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Posts posted by Beasteh

  1. Had some downtime over the last couple of weekends, in which I finished a few games:


    Human:Fall Flat

    Amusing at first but was way too long. There's too many puzzles that are alike. The clunky controls slow you down enough already, so having to repeat a slightly more sophisticated version of the last puzzle you completed isn't fun. I also felt they didn't bring all the puzzle elements together in a way that would have added more interest.

    Arcane Dimensions

    A free mod for Quake that feels like an expansion pack. Dense, sprawling levels each covering a theme. Most levels have rooms full of enemies, where you rely on monster infighting and traps to get through alive. Difficulty is a bit variable (some levels were too easy, others were kicking my ass on Normal) but I guess it's just a case of getting used to fast-paced FPS games again.

    They've added a couple of new enemy types and weapons, but these feel in keeping with the base game. That's a good thing - Quake is still a balanced shooter. AD is no-where near as brown as I remeber Quake being, either. Dig out your old install CD from 1996, 'cause AD is well worth playing.


    A free, fan-made singleplayer campaign for the original HL. It's a long one (around 3 hours of play) and it's good!

    Playing this dug up memories of installing HL mods from a cover disc back in 2000 or so. I didn't have many games at the time, and the internet was paid-per-minute dial-up, so what was a HL-obsessed teen to do? Eventually the disc got shared between friends and we exchanged stories about the levels we'd played. Since then, although I'd moved on, it looks like the modding community has been busy, releasing a few mods per year. Who knew?

    Levels are detailed and beautiful by half-life's standards; it's impressive what the Goldsrc engine can do. The maps are cleverly re-used in later phases, showing how the facility gets taken over by military and  alien influences.

    Combat's OK, half-life's quirky soldier AI is still present and correct. Although, the game does depend a bit on ambushes at times which feels unfair. All said and done, it's good to go back to Black Mesa again.

    (wanna feel old? HL turns 20 in November this year. Yeah...)


    What. The. Fuck. Was. That. Ending. About?

  2. Ruiner's awesome - love the Ghost In The Shell aesthetic coupled with frantic ultraviolence. Did you play with a controller? I found I couldn't manage without using the mouse. Haven't finished it yet, because I got distracted by The Signal From Tolva, which I just completed today.


    It's a Far-Cry style game with robots, but they've addressed one of the criticisms of the genre - the game isn't throwing stuff at you constantly. It gives you time to take in the world and admire the beautiful, Chris Foss-inspired landscape of ruined starships. Tension builds as you spot distant enemies and decide what to do next. The combat is actually pretty good: you have to manage cover,  damage, shields, auto-repair and reloading (your guns are rechargeable), although the range of weaponry on offer isn't particularly varied. The ending was also a disappointment, giving little to no closure, but the writing did a good job of worldbuilding and evoked the feeling of a sci-fi novella. It's a world I wouldn't mind going back to, should they make another game in the same universe.

  3. Is there any particular reason you want to enjoy these books? Just because they've won an award, doesn't mean they're right for you (god, imagine only watching Oscar-nominated films!). Not liking them doesn't mean you have bad taste. There are more books out there than you will ever have time to read, so just read what you enjoy. Don't be afraid to quit the book!


    However, there might be something in what you said that would help find what it is you're after. You liked The Expanse and the Culture novels, where space travel and action-adventure is the main component driving the plot. Broken Earth seems to be post-apocalyptic SF/Fantasy, which is a whole different subgenre. A lot of the classics put contemporary society under the lens, the technology is less important - is this part of the problem?




  4. Uh oh, looks like the spammers have worked out how to sign up and post. There's a few threads in the Video Gaming forum pushing links to pirate streams. I've reported the offending threads. Is there anything else that can be done?

  5. The jibe about "people that agree with you" was ill-judged. Sorry about that. Since it wasn't clear, I'll come out and say it - I think the show gets a lot of shit becuase it doesn't stick to the progressive party line. So SP doesn't come down on one side when folks feel it should. It's not a show that is going to agree with you and tell you, "you're right" unless you're a nihilist.


    In spite of that, I've never felt that South Park is telling me to be afraid of having an opinion. Sure, they're mocking you sometimes, but so what? It's a show full of fart jokes, not a political pamphlet. If anything has made me afraid of holding an opinion, it's social media (SCREAM AT EACH OTHER IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS), but that's a topic for another day. Do you think SP's approach to issues has a chilling effect on people wanting to voice their views?


    To be extra clear, I'm not defending bigotry, assuming we both mean something like the M-W definition "one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance". I don't think the show is about bigotry, though. SP uses it as a tool.


    In the Columbus Day episode, Cartman (of course it's Cartman... again) is willing to use any means necessary to further his goal of getting a day off. That's insane - and it's funny as a result. The show eventually proposes a compromise where the kids get what they really want (a day off school) and the holiday doesn't celebrate the colonisation of North America by genocidal European settlers any more. This doesn't look like sitting on the fence to me but I'll grant you the episode does portray both sides as stupid.


    3 hours ago, Cordeos said:

    The problem more generally is that there is no room for people with genuine beliefs in the world of South Park. Everyone has ulterior motives.

     At times PC Principal (not his fraternity of bros, just him alone) fulfils the role. He consistently believes in justice, but makes pratfalls because he's just a white dudebro when all's said and done. I guess it's just not interesting to see things going well.

  6. Don't agree with the notion that those on the "right" side (i.e. people you agree with) should be immune to mockery. Randy is trying to use progressive politics to get status, it's his MO for the last few seasons. I laugh when it goes wrong for him. No equivalence is being drawn between progressives and bigots in the cited episode - the opposition to Randy's crusade is just a bunch of kids who want the day off.


    Or is your complaint that they haven't taken neo-nazis to task? It's hardly an interesting take to say "nazis are bad." Would you rather they focus on taking on the current administration, which is so far beyond parody it's hard to find humor? SP has tried, though - the recent episode mentioned in the OP ("Put It Down"), or the episode about the regretful trump voter I linked to earlier, or the final episode where the parting line is about the fate of President GarrisonTrump: "It's up to the Whites"



    (For the record, I don't think anyone here argues in bad faith. It's one of the things this community does really well)

  7. I don't see SP as a meditation on bigotry. I'd wager that some think it is bigotry, but then everything is problematic these days. It does have a bit to say about our polarised culture and how we build social capital with gestures that don't do much to help.


    South Park pokes fun at people who perform the rituals of PC culture in public to look good, but in private they're just as shitty as us mere mortals. There's an episode in the new season where Randy tries to get Columbus Day banned (how he acts in public), and by the midpoint he's dressed as Columbus and beating up a native american man (how he acts in private). The same episode has a gag about DNA testing to determine how much of a victim (i.e. not white) you are - again, using PC culture to justify your behaviour (and prove your progressive bonafides).


    They've done it before - the PC Bros in S19 come to mind, as does the whole "gentrification" plot where Kenny's family doesn't benefit from the trendy new district built around them, but yuppies get to indulge in a bit of poverty tourism by living next door.


    They also point the finger at social media - two really good episodes on that in the recent season.


    16 hours ago, itsamoose said:


    Well I think the point of the show is not so much that you alienate the person, further isolating them and enforcing that mindset.  I mean yes, that sort of behavior does need to be pointed out but if the mechanism for doing that is belittling someone, calling them names, laughing at them, etc, you're more likely to have the opposite effect.  This is a pretty common theme in the most recent season, but they put a pretty fine point on it in an episode called "Doubling Down".  Recently a lot of South Park's subject matter has to do with the idea that how you do something can make all the difference.


    Is what happens in "Doubling Down" equivalent? That episode is where Heidi's left her abusive ex (of course it's Cartman*), so she's already come to her senses. It's what her friends do after that drives her back to him. AVclub did a good run-down on it.


    As an aside: Moose, you might find a series on youtube interesting called "Why are you so angry?" - it's a collection of thoughts on how people get sucked into hate groups (in this case, GG) and how you might approach individuals in these movements.


    *Cartman's not meant to be viewed as a role model. Even the show doesn't paint him in a positive light most of the time. I think we're meant to see the darker parts of ourselves in him, but recognise that it's evil to be like him. If folks take Cartman at face value, that's on them.

  8. Ha, that Commander Shepard sure is a jerk!


    Don't worry too much about missing anything from the first installment. Not much of the original plot gets carried over to ME2 anyway; the writers literally start from scratch about 5 minutes in to the sequel. The only time having a save from the previous game is worth it is when



    You go see Wrex on Tuchanka, assuming he's alive. Wrex is a much more interesting character than his replacement.


    Seriously though, IGN's summary of the plot is fine:



  9. Finished a few shorter games recently after coming off TW3.


    Kentucky Route Zero (up to Act 4, obviously the last part isn't out yet)

    Bounced hard off this the first time, but fared better when in the right mood. Slow and contemplative in style, which took some adjusting as I wanted to get to the next part of the story (which I will agree is thought-provoking, but I'd prefer to think on it more as a whole). Case in point - slowly trudging round the museum in Act 2. Please don't waste my time.  


    I did wonder about the general lack of interactivity (most of the time you're just clicking from one context clue to the next), and the dialog options don't seem to matter at all. I think the choices in Act 4 were a reaction to such criticisms in that you have to decide what parts of the story you get to see. On the whole, I wondered if KRZ might have made a better art-film than a point-and-click adventure.


    The Bridge

    A puzzle game inspired by Escher - hand drawn pencil-art style and impossible 2D geometry (the Penrose Triangle is a feature). Well put together but not that hard, until you get to the "new game+" levels.


    Lara Croft Go

    In a similar vein to Hitman Go. This time they dropped the boardgame aesthetic for a lovely backdrop of ancient ruins. It looks fantastic, and the puzzles are short but sweet. It's good, but try Hitman Go first if you're thinking about this type of game.


    Beyond Good and Evil

    Got this one as part of the Ubi 30 giveaway. I think we all know it's good. The current version has problems with the controls (aiming that disc launcher was infuriating), and some of the camera angles were terrible. Still, that was common in games of the time.

    I can see the prototypical open-world game in BG&E - there's an overworld with collectibles and your progress is gated by having to complete side content. Thankfully the distractions are optional (in that you can say "fuck it, not doing this activity, I'll try something else instead" but doing X quests out of Y is necessary)

    There was one spot where the game genuinely surprised me:


    Spoiler: The part after you sneak in to the Alpha HQ and steal their pearls - there's a dramatic chase sequence with parkour and some Matrix-esque camera angles as you run over the rooftops from the bad guys. Up until that point there was no hint the game could actually do that! Must have blown people away back in 2003.


    My backlog of unplayed games is below 10 for the first time in about 5 years!


  10. Very late to the party on this, but I finished the main questline for The Witcher 3 last night. Been thinking about it a lot recently.  It's stunning in its scale and ambition - huge maps, tens of thousands of voiced lines, dozens of interesting characters, hundreds of (admittedly dull) quests...


    Some of it dragged on (you spend way too long running from one end of Novigrad to the other and back), and the ending kept getting further away (the game ended about 10 hours after I thought it would), but overall it was an engaging experience - I wanted to keep playing to uncover the next bit of plot, or to get new dialog from the more colourful characters.


    Still have the DLC to look at, but for now I'm done with open-world RPGs. I don't normally do long games, so TW3 was a pleasant departure. Really need a break after about 70 hours though!

  11. On 19/03/2018 at 10:04 AM, marginalgloss said:

    I don't know that it's been surpassed yet in terms of mouthfeel (handfeel?)


    Game Feel.


    In general, most of the time I prefer first-person perspective, but there's times when third person works better:


    • When you're watching your character perform awesome feats (the Max Payne example)
    • When the narrative is about the character on screen (Uncharted, Tomb Raider). We get to see them emote!
    • When the gameplay requires certain actions (like Uncharted/Tomb Raider's climbing sections - First Person platforming is uniformly terrible. Or Just Cause's wingsuit flying, where it would be difficult to sense direction in FPP)
    • When you want to look at your user-generated character - it's always bothered me in games like Fallout/Skyrim that you spend time creating a character, but don't look at them. Mass Effect (does Mass Effect count as a TPS? the gunplay feels like it, especially in 2 and 3) gives you the chance to look at your character, so that the customisation options matter. Also, Saint's Row goes all out on the customisation - it's probably the best part of the game.



  12. Thanks for reminding me to catch up on South Park! The following is only relevant up to S19, 'cause that's as far as I got.


    It's been interesting to watch the evolution of the show from a goofy series of cheap shocks with not-subtle-at-all digs at celebrities, to more of a current-affairs parody show, to what we got in S19, where there's a story thread and an on-the-nose mockery of liberal types (y'know, the people who shop at Whole Foods).  S19 was, in places, like a long version of the hybrid cars episode (Smug Alert!). On the other hand, that series' statement of intent was clear from the off where PC prinicpal kicks the shit out of Cartman; there was a clear recognition that cheap bigotry isn't publically acceptable in the current climate.


    As a young teen, me and my peers thought the early seasons were hilarious, what with the juvenile and "edgy" humour. Some parts from the early seasons still stand up, but I felt the show hit its stride from about season 8 onwards. Which is odd to think about, as most shows have long since jumped the shark or been wound up by then.


    Isn't it funny that Mr Garrison has been L, G , B and T (twice!) over the run of the show? In S19 I also liked that the digs at Caitlyn Jenner were about the vehicular manslaughter charge rather than about being trans. I almost cried laughing when there's a scene showing the outisde of a hotel or something with dead bodies under the car parked on the street. She literally runs over every pedestrian in sight!


    Also I don't agree with your summary that they're getting more right-wing (again, havent seen S20 or 21). There's a lot of racist, sexist jokes in the first 18 seasons used mostly for shock value, and the show has often railed against PC culture (censorship, ha!). Trey & Matt have been criticised for years for this stuff, and for sitting on the fence on issues they shouldn't be neutral on. Remember the episode where Cartman commits a hate crime? I mean, the one where he gets convicted of it? They often mock both sides of an issue but there certainly will be a lot of folks on here that think there is only one correct answer to some issues, and that it's non-negotiable.


    Before this thread descends into endless criticism of the show, I just want to point out that you can enjoy a piece of media even if it is "problematic", and that's OK.




  13. Finished Ninefox Gambit. It's an intriguing setup that doesn't pay off. I liked the idea of mind games between the two protagonists (Cheris and Jedao), it wasn't explored as much as I hoped later on. In fact, the whole back half of the book feels weak - from the point where the battle is won, there isn't really anything to drive the plot forward, and all sense of urgency is lost.


    The Kel attack, but must know that Cheris survived, so where's the follow-up? Then the enemy agent comes over, and that feels especially contrived as a means of getting Cheris a way out. It doesn't make sense from the point of view of said agent's motivation. The only other threat on the table, the Hafn fleet, never arrives.

    Perhaps you have to read the sequel, but on the strength of the first installment, that's a "no" from me.

  14. I think the rise of the big players certainly changed things a bit, but then again, we had Yahoo Groups (which were weird) and usenet. What has changed is that usenet groups used to be laser-focussed on their specialist topic, and it was the community around those topics that mattered. New social media seems to put the individual above all other things. You have to follow people not topics. In doing so, you lose that focus - instead you get to hear everything they're talking about, from video games (cool) to what they had for lunch (boring) to their political opinions (oh fuck no).


    As for alternatives, there's Reddit, but its voting/threading system is dire. Sometimes I wonder where "the real stuff" is.

  15. Never heard of Mastodon until now... learn something new every day. Good point about being on the platform where your contacts are. I suppose it's only worth signing up for something if the people you want to talk to are there.


    How do (or did) you all find the people you wanted to follow? Was it IRL relationships (work, friends) or a connection through another network (e.g. the Idle Thumbs Slack is obviously related to these forums and the podcast itself), or something else? I ask because Twitter/Tumblr/Insta are so vast, it's not so easy to find people.



  16. The whole conversation about "wanting to get into sports (particularly football) but being unable to" really resonated with me.


    A little sports knowledge can open so many doors. Where I work, talking about football's a social lubricant, it's ingrained in the culture here. It's also a safe topic for small talk. However, I just don't get it, and that means I'm the one sitting there with nothing to add to the conversation. It feels like there's a whole world of opportunites closed off to me. So it's good to hear I'm not alone!