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Tycho / 23 hours ago

Fortnite was always trying to get me to add 2fa, like… a lot, but it wasn’t until Apex hit that they started pushing free Battle Passes on me.  My email was full of it, and through the blinds as I was waking up I thought I saw a cloud shaped like a Fortnite entreaty.  Then, when I ironically opened Tik Tok it came up at the very beginning, obscuring the e-girl factories, Senzawan permutations, and the unlikely, enduring vigor of Mia Khalifa.

I heard someone whose job it was to promote games tell me that if your game isn’t near the top of Twitch, it doesn’t exist.  Not literally, obviously.  Twitch concurrency is not yet what undergirds existence.  But for the people who pay him, it might as well.  Apex Legends has dominated Twitch since it hit - Fortnite was always there to the right, in literal and figurative second place, except now they’ve put it farther away for some reason even though it’s the next biggest one.  I find that interesting.  At root, though, Twitch Viewers are - by definition - people who are not playing games.  Is that the mortar we want to build our companies around?

Because I am an ancient tree whose bark is shot through with mystic whorls, I’ve seen the “core metric” change many, many times.  In advertising, it went from “page views” to “uniques” to whatever was the new one after that.  Actually, I think the one after that was “No wait, what we want is for your entire company to do is pivot to video if you want to continue existing.”  Now, in addition to concurrency,  they want people to watch the content for a certain number of minutes - it’s analogous to Kindle Unlimited, where “pages read” becomes the “core metric.”  Ostensibly these are all proxies for “engagement” which is a proxy for “quality” but even that’s porous.  The best you can hope for in media is that a billionaire pays to keep you around as a pet, the same way a supervillain might deign to have a white cat close at hand.

My understanding is that, as interesting as all this is to talk about, Fortnite hasn’t suffered appreciably in any arena save perception.  Keep in mind that Apex Legends has no mobile component, a realm which constitutes true, nigh Dwarven incursion into mainstream wealth.  There was still a compulsion to respond, because of this “core metric,” but they’re fine.  If they get hungry they can just eat gold.  All they have to do is just sit back and wait for EA to ruin it.

(CW)TB out.   

Tycho / 2 days ago

Level99 Games In the Studio

We have sponsored streams today, a couple of them more or less back to back, one for a game I own but have been too intimidated to learn and one for a game I have taught many people to play.  It’s all happening on our Twitch thing.  Thanks for stopping by, Level99!

The first is Millennium Blades, a board game about collectible card games(?).  In the fiction, a CCG - also called Millennium Blades - has been in print for over a thousand years.  The game starts on pre-release night, and as the game progresses you collect cards, trade cards, enter tournaments, and try to build your own legend.  It seems like a board game about the fantasy of card battling you might see in a cartoon?  The ideas are so big and the box is so large I’ve always been curious but never curious enough to offset the fear.  I’ve asked the designer to come up sometime and teach me for a couple years now and it’s fucking happening today at 12:30pm PST.  I wasn’t aware there was an expansion/storage solution being Kickstarted right now, so that’s probably why he’s up here and not just to teach me.  Which is fine.

The second game is Exceed, where fighting game characters are distilled into a single deck - there’s no CCG shenanigans, you grab a box the way you’d choose a character at the select screen in a fighter and you’re done.  I’ve played well over a hundred rounds of Exceed, so I’m already a fan, but it would be my pleasure to give you a tour of the game’s concepts and roster.  The latest set features Street Fighter characters, which must be considered the brass ring of fighting game licenses, and it’s really interesting to see how their styles and personalities have been integrated.  This tender portion of the stream begins at 3pm PDT!

I’ll see you there!

(CW)TB out.

Computer Stuff!

The last time I really took PC gaming seriously was honestly around the time the comic strip started. So, about twenty years ago I guess. I can still remember keeping up to date on the latest improvements in Voodoo graphics cards. As time went by I played on consoles more and more until I had fallen off the PC entirely. I usually had a laptop or something that could run a game or two but I lost track of where the technology went. About a year ago I decided I wanted to give PC gaming another try and so I bought a computer for the sole purpose of playing games. We even made a comic about it at the time.

I recognized what I was buying was not top of the line but I figured it would be a good start. I honestly wish I’d taken the time to talk with folks about my options and maybe built something from scratch. As it stands I picked up an Omen from HP and while it’s been a solid PC for me, upgrading it has been a bit tricky.

I’ve been playing more and more on my PC in the last few months. Kara and I switch from PS4 to PC for Overwatch and that really opened the floodgates. We started playing Sea of Thieves and Destiny 2 on the computer as well. When Apex Legends dropped I got hooked immediately but really noticed my computer struggling. The same thing happened with the Anthem demo and I started to wonder if it wasn’t time for an upgrade. I did some research but in the end it was folks on Twitter giving me great advice and helped me settle on getting the RTX 2070. Another Twitter pal mentioned that I should make sure my power supply will handle the new card and thank Jesus he did.

It turns out my little Omen gaming PC came packed with a 300w PSU and even better, it was non-modular which is something I didn’t even know existed until I opened the case. I hopped in the car and headed down to Best buy where I grabbed the new card along with a 750w Corsair power supply. Thanks Twitter friend!

Unhooking the old power supply ended up being pretty painless and the case had plenty of room to accommodate my new hardware. It was a simple matter (with my son’s help) to plug all my components back into the new power supply and I’ll be damned if it didn’t fire up and work the first time I turned it back on. I posted a couple pics on the tweeter of my handiwork and the hive mind was quick to point out that I had placed the new PSU in upside down. What’s funny is I was actually really excited to get back in there and flip it around. I even tightened a couple other screws while I was in there, just for good measure.

I am thrilled with the results. Apex Legends is not the same game I was playing on my GTX 1050. My other games scream at max settings and I can’t wait to see how it tackles Anthem. The problem now is that I have a serious desire to get back in that case and fuck around. The CPU cooler is garbage and the couple fans I have in there don’t even light up! Honestly this case is really holding me back I should probably…uh oh.

-Gabe out

Tycho / 3 days ago

EA’s premium digital offerings - EA Access on Xbox and Origin Access on PC - grant early play for their titles.  Except when it doesn’t work, and you got the same error message people were getting in the betas.  I once suggested that EA games came with “free misery,” nearly ten full years ago, and it’s a policy they’ve maintained with pride.

The problem isn’t with subscription services or VIP access or whatever; it’s their bits, they can apportion them however they want.  And clubs are fun, I like clubs.  But it also has to work.  Am I still salty that I signed up for it to play Mass Effect Andromeda, and then Mass Effect Andromeda ended up being… Mass Effect Andromeda?  Look, there’s no way to know for sure.  Except that’s why.

I really warmed to Anthem over the course of the two beta periods, not enough to pay for the Fast Pass, but enough to believe that Gabriel wasn’t simply hosting a ravenous parasite in his skull when he said he was having fun with it.  Whereas The Division 2 beta was essentially an All Clear - hardcore PvP players have concerns that weren’t addressed by it, but the crew I play with mostly plies our trade on the PvE side of the equation.  What I came away with was that they hadn’t forgotten the lessons they learned over the course of the first game’s life, and they weren’t going to have to relearn them all, which was nice.  The only question for me is whether or not I want to buy Anthem if I’m only gonna play it for three weeks total, or if I should just play Apex Legends until Division 2 drops.

EA really can’t figure this shit out, can they?

(CW)TB out.   

Tycho / 6 days ago

The main new things I’ve learned about Apex Legends are as follows:  one, the Wingman is the return of the old Pistol from Halo.  Remember that?  How it was a pistol, but also kind of a sniper rifle?  Yeah.  Except here there’s also a mod for it called a Skullsplitter; I’ll let you tumble to its purpose on your own.  It is surprisingly, perhaps even comically effective. 

Two, the Ping system we already said was great is even cooler than I thought, because it works in places I never thought it could.  By which I mean, the inventory screen.  I can… tell people what I need?  Without having to tell them?  This is holy, and I praise the divine spark within it.

Oh!  And what’s more, we learned to parse the subtle nuances of the Ping system, and we’re passing these cognitive morsels on to you.

Someone who follows me on Twitter agreed with us that “Apex Legends” might leave something to be desired as a name.  The difference is that he did something about it, bending software to his will in the creation of a device that will generate a new name candidate every time you click the page.  He’s also making an RPG about Goblins and releasing it as a quarterly zine…?  And he’s Kickstarting it?  I don’t know this guy very well or anything but the two things I know about him are both cool.

Something I’ve been surprised to see has been Gabe playing shooters with the PC as his platform of choice.  A little bug in the lower right hand of my screen is forever informing me of this while I’m trying to enjoy my progressive indie content.  He’s playing Apex Legends and Overwatch on PC - connected to a Discord, no less.  I am not in this Discord, I should say.  I was not invited, because he, Amy, and their spouses want to win.  If these games tracked wry observations that call into question everything we know, then…  fuckin’... I’d be festooned with accolades.  Like… festooned.

(CW)TB out.   

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