Playpen

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 08:19 on 11-03-2014, Arthur B
Also with film there is at least a central focus of the creative work - namely, what's going on in front of the cameras - whereas in games the creative work is going on at dozens and dozens of different workstations, and in the voice acting/motion capture studio, and so on.
permalink
at 06:21 on 11-03-2014, Janne Kirjasniemi
I've played precious few plot oriented games in recent times, but one could say that with movies, the figure head of a director seems to result in a singular vision or at least something which can easily be interpreted as a singular vision. But could games achieve that and on the other hand, is this even desirable, taking into account that railroading and such stuff is something people complain about.
permalink
at 22:00 on 10-03-2014, Arthur B
His argument was that these days the figure of the "celebrity game developer" is essentially a relic.

The argument as you outline it seems fairly compelling to me.

To be honest, there's an extent to which the idea of the auteur movie director is sort of a myth for similar reasons, simply because of the sheer number of people who all need to competently do their job in order to complete all but the indiest of indie projects; even guys like David Lynch and the Coens and Ridley Scott and so on tend to work with a tight cabal of like-minded regular collaborators, for instance. But I guess AAA games are several steps more diffuse than that these days.
permalink
at 18:56 on 10-03-2014, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Thanks everyone. It means a lot to me. Hopefully this'll be the start of something bigger.

IN OTHER NEWS...

I was reading a forum thread about the closure of Irrational Games the other day, and I found someone making an interesting argument. His argument was that these days the figure of the "celebrity game developer" is essentially a relic. Most of the people we associate with that label, the Carmacks, the Romeros, the Meiers, the Molyneuxes, the Cages, made their names back in the '90s, and nowadays most of them are either retired, making games for mobile devices, or coasting on reiterations of past successes. His opinion was that something like a superstar designer really only worked when the majority of developers were guys working in 12-man teams in someone's garage, and that development has really grown too elaborate to be dominated by one personality. The proof of this could be seen in the fates of these guys, a majority of whom came to grief on some overly-elaborate project that was intended to revolutionize gaming, only to burn through a ton of money and goodwill and result in a mediocre game.

This same fellow also made the most apt summation of Bioshock Infinite I have seen anywhere: B:I is what Daikatana would have been had it worked.
permalink
at 08:48 on 10-03-2014, Shimmin
Yes, congrats for that.
permalink
at 01:55 on 10-03-2014, Sister Magpie
Go Alasdair!!
permalink
at 15:02 on 08-03-2014, Robinson L
Arthur: Congratulations, Al!

Though the article won't feel the same without the appended alchemy discussion.

Seconded on both counts. That's so cool.


Shimmin: I only read XKCD when people mention it here, because as you say it's one of many mediocre webcomics and I read other stuff instead.

Ditto.
permalink
at 23:34 on 07-03-2014, Janne Kirjasniemi
Excellent news Alasdair. It was a very good essay.
permalink
at 20:27 on 07-03-2014, Alice
Congratulations, Alasdair!
permalink
at 18:51 on 07-03-2014, Melanie
Congratulations!

What I find funny is that the end of that expression is already "you make an ass out of u and me"--so the person saying it is insulting themselves exactly as much as they're insulting the person who assumed. IMO this makes it almost meaningless to turn it back on the person saying it.
permalink
at 15:40 on 07-03-2014, Arthur B
Congratulations, Al!

Though the article won't feel the same without the appended alchemy discussion.

(By definition, hasn't all the material in the book been published in 2013? I guess this is a magic-of-paper thing...)
permalink
at 15:10 on 07-03-2014, Alasdair Czyrnyj
If I may briefly interrupt comics chat for a second...

I just wanted to mention that Thea James and Ana Grilo, the two ladies behind The Book Smugglers review blog, have announced that they're putting together Speculative Fiction 2013, collecting some of the best online nonfiction writing about genre from the past year.

The lineup they've got is pretty varied. There's Joe Abercrombie, N. K. Jemisen, Abigail Nussbaum...and Alasdair Czyrnyj.

My Prometheus article is in there. Something I've written is actually gonna get published. It's the first time anything I've written has been published.

*small excited voice* Yaaaaaaaaaaay.

(Oh, and to segue back into comic chat, after discovering condescending misogynistic fug that is Least I Could Do, I find Randall Munroe slightly more tolerable.)
permalink
at 12:44 on 07-03-2014, Arthur B
It's kind of ironic because Munroe's making fun of a canned clever response, but he's using his patented canned cleverness to do so.
And it isn't even that clever. "You know what happens..." is typically not used as an actual statement of fact so much as a rhetorical slap (the implication being that the person being addressed bloody well should know even if they don't actually know). This is something people generally pick up if they have conversations with actual human beings who use that particular idiom so whilst the comic thinks it is presenting Generico McCoolguy giving a wicked zinger, really it just depicts ol' Generico as someone whose grasp of context and tone and idiom and other such things appears to be slightly lacking.
permalink
at 11:54 on 07-03-2014, Tamara
I actually brought it up here because it's the only place I know to get a bit of discussion about it, particularly critical. Leaving aside whether everyone else loves it or what, it's just that I really like analyzing very banal, taken-for-granted forms of communication.

I can muse on about the way stale sitcoms, terrible movies, repetitive webcomics or sexist bodice rippers do what they do happily for days, with much more interest than I have for analyzing Booker nominee list, regardless of the fact that I think the latter is probably better art. (Maybe because the latter is better.) It's not so much that I have a strong opinion on XKCD, as I find anyone having opinions on XKCD really interesting.

Or, arguable, I just have really bad taste and like to revel in it.
permalink
at 11:36 on 07-03-2014, Shimmin
I'm a little curious why Ferretbrainers seem to be so down on it.


I suspect this is a mixture of confirmation bias and in-group stuff. A handful of commenters talk about XKCD occasionally, but it's only noticable when they do that, not the many occasions when they don't. Also, talking about XKCD on Ferretbrain has been done enough that it's now a thing to do if you have Opinions about that comic, and perhaps Ferretbrainers are now more likely to read it with previous Opinions in mind.

With a small group of regular commenters that kind of thing starts to look very prominent. But for example, I only read XKCD when people mention it here, because as you say it's one of many mediocre webcomics and I read other stuff instead.

Also possible that people look at XKCD who may not read many webcomics, and so aren't likely to talk about those? It has enough geek momentum built up that maybe people are still reading along who haven't got into other webcomics. But they'd have to tell us, I dunno.
permalink
at 11:34 on 07-03-2014, James D
Any opinions on today's XKCD?

It's pretty bad. The "zing" hinges entirely on the specific way it's set up, and that setup is only really technically an assumption anyway. She could easily have just left out the "you know what happens" and started with "when you assume..." in which case the smug coolguy would've been left without his oh-so-clever response. It's kind of ironic because Munroe's making fun of a canned clever response, but he's using his patented canned cleverness to do so. That's my two cents, anyway.

I think it's the combination of intense mediocrity, occasional diversions into genuinely being infuriating/bad, and excessive prominence.

On top of that Munroe has developed this smug, I'm-so-clever tone, without actually being clever at all. His comics often try for pithy, short zingers, like he thinks he's a modern-day Oscar Wilde, but they just fall flat most of the time.
permalink
at 11:07 on 07-03-2014, Arthur B
I think it's the combination of intense mediocrity, occasional diversions into genuinely being infuriating/bad, and excessive prominence.
permalink
at 10:57 on 07-03-2014, Daniel F
*shrug* Not really?

I'm a little curious why Ferretbrainers seem to be so down on it. You could fill a very large pool with the world's mediocre webcomics. What makes XKCD so remarkable?
permalink
at 10:48 on 07-03-2014, Tamara
Any opinions on today's XKCD?
permalink
at 20:51 on 06-03-2014, Danielle
My lovely horse, you're a pony no more
Running around with a man on your back, like a train in the night...


I might never sleep again.
permalink
at 22:00 on 05-03-2014, Robinson L
A lighthearted incident from the campus of Reed College (a uni here in the States) last month:

Giant snowball batters Reed dorm.

My favorite part of the whole thing is the comment by Frederic Bahnson at the end:

Am I really the first person to point out that the math majors' trajectory prediction probably started with the assumption that the snowball was a perfect sphere? That never works in the real world. At Old Reed, the physics majors would have been on hand to help with the application of all that math theory. That said, that's an impressive snowball.
permalink
at 10:42 on 05-03-2014, Arthur B
It sounds like a really sad and awkward situation all round. This is the same person who, much earlier in the Kickstarter, caused another controversy by claiming to have faked depression in order to get artistic credibility and alleging that faking depression for credibility is actually quite common.

Friends of Campbell are making very, very worried sounds and aren't able to get in touch so it's very alarming, I find the tone of the latest update veers uncomfortably between "I am not coping well currently" and "I am making an inflammatory political statement and I refuse to even apologise for not honouring a commitment I entered into with you completely voluntarily".

(Incidentally, I note that the Kickstarter doesn't include money for postage and reading the titles of the backer-only updates it sounds to me like Campbell simply couldn't afford to post the books to people.)
permalink
at 06:33 on 05-03-2014, Melanie
I enjoy how his "threat" is to destroy books that he already admitted he has no intention of shipping to people anyway.
permalink