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Penny Arcade Presents Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor Stream!

We have a really cool PA Presents live stream coming up this Monday. We will be playing Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor! It will be a day before it hits stores and you can watch it all right here on my Twitch channel. Tycho and I will be joined by a few of the developers so they can field questions as we run through a bit of the game. I’ve been looking forward to this one and I’m really excited to check it out. It will happen on Monday the 29th at 2:30 Pacific time right here on my Twitch page.

-Gabe out

Video Games!

As Tycho mentioned yesterday, we are both playing the new Theatrhythm: Curtain Call for 3DS. He lamented the lack of a cooperative multiplayer mode but I have to say the new competitive multi is ridiculously fun. I had been avoiding it because while I enjoy rhythm games, I’m not especially good at them. So the idea of playing against another person was a bit intimidating. I gave it a shot though and once I started I was hooked. You play a Battle Music Sequence (BMS) against another person and you’re trying to get the higher score in order to win. However as you’re playing you can inflict all sorts of crazy status effects on your opponent. These really mix up the gameplay in some fun ways.

If you have not played Theatrhythm, it’s similar to a lot of other rhythm games. Icons scrolling across the screen must be tapped when they reach a specific zone. There are taps, holds and flicks that all must be accomplished with precision in order to get the best score. The attacks in multiplayer are all designed to screw with your ability to do this. There’s stuff you expect like speeding up the scrolling so that you need to act faster. There’s also crazy stuff like hiding the type of icon so you don’t know what sort of interaction it is until a split second before it hits the trigger zone. There are nine of these crazy effects and each time you attack the game chooses one for you at random. It makes the multiplayer a blast. The only problem I’ve had is finding an opponent. It can take a while to get a game going but that’s not such a big deal.

I spent about an hour last night playing Destiny with Kiko and Dabe. We farmed the Lootcave all night and had a surprisingly good time. In fact I’d say it was the most fun I’ve had in Destiny. I streamed the evening so if you’re curious what Lootcave is all about you can watch it right here. You just shoot into a cave of endlessly spawning monsters until someone in the group runs out of ammo. Then you run in, collect all your loot and repeat. It’s sort of like fishing. Sitting in a boat with your buddies. Just chatting and cracking jokes while you reel in your haul. This is supposedly a bug but I’d be pretty disappointed if Bungie patches it out. I’d much rather see them trick it out. Maybe a big neon sign that says Lootcave! Maybe create a local chat space there so you can talk with the other folks who show up. Give the enemies goofy costumes and game show sound effects?

After we Lootcaved last night Dabe jumped into League of Legends with Tycho. They had a pretty great game that resulted in the opposing team surrendering at 20 minutes. After the game there was some pretty intense shit talking and Dabe snapped a picture. for me.

Our team is getting laid into for daring to play as Cait. Tycho who is “Falderal” responds with some very specific shit talk. I guess this guy was playing Quinn and Tycho makes a pretty rude comment about his relationship with his bird. Personally I think it crosses the line. So Lyte, if you’re reading this, please consider this a formal complaint. I think Tycho is toxic and needs to be slapped with a 30 day chat restriction. Thanks.

-Gabe out

Tycho / 1 week ago

Blizzard cancelled “Titan” apparently, whatever it was; I have faithful crows at practically every level of their organization and I was never able to get much.  Then again, I suppose I never really turned the screws.  I was fine not knowing.  They should have put a timer up!  That always seems to yoke the reptilian substructures of my brain.

But they already have an MMO.  Maybe it’s not a Free To Play MMO of the traditional sort, maybe it doesn’t run in a browser; maybe it doesn’t use that fixed width font to communicate its barbed lures in a kind of English which is deeply unlike English.  But they don’t really need another one.  I saw an article whose headline said that shutting down Titan was bad, I didn’t read it, but starting a project because “you need to have the next thing lined up” is not really a recipe for creative engagement.  It’s a way to make work even more worky than it already is.  They excavated themselves for seven years, and couldn’t find a game.  But that doesn’t mean they didn’t learn anything.

Anyway, the “next” World of Warcraft is Warlords of Draenor, believe it.  You’re looking at the sequel, and the models are key.  Does that mean you’re going back in?  I mean, you tell me.

    We’re digging into Theatrhythm: Curtain Call now, which is more Theatrhythm in some ways and less in others.  I’m a sucker for the form; it’s basically my Photoshop Hero.  It’s tight and there’s a lot there, even if it isn’t exactly what I want.

This happens a lot, and not just to me.  The entire purpose of Theatrhythm is to act as a showpiece for the undeniable audible legacy of Final Fantasy, and to give players outside the cabal an in.  It isn’t to jerk off writers who are also failed musicians; I think part of its reasonable, eminently understandable mission is specifically to avoid the things I like best.  So when the first one came out, I had a lot of fantasies (informed by obsessive Rock Band play) about what it might mean to create meaningful play that incorporated music and RPG notions.  It had a nominal kind of cooperative play which we nonetheless played the shit out of on trips, and could have gone all kindsa places; the new one has competitive multiplayer and no cooperative play of any kind.

I knew it didn’t, and I bought it anyway; it’s still good.  I’m an Ouendan slash Elite Beat Agents boy.  I think they’re leaving a lot on the table, but… it’s funny, right?  Everybody always knows how to do your job better than you.

(CW)TB out.

Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes

I got an early copy of the new Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes last week. It actually hits stores tomorrow so I thought I’d share my impressions of the game so far. I’m playing the PS4 version although I’m not sure how much that matters.

The reviews for this new 2.0 version are all over the place and that doesn’t surprise me. I can tell you that my impression of the game is absolutely colored by the fact that I played it with my family. I have a wife, and two boys ages 10 and 4. In the last week each of them has come to me at some point and asked me to play Disney Infinity with them. The best part is that each time they asked, I really wanted to play it with them! If you ask any gamer parent they will tell you there are games you play with your kids and you play them because you want to play a game with your kid. You put up with boring gameplay or simplistic mechanics because you’re playing a game for kids. But like the best Disney movies, Disney Infinity 2.0 is a game that operates on two different levels and has plenty for you to enjoy along with them.

There’s no shortage of reviews out there that break down all the new features and that’s not really what I’m good at. I can tell you that the newly enhanced combat is a blast, the skill trees are robust and make me want to level up my character. The new Play Sets are also really fun. It’s true that the missions pretty much just ask you to beat stuff up but the fact is I love beating shit up in this game and so I was happy to do it. Each time I was told to go wreck a bunch of Frost Giants I was excited to do it. Here’s the thing though. I wasn’t doing it alone. I was doing it with my wife and that absolutely effects my experience. Each time Kara unlocked a new power with Iron man she got excited. We played the Avengers Play Set together while my 10 year old and I played the Guardians of the Galaxy Play Set. When I say I love this game I’m not just saying I love the game, I’m saying I love the experiences I had playing with my family.

My four year old just wants to play in the Toy box mode with me. I am in there building the world and dropping in fun stuff for him to play with. He also just loves playing with the toys by themselves.

We’re talking about a game here that resonates with every single member of my family and creates opportunities for all of us to play together in different ways. I woke up Sunday morning and came down stairs to find my boys playing in Toy box mode together.

Gabe was playing as a rotating cast of villains and creating a little story for Noah who was playing the good guys. They were creating their own adventure. “Venom captured a police officer and took them to the top of the tallest building Noah!, You have to come rescue him!” I heard Gabe say as I walked into the family room. I don’t know how you “review” that. What number do you assign to the experience of cuddling with your kids in your pajamas on a Sunday morning and playing a game together?

-Gabe out

Tycho / 1 week ago

We were invited by NASA to see the SpaceX launch with our sons, though the weather didn’t cooperate while we were there and it had to launch the next day.  The trip was rad, though.  A trip whose core purpose did not occur still managed to be rad.  So, imagine how rad it must have been.  We brought Van (who does PA: The Series) over with us; I think there’s still something good there.

The boys got along very well, all things considered.  Also, you can be very interested and even obsessed with technology and still be surprised by how fast it moves.  You adapt to the new stuff.  But if you don’t know anything about “film,” or winding cameras, or exposure, the opaque little boxes we handed them were not cameras in any meaningful way.

The “launch” was scheduled for two-sixteen or so in the morning, which these boys were not aware was a real time.  In what will no doubt be the infinitive form of a verb whose conjugations will haunt him all his life, I allowed Elliot two, perhaps three sips of Coke.  Already, gruesome permutations have emerged.  I essentially have an eight year old teenager, one who maintains in Iron Maiden in reverse, until such time as he runs out of food or whatever in there and emerges all sweat and need.  He is not wrong to suggest, as he so often does, that virtually every part of these arbitrary hierarchies is bullshit.  The only advantage they have, really, is that they are infinitely preferable to the abrasions of the Chaos Winds.

I gotta perform my sister’s wedding this weekend, which is exciting because I’ve never written anything like that before, and also because of love or whatever.  I have the seed crystal of it, and it’s forking out through the solution now.  Making such an endlessly iterated ritual singular without the use of American Ninja Warrior-esque challenges or at the very least a timely murder is going to be tough.  I think I might like her girlfriend better than her, though; maybe on the form I fill out after the ceremony, I can make her girlfriend my sister and and make my actual sister the one I am now obligated to endure.

The upshot is this: the next time a couple asks me to jokingly perform a marriage ceremony at PAX, they’d better mean it, because I’m all ordained and shit.  Now, the spell of binding is terrifyingly real.

(CW)TB out.

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