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Because art is the main way you manipulate Gabriel into doing what you want game-wise, he’s always been a big fan of Tearaway.  Also, he owns a Vita, and those with Vitae are forever on the prowl for an excuse to use them.  Except that a Vita is no longer required to play it now, because there is a remake of it for the PS4 called Tearaway Unfolded that has its phasers set to “charm.”  Gabriel was telling me about how it works with such glee that I suggested we should skim and then refine that glee for your use.

I feel like we’re at the top of the roller coaster, gaming wise, and we’re about to crest it and start collecting speed very quickly.  The 6th is sort of where it starts next; for me that means Disgaea and Rock Band, both legendary time consumption engines, along with a Transformers game from Platinum that I’m excited about for what is essentially no reason.  I can’t prove a single one of the assertions my heart has made about this game, but I will clutch that little hope in my hands and keep it warm.  Anyway, all stuff I want, on one day.  That’s why I’m glad that The Beginner’s Guide came out a little before.

I’m always trying to reverse engineer the creator of a game via what I perceive in their work - even though I know that’s not necessarily a viable methodology.  Something that routinely confuses non-creators is that a work might contain nothing that could be used to reconstruct a person’s character.  Work can certainly be created or edited through your own lens, sure.  But often, my perception of it is that it’s coming from somewhere else: dialogue that happens in my own head consists of things I deeply agree with and am, in fact, quite opposed to.  You wouldn’t be able to use it to find me at all, except in the negative space around it.  Painters generally use paint - an external medium - to make their work.  It can be like this with ideas, also.

There are autobiographical works, obviously - I’m not talking about those.  Except…  I don’t even think an autobiographical work necessarily says anything about a creator, anything useful anyway.  People are notoriously poor judges of their own character and tireless salesmen of their own virtues.  They are perpetually authoring fanfiction about their own lives, and I’m happy to take it as a data point, while fully expecting them to have sex with Vegeta at virtually any narrative juncture.

I wondered at one point, in this very space, what would happen when the “found works” we started finding were discovered on hard drives instead of past-due storage lockers, attics, and sheds - and that’s close to what we have here.  Check out the trailer if, like me, you are an unrepentant fancypants and are looking for ways to further embroider your leggings.

(CW)TB out. 

Tycho / 3 days ago

As my psychic aperture widened to encompass all, I realized that Gabriel was actually super gross.

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is doing exactly what I wanted, which is to get a DS in Ronia’s hands and make it feel like it’s hers.  Most games are too hard; the fun to stress ratio doesn’t work for leisure activity.  Minecraft in creative mode isn’t hard, by comparison, but provides no narrative impetus, which for her is probably worse.

I had mentioned that the lack of traditional game metrics was a sticking point for some reviewers, but if you’re a six year old?  Or if you are the supposedly omniscient satellite which revolves around one?  We need games like this.  The rest of that stuff can come later.  But, beyond the two classes of mortal I have just described: the motivation is to try and make people, or… animals, or whatever, happy.  It’s not a metric.  The “story” and the “actions” are part of a single, revolving, polychromatic orb that defies unraveling.  I think it’s a type of game our ordinary tools aren’t good at perceiving.

Something I like about it is that she has to really know letters and words in order to do the thing she wants.

This is the ultimate fucking scam, and its power is dark.  Scribblenauts isn’t considered an educational game, but it certainly should be; it should be in every house.  A copy should be provided to every citizen as soon as they know their letters.  I started letting my son play it, even though it seemed like he wouldn’t be able to put much together, and all the sudden he knew how to fucking read.  The loop is damn near sorcerous in its power.  Let’s say they sound out a word, and try to spell it in there.  Maybe the item they wanted comes up!  Now they feel like a Goddamned warlock.  But, let’s say it doesn’t.  Near matches come up.  Let’s say they choose the word they meant to write in the beginning.  Now they feel like a Goddamned warlock.  What if they choose another word?  Now they’ve learned a new word, maybe two words, made a new thing, and they feel like a Goddamned warlock.

This is scaled down from that, but a cute voice every time you choose a letter that reinforces the name of that letter is rad on every vector.  And if you want to find skirts - and you do, oh yes, you do - you need to know how to spell “skirt.”  It’s like a spell.  This power is itself a scaled down version of Pat Rothfuss’ Name of The Wind books, I guess, if the name of the wind were just, like…  “Wind.”

(CW)TB out. 

Tycho / 5 days ago

This was the conversation I had with Gabriel on his birthday, and we have rendered it for your consumption.  He’s basically impossible to buy things for, it’s a tremendous pain in the ass, but I have learned and thus absorbed an undulating truthwave: that you may purchase a gift for a father’s child and they will react as though you have purchased them two gifts.  I secured for his brood the “Guardian,” an Anki Drive car, which I am given to understand is a car.

That, uh… seems like an expensive hobby.

Something happened with Taken King: Kara decided to start in.  The three of us used to play games all the time, actually - mostly the more tactical shooters, like an R6 or Halo.  These days she goes by something else online, but when we were all playing as a group her handle was Orbital Strike and it was good.  It’s nice to pop the seal on the old jokes, and find that some of have retained their flavor.

It’s related to something else weird happening with The Taken King, which is I learned that I’m completely unable to play this game by myself.  Not skill-wise.  Enemy heads still erupt on cue.  I mean I just can’t fucking do it.

I really, really like Destiny.  At least, I thought I did.  Grob and I talk about it constantly.  I mean, there’s stuff we complain about, but it’s like Doctor Who - constantly complaining about it is generally understood to be the mark of the true enthusiast.  We complain about how we can’t just bring six people into the Court of Oryx and have to resort to the Digital Age equivalent of Voodoo talismans to play the game we want.  You know.  #justdestinythings.

It is in this spirit of authentic yet apparently porous enthusiasm that I sign on every night, in an effort to do the thing I thought I liked, but if nobody is on for two or perhaps three hundred seconds I shut the whole thing down.  Gabriel played the game functionally alone for almost a year, to great result; this kind of Formian industry is regular for him, in the same way that being blind is regular for justice.  I learned to play under optimal conditions, with an audience of friends helping each other, prepared to gaze on my works.  When they aren’t there, the game is just a pile of numbers stacked on top of each other.  I can’t find a handle.  It would be like playing, I don’t know.  Soccer, by myself.  Just running back and forth between the goals, and performing an increasingly small, ritualized “yay” each time it happened.

(CW)TB out. 

First Fifteen!

Today’s First Fifteen was pretty crazy. I’m not sure I ever would have tried a Godzilla game on my own. We don’t pick what we play though. Sometimes that’s cool. Other times it’s…less cool.

-Gabe out


Toy Games!

I’ve had the opportunity to play both Disney Infinity 3.0 and Skylanders Superchargers now. Ideally I think one of these ridiculously expensive games would suck and you could ignore it in favor of the other, but they are both pretty great.

The new Star Wars characters and levels in Disney Infinity are awesome but I have not been able to play much of it. My boys just want to play the Toy Box mode so I’ve actually played very little of the new content. In Toy Box mode my 10 year old builds levels and sets up fun stuff for the 5 year old to do. They play it together and they are both playing the game they want. The older one just wants to build and the younger one just wants to make Darth Vader fight the bad guys from Tangled.

I tried asking my boys if they liked 3.0 better than 2.0 and Gabe just grunted at me. “uh huh, WAY better.” he said over his shoulder as he built a landing pad for Olaf to land the Slave 1.

I think I may have to wait until they are in bed to try and play the new story sets with my wife.

On the other hand, Skylanders Superchargers is a game I play with my younger son Noah exclusively. I’ve played a bit of all the Skylanders but this one is by far my favorite. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the new vehicles but they are really fun. I bought the starter set which came with a land vehicle and a couple Skylanders. There are some racing sections now which are a ton of fun but there are also vehicle exploration sections. The way they handled these zones is really smart too. You control the car in this section just like you would a Skylander. Pull the right trigger to give it gas and then the left analog stick moves the vehicle around like it was a character. Push up to move up, and down to go down. This allowed Noah to control the car like a pro! When a vehicle is in use, one player drives while the other mans the weapons. The easy controls and incredibly forgiving level design meant that Noah had a blast driving the car and I got to ride shotgun so to speak.

After the first level was over I immediately made an Amazon purchase. I was so impressed by the car gameplay that I had to buy two more vehicles. The boats and planes are just as good in my opinion with each one introducing it’s own unique gameplay. In previous Skylanders games you might have run into a zone that requires a Skylander of a particular element to open. Well now you see a new zone that’s all water and you need a submarine or another that’s up in the sky and you need a jet.

We had some traps from the previous Skylanders game and I was curious how they would get used in this new version. The new portal had a slot for the trap to fit but they don’t behave like they did in Trap Team obviously. Dropping one of your old traps into the slot now turns that trapped creature into a Skystone card that you can add to your collection. You already know my position on collectable cards.

Anyway, both games are great and these are probably the best versions of them to date. They both get played very differently at my house which is interesting. On Sunday morning I went out trying to find Lego Dimensions. The first store I went to looked like it had been looted. I saw nothing but empty pegs and one Xbox 360 starter set. The second store I went to had a decent selection left and I managed to pick up a PS4 starter set and the Portal expansion. I would love to tell you about this game but I did not get to play it at all.

Gabe had a friend over and the two of them played it for hours. What I saw looked awesome. I didn’t get to play it but two things I saw really stood out to me. First was just how much building happens while playing. I guess I assumed you would build this stuff and then play with it but that’s not really the case. The instruction booklets for the stuff you build are actually in game. One minute they are playing a rad looking Lego game and then the next time I looked there was a big instruction booklet on the screen and they were pawing through real bricks and building. I love this.

The other cool thing was how Lego Dimensions uses the portal for puzzles. You need to interact with this portal all the time. Puzzles and enemy attacks will make you move characters to different parts of the portal which has a bunch of distinct zones. I saw them playing the game and then quickly reach down to move a character on the portal to a new spot in order to avoid an attack or break out of a spell!

The sad reality is that all three of these games are cool. If you held a gun to my head and made me choose one I’d probably go with Disney Infinity just because I feel like Toy Box mode is so great and of course Star Wars. The amount of fun kids can have in there building their own games, playing with the different figures and downloading new community levels is insane. All of these games are crazy expensive but I feel like if you want to talk about “bang for the buck” Disney Infinity comes out on top. I think you could safely choose any of these games though and have a great time with your kids.

Or by yourself after they are in bed.

-Gabe out

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