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About Tupperward

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  1. This may be a little dumb, but whatever. Playing Dark Souls II recently I've been thinking a lot about shared mythology. It might also be that I started that one book by John Campbell again. What's it called. Hero with a Thousand Faces. Anyway, mythology has been on my mind lately. I've just been so thoroughly impressed by how Dark Souls II handles the mythology of the first game and what the player perceived to be the end results of their actions in the first game without actually explicitly saying anything. I'm not too far, just finished up the Flexile Sentry, but I've been all through the available areas so far (Except all of the Bastille, place is huge). What's really standing out to me is Heide's Tower of Flame. The layout, the architecture, even the placement of enemies is remeniscent of Anor Londo, which says to me that this might be the place that Gwynevere left to with Flan, God of Fire. Hence the whole flame tower thing. But that item that dropped by the second Old Knight (Sentinel, whatever) has the description stating that it is the remnants of someone who has rekindled the First Flame. I loved this move, it keeps with the tone of the series while still perpetuating the mythological feeling of the whole thing. At first I'm just a hero called to adventure by the need to find out exactly what this curse is and I'm immediately thrown into some weird conflict where I'm told I need to seek out the King and become the new monarch. What? Ok, whatever. So that's my B Plot. I dunno, I'm not done with the game yet. I'm getting distracted. Anyway, the whole layout of that area with that item description evokes the idea of the pure mythology of the first game. The fact that the first game is myth by now in the current game adds to that fact. Heroes unknown and unnammed, their stories mostly lost to history are all over DS2 while paying homage to the first one. Hardly any of the reappearing characters are explicitly named, just titled (Dragonslayer) and there are echoes of the shape of the last location all over this one. And then there's the idea that the flame was rekindled. Then whose remains are those, Gwyn's? The Chosen Undead? Solaire? Oscar of Astora in another timeline where he didn't get crushed by the Asylum Demon? (How the hell did he get destroyed so hard anyway, I beat that fucker with starting equipment. Motherfucker had Elite Knight set and Astora Longsword. C'mon, man, gitgud). I keep getting distracted, what was I saying? Right, anyway, the cool thing about all this is that it reinforces the idea of a shared myth. This story is something that is presented to us, the fans and players of the Souls series, as something that is true. It happened and its details are not a mistake. It gives us something to talk about, share and discuss. What are the implications, what does it say, what does it mean? Is there a commentary to it? I don't think that's important, I think what is important is having a modern mythology that we can all take part in. It's something that we currently lack. It's something that writers for nearly a century have felt we lack, so much so that Tolkien set out in writing LotR and Silmarillion specifically to create a mythos for the his modern UK. And while this isn't culturally specific to Japan or North America or wherever you're playing Dark Souls, it still does set everything up in a nice way that scratches that itch. You're still going to forums, you're still asking questions and you're still fucking reading this. And that's fucking cool. Video games.
  2. Shorts in Winter (Gone Home vs Brothers)

    I'm not trying to say the player character has to actually have control or influence over the plot, just that the illusion of choice should be there. Providing at least the illusion of choice makes the story being told belong to the player. You brought up Shadow of the Colossus and I think that illustrates my point very well. Wander is committed to reviving Mono, so much so that he's willing to go into the forbidden land and follow a disembodied voice. When you press forward in the game because there is no choice but to advance, it reinforces Wander's determination. In the face of doubt he persists, his faith and passion compel him. The player can choose to proceed forward in the field or not, but it always comes back to your mission. It comes down to the fact that there is no choice for Wander, he must save the girl. Brothers, I think, does the same thing. Your father's inevitable death is looming at all times, so Little Brother's seeming lack of focus irritates Big Brother. With choices to save individuals from suicide or rescue lost turtles sprinkled throughout, the player is given great control of the pacing and given the illusion that they are affecting the world as well. Gone Home keeps its plot distinctly in the past, disallowing the player from even experiencing the illusion of choice. Sure you can skip opening a safe, sure you can explore at your own pace, but it still begs the question why deliver the story this way. Is pacing the only reason to tell this story as a game?
  3. Shorts in Winter (Gone Home vs Brothers)

    I don't necessarily think that the player should be involved in the plot, but at least given the idea that they are involved in it. Katie is simply an observer of several stories that happen in one location, she has no impact on the plot whatsoever. I don't think that a game plot is illegitimate if the player has no impact on the plot, but I do think that because it is a game the plot should attempt to show that the players actions have had some sort of an effect. I know it's been stated a thousand times in a thousand different articles, but the big difference between games and any other medium is that it is an interactive experience. I don't think Gone Home gained anything from being delivered to me in the form of an interactive experience, it could have been presented as a miniseries, book, almost anything else. Katie just didn't really seem to matter to the plot of the game or to me, so why bother having her? While I'm new to actually writing down my thoughts on games instead of ranting to coworkers, I don't think I'm falling into that trap. Maybe I'm not quite as articulate as I'd like to be, though. I definitely don't want to say "this is more game than story so I like it more." Then again, I did write this drunk. And that's a totally opposite reading that I completely understand. I still think that Brothers told what little story it had better than Gone Home told the bigger story it piled on me. [5]
  4. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR BOTH GAMES YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED So I'm just gonna say this outright, I did not like Gone Home. I'm not up in arms about it, I didn't think it was supposed to be a horror game, I just do not like it. It's not a bad game, don't get me wrong, I just don't think it needed to be a game. But Brothers, now that was a game. It starts with that wonderful cutscene showing the youngest brother watching his mother drown and struggling to cope with the fact that he is too small to save her at all. Boom, tone set right out of the gate before you even start playing. It just screams "this game is going to deal with loss." And that theme does keep popping up, in the first major fantasy area where you reunite a troll with his lost wife (girlfriend? I don't know, she wasn't wearing a ring, so maybe he's a deadbeat). Even by interacting with various NPCs and animals in the area you can tell that the brothers themselves are very different people with their own weaknesses, strengths and motivations. But they do share one motive, to save their remaining parent from a painful and slow death from a mysterious disease. When the actual game proper starts the player has to immediately reconcile the differences between the brothers by learning to make them cooperate, work together towards a common goal. By the time you've left the small town that serves as a quick tutorial you've already figured out that all they have to rely on is each other. They're all they have left. Each puzzle is relatively different, but mostly follow the same guidelines. Work together to get to/unlock something. All there is to the gameplay, besides the initial gimmick, is simply variations on a theme. Luckily you're introduced to new areas and small story arcs regularly enough to make the three hours it takes to complete the game pass very quickly. Each new environment is a spectacle to take in and there are new secrets to interact with in almost every area. This is a game that compels you to finish it. It presents you with a story and a several themes to tackle through the plot and the gameplay itself. I connected with the characters, even the NPCs, I wondered at the fantastic landscapes, I I felt like my $15 was well spent. But Gone Home, now that was something else. It starts with no cutscene establishing what is happening but rather a note taped to a door. This is not something I'm complaining about, in the game world it felt very real and plausible, but by the end it felt like this introduction on the porch was only the first of many lumps of exposition sitting there waiting to be discovered. This note on the door did do something right, it set the tone for confusion. The player is curious as to why there is nobody there to greet you when you come home from your trip abroad. Maybe it was just me, but as soon as I started the game I was slightly upset "my family" wasn't there to hear about "my story." This game is about "my story," right? This is our first major divergence. From the very first moment of gameplay, Brothers and Gone Home differ in how you want to consider the plot. In Brothers the player is immediately thrust into the role of mediator between these two characters, forcing them to cooperate and complete the tasks set before them to further their story. In Gone Home you approach a strange house, discover that the (absent) NPCs have a much more interesting story to tell, and then try to uncover their story. From the get go, it's not your story anymore. Some would argue that it's still Katie's story, a story about an older sibling coming home and discovering all that's changed in her family. I couldn't disagree more. Katie isn't given much of a backstory at all, she's just the older sister who came back from a jaunt around Europe. To me, it's very clear that Katie is left mostly in the dark so that the player can more easily relate. I saw in the thread about Gone Home that someone roleplayed the game as Katie and refused to search things Katie wouldn't. By the time he was upstairs he was already justifying going through drawers for more information. Gone Home was never written to be about the players experience, it's about someone else's. The game even takes place entirely in a setting inhabited by the absent NPCs that drive every aspect of the story. Katie has no effect on the plot at all*. Which brings me back around to why I don't think Gone Home is a good itself game. If I'm playing Gone Home for the empowering story and not the gameplay or design, why is it a game? If I went down to my local Barnes and Noble I could probably find at least a half dozen books in the Teen Fiction section with plots centered around a character discovering their own sexuality. If the game isn't about the player, then why not make the story into, well, just that. Was Katie necessary? It would have been easier to write a story about a girl learning about her sexuality without having to insert Katie. Did the act of exploring the house help the story in any way? Well, that's tougher. You could argue that a theme of "discovering new in the familiar" is present in it, what with exploring your family's new house while your parents work out their new problems and your sister uncovers new feelings for old friends. But overall, I'd say no. This story could have easily been written out and at the same time could have more fully fleshed out the relationship between Lonnie and Sam. This is the exact area that Brothers excels in. Regardless of how you play the game, you are the force that drives the characters forward. The plot of Brothers isn't just that of the titular brothers, it's yours, too. By the last levels of the game I'd almost come to regard it as "ours." This post is the product of [3] double Manhattans and the IGN Game Awards *I would like to point out that the house is incredibly well designed.
  5. The Dancing Thumb (aka: music recommendations)

    I found this group thanks to Radio Lab, but I found it's super relaxing for Dota 2. It's about the length of a match and because it's so rhythmic it keeps rage to a minimum. WARNING: It may sound like a murderer is stalking you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcY5czIND-A
  6. http://steamcommunity.com/id/tupperward I'm always looking for more people to play Dota with. I don't speak Russian very well.
  7. New people: Read this, say hi.

    Hey, I started listening to IT about six months ago. I had heard a lot about it but I generally have a tendency to shy away from >hour long podcasts, but after I started a job where I spend >hour at a time in a walk in cooler alone, I figured I might as well give it a shot. I've been loving it all, especially Dota Today, which I wish they'd update more. Anyway, they keep talking about how great the forums are so I figured I'd take a peak.