Phaedrus' Street Crew
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Everything posted by Urthman

  1. Tone Control 8: TOM FRANCIS

    Haven't listened to this yet, but seeing Tom Francis's name on here I feel compelled to speak out. I was initially unenthusiastic about Tone Control because I figured you'd be talking to a bunch of people I've never heard of and maybe talking about games I wasn't interested in. But wow. Episode after episode, I keep saying, "Oh, I know (of) that guy! I love that game. I'm really interested to hear this." And the interviews have consistently been more interesting than even that first burst of recognition and enthusiasm would make me expect. And now you get Tom Francis, who is pretty much my favorite person to listen to talking about video games outside of the Idle Thumbs crew. So, I give up. I officially love this podcast. Congrats, Steve on getting such a great lineup of game devs and thanks for asking them such interesting questions.
  2. Tone Control 7: Brendon Chung!

    Anyone besides me think Brendon sounds like Nicholas Cage?
  3. I think it would be less of a controversy if we just called them "surprises" rather than "spoilers." Did something in the game surprise you? Did you enjoy being surprised? Maybe other people would also enjoy that surprise.
  4. I really, really didn't mean to revist the whole "Spoilers: Are They A Thing We Should Care About?" discussion. I was just curious about the logic where people who do care about not spoiling games (and that obviously includes you, Sean, because you explicitly talk around spoilers for recent games in the podcast all the time) seem to think that spoilers at the beginning of a game matter less than spoilers at the end of the game. It seems that if there's a pleasure to be had from a surprise, it woudn't matter if the surprise is at the beginning or the end.
  5. When did it become a thing that spoilers don't matter if you spoil something right at the beginning of a game or a movie? For instance, it sounds to me like Sean in this episode maybe spoils the best narrative surprise in Carl of Juarez, but since it happens in the first hour of the game, it's just assumed that that doesn't matter? I'm not at all attacking Sean here. I realize it would be silly to listen to a video game podcast and get bent out of shape about spoilers, and so I don't begrudge you guys one bit for talking about spoilers in games. But I'm just curious about the logic here. If something is really cool to experience without knowing that it's coming, surely it isn't less of a spoiler just because it's at the beginning of a game instead of at the end. But I hear people talk that way all the time. "This is a spoiler, but it's in the first five minutes of the movie, so I'm not ruining anything if I tell you..." How does that make any sense?
  6. GOTY.cx 2013

    The games I enjoyed the most this year (who cares when they were released): Super Hexagon - maybe the most pure video game that ever video gamed Miasmata - The mapping mechanic is a really nifty and novel hook for exploring a pretty island and collecting stuff. The story and other stuff is nicely understated and restrained. The progression from sickness to health felt more empowering than the typical game that takes you from badass to demigod. Spelunky - for the same reasons everybody else loves it Kairo - for making me feel -- without any words -- like I was in an Arthur C. Clark novel, and for such elegant design in environment and interface Brothers - For being one of the most artistically beautiful games I've ever played. For looking like a children's fairy tale and remembering what Grimm's Fairy Tales were like. And for making me glad I have a controller for my computer. Jelly No Puzzle - for making me feel like a genius. Maybe the best puzzle game I've ever played. Race the Sun - another elegant, minimalist design; even the premise is elegant. You're racing toward the sunset in a solar-powered hoverplane. When the sun sets, you're out of power. The faster and farther you go, the more time you have until sunset (it's kind of a small planet). Shadows can be as dangerous as physical obstacles. The levels randomly generate every day, so you have some time to learn a level, find secret portals and power-ups, but then you have a new challenge the next day. The game gives you some achievements that are mostly fun challenges (a few are grindy) that unlock upgrades for your ship, some of which make the game a lot more fun. Risen - It does the RPG stuff pretty well, but I especially love the environments Piranha Bytes creates. The Gothic games and Risen are more fun to explore than most any other open world games I've played. Batman: Arkham City - because they removed GFWL and because they made zipping and gliding around the city as much fun as punching mobs of thugs was in the first game. And for one of the best boss battles (Mr. Freeze) I've played in a long time. Honorable mentions for Minecraft, Papo Y Yo, Saints Row the Third, and reinstalling MIrror's Edge (playing through a bunch of the time trials and then going back through the campaign made me feel like a badass, ).
  7. I agree. That seems like a super-useful game design discovery. If you want to discourage some kind of anti-social or undesirable player behavior, the best way to do it is to make it utterly boring. That strikes me as more likely to be effective even than some harsh penalty.
  8. Anyone who is entertained by this sort of Idle Thumbs antics is going to really love this episode. I was listening while going for a walk and I'm pretty sure I got more exercise from laughing than from the walking.
  9. kickinthehead this is the best and you are the best. I laughed so hard.
  10. Given Jake's involvement, I predict they're making a Lords Management game.
  11. Nick is busy finishing his book about Duke Nukem Forever.
  12. "It's like Gone Home with ghosts!" -- IGN.com
  13. Oh, and regarding what Jake said about DDHDA having occasional moments of deep insight among the silliness, this is one of my favorite bits from any Douglas Adams book:
  14. I love the way Idle Thumbs will have an intelligent, insightful discussion of the dissonance in GTA4 between Nico's story and the dong jokes, interrupted by a bunch of dong jokes.
  15. Maybe so. But I could have you listen to a dozen random songs or watch a dozen random TV shows and I doubt you could name which, if any, were written with any awareness of the iPhone business model. Conversely, if I took a dozen random games, I bet almost any casual gamer would immediately see the difference between games that ask you for money as you play and games that don't. So i think Chris is right that this is a thing that sticks out when you play games in a way that is really different to how it sticks out (if it does) when you watch movies or listen to music.
  16. I agree with Chris and disagree with Jake and Sean about in-app purchases being a very different thing for games. It's just not true that artists now write songs differently or that directors edit their movies differently to encourage people to make in-app purchases while they listen to the song or watch the movie. Plants vs. Zombies 2 is clearly a different sort of game than the first PvZ game because of the in-app store and that difference has got to be obvious even to people who aren't "gamers" particularly.
  17. So who is Chris's manger at Double Fine, and does he know that "Lord Management" is now part of his job description?
  18. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is the most successful version of a narrative structure that Adams kept trying in most of his later novels, where he lays out a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated events and details and then suddenly ties them all together and brings the book to an end in just a few pages. Ideally, the reader is supposed to say, "What? That's the end? But...oh... [an equivalent of the montage from the end of The Sixth Sense plays in the reader's head] ... I see." His first (published1) experiment with that sort of thing was the business with the Krikkit ball at the end of Life, The Universe, and Everything. He did an even more drastic version of it in the second Dirk Gently novel (Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul) that I thought didn't work nearly as well, but it's been 20+ years since I read it, so maybe I should go back and see if maybe I just didn't get it. And then he has some elements of that structure in the end of Mostly Harmless. I think the ending of DDHDA works because he is so fair about demonstrating the "rules" in what you don't realize is just the 'B' plot about Gordon Way. As you're being shown explicitly what happens to Way, there are plenty of clues that the same thing is happening in a bigger way in some of the other plot threads. I also think he does a good job making the Bach gag work by having so many places where people are talking about classical music where Bach's name is almost conspicuous by it's absence (the college radio programming, Susan's cello repetoire, the [spoiler redacted]'s dissatisfaction with Vivaldi, all the talk about the relationship between math and music), as well as the way it paralells a simlar anomaly regarding Coleredge. There's a whole lot of very fine parallelism in the structure of the book (the oddly rationalized actions of Richard's cat burlary, Reg's magic trick, and then Michael's
  19. That's an interesting example. The whole "beat up, scare, or threaten the bad guy to make him talk" has been a trope in action movies and superhero comics for a very long time. It wasn't until I saw Dark Knight that I saw the connection between that trope and the current debates about torture. Interestingly, in that movie, every time Batman tries to intimidate someone, he fails -- usually because the criminals are more scared of the Joker. One of the main questions of the movie is whether the Joker can force Batman and the citizens of Gotham to become like him in order to fight him. And that movie sort of ruined the concept of Batman for me. I can't watch Batman hold a thug upside-down over a ledge, threatening to drop him if he doesn't talk, (or worse, the whole "I'm gonna go to the bad side of town and start beating people up until someone tells me where the Joker is" routine) without being reiminded of the shame of my government waterboarding and forcefeeding prisoners at Guantanamo. It doesn't seem cool or heroic to me anymore.
  20. Kairo

    Just finished this game and loved it. The atmosphere and design made me feel like I was in an Arthur C. Clarke novel exploring weird alien ruins. The screenshots don't do it justice because the striking thing is how the game is able to create so many distinct and memorable locations out of such simple building blocks. The puzzles are engaging, but not difficult. Which, for me, made the pacing feel just right. It's not at all like a Myst game where you have to spend a lot of time in one place trying to figure out what to do. Most of the time I figured out what to do before a location wore out its welcome and was on to seeing something new. That said, there are secrets. And if you feel stuck, look at the in-game hints because (you should probably read this spoiler): The interface is as simple and elegant as the architecture. There is no hud. No inventory. No use key. All interaction with the environment is effected by moving around in the environment. One of my favorite parts of the design is a sort of switch that is aware of your position in the room. Using it felt genuinely alien and weird and satisfying. Old school gamers might enjoy the speed you move through the environment. It almost feels like a Quake 3 mod. It's like someone made an atmospheric Myst-type game in the Quake 3 engine, leaving out all my least favorite parts of Myst games (lame writing and lore, annoying characters, puzzles that are too hard, clunky interface).
  21. This little game was an IGF award winner in 2011. You fly a paper airplane around a rural farm revealing and giving color to "childhood memories" as you successfully fly the plane along, around, and through various objects on the farm. It's a little bit like Flower, Okami, and De Blob. I tried it when it first won the IGF award, but I didn't have a controller then and I didn't get very far into it. I usually scoff at games recommending controllers, having played just about everything successfully with a keyboard & mouse, but for this game, it actually makes a huge difference. It's designed to use just the analog triggers, and played that way, you have very fine control of the plane. The game is small, but it's quite a bit larger and deeper than I'd realized with many secrets to discover. The control of the plane is very satisfying as it glides along, getting an occasional boost when you reveal or color something on the farm. Combined with the painterly stylized graphics and a meditative flute & clarinet theme, I find it a gentle and beautiful experience. Even after completing the game, I keep coming back to it every once in a while to take another relaxing flight around the farmyard. It's free. If you have a controller for your PC, check it out: http://paperplane-game.com/
  22. The interview with Sean is great, but the segment before that where Molyneux reviews fart apps for the iPhone is the best. He's so funny and self-depreciating. Between that and his evident good humor about petermolydeux, I like the guy a whole lot. And his app idea is hilarious and brilliant: make an app that listens to your farts and rates them, comparing them with a database of farts and telling you, "You just farted like a 57-year-old Norwegian fisherman." Also, what he says at the beginning of the interview with Sean about the horror of being in an interview and knowing you have to say something right now, no matter how dumb it is, made me feel all sympathetic for the guy about how I used to laugh at OldManMurray poking fun at some of his more ridiculous quotes. They're still funny, but I get the impression he'd agree that they're funny too.
  23. Yeah, I just can't forgive Nick for going away, never coming back, and ending Idle Thumbs forever. I sure miss that podcast.
  24. Mirror's Edge 2. I'm not even fucking joking.

    I liked the puzzle aspect, too ("How the heck am I supposed to get up / over there?"), but if you do the time trials and watch some top ghosts (or watch some YouTube videos), you'll see people pulling off tricks and routes that I'm almost certain the developers didn't intend. I really liked that the traversal mechanics were robust enough to make that kind of thing possible, and it's possible you could get up to some amazing stuff in a more open-world environment. To anyone who is lukewarm about this game, I think it's best enjoyed if you go through the story once on easy to unlock the time trials. Then play the time trials. Think of it as a parkour training sim, where you play a novice freerunner hanging out on the rooftops, learning to do parkour tricks. Once you've got a star or two in all the time trials, go back and do the story again and this time you'll feel like a badass action hero. Mirror's Edge rewards skill more than most games -- it's a qualitatively different and better game if you've learned how to play it well.
  25. Chris suddenly talking about Stickets made me think not of a Town Hall meeting but of the guy showing up at the EA shareholders meeting: "Um, hello there? Will there be any treats? Does anyone know where I can find that sweet picture of Michael Jordan on a 386 computer? And I downloaded this game, Stickets? for my iPhone? And I can't mute the sound. No, it's not an EA game. But if you're making a mobile game, you need -- you need to -- include controls to disable sound and music within the game itself and not just expect me to mute my entire phone."