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Tycho / 2 hours ago

My cohort slash phylactery Mirsh Morshamasha maintains a policy of Maximum Adventure, and I do my God Damnedest to maintain precisely the opposite; such is the nature of the strange battery that produces “whatever you would call this site.”  In any case, he was telling me about the book he was reading, which has historically been a bad strategy for him.

When I was talking about Bloodborne before, I found an article on Forbes that explained its bizarre characteristics best and linked it, wondering how the coverage of the game could possibly synchronize with the fact that let’s say, oh, seventy percent of gamers would never get out of Central Yharnam.  But I’m not sure Dan Stapleton’s article “How And Why Bloodborne Lost Me” had been written yet, which is what I would have linked instead.  I love him for writing it; it can’t have been easy.  But as I’ve said many, many times before, whenever there is less than a hundred percent uniformity of opinion this context that’s when this great, goblin infested engine is actually working.  The game is evil.  That just happens to be what I want.

Indeed, my ardor has only increased as its debt to Lovecraft becomes more apparent, in ways I would never rob you of by explaining them.  The reason it’s on Pause is because I got through an area I had identified as Very Hard, and have moved on to another area that is Fucking Hard, and I can see the great shape of the game in its fullness.  It’s like an incense coil, and I have burned the outer three rings, but the shape continues.  It grows tighter and tighter, that’s what’s next.

That realization and the accompanying pause for breath gave Pillars of Eternity a crack to get in, so now I’ve got two huge problems.  Gabriel grabbed a copy and I think very quickly realized that there was a mismatch somewhere.  Pillars is a Heritage game, a gumbo of genres, a creature of another time which has somehow found expression today.  And not really somehow, of course; tens of thousands of people willed it into being.  And I get so happy when I play it that sometimes I have to stop.  I’ll explain all that later, if you want me to.  But, like Bloodborne, we’re very near to another Binary Proposition when it comes to this thing.  I don’t think it’s a game you feel “okay” about.  Bioware fashioned a place in my ribcage for this kind of experience almost twenty years ago, and I was alive then, which can’t be extricated from any assessment.  I’ve always wanted a book where in order to turn the page, I have to kill a kobold.  That’s what I got.

I wondered, idly, at a previous junction of excellence like the one we endure now, if it were possible to be as happy as a dog with three dicks.  Thing is, I wonder if the theorized “three-dick model (TDM)” is itself sufficient.  I’m now trying to model a happiness that requires no less than six dog dicks, whirling in welded unison like a Gatling gun, wholly unified in their purpose.


Gabe / 4 hours ago

I Went To A Party!

Today’s comic is once again a true story. I picked up the first book in the Dresden Files series for a little trip I took down to L.A. this week. I picked it up because Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Kurtz both recommended it at a dinner we had back in Boston. I had avoided the series because it sounded sort of silly but Goddamnit this is a fun book!

Anyway the reason I’m down here is because I was invited to a Microsoft Surface party. It was a party of maybe a hundred people or so comprising what MS called their biggest Surface fans. It was a really cool little get together and honestly seemed like an opportunity for them just to say thank you to a lot of the folks who have supported Surface over the years.

It was a really fun party but two things stood out to me as being especially cool. The first was meeting Jason Wishnov the designer of There Came An Echo. I don’t do well at parties and I can’t mingle for shit but Jason seemed to be in a similar situation. Jason and I talked about games and how awkward we both felt. Later in the evening after we had all had a few drinks I saw him doing what can only be described as “dirty dancing”. Needless to say, I was quite impressed.

The best thing about the night though was the musical guest. The Surface folks do an amazing job of reaching out and working with artists in all sorts of fields. One of them is a musician named Allen Stone who I had never heard of but holy shit this guy and his band were incredible. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to play an event like the one last night. You had a room full of executives, doctors, engineers, and just general purpose nerds. Allen busted right through all the awkwardness in the room and managed to get people singing and dancing together. I may not have been a fan before but I’m a fan now. If you have some time today check out his music, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

I’d like to thank the Surface folks for inviting me. I was able to bring my wife Kara and both of us had a great time. I genuinely love my Surface, and I can honestly say it has changed the way I work. What I’ve been most impressed by over the years with the device though is the willingness of the Surface team to listen to feedback. I’ve spent hours at MS talking with the engineers about drawing on the device and how it feels. They want to hear what I like but more than anything they honestly want to hear what I don’t like. They have showed up at the Penny Arcade office with Surface machines running crazy experimental versions of drivers just to see what I thought of drawing performance. They have actually fixed issues I had with the device and continue to make it better. If last night was an opportunity for them to thank me for my passion, Then I’ll go ahead and take this opportunity to thank them for theirs.

-Gabe out

Gabe / 19 hours ago

You Died!

I think Bloodborne is one of the best games I’ve ever played. I’m on a little trip right now and away from my PS4 which means I’m not exploring Old Yarnahm. I’ve never played any of the previous Souls games that preceded Bloodborne, so I decided to remedy that today. I grabbed Dark Souls 2 on Steam, plugged in a controller and started dying over and over again.

So much of what I love about Bloodborne is present here as well. It’s also hard as fuck. I just played for about two hours and then lost all my souls when I fell off a tree in some fortress I’m sure I’ll never be able to find again. So that feels about right I’d say.

-Gabe out

Tycho / 2 days ago

Helldivers was such a cool surprise.  We didn’t really know about it before it came out a couple days before PAX East, on pretty much every type of Playstation there is.  On the earlier difficulties - the difficulty I crave, the difficulty that consistently reinforces my own godhood - there are periods where you’re just waiting for a timer to tick down, and you may be sort of checking your watch, like, okay.  I guess this is what I’m doing now.  But those spaces completely evaporate on harder levels, and you will long for those Good Times, times when you had nothing going on and were not being sliced into useful parts in the manner of a stolen Maserati.

Oh!  And just because you beat the level, that doesn’t mean you can stand anywhere you want.  You learn this one very quickly.

It’s from Arrowhead, which you may also know as the Magicka people or even as the Gauntlet people.  It’s basically Starship Troopers, the funny movie one, with a metagame that incorporates everyone’s play.  But it also makes some decisions that are oblique to the norm that really give the game its spine.  Twin Stick shooters in multiplayer can tend to feel a little mushy because there’s no friendly fire - they feel less real.  That doesn’t happen here: even automated friendly turrets will cut down your whole team if you don’t hit the deck.  So when somebody opens up the squad automatic weapon right over your prone body, cleansing a world with fire, it feels pretty fuckin’ real.

It does another thing I didn’t like at first: you can make requests of the carrier in orbit, defensive emplacements, drones, weapons, ammunition, that kind of stuff.  You do this by inputting a code similar to those of the Konami variety.  This twist didn’t feel especially necessary to me and felt like they were gilding the lily, or ungilding it, like maybe taking the gild off.  Whichever one is worse.  But that was because I learned to do it in an environment where managing this input was trivial.  It was like having a combination lock on your zipper.  I’m just trying to get in here, guys.  It felt very, very nominal.  It’s the sorta thing I gotta do all the time, in every game, and at first it felt like the most rote fucking don’t forget, you’re playing a videogame! type shit.

But when you are being one hundred percent encroached on by cyborgs, or the warrior caste of some kinda space insect, that “nominal” interaction you need to get more bullets because you are out of bullets is a very different story.  They extruded a very specific state of mind from people with that bit of design, the madness of a man in a trench screaming into a radio which may or may not work.


Monday Sketchdump!

I’m about to get on another plane in a few hours but I wanted to get my Sketchdump posted real quick before I leave. Here’s some stuff I was working on last week:

-Gabe out

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