Sundays are for sinking into a couch. Before you put your legs up, let’s read this week’s best writing about games (and game related matters).
Over on Twitter, Stylized Station wrote a long thread about why you might see some awkward lines in video game textures. An excellent sequence of game dev insights into why some of our favorite games – AAA or otherwise – have odd creases in their textures.
However, game designers can’t add a million polygon rocks into their scene, so instead, artists will take a lower-resolution version of their model and place the higher-resolution details as a texture on top of the low-resolution model.
Tom Bissell wrote about watching his daughter play Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom. Bissell contemplates how TOTK offers the sort of unstructured play his daughter might not be able to get elsewhere in Hollywood.
When we found the abandoned mine carts, the question for my daughter became how many she could glue together and still get them moving along the rusted tracks. Between all the Ultrahand R&D, my daughter was also chopping down trees and fusing together the resultant logs to make lean-to structures, just in case she came back to an area later and it was raining and she wanted to “cook something.” (God help us all, you can cook in “Tears of the Kingdom,” too.) At one point, sensing my impatience, my daughter invoked the Wright brothers as her mathematical proof for the necessity of experimentation. What about all the monsters, I asked, the beasts and creatures she was duty-bound as Link to strike down with sword and bow? “Meh,” she said, shrugging. “Pass.”
For Unwinnable, Jonathan Fenn wrote about Final Fantasy, Zelda, and gradients of apocalypse. Some cool observations on how these games handle cycles of death and rebirth. It’s not just Soulslikes!
These themes would take on a newly meta-textual significance with the advent of Final Fantasy XIV. The MMORPG was derided at its initial launch in 2010, and deemed a huge failure by critics and Square Enix themselves. Rather than shuttering the game though, they instead reworked the entire mechanics to make it one of the most popular games on the planet. What makes this transition fascinating though is how it was woven into the story of the game itself. At the end of the original game’s story, the great dragon Bahamut was laying waste to the world, unable to be stopped despite the best efforts of the world’s armies. The 2013 relaunch, fittingly titled A Realm Reborn takes place in the society that was established many years after the world’s ruin, and the entire story and setting of the game is set against the backdrop of that initial calamity. The initial game and all its contents are now inaccessible, reinforcing the sense of complete loss and obliteration of that old world – even if it was purely for reasons of corporate financial necessity.
PC Gamer’s Christopher Livingston asked a ChatGPT Skyrim companion to solve the game’s easiest puzzle. A proper laugh at this, as Livingston grows increasingly bewildered at his AI friend Herika, who doesn’t have a chuffing clue what’s going on.
The conversation limps along, getting sidetracked briefly because I call the place Bleak Falls Temple (which is the location inside Bleak Falls Barrow) and she confidently claims there is no such place. A minute later she herself calls the place Bleak Falls Temple, which is annoying since she just told me it doesn’t exist. There’s also another tangent as she also offers to help me write a letter to my mother.
On The Verge, Kevin Nguyen asks “Why are video games always falling?”. An amusing, very quick post that made me go, “huh, that’s kinda true”.
Music this week is Carry On by Matt Corby. Here’s the Spotify link and YouTube link. Smooth and soulful.
That’s it for this week folks, take care of yourselves and see you next week!