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Tycho / 3 days ago

I try not to spend a hundred percent of my time thinking about the shambling chaos that gnaws at the periphery, but it’s hard not to notice the symptoms.

An announcement from EA on one of very few games I follow from them was stark.  In essence, it told me…  well, aside from a signal not to be excited about it anymore because they were going to dismantle the studio and lobotomize the product, it was an exercise in nontent wherever it wasn’t just throwing up its hands and saying “hey, we’re only a gargantuan international money factory. We’re only reacting to market forces” when they are, in fact, supermassive and consistently, strategically, aggressively warp economic space.

I can’t even pretend to be neutral on the subject.  Talking with Amy Hennig at PAX West last year powerwashed my creative ambitions.  I didn’t even think I had them, precisely - I just followed my bizarre dementias wherever they carried me off to.  I met her for about an hour and emerged a new creature, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

Look - we’re chasing the best writers out of this industry.  If they aren’t at the indie tier, a dangerous place where one bad game - or one good game that simply doesn’t sell enough - will blast your best stratagems into atoms, you’re on notice.  That’s what this is, more or less.  Visceral put three and a half years into a single player game with one of the best properties in the world written by one of the most consistent, thoughtful, artists the medium has ever seen.  I don’t like to tell people what to make.  I make things too; it’s annoying.  But they were already making it.  And if you’re not going to bet with your winnings, if it’s purely a matter of stripmining a community, there are dimensions to this behavior that I’m not going to ignore.

This strip doesn’t have a punchline, in the classic sense.  But it does throw punches.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 5 days ago

Gabe has managed to spread this Battle Royale disease to Kara, and it infected all the people I used to play Destiny with.  I’ve told him repeatedly: this is not the cool game to play.  He doesn’t have the receptors to collate this kind of data.  So if I want to play a game with…  anyone, I’m playing this.

Gabe and I found a very nice house with a very nice view, right in the middle of the circle, so we thought hardening it might be a strong play.  What this meant as a course of action was very distinct for each of us, and we both set about doing opposite things simultaneously, which lead to the strip.

Last night the rest of the crew was in a four player squad, so as the free electrons Amy Falcone and I jumped in and very discovered how swiftly death could arrive, gliding on black wings.

(There’s always a moment of hesitation when I refer to Amy Falcone as Amy, because I more or less had to overwrite the mental entry for her with Walnut Dankgrass just to escape brutal glares.  There are as many ways to play D&D as there are people, and she is the type - I didn’t know this before we started playing - she is the type where if you say her real, human name during the game she’ll try to kill you with her eyes and words.)

Battle Royale has a slapstick quality that, at least for me, makes death a little funny.  And even if it wasn’t super funny, I still made a cool house with my friend.  I don’t know.  I still want to know how serious they are about all this.  I want to know if it’s safe to love again.

I was going to suggest that it might be difficult switching between these games for this afternoon’s PUBG stream with Kiko, but I am someone who has never known the taste of bird.  Ask my Nightbot, it’ll tell you.  If my performance were to suffer - I just chuckled a bit - how would anyone know?!?

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 1 week ago

After we talked about Fortnite: Battle Royale last week, Greazy-E installed it on the PS4 here in our office and a stream of people from the building found themselves drawn inexorably toward it.  Except Kiko.  Kiko is staying out on principle.

A phenomena that started at Mike’s house and then filtered into our celestial realm here is to spectate the match out and watch your lineage.  Maybe it’s technically the reverse of a lineage, but still.  It’s so engaging that there has to be a way to make it part of the game proper.

Having spent more time with this bizarre entity, my head is spinning.  First of all, I wasn’t aware that Fornite: Battle Royale was a completely separate free download.  I’d sort of assumed that the entire purpose was to act as a candy coating to get the client on your box, but no: it’s some kind of multiphasic cluster lure.  If you choose the base game from the main menu, it tells you you have to buy it.  Which, you know, Gabe did.  He wanted to support them for the other game, because there really isn’t any monetization substrate in Battle Royale.  It’s almost purely about asserting the raw fact of its existence.

Also, I suggested it was “interesting” last time, but the way the endgame shifts when it’s about resources and construction is beyond fascinating and constitutes a far more interesting denouement - a word I spelled correctly the very first time.

At this point, I really just want to see if Epic is prepared to do what needs to be done here.  The headroom in Battle Royale is vast.  There’s no ceiling on it, from introducing their third faction from the PVE mode, to emphasizing the substantial trap component, to getting vehicle functionality in there, to carving the island into two massive teams…  It’s like this.  Right now the conversation is about cloning or whatever.  They could change that very quickly, if that’s what they wanted to do; if they were here with the intention to stay.

Hey!  Tomorrow at 3pm PDT, we’ve got a sponsored stream for Asmadi GamesOne Deck Dungeon, with the designer of the game Chris Cieslik.  My friend Eric Benson and I have played the fuck out of it, and I’m looking forward to having Chris explain to me all the ways I’ve been playing it wrong.

(CW)TB out.

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-Gabe out

 

Tycho / 1 week ago

I love playing PUBG with Kiko on Wednesdays.  We even have an Emote dedicated to that stream - a chicken drummie with the no symbol around it - that designates us as Team NeverRoast, a fraternal order dedicated to failure in PlayerUnknown’s BATTLEGROUNDS.

Kiko sent me a message yesterday night about Fortnite: Battle Royale, which is in many ways a clone of PUBG - a clone of its mechanics, but also apparently its success.  Before this, people mostly talked about how the product had interesting ideas but didn’t understand itself very well.  Now, it’s spoken of in the same sentence as one of the world’s most popular games almost every day.

It’s not really a legal matter, but I’m not sure it’s “cool.”  I’m not sure it is in accordance with Bro Law.  I think it might be kind of a dick move.  I asked David Sirlin (whose Fantasy Strike recently hit Early Access) about this awhile ago, because he’s been accused of precisely this kind of thing.  What you’ll get from his piece is that it’s cool when you want it to be cool and bad when it’s expressly illegal, what’s more, almost everything you like is made from molecules of other things.

MC Paul Barman’s “Sampling Law” asserts an aesthetic framework for determining if sampling is legitimate, suggesting that “if he don’t make it his” - that is to say, if the artist has not interpreted the work and fashioned something original out of it - the work constitutes theft.  So, what’s different?

Well, to Grobbit, the fact that there’s even a moment’s consideration given over to visual beauty is not an insignificant thing.  We couldn’t get him to play The Division with us, even though it’s fucking excellent and only got better over time, because you could get chinos and slouchies as loot.  I think his general philosophy is that if you can buy the game’s loot at Urban Outfitters, it doesn’t constitute an aspirational item.

From a gameplay perspective, item rarity in pickups is a nice twist I think.  But the most substantial deviation is that the harvest and build loop from Fortnite is retained, so that you’re also getting construction resources.  I’ve never survived a final circle in PUBG, and I’d never suggest that they change anything about it - but that’s not the game I was playing for the previous twenty minutes.  That’s another game entirely, very slither-oriented, very “snake forward.”  This is true in Fortnite’s version as well, except the ability to build shelters in the final minutes of the battle widens the set in a way that I find extremely interesting.

(CW)TB out.




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