The word Snarf - by itself! - is enough to make me forget the trials and exhaustion of consciousness, if only for a little while. Today’s comic is another installment of Real Conversation Theatre, where myself and my compatriot have and then subsequently immortalize the conversations that make Kara laugh when we’re playing Destiny. Also: the new Strike is really short and it’s hard not to call the new boss Maalox. So we call him Maalox, basically.
We’ve got fork-tender new videos from our Welcome To PAX series up today, starting with Indies:
And ending with Tabletop:
We didn’t make this next video, and it’s not even a video, it’s a song. It’s an Aesop Rock song about Aesop Rock’s cat and I basically have it on repeat.
And hey, while we’re posting video, I’m gonna go try to set up a stream with myself and Offworld Trading Company designer Soren Johnson where he will endeavor diligently to make me less stupid. Others have tried and failed - how will he fare? Let’s find out.
which is its actual name, and not Offworld Trading Colony like I kept saying before. In any case, I think I’m gonna try to set up a stream with OTC designer Soren Johnson, the spelling of whose name I just checked several times, where he can teach me (and maybe you) how to play a game whose genetics differ so substantially from the norm.
I’m not trying to be mean in any way, here. I played the Offworld Trading Company a bunch of times before I ever finished a game. I would start, building a couple things, and then stop. I skidded entirely off its hot, non-stick griddle. I need to be completely honest with you: I could not perceive the game.
I can remember playing Sacred Warrior’s “Master’s Command” for my mom, and she had a similar problem. I very nearly wrote deficiency, which is mostly a rude way to say the same thing. But mapping Heavy Metal into the musical structures she was already familiar with is substantially easier than trying to map what we know about strategy shit onto Offworld Trading Company.
We describe games as combinations of other games, even though it constitutes a lossy form of compression, because that’s how we learn them to begin with. They are existing channels into which new information can flow. The reason I kept skipping completely off the surface was that I couldn’t figure out the early game at all. Pokemon is like Rock, Paper Scissors, except with, like, eighteen fuckin’ types of rocks, scissors, and paper, to say nothing of something like Volcanion, who is functionally speaking a piece of paper so sharp it can cut a pair of scissors. That’s a framework you can use to describe many, many systems. If you asked me what Offworld Trading Company was like, I would have to tell you it was like Offworld Trading Company. Some people would say it was like M.U.L.E., smart people I trust, but it’s not something I know myself.
You usually build an economy in an RTS, and then marshall that economy to create various war men, who do their war man thing. This game is about using the economy and just the economy to buy other player’s entire “army.” This is like a real-time boardgame that tills up the conceptual space other games leave fallow and then spends its entire time there. Now, I want to know what else they can teach me.
As a post-PAX digestif, Alienation has nobly provided ample spent shell casings and gouts of ropey, gastrointestinal slime. Housemarque has been a reliable amusement spigot for some time, producing good flow, though my favorite game from them was probably Super Stardust HD which Kiko and I played obsessively until completion which is a feat I’m absurdly proud of for some reason. They like lots and lots of particles to happen, and I like that also.
It has a Helldivers type thing, the primary difference (from a moment to moment play perspective; they each embroider their metagames differently) is that Helldivers will let you murder your friends and you probably (read: definitely) will. Gabriel described Alienation as “Twin-Stick Destiny,” which Housemarque should put on the box should this digital game ever be enshrined thus. You have classes and trees and boxes of loot that, when opened, shower the martial paragon with a holographic cornucopia of treasure.
I have described such holographic showers in the past as “Criss Angel Street Magic Bullshit,” and it’s not untrue. They are hijacking some primitive brain shit. They create chemicals. The chemicals are good. We feel good. The chemicals are good. It works even if I don’t need it, even if I don’t want it to. I know that orange is “better” than blue and I want to find orange things very badly.
Also, maybe there’s some way I haven’t seen, but it seems like nobody can talk to me about anything I don’t want to talk about or in a way I don’t want to hear and that’s precisely how I like it.
Hey! Do you like Ping Pong? How about improving the lives of young people? Well… I’ve got quite the idea.
More details to come of course, but on Saturday August 6th from 10:00 AM (not PM!) to 9:00 PM, we will be hosting a fundraiser for Child’s Play that doubles as a brutal Table Tennis Arena. If you have witnessed our prowess, and have come to fear it, fear not: we’ll have friendly competition in our Garage category, brutal deathmatch in our Hardcore category, and even a Rockstar Table Tennis tourney you can sign up for at the event if that’s more your speed. Tickets are available here. I think this’ll be a nice twist on the fundraiser, and I’ve already begun to sharpen my paddle. Figuratively.
But also literally.