- Ah, so the 'media consumed' count on my Mexican holiday sojourn has swelled to 5 1/2 books (including some fun Dr. Who novels and an excellent Philip Pullman - for which the TV version apparently stars Who-connected Billie Piper, I had no idea), plus most of the fourth season of Futurama (poor old Welshie!)

But the Gamasutra train has rumbled on unimpeded, so here's some of the highlights from this week's features, company-related news and original Q&As on our big sister site - avast ye:

MMO Class Design: Up With Hybrids! An Economic Argument by John Hopson
"Designing fulfilling classes in MMOs is difficult -- creating compelling hybrid classes, particularly so. Here, Microsoft Game Studios' John Hopson proposes a new way of looking at character design: an economic model."

Digital Bruckheimer: Cameron Brown On Mercenaries 2
"The long-awaited Mercenaries 2 is a key title for EA-acquired developer Pandemic - and Gamasutra talks in-depth to creative director Cameron Brown on the game's creation and influences, from Will Wright to Jerry Bruckheimer."

Q&A: Marvelous's Kimura Talks Chulip, King's Story
"Marvelous Interactive's Yoshiro Kimura is the name behind cult Japanese title Chulip - and he talks to Gamasutra about his work on the odd 'kissing'-centric adventure title, and upcoming Wii Pikmin-like RTS title Ousama Monogatari (King's Story)."

Fewer Mechanics, Better Game by John Rose
"Do BioShock's complex mechanics actually weaken the game? In the latest Gamasutra feature, gameplay programmer John Rose examines how limiting mechanics can result in stronger play experiences -- tossing aside fashionable notions in favor of an argument for discipline in design."

Paris GDC Reveals Cousins Keynote; Id, Sony, Baer Lectures
"June's Paris GDC event has revealed a keynote from Battlefield Heroes executive producer Ben Cousins, as well as new lectures from id's Matt Hooper, SCEE's Tamsin Lucas, EA Sports' David McCarthy, and 'father of video games' Ralph Baer."

A Western Initiative: Svensson On Capcom's Digital Future
"Capcom may be best-known for its Japanese-created franchises, from Street Fighter to Devil May Cry, but it's working hard to make Western-focused games and digital download a priority - VP Christian Svensson explains more."