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  1. Yesterday
  2. I played through and finished Pathologic 2! Only like 5 years after first becoming interested in the original game Whew, what an exhausting, fascinating and engaging game. You can find a lot of more general thoughts on the game all around the internet, but most of what I've seen has been about the mechanics of the game, it's tone, or the disease elements. I want to talk about the games meta elements and its social commentary, neither of which I was expecting. The game is quite literally "theatric", part of its structure is that of a play. I'm not going to spoiler anything here, so reader beware. If you don't know anything about it, you play Artemy Burakh, a doctor in a remote Russian town that is suffering from a plague. You have 12 days to try and save the town and as many people as possible before the army destroys the town to contain the plague. Almost all events, conversations or interactions can be missed, as they are all time sensitive. You have to take care of your own hunger, thirst and exhaustion to be able to care for the people in town. It is worth noting how much I appreciate a game that makes a player routinely question whether violence is the right tool to tackle a challenge. Games have greatly improved in the verbs they make available to players, but "shoot dude/stab dude" is still often presented with little to no alternative. This game makes you question every act of violence, and gives you an alternative to almost all of them. Player as Actor and Death as Rebirth I love games that do something interesting with death or failure. A simple reload or restart erases a player's actions in game. A player may learn something, but the main repercussion of failure is the loss of a player's real world time. Pathologic encourages players to live with mistakes, the game can be finished with a satisfactory resolution to the story even if a player has many failures (in this case, failure can be player death, a major character dying, or missing story events). But it does something with player death that few games do. Death stays with you, you can't reload a save to before you die. Every time you die, the game autosaves and remembers, so that death sticks with you even if you do back up time. Every death delivers you to the Theater, a surreal dream state in which the theatrical nature of the game is reinforced. Usually you have a conversation with the Director, who tells you that each death is real and that with each death, a new actor must be hired to reprise the role of surgeon Artemy Burakh and continue his path. The failures of each previous actor weigh down their successors though, and with each death the game becomes a little harder as the character's maximum health, stamina or hunger are reduced. Late in the game, an exceedingly strange conversation happens with the character of the Inquisitor. The Inquisitor is a woman whose job is solving unsolvable problems for the government. She had been sent in to manage the plague response. The Inquisitor tells you that she has fallen in love with you and asks that you run away with her. There is almost no foreshadowing of this. It's a bizarre and out of character break. She insists that none of this is real, that she has finally understood that her and everyone else are puppets and she wants to cut the strings and stop playing. You can ask her who the puppet master is. Her reply is that they are the person who just put those words in your mouth. It's open to interpretation on if she is meaning society in the context of the game, the writer of the game's script, or the player themselves. If you choose to run away with her, you are both stopped outside of town and she is shot and killed. The player is instructed to return to town. The play is not yet finished, and the actors may not yet leave the stage if they still have a role to play. Right before the finale, the player meets themselves, Artemy Burakh. Time has become confused, the Director has abandoned the play, and an Artemy successor has entered the stage before the previous one left. Which one came first? Who is the understudy? Combined I think these all point to an interpretation of the Player as Actor. Artemy is replaced by a new actor each time he dies because the player themselves are constantly in a state of change, of becoming someone else, the cycle of birth and rebirth of the self as we are changed by the world around us. The player has learned something, the character carries the scars of that learning, and the player will have to be someone else if they do not want to repeat the same actions and die in the same way. That sounds like really stoned cliche philosophy even as I type it out, and mostly life isn't that dramatic, but as a piece of art what Pathologic is trying to do is to highlight that process that happens to all of us over time. Covid-19 and the Plague of Wealth and Inequality The town in the game is divided into two dominant groups. the Kin are an indigenous group living in slavery serving as labor for the Town. Everyone else is "human". The Kin are presented and treated as an other with more in common with animals than people. Some of them look alien, others look like normal people. They are presented as being superstitious and foolish. Some of them are weirdly sexualized in a way that's deeply resonant with how America can sexualize women from other cultures. A half kin/half townsfolk person had spent years trying to incrementally bring the Kin into equality with townsfolk, and ultimately is the person who causes the plague. He decides that the town is unsavable in its current form, and only a radical upheaval of the status quo through catastrophe will change things. The town was diseased before there was ever a plague, and that disease was the enslavement of the Kin. Artemy is the son of this character. The player's final message from their father is to save the children, let the children grow up in a world that is not so painfully tainted as the one the adults have made. This character is presented as more...problematic than that summary though. He also believes that the Kin must abandon their culture and assimilate if they are to survive. There are no real good or bad characters in this game, it is populated by deeply flawed people navigating a society that is unfair and broken in a myriad of ways. But as I watch how America and the world have responded to covid-19, I cannot but help think about how immediately it laid bare the dangers of our own class system. The poor and working class continue to work and expose themselves so that many of us can safely shelter at home, those who were deemed essential and therefore sacrificial to the greater good. The rest are cut loose with little safety net. In game, the Kin are nearly wiped out by the plague. The father's attempt to save them doomed them as they were forcibly locked up and quarantined in their cramped, dormitory housing, while the wealthy and middle class sheltered in homes that had more protection from the plague and they have access to medical help. The dormitory of the Kin is off limits to the player until it is too late. In our real world, we will see the headlines about the famous who die, we will grieve the loss of their talent. But we already know that the people most affected are going to ones who are already vulnerable. And we will likely know few if any of their stories. The same as before. The original Pathologic was written and developed in the early 2000s, and Pathologic 2 is a re-imagining drawing from the original. It feels tailor made to this time. Because the problems it sees predate the disease.
  3. Mouth Feel - The Summer Wizard Cocktail Jam

    I've got an amazing drink maker at home - Margaritaville Mixed Drink Maker - click here to read more about it. Definitely a good topic of discussion at a party or gathering. It's very easy to use once set up. Works better when you do not use flavoured alcoholic beverages (rum, vodka and tequila). It's cool to look at and you don't have to worry about making the drinks.
  4. Three Moves Ahead 492: The Last Autumn (Frostpunk) Rob is joined by Cameron Kunzelman and Ethan Gach to return to the world of Frostpunk before the frost as the panel considers the game's latest DLC, The Last Autumn. In some ways it's an expansion the reveals some of the worst traits of Frostpunk, but in some other ways it reinvents and reimagines the game as a trickier and more credible management game. The Last Autumn (Frostpunk) Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  5. Last week
  6. Free Music / SFX Resource - Over 2000 Tracks

    Hi folks, This week’s new free MP3 tracks are: On my Chiptunes 3 page: PIXEL RUNNER – (Looping) https://soundimage.org/chiptunes-3/ On my Fantasy 10 page: THE ENCHANTED FOREST SMOLDERS – (Looping) https://soundimage.org/fantasy-10/ And on my Sci-Fi 9 page: ORBITING INDUSTRIES – (Looping) https://soundimage.org/sci-fi-9/ More developers have been reaching out to me about my Ogg music tracks. Please know that I’m in the process of creating them and uploading them to Gumroad, but it’s taking time since there are over 2000 tracks on my site. If you want an Ogg version of a track that isn’t available yet, just email me and I’ll be happy to create it for you and put it on Gumroad. Stay safe and healthy.
  7. Earlier
  8. Working From Home In this week's episode Derek and Ric discuss working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, and how it's affected the industry. We also discuss the brilliantly cut trailer for season 3 of Killing Eve. Trailers Discussed: Killing Eve Season 3, Kong: Skull Island. Links: Derek's post about working from home. If you have questions or comments please send them to cutdown@idlethumbs.net. Listen on the Episode Page Listen in iTunes
  9. Half-Life 3

    Also here's a recent Valve interview where they talk about bringing the Campo Santo folks on board. (at 14:55)
  10. Half-Life 3

    So anyone else play this Half Life: Alyx thingy? I just finished it and here's WOT I THINK. Performance I'm on a GTX1070, i7-4770K 3.50GHz, 16GB RAM, playing with Oculus Rift. I had a few crashes, and also a bit stuttery performance towards the end. The game also kept warning that my memory was low whenever I started it up. It says it requires 12GB RAM, but I have 16, so dunno what I'm supposed to do about that (yeah, I had all other unnecessary applications shut down). Had graphics quality set to Low, tho the game still looked great, and performed smoothly for the most part. Gameplay This is the most polished first person shooter I've played in VR. Gunplay and other interactions feel great. They way you have to flick your wrist back to pull things with the gravity-gloves feels great. There's a ton of great little environmental touches. You can play the piano, draw with crayons, honk car horns, pick up everything that looks pick-uppable and open anything that looks like it should open. I played seated, with smooth locomotion. My favourite part was a stealth-focused section in a vodka distillery halfway through the game, which packs a lot of neat VR stealth ideas into just 30 min. It left me wishing someone would make a proper Thief VR game. Story It starts off strong, with a clear objective which you then pretty quickly accomplish. After that the pace slows down for the middle part of the game before getting really intriguing in the 3rd act. There are some crazy revelations and it's very fun to see how it ties into the series as a whole. Video! Having finished this it's hard not to think another Half-Life game is right around the corner. They way it ends, man... they just can't leave us hanging for another 15 years before continuing the story. I mean, they wouldn't do that, would they? ... would they?
  11. Hi everyone, If you happen to have kids (or know someone who does) here's a brand new free resource that I hope is helpful. It's a website for my video learning series, “Dune’s Island,” which aims to teach kids environmental stewardship in a really fun way through stories and characters. Within the site you can freely access all the episodes, support documentaries and even tie-in curriculum (like vocabulary, math problems, writing prompts and more.) In the coming weeks, I’ll be expanding the site with all kinds of activities and more cool documentaries, so please be sure to bookmark it. In the meantime, any and all feedback is welcome and very much appreciated. Enjoy and stay safe. https://www.dunesisland.org/
  12. anime

    yeah I love anime
  13. Free Music / SFX Resource - Over 2000 Tracks

    Hi everyone, More developers have been reaching out to me about my Ogg music tracks. Please know that I’m in the process of creating them and uploading them to Gumroad, but it’s taking time since there are over 2000 tracks on my site. If you want an Ogg version of a track that isn’t available yet, just email me and I’ll be happy to create it for you and put it on Gumroad. Anyhow, this week’s new free MP3 tracks are: On my City/Urban 2 page: “HUNTING A FUGITIVE” https://soundimage.org/city-urban-2/ On my Introspective/Emotions page: “ISOLATED” https://soundimage.org/introspective/ And on my Nature/Science 3 page: “FAR NORTH” – (Looping) https://soundimage.org/nature-science-3/ Stay safe and healthy.
  14. Episode 491: Master of Magic

    Wasn't MoO just more popular than MoM thus spawning more successors? Also yeah, there are plenty of great successors. They've mentioned Age of Wonders but it seems like they aren't that found of the series. Both AoW and Heroes do what Troy talks about - through all the fantasy stuff into the mix. Heroes more so before 5, since 5 they are more similar to AoW in world building. Before Heroes 5 every fantasy creature is its own unit. If there's an elf it's a specific unit (elf archer). Since Heroes 5 they have an elf with swords, an elf who casts spells, an elf with a bow and so own, much more similar to AoW. Still, AoW3 has a lot of types of units. Plus there's great commander customization both with stats and appearance. I still agree with Rowan and Sid that they shouldn't have made a separate tactical battle but that brings me to the love for Total War Warhammer. For some reason all those reviewers like it more than AoW3. It's clear they've played AoW3 too. They saw it has real tactical battles while TWWH are pretty straightforward. They saw how you can play the grand campaign without waiting for end turns for hours. Still AoW3 is a footnote in discussions like this and TWWH is one of the most discussed games on 3MA.
  15. Free Music / SFX Resource - Over 2000 Tracks

    I hope everyone is safe and healthy. If you have kids (or know someone who does) here's a brand new free resource that I hope is helpful. It's a website for my video learning series, “Dune’s Island.” Within it you can freely access all the episodes, support documentaries and tie-in curriculum (like vocabulary, math problems, writing prompts and more.) In the coming weeks I’ll be expanding the site with all kinds of cool activities and more documentaries so please be sure to bookmark it. In the meantime, any and all feedback is welcome and very much appreciated. Enjoy and stay safe. https://www.dunesisland.org/ P.S. Please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks!
  16. Episode 491: Master of Magic

    I'm surprised there was no mention of Deity Empires, it's about the closest thing to a "modern" remake of MoM that I'm aware of. It's not that well known of a game but anyone looking for Master of Magic type games should run across it's name pretty quick.
  17. Episode 491: Master of Magic

    I think, that one reason we see more spiritual successors of Master of Orion than Master of Magic, might be because, MOO had such "traumatic end" with MOO3, which create this space where you have two good games and on tragic bad one, making people both wish to bring back the previous game and make a proper sequel. Master of Magic on the other hand, never had that. Also, I guess that a lot of people only came aware of it, much later by playing game such as Age of Wonder, ect.. At least, that what happened to me. When you guys talked about "World of Magic" it kind bring vague memories, like "I remember hearing about this, but I have zero idea what exactly is or was", I had to check out, and I still only have vague memories hearing about this game only it was disliked a lot.
  18. Movie/TV recommendations

    I've definitely noticed that trend in Japanese media, too. I wonder if it's the cultural baggage of novels (and fiction in general) being a women-dominated endeavor in Japan throughout the pre-modern period. Men wrote poems and nonfiction, women wrote "silly stories," and that's how The Tale of Genji came to be considered as perhaps the world's first novel.
  19. Episode 491: Master of Magic

    Troy's nicknames are back, yay! Haven't listen to this episode already, but I'm certainly looking forward to it. I must have played Master of Magic way back in 2010-2011 and I'm not even sure how I came across the game. It was one of those slow holidays were you don't have much to do and you just install a random game that you've came across without nothing much about. I was pleasantly surprised by the graphics and how I was able to stumble my way through it without needing to open the manual (which I didn't had, so...). I do recall not understanding the battles but also not needing to as the battle AI was very basic and, to me, the best part f the game was growing your town(s) and marveling at the graphics. Edit: Talking about the lack of episodes, I saw that Rob reviewed DOOM: Eternal, which leads me to believe that in the next episode we'll have Rob, Julian and Tom Chick discussing this new, hot, strategy game and how come it is a strategy game. Hint! Hint! it makes heavy use of resource management and resource allocation.
  20. Three Moves Ahead 491: Master of Magic This week we are going all the way back to 1994 to discuss Master of Magic. MoM, though not quite as popular as its bovine counterpart, was a very forward-thinking game. It offered many levels of customization not yet seen in gaming and inspired classic modern series like Dominions and Age of Wonders. Listen in as Rowan Kaiser, Jon Bolding, and Troy "Do you like what I've done with my hobbit hole?" Goodfellow discuss Master of Magic, sci-fi vs fantasy, and why generic magic isn't necessarily a bad thing. Master of Magic, Elemental, Dominions, Age of Wonders Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  21. Plug your shit

    Bored at home, slowly loosing my mind i've decided to start a blog: https://filmfleecereviews.tumblr.com Work in progress, only to be taken partly serious. Please enjoy & share!
  22. Idle Thumbs Readers Slack & Discord

    Since the last invite link seems to be broken here's a new one: https://join.slack.com/t/idlethumbsreaders/shared_invite/zt-5jl19a5c-Sldu3JiRUG4zSmP9jXYuKA
  23. Episode 411: Total War: WARHAMMER II

    The episode seems to work for me. Both listening from the website and downloading the MP3. 3MA content seems to have a slowed down quite a bit lately though-
  24. Dreadlands: new turn-based game!

    Looks right up my alley, I'll put it on the ol' wishlist.
  25. Hey everyone! We just released our game Dreadlands into Early Access and we would love to hear what our fellow tactics & strategy game enthusiasts think about it! Dreadlands is a turn-based tactics RPG inspired by games such as XCOM, Jagged Alliance 2, Necromunda and Fallout Tactics. It's set in a post-apocalyptic world where everyone is fighting over the precious super-resource known as Glow and features 2 separate factions, each with their own campaigns. We're very community driven so we wanted to try and bring all of the turn-based enthusiasts together in a shared online world (but you can still play offline) where we can all play together. We currently have PvP in the game, but we're going to expand on it as well as add Co-op into Early Access soon, along with much more stuff! Right now we're also giving away 5 Dreadlands Steam keys on Twitter. So just like and retweet this Twitter post to enter the raffle for a chance to win! https://twitter.com/playdreadlands/status/1241074178553413634 If you want more info you can check the links below, but either way it'd be awesome to hear your thoughts! Here is our Early Access trailer: https://youtu.be/Yet1hmq3gw4 And a short gameplay trailer https://youtu.be/0qkODLRn7GU If you want to check out more of the game in action here is a good start https://youtu.be/4gO7rGk_3oU steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1054690/Dreadlands/ discord: https://discord.gg/Jedb75
  26. Shape the next mobile game!

    Hey all! We’re a group of mobile game designers and we're looking for feedback on what the next mobile game should be. Join us from early concept to playtesting, and help shape our next game! 1. Provide feedback on early designs, stories, and mechanics 2. Participate in early stage prototypes 3. Play games before they release Head over to https://mobquests.com/forum to sign up now!
  27. Drift Worlds - My first game release

    Hi everyone, I have just pushed a new release that makes the game go from 30FPS to 60FPS. It's a huge difference and runs very smoothly. Also the store prices have been slashed by 50%!. Feedback is appreciated on how smoothly it runs on your device. <3
  28. LOTCG, Justin McElroy's favourite smaller game of 2020 so far, is now available for Mac and Linux, and on GOG too! https://www.gog.com/game/lair_of_the_clockwork_god (Launch sale 10% off at GOG right now.) https://store.steampowered.com/app/1060600/Lair_of_the_Clockwork_God Okay, I'll shut up about it again until we get on another store or platform!
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