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Everything posted by doctorfrog

  1. My winter game this year is Banished, which I thought I had "finished" in the year of its release, but there's this extra bite in the air this year that has me coming back. With harsh winters turned on, on a small, mountainous map, with a "hard" start setting. The lack of space has me trying to figure out how to establish a trade-based way to get rocks up in them thar hills without building a quarry, which takes up a ton of room on the cramped map and can't be removed once built. It's not a great game, and where I live, it doesn't even snow, but it's helping along the illusion that I'm somehow dealing with the lower temperatures until my winter bones grow in.
  2. Episode 354: Offworld Trading Company

    I can't seem to download this episode in iTunes. Trying to access it directly via the RSS feed ( I get a 403. Can't play it here, either:
  3. Episode 350: Aging Gracefully

    Having never played it, I recently downloaded and fired up Battlezone because it just sounds neat. And it is. I think. See, I went to the multiplayer portion to see if I could set up skirmishing with the AI, maybe generate some random maps, see if it's possible to play some comp stomp with some friends. It doesn't look like that's possible, so I set it down, and haven't given it a second thought until hearing it come up in this podcast. Games are so personal, not just in an emotional sense, but in a practical sense: what you want them to deliver. And I think the big thing we don't talk about very much in games is how completely inadequate to meeting our personal needs just about all games are. We're lucky if they do one or two things right long enough for us to look past how badly they do everything else. Lots of times, I find myself evaluating a game based on its bullet points rather than specifically demanding something from it that comes from my own needs, because, as far as games have come in the last 20-30 years, they're still pretty primitive, and they're not going to do just what I want. It will always be a compromise. No matter how realistic a corridor shooter is, you can't open that office door and see who worked inside, you're restricted to that corridor. You'll have to instead install an open-world game, which comes with its own issues of samey-ness or a less satisfying combat model, if that's even what you really want to be doing. Or, say you're playing a strategy war game and you'd like to play just as a soldier on the battlefield in that same battle for a bit. You're going to have to install a whole new game for that to happen, and it won't be "your" war. I'll be more reasonable, let's say you do fire up Citizen Kabuto, and you think to yourself, "This is pretty ok, but I'd rather not do all this base management." Well, gotta write off the whole game, then, because the game cannot meet that simple demand. One gentleman on the podcast said that the mere thought of a Civ 4 stack of doom was enough to put him off ever getting back to the game. Well, I wonder if maybe Civ 4, as groundbreaking and loved as it is, maybe is a really great game, but is not--and never was--a very good experience? Games have the problem of introducing a whole world of possibility and then immediately restricting those possibilities, due to the need to be highly focused, and due to technological constraints. I think this is part of the pain of games nostalgia, because it also implies that the game you're playing right now, whether it's tearin' up those Steam charts or not, well, it is also really not very good. It's really not meeting your needs, and you're always, always bending more toward the game rather than the game to you. What we see with "games that don't age gracefully" is that we're just less willing to put up with the grosser inadequacies to scratch one highly specific itch. Except, maybe it wasn't an itch, it was just a momentary fascination with a specific novelty, not something we would have necessarily sought out. Is it this way with movies, books, and music? Sure, they can be faddish or clumsily loud distractions, and sometimes that's just good enough. But I also know that I can wrap myself in a satisfying novel, movie, or music album, and they're decently crafted experiences based on generations of storytelling or musicianship that has been part of a long, evolving human conversation. And if one particular work isn't meeting my needs, there are many, many thousands of substitutes. Anyway, I'm completely getting away from the topic at hand, carry on. tl;dr: doctorfrog suddenly discovers all video games are bad
  4. Social Justice

    What about the direct approach? PM them and ask them what it is. If it's an intentionally racist joke, decide what to do next: nothing, report it... or, again, the direct approach: tell them why it's a bad joke. You're not changing their mind per se, you're just shifting the burden of considering it to them.
  5. Far Cry 2

    Pepper in your own voluntary challenges. I like using weapons and vehicles until they explode and put off using medicine until I am almost dead. Far Cry 2 is at it's best when everything is going wrong. edit: Also, the map editor for FC2 is such a heartbreak. It's so easy and such a pleasure to use, but all you can do with it is play variations of team deathmatch and capture the flag. All this on a map about half a kilometer square. I wish to crap I could populate it with AI and create single player or cooperative multi challenges.
  6. Far Cry 2

    You might have something there. Players often crave features that turn out not to be very much fun, or have little payoff given the development effort. I think it's more likely that I'm expressing a wish to have more of an impact on the world itself--of Far Cry 2, of any video game. So, even if I don't "really" want a simulated dreary economy in Far Cry 2, it would be nice if blowing up an arms convoy did something. Something other than unlock a new gun. I mean, it's a bit like the expression, "What if you could talk to the monsters?" I don't actually want to talk to the monsters ("Eh, my monster kid isn't doing so well in monster school. My back kinda hurts."), but I enjoy the interaction that Far Cry 2 gives me, and want more. Playing Half Life 2 was a weird experience for me during the character interaction bits. The NPCs went through their lines in a strangely believable, yet rehearsed way. It felt like two other artificial, real life experiences: like paid actors were standing around, delivering well-practiced lines, and waiting patiently for me to blunder over to the next switch so they could continue their linear roles. It felt like a very expensive set and play was being put on for my benefit, like something out of Total Recall (minus the entire plot). The second artificial experience it reminded me of was standing in line for a ride at Disneyland. Like in Star Tours (haven't been on it in 10 years, so I might be off here), there are these animatronic robots doing work, and C-3PO and R2 ragging on each other. They go through their pre-recorded spiel for each set of viewers. Then you turn the corner, and there they are again. It's not the same robots, though, but a different set, since you've moved forward in line. You invest in the artifice that they are the same robots you've seen from the movies to enjoy the entertainment, but you know two things: they're just going through set motions, and they're just a copy of a copy that you just saw ten feet back. Playing Half Life 2, I would vacillate between three states: being Gordan Freeman, being a tourist surrounded by paid actors, and being a tourist surrounded by singular robots limited to a set script. And of course, there's the state of being a dude in a chair playing a game on a computer. These aren't negative things, it's actually kind of an enjoyable way to experience a game, just appreciating the artifice on multiple levels. Games don't always have to be immersive. Anyway, what I'm finally getting around to is that Far Cry 2, with its artifices (such as the weird, closed, diamond-and-gun-based economy), gives me the impression that I'm a very wealthy person who has either had constructed, or has paid a lot of money to inhabit, a sort of theme-park/safari monstrocity. I feel like I'm a wealthy tourist, shooting rubber bullets at paid actors, or sometimes real bullets at lifelike robots, like from Westworld. Sahelworld? But of course I'm a player who has paid money for a power fantasy as well.
  7. Far Cry 2

    I'm a bit surprised he didn't go into the diamond economy in Far Cry 2, and how it ties into the "world is doomed" message of the game, while also being very gamey. I think there's some fodder in examining how payment for your bad deeds in raw diamonds--of no estimable value in the player's real world experience--are only usable in the game to get guns, gun-related upgrades, and other side upgrades. In other words, you're being paid in scrip that's only usable on the sinking ship that is the world of Far Cry 2. You're not saving for retirement, a new haircut, or even a plane ride home. It's all going right back into the game's rotting economy. To look at it another way, you're more or less being paid in guns to shoot guns. (The intro cinematic also hints that you blew your mission and won't be paid when you get out of things, either. It doesn't make much sense, maybe your job was to kill the J before things got bad, but you got there too late?) Speaking of which, it would be great for a real spiritual sequel to FC2 to background simulate a claustrophobic, incestuous economy. Hardwar (a closed-ended space trader/shooter sim) had a simulated economy, and IIRC, you could actually manipulate/damage resources to the point where you could corner the market on something and make a half-killing, or even permanently damage the economy to where it couldn't recover. In Far Cry 2, blowing up a weapons caravan doesn't really have any effect, but what if you could hamstring a faction that way, or even end up with no replenishing ammo or repair parts for your favorite gun?
  8. Sir, You Are Being Hunted

    I feel the same way. There's too much tension in the single player game, it would be better to share that with others. Pair that with the customizable map generation, and you get a sense of exploring a world maker, as well as the worlds themselves. In a way, I'd have some of the Far Cry 2 co-op experience I've been hankering for for some time: going after objectives, sizing up "checkpoints," getting into nasty fights, on an open world map with friends. Multi may be a long way off, though, if it comes at all. May as well dream about mod support... I wonder if I could get a jeep in there somehow...
  9. This might just be me showing my outsider or old-guy ignorance, but it kind of reminds me why I stopped using Twitter. Twitter, from my brief use of it, is mainly this wheel of promotion and cross promotion. You're either excitedly promoting yourself, or excitedly promoting someone else's thing through a retweet or some other form of half-conversation. This is done in the hopes that the guy you're saying nice things about, will also say nice things about you, and keep the promotion wheel rolling. This reminds me a bit of showbiz promotion. If you're an actor, director, or whatever, and you're in a movie that's good, or not good, you always, always, say nice things about it, and the people you work with. Hollywood runs on people saying nice things about each other, because you really need this network of goodwill and cross promotion to keep your career rolling. It seems the same way with comedians as well (something else I followed on Twitter). There's a lot of crosstalk going on, of comics retweeting and responding to each others' things, and it's amusing enough, but it also bears this sense of "you support my current line, I'll support yours, and we'll both benefit through more followers." Nothing wrong with any of that on the outset, but in my use case, it just made Twitter this worthless puzzling thing that led Google to shut down Reader. At any rate, though, you're going to be involved with a movie that isn't good, a game that isn't good, a line of humor that sours, or work on a project you're not enthusiastic about. But you still have to keep up the positive energy to make the most out of it, because enthusiasm means more clicks or sales, more followers, more money, more momentum for your career, and most importantly, the network of industry contacts you need to maintain. And anyway, what if this thing that you're not so hot on, turns out to be the thing? You don't want to be the guy who said it was not so hot. So a sub-language sort of develops that lets you say something vaguely positive-sounding about something, without throwing your whole heart into it, minimizing risk and maximizing return on your language. It's not a bad game, in fact, it's really quite interesting. The theme is a bit problematic, sure, but it gives at least a modicum of visceral involvement. Will it detract from the longevity of the product? Only time will tell. Say, that's an interesting post there, doctorfrog.
  10. I sometimes react a little bit like Sean's parents did about $300 iPods when I hear people go, "oh, yeah, I bought a Playstation because it's got this game on it, haven't touched my XBox in a while." Or, "the game was about 4 hours, but given that it was only $20 in Microsoft points, I feel like I got my money's worth." Even though I dropped $20 on Xenonauts a couple weeks ago, that makes me think, "what are you, a millionaire or something?" for some reason. I'm not broke, but I wring the heck out of my gaming dollars. Partly out of years of having to "make do," partly out of gaming being a hobby at least partly defined by how little I can spend versus how much I can get, and partly from having to justify tech purchases to a significant other. My laptop's from 2008, and I just built a new PC a year ago for $600, to replace my five year old one. I felt like I was hand-building a race car, even though it's an extremely modest machine. The idea of having a PC, then buying a console, a TV, a sound system, and numerous $50+ games is just another realm of existence that others live in. Star Citizen? That's a game that "other people" are gonna play. Heck, it's like its own console, that happens to be playable on a PC, and you buy artificially scarce ships, and insurance for them, instead of games.
  11. Far Cry 2

    Yeah, the last couple weeks have been stressful and I jumped from the STALKER ship back into Far Cry 2. It really is an ideal game for me to play every month or so, since it's so easy to pick up on the thread I left off: Oh, right, I was in the middle of killing these dudes while on the way to kill this other dude. Spent some time last night trying to sneak into the shantytown village of Mokuba, and I'm not going to cut it with a rusty MP5, a silenced pistol, and an RPG. Time to head back to a gun shop and get a better balance of hardware.
  12. Episode 247: Korsun Pocket

    I really enjoyed this episode! It was great getting three history lessons: the battle, the game, the genre. I'm not a war gamer, and I probably will never be (unless Advance Wars counts), but it's one of those genres that I am sort of interested in from afar.
  13. Spelunky!

    As someone with the GOG DRM free version of Spelunky, which does not have the daily challenges, it's about time something like this showed up. Pretty sure I can live with some other folks having a less than honest score on the old leaderboards.
  14. DayZ is like a wargame to me, in that I'm sort of fascinated that it exists, and tales from it seem intricate and deep, but it just sounds like it would be a whole lot of work and unpleasantness for me to actually experience first-hand.
  15. Far Cry 2

    I wasn't really feelin' the 'moment' through the combat, which just seemed to sort of go on... but then I beheld the moment what you were referring to. And I was nodding as well. Talk about timing, that was pretty much on its way to happening the moment you opened the door and got out. Far Cry 2.
  16. Spelunky!

    I'd like to be your good friend. Little dude in green is one of my favorites also. When I'm in the vestibule, I usually jump around merrily a couple times before heading into the caves. Also the purple girl character looks like indie game developer Anna Anthropy. I wonder if it's deliberate.
  17. Groupees has this along with a build-your-own bundle thing, so it can be had for around a buck (I chipped in $1.50), plus one other game of your choice.
  18. It's not the years, Indie, it's the mileage

    It's hard for me to read this as anything more complicated than "I am not interested in this video game, and it makes me sad." It's ok to like or not like a thing for whatever reason.
  19. Episode 216: Lost in Space

    Really enjoyed this podcast and the discussion. It was a small relief to hear some of these criticisms. These things have been bothering me about 4X's in general for years: Every new space 4X seems content to redo everything that MoO did, but with space bears or some other shallow internet-idiot-friendly gimmick. Just ticking requirements boxes without mining new concepts in the genre, or even bothering to throw tiresome bits away. AI. Sweet merciful crap, AI. If your game can't be played competently by the AI, you don't have a game, you have a pretty map with neat things on it. Either design your game rules and mechanics around the capabilities and weaknesses of the AI, or find a fun and believable way to let the AI play by a different ruleset. Here is something really compelling about a huge tangled strategic mess for you to rule over and tame, but for some reason, once I get there, all I want to do is turn the game off. Is there a way to make the Gordian Knot of 4X games compelling? More of a gripe, but does everyone in space have to start with one colony somewhere, at exactly the same time, with exactly the same level of tech? I'm not a developer, I can't even really call myself a competent strategy player, so my advice is probably dumb: Don't call your game a 4X. Don't sell it as a 4X. Call it something else, free yourself up to do something twisted and weird. I look at what Blendo did with Atom Zombie Smasher, how he had this whole strategy layer that he scrapped because he realized it just wasn't fun, and it was getting in the way of the really fun bit. Last horribly ignorant thing I'm going to say here: I would love to see the first Jagged Alliance set in space somehow.
  20. Idle Thumbs 105: XCOM Obama

    I knew Michel Gondry sounded familiar. A million years ago, he did a number of music videos for Bjork, including this one that still gives me chills: Not Gondry related, but the Kyli Minogue video and this one remind me of the opening to City of Lost Children:
  21. Up until very recently, I thought the WiiU was some sort of educational hook, like an ebook tablet that plays educational games and downloads textbooks, or a channel on the Wii with educational programming. Also re the above poster, I wouldn't buy any version of that game, ads or no ads. (Also, how about some punctuation and capitals there ee cummings?)
  22. Banished - The Indie City Simulator

    Augh, please put in a skybox and let me walk around as one of the characters!
  23. I know exactly what you mean. All this Neptune's Pride talk got me fired up to play Defcon for a second time, and it took installing it, and watching the AI play against itself for one game, to remember how little I enjoyed the mind-cracking tension of the thing. Marvelous game though, just not for me.
  24. LibreOffice worked great for me.
  25. Quitter's Club: Don't be ashamed to quit the game.

    I haven't touched it in months, and now it's time to take the shortcut off the desktop: I'm not going to finish it, indie and Idle Thumb darling that it is. FTL just feels random. The tactical battles are great, but the "dungeon maps" are not what I look for in a roguelike, which folks seem content to label this game as. For a while, I would actually sketch out a path among the points in a system, assuming that the less-than-direct paths would somehow reap greater or stranger rewards. I assumed this, because the idea that they would be flat dice rolls was too lazy or bland, and because exploring a map always got me cooler stuff before (Strange Adventures in Infinite Space, Flotilla, Space Rangers). Instead, it just gets me another dice roll, dependent on some weather factors and little else. I haven't reached the end boss, and from the descriptions I've read of it, it doesn't sound like it's much fun to grind toward. "Sounds like you're playing the game wrong, man!" Nah, just playing the wrong game. There is something unfinished about this game. I have a lower than average Thumb ability to describe exactly why. I hope it comes around for an expansion or two, it doesn't feel like it should be done with itself. It's a real one of a kind at the moment, but that doesn't mean it's the best it could be! Hope to see you around again, FTL.