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Everything posted by malkav11

  1. I can understand not wanting to clutter things up with a bunch of specialized terms, but I feel like giving things like Gone Home, Dear Esther, The Path, etc a different label than "game" helps separate them from the things that a lot of people expect of a "game", like a win state and combat or puzzles or other sorts of explicit challenges and goals. The same way I'd describe Minecraft (and Maxis used to describe a lot of their products) as a toy, because there's no intrinsic goal, it's just a whole bunch of stuff you can play with however you like. I also get the impression that a lot of people react to defining these new categories as somehow dismissing or denigrating the recategorized programs, and that's not it at all. I think all of the titles I mentioned have things to offer to people who are open to and interested in that sort of experience. I just think that relabelling them increases the likelihood that the audience that is suited for them will find them and the audience that isn't can more easily steer clear or at least go in with more accurate expectations. Anyway. Whatever we call Gone Home, I'd like to see it prompt more exploration of the possibility space it suggests, and I'm looking forward to what Steve and the rest of Fullbright turn to next.
  2. Saints Row 4

    Julius was the founder of the Saints, also.
  3. Saints Row 4

    It's a slightly rough start but the game just takes off on a rocket the second you get those first superpowers. I am giddy with how good this game is. They even managed to finally make Insurance Fraud fun.
  4. The cool moves are a large part of what I'm interested in in fighting games, and as a lifelong button masher I can attest to button mashing actually very rarely leading to most of the really flashy and entertaining moves in the fighters I've tried (things like various Mortal Kombat titles, the Guilty Gear franchise, one or two of the Tekkens, SoulCalibur...II, I think...). Ultimately it just means I don't buy or play them very often, but I certainly wouldn't turn down a control scheme that let me reliably execute cool special moves with a couple of button presses the way a lot of games in other genres do. And I wouldn't mind being able to seriously expect to be able to get through story modes or other similar singleplayer content, in the tiny handful of fighters where that's even worthwhile.
  5. Those first couple of MGS4 levels were easily the best part of that game, yeah. I never understood why they abandoned this brilliant concept less than a quarter of the way through the game and then went on to put in a bunch of way less interesting and fairly standard Video game-y sorts of levels for the rest, including some pretty uncreative boss fights. Such a disappointment after MGS3 blew my socks off. I do feel like MGS is a series that's fairly consistently had this frustrating dichotomy where it's billed as a stealth game and it wants you to play it as a stealth game, but your actual stealth mechanics are pretty limited and most of your tools are oriented towards the action shooter end of the spectrum, and you're regularly forced into boss fights and other mandatory action scenes, but the controls are ill suited to action. So it's a frustrating stealth experience -and- a frustrating action experience and never really finds a comfortable middle. MGS3 is amazing not because it manages to dodge this trend but because of the incredible attention to detail put into it and being the only MGS game that really masters that balance between taking itself seriously and the awareness of just how goofy it all is. (The bonus videos MGS3: Substance includes on the second disc are hilarious and demonstrate a level of self-awareness that was painfully lacking in MGS4.)
  6. The Illuminatus! Trilogy

    Basically, imagine every wild-eyed paranoid conspiracy theory up through whenever these books were written (the 70s, I think) was true simultaneously, along with a ton of wonky New Age ideology and various other insanity. Wrap all this into a sort of loosely coherent narrative, liberally dose with mind-altering drugs and a wicked sense of humor, and you pretty much have the Illuminatus! Trilogy.
  7. I don't get the impression that the Thumbs would have a hard time finding things to talk about even if none of them had played any video games in the preceding week. In fact, I could swear there have been episodes like that.
  8. BioShock Infinite

    The first half of the first DLC, that is. The first DLC is the first half of the complete Burial at Sea story so leaving that bit out makes it sound like the entire first DLC would be combat-free. (Which I'd be prepared to be excited about, personally.)
  9. Saltybet

    I tried it and evidently got in on a match where neither character actually had AI at all so they just stood there. It was not really the best intro.
  10. I don't know that I would describe Saints Row the Third as a crime drama in any meaningful way. (SR2, though, yeah.) In other respects...SR2 has, I think, a more satisfying reward scheme for the side activities and less painful health and ammo issues early on. It does have significant technical issues on PC (it's a shitty, shitty port) that are partially addressed by the superb Gentlemen of the Row mod, though, and SR3 feels overall more polished mechanically. I also played both with mouse and keyboard and felt that worked better. I dunno if you would enjoy SR2 or not but I think it's still pay-what-you-want in the current Humble Bundle so it wouldn't exactly take much to try it.
  11. I suspect those put off by the sheer wackiness of Saints Row 3 (and from the sounds of it, 4) might still appreciate Saints Row 2, which for me feels like the strongest title in the series. Saints Row 1 was a pretty straightforward GTA clone that was notable only because it hit the 360 before Rockstar put an actual GTA on it. It had a few good ideas (like a nearly infinite garage for your safehouses) but it was also bland and its sense of humor verged on offensive (a Wendy's knockoff restaurant named Freckle Bitch, for example) without really being all that funny. And some of the gameplay elements were frustrating, like only being rewarded for completing side activities after all eight levels, by which point they'd gotten ridiculously difficult. Saints Row 2 picked up the level of writing dramatically, and has some of my favorite dialogue sequences in any open world game ever, as well as openly acknowledging that your character is an outright sociopath, which GTA is generally reluctant to do despite their protagonists wreaking similar levels of carnage. Unlike 3, it occasionally verges on seriousness from time to time, and I found certain story beats genuinely shocking in their brutality. It also has a wide variety of side activities, some quite amusing and clever, and only a fraction of which (including most of my least favorite activities) made it onwards into Saints Row 3. And it was the first of the series to implement universal two-player coop, not in the "eh, I guess there's two of you now" sort of half-assed way that some games do, but often actually altering things to account for a second player. For example, there's a side activity where you steer a burning go-kart through a checkpoint race trying to blow up and/or set on fire as much as you can between checkpoints to earn additional time to complete the race. Add a second player, and they're holding on to you and throwing molotov cocktails as you go. Saints Row the Third has some really bravura moments, for certain, including several excellent uses of licensed music and celebrity voice actors, and I personally find its gonzo approach enormously appealing in many ways. I'm also quite happy with, e.g., the mind-controlling explosive octopus gun, the landshark gun, various ludicrous henchmen you can call to your aid, and a readily accessible selection of awesome vehicles like VTOLs and energy cannon tanks. But I do feel like it hops from madcap idea to madcap idea in a way that's not terribly narratively coherent and runs out fairly quickly, and the side activities are anemic and considerably stripped down compared to its predecessor. And I miss the flashes of seriousness. It can also be kind of frustrating until you've bought a bunch of the upgrades. I'm hoping that #4 can address some of #3's shortcomings, but in the main I'm excited. Superpowers and Saints Row would likely be a magical combination even without also being a president signing fuck cancer legislation.
  12. Shadowrun Kickstarter

    The thing about the mercs is that if they die they're dead. You can't hire them again. So if you have a high enough casualty rate and skimp on the Docwagon kits or just can't arrange them in time, you're going to want more than one of that type of merc. Also, they have different builds and equipment. My problem with the system is that they all have -bad- builds and lag behind on points, thus are underpowered in the late game, even though they do get upgraded a few times during the campaign. I do agree that some hints of personality for the ones that aren't plot characters would have been nice, though.
  13. Idle Thumbs 117: Sir! Sir!

    Well, it wasn't called Terminator 4. It was like, Terminator Salvation or some shit. It was, as you might expect, pretty bad. I was a MUD guy for a long time, but not Simutronics or any other paid MUDs (well, I flirted with Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands for a bit - they had some cool class mechanics but they were really roleplaying oriented, you needed to pay to advance at any sort of meaningful rate, and most of the action was PvP which I have never ever liked). We didn't have AOL and I didn't have money, being a teenager and all, and furthermore we were on a Mac. So MUDs made for a really good value proposition - many, many hours of gameplay, social interaction, platform agnostic, and in most cases free. My two core MUDs were Astaria (where I formed my hatred of PvP and made a number of very good friends that I almost universally lost touch with when WoW launched as everyone migrated to that but on servers I wasn't on), and 3Kingdoms, which had the most elaborate and varied systems of any MUD I ever played, plus a ton of totally unlicensed homages to various popculture touchstones and devious puzzle quests.
  14. BioShock Infinite

    Well, except, unlike Dunwall City Trials, they put it into a season pass that they sold for months without ever hinting that that was what the first included DLC would be. I'd assumed all three would be story DLC and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I did enjoy the combat in Infinite to a degree but I don't know how much I really want it divorced from fictive context. I suspect not very much. I'm sure the price on the actual story DLC will still weigh in above the $20 for the season pass, but it's disappointing.
  15. Shadowrun Kickstarter

    No, that perk works (well, it's bugged in a different way). A shaman can never have more than a single spirit summoned at a time, but before you get that perk, an environmental summon point will disappear after you use it to summon one spirit. With it, you can use that point a second time once the first spirit is banished or breaks your control. ...then apparently the game bugs and the second spirit will stop getting turns and you won't be able to use it at all or banish it but you're still down an AP from having it out and it still occupies space on the battlefield. As you can tell, this is super useful.
  16. BioShock Infinite

    I assume that the DLC is going back to Rapture (but hey, at least a pre-collapse Rapture) because a lot of the design legwork is already done and you don't have to come up with an entire new setting the equal of Rapture and Columbia just for an addon. Much as I'd rather they did go somewhere new. I'm a little annoyed as a Season Pass holder (albeit bought with the $20 preorder credit I had from GMG) that one of the three DLCs I was promised isn't a story DLC at all but just a score attack thingy, though.
  17. I think enough gamers/geeks are into fantasy and SF that we just kinda assume all of us are. It's fine not to be. I'd agree that Game of Thrones is relatively low fantasy, but it's definitely in the genre, and I'm not sure it's one of those works (like, imho, Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box, which I even got my mom to enjoy and she hates horror) that hits something that transcends the genre to appeal to a much wider audience. (But maybe it is, I dunno.)
  18. They have very high production values and terrible manuals. I tend to be a booster both because many of their products tend to err on the side of complex, thematic games that take a significant investment of time but are really rewarding on a narrative/"coolness" level (i.e. the "Ameritrash" end of the spectrum) as opposed to heavily mechanic-focused light-to-no-theme mathy sorts of games (i.e., the so-called "Eurogame" end of the spectrum), which is my personal preference, and because they're located like six blocks from where I used to work and I know multiple people that are or have been employed there. I've even gotten to playtest for them occasionally, although since my friend who was a designer there moved over to AEG I don't think that's going to happen again anytime soon. On an unrelated note, it's good to hear that Sir, You Are Being Hunted has an actual objective. I love the aesthetics and I want to support Jim but I tend to regard procedural game content with suspicion and I've tended not to be able to get into games like Minecraft (and to a lesser extent Terraria and Don't Starve) because without the game pointing in any particular direction I don't find that I have any incentive to actually play. After all, the easiest way to survive a completely open-ended survival game is to not enter the gameworld in the first place.
  19. Shadowrun Kickstarter

    Cover affects chance to hit, and the enemies will definitely use it. Moreover, multiple cover-granting objects between you and your target will affect chance to hit for every single one. That said, I'm not sure how large a penalty it is and I kinda appreciate that it's not absolutely mandatory to use it since spirit summon points and ley lines are often not in cover. As far as magic characters go - you certainly don't have a wider array of gear (the gear in general is indeed quite simple), but there's a wide enough array of spells that I think they're much more interesting in combat and I feel like the spirits that my shaman can summon are very potent and fun to play with. But then, I'm enjoying the combat on a basic "making people dead is satisfying" level as it is, even with street samurai, and there are some later combats that are a lot trickier.
  20. Steven Erikson and The Malazan Book of the Fallen

    I read the entire series in a row with essentially no other reading between once the last book was out. Took me about four months and made for a really strange headspace but I feel like that delivers the most potent Malazan experience. It really has the feel of having been meticulously planned out from start to finish despite the several thousand page length of the complete work. I have not yet reread the later books, but I noticed all sorts of subtle implications in the first five or so on my second trip through them that make events in later books show in a whole new light. The depth is incredible. I think Erikson's prose itself is not a whole lot more than acceptable (and ICE's standard is enough lower that I couldn't bring myself to tackle Stonewielder or onwards), but he makes up for it with pretty much everything else.
  21. Shadowrun Kickstarter

    It doesn't feel super deep and it's largely linear, but there's a whole bunch of meaningfully different ways to build your character and they come into play in dialogue and investigation as well as combat. And the writing's good and the feel is excellent. So on the whole I'm pretty happy. Especially given the editor and Workshop integration.
  22. There are a lot of deaths in the game. It doesn't matter, they're just experiences to have. You just pop right back up again in the same gamestate. If you don't like her writing, though, I guess you won't appreciate it. Personally I thought it was fantastic.
  23. Idle Thumbs 115: Robot News

    You know, it's funny. I'm really not a sports guy, and the only traditional sport that I've ever found even nominally interesting is roller derby, which I find interesting not because of the actual play of the sport but because as it's currently played in America today, the athletes tend to be attractive punky women in my age group and the culture around it isn't one of celebrity but rather going out after the game and hanging out with the athletes at a bar or something. There are obvious reasons to like this approach. Other than that, I don't understand the rules or strategy, I don't know who anyone is, and I find the whole subject pretty intensely dull. So for the longest time when I heard about the concept of e-sports, particularly Korea's professional Starcraft scene, I was really excited by the idea of these things blowing up into a legitimate US scene that would eventually have people talking about e-sports in roughly the same context as today's physical sports. Almost certainly not to the degree that they'd compete with the really big league sports, but just to be part of the conversation as a whole. Because, you know, I like playing Video games. I like watching people play Video games. I have -context- for e-sports that I don't for physical sports. I figured this would make for sports I could actually be passionate about. And now that's happened, more or less. I'm sure there's still some ways to go before they're quite at the level I was envisioning, but the scene's there and the conversation's there. And it turns out I find them just as baffling and impenetrable as every other sport.
  24. In my experience there were a lot of repetitive state loops if the particular situation wasn't pushing unique reactions, and you fairly consistently have access to actions that you the player -can- choose and the NPCs will sometimes choose that are generic (albeit possibly specific to the character) and not necessarily appropriate to the context. It's an interesting experiment that does provide a more varied approach to character interaction than your typical IF (or game in general, really), at a steep cost in verisimilitude and narrative coherency.