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Tycho / 2 weeks ago

Oh, man.  We’ve got it super bad for Has Been heroes, both of us now.  What’s weird is that I told him specifically, “Hey, this is a mechanic I think you’ll find interesting, but please do not take this as a recommendation.”  He was playing it when I came in the next morning, and he was in the part of the game where you are hitting your head against it so hard, so very hard, and you are wondering why you would hit your head against it even one more time, when suddenly a crack appears.  We’re gonna play it on the stream today at 3:30pm PST, if you want to see what I mean.

I did have a few tips for him, mostly because I’d already run the battery of the system down to nothing three or four times.  The tips might have been about the game, but they may also be broadly applicable.

The most recent generation of consoles constitute highly specialized computers, more than usual.  I’m not saying that’s good or bad, but it does place them in the same continuum as the desktop machines that have been supplanted in sales and mindshare by laptops, smartphones, and other hybrid slates.  As I said before, “The Last Console Generation” has somehow morphed into a deeply truncated sequence of generations, where you’ll be asked to buy a new one every three or four years.  It’s still the same thing, though.  The Switch is not the same thing; this is seismic.  I just need a couple more things from it, and they’re all quite possible.

- Video Apps: I needs ‘em.  I don’t understand it entirely, but the WiiU became the go-to machine for video in my house.  Video capability - either for tablets or for home systems - is an expectation now, and the Switch is both, so its absence is strange.  So strange that I suspect it will be swiftly remedied.  It’s a signpost on the path to making the device indispensable.

- Cloud Saving: Even if you have a plump card up in, saved games live on the internal storage.  This is a big deal for some people, which I understand, mostly because we don’t really have much power over that data - but ultimately this data needs to live among the clouds, keeping it secret and safe, and making itself pull-downable anywhere I want to.  I hope this is is one of the unannounced features coming to their Online Service in the Fall, because info on that is pretty thin.  I want to see what the true Nintendification of Online means.

- Selection: In truth, the Nintendo Switch need be nothing more than a device that plays new Nintendo games, Nintendo eShop titles, their back catalogue, and the dank indie shit I puff on.  Give me Monster Slayers, Age of Rivals, fuckin’... Overcooked.  The ultimate destiny for the Switch is to become the premiere home for Monster Hunter, though - I have every faith - and there could be no more supreme platform for it.

(CW)TB  

Tycho / 2 weeks ago

AcqInc: Morgaen and Viari Tees!

Here’s the newest additions to the team, transmuted by forbidden sorceries into wearable garments!  Enthusiasts, of The “C” Team thus far unserved, I hear you.  We’re moving on it.


(CW)TB

Tycho / 2 weeks ago

Gabe and Kara entered the Skin Mines to…  actually, let me generate another metaphor.  I don’t want the mental image of a “Skin Mine” sloshing around in my skull-zone.

Gabe and Kara undertook the necessary rituals to get the Officer D.Va skin, enduring long.  I like everything about Heroes of the Storm except actually playing it.  It’s incredibly beautiful; I’ve executed the program just to look at skins.  I think of it like a nice shelf which contains a collection.  I really enjoyed Cho’gall conceptually and liked that this was a place to experiment with neat concepts.  I think of it like Team Fortress 2 in that respect - another beautiful game I don’t really like, a place where neat things occur at arm’s length.

I should establish that me liking something or not liking something is not core sample of a game’s quality or an indication of its secret heart.  I only say it because you know me by now, and may be able to triangulate between yourself, myself, and Grobachev, who doesn’t really connect with it either.  It is very weird to respect and endorse everything something represents while not being able to advocate for it.

Has Been Heroes is my favorite game of the year so far, it’s not a close race in any way.  It has a 52 on Metacritic and an overall Very Positive on Steam, which, you know.  PCMR.  But let’s go into it.

  First, I understand why the Metacritic is where it is, even though I’m tempted to preemptively denigrate its output by calling it “Metashittic” or something in that vein.  The reason so many have bounced off it is because the game has done a uniquely, almost inconceivably bad job of communicating its genius.  In addition, the playstyle of the game is a brilliant marriage with the Switch hardware, but the UI is Goofy Gus when it comes to how it exposes the equipment you buy on there.  The whole lower left of the screen needs to be conceived of in a radically different way.

This is a game which is ostensibly some kind of lane combat thing, or maybe it’s in a rhythm vein with its three lanes of foe interactions, like a necrotic variant of Guitar Hero.  None of that is true.  This is a puzzle game, full stop.  You could tilt the screen left ninety degrees and see it: now, shapes are falling down, like in Tetris.  Is “Tetris” a Roguelike?  What if, instead of arranging pieces so they created horizontal lines - lines that were destroyed by the act of making them - what if we were negating shapes as they came down.  Right?  What if we were trying to match shapes as they came down, with shapes of our own.

For example: let’s say, just for kicks, that there is a two block, another two block, and a three block coming down in three distinct columns.  At the bottom of the screen, I have negative versions of shapes - a one block, a two block, and a three block.  I can swap them around to match their opposites.  The three and the Two are easy, I match like for like.  But I have the ability, every so often, to double one of my pieces and make it a two.  There’s that one sorted.  Now, when I do that, I knock those pieces back to the top - and when they return, they’re each decremented by one block.  Now, I have a one, a one, and a two.  And you’ve already begun to figure out how I might contend with them.

That is the puzzle game at the heart of Has Been Heroes.  Each of these puzzles is attached to a foe, with its own properties, but at root I need to counter their shapes with my shapes.  The way they introduce these concepts to players is a criminal enterprise.  It’s obvious to me now, of course, but only after hours of worship.  The whole world is based around a randomized state, and the further you get in, that state is enriched - sometimes by as many fifty items at a time.  New enemies, new equipment that modifies stats and effects, spells on timers you can use to fudge the systems, and loads of additional shapes - I mean, characters - to match up with this relentless flow of foes.  It’s the Roguelike thing, so you’re starting fresh each time, but even the early bits are kept novel by the unlocks you make.

It’s hard to recommend, but not because it isn’t great - it’s hard to recommend because it doesn’t know how to communicate about itself.  I can only truly recommend it to itinerant, ascetic philosophers in search of a new God.

    (CW)TB out.

Tycho / 2 weeks ago

Once you have been alive long enough, you begin to see the superstructure.

Everyone is trying to build the board from Mouse Trap but nobody has the instructions.  This is true as a figurative, but also as a literal.  There might be pieces missing but nobody knows for sure.  People older than you are always saying that they built it just fine, they didn’t have any problems, but it’s impossible to believe them because you can just look around and see they didn’t know fuck about shit.

My cadre were supposedly “bleak, cynical, and disaffected,” which I don’t feel applies generally, but it’s a completely natural response to the Lie Factory they made for us to live in.  Now it’s recognized that everything is true, and nothing is forbidden, or perhaps it’s the opposite.  Our experience was that of feeling the water starting to fill up behind the dam, and watching the cracks start to appear.  Watching the surface of something we had been assured was firm and eternal flex and bulge like flesh.

So I always feel sympathy whenever I see an article about how millennials are or what millennials are supposedly like.  Media can’t decide whether to shame them or wring them out; they’re shiftless rodents, but they’ve also managed to disrupt every industry…?  People build tools to live, and they make them from novel materials.  I don’t recognize them but they seem to work for you.  The only advice I would give is to start seeing yourself in this continuum sooner than later, because it’s going to help you a lot when the generation after you is injecting Yeezys into their eyeballs to get high.  It’ll give you a ground floor to help you process your obsolescence.

Speaking of Millennials:  Gonna leave up the request for designer portfolios one last day, and then we’ll start diggin’ through ‘em.  But: Hey!  We need a designer to help us fulfill our ancient destiny.  Send a portfolio to design@penny-arcade.com if that sounds like you.

    (CW)TB out.

Tycho / 3 weeks ago

It sort of goes back to the podcast for this week, entitled “Medley.”  For me, games are novel models of phenomena, keyhole glimpses into a manifold and incomprehensible reality.  For my longtime friend and ally Gurpy Grops, videogames are a visual medium, a novel way to experience art.  I start at the abstract and work down, he does the opposite.

In truth, I need never get to to the art.  He need never get to the underlying system (although if we’re maintaining the previous metaphor, it is an “overarching” system).  It is very strange to think that we are both adherents of a medium we were eating from opposite ends.  This is some Lady and the motherfucking Tramp shit.

I think Darksiders is a lot more clever than people give it credit for.  It’s true that some of the skulls are very large.  And there are a lot of them.  It’s possible there was a sale, I don’t know.  Some of the skulls have lava in their mouths.  I still stand by my original assertion.

  For Gabriel, Darksiders is a method of inhabiting the art of Joe Madureira.  He’s seen the materials released so far, and primarily detects a frigid void where the man’s influence had previously been.  If Joe Mad is not there, it isn’t even Darksiders by his definition.  He would direct you toward Battle Chasers: Nightwar, a novel mechanical hybrid by Joe’s new outfit Airship Syndicate.  I would direct you there also, only because it’s rad looking, and not as an explicit signatory on Gabriel’s campaign.

There’s information I need to make sure you know!  I don’t presume that a person sees every update, so I occasionally gotta tell you something you already heard.  I apologize in advance.

1. We need a graphic designer.  Here’s the post about it, but at the end of the day we need someone to work with Kiko, Gavin, and Dabe to define our presence as a cultural foundry.  Yes, I really talk like that.  Come work here, and you’ll see.  Hit ‘em up at design@penny-arcade.com with your portfolio.

2. PAX Unplugged tickets are on sale!  What are you doing Novermber 17th through the 19th?  Because I have a suggestion, and it involves tables.  Specifically the upper surface of the table, commonly known as “the top.”

3. In “The Sale That Is Not A Sale, Exactly,” our t-shirt prices are set to increase next Wednesday, from 20 to 24 bucks.  I talked about it a little bit on Wednesday, but there’s always more I could say.  I want the designers to have the best toys: access to superior materials, good partners, and novel processes.  Ultimately something had to give.  Just changing it with no warning seemed really rude to me though, and I wanted you to have a heads up.  If you want to grab anything before the price jumps, now is the time.

    (CW)TB out.




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