Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 16:59 on 13-03-2015, Andy G
I feel very close to your own thoughts, Arthur. I haven't read any Pratchett for years, but what I realised this week was that I've still read more books by him than any other author, at least 40, maybe 50. What a lot of people have said, and I I feel exactly the same way, is that they were very strongly influenced by him in terms of their development of their reading tastes and ways of thinking about things. Personally, I always felt drawn mostly to the fantastical and wistful side to his writing rather than the humour, though he is mostly being remembered as a humourist. Even though it's been a while since I felt drawn to read him, I do feel really grateful for all the entertaining and thought-provoking reading he gave me over the years.
at 21:06 on 12-03-2015, Melanie
Sad news indeed. He'll be sorely missed.
at 18:36 on 12-03-2015, Robinson L
His final tweets are ... eminently appropriate.

I'll be posting a memorial piece on my livejournal later today, but I want to say here that I, for one, am still deeply immersed in my Pratchett phase more than a decade on, and most of my family are the same. I find his more recent works increasingly hit and miss, but that his hits were still top notch.

I don't have any "helped me through a dark place" stories relating to Pratchett, but I have a lot of fond memories reading him or listening to audiobooks together with family. And for myself - only a tiny handful of authors have managed to hook me into their stories to the same level as Pratchett, or even come close.

Many tears, and even more love.
at 16:46 on 12-03-2015, Arthur B
Terry Pratchett is dead. My thoughts as posted elsewhere:

Confession: It's been a long time since I've actually read any Pratchett. Was avidly, deeply into his work during my teenage years though and they helped me get through that with my sanity intact.

What I find impressive about his work in retrospect, though, is how everyone has their own cross-section of Pratchett: I have my own idea of when his work really starts to grip me, which my favourite of his books are, and when I found things starting to get over-worn and repetitive. So do most people who've read him.

At the same time, exactly where we put those markers varies immensely, and I'm sure there's readers out there who and there'll be people who think Pratchett only really started speaking to them in the last few years. The only conclusion is that it isn't a matter of Pratchett declining as an author so much as individuals getting what they needed from him as readers, and then growing apart, because neither author nor reader were standing still.

I don't have a single regret for my Pratchett phase - I don't even regret that it ended, because it was time. But I do envy those who are still going through theirs, and those who have yet to begin them.

RIP Terry, and sorry for bringing so many books to the signing.
at 22:32 on 11-03-2015, Arthur B
GamerGate is objectively, verifiably bad for videogames in general, but here's some truly grim unintended consequences.
at 23:37 on 05-03-2015, Jamie Johnston
Could be because the axes on the graphs didn't have proper values marked. Lack of scientific rigour is severely punished round here. ;)
at 23:15 on 05-03-2015, Craverguy
Hey, does anyone know why this article has disappeared from the site?
at 15:00 on 26-02-2015, Robinson L
All right, Arthur. That sounds fair, thanks.
at 10:26 on 26-02-2015, Arthur B
Tell you what, since you have a heap of articles there and they've sat there for a while I'll set them all to "draft" so you have a chance to reread and make sure your opinions on the things in question haven't evolved (and revise accordingly if you have) and then you can set things to "ready" for my review in the order if your choice (one at a time, please, I'm not exactly idle at this end myself).
at 03:00 on 26-02-2015, Robinson L
Well, the Bollywood article ("The disco crowd had better move over") and "Chaos Sucking" are probably the ones I would want addressed first - mainly, though, I just wanted assurance that they haven't slipped through the cracks.
at 23:01 on 25-02-2015, Arthur B
The editor remains busy and I have been sort of stringing things out slowly so as to keep up a gentle trickle of material. Which articles did you particularly want feedback on?
at 18:00 on 25-02-2015, Robinson L
So, uh, a little while ago I posted about a couple of articles I've submitted which have yet to be either published or rejected - is there any word on those?
at 18:37 on 23-02-2015, Orion
Honestly, I feel like you could have cut the entire interview and just posted this exchange:

RPS: Do you think you wanted them to be true rather than believed they were true?

Peter Molyneux: I think a lot of times, especially a few years ago, I would say things almost as I thought things, and the team used to really get aggressive, that they would say, ‘Oh god Peter, this is the first time we know that we’re going to have this feature in the game.’
at 01:43 on 23-02-2015, Melanie
if Molyneux had just kept his mouth shut

I think I found the fatal flaw in that scenario.
at 23:23 on 22-02-2015, Arthur B
What I think's really sad is that apparently the big deal about Godus is the land sculpting feature, but from what I've been able to find out about it (from the game's wiki) it seems pretty lackluster. You can... flatten land and pull land levels out a la the "level terrain" tool in Sims 2, and it sounds like that's it?

And that, of course, was a feature of Populous and a cornerstone of its gameplay.

That's part of what makes Godus such a shame: if Molyneux had just kept his mouth shut and delivered a straight update of Populous for modern systems with modern graphics, everyone would have been happy.
at 22:37 on 22-02-2015, Alice
Wow, you're not wrong about Jim Sterling's aesthetic, Arthur. o_O

Definitely a useful overview, though, thanks!
at 20:48 on 22-02-2015, Melanie
That was a glorious trainwreck of an interview, for sure. I mean, this part:
RPS: Do you think you can make a great game?
Peter Molyneux: I think I can try.
RPS: But do you think you can achieve it?
Peter Molyneux: You’ve gotta try, man!

Have you read this fictional interview with him? With the room and the horse?

What I think's really sad is that apparently the big deal about Godus is the land sculpting feature, but from what I've been able to find out about it (from the game's wiki) it seems pretty lackluster. You can... flatten land and pull land levels out a la the "level terrain" tool in Sims 2, and it sounds like that's it? And houses can only be on flat land, so your goal is basically to level as much as possible? There's so much potential when you put "god game" and "terraforming abilities" together! Like having your people live on the mountains, and then raising mountain ranges that lead wherever you want them to go. Or digging vast cave systems for defensibility. Or having a city built into the side of a cliff. Or growing an enormous forest and having them live in treehouses. Or, since you have supernatural powers, having them live underwater in a huge faith-sustained bubble, or in a floating city or what have you. Instead... leveling stuff.
at 14:23 on 20-02-2015, Arthur B
Jim Sterling presents an aesthetic somewhere between "hang on, that man's who's forgotten his fedora" and "hang on, that man's forgotten his swastika armband" in his videos, but he's good at the facts and has a comparatively fair-handed overview of the context to all this.
at 23:03 on 19-02-2015, Alice
I'm not a gamer, so this was my first exposure to the story, and wow. That was... quite something.

at 12:07 on 19-02-2015, Arthur B
Forget ethics in games journalism - give me more brutality like this.
at 19:08 on 14-02-2015, Orion permalink
at 19:48 on 11-02-2015, Orion
I don't understand the edits. It's mortifying enough without the stutterframes and whatnot. I wish they had just let the tape run.
at 18:40 on 11-02-2015, Fin
That whole thing was painful, but I really can't get over the Nazi tracksuit.