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  • rampantbicycle 3:59 pm on December 10, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: miasmata   

    Thing One: I would be happy to participate in Squad Santa if we are doin’ it. I am not fabulously wealthy, but it’s fun. 🙂

    Thing Two: Like Pete I am an avowed story-fiend. I feel that there are all sorts of ways to tell stories, some more “truly” interactive than others (and that’s a minefield, for sure), but all valid and with the potential to be enjoyable. It’s all in the execution.

    And on that note, Thing Three:

    Mark and I loaded up Miasmata yesterday for the first time. It’s a bit like this:

    As you start the game, a very brief text crawl informs you that your name is Robert Hughes, and that you are a sick man; you have contracted a plague that is slowly killing you. A vague reference to some sort of betrayal follows, and then you are told that you’ve come out to an island where a bunch of scientists were working on a cure. But your ship, if ship there was, has wrecked.

    And then you wake up on a rocky beach, the shattered remains of a small boat nearby. There is no interface to speak of and a single objective in your journal: Find a cure for the plague.

    Of course, you have other priorities. Your fever is always slowly rising, and you must synthesize drugs to keep it down from the local plants and fungi. Then there is the matter of finding fresh water, and of navigating the island by finding crudely-drawn local maps and using cartography tools to triangulate local landmarks.

    Perhaps some of the scientists posted here could have helped you – if only there hadn’t been a massacre of some sort; dead bodies are a distressingly common find. Freshly dead, too: could whoever – or whatever – have killed them still be out there in the island’s forests? It is not long before you begin to find references to “the creature” in the scientists’ notes…

    This is a low-budget, small-shop operation, but Mark and I are enjoying it more than I really expected to, in part because the game is so completely and unabashedly what it is. True fact: This is a game about exploring – about mapping and about finding new and rare species of plant and testing them to determine their medicinal properties. If you are careful and scrupulous, it’s also a game about piecing together small fragments of the world beyond the island’s shores and the story of what happened there. (Most encampments contain at least one tidbit of information for you.)

    Things I haven’t been so crazy about so far:

    • Your character has a lot more inertia than I am used to seeing in a first-person game, and will often continue moving a short distance after letting go of the W key. This isn’t USUALLY a problem, except that there are steep slopes liberally scattered around the island and it’s very, very easy to accidentally step just that bit too far forward and plummet to earth, sometimes losing items you have gathered along the way.
    • For some silly reason, despite this being a game that largely consists of foraging for medicinal plants, our hero refuses to fashion any manner of carrying device to contain said plants. He can carry up to three, in one hand, and no more than one of a specific plant type at a time – frustrating if you wish to stock up on a particular specimen. A Resident Evil-style “specimen storage” relieves this problem somewhat, but as it can contain only six plants, this can still be an issue if it’s been a long haul between synthesis stations. At least it appears to only be possible to carry one of each type of medicine at any given time, so there is rarely any reason to double up on ingredients unless you want to be able to make a basic medicine quickly.
    • Despite the existence of lanterns on the island, Our Hero also refuses to carry one of those, despite the utter pitch-blackness of the game’s night cycle (it is nearly impossible to do much after dark. Just as well there is a “sleep” option available to advance time!) It is instead makeshift and very temporary torches all the way. This can make navigating at night very frustrating if you do not happen to have a nearby source of sticks. (Yes, of course, you’re in the woods, surrounded by sticks, but only certain sticks may be picked up for this purpose.)
    • The game’s “hostile” encounters can be extremely frustrating to deal with. While it is certainly possible to hide (usually, though it takes a VERY long time for them to “lose interest”), and to run, actually attempting to fight has failed us every. single. time. As you can take only two hits at the most, it becomes very important to save early and often.

    Things that are actually rather awesome:

    • Triangulating landmarks to fill out your map. I am sure that somewhere there is a hardcore cartography nerd who is upset about how you have not traveled the necessary number of degrees for real triangulation or something, but since I know nothing about it I am able to blithely enjoy climbing up somewhere high and tagging interesting-looking points to work my way toward.
    • Collecting plants. There are plenty of these, not all of them useful, and it’s kind of fun to fill out your research notebook with the properties of each. They are also typically pretty colorful, making the experience of hunting for them rather visually appealing.
    • The atmosphere. Miasmata is a very atmosphere-heavy game despite not having AAA graphics; weather patterns and angles of light make exploring the island an interesting cocktail of moods, some bright and rather beautiful, some oppressive. We spent a few minutes watching the sun go down and listening to birds. one in-game evening.
    • The way the game’s “story” is handled. It is more “lore” than “story” in this case – the proper story of the game is just your experience trekking around collecting things and trying not to die – but as you explore, particularly if you are thorough, you’ll find that there are actually a lot of tidbits lying about for you to find regarding the world you come from and the events on the island. These range from the informative (Oh, THAT’s what year we are in!) to the somewhat creepy (the cabin with the art, for instance – you’ll see when you get there) to the sort of gently tragic (a message in a bottle.) Piecing it all together is amusing.
    • Solid justifications for some of the things you’ll see around the island. My suspension of disbelief is willing to accept that, for instance, a crew of scientists might well have stocked nearly every encampment with at least the necessary gear to identify and evaluate plants, if not to synthesize drugs: that is, after all, why they were here. Also, your extreme fragility (you cannot even swim at the game’s start, despite it being very possible to fall into the water) is justified by your being very ill when the game begins. (Happily, you can do things to restore yourself to somewhat-normal functioning even before you manage to cure your illness.)

    It’s definitely not for everyone – this is mainly a game about doin’ science in the wilderness – but if this sounds interesting to you, check it out! The investment is small. 🙂

  • rampantbicycle 3:57 pm on November 7, 2012 Permalink  

    @unmanneddrone Thanks for the kind comment! Sorry I missed responding to it yesterday – got a little caught up in obsessing about election results/telling Mark “There’s loot over there. No, there. To the right!” in Dishonored. 🙂 (Two gamers + 1 television = lots and lots of backseat driving.)

    But review-writing is fun! I’m glad you found the result to be a decent read.

  • rampantbicycle 1:47 pm on August 16, 2012 Permalink  

    @bluesforbuddha Tch. Look at you. I am constantly hunting down and recommending you stuff which you then go on about as if you did all the leg work yourself. 😉

    I agree that if you want the “full Wallander experience” then yes, you probably want to sit down with one of Henning Mankell’s books. They’re very, very Scandinavian, which I suppose may not mean much unless you have read lots of OTHER Scandinavian crime novels – as a shorthand allow me to say that they have a particular flavor of bleak up there. Very introspective and not given to as many dramatic displays of angst.

    Fossum, to me, is a bit less truly “police procedural” and a bit more homespun, though there are of course cops. This is not to say she is in any way a “cozy” mystery writer. No no no. Just that there is less of that slick Big City Crime feeling to them.

    If Britishness is specifically what you want, then in addition to all those things named by @unmanneddrone (you have good taste, sir. I’d love to see more Wire in the Blood) you could also try anything based on the novels of P.D. James (An Unsuitable Job for a Woman comes to mind, as well as a number of the Dalgliesh adaptations, some of which are very good) or the very successful Prime Suspect, which made it to Masterpiece Theatre (Hey, it’s got Helen Mirren!)

    Or you could also try:

    • Foyle’s War (historical; never seen it but it’s supposed to be fantastic)
    • Inspector Morse (goes through many seasons to a very definitely final ending)
    • The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (though the author of the books there is American if that matters)

    …and so on. Several of these venture close to or INTO “detective series” rather than “true” police procedural, but the lines do get very blurry.

  • rampantbicycle 2:26 pm on August 15, 2012 Permalink  

    @bowlisimo I haven’t been on Minecraft recently mostly because I have been spending the entire evening the last few days doin’ Other Stuff. We have a ginormous “almost everyone from Mark’s office is coming to our house” event going on Thursday so yesterday was about CLEANING ALL THE THINGS and then feeling too tired to do much other than collapse on the couch and watch things.

    I do, however, want to get back into it. Perhaps I shall relocate the laptop to the Upstairs so that whilst Mark is getting himself killed over and over in P4 Arena’s Arcade Mode or something I can jump in and build some shit. 😉

    Papo Y Yo (which is how I automatically pronounce it) does indeed seem to be good, though in a way that is both whimsically, gently beautiful and also gives me a deeply uncomfortable feeling, a kind of tight, squeamish knot somewhere in my reptilian hindbrain. It’s a bit of cognitive dissonance I think I can mostly attribute to my own personal context, though perhaps others who play it can tell me if that’s a universal response or if it’s just me.

    Also: How the hell does anyone review this without coming off as condescending, tone-deaf, or both? It seems so very personal, as if I had accidentally stumbled upon an abused child’s diary of their dreams. The very real possibility that I have, in a way, doesn’t really help.

    How do I feel about it…? I don’t really know.

  • rampantbicycle 9:21 pm on July 27, 2012 Permalink  

    Tangent alert!

    @cgrajko What this makes me wonder is which game to date has actually done the best job of simulating the sleuthing experience. Before LA Noire we had Police Quest, which I only played a little of but which I recall as simulating the bureaucratic aspects of police work to a mildly annoying degree (“It’s a 3.414…”) and of course the Laura Bow games, the second of which is notable for the amusing primness of its narrator (“Don’t touch it! You don’t know where it’s been!”) and for the rather merciless way the game will punish you for failing – not just to correctly identify the culprit but also to gather every single shred of evidence along the way. It is perfectly possible to have reached the right answer in your head but fail to be able to back it up, as the game determines “backing it up.”

    Phoenix Wright did a reasonable job with getting you to work your way through the solution in the order the writers had in mind, though it falls a tiny bit foul of that old trick of the Pointedly Pointless Detail one often sees in older mystery shows like Murder, She Wrote. A savvy viewer can learn quickly to spot that one little thing that is being carefully shown to you; even if it doesn’t make sense at the time you see it, once you learn to recognize the style of its presentation you’ll know you’ve just been offered the crux of the “right” answer. Happily, in this series they’ve just gone ahead and made it a gameplay element – those “contradictions” we’re told about in the first few moments after loading up the game. Do you know why a contradiction is important? Not necessarily, no – but you know what you’re looking for even if you may not have worked out what it means. (I actually often had the opposite problem in Ace Attorney games – getting “ahead” of the plot and pointing out things before it was time.)

    LA Noire does it moderately well, I think, as far as the crime scene portions of the investigations are concerned; but I remember wishing repeatedly that in interrogations I could actually have some indication of the tack Cole was going to take if I chose a particular option. If I meant when I selected “Doubt” that I wanted to raise the question of whether he was really SURE he saw X at Y place and time, and Cole instead said something belligerent that was entirely unrelated to what I had in mind, it was really jarring to my play experience. And this happened VERY often while we were playing. Perhaps it just means that I don’t think enough like the developers do. 🙂

    I felt a lot during LA Noire that I was getting Cole’s sleuthing experience…but that it didn’t necessarily jive with MY sleuthing experience, if you know what I mean.

    But that’s kind of the trouble with attempting to tell a mystery story in any interactive medium, isn’t it? Scenario writers for RPGs have the same problem: they know the answer, and they know the route they intend the players to go to GET to that answer, but players are unpredictable creatures and may come up with something entirely outside a writer’s planned scenario.

    I don’t know – Squad, what do you think? Who’s done mystery the best so far, and what should an aspirant to that crown be doing to ensure their supremacy?

  • rampantbicycle 1:15 pm on July 27, 2012 Permalink  

    @cgrajko Uncharted is good for many of the same reasons that a movie like Raiders of the Lost Ark (or Romancing the Stone, which is really the best comparison, I think) is good. I was not “driving” but found that the thing that really drove me to keep on paying attention was the combination of well-written and well-timed scripted events in conjunction with a script that had all the right proportions of energy and humor. Also let’s be honest – I effing love Indiana Jones movies. That right there will get you a long way.

    Assassin’s Creed is much more of a “sandbox” arrangement – the criticism of “repetitive!” often leveled in its direction is not completely unfounded, particularly regarding the first game. Later iterations in the series mitigate this a little by giving you the sense that as you undertake various little activities you are helping to build something larger, restoring an area to the bustling metropolis it probably should be. The narrative is something much easier to ignore than it is in Uncharted – you can take as long as you bloody well please to get back to the plot, most of the time – but for me that wasn’t a big deal.

    The real appeal for me in Assassin’s Creed has actually been following along with the story of Ezio (who I found likable as a hero, and it was fun to watch him grow from callow youth to grandmaster assassin) and in particular playing History Bingo with all of the various real-life figures they pull in to spice up the proceedings. I may be the only person who went “Holy shit, Caterina Sforza!” when she showed up, but that is because I’m something of a nerd for history stuff. 🙂 So far, I am honestly not all that invested in Desmond’s story, but the history parts are enjoyable. We’ll see if Desmond’s story actually catches up.

    Probably really the thing that will determine whether you love Assassin’s Creed will be how much you like the sensation of skulking about from stealth, striking quickly and then vanishing into the night (or the crowd as the case may be). Thief-heads like me are all over that shit and to be honest I much prefer it to giant gun battles, generally speaking.

    I would also put a vote in for Red Dead Redemption, which is a very nice piece of work on a number of levels – the lonely Western landscapes do something for the GTA-open-world format that I rather like while also providing a pretty reasonable excuse for whipping out a gun and shooting people on a regular basis, and both the main plot and the side missions tend to be interesting (I love “I Know You,” despite the fact that it’s short and easy to miss entirely – the touch of weird is pleasing to me.) My only real complaint is that they did not have the balls to END THE DAMN THING. There is a moment where that game is over, and they should just have stopped it there, sandbox be damned. Credits roll. Game is over.

    If you have not tried Sly Cooper that may be worth looking into. Whimsical charm in spades, and I am about ready for them to be done over there with Infamous, which frankly I find just this side of ditchwater on the interesting scale, so that we can have more of it. 😉 The question to ask yourself is: how do I feel about that little tippy-toes noise that cartoons make when people are sneaking? Do I love that sound? If so, get out there and play these, because that’s what it’s all about. They’re funny and charming and really rather sweet in a way. They are mission-based rather than open world, though there is a kind of “overworld” map where you can hang out hunting collectables and such between missions. IMO, they also have the Assassin’s Creed thing going on in that things really pick up around game #2.

    L.A. Noire is a really interesting experiment. Whether you think it is an interesting FAILED experiment will depend a lot on how you feel about that interrogation system, I think. (I have mixed feelings about it.) It will also depend a lot on how you feel about the ability to determine your hero’s actions, and how much you like noir fiction. Be advised that L.A. Noire is surprisingly true to many conventions of the true noir genre, and that means some very specific things that not everyone will enjoy. This is not a hard-boiled detective story, though it looks like one at first. This is noir. Lots of people conflate those genres but that’s not really technically correct, and L.A. Noire demonstrates that pretty well. There is a lot of stuff I can’t really expound on without MASSIVE SPOILERS, though, so I hesitate to speak farther.

    I will contemplate this question and see if I can think of some other titles that might appeal. How does she feel about Creepy Shit? We love it in our house, but it’s a flavor not everyone is down with. 🙂

  • rampantbicycle 2:02 pm on July 19, 2012 Permalink

    @unmanneddrone Agreed – otherwise there may be a bit of, erm, clutter.

    For those who are Minecrafting it – I was the one “driving” during said exploration sequences – the Squad world is rather pretty, actually, in a blocky sort of way, and the mix of biomes keeps things interesting.

    A note for the adventurous: Gruetooth Cave is not fully explored. Indeed, none of the places named here are – the missions I was going on were short surface jaunts in which I marked some likely-looking places with little stone towers or arches with torches mounted on top (what we took to calling “beacons.”) The presence of one of those doesn’t necessarily mean the area’s all tapped out, just that there might Be Something There. At least one small shaft I just pegged with a torch, as I was out of stone blocks at the time.

    We will probably want to establish some perimeter bases to make further exploration possible by providing small shelters for those traveling.

    And a caution: Many of the cave entrances in this world are very VERTICAL. Take care where you step. 🙂

  • rampantbicycle 9:07 pm on July 18, 2012 Permalink  

    @bowlisimo No worries, Bowls – we’ll start notifying people once we’ve got it working, or at least THINK we’ve got it working. It’s our first attempt at configuring such a beast. As long as we’ve got a current email for you I’ll make sure we notify you as soon as we’re ready to hang out the proverbial shingle. 🙂

  • rampantbicycle 6:42 pm on July 18, 2012 Permalink

    As long as we get a good mix of biomes I am not fussed. (I’d hate to spawn everyone in a vast ocean of nothing, or something like that…)

  • rampantbicycle 2:05 pm on July 18, 2012 Permalink

    Yeah, the quest board was a proposal of mine from this morning. I have not experimented with signs yet, but thought to myself “Wouldn’t it be neat if we could share the stuff we’re working on with a batch of signs, or request help from each other in hunting down a particular resource, or something?”

    So I thought: Hey. Quest board. That’d be cool. We should have one in our base.

    Other things I thought about making: a little “guest house” for new arrivals, so that nobody need fear dying to monster attack whilst getting themselves established.

  • rampantbicycle 4:19 pm on July 17, 2012 Permalink

    @bowlisimo (has a look) Sweet blocky Jeebus. Now there is an epic work of fanlove for you.

  • rampantbicycle 3:27 pm on July 17, 2012 Permalink  

    @bluesforbuddha I don’t know, man, I guess I am just not as endgame-driven as you. 🙂 I quite like just futzing around giving myself little goals like “learn to farm mushrooms” or “try not to suck too hard at combat” or “learn a better path marking system.”

    I am uncertain quite how long it will take me to get tired of having “gear up and explore that mountain over there” as a mission but suspect it’ll be a while.

    And yes, I’m interested in squad play. Unsure whether you should count Mark and me as one “player” or two, though. 🙂

  • rampantbicycle 3:56 pm on July 13, 2012 Permalink

    (mounts soapbox)

    As a member of what was once the target audience for the ORIGINAL My Little Pony, allow me to state that the reboot is many orders of magnitude better than the original. Fun, colorful, well-written and funny; my one regret is that Faust was not permitted to make the series as adventurey as she originally hoped (The Suits put their feet down and made the show more a slice of life deal than it was apparently planned to be.)

    I think one of the things I like about it is that it is refreshingly light on irony. I don’t know if it qualifies as part of “The New Sincerity” or not, but it is somehow really good to see more things being released that don’t rely on snark for their power or entertainment value. I love me some snark as much as the next girl, but sometimes it’s just nice to see something being unapologetically what it is and loved for it.

    The “brony” phenomenon is something of which I generally approve – it provides a context for male viewers to admit they like something that falls well outside of “traditionally acceptable” male viewing turf. (In my opinion, gender-segregated viewing choices should die in a fire anyway. I am allowed to love giant robots if I want, and the boys I know are also allowed to love sweet, earnest shows with relationships at the center of many plotlines.) I regret that we need to do things like give it a name and such rather than any dude in the world just being able to say “Oh yeah, I watch that show,” but I understand the kind of defensive impulse that does things like create a “screw you guys, we’re making a culture out of this” reaction instead.

    If you train as a librarian (as I have), or if you work in a bookstore or video rental establishment for any extended period of time, you will eventually most likely come to the conclusion that much of the world has different reading/viewing tastes from yours. Often, you will be asked to make recommendations for someone who loves things you absolutely hate, and it is essential that you be able to do this with poise and class. Reader’s advisory goddess Betty Rosenberg once proposed the maxim “Never apologize for your reading tastes,” and this is very true no matter what medium you are “reading.” You love what you love, and nobody has the right to mock you for loving something they deem inferior. Lots of people will hate on you for the stuff you love anyway, but they fall into the category of what you’d call “douchebags.” 😉

    There are a lot of people out there right now who are loving Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey. These are not “good” books by any critical definition, but there are documented instances of books like these turning nonreaders into readers. I don’t like them, but if they bring more people to a place where they find they rather love to read, then I am sure as hell not going to discourage that by hating on either series in the ways I’ve seen lots of people do.

    The difference here is that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is legitimately good. The only reason anyone feels they need to apologize for loving it is that they fear social censure for admitting their fondness for it – for reasons of age, gender, whatever. This is both sad and unnecessary. Someday when I am nominated JRPG protagonist one of the changes I bring to the world will be that everyone is able to love what they love fearlessly. 😛

    So…yeah. TL;DR version: IT IS OKAY to like My Little Pony. It’s actually quite good. So let yourself love it if you think you might. 😉

    (tucks soapbox away)

  • rampantbicycle 9:09 pm on July 3, 2012 Permalink  

    Mark, you left out the part where right after that we discovered that Nate Drake apparently also hangs out in a steampunky JRPG-o-verse where he habitually does crazy gun-fu while leaping over the heads of spider constructs someone has thoughtlessly constructed out of highly explosive materials. He’s blond there, though.

  • rampantbicycle 7:38 pm on July 3, 2012 Permalink

    @bowlisimo Oh, I expect it was pretty iconic, globally. It’s just that in my particular cartoon ecosystem of the 80s it was, relatively, a blip. Not many people around me had seen either the show or the theme, so for years everybody heard me describe the concept and looked at me like I was nuts. We knew of a pocket in Texas and a pocket in California, but He-Man it wasn’t. Now THERE is a ubiquitous 80s thing. Or the Transformers. Or, hell, the Care Bears even.

    (I will spare you all the YouTube links. You know they’re out there. ;))

    @unmanneddrone I omitted to mention that I am also familiar with Spartakus. 🙂 That was that show you had to be up UNGODLY early to see. So early that I rarely managed to catch it. But I remember it. Oh yes. Well enough to recall unprompted the totally bizarre line “We are irreparable when we are apart” from this. (And I bet you knew what that was before you clicked it. ;))

    Spartakus was also French, as I recall. Dang, France, you had some crazy cartoons.

  • rampantbicycle 6:09 pm on July 3, 2012 Permalink

    @unmanneddrone @bowlisimo Holy crap! Someone else watched The Mysterious Cities of Gold besides me!

    I watched that show as a kid back in Texas. Out of order, even, but I found it so compelling that I watched it religiously and for years I have been telling people who don’t quite believe it was real all about it. (Me and the other five people in Texas who seem to have caught it while it was on…) It and an early adoration of Indiana Jones probably have a lot to do with my early interest in archaeology. (I know, I know, real archaeologists don’t visit the Collapsing Temple of the Ancients. But still!)

    Had the surreal experience, while I was studying abroad in the UK, of mentioning this show to my roommate, a French girl, and having her squeal in glee and sing the theme song at me in French. This is where I learned that the show was originally a French-Japanese co-production and this might explain its relative rarity as childhood viewing for some people I knew.

    When it came out on DVD a couple of Christmases ago, I jumped on it. I know it’s risky to re-watch things you loved as a kid, but…you know, I found it actually holds up pretty well, especially if you take its nature as a historical-action-adventure-with-a-touch-of-sci-fi-no-really thrown in. Mark can speak to that a bit, since of course I had him sit down and watch it with me.

    I don’t know if the version you watched had those little educational bits at the end of each episode, but I swore as I was popping the first disc into the PS3 that I remembered seeing someone kill a chicken onscreen in one of them. It kept not happening until I was beginning to wonder if I had imagined it, but then…Yep. There it was.

    …Now I’m going to have that theme song in my head ALL DAY…

  • rampantbicycle 5:53 pm on June 5, 2012 Permalink

    My reactions, so far:

    Microsoft has just about nothing for me: an assortment of Look Down A Reticle games that I was really kind of hoping we as a collective were over, some sports stuff I have no interest in, and Lara Croft very very obviously riding Drake’s coattails. (I can’t have been the only one who was hoping for a bit more “survival”-ish stuff in the new Tomb Raider.) Everything was either Serious Business or for a market that was obviously not me. Or possibly filmed by Michael Bay. Brown worlds where things blow up. Boring.

    You know, if what you want is Michael Bay shit, we could be making games where a natural disaster or something provides the explosions and the environmental destruction. How about something where a hurricane or an earthquake or a volcano threatens your town and you and/or a band of intrepid others struggle to escape, helping others stay alive (or not…) on the way? Plenty of scope for both action and human drama, and all the spectacle you could possibly require.

    Sony represented something of an improvement. (Color! Thank god! Also the explicit embrace of words like “gaming,” or “player!”) Cautiously hopeful for Beyond (Mr. Cage, Heavy Rain looked beautiful but had some fairly serious problems I hope you address). Pleased that Vita Assassin’s Creed will give me a main character of my own gender to play who may possibly function as more than a Token Chick or a T&A delivery system. (I find the over-the-top perviness of Yakuza as amusing as the next girl, and I understand that most of the gaming audience is male and likes to look at female anatomy, but I do kind of like it when I get to play a female character it’s cool to want to be, as well as to want.)

    ACIII is looking sweet, and I look forward to playing History Bingo with the American Revolution as I have with Renaissance Italy. As I mentioned on Twitter, the AC game I really want to see is set in India during the British Raj. That would be both a glorious combination of stuff I haven’t seen done to death and potentially quite gripping. But I’m still planning to be right there with my popcorn and see how many people I can guess before they are named. 🙂

    As a library type and lover of ordinary paper books I choose to adopt a wait-and-see attitude about Wonderbook. Smart choice for first property, definitely.

    The Last of Us looks like something I would be happy to be involved with, though I am a little bummed by the postapocalyptic whatnot. I’m about done with that. Also I am about done with zombies. Enough already. Let’s have a werewolf game a la Dog Soldiers (if you have not seen that, go watch it!) or a mummy or something, if classic monsters are what we want.

    I feel about Kratos much as Extra Credits does, so my response to God of War was mainly a shrug.

    Also, I totally agree with @scribl that I was sad to see a gun come out in Watch Dogs. Love the idea of being a hacking avenger, but it’s tragic that apparently we can’t just go with that. I’ve announced publicly my love for Thief, a game series in which generally speaking, if you have to draw your sword, you have failed. (The announcement of a new title in that series would fill me with a mixture of glee and dread at this point.) I really wish a major title in this landscape would be ballsy enough to adopt a similar attitude. I do not need more games where I am invited to stab someone in the throat to show how extreme and badass and hardcore I am. I do not need Yet Another Shooter. It’s getting really boring, you guys. We could be doing so much more with these experiences. Someone aspire, already.

    Overall, Sony did all right but did not elicit a genuine squee. (Which they could have done by suggesting the possibility of more Sly Cooper, or Tokyo Jungle, or, hell, just showing me a bit more Ni no Kuni.)

  • rampantbicycle 1:21 pm on May 11, 2012 Permalink

    @shingro Well, there was SORT of a remake of Quest for Glory II, as Impy has already said. I repeat it because it is a work of fan love that should really be seen to be believed, whether or not it is your Thing.

    Great series, though! Quest for Glory 4 was my first RPG. No, really. Very first game I ever played which invoked most of the major genre tropes and conventions. I rapidly sidestepped into JRPGs and thence to Baldur’s Gate and Deus Ex in no particular order. I still love the QFG games for their special combination of silly humor and tropetacularity, which is not a word but should be. If you have not tried them and have ANY love for RPGs at all, go get ’em.

  • rampantbicycle 7:34 pm on April 27, 2012 Permalink  

    @beige I sometimes feel “underserved” by the AAA gaming space, as well. In Extra Credits parlance I prefer narrative and discovery, occasionally with a side order of fellowship. (I love expressive activities but I tend to get most of my nutrients in that category from tabletop RPGs, where the constraints are less restrictive.)

    What this means is I enjoyed Oblivion pretty well, but that had a lot to do with the fact that I could wander off-script whenever I was in the mood, go find some pretty scenery, and wander about in it looking for nice views or mysterious nuggets of quest material. (This is another reason to let the modding community have its wicked way with Elder Scrolls games. I have been letting them do so with Skyrim before I pick it up; by the time I come to it I expect I’ll be better able to get the experience I’m looking for.) When I wanted something narrative-ish to do, well, there it was.

    Likewise the Thief series. I had no idea when I sat down to play the first game for the first time what a hole in my gaming life would be filled by a genre that let me enjoy the combined glee of discovery and the sense of Getting One Past The Enemy quite so thoroughly. (Apparently I love to wear the white hat in games – I have never EVER successfully played an evil character – but I also love being really sneaky.)

    Things I dislike: missing stuff. I don’t want to have to play a game through many times to see all that it has to offer, unless some serious steps are going to be taken to make subsequent plays easier on me. (Mild pass granted to RPGs that base large chunks of their plot/endings on your decisions. The sense of missing out is somehow less when you feel you are helping to craft the story/world in the process.)

    These days most games seem to require that I engage in Intense Action Sequences (which I have never been very good at), or perhaps go online and play games with strangers (which I have never liked, and being female am a bit wary of. The online gaming environment is often unkind to us.) Or both.

    Grand slam winners with me will include a good narrative with compelling characters and something or other for me to discover in the course of play. Maybe that’s a carefully constructed environment, maybe it’s a well written quest line, maybe it’s just a strange concept that we’re going to explore the depths of. (Good writing anywhere in games is still rare enough that I am delighted to see it, every time.) Other elements are negotiable. Sometimes I’ll play something difficult for the challenge, sometimes I am perfectly happy to (for example) fool around doing fetch quests in Xenoblade and chitchat about things until such time as the plot gets rolling again.

    (I wonder to what extent all of this is influenced by the fact that I very very rarely get to play alone.)

  • rampantbicycle 9:22 pm on April 23, 2012 Permalink

    @zegolf Another for the board game pile – our gaming group has recently experimented with A Touch of Evil, which we find to be a good alternative for those times when we are in the mood to gang up on some supernatural board game horrors without needing either the great whacking chunks of time OR the great whacking table you would need to play Arkham Horror.

    The gist:

    You are one of a number of potential heroes living in Vaguely Colonial New England, which may be threatened by any number of supernatural whozits – from werewolves to the Headless Horseman (natch.) Your task is to roam the countryside, fighting monsters, collecting useful items, and investigating the Terrible Thing That Stalks In The Night until at last you are ready to raise a posse consisting of yourself, some village elders, and possibly your friends and go terminate the TTTSITN with extreme prejudice.

    Of course, all the village elders have useful powers they can bring to your final showdown. And they also have secrets. Some of them may even be working for the villain – or BE the villain – in which case, you are quite thoroughly hosed.

    It’s actually quite a lot of fun with the right group (for best results I recommend people who enjoy making up little narratives to go along with the dice rolling and whatnot. In our first game my straitlaced spinsterly librarian type not only helped to slay the evil, but redeemed a town elder from the tragic evils of alcohol. ;))

    Word of advice, though: the cooperative version of A Touch of Evil is superior. Don’t bother with the competitive rules, IMO.

    I also recommend, for a completely different flavor, Space Alert. Totally different flavor and setting – science fiction, in what often ends up being a comedy of errors as your hapless crew of misfits embarks on a mission in what must surely be one of the least functional spacecraft ever designed by man. Lifts fail, communications go out, and there never seems to be enough power for anything. And that’s before the giant space octopus shows up.

    Word of advice on this one: you’ll need a device capable of playing CDs. And play the tutorial, whether or not you feel like you need it – you will thank yourself later.

    We’ve also recently experimented with Fortune and Glory, which is basically the board game where you get to be Indiana Jones. No, really. Right down to the hunting artifacts in ancient temples and infiltrating Nazi bases. Having only tried this once, all I can really add is that while it’s fun, that airship is a pain in the ass, and you really, really need to keep those bases under control.

    …Why, yes, I do prefer cooperative games. Why do you ask?

  • rampantbicycle 4:37 pm on April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Note: The following may constitute a (very mild) spoiler for FEZ’s math/language.

    To be honest I had all but given up trying to be useful about the mathematics. I’m not much of a numbers person. I regularly stumble over adding a number to the result of a twenty-sided die when we play Dungeons & Dragons.

    However, as it turns out, the trick to cracking the numbers isn’t really so much about your mathematical chops as your ability to notice things.

    (Likewise the Rosetta Stone, which may not be obvious as such, since it doesn’t quite do what the original Stone did.)

  • rampantbicycle 3:54 pm on April 12, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    @bowlisimo I am strange. I freely acknowledge this. There’s something about my brain that seems to operate in a very messy, lots-of-things-going-on way. Ask my high school biology teacher, who firmly believed I was sitting there in the back of the class screwing around and not learning a damned thing until I took the AP exam and was one of only two students that year to achieve a 4 or better.

    I don’t quite read a book a day, but I do tend to work on several books at the same time rather than sequentially, unless one happens to really engage me in which case I will chew through it with the combined fury of Johnny 5 and a wood chipper. I devoured Erin Bow’s Plain Kate, which won last year’s TD Award (it’s a Canada thing). Young adult novel, yes, but I am in the camp that doesn’t give a damn if I am reading things that are “age appropriate” or not. The young adult space often cares a lot more about telling a good story than the adult fiction space does, and a lot of the people working in it feel more free to experiment and try interesting things. Plain Kate was really good – a fairly dark fantasy with a villain who is both interestingly sympathetic and prone to doing horrific things. Also, some positively searing treatments of grief. The author had recently experienced a death. It shows.

    I finished it in well under 12 hours, even with a work day in the middle, and promptly pushed it on Mark. I don’t think he regrets letting me do it. 🙂

    Actual game talk: Enjoying Xenoblade very much. Oh, story-laden adventures with piles of character-based stuff to do, how I love thee. I don’t even care that there’s grinding to do.

    It’s very “classical” feeling somehow, Xenoblade. You have your Ancient Tech, you have your Organic/Inorganic Conflict, you have your Absolutely Not Elves, No Really, you have your Callow Youths and your People In Totally Implausible And Hilarious Clothes. (I admit it, I love the increasingly ridonkulous outfits. My healer is currently running around in some sort of bikini-and-hot-pants-with-feathers ensemble.) I have not yet had the Nuclear Stand-In Superweapon make an appearance, but am guessing it’s in there. A couple of instances of “What the Hell, Hero?” but so far nothing like the sheer levels of party stupidity we saw in Dragon Quest VIII (which was a fine game, but good lord did I want to smack those people upside the head the third or fourth time they let the MacGuffin fall into The Wrong Hands.)

    I find I feel weirdly affectionate toward the title, foibles and all. It’s trope-tacular, but that’s just fine.

    And I am positively dying to get my hands on a copy of Ni No Kuni. Level 5 + Studio Ghibli? YES PLEASE. Preferably immediately. The only things I might await with more slavering delight are a new Thief game or Persona 5. Or, you know, some goddamn resolution on the Gabriel Knight business, which may or may not ever happen.

  • rampantbicycle 8:42 pm on April 11, 2012 Permalink

    @bowlisimo How do I read so much? I do it constantly.

    No, seriously. On transit. In line at the grocery store. Wherever. I often find it hard to go to sleep or really feel awake without reading something first. I do not leave the house without reading material. There is a really good reason that when I went to see this with my family way back when they were all staring at me by the end of that number.

    Me: What?

    Then I got to look sheepish when they laughed at me.

    There’s, um, also a reason that Mark occasionally leaves the house in the morning with that song in his head. I know when I hear it that I must have been egregious with the reading multitasking.

    On the upside, that’s also the reason that I do things like bring home The Drops of God so Mark can recommend it to all of you. 😉 (It’s pretty great! I also really like it, though it makes me wish I had thousands of dollars to blow on wine.)

    Not everything I read is classy. Some is distinctly UN-classy. Some is the sort of stuff where I turn a page, jump a little, and hold it close to the vest so as not to alarm other subway passengers. (I’m looking at you, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. Love ya, but you’re graphic as hell.)

  • rampantbicycle 1:46 pm on April 9, 2012 Permalink

    @cgrajko I would be interested in adding Homo Ludens to my List of Things I Will Someday Read Given Infinite Time. 🙂

    Also, yes, I know very well what is involved when you invoke Russian authors generally, and mid 18th-19th century Russian authors in particular. There are certain…commitments one must make. (I learned my lesson about this not with the Russians, but with Victor Hugo. One summer, a mid-high-school me decided – God knows why – that it would be a fine idea to read The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables back-to-back. And, being the sort who is fussy about trying to track down the originals of things, I hauled home the unabridged versions of both works. While there was much in both that was solid and worthwhile, it was the only time I have ever regretted this preference of mine for unabridged books, and left me with a desire to hunt down the spirit of Victor Hugo, if only so that I could throttle him a bit and tell him that life just does not suck that much. So I guess I have him to thank for showing me I am not really as melancholic deep down as all that. 😉 And I STILL grumble about that damn chapter regarding the Battle of Waterloo.)

    I have a somewhat mixed relationship with Neal Stephenson. I have read both Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon, in that order. Both of them are okay, but I did not fall madly in love with either, largely because it felt to me as though Stephenson was constantly looking over my shoulder as I read, pointing out something that had just happened and whispering gravelly-voiced into my ear “Wasn’t that cool?” And, often, it was, but it left me with an intense desire to whack my imaginary backseat reader and say “Will you shut up already? I’m trying to read your damn book!” Stephenson is undoubtedly smart, and there are things in both books that are clever, but so far I’ve found the experience of reading his work somewhat frustrating because he seems to me to be always doing that: tugging at my sleeve and asking “Wasn’t that cool?” I believe I am in the minority in finding this irritating, though, so by all means give it a go.

    This weekend’s reading: Joseph T. Hallinan’s Why We Make Mistakes – interesting, though I have read much of the science elsewhere. However, it’s a good overview of the lore of error, and a generally pleasing little read if you are the sort of person who likes to read about why terrible things can happen because someone labels the bottles for one drug in light blue and another in dark blue, or why poorly designed control panels cause planes to crash. I also got distracted by Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which book clubs everywhere have discussed in more volume than I need to here, but now I can actually respond semi-intelligently if asked about it. The main attraction is the unusual “voice” of the main character, who is autistic; I have no idea how authentic it is as a representation of the autistic experience, but it’s interesting to be picking up on elements of the larger story that the main character is less capable than I of understanding unaided.

    Oh, yes, and I’ve started I Believe in Yesterday as well, the saga of one British man’s adventures in the world of historical re-enactors. So far he’s had an uninspiring experience with some people running an “Iron Age” settlement – not very well. Next up: He looks for a Roman legion to join. Should be amusing.

  • rampantbicycle 3:15 pm on April 5, 2012 Permalink

    @cgrajko Someone mentioned books!

    I effing love the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast. Love it. If you are not listening and even vaguely like the stories, you now no longer have any excuse. Go.

    Nobody at all will be surprised to know I am a voracious (and relatively omnivorous) reader.

    I am on one of my cyclical nonfiction kicks right now. I just finished Stuart Brown’s Play, which presents a fairly good case, IMO, for why we should all give ourselves permission to goof off more often. Especially those of us who are either chronologically or philosophically “adult.” Lots of people feel a big pressure to “be serious” once they reach a certain point in their lives, despite the fact that doing so is actually terribly bad for you on a number of levels. It stifles innovation and, moreover, makes you bored, contributing to a larger-scale loss of interest in things.

    Brown is a big proponent of physical play, and while he doesn’t exactly relegate electronic games to “chopped liver” status it’s interesting to hear his concerns about varieties of play that don’t take advantage of physical closeness with other humans or face to face interaction. (He does acknowledge that reading books or writing stories or other sedentary-but-creative activities absolutely count as “play.” So I guess those of you who make fan modules or build stuff in Minecraft get the thumbs-up.)

    Next in the queue: Joseph Hallinan’s Why We Make Mistakes. Well, that or The Tigress of Forli, featuring Caterina Sforza. Some of you may remember her from her appearance in a certain popular franchise.

    I’m also waiting for the library to dig up the next Nero Wolfe book for me. I have a weakness for detective novels as “brain candy” reading, and I find Archie charming as a narrator. Just a little noir-ish, just a little cozy. Good times.

    The Master and Margarita is one of those I have repeatedly almost read; I’m curious about it, but it and I never seem to be in the same place when I’m in the mood, if that makes sense. Glad to hear it’s being well received by persons whose opinions I respect. 😉

    And a second “amen” to the joy of free old books on e-readers. (Or new books, if you’ve got an e-reading capable device and a library card.) One of my most frequently used apps on my iPad is the Overdrive app. It is ugly. It is clunky. It also lets me carry around (counts) seven library books at the same time, and I can return them when I’m finished whether the library’s open or not.

    @unmanneddrone Woo hoo! New Squad mix!

    Also, if you enjoy stories of true adventure in extreme locales, I have two recommendations. Robert Kurson’s Shadow Divers is excellent, and other Squaddies may have heard me recommend it before. It’s still good: American divers discover the wreck of a U-boat off the coast of New Jersey, where it has absolutely no business being. What ensues is a combination of character study of the divers and adventure tale of deep wreck-diving, a horrendously dangerous activity that I’m glad someone has written about in this compelling way so that I don’t necessarily have to go get myself possibly-killed to share in the experience in some way. 😉

    For those who prefer their extreme adventure with a more geological spin, James Tabor’s Blind Descent is also pretty darned great. Follow along as two groups of explorers place their bets and go looking for the world’s deepest “supercave.” Again, horrendously dangerous, but an entertaining read.

    …I’d better stop, or I’ll be at this all day…

  • rampantbicycle 5:17 pm on March 29, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Downpour,   

    A couple of things…

    1) I wish it to be known for the EBP listeners that I did not at any time “shriek” in response to the Mass Effect 3 ending. That is a scurrilous exaggeration, which I forgive only on the grounds that it gives me a reason to use the word “scurrilous.” Great word.

    2) Downpour is an interesting beast. Mark has already said most of what there is to say on the topic, but my two small and insignificant cents:

    The game experience is a weird combination of a very Western sort of treatment of character and a very “old-school-Japanese-Silent-Hills” treatment of challenges. Can’t figure out how to do something? We’ll wait. And wait. And wait. And if you miss an item, too bad. They HAVE given the very tiniest of Fudd Flag nods – some items will glow a little bit if you’re close to them – but they really haven’t bothered to give you a “Here is an obvious entrance/exit” or “Here is an obvious item” signifier. To which I say: Good for you, fellows. As long as you don’t mind if I keep GameFAQs handy, we shall get along famously.

    Murphy is more of a character than some previous protagonists, in that he reacts to things more visibly/vocally…and also, strangely, less of one in that we know so little of his motivations and history. Within the first two minutes we knew why James was there, and what might drive him to stay. Murphy is in Silent Hill by happenstance, and desires only to leave. The reasons why are obvious if you play…but I think I preferred the Silent Hill that drew the previous protagonists in almost in spite of themselves, the one that didn’t need to rely on contrivances like those seen in Downpour to keep them there. The protagonists of most previous titles in the series are called to explore this place. I’m not getting that feeling yet about Murphy but we’ll see if that changes before they’re done with him.

    The town itself seems more realistic – so many tchotchkes and weapons and little details of environment! – but something seems a little “off” about its attitude to me so far. That seems strange to say of a place like Silent Hill. (I do love the mailman, though. Is he more like Laura from SH2, having a different experience? Or is he something else? Guide? Monster? Civilian? Fellow target? Either way, his scenes so far are almost hilarious, there’s such a “…what?” feel to them.)

    Setpieces – there have been a couple – are a little over-the-top, but so far we’ve been more amused than annoyed by this. (Mine train, anyone?)

    The “mythology” is referenced but so far not heavily relied upon.

    Definitely more of a recommendation for those that already enjoy the series than for new folks. If you’re new, or intend to play only one title from the series, the game you want is back there with Silent Hill 2.

  • rampantbicycle 1:45 pm on March 16, 2012 Permalink

    Okay, I’ve REALLY got to catch up with some stuff on here. Will try to do that today.

    Re: Anachronox, here’s what I remember…

    I recall the combat being pretty awful, honestly, and that’s coming from someone who typically has a high tolerance for such things.


    But but but.

    Everything ELSE was pretty awesome. Enjoyable party to hang out with, whimsically-imagined future world, and some very funny writing. The story wasn’t bad either, as I recall, though I have forgotten lots of it by now.

    It’s the little moments I remember best. PAL: “…and I am REALLY PISSED OFF!” Rho: “But…I thought you said it started with a “U.”

    And you know, though I still can’t remember the name of the (minor) character who said this, I quote them all the time: “You would be surprised how rarely…people look up.”

    There is indeed a “movie” of the adventure; those who would prefer a more streamlined version of the experience can look for it here.

  • rampantbicycle 5:06 pm on March 8, 2012 Permalink  

    Hey, it was totally adorable. 🙂

  • rampantbicycle 2:21 pm on March 1, 2012 Permalink  

    @bowley I hope it’s real, just because I know it would make you happy. 🙂 Personally, I still think India during the British Raj would be an interesting, different sort of choice, but that’s perhaps a little TOO different for a publisher’s tastes.

    All of this character creation talk reminds me that some day I think it would be amusing to run a little adventure for the interested among you. Of some sort. Hmm…

  • rampantbicycle 5:01 pm on February 28, 2012 Permalink

    @shingro I usually find that despite my best efforts to Do Something Different, I end up creating a character who is either very similar to myself or a strong reflection of some facet of my real-life character. This is particularly noticeable in the D&D campaign we’ve been playing; I regularly make some comment about my character only to realize it applies with equal force to me.

    In the electronic-entertainment context, oddly, I generally do not devote a large amount of time to character design. I’m always happy when I get to play a girl – that doesn’t happen nearly enough for my tastes – but the protagonists in electronic media are of necessity often cyphers, customizable in skills but with very limited personalities or options for what I would consider actual roleplaying. (There are varying degrees of egregiousness to this, extreme cases giving me the choice “murder this grandma or pet the kitty.” But that’s a discussion with which we’re all familiar.)

    Lots of computer-RPG characters just don’t HAVE that much personality on their own, I guess, is what I am saying. You have to read it in. This is a strategy authors of all kinds have been using since the dawn of time: by not giving your protagonist that many points of distinction you theoretically make it easier for your audience to identify with them. Often, this works, so I certainly can’t blame game developers for using it. (This is where Gordon Freeman and arguably Link come from.)

    On a less extreme level, CRPG characters have more of an illusion of freedom in terms of their interaction with the world than actual freedom. (Dialogue trees say hello.) That’s totally fine, it just means that I’m by necessity playing a character someone else designed. It’s cool. I will never regret playing the Nameless One. He’s not MY character but he was fun to be. The same goes for Nathan Drake or Guybrush Threepwood.

    So the options for treating an electronic-media character as either an extension of myself or as an exercise of authorial power are limited. This is, I guess, one of the reasons I enjoy the flexibility of tabletop games so much. But there’s goodness to be had in both styles.

  • rampantbicycle 6:49 pm on February 27, 2012 Permalink  

    @beige Which reminds me: Fill out your own damn entry, dude. ;P Shameful!

  • rampantbicycle 4:53 pm on February 27, 2012 Permalink  

    @beige You sent them our notes? But I’m so behind! How embarrassing.

    (cough) If anyone actually reads those, be advised that the quality of them picks up dramatically once we start taping and transcribing sessions. Which is my job. If anyone wonders why I am not on more squadcasts, it may be because I’m doing that…

    Moving has thrown me SUPER off my game. But I’m catching up, I promise. (Just slowly.)

  • rampantbicycle 7:22 pm on February 24, 2012 Permalink  

    @impynickers Thief IV?

    …excuse me while I go do a happy dance that that exists.

  • rampantbicycle 8:57 pm on February 23, 2012 Permalink  

    I think for a lot of us it just comes down to our perceptions of what the company is saying to us as a result of their policy.

    “Thanks for buying the Ultra Crystal Dragon Edition! Here’s a code to download some bonus content” is usually fine with me.

    “Thanks for buying our game new! Here’s a code; please verify that you did so” is eye-rolling but basically fine with me. I’m usually buying new, so whatever.

    “Hey, guys, here’s some new stuff we’ve been working on since the game released” is also fine with me. (But kinda annoying since it usually comes way after we’re done actually playing.)

    Where it becomes really just exasperating is where it feels like the company is saying to the end user “Thanks for the $60. Now if you pay us an additional $10, you can actually play with all the stuff we had ready for this game’s release.” Just price the damn thing at $70 to start with and give me everything. The $10 isn’t enough to make the barrier of entry THAT much higher once you’re already pricing stuff at $60. The price barrier for people who are cash-strapped enough to be worried about buying a game or not for monetary reasons is lower than that, IMO.

    The issue of licensing vs. ownership is indeed much bigger than any of this, and falls into “Land war in Asia” territory in terms of the wisdom of getting into arguments over it. I will say simply that as someone who has trained to be a librarian, I find licensing practices these days to be deeply, deeply loathsome, and leave it at that.

  • rampantbicycle 7:10 pm on February 23, 2012 Permalink  

    @sinfony Of course they are. But that is not what I was objecting to. Multiple editions of something, which reproduce the same content, are indeed available in all media. As are multiple VERSIONS of something (e.g. Standard vs. “collector’s edition” or “director’s cut” or what have you.)

    Neither of these things is what I was talking about. When George releases a “new” version of Star Wars, the information that is on the disc is the information that is on the disc. I have access to all of it because I made my purchase, and much as I might wish otherwise no amount of fiddling around will give me the version where Han shoots first.

    With a game, the information on the disc is not necessarily all accessible to you. That is what I object to – if I bought the disc then what is on the disc should be accessible to me, in my opinion. Paying to unlock something that’s already there is the least desirable DLC format, and I’d be happy to see it disappear.

  • rampantbicycle 4:47 pm on February 23, 2012 Permalink  

    Couple of things:

    1) I am with Jedi in hating day-one DLC, especially if it’s just stuff that is already on the disc but arbitrarily locked until you pay for it. Other media do not make me pay for this stuff. I don’t have to send $10 to Harper Collins to read all of a book. If I buy a DVD, I often get something EXTRA for the money: documentaries, commentary, what have you. Nice. As a consumer I dislike the feeling that something that is already there is being withheld from me until I pony up. A little reframing of the situation (at least!) could be most helpful in mitigating my loathing.

    2) I am also with Bowley in that often the best solution for frustrated people is to just wait and buy the game after time has passed. This is my Skyrim strategy (I want the modders to have their wicked way with it before I buy.) However, this is not always feasible, and even when it is, you then have to make a choice to miss out on the shared experience of playing through something new with your friends. As a consumer, this too is a bummer.

    3) I like digital downloads (provided my rights to them are secure and/or backups are permitted) and feel that this generally gets around the “used and old” problem pretty well thanks to GOG and friends.

    4) Shingro, I haven’t forgotten you asked about my thoughts on KS. But things are a little too crazy right now for a proper think-and-write. 🙂 Please hold.

  • rampantbicycle 5:53 pm on February 17, 2012 Permalink  

    …Okay, perhaps I should de-lurk more seriously.

    Truth #1: The Squad contains many people who have played a lot of games, seen a lot of things, and are therefore more likely to feel excited when they encounter something that seems to them to be novel, different, strange, or unusual. I get that.

    Truth #2: The Squad contains many people who enjoy discussion and debate about something, and are likely to become excited about things like articles which contain controversial points.

    Truth #3: The Squad contains many people whose response to being excited about something is to talk about it effusively and with immense enthusiasm.

    There’s nothing broken there. It’s pretty normal, actually. The conjunction of those three truths means that sometimes, whirlwinds of something or other will dominate the talk for a while.

    Frequently, there isn’t anything at all people are going on about that is relevant to my interests, other than the fact that someone I like is talking about it.

    Perhaps my being a) a geeky girl (we don’t play games at all, right?) and b) into plenty of things in various areas of my life that nobody has much interest in but me has desensitized me to this, but it doesn’t bother me too much when the main discussion zone goes off into something that doesn’t interest me particularly. Hey, people are having a good time. If I’ve got something to add I’ll say it, but if I don’t have anything to add, it’s still nice to watch people enjoying themselves and hear what they’re into. Maybe I will hear about some stuff I might not otherwise have looked into. That’s cool.

    That said, I too am a little confused about what is being suggested here, though I think I feel more or less as Impy and Shingro do (for what it is worth, considering the generally lurking nature of my participation.)

    Nobody should have to feel that they are being ignored – though I doubt that is really the case; rather that effusive excitement about one or two things can make it hard to pay equal attention to all things at once. If that is the issue, though, will a mechanical adjustment really relieve what is essentially a behavioral tension?

    There are valid points to be made against too much siloing of discussion as well. The echo chamber is easy to create but difficult to undo, and if I must choose I’d rather see the talk lively with things I do not care about than die off. The energy and enthusiasm are generally politely expressed and fun to watch, regardless of topic or my interest level therein.

    I think that may be the most text I have ever posted here. Now I shall re-lurk.

    Oh, wait. One more thing: Submit tracks, everybody! 😉 I’ve gotta go find my second one.

  • rampantbicycle 2:12 pm on February 17, 2012 Permalink

    ….Speaking of things that have kind of fallen off the radar…

    …Wasn’t there another Squad mix in the works? I was thinking this morning I should really get my damn tracks together and then it occurred to me I hadn’t heard a thing in a while.

    Just sayin’. ‘Cause, you know, it’s fun and all.

  • rampantbicycle 12:12 am on February 12, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: grey matter   

    @unmanneddrone That’s ok. I think the Bechdel test requires two girls to talk to each other about something other than a guy, so we’d need another girl for me to talk to… 🙂

    Enjoying Grey Matter, actually. It has an old school flavor – I earn points? What the…

    But loving Oxford as a setting, and finding the over the top Gothicness of Dread Hill House (seriously!) amusing and rather delicious. More to come as the experiment continues, but it seems like a nicely constructed adventure so far.

  • rampantbicycle 3:02 pm on February 7, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    I have always been of the opinion that review scores of any sort are fairly useless, even outside of the gaming press. It’s nice to note that a film got three and a half stars out of a possible five, but the number is completely meaningless on its own.

    The Metacritic score is an interesting thing to go and look at, but it’s completely meaningless in any real way. The only way it could really hope to be anything like an accurate gauge of “goodness” would be if every single person and publication that reviewed games used precisely the same criteria and ratings scale to evaluate them. Only then could you “average” them meaningfully. (And before that, you’d have to first find a way to operationalize what “goodness” means across the industry. Good luck with that.)

    As it is, you have vaguely adjusted numbers attached to reviews – goodness knows what the methodology is; I’ve certainly looked at some reviews and found their content to be quite different than I’d expect from the number assigned to them – and then they present those to us as though that were any sort of guideline from which to make a meaningful and useful decision.

    It isn’t. It is a tool for the individual who does not wish to put forth the effort and actually read the reviews, perhaps.

    Full disclosure: I regularly write reviews – the old-fashioned kind, with very tight word limits and an editor and everything – for an industry publication dedicated to literature for young people.

    The duty of a critic or reviewer is (IMO) to advise people as honestly as possible of what they will be in for when they pick up a particular book, go to see a particular show, whatever. The good critic or reviewer will manage to, on top of this, give a real sense of the material, as well, such that if you are the sort of person who would love it, you will be fired up to go and experience it. (And, by extension, such that if you are NOT the sort of person who would love it, you will be able to wisely stay away.)

    Scores do not serve either purpose. At all. Away with them.

  • rampantbicycle 3:33 am on February 7, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: <3   

    So we were reading the latest, and I may have mentioned Sam, and…

    Love ya, Feen. 😉

  • rampantbicycle 2:33 pm on February 6, 2012 Permalink

    @cgrajko Well, now I have to know: Which girl?

    Our team has just completed 4/5 paths; only Lilly remains. Not much time to write now, but two comments:

    1) This game has inspired a completely different kind of conversation than most games do in our house, and in greater quantities. It’s interesting to play something that makes you think about your relationships in this kind of serious way.

    2) I find it somewhat eerie the number of times the various girls have said things to Our Hero and I find myself saying “Hey, I’ve had exactly this conversation.”

  • rampantbicycle 10:42 pm on January 8, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    @shingro I have just read your Wall o’ Text to Beige while he defended a base in Assassin’s Creed. He wishes me to say:

    “IMO, we wouldn’t be who we are if this wasn’t the kind of place where people could come and testify about erogalges or whatever the fuck else.”

    Which I will interpret to mean that he supports you. 😉 For myself, I will show my library nerd background and quote the inestimable Betty Rosenberg, reader’s advisory hero:

    “Never apologize for your reading taste.”

    The world has room in it for all manner of things, and all of us are free to like and dislike the things we choose. So long as we’re not hurting anyone, it does none of us any good to feel shame over loving what we love.

    We’ve recently played To The Moon, which treats similar subject matter. The difficulties were primarily mental rather than physical, and the condition in question is never once named (though a little judicious internet research can identify it.) Mark says he’s been wondering what you were up to since Dark Souls and that he appreciates hearing from you, and there is talk of investigating Katawa Shoujo in the household, moving problems permitting. 🙂

    By the way, lest it get lost in the shuffle, new squad mix, yay! I will begin looking for tracks as soon as I can…again, moving problems permitting.

  • rampantbicycle 4:01 pm on December 25, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: Frost Gigas, Santa   

    Merry Christmas from @beige and myself! He says “Squad tidings to all!”

    Looking forward to more awesomesauce in 2012. 🙂 Have a fantastic day, everyone.

    Oh yes, and please to enjoy this. (Wait for it…)

  • rampantbicycle 2:14 pm on December 20, 2011 Permalink  

    @cgrajko @bowlisimo @impynickers

    Thank you, gentlemen! I’m pleased you enjoyed my little bit of foolishness.

    By the way, while we’re thinking Dickensian thoughts…some of you may enjoy this.

  • rampantbicycle 9:58 pm on December 19, 2011 Permalink

    @bowlisimo (with sincere apologies to Mr. Dickens):

    His colour changed though, when, without a pause, it came on through the heavy door, and passed into the room before his eyes. Upon its coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried, “I know him! Snake’s Ghost!” and fell again.

    The same face: the very same. Snake with his bandana, usual octocamo, boots, and weaponry; the latter bristling, like the mullet upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of forgotten consoles, controllers, keyboards, memory cards, strategy guides, and heavy joysticks wrought in steel. His body was transparent; so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his sneaking suit, could see the long strap of his utility belt behind.

    “Snake,” said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever. “Snake. SNAAAAAAKE!”

    (coughs) Right. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

  • rampantbicycle 4:45 pm on December 16, 2011 Permalink

    @unmanneddrone Your wish is my command. Theme of Mystery submitted. (Er, theme may or may not actually involve mystery. ;))

    GOG.com wishlist…still not done. Shame! Sorry…I’ve been so busy with the house business…and the obsessing over the house business…

  • rampantbicycle 6:51 pm on December 15, 2011 Permalink

    My selections were based as follows:

    “Pone” by Rei Harakami – Chosen because to me it has that twilight-sun-on-warm-concrete-and-glass feeling. Dusk in the city indeed.

    It’s also from the anime series Boogiepop Phantom, which would have been a dead giveaway if we’d been mentioning albums. 🙂 It’s one crazy show, and it doesn’t much care if you’re following along or not, though it’s complex and interesting and can be interpreted many ways depending what you bring into it. (Curiously, every girl I have watched the series with has had no trouble following the plot, while most boys become confused very quickly, even if they later catch up. I have no idea why this is. Completely unscientific anecdotal evidence, of course. :))

    “Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart – Chosen, frankly, because there is a certain puckish instinct I have when confronted with an enterprise like this one to do something just because it seems amusing. 🙂 Well, also, there’s something very driving-through-town-full-of-neon-in-the-80s to it.

    I had an alternate track proposed as well, which I may as well provide here for completeness. Chosen because, hey, vampires! Why not? Also I felt its flavor might be different from the other choices.

    Excellent choices, everyone! Personally I feel that either next time we should all go cotton-candy fluffy (thus ensuring Shingro is well-camouflaged! ;)) or try something less thematic but still organized around a central idea, like the “covers” suggestion I proposed earlier. (If we do that, we should probably mandate that we specify the original artist to the best of our knowledge as well, so that that information can be included in the…er…liner notes?…)

    FYI to whoever got me for Squad Santa: Still working on my GOG wishlist, will have up shortly. 🙂

  • rampantbicycle 4:30 pm on December 13, 2011 Permalink

    My lists aren’t in any order (and may actually still be a bit incomplete, so winging it is a good idea.)

    Or, if you got me and aren’t @bowlisimo you could always talk to him. 😉

  • rampantbicycle 4:19 am on December 12, 2011 Permalink

    @mjpilon – Nope, that wasn’t one of mine! Though I do like it a lot and might have submitted it myself if I’d known it existed. It’s very Bond – kind of demands a cocktail dress (or a tuxedo) and a martini. Thumbsup to the selector!

    Still fidgeting about with the tracks myself trying to see if I can make any good guesses. Quite sure I have one of @beige’s down, but the other, not so much. (How embarrassing!) The rest of you…man! Even @shingro is all deep-cover on this one. I may as well throw some darts in a lot of cases. 🙂

    Oh well. It is nevertheless fun times to engage in cultural exchange!

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