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Tycho / on Mon, Feb 17 2020 at 12:01 am

I love falling back into The Division. The cover-based shooting gallery just works for me; it's only gotten better (for the way I play the game, at least) after they really goosed the damage skills put out. I have a sniper turret I can deploy that fires Eiffel Towers, judging from the damage; it has its own cooldown between shots, so between that and the precision rifles I'm already using me and this weird little robot essentially form a sniper team just between the two of us.

So, obviously I'm super excited for this new Division Shit. That makes one of us, I guess. The Coney Island teaser for the expansion they just dropped was rad, and I have Classified Assignments from the Season Pass to crank through.

Classified Assignments are very important to the true hardcore player becuase one might receive a cute, food-themed animal to hang from your backpack. But, strangely, these are where some of the best environments, gunfights, and lore are also. The Division 2 is a very strange beast when it comes to lore, and it's not clear why they chose to do it this way, but compared to the first game there wasn't a strong effort to create relationships with NPCs through strong writing and characterization. Narratively, it's like the slightly dancing image of a VHS on pause; not truly in motion, not truly in stasis. It's not until the Season Pass content that you start to see an attempt to tell cool stories at all, stories that firmly link the games together. That's what they're getting at with the Warlords of New York expansion, moving the "real" story forward - meaning Aaron Keener, and the First Wave. Iykyk, as they say. But the expansion also brings with it Title Update 8, which everybody gets, and represents their latest thinking internally on the kind of game they want it to be. I'm very interested in both.

I'll be jumping on the stram with Ryan Hartman at 2pm, pausing our Legends of Runeterra momentum briefly in the interest of cooking up some filthy horseshit in Slay The Spire.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Fri, Feb 14 2020 at 12:25 pm

The Geoff Keighley news - specifically, that he wasn’t going to manifest as a kind of E3 Avatar this year - is beyond fascinating.  But also not surprising, I guess?  It just seems like the latest event in a causal chain so clear that it bears predictive power.

Simply dropping out would have been sufficient to churn the cauldron, revealing hints of tantalizing beef.  But he said he wasn’t comfortable participating in the event, based on what had been communicated.  Now, when he says “communicated,” I assume he doesn’t mean “leaked.”  Because that would already be a reason to be mad.  It’s more about the slow-mo, reverse origami identity crisis of the event in general.

This language, though.  This language.

We’re as clear as we can be in the strip while retaining the rhetorical framework that allows it to remain a comic.  That’s just our best guess.  E3 is a pillar, like - let’s choose examples at random, and not because Nidhoggr is gnawing at their roots - the NFL, or the WWE.  But this is a time of molten uncertainty in general, the realization that our foundations are essentially just a thick slab of calcified assumptions that might not even refer to reality at all.  Just rituals that, like insulating foam, expand and fill the space that difficult, necessary cognition would.  These instabilities have transformed our society into a buffet for narcissists, but if it’s any consolation, they made the old system too.  Did that help?  Don’t answer.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Wed, Feb 12 2020 at 12:01 am

BioWare is committing themselves to "a longer-term redesign" of the Anthem experience, wherein they "reinvent the core gameplay loop with clear goals, motivating challenges and progression with meaningful rewards." To put it like that, to type it, to think and know it, means that it didn't have those things. Those are fundamental things. I wonder how long that sentence took to type.

I guess the strip is mean or whatever but it's nothing they don't know over there. And being nice isn't gonna fucking help anybody. I don't think sentiment can survive this next bit. They need to be looking at the biomass that game represents in the way that a falcon looks at a hare.

I've seen nothing turn into something more times than I can count. I've even done it, on occasion. But they aren't even starting from nothing: a lot of the thinking in terms of how things feel, the tactile aspects of the game, aren't the problem. The Javelins aren't the problem. The look isn't the problem. These parts of the game's loop actually held Mike's interest for a significant amount of time, inside a disjointed, staccato world and activities he endured because he wanted to be in there so much. That's not nothing.

I only hope they're actually allowed to do what they've undertaken here; I can't even imagine what the pressure to embody and ennoble a BioWare in decline must have been, to make good on that Faith. They must have felt it like a physical weight. Look, I love a good redemption arc. I want to know it's possible, for all of us. I want them to have it. And I think they can.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Mon, Feb 10 2020 at 1:14 pm

The third panel originally had substantial percentage of Witcher references - nearly one hundred percent, by volume - but the final version of the strip leans more heavily into synthetic cathinones.  But then the title stayed?  I don’t know.  I’m leaving it.  At some point in your “ouvre” you have to start studding your work with incongruities just to give historians something to do.  Let the studious inheritors of this archive say that this is when Early Onset Coot Disease finally began its lethal arc.

As for the first panel, though, he really should have known.  I read the fucking magazine cover to cover every month.  The show Lego Masters actually reminds me of Strip Search a little bit, in terms of how conscious it is of the fundamental ridiculousness of the premise.  I like the frankly weird tone Will Arnett delivers, perforating the affair, sawing through a bridge he is currently standing on.  But it took me a little bit to warm up to it.  I had a similar feeling when watching Nailed It on Netflix.  Once I understood that they were “nailing” the show itself, that is to say, Not Nailing it At All, and they knew it, I was onboard.

The cast of human beings they’ve chosen to compete in this thing are a crew that nourishes the spirit.  I love seeing all the different kinds of people who derive meaning from these bricks.  Except for that one lady.  I’m glad that she likes to play Lego, that’s awesome and a testament to them.  But I think she’s possessed or something; occasionally she will smile, and you can see flames through the seams of the body she was issued in hell.

Gonna try some more Legends of Runeterra on the stream at 2pm with Ryan, to see if we can get squeeze anymore juice from this Spider Deck.  Out here in the unkempt hedges at the edge Ranked Play, you can do okay with a few spiders and a dream.  I’ll be curious how much further we can get without getting under the hood and really looking at what we’ve built with an unsentimental eye.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Fri, Feb 7 2020 at 12:01 am

I love the first part of a CCG.

Part of it is almost certainly that I tend to have the greatest success in that molten, primordial stage. I don't mind losing if I understand a system - in fact, I really like losing when I know why. Because if I understand how it happened, I don't need to lose that way again. It's actually a great comfort. In wargaming, your "list" is your army essentially - the type and number of units you've brought to the table - and I've changed functional, dangerous, proven lists just to try new things, which is generally a euphemism for Losing. I'll change factions if I win too much, which... I don't know.  I don't know what my deal is.  I feel like if I got an MRI, the image that came up would just be the eyeroll emoji.

If Brenna wants me to get more than three things from the store, it's understood now - more than twenty years in - that she needs to text them to me. Up to three is fine. Anything beyond three is zero. Something like that happens when the first new set comes out for a card game; I can't really hold it in my head anymore, so I can't lose in the nourishing way I've described above. I hope I can hold on to Legends of Runeterra a little past that this time, because I really like its thoughtful pace. That is to say, I hope it's possible to retain something like that.

I've also seen the strange creatures that true, worshipful adherence to the meta creates plus the rancor that can be generated among people you then have to work intimately with on something of import that has a severe timeline associated with it. Why yes, I am describing real events. One medicine for this is to play against strangers online, with which no intimacy is required or desirable, but even here do these strangers manage to synthesize new torments.

(CW)TB out.

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