Merus

Phaedrus' Street Crew
  • Content count

    3282
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Merus

  1. 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'.
  2. 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
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Kingdom Come: Deliverance

    don't know who tagged this thread 'grognard' but I raise my glass to whoever it was
  7. 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.
  8. 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:
  9. Kingdom Come: Deliverance

    My understanding is that it's unlikely to say there's a community of black Africans in 15th century Bohemia, but individual black people definitely travelled. Mediterranean countries all traded with African countries, right?
  10. Marvel movies

    I know how you feel; it's especially hard because you simply can't get a good read on whether a Marvel movies is good because most sources are either still in the tank for these things even if they're bad, or thoroughly over them and never inclined to give them a good review.
  11. I keep going back and forth on whether it's intentional. Like, it just so happens that there's a lot of them when the main character would be dissociated from reality, but am I just not noticing other ones?
  12. The Big FPS Playthrough MISSION COMPLETE

    I kind of want you to push a little further because there's an infamously garbage bit coming up.
  13. I was hedging just in case someone came in with LeGuin or N. K. Jemisin because I haven't read either.
  14. Star Wars Episode 8

    This is incorrect; a Pyrrhic victory is a victory that's a net cost. Which is, I think, the issue I have with your argument: there's lots of Pyrrhic victories in the film, sure, but there's plenty of places where things go wrong and they don't go right again. I think stretching the definition of victory to 'we survived' is stretching it far too far: specifically, the theme of failure applies equally to the villains as the heroes, and your argument suggests that when the villains fail, the heroes succeed.
  15. It's really hard to do allegorical prejudice in genre fiction well, because you have to: have a good metaphor for the prejudiced in the first place, that's not leaky enough that your metaphor doesn't break down when you explore it (e.g. Zootopia's predators), that doesn't sound like a stupid basis to your audience, most of whom have prejudices that would sound stupid to people hearing of them for the first time, that talks about prejudice in an insightful way that resonates with the lived experiences of those prejudiced against, that talks about prejudice in an insightful way that pricks the conscience of those who are prejudiced, and also be entertaining. There are those who can do it. There are a lot more people who think they can do it and can't.
  16. AGDQ 2018

    Not in my case; there are some extremely charming runners who hang jokes off the precise timing of their runs. One of the Zelda speedruns continually deadpanned that their tremendously broken route through the game was in fact intentional on the part of the developers.
  17. Recently completed video games

    So I think part of my problem with Iconoclasts was that I played it on Harder Mode, where you can only take a few hits before you die, which was recommended to me and it took me too long to realise that wasn't what I wanted. I wouldn't recommend it. I've finished it - some of those later fights were rough - and I think my opinions above basically stand. (Notably, I still don't think I have any more handle over the plot than what I did before.)
  18. Movie/TV recommendations

    Yes, Paddington 2 is really good. It's optimistic and just on that very slight edge of saccharine without tipping over, mostly because it's not afraid to undercut it and say that sometimes that trust will not be rewarded but it's worth doing anyway because it's the right thing to do. I'm shocked at how inventive the Paddington movies have been - they usually have at least a couple of scenes of excellent slapstick and some of the visual metaphors are tremendous. I think Paddington 2 set a record for the most positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes without a negative review, and it's hard to see how one could exist when the movie does such a good job of being pleasant. This one's probably more faithful to the stories in terms of its themes, but I quite liked how pointedly political the first one was about immigration. Also, it might be me but I love how complex the Browns are as a family. I also saw The Post. I generally like late Spielberg's attempts to be serious, and I liked it here as the Washington Post, a paper with big ambitions and timid owners, found themselves in the Pentagon Papers story. I thought it was a neat touch to use taped recordings of Nixon ranting about the Post. I don't think anyone's doing career-best work, exactly, but there's a reason why Streep, Hanks and Spielburg have the reputations they do, and they all do solid work here playing very slightly against type. (Streep's character is a socialite whose family has been in the paper business for generations, slowly discovering that she has a spine, and Hanks is playing someone who I would characterise as He's Our Asshole.)
  19. Movie/TV recommendations

    I was deeply sceptical of The Orville, but judging from comments it seems like basically what's happened is Seth McFarlane ripped off Star Trek right when people basically wanted a real Star Trek, and it took the writers a little while to work out that they could get away with just making ersatz Star Trek instead of having to justify it with Seth McFarlane Humour. I'm still deeply sceptical of The Orville, now that I read back that last sentence! At least I'm glad it was better at reading the room than Star Trek Discovery was.
  20. Recently completed video games

    So I'm basically at the last boss of Iconoclasts; I'm doing end-game cleanup and struggling with some chests that look impossible, and my impression from part-way through hasn't changed much. It's messy, and a bit frustrating, because it got 90% of the way to being a great game and just missed the landing. Take those last few bosses you mention, because I think it's emblematic of my frustrations with the game: And after all that, after all that's happened, I still don't understand
  21. Recently completed video games

    Honestly I'd be surprised, I'm about halfway through but it's only kind of working for me, and I know for some people it doesn't work at all. It's got brutally hard boss fights and relatively easy traversal with sparse checkpoints, so you end up covering a lot of the same uninteresting ground. The level design is mostly pretty linear - it's got metroidvania trappings but I think the game would have been better without them. The writing's not... great; it's charming and they managed to sneak by me without me twigging until it was time for me to work it out, but it needs a ruthless edit, and the dialogue's frequently leaden. The checkpointing is pretty shoddy, as well. The thing it does well is the art and animation, which isn't surprising because Joakim Sandberg is one of the world's best sprite artists and this is his passion project. If this came out a few years ago, absolutely this'd be a corker. But I can think of about three or four metroidvanias that came out in the last couple of years that are better, and the standard for game design has leapt up in the last few years.
  22. I don't think the Dark Souls hard is really the same as Kaizo Mario hard. Kaizo is definitely about comedy - it's hard, but it's hard because unexpected things happen that just happen to kill you. I Wanna Be The Guy is strongly inspired by Kaizo Mario, and it's why the first screen of the game has apples that fall down on your head and kill you, then apples that fall up as you're walking over the trees. Dark Souls is trying to invoke despair. You're in a lost and broken kingdom, trying to do something which no-one seriously expects you're able to do. You're supposed to feel a little overwhelmed and frustrated when you're playing it, punctuated by slivers of elation when you manage to find a bonfire or defeat a boss.
  23. Movie/TV recommendations

    I also saw Swinging Safari, an Australian film its posters bill as 'The Castle for a new generation', which strikes me as being incredibly inaccurate: Given how much the movie relies on nostalgic references to 1970s Australia, it's very clearly for Gen-X, which is basically the same generation The Castle was for The Castle was a very specific story about a somewhat caricatured battler family, whereas this is trying to be much more sweeping and diffuse To be compared to The Castle, it would have to be funny I suspect the film was strangled in the edit; there's several sequences that I can see working but just aren't funny on screen, and there's lots of cuts to things you might remember from an Australian childhood that are either alleged jokes or scene setting. It pinballs between tones without either finding consistency or taking advantage of the whiplash; this is a film that contains a beached whale, a failed swingers' night, a schoolkid riot, a pathetic adult prank war and a pet funeral. There are some things that work; the pet funeral has some jokes that land, and there's a well-executed punchline involving a horny teenage girl propositioning increasingly unlikely targets, but the bulk of it really doesn't.
  24. Movie/TV recommendations

    My new local cinema, it turns out, does $10 movie tickets, which is cheap enough that I can go to the movies without thinking about it. Coco was pretty good! I mean, its inventiveness is basically confined to its art style and it's been a long time since Pixar have been willing to take risks with their storytelling but it was very sweet. I liked how much the movie implies, so that if you can basically anticipate all the beats you can still get a lot from the subtext. I'm not sure how I feel about Darkest Hour: it's extremely good at ratcheting up the tension, such that you're fairly sure Winston Churchill is going to get dumped at leader just after being installed and all those people at Dunkirk are going to die. The problem is that I'm not entirely sure the movie pulled it off. Gary Oldman's pretty damn good as Churchill, though - there's enough nuance in his performance that you can believe everything that people say about Churchill in the movie - that he's a egotistical maniac; that he's deeply unpleasant; that he's a charming orator; that he's a thoughtful and kind man. (Edit: I think it's a fatal strike against the movie that one of the pivotal scenes showing Churchill finding his way forward is entirely fabricated. It felt suspiciously pat while watching and I figured the filmmakers had embellished a real incident to make their emotional climax work, because surely they wouldn't dare just make up a scene this transparently manipulative? Reader, they did dare.)
  25. The only reason I'm reading this topic is because I'm expecting references to The World Ends With You (the game literally ends with a rework of the title art to say 'The World Begins With You')