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Tycho / 8 hours ago

Gabe had grabbed some kind of a Starter Pack for a game called Skyforge, he didn’t know much about it but something about it had made him curious.  He’s been using the Xbox One X with some regularity, maybe it’s that.  If you have a new piece of hardware you’re always trying to test it out.

I opened the website for the game and saw a unique individual at the top.  I don’t know exactly what’s going on with this guy, let’s see if we can figure it out.  His stomach is… a mouth.  I think that’s the best way of putting it.  His neck and face also appear to be mouths, and his shoulders seem to be mouths as well. Something interesting to note: he doesn’t have a mouth where you’d expect.  It’s all surprise mouths with this guy.  The only way he could have been more extreme would be if someone were doing an ollie off his pauldron.

That’s all I know, that Gabe bought a starter pack for a free MMO and it may or may not feature a guy who is 90% mouth.  But I got very hung up on the idea of the location of the Skyforge, and somehow I was able to get him to draw it.  The Penny Arcade subgenres I advocate for, the ones I sit dutifully on and try desperately to hatch, are comics where people in games suffer under the nonsense worlds we create for them or comics that feature very large, one to two panel diagrams.  So a comic where Geralt of Rivia is being crushed beneath a pie chart is the sort of thing I advocate for and, in a moment of weakness, Gabriel accepts.  Relents?

Acquiesces, maybe.  I bet in the game, people know exactly where the Skyforge is.  There might even be a button that says “Go To The Skyforge.”  You probably see it during character creation!  My version has a more robust narrative arc.

Hey, I’m gonna walk over the Skybridge to the Philadelphia Convention Center and, along with Enforcers, attendees, and exhibitors, found a new PAX show.  See you there?

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 2 days ago

I was never going to buy Star Wars: Battlefront II.  First, the compliment: I honestly can’t believe the graphics.  In an era where good graphics are commonplace Battlefront has always been doing something nobody else was: a photorealistic take on the worlds and characters of the franchise.  It’s a stunning technical achievement which frosts a cake that I am not especially fond of.

The strip is a joke, obviously, but that doesn’t mean it’s not bearing the occasional globule of liquid truth.  Grob grabbed the game long before it was out because he’d read the novel tie in and really enjoyed it.  I haven’t read it.  But I do live in a world where tie in novels can be quite good: David Gaider was murdering those Dragon Age books, and Karen Traviss established a lot of really solid flavor for Star Wars I was sad to see burned away in the Great Synchronization that came from Disney’s apathy toward the EU.

So, since he owned the game, he wasn’t really in a position to be moral retroactively.  I didn’t really have a moral impetus for not buying it; I didn’t like the first one because rounds often felt like a real Star Wars blaster fight, which to me isn’t a good thing.  Battlefront feels even more abstract and decoupled from time than the Battlefield games do; I go to this engine for sim-tier visuals and scale but the individual moments always feel like mush to me.

Talking about the monetization scheme of a game I’m not gonna buy might carry with it a churl component; I definitely understand why it’s all people want to talk about though.  The backlash to EA’s pricing structure internal to the game caused them to shred a bunch of the values, but they also changed how many credits you receive from some activities - Arcade Mode now has freemium “energy” style mechanics that limit how much you can earn.  What’s funny is that unlocking that is the sort of thing you’d typically see in an F2P, but you aren’t supposed to unlock it.  You’re supposed to buy credits!

The link up there for “changed how many credits” goes to an article on GameInformer where the writer is like, listen.  They completely pulled the levers on these systems, and I don’t even know if my review is valid anymore.  I’ve suggested before that Free To Play should be considered a genre, because of how reliably it warps the experience; this game isn’t even F2P, but it has its blooming zygote within it, stretching and pulling it beyond nature.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 4 days ago

Gabe wanted to know what I’d been playing lately, and I couldn’t think of anything except Elder Scrolls: Legends.  That’s because I was formulating the query incorrectly.  I was looking for memories where visual field was equal to computer desk, or perhaps vf=television, and not coming up with a whole lot.  Then I thought about the Switch, and all the missing time spooled out.  Picross.  Odyssey. Has Been.  Super Beat Sports with Ronia, because we gotta get those hats.

I’ve been playing Doom on there a little bit too, in single and in multiplayer, and I can’t wait to see what else people do shooter-wise on there.  I’d read that the graphics in DOOM weren’t as good as they look on a top end gaming PC or a next gen console, but it wasn’t a huge surprise to me because the Switch is a small tablet and not a PC or a home console whose exclusive domain is as an adjunct to a television.  This would be like me warning you that if you want to play your Playstation 4 on the go, it’s gonna be tough because you’d have to bring a TV with you and also a gasoline generator.  I keep being surprised at what constitutes bold rhetoric these days.

But yeah, I need something to do with myself now that Acquisitions Incorporated: The “C” Team is on break.  I expect Thursdays to feel very, very strange.  But if you’ve been waiting for a break in the action, or if you wanted a good jumping-in point to begin an audio binge, I think we’re there: you can either get it as a podcast wherever you get podcasts, or you can start feasting on the YouTube version with this playlist.  This about as good as I can make something, and I hope it invigorates you as we move into colder weather.

Technically we do have one more game though, maybe the last of the year: The “C” Team Holiday Special at PAX Unplugged.  You comin’, or what?  We got costumes for this shit and everything.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 1 week ago

I would be pretty embarrassed if I tried to electroplate my populist credentials by railing against microtransactions, but then every time there’s a new set of skins from one of the same fucking boxes I breathlessly worshipped it or did a gallery.

I don’t have some kind of hard and fast rule about them as a class of purchase; some publishers use them poorly, some are more reasonable.  Sometimes I buy them like I would junk food, in a moment of weakness.  Like, if I go to the grocery story drunk, I buy different things.  Especially at the end, in the dangerous vortex of colored sugars they place so dramatically near the escape.  It’s the same here.

Because Groab started Assassin’s Creed: Origins over again, he actually had an opportunity to perform some testing on these philosophies.  They give you just enough Helix Credits (“smurfberries, best value”) to purchase something called a Time Saver that grants crafting materials.  He did this when he played it the first time, and found that doing so basically ate the center out of the gameplay loop.  It might have saved him “time,” but it did it at the expense of the taut steel wires that held up the entire enterprise.  In the new playthrough, he didn’t buy it.  Now when he sees a hyena, it’s like, hell yeah.  Come over here, Hyena.

Let me at that skin.

Our merchandise manager Lidija wanted to make sure I put this in front of you: a preview of the stuff coming to PAX Unplugged next week.  There’s hot shit on here, to be sure, but a few of my favorite things aren’t even on here because they’re just launching at the show, now “show exclusives” as such.  Specifically, the “Board Games” version of our two “Video Games” sweatshirts.  I’m literally wearing it as I type this.  It’s like a cocoon and every minute I wear it I become more and more myself.   

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 1 week ago

Working a sense of a larger world into single player experiences is always something I’m keen on, even if the ways it tends to happen fit into some very specific boxes.  I still want to see it   at least considered because eventually it’s going to lead to something rad.  Gabriel was telling me about how Assassin’s Creed: Origins handles it and then we made a strip!  This happens a lot, I would say.  Twenty years, give or take.

I was a buy every year Assassin’s Creed fan, fuckin’…  Preorder that shit kinda guy up until Unity.  People like to post gifs where people don’t have faces or whatever, just, like…  some eyeballs and lips, but I never saw any of the bugs people were talking about.  It simply wasn’t part of my experience.  I’ll take over districts and buy rad clothes until my dying day - I don’t even have a problem with the loop.  The problem for me was that it was that they tragically underutilized the setting and even when the material was good, they didn’t capitalize on it.  I’m that rare creature who liked ACIII best, because right from the beginning it recontextualizes the entire fucking franchise.  It asks and answers the real questions I had about the series.  Yes, the part with the fire difficult.  Still the best AC game.

So I gave up on the franchise right about the time Gabe started buying it and playing it for himself; he played it about twenty hours on the PS4 Pro before restarting it completely on the Xbox One X.  I’ve been playing console games almost exclusively on the PS4 not because of any particular content but because he was also there and it had been made very clear that it’s where I should be.  I think the hardware supremacy moves the Xbox One X into gadget territory, which tantalizes him; the challenge for the Xbox as a platform is more than just the sales of their primary competitor, it’s that a “win more” scenario is created when limited development resources are allocated - in this case, years ago - toward the clear victor.  Microsoft’s in-house ability to generate (as opposed to purchase) exclusive content is minor.  Digging their way out of these things is going to be an aerobic effort, even if every performance comparison between the two systems makes the even the new PS4 look like dogshit.

We’re in the Golden Age of tabletop right now, a phenomena we’re trying to enunciate with PAX Unplugged next week, for which there are still a few three-day passes left.  But we started recognizing the indie tier in that space when PAX South got underway with the PAX South Tabletop Indie Showcase.

What we’re missing is the game you’re working on - the one you have just about done, and don’t know what the next step is.  Or, the game your friend is working on, the one that keeps coming out at game night and not just to be nice, but because it is authentically ballin’.  You gotta tell your friend to enter their game.  I check out every winning game at the show, and typically buy a few if they’re already available - it’s also a great place to bump a planned Kickstarter.  Anyway, what I’m saying is that today is the last day you can submit them, so let me give you that extra nudge: Show me what you got.

(CW)TB out.

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