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Tycho / on Wed, Nov 3 2010 at 12:00 am

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Pipe Cleaners, Reimagined

When you’re first learning a wargame, you might fudge some stuff.  Maybe every model isn’t, for lack of a better term, “painted.”  A styrofoam cup might do double duty as a hillock.  This usually happens until it drives somebody so nuts that they flip out and get crafty.

We saw some fairly gross (in this context, gross actually means “really great” for some reason) terrain at PAX Prime, tiny squares of ravaged countryside so confident in their construction that you’d imagine there is a tiny world somewhere with a three foot by three foot square of it gone missing.  I imagine that this terrain echoes in Gabriel’s mind, and does not let him rest; every pneumatic blow of his warjacks is diminished by its proximity to the cup.

When I can’t sleep, typically because I’m being colonized by a microorganism, I often have Puzzle Dreams.  They are not good things to have.  I think I’ve described them here at some point: they occur in a kind of no-place, and involve a series of interlocking wooden pieces of differing grains and textures that must be fit together in a specific way.  I don’t actually know how to solve any of them, my mind is just outputting this crap in some twilight state.  I never see the solution, I just know that it was solved somehow - and then it’s on to the next infinitely complex space.

I mentioned Tumble in passing when talking about 3D televisions, and how it’s an example of a game for whom a third D is an addition of considerable power, but being able to manipulate blocks of varying textures and weights is (for me) incredibly therapeutic.  It has various ways to play in a boombloxian fashion, but we can usually be found in its competitive modes, which go surprisingly deep on the custom terrain and rulesets.

The thing that differentiates Tumble from its forebears is a) the accuracy of its pointing wand, and b) the simulation of true depth.  In concert, what these allow you to do is use your actual brain, and not the brain we have collectively developed to master digital environments - the one that accounts for all the strangeness and gaps in the simulation.  This provides a “blocks-playing-with” sensation that you probably haven’t experienced in quite a while.  Tumble is a perfectly fine puzzle game played on its own, but the entire product - which requires a Playstation 3, a camera, a Move controller, a 3D television, two sets of glasses, and a couple of people who actually give a shit - will be experienced far more rarely than it deserves.

The voting booth for our next project is up:  head over here, and let us know what we’re making next.


with no sign of inertia

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