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Tycho / 3 days ago

Have you heard about Dungeon Encounters? It's possible you saw it when it popped up briefly in a Nintendo stream, but there wasn't a lot of info. Or, it appeared that there wasn't a lot of info. They actually told us - more or less - everything we needed to know.

I thought that Etrian Odyssey was a stripped down experience, and not even in a bad way. I loved that shit. The mapmaking conceit was a delight, and everything else simply felt like home. Dungeon Encounters reminds me of EO, but it's even more low to the ground than that. Dungeon Encounters is just… a roll cage, with a visible engine, a seat, and five wheels - one of which you steer with. It is the bare metal of the classic RPG experience, which is to say, it is a sequence of increasingly brutal numerical puzzles.

I loved this review over at Siliconera, and I think it identifies something canny - one of the make or break things here is whether or not you are down to embroider little stories about the characters yourself. That reminds me of Etrian Odyssey, too.  There's a lot of room to do that, which is the diplomatic way of saying you might have to.  It's kind of a Hello Fresh situation.

I think there are people who want this. I am one of them. But I don't know what it says about me.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 5 days ago

When Gabriel gets into something, every molecule of his being is bent toward it. So, if he's curious about World War, he's reading books and watching documentaries and playing games also. Gabriel ended up taking a detour out of Battlefield V over to Enlisted, a freemium excursion in a similar vein, with a few novel twists.

The main shift reminded me of World of Tanks a little bit, a game I keep up with even if I'm not always an active player just because it's really scary and cool to play. Sometimes, in the vein of F2P, World of Tanks will try to manipulate me somehow into purchasing different "tiers" of tanks, but I literally have no idea what any of those systems are even about. I'm serious. I assume that a higher tier is better than a lower tier, but I don't even know that. If you die in a game, though, the tank you were using is out of commission for a little while. Because that's a game where you typically die once and you're out, it matters a lot. In Enlisted, outside of a particular mode, you don't spawn as a single person - you spawn as a dedicated, named squad with a particular battlefield purpose. Sniper, infantry, tank crew, that sort of thing. You play the leader, and the rest of the squad are AI units you can jump to at any time, but most often you do that when your current character bites it. Once a squad is wiped out, that squad goes on a timer and you spawn back in with another squad.

One of the things about the Battlefield experience that I find sort of challenging is my own fault, really - because individual lives, for me at least, don't last very long I'm pounding the buttons trying to get back in so I can go die in the same place. In any other context, I would place a shrug emoji here. It's just a particular loop I wasn't really consciously aware of until I played Enlisted. Because I literally can't come back in as those guys, doing that thing, the texture of a round changes a lot. Is it time to bring in the tank crew? They have a good sniper. Is it time to counter that? It gives it a wargamey feel I really like. It has all the rest of the freemium concerns but the basic way you live and fight in the game feels really good.

Don't forget! Tonight's a new episode of Acquisitions Incorporated: The "C" Team at 4pm PDT on Twitch, stuffed with homecoming thrills. Thanks as always to Elderwood Academy, Level Up Dice, and Idle Champions for their long-running support of the show.

(CW)TB out.

Snap Ships!

When I was a kid we used to get the Sears catalog delivered to our house. This was a huge book of stuff you could buy from Sears including clothes, tools, appliances and Toys. Oh God, the toys. I used to spend hours drooling over Micro Machines, G.I. Joe figures and Ninja Turtles. There’s not really a Sears anymore but we happened to get an Amazon catalog in the mail a few weeks ago. While going through it with my 11yo son Noah we saw an ad for something called Snap Ships.

Neither of us had ever heard of them before but they looked super cool and so I ordered one of the smaller ships for us to check out. In the meantime I shared our discovery on Twitter figuring other nerds would be interested in a building toy that allowed you to create custom spaceships. It turns out some folks over at Snap Ships are Penny Arcade fans and they reached out and offered to send us some kits. When someone asks if they can send you toys you say yes, and so within a couple of days Noah and I had an armada of Snap Ships.

And I just noticed one of the ships is upside down. See this is why I'm not good at this influencer stuff. I apologize. 

Anyway, each kit comes with a few bags of parts, an instruction booklet and usually at least one pilot. The figures are pretty small but they do have a point of articulation that lets them sit inside the cockpits. You also get a random weapon that can be attached to your ship. I thought this was an interesting feature and it was especially cool to Noah because each kit has what is essentially a secret toy inside that you need to peel a sticker off to reveal. These weapons all actually shoot a projectile of some sort as well which is fun but easy to lose. The tops of the boxes actually turn into stands for your finished models which is super clever and Noah really likes displaying his current favorite builds on his shelf. 

Another cool feature is that inside each instruction booklet you will find multiple builds. One kit might offer builds using all the same parts for a scout ship or a fighter. The larger kits can have a few different builds and in watching Noah play with the kits I noticed that these ships got taken apart a lot. He built each of the builds in the instruction booklet and then would go back and build his favorite design. Once he had a couple kits he also started making his own ships pretty much right away. Here is a Noah Original:

The selection of bits and pieces here are really what makes building these ships so much fun. It almost feels like you're playing the ship creation section of some space shooter video game. There are chunky cube shaped pieces that you can use to build up the frame of your ship but then you also get tons of little detail pieces like vents and turrets. It’s all the little custom details like fins, thrusters, and cockpits that really make it feel like a videogame to me. Someone has taken the time to curate a selection of easy to combine chunks of space ships and no matter how you slap them together you will probably get something cool.

There’s also an app and an animated show that introduces kids to the setting. I can tell you Noah didn’t need any backstory to start playing with these immediately. They also have something called Snap Ships Tactics in the works which from what I understand is a set of rules that will let you have tabletop battles with your custom builds. In fact I think they will be at PAX unplugged showing it off. Combine that with their recently announced line of Mechs and you certainly have my attention!

-Gabe out

Tycho / 1 week ago

Because we were given the opportunity to build a machine using all the ASUS x GUNDAM stuff for a sponsored stream, among other things it means that Gabriel actually has something I would call a computer.

You know what I mean? Something a broad sampling of people would consider a "machine." I don't know if it houses an Alaya-Vinjana system, I don't remember installing one but maybe it's the result of all the branded parts together. The issue typically with Gabir is that when he buys videocards he can't bring himself to buy the ones with the number 80 at the end. He can't surmount that price delta, which I understand at some level, but for me that's the only thing I will splurge on. I'll nestle that 80 card gently into a box containing twenty years of accumulated IKA hex drivers. One of his machines has a 2060, and this isn't a joke I'm making. He wasn't simply resting an errant 2060 on the edge of the case and it fell in. He had his son install it in a computer - a child. That may be the darkest turn in this entire sordid tale.

Anyway, he's essentially been going on a tour of the medium he always comes back to - mine - whenever he has a chance to see what the fuck we're getting up to over here. It's been hog wild. He grabbed Battlefield V because, among other reasons, it was like five bucks when he grabbed it, but also because it looks like a fuckin' movie. Life is cheap in Battlefield games, that's one of the things that gives it a unique texture, but sometimes when I'm playing it I feel like I'm only alive long enough to appreciate an incredible vista a few seconds before my torso is transformed into a colander. Making resurrection a universal ability was probably intended to soften at least some of that, but because of the "life is cheap" part, trying to flex this divine ability is usually just dying with extra steps.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 1 week ago

Somebody claiming they aren't going to the thing I specifically disinvited them from isn't some kinda savvy rhetorical judo.

I've read a lot of stuff about vaccines online - I've seen several extended club remixes of paranoid conspiracy, ones that begin by scaffolding out some reasonable concept until it curdles about thirty percent of the way through into Space Lizards or Neuralink or some shit. It sounds stupid, and when the middle part of your mail is a different font size because you pasted in a bunch of International Laws I'm supposedly breaking I'm not going to look those up. My feeling is that if you don't like the mRNA approach for some reason, get the Johnson & Johnson one. Definitely get one of the magical free elixirs our nation bought you, to minimize your chances of becoming an anonymized increment in some kind of graph as opposed to someone your mother can hold.

My mom lost six friends last week to this shit. Lifelong friends. She was unintelligible on the phone, utterly broken. That number seems like a statistical aberration to me, but it's a real fact in her actual life. I don't know if you read the news at all. You might have noticed the recent turn toward the idea that we've been through the last wave and that we're moving into the endemic phase. I can't speak to that - in the world I live in, the supports are being kicked away just as there's a glimmer of hope. Media feels like a sequence of increasingly alien communiques; empty displays, yoked to abstractions. Leaders straight out of a meme generator, allergic to any effort to grapple with material conditions.

Well, I don't live at that level. I live down here. And here, where I can do something, I have a duty to the people who work at these shows, and the people who attend them. And not just for this show, or these people, but for the people in their periphery - and toward the furtherance of a world better than the one we're being made to endure.

(CW)TB out.

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