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Tycho / 2 days ago

I really can't tell you how surprised I've been by Grounded. I mean, technically I can. I would use words. I guess I do things like that a lot. Maybe if I sort of chew around the concept I can get to it.

The main thing I thought when looking at it was that I was receiving some kind of a signal from them about what I could expect from the level of crunch. It's Honey I Shrunk Les Enfants type shit. So maybe it was gonna be something like an Entreaty, where the calculation they made was that if it looked a certain way it would invite the broadest possible category of mortals within. But in a G. I. Jovian sense, that's only a portion of the battle - somewhere between forty and sixty percent. Then, once they get in there, assuming that our lure has been successful, are we talking about something that, mechanically, doesn't really have a perspective? Because I don't want something broad there. I want something to test myself and my friends against. I wasn't sure if I was gonna get that from a game where you stand dwarfed by a juice box.

That's not what it is. In its Early Access state, it's kinda like… what if you got shrunk way down with your friends, but, like… for real. To my mind, I would say that a game that looks like this but plays like this - that is to say, looks like an afterschool cartoon and plays like SERE Training - would not be a good investment for a publisher. Grounded is part of a paradigm where the traditional physics of the space don't exist in the classic sense. I'm talking about Game Pass, like everybody else. It enables a little weirdness. It's not Zero G, but you could make a bet sometimes. Half-Life: Alyx is pure madness as a product, but was enabled with the use of Valve's Anti-Gravity Device. For anything first party, Game Pass offers an ablative property to anything created under the umbrella.

The only thing I didn't like about Grounded, and obviously this is my own fault, but their ants are too cute and also I am obsessed with ants, so I don't want to kill them. I want to befriend them, win their trust, and ultimately prostrate myself in service to their winged matriarch. I don't know what category of problem this falls under but as problems go it's pretty silken and luxuriant. Still gonna play it. I hate spiders as much as I love ants, but in a way that makes spiders cool and effective opponents as opposed to sources of terror. I think it's amazing that games like Grounded and Satisfactory have their own ways of softening the edges of that, even if I still find both of them sort of scary in new ways. Grounded, after enough sliding of sliders, turns them into something that looks like a Spider's Ghost, which I like even less. Though I suppose it could be worse.

(CW)TB out.

PA League

The Penny Arcade iRacing league has grown to over 150 drivers now and our weekly races continue to be totally rad. Last night was especially crazy and I encourage you to check out the VOD because it was such a wild race but also because we’re working on some new tech. My eldest son Gabriel has discovered a real passion for setting up and producing our streams. He was elbows deep in Streamlabs yesterday working on some new features for the Gabir Motors show and even though we had a few hiccups last night, I think it was really cool.

We can now switch to Kara’s screen during the race so you can see what the spotter is looking at. What’s really cool about this is she can also jump around to other cars during the race so folks watching the show aren’t stuck in my cockpit the entire time. We were able to check out the race for first or just check in on our friends. Gabe is also working on all the transitions and effects you see during the stream now. Things like the Mike Racecar intro, the scrolling quotes and Haikus, and the wipes are all his handiwork. He is currently investigating ways to let people watching from home control the HUE lights in our house during the show. If you could not tell, I am a very proud papa. 

So the Gabir Motors streams are just going to get cooler and cooler thanks to my clever offspring. Our next stream is today from 2-4pm PST if you’d like to join the Pit Crew. Jerry is unavailable today so I’ll be playing the My Team mode in F1 2020. If you want to get caught up, we’ve only done two episodes of this show so far. The first is right here and the second is right here. It’s a lot like our Motorsport Manager streams (which I cannot believe we have been doing for five months now) in that we are managing a racing team but instead of just watching the races from above and cheering on our A.I. drivers, We are down in the cockpit doing the driving as well. I am no Enriqua Lara, but I’ll do my best. 

-Gabe out

Tycho / 5 days ago

There is no source of terror greater for a Grub than that of the Tooth Man. I can talk to him about it, but "it" lives within such a cognitive labyrinth that all the words get lost en route. And now, as a prerequisite for even seeing the Tooth Man, he has to get the megaswab way, way up in his Sinus Zone, which I think we can all agree doesn't constitute a value add.

Everybody has a thing. My thing is needles, to the extent that I will unconsciously swat a doctor's arm away when they try to come at me with one. It sucks for everybody. I don't even know I'm doing it, in the classic sense - I look at the doctor or nurse as though an incredibly weird third person has come in and done it. That's basically what it feels like. And when it happens, because it's gotta happen, I guess, I have to essentially boot my personality into the BIOS until it's over. It's not good. And because it's so deep down, there's no way he and I can share this suffering and halve it. Instead we just get to feel it at the maximum level, curled into a human tilde down in a hole your brain dug for you.

I'll be out again this Friday "unforch," which means our own Enriqua Lara's exquisite Qualifying Laps will have to simmer for a moment while I attend to other matters. But when God closes a door, he offers another streaming game in its place - I believe that's the saying - and in this case, that game is F1 2020 from Codemasters. We've messed with it a little on stream before, and it's quite different from other Gabir Motors offerings. Motorsport Manager and iRacing are both set firmly in the simulation space, where modelling "all the things" with a care bordering on worship is the assumption. F1 2020, by comparison, is a videogame. It's trying to manifest the fantasy of F1, with a focus on its ineffable spirit, which means (among other things) that your car has a fucking sphere grid. That's the type of shit I like. You handle car design and the driving portion in this one - want to see what that looks like? Join my best friend Mike Krahulik this afternoon at 2pm PDT to see what kinda horseshit we've been getting into.

(CW)TB out.

TLDR: I Love The Logitech G915

Jerry and I buy probably 90% of the games and stuff you see us talking about in the comic or here in the post and I think that is important, but occasionally we’re sent cool stuff and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t also pretty cool. When I do get goodies I feel like it’s my responsibility to make it clear it was a gift, but also let you know what I think.  Sending me stuff is no guarantee that something will get made as I am lazy and rude, and you are even less likely that when the thing gets made it will be kind. If it does end up in a comic, it will probably be next to a drawing of a butt or something honestly.  Still people send us stuff and we are very grateful! I recently received some gear from Logitech G and now that I’ve had some time to get it integrated into my setup and use it, I wanted to share. 

When I originally set out to build my sim racing rig I wanted to use it with my PC as well as my PS4 and so I bought the Logitech G29. After five months of daily use I’m still very happy with this wheel. I’ve upgraded the pedals to a set from Fanatec but the wheel is still rock solid. With that said, I still sort of had the impression that Logitech hardware was entry level or “no frills”. I don’t keep up on this stuff like hardcore PC gamers do and so I was not aware that they actually had a line of high end gaming gear. I wasn’t aware of it until some of it showed up at my house anyway. 

The G915 is IMO the crown jewel of the hardware they sent me. This is a wireless RGB keyboard that I am not ashamed to admit I have fallen in love with and we're going to get married. It will be a small ceremony, probably just family and close friends. My father doesn't approve but I didn't want to marry that fool Edward anyway. Did I mention how beautiful it is? The keys have a feel when pressed that reminds one of summer and the careless "come what may" attitude of youth. I have to be honest I don’t know how to write a review of a keyboard. Maybe you could tell. Basically it’s the best one I’ve ever used and I realized why when I googled the price. I've never spent that kind of money on a Keyboard and I've owned a few in my day.  Jerry will tell you that I tend to cut corners when it comes to my PC gear. At least I did, before sim racing introduced me to a brand new tier of ludicrously expensive peripherals. So far in my limited experience anyway, you really do get what you pay for. I might not have bought this keyboard myself but I should have and if they want it back now, the'll have to fucking fight me for it. 

The Logitech G915 is great but I think it's worth mentioning, I’m also a fan of their GHUB software that you use to customize it. I’ve had plenty of RGB keyboards over the years and this is the most user friendly manager I’ve used. I was able to browse tons of animations for the keyboard and they were a snap to install and run. They make a couple different versions as well, so if you don’t want/need the full number pad you can get the Pro X .  

They also sent me a device called the Hyperboom

This is a massive wireless Bluetooth speaker that sounds better than any of the soundbars and subwoofers I have in my house. It’s easy to bring with you into a different room thanks to a pop out handle and Kara and I have already fantasized about how great it will be to throw it in the car and take on vacation. It’s simple to connect via Bluetooth but it also has a bunch of great ports down one side that are cleverly hidden by a rubberized cover. These let you hook this beast up to anything you want. Currently it’s plugged into my sim rig and sounds awesome but I've moved it all around the house. I love the massive volume buttons on the top but it can also sync up with an app on your phone that will give you full control of the speaker. Again, this is something I probably would not have bought for myself just because I would have said “I’m sure the cheaper ones sound just as good.” and that is simply not the case. 

I also received The X56 H.O.T.A.S. which I have set up but not really investigated yet. I intend to try MS Flight Simulator and Star Wars Squadrons with it and I promise a full review once I do. 

The folks over at Logitech G didn’t ask for anything in return and simply said they were fans of the comic, but my Momma raised me right so I have added a little "G" logo to my streams for now. Covering yourself with “sponsors” is a pretty classic racing move and I wanted to honor that. I’m not some Instagram influencer, there are gamers with a lot more Tweeter followers and I don’t stream to thousands of people every day so I really appreciate the gesture. 

So there you go. They also sent a couple of their gaming mice which are super slick and go nicely with the keyboard. The stuff above is what really jumped out at me though. I hope you got some value out of my little write up here. 


-Gabe out

Tycho / 1 week ago

The iRacing cadre has much about it that makes it... distinct, but the level of insult game on display has clearly shifted into the eldritch. I love a good abdomen as much as the next man, but we've spent a couple days trying to figure out what he could have meant by the things he said, and ultimately I had to recontextualize the whole endeavor in order to discover meaning.

I saw that a bunch of people were streaming Grounded yesterday, which I'd seen in a previous Microsoft event, and placed in a mental holding pattern with a rule to Check Back In. I coveted these streamers, these exalted ones, shaking with rage at my diminished station, but then I saw that it was on Game Pass and installed it also. Huge time saver! I don't know when I'd even fit in some kind of reckoning today.

When I used to take my eldest to Karate, before earning the belt we agreed could be their last, I used to talk with another dad there that worked on Game Pass. He made a claim I didn't know enough to refute, but found interesting, which was that their data indicated that the Pass increased game sales. You have tumbled to his claim correctly: a game subscription service, where you get the games for a set period of time, caused people - presumably, other people - to buy the games.

Then I saw a thing on Polygon suggesting that Grounded had done well on the Steam charts, which made me think he might not be completely wrong. Sea of Thieves did pretty good on there, too. It's a complex mesh, though. For one, I think Steam and Xbox represent almost completely independent circles. It's less of a traditional Venn Diagram and more, like… a frisbee left very near a dinner plate. The biggest problem for any new game is being seen and discovered. I was exposed to a game I didn't even know I had access to by seeing somebody play it on Twitch. And I know people who might want to play but don't want another subscription. The mesh is between The Service, Subscribers, friends in the nimbus of that subscription, and how this creates an ecosystem that surfaces products in the (sigh) "Buy To Own" ring that surrounds it.

Let's also keep in mind that I think Grounded is gonna be pretty fucking good. What they have up now, in addition to ticking a bunch of Steam Survival Pervert boxes, also has an amazing look and a silly vibe. It's quite broad. Until the most recent presentation, it hadn't even occurred to me that we were still talking about Obsidian here - of course there was gonna be world building, even if what we get to know in this early release is pretty thin. I can't really do Steam Survival Pervert as a genre unless there's a story (like a Subnautica type deal) or multiplayer, and Grounded has both. And Microsoft doesn't care where you buy their shit anymore! I can never tell if this is inspired business or an unrelenting, gargantuan flex.

(CW)TB out.

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