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They seem to corral their mean Australians at the border, just like they do in Canada, and everyone else is generally so nice here that my first inclination is that they are fucking with me.  I’m heading over to PAX Aus in a second, after I link the comic and go HAM on this muesli.  Oh!  Actually, wait a second.  There was something else.

There is a kind of multifloor, indie development cult in Melbourne called “The Arcade” that I had to find yesterday by looking at a map, and then remembering how to get there.  Being without a “proper” “mobile” reveals the extent to which the cell phone is Deus Ex Machina of the worst sort.  If someone had put a device like this in a story, we’d think they were fucking lazy.  There’s no thought put into it at all.  It just does every Goddamn thing.

I did find it, though, and not ten feet in the door I was forced to contend with a game where players can be trees or griffins or ride griffins while other people are doing that also.  It was clearly that kind of place.  So I’m probably gonna find a game where you play as different kinds of quarks, let’s call it Particulars, where navigating the strange attrractions of that scale are the thing.  Or maybe there’s something there like Infinity Wars, a digital card game that has already been out for a couple months which I’ve inexplicably never heard of and whose simultaneous execution and deckbuilding rules tackle big challenges of the form.

Such loci draw in even stranger creatures; one of the ways I know a person is serious business is if they are wearing a polo emblazoned with their logo - and The Voxel Agents did not disappoint.  This was a fully custom polo.  You would not mistake it either for a polo off the shelf or for a polo affiliated with a competing outfit.  Their Puzzle Retreat used to be a go to travel game for me, and I had a chance to familiarize myself with Train Conductor, which is one of those games where you need regulate traffic.  I like those.  Their new one, I don’t want to spoil it but it’s Train Conductor 3, was so tactile and satisfying in its interactions that it was hard not to touch it.  We talked for awhile about their grand strategy for it, trying to marry the immediate gameplay with creating a kind of train table on the backend.  He also showed me a demo for something so young and feisty it still just had the Unity icon.  I’ll try to figure out how to explain it and get back to you.  I want to hang out with this guy.

I was back in that corner originally because I had been talking to the guys who made Bonza, which looked at first like the kind of crossword inspired word game I have way too many of and I was glad to be wrong.  Like Infinity Wars, this is something I should have known about already.  It’s not new.  It is, in fact, old.  It’s free, with free daily puzzles.  It’s exactly what I like and I never heard of it, even though it’s my job to hear about things, which gets right down to it: making something great might be correlated with success, it may be success adjacent, but it’s not all of it and it may not even be required.  Throwing bottle messages into the ocean is a romantic pastime, certainly, but if I were doing that as my job - as some of these crews are - I’d bite my nails to the quick.  And then I’d start in on the fingers.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 3 days ago

We got to Australia about the time a PST person would normally wake up, but then we tried to do the sorta prescribed thing where you stay awake all day to get your head straight for the new place.  I don’t know if it worked all the way.  Everything seems to be contained within a parenthetical which denotes its contents are not to be trusted.

I guess I did spend almost the entire day absorbing We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (Vol. 5), a prodigious volume of Philip K. Dick stories which can double ably as a bludgeon.  Philip K. Dick is unique among authors in that a spoiler for one of his stories is a spoiler for all of them.  Also: Philip K. Dick is also my rap persona.

In any event, I have synchronization anxiety.  I feel like a piece of bacon would fix it.  I feel like I could start with the bacon and work out from there.

The Australians we meet are hardy folk - they are functionally, speaking terraformers - and they stand athwart a murderous land.  So maybe they come at The End Of All Things in their own way.

I am also having a hard time here because some of the vowels are shockingly complex, particularly the ones for “oh” and “oo.”  They’re like a twenty year scotch sleeping in a rum barrel, and if somebody says one of these it’s like my brain runs over a spike strip.  I have to nod in a way that says “I, too, am human” while cupping every phoneme with my sensory fronds.  This is what I live for, which I realize at some level is not an indicator of valor, but I want to make a little pocket out of the bottom of my shirt and fill it up with vowels.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 5 days ago

Here in about seven hours or so we’ll be on our way to the fabled burg of Mael-Byn, or at any rate we’ll fly to the place we will fly to Melbourne from, that extra little kick this finite universe must always get in.  It’s the first time we won’t be home for Halloween, but I know that some of our number fully intend to bring a measure of it there, at such volume and to such an extent that we may discover what laws prohibit wholesale lolly importation.   

In any case, those two things achieved a massive scale in our minds and I found it difficult to write about something not at that nexus.  Hence, Underworld.

I’ve got maybe two hundred first-play hours installed on a laptop, ready to go, new stuff like Legend of Grimrock II and recent escapees from Early Access like Dungeon of the Endless alongside evergreen comp-stomp fare like Greed Corp and Moonbase Commander.  This is just the ante of course.  XCOM should be able to clear up any stragglers.  And if I need to euphemistically launch nukes from the Sulaco (to engender epistemological certainty) the new Wasteland is on there.  Just in case.

I am leaving just as Sunset Overdrive comes into phase, and I’ll be gone over the Evolve Alpha weekend also.  So, that’s your homework, I guess.  Let me know how those go.  Preliminary assessments on Sunset Overdrive are +1 from me and -1 from Gabriel, resulting in an editorial voice of perfect neutrality.  I literally like all the things he hates, and vice versa.  I’ll go into it in more detail later.

I was all geared up to entreat you to snatch up the last PAX Aus tickets, but they done got snatched; it’s full up, now.  If you are from there, you have no idea how well your normal pins trade back up here at the other shows.  If I have a PAX Aus pin on my lanyard, shit gets Walking Dead pretty fast.  Anyhow, I can’t wait.  I’m looking forward to getting back to a town where you walk into an alleyway to get “a Tuscan panino” instead of “stabbed.”

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 1 week ago

As is our way, we have delivered the most recently donated Child’s Play Strip at or near the buzzer.  I think the buzzer might already have gone off actually, but we ended up doing it for people who are as busy as we are, if not busier.  It ended up being a crossover with a comic they also do in addition to everything else.  Here’s theirs, and here’s ours.  Many thanks to Steve and Ash for letting us play around with their toys.

I love Dragon Age; one of my favorite “work for hire” projects was making an item for the sequel.  Which ended up being a weird game.  But it did gave the series a visual identity, brought the setting to a boil, and - crucially - allowed the player to fuck the shit out of wizards.  I think it’s going in the right direction; I preordered that shit forever ago.  Sales seem to tell us that RPGs move best when they smear themselves in the guts of open world adventure games, so hopefully they can find their footing there.  I need them to keep making these so that one day I’ll burst into the room when my son is trying to do a sex thing on an elf or, like, a sentient hunk of mystic Cathedral, and get so red his face will match his hair.

But Dragon Age is not a game I find serious.  A game need not be serious for me to enjoy it, now.  This isn’t some bifurcation I use to save myself time.  Dragon Age feels broad and pulpy and fun, it’s a morality play.  I think everything is on the table as far as that world is concerned, I think they’ll do anything they can to expose the bright, firmly delineated moral switches you need to flip.  I would differentiate that from The Witcher very strongly.  The Witcher is, for lack of a better term, an amorality play.

People use terms like “realistic” to describe it and other “hard” fantasy, but for me it’s more about the idea that there is a ground floor anywhere in the system.  There’s a strata below which exists nothing, a spine, that if you sluiced away all the names and narrative would still exist.  The Witcher doesn’t feel like it’s made from whole cloth because it has, as it’s “ground floor,” folk magic and folk monsters.  It posits (as I probably said last time I had an opportunity to regale you with this shit) that medieval wisdom about the natural world is science and not superstition.  Geralt succeeds because - like Marinus Bicknell Willett, or Ulysses Everett McGill - he has uncommon knowledge of the system.  And we feel that when we are with him, also.  We can feel the earth beneath us, and it lets us believe in it.

They just dropped the opening cinematic for it - it’s on Youtube, by the way, you don’t have to watch an ad to earn the “privilege” of absorbing marketing materials - and it gets right to what I’m talking about here.  I know who these people are.  I don’t think you need to.  But you should.

(CW)TB out.

The Vault of Glass

I play Destiny every day. This past weekend I even started an Alt character. Now I have my level 27 Hunter as well as a level 5 Titan. Whenever I have a bit of free time I am in there playing. Kids taking a bath? I can do a story mission. 30 minutes until I have to leave for work? I can knock out a bounty or two. The Seahawks are playing? I’ll just play Destiny on my Vita all afternoon while we watch the game. Playing games is my job and so kara sees this a lot. I’m always playing something but even she commented the other day that I seem a little obsessed with Destiny. I can’t deny it either. This game has its hooks in me and I can’t stop.

I got pulled in to help beat the final boss in the Vault of Glass last week and had a blast. It was just the final Atheon fight but it was like nothing else I’d seen in the game and I loved it. I’d like to do the entire raid tonight but I’m gonna need a team to help me do it. If you have some experience with the Vault and you don’t mind helping a newbie through it, I’d love to give it a go. My plan is to log on tonight at 9:00 PST and just open my fireteam to friends. I figure the first five folks that join will be my Vault of Glass crew. My PS4 handle is GabePA so feel free to shoot me an invite. Assuming I can get a group together I’ll try and stream it on my Twitch channel.

There’s some stuff coming out soon that I’m pretty excited for. I don’t know if any of this stuff will break my Destiny obsession but I’m looking forward to it all the same.

Civilization:Beyond Earth

I don’t normally play games like this but I sunk a ton of hours in to Civ 5. I never played any of the previous games but I got hooked on the last one. The idea that now I can do all that shit in space with aliens has me super excited. It comes out tomorrow and I leave for Australia on Monday so I’m thinking this will be the perfect game to burn up some hours on that ridiculously long flight.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

My oldest son is 10 now and he loves Halo 4. It was the first Halo game he played and it really captured his imagination. The whole idea of Spartans just got a hold of his ten year old brain and would not let go. I’ll never forget driving home from seeing Pacific Rim with him and he started telling me why he was pretty sure a Spartan could beat a Kaiju. He’s never played any of the other ones though because they either came out before he was even born or when he was just a baby. So now I have an opportunity to play back through all those games again with him as my co-op partner. I don’t know, I think that’s gonna be kinda special. It looks like this should land on the 11th of Nov. and I can’t wait.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

I’ve always really enjoyed the multiplayer component of the CoD games. It’s generally a game I play with my friends here at the office but this generation we’re all split up across different consoles.  My fear is that if I get it for the PS4, which is what I prefer these days I’ll be playing it alone as most of the other folks in the office have all chosen the Xbox One. I also don’t know if it will be enough to drag me away from Destiny. I guess we’ll see when it drops on Nov. 4th.

Farcry 4 and Assassin’s Creed Unity are also in November. I’m not a Dragon Age fan but Inquisition comes out in November as well.  It’s a pretty ridiculous month in terms of games. When all the dust settles in December I wonder if I’ll still be collecting Relic Iron and yelling at the Cryptarch.

In unrelated news the limited edition Carl pin goes on sale this afternoon at 2:00 PST. This is a run of just 1500 pins so you’ll want to jump on this one. Page two of Silverside should hit the site very shortly, we just have some technical difficulties.

-Gabe out

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