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Tycho / on Wed, Dec 27 2017 at 12:00 pm

When we were talking about writing comics, we ended up talking about the things enemies are always saying.  They’re always saying things, but the difference between a six to eight hour campaign and the nineteen hours I currently have in The Division means I have heard them for - at minimum - ten more hours.  And I’m gonna play another three hours tonight.  So, more.  Here’s a DLC I will pay for: one that makes every enemy speak a single part of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.  This guy is the oboe or whatever.  Consider it: you could remix the score in real time with your M249.

There are games that get around this, but beneath these techniques lie a dark truth.  And yes, that is indeed Gabe’s sketchbook.

I’ve tried to come back in to this Division shit a couple times, but the weight of the changes and additions reminded me of the times I endeavored to return to Azeroth.  I had a pally over there, and the class got rebuilt fairly often, abilities altered or oftentimes removed entirely, so that my action bar had the novel spacing of a child’s grin.

I had a bag full of arcane obligations, also.  Extractors of various kinds.  Teeth.  Straps.  I had everything required to invent a kind of eldritch dentistry.  I bounced off the game on these attempts, and I should have done then what I did here: start over from scratch.  Stop fetishizing the old play, and the old time, which apparently didn’t stick around anyway.  If the game is actually fun, or even comforting - in the way highly structured rituals can partition time and grant purpose - it will still retain value.

Now that I’m creeping toward max level on PC, I can load it up on my max level character on Xbox and it all makes sense again.  It might be that Gabriel does not have to suffer in the Eternal Dark.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Mon, Dec 25 2017 at 11:39 am

The Worst Day Of Christmas, Part Two

Here’s the second strip.  There might be another one, I’ll decide tomorrow.  Until then, another bit of “C” Team fic.  I’ll get the art from Ryan later, it’s fucking Christmas.) 

There were many tales of them, so many that it seemed impossible they all referenced the same pair.  In the manner of stories that wobble as they are told, though, every turn in the telling only seemed to gird the legend. 

They had a knack for being where they were needed most.  Whether it was towns with an overabundance of bandits, or, occasionally, bandits with an overabundance of morals, they had a way of changing the path of the river wherever they went.

A stubborn tale, one that seemed to hold its shape with greater vigor, is known as The True Knife.  The name of the town could change, but the events never did, which led the gatherer of tales down two paths: first, that many towns longed to be the source of it, and second, that it was possible (however improbable it might seem) that the events it described had taken place more than once.

The Pair - called most often by the names The Circlet and the Stone - had taken rest in a simple room whose cost they paid with the work of their hands.  Other tales implied some royal lineage for the two, how the eldest held her cup, or the strange oaths she swore, but “The Knife” was always careful to retain this air of common virtue.

While bandits massed outside the village, a rough Envoy was sent within to demand release of the Circlet and the stone she wore into their keeping, that they might derive payment for some slight they had suffered at her hand.  The old woman who owned the washing-house where the Pair dwelt held them in fondness, and would not reveal them, which drove the bandit into a frenzy of cursing and wildness.  When he drew steel, a dagger above his station, the Circlet and the Stone emerged from their place of hiding.  Over the old woman’s objections, and her plaintive gestures, The Pair accompanied the Envoy, who demanded that she leave the Stone behind, as they were not murderers of children.  As though she had not heard him, The Circlet left the gates with her jewel affixed, along with the greatest of her weapons.

The people of the town crept to the top of the low wall that surrounded the gate, and when this was full they boiled out the gate and around the edge, each with a tale of how they would enter the fray at the first sign of treachery.  All said it, but none believed it; not from themselves, or from the others.

The leader of this rugged band was called Harvest Frost, for it was said that he could glean even in the dead of winter.  He said that this band was his Sickle, and that they were Farmers of Farmers; that is to say, they harvested from those who harvest and this was the world as it was.  As he held forth about the natural state of things, she asked in reply if any who could claim his head, then, would rule the band, and it was at this time a light snow began to fall.

Harvest Frost suggested that, yes, this was in keeping with the untamed world, though when the arrow pierced his throat his surprise was apparent.  As the sender of this arrow raised his bow in triumph, asserting his rightful place, the bow was cut in two by an axe, along with all of his clever parts.  It went on like this for some time, each tyrant seizing the throne for a few doomed moments, until the next one took his place.  When she was satisfied that her blow would end them, The Circlet and her Stone returned to their labors in the washing-house, where her sword still lay.

Tycho / on Fri, Dec 22 2017 at 11:46 am

The Worst Day Of Christmas, Part One

I wasn’t there when it happened, but I’m told that Ronia and her incredibly smart friend Sarah cracked the case on this Santa shit, and Brenna folded quick.  I might have done more to safeguard the tradition, but Brenna occupies a realm of perfect honesty - a realm so dedicated to the virtue that our son had an operating knowledge of prostitution when he was five.

I should say I don’t have a problem with the policy.  I’d much rather train them to hit us up before Google, even if they’re going to Google eventually.  Generally speaking whatever “parenting” meant when people were doing it to me, I want to do the opposite of it.  I’m “parenting” when I’m nice to the waiter and not just when I’m reciting some catechism about fruit consumption.

There’s a point where the utility of the true information eclipses the joy of the mystic template and maybe that’s where we’re at now.  I’m down.  I have zero nostalgia for adorable but mewling and useless larvae and deep anticipation for when they’re gonna clean the fucking cat box.

So, like I was saying, The Division is better than we understood at the time and is now, with considered and even aggressive curation, even better.  I’m playing that.  Whenever I am not playing that myself and Acquisitions Intoxicated brewmaster Eric Benson are playing Minion Masters.

It’s a free to play game in early access that costs fifty cents on sale.  That’s probably enough to scare most people away.  I played it during our Card Game stream a few weeks ago, and as happens only very rarely I carried my fascination with it into the waking world.  It’s Clash Royale-y, if that’s a Genre yet, or maybe it’s Competitive Reverse Tower Defense with a LoL-style Champion metaphor.  It’s a “card game” insofar as you have a collection of units you have a “hand” of, you can summon them along one of two lanes, but the strategy is in what you summon, where, and when, because once they’re down there they do whatever the fuck they want.  Most of my initial play was solo, as it had been on the stream.  Then I started playing Team Battles, and now I only play solo if I enter the wrong queue accidentally.

Playing the game as a Team essentially adds the meta-layer where just being on Discord talking about cards takes on a drama equivalent to the field of battle.  Our decks are made up primarily of cards we got for free just in the levelling schedule, and my deck is decent solo but it’s really good as a force multiplier.

There’s an Expeditions thing that doesn’t really feel like it’s done yet even though Minion Masters is always giving you subcurrencies for them, but unlike most games of this type it understands that it’s engaged in a fundamentally ridiculous effort.  I can wait for that to firm up while I play the good game they made everywhere else.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Thu, Dec 21 2017 at 10:27 am

More Lore

Her mother called her Walnut.  First, because she was small.  When Walnut was less small, there were other reasons to call her thus.  She was sweet, but secretly so; tender, though few were allowed to know.  And there was power, too; great power, her birthright as a Daughter of the Enclave.  A sky-piercing power.

If only she could sit still.

Her mother pretended not to be delighted by the green sap that ran so quickly in her.  She may have invested herself in greater worry if she’d known how precisely the girl spent her days.

After a “bath” in the river which lasted approximately seven seconds, and the hasty, resentful assumption of a holy raiment which had remained sacred and unchanged for more than a thousand years, Walnut would find her way to the edge of the forest, there to watch the traffic on the Long Road.  Little roots and vines tried to guide her, as her mother had asked them to, back where she had come.  But they had promised Walnut they’d never tell where she went.  Plants are this way.

Hours piled upon hours, looking out from the fringe of the Kryptgarden.  She watched the carts go, wincing at the cruelties of the drivers, granting the straining beasts a portion of their old strength.  She knew what every scion of her order did, that they dwelled in the last perfect place, and it was only their vigilance that kept it from being devoured also.  It was hard to imagine that the reeking men and haggard beasts they tormented could ever have defeated the Enclave in the full flower of its might.  There must be something she didn’t know about these people, enemies all, the children of the children of the children who had destroyed the world.

She saw one in his high carriage seat, looking at something that seemed to spark in the air.  He shook his head, said something to it, and flung it over his shoulder.  It landed just behind him, dancing there a moment until it pinged off when the wheel became acquainted with a rut.  It leapt from the cart, winking in mid-air at Walnut and coming to rest with a puff of dust.

Walnut raised her left eyebrow at a squirrel.  Every squirrel waits for this moment; he knew his business, and he was about it.  It returned with the shining disc swiftly, and with great chivalry.  She dropped a couple berries in payment, and when she beheld the face of the coin, her heart seized at the sight of it.

It was there, on the scuffed metal circle, broad and plain as a leaf; the sign she had so long sought.  The war ever rages, and she was dressed to take part; the scimitar swayed from her belt with barely contained purpose, her crisp faulds a certainty.  She let the sun read the coin, also, to make sure she’d understood.  Omindran, it read; Omindran.  In the comely Elven her grandmother spoke, that bent with certainty like a young bough, before all the Sylvan words had shaken out.  Go in boldness, it said, and return in safety.

And she did.

Art assist today from Walnut herself, the magnificent Amy Falcone.  Here’s the full scale image, minus the trappin’s.

Tycho / on Wed, Dec 20 2017 at 11:03 am

At some point, Ubisoft - which had theretofore been enunciating the annual release deathmarch decreed by the Market Elders - decided to release a game and then stay awhile.  They also paused Assassin’s Creed, but I don’t know if they did as a corollary to the new policy or because they needed to plant legumes there because the soil was out of nitrogen.

I wonder if it was a heavy lift over there, rhetorically.  I think they make more bets of a larger scale than anyone operating at their tier and I think that annual releases are good for Quarterly Calls, but these two things are at odds.  The Crew wasn’t for me, but it took guts to make it.  It took even more guts to make it a living document.  Rainbow Six: Siege injured itself on landing, even though it was pretty clear to me and everyone I knew that this was one of the greatest shooters of all time.  I assumed, because of industry “wisdom,” that they’d revolutionized competitive shooters and it wouldn’t matter.  It wouldn’t matter because the dark physics of this shit would mean that they had to scurry around for some shred of investor tinfoil.  But they stayed around, and now this shit is bananas - bee ay en, ay en, ay ess.

Stephen Totilo writes about The Division with the very apex of his passion.  I saw him pop in with a cross section of the incredibly robust 1.8 update that just dropped.  If you’ve been gone for awhile, but you have a copy laying around, maybe his article will do for you what it did for me - start you back at Level One, with a group of friends who did the same, and discover that one of the best games of 2017 came out last year.

I tried unsuccessfully to get Gristle into The Division at launch.  They made an urban Ghost Recon with Splinter Cell’s best in class cover interactions and a unique MMO progression, but it’s “hyperreal” aesthetic didn’t parse for him and he was also up to his ass in what Kiko and I call “Destino.”  I think it’s got its claws in now, though.  Because of an interaction with Xbox Live on PC, Gabe thought I’d gotten back into it on the Xbox.  I had not.  He’s been very lonely for a long time and it’s a state that’s probably gonna hold indefinitely.

(CW)TB out.

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