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Tycho / on Mon, Feb 19 2018 at 10:12 am

I’d heard that the new stress test for Sea of Thieves was gonna be an actual stress test.  As in, they were gonna let us come in and try to break it while they were actively trying to break the backend as well.  Giving people an experience with your product you aren’t completely in control of and which can literally fail in random ways creates novel rhetorical and business challenges, which is why “betas” are mostly marketing and why when we purchase entertainment software it’s fucked a nontrivial percentage of the time.

The main difference I saw between this and the earlier version - the only difference that wasn’t an improvement - was that it could get very hitchy when you go above or below decks.  That’s not a behavior I saw previously, and it makes me curious about what is actually happening when you do that.  Still played it for hours.  I’m told there were several family scale voyages also.

I’ve fielded a couple questions on Twitter about what the “there” is in Sea of Thieves, and how it can be hard to see.  I can’t really sell it to you; I can just tell you what it is, because I don’t think it’s been explained very well.  I think Gabe put it best when we were playing the other night.  It’s an old trunk full of Pirate clothes.

That is what it wants to be, a tool to wear and manifest Piracy as a concept.  There’s a lot of things it doesn’t do, and it appears to have flirted with heresy as a result: you build faction by taking and accomplishing quests, but you don’t fill a “gunnery” bar when you you load and fire cannons and you don’t craft shit and there are no genuflections towards RPG fetishism.  If I shoot your boat there isn’t a bar that tells me how many more times I need to shoot it.

You play it because, in my experience, it’s a place to be with your friends and accomplish tasks together.  The information it wants to tell you is displayed in the world as stimuli.  It tasks itself with simulating a solid, reliable platform so you can engage in acts of high-seas derring-do.  It wants you to be present and to this end it doesn’t drape a lot of incremental, ambient data over everything so the “progress” you feel is based on what you and your friends wanted to do.  It’s not trying to manipulate you, and it’s so gentle about describing its virtues that some people can’t recognize it as a game at all.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Fri, Feb 16 2018 at 1:02 pm

I first saw the Wyrmwood crew out at PAX South, which was essentially “the tabletop focused show” before there was such a thing as PAX Unplugged.  “Wood nerds” are real.  I know about this from my stepfather: he was showing me some kind of “burl” or whatever, which I think is a wood word, and he was like “check this burl out” or something to that effect.  No, it was Bird’s Eye maple.  His eyes glowed.  That’s the type of dorks these Wyrmwood people are.

Indeed, they are multiclass, because they’re dorks that make various foci and fetishes for tabletop shit.  We’d seen their newest Kickstarter, the Adventurer’s Arsenal, and salivated in a way that would no doubt damage untreated woods.

I have a bunch of their shit, some of it from Kickstarter proper, some of it from shows.  It occurred to us that they’ve improved virtually everything about the experience that you can do with wood; ultimately, they’re gonna hit a wall.

Play Paris (Powered By PAX) was just announced, and it seemed like you might want to know what that means.  I mean, aside from the fact that there’s gonna be a rad show in Paris.

Our partner ReedPOP has shows everywhere, and we’ve done a lot of cool stuff together.  We know a lot about how to run shows, how a show should feel, and what it should mean to the people who attend it.  The team we have knows as much as anybody in the world about how to do it.  But we don’t assume we can just drop in to - Paris, say, or somewhere else - and know everything we should to make it a Paris show.  So there’s a ReedPOP team there doing everything they can to found something very special, and we’re here trying to share everything we know that we think can help.  I’m pretty excited about it.

I’d keep an close eye on Powered by PAX.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Wed, Feb 14 2018 at 11:24 am

When I’m playing pubji with Kiko, I take painkillers constantly.  Like, in game.  The inventory item.  It helps me get my head right.  In the state of preternatural clarity they create, do I occasionally shoot a bush that looks (at a certain LOD) like it might be a crouching man?  I won’t say it doesn’t happen.  Maybe the bush in question didn’t deserve to be shot, per se - but let’s be honest with one another.

There is no bush without sin.

The first panel is truly what he thought, before Amy Falcone - also known as Amy The Falcon, or Walnut Dankgrass - dropped some science.  Namely, that’s it’s cool to get - and, crucially, stay - super high on ADHD medication so that you can float just ahead causality’s frothy wake.  Except it’s not completely clear to me how widespread or “cool” this is. There are a few articles out there about it in CS:GO, but many of them seem to be referring to the same interview; the interview let to substantial fallout and adoption of ESL policies and apparently testing…?  It’s pretty opaque honestly.  The Internet is surprisingly bad as a device for finding information sometimes.

I mean, if you told me that young men were taking drugs for any conceivable reason I would be likely to believe you.  As an application of Occam’s Razor, I think it would be a robust framework to explain a lot of what happens on Twitch.

We did a sponsored stream for a couple games from Gigamic that I keep forgetting to post - I remembered this time.  It was for a pair of games, a cooperative/competitive shipwrecked game called Hellapagos, and Yogi, which is like Twister with cards.  Frankly I think it’s one of the most entertaining streams we’ve done, sponsored or no, particularly with Hellapagos as it got very political very fast.  It’s a chance, too, to meet Patrick Groome who handles our social media shit with aplomb.  You should watch the Yogi part mainly because it’s fun to watch the very serious Kiko Villasenor suffer under the weight of it.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Mon, Feb 12 2018 at 11:36 am

This motherfucker can’t stay out of the news.  And because eSports and social media have transformed every human medium of communication into a tabloid, I can’t look anywhere without seeing it.  So now, even if you have scrupulously limited your Internet access to this specific site, you still have to put up with it.

The whole thing has put me in a very philosophical mood.

There is pretty clearly a disconnect between the audience for online content and the platforms that host that content.  The audience is fairly clear on this point: they’re rewarding the most extreme content they can find with viewership and direct dollars.  It’s true on YouTube and it’s true on Twitch.  People always think that when you make a statement of observable fact you’re supporting whatever it is, which is nonsense - we can’t grapple with things unless we name them clearly.  So, let me name it:  Trolls are the new Punk.  You can recognize this or you can be wrong and I honestly don’t care which one you choose.  Next you can disagree with me about the atomic weight of hydrogen.  See where it gets you.  Look, I’m not happy about it.  Let’s hate this together.

I was reading the Wikipedia entry on Punk, and I was like…  Writing a Wikipedia entry on Punk is probably the least Punk thing there is.  Sure, maybe that’s what it meant in a specific time - ironically, or maybe just factually, it’s a very conservative, victors-writing-history sort of affair.  Punk is not a type of hair.  Punk is that which gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil.  So if the new countercultural force looks like Logan Paul, this eighties movie bully looking motherfucker, and if norms have shifted to the extent that utterly mainstream individuals look like punks did, well, now you know what it means to live too long.

There was the idea that the Internet was going to do away with Gatekeepers, and it did for a time, except - and if you’ve ever worked IT you know this already - technology moves in cycles of Centralization and Decentralization.  So, yes.  You could get a TLD and functionally speaking operate a pirate ship for awhile, but monetizing that Internet required a fair bit of sophistication.  The next disruptive wave was tied not to the the raw topology of the network but on services built atop it, with monetization as an inherent feature.  Now, years after the fact, they’re trying to close the barn door.

Logan Paul is making a fool of them over and over again, and perforating the platform for other creators.  Now they’ve put him on timeout like the fucking child he is.  They can stop paying him, but it doesn’t stop him getting paid.  They made a kind of monster machine, with every possible lever thrown towards a caustic narcissism, and then they pretend to be fucking surprised when an unbroken stream of monsters emerge.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Fri, Feb 9 2018 at 10:17 am

So, without repeating myself too much, one of the reasons I like games is that I think - true or not - that somewhere in the experience of playing a game, I might be able to find some shadow of the person that made it.  The game could also be the shadow, I suppose; they may be what casts the shadow.  I’m not sold on any particular metaphor.  It’s very, very weird when I play a game that already seems to know me.

I love rhythm games, both because timing is something I have an aptitude for generally and it’s something Gabe is particularly challenged by.  These two things in concert make it seem like I’m twice as good at them, when really it’s just that they’ve emphasized a skill I can do at all.

I’d never even heard of Aaero until Tom Chick’s Best Of 2017 list, and then I saw it again in the “Xbox One X Enhanced” section of the store on account of its recent 4k update.  I bought it and immediately began to build mastery, which looks a lot like losing very badly and being eaten by tremendous worms.

It has shooting portions like Rez, that’s what your right stick is for.  Your left stick’s main job is about interacting with what would generally be called the melody portion of a song, a tone or in more rare cases a voice, by riding a bright track that is mapped to the pitch.  You also use it to weave through obstacles.  But let me go back to the first part.

You don’t always have a conscious understanding of your thought processes.  I can’t even say that, I suppose.  I don’t.  Maybe you do, for some reason, have conscious access to the substrate your thoughts assemble themselves on.  Until Aaero, I think I always just assumed that people perceived music in the way I describe in the strip.  That’s not true, I’ve learned.  The way Karaoke Revolution from Harmonix used to do it was close, and I liked it, but physically moving through the beam as the pitch changes is just…  right?  I’m not even saying it would be right for another person.  I’m saying that somehow, and I don’t know how, they made a mechanic around the way my natural mental processes spatially project music.  You might like it as a game.  I don’t entirely know what it is to me yet.

Also, behold!  Our new Lookouts beanie is designed explicitly for the human head - and it shows.

(CW)TB out.

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