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Tycho / 1 week ago

Hell yes I joined EA Access to play Mass Effect: Andromeda over the weekend.  I don’t hate it.

Many, many years ago I went to a restaurant with Brenna that had a sommelier.  He was insufferable in precisely the way I respect, champion, and endeavor to exemplify.  He was clearly a Word Fucker, and actually opening his copy of the Merriam-Webster’s unabridged would have involved a Hazard Team and industrial solvents.  I don’t know anything about wine, which delighted him, because then he could project even more of himself into social space.  He described a vintage we had inquired about with a chuckle, appending: “Ah, yes.  That one?  Young.  And foolish.”

He was not making a moral judgment.  He thought the information was pertinent.  Being young and foolish can be delightful; it can also be youthful and unwise.

The stuff about the animations you’ve no doubt seen on virtually every news site calling attention to specific moments hasn’t been as bad in the moment.  Some of them, like the janked running on the stairs, I can’t even reproduce unless I run forward while rapidly alternating between presses of A and D.  I don’t want to tell people they’re doin it rong but that’s not my customary mode of interaction.  In any case, the problem for me hasn’t been the animation and it certainly hasn’t been the combat.  And I’m not opposed to Mass Effect: Inquisition in concept, but.  The writing in this game is young and foolish.

I have a reputation as “the one who likes shit,” so let me tell you now, thus augmented: I would not have finished the tutorial if this hadn’t been Mass Effect.  Right now, they are taking time from me the game has not earned - and they are only starting to earn their way back out of debt something like six hours in.  A charitable reading is that they are explicitly, as opposed to accidentally, channeling The CW.  I don’t understand why any of these people are acting they way they do.  I can’t tell you how much I hate writing this.

I ended up putting way, way more time into Mass Effect 3 multiplayer than I ever expected to, and I suspect that may be true here also, because it’s cut from the same cloth while absorbing the immediacy and impact of the new combat in general.  Also, doing these missions can farm resources for your character in the main campaign, so…  yeah.  We’re done here.  I’ve had very confusing instances of lag, though, lag that lasted the entirety of a single online match, but… I didn’t leave?  You wouldn’t believe how effective I was when everything was slowed down to a fifth the normal speed.  I suspect this is how Kiko sees the world.

So that’s why the reviews look the way they do, maybe.  It’s all people holding their own knees, muttering, rocking back and forth, wandering the halls trying to pull apart, rack, and sun-dry their feelings about it.  Thus far, I am mostly confused.

(CW)TB out.

Switch!

I’ve had a few weeks now with my Switch and that included a trip over to Boston. It is hard for me to separate my feelings about the console from Zelda: Breath of the Wild. So far the Switch has really just been a Zelda machine for me. With that said I still feel like the Switch might end up being the ultimate console for me. I don’t know how your house is set up, but we have a family room where we spend most of our time. It’s got the big comfy couch, all the video game consoles and the nice TV. It also has all the boy’s Legos and toys so it’s where we all hand out. If my wife is watching shows or the boys are playing a game I can still be in there playing Zelda on my Switch. I’m not playing a portable game or a different game. I am playing the real deal and when it’s my turn for the TV I can just pop the Switch into the dock and pick up right where I left off. This was already awesome even before I took my trip to Boston.

The flight to PAX and the stay there really sold me on the Switch. Having Zelda on the flight made the 6 hour trip feel like no time at all. I’ve played my 3DS before and I’ve watched movies but this felt different. This felt like having a real console on the plane and other than the uncomfortable seat, I might as well have been at home. Again, I wasn’t playing a portable game that I had picked up for the trip. I was playing my actual game that I am obsessed with at home, only 40,000 feet up in the air. Then when I got to my hotel room it was a simple matter of hooking up the dock and plugging in the Switch. Each night after the show I was back in my room playing Zelda on the TV like I had never left home. Since then I have taken it with me to all sorts of places. Waiting to pick up the kids at school, car trips and just back and forth to work. The Switch is perfect for how I want to play games.

Again, a lot of this has to do with how great Zelda is. If I didn’t have something I wanted to play everywhere I went, the ability to do so wouldn’t really matter all that much. As it stands though, Zelda has quickly become one of my favorite games of all time. The fact that I never have to stop playing it thanks to the design of the Switch is just icing on the cake. Breath of the Wild is an open world game that really doesn’t give a shit what other open world games are doing. They built this incredible space and filled it with puzzles and adventures that they don’t really tell you about. In most open world games they seem to feel the need to hold your hand and make sure there are clear goals and signposts to guide you along. They spent a lot of time building this world and they don’t want you to miss any of it. Zelda doesn’t give a shit if you miss something. Someone in my Twitter feed told me that “everything in BOTW feels like an easter egg” and I don’t think there is a better way to describe it. Every time I discover something in Zelda I feel like I’m the only person to see it. You are consistently rewarded for exploring or trying weird ideas. I feel like I am discovering this world, not just revealing it on a map.

The Switch doesn’t seem to track hours played in a very precise way. Right now it just tells me that I have played “more than 60 hours” of Zelda. I still feel like there is so much more for me to do in this world and I can easily see my play time going into the 100+ hours. That’s a rare thing for me (especially with single player games) as I tend to jump from game to game pretty quickly. I also have the attention span of a small bird and I am always distracted by the latest shiney game to hit stores. I had planned on playing Nier Automata after checking out the demo, but as it stands I have not even purchased it yet. I enjoyed the previous Mass Effect games but Hyrule is just too beautiful to leave right now. I had even intended to go back and play more Horizon: Zero Dawn, but I just discovered how to bake cakes in Zelda.

-Gabe out

Tycho / 2 weeks ago

In strips like Apophenia and Potential Thingness, we go into the type of puzzle that The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild has wedged in literally every crevice: puzzles you must recognize are puzzles.  The distinction I would make is that every time we think something is a puzzle in Zelda, it has been.  That might also be true in The Witness, but I simply wasn’t smart enough to perceive it.

The reward you get for these is a Korok Seed, what you might call a kind of “premium currency” of Hyrule.  They’re used to expand your inventory slots for various items, and you need those a lot, because when sometimes when you’re killing dudes you kill them so hard that your shit breaks.  It seems churlish to complain about a broken sword when you’ve just murdered someone, but here we are.

You redeem them with a creature called Hestu, or maybe he is a Hestu; he puts them in his maracas and does a wild dance, and then mystical energies issue forth.  These energies may be related to inventory slots or they might not!  It isn’t a hundred percent clear.  But knowing what a seed is, and knowing what it must mean to get it, is just… huh.  I don’t know.  Maybe they’re down with Hestu.  Maybe this is an aspirational arc for sentient plant people.

Yesterday was a big one for Acquisitions Incorporated, Faerun’s fastest growing adventuring franchise: we launched the adventures of The “C” Team.  You can meet them all here on the Official Staff Page, but in their first outing I thought they managed things quite well!  One thing I wasn’t prepared for was all this baller fan art to roll in on Twitter:


From @Sean__Evans

 
From @erdelas


From @nightslayerdan

From @lonniecomics


From @prinxemu

And one more, from our own Gabriel.

I could not have better players in Amy, Kate, Kris.  And Ryan.  The world we were building together wouldn’t go away; I had a very difficult time getting to sleep.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 2 weeks ago

We made a snipperstrip about Snipperclips.

What I love about Snipperclips is that I can’t really explain it in purely genetic terms.  Right?  Bulletstorm is Unreal plus Tony Hawk, that sort of thing.  Here’s what it is, or what your first impression of it will be anyway: it’s a cooperative, creative game at its core where you snip shapes out of your partner to transform their weird little nubbin body into a useful tool to solve puzzles.

You can show a person Zelda, but you can’t play Zelda with them.  Of course, when I sit down with Gabe and he’s playing Zelda, I’m basically telling him everything he should do.  So, maybe that isn’t entirely true.  I’m playing him and he’s playing Zelda, maybe.  Snipperclips, though, we don’t need to euphemize at all: the scenario in the strip is real, I’ve seen it.  They’ve made a game - and Nintendo has made a system - that you can share, in the manner of a snack.  This feels new.

Talking to Gavin, he expected - as I did - that the twenty dollar price tag meant something about how much stuff there might be to do in the game.  Except, inexplicably, the more stuff you do the more stuff there is to do.  My mission is to make the Snipperclips attach rate for the Nintendo Switch 1 to 1.

PAX has always been a profound context for Nintendo handhelds, one of the only places where their social functionality actually socially functions.  It was a test of the newly released Switch platform as well, this time: I saw a bunch of people playing them on the planes to and from, and each had a different way of using it that felt right to them:  one held the entire device with the controllers snapped on, one laid it on the tray and played with the controllers separate, one had the kickstand and a Pro Controller…  same platform, but all these intersections and use cases.  I saw people in lines playing it solo and multiplayer.  There’s no ready “bin” for this device, conceptually.  I have had to make space in my mind, and perhaps even my heart.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 2 weeks ago

Having discussed it with Gabriel, he says that Jim Darkmagic is more “magician” than “wizard,” but not in the synonym way. He thinks of him as a performer at root, one that occasionally becomes a piece of bipedal mystical artillery.  So finally hitting 9th level with him unlocked some fairly bonkers stuff in that vein, things for his growing toolkit of battlefield manipulation over direct damage strategy, and he made some cool stuff happen at PAX East.  We did have to have a conversation about when a magical person gets what shit.  I should talk to him about THAC0 sometime.

It looks like the newest Acquisitions Incorporated game just hit the video archive at Twitch, and you can find it right here.  I want to thank my friends Morgaen and K’thriss Drow’b for helping us lay it down up there, and if you’re interested in even more K’thriss, it’s coming - he’s part of Acquisitions Incorporated: The “C” Team, which starts next week!  If you’re interested in decidedly less Kris Straub, I’m sorry - that’s not one of the options.

People often ask me “How’s your PAX?” at the show, and I tell them it’s PAX - they know precisely what I mean.  I have my own rituals that I iterate annually here, and I added in some new ones this time.  I roasted a pound of coffee for someone in my mentions because they are a father also and I wanted to recognize it; I bartered coffee for crockery with the designer for the PAX Pokemon League.  I was the announcer at the final round of the Omegathon, where the incredible Steel Crate Games had cooked up a special competitive version of their cooperative masterpiece Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.  TechnoBandito and Amyzonian deactivated all their bombs, but in the end, last year’s runners up Aurelius and xxSoggyTacosxx edged them out on time in one of the most heart-stopping rounds we’ve ever had on the stage.

I’m always a little stunned when I try to unfold a weekend like this at the end, the archive is signposted with instances of me emerging blinkingly into the light after afterward.  The gratitude I feel is overwhelming: for the Enforcers, for the people I am privileged to work with, for the affection and enthusiasm of the PAXgoer, all of it.  This is something we do together.

(CW)TB




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