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Tycho / on Fri, Mar 5 2010 at 12:00 am

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The Opposite of Poker Face

I feel good!  I saw some hummingbirds courting earlier, and it assured me of life’s essential continuity.

Gabriel - yes, our Gabriel! - has been playing Pandemic, entirely unbidden by me, and wanted to know where else he could go with cooperative mechanics.  I recommended Shadows Over Camelot, a game which he seems to enjoy though most devoted tabletop gamers have long-since discarded it.  He wasn’t a Battlestar Fan, or I might have recommended that; Fury Of Dracula is more symmetrical, and isn’t quite as devoted to the co-operative thesis.  I considered recommending Arkham Horror, but…  Actually, I did recommend Arkham Horror.

I am always recommending Arkham Horror.

What’s weird is that now, with him seated squarely at the table, having precisely the sort of experience I’ve long encouraged, I’m trying to get him back in front of the television with Greed Corp.

Greed Corp could be a much broader game if it wanted to be, but it doesn’t: it wants to be a boardgame with global reach and perpetual urgency.  The hexes give away these intentions, to an extent, but the game it most reminds me of is Moonbase Commander.  If you recognize this name, then good; it marks you as a person of discernment, a being who understands that the purpose of a man goes somewhat beyond mere respiration.  If that name rings no bells, stop what you are doing - just stop it, stop doing that - and weep.  Weep great, wracking sobs for your aimless youth, spent in sickening whorls of progressive degeneration.

Both games put a deceptively small set of tools in front of you.  Both games are turn-based, with (what I would call) aggressive shot-clocks that purposefully lead their designs toward immediacy rather than beardy chin-twiddles.  Not that I’m opposed to chin-twiddling in absolutely every case.  I would direct you to my own chin - a chin weathered by years of errant, thoughtful massage.  What I might suggest is that these games purposefully create a space that aims to defy a purely rational approach.  They’d still be good games, even in the absence of the clocks.  But they wouldn’t be these games.

Fidgit’s Tom Chick is not wrong that a better tutorial would go a long way, or that (as a general concept) opportunities for users to customize the experience a bit more would be welcome.  All true.  Not sufficient to dissuade a fervent recommendation, though, of the demo at the very least.  Greed Corp is also among that increasingly rare breed of games you can play with people who are at your actual house.  Your friends don’t have to go home so you can play with them.  It’s weird, to be sure, but that’s how things are now.

I would have played far more Greed Corp, but I was goaded by shame and rage into reclaiming my progress in Heavy Rain - not via some cackling hard-disc haruspex, but the old fashioned way, by investing my dwindling hours here on this Earth.  I had to make absolutely certain I wouldn’t fuck it up this time, or that it wouldn’t get fucked up by an anomalous field or ray, so I leveraged nearly twenty folk rituals simultaneously.  Some of the birds are lost somewhere in the house.  There’s salt everywhere now, and cloves, every auspicious herb or mineral has been employ’d.

I’ve beaten it, now - typically that’s how you’d say it, that I (me) have beaten it (the game).  In reality, I feel as though the game has defeated me in some way, manipuating me for its own ends, foundering me emotionally.  I was threshed by it, at its culmination; sugar cane is the model, pounded until every sweetness is gone.   

(CW)TB out.

something’s happened in the attic

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