote that game off as ‘probably worse than Call of Duty’, and never played it. Have you played it?

It’s not a masterpiece, but as I play it more and more I begin to think that its combat ideas are just bastard-smart. I’ve been playing it co-op with friends and it’s a raw, solid, and instinctive experience. Just pumping out bullets so that the buggers keep their heads down is brilliantly obvious. The idea that the big fucking gun is good for doing that, while the little one is for close work makes more sense here than in any other game. These ideas are subtle, but they are gold dust. Other developers should steal them, immediately. This should become standard fare for squad-control: point, click. No more stupid HUD menus. Just dirt and screaming men.

If someone wants to make a gritty sci-fi shooter that uses the same ideas then that’s okay by me. (Although Ubisoft lawyers may say differently.)

Jun 27 2006


Wrote about potential social ubiquity of gaming AI.

Made jam from strawberries grown in the garden.

Jun 24 2006

Our Inevitable Doom

Jesus shit! (In Japanese, thankfully).

Jun 23 2006

Sexual Bandwidth

3QuarksDaily on Gregory Chaitin:

human DNA is a digital information code composed of a sequence of four bases. This means that each base can be represented using two bits of information, and since the human genome has about 3 billion bases, this is equal to 6 gigabits. So you can think of your own genetic information as something that would easily fit on an Ipod Nano! Now the interesting thing is that you get half that information from your mother, and the other half from your father. But your father’s part of the information had to be transmitted to your mother through an act of sexual congress (unless you are a test tube baby), and given the amount of time it took him to “transmit,” you can calculate the bandwidth of the connection between your mom and dad.

Jun 23 2006

Meeja Surveys

Henry Jenkins:

To put this in context, though, a recent industry study found that only 2 percent of gamers consciously consider the publisher or developer in deciding to purchase a particular title.

Hands up if you’re a two-percenter!

Jun 23 2006

London House Walking

Theo Jansen’s Strandbeesten are coming to London.

Thanks, Owen.

Jun 20 2006

Endless Forest

You are a stag, a male deer. So are the other players. You meet each other in an endless forest on the internet. The setting is idyllic, the atmosphere peaceful. You communicate with one another through sounds and body language.

Nightmarish deer-with-human-face MMO-screensaver, The Endless Forest. Beautiful, weird, and a 50mb download. Some interesting ideas at work here – including exploration as an end in itself and emotes as your only method of communication.

I’ll see you there. (I’ll be the deer with the human face).


Jun 16 2006


From The Graphic Imperative.