You might have noticed there was no Spiffing Reads last week, so instead we have a bumper edition this time around, with articles from the last fortnight. It’s a bit tough to get this column out weekly at the moment, so we’re going to switch to fortnightly for the time being. Anyway, onwards!
The other week on This Morning, a soporific UK daytime TV show, a woman was interviewed who claimed that she was in love with a Tetris cartridge and wanted to marry it. It seemed the usual tabloid TV, producers clamouring to ‘get a weirdo on’ for audiences to point and laugh at. But god bless Laura Kate Dale at Kotaku UK, who tracked down the woman in question and conducted a thorough interview that rounds out the story, and ends up becoming a fascinating exploration of ‘objectum sexuality’. Well worth a read. Lucius P. Merriweather
— 中段見てからしゃがむの余裕マン (@P_MEN876) January 22, 2018
We Can’t Stop Watching This Cruel Mario Clone (Kotaku UK)
Trap Adventure 2 is the most bastard game in existence. And it’s utterly hilarious to watch. Every time the player seems to have overcome an obstacle, another completely unfair trap pops up and kills her in an instant. It’s surely the most sadistic game ever – and brutally funny for the observer. Particularly the premature celebration right at the end of this video. L.P.M.
Polygon had a nice series of articles at a few weeks ago that asked primarily game designers to reflect on games of 2017. The one by Jake Solomon, the creative director of XCOM, was particularly interesting, as he recounts his complete surprise at the announcement of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, looks at how it’s different from the XCOM games, and how he himself was inspired by it. This quote in particular is worth remembering: “The nice thing about working in a genre like turn-based tactics is that it isn’t a zero-sum game. Good tactics games create new tactics players, and then everyone in the genre benefits.” Professor GreilMercs
Lair: What went wrong (Polygon)
You might remember Lair – a once promising dragon-flying game from the makers of Star Wars: Rogue Leader that utterly bombed on release, mostly due to its terrible motion controls. This lengthy article is an eye-opening look at what went wrong, a failure that ultimately led to the demise of acclaimed studio Factor 5. Lair’s creators claim that Sony forced them to put in the motion controls to promote the Sixaxis controller, even though they protested that it made the game unplayable. And quite a few disgruntled devs point the blame at the studio’s inflexible head, who apparently shouted down alternative ideas. A highly interesting dissection of how a flawed game comes to be. L.P.M.
Another brilliant Polygon article looking back at what went wrong with a famous game (Polygon have really knocked it out of the park with great features recently). This time it’s all about what Arkane did before creating the brilliant Dishonored – it turns out they spent months pitching a game called The Crossing, which was eventually ditched when no publisher wanted it. The game sounds incredibly ambitious – the idea was that it would be a single-player game, but at certain choke-points the enemies would be controlled by human players, a concept the studio called ‘cross-player’. Essentially it would have amounted to making a fully fledged single player and multi-player game at the same time, so it’s no wonder that publishers balked at the idea, and you have to wonder how many people would actually want to play as the cannon fodder for some other player. Even so, it would have been a fascinating experiment. L.P.M.
Best Of British Game Developers Publishers – An Introduction (Little Bits of Gaming & Movies)
S. L. Perrin is working on a book about legendary British developers and publishers, and this intro is a great insight into the fantastic hubris of Imagine Software in the early 1980s. Imagine earnt an enviable reputation and quickly expanded – but they bit off far more than they could chew. The directors were blowing their money on sports cars while the debts racked up, and there’s a fantastic BBC documentary called Commercial Breaks that just happened to be there doing a piece on the company when the bailiffs moved in. The whole documentary is on YouTube, and it’s fascinating viewing – if only to see everyone smoking in the office and imagine how much it stank. L.P.M.
Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.