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Tycho / on Mon, Nov 17 2003 at 6:01 am

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A Gentleman’s Game


Links 2004 is much, much better than I expected - and I expected it to drift lightly into my apartment, placed in the CD tray by a glowing angel.  Really, the only things we would add are:

a)  The ability to talk only to your teammate.  This is mostly for Gabe, who knows more about this sport than I know about anything.  Even though it’s Golf, not UC or Wolf or something, if you can play it as a team you need the ability to talk to your teammate.  It doesn’t make any difference why. 

b)  They really do need to add a “Scramble” gametype.  Without investing too much time in it, “Scramble” is essentially Golf co-op.  You both hit, find out who had the best shot, then you both hit from there, and so on.  It has a mode already called “Best Ball,” where you take the best score for your team, and also an “Alt” gametype, where you take turns hitting - so it’s not that they lack for variety, it would just be a great addition to an already ridiculously complete experience.     

A friend and I took down the last seven hours of Prince of Persia in a sitting, completing the game at five o’clock in the morn’ and unlocking the original game.  The Sands of Time, like a Snickers bar, is comprised entirely of good things, densely packed - a coalition of complimentary flavors.  If there is a God in heaven who observes and occasionally adjusts the course of human events, they are already working on a sequel up there.  My satisfaction with the game is without blemish, it is absolutely complete.   

Masters Of Doom is a great book, if you haven’t read it - at only three hundred pages, you could finish it in a day if you really wanted to.  It includes details that many of us know already or could obtain from other sources, but it compresses a great deal of gaming history - like the first consumer-level 3D accelerators, John Carmack’s .plan files, and early floppy-disk subscription services - into a single physical object, which is very convenient.  The book also served to humanize people like John Romero, who by some combination of personal desire and media focus became id’s avatar.  He certainly wasn’t the first “name” to be created by gaming, Sierra On-Line put designers like Jane Jensen, Al Lowe, and Roberta Williams right on the cover for everybody to see - but he actively gripped the mechanism of fame and appeared to enjoy its velocity.  Nice work, if you can get it.   

The dissolution of something like Ion Storm is distressing to any idealist, proof somehow of dire truths that creative people constantly work to suspend or rescind.  It was also predictable.  The book covers - with a level of veracity I can’t verify - an earlier period in gaming history, where the right mixture of people under the right conditions became id Software and then the thing virtually disintegrated.  As I said, I don’t know how accurate the narrative is from the perspective of John Carmack and John Romero, but I found the dissolution of their creative relationship heartbreaking.  It’s certainly not without precedent.  Is that some inviolable law?  How many years do you get to work with a friend before you hate each other? 

(CW)TB out.

kris parker’s a quick talker


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