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Tycho / 2 hours ago

Pinny Arcade: PAX Aus Pin Quest!

I usually don’t get to put up the Pin Quest, but Gabe is drawing like two weeks of comics to get ready for PAX Aus so I’ve got the tiller.  I’m cranked, though, because this year is a bumper crop for Aus pins, alongside what might be the coolest show set yet, care of Camp Weedonwantcha‘s Katie Rice!  Alright, let’s get down to business. 


Alienware 20th Anniversary [Alienware]
“Giving out pins at the booth (Stand 1730) via on-stand competitions and through the Alienware Live Twitch channel.”

Albert and Hackernet [Surprise Attack Games]
Available for $20 AUD each at the Surprise Attack Games Stand PR10.

Hydra [League of Geeks]
Available for $20 AUD each at the Armello Stand PR08.

Rogue Singularity [Considerable Content]
Available for $20 AUD each at the Considerable Content Stand 18. Includes Steam Early Access for Rogue Singularity.

Fruits of a Feather [Samurai Punk]
Available for $20 AUD each at the Samurai Punk Stand 23.

Mallow Drops [Gritfish]
Available for $20 AUD each at the Gritfish Stand 24. Buy both Mallow Drops and Samurai Punk pins for $30

Ironic Yorick [Tin Man Games]
Available for $20 AUD each at the Tin Man Games Stand 33. They “will have some previous pins available, and can buy two pins for $30”

Psychomancer [Take This]
Available for $20 AUD each at the Diversity Hub. All funds raised help continue our efforts to raise awareness about mental health.

Tugger Nutts Goes Down Under [LoadingReadyRun]
Available at the LoadingReadyRun table in Bandland.


PAX AUS 2016 Pin Set
Available at both PAX Merch Booths.

Limited Edition PAX AUS 2016 Pin
ONLY available at the PAX Merch Lite Booth


Super Mario Bros.™ World 1-1 Pin Set
Available, for the first time, at both PAX Merch Booths. Available on the Penny Arcade Store on November 17th, 2016.


Get your Pin Quest here!

(CW)TB out


Tycho / 2 hours ago

Child’s Play Charity Dinner & Auction

It’s a great time, as always; individual tickets for the event can be secured here, while full table sponsorships can be investigated here.

For auction items, I just put myself in to be someone’s person Coffee Roaster for a year.  I have every intention of including legitimately insufferable coffee facts with each delivery.  Do you have anything to offer up for the auction, something we might transform into healing light for somebody?  Let us know at the form here; the last day for such offers is November 30th.


Tycho / 3 hours ago

I don’t know much about Titanfall 2 yet, other than the fact that it is clearly a romance.  In my travels I often encounter subcultures or representatives of subcultures with unique avenues of titillation.  I don’t have the receptors for this, I literally feel nothing when I picture it, but I have to imagine that being enveloped inside a steel man is probably doin’ something for somebody.  I’m sure for them it’s like, “God damn.  Finally.”  And then they press and hold the Square or X button over and over and over.

Stephen Totilo at Kotaku has written a kind of epitaph for a Way Of Things that I found very moving.  It is about Bethesda’s policy on sending review copies, which is to say, they don’t in the classic sense.  Media is not prioritized.  Well, certain kinds media aren’t prioritized.  The New Media - a definition which once described independent blogs, and now refers to streamers and other online influencers - is still getting stuff early, which perforates the publisher’s rhetorical case.  But Stephen’s feeling is that this is going to become more common and I can’t imagine a world in which it doesn’t.

With the occasional exception where I have sought a code, generally speaking I don’t get early copies of games - so the process being described is the way it generally works for me.  As I have said on many occasions, we are not a good investment of that review copy, a fact which is instinctively recognized.  Any questions a publisher might have about how a game will be perceived will be immediately raised by my compatriot within, like, five minutes.  Anything you’re afraid of.  Any moment of hesitation.  He’s like one of those weird ghosts that lurks in the corner of the ceiling, and his diet consists almost exclusively of your midnight fears.

Demos negatively impact sales, which is why we don’t get them anymore.  A bad demo means no purchase, and a good demo can satiate.  This is true even in an era where Next-Gen Systems, because of their aspiration toward being all-inclusive digital storefronts, literally have a demo mode built into every game so you can play it while it’s still downloading.  I really liked demos.  Sit by my rocking chair, and I will tell you when demos used to arrive on silver discs.

I’ve had a Titanfall code for a couple days, because I was able to scam one.  I installed it when I got it, but it wasn’t until this morning that I had access to what you might call Titanfall 2.  The servers weren’t all there.  So I had it, but didn’t have it - Schrodinger’s Game - and a version of this often exists when you have access to something before release.  It’s very likely not the product they intend to sell, bare minimum, because the Day One Patch is real.

I watch footage before release, I pore over UI in screenshots.  I preorder very rarely, because I’ve learned that is a dangerous way to learn the value of money.  I attend conventions and get my mitts on products I’m interested in; I follow the conversations online.  I read Reddit.  I don’t think that an early review is a better review necessarily; I like a Gerstmann review and I can wait for it.  If the danger is that we won’t be informed, that danger exists now; if we are purchasing things sight unseen, some of that responsibility must certainly lie with us.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 2 days ago

I really like the Nintendo Switch commercial, which places me at odds with Mr. Gob Dobolina, who derives from it only shame and the sense, the unavoidable sense, that the meat in his chest keeping him alive has a shelf date, like all other meat.

As stated: I like the commercial.  There are many stories presented, and you are supposed to intersect with one or more of them, but I’m a grown man who plays games in the dark and I’m in there somewhere.  Typically the story that gets told about these products doesn’t look like my experience at all, it has an aspirational payload, because you wouldn’t want people to see what happens in my Game Tomb.  I’m scratching constantly, and spores are being released.  But this motherfucker is literally playing until the sun comes up!  My dog is much, much smaller.  My dog is the electron that sails in a canine orbit around a dog like his.  But the rest of it… I know about that.

The Switch is the apotheosis of the WiiU in my opinion; something between an informative peyote vision of a possible future and the physical vessel which contains the notion.  I don’t see anything about a two-screen experience there, that’s something I really liked - a resurgence of an ancient genetic lineage.  I suspect I could be very happy with a little purpose-built slate and a couple tortilla chip looking things attached to it.  I spend a lot of time on fucking planes.  Kiko uses a Steam Controller and a Surface on flights, and does so to tremendous effect, but if he looked over and saw me hitting a boss in a very specific way three times, I think he would discover an even deeper frown than the one he has already pioneered.

The way Gabriel used his WiiU is so compatible with their Switch vision it’s essentially identical: he used the WiiU controller as a kind of Terminal.  The only thing that limited the utility of this configuration was the wireless range of the handset.  Now the handset is the fucking controller and you can take it to the court and play Zelda whenever you aren’t slamming a hot-ass dunk.  The Switch clearly clawed its way from the husk of the WiiU, thorough in its moisture, and now I want them to tell me the rest of the story.

(CW)TB out.

The Surface Studio!

If you have not heard already, Microsoft just announced a new device called the Surface Studio. It’s essentially a Surface computer for your desktop. From what I understand, you can go to any Microsoft store today and actually play with one. It’s a big beautiful screen on this slick armature that lets you adjust it from a normal monitor to something more like a drafting table for drawing on. I get questions about Surface devices and drawing all the time and I am sure this one will be no different. In fact I can already see tweets coming in asking what I think. So If you’re curious what I think about the Surface Studio, you are in luck, because I have been drawing on one for the last week.

As anyone who reads the site knows, I have been a fan of the Surface for years. It has become my go to drawing platform when I am traveling or just want to get away from my desk. I’ve also got a great relationship with the folks over on the Surface team. I’ve visited MS a number of times to talk with their engineers about digital drawing and I’ve always felt like they really listen to the feedback I’ve given them. About a year ago they invited me over to show me a brand new device. I ended up in a little tiny room with a sheet covering something on a table in front of me. There was a one way mirror on my left and I was informed that there were people back there watching. I was super curious what it was all about and when they pulled the sheet off I saw the Surface Studio.

I drew on the device for a while and even though it was early, I came away really impressed. We talked for a long time about how it worked and how it should work. They filmed me drawing on it and took all sorts of notes. Just to be clear, I don’t get paid to do any of this stuff but I enjoy doing it and I like to think I’m helping make the Surface better for artists. I saw it a handful of times after that and each time I got my hands on it I got more and more excited. Finally, last week they asked if I’d be willing to test one for a while and of course I said yes. They delivered it to my house and I set it up in my home office.

In that photo the Surface Studio is in what MS calls Desktop mode. The computer is packed into that little silver base and the monitor hangs above it on a slim chrome armature. The monitor is really the first thing you notice about the Studio. It’s absolutely gorgeous and only more amazing when you consider the fact that you get to draw on it.

Moving the Studio from one position to the next is startlingly easy. You can adjust it to whatever angle is most comfortable for you with two fingers. Once there the Studio provides enough resistance to draw comfortably without worrying about pushing it out of position. When you are drawing on it, the screen is completely engrossing. At a distance the screen is beautiful but when you are on top of it drawing, it’s absolutely stunning. Tycho asked me to compare it to my Cintiq, and I told him that drawing on the Cintiq now felt like drawing on a piece of dirty plexiglass hovering over a CRT monitor from 1997. 

The feeling of drawing on the Studio’s screen is hard to describe. I will say that the first time you do it, it feels wrong. Like you’re going to get in trouble because you clearly are not supposed to drag a fucking stylus across this thing! I’ve been drawing on it for a week now and it has gone from feeling naughty to just plain magical. The 3:2 aspect ratio is also great. The screen seems to take up more of my vertical field of vision and when I’m working on it I feel like there is MUCH less wasted space on the sides.

I also want to talk about the Surface Dial.

Have you ever turned the volume knob on a ridiculously high end piece of audio equipment and felt that smooth resistance that makes you weak in the knees? Now imagine that knob is just sitting on your desk and you can make it control all kinds of stuff.

While I am drawing, a counterclockwise turn is undo while turning the other way is redo. The Dial has built in haptics so each step backwards or forwards is accompanied by a “click” I can feel in the device. It can also be pushed like a button or pushed and held to bring up a customizeable radial menu. This menu is customizable so I can easily make that same motion zoom in and out or control the volume of my music. While you are working you can hold it in whatever position is comfortable. You can keep it on the screen or on the desk, it has a slightly tacky bottom so it stays and feels good wherever you put it.

Besides drawing, I also threw some games on it. For reference here are the specs of the device I am testing:

CPU: Intel i5 processor
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965m, 2GB vRAM
Storage: 1TB

It’s not designed to be a gaming powerhouse but I was impressed with what I saw. The monitor is obviously a big help as no matter what you play, it looks bright and beautiful. Overwatch was fast and fun on medium settings. Civ VI is what I’ve played the most on the Studio and it looks and runs fantastic. The included keyboard and mouse feel solid and work great for gaming but you can also connect up to four of the new Xbox controllers. Let’s be honest though, if you are getting a Studio it’s not because you want a badass gaming rig. This device to me is a very obvious replacement for artists who currently work on a Cintiq. It is for professional creators and the fact that I can play some games is nice but it’s not the selling point. The Studio sits at about $3000 which might sound high but consider that I paid $2500 for my Wacom Cintiq 27"HD and that isn’t even a computer. I still had to get a machine to run it!

When I first saw the device months ago in that secret room at MS, they asked me what I thought.  I said, “Well I have no idea if anyone else will want it, but you have made my dream computer.” I recognize that not everyone needs or wants a computer they can draw on. Some people do though and I will tell you that the Surface Studio is without a doubt the best digital drawing experience I have ever tried. I was trying to help Tycho understand why the Studio was so exciting. I spend 6 to 10 hours a day drawing digitally and I have for more than a decade. The Cintiq and the Surface, these are like my tools or my instruments. I am intimately familiar with how it feels to create things on these sorts of devices and the Studio honestly feels like a generational leap forward. If you are a digital artist and you are currently working on a Cintiq you have to go to a MS store and look at the Studio. I’ve always given you my honest take on this stuff and this time is no different even though I can’t think of anything bad to say. If you draw on computers the Surface Studio is something very special.

-Gabe out

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