- The first of a big pile of links left over from the week, then, and there's some pretty interesting bits and pieces buried in here, as follows:

- Behind The Mask: Marek at GamesLOL brings up a pretty interesting point about behind-the-scenes type coverage of games, referencing a David Jaffe blog post that "...points to good old Mario and Zelda as franchises that have retained their magic by not revealing too much about their development." Marek adds: "Although I personally enjoy seeing behind-the-scenes footage, I prefer seeing it after I’ve played the game. I think the game industry doesn’t ‘reveal’ too much, it’s just revealing things too soon." Agree? Disagree?

- Mizuguchi Vs. Gore Resolved!: Just as a follow-up to a post made a few weeks ago, the Tetsuya Mizuguchi and global warming link has been resolved - XBLArcade explains that: "Genki Rockets (aka [the band featured in Lumines with Heavenly Star]) will be performing at [the Japanese venue for] Live Earth, and Q will turn a portion of your DLC purchases into a charitable donation to combat global warming." There's a whole bunch of new downloads for Lumines on XBLA in relation to this, particularly the SOS Charity Campaign Pack: "Experience the Tokyo club scene through LUMINES! Bringing you the beats and visuals from four of the hottest DJs, artists and VJs". Though they don't integrate THAT well into the gameplay itself, I like Miz's modular approach to expansions and art styles, a bit like the Wipeout Pure expansion tracks.

- Pearce On Game/Nongames: Indie/artgame developer Tale Of Tales has another beautifully laid-out interview, this time with academic and Mermaids MMO designer Celia Pearce, which has some interesting chatter about what exactly makes up a 'game', nowadays: "In my research on the Uru diaspora, players who moved to other games after the closure of the original Uru, what I found was that they did not distinguish between Uru and something like There.com or Second Life. To them any place they went to PLAY was a game. And they often did goal-oriented things in non-game environments, and they often did non-goal oriented things in game environments."

- Hardcore Gamer Trove: Arcade Heroes points out that Hardcore Gamer Issue 25 is now out, and indeed, the page for the magazine on Hardcore Gamer's website reveals something that I'd partially forgotten - that the DoubleJump and OffBase Productions game mag, which you can also get in print version via subscription or at various retail outlets, has every issue available in PDF form. And it's still a pretty neat mag, obviously made by GameFan fans who appreciate the import-friendly, harder-edged end of the console scene.

- Baby You Can Drive My Car?: Today's high-end games getting a little bit _too_ expansive? Microsoft Casual Games' Kim Pallister thinks so and says as much in an editorial noting that you can hire an AI drive in Forza 2 to complete races for you, and NCAA 08 allows you to forward through the game using AI to play at the climax. Pallister grins: "It's interesting that in the effort to justify big budget games, 'hours of gameplay' has become this metric that's frequently used, but is not necesarily what ALL consumers want. Some, like me, want the quality without requiring the quantity. I loved that the last Tomb Raider took me like 10-12 hours to complete. I've put off playing Oblivion because I hear it's great but takes >50 hours to play." Of course, that's the whole casual vs. hardcore issue in a nutshell, but the 'AI taking over for player' trend really underlines it.