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Tycho / 14 hours ago

It seemed like more of a Tycho line, so we gave it to him.  Or, me.  Whoever.  Except that while I like watching the beta of Star Wars: Battlefront, I don’t especially like playing it and haven’t really sought it out.

Obviously, it looks incredible.  And they extended the beta program, and I have heard that it has activated social media, so apparently it’s working for them on some level.  But for me, Battlefield games - and this feels pretty much like a Battlefield game, with a few sops for the filthy casual - are good at the big things and bad at the small things.

The scale is amazing, and with that scale comes many, many deaths after running for a very long time.  Individual spawns aren’t a premium commodity in these games, and while I think that a realistic cannon fodder simulator is a bold choice and certainly on-brand for the franchise I’m not sure that’s what I’m into right now.  The audio sells the firearms hard, but as usual the basic shooting interactions in these games don’t feel especially tight.  What I like about these things most is playing in a squad with a diverse class makeup to hedge the bargain basement value it places on spawns, fighting in and alongside player controlled armor, and awareness of the field.  Maybe the full game is very different, I don’t know.  The small map they have feels like it takes place inside of a literal rut and the big one is like trying to scale a mountain of angry cats.  If it weren’t attached to a legendary license or attached to shocking technology, we wouldn’t be discussing this at all.

Balance against the Empire in the walker level is kinda goofy, insofar as it is not especially balanced and may in fact be off-kilter.  I read an interesting article over at Forbes about how not that could actually be kind of cool, and as long as everybody knows ahead of time (The Rebellion was always kind of a long shot) I don’t have any problem with this at all.  I know designers - famous, named designers, designers you know - who don’t actually believe “balance” exists in any real form, let alone as some effervescent virtue to chase around.  They don’t even try to find it.  They want each faction to “feel,” ineffably, like itself.  But for me, balance isn’t even the problem here.  The brand just isn’t enough to trick me into Battlefield Lite.  Except there was a Battlefield Lite, called Battlefield Heroes, and I think I liked it better than this.

I’ll get a tremendous amount of value out of Gabriel’s purchase, certainly.  And I’m absolutely open to the idea that how they’ve shown their hand in this preview doesn’t represent the apex of their philosophy.  But between Cordblorps - whose preview actually sold me a copy - Rainbow Six: Siege, and Halo 5’s Warzone, which I expect will deliver scale and satisfying small arms interactions, I already have a time allocation problem.  I don’t know where Battlefront fits.

(CW)TB out.

It only took 13 years!

Back in 2002 I wrote a news post about the multiplayer in the new Jedi Knight II game. I was apparently not impressed with the multiplayer and I suggested an alternative:

“Just take a second and imagine the wealth of possibilities. One of the multiplayer levels could drop you into the battle of Hoth. You would have rebels on one side imperials on the other. If you joined the rebellion you would play as a rebel trooper.  Your objectives would be to defend echo base and protect the escaping transports.  If you joined the empire you would play as a snow trooper in the Imperial death squadron. Your objectives would be to infiltrate Echo base and destroy the transports. There would be no Gamorreans running around using force jump. You would either be a rebel soldier or a snow trooper and you would have the appropriate weapons and abilities.”

Well that is exactly what I played last night until the wee hours of the morning and it’s just as awesome as I had hoped. I know there have been other games in this series but this one is just amazing. I honestly can’t believe the visuals and the sense of scale.

Seriously go grab the Star Wars Battlefront beta!

-Gabe out

Tycho / 4 days ago

The rumor was that Dislike was en route to Facebook, but I don’t think that was ever an authentic option and would corrode the service.  It was eventually determined that Liking Things wasn’t sufficiently granular, and so there are a raft of New Likings being rolled out.  Except they’re missing a few key inflections that apply to ninety-nine point four percent of posts.

I have conversations with people all the time about whether or not they’re going to quit Facebook or they’re going to quit Facebook for real now, and I can’t think of a single time anything like that has happened.  Well, one time.  A friend of Brenna’s determined that this device was essentially a kind of comparison engine, endlessly assessing her vis a vis other people - all of whom were engaging in a rigorously performative perma-joy - and that being exposed to these rays was not a net gain.

I feel like the assumption of Facebook is more or less a preview of our cyberpunk future, where people who refuse or can’t afford the cortical implant will become pitiful creatures of exile.  We offload a lot of our processing and memory to others, and to machines, and it’s simply a fact that appearing to know when someone’s birthday is grants social power.  Foregoing it would be hard.  This is why being presumed an asshole is so liberating.  If I remember something, people are all like holy shit.

Sometimes there is a game I want to try on Facebook, and only there, so I use it then - like a platform.  I don’t put it into the vein of my arm, ever to drip, because that’s not how I use technology.  In the end that’s the distinction.  I would have been considered, and indeed was considered, an anomalous sort of weirdo person for the level of integration technology had in my life as a youth; my mother was forever worried about its effect on my “spirit.”  I’m willing to entertain the idea that I enjoyed playing videogames then, even enjoyed them a lot.  It’s a policy I’ve maintained, even going to far as to invent two young people to play them with, which can only be called “dedication.”  But the level of integration and offload you see with Facebook is deeper than anything I ever experienced with Warlords II, and I played a fuck ton of Warlords II.  Because it ostensibly has to do with interest in others, it doesn’t get tagged as pathological, even if using it means you ignore actual people.

(CW)TB out. 

Tycho / 5 days ago

Club PA Comic Preview

The full strip and its accompanying postito go out later this month to members, and becoming a member is incredibly easy and is also rad for too many reasons to enumerate here, which is why there’s a whole page dedicated to it.  I think this one is pretty Goddamn good:



Tycho / 6 days ago

Motherboard merely joins a raft of sites which have, over the last couple years, removed the ability for users to comment on their articles.  It’s funny; the first thing I did was scroll to the bottom of the page to see what people thought about it.  There was no comment section there, which I probably should have guessed.  Force of habit.

Comments are what they are.  “Don’t read the comments” is a phrase you have heard, and perhaps used.  Sometimes people say that it’s not enough to say “don’t read the comments” and then they read the comments and get super angry, which, I mean, I don’t know.  You tell me if that’s a good life strategy.

I go to the comments not to find consensus but literally to find people criticizing the article.  I want to see the idea of that article discussed.  I am not of the opinion that most articles I see are very good; and even if they were, they’re not scripture.  For me they’re like the sausage casing that contains the actual food, which is the community processing the data.  Independent of any other consideration, just at a lower level of magnification, I don’t think we get smarter this way.  I don’t think we achieve robustness just rolling around in a bunch of ideologically hermetic spheres.

You don’t have to have comments on in order to be a good person.  I don’t have comments on my posts, for example, and I’m an incredible person.  The only reason there is a newspost at all is that I wrote the first website by hand, and the page looked really crazy with a big empty cell on the left of the navigation stuff so I put text in there.  I should have just stacked the UI in two rows and saved myself a lot of trouble.  I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words now and gotten in huge trouble and it could all have been avoided.  A public diary is an incredibly dangerous instrument.

So, comments are not required, as I said.  I don’t think you’re obligated to donate the footer of your article to people that hate you.  Adding comments to our strip page - when everyone else was removing such things - was certainly a conversation.  But here’s what I would say: having them and then taking them away is strange.  And trying to present the fundamentally censorious act as being of a piece with greater communication is simply a lie.  You aren’t supposed to call people liars; it’s one of those things you aren’t supposed to do.  It seems like a rule cooked up by liars, frankly.  But what if a person dissembles madly, and writhes rhetorically, in the service of a goal oblique to their stated aims?  I see no reason to invent another word.

(CW)TB out. 

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