Phaedrus' Street Crew
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Everything posted by soupface

  1. Arkane Studios bought by ZeniMax

    I dunno about the "boo." When ZeniMax bought id it was kinda strange, since they were once among the most successful and technically accomplished developers as well as independent. It did seem like backtracking, out of character, but it wasn't bad news. I don't think id had to give up much beyond some of the attitude that it earned (and has been carrying since) the mid-90's. Arkane has done some cool stuff, and I'm eager to see what Smith and Colantonio have been up to, but they've never been as big (in production or sales) or as independent (in attitude and notability) as id. I mean, Colantonio himself has said that "I don't think [independence] was in our DNA… It's not fun to be independent—really, this is called more a 'dependent developer,' if you ask me." So congratulations to Arkane. I wouldn't hold anything against them for becoming a part of ZeniMax. I hope this really is an opportunity for them to work on the deep and ambitious games they seem most interested in making.
  2. Julian Gollop's 3DS game

    I don't care to speculate and can't add much to this beyond saying, yeah, I'm eager to see what Gollop is talking about.
  3. Yeah, you're right. That's what I get for pausing the 'cast type a forum reply, instead of listening through to the end. This might be true, though we could think that, as the market for games (in general) grows, so will the market for single-player games. Single-player may no longer be the biggest kind of game, but I mean, more people—by far—have bought and played BioShock than Origin's System Shock. (Though we can argue about just how different they are in play and philosophy and depth and whatever, I'd like to think we can agree that they're similarly dense, rich, book-like single-player games.) So while single-player games don't make the most money, they're still making more money than they have before. There are also more people making games, and more ways of making and selling them, than ever before. Small companies may not ever be able to fund games with bleeding-edge graphics or hire Hollywood-level actors for VO, yeah, but they can still make high-quality games. Further, they're not nearly as inflexible as larger production houses and can't always compete with them in the same market (ie. AAA multiplatform games), and so are likelier to find success by creating new and exciting stuff and addressing smaller markets (ie. book-like single-player). Lastly, I don't think that dense, single-player games (thankfully, a vague enough category that I can say whatever I want about it) are nearly as specialized and inaccessible as flight sims, and so won't retreat from store shelves (or whatever) as quickly or completely. Thinking of it this way, single-player games don't seem so doomed. There are more people paying for and playing dense, single-player games now than ever, and it's likely that single-player games will attract, admittedly, smaller but more flexible and creative developers in the future. Take, for example, point-and-click adventure games: they blossomed for a time (the LucasArts Golden Age: Loom through Grim Fandango), went away for a while, but as the technology became more accessible to players and creators (and consequently more people started playing games and more people made games), they've become viable once more. Sure, they're no longer AAA-level flagship titles, and they've changed somewhat (eg. King's Quest to Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People), but they're back, and look, sound, and play well.
  4. Man, when Steve said "I tend to play games more like the way you read a book," it made me realize that That's how I enjoy games most: careful, individual, cover-to-cover playthroughs, Book-like reading is changing because technology isn't as isolated and isolating as it was, say, fifteen years ago, Reading books, to carry on the analogy, is something that is not nearly as accessible nor as popular as watching a film or hanging out with friends, two analogies to gaming that are, given recent games, more apt. I mean, people read more books before other forms of entertainment or intellectual activity—cheap printed magazines and etc., radio, television—were available. Likewise, the proportion of intense single-player book-style games made and played was greater before wide-spread internet access, Facebook, etc. The reason the kinds of games being made nowadays are less book-like is the same reason early computer games had a lot of nerdy themes (eg. Star Trek and D&D) but have now expanded (eg. Diner Dash and Viva Piñata): as the technology became easier to access by non-nerds, so did the sorts of games change. As technology and accessibility change, so does the content. Which doesn't mean that those kinds of games will go away. As Chris and Jake suggest, it's not like books disappeared once People magazine started selling or Gilligan's Island premiered. So while there'll be some "degree of change" (eg. novels becoming more and more focused on small niches or flight sims and old-school Japanese design sensibilities falling off), it's not like dense single-player games will disappear completely. (This seems especially likely if all this long-tail theorizing holds true.) But it is like reading books: it'll fall off because the alternatives of TV and movies, Facebook and casual games, are easier to get into and more popular. You can still go out and find heavy, single-player games (eg. BioShock, Dragon Age) as you can find books (eg. Pynchon's Against the Day). It's just that more people would rather watch American Idol while playing FarmVille on their laptop. Edit: Added examples, made it even longer and less likely to be read.
  5. Bit.Trip series

    The Bit.Trip games are excellent and, really, one of the few games that makes me get any use out of my Wii. They're stylish, they're challenging, and they're relatively cheap. Runner looks to be a bit different from the previous games. It's eschewed the pretty abstraction of the first two for the metaphor of a running dude. It's something along the lines of . I'm curious to feel how it plays.
  6. Dragon Rising is on sale on Steam and am wondering whether it's worth the time. Anyone played it?
  7. Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

    Alright. Thanks for the help.
  8. Red Dead Redemption

    Red Dead Redemption looks to be good, though full of that Rockstar 'tude stuff. One facial scar? Okay, fine. Three? Dudes, okay. He's rough-and-tough. I get it. I'm eager to see the game itself. As far as setting, tone, audio/visual production, it all looks good—but so did Gun.
  9. I've enjoyed all your previous 'casts, but forty-five is particularly good, solid. Its ratio of criticism to humour is nice, the topics fresh (enough) and interesting (and the opinions expressed—of The Shivah, BioWare's "new shit," &c.—very much like my own). Well done; thanks for sharing.
  10. I agree with ya, toblix. I makes sense to have these things in the episode threads, even if they come in later posts instead of the ones that start the threads. Just because Idle Thumbs is good and free doesn't mean I can't find fault with it! Ship up or, uh, forums… shame on, uh—won't trick me again!
  11. Uh, I can't find photos of The Amusing Educational Telequiz in the ep. 34 update. They may be missing, I may be blind and lazy.
  12. I agree with n0wak and JamesM about Tetris DS, though I still play a lot of it. It tricked me into thinking I'm pretty good at Tetris generally, until I was ravaged by NES Tetris (in public, no less). (Must I be beaten down by every damn game I enjoyed as a kid?) I liked hearing what you guys (Remo, Rodkin, Breckon) had to say about adventure games and role-playing games. It reminded me of what John Harris said about Quest for Glory, of the differences between designing worlds (Origin) and experiences (LucasArts).
  13. Zeno Clash

    I really liked Zeno Clash (wrote about it too), but it wasn't all that different on my second play through. The Challenge (Battle Tower) mode isn't all that either—but, yeah, the game looks and feels great.
  14. New version of the main site!

    The RSS feed is a little scrambled in Google Reader, though the feedburner one seems okay (because it only lists episodes, not podblasts?). Pardon the AR, but the title attribute for the title image (images/minipod_title.gif) has a typo in it (title="Idle Thumbs: We're Proably All About Video Games").
  15. Scribblenauts

    Yeah, a bunch for about 90 CDN. That's a little less than half the price of a DSi. Looking forward to Scribblenauts. I wonder if localization will alter the lexicon some ("toque" in Canada, "fag" in Britain).
  16. I wouldn't recommend playing Hatsworth and only Hatsworth. It's a challenging game, and will be very frustrating if you try to sit down and play through it all at once. I'm playing it between other games, so when I do get stuck repeating a boss battle, I can just turn it off and do something else. I did have to go back and replay some of the earlier levels so I could get more money to buy upgrades. Many of the levels have different paths to play along that can only be accessed once you have the abilities you've gained from playing later levels.
  17. I agree. I've heard a lot about Hatsworth being difficult, but I don't think it's as unfair and merciless—like Mega Man or Contra—as you may think it is.
  18. I agree with you about mods, Jake and elmuerte: mods became very ambitious and self-serious and suffered from their own (and others') expectations. I really felt that, around the time of the Make Something Unreal Contest, mods went from hobbyist stuff to semi-pro production, and that every mod had to become a total conversion to be worthwhile. Of course, around the same time, games moved to consoles (where it's much more difficult to have editing tools). I also wonder how many hobbyist artists, programmers, and level designers now choose to work on independent projects instead of game mods. Do—or did—the mod and indie scenes draw from the same pool of skilled enthusiasts? Is there a general mod scene as there seems to be an indie scene (ie. TIGSource), or are they part of communities that surround a specific game?
  19. Will we ever stop calling old games "retro"?

    @Nachimir, I like your observation that "retro" is used in fashion. It's also used with cars, somewhat. From my experience, I'd say the property of "retro" is related primarily to the look or style of a thing, and not so much the underlying technology. Also, that it has to be from an era that is undoubtedly older than the current one. (For example, a 1955 Pontiac Star Chief certainly is retro, a 1979 Pontiac Grand Am less so, and a 1997 Grand Prix not at all.) For games, "retro" goes hand in hand with a certain look (low-res, limited-palette sprites) and sound (chiptunes), less strongly with feel (simple mechanics, merciless difficulty). I mean, Super Mario Bros. is retro because of its look, sound, and feel, but The New Super Mario Bros. (for DS) isn't really retro despite having the exact same feel. As in fashion and cars, something is "retro" when it looks and sounds like something from an earlier era. If something is in between identifiable stages of visual/aural quality or style (say, the first Tomb Raider), it's retroness is less certain. In games, the look and sound are tied to the tech, but the tech itself isn't what's retro about the game. I mean, Mega Man 9 and Retro Game Challenge are retro, but run on modern hardware; as do emulated Commodore 64 games.
  20. GTA Chinatown Wars

    @JamesM, I agree with you on the on-foot controls and switching targets in combat: they're kinda hard to get used to and make fights a little frustrating. I would've liked to have the game zoom in some during hand-to-hand or firefights, allowing for a little more precision and control over targeting. I played a hell of a lot of the first GTA back in middle-school, and Drugwars in high-school, so I feel right at home with the drug trading game in Chinatown Wars. I feel there are too many hot tips (you receive emails from dealers that want to offload drugs at low cost, or that are desperate for more of a certain drug). These don't make me feel that I'm being clever about buying high/selling low, but instead that I'm just running some quick little missions set up by the game. That said, drug trading is a lot of fun. It's much more exciting to be chased by the cops when you have all your money invested in a trunk full of coke. There's just more on the line. It's also really satisfying to disable a cop car by weaving through traffic, leaving it to smash into a line of slow, law-abiding taxi cabs.
  21. Brütal Legend overload...!

    I remember hearing (here?) or reading Schafer say that the art and immediate look of Psychonauts wasn't "cool" enough for most game buyers. He said something along the lines of "it didn't have a tough-looking character, or explosions, or loud music." It's pretty clear that Brütal Legend will not be allowed to fail for lack of fire, rock, or badassery.
  22. Yes, but I would argue that you can compare a painting with a film with regard to some common elements (composition of image, colour, aesthetics, emotional response, perspective, etc.), but that they are different in many fundamental ways (in storytelling, feel, vocabulary, time, sensation, sequence, etc.), so different that it is ridiculous to expect a film to be as meaningful or successful in the same way as a painting. Good films are good films because they succeed as films, not as painting or architecture (though they can all be related in some ways). The same goes for films and games. Games are similar to films in ways (character development, ability to convey narrative, abundance of slow-mo gunplay, etc.) but are different (interactivity, pacing, tolerance for repetition, appeal, etc.) in many important ways—in ways that make it seem silly to expect (even to talk about) "the Godfather of games." A great game succeeds as a game, not a film, soundtrack, or pastry. I think that a lot of people know this, only haven't been able communicate clearly (and to my satisfaction) what they mean. I'm okay with hearing "there is a game that is as important to the history/vocabulary/public understanding of games as Citizen Kane was to films." I mean, there could a game that is "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" in a way analogous to that of Citizen Kane. I don't doubt there have been watershed gamed, paradigm shifts, what have you. The thing is that I think that "the Citizen Kane of games" is sometimes too short-sighted (that the game will have to succeed in the same ways Kane succeeded) and not a reasonable expectation: why must there be a single game that becomes canonized, at the top of every Best Games Ever list, that totally blows everyone away? Why can't change be gradual, over a series of games or fads that are not immediately revolutionary or seen as masterpieces? True enough, though I do not think that I was arguing about "games as art." Just as there are arthouse films, there are plenty games that are very arty, deliberately and consciously. Yeah, funny that.
  23. DSi, or: I am a Nintendo whore.

    The DSi is interesting, but I'm put off by the fact that only new games will support WPA wifi connections. I'll likely wait to buy one until they've dropped in price or increased in value (DSi-exclusive games). The buttons on my original DS (not Lite) are not nearly as responsive as they once were, and I've grown jealous of others' larger, brighter DS Lite screens. Then again, the iPod touch is pretty cool.