Phaedrus' Street Crew
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About Merus

  • Rank
    I bet the abyss will blink first
  • Birthday 07/01/1985

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    Not Telling
  • Location
    Sydney AU where they're always drinking coffee
  1. Movie/TV recommendations

    Yeah, there's basically no reason to watch Season 1 of Parks and Rec. Early Season 2 is still pretty bad, but they're clearly righting the ship. I'd suggest starting with season 3, and if you like it, going back to season 2, tolerating the bad episodes, and enjoying the build-up to the events that kick off season 3. One of the advantages to the disastrous Season 1 was that they established that the show's premise evolves. One of the show's iconic sequences, the ice rink campaign launch, isn't even remotely compatible with the premise of the show established in season 1.
  2. I mean the sex goddess bit is pretty egregious and I'm not defending that. But I think the framing device is intended to be in the back of your mind: Kvothe's an unreliable narrator, and to an extent every story in this world is a distorted telling of events. Part of how it'll be received overall, I think, is how much the chronicler is going to push back on some of the inaccuracies in the story in the pointy end.
  3. Missions that made you quit

    I feel like the post-game area being hard isn't really the same thing as a mission that made you quit; stuff like Hell in Cave Story is explicitly something after the point where the game is happy for you to quit, and to even unlock it, you have to do a fairly obscure series of actions that wouldn't occur to you unless you were intentionally trying to squeeze more playtime out of the game. Hmm. There's a boss fight in Radiant Historia that I simply can't get past, and I definitely ran into a wall there.
  4. Books, books, books...

    I read The Poisoner's Handbook. I liked it a lot! It's a very readable but still very detailed account of the early days of toxicology in New York, and how much of the era was reflected in the way people died.
  5. The thing that bothers me about smart characters being painted as wish-fulfilment is that if I wrote down things that I did, in my own life, and ascribed them to a fictional character, I get the feeling they'd be painted as wish fulfilment. No-one's just born knowing French. No-one's that good at something they've never done before.
  6. bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

    I mean, I think it is a bubble but I also think it's fundamentally unworkable. It's like Rapture: like, it's an incredible technological achievement and hats off to the insane dude who managed to create his own parallel universe, but I still don't want to live there.
  7. Telltale Troubles

    100% agreed here. Same reason why Her Story does it: so you can have a puzzle where you have to infer a solution where your clues never actually represent that solution, something that no-one's been able to do successfully with a inventory, but is trivial with a parser. Imagine if Her Story's key puzzle was in a traditional inventory-based game. Would each interview be an inventory item? Would you combine them to demonstrate you realised the big secret? Players would just be combining everything until they got a new result. Ace Attorney does have an inventory, but its cross-examination system doesn't let you combine inventory items, only inventory items (evidence) with statements, and there's a cost to doing so that would disgust Ron Gilbert. Even then, because of the linearity of the games, it doesn't support situations where you realise a piece of evidence is flawed and that flaw is relevant, but the story isn't quite ready for that piece of evidence to come up. (I think this is an obvious place for people to take the Ace Attorney system further, by finding smart places to branch. You'd need to allow for the story to be a bit more about courtroom strategy to make up for it; it'd be very difficult to actually write a branching court battle where the player can always win by spotting every contradiction, but it'd be a lot easier if writers had the room to say 'if you expose this lie while it's a minor point, the prosecution quickly adjusts their case and you'll lose. If you contradict this witness some other way, the prosecutors will have to rely on this lie more'.
  8. Movie/TV recommendations

    (The best video game movie is Phoenix Wright, anyway. My friends and I did some research on this. It's toppable - it's not a great film - but it actually works, it has a coherent plot and recreates top moments from the game*, and that's a hard square for your Tomb Raider reboots and such to circle.) *Yes, they cross-examine a parrot
  9. Telltale Troubles

    What's interesting to me that what I consider their strongest post-TWD game, Tales from the Borderlands, was also the one that was seen as a dead end by the studio and thus didn't have a lot of meddling. It probably could have pushed the game mechanics a lot further, but the writing was sharp and they clearly believed in the project. My feeling is that the LucasArts style adventure games died for a reason: the constraints on the mechanics meant that the only thing you could make with them were comedies, and when you didn't make a comedy, you end up with tonally weird games like Full Throttle that shoehorn in action sequences because the story needs a raise in stakes and you're not allowed to punish the player. Telltale knew they were a creative dead-end (not to disparage Thimbleweed Park, but it makes very specific creative choices to keep the formula relevant for one more game). The Walking Dead was a reinvention, but like you said it's a reinvention that is thematically appropriate only for a game as nihilistic as the property. While there are other games that can work with that approach - Game of Thrones, as a tragedy, probably could have, and Borderlands mines nihilism for comedy with a thin veneer of inclusion - being locked into making tragedies isn't really any better than being locked into making comedies. Probably worse, actually, because audiences don't have as much of a taste for tragedy. It seems like there's two directions to go in terms of evolving the adventure game. The first is developing better ways of handling interaction; the standard for verisimilitude is way higher than it was in the 90s, but the tools we have are a lot better. Games like Scribblenauts have thousands of nouns that can interact with each other (handwaving that the behaviour was all hand-authored) but in a smaller possibility space you probably could feasibly use the toothpaste on the cat and get a reaction that wasn't 'I can't use those two things together'. We've seen fairly sophisticated attempts to model deduction and contradiction in games since then. Games like Her Story and The Shivah use text parsing, simulating a search engine, to check if a player actually is making an informed inquiry and isn't just randomly guessing. The second is handling narrative better. I'm enamoured with the system Failbetter Games uses for narrative in Fallen London and Sunless Sea, despite the game design deficiencies, because, with careful writing, they're able to create beautifully textured narrative beats delivered in a unique order to each player, without needing to violate the game fiction to allow players interactivity. The secret is that they explicitly write their fragments as being moments surrounded by everything else you're doing, even if it's driving your boat in a circle for 15 minutes, and use game mechanics to sequence them. This makes it much more feasible for them to offer choices that would split the narrative in half, because they've optimised their model so that these kinds of choices are as cheap as possible. (They also work entirely in text, but other than pronoun or title swapping, you probably could record the game.)
  10. Marvel movies

    I did quite like Black Panther (it's amazing how having actual themes helps your movie) but I particularly liked how Michael B Jordan managed to go most of the movie dressed as Vegeta without anyone really noticing.
  11. Recently completed video games

    I've also finished Celeste! I really liked it; challenging without being unfair, with great, thoughtful level design. I also really liked the story, because I have that Part of Me and it was really affecting seeing Madeline reconcile with it and work with it. Unfortunately, I doubt I'll get a double air dash if I manage the same.
  12. Kingdom Come: Deliverance

    don't know who tagged this thread 'grognard' but I raise my glass to whoever it was
  13. The guy with a rainbow wig who held up the John 3:16 sign at football games has a whole story behind him, recounted on history/comedy podcast The Dollop. Fair warning, it includes domestic violence. They also did the Rocketman story covered by Something True.
  14. The Good Place

    My understanding is that The Good Place starts shifting into gear around episode 7, and the show is very intentional about what's implied by its version of the afterlife. Minor spoilers: