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Tycho / on Mon, Aug 18 2014 at 11:58 am

Just as in days of old, the resting position of my hand on the keyboard naturally conforms to the QWER required for at-any-moment League of Legends play.  It’s got that kinda cats paw thing dialed in and I’m ready to hit them in my warded brush with my E, pop W on my way in, and Q anyone else fancy enough to remain.  I don’t give a shit, that’s fine.  I can dig two holes.

I have no idea what’s going on around me in the physical world.  It’s just not where I spend my time, I’m sorry; there isn’t much to recommend it.  Grabarr often gets mad at me because this policy results in various accretions.  Nor is Kiko enthusiastic about my heaps, which I think evoke the natural, organic industry of a desert termite mound.  I’d prefer if we didn’t discuss the ossified lo mein.  That’s neither here nor there.  Plus it’s fucking gross, and mars the carefully curated narrative.  I want to be the weirdo with the novel observations, not the weirdo with a septic wound from a super sharp noodle.

Until the piles grow so large that I might be crushed beneath them, they don’t require any cycles.  I’m open to the idea that these things have a psychic weight I’m not aware of, that they thicken my cognition just by being there, which is sometimes called the Brenna Hypothesis.  By me.  Because that’s what Brenna always says.

So, those are the real things.  But if you orient your sight orbs to the bottom of the second panel, you can plainly see Gmail is there.  Gmail!  Because while I have an iPhone, my device is utterly colonized by Google; most of the time I spend with the device - from the browser, to the mail client, to the maps - are all owned by another company.  I can’t delete the Mail app, or I would!  I sent an image file like a thousand fucking years ago because that’s the only option from Photos, and now I have whatever you would call the opposite of stigmata.

So he’s right, but for the wrong reason.  Which means…  I win?

(CW)TB out.

Gabe / on Fri, Aug 15 2014 at 1:10 pm


We’re preparing the Thornwatch playtest adventure for PAX Prime and it’s going really well. At PAX East we had people play the game, but it was really just a combat scenario. It was designed to test our card mechanics and our Momentum deck which manages initiative as well as monster damage. It was a great test and we got a lot of really useful feedback. Now with PAX prime coming up we’re ready to show off a more complete picture of what playing Thornwatch will really be like.

(The map is only about half drawn but they’re still having fun!)

The adventure we bring to PAX Prime will show off how we incorporate story into Thornwatch. This isn’t Dungeons and Dragons. It’s not an open world where you can go off the rails and do whatever you want. These are focused adventures that have a distinct beginning, middle and end. Players have the ability to affect the story but they do it through play. We’ve designed the stories so that the decisions players make during an encounter will determine how the story unfolds. Do you protect the NPC who summoned you even though it will make the fight more difficult? Do you use your cards to power your own attacks or sacrifice them to counter some environmental effect? You’re always playing, you’re always using your cards and maneuvering your character on the board but how you do that and the choices you make will change the fight for everyone and ultimately determine how the story plays out.

(click on this one for the big picture. This is a good example of how Thornwatch maps are designed to feel like comic book pages you play inside. The cards in a row there are the Momentum Deck, the Judge (GM) uses that to track turns and also manage monster health.)

PAX Prime will be our chance to show off not just how this system works but how it feeds into character progression. There are no levels in Thornwatch. You start the game as a bad ass capable of kicking ridiculous amounts of ass. You are a member of the Thornwatch, you’re already awesome. There is no gear, there are no items. Thornwatch members do not kill a skeleton and then check and see if its sword is better than the sword they have. Your character does progress though. Thornwatch members do not collect gear but they do collect “experiences” and those experiences are what shape your character and in terms of game mechanics, they are what modify your character’s deck.

After playing Thornwatch for a while your deck will be a sort of diary. It will be a reminder of your victories and your defeats. The scars and boons of past fights doled out based on the decisions you made will live in your deck and change the way you play. All of this is what we are finally ready to show off this year at PAX Prime and I am so fucking excited for you to see it.

(Thornwatch takes place in the Eyrewood so you’ll see lots of familiar faces like Lookouts and even Daughters of the Eyrewood!)

We have been testing this thing like crazy and the game is in a really great place right now. Last night’s playtest with folks who had not played the game since PAX East was a real high point for those of us on the Thornwatch dev team. Kiko recorded a quick video on his camera showing the players going through part of the final encounter. They are playing on a map that is only half done. The tokens are placeholders and the terrain isn’t even drawn in, BUT it works!

Watching people get this into something you’ve worked so hard to design is just incredible. It’s one thing to see them having fun, it’s another to seem them so invested in a puzzle you’ve poured your heart into. This adventure we’re bringing to PAX Prime is finally a real slice of what Thornwatch will actually look like when it’s finished. It’s a complex series of encounters with (what we hope is) a cool story and I hope if you are coming to PAX you’ll get a chance to check it out.

(Players will need to work together and combine their skills to overcome many of the games obstacles.)

Getting this game made and in people’s hands is going to be a big task for us. We’re nearing the home stretch in terms of design and now we need to start thinking about what the audience for a Thornwatch game looks like. If you’re interested in Thornwatch and you’d like to stay up to date on its development, it would really help us if you subscribed to the mailing list. There is a handy little box at the bottom of the official page that makes it super easy to get signed up. I promise not to flood you with bullshit mails. Once or twice a month you will get a behind the scenes look at the development process and a peek into my Thornwatch sketchbook. I know signing up for mailing lists isn’t the coolest thing to do but like I said, it would help us a lot and we will try to make it worth your while.

-Gabe out

Tycho / on Fri, Aug 15 2014 at 10:17 am

Playing as much Fates Forever as we did, those familiar lanes and interactions ultimately rekindled some kinda Goddamn LOL thing.  It’s sort of like how there are always collectible card games of one kind or another coming out, and they are good for whatever reasons that particular one is good, and then a new Magic release crops up and now you’re fucked again.  All paths wind up the hill, back to the Old Temple.

Getting back in has been a bumpy motherfucking road.  Getting back into Call of Duty typically involves securing the freshest release and then being pulverized.  But you can be pulverized immediately in League, once you update your client, and you might find that your champ has been altered or that the store has new items or that the items have changed.  There’s a skin that forms over the top of it, especially around tournament time, but underneath it the broth is always in motion.   

You have to adopt a kind of radical self-love to endure the treatment you will assuredly receive at the hand, or perhaps the raking scythe arm, of your competitors - some of which are huge bipedal insects.  You need to redefine victory as enfolding in its radiant arms “games in which I lost, but I did not comport myself like a mindless rodent.”  And we have endeavored to do so.

(I don’t want beef, but.  I believe League of Legends is more humane than DOTA 2 as a gameplay experience, to the extent that it represents an authentic sequel to DOTA.  We have a name for what DOTA 2 is, and it’s called an HD Remaster, a Director’s Cut, or a Remake.  It’s practically illegible as an eSport and the courier is dumb.  I believe all these things because I am even worse at DOTA than I am at League of Legends.)

The strangest alteration to our experience of the game is the ongoing professionalization of even casual matches.  I never bought a ward until a couple weeks ago.  Not once.  Jungling used to be optional, novel even.  Everybody ran 212, bought all their shit, and then collided with one another.  I wasn’t good before, but I could save you; I could make them regret it.  The pieces are all there, and the board is there, but the metaphysics have changed.  Typing it makes no sense, but I can’t wait to fail again.

(CW)TB out.

Gabe / on Fri, Aug 15 2014 at 10:03 am

PAX Australia!

Pax Prime is coming up quick but there’s another PAX on the horizon as well. On October 31st we’ll all be heading down under for PAX Australia. I’m really excited for this show as we’re moving into the larger Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. This is a beautiful venue and you can actually still get Sunday and Friday tickets if you’re interested in joining us.

We’ve also just announced the games in this year’s Australian Indie Showcase which highlights the best of the Australian & New Zealand Indie scene. You can see all the picks right here on the PAX AUS site and of course you’ll be able to see all of them on the show floor.

Last year was my first time visiting Australia and it was an incredible trip. My wife and I took some time after the show to check out the Melbourne Zoo. I’ve never seen a Zoo like it before. At one point we were trying to get someplace and saw a waist high wooden fence with a little gate. We walked through thinking we could get back on the main path. We quickly discovered it was actually a pen of some kind and was full of knee high grass. I found a small sign with a picture of what looked like some kind of cat sized Kangaroo. The text on the sign essentially said “You are in here with a Quokka.”

We ended up poking around in the grass until we found this thing and it was super friendly and ridiculously soft. I have to say It was the first time I had ever accidentally walked into an animal’s cage at a zoo.

-Gabe out

Tycho / on Wed, Aug 13 2014 at 1:35 pm

No Fucking Thanks

I went back into that Silent Hills “experience” and I think it was mostly a good idea to do so.

It sort of defies being played as a game, it really is a “playable teaser,” but it’s very smart about its limitations.  I have been playing Sightline recently, a spectacular Oculus Rift experience that toys around with vision and permanence, and the demo being in first person really made me wonder what the VR experience on this would be like.  It also made me really, really not want that.

The thing scared the shit out of me.  There have been many opportunities lately to feel first person dread, but they haven’t been this confident, this effective, or this advanced technologically.  Tonally, it’s hitting the notes I want it to.  Silent Hill is about going too far.  I’m on record as saying that I think Kojima needs an editor sometimes.  For Silent Hill, his status as an essentially untouchable creative furnace is the thing that will safeguard the piece.


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