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When Gabriel told me the story, it was at once completely silly and eminently sensible.  It reminded me a little of The Mancraft Saga, insofar as they both map cyberverse and regular ‘verse at a one to one ratio.

Videogames are definitely simulations and not “real” in terms of being constructed out of the typical materials we surround ourselves with.  But the virtual worlds and the people that populate them still bear all our human metadata; our brains are ridiculously compatible with these places.  Maybe it’s not weird at all that they can do that.  I’m not a brain person.  I guess most of the things we make in there resemble conceivable space.  It’s a hell of a trick, though.

Playing games online via the kind of Internet you get on an airplane is typically a non-starter, but you can do okay with some card games - and I ended up playing Duelyst for probably four straight hours.  I’m officially obsessed with it, so obsessed that I sicced the business guys on them so that we can try and do some kind of a project together.  I’m lucky that I don’t have to send them out just to keep the lights on; I can send them out to make treaties with Houses that I legitimately respect and want to work with.  We’ll see what happens with that, hopefully something, but if I’m gonna talk about the game as much as I want to I feel like that sort of has to be on the table.

I’m not a competitive person as I have said a thousand times in this space.  I make a point generally to emphasize that I am not good at games, nor am I compelled to dominate others, so that multiple senses of the word are enunciated.  Gears was an exception, in that the slower pace and legitimately horrifying death animations compelled me to great feats.  In Duelyst, making a TCG less abstract and more spatial allows me to conceive of the higher order strategies at all.  I got in late in January, but made it up to rank 14 before they started the next Season, which is so unlike my normal usage pattern that I’m trying to figure out what’s happening here.  I usually wash out as soon as it gets mean, when you crack 22 or so.  And I did stall there, like I always do.  Usually I can’t accept that I’ve learned the game incorrectly and everything I think about it is wrong and stupid.  But not this time.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 3 days ago

There is probably someone who likes Dick more than me, but I don’t know them.  Where I am typing this now, at home on my primary machine, I have no less than four Philip K. Dick books within reach - and this isn’t even where I keep my books.

I’ve been trying to push Gabriel into this lifestyle for ages, they’re just very meaningful, formative materials, and as long as you don’t mind occasionally wondering if the toast you are eating is real toast you’ll probably be fine.  But I tried to get him into a book a long time ago which he should have liked, and might even like now, but the blind faith just isn’t there anymore.

I feel like Philip K. Dick books are fully compatible with modern living in a way that modern books often are not.  Now, everyone wants to make a legacy or some shit.  Everybody wants to write some kind of fucking secular bible their first at-bat, or they write a good book and now nobody can’t tell them nothing.  Philip K. Dick books are short, but not scant.  They plant an egg in your esophagus and it grows until the version of you that started reading the books is dead, and in its place is someone like you in every way, but you trust all of your senses just a little bit less.

It’s true, though; The Man in the High Castle is the only book of his I’ve never read to my knowledge.  After PAX South, Gabe basically shotgunned the entire Amazon series in a night.  Most of the way back from San Antonio, he was reading Philip K. Dick.  When he’s done with that book, when he’s ready, I know which one he should read next.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 5 days ago

As the newest show, PAX South has such a cool energy.  And its still so young that people are always asking me if we think it’s gonna be back next year.  I don’t know a hundred percent of everything that happens, or is going to happen, but PAX South is a real show.  We made a logo, and everything!  I love coming down there, I love being handed huge bags of beef jerky, and I love getting radically different and profoundly contradictory barbecue advice.

I also like being reminded, on occasion, that people actually like what we do.  I do it because I like it, but it can be easy to get the impression that one has achieved permanent Satan status, such that other people get to determine what is written on one’s tombstone.  People gave me compliments this year I don’t even know how to contextualize.  I can’t really absorb them most of the time; I just hold them in my hand like a little sparrow until they fly away.  But they were nice to have, for a little while.

We have said on many occasions that we are spectacularly ill-suited for the role which has accreted around us, partly because we aren’t dishonest, craven, and manipulative enough for public life, but also because our minds have certain characteristics that make the job more difficult.  Luckily, our defense mechanism involves making entertainment for you.  It’s the kind of weird-ass adaptation you would see on nature shows, I guess.  But it works!

I want to thank Rugpisser and Palpitatertot for delivering unto us a truly marvelous spectacle in the final round of the Omegathon, in the long awaited GoldenEye.  The game is legendary for a reason, but it was never part of my own curriculum vitae - I was far more of a PC gamer then, and shooter culture between the two sharply diverged.  There’s always been that parallel track - I was late to Halo also, just because that’s not where I did my shit, but these two definitely knew what the fuck was up, - trading points, and then whole games, as the Old Wisdom returned to them.  After winning a game apiece, the last game went 9-9, with the tenth and winning point going to Palpitatertot.  There’s a dramatic arc here, because Rugpisser was actually the returning runner up from last year, and we’ll see him again next time around.  People have come back twice like that and gone on to win.  It happens.

All in all, the show was simply a supernatural phenomenon.  We rent the venue, the Enforcers form the spine of it, and then you bring PAX; not a bad system, really.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 1 week ago

I changed the person’s handle a very, very small amount, not enough to change the pronunciation, but this is almost the exact conversation we had re: that evening’s Randrew Jackson.

Even if I can’t parse somebody’s handle in an explicitly rude way, I always assume it’s super bad and wrong, I just don’t know exactly how.  I assume that most of the words in those dense bricks are different things it’s possible, though not entirely legal, for people to do to moms?

Gabriel saw, like, a “Bill Murray 430” type handle, and got excited because he didn’t know Bill Murray was on PSN.  I told him it probably wasn’t Bill Murray, which is just a nice way of saying it’s not fucking Bill Murray man, but the fervent wish to be near this astonishing figure thumps in the breast of all sentient beings.

To my mind, just straight up calling yourself Bill Murray as a handle is in abrogation of the Handle Accords, which state that you need to have religious iconography or obscure astronomers in there somewhere.  But there’s two scenarios for the numbers, both terrifying in their own way.  One, it’s possible that there are four hundred and twenty-nine other Bill Murrays on PSN, not including Bull Murrays or even Bill Moray, the famous eel.  The other is that they weren’t able to get 420, so they went for 430, which I think we can all agree is a different number.  I’m sure I could hit up Urban Dictionary and get a definition of some kind, but every configuration of letters in the English language has some ribald, specious definition there.  In my experience, if you show up at 430, you’re too late.

PAX South is today!  I will be there, with an explicit charter to meet people and make merry, so if you roll through let’s make it a point to be friends.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 2 weeks ago

The Witness!  I don’t know, man.

As a young person, by which I mean a much younger person, I wondered what adventure games would look like when fidelity crossed a certain threshold, and the “pixel hunts” of that era were replaced by something more like finding an actual needle in a real, non-metaphorical haystack.  And maybe we’re there, now.  I am playing a game where I don’t authentically know where the “game” begins and ends.  I don’t know what pertains to me.  Which I think might be the underlying point?

I’ll just tell you what you need to play it.  First, you’ll need your mind.  Give it a thorough cleaning, so the drawers open with no squeak.  Then, have a pencil, some graph paper, and some regular paper.  If you’re playing alone, like I am, use headphones - but I’m doing it wrong, so don’t do that.  Find a person with their own mind, orthagonal to your own, someone who can be endured and (optimally speaking) likes the same kind of soda, and get them where you are.

The tagline of the official site reads “Explore an abandoned island,” which really gets right to it.  The island is already one of my favorite game spaces of all time, it’s meticulous and sprawling, and I believe that it is a one to one model of Jonathan Blow’s synapses.  But there’s one more thing about it: the place is studded with some legitimately nefarious‚Ķ  well, mazes, I’d call them.  The challenges I know about, at least, are all mazes - at least on paper.  Sometimes the walls of the mazes are literal, but more often than not the real walls are logical ones whose secret grammar you must discover and then become conversant in.  Gabriel plays games to discover new art, and I play them to learn new things, and so this is one of those rare games that is perfect for both of us.

If you’d like to know how it innovates, let me count the ways.  This is a brand new thing for the genre: I’m now stuck on, I think, five different puzzles simultaneously.  One puzzle is emblazoned with a set of symbols I can’t comprehend.  One puzzle I solved once already, by accident, and I can’t re-solve it - I feel confident I’m going to need to know this, so I’m trying to figure it out.  One puzzle looks so simple that you’d think it would be impossible not to solve, but I have found a way.  One puzzle can’t be solved in our universe, just because of how reality is.  And one puzzle might not even be a puzzle.  Which would, I guess technically, bring me down to four.

(CW)TB out.




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