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About I_smell

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    Thumb Tourist
  1. Recently completed video games

    I got a sense that Spider-Man was a lot like those Batman games, and I haven't even played those Batman games. Recently I bought and devoured Devil May Cry V. DMC 4 is one of my favorite games, so I'll just mention how it's different from that: I liked Dante in DMC 4, but he was never my favorite choice. I thought his 1 million moves and weapons had a lot of novel trinkets included, and it felt un-focused to me. In this new game though, I've turned into a Dante player. His massive library of moves feel more useful and more straight-forward, which might be a turn-off for some people, but not me. There's a new character, V, who is a completely different kind of beat-them-up, and the new idea doesn't really come together for me. His detached, 2nd-person combat style achieves what it's going for, but that only serves to add a layer of doubt between my inputs and what they're doing in the game world. It feels like he has less combat options than the other characters too. I think playing with this character holds up for the duration of the game's campaign, it's novel and interesting, but I played DMC 4 for years and I can't imagine playing with this character for years at all. My main feeling after playing 20-something hours of this combat is that Dante and Nero's combat mechanics are a polished sequel of where they were in DMC 4. It's great, I love using them and I applaud the design team for it. I can't say the same for the ENEMIES though. I am in love with the DMC 4 enemy roster, they feel alive, they're playful, they're loud, they each leave a strong, multi-faceted impression in the composition of the experience. With the enemies in this new game, I often have a hard time identifying their role and behaviors; whether they look similar to other enemies, or just fail to flaunt their stuff. I often feel like a new enemy has maybe one trick up their sleeve, and if that trick doesn't contribute a fun challenge, then all they are is another gray punching bag. The enemies' manures could've used another pass. The art direction on most of these guys seems to be more sanded down and contemporary than in DMC 4 too, and I just find it more boring to look at and less memorable. On boss fights: There are some good ones, and a couple great ones. They don't top the highs of DMC 3 or 4, but they deliver the goods. I wish I could take these playable characters into the combat zones of DMC 4, or that the developers would work on DLC that juices up the enemy roster. I'd really love that, but I don't expect it to happen. I'd more expect them to release returning fan-favorite playable characters, which I'm not as hungry for.
  2. I liked the point that RDR2 could win for Most Disappointing. Maybe the discussion was a little too busy, but I really appreciate someone making a big deal out of it. I haven't even played any RDR games, but I'm glad that Dan pointed to the biggest, loudest, most expensive blockbuster of the year and said it felt like wasting time. I've definitely been fed up with Rockstar games since about 2010, and I was thinking people who work at games websites might be immune to that fatigue, so it's nice that they're not. I do agree that I like Dan's snidely Wario persona, but it actually hindered his good discussion points in this cast and seemed to annoy Brad a bit, unfortunately. I think Brad's point that "The game didn't get worse, what you want has changed!" is a great point and I'd guess he's probably right. RDR2 gave Dan a chance to put the controller down and re-calibrate what he ACTUALLY WANTS out of anticipated games. I would've appreciated the conversation staying there for a bit, because I definitely want very different things than the GTAs, Far Crys and Assassin's Creeds of yesteryear. I wish the whole staff would've had the same revelation, but hey some people do wanna be cowboys and I can't fault em for that.
  3. Half-Life 3

    I played Firewatch recently and it did feel like James Benson's animation, so thanks for reminding me. Wow they really did form a super-team. For the question of whether or not Half-Life 3 could be something very similar to Firewatch: Honestly yeah I think people would accept it. It would be a bit controversial but I wouldn't expect shooting enemies to be all that revolutionary anyway. The audience for Half-Life 3 is like 35 at this point, it's gonna take a lot to bowl them over with very good shooting, and they're mainly there to see G-Man be weird and Dr Kleiner wig out. I would almost expect that some kind of Orange Box is on the horizon. They're hiring all this slick talent, their card game was kind of a flop, it might be time for Valve's in-house team to test the waters and find their feet by working on a few small projects.
  4. Recently completed video games

    Game I completed recently: Firewatch. Yes it's true. I listened to every episode of Thumbs cowering, a fake gamer hidden in plaine sight. Stone me to death: I truly deserve it. Here's a weird take though: I work at a publisher and I look at in-development indie games every day. I think a lot about the relationship between a budget (money and time) and a design doc. Harmonizing these two antithetical projects is CRUCIALLY important to starting a game development studio, but about 90% of teams fail to do it. Firewatch is music to my ears in this regard, from the rendering style to the level design to the plot points, they raise this powerful, unique experience from very minimalist parts. I can really admire the work ethic that shines through this game. They certainly gave Delilah a big personality without animating her, they said a lot more with words than with pictures in that intro, and I often felt like I wasn't alone when I actually was. Many more examples than that, too. Anyway as for how I liked the game: I'd maybe more call it a story than a game. They used the medium of games to help add some empathy and context to the novel that they wrote. I liked it. I liked spending time with Henry and Delilah. I can see the common thread between the A-plot and the B-plot and I appreciate it. Not blown away, but maybe I'll see more in it over time? I got lost in the forest a lot, just like everyone else. I'll happily play the game with audio commentaries ASAP. There's one line of dialogue where Henry is reading a clipboard and says "Hey who's Javier?" and Delilah says "What the fuck? I never told you about that!" I thought it was a funny, ambiguous piece of backstory, but then I saw a clip of footage where someone else was enjoying this huge expository conversation about Javier earlier in the game. The flowchart of dialogue and recorded choices in this game is very smooth and feels more like natural social behavior than a game feature. It worked well to put me in Henry's position, but I also enjoyed cheating and hearing that extra dialogue too. Sorry!
  5. Kickstarters

    I have to say I backed the Broken Age kickstarter and got much more out of the documentary they made than the actual game. I didn't even get around to playing the game! Over the course of the documentary I became a huge Double-Fine fan and enjoyed hearing from their whole team.
  6. Idle Thumbs Hiatus

    I have to echo this; nothing is like Idle Thumbs. Podcasts weren't talking about Far Cry 2 in a funny anecdotal way OR for the unsung merits of it's design perspective. They were just talking about features and review scores. Even now, where we DO have people digging deep into design decisions, everyone else just seems too self-serious, not experienced enough or less inquisitive. When Bioshock Infinite came out, I was refreshing the page waiting for the Idle Thumbs episode. It felt like a perfect storm for picking apart ambitious endeavors that were often very well achieved, sometimes not, and always lead to bizarre cool-dude antics that don't hold up to scrutiny. I agree, I like listening to Waypoint Radio when they have an episode about what a "game developers union" would actually look like, or when Quantic Dream is arguing with journalists, or somebody says the N-word, but I don't tune in to listen to them talk about games. Forum-wise, I've checked into this forum very sparingly over the passed 10 years. Similar to the podcast, it's my outlet for going way too obsessively in-depth about something when nobody else is. Because I trust that this community is on that wavelength, I take my recommendations from here and deposit my own thoughts, even though I don't track who's reading them. I generally don't use fora any more. When I was 13 I joined an internet forum called "Stick-Suicide.com" so I could learn to make Flash cartoons. That site closed down in 2007, and sprang up again as "Explosm.net", the web-comic. I stayed there being a snarky teenage asshole until I was about 19. Now I'm 27, and I've long since quit fora. I guess I still check in here, like I said. If there were anything I wanted to say to members who might be leaving, I'm sorry I failed to attend a community meet-up in real life. I almost did, one time when I moved through town on a work trip, but I didn't have the space to break away. I was a real junior at my own company, and was paddling a lot to just keep my head above water, but from another perspective I probably looked like a jerk. Now I've missed out on that memory of meeting a bunch of real-life nerds who know what baboo is, and it probably won't come around again. Oh well, remember 555-Wizard-No?
  7. Netflix Originals

    I haven't seen many Netflix Original movies. All I can say is that I laughed at the trailer for BRIGHT, and then I watched the movie and it was just as dumb, so I enjoyed that dumb, bad movie. Here are some shows I'd recommend: The Get-Down - This is a human story about teenagers and young adults living around the death of Disco and the birth of Hip-Hop in the late 70s. It's colourful, it's got big personality, the characters are passionate and emotional, and there's always some looming danger. It's about real music and battling MCs who were really around at the time, but this isn't a documentary it's a character-driven story from a young person's perspective as the events are happening. Only problem: Each episode is MOVIE-LENGTH! Watch episode 1 if you have time for a film- don't worry, it tells a fully encapsulated story. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - I watched 2 episodes of this, and the whole premise of a woman in a bunker kind of freaked me out and I didn't wanna laugh. Then I came back to it a year later, and once the characters and setting had settled in, I absolutely loved this show. It's so fast-paced, it's jokes back-to-back-to-back, there are jokes packed into the script, the performance, the props, the set, everything. It's very similar to 30 Rock. Dirty Money - Watch this if you like documentaries or podcasts about strange real-life events. Each episode of this series is a different story about some heist, or some con, or some hundred-million dollars being embezzled. There are a lot of interviews, and usually an exciting or scary timeline of events. I'd also agree that American Vandal is a fun, weird show. I've only watched season 1, season 2 seems gross. A bunch of teenagers give some SPOT ON performances in this show, they ride the documentary style, the true crime drama and the underplayed comedy so well. I was actually drawn in to the mystery by the end. Man my girlfriend watches Orange Is The New Black, and I can't stand it. I think a women's prison is a good setting for a show, but every character devolves into this corny, candy-floss youth-club entertainer. They're all talking about Buzzfeed factoids and Twitter trends and American brands I don't know about like one big homogeneous blob all written by the same bored dude. The emotion is so up and down, and the villains so cartoonish, it feels like a Disney Channel show. What a disappointment! Maybe it was good 4 years ago? I also think that Netflix is generally getting worse as other services are fighting for their audience. I used to be excited to check out these quality Netflix Originals, but nowadays there's just as much filler garbage here as there is everywhere else, unfortunately.
  8. Cyberpunk 2077

    I feel like that's the 100th time I've seen a corporation co-opt a protest hashtag to sell cheeseburgers or something. Why do these community managers keep doing it!? Do they not read the news, or meet up and chat to each other, or anything? Does every company just hire some random kid on 4chan to make funny parody posts of trending topics? We should all instinctively know to slide this tweet idea aside by now.
  9. Quitter's Club: Don't be ashamed to quit the game.

    I've recently given up on trying to get to the end of Cultist Simulator. It was a good game, I really liked it, and I even appreciated how there was no tutorial or instructions at all. In the back half of the game though, this drove me crazy. One rougelike run can take a couple hours, which includes installing your cult, managing numbers and waiting. I got very deep into a run, and then realized that I had been pushing step 9 further and further away from myself. ...then I started again, and did the same thing with step 10. ...then I started again, and fumbled the next secret >:[ This is a couple afternoons spent playing a game that's nice, that I do like, but making no progress. It's good and I would recommend it, but if you decide that you want to just see what the back half of the game looks like, looking it up in a guide is the only way. Solving each new puzzle as they come up is doable, but very risky~ and the thing you're risking is your own free time.
  10. Cyberpunk 2077

    Yeah I was talking about Human Revolution before. I didn't know if people actually used that sub-header. Oh phew I'm glad people get where I'm coming from. I had a conversation in the office today where I felt very guilty for dumping on everyone's most anticipated game. These characters are talking about motherfucker this and bitch that, but I just want a history lesson on this "Euro-Dollar" concept!
  11. Recently completed video games

    I've defeated God of War (2018) This game doesn't really do anything new, but everything it does do is accomplished thoroughly, and on a massive budget. It's a decent milestone for triple-A console games, but doesn't leave a blip on the radar for games as a whole. The combat is more layered and beefy than I expected. I expected an off-the-shelf, ticks-all-the-boxes punching bag to grind through, but they really flexed some design muscle here. If you're getting S-ranks in Bayonetta and Devil May Cry on the regular: This isn't quite as replayable as that, but it's a strong showing and you'll be quite satisfied. I think the merging of mid-2000s God of War and current-day over-the-shoulder combat like Bloodborne is an academically interesting mash-up to look at. The storytelling was just compelling enough to pull me deeper into the game. The more time I spend looking back on it though, the more weird, bad choices I see. I guess I can really applaud that their PACING is great. I was on the hook for the whole game, and couldn't put it down. It's really well-made and I enjoyed it at the time, but I won't remember most of it later. Similar to a game like Uncharted or Tomb Raider. Zooming out to a timeline of 15 years; I think the identity and perspective that God of War (2005) gave us will leave a much bigger impact on pop culture, and games, than this new one will. Not just culturally with their quick-time events and brutal, grubby god-strangling, but also the coding techniques developed to allow a player to run up the knuckle of a titan and fight the horde under his fingernails. That's always the case with reboots, I guess. Anyway I also played Bad North. I love Oskar Stalberg's procedural artwork, so I was constantly seeing this game on Twitter. It delivers on the artwork, the game looks very nice. It's a fun time-waster, and commanding 4 squads around a little island is a fresh take, but doesn't stay interesting for very long. I like spending time in this charming game, but it is very slow-paced. There's not much unit variety or many combat options, there's not much enemy variety and there are few surprises. I'm playing on the Switch, and each session lasts a little bit too long to be a great fit for a portable game. This is the developer's debut game, and the portrait it paints of the studio team is still exciting. I really hope the game rakes in some money, because I think these people have the unique perspective and talents to make something very special soon.
  12. Cyberpunk 2077

    I was really interested in this from the E3 trailer, and hearing people just go nuts about it from the secret E3 showing, but wow this footage convinced me outright that CyberPunk 2077 is not my thing. Relevant note here: I don't like Deus Ex either. I think that character's voice, and every square inch of his look, is NEXT-LEVEL try-hard. Someone is DESPERATE for me to think this is sssooooo cccooooool, and that's very off-putting to me. At some time I did think Solid Snake and Wolverine or Devil-May-Cry were cool dudes, but shoving that double-shot of machismo in my face now, especially without any levity, just feels misguided. It felt like the characters in CyberPunk were really trying to jam in as much badass attitude as they could, at the behest of building compelling characters. It really painted the scene with the limp, cold body in a different light after a character said "I've got news as big as MY BALLS!" a couple minutes later. I was ready for the cool car and the cool jacket, but once you introduce the notion that this is all just pandering to my arrested development, it makes the whole thing feel like a pessimistic man-cave wank-fest, like Ready Player One or Duke Nukem. I'm sorry I don't like this big game everyone likes. I did want to! I actually felt myself wondering "Do I just not like the cyberpunk genre?", but I loved watching Blade Runner for the first time recently, and I do like Final Fantasy 7's grubby neon slums. That cyberpunk is mostly about people just feeling abandoned in a very busy world though.
  13. Jurassic Franchise

    I also watched the latest movie, which is Jurassic World 2, and I had to REALLY switch off my brain to enjoy it, because it is a dumb movie. I didn't really have the energy to complain about it, because nobody's that interested. It'd be like giving an in-depth review of why tree-bark makes for a bad lunch: We instinctively already know it's bad, so why bother? The premise of Act 1, though, I just rejected from the word go: They gotta save the dinosaurs from a volcano. Dino Green-Peace (I would say Dino-WWF, but I know what you'd think) really just raised the question for me: What does an animal conservationist charity like this look like in a world where you can clone dinosaurs? In this fiction, we can CLONE more giant pandas. They could spend the dinosaur money on more snow leopards or white rhinos. For the ivory, if nothing else!! Secondly: This year, I found out that California did a smashing job stopping forest-fires for 30 years, and then a massive one roared up out of nowhere because there were 30 years of dead leaves on the ground in one place. It really reminds me of what the good guys were warning about so much in the original Jurassic Park. You couldn't get further away from this theme in Jurassic World 2, where the PROTAGONISTS are circumventing nature to rescue all the dinos, and not one of them stops to think about whether or not they should. It's a volcano, they're on an island, this'll be the first natural thing that happens to these dinosaurs since birth. I found every other major beat in the movie to be a total head-scratcher as well, but hey I'll spare us all the time. This movie is Billy and the Cloneasaurus.
  14. E3 2018

    Yeah I'd love to play Cultist Simulator, but I haven't gotten around to it yet! I had a good time splitting 4 protein bars between 7 people in The Walking Dead. I think that is gameplay, as much as it would be in a board game. Are the decisions you make in 80 Days or Out There any less gameplay than any other games? Maybe they are, now that I write it down... I've never played it, but I imagine that the timeline of how you handle your responsibilities in a systemic game like Prison Architect is a compelling story, and also a compelling game, and I imagine they mesh together fairly well.
  15. E3 2018

    What I really found intere-- DOUBLE THE DEMONS?? Hold up, Doom designer: Double the demons is not something you just say. You all spent years making Doom 4, and then scrapping it to spend years again making a totally new, unique type of shooter. Designing one enemy is hard, and an impactful composition of enemies can take a long time to reign in. You doubled it? I'm really champing, and chomping, at the bit to see what DOOM Eternal is. Could it really be a stripped down fountain of enemies, like Devil Daggers? Could it be a rogue-like? Segueing into my next topic, I've played many hours of Devil May Cry 4's Bloody Palace run-based survival mode. It's my favourite way to play it, and I think it could fit DOOM like a glove. I'd love to see it. Devil May Cry 4 is one of my favourite games, and their DMC reboot was not bad either. The reboot was not as tightly designed and didn't quite stick with me, so I'm really trying to parse out whether this newly announced game is really Devil May Cry 5, or "DmC 2". The old designer is working on it, so... should be a step up, right? I hope so, cos a step up from Devil May Cry 4 would really knock my socks off. (I'd embed the video, but I'm on my phone, I'll edit it in later)