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Tycho / 2 days ago

Something happened to Gabriel's body yesterday, we don't know what, only that any maneuver of the head and neck resulted in gruesome agony. Luckily, we were rescued by Trystan Falcone on the art side so our exegesis on the short term memory of guards in Watch Dogs (et al.) could be delivered according to the ancient, now almost twenty-two year old schedule.

NOW. Onto other business, i.e., business.  

We have initiated The Black Fridays Protocol. What that means, among other ongoing reveals, is that today sees frankly comical cuts on Acquisitions Incorporated Stuff. These savings are easy to identify within the On Sale Collection that's up now, and it includes several new items alongside refreshes of classics. You know, such as...

New Jim and Omin Challenge coins!

A new Acquisitions Incorporated Company Tokens set, that Kiko designed to nest vertically!!!

There is also an update to our Black Mantle Zip Up Hoodie, made morbid with vile litanies by master of the macabre, Kris Strabre! By which I mean Straub.

This is addition to bonkers-ass savings on things you might have fantasized about previously, like the best price you will ever find for Clank! Legacy Acquisitions Incorporated and The (vital) "C" Team Expansion. There's a ton of stuff in there, and you should check it out.

Oh! And this is something else we're trying.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 3 days ago

The Hour Is Nigh

The seal has been broken, and now, the revelations:  Every two weeks - beginning Friday, October 30th and ending December 13th - there will be new product releases.  From Acquisitions Incorporated to Gabir Motors to WASD, you will discover things to

    1. Shroud your mortal form,
    2. Improve the ambiance and maybe even the aroma of your space, and
    3. Reward players in your next campaign.

    (*cough* Campaign Coins *cough*)

    And know this!  You can expect free shipping on Orders Over $100! Whenever you want! Well, until 2021.  And the goodies above, while supplies last!  It might be a good time to familiarize yourselves with our brand new store

    (CW)TB

Tycho / 4 days ago

(At this point, continuing to demand that Cyberpunk get released this year is just dumb. I'd celebrate a delay if I thought it meant a material easing of the process for the people caught inside it, but the last delay certainly didn't and I don't think this one will either. When I was a new father, learning how to feed a child, I did so according to a clock that I'd set to make sure they were getting enough to eat. I was cautioned against this by the midwife, who taught me instead to be conscious of the child I was feeding instead. It seems clear now that they're feeding a clock.

CD Projekt Red should simply do as we suggest in the strip, and consider a release date sometime much later.)

Roughly ten thousand years ago, Gabir and I met a couple youths at our San Diego Comic Con booth, introduced by their mother, to whom we stressed that her children were too young for what we do. She seemed to understand this also, but also understood her sons, and that was it. I kept in touch off and on with one of them, who gravitated toward games in a design capacity. Last time we spoke it was near the end of a Board Game portion of his oeuvre, and our conversation + the kind of shadow that hung from his brow indicated that maybe it wasn't going to work out. I've held onto that for years.

At a socially distanced synchronization with Kris Straub, of Local 58 fame, I happened to see this kid walking by, though I guess the term would almost certainly be Man now, and apparently the game he'd been working on - Going Under - had just come out. I'd played an early version submitted to the PAX 10 some time ago, and it was clever, but also very early. It now has a Very Positive rating on Steam, which is very hard to maintain. Well, hard to maintain if it weren't good, perhaps My eldest has defeated the game at about the same age this other dude was when I met him. Having a natural weakness for symmetries like these, I commissioned a formal assessment from said larva. Without further adieu, the revieu. I have resisted any urge to editorialize but it is QUITE STRONG.

(CW)TB out.

---------

Going Under: The Elliot Labs Review
By The Mysterious Gamer

Please note: this is a review of the Nintendo Switch version of the game. Some problems described here may not be present on other versions. Also, potential minor spoilers.

I first played a VERY early beta of this game at PAX 10. It’s come a long way since then, and I’m very happy about that. On with the review!

The Good:

The writing is incredible, full of puns and satire. I like those things, so I give the writing a “very good” out of 7.

The characters are unique and memorable, and I found myself talking to them so often I actually exhausted their dialogue long before I even got to the second half of the game.

The mentorship mechanic is interesting and useful. They each have their own upsides and downsides, and completing tasks for the characters to level up the mentorships is a great concept, even if some of the tasks are a little ridiculous. (Is it even possible to deal 50 damage in one hit?) Fern’s buffs are easily the best, and even feel a little overpowered at times, but that’s not a bad thing at all.

The combat is fast-paced and incredibly satisfying once you get good at it. I initially hated it, because the game is very challenging throughout and I felt weak and underprepared, but I eventually learned when to play it safe and not just rush into combat with half a heart and a single thumbtack. I actually got a Breath of the Wild feel from it, with the “using stuff you find laying around” weapon system. The dungeons are also very well designed, and all have their own identity and mechanics. The way they change in the second half of the game is also interesting and cool.

The Bad: (WARNING: BUG REPORTS AND NITPICKING AHEAD)

The game CHUGS when there’s a lot of enemies on screen. This may be exclusive to the Switch port, but it’s a problem I’ve experienced.

Items clipping into walls: funny when a spear gets caught in a wall and vibrates, not so funny when your only healing item gets stuck in a wall and can’t be retrieved. The apps and skills are great, but their descriptions are often too vague. With skills that are immediately obvious (like bomb dropper) this is fine, but with others, not so much. What do “supportive reacts only” or “that’s all she yote” even mean?

The Verdict: this game has come a long way from the demo I played at PAX 10. The gameplay is fun and satisfying, the writing is amazing, and the music is funky. It has a few issues, but these are to be expected from an indie game. Overall, definitely worth your money.

Final Rating: 8 outta 10

Tycho / 6 days ago

The threshold of my mind, the point where thoughts are converted into shapes others can perceive, performs a number of helpful services. It's essentially a programmable gate. Right now, and I hadn't intended to write this before, it really wants me to make sure that's how you spell the word "perceive."

One of the other things it does is convert the internal concepts I have for things into the ones more people are likely to recognize. That's one of the funnier things about all this, to me: the things I write in here are not attempts to be baroque and ornamental but are in fact legitimate attempts to be understood! It would be funny if it weren't all the things it actually is. This is all to say that the internal language for the term Social Media is not Social Media. It is "The Weapon."

It's more or less a cursed D&D item laden with all the classic monkey's paw standbys. Typically the effects of a cursed item are localized, either because they annihilate the owner too swiftly or the radius of their destruction is limited. This is a cursed item almost everyone has and a portion of society's cognition seems to take place in its haunted sigmoid colon so I'm not a hundred percent sure how optional it is. We seem to be outsourcing nontrivial portions of our consciousness to some opaque algorithms that are designed to honor whatever will make you keep looking at it.

To arrive at the portion of today's excursion which is "ripped from the headlines," I think it's pretty dumb to start talking about how streamers need to pay developers and publishers in exchange for making and broadcasting free commercials about their products. I'm aware of the ambiguous legality, but there's a reason this detente exists and it's connected to the sentence before this one. Also - purely as an intellectual exercise - consider what happened here when the Clear Legal Position about these properties was relaxed, even for a second. It created an industry out of thin fucking air, one that manufactures an incredible amount of serendipitous success for creators entirely outside the Understood Model. This smart man was drafting off the DMCA shit that made it an easier bet for streamers to delete their channel's backlog, just in case, than risk their livelihoods in Plague World. Set aside for a minute the fact that no streamer should be thinking about this for even a second - Amazon already has business arrangements with the rights holders in most of these cases, and could offer their creators what TikTok does if they gave any kind of a shit. That this enforcement devolved somehow down to the streamer level boggles the mind. Anyway, the original tweet was a stupid take about a stupid situation that only exists because everything is fucking stupid.

But there is always some human part of me that recognizes what it must feel like whenever The Weapon is deployed, and if I do say a prayer it's not because they're some martyred paragon of virtue. It's that I reflexively model the weight of it on my ribcage, pushing out my breath.

(CW)TB out.

I played some Stadia

I was curious enough about Immortals: Fenyx Rising to investigate the demo they released on Stadia last week. Logging in with my google account was simple and within seconds of clicking on the game in a Chrome window, I was loading into the demo. The game itself is beautiful and the combat is cool but poorly mapped to a controller. I probably could have played more of it if not for the obnoxious tone of the entire experience. Playing Immortals: Fynx Rising is like watching a low budget CG animated kids film. It feels like a straight to video sequel to a children's movie I hated. 

 

Stadia was pretty cool though. 

 

Here is the truth: as unimpressed as I was with Immortals, I was actually really impressed with Stadia. I had just sort of assumed it would function the same as xCloud which I’ve played a bunch of. While I prefer  Microsoft’s service in terms of pricing structure and cross save functionality, there is no question that Google's technology feels significantly better. I was so surprised at how smooth it felt to play that I decided to give the service a real test, so I purchased Doom Eternal which I just never ended up playing even though I liked the first one. It was a successful test.

I’ve been playing it daily and testing it at different times. How about when the kids are in Zoom school? How about when everyone in the house is streaming shows or playing games. No matter what I did Doom felt like it was running locally on my box. It’s worth mentioning my setup here at home. I have a beast of a PC that is hooked up to my racing rig and my massive ultrawide monitor. This rig is great for all my racing games and I can play other stuff in it as well, but I have to sit in the racing rig to play it. That PC is connected to a second less powerful machine that sits on my desk and its only job is taking the feed from the racing rig and streaming it. I can play Motorsport Manager on it and Overwatch but if I start turning settings up or playing new games, it can chug. That’s just not what I built it for. I’ve been playing Doom Eternal on it, in 4k for 8 GD hours and the only time I remember that it’s being streamed, is when I see a new level load in a couple seconds. 

I’ve also been playing some Orcs Must Die. This I was actually playing co-op with Kara in another attempt to see if I could break it. We both signed up for the free month of Stadia pro which includes a number of games, one of which is Orcs Must Die. Our first session was flawless but I will say that this is the one scenario that has introduced some lag into the works. On my wired connection I’ve had no trouble even when playing co-op with Kara, but on her machine downstairs connected to the Wi-Fi she has had a few stutters. Even so it hasn’t stopped her from wanting to play and I am considering adjusting the position of my eeros to try and fix it. 

Speaking of my internet, here’s a look at my average connection speeds. I would describe my reliability as “shit” but there are no other service providers in my area so I’m stuck with Comcast. Another important note is that I’m using a mouse and keyboard right now as I do not own a Stadia controller. I tested an Xbox controller and that connected and worked fine but I feel like M&K is more responsive. It might be that their controller, which connects directly to the cloud service via Wi-Fi rather than your local machine might be smoother. 

I still don’t like the idea of paying full price for these games and I think a service like Gamepass makes a lot more sense. Stadia Pro is an interesting step in that direction but the library of games is simply too limited to justify the price imo. It’s not my job to figure out their business model but I know that what they are offering now doesn’t feel good. I can’t argue with the technology though. I know there are still a lot of questions around cloud gaming, but after my experience this weekend I have to wonder how many more gaming PC’s I am going to build.

 

-Gabe Out




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