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Tycho / on Fri, Sep 4 2015 at 10:58 am

Max Max has been a pretty good medicine for returning to normal life, I would say.  I have applied it to every exposed surface and I have been improved thereby.

When it comes to the consumption of game news, I am - as in all things - drawn to the edge case.  For instance, when I see a screenshot, I prize high resolution shots of the user interface far more than any other thing.  Recall that, like Prometheus, we have gifted mankind vital tools for living.  In our case, we fashioned the term Bullshot, which encompasses fraudulent promotional imagery, certainly - but virtually no still shot has any utility to the game enthusiast.  Like a back of the box shot or the tiny window into a game universe printed in a magazine, they can spark interpolations on the part of the viewer and that’s about it.  An interface shot communicates a wealth of data about the aesthetic, cognition, and experience of a game.  I’m always seeking them out.

Likewise, individual reviews are only as useful as a particular star on Orion’s Belt.  They can gesture at a whole, but typically represent gesticulations or (in the case of the recent Metal Gear Solid reviews) genuflections at best.  None of this is meant to say that they shouldn’t be written, just that they indicate a continuum and, like Pringles, should never be consumed individually.  Though, for my taste, I feel very confident reading a review by Jeff Gerstmann, reviews are tools.  One is rarely enough to result in anything meaningful.

So it is only when there is a strong disparity of review scores that I take serious notice.  I don’t entirely know what purpose it serves giving Mad Max a 5, but I don’t believe it’s correlated in any way with the product.  I think this number is a tool designed to make me talk about the review, and I have taken the bait because I’m tired and it made me angry.  One may say “this number is an index of someone’s personal experience, and therefore cannot be wrong,” but that reasoning can be likened to a pirate’s cove, where villains take refuge.  If the number only refers to the interior geometry of your skull, unmoored from any shared consciousness, maybe numbers are not for you.  Maybe you should score games using the names of bones.  Maybe you should score games using Nordic women’s names exclusively.  Maybe this game is a Solveig, but this one is more of an Adelborg.

I could quit the game tomorrow and it wouldn’t be anything akin to a 5.  You could fire the harpoon once, just one time, hauling a sniper from his perch down, down, into the hot sand, and once the frenzied high-fiving had ceased you might feel the game had already earned its keep.


Gabe / on Thu, Sep 3 2015 at 1:45 pm


I took off yesterday and played Mad Max pretty much all day. It’s a fucking great game and I ended up sketching Max this morning to warm up.

Also, while at PAX I was invited to the Nvidia booth to draw something in a program called Tiltbrush. I ended up drawing the Fruit fucker and it was super cool. It’s basically painting in 3D using the HTC Vive. Each brush stroke I made hung there in the air and I could walk all around it. It’s fucking bonkers. Here’s a video of the final result. This view is a person watching my painting replayed at super speed. In reality it actually took me 30 minutes to draw.

If you liked that one, here is another. This one is by my friend Eka who was kind enough to export both these videos for me.


There were a few other artists who took part as well and I think Nvidia will be putting together a video of all the pieces.

I honestly cannot wait to have one of these in my house.

-Gabe out

Tycho / on Wed, Sep 2 2015 at 11:50 am

When precisely a PAX ends is a philosophical thing.  As I learned after the inaugural PAX South, for many attendees the show actually goes late into the night after the closing ceremony - and for Enforcers and Attendees, the show must be reduced to atoms and then transmitted to the next location.  For me, PAX has two culminations: one, after we honor the Enforcers at the afterparty, and two (as previously described) when my phone is provisioned on my home network.  Both things have come to pass.  The portal is closed.

For my part, though, I am still ringing with it.  We are so tired we can barely manage the act of sitting and moving our fingers with intention.  I haven’t returned to my original state, and to be frank, I don’t entirely remember who I was before.  I will have to make a serviceable being from the limbs and meat I find within a couple yards of my current position, and see if that organism is up to the task.

I want to thank Nintendo for letting us have one of their Super Mario Maker kits for the Omegathon, which was double fun, because I’d spent a little time each day floating the idea under my breath that the final round was in fact Rocket League.  I would say this in a way that suggested that I was taking the person into confidence, which is a little mean, but yeah.  I’m not the monk, or the frog, or the turtle in the story.  I’m the other guy.

We had Morgan from Nintendo backstage with us, the creator of the level, which is a Super Mario version of PAX that takes you through the show’s traditional touchstones - Tabletop, PC, that kind of stuff.  They mean to release this level eventually, you’ll be able to test yourself against it.  But the reason we had him on hand was several-fold - we wanted him to see his level “performed,” certainly.  But believe this: the final round of the Omegathon was two or three runs away from our Armageddon Scenario, where we would haul Morgan on stage and let each contestant change one thing about the level and try again.  Which, honestly, would have been the most incredible commercial for Super Mario Maker ever, but I digress.  The level was mean as hell.

Of the two Omeganauts in the final round, Mighty was clearly the crowd favorite.  Outside of a frenzied, borderline bestial run by his opponent Lysander on one of his first playthroughs, his opponent’s performance had reached borderline fiasco status.  The crowd wanted him chained to a rock and pecked by birds.  As a PC gamer primarily, Lysander was plunged into a well of darkness.  Or was it quenching oil?  Because after another strong set of attempts by Mighty, Lysander rolled through the entire thing - he even ran underneath the final boss, a completely legitimate and recognized play for the Super Mario Bros. stalwart.  Indeed, he was past the boss, and threw a couple half-hearted fireballs until he realized that against all fucking odds he had won a trip to the Tokyo Game Show.  There are long odds, and then there are odds which require a PhD and a couple weeks use of the Large Hadron Collider to parse.  This was the latter kind.

I talked to Mighty afterward, and he said something that I’ve heard the whole time about this crop of Omeganauts: they shared tips, they backed each other up.  Lysander learned a lot from Mighty’s runs, and got through; some measure of must accord to Mighty also, which is how the final round was designed.  I’m very glad they were able to pull it off at all, though; after a half-hour or so of this performance, I pictured Gabriel and I on this stage for the next ten thousand years, while the Benaroya center and indeed our civilization at large crumbled and was rebuilt around us, never ceasing, in a hell dimension of our own twisted manufacture.


Tycho / on Mon, Aug 31 2015 at 9:44 am

I couldn’t get my mouse to work on the desk in the hotel, but I saw a little glossy advertisement for Hiveswap my son had been delighted by, and that is now my Mousepad.  So!  Thank you, Hiveswap, even if I find your subject matter indistinguishable from an lunar apocalypse cult.

I’m still getting used to the idea that there is a post I need to write during the show.  Like crossing the metaphorical streams, trying to stop this hurtling contraption at any point before its conclusion seems like a super bad idea.  That said, there have been three solid days of strange happenings and much of it has been noteworthy.

My friend Gabriel has just announced that we’re working with Mike Selinker and Lone Shark Games to bring not just his Thornwatch game to market but the entirety of the Eyrewood - Lookouts and Daughters are also along for the ride in what can only be called a triptych of hive runes.  I have a sensation that this change is going to impact me far more than Gabe, on the writing side; I’ll keep you up to date.

Acquisitions Incorporated was well received on Friday, and having the last slot of the night meant we could go for almost four hours and it was hashtag nbd.  I don’t know if I’ve described the phenomenon, but I’ve never really gotten used to being on stage and I still find it very scary, when I am conscious of it.  It became clear a couple shows ago that what makes these events survivable is that I black the fuck out up there.  I will come off stage, and someone will say it was great, and I will ask them to tell me what happened because I don’t actually know.  But the first Acquisitions Incorporated shirts are out at this show, I’ve just finished writing what is functionally a parody of gamemaster’s screen you’ll be able to buy, and I think it’s time to start taking this thing very, very seriously.

The thoroughly experimental Make a Game panel, a scion of the traditional Make a Strip panel that produced today’s strip, was completely fucking insane but not in a bad way.  It was like Iron Chef for boardgames which, come to think of it, is a pretty good fucking hook.  We had an hour, except that technical challenges conspired to rob us of fully fifteen minutes, leaving us with even less time.  I suggested alien pornography as a theme, and I stand by it, but ultimately we settled on the distant world of Delicatessa, a far-flung orb where sandwiches were first to crawl from the ooze and claim the land.  Their wars of supremacy defined the gameplay, catalyzed by real-time dice mechanics which startled the design team - that is to say, the creators of those systems - with their power.  It was very stressful, but everyone involved seemed to think it was something that should happen again, which is really what you’re looking for in a phenomenon.


Gabe / on Sun, Aug 30 2015 at 9:56 pm

Eyrewood Adventures!

I know we’ve been really quiet about Thornwatch and there has not been much from the twitter but there’s been a good reason. Behind the scenes we’ve been working on some really cool stuff. The Thornwatch panel just wrapped up and it was a big one. We made a couple announcements that explain why we went dark there for a bit. I know not everyone can make it to PAX though so I wanted to share it all here as well.

The first one is that we have partnered with Mike Selinker and his company Lone Shark Games to develop and produce the game! Mike is an amazing game designer and his teams have made tons of cool stuff that I am sure you’ve played. Games like Betrayal at House on the Hill, Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition and more recently the Pathfinder Adventure card game. He’s got a great team and now I feel like we finally have the expertise/experience we need to get this game on shelves.

The second big announcement is that Mike Selinker didn’t want to make Thornwatch all by itself.  When he thinks about games he thinks on a much bigger scale than me. Mike didn’t just want Thornwatch, he wanted the entire Eyrewood. So Thornwatch will now be a part of:

Now we’re talking about a series of games that will explore each of the three Eyrewood factions. The Lookouts, the Thornwatch and the Daughters of the Eyrewood!
The core mechanics that I developed for Thornwatch will now provide the core for each of these experiences but each of them will also include mechanics that make the different factions feel unique while still being able to play together. For example the Lookouts game will include things like character progression and the acquisition of badges. Your lookout will get stronger as you play which is something that’s not a part of Thornwatch proper.

Playing as a Daughter will also have it’s own feel. They are like apex predators with zones of control. They manage the forest, its creatures and resources in a way that the other two factions cannot.

Even though each group will have it’s own unique feel you will still be able to play them all together. Mechanics like wounds in hand, and the Momentum deck will still tie them all together. This will be a family or products that will blow the lid off the Eyrewood. Jerry and I are going to dig deep into these factions and tell some really cool stories. Beyond that though we will be giving you not just a little portion of the Eyrewood to play in, but the entire thing!

-Gabe out

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