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Gabe / 15 minutes ago


Tearaway is a game that came out awhile back on the Vita and I loved it. I’m playing through the PS4 version now and it’s even better in a lot of ways. It’s still a ridiculously beautiful platformer with some genuinely unique gameplay but it also has a really cool second screen application now. If you have kids in your house this is seriously something you have to try because they will love it. Let me tell you how it works.

The game is designed to look like the entire thing was made out of construction paper. It’s really an amazing effect and the game sells it 100%. Creating new stuff is a big part of the game as well. You can actually draw out designs on the touchpad and see them come to life in the game. One of the first tasks in fact is to design a new crown for the king of the squirrels. You’re given different colors of construction paper and you just get to go to town. Drawing on the touchpad works okay but if you have the Playstation App you can use an iPad instead. This gives you a great big screen with construction paper, scissors, and even the use of the camera. You can use all these tools (or even better someone else can)  to constantly change the world while you play.

I gave the iPad to my son Noah while I played through the game. He would draw little designs and then with one button send them to the game where they blow into the level on a gust of wind. He can also use it to design new bits and pieces for various characters in the game including the main one. Don’t like the nose this guy has? Well draw a new one! Using the camera takes the photo you snapped and applies it like a texture to some random part of the level. I was running along a bridge that was all of a sudden plastered with Noah’s smiling face. If you have kids around you know how awesome five year old laughter is and I’m telling you Noah lost it. Pretty soon my level was textured with pictures of the dog, his big brother, my wife and one that I am pretty sure was a picture of his butt. He’s going through kind of a butt phase right now.

We played this way together for a couple hours and it was non stop fun for he and I both. In fact when I told him we had to stop he asked if he could keep drawing in the app. I turned the TV off while leaving the game paused and he just sat and made stuff out of construction paper or a while. If you’re looking for a fun way to play games with your kids, especially little ones this is a fantastic set up. You’ll be playing a stunning/challenging platformer while doing virtual arts and crafts with your kids. That’s a win win in my book.

I will say that the Playstation App can be a little wonky. I had some disconnects and one error that forced me to delete and reinstall the app entirely. When it worked it was awesome and it worked most of the time, just be prepared for some hiccups.

-Gabe out

Tycho / 2 days ago

The HBO extras contract for Westworld is fascinating reading, and gives one an idea about what it must be like to have sex with a lawyer.  The excerpts you’ve seen online only represent a portion of the depravity:  there are deeper, more erogenous zones.

I don’t go in for Toy Games at all, not really.  But I do go in for Lego shit, and I have occasionally tried to describe the quandary that the adult Lego Maniac is bound up in.  When you are a young person, and you look at a box of Lego shit, you are more concerned with the number of pieces than the number of dollars required to own it.  You can turn the box over and over in your hands, and feel the weight of it, which is the weight of a soul minus the body it is contained in.

I could buy them now, and thus far that satisfaction when I see a Death Star or whatever has been enough for me.  I can make anything I want, which is the power of these devices; I cannot meaningfully desire any more bricks.  I still have all my old stuff downstairs, some still in the ancient Star Wars pillowcase I used to keep them in.

One of the strange things about Lego is that it constitutes a kind of post-brand toy.  This is Ironic, capital I, because individual sets are more branded than ever.  Even their core shit is all hyper defined, coming out of an era where they were as “generic” as possible to be as interchangeable as possible.  But they are all compatible, the fundamental atom of this universe being the pip, which I think are generally called studs but I’ve already made a concession by not calling them Legos.  Everything can live together.  Try to play with any other two toys, as my sister and I used to with my Transformers and her My Little Pony…  ponies, and you run into problems fast.  For one thing, these ponies aren’t little anymore.  Rainbow Dash is taller than a semi truck and weighs over thirty tons.

But, like I said: from an IP perspective, this shit is hyper transgressive.  It’s of a piece with remix culture, fanfiction, things which beyond a certain scale of operation are considered violence against a brand - at least, in the West.  You can profit by it, or be destroyed.  You can swipe, in the manner of a dumb giant, with your wide palm at the empty air.  Or you can sell me a hundred dollar platform and a handful of bumpy shrapnel for a hundred dollars, with the promise that our entire culture is little more than a palette from which you will draw an elemental creative force.

The game reinforces this also, and it’s clever about the mash-up.  I would say Back to the Future and Portal constitute pretty out there stuff for this mill, but at least for my house they picked right.  Even the pieces you put on their little platform - which the game stops to let you build, accompanied by dramatic music - don’t stay in place.  You’re always picking pieces up and removing them as a fundamental part of the gameplay.  The whole thing is Lego as shit.

I know that Gabriel would say, under duress, that Infinity was best, but he has a lot of legacy plastic to consider.  So do I, of course, some of it more than three decades old, and it is all part of a legacy that now includes my daughter and my son.

(CW)TB out. 

First Fifteen: Duck Dynasty

Today’s First Fifteen was a train wreck of a game, but I think it made for a funny show:

-Gabe out


Tycho / 5 days ago

Because art is the main way you manipulate Gabriel into doing what you want game-wise, he’s always been a big fan of Tearaway.  Also, he owns a Vita, and those with Vitae are forever on the prowl for an excuse to use them.  Except that a Vita is no longer required to play it now, because there is a remake of it for the PS4 called Tearaway Unfolded that has its phasers set to “charm.”  Gabriel was telling me about how it works with such glee that I suggested we should skim and then refine that glee for your use.

I feel like we’re at the top of the roller coaster, gaming wise, and we’re about to crest it and start collecting speed very quickly.  The 6th is sort of where it starts next; for me that means Disgaea and Rock Band, both legendary time consumption engines, along with a Transformers game from Platinum that I’m excited about for what is essentially no reason.  I can’t prove a single one of the assertions my heart has made about this game, but I will clutch that little hope in my hands and keep it warm.  Anyway, all stuff I want, on one day.  That’s why I’m glad that The Beginner’s Guide came out a little before.

I’m always trying to reverse engineer the creator of a game via what I perceive in their work - even though I know that’s not necessarily a viable methodology.  Something that routinely confuses non-creators is that a work might contain nothing that could be used to reconstruct a person’s character.  Work can certainly be created or edited through your own lens, sure.  But often, my perception of it is that it’s coming from somewhere else: dialogue that happens in my own head consists of things I deeply agree with and am, in fact, quite opposed to.  You wouldn’t be able to use it to find me at all, except in the negative space around it.  Painters generally use paint - an external medium - to make their work.  It can be like this with ideas, also.

There are autobiographical works, obviously - I’m not talking about those.  Except…  I don’t even think an autobiographical work necessarily says anything about a creator, anything useful anyway.  People are notoriously poor judges of their own character and tireless salesmen of their own virtues.  They are perpetually authoring fanfiction about their own lives, and I’m happy to take it as a data point, while fully expecting them to have sex with Vegeta at virtually any narrative juncture.

I wondered at one point, in this very space, what would happen when the “found works” we started finding were discovered on hard drives instead of past-due storage lockers, attics, and sheds - and that’s close to what we have here.  Check out the trailer if, like me, you are an unrepentant fancypants and are looking for ways to further embroider your leggings.

(CW)TB out. 

Tycho / 1 week ago

As my psychic aperture widened to encompass all, I realized that Gabriel was actually super gross.

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is doing exactly what I wanted, which is to get a DS in Ronia’s hands and make it feel like it’s hers.  Most games are too hard; the fun to stress ratio doesn’t work for leisure activity.  Minecraft in creative mode isn’t hard, by comparison, but provides no narrative impetus, which for her is probably worse.

I had mentioned that the lack of traditional game metrics was a sticking point for some reviewers, but if you’re a six year old?  Or if you are the supposedly omniscient satellite which revolves around one?  We need games like this.  The rest of that stuff can come later.  But, beyond the two classes of mortal I have just described: the motivation is to try and make people, or… animals, or whatever, happy.  It’s not a metric.  The “story” and the “actions” are part of a single, revolving, polychromatic orb that defies unraveling.  I think it’s a type of game our ordinary tools aren’t good at perceiving.

Something I like about it is that she has to really know letters and words in order to do the thing she wants.

This is the ultimate fucking scam, and its power is dark.  Scribblenauts isn’t considered an educational game, but it certainly should be; it should be in every house.  A copy should be provided to every citizen as soon as they know their letters.  I started letting my son play it, even though it seemed like he wouldn’t be able to put much together, and all the sudden he knew how to fucking read.  The loop is damn near sorcerous in its power.  Let’s say they sound out a word, and try to spell it in there.  Maybe the item they wanted comes up!  Now they feel like a Goddamned warlock.  But, let’s say it doesn’t.  Near matches come up.  Let’s say they choose the word they meant to write in the beginning.  Now they feel like a Goddamned warlock.  What if they choose another word?  Now they’ve learned a new word, maybe two words, made a new thing, and they feel like a Goddamned warlock.

This is scaled down from that, but a cute voice every time you choose a letter that reinforces the name of that letter is rad on every vector.  And if you want to find skirts - and you do, oh yes, you do - you need to know how to spell “skirt.”  It’s like a spell.  This power is itself a scaled down version of Pat Rothfuss’ Name of The Wind books, I guess, if the name of the wind were just, like…  “Wind.”

(CW)TB out. 

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